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Mark McClain

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Mark McClain was executed by the state of Georgia on October 20, 2009.  He was pronounced dead at 7:42 pm.

Case Background:

Mark McClain, who has no record of violence with the exception of the crime for which he now faces execution, grew up in a household dominated by an abusive father who regularly beat and whipped his children.  The saving grace in the McClain family was Mark’s mother, who suffered a lengthy struggle with cancer and finally passed away when Mark was a young teenager.  Mark’s family was shattered by her death, and Mark and his brother Tim both succumbed to heavy drug abuse.  Drugs and alcohol were ways Mark self-medicated the depression and despair stemming from the abuse and the death of his mother.  On the night of the crime, Mark, after having attempted to straighten out his life, succumbed to drugs and alcohol.  At trial, Mark admitted and took responsibility for his crime.  The physical evidence in this case is consistent with Mark’s stated lack of premeditation and intention not to kill in the course of the robbery.

 

Since his incarceration on death row, Mark has made a genuine change in his life, including a sincere religious conversion.  He has accepted responsibility for negative conduct throughout his life, including the death of Kevin Brown, and shown remorse.  He has made a positive adjustment to prison and poses no threat to anyone. 

 

Furthermore, the crime in this case, while tragic, merits the merciful intervention of the Board.  The imposition of Mark’s death sentence is an aberration in Georgia – akin to a lightning strike.  In 2007, the Atlanta Journal Constitution conducted a study of a decade’s worth of such cases in Georgia, and found that Mark was one of only 8 cases involving such a crime – armed robbery of a business involving no torture, maiming, murder for hire, or murder of a police officer - where death was imposed from the start of 1995 to the end of 2004.  Another 432 such cases resulted in life sentences.  Many of those cases, while they did not involve the specific aggravating factors cited above, were nevertheless more aggravated than Mark’s crime, involving evidence of premeditation and cold-heartedness.  In 1995, when Mark was sentenced, he was the only one of 55 defendants convicted of such armed robbery murders who received a death sentence.  In 16 of those cases, prosecutors had sought death.  Mark’s was the only case in which death was imposed.  Over the ten year span of the study, prosecutor’s sought death in approximately one out of every six such cases, totaling 440 cases.  But, again, only eight men received death sentences.  Some circuits never sought death for such crimes, including Fulton County, which had 79 convictions for armed robbery homicides.  The Journal Constitution’s research through 2007 further showed that Georgia juries clearly rank such crimes as undeserving of the death penalty.  From late 1998 to late 2007, Georgia juries imposed death only once for armed robbery murder with similar circumstances, even though prosecutors sought it in at least nine cases.  By comparison, in cases involving the torture or maiming of victims, jurors in the same period imposed death in about half the cases where it was sought.  The history of Georgia capital cases shows that Georgia law enforcement authorities and juries almost never find death appropriate for the kind of crime for which Mark was convicted.  Mark’s death sentence goes against Georgia values.

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