The Georgia Supreme Court upheld a death penalty sentence for Donnie Lance, a Jackson County man convicted 10 years ago for murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend.
In April 2009, a judge dismissed the death penalty verdict, but upheld the conviction of Lance on the two murder charges.
The reason for last year’s reversal of the death sentence by the lower court was because of “ineffective legal counsel.” The court ruled that Lance’s lawyer didn’t investigate his “mental capabilities.” The attorney general, representing the state, appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. This week, the Supreme Court ruled that even if information on Lance’s mental capabilities was included, it would not have changed the outcome of the case.
“We conclude that the absence of deficiencies in Lance’s trial counsel’s performance would not in reasonable probability have resulted in a different outcome in either phase of Lance’s trial,” the judges wrote in the ruling.
Lance was convicted in 1999 of the brutal murder of his ex-wife, Joy Love Lance, and her boyfriend, Dwight “Butch” Wood Jr. The jury deliberated for one hour after seven days of testimony ended before coming back with a recommendation for the death penalty.