Stop the Execution of Virgil Presnell in Georgia

Governor Brian Kemp

Virgil Presnell is scheduled for execution in Georgia on May 17, 2022 for the 1976 murder of Lori Ann Smith.

According to news reports, Presnell has significant cognitive impairments that likely contributed to his crimes and has suffered horrific abuse in prison.

From news reports:

Presnell's mother drank large amounts of alcohol while she was pregnant with him, and a history of serious developmental disabilities is well-documented in his school records, [the Clemency petition argues], adding that he grew up in an “abusive and unstable environment,” and sexual abuse was “endemic” in his family.

Even when he was arrested, his significant cognitive limitations were on display. Under questioning by police, he confessed to every open crime against children in the county.

Read more about the clemency petition here. Lawyers representing Mr. Presnell are also arguing that the state has not met its commitments related to the pandemic prior to resuming executions and have filed motions seeking a stay of this execution. Read more here.

In continuing to schedule executions, Georgia makes itself an outlier in its use of the death penalty. In fact, for the last two years since the pandemic began, Georgia has been one of only a handful of states that has scheduled executions.

The majority of other states are on a downward trend of executions, and increasingly, states are abolishing the practice altogether, including the southern state of Virginia, which repealed its death penalty law in 2021.

Please sign the petition asking Governor Kemp to do everything within his power to stop this execution, including issuing a stay, and seeking a path to clemency in the case.

Petitions will be delivered on your behalf in the days leading up to the execution.

Sponsored by

To: Governor Brian Kemp
From: [Your Name]

We are writing to ask that you to stop the May 17, 2022 execution of Virgil Presnell, who was sentenced to die for the 1976 murder of Lori Ann Smith.

While it does not excuse his crime, it must be understood that Presnell's mother drank large amounts of alcohol while she was pregnant with him, and a history of serious developmental disabilities is well-documented in his school records. He grew up in an “abusive and unstable environment,” and sexual abuse was “endemic” in his family.

Even when he was arrested, his significant cognitive limitations were on display. Under questioning by police, he confessed to every open crime against children in the county.

We are concerned that while the vast majority of states with capital punishment continue on a downward trend of executions, Georgia continues to go against the trend by carrying out executions still.

For the last two years since the pandemic began, Georgia has been one of only a handful of states that has scheduled an execution. This is a disgrace, and must stop.

We, the undersigned, ask that you do everything within your power to stop this execution, including issuing a stay, and seeking a path to clemency in the case.