ATLANTA — UPDATE: On Monday night, a judge temporarily halted the execution of the Georgia man convicted of killing an 8-year-old girl and raping her 10-year-old friend in 1976.
Virgil Delano Presnell Jr., who is convicted for the 1976 kidnapping and murder of an 8-year-old girl and the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year-old girl, has chosen his last meal.
The 68-year-old man requested four hamburgers, four French fries, two vanilla milkshakes, four sodas, an eight-piece bucket of chicken, potato salad and two pints of vanilla ice cream, the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) announced last Friday.
Presnell is scheduled to be executed Tuesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson at 7 p.m.
Presnell abducted the two girls as they walked home from a Cobb County elementary school on May 4, 1976. He drove them to a secluded area, had them undress and raped the older girl, according to evidence at trial outlined in a Georgia Supreme Court ruling. The younger girl tried to run, but Presnell caught her and drowned her in a creek, the ruling states.
He locked the 10-year-old girl in the trunk of his car and then left her in a wooded area when he got a flat tire, saying he’d return. She ran to a nearby gas station and described Presnell and his car with a flat tire to police.
Presnell's death sentence was overturned in 1992 but was reinstated in March 1999. He has spent nearly half a century in prison.
Presnell's lawyer argues his death sentence, explaining her client has significant cognitive impairments that likely contributed to his crimes and has suffered horrific abuse in prison.
"Before society makes a man pay the ultimate price for a crime, it must determine if his culpability justifies the cost. In Virgil’s case, it simply does not. Virgil Presnell is profoundly disabled,” his attorney Monet Brewerton-Palmer wrote in a clemency application that was declassified by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The application acknowledges the gravity of what Presnell did and says he is “deeply and profoundly sorry” to the two girls' families. It asks the parole board to postpone his execution by 90 days so the board can review his application and then to commute his sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
The closed door clemency hearing is set for Monday.
There have been 75 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty the same year Presnell was sentenced. If executed, he will be the 54th inmate put to death by lethal injection. He'd also be the first person executed by Georgia this year and the seventh nationwide.
There are currently 37 men and one woman under death sentence in Georgia, according to the GDC.