Georgia preparing to execute man who killed Atlanta officer

ATLANTA (AP) — A man convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer and wounding a second officer with an AR-15 rifle is scheduled to be the seventh person executed by the state this year.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is set to die by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital tonight. He was convicted in the October 1997 slaying of Officer John Sowa and for critically wounding Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

If the execution is carried out, Lawler would be the seventh inmate executed in Georgia this year, the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976. Georgia executed five inmates last year and five in 1987.

Georgia is one of five states that have carried out executions this year for a total of 16 nationwide. Texas has executed seven inmates, while Alabama, Florida and Missouri have executed one apiece.