The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles commuted the death sentence of a convicted killer about two hours before his scheduled execution.

The board did not explain its decision Thursday to commute Samuel David Crowe's sentence to life without parole.

He pleaded guilty to the 1988 killing of lumber store manager Joseph Pala, who was shot, beaten with a crowbar and struck with a can of white paint that spilled on his face.

Douglas County District Attorney David McDade said Pala's family was upset by the decision.

The 47-year-old Crowe would have become the third inmate to die since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection. Georgia's May 6 execution of William Earl Lynd ended a seven-month halt on capital punishment.