Georgia executes oldest death row inmate

  • 03/02/2016
Brandon Astor Jones in an undated handout photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections (Reuters)
Brandon Astor Jones in an undated handout photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections (Reuters)

Georgia has executed its oldest death row inmate -- a 72-year-old man convicted of the 1979 murder of a convenience-store manager during a robbery.

Brandon Astor Jones died by lethal injection on Wednesday at 12:46am (local time) at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, officials said.

He accepted a final prayer and recorded a final statement, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Jones's death was delayed nearly six hours following a flurry of appeals by his lawyers. The US Supreme Court late on Tuesday denied Jones's request for a stay of execution.

His execution was the fifth this year in the United States, and the first of two scheduled this month in Georgia, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre, which monitors capital punishment nationwide.

The Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Jones's petition to commute his sentence to life without parole.

Jones was the second man executed over the shooting death of Roger Tackett, 35, inside a convenience store in June 1979, according to court testimony.

Jones was arrested in the store, along with co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon, by a police officer who heard four gunshots. Jones later told another officer, "There is a man in the back -- hurt bad."

Police found a badly wounded Tackett in a locked storeroom.

Solomon, also convicted of murder, was executed in 1985. Jones had spent decades appealing against his death sentence.

A federal district court overturned his death sentence in 1989 because a trial judge had allowed a Bible in the jury deliberation room, finding it could have improperly influenced jurors to base their decision on scripture instead of the law.

Another jury sentenced Jones to death in 1997. Jones had continued to appeal the verdict, saying his trial lawyers failed to introduce evidence of his history of mental illness and childhood sexual abuse.

Jones declined to request a last meal, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.