Oldest death row inmate in Georgia is executed

JACKSON, Ga. - Georgia executed a 72-year-old man, its oldest death row inmate, early Wednesday for the killing of a convenience store manager during a robbery decades ago.

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The state Department of Corrections says Brandon Astor Jones was pronounced dead at 12:46 a.m. Wednesday after a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted in the shooting death of suburban Atlanta store manager Roger Tackett.

The punishment was delayed for several hours while the U.S. Supreme Court considered late appeals from Jones' attorneys. They asked the justices to block the execution for either of two reasons: because Jones was challenging Georgia's lethal injection secrecy law or because he said his death sentence was disproportionate to his crime.

Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, the court denied the requests for a stay.

According to evidence at his trial, Jones and another man, Van Roosevelt Solomon, were arrested at a Cobb County store by a policeman who had driven a stranded motorist there to use a pay phone about 1:45 a.m. on June 17, 1979. The officer knew the store usually closed at midnight and was suspicious when he saw a car out front with the driver's door open and lights still on in the store.

The officer saw Jones inside the store, prosecutors have said. He entered and drew his weapon after hearing four shots. He found Jones and Solomon just inside a storeroom door and took them into custody. Tackett's body was found inside the storeroom.

Tests showed each man had recently fired a gun or handled a recently fired gun. The cash drawer had been removed and was found wrapped in a plastic bag.

Jones was convicted in October 1979 and sentenced to death. A federal judge in 1989 ordered a new sentencing hearing because jurors had improperly been allowed to bring a Bible into the deliberation room. He was resentenced to death in 1997.

Solomon, who was also convicted and sentenced to death, was executed in Georgia's electric chair in February 1985.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the only entity in Georgia authorized to commute a death sentence, on Monday declined to grant Jones clemency.


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