Georgia executes 72-year-old inmate for 1979 murder

Brandon Astor JonesBrandon Astor Jones

The state of Georgia early Wednesday morning executed the oldest prisoner on its death row, state officials said.

Brandon Astor Jones, 72, was executed for the June 17, 1979, shooting death of Roger Dennis Tackett, a Smyrna, Ga., convenience store manager. Jones was the 38th Georgia inmate put to death by lethal injection, according to state officials.

The next condemned inmate in Georgia set to die is Travis Clinton Hittson. He was convicted in 1993 for the murder of Navy Seaman Conway Utterbeck in Houston County.

Jones was originally convicted and sentenced to death in October 1979. However, a federal judge in 1989 overturned his death sentence because the Cobb County jury requested a Bible during their deliberations, according to an Associated Press report from the time.

Jones was resentenced to death in September 1997. He subsequently filed a motion for new trial, which was denied on Jan. 11, 2000.

The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Jones’ death sentence on Nov. 20, 2000. Leading up to his execution, defense attorneys contested a Georgia state law that keeps secret the name of the company that manufactures the drug used in executions.

However, a federal appeals court panel on Tuesday voted 6-5 not to hear Jones’ challenge of that law. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday also denied to hear a last minute appeal.

“Today Brandon Jones will be executed, possibly in violation of the Constitution. He may also be cruelly and unusually punished in the process,” NBC News quoted the four judges as saying in their dissent. “But if he is, we wont know until its too late — if ever.”

A co-defendant, Van Roosevelt Solomon, was executed in the electric chair in February 1985. Solomon, a former preacher, was himself the victim of a robbery and shooting at a Downtown Atlanta grocery store he managed, UPI reported at the time.

“I would like to say I would like to give my blessing to all the people who tried to save my life,” UPI quoted Solomon, who was 41 at the time, as saying before his execution.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday denied clemency. Here is the State Board of Pardons and Paroles order:

Board-order-in-Jones-Case

Here is the Jones clemency application:

Brandon-Astor-Jones-Clemency-Application
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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.