Georgia Executes Its Oldest Death Row Inmate, 72, for 1979 Murder

Brandon Astor Jones was sentenced to death in 1979 for the robbery and murder of suburban Atlanta store manager Roger Tackett of that same year.

Georgia executed its oldest death row inmate early Wednesday for a murder the man committed during a robbery decades ago, officials said.

Brandon Astor Jones, 72, was pronounced dead at 12:46 a.m. Wednesday after an injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson, authorities said.

He was sentenced to death in 1979 for the robbery and murder of suburban Atlanta store manager Roger Tackett of that same year, the Georgia Department of Corrections said.

Jones accepted a final prayer and recorded a final statement, the DOC said.

The execution had initially been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday and was delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a slew of appeals from Jones’ attorneys.

The court denied requests for a stay of execution about 11 p.m.

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Jones was reportedly still with eyes closed and then swallowed a few times while moving his head slightly. He opened his eyes at 12:36 a.m. and turned his head to his left, appearing to look toward a clock hanging on the wall, according to the Associated Press.

The newswire noted Jones then closed his eyes again and took a few more breaths before falling still.

Jones was the second man executed in connection to the murder of Tackett, 35, who was found fatally shot in a locked storeroom.

He and co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon were arrested in the store by a police officer who heard four gunshots, Reuters reported.

Solomon was executed in 1985. Jones’ death sentence was reportedly overturned in 1989 because federal district court found that a Bible that had been allowed in the jury deliberation room may have influenced jurors to base their decision on scripture instead of law.

He was sentenced to death again in 1997.

Jones, who spent decades appealing his death sentence, was executed two weeks before he turned 73.

Read: Day Before Execution, Serial Killer Insists He Didn't Murder 3 Women: 'My Conscience Is Clear'

His was the fifth execution this year in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment in the country.

Texas, Alabama and Florida carried out executions last month.

There are presently 75 men on death row in Georgia. The state plans to execute another death row inmate in about two weeks.

Travis Clinton Hittson is scheduled to be executed on February 17 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson at 7 p.m., the DOC said. He was convicted in 1993 for the murder of Navy Seaman Conway Utterbeck.  

There have been 60 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. Jones was the 38th inmate put to death by lethal injection.

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