GEORGIA (USA): BRANDON ASTOR JONES EXECUTED
February 3, 2016: Brandon Astor Jones, 72, Black, was executed in Georgia. He was the oldest inmate on death row in Georgia.
Jones was the second man executed over the shooting of Roger Tackett, 35, inside a store in Atlanta's suburbs in June 1979. He was arrested inside along with co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon. Solomon was put to death 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.
But Jones was again sentenced to death by another jury in 1997. His death was delayed for almost six hours following a string of appeals by his attorneys.
The execution had initially been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday and was delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considered 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.
The challenge to Georgia's strict execution secrecy law sharply divided the 11thÂ U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The law classifies the identifying information of any person or entity who participates in an execution as a "confidential state secret." Jones' lawyers argued the state's execution method carries "a substantial risk of significant harm," violating his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. But because of the secrecy law, they argued, they don't have enough information to make that claim, which violates his constitutional right to due process. Three-judge panels of the 11th Circuit had already rejected similar arguments, setting a binding precedent. But because of divided opinions expressed by judges on those panels, Jones' lawyers asked the full 11-judge court to consider their arguments. The court on Tuesday voted 6-5 to deny that review, but several judges offered strongly worded dissenting opinions.
Jones is the 1st person Georgia has put to death this year, the 61st since the state resumed executions in 1983, the 5th of the year in the Usa, and the number 1427 since Usa resumed executions in 1977. (Source: Associated Press, 03/02/2016)