"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Condemned murderer Brandon Astor Jones loses another appeal

Brandon Jones
Brandon Jones
An appellate court on Friday rejected another attempt by Brandon Astor Jones to stop his execution scheduled for Tuesday for the 1979 murder of a Cobb County convenience store manager.

Late in the afternoon, a judge in Butts County, which is where Georgia's execution chamber is located, said the issues raised in Jones' appeal were decided years ago and cannot be revisited.

Jones' lawyers argued in the appeal that it's rare for a murderer to be sentenced to die if the crime that made the case eligible for the death sentence was armed robbery. A death sentence can be given only in certain circumstances, such as when certain felonies were committed at the same time as the murder, if the crime was exceptionally horrendous, or if a law enforcement officer was killed.

"Even at the time of Mr. Jones' original sentence in 1979, a death sentence for a murder that occurred in those circumstances was an anomaly," his lawyers wrote.

"Since the time of Mr. Jones' crime, a death sentence for a murder that occurs in the context of a place-of-business armed robbery has fallen into complete extinction," they wrote. "A death penalty has not been imposed in Georgia for a murder committed during an armed robbery in the last 20 years."

They wrote Jones' execution would be "unconstitutionally disproportionate and excessive" because "in Georgia today" his crime would not be considered the worst of the worst and deserving of capital punishment.

Jones also makes the same arguments in his clemency petition filed with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Parole Board will hear from Jones' family and attorneys Monday morning. Tackett's widow and daughter, along with Cobb County prosecutors, are scheduled to speak to the board Monday afternoon.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected Jones' challenge concerning the state law that keeps secret the identity of the pharmacist who will make the pentobarbital that will be used to put him to death.

Jones and co-defendant Van Roosevelt Jones were both sentenced to die for murdering Roger Tackett, who had stayed after closing at the Tenneco convenience store and gas station to finish paperwork.

Tackett was shot 5 times early Father's Day morning almost 37 years ago. Jones and Solomon were immediately arrested because a Cobb County police officer was outside the store at the time, having driven a stranded motorist to the Tenneco to use the pay phone.

Solomon was electrocuted Feb. 20, 1985, while Jones' execution was delayed when a federal judge ordered him re-sentenced because the jury that convicted him and voted for death in 1979 had a Bible in the room during deliberations. Jones was re-sentenced to death in 1997.

Jones is the oldest man on Georgia's death row and stands to be the oldest person the state has executed. His 73rd birthday is Valentine's Day.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 30, 2016


Watch killer die? Victim's kin won't. Co-defendant's son might

Georgia's death chamber
Georgia's death chamber
The widow and daughter of the man Brandon Astor Jones murdered in 1979 don't plan to watch his execution, scheduled for Tuesday evening.

They will be together at the Cherokee County home of Katie King, who was 7 when her father was killed.

"I will be at peace, being with my mom," said King, referring to Christine Bixon.

Bixon - who was Christine Tackett until she remarried 4 years after her husband's murder - said she did not attend the execution of Jones' co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon 30 years ago and she doesn't plan to attend the one set for Tuesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison outside Jackson.

But Zuberi Solomon, who was 2 when his father and Jones murdered convenience store manager Roger Tackett, has asked the Department of Corrections to allow him to be a witness. He has not received an answer.

He said he wanted to "see the face of the person that destroyed 2 families."

"They've lost their father (and husband)," Solomon said. "You feel sympathy for them. I definitely know what it feels like. Senseless."

Zuberi Solomon says all the blame for the murder should go to Jones and not his father, a 1-time Baptist preacher who by then had a painting business. Jones worked for Van Roosevelt Solomon.

Zuberi Solomon said Jones forced his father at gunpoint to drive from Atlanta's West End to Cobb County so he could buy drugs and it was Jones who decided they should break into the Tenneco on Delk Road. He said his father did not shoot Tackett, even though police found 2 guns that had been fired and gunshot residue on the hands of both men.

Solomon and Jones were arrested because Cobb County police Officer Ray Kendall was outside the store when Tackett was shot. The officer had driven a stranded motorist to the Tenneco to use a pay phone and became suspicious when he found Tackett's car parked in front with the driver's side door open. Kendall was looking through a window when Jones peeked out of the storeroom door.

Kendall found Tackett lying in a pool of his own blood inside the storeroom, shot once in the thumb and twice in the hip and the head.

Each suspect blamed the other for firing the shot that killed Tackett.

Van Roosevelt Solomon, who had been in prison in Oklahoma, was electrocuted in 1985.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 30, 2016

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