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 five 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.