11th Circuit rejects condemned inmate's appeal

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Thursday rejected an appeal filed by Brandon Jones, the oldest inmate on Georgia's death row and who is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday.


The majority decision, written by Judge Stanley Marcus, was joined by Judge Bill Pryor. Judge Charles Wilson, writing separately, concurred with the result.

The ruling noted that this is not Jones' final appeal pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Another decision on that request will be issued later, the judges said.

Jones, 72, was sentenced to death in Cobb County for the 1979 robbery and murder of Roger Tackett, a convenience store manager. Jones and his co-defendant, Van Roosevelt Solomon, were found at the scene. Solomon was also convicted of the crimes and executed years ago.

On Thursday, the 11th Circuit declined to reopen Jones' claims that his trial lawyers provided him ineffective counsel during the mitigation phase of his capital trial. Jones' appellate lawyers asked the court to stay Jones' execution in light of a still-pending appeal from death-row inmate Marion Wilson. Jones' new lawyers say the court's decision in Wilson's appeal could affect their prior ruling that rejected Jones' claims his trial lawyers were ineffective.

But Marcus wrote that Jones "has offered no new arguments to reconsider the soundness of that decision, even if we were able to examine it still again."

In that prior ruling, he said, the 11th Circuit "specifically weighed the totality of the aggravating evidence against the totality of the mitigating evidence, the new and the old, the good and the bad, and we concluded that Jones had failed to establish that he was entitled to habeas relief."

Jones' lawyers have also asked the full 11th Circuit court to stay the execution and consider the constitutionality of Georgia's lethal injection secrecy law. The three-judge panel, in Thursday's 28-page ruling, said the court would address that request in a separate order.

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About the Author

Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin covers criminal justice, the death penalty and legal affairs. He also hosts the AJC’s “Breakdown” podcast.