Georgia parole board spares life of condemned prisoner

Clemency granted hours before scheduled execution

Surrounded by family members, 58-year-old Jimmy Meders was told Thursday afternoon his bid for clemency was granted -- six hours shy of his scheduled execution.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Thursday it was commuting his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Meders became the 6th inmate to be granted clemency in Georgia since 2002 and the first in nearly six years.

“The board’s critically important role in showing mercy in these rare circumstances cannot be overstated,” said  Michael Admirand, one of Meders’ attorneys. “By taking this action, this parole board has made real the intent of the jury to sentence Jimmy to life without parole, and not death.”

Meders went to bed Wednesday night with at least some hope that it wouldn’t be his last. Following extensive testimony earlier in the day, the board announced they would need more time before reaching a decision.

They cited a number of factors in their decision to save Meders’ life: His lack of a criminal record prior to his conviction in 1989 for the murder of Glynn County convenience store clerk Don Anderson; his commission of only one minor infraction in his 30 years on death row and  the jury’s stated desire during deliberations to impose a life without parole sentence -- one that was legally unavailable at the time. Every surviving juror maintained their desire to spare Meders from execution, which also figured in the board’s ruling.

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