Georgia executes oldest death row inmate for 1979 murder

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Georgia To Execute Oldest Deathrow Inmate

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A 72-year-old man convicted of murdering a convenience store manager in a 1979 robbery in Atlanta's suburbs was executed in Georgia early on Wednesday, corrections officials said.

Brandon Astor Jones, the oldest inmate on the state's death row, died by lethal injection at 12:46 a.m. at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

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He accepted a final prayer and recorded a final statement, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Jones' death was delayed nearly six hours following a flurry of appeals by his attorneys. The U.S. Supreme Court late on Tuesday denied Jones' request for a stay of execution.

His execution was the fifth this year in the United States, and the first of two scheduled this month in Georgia, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment nationwide. Texas, Alabama and Florida executed inmates last month, the center said.

The Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected his petition to commute his sentence to life without parole.

Jones was the second man executed in the shooting death of Roger Tackett, 35, inside a convenience store in June 1979, according to court testimony.

Jones was arrested in the store, along with co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon, by a police officer who heard four gunshots, according to a Georgia Supreme Court case synopsis.

Jones later told another officer, "There is a man in the back - hurt bad," court records said. Police found a badly wounded Tackett in a locked storeroom.

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Notable death penalty executions and people on death row
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Georgia executes oldest death row inmate for 1979 murder

Willie Francis, the first known incident of failed execution by lethal injection, was executed on May 9, 1947. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his former boss, Andrew Thomas. 

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John Wayne Gacy, a rapist and serial killer responsible for the sexual assaults and murders of at least 33 men, was executed in Illinois on May 10, 1994. 

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Ted Bundy, a kidnapper, rapist, and serial killer responsible for the assaults and murders of dozens of young women, was executed in in Florida on January 24, 1989. His actual victim count remains unknown.

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Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer responsible for the deaths of seven men, was executed in Florida on October 9, 2002. 

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Charles Starkweather, a spree killer responsible for eleven murders, was executed in Nebraska on June 25, 1959. 

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Timothy McVeigh, responsble for the Oklahoma City bombing, was executed in Indiana on June 11, 2001.

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Thomas Provenzano, a convicted murderer responsible for shooting three people, was executed in Florida on June 21, 2000.

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Gary Gilmore, responsible for the shooting deaths of two men, was executed in Utah on January 17, 1977.

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Teresa Lewis, convicted of murdering her husband and stepson, was executed in Virginia on September 23, 2010.

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William Bonin, a serial killer responsible for a minimum of 21 rapes and murders, was executed in California on February 23, 1996.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, responsible for Boston Marathon bombing, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015.

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Nidal Malik Hasan, responsible for Ford Hood shooting, was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.

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Joseph E. Duncan III, a convicted murderer and sex offender, was sentenced to death on August 27, 2008.

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Death row prisoner Coy Wayne Wesbrook is photographed Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit outside Livingston, Texas. Wesbrook, 58, is set for lethal injection March 9, 2016, for the November 1997 fatal shootings of his ex-wife and another man at her apartment in Channelview, just east of Houston. They were among five people killed during the shooting rampage. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)
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Solomon, also convicted of murder, was executed 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, finding it could have improperly influenced jurors to base their decision on scripture instead of the law.

Another jury again sentenced Jones to death in 1997. Jones had continued to appeal the verdict, saying his trial lawyers failed to introduce evidence of his history of mental illness and childhood sexual abuse.

Jones, who declined to request a last meal, was to be offered instead the standard prison menu of chicken and rice, rutabagas, seasoned turnip greens, dry white beans, cornbread, bread pudding and fruit punch, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The execution came about two weeks before the planned execution of convicted murderer Travis Clinton Hittson, set for Feb. 17.

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