US state to execute its oldest death row inmate next month

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Atlanta (US), Jan 14: Georgia plans to execute its oldest death row inmate next month, the state's attorney general has announced. Brandon Astor Jones, 72, is scheduled to be put to death February 2 at the state prison in Jackson, the office of Attorney General Sam Olens said in a news release yesterday.

Jones was convicted of killing Roger Tackett, a convenience store manager, during a robbery in 1979. A federal judge later ordered a new sentencing hearing for Jones because jurors had improperly been allowed to bring a Bible into the deliberation room. Jones was resentenced to death in 1997.

USA

The US Supreme Court in October rejected an appeal from Jones. A divided Georgia Supreme Court and the federal appeals court in Atlanta had previously upheld his death sentence. According to evidence at his trial, Jones and Van Roosevelt Solomon were arrested at the scene by a Cobb County policeman who had driven a stranded motorist to the convenience store to use a pay phone at around 1:45 am on June 17, 1979.

The officer knew the store usually closed at midnight and was suspicious when he saw a car out front with the driver's side door open and lights still on inside the store. Through the front window, he saw Jones stick his head out of the storeroom door at the back of the store and look around before closing the door, prosecutors have said. The officer entered the store and drew his weapon after hearing four shots.

He yelled, "Police, come on out," and approached the storeroom when no one responded. He found Jones and Solomon just inside the storeroom door and took them into custody, prosecutors have said. Tests showed each man had recently fired a gun or handled a recently fired gun.

The cash drawer had been removed and was found wrapped in a plastic bag. Solomon, who was also convicted and sentenced to death, was executed in Georgia's electric chair in February 1985. 

AP

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