Ga. to Execute Oldest Death Row Inmate

Brandon Astor Jones, 72, is set to be put to death by lethal injection Tuesday evening for the shooting death of a Cobb County convenience-store manager, Roger Tackett.

Brandon Astor Jones
Brandon Astor Jones Twitter

Georgia is preparing to execute its oldest death row inmate Tuesday evening for the 1979 murder of a convenience-store manager, the Associated Press reports

Brandon Astor Jones, 72, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 7 p.m. after spending years on death row since being convicted in the shooting death of Cobb County, Ga., convenience-store manager Roger Tackett. 

On Monday, Jones was denied clemency from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which, the newswire notes, is the only body in Georgia authorized to commute a death sentence.

According to AP, Jones also has an appeal pending before the state Supreme Court, in which he claims that capital punishment is disproportionate to the crime committed. In addition, the inmate has an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, questioning whether the state’s execution-secrecy law is constitutional. That law treats the identity of any person or entity involved in an execution, including the provider of the drugs used in the execution, as a confidential state secret. 

In June 1979, a Cobb County policeman drove a stranded driver to the convenience store in question to use a payphone around 1:45 a.m. The officer knew that the store was normally closed at midnight and became suspicious when he saw a car in front of the store with the driver’s-side door open. Lights were also still on inside the store. 

The officer spotted Jones, who had stuck his head out of the storeroom door at the back of the store to look around before closing the door. The officer then entered the store and drew his weapon after he heard four shots. The officer yelled, “Police, come on out,” as he approached the storeroom door, but no one responded. He later came upon Jones and co-defendant Van Roosevelt Solomon just inside the storeroom door and arrested them both. 

Tests conducted showed that each man had recently fired a gun or handled a recently fired gun. The cash drawer from the store had been taken and was found wrapped in a plastic bag, AP notes. 

Jones was convicted later that year and sentenced to death. In 1989 a federal judge ordered a new sentencing hearing because jurors had been allowed to bring a Bible into the deliberation room. Jones was then resentenced to death in 1997.

Solomon was convicted and also sentenced to death; he was executed by electric chair in February 1985.