Georgia today executed the oldest man on death row, Brandon Astor Jones. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Jones, 10 days shy of his 73rd birthday, died at 12:46 a.m., ending a decades-long journey for the daughter and widow of the man he murdered in 1979. Jones fought death. His eyes closed within a minute of the warden leaving the execution chamber, but 6 minutes later his eyes popped open. He looked at a clock on the wall, and then appeared to look at the man who prosecuted him in 1979, former Cobb County District Attorney Tom Charron, who was sitting on the front row.
Jones' attorneys waged a legal battle through the final hours to spare him from being executed for the 1979 murder of Roger Tackett, who managed a convenience store and gas station in Cobb County. The battle ended at about 11 p.m. last night, when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas denied requests for a stay, allowing the execution to go forward. Earlier yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit turned down Jones' request for a stay so his lawyers could argue before all 11 federal appeals court judges, sitting as a group, the constitutionality of the Georgia law that keeps secret the identity of the pharmacist who makes the pentobarbital for executions.