Georgia’s parole board spared the life of prisoner Jimmy Meders a few hours ahead of his scheduled execution, commuting his sentence to life without the possibility of parole, reports the Associated Press. Meders, 58, had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 7 p.m. Thursday. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles released its decision granting him clemency around 1 p.m. Meders is only the sixth Georgia death row inmate to have a sentence commuted by the board since 2002. The last was Tommy Lee Waldrip, who was spared execution in 2014. Meders’ attorney Mike Admirand of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said the “parole board has made real the intent of the jury to sentence Jimmy to life without parole, and not death.”
Meders was convicted of murder and sentenced to die for the 1987 killing of convenience store clerk Don Anderson in coastal Glynn County. The parole board, the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence, held a closed-door hearing for Meders on Wednesday. The board said it considered Meders’ lack of a criminal record before Anderson’s killing, the fact that he had only one minor infraction during 30 years on death row, the jury’s desire to impose a life without parole sentence and the support for clemency from the jurors who are still living. Meders was sentenced to death in 1989, four years before a change in the law that allowed a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in capital cases.