Texas executes Fort Worth man who killed great aunt in 1999

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A Fort Worth man convicted of fatally beating his 83-year-old great-aunt more than two decades ago was executed in the absence of media witnesses Wednesday night because prison officials failed to tell reporters it was time to carry out the punishment.

Quintin Jones received the lethal injection in Huntsville State Prison for the September 1999 murder of Berthena Bryant, agency spokesman Jeremy Desel said about 30 minutes after Jones was pronounced dead.

Desel never received the usual phone call from the Huntsville Unit Jail to take reporters from The Associated Press and The Huntsville Item to jail. He and the media witnesses were waiting in an office across the street.

“The Texas Department of Justice can only apologize for this mistake, and it will never happen again,” he said.

He said the execution, the first in Texas in nearly a year, involved a number of new employees who never participated in the trial.

“Somewhere in that mix, there was never a call to this office to escort the witnesses across the street to the Huntsville unit,” Desel said.

Desel said he did not immediately know whether the mishap was a violation of state law or a violation of agency policies.

The previous 570 executions Texas had carried out since the resumption of the death penalty in 1982 all had at least one media witness.

“I expect there will be a thorough investigation into how all of this happened and what was overlooked that made this possible, and I suspect the investigation is already underway,” Desel said.

There were no unusual circumstances surrounding the execution itself, he said, based on reports from agency officials who were in the death chamber.

Jones made a brief statement thanking his supporters and expressing their love for them.

“I was so happy to have left this world as a better, more positive place,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks in prison. “It’s not an easy life with all the negativity.

“I hope I left everyone with a plate of food full of happy memories, happiness and no sadness.”

When the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered, he took four or five deep breaths, followed by “one long deep snore,” Desel said.

Jones was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m., 12 minutes after the drugs started.

Less than an hour before the scheduled punishment, the US Supreme Court declined to stop the 41-year-old man’s execution.

Prosecutors said after Bryant refused to borrow Jones money, he hit her with a bat in her Fort Worth home and then took $ 30 out of her purse to buy drugs.

Some of Bryant’s family members, including her sister Mattie Long, had said they did not want Jones to be executed. Jones is Long’s great-nephew.

“Because I was so close to Bert, her death hurt me very much. Even so, God is merciful. Quintin cannot bring her back. I cannot bring her back. I am writing this to ask you to spare Quintin’s life,” wrote Long in a letter that was part of Jones’s pardon to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

The board denied Jones’ pardon on Tuesday, and Governor Greg Abbott did not object to the decision and also declined to delay the execution. Abbott has granted grace

On Wednesday, Jones ‘attorney filed a civil rights complaint against the board alleging that race played “an improper role” in dismissing Jones’ petition. Jones’ attorney argued that the case was similar to Whitaker’s and the only difference was that Whitaker was white and Jones was black. US District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. dismissed the complaint, writing that Jones provided no direct evidence to support his claim.

Helena Faulkner, an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County whose office was prosecuting Jones, said not all of Bryant’s family members opposed execution.

In his most recent appeals, Jones’ attorney Michael Mowla argued that Jones was mentally retarded and that his death sentence was based on since then discredited statements incorrectly labeling him as a psychopath and a future danger. Mowla also said Jones’ history of drug and alcohol abuse, which began at the age of 12, and the physical and sexual abuse he suffered, were never considered in his trial.

Jones was the first Texas inmate to receive a fatal injection since the July 8th execution

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors argued the death sentence was justified because Jones had a violent history, including assaulting teachers and participating in two other murders.

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Lozano reported from Houston.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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