Texas set to carry out first execution in 10 months

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Quintin Jones, 41, is scheduled to break a 10-month-long hiatus of executions in the state of Texas for a murder he committed more than 20 years ago. His lethal injection is planned for Wednesday evening at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

In 1999, Jones was convicted of beating his 83-year-old great-aunt Berthena Bryant to death with a baseball bat when she refused to give him $30 for drugs, according to court documents. He was sentenced to death in 2001 in Tarrant County and has been on death row ever since.

In 2020, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued several stays of execution due to COVID-19. Jones’ scheduled death will be the first execution in the state since July 8.

The convicted murderer and his family have pleaded to change his sentence to life in prison, saying that he has been forgiven by relatives, is “remorseful” and “has changed for the better” during his decades in prison.

“He is not the same person and has grown up,” Mattie Long, the only living sibling of Bryant, wrote in a clemency petition. “Quintin can’t bring her back. I can’t bring her back. I am writing this to ask you to please spare Quintin’s life.”

Jones’ twin brother, Benjamin, detailed their troubled childhood, saying that they had no positive role models while growing up and sought out trouble under little supervision. 

“Please don’t cause us to be victimized again through Quin’s execution,” the prisoner’s brother wrote. 

A petition called “Clemency for Quin” has collected more than 170,000 signatures to date.

On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Jones’ clemency plea. His lawyer, Michael Mowla, said that race may be to blame, citing a previous case where the same board reprieved the case of Thomas Whitaker — a White man convicted of murdering his mother and brother. Mowla has since asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a reprieve and stop Jones’ execution. 

“The lack of consistency in the application of grounds for clemency — where  clemency was recommended and granted for Whitaker, who is White, and rejected for Mr. Jones, who is Black — presents a legally cognizable claim that Mr. Jones’s race played an impermissible role in the board’s denial of his application for clemency,” Mowla said in a court filing.

In a final plea from Jones himself, published by the New York Times, Jones asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stop his execution, a request that still could be granted by the governor in a last-minute reprieve.

“If you could find it in your heart, Governor, to grant me clemency, then I can continue to live life to better myself, to better those around me,” he said. “All I’m asking you to do, if you could find in your heart, Mr. Abbott, is to give me a second chance at life.”

In the video, he told reporters that his 22 years in prison have made him a more thoughtful man and allowed him to love himself more. “I’m nothing like that person,” he said. “I’m not ready to die.”

Abbott has granted clemency to only one inmate on death row during his six years in office. Abbot could also choose to delay the execution for 30 days, however, he has never done so without the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

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