Dallas man executed for 1993 carjacking murder
HUNTSVILLE, TX -- Convicted killer George Jones was executed Wednesday evening for the fatal shooting of a Dallas man during a carjacking 17 years ago.
Jones, 36, exhausted his court appeals and his lawyer made no last-day attempts to block the lethal injection, the 12th this year in the nation's busiest death penalty state. Jones was arrested several months after the body of Forest Hall, 22, was found along a rural road near Lancaster in April 1993.
When asked by the prison warden if he had a final statement, Jones thanked his parents "who have been my pillar of strength in this situation" and his brothers and sisters "who have loved me despite my faults and imperfections."
None of his relatives witnessed the execution, but his victim's relatives watched through a window. Jones told them that he hoped the punishment "brings you closure or some type of peace."
"This has been a long journey, one of enlightenment," he added. "It's not the end, it's only the beginning."
After a gasp and loud snores, Jones stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. CDT, eight minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing. His arms were partially covered by his white shirt and the tape around the intravenous tubes carrying the drugs. One needle was opposite a tattoo of the word "killer" on his right arm.
"It was a bitter, bitter situation," Hall's uncle, Theron Nash, said after watching the execution. "We thank God for this day and we ask God's mercy upon George Jones' mother."
Another uncle, Kelvin Hall, believed the punishment brought justice but seemed too easy.
"It was like laying down and going to sleep," he said after watching Jones' death. "My nephew suffered."
Even after 17 years, his nephew's slaying for him "is as fresh as the day it happened," Nash added.
Jones was arrested at his parents' home about five months Hall's body was found. The employee at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital had been shot twice in the head after he was abducted and his car was taken from a Dallas shopping mall.
Jones acknowledged being a drug dealer but said prosecutors were wrong when they tied him to 21 crimes, including other armed car jackings and the fatal shooting of Kendra Buckner, a 20-year-old south Dallas woman abducted and taken to a remote area as she walked home in September 1993.
Buckner's brother and sister also witnessed Jones' execution Wednesday. Jones was never tried in her death.
"They were putting cases on me in places I never was," Jones told The Associated Press recently from a visiting cage outside death row. "If I do something, I own up to it. How can I feel sorry for nothing I had to do with?"
Greg Davis, one of the prosecutors at Jones' capital murder trial, said there was "absolutely no doubt" authorities had the right man.
"That's just a lie," Davis said last week of Jones' claim of innocence.
Jones was implicated by an accomplice, Derrick Rodgers, who plea-bargained for a 22-year prison term for aggravated robbery and testified against Jones.
Evidence showed that Hall's abductors approached him in the mall parking lot and forced their way into his car. Rodgers testified that Hall was ordered to lie face-down in a ditch and was shot twice by Jones in the back of the head.
The next day, Hall's car -- stripped of tires and wheels and stereo -- was recovered near Fair Park in south Dallas.
A forensic examiner testified that Jones signed a pawn slip for the tires and rims from Hall's car. A car stereo and speakers from Hall's car were found at Jones' home.
Jones gave a written confession that blamed Rodgers for Hall's slaying but said he "accidentally" shot Hall once in self-defense. His lawyers later challenged the confession, which Jones said was written by police, but it was allowed into evidence at his capital murder trial in 1995.
Doug Parks, his lead defense lawyer at his trial, said Jones had come from a good family and "never wanted for anything." Parks said Jones was acting out to fit in with the wrong crowd.
Five years ago, Jones got within two days of execution before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to review claims that he was mentally impaired and ineligible for execution. The appeal eventually was rejected.
Two more executions are scheduled for Texas this month. Next is David Powell, 59, condemned for fatally shooting Austin police officer Ralph Albanedo in 1978. Powell is scheduled for death June 15, nearly 32 years after he arrived on death row.
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