HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas inmate convicted of beating his 83-year-old great aunt to death nearly 22 years ago was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening, ending a 10-month pause of executions in the nation’s busiest death penalty state.
But media witnesses were not allowed to view the process because of a miscommunication between officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. According to TDCJ policy, a media representative from the Associated Press and a media representative from the Huntsville Item are guaranteed an opportunity to witness each execution.
“We have a number of new personnel that are a part of the execution team who have not been a part of an execution in the past," said TDCJ Director of Communications Jeremy Desel.
TDCJ officials said Quintin Jones, 41, was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m., nearly 12 minutes after officials gave him a lethal dose of pentobarbital at the state penitentiary in Huntsville
Prosecutors said Jones killed his great aunt, Berthena Bryant, in September 1999 after she refused to lend him money, beating her with a bat in her Fort Worth home then taking $30 from her purse to buy drugs.
Jones thanked his supporters in his final statement, which was provided via transcription after the fact.
“I was so glad to leave this world a better, more positive place,” he said. “It is all part of life like a big full plate of food for the soul. I hope I left everyone a plate of food full of happy memories, happiness and no sadness.”
Jones' execution was the first carried out in Texas that allowed for a non-TDCJ employed spiritual advisor to be present in the chamber.
A clemency request to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and a stay request to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Jones were both denied Wednesday afternoon. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted Tuesday not to recommend clemency.
In court documents, Jones’ attorney, Michael Mowla, argued Jones is intellectually disabled and that his death sentence is based on since discredited testimony that wrongly labeled him as a psychopath and a future danger. Mowla also said Jones’ history of drug and alcohol abuse that started at age 12 and physical and sexual abuse he suffered were never considered at his trial.
Jones became the first Texas inmate to be executed since the July 8 lethal injection of Billy Joe Wardlow. Four other executions were scheduled earlier this year but were either delayed or rescheduled. While Texas has usually been the nation’s busiest death penalty state, in 2020 only three inmates were put to death in the state. It was the fewest executions in nearly 25 years, a low attributed to the pandemic.
John Hummel, who was sentenced for the murder of three people in their Kennedale home, is the next prisoner scheduled to be executed. Barring any intervention, he will be put to death June 30.