Texas executes inmate convicted of beating great-aunt despite family's objection

Texas executes inmate convicted of beating great-aunt despite family's objection
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A Texas inmate convicted of fatally beating his great-aunt was executed on Wednesday night, despite pleas from members of his family to spare his life.

Jeremy Desel, a spokesperson at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, confirmed the execution in an email to The Hill.

Quintin Jones, 41, died by lethal injection for fatally beating 83-year-old Berthena Bryant in September 1999, after she refused to loan him money.

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According to The Associated Press, Jones struck Bryant with a bat at her home in Fort Worth when he was 19 years old, before taking $30 from her purse to purchase drugs.

Some members of Jones’s family asked that his life be spared, but the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously denied his petition, the AP reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could have granted Jones a 30-day reprieve, according to NBC News, but the board’s rejection of his petition decreased chances of that happening.

On Wednesday, an attorney for Jones, who is Black, filed a civil rights complaint against the board claiming that race played “an impermissible role” in its rejection of his petition, according to the wire service.

The attorney argued that Jones’s case was similar to that of Thomas Whitaker, a white man whose death sentence was commuted by Abbott in 2018. Whitaker was sentenced to life in prison without parole after prosecutors determined that he was the mastermind behind the fatal shootings of his mother and brother.

Jones’s lawyer claimed that the only difference between the cases involving Jones and Whitaker was that Whitaker is white and Jones was Black, according to the AP.

U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr., however, dismissed the complaint, writing “while Jones raises troubling allegations, he has not substantiated them,” according to the wire service.

Jones also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution. Less than an hour before the scheduled death, however, the court declined to stop the execution, the AP reported.

In a video published by The New York Times prior to his execution, Jones is seen asking Abbott to grant him clemency, saying he would use the remainder of his life behind bars “to better myself and to better others along the way.”

In his final statement, Jones thanked “all of the supporting people” who helped him over the years, and reflected on his life, approximately half of which was spent behind bars.

“I was so glad to leave this world a better, more positive place. It’s not an easy life with all the negativities,” Jones said, according to Desel. 

"Love all my friends and all the friendships that I have made. They are like the sky. 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," he added.

Derrick Johnson, national president of the NAACP, slammed Jones’s execution in a statement, writing that “America’s outlook on justice remains broken.”

"Another Black man has been executed tonight. America's outlook on justice remains broken, barbaric and inhuman. Perhaps we need more forgiveness, more love, more understanding. I have no other words,” Johnson said.

Jones’s execution was the first death sentence carried out in Texas since July 8, when Billy Joe Wardlow received a lethal injection, according to the AP.

The Hill reached out to Abbott and Jones’s attorney, Michael Mowla, for comment.