Tuesday, March 18, 2003

FEDERAL LAST MEAL (near Terre Haute, IN)
March 18, 2003

Feds make it three...

LAST MEAL: whole fruit: nectarines, peaches and plums.

The skinny: Jones, a Gulf War veteran, was executed for raping and killing an Air Force recruit. Jones kidnapped the victim at gunpoint. Two soldiers witnessed the kidnapping and tried to follow them, but Jones assaulted one of the men, knocking him unconscious. Jones raped the victim in his home before driving her to a bridge, where he bludgeoned her to death with a tire iron. Jones had claimed that exposure to nerve gas during the 1991 Gulf War may have damaged his brain and sparked uncontrollable violence.

POWERFUL ALLIES...NO HELP: Jones had powerful people working to spare his life. Former presidential candidate Ross Perot, who has helped fund research into the illnesses plaguing many Gulf War veterans, tried to get Jones' sentence commuted to life without parole. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a Texas Republican, said last month the execution should be delayed while experts determine whether Jones suffers from Gulf War syndrome, a term used to describe a variety of illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans.

Last words and such: In Jones’ final moments, he looked toward the room where the witnesses he had selected were watching and mouthed the words, “I love you.” Jones did not acknowledge the family members, and expressed no remorse for the killing. Asked by prison officials whether he had a last statement, Jones said: “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” He then began singing a refrain -- “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever ’til my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river” -- from the hymn "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross."

Protesters Few: About a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil about a quarter-mile from the prison. No death penalty supporters were present.

Huh? A sign leaning against a fence in front of the group said, "The tragic irony: As we rush recklessly to war with Iraq we are killing a veteran of the first Gulf War."

Factoids: Jones is the third person executed by the federal government since 1963, after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and drug kingpin Juan Garza. All three took place at the federal execution facility near Terre Haute.

Jones was the 17th person put to death in the United States so far this year.

The United States is the only western democracy in which the death penalty is still used. According to Amnesty International, in 2001 China carried out the most executions, 2,468, followed by Iran, 138, Saudi Arabia 79 and the United States 66.

The complete hymn...

Jesus keep me near the Cross

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
there a precious fountain
free to all, a healing stream
flows from Calvary's mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever;
till my raptured soul shall find
rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me. Refrain

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day,
with its shadows over me. Refrain