Wednesday, May 18, 2005

April 27, 2005

... the "monster" of crack cocaine....

Last Meal: Jones had a last meal of hamburger pizza, chicken strips, two orders of french fries, cole slaw, Pepsi and apple pie with ice cream.

The skinny: Jones was executed for killing his grandmother because she would not give him money to buy crack cocaine

His case was unusual because his family fought for years to keep him from being executed for killing one of their own.

More skinny: Jones went to the home of his grandmother around midnight to get some money to buy crack cocaine. She let him in and when Jones asked her for money, she refused and started lecturing Jones about his drinking and use of cocaine. Jones went downstairs to the kitchen, picked up a butcher block that contained knives, hid it behind him and went upstairs. His grandmother started lecturing him again, and Jones hit her several times with the butcher block while she screamed. Jones apparently became afraid that the neighbors might hear her screaming, picked up a knife that had fallen out of the butcher block and stabbed her until she stopped screaming and fell back onto her bed. Jones took his grandmother’s car keys, money, and VCR, and he drove off in her car. Jones purchased some drugs, sold the VCR and rented out the car to get money to but drugs. The grandmother’s body was discovered two days later. Upon questioning, Jones admitted the murder, blaming the "monster" of crack cocaine.

A bad call: Jones declined a prosecutor's offer to waive seeking the death penalty in exchange for his pleading guilty to first-degree murder and agreeing to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Jones opted to take his chances with jurors, convinced the killing was a second-degree murder not punishable by execution but carrying the prospect that he one day would be free.

Money quote: Jones’ family had hoped Blunt would commute the prisoner’s sentence to a life term without parole, arguing that Knuckles would not seek vengeance against her grandson. “We don’t have the death penalty so that families can feel a sense of vengeance,” Blunt said. “We have the death penalty because we believe as a society, we believe as a state and we believe as a people that some crimes are so horrific that the only appropriate punishment is the death penalty.”

Leading up to: Hours before his execution, Jones declined a sedative routinely offered to condemned inmates in their final hours but rarely refused.

Last words and such: Jones' final statement, written in his own hand: "Praise God! Every day is a day to give the Lord thanks for all He's done! To my Beautiful Family, Friends, and all those whose been in prayer, in thought and support, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my Family, you will never truely know how your love, prayers, and forgiveness has sustained me all these years, to all my friends and supporters, especially my Beautiful Angels at St. Louis University, your courage and conviction is inspiring, keep the sturggle alive. To my mother who truly has been hurt the most, your love and strength I carry with me always. Take care of my son. I"m finally free and I'm going home to grandmother now. I love you all and God Bless. Donnie."

Factoids: Jones was the...

17th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
961st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Missouri in 2005
63rd murderer executed in Missouri since 1976

On a grass field outside the prison, many in a crowd of 120 protesters held votive candles and prayed. College students huddled and hugged. A few wept.

Many of the relatively large crowd of protesters were students from St. Louis University who were inspired by Jones' case to organize a group against executions. A few visited him during his final days. "We loved him. He was so sweet and gentle," said Anna Calhoun, a sophomore who saw him Monday. The murder "was a horrific mistake that he admitted to. This just caused more suffering for his family. There was no need for it."

Jones was the first to be executed in the new death chamber of the Eastern Diagnostic Reception and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, which has replaced the old chamber at the Potosi Correctional Center, 15 miles away.