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Friday, January 14, 2011

In Memory Of Two Young Men Texas Executed For Crimes Committed As Juveniles

Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 09:44 PM UTC

From: Rick Halperin

Aug. 8

TEXAS------juvenile execution

Texas man convicted of murder at 17 executed

An 8th-grade dropout who was a teenager when he was convicted of killing an East Texas man during a carjacking more than 8 years ago apologized for the crime and was executed today.

"I would like to say to the victim's family I regret the pain I put y'all through. I hope you can move on after this," T.J. Jones said, looking at relatives of his victim.

Then Jones, 25, turned to a second window where his mother was watching and said, "Mom, I love y'all. Take care. I'm ready."

He gasped and stopped breathing. Jones was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal dose began. His mother sobbed quietly and was comforted by Jones' aunt.

Jones was 17 when he was arrested with 3 companions for gunning down 75-year-old retired electrician Willard Davis, who had surrendered his car to them outside his home in Longview, about 190 miles north of Houston.

"They tried to make him get in the back seat and he said: 'No. Here's my car. Please let me go to my wife,'" recalled Alfonso Charles, an assistant district attorney in Gregg County who helped prosecute Jones. "And T.J. shot him right between the eyes."

Jones' lawyers filed no late appeals to try to halt the punishment.

"He has exhausted his remedies," attorney Don Davidson said.

Jones' sentence and his age at the time of the shooting renewed criticism from traditional death penalty opponents. As a teenage offender, Jones "would not be facing this punishment in almost any other country in the world," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"He's not a juvenile," Gregg County District Attorney Bill Jennings responded. "Under Texas law he is an adult and he's in an adult system. "He did an adult crime and he deserves to receive an adult penalty, which in this case 12 jurors decided should be death."

Texas is among 22 states that allow capital punishment for 17-year-olds.

Jones was the 12th Texas inmate and the 20th in the United States executed since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18. In May, and with much greater outcry from capital punishment opponents, Napoleon Beazley received lethal injection in Texas for killing the father of a federal judge. Beazley was 17 at the time of the crime.

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