EXECUTION REPORT: QUINTIN PHILLIPPE JONES

Quintin Phillippe Jones, 41, has been executed by the state of Texas. Not much information about the execution is known, witnesses were not allowed into the chamber due to a communication error between prison officials.

A frame showing Quintin Phillippe Jones from a video recorded by the New York Times in which Jones asks Governor Greg Abbott for clemency. COURTESY: New York Times

Texas — It was reported by the Huntsville Item that the execution of Quintin Jones, 41, by lethal injection was completed at 6:40 p.m. CST on May 19, 2021. Jones’s execution was the first state execution of 2021 and the first state execution in 315 days. Billy Joe Wardlow’s execution was the last state execution before the Donald Trump Administration went on a federal execution spree spanning six months. No executions on a state level were carried out during the spree. Statistically, Jones was the 571st person put to death by the state of Texas since executions resumed in 1982 and the 1,533rd person to be executed in the United States since 1976.

The reconfigured execution chamber at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit in Huntsville, Texas, as viewed from a witness viewing area. COURTESY: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

There is controversy surrounding the fact that no witnesses were brought into the execution chamber. Apparently, it was a miscommunication error between prison officials since the person who was in charge of calling the official in the media center to inform them to escort the witnesses into the chamber had never participated in an execution before and forgot to make the call. What happened during the execution can only be based on accounts from the execution team, who have remained anonymous, and the spiritual advisor who was in the execution chamber with Jones. This was the first execution since 1992 in which no witnesses were allowed in the execution chamber.

THE CRIME, QUESTIONING, TRIAL, AND LIFE ON DEATH ROW

Jones was convicted and sentenced to death in Tarrant County for the murder of his 83-year-old great aunt. The great-aunt of Quintin Jones, Berthena Bryant, had a low income of less than $500 but occasionally made small loans to people, including Jones. The 83-year-old kept a log of whom she gave a loan to and their repayments. On September 10, 1999, Bryant had told her sister, Mattie Long, that she had refused to give Jones a loan for drugs earlier that day. Long had testified during the trial that Bryant seemed uneasy about the conversation she had with Jones.

An undated mugshot of Quintin Phillippe Jones. COURTESY: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

On the morning of September 11, 1999, Berthena Bryant was found dead in her home by her neighbors. A bloody and broken baseball bat was found at the scene. A medical examiner had determined that she was bruised on her wrists and arms. She had been inflicted with other major injuries such as abrasions, bruises, and fractures. She had a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, two fractured ribs, and a fracture at the base of her skull, according to court documents. Bryant’s death had been confirmed to be a murder. Her car was found a half-mile from her home in which her purse and wallet were discovered in the car while investigating.

Jones had been arrested the same day, but not for the death of Bryant. He was arrested for outstanding traffic warrants as well as possession of a controlled substance. While in custody, he was questioned twice about the death of Bryant. The first questioning took place the day he was arrested. He was being questioned by murder detective Ann Gates. After Gates had told Jones about Bryant’s murder, he did not react. Gates read his Miranda rights, or the right to refuse questions presented by law enforcement or other officials if suspected of a crime, because of this. He had stated that he didn’t have any involvement in Bryant’s murder.

The next day, he was reminded of his Miranda rights again and was taken to multiple locations to confirm his alibi. One of those locations had him take a polygraph examination. After the test, Jones’s alibi had not matched up with the examination, indicating that he was deceiving officials. He was brought back for questioning for the second time. This time, Jones had agreed to waive his Miranda rights and had given a written statement to Gates. In the statement, Jones stated that he had, “another personality,” named James who lived in his head.

According to him, James had started living in his head around age 10 or 11, during the time in which he was molested by his brother and cousin. James went to Bryant’s house to steal money from her. After being let in and James not able to find her purse, James lost his temper and started beating Bryant with a bat she kept by the door. After she was knocked out, James had found her purse and drove off in Bryant’s car. Jones had stated there was $30 in her purse, in which he went to a friend’s house with the money and bought drugs with it. After getting back into the car and leaving, he left the car in a parking lot.

During the trial, it was made clear that Jones had a violent history that included assaulting teachers and participating in two other murders. It was also brought up that he started abusing drugs and alcohol at the age of 12, he endured physical and sexual abuse, and only completed up to the 9th grade, but none of this was considered at the trial. Ultimately, Quintin Jones was found guilty sentenced to death for the murder of Berthena Bryant on March 16, 2001. It was later confirmed that Jones had suffered from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) manifested by his second personality, “James.”

According to the TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice), before being sentenced to death, Jones worked as a laborer. He also had no disciplinary infractions while on death row. In a video recorded and published by the New York Times just two weeks before his execution, Jones described himself as, “more thoughtful,” and nothing like the person he was 20 years ago. This video was sent to Governor Greg Abbott in an attempt to grant Jones clemency.

Quintin Jones during a visitation, undated. COURTESY: Unknown

THE EXECUTION TIMELINE

Just surpassing his 19th year on death row, Quintin Jones exhausted his appeals at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 23, 2020, and was eligible for execution. Later that October, Jones finally received an execution date of May 19, 2021.

Multiple executions were scheduled between when the federal execution spree scheduled and within the first half of this year, but all of them ended up not being carried out. Carlos Trevino was the last person scheduled for execution in Texas for 2020 on September 30 but had his execution warrant withdrawn by the Bexar County District Court on September 15, just 15 days before the execution was scheduled to be carried out.

No action on Jones’s scheduled execution date came after October until Monday, May 17, when Jones and his attorneys filed for a petition for a writ of certiorari and an application for a stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, May 18, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously denied granting clemency to Jones. In the early morning Wednesday, May 19, Jones filed a lawsuit against the Board on grounds that the decision to deny him clemency was racially biased, as well as a second application for a stay of execution but in a district court.

The Texas execution chamber after being reconfigured shortly before the execution of Quintin Jones on Wednesday. Witness viewing areas are to the right of the gurney as to the left is where the execution team watches through a one-way mirror what is happening inside the chamber. COURTESY: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Appeals lasted into the afternoon, but a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit around 4 p.m. as well as the application for a stay in the district court. At 5 p.m., The TDCJ confirmed that the execution chamber was reconfigured ahead of Jones’s execution in regards to the execution protocol amendment that was made recently. The lethal injection table was rotated 180 degrees so that an inmate laying down on the gurney would have their head near the back wall. The witness viewing rooms were also swapped.

At 5:15 p.m., the TDCJ provided a death watch, a sheet used to document an inmate’s activities just a few days before and leading up to their execution, for Jones. The last entry being from 11:26 a.m. the same day, stating he was escorted from, “12 building A pod.”

The death watch sheet logging what Jones has done since 12 a.m. Sunday. COURTESY: Texas Department of Criminal Justic

At 5:45 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court denied both Jones’s petition for a writ of certiorari and the application for a stay of execution, giving the TDCJ the green light to proceed with the execution as planned. Jones was due to be executed just 15 minutes after the decision came. Even so, Quintin Jones was moved to the execution chamber nearly 20 minutes after 6 p.m., the scheduled time.

Finally, at 6:40 p.m., the TDCJ reported that the execution of Quintin Jones had been completed. Pentobarbital was injected nearly 12 minutes before. It was later confirmed by the Director of Chaplain at the Huntsville Unit, where executions in Texas are carried out, who was the spiritual advisor for Jones’s execution. He had parked outside the prison, in which he told the three people who walked up to him that Quintin Jones had been executed, as live-streamed on YouTube by Death Penalty Action.

A screenshot taken from Death Penalty Action’s live stream showing the Director of Chaplain outside the Huntsville “Walls” Unit in Huntsville, Texas, after telling protesters that the execution of Quintin Jones had been completed. COURTESY: Death Penalty Action

The only account of what had happened at the execution is that when pentobarbital was administered, Jones took four or five deep breaths followed by, “a long deep snore,” as reported by Jeremy Desel, a spokesman for the TDCJ. For all that is known, the execution of Quintin Phillipe Jones went smoothly and without problems. Jones was 41.

His execution ended a 315-day hiatus between state executions, the 4th longest interval since when the death penalty was reinstated in America and the longest interval since 1979–1981, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Before being executed, Jones made the following final statement:

“I would like to thank all of the supporting people who helped me over the years. To mad Maddie, my twin Sonja, Angie, and all the homies. AKA money and Peruvian queen including crazy Dominican. I was so glad to leave this world a better, more positive place. It’s not an easy life with all the negativities. Love all my friends and all the friendship’s 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. I’m done warden.” — The final statement of Quintin Phillippe Jones before being put to death by the state of Texas on May 19, 2021.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMERICA’S DEATH PENALTY?

Idaho was supposed to execute its first inmate in nine years, Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr., on June 2, but it was called off to give time for a clemency hearing. If it wasn’t called off, Pizzuto would have been the next person scheduled for execution in the U.S. Currently, the only state that plans on executing inmates the rest of the year is Texas, with four more death warrants pending, one in June, two in September, and one in November.

At the moment, the next person scheduled for execution in the U.S. is John Hummel, 45, in Texas on June 30, 2021.

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