Virginia Man executed for raping, killing woman

JARRATT, Va. (AP) -- A man who raped and suffocated an 88-year-old woman was executed last week, becoming Virginia's first inmate to be given a lethal injection using a revised three-drug cocktail.

Jerry Terrell Jackson, 30, was pronounced dead at 9:14 p.m. Thursday at Greensville Correctional Center.

Asked if he had any final words, Jackson shook his head and said "no" under his breath. As he waited for the drugs to be administered, he tapped his foot as he lay strapped to a stainless steel gurney. The execution team took about 15 minutes to insert two intravenous lines, one into each arm. Within four minutes of the lines being inserted, he was pronounced dead.

Jackson was sentenced to death for the 2001 rape and murder of seamstress Ruth Phillips in her Williamsburg apartment.

Like other states, Virginia recently replaced sodium thiopental with pentobarbital after a nationwide shortage of the sedative, which is administered before two other drugs that stop the inmate's breathing and heart. Attorneys in some states have contested the use of pentobarbital, but federal courts have ruled the change is not significant enough to stop executions.

Pentobarbital has been used in two dozen executions this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Richard Phillips, who found his mother dead on Aug. 26, 2001, said the execution was long overdue. Neither Phillips nor other members of the victim's family witnessed the execution.

Jackson nearly got a reprieve last year when U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema allowed a two-day evidentiary hearing in which Jackson's brother and sister testified about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and stepfather while growing up.

Brinkema ordered that Jackson at the time should receive a new sentencing hearing, saying the testimony "painted a graphic picture of an unwarranted, continuous, sadistic course of conduct that terrorized and dehumanized Jackson throughout his childhood." But earlier this year, a federal appeals court overturned that ruling on a technicality.

Recently, Jackson's attorneys had argued jurors should get a chance to hear those graphic details of childhood abuse.

That argument was not enough to sway Gov. Bob McDonnell, who denied a request to commute Jackson's sentence to life in prison last week. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request earlier in the day Thursday to block the execution.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press last Friday, Jackson talked about the abuse, which began with a broken arm when he was 19 months old and continued with sexual abuse and beatings with a fist, belt and once a two-by-four for more than a decade.

Jackson acknowledged killing Phillips. Although he said it wasn't an excuse for what he did, Jackson said he didn't think it would have happened if he could have escaped the abuse as a child.

Published: Mon, Aug 22, 2011