With no parting words before his death, a man sentenced to die nine years ago was executed by lethal injection Thursday night at a state prison north of Emporia.
Jerry Terrell Jackson, 30, was led into the execution chambers at 8:53 p.m., with six prison guards strapping him down on a gurney.
"In accordance with the order from the Circuit Court of the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court, the execution of Jerry Terrell Jackson has been carried out in the manner as prescribed by the Commonwealth of Virginia," the prison warden said.
With his death, Jackson became the 109th person executed by the state of Virginia since a nationwide moratorium on capital punishment ended in 1976.
Jackson, who grew up in James City County, was convicted for the 2001 rape and murder of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips, a Williamsburg widow, when Jackson was 20 years old.
At about 4 p.m. Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his petition for a stay of execution, with two justices on the nine-member court — Ruth Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — the only members voting for the stay.
Jackson's death brings an end to nine years of legal wrangling after a 12-member jury in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court unanimously voted that Jackson be sentenced to die.
In 2010, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema granted Jackson a new sentencing hearing. Last Friday, Gov. Bob McDonnell denied Jackson's appeal for clemency, saying he could find "no compelling reason" to intervene.
Jackson has spent nine years — nearly a third of his life — on death row. Among those at the vigil outside the prison was Mikhaela Payden-Travers, 30, the daughter of Jackson's spiritual advisor, Episcopal priest Christine Payden-Travers.
Before his death, Jackson had a final meal, but declined to make public what it was. There were 15 people — mostly Department of Corrections officials — in the death chambers. Seven other witnesses — including Jackson's spiritual advisor and some of his attorneys — were also on hand.
Witnesses were led out of the room as Jackson's body was still on the gurney. Jerry Terrell Jackson is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 9 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.
The 30-year-old Williamsburg man was convicted of the 2001 rape and murder of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips in her Williamsburg apartment.
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court blocks the execution, Jackson will become the first Virginia inmate executed using a new sedative in the three-drug lethal cocktail.
Although attorneys in some states have contested its use, federal courts have ruled the change is not significant enough to stop executions.
There have been about 20 executions using pentobarbital.
Jerry Terrell Jackson is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. Virginia, and many other states, previously had used sodium thiopental as the first drug in a three-drug procedure until the drug’s only American manufacturer stopped producing it this year.
The Virginia Department of Corrections is “fully prepared” to carry out Jackson’s scheduled execution, according to spokesman Larry Traylor. Nearly a decade ago, Jackson crawled through a bathroom window of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips’s Williamsburg apartment. Jackson later told police that he broke into the woman’s apartment through the bathroom window and searched her purse, court papers say. In 2002, a jury found Jackson guilty of two counts of capital murder in addition to robbery, rape and other charges.
Jackson’s attorneys are not challenging his guilt but have asked the Supreme Court to send the case back to the trial court for a new sentencing. They say that jurors may have opted for punishment of life in prison if they had heard more details, including testimony from Jackson’s brother and sister, about physical and emotional abuse Jackson suffered as a child.
As a child, Jackson was beaten by his father daily, sometimes with a belt, Jackson’s brother and sister have testified. A federal appeals court overturned that ruling.
Jackson is among 11 men on Virginia’s death row.
Jackson’s defense team did not challenge Virginia’s planned use of the new drug.
Lundbeck cannot “ensure the safety and efficacy of pentobarbital in lethal injection,” Flesch said.