Georgia executes inmate who tried suicide

Man convicted in 1998 Jones County triple murder case is denied final appeal
Rhode

JACKSON, Ga. --- A death row inmate who tried to kill himself last week by slashing his arms and throat with a razor blade was executed Monday night, amid heightened security, for the 1998 murders of a trucking company owner and his two children.

Brandon Joseph Rhode, 31, was put to death by lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was pronounced dead by authorities at 10:16 p.m. Rhode declined to speak any last words or have a final prayer.

He was convicted in 2000 of the killings of Steven Moss, 37, his son Bryan, 11, and daughter Kristin, 15, during a burglary of their Jones County home. His co-conspirator, Daniel Lucas, was sentenced to death in a separate trial and remains on death row.

Rhode's execution had been set for 7 p.m. His attorneys applied Monday afternoon to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution. The court rejected the appeals later that night.

Rhode had previously been scheduled to be put to death Sept. 21, but the Georgia Supreme Court postponed the execution twice after he was rushed to the hospital that day after a suicide attempt.

Rhode was stabilized at a hospital and placed in a restraining chair to prevent him from pulling out the sutures on his neck or doing any other harm to himself, state attorneys said.

Defense attorney Brian Kammer countered that Rhode was put in a "torture chair" and subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Kammer urged the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday to push back the execution again so experts could evaluate whether Rhode was mentally competent to be executed, or understood why he was being punished. He said Rhode lost half his blood Sept. 21 when he cut himself, went into shock and could have suffered brain damage.

The inmate's supporters filed a separate motion urging the execution be delayed for three weeks so officials could determine how Rhode got the razor blades he used to slash himself. A federal judge rejected the appeal but ordered state prisons officials to take more security precautions to make sure he did not harm himself.

Rhode and Lucas were ransacking the Moss home in search of valuables in April 1998 when Bryan Moss saw them through a front window and entered through a back door armed with a baseball bat, prosecutors said. They said they wrestled Bryan to a chair and Lucas shot him in the shoulder.

When the intruders heard Kristin approaching the house, Rhode forced her to a chair and shot her twice with a pistol, according to court records. Rhode ambushed Steven Moss when he arrived home, shooting him with the same pistol. Lucas later shot each of the victims again to make sure they were dead, according to the records.

Rhode appealed the case several times, arguing that his trial attorneys failed to present enough evidence to persuade the jury to spare his life. Kammer argued more recently that his client should be granted clemency because doctors discovered he suffered from organic brain damage and a fetal alcohol disorder.

Each time, though, the appeals were denied.

Delay in California

SAN FRANCISCO --- California's first execution in nearly five years was pushed back almost two days Monday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to allow courts more time to consider the condemned inmate's appeals.

Albert Greenwood Brown is now scheduled to die by lethal injection at 9 p.m. Thursday, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Brown initially was scheduled for execution at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The 45-hour reprieve pushes the execution to within hours of the Friday expiration date on the state's supply of sodium thiopental, one of the drugs used in the lethal injection process.