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Catholics make last-minute appeal of execution in Texas

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By Christine Rousselle

Washington D.C., May 19, 2021 / 15:15 pm America/Denver (CNA).

Catholics are asking the governor of Texas to halt an execution scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Quintin Jones, 41, who was sentenced to death in 2001 for the 1999 murder of his great-aunt, is scheduled to be executed at the state’s Huntsville unit at 6 p.m. local time Wednesday evening.

Jones was convicted for the murder of his 83 year-old great aunt Berthenia Bryant. Jones beat Bryant to death with a baseball bat while he was high on heroin and cocaine, and stole $30 from her to buy drugs. He had struggled with drug addiction at the time of the murder.

Bryant’s sister has said that she has forgiven Jones, and does not wish to see him executed. Likewise, Jones’ twin brother has also forgiven him. Bryant’s family has asked for Jones’ sentence to be commuted to life in prison.

The group Catholic Mobilizing Network, which opposes the death penalty, is asking for Catholics to contact Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and ask him to halt Jones’ execution with a 30-day reprieve. Abbott, a Catholic, signed a bill earlier on Wednesday that banned most abortions in the state after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth is among those asking for Abbott to delay the execution.

“[Jones] is scheduled for execution tonight at 6,” said Olson on Twitter. “His victim’s family happens to be his family. They don’t want to be re-traumatized by another death.”

Catholic Mobilizing Network said that Jones “has accepted full responsibility for his crime and expressed profound remorse and regret for the murder.”

In the two decades he has spent on death row, he has transformed himself into a peaceful, compassionate, thoughtful person who poses no risk in prison,” the group stated. More than 120,000 people have requested that Jones be granted clemency.

As the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Jones’ request for clemency on May 18, Gov. Abbott can still grant a 30-day reprieve. Abbott cannot grant Jones clemency without the approval of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Jones has also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution. His lawyers have asked for time to investigate and present evidence that he might be ineligible for the death penalty due to intellectual disability.

If Jones is executed, he will be the first Texan put to death since July 8, 2020. Texas has conducted far more executions than any other state since 1976, putting 570 people to death in that time. The state has four more executions scheduled later in 2021.

The pro-life group Democrats for Life also asked Abbott on Wednesday to halt Jones’ execution.

“The Governor of Texas @GregAbbott_TX just signed the Heartbeat Bill into law. This is GREAT news,” the group’s Twitter account stated on Wednesday, before adding, “He also is executing Quinton Jones tonight by lethal injection.”

“Governor, can you extend the rights you just allowed to the unborn to Quinton as well? Every human deserves life,” the group stated.

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