Tuesday, June 28, 2011
August Execution Set For Virginia Inmate
A Virginia inmate who was sentenced to death for raping and killing an elderly woman in 2001 is facing an August execution.
Jerry Terrell Jackson, 29, is scheduled to be executed Aug. 18 for the murder of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips of Williamsburg.
A nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental forced many states to substitute pentobarbital, but some have questioned its use. Defense attorneys called for an investigation after a Georgia inmate executed last week using the new drug appeared to struggle during the lethal injection.
Courts have ruled that the change in drugs is not significant enough to postpone executions.
Attorneys for Jackson did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment. They are likely to appeal Jackson's case to the U.S. Supreme Court and ask Gov. Bob McDonnell to commute his sentence to life in prison.
"Justice will finally be carried out for the commonwealth and the family of Mrs. Ruth Phillips," Attorney General's Office spokesman Brian Gottstein said.
"I think it's about time. I think it's really overdue," said Richard Phillips, Ruth Phillips' son, who found his mother dead after she failed to show up for church. "The law is the law, and if we don't respect the law and stand by the law, what have we got? Nothing?"
Phillips said he does not plan to witness the execution.
"There have been times where you want to have vengeance, but that's not my thing," he said.
Ruth Phillips, a widow for 30 years, followed her son to Virginia from New Hampshire in the late '90s. She worked as a seamstress making slip covers and draperies until her death, Richard Phillips said.
Phillips said Jackson's attorneys should not try to fight the execution. Once it has been determined that Jackson was guilty and that the conviction was appropriate, "that's the time to hang it up," he said. He encouraged them to be concerned not only with their client, but with the victims.
"If they were really thinking about compassion and justice, they would let it go," he said.