Dallas Man Has Date with Death for Carjacking-Slaying

By MICHAEL GRACZYK
|  Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 AM CDT
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Dallas Man Has Date with Death for Carjacking-Slaying

AP

Execution gurney in death chamber at Huntsville, Texas.

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Authorities linked George Jones to numerous crimes, mostly carjackings, in the Dallas area, and Jones has acknowledged he dealt drugs around the city.

But the 36-year-old Dallas man insisted he wasn't responsible for a fatal shooting and carjacking that put him on death row with an execution scheduled for Wednesday evening in Huntsville.

"I wasn't there when the dude got shot," Jones said of the April 1993 slaying of Forest Hall, 22, whose body was found beside a rural road near Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. The Dallas Parkland Memorial Hospital worker had been shot twice in the head.

"I wasn't involved. I didn't do it -- period," Jones told The Associated Press from a small visiting cage outside death row at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit.

Greg Davis, who prosecuted him for capital murder, called Jones' innocence claims "absolute falsity."

Jones' appeals were exhausted and no last-minute attempts to stop the punishment were planned, his lawyer said. The lethal injection would be the 12th this year in Texas, the nation's most active capital punishment state.

Five months after Hall's body was found, Jones was arrested at his parents' home in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas after an accomplice implicated him.

"I was out on bond, a robbery case," he said, declining to elaborate. "It wasn't a robbery. I'll just say that."

Jones, whose tattoos include the word "killer" on his right arm, gave a written confession that blamed an accomplice for Hall's slaying but said he "accidentally" shot Hall once in self defense. His lawyers later challenged the confession, which Jones said was written by police, but it was allowed into evidence at his capital murder trial in 1995.

Hall was abducted and his car taken from a Dallas shopping mall. Jones' accomplice, Derrick Rodgers, testified how Hall was driven to the remote area where Jones shot him as he was face down in a roadside ditch.

Hall's car later was found stripped of its stereo and wheels near Fair Park in Dallas. A forensic examiner testified at the capital murder trial that Jones had signed a pawn slip for the tires and rims from Hall's car. A car stereo and speakers from Hall's car was found at Jones' home.

Rodgers received 22 years in prison for aggravated robbery.

Doug Parks, one of Jones' trial lawyers, said he remembered Jones as coming from a good family.

"My take on George always was he was a 'schoolboy' and was trying to make inroads with his peers to be more like some of the folks who didn't come from such good families," Parks said last week.

At his capital murder trial, prosecutors linked Jones to other armed carjackings and the September 1993 robbery and shooting death of Kendra Buckner, a 20-year-old woman in Dallas. An accomplice in that killing told jurors how Jones shot Buckner twice in the head along a deserted road in Dallas County after forcing her to remove her clothing, then returned to the scene later and shot her in the face with a shotgun to ensure she was dead.

"The thing that stands out with me on George Jones is not only how violent he was, but how sadistic he was," Davis said.

After his conviction and sentencing, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with Jones' initial appeal that a juror wrongly was excluded by prosecutors because the juror was perceived to be favorable to the defense. A divided court, however, said the mistake was harmless.

"I never had a fair trial," Jones said from death row. "I've never been one fearful of death, but I don't want to surrender to it either. If I had a fair trial, I could deal with it."

In January 2005, Jones got within two days of execution before the Court of Criminal Appeals gave him a reprieve to review claims he was mentally impaired and ineligible for execution under U.S. Supreme Court guidelines. That claim eventually was rejected.

Two more executions are scheduled for Texas this month. Next is David Powell, 59, condemned for fatally shooting an Austin police officer, Ralph Albanedo, in 1978. Powell's execution June 15 would come nearly 32 years after he arrived on death row.

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