JACKSON — Brandon Joseph Rhode, convicted of the 1998 deaths of three Jones County family members, was executed by lethal injection Monday night.
Rhode, 31, declined the opportunity to make a final statement, either in the death chamber or in the hours before his death. He also declined a last prayer.
Fourteen minutes passed between when the order for Rhode’s death was read aloud at 10:02 p.m. and when he was declared dead at 10:16 p.m. It took medical staff 30 minutes to insert the needles into him, a witness said. Medical staff attempted to find veins in both of Rhode’s arms, feet and hands before inserting one needle in a vein between his thumb and first finger on his right hand. A second needle was inserted in a port created for IVs in the left side of his neck during a recent hospital visit following a suicide attempt.
Before the injection of lethal drugs, Rhode moved his head and looked around. He glanced several times toward the witnesses to his death who sat in a room separated by a glass window. At one point, he moved his head, making the bandage on his neck from the suicide attempt visible.
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Rhode attempted suicide last week by using a disposable razor to slash his neck and elbows. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.
In his final moments, Rhode seemed to nod his head and then his head came to rest slightly facing his right side. About 10 minutes after the death order was read aloud, two doctors examined Rhode’s body to confirm his death.
He was executed at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson following three postponements, including two stays of execution ordered by the Georgia Supreme Court.
The state’s high court denied a stay to Rhode on Monday afternoon, as well as two separate requests for appeal, clearing the way for his execution.
His attorneys applied Monday afternoon to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution. The court turned down the request about 8 p.m.
Rhode visited with three family members, a paralegal and a member of the clergy Monday afternoon. He got a physical at 3 p.m. and didn’t request a special last meal, but ate a chili dog, potato rounds, coleslaw, a slice of cake and fruit punch.
Rhode and his accomplice, Daniel Lucas, also 31, were sentenced in 2000 to die for their roles in the killing of 11-year-old Bryan Moss, 15-year-old Kristin Moss and their father, 37-year-old Stephen Moss, during a burglary at the family’s Griswoldville Road home April 23, 1998.
Rhode and Lucas were both teenagers at the time of the slayings.
Gerri Ann Moss arrived home from work to find that her children and husband had been shot and killed as they returned home, one at a time, from school and work.
The first stay of execution for Rhode was issued Sept. 21 after Rhode’s suicide attempt. In response, the court stopped the scheduled Sept. 21 execution to allow Rhode’s attorneys time to challenge his mental competency for execution.
His attorney, Brian Kammer, had argued that the execution should be delayed until judges could evaluate whether Rhode was competent to be executed.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson ruled that Rhode’s attorney had not sufficiently shown that the prisoner’s competency was at issue in the case.
The Georgia Supreme Court voted 6-1 Friday to stop Rhode’s execution a second time until Monday at 4 p.m. The Department of Corrections set his execution time for 7 p.m. Monday.
Rhode’s attorneys filed several motions Friday for the justices’ consideration, including an emergency motion for a stay “in order to allow meaningful appeal.”
The first stay of execution expired Thursday afternoon, and Rhode was scheduled to be put to death at 9 a.m. Friday, but that time was pushed back to 7 p.m. before the court’s most recent stay.
Rhode had been kept in a restraining chair to prevent him from pulling out the sutures on his neck or causing other harm to himself, a state attorney said.
Rhode is the 48th man put to death in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973 and the 25th inmate to die by lethal injection, according to the Department of Corrections.
Lucas’ case remains under appeal.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.