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Rhode’s execution delayed until Friday after stay

The execution of a man convicted in the 1998 deaths of three Jones County family members has been rescheduled for Friday morning following his suicide attempt.

Brandon Joseph Rhode, 31, was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Tuesday, but he attempted suicide at some point Monday night or Tuesday morning and was taken to a hospital Tuesday morning, said Kristen Stancil, a Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Rhode was back in Department of Corrections custody “at a secure location” by Tuesday afternoon.

The Georgia Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution Tuesday until 2 p.m. Thursday. The stay is “pending petitioner’s access to counsel” and an opportunity to file an application to challenge his mental competency to be executed, according to the court.

Rhode’s attorney filed a motion in the Georgia Supreme Court saying Rhode is “incompetent,” and going through with the execution would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“He’s utterly terrified and just hopeless,” said Brian Kammer, who said his client tried to slit his wrists and his throat. “He was very morose, frightened and subdued. This was a product of him just being in terror, of losing hope altogether.”

Kammer said he’ll ask physicians to inspect his client’s physical condition as well.

“There’s a real potential question as to whether the blood loss and medication they used to stabilize him are going to complicate the lethal injection protocols,” he said.

Stancil said the Department of Corrections has the authority to set the date and time for the execution following the expiration of the stay. The execution has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson, where the state’s death row is housed.

The Jones County Superior Court has ordered that Rhode’s execution occur between Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, according to a corrections news release.

Rhode and his accomplice, Daniel Lucas, also 31, were sentenced 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 Steven Moss, during a burglary at their 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.

Before the issuance of the stay of execution, Rhode had declined a special last meal request.

He would be the 48th man executed 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.

Prison records show 103 people are on Georgia’s death row.

Lucas’ case remains under appeal.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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