Virginia Executes Convicted Killer

Kent Jackson was the 101st prisoner executed since 1976.
Kent Jackson was the 101st prisoner executed since 1976. (AP)
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By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 11, 2008

Convicted killer Kent Jermaine Jackson was executed by injection in Virginia's death chamber last night, eight years after he and a friend sexually assaulted and killed an elderly neighbor in Newport News.

Jackson, 26, was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, said Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections. His last words were: " 'You all can't kill me. I'm the king. Remember me like you remember Jesus. I'll be back,' " Traylor said.

The execution proceeded after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected Jackson's Wednesday-night petition seeking to halt the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) declined to intervene.

"I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence," Kaine said in a statement last night, noting that the trial, verdict and sentence had been reviewed by state and federal courts.

Jackson was convicted of capital murder in 2003 for the slaying of Beulah Mae Kaiser, 79, who was found in her apartment with blackened eyes, a fractured nose and skull, and stab wounds to her head and chest. She had been sexually assaulted with her walking cane, which was then shoved so forcefully into her mouth that it knocked out most of her teeth and broke her jaw.

The killing remained unsolved for 16 months, until DNA from saliva on a cigarette butt left in Kaiser's apartment led investigators to Jackson and Joseph M. Dorsett. The men were roommates in an apartment across the hall from Kaiser's at the time of her death.

Jackson quickly confessed to Newport News detectives, authorities said. Dorsett, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 135 years.

In the last-minute petition to the federal appeals court in Richmond, Jackson's attorneys argued that Virginia's execution method violates constitutional bars against cruel and unusual punishment. Yesterday, the court rejected that petition as well as a previous challenge to the three-drug method of lethal injection by another death row inmate, Christopher S. Emmett, whose attorneys alleged that prisoners are not fully anesthetized before being given drugs that cause severe pain.

The clemency request to Kaine said evidence showed that it was Dorsett who used the cane to kill Kaiser.

"You have two defendants, one less culpable than the other, and [Jackson] is getting death, and the other one got a term of years," Andrew A. Protogyrou, one of Jackson's attorneys, said yesterday afternoon. "That's the arbitrariness of the death penalty."

Traylor said Jackson spent yesterday afternoon meeting with relatives and a spiritual adviser. He requested a final meal but did not want its contents made public, Traylor said.

Jackson was the 101st inmate executed in Virginia since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. That total is second only to that of Texas, which has executed 406 inmates since 1976.

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