HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A Texas man convicted of fatally beating his 83-year-old great aunt more than two decades ago was executed Wednesday evening without media witnesses present because prison agency officials neglected to notify reporters it was time to carry out the punishment.
Quintin Jones received the lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the September 1999 killing of Berthena Bryant, agency spokesman Jeremy Desel said about 30 minutes after Jones was pronounced dead.
Desel never received the usual phone call from the Huntsville Unit prison to bring reporters from The Associated Press and The Huntsville Item to the prison. He and the media witnesses were waiting in an office across the street.
“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice can only apologize for this error and nothing like this will ever happen again,” he said.
He said the execution, the first in Texas in nearly a year, included a number of new personnel who have never participated in the process.
"Somewhere in that mix there was never a phone call made to this office for me to accompany the witnesses across the street into the Huntsville Unit," Desel said.
Desel said he didn't immediately know if the glitch was a violation of state law or a violation of agency policy.
The previous 570 executions carried out by Texas since capital punishment resumed in 1982 all had at least one media witness.