BONNE TERRE, Mo. – An inmate who fatally stabbed his grandmother more than 30 times to get cash for crack cocaine was executed early Wednesday in Missouri's new death chamber.
Donald Jones, 38, died by injection at 12:07 a.m. at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center. Jones' relatives had asked Gov. Matt Blunt (search) to spare his life, arguing the 68-year-old victim would not have sought vengeance against her grandson.
Blunt declined to intervene Tuesday, for the second time in a little more than a month refusing to grant clemency to a condemned inmate despite a recommendation to do so by the state parole board.
In a handwritten statement that began "Praise God!" Jones thanked his family and friends for their support.
"To my family, you will never truly know how your love, prayers and forgiveness has sustained me all these years," Jones wrote. "To my mother, who truly has been hurt the most, your love and strength I carry with me always."
The U.S. Supreme Court also refused Tuesday to step in on behalf of Jones, who just hours before his execution said "spiritually, I am totally prepared" to die.
"I'm really at a good place right now. I feel good that if (death) is my plan, I'm going to see my grandmother," Jones told The Associated Press by telephone.
Jones became the 63rd inmate put to death — all by injection — since the state resumed executions in 1989, with most of those executions carried out at the Potosi Correctional Center (search), about 25 miles west of Bonne Terre.
Jones said he was high on PCP-laced crack cocaine when he went to grandmother Dorothy Knuckles' St. Louis home in March 1993 to ask her for more money for drugs.
When Knuckles lectured him about his abuse of drugs and refused to give him cash, Jones beat her with a butcher's block of knives, then stabbed her to death.
Jurors convicted him in June 1994 after just three hours of deliberations, recommending the death sentence. The next month the judge condemned him, despite pleas from his family to spare Jones' life and imprison him for life without parole.