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2003-03-18

U.S. Government Executes Celebrated Gulf War Veteran: Did Exposure to Nerve Agents Lead Louis Jones, Jr. to Kill?

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This morning at 7:00 a.m. a decorated Gulf War veteran Louis Jones Jr., was executed in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Last night President Bush denied the request for clemency by Jones and his lawyers. The U.S. Supreme Court also refused to block the execution yesterday.

Jones, convicted of kidnapping, rape and the murder of a fellow army officer in Texas, in 1995, was exposed to chemical agents as a soldier in the Persian Gulf war.

In 2000, he received a letter from the Pentagon telling him that he had been exposed to nerve agents. The chemicals were released when the Army demolished a munitions plant in Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991. The Pentagon has since said the chemicals were the nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin.

The evidence of Jones’s exposure to nerve agents was not available at his trial in 1995, though the defense did argue that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a letter to President Bush, Mr. Jones did not deny his crime and admitted that he "wantonly took" a "precious life,

"I think of the marine she was engaged to," he wrote of his victim. "I think of the children she could have had. Her son could have discovered a cure for a disease of our time."

Mr. Jones, who wrote that he had become a Christian, asked for clemency so that he could minister to other prisoners for the rest of his life.

This morning, about a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil just a quarter-mile from the prison. A sign leaning against a fence in front of the group said, "The tragic irony: As we rush recklessly to war with Iraq we are killing a veteran of the first Gulf War."

  • Dick Burr, lawyer for Louis Jones and federal death penalty expert.

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