December 9, 2015
Brian Keith Terrell was executed by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. He was executed at 12:52 am EDT, inside the execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Brian was 47 years of age. He was executed for the murder of 70-year-old John Henry Watson on June 22, 1992, in Newton County, Georgia. Brian spent the last 20 years of his life on Georgia’s death row.
His execution was delayed due to appeals. After all appeals were rejected, the nurse had difficulty locating a vein in Brian’s arm which could be used. Eventually, the needle was placed in his hand. Brian declined to say any final words, although he mouthed “I didn’t do it” before he was executed.
While Brian was serving a prison sentence for robbery, Brian’s mother Barbara, assisted John Watson with meals and running errands, as John was suffering from severe health problems, including needing dialysis three times a week. During the two years she assisted him, Barbara received no compensation for her work, although John told her that she would be included in his will.
Brian Terrell was released from prison on parole, on May 1, 1992. On June 20, 1992, John contacted the sheriff’s office. He had been notified of ten canceled checks which had been stolen and forged, to the total of $8,700. Several of the checks were written out to Terrell. Due to John’s relationship with Barbara, he asked police to wait before arresting Terrell, as he was willing to forgo pressing charges if Terrell would return most of the money by June 22. Terrell initially agreed to repay the money, but later confessed that he had already spent the money.
On June 21, 1992, Terrell and his cousin Jermaine Johnson checked into a motel near the home of John. Around 6:30 am, on June 22, Terrell had Johnson drop him off near John’s house, with instructions to pick him up around 9:00 am. Johnson returned to the hotel, where he slept for a few hours.
Terrell waited for John to exit his home before shooting him four times. John was then dragged into the brush and severely beaten in the face and head. Both the beating and the gunshots would have been fatal on their own. Additionally, all injures were inflicted while John was still alive.
Johnson picked up Terrell around 9:30 am. Terrell told Johnson that he had killed a man. Terrell bought new clothes at a department store, showered at his grandmother’s house, and later took his son to the zoo.
Terrell was arrested later that day and questioned about the murder. Terrell admitted to the forgeries but denied being part of the murder. He told police that he and Johnson were in the hotel with a woman all night. When Terrell gave a contradiction in his story, he stopped answering questions.
Terrell was convicted and sentenced to death on February 7, 1995, for the murder of John Watson. He was also convicted on ten counts of first-degree forgery and received ten consecutive ten-year sentences.
Brian had previously been scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, however his execution was postponed, following the postponement of the execution of Kelly Gissendaner, who had been scheduled to be executed on March 2, 2015. In the hours prior to Kelly’s execution, the execution drugs became noticeable cloudy, after having been tested for potency. Although the tests showed that the drugs would be successful in the execution, Kelly's execution was postponed "in an abundance of caution." Brian's execution was also postponed in order to allow a complete analysis of the drugs. Once the state investigated the matter, determining that the drugs had been stored at too low a temperature, executions were allowed to resume, with Kelly being executed Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of John. Please pray for strength for the family of Brian Terrell.