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Man convicted of 2001 Newton County murder scheduled for execution

Brian Keith Terrell, the man convicted of killing 70-year-old John Watson in his Covington home in 1992 is scheduled to be executed March 10 at 7 p.m., Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced Friday.

On Friday, the Superior Court of Walton County filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Brian Keith Terrell may occur to begin at noon, March 10, 2015, and ending seven days later at noon on March 17, 2015. Terrell has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

According to the Georgia Supreme Court Terrell shot Watson outside of his home, firing multiple shots, dragged him across the lawn and beat him “so severe that bone penetrated into the victim’s brain.”

Evidence during the trial suggested that Terrell’s mother was a close friend of Watson, and Terrell stole 10 checks from the victim and began using them. After Watson discovered the theft, he agreed with Terrell’s mother not to press charges if Terrell returned a significant portion of the stolen money by the following morning.

The next morning, it was testified that Terrell and his cousin Jermaine Johnson, drove to Watson’s house. Terrell got out of the automobile at Watson’s house carrying a pistol. When Johnson returned from dropping off Terrell, Terrell reportedly told Johnson he had shot someone. Terrell then took his son to the zoo, where he disposed of the pistol.

When Watson missed his dialysis appointment, a search began for the Newton County resident.

Evidence found at Watson’s house showed that Terrell hid at the corner of his house waiting for Watson to drive to his dialysis appointment. Terrell then fired repeatedly at Watson, with initial shots striking the driveway, including one that ricocheted into the victim’s thigh. Terrell then continued to attack and overtook Watson, shooting him three more times before dragging him to a secluded area.

Evidence in the sentencing phase showed that Terrell had previously participated in a home-invasion robbery against drug dealers at an apartment in DeKalb County in 1990. According to Terrell’s confession in that case, the robbery involved use of guns and the female victims were ordered to strip and were bound in a closet while the male victim was placed underneath a sofa.

In a separate incident, Newton County Sheriff’s Department deputy testified that in 1994 Terrell approached him and said he was going to rape the officer’s daughter and smiled. Testimony also showed that Terrell set a fire at the Newton County Jail in 1994.

Terrell was indicted in the Superior Court of Newton County for one count malice murder and 10 counts of first degree forgery. The first trial ended in a mistrial, and the second resulted in a conviction and death sentence. However, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the conviction due to an error in jury selection. Terrell’s third trial was held in Walton County and on Feb. 6, 2001, a jury convicted Terrell as charged in the indictment and recommended a death sentence.