The man convicted of gunning down six people in cold blood in a pair of 1996 robberies died quietly Wednesday in Housing Unit 9 at the Arizona Department of Corrections prison in Florence.
In stark contrast to the violent and bloody deaths Robert Glen Jones’ inflicted upon his victims, Jones appeared to fall peacefully asleep after prison officials administered the lethal dose of phenobarbital.
“I think it was too easy,” said Carson Noel, whose mother was one of the people Jones and accomplice Scott Nordstrom shot and killed.
Noel said Jones wasn’t made to suffer the way his victims were.
Jones, 43, and Nordstrom were found guilty of the Moon Smoke Shop and Firefighter’s Union Hall murders in 1998 and sentenced to die for the crimes. Nordstrom remains on death row.
Arthur “Taco” Bell, 54; Judy Bell, 46; Maribeth Munn, 53; and Carol Lynn Noel, 50, were shot and killed during a robbery at the Firefighter’s Union Hall.
Clarence Odell III, 47; and Thomas Hardman, 26, were killed in the Moon Smoke Shop.
“All I could think of was my mom and dad,” said Christopher Bell, son of Arthur and Judy Bell.
Bell said the 17 years since his parents were slain was too long to wait for the death sentence to be carried out.
Even with one of the killers of his parents dead, Bell said his family would always bear the scars left by their deaths .
“It’s never going to heal — it never will,” Bell said.
Following the murders, Bell said he moved to Texas to escape some of the memories and make a new start.
Jones steadfastly maintained his innocence over the years. Prior to the execution, however, he declined to attend his clemency board hearing, where an attorney represented him in a plea for a stay.
He also refused a special meal the day before the death sentence was carried out, eating instead the same meal other death-row inmates had: beef patties, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, two slices of wheat bread, glazed cake and a powdered-juice drink.
Before the administration of the lethal dose, Jones offered no apologies and expressed no remorse.
“Love and respect my family and friends and I hope my friends are never here,” were the last words Jones spoke.
At times he even joked with prison staffers as they struggled to find viable veins to insert the IVs, suggesting with his years of experience shooting “dope” he could find the vein himself if they freed his hand.
Witnesses watched on television monitors as prison and medical staff worked for nearly an hour around Jones before opting to administer the lethal injection drugs into the femoral artery of his right leg.
When the curtains that block out the glass between the observation room and death chamber were opened, the death warrant was read to Jones.
The drugs were administered at 10:35 a.m.
Jones lay nearly motionless with his eyes closed moving only his right hand periodically.
His chest made one upward heave before he stopped moving completely. As the drug worked its way through his system, the muscles in his face relaxed and his mouth fell slightly slack.
Soon the color began to run from his face, taking on a pale gray shade.
After nearly 10 minutes of silence, a medical technician checked Jones’ vital signs and pronounced him “officially sedated.”
A few minutes later, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan stepped into the chamber and pronounced Jones officially dead at 10:52 a.m.
For Noel, attending the execution was a difficult decision.
“This is probably the second-hardest thing I’ve had to do,” he said. “The first was laying my mom to rest.”
It was Arizona’s 36th execution since 1992.
Wednesday’s execution was the second in Arizona this month. Edward Schad, 71, was executed Oct. 9 for killing a Bisbee man in 1978.
No execution date has been set for Nordstrom.