Saturday, January 10, 2015

Execution Set for Andrew Brannan in Georgia

ATLANTA, GA (PR) - Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens offers the following information in the case against Andrew Howard Brannan, who is currently scheduled to be executed on Jan. 13, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. for the 1998 murder of 22 year old Laurens County Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller. UPDATE: The execution took place and is the first in the nation in 2015.

On Jan. 2, 2015, the Superior Court of Laurens County filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Andrew Howard Brannan may occur to begin at noon, Jan. 13, 2015, and ending seven days later at noon on Jan. 20, 2015. Brannan has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

Brannan’s Crime (Jan. 12, 1998)

The Georgia Supreme Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

The evidence presented at trial showed the following: Andrew Brannan left his mother’s house in Stockbridge, Ga., to drive to his house in Laurens County in the afternoon of Jan. 12, 1998. He was driving his white pickup truck 98 miles per hour on Interstate 16 when Laurens County Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller clocked his speed with a radar gun. 

Brannan exited the highway and stopped on a rural stretch of Whipple Crossing Road after the deputy caught up to him. During the pursuit, Deputy Dinkheller activated a video camera which is aimed through his windshield. The camera captured almost all of Brannan’s actions during the ensuing traffic stop. Deputy Dinkheller also wore a microphone. 

The deputy stopped his patrol car about 20 feet behind Brannan's truck. Brannan exited his truck and stood near the driver’s side door with his hands in his pockets. The right side of Deputy Dinkheller is visible on the tape as he stood next to his driver’s side door.

Deputy Dinkheller said, “Driver, step back here to me. Come on back here to me.” Brannan said, “Okay,” but did not move. The deputy said, “Come on back. How are you doing today?” Brannan said that he was okay and asked how the deputy was doing, but still did not move. 

Deputy Dinkheller said he was good and repeated, “Come on back here and keep your hands out of your pockets.” Brannan asked why and the deputy again said, “Keep your hands out of your pockets, sir.” Brannan responded, “[Expletive] you, [expletive], here I am. Shoot my [expletive] ass.” He then began dancing in the street, saying, “Here I am, here I am.” The deputy ordered, “Come here. Sir, come here,” but Brannan responded, “Shoot me,” and kept dancing.

Deputy Dinkheller radioed for assistance on his belt-mounted radio, and the defendant stopped dancing and approached him. The deputy said, “Sir, get back.” Brannan replied, “Who are you calling, [expletive]?” and then rushed the deputy and a confrontation ensued to the left of the patrol car and off camera. The deputy ordered Brannan to get back nine more times. Brannan replied with “[Expletive] you” four times and at one point shouted, “I am a [expletive] Vietnam combat veteran.”

Brannan then ran back to his truck and began rummaging around behind the driver’s seat. Deputy Dinkheller remained beside his patrol car and ordered, “Sir, get out of the car.” The right side of the deputy is briefly visible during this time. The deputy had drawn his baton, but not his firearm. Brannan replied that he was in fear of his life. 

The deputy shouted, “I'm in fear of my life! Get back here now!” Brannan said, “No,” and then pulled a .30 caliber M-1 carbine from his truck. The deputy radioed for help and shouted for him to put the gun down. Instead, Brannan crouched by his open driver’s side door. The deputy shouted for Brannan to put the gun down three more times. Brannan opened fire and the deputy returned fire.

Deputy Dinkheller was hit and shouted, “Shoot, shoot, stop now!” Brannan continued firing and advanced to the front of the patrol car. The deputy apparently tried to take cover behind the patrol car. Brannan exhausted one magazine, reloaded, and continued firing. The microphone recorded the sounds of the deputy being shot. 

At trial, the medical examiner testified that by this time Deputy Dinkheller had been struck by at least nine bullets, in the arms, legs, buttocks, chest, and head. The medical examiner opined that the deputy, although still breathing into the microphone, had lost consciousness because he was no longer returning fire or crying out when shot. The video shows Brannan cease crouching, take careful aim with his carbine, say “Die, [expletive],” and fire one last shot. Brannan then fled the scene in his truck.

Brannan was found hiding in the woods about 100 yards from his house, and he made incriminating statements after his arrest. He had a gunshot wound to his abdomen. The police found the murder weapon in his house. Brannan claimed that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, and presented experts who testified that he had been unable to distinguish right from wrong because post-traumatic stress disorder had triggered a flashback to Vietnam. 

However, the court-appointed psychiatrist concluded that Brannan was sane, and the jury could have inferred from comments made by Brannan during the crime and after his arrest that he shot the victim because he believed the 22 year old deputy was not showing him a sufficient amount of respect. Regarding his dancing during the altercation, Brannan explained to the police that he once defused a tense situation with an angry man by dancing and saying “shoot me.” He also later told a psychiatrist that he had seen Mel Gibson act that way in the movie “Lethal Weapon.”

Brannan v. State, 275 Ga. 70-72 (2002).

The Trial (1998-2001)

Brannan was indicted in the Superior Court of Laurens County, Ga., on Oct. 26, 1998, for malice murder. On Jan. 28, 2000, a jury convicted Brannan as charged in the indictment. The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on Jan. 30, 2000. Thereafter, Brannan filed a motion for new trial, which was denied on July 2, 2001.  

The Direct Appeal (2002)

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Brannan’s conviction and death sentence on March 25, 2002.  Brannan v. State, 275 Ga. 70 (2002). The United States Supreme Court denied Brannan’s request to appeal on Nov. 12, 2002. Brannan v. Georgia, 537 U.S. 1021 (2002). 

State Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2003-2008)

Brannan, represented by attorneys from the Georgia Resource Center, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Ga. on May 1, 2003. An evidentiary hearing was held on Aug. 21-23, 2006. On March 17, 2008, the state habeas corpus court entered an order granting Brannan relief as to his death sentence. The State appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which unanimously reversed the habeas corpus court’s order and reinstated Brannan’s death sentence on Nov. 3, 2008. Hall v. Brannan, 284 Ga. 716 (2008). 

Federal Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2009-2012)

Brannan, represented by attorneys from the Georgia Resource Center, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on May 15, 2009.  On March 9, 2012, the district court denied Brannan federal habeas corpus relief. 

11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2012-2013)

Brannan’s case was appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012. The case was orally argued before the 11th Circuit on June 24, 2013. On Aug. 8, 2013, the 11th Circuit denied relief. Brannan v. Warden, 541 Fed. Appx. 901 (11th Cir. 2013).

United States Supreme Court (2014)

Brannan requested to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which was denied June 9, 2014. Brannan v. Humphrey, 134 S. Ct. 2732 (2014).

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