Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Leo Jones Electrocuted Cops Witness Execution

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Leo Jones Electrocuted Cops Witness Execution

Article excerpt

STARKE -- After a 17-year wait, John Boney didn't feel the

elation he expected yesterday when he watched the execution of

the man who killed his best friend.

"It wasn't the feeling I thought I would have had, like `Yea,

we got him!' It was more just a relief to know it's over now,

and we don't have to think of this anymore," said Boney, now a

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office lieutenant.

Boney watched as Leo Jones was strapped into the electric chair

at Florida State Prison, repeatedly mouthing a prayer in Arabic.

He watched as Jones scanned the faces of 40 other witnesses who

came to watch him die, including Jacksonville Sheriff Nat

Glover, two state lawmakers and Robert Szafranski, the brother

of the Jacksonville police officer Jones fatally shot in a 1981

sniper attack.

Boney watched Jones' hands curl into fists when a hooded

executioner turned a dial that sent 2,300 volts of electricity

through his body.

And, finally, he saw Jones pronounced dead at 7:11 a.m. after

one last heave from his chest.

But it wasn't until Boney left the death chamber that he got

the satisfaction he was looking for.

Rows of Jacksonville officers, about 70 in all, traveled to

Starke and waited in a field across the street from the prison

to show support for slain Officer Tom Szafranski, a six-year

police veteran killed before many of them joined the department.

"The fact that so many officers turned out, including so many

young guys who didn't even know Tom -- that was impressive.

That made me feel better than anything," Boney said.

The execution went smoothly, the second in two days at Florida

State Prison after a year's hiatus prompted by a botched

execution last year. Serial killer Gerald Stano was put to death

Monday. Two more executions are scheduled Monday and Tuesday.

Jones' death ended his 17-year stay on Death Row. He's been

there since shooting Szafranski, 28, as the officer stopped for

a light at Davis and Sixth streets in Springfield.

The execution ended 17 years of waiting for Robert Szafranski,

who wept over his brother's memory. Szafranski said he was

tortured by the seemingly endless appeals and stays granted

Jones, and "even at the last second I thought there was going to

be one more phone call" to halt the execution.

"There's satisfaction that this is over, but there's no

satisfaction in seeing someone die," Szafranski said. "Tom

wouldn't be looking for vengeance, but he would have wanted

justice to be served."

Jones' final day was spent with relatives, friends, his legal

staff and his spiritual adviser. For five hours Monday night, he

met with his children, prison spokesman Gene Morris said. Jones'

relatives proclaimed his innocence until the end. …

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