Georgia death row inmate Daniel Anthony Lucas is scheduled for execution by lethal injection on Wednesday. The condemned man was sentenced to die for the brutal killings of two children and their father in 1998.
On April 23, 1998, Lucas fatally shot 11-year-old Bryan Moss just as the boy came home after school. Before walking in the door, the young Moss watched as Lucas and another man, Brandon Rhode, ransacked his Macon, Georgia, home through a window.
Courageously, Bryan rushed in wielding an aluminum baseball bat. While wrestling with the boy, Lucas shot him in the shoulder. Lucas then dragged Bryan into a bedroom and shot him several more times.
Rhode and Lucas then waited for Bryan’s sister, 15-year-old Kristin Moss, to return home. When she walked in, Kristin was tied to a chair. Rhode then shot her two times.
Their father, 37-year-old truck driver Steven Moss, arrived home a short time later and was shot four times by Rhode before the man had time to react. Lucas then shot the victims again “to make sure they were dead.”
When Gerri Ann Moss, Steven’s wife, returned home from work about an hour later, she discovered the grisly scene. On September 27, 2010, Georgia executed Rhode for his part in the crimes.
In a petition to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, attorneys for Lucas asked for clemency, stating Lucas was a changed man. However, the board denied the request late Tuesday.
“For the past 18 years he has devoted himself to learning and self improvement,” the attorneys wrote. “He has been a model inmate. He has found faith.”
Lucas now practices Buddhism and was hoping to help fellow inmates by teaching compassion and wisdom through daily meditations.
While he did commit a “horrible crime,” Lucas is “not beyond redemption.”
As reported by ABC News, the petition to stop the Georgia execution stated that Lucas grew up in an abusive environment, eventually turning to drugs and alcohol. His lawyers argued that the death penalty was inappropriate due the prisoner’s youth and lack of maturity at the time of the murders. Lucas was 19 when the crimes were committed.
According to the petition, Lucas’ trial defense attorney failed to properly represent his youth and drug impairment when the family was killed. The attorneys also wrote the number of death sentences imposed on offenders who were under 21 at the time of their crime is on the decline nationwide.
“These youth are not granted by law the same rights and entitlements of adults; and for purposes of punishment, they should not be treated the same as adults,” the court filing says.
In other cases, attorneys had successfully argued that the brains of young people aren’t fully developed, making them vulnerable to peer pressure and risk-taking conduct. This defense has helped negotiate plea deals for sentences less than death, and prosecutors have mostly stopped asking for the death penalty in cases involving younger defendants.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the board also heard from Stephen Bradley, the lead prosecutor for Jones County as well as investigators who initially arrested Lucas and Rhode after the murders. Recordings of the two confessing to the crimes were also played to the five-member panel.
Also in attendance via telephone was Mrs. Moss. She described the torment and anguish family members have endured since the slayings of her husband, son, and daughter.
Daniel Anthony Lucas, now 37, will be the fifth Georgia execution this year and the 13th in the U.S. The death row inmate used his last appeal in October when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear his case. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, his last meal will consist of a meat pizza, steak and cheese calzone, stuffed Portobello mushroom, chef salad with ranch and honey mustard dressing, and orange juice.
[Photo by Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty Images]