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Georgia executes a man convicted of 1998 killing of a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop

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JACKSON, Georgia — A man who fatally shot a sheriff's deputy who stopped him for speeding on a Georgia interstate was put to death Tuesday for the 1998 killing, which was captured on the patrol car's video camera.

Andrew Howard Brannan, 66, was pronounced dead at 8:33 p.m. Tuesday after a single-drug injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted of the January 1998 shooting death of Kyle Dinkheller, a 22-year-old sheriff's deputy in Laurens County, central Georgia.

"I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle's parents and his wife and his two children," Brannan said in a statement moments before the injection was administered.

Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had unsuccessfully argued to authorities to spare the inmate's life, saying the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to Brannan's military service.

Dinkheller had stopped Brannan for driving 98 mph and demanded he take his hands from his pockets during a traffic stop, officials said Brannan then began cursing, dancing in the street and saying "shoot me" before he rushed the deputy. After a scuffle, Brannan pulled a high-powered rifle from his car and shot Dinkheller at least nine times, authorities said.

The confrontation was captured by a video camera in Dinkheller's patrol car and a microphone he wore. Parts including the scuffle between the two happened off camera, according to court documents. But Dinkheller can be heard yelling orders at Brannan, who responded with expletives, authorities said. Brannan can also be seen crouching by his car and firing at the deputy as Dinkheller yelled at him to stop. Brannan walked toward the patrol car, still firing, exhausted one magazine, reloaded and continued firing, authorities said.

Police found Brannan the next day hiding under a camouflage tarp near his home. He had been shot in the stomach, apparently by Dinkheller.

Dinkheller, who was married, had been promoted months before to an elite interstate highway squad. He had nearly three years with the sheriff's department.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles held a hearing Monday on a petition for clemency from Brannan's lawyers and denied the request to commute the sentence to life without parole.

"Is it right to execute a mentally-ill veteran whose sole incidence of violent behavior is traceable directly and inexorably to mental illness resulting from his combat service?" Brannan's lawyers had written in that clemency petition.

Brannan volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in 1968 and received two Army Commendation Medals and a Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War, the clemency petition said, adding he was repeatedly exposed to death and violence in Vietnam.

Veterans Administration doctors had diagnosed Brannan with post-traumatic stress disorder in 1984 and determined that his condition had deteriorated to the point of 100 percent disability by 1990, the petition said. That mental illness was compounded by bipolar disorder diagnosed in 1996, his lawyers added.

Brannan was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000. He challenged the legality of his conviction and sentence in 2003, and a state court judge threw out his sentence on grounds that his trial lawyer failed to present complete mental health defenses. But the Georgia Supreme Court later tossed out that ruling and reinstated the death sentence.

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PHOTO: FILE - This undated prison file photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows convicted murderer Andrew Brannan. Brannan, 66, is to be executed Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Jackson, Ga., for the 1998 slaying of 22-year-old Laurens County sheriff's deputy Kyle Dinkheller during a traffic stop. Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had unsuccessfully argued that Brannan’s life should be spared, saying the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to his military service. (AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections, File)

FILE - This undated prison file photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows convicted murderer Andrew Brannan. Brannan, 66, is to be executed Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Jackson, Ga., for the 1998 slaying of 22-year-old Laurens County sheriff's deputy Kyle Dinkheller during a traffic stop. Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had unsuccessfully argued that Brannan’s life should be spared, saying the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to his military service. (AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections, File)

 

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