Georgia man who killed a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop set to be executed

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JACKSON, Georgia — A Georgia inmate scheduled to be put to death Tuesday evening for the 1998 shooting death of a sheriff's deputy was denied a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court issued a brief statement without giving any explanation for rejecting the stay, about an hour past the original 7 p.m. time planned for the execution of Andrew Howard Brannan at the state prison in Jackson.

Brannan, 66, was convicted of the January 1998 slaying of 22-year-old Laurens County sheriff's deputy Kyle Dinkheller.

Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had argued that the shooting was tied to mental illness linked to military service and said he should be spared execution.

Authorities said Dinkheller had stopped Brannan for driving 98 mph and demanded he take his hands from his pockets during a traffic stop. 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 caught 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.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, after a hearing Monday, had denied a petition for clemency from Brannan's lawyers.

"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 wrote in the clemency petition, which had urged the parole board to commute the sentence to life without parole.

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 severe 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 threw out that ruling and reinstated the death sentence.

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