Man executed in deaths of daughter, ex, in-laws

June 12, 2012 - 7:25 PM
Mississippi Executions

This April 10, 2008, photo provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Jan Michael Brawner. Brawner is scheduled for execution Tuesday, June 12, 2012, for the 2001 killings of his 3-year-old daughter, his ex-wife and her parents in Tate County, Miss. (AP Photo/Mississippi Department of Corrections)

PARCHMAN, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi executed a man Tuesday for fatally shooting his 3-year-old daughter, his ex-wife and her parents in a crime in which authorities say he also stole his slain mother-in-law's wedding ring and used it to propose marriage to his girlfriend.

Jan Michael Brawner, 34, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. CDT after receiving a chemical injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Brawner had admitted to the killings and said he didn't deserve to live after shooting his daughter, Paige, his ex-wife, Barbara Craft, and her parents, Carl and Jane Craft, at their house on April 25, 2001.

In his final statement, Brawner said he wished to apologize to the victims' family, adding he could not change what he had done. "Maybe this will bring you a little peace. Thank you," he said as he lay strapped to a gurney.

When the drugs were administered, he appeared to take a deep breath. His mouth opened wide for a moment and then his head tilted to the side.

A brother of Brawner's ex-wife witnessed the execution. None of his relatives were present.

Kathy Jaco Sigler, Jane Craft's sister, issued a statement afterward saying her family will never understand why the killings happened and referred to Christian scripture.

"Man has a choice of good and evil. Michael chose evil while my family chose good. God's peace prevails over this evil because we know in our hearts that my sister and her family dwell in heaven with the Lord," the statement said.

Before the execution, Brawner appeared talkative and said he deserved to die for what he'd done, Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said.

Brawner also said he wasn't on drugs or alcohol when he killed, but snapped under the stress of a divorce and restraining order, according to Epps.

Court records based on Brawner's testimony and statements to police describe the killings and the series of events leading up to them like this:

Brawner left his apartment in Southaven, just south of Memphis, Tenn., about 3 a.m. the day before the killings and drove an hour to the Crafts' house because he was having financial trouble and found out his ex-wife planned to stop him from seeing the child. He emptied bullets from a 7-mm rifle in his father-in-law's truck and fled when a dog began barking.

He drove back to the house the next day and knocked on the door, but nobody was home. He put on rubber gloves and went through a back door. He took a .22 caliber rifle from the house, then drove to Carl Craft's job and asked if he could go to the house to wait for his ex-wife so he could see his daughter. Carl Craft agreed.

Brawner went back to the house. When his ex-wife, her mother and his daughter arrived, Brawner became agitated. He shot his ex-wife's mother first, then shot his ex-wife. She had wounds to her hands from trying to protect herself.

He walked across the room to his former mother-in-law and "put her out of her misery." Then he shot his ex-wife again.

The child had blood splatter on her from the shootings and said, "Daddy, you hurt me."

He took his daughter to a bedroom and told her to watch television, but decided she could identify him as the killer. He shot her in the chin and head. He killed Carl Craft when he arrived from work.

He stole Carl Craft's wallet and took his former mother-in-law's wedding ring off her finger. He gave the ring to his girlfriend and proposed marriage later that day, records show.

Mississippi's governor and the U.S. Supreme Court both declined to stop Tuesday's execution. The Mississippi Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop it.

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