Jack Wade Clark, 37, 2001-01-09, Texas
Convicted killer Jack Wade Clark was executed this evening for the abduction, rape and fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old Lubbock County woman more than 11 years ago.
The execution was the 1st in Texas' death chamber this year.
In a brief final statement while strapped to the death chamber gurney, Clark expressed remorse and prayed.
"I would like to say to the family that I am sorry and I do ask their forgiveness," he said as five members of his victim's family stood a few feet away watching through a window.
He invited people to attend his funeral Mass and then recited a short prayer, closing with the words "peace and goodness."
He sputtered and gasped slightly before slipping into unconsciousness. He was pronounced death at 6:27 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal drugs started flowing.
"If we confess our sins, He is just and true to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness," Clark said.
Gov. Rick Perry, in his 1st execution case since succeeding President-elect Bush 3 weeks ago, cleared the way for the execution when he
rejected Clark's request for clemency.
Last year, with then-Lt. Gov. Perry frequently assuming Bush's duties when the GOP presidential candidate was campaigning out of the state, Texas carried out a record 40 executions.
Clark, 37, led police to the body of 23-year-old Melisa Ann Garcia of Slaton, saying he spotted her body in some tall weeds off a highway while making a U-turn.
"But the way he described the scene, he almost had to be the murderer," Rebecca Atchley, the former assistant prosecutor in Lubbock who tried Clark, said.
Clark was arrested and confessed to the murder but insisted from death row he was innocent.
"I know I didn't do that," Clark said in an interview last week. "I know for a fact I didn't rape that girl. Never happened."
Recent DNA tests on evidence tied him to the crime scene. Clark contended the evidence was planted.
Garcia was making a telephone call outside a convenience store the early hours of Oct. 15, 1989, when Clark approached her and asked if she had a light for a cigarette. When she finished her call, testimony showed he stabbed her in the shoulder, forced her into her own car, drove away and repeatedly raped her before fatally stabbing her in the heart.
Clark said he signed his confession in frustration.
"I was truly seeking a way out," he said.
Clark, brandishing a knife at officers, was arrested following a brief highway police chase a few weeks after he told officers he spotted the body.
"There was no possible way this guy could have seen the body," said former Lubbock District Attorney Travis Ware, who went to the murder scene. "Sometimes these guys will commit a crime like this and get to be the hero by discovering the body. That apparently was what he was up to.
"Melisa Ann Garcia was a totally innocent victim of circumstance."
While in the county jail, Clark bragged about the rape and murder to another inmate, who testified against him at his trial.
Evidence also showed Clark was a military deserter, was accused of assaulting and attempting to rape a relative, threatening child welfare workers, neglecting and abusing his children and of threatening and assaultive behavior toward neighbors.
He also had a history of making weapons while in jail, trying to intimidate guards and fighting with inmates.
Garcia's death was not the 1st murder tragedy for her family. Her 69-year-old grandmother, Elizabeth Alvarado, was beaten to death during a robbery at her home a year before Garcia was killed. The man convicted of that killing, Adolph Gil Hernandez, is set for execution next month.
"We have been waiting so long for this day to come," Josie Vargas, Garcia's aunt and Alvarado's daughter, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "It's been terrible. I don't know how we survived."
"That made this case really tragic," Atchley said. "2 victims of vicious murders in one family. It's very horrific."
Clark becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 240th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.
Clark becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA, and the 684th overall since America resumed executions on Jan. 17. 1977.
(sources: Houston Chronicle & Rick Halperin)
Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, 2001-01-09, Oklahoma
In McAlester, Okla., Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was executed for fatally beating Ernestine Jones in 1987 after breaking into her home. Trice was arrested 4 days after the slaying and police said he later confessed.
Authorities said Trice entered Jones' home just after midnight through a bedroom window and beat Jones with a martial arts weapon, called nunchakus, before making off with $500.
Jones received blows to the head, fractured jaw and cheek bones, broken ribs and fingers and contusions to the heart and lungs. She was also raped.
Jones 63-year-old retarded son, Emanuel Jones, was also severely beaten after attempting to come to his mother's aid, according to police.
Trice's roommate called police after Trice returned home with a lot of money and claimed to have whipped a homosexual with his nunchakus. The roommate said Trice had hidden his bloody clothes in a nearby abandoned house.
Trice was arrested 4 days after the murder and later confessed, said
Oklahoma City police inspector Eric Mullenix. He was sentenced to death in June 1987.
"I have not the words to describe the brutality and savagery of what I observed in the crime scene," Mullenix wrote in October to oppose clemency for Trice. Mullenix said Trice never showed remorse. The state Pardon and Parole Board rejected the clemency request in November.
Jurors ruled that the death penalty was warranted because the crime met 4 of 8 aggravating circumstances.
Trice had a previous felony conviction involving the use of threat of violence and knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person during the crime.
Jurors also said the killing was a heinous, atrocious or cruel act and deemed Trice a continuing threat to society.
Trice becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death this yearin Oklahoma, and the 31st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Trice also becomes the 2nd condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in the USA and the 685th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press, The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)
Robert Glock, 39, 2001-01-11, Florida
An inmate whose execution was stayed in December by a Florida Supreme Court busy with presidential election disputes was executed by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison.
Robert Glock, 39, was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m., said Katie Baur, spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Glock's final appeals Thursday morning.
The applications were filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who referred them to the full court. There was no dissent in the denials.
Glock was convicted in the 1983 kidnap-slaying of Sharilyn Johnson Ritchie, 34, who taught home economics.
Defense attorney Terri Backhus of Tampa said Wednesday that she spoke
frequently with her client as the execution time drew near. He was hoping for another favorable court ruling and was "of course concerned, ... but he's actually been in good spirits."
Glock spent his final days visiting with family members.
Ritchie, who taught at Palmetto High School in Manatee County, was kidnapped at gunpoint at a Bradenton shopping mall on Aug. 16, 1983.
Glock and Carl Puiatti, 38, who is on death row, stole her wedding ring and forced her to withdraw $100 from a bank. They then drove her in her car north 60 miles to Pasco County.
They released her in an orange grove near Dade City, handing her a sun visor, her purse and her husband's baseball mitt.
They started to drive way, but then decided to kill her. They shot
her, then came back and shot her again. She managed to walk about 10 yards before collapsing for the last time.
When her body was found, she was clutching the leather mitt to her chest.
5 days later, the 2 men were stopped by a New Jersey state trooper.
They confessed to the murder and in 1984 Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb sentenced them to death.
Backhus argued in appeals that Glock was unfairly barred from appealing the standard jury instructions given at his trial because his 1st appeal team, heeding clear rulings by the Florida Supreme Court that the instructions were constitutional, hadn't appealed them.
The U.S. Supreme Court later found the instructions unconstitutional.
Glock becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in Florida and the 51st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1979.
Glock becomes the 3rd condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in the USA and the 686th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Sun-Sentinel & Rick Halperin)
Wanda Jean Allen, 41, 2001-01-11, Oklahoma
Just hours after Gov. Frank Keating and the U.S. Supreme Court dashed her final hopes for life, 2-time killer Wanda Jean Allen was strapped to a gurney and injected with lethal drugs tonight. Allen, 41, was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Her death marked the 1st execution of a woman in Oklahoma since statehood.
She joined a murderer's row of 114 men electrocuted, hung and poisoned by the state since 1915.
"2 families were victimized by Wanda Jean Allen," Attorney General Drew Edmondson told more than 50 reporters and photographers before the execution.
"Our thoughts are with them. They have waited a dozen years for justice in this case."
Allen was condemned to die in the 1988 murder of her lesbian lover, Gloria Leathers, who was shot outside The Village police station.
"Our loved one wasn't given a choice about life," Leathers' family said in a written statement Thursday night.
"She didn't even have a chance to look Wanda in the face to ask her to spare her life. She shot her in the abdomen at a very close range on the steps of a jailhouse. That alone makes us believe she could do this again as she had already done before."
At the time of Leathers' murder, Allen was on probation after serving
prison time for the 1981 manslaughter of Detra Pettus.
Pettus' mother, Delma Pettus, and sisters, Rhonda Pettus and Sherri Wilson said Allen spent 4 years in prison after their loved one "was
pistol whipped and shot at point-blank range."
"The short prison stays are a part of the reason crimes are repeated," the Pettus' statement read. "It has taken 20 years and a 2nd murder in order to get the death penalty."
Allen became the 6th woman executed in the United States since the
Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 - and the 1st black woman executed since Ohio electrocuted Betty Jean Butler in 1954.
Allen was the 2nd of 8 Oklahoma inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection in a 4-week period.
A 9th inmate, Robert William Clayton, won a 30-day stay of execution last week after new DNA evidence was found on the eve of his scheduled death.
Allen's case drew national attention as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others accused Oklahoma of becoming a "killing machine." Questions were raised about Allen's mental competency, as Jackson made 2 trips to Oklahoma to rally on her behalf and call for a moratorium on the death penalty in
State Corrections Department officials denied Jackson's last-minute request to witness the execution.
Jackson's name was not on the list Allen gave prison officials 2 weeks ago so he was not authorized to witness the execution, corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said.
Jackson did not travel to McAlester.
He instead joined death penalty opponents in a Thursday night protest
outside the governor's mansion.
Defense attorneys claimed Allen was borderline mentally retarded and had an IQ measured at 69 in the 1970s.
Prosecutors, however, said she was a fully functioning adult who held a job, managed her finances and knew right from wrong.
"Wanda Jean Allen is not mentally retarded," Edmondson said, noting that a psychologist placed her IQ at 80 in the mid-1990s. "Her IQ is 10 points above borderline mental retardation."
When a reporter with a foreign accent asked what Allen's IQ might have been when she killed Gloria Leathers in 1988, the attorney general
snapped: "She got smarter in prison?"
Allen's last chance for life was erased about 7:30 p.m. Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in her case.
A few hours earlier, the same appeal was rejected by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
"Ms. Allen has failed to substantiate her allegation of a due process violation," the Denver judges concluded 3-0, referring to her claim that an assistant attorney general used false evidence against her at her
unsuccessful Dec. 15 clemency hearing.
Forty-five minutes after the 10th Circuit's decision, Keating denied a stay of execution.
Keating said the courts had pondered the case for 12 years, and that Allen had lodged 11 different appeals since her conviction.
"This is not easy because I am dealing with a fellow human being ... with a fellow Oklahoman," the governor said. "I have debated and discussed this, and now have resolved to deny the extension of 30 days.
"I care very deeply for the victims of crime. I have no use for killers, but I have a deep and abiding faith in the rule of law.
"I have to think about the woman she murdered in cold blood. I grieve for
the families; I grieve for the dead. If a person takes another's life premeditated, they take their own."
By state law, the governor could not stop the execution, but he could have granted a 30-day stay and had the state Pardon and Parole Board re-examine the issues.
Keating said his only question was whether the parole board, which voted 3-1 to deny clemency, had sufficient information to make its decision.
Based on inaccurate trial testimony by Allen, Assistant Attorney General
Sandy Howard told the board Allen had had received a high school diploma and completed 2 years of college. In fact, Allen dropped out of high school.
But although Allen's defense attorney knew that information was incorrect, he did not speak up, Keating said.
"Clearly, the woman knew right from wrong," Keating said.
Oklahoma City black leader Theotis Payne said Keating's decision
But Payne said of Keating, "I think he is a fair man. I know from visiting with him he considered all the options, and I have to accept his decision. Now I must prepare myself to stay with the family on this."
Jackson met with Keating for nearly 50 minutes this morning after the civil rights leader spent the night in the Oklahoma County jail. Jackson and 27 others were arrested Wednesday night when they trespassed across a line set up in front of the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in Oklahoma City.
24 relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Detra Pettus traveled to McAlester for the execution.
Many of those relatives watched the execution from behind a tinted window.
In the room in front of them, a dozen media representatives and 7 witnesses chosen by Allen viewed the execution through clear glass.
Allen's witnesses included 3 ministers - the Rev. Vernon Burris, her personal spiritual adviser; the Rev. Walter Little, pastor of Oklahoma City's Redeemer Lutheran Church; and the Rev. Robin Meyers, pastor of Oklahoma City's Mayflower Congregational Church.
Allen becomes the 32nd condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990; only Texas (240), Virginia (81), Florida (51), and Missouri (46) have executed more prisoners than Oklahoma in the modern death penalty era.
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)
Floyd Allen Medlock, 29, 2000-01-16, Oklahoma
A man who fatally stabbed, beat and sexually molested a 7-year-old girl in his apartment was executed by fatal injection Tuesday night.
Floyd Allen Medlock, 29, told police police "something clicked" in his mind before he killed Katherine Ann Busch in 1990. Medlock's execution was the 3rd in Oklahoma this month. 5 more scheduled over the next 3 weeks.
Police said Katherine Busch spent her last evening alive pedaling her tiny bicycle around the apartment complex where she lived with her mother, Gina Ford. As she rode, police said, she saw Medlock in an apartment where she and her mother used to live, and stopped to talk.
He made her macaroni and cheese.
About 6 1/2 hours later, police found Busch's nude body -- raped, beaten, stabbed -- in a drugstore garbage bin 3 blocks away.
Medlock turned himself in and later pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder.
At his sentencing, therapists claimed Medlock had a split personality and that his alter ego -- an enraged 12-year-old named Charlie -- was to blame for Katherine Busch's death.
Medlock did not request a clemency hearing and filed no emergency appeals to try and stop his execution.
Medlock becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma this year, and the 33rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Alvin Goodwin, ,2001-01-18, Texas
14 years after a Conroe man was taken from his home and fatally shot in an aborted cash robbery, the parolee convicted of gunning him down was executed in the Texas death chamber today.
He said goodbye in Gaelic and closed by saying "all right, warden."
Goodwin sputtered and grunted twice as he exhaled. He was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his muscular, tattooed arms.
Texas executed a record 40 prisoners last year and at least 7 other inmates already have execution dates for 2001.
Goodwin, who declined to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his execution date, had at least seven previous execution dates. About an hour before his execution, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, denied a request for an emergency stay. At the same time, a separate appeal from Goodwin was rejected with no dissent by the high court. He did not request relief from Gov. Rick Perry, who has the authority to issue a 1-time 30-day reprieve.
Goodwin, a former carpenter and press operator, already had a record when authorities said he and a companion burst into the home of an acquaintance in Conroe, guns drawn, to steal the man's $600 Christmas bonus.
When tool company worker Douglas Tillerson told the intruders he didn't have the money, they took a video cassette recorder and some tapes, drove him about 2 miles from his Montgomery County trailer home and marched him
into some woods, evidence showed.
Accomplice Billy Aitkens Jr. tried to shoot Tillerson but his gun misfired twice.
Goodwin's didn't. "It was for no apparent reason than just to see a man
die," Mary Ann Turner, a former assistant district attorney in Montgomery County who prosecuted Goodwin, said this week. "It was an unnecessary death. He killed just to kill in this particular case."
Tillerson's body was discovered by trail riders Jan. 17, 1987, 6 weeks after relatives reported him missing and his trailer ransacked. 4 days later, Goodwin and Aitkens were tracked down in Burlington, Iowa, where they had been under arrest on unrelated burglary charges.
The murder weapon actually had been seized from Aitkens' car the day after Tillerson's Nov. 30, 1986, killing when Montgomery County sheriff's deputies pulled over Aitkens, Goodwin and 2 other men during a traffic stop.
Testimony at his trial showed Goodwin had claimed ownership of the
.357-caliber Magnum pistol. Ballistics tests tied it to the fatal wound suffered by Tillerson, who already had deposited his Christmas bonus in the bank when the 2 gunmen showed up at his home.
Authorities also had videotaped and written confessions from Goodwin, who was no stranger to the Texas criminal justice system.
In 1982, the 10th-grade dropout was convicted in Harris County of burglary and auto theft but was paroled to Galveston County after serving only 11 months of a 5-year prison term. Less than 2 years later, he was back in prison as a parole violator plus a new 2-year sentence for burglary from Walker County.
After 14 months, he was released under mandatory supervision to Nueces County. 6 months later, the Tillerson murder occurred.
The propriety of the traffic stop and seizure of the weapon that connected Goodwin to the murder, along with questions about the legality of his confession to authorities in Iowa, led to numerous appeals over the years.
"I don't think it's good for anybody," former prosecutor Turner, who now works as a defense attorney, said of the lengthy process. "I don't think it's good for the defendant to not know his fate for 14 years and it's definitely not good for the victims and the state in this particular case.
"Capital punishment has its place and I wish somehow we could all be satisfied how it's administered. And I don't know we can ever do that."
Aitkens, now 35, is serving a life prison term for the attack.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Dion Athanasius Smallwood, 31, 2001-01-18, Oklakoma
A man who beat his ex-girlfriends adoptive mother with a croquet mallet, threw her in the trunk of a car and then burned her alive was executed Thursday night.
Dion Athanasius Smallwood, 31, was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. after receiving a lethal dose of drugs in the death chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Smallwood was convicted of murdering Lois Frederick, 68, on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1992, after forcing his way into her Oklahoma City home.
Smallwood smiled at members of his family and then apologized to the victim's daughter.
"To the victims of this case, if you didn't hear me before, hear me now. I'm sorry. This (execution) doesn't change anything. It just creates more victims. I am truly sorry," Smallwood said.
He then told his family he truly loved them.
"I'll be waiting for y'all on the other side."
Acquaintances said Smallwood resented Frederick for trying to keep him away from her adopted daughter, Terri Jo Frederick.
Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon denied applications to delay the execution made by Smallwood and his attorneys.
Terri Frederick was at the prison with her biological sister, Mone Moody, to watch the execution.
In Oklahoma City, about 30 people protested peacefully outside the Governor's Mansion.
The gathering was organized by Kevin Acres, president of the Oklahoma chapter of Amnesty International and the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Members of the rally held signs denouncing the death penalty. "Vengeance is not ours" and "Death Penalty is a Hate Crime" were 2 of the signs.
Johnnie Cabrera, whose granddaughter's murderer was executed Tuesday night, was among the protesters. She carried a large banner that read, Do Not Kill For Me. Stop Executions."
Cabrera witnessed Tuesday's execution of Floyd Allen Medlock, who was convicted of killing Katherine Ann Busch in 1990. Busch was Cabrera's granddaughter.
"I think it is a barbaric ritual sanctioned by the state of Oklahoma," Cabrera said. "It needs to stop. I hope God will have mercy on all of those who allow this to happen and continue to allow it to happen."
Smallwood becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 34th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Mark Fowler, 35, 2000-01-23, Oklahoma
One of 2 men who blamed each other for a 1985 blood bath at an Edmond grocery store became the first to die for the crime Tuesday. A dose of drugs took Mark Andrew Fowler's breath and then stopped his heart in Oklahoma's death chamber.
The 35-year-old was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m. Before his death, Fowler's family members who were there to witness his execution joined in as Fowler began reciting a "Hail Mary," a prayer to the mother of Jesus Christ.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus," Fowler said. "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
Fowler became the 5th killer executed this month. His accomplice in a robbery turned triple murder, Billy Ray Fox, 34, is to become the 6th Thursday.
Fowler and Fox were arrested in Edmond the day after the July 3, 1985 murders of Barrier, 27, Rick Cast, 33, and Chumpon Chaowasin, 44. A teen-age girl found the 3 men lying face-down in a massive pool of blood in the back room of Wynn's IGA.
Cast and Chaowasin died of shotgun wounds to their heads and Barrier had been beaten and stabbed. Attorney General Drew Edmondson said testimony showed the killer couldn't have acted alone.
"Both of them pointed the finger at the other as the more involved of the 2, but the evidence was clear," he said. "When you're dealing with three healthy human beings, it had to be more than one person involved ... to successfully keep them herded in the back room."
6 family members and friends of 2 of the slain men came to the prison to see Fowler die.
"I have always believed in an 'eye for and eye,'" Linda Barrier, the sister of victim John Barrier, wrote to a clemency board earlier this month. "I have waited 15 years for the final chapter."
Fowler had maintained he was a lookout during the murders, but he apologized to the victims' families at his clemency hearing.
"I'm not here to deny my involvement or participation because I was there and I was equally responsible for what happened," he said. "I cannot change the past or make the bad things disappear. I apologize for what I have done and thank God for taking care of my family."
His parents, Jim and Ann Fowler, came to the prison to witness the execution.
Jim Fowler has lived on both sides of the death penalty; 1st, as the father of a condemned inmate and secondly, as the son of a murder victim. Robert Miller Jr. spent 11 years on Oklahoma's death row before DNA evidence exonerated him in Anne Laura Fowler's death.
"If we had killed Mr. Miller you would never had known about him being innocent," said Jim Fowler, who believes the death penalty lowers citizens to a killer's level.
Catholic leaders, including Fowler's uncle, the Rev. Gregory Gier of Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, made pleas for his life before the state clemency board earlier this month.
Frank Cast, Rick Cast's brother, pointed to lives cut down by the 2 killers. All 3 victims were working at night and attending college by day, he wrote in a letter to the clemency board.
Grief took a toll on his mother, who watched as Fox and Fowler snickered and passed notes during their court proceedings, Frank Cast said.
"I believe to this date that Ricky's murder and the trial is what killed her," he wrote. "Our mother lingered on her death bed for 14 years, withering into a skeleton, waiting for justice to be carried out."
The execution came in a string of eight scheduled through Feb. 1 in Oklahoma's death chamber.
Death penalty opponents, who have gained momentum with national attention to the record pace, protested Tuesday morning on the grounds of the building that houses the state Pardon and Parole Board. 7 were arrested for trespassing.
Kevin Acers, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of Amnesty International, said a homicide survivor's support group had received the permit to stand at the group's normal protest site outside the governor's mansion. Fowler becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 35th overall since Oklahoma resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Fowler becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 691st overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)
Billy Ray Fox, 35, 2001-01-25, Oklahoma
A man who orchestrated a murderous robbery at an Edmond grocery store where he once worked followed his accomplice into the death chamber Thursday night. Billy Ray Fox, 35, was executed by injection for the July 3, 1985, murders of 3 night employees at Wynn's IGA. He was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m.
Mark Andrew Fowler, who helped carry out the murders, was executed Tuesday night at Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Acquaintances said that 2 days before the murders, Fox approached Fowler about robbing the grocery store, to which he still had keys to the door, the cash register and a safe.
Armed with shotguns they took from their roommates, the 2 shot to death Chaowasin and Cast. Barrier was stabbed 9 times and bludgeoned with a shotgun.
A 16-year-old girl who worked at the store found the bodies of the victims lying side-by-side in a large pool of blood in a back room of the store.
Fox and Fowler got away with $1,200 in cash. The afternoon following the murder, Fowler paid off some debts and threw a party for some friends, serving steaks and food he took from the store. Fox bought clothes and jewelry at an Oklahoma City mall. Both were arrested that night.
Fox spent the hours before his execution visiting with family members through thick glass.
Fox went on a weeklong hunger strike earlier this month to protest the death penalty, Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said.
3 of Cast's family members were at the prison to witness the execution, along with Barrier's sister, Linda Barrier, her friend and 3 Edmond police officers.
The same family members watched Fowler die Tuesday.
Cast's brother, Frank Cast, called Fowler and Fox "mad dogs" and said their execution was the end of 15 1/2 years of grief and pain.
"I request all people of good conscience to pray for the souls of the 3 victims and deceased members of all the families of this tragedy, as well as pray that the souls of these 2 killers be sent directly to Hell," Cast wrote in a statement.
Fox becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 36th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Fox becomes the 9th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 692nd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(source: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Caruthers Alexander, 52, 2001-01-29
A man who raped and strangled a woman he abducted after a staged traffic accident in 1981 was executed by injection Monday.
Caruthers Alexander, 52, was set to die last year but the execution was halted so more sophisticated DNA testing could be performed on evidence.
Test results, received last month, confirmed his guilt.
19-year-old Lori Bruch, the mother of a 2-year-old, was driving home when her car was hit from behind by a van authorities said was driven by Alexander.
Prosecutors said Alexander lured Bruch from the car, tied her up, and
raped and strangled her.
"It's every woman's worst nightmare to be driving on the street and be abducted and it's every husband's nightmare that your wife would be out and not come home," said Lyndee Bordini, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted Alexander.
Bruch's body was left in a rain-flooded gutter near an elementary school, where it was found by children walking to classes.
A priest had seen the van in the area and reported it to police. When they tracked it down they found one of Bruch's earrings and her belt inside. Paint scrapes on the van matched the paint of Bruch's car.
In a death row interview earlier this month, Alexander maintained his
"There's a lot of stuff in the conviction that was bunk," Alexander said. "I'll say that straight off the bat: Bunk! The test shouldn't have come back positive. If anything, this last test should have come back inconclusive or not mine."
Alexander becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 242nd overall since the state resumed capital
punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.
Alexander becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be put to death this
year in the USA and the 693rd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Loyd Lafevers, 35, 2001-01-30, Oklahoma
A 35-year-old man was executed by injection Tuesday night for killing an 84-year-old woman by beating her and setting her on fire.
Loyd Lafevers and co-defendant Randall Cannon were accused of kidnapping Addie Hawley on June 24, 1985. They locked her in the trunk of a car and took her to a remote area, where they beat her, doused her with gasoline and set her and her car on fire. She was found near midnight lying nude and incoherent. She died the following day.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the attack on Hawley was part of a "reign of terror in south Oklahoma City" in which the 2 men attacked 3 other women.
Lafevers did not deny taking part in the kidnapping and a burglary of Hawley, but blamed the killing on Cannon, who is also on death row.
Cannon blamed Lafevers.
They were convicted in a joint trial and given the death penalty, but the conviction was overturned when an appeals court ruled the 2 should have been tried separately. They were tried again separately, convicted in 1993 and again sentenced to death.
Colorado state Sen. Ken Chlouber, nephew of the murder victim, said Lafevers' execution was long overdue.
"This guy has fouled Oklahoma with every breath since he murdered my aunt," said Chlouber.
Lafevers becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 37th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Lafevers becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 694th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
D.L. "Wayne" Jones Jr., 61, 2001-02-01
An inmate on death row longer than any other was executed Thursday for a 1979 murder at a Lawton bar.
D.L. "Wayne" Jones Jr., 61, was pronounced dead at 9:16 p.m. from a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Jones, a Lawton carpenter, was convicted of killing 48-year-old Stanley Eugene Buck Sr. He also wounded Buck's 19-year-old son, Stanley Buck Jr., and Betty Jean Strain, 40.
Jones had been on death row longer than any other because of an extended appeals process that resulted from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a
separate case 16 years ago.
He met Strain at another bar earlier that day and became angry at her for slipping out while Jones was on the phone, said Sandy Howard, chief of the criminal appeals division for the state attorney general's office.
He encountered Strain at another bar, the Wichita Lounge, where a bartender noticed a gun sticking out of his boot and asked Jones to cover it. Jones threatened to shoot her, then brandished the weapon and opened fire, saying he would kill everyone in the tavern.
Strain was wounded under the right breast and managed to walk to another bar for help while Jones confronted the Bucks, who were drinking sodas, eating chicken and playing pool.
He did not know them and asked Stanley Buck Jr. what they were doing before shooting the father in the head at point blank close range. Jones
shot Stanley Buck Sr. again as he lay dying.
He shot Stanley Buck Jr. twice in the bar and followed him outside and purportedly said "if I let you live you'll tell the cops, won't you?" before shooting the son a 3rd time.
Stanley Buck Jr. managed to stumble to a nearby fruit stand and motioned to call police because he could not talk.
Lawton detectives arrested Jones without incident at his home a short time later.
Jones said a combination of alcohol and drugs rendered him unconscious of the acts. Witnesses said Jones did not appear drunk.
Stanley Buck Jr., who was partially paralyzed from his wounds, said Jones' execution was long overdue.
"My father was not given but an instant to contemplate his life. Jones has had 20 years to contemplate his," the son wrote the state Pardon and Parole Board, which rejected clemency last week.
Strain's injuries resulted in the removal of her spleen at the time. She has since died.
Prosecutors successfully argued that aggravating circumstances warranted the death penalty, partly because the act was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel. Prosecutors also said Jones intended to kill others at the bar, another aggravating circumstance.
Jones becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Oklahoma and the 38th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Jones is the 121 condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma since statehood.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Stanley D. Lingar, 37, 2001-02-07, Missouri
Stanley D. Lingar was executed early Wednesday for sexually abusing and killing a 16-year-old southeast Missouri boy in 1985.
Lingar, 37, died at 12:06 a.m. after the 1st of 3 lethal drugs was administered at the Potosi Correctional Center.
Lingar was given the death sentence for killing Thomas S. Allen. He was the first inmate to be executed this year in Missouri.
Lingar's fate was sealed late Tuesday when Gov. Bob Holden denied his clemency request. Holden reviewed Lingar's case and determined there was no evidence that merited setting aside his sentence, spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said.
It was the 1st life-or-death decision for Holden, who took office in January. Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Lingar's appeal.
Advocates for Lingar made several claims on his behalf - that he suffered from a severe mental disorder and was borderline mentally retarded; that he was extremely drunk at the time of the killing; and that the other man involved in the crime, David L. Smith, served just 6 years in prison.
Most prominent among the factors cited was one unique to Missouri death row cases - that Lingar's homosexuality played a role in his sentence.
Lingar's attorney, Jeremy Weis, said Ripley County prosecutors raised the
issue of homosexuality to inflame the jury against Lingar.
Amnesty International and the New York-based gay activist group Queer Watch also asked Holden to halt the execution.
"There is concern he got the death penalty because he is gay," said Bill Dobbs of Queer Watch. "It's a very ugly, reprehensible murder. However, there are serious due process issues."
"That's absurd," Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said. "It's the brutality of the crime, not the sexual orientation of the killer."
Allen, of the southeast Missouri town of Doniphan, was on his way home from his girlfriend's house Jan. 6, 1985, when his Jeep ran out of gas along a 2-lane road.
Lingar and Smith had spent the day drinking - court records showed Smith drank 3 bottles of wine and 6-8 beers; Lingar drank around 30 beers plus part of a bottle of wine.
They saw Allen along the road and offered to drive him to a service
station, but instead drove to Lingar's parents' home where Lingar picked up a .22-caliber rifle. They then drove to nearby Lingo Lake.
Lingar and Smith ordered Allen to undress and masturbate. After allowing Allen to get out of the car, Smith testified that Lingar shot Allen, beat him with a tire iron and ran over him twice with his Mustang. The men then dumped Allen's body in the Eleven Point River, about 25 miles west of Doniphan.
During the penalty phase of Lingar's trial, Smith testified that he and Lingar were homosexual lovers.
Smith pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and agreed to testify against Lingar during the trial. Smith eventually served just 6 years, was released in 1991, and is now believed to be living in Kentucky.
The clemency petition said Smith was far more intelligent that Lingar, and as a result, more likely to mastermind the crime.
Ripley County prosecutor Christopher Miller said the relationship of Lingar and Smith was not central to the case, but possibly was relevant to their demands upon Allen.
Lingar has maintained all along that he was too drunk to remember anything about that night, Weis said. Lingar had declined to be interviewed.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Adolph Gil Hernandez, 50, 2001-02-08, Texas
A parolee with an extensive criminal record was executed Thursday night for fatally beating a 69-year-old West Texas woman with a baseball bat during a robbery at her home.
Adolph Gil Hernandez, 50, was executed at 6:24 p.m. CST.
He made a brief statement, expressing love to his family.
"I want to thank my family for their help and moral support and for their
struggle. It would have been a lot harder without their love. I am just going home," he told witnesses that included a daughter and 3 brothers. "I'll see y'all one of these days. Just don't rush it."
Hernandez, who had an extensive criminal record, insisted he was not the
man who bashed Elizabeth Alvarado 8 times in the head with a bat and ran from her house with her purse containing $350 in September 1988.
According to trial testimony, one of the victim's daughters and a great-grandson saw Hernandez emerge from Alvarado's kitchen carrying the bat and confronted him. Hernandez fled after a brief struggle. Police found him hiding in some bushes nearby.
In earlier appeals, Hernandez blamed the slaying on an alcohol-induced
blackout. In the past month, however, he contended the murder was committed by a black man whose identity he did not know.
This week, defense attorneys produced a bloody shirt, stored in a garage for 12 years, which they said would clear the former barber. A state
judge, however, refused to stop the execution.
Hernandez becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 243rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Thomas Wayne Akers, 31, 2001-03-01, Virginia
A Virginia man sentenced to die for beating another man to death with a baseball bat in 1998 was executed by lethal injection on Thursday amid protests the execution amounted to state-assisted suicide.
Thomas Wayne Akers, 31, who pleaded guilty to killing 24-year-old Wesley Smith during a robbery in Roanoke, in southwest Virginia, told a judge more than 10 years ago while in prison on an unrelated charge that he wanted to die in the electric chair.
Akers was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m. (Eastern time) Friday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, about 55 miles (88 km) south of the state capital, Richmond.
Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, paraphrased Akers' final statement that was almost inaudible to the witnesses. Traylor said Akers thanked Jesus Christ for coming into his life. He said Akers expressed sorrow and "a lot of remorse" and said he hoped the victims could forgive him, "but if they couldn't, he knew the Lord had."
There were about 60 protesters -- many more than normal -- in a field just outside the prison.
Death penalty opponents protested the Virginia execution and another scheduled to be carried out in Oklahoma on Thursday, which is International Death Penalty Abolition Day. That marks the day in 1847 that Michigan became the 1st English-speaking territory in the world to ban executions.
"The fact that these 2 executions are scheduled to take place on
International Death Penalty Abolition Day is symbolic of the contempt that the U.S. has for international opinion when it comes to justice and moral decency on the question of the death penalty," said Ajamu Baraka, acting director of Amnesty International USA's program to end executions.
Akers and an accomplice, Timothy Dwayne Martin, beat Smith to death with
an aluminum baseball bat during a robbery in December 1998. Akers was driving the victim's car and had his wallet in his possession when the 2 men were captured in New York, near the Canadian border.
Martin later pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and was sentenced to
life in prison.
As Akers was awaiting execution, prison officials were investigating the
death of a fellow inmate on Virginia's death row in the Sussex State Prison. Convicted murderer David Overton, 21, collapsed in his cell at about 2 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday and was later pronounced dead.
Relatives said Overton, who had been on death row since November 1999, had become despondent and suicidal in recent days. Prison officials said the cause of death was under investigation.
Overton was sentenced to die for a 1999 robbery and murder of a paraplegic stabbed to death in his bed.
Akers becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia and the 82nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Virginia trails only Texas (243) in the amount of executions in the modern era.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Robert William Clayton, 40, 2001-03-01, Oklahoma
A man sent to Oklahoma's death chamber 2 months later than planned was executed by injection Thursday for the 1985 killing of a Tulsa woman.
Robert William Clayton, 40, was pronounced dead at 9:10 p.m. from a lethal dose of drugs. He was the ninth inmate executed in Oklahoma this year.
Clayton was convicted of murdering Rhonda Timmons, 19, in her apartment.
Timmons was stabbed 12 times and was beaten and straggled with her bathing suit top.
"I want to say I'm glad I'm leaving this place and I'm going to a better place," Clayton said in his final statement. "I love my family and I'm sorry for this other lady that was killed.
"You're still killing an innocent man," he said. "May God have mercy on my soul."
The lethal flow of drugs began at 9:07 p.m. Clayton quickly became unconscious and was declared dead 3 minutes later.
He was originally scheduled to be the 1st inmate to be put to death this year, but was granted a stay 1 day before his Jan. 4 execution date.
The stay allowed him to pursue DNA tests on lost evidence recovered just days before he was to be strapped to a death row gurney at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. But evidence testing by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Clayton as the killer.
Timmons' stepfather and her mother, Pat Bullard, witnessed the execution.
"We did not seek revenge with the death of Robert Clayton," Bullard said in a statement. "We sought justice and justice was served."
Timmons' husband, Bill, found her when he came home for lunch. The inside of the couple's apartment was covered in blood, authorities said. Their infant son, now a teen-ager, was in a nearby crib.
Clayton was an apartment complex groundskeeper. Prosecutors said he came upon Timmons sunbathing and was furious when she rejected his advances.
He was convicted shortly after the killing, when DNA tests were not widely used.
When the federal portion of his appeals began in the mid-1990s, Clayton sought DNA tests on traces of blood on a knife identified as the murder weapon and on a sock and overalls Clayton supposedly wore.
Defense attorneys had said prosecutors relied on blood typing to argue for conviction. Timmons' blood type matched the type from traces of blood on the sock.
Attorneys said DNA tests could be more decisive. But the evidence was lost by state officials after his trial.
Tulsa County prosecutors located it in early January. Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, acting in the temporary absence of Gov. Frank Keating, granted the stay.
2 sisters, a cousin, brother-in-law and attorney witnessed the execution on Clayton's behalf.
(sources: The Oklahoman and Rick Halperin)
Dennis Dowthitt, 55, 2001-03-07, Texas
Sobbing and seeking repentance, a former used car salesman accused of being a sadistic rapist was executed today for sexually abusing and killing a Montgomery County teen almost 11 years ago.
"I'm sorry for what you had to go through. I am so sorry what you all had
to go through," Dennis Dowthitt, 55, said twice. "I can't imagine losing 2 children. If I was you all I would've killed me. I am really sorry about. I really am."
His voice was choked with emotion. Holding back tears, he looked at members of his victim's family and had difficulty speaking, then added, "Gracie was beautiful and Tiffany was beautiful. You had some lovely girls and I am sorry. I don't know what to say."
Dowthitt was condemned for raping and fatally slashing and stabbing Grace Purnhagen, 16, in an attack where the girl's 9-year-old sister, Tiffany, also was strangled.
His voice shaking and his body quivering against the leather restraints, Dowthitt turned away from witnesses as the injection began and then fell limp.
Among the witnesses, his sister sobbed uncontrollably and a friend watching knelt on the floor. He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. CST, 7 minutes after the lethal dose began.
Dowthitt's son, Delton, 16 at the time of the 1990 murders, testified against his father and under a plea bargain accepted a 45-year prison term for Tiffany Purnhagen's death. He remains imprisoned, with an additional term for escape in 1995, but becomes eligible for parole late next year.
On Tuesday, Dowthitt lost an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, voting 18-0, refused his clemency request Monday.
His attorneys again went to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking the justices to review the case even as the inmate requested a final meal. Less than 90 minutes before his scheduled punishment, however, the high court denied a request for a reprieve and refused to reconsider the case.
"I'm frustrated the system takes so long," Linda Purnhagen, whose daughters were killed, said. "The kids got no appeal. He was their judge, jury and executioner."
Grace Purnhagen and Delton Dowthitt had been acquaintances. With her younger sister in tow at a bowling alley the evening of June 13, 1990, Grace accepted a ride from the Dowthitts and wound up in a wooded area in south Montgomery County not far from their home in Oak Ridge North.
Court documents showed while Grace and Delton Dowthitt talked nearby, Dennis Dowthitt tried to molest the younger girl, who resisted and ran screaming to her sister.
Delton Dowthitt testified that when his father told him the girls had to be killed, Delton strangled Tiffany with a rope. Dennis Dowthitt attacked Grace, first unsuccessfully trying to rape her, then cutting her throat and raping her with a beer bottle before stabbing her in the chest.
The decomposing bodies of both girls were found 3 days later. Witnesses told of last seeing the girls outside the bowling alley talking with the Dowthitts in a pickup truck.
A psychologist testified the elder Dowthitt, while impotent, was a sadistic rapist who received pleasure by using objects like bottles to cause pain through sex. At the punishment phase of his trial, 2 of his daughters testified how they were assaulted or molested by their father.
"If we're going to have the death penalty in Texas, then if it doesn't fit this case, it doesn't fit -- ever," said Barbara Hale, a former Montgomery County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Dowthitt.
Dowthitt, who declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his execution, acknowledged to police he was at the murder site but blamed the deaths on his son.
"They didn't have the information they needed, that's all," he said while being led from the courtroom after a jury in 1992 decided he should be put to death. "I'm not guilty."
Linda Purnhagen noted her younger daughter now has been dead longer than she lived and that Dowthitt remained alive over the years.
"I don't think that's right," she said.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Willie Ervin Fisher, 2001-03-09, North Carolina
Willie Ervin Fisher, who stabbed his girlfriend to death with a knife and a broken broomstick, was executed Friday evening at the end of a long day of judicial parrying over his fate.
About 19 hours after his execution was originally to have occurred, Fisher, 39, was put to death by injection at Central Prison. He was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m., Corrections Department spokeswoman Tracy Little said.
The U.S. Supreme Court, without dissent, had denied a stay of execution Friday afternoon, the 2nd time this week it had rebuffed Fisher's
The execution was supposed to have occurred at 2 a.m. Friday, but was blocked by Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr., who said Gov. Mike Easley -- a former state attorney general -- might have had a conflict of interest when he denied Fisher clemency Thursday evening.
The state Supreme Court lifted the stay at about 4:45 a.m. and the execution was rescheduled, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
Little said Fisher had slept most of the morning, then visited with his sisters, Sally and Anna Fisher, and niece Ria Fisher in the afternoon. He also saw a social worker and his attorneys.
Outside the prison gates, where death penalty opponents had gathered Thursday night, no sign of protests could be seen a couple of hours before the rescheduled execution.
Manning granted his stay after Fisher's lawyers questioned whether Easley could make an impartial decision about clemency because he had opposed Fisher's appeals while he was attorney general.
Prosecutors responded by citing a 1998 federal appeals court ruling in a similar case involving Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, in which the appeals court overturned a lower court's restraining order and allowed an execution to proceed.
"Ironically, if Fisher's argument is correct, under the North Carolina constitution, there is no one who could grant clemency to him, or for that matter, to any other capital defendant in this state," prosecutors said in their petition to the state Supreme Court. "Gov. Easley is the only person under our constitution with the power of clemency; he must be permitted to exercise it if he so wishes."
Easley said he had carefully reviewed Fisher's case and decided not to commute his sentence to life in prison, citing the "heinous nature" of Angela Johnson's murder in 1992.
At Fisher's trial, witnesses said he broke into the Forsyth County house where Johnson lived with her mother and attacked her, then chased her outside, ripped her clothes off and stabbed her repeatedly.
When Johnson's 12-year-old daughter hit Fisher with a broomstick, he stabbed the girl, then used the broomstick to stab Johnson again.
Defense lawyers also unsuccessfully argued to Easley that jury selection in Fisher's trial was biased because Fisher is black and the jury was made up of 11 whites and 1 black.
They also argued the murder was committed after Fisher went on a drinking binge and smoked crack cocaine, and that his trial attorney, David Tamer, didn't present a proper defense.
Those claims were rejected by the state and U.S. supreme courts.
Fisher becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in North
Carolina this year and the 17th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1984.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
The years on death row had brought peace to Willie Ervin Fisher. In the hours before his execution last Friday night, Fisher spent his time comforting an older sister and a niece who had come to visit him at Raleigh's Central Prison.
During Fisher's only contact visit since he was sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of his girlfriend Angela Johnson, he tried to assure his sister Sally Fisher-Ervin and his niece Regina Fisher that he wasn't worried about dying.
"He's not ready to leave," Sally said her brother told her, "but if he has to, he's in God's hands, and he'll be fine."
Still the tears flowed--his sister's tears; Regina's tears; the tears of dozens of death-penalty opponents who stood in vigil for two bone-chilling nights outside the prison. The pained looks and sunken red eyes were also evident on the faces of Larry Moore and Cynthia Adcock, the two lawyers who worked feverishly to save Fisher's life.
Social worker Stephanie Moore, who had visited Fisher for six years to help with appeals, kept ducking into the prison visiting center restroom to dry her eyes and compose herself.
Only Willie Fisher, who was represented at trial by a lawyer who has now been disbarred, was able to face death at age 39 with faith-filled confidence. "He didn't cry at all," Regina said.
Fisher is the 17th person to be executed in North Carolina since executions resumed in 1984. Friends and family members had hoped Gov. Mike Easley, a lawyer and former state attorney general, would spare Fisher's life. Mitigating factors that would have kept Fisher off death row were never presented to the jury, his lawyers said. Easley, who earlier this month gave his seal of approval to the execution of a retarded person, was Fisher's last hope.
When she visited Easley on March 13 to plead for her baby brother's life, Sally brought along hundreds of letters and petitions she had gathered in her Winston-Salem community urging the governor to grant clemency. The murder of Johnson happened after Fisher, the youngest of nine children, had abused alcohol and crack cocaine. All who knew Fisher claimed he had never been violent prior to the day of the murder. Sally said her brother was always "an easygoing, sweet person. He was a mama's boy."
Last-minute appeals led to a stay of execution late Thursday night.
The stay was later lifted by the N.C. Supreme Court, but in the meantime Fisher's family members had to spend the night in the visiting center not knowing the fate of their loved one.
Regina curled up on a vinyl couch and tried to sleep.
"It's been a long day," she said around 3 a.m. "I'm just ready to let them just tell us what's going to happen because it's just the waiting that's killing me."
After initially trying to rush the execution Friday morning, Central Prison Warden Roby Lee postponed it until 9 p.m.
After witnessing her uncle's execution, Regina said: "He has no hatred towards nobody. He knows his soul is with God. So he wasn't in any pain in his last minutes, because as soon as he laid on that table, his soul left and all they had was his body."
WRAL reporter David Crabtree was among five media witnesses to Fisher's death. Watching Fisher die shook him up, said Crabtree, who also does some volunteer work on death row through his church.
Crabtree said he always thought death by injection was akin to "putting down the family dog." After he watched Fisher die, Crabtree felt differently.
"I don't think family dogs convulse," he said. "To see a human being go through that was just a little more than what I anticipated. As a person of faith and as a member of this society, I, on a personal level, don't think the government should be in the business of killing people."
Her voice cracking, Regina read aloud her uncle's final statement:
"Just that, regardless of what might be seen or the thought of what might be seen, there is still love, mercy and justice. Because God said that all that he has made is good and once you realize that and believe in that, everything will be just fine."
(source: Independent Weekly)
Gerald Wayne Bivins, 2001-03-14, Indiana
Gerald Bivins, who murdered a clergyman at an Indiana highway rest stop 10 years ago, was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday after consuming a final meal cooked by his mother, prison officials said.
Bivins' mother attempted suicide at her hotel shortly after sharing a last meal with her son at the prison, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Pam Patterson.
Jeanne Bivins, 61, was taken to a Michigan City hospital on Monday night.
She remained in the intensive care unit early on Wednesday. She was treated for an overdose of a prescription drug.
Bivins, 41, had waived all appeals and said he wanted to die. He was
pronounced dead at 12:26 a.m. CST at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, the Indiana Department of Correction said.
Earlier he had consumed a last meal prepared by his mother in the prison kitchen under supervision. Prison officials said it was the 1st time the
state had granted a condemned inmate's request for a final meal cooked by a family member.
Last week Bivins told a news conference death was a "way to escape the abuse and frustration ... spending my life in prison does not appeal to me. The only thing that can come out of it is anger and frustration."
"I wish to apologize to the victim's family for the pain I have caused and the pain I have caused my family and friends,'' Bivins said in a
final statement; "and I ask that they, who did this to me, be forgiven."
He was convicted of killing the Rev. William Radcliffe, a Protestant minister who ran a rehabilitation program to which Bivins, then on parole, was assigned.
Radcliffe was killed during a robbery at an Interstate highway rest stop in January 1991 after the minister recognized him, Bivins later said. He and 2 companions had been on a 2-day crime spree at the time.
Bivins becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Indiana this year and the 8th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1981.
Bivins becomes the 19th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 702nd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Reuters & Rick Halperin)
A 41-year-old man convicted of killing a minister at a highway rest stop was executed by injection early Wednesday morning.
Before he died, Gerald Bivins pleaded for forgiveness for himself and
those who put him to death.
"I wish to apologize to the victim's family for the pain that I've caused them and for the pain that I've caused my family and friends, and I ask for their forgiveness. And I ask that those that do this to me be forgiven," he said.
Bivins was condemned for killing the Rev. William Radcliffe during a robbery at a rest stop along Interstate 65 north of Indianapolis in 1991.
He declined to exhaust his appeals, saying he was tired of prison life and frustrated.
Authorities called the murder a thrill killing, but Bivins said he killed the minister only because the victim had recognized him during a robbery.
"I'm not trying to excuse it. Honestly, I don't think that makes it any better than one who did it to see what it feels like," Bivins had said.
Death penalty opponents had urged Gov. Frank O'Bannon to commute Bivins' sentence to life in prison. They questioned the governor's decision to allow the execution while a commission studies the fairness of Indiana's death penalty.
But O'Bannon said he would not intervene because Bivins had abandoned his appeals and because members of the commission have not discovered any problems with the death penalty. The commission's report is due this summer.
(source: Associated Press)
Robert Lee Massie, 59, 2001-03-27, California
Robert Lee Massie, a convicted killer who spent 2 separate stints on death row and gained notoriety while pursuing his own demise for more than 30 years, was executed by the State of California early this morning.
Massie, who killed in 1965 and again in 1979, was pronounced dead at 12:33 a.m. at San Quentin State Prison. A combination of drugs was injected into the 59-year-old murderer's veins, first rendering him unconscious, and then killing him by stopping his heart and lungs.
Bob Martinez, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections, said Massie's last words were:
"Forgiveness. Giving up all hope for a better past."
Witnesses described Massie as awake, alert and cooperative.
He had entered the execution chamber shortly after midnight accompanied by 5 guards who placed him on a gurney and strapped his arms.
He picked up his head several times after the drugs began flowing through his veins. At one point guards turned the gurney so Massie could make eye contact with his attorney, Frederick Baker, and 2 spiritual advisors. The pale, slight inmate had spent more years on San Quentin's death row than any currently condemned man.
His case was one of the most peculiar in state history.
In all, Massie was convicted and sentenced to die on 3 occasions for the 2 murders.
On Monday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected efforts to stay the execution. The appeals by opponents of the death penalty were made despite Massie's objections.
Outside the prison gates, several hundred protesters gathered. A dozen had walked 25 miles from San Francisco carrying signs that read "Abolish the Death Penalty" and "Executions Teach Vengeance and Violence."
But prison officials said Massie, whom they described as upbeat in recent days, was preparing to die.
Relatives and friends of Massie's victims also were preparing for the execution. About a dozen of them gathered for dinner at a Marin County restaurant--some meeting each other for the 1st time.
Most admitted they had been nervous and got little sleep the past few days.
"The hurt for my family will never stop," said Rick Naumoff, the son of one of Massie's victims. "We continue to deal with the loss of a husband, a father, a grandfather."
Over the years, Massie repeatedly said he would rather be dead than live in confinement for the rest of his days.
He called his quest for death "a mission" to expose what he considered the unfair process of automatic appeals in California capital cases.
Convicted killers, he said, should be allowed to stop all appeals.
"I'm tired," he said in a recent telephone interview. "I just don't want to live the rest of my life in jail."
Massie's death sentence stemmed from the fatal shooting in 1979 of 61-year-old Boris Naumoff in the liquor store Naumoff owned in San Francisco. But that was not the 1st time Massie had killed.
After a childhood of neglect and abuse in Virginia, Massie had drifted to California by 1965. He was 24, already a veteran of rough-and-tumble jails and well-schooled in crime.
On Jan. 7, 1965, Massie murdered Mildred Weiss, a mother of two married to a furniture store owner. Massie shot Weiss, 48, outside her San Gabriel home during a botched follow-home robbery.
Massie pleaded guilty, and by 1967 was so close to being executed that he had ordered his last meal and made a will. He escaped death when then-Gov. Ronald Reagan stayed the execution so that Massie could testify in the trial of his alleged accomplice.
After testifying, he returned to prison and remained there when the California Supreme Court temporarily banned executions.
Along the way, Massie began decrying the conditions on death row as harsh and cruel and he repeatedly told state officials he did not want to be kept alive.
By the early 1970s, he was dubbed the "Prisoner Who Wants to Die" by the news media. He wrote magazine articles making the case for his own execution and was quoted frequently.
But in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court banned executions. Massie and more than 100 men and women on California's death row had their sentences commuted to life with the possibility of parole.
Massie, a model prisoner who immersed himself in the law and became an advisor to many inmates, was given a 2nd chance when the state's parole board let him free in the summer of 1978.
Only months later, on Jan. 3, 1979, he killed Naumoff. Chuck Harris, a clerk at Naumoff's liquor store who was hit by one of Massie's bullets, survived with a leg wound.
After pleading guilty, Massie was sentenced to die. Again he welcomed the verdict, openly fighting the automatic appeals process.
But the state's high court, led by then-Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, overturned Massie's conviction because he had pleaded guilty against the advice of his attorney. The court ordered a retrial.
In 1989, Massie was convicted of murder for a 3rd time.
He temporarily sought freedom through state and federal courts, but after a while he returned to saying he wanted to die.
"I just decided to step up to the plate and say enough," Massie said earlier this month.
2 months ago, a federal judge ruled him competent and decided he could drop all appeals.
In recent days, death penalty opponents tried a flurry of last-ditch efforts to save Massie.
They argued in state and federal courts that Massie had long been racked by depression and other mental illness, a fact they claim was not argued strongly enough throughout Massie's time in prison. They also said Frederick Baker, a corporate lawyer who represented Massie, had abdicated his responsibility by seeking to pave the way for Massie's execution.
The late moves angered both Massie and the prosecutors who had sought his execution for years.
"I just find it curious that we are suddenly hearing from attorneys who have never met Massie and weren't at any of his hearings in which a judge found him competent, that he knows what he is doing," said Deputy Atty. Gen. Bruce Ortega. "I just don't understand why they are not respecting
Massie becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
California and the 9th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992.
Massie becomes the 20th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 703rd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Los Angeles Times & Rick Halperin)
Ronald Dunaway Fluke, 52, 2001-03-27, Oklahoma
A man who fatally shot his wife and two teen-age daughters in 1997 apologized for what he did before the state executed him Tuesday night.
Ronald Dunaway Fluke, 52, was pronounced dead at 9:34 p.m. from a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
He pleaded guilty in 1998 for the murders of his wife, 44-year-old Ginger Lou Fluke, and their daughters, Kathryn Lee Fluke, 11, and Susanne Michelle Fluke, 13.
A compulsive gambler, Fluke had said he wanted to spare his wife and daughters the embarrassment of what he viewed as his impending financial doom.
"I've done a terrible thing. I'm sorry. I wish I could take it back," Fluke said. "I've been through a fiery trial that has increased my faith and made my heart purer. I'm a Christian saved by the blood of Jesus."
He asked for prayers for all families involved.
Fluke and a friend, Phyllis England Neu, mouthed "I love you" to each other. Neu witnessed the execution on Fluke's behalf, along with a minister.
He said he was having trouble getting through to his sisters and his son and asked Neu to contact them for him.
"Thank you for being my friend," Neu said. Fluke was the 123rd inmate executed in Oklahoma since statehood and the 10th this year.
Over objections of public defenders, the former safety consultant was deemed mentally competent to plead guilty and not fight his death sentence.
"I don't have a death wish, but I did a terrible thing and I feel sorry for what I did and I'm ready to pay the price," Fluke told a judge.
He was sentenced to death because of 2 aggravating circumstances: knowingly creating a great risk of death to more than one person and the killings being especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.
A court-appointed psychiatrist said in an evaluation of Fluke that he reasoned his family would be happier in heaven, where Fluke was certain they would go after death.
He believed he would be reunited with them after his execution and requested a last meal of the Lord's Supper: some grape juice and a cracker.
Fluke spent his last hours in isolation on death row under a suicide
watch, which Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said was a typical procedure with condemned inmates.
The Flukes had apparently been having marital difficulties and Ginger
Fluke had been sleeping on the sofa, according to Tulsa police.
About 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, 1997, Fluke attacked her with a hatchet.
Police said evidence showed Mrs. Fluke was alive and screaming at the time. Fluke eventually shot her in the head with a .38-caliber pistol and made his way to his daughters' bedroom.
Police said both daughters were awake when he shot them. One of the girl's thought he was joking when he pointed the gun at her. It jammed at
first, but Fluke managed to fire it.
He surrendered at 8 a.m. that morning.
He pleaded guilty during jury selection at his trial, was sentenced to death for each murder and waived his appeals.
Flukes sister-in-law, Betty Hightower of Lawton, said he borrowed thousands from his family and gambled it away.
Ginger Fluke's niece, Lori Adams, read a statement the family released earlier Tuesday evening, saying the lives of Mrs. Fluke and her 2 daughters were taken by someone who was supposed to love them most.
"Most people lock their doors at night to keep the bad guys out, little did they know that dreadful night they were locking the bad guy in. He not only took the lives of 3 very precious people, he also took a part of many others who loved Ginger, Susanne and Kathryn very, very much," Adams read.
When asked about Fluke's apology, Adams said the family didn't want to focus on him.
"We chose to focus on Ginger, Susanne and Kathryn," she said.
Fluke said in written responses to questions from the Tulsa World that he should have sought psychological help and was overcome with depression at the time of the killings.
Twelve members of Mrs. Fluke's family were present at the penitentiary Tuesday.
(source: The Oklahoman)
Tomas Ervin, 50, 2001-03-28, Montana
Tomas Ervin was executed early Wednesday for his role in the 1988 murders of an elderly Jefferson City woman and her son.
Ervin, 50, died at 12:04 a.m. Wednesday at the Potosi Correctional Center, 3 minutes after the first of three lethal drugs was administered.
He looked up from his bed at the state witnesses before coughing several times before falling back on to the pillow.
His last statement, according to corrections officials:
"When the courts of this nation refuse to afford a condemned prisoner the opportunity to prove that he is actually innocent of the crimes for which he stands condemned, the capital punishment system is broken," Ervin said. "The courts refused me that opportunity and so tonight, as it has done at least twice in the past, the state of Missouri executes an innocent man."
Ervin did not elaborate.
He was convicted in 1990 for the murders of Mildred Hodges, 75, and her son, Richard, 49.
Ervin's fate was sealed when Gov. Bob Holden decided not to grant clemency less than 3 hours before Ervin's scheduled execution. The U.S. Supreme Court also refused to halt the execution.
In an interview Tuesday, Ervin had said he believed there was still a chance the courts would grant a stay.
"The courts for the 1st time are actually taking a look at my innocence claim," he said.
The execution came 9 months to the day after the state executed Bert Hunter for the same killings. Hunter confessed to the 1988 murders and testified at trial that Ervin was his partner in the crimes.
Hunter said he and Ervin robbed the Hodges home on Dec. 15, 1988, under the impression Richard Hodges kept a large amount of cash at the house.
Hunter said the mother and son were killed because the assailants feared they had been recognized.
Both victims were found with plastic bags over their heads.
But Ervin maintained his innocence, insisting he was at home asleep when
Hunter and another person committed the crimes.
"Hunter was staying at my house," Ervin said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "I had taken him to the doctor. I assumed he was sick in his bed with strep throat at the time.
"He left with someone else. I was none the wiser."
Both men were convicted of murder once before, in Ervin's case the 1967 slaying of a cab driver in Buchanan County. Ervin and Hunter met in prison, taught themselves computer programming and, once paroled, started working full time for the state Department of Revenue in the early 1980s.
Both ended up losing their jobs, said Cole County prosecutor Richard Callahan. He said both abused cocaine and started traveling across the
south, committing robberies along the way, before they returned to Jefferson City.
Hunter wanted to rob banks, but Ervin convinced him house robberies were a safer bet, Callahan said.
"His ultimate motivation for testifying against Tommy was that he blamed Tommy for their predicament," Callahan said. "He was just unhappy that he had agreed to the house robberies."
It's the reliance on Hunter's testimony that formed the core of Ervin's final appeals. In them, Ervin argues his trial counsel was "constitutionally inadequate," making mistakes that included a failure to play for the jury -- as promised -- a tape of Hunter's guilty plea.
In that plea, Hunter tells a judge Ervin was not involved in the murders.
"When you look at all of the things that Hunter has said on different occasions, you see just a wide variety of explanations of events," John Osgood, Ervin's current attorney, said. "If you attempt to corroborate those, you find it's replete with lies.
"It makes his testimony very suspect."
Hunter also said Ervin was not involved during a polygraph test administered by the state. The results of that test, inadmissible in Missouri courts, and Hunter's subsequent statements about the test, which are admissible, were not presented to the jury.
"It is reasonable to assume that the outcome of the trial would have been different if Hunter's provocative videotaped and post-polygraph testimony had been presented to the jury," wrote Judge Gerald W. Heaney, of the 8th Circuit, in a dissent to the court's Tuesday order denying Ervin a stay.
Heaney concluded that Ervin's deserved a new trial.
Callahan dismissed the issue, saying he feels the jury would have found Ervin guilty even if Hunter had not testified.
Hunter's testimony "was an import and key development, but there was enough circumstantial evidence to tie Ervin to the murders," Callahan said.
Ervin becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 48th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989.
Missouri trails only Texas (244), Virginia (82), and Florida (51) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized on July 2, 1976.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)