John Glenn Moody, 46, - 99-1-5 - Texas
Moody executed for 1988 murder of Abilene woman
By MICHAEL GRACZYK Associated Press Writer
HUNTSVILLE, JAN. 6 -- Convicted killer John Glenn Moody blamed drugs in part for his violent past and it was a lethal dose of drugs that served as punishment to end his life.
Moody, with halting speech and fighting back tears, expressed remorse Tuesday night for pain and suffering he caused as he received a lethal injection in the Texas death chamber.
But the West Virginia native, whose record before the murder of a 77-year-old Abilene woman included 21 convictions over 19 years, did not specifically acknowledge murdering the woman at her home more
than a decade ago.
''I am very sorry,'' Moody, 46, said as he lay strapped to the death chamber gurney, needles inserted into his hands. Several friends and family members and two relatives of murder victim Maureen Louise Maulden watched through windows a few feet away.
He said he hoped those involved in his case and those watching him die would experience a final judgment ''more merciful than mine.''
''I've got to go now,'' he added. ''I love you.''
Eight minutes later he was pronounced dead.
The execution was delayed for more than two hours while Moody's attorneys filed appeals challenging Texas clemency procedures.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had voted Monday 17-0 with one member abstaining to deny clemency. The board's secret vote procedures
similarly were challenged last month by two inmates who won 11th-hour reprieves in the courts.
Moody's appeal, however, was rejected Tuesday night by the U.S. Supreme Court and a few minutes later he was taken to the death chamber.
Moody had blamed a genetic disorder aggravated by alcohol and drug use that started at age 11 for his long criminal record that culminated with the July 3, 1988, murder of Mrs. Maulden.
The widow apparently was unaware that Moody, whom she hired to do lawn
work and odd jobs, had been paroled five months earlier after serving seven months of a five-year sentence for burglary. It was his 21st conviction. Most of the others came in his native West Virginia and Ohio.
Taylor County District Attorney James Eidson, who prosecuted the capital murder case, said parole boards that continued to release Moody were fooled by a quiet inmate who caused few problems when locked up and away from drugs and alcohol.
''That's the Moody they saw,'' and they continued to think he was worth taking a chance on, Eidson said.
A sister found Mrs. Maulden's body. She had been raped, beaten with a fireplace brush and strangled with a telephone cord.
Moody acknowledged knowing the victim but denied murdering her.
Mrs. Maulden's only child, a son, Blair, committed suicide in 1991. Many familiar with him believe her death drove the man to depression.
''I remember her son during the trial, and it was apparent then he was hurt a great deal by this,'' Eidson said this week.
Jon McAden, Mrs. Maulden's nephew, told the Abilene Reporter-News he hoped the execution finally would end the family's agony.
''But you never have full closure on a tragedy like this,'' he said.
Moody, from Chester, W.Va., was linked to the Maulden slaying when police who arrested him for public intoxication the day after the murder found he was carrying the woman's two rings.
Investigators also found his fingerprint in the victim's blood on the telephone that was used to strangle her, and a witness provided a license plate number for a pickup truck seen leaving Mrs. Maulden's home. Five of the six numbers matched Moody's vehicle.
John Walter Castro Sr. - 37 yrs - 99-1-7 - Oklahoma
In McAlester, John Walter Castro Sr., a twice convicted murderer who said he likely would have killed more people had he remained free, was executed by injection early today.
Castro, 37, was declared dead at 12:22 a.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He became the 3rd killer executed in Oklahoma in a month and the 14th put to death by the state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.
Before the execution began, Castro turned to look toward a room where relatives of his victims were watching and said, "I don't who's behind that one-way glass but whoever is here from the Cox family, I am sorry for what I did. And anybody who is here from the Pappan family I am sorry. For the people who are here for me, thank you."
Castro also made mention of the death penalty opponents praying for him outside the prison and of Sean Sellers, who faces execution Feb. 4 afte being convicted in 3 1986 killings at age 16.
"My son wanted to be here," he said. "They say he can't because he's 16 and that's too young to witness an execution. If that is so, why can the state of Oklahoma convict, sentence to death and execute a 16-year-old child. I just don't understand."
Castro then glanced at his witnesses and said, "I love you. Let's do it."
Moments later, he said "I feel it," then closed his eyes and was pronounced dead several minutes after that.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Castro's last appeal more than a month ago, and the state Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-0 to deny him clemency last month.
Juries condemned Castro in the unrelated murders of 2 women, but one death penalty was later overturned.
Castro was executed for the April 18, 1983, death of Beulah Grace Sissons Cox, 31, near Stillwater. Castro, who was hitchhiking, stole her car at gunpoint. Castro assured Cox that he wouldn't kill her but shot her in the head several times.
About 3 months later, Castro killed Rhonda Pappan, 29, while robbing the Hobo-T Restaurant in Ponca City. Pappan, the owner-manager, picked up a knife but was overpowered by Castro, who stabbed her in the neck, back and chest.
In a joint statement, members of the victims' families said Cox left behind children ages 6 and 10, and Pappan's children were 8 and 11.
"These 4 young children were forced to grow into young adults without the love, care and understanding of the mothers whom they loved very much," the statement said. "Although nothing can change the fact that our loved ones are gone, we can feel some form of closure in the fact that the judicial process has finally concluded."
Castro requested 5 witnesses, including his attorney, Robert Jackson, Vicki Werneke and Kim Marks of the federal public defender's office, and 2 women he has corresponded with, Karen Woo of England and Patricia Peck of West Virginia.
(source: Daily Oklahoman)
Ronnie Howard, 40, 99-01-08, South Carolina
In COlumbia, a man who killed a woman by suffocating her with a plastic bag while stealing her car was executed by injection
Ronnie Howard, 40 had argued that he was condemned by a jury skewed by racial discrimination.
Howard, who was black, was convicted in the 1985 killing of Chinh Thi Nguyen Le, 34, after he and another man stopped her to steal her car.
He said only, "I'm on my way," before put to death.
A co-defendant, Dana Weldon, 39, remains on death row.
Authorities said Howard and Weldon were driving around looking for a car to steal one night when they spotted Le driving home from work on a secluded road. They used their car to bump her 1978 Ford Granada and fake an accident.
The men put a plastic bag over Le's head to keep her quiet but suffocated her, police said.
At trial, prosecutors dismissed 6 of 7 black potential jurors and 4 of 35 whites at the trial of Howard and Weldon, who is also black. When alternates were selected, prosecutors dismissed only blacks.
A year after one of Howard's 1st appeals was turned down by the state Supreme Court in 1989, the court adopted a rule requiring the comparison of the ratio of dismissed black jurors to accepted whites as part of the appeal process.
Howard becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death in South Carolina this year, and the 21st overall since the state resumed executions in 1985.
(sources: Associated Press)
Dobie Gillis Williams, 38, 99-01-08, Louisiana
In Angola, convicted killer Dobie Gillis Williams was executed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary on Friday for the bloody
1984 murder of Sonja Knippers.
"I just want to say, I don't have any hard feelings against anybody," he said calmly in a final statement. "God bless ya'll. God bless."
Time of death was announced as 6:48 p.m.
Williams, 38, had avoided 11 execution dates in the past, including 2 which were canceled earlier this year for last-minute appeals.Warden Burl Cain talked quietly with Williams for two minutes as the lethal solution was being injected through IVs in his left arm and neck. Witnesses could not hear what they said, but Cain said later Williams expressed sorrow for putting people through so much anguish although he never admitted to killing Mrs. Knippers.
At the end of the conversation, Williams lifted his head slightly and smiled. The warden put his hand under Williams head and eased it back to the gurney. 2 or 3 minutes later, Williams stopped moving.
Among the witnesses was his spiritual adviser, Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book "Dead Man Walking." She held a cross and prayed as the execution took place.
Williams wore a silver cross on a chain around his neck.
Other witnesses included Mrs. Knippers' husband, Herbert, and her son, Monte, who was about 12 at the time of the killing. They left the prison without talking to news reporters.
The execution was Louisiana's 1st since 1997, when John Ashley Brown Jr. died by injection for the 1984 stabbing death of a NASA aerospace engineer during a robbery outside a New Orleans restaurant.
Williams already had a criminal history at the time of Mrs. Knippers' murder. He was on a Fourth of July prison furlough when he cornered her in her bathroom and stabbed her 8 times while her husband tried to break down the door and save her.
Jurors were told scrapes on Williams' legs matched the pattern of the brick ledge outside the bathroom, so he apparently wasn't
wearing pants and probably meant to rape Mrs. Knippers.
DNA tests weren't available in 1984, and the November execution was called off by Gov. Mike Foster to to allow DNA testing.
A Dallas lab found that blood from the bathroom curtain did match Williams', but defense attorney Nick Trenticosta challenged the results.
Trenticosta said other DNA experts "characterize the entire result as garbage." He also complained that those experts had been unable to check the full DNA report until Thursday.
Williams becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death in Louisiana this year and the 25th overall since the state resumed executions in 1983.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
Kelvin Malone, 37, 99-01-13, Missouri
In Potosi, a man convicted of 3 murders in 2 states was executed by injection early Wednesday for the 1981 shooting death of a
St. Louis taxi driver.
Kevin Malone, 37, was pronounced dead at 1:20 a.m. He did not have any last words.
The killing spree happened in 1981 after Malone escaped from a Monterey County, Calif., jail, where he was serving time for robbery. On March 18, he stepped off a Greyhound bus in St. Louis and hailed a cab.
The driver, William Parr, 62, was abducted and shot in the head. 2 days later, police said, Malone was in Baker, Calif., where he kidnapped service station attendant Myrtle Benham and beat her to death after a robbery.
Malone was sentenced to death in California for that murder and to life in prison for the roadside shooting of a woman in Blythe.
He was extradited to Missouri to face charges in Parr's death. His attorneys, in appeals, had argued that the California death sentence was a factor that helped convince the St. Louis County jury to condemn Malone.
Malone becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death in Missouri this year, and the 33rd overall since the state resumed executions in 1989.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
Jaturun "Jay" Siripongs - 43 years - 99-1-9 - California
New York Times
At San Quentin, a onetime Buddhist monk who touched many with
his humble remorse and vivid art produced on death row was executed by
injection today for killing 2 people during a 1981 robbery.
Jaturun Siripongs, 43, made no last statement.
He was convicted of killing manager Packovan Wattanaporn and clerk
Quach Nguyen at a market where he occasionally worked. He was caught trying to use Mrs. Wattanaporn's credit card and most of her stolen jewelry was traced to him.
Siripongs admitted taking part in the robbery, but claimed an
accomplice he never named committed the murders.
Siripongs did accept responsibility for his role in the crime, his
lawyers said, offering daily penance "for his deeds, for the shame he
has brought his family and ancestors, and for the suffering he has
brought to others."
Guards described him as unfailingly polite and cooperative and former
prison Warden Daniel Vasquez, a strong supporter of the death penalty,
recommended clemency on the grounds that rewarding Siripongs' behavior would set a good example for other inmates.
Pope John Paul II, whose U.S. visit prompted the governor of Missouri
to spare a prisoner last month, joined the pleas for clemency hours before the execution.
Siripongs also had drawn praise for his art, with supporters recently
displaying a varied collection in Oakland. An autobiographical sketch
done in pencil and called "Transformation," showed a young boy in big
square glasses, a religious figure among lotus blossoms, a muscular man and, finally, a skull.
Thailand had made appeals for clemency to Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, President Clinton and California Gov. Gray Davis, but called
the case "an internal affair" of the United States. Thailand has the
death penalty and carries out executions by machine gun.
Prosecutors said it was time Siripongs was punished.
"Siripongs has been privileged to live over 16 years since his
conviction and sentence," Orange County prosecutor Jim Tanizaki wrote
in a response to the clemency petition. "These are 16 years that Quach Nguyen and Pat Wattanaporn, and their respective families, have been denied."
Siripongs, who was born in Thailand, had survived a rough childhood,
his lawyers said, living for a while without running water and electricity in a rat-infested compound.
His 1st brush with trouble came in 1975, when he was shot in the head
while robbing a department store. He was imprisoned but was released
early for good behavior, going on to train briefly as a Buddhist monk.
He soon left the monastery, getting a job as a cook on a cargo ship
where he met an acquaintance who proposed a drug-smuggling scheme. Instead, Siripongs went to U.S. authorities, participating in a sting operation that netted him enough money to buy passage to the United States.
A prison spokesman said Siripongs had hoped for a reprieve, but failing that, believed he would be reincarnated.
Contra Costa Times, February 10, 1999
Jaturun "Jay" Siripongs didn't mouth any last words after the beige
death chamber curtain opened. He didn't kick his legs or shake a fist.
He never opened his eyes.
And, for reasons unknown, it took him longer to die early Tuesday than
any other death row inmate killed by lethal injection in California.
The 3 men put to death in the same way here before him died 5 minutes
Siripongs lasted 15 minutes.
That surprised a Department of Justice spokesman from Texas, where 20
killers were put to death by lethal injection last year.
"I don't believe it's ever taken quite that long," said Larry Todd, the department's spokesman.
Todd said the lethal chemicals typically render the inmate brain dead
in two minutes. Prison wardens allow another two to three minutes to
guarantee death. Then a physician spends another minute examining the
Average time of death: 7 minutes.
"I don't know," Todd said, "maybe they're doing things differently out
Siripongs' time of death more resembled the 1992 and 1993 gas chamber
killings of Robert Alton Harris (19 minutes) and David Mason (12
minutes). A federal judge in 1994 ordered the state to abandon the
lengthy gas killings, calling them "cruel and unusual."
There could be several explanations for the reason why the double
murderer fought off death for so long, Todd and others said.
Tipton Kindel, a spokesman for the California Department of
Corrections, said Tuesday that he did not know why Siripongs took so long to die.
"There's no explanation for that," he said. "A lot of it has to do
with an individual's system."
News of Siripongs' execution satisfied one juror who sat on his trial,
upset another and left an Orange County mom hopeful her son's killer
will soon be put to death.
"I think it was well-deserved," juror Marshall Hovde, 82, said of
Siripongs' execution for the 1981 murders of a Garden Grove grocery
owner and her employee. "My memory of the trial is that there was no doubt in my mind ... that he was very guilty. He didn't seem to show any remorse for the victims."
Hovde learned of Siripongs' execution after waking up to take a
reporter's telephone call before noon Tuesday.
Juror Sylvia Twomey, 63, was shaken by Siripongs' death. She had voted to execute him at the 1983 trial, then fought 16 years later to spare his life.
"I saw it last night on the news," she said. "I felt sick. I felt
sick in my stomach and in my heart. I will never, ever again sit on a case where the penalty might be death.
"I don't think what I did was right, either," Twomey said. "He did a
premeditated murder. Basically, we, the state, did the same thing.
But I can't blame it all on the state; I agreed to do it.
"I thought I could vote for the death penalty and it wouldn't haunt me. I was wrong."
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Jim Tanizaki said he believed
justice was served by the execution, which he witnessed from a
front-row seat next to the son of one victim.
"It was done in a very humane fashion," he said. "Contrast that to the treatment of the victims. They were never able to say goodbye in a special way to their loved ones. They did not die in a humane way.
I think Siripongs got the benefit of society's mercy."
Siripongs' death brought hope to Kay Brenneman, whose 12-year-old son,
Benjamin, was sodomized, strangled and killed in Anaheim by Robert
Jackson Thompson, who is on death row.
"I am very pleased with the Democrats, because I didn't know whether
they would carry this out," she said, referring to Gov. Gray Davis' refusal to grant Siripongs' clemency. "I've been waiting 17 years."
George Cordova - 39 years - 99-2-10 - Texas
A convicted killer known as "Spiderman" because he once was able to
slither through jail bars and escape to freedom was executed Wednesday
for fatally beating a man during a carjacking in San Antonio almost 20 years ago.
George Cordova, 39, was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m., 6 minutes after
the dose of lethal drugs was released into his arms.
Cordova delivered a rambling and repetitive 9-minute statement in
which he apologized for the murder and urged his family and fellow
death-row inmates to remain strong.
"If I could die a hundred times to bring him back I would do it," he
said while looking toward his victim's brother, Alfred Hernandez, who
watched through glass a few feet away.
"I just don't know what to say to relieve your pain. I'm embarrassed
to see your face because I feel your pain... I hope you all can take this bad experience and turn it into something positive."
He continued: "If I see your brother I'm going to hug him. I don't
think I'm worth (sic) to be anywhere near where he's at. If he will
allow me to be his servant, I'll tie his shoes. I'll do anything.
I'm just sorry," he told Hernandez. The brother, his eyes watering,
returned the nod.
Cordova told his family: "I am strong, but I did wrong and I have to
face up to it. I want to suffer and suffer hard."
He then began speaking in Spanish in apparent prayer before the drugs
Cordova, whose appeal was rejected earlier this week by the U.S.
Supreme Court, was the 4th condemned murderer to receive lethal injection in Texas this year and the 1st of 2 scheduled to die this week.
He was 19 and already had a long criminal record when he was arrested
for the Aug. 4, 1979, murder of Jose Hernandez, 19, at San Antonio's
Espada Park. Hernandez's girlfriend was beaten and gang-raped during
the attack, but survived and testified against Cordova.
"I am not guilty of this crime, of the charges brought against me,"
Cordova contended in an interview several years ago. "I know in my
heart I did not kill Hernandez."
Cordova, who completed the 6th grade and worked as a laborer, had other convictions for burglary, robbery, illegal weapons possession and sexual battery. His 1st arrest came at age 11 for tormenting a police dog.
In 1980, while being held at the Bexar County Jail awaiting trial for
the Hernandez murder, he slipped through a gap in the bars and climbed out of a 4th-floor window by using a rope made of sheets.
5 months later, he was arrested in Okeechobee County, Fla., and
sentenced to 30 years for raping a teacher. The day before his rape
trial, he was caught trying to saw his way out of jail. He also
participated in a 1981 riot at the Sumter Correctional Institution in
"He's a continuing danger, obviously, if you're awaiting trial on
capital murder and have the guts to commit a sexual assault," Mary Kay
Delavan, one of the Bexar County district attorneys who prosecuted
Cordova, said this week.
During his murder trial in San Antonio, bailiffs discovered Cordova had a key to his handcuffs. And while on death row, he was questioned
about involvement in the stabbing of a fellow inmate, was found passing a knife to another inmate, had 11 marijuana cigarettes found in his cell and was caught scaling a wall that separates two recreation yards.
Cordova's original conviction was thrown out in 1988 when a federal
appeals court ruled his jury was given improper instructions. He was
retried in 1989 and again was convicted and sentenced to death.
Cordova's attorneys insisted an accomplice, Manuel Villanueva, who was
18 at the time of the killing, actually committed the murder by
stabbing Hernandez in the neck, severing his spinal cord. Cordova was
identified as beating the victim with a tire iron.
Villanueva pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder and received a
life prison term. 2 others believed involved in the crime never were
Cordova, Villanueva and their companions approached Hernandez and his
girlfriend as they sat in a car and asked for a ride to a gas station.
When Hernandez balked, he was pulled from the car and beaten and
stabbed in the neck. The woman was taken to a nearby wooded area where she was gang-raped. The attackers then drove away in the victims' car.
"It's going to be 20 years since the crime," Ms. Delavan said. "It's
frustrating. I just hate to have victims hanging around this long,
Danny Lee Barber - 43 years - 99-2-11 - Texas
In Huntsville, condemned killer Danny Lee Barber was executed
Thursday evening for fatally beating a Dallas County woman almost 20
Barber, 43, was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m., 6 minutes after the
lethal injection was started and less than an hour after the U.S.
Supreme Court denied his final application for a stay.
In a brief final statement, he greeted 6 members of his victims'
families and apologized for his crimes.
"I'm sorry for whatever pain I've caused. I pray you get over it. I
am regretful for what I (sic) done, but I am a different person from
that time," Barber said.
He then turned toward witnesses he selected and said he had talked to
his mother. "Okay. Goodbye," he said in closing.
As the drugs took effect, Barber uttered a gasp and a snore before he
Among the witnesses was 93-year-old Ruth Clowers, who found the body of her daughter, Janice Louise Ingram, after the murder for which Barber was sentenced to die.
As Ms. Clowers and other witnesses emerged from the death house, a
woman down the street chanted her opposition to capital punishment
into a bullhorn. The witnesses stopped, turned and started clapping.
"The fat lady has finally sung," said Otto Lowrance, Ms. Ingram's
Ms. Ingram was slain on Oct. 8, 1979, at her home in Balch Springs, a
suburb southeast of Dallas. Barber described the murder of the
50-year-old woman as a burglary that went wrong, and blamed it on
alcoholism and depression.
It was one of 4 murder convictions for Barber, who was within an hour
of lethal injection on Dec. 9 when a federal judge halted the
Barber's attorneys had raised questions about the legality of the Texas clemency process. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin issued a stay but later upheld the clemency procedures, and Barber's execution was reset.
A native of Torrance, Calif., Barber also confessed to 3 other murders
committed in Dallas County over an 18-month period between 1977 and
1979, earning him life prison sentences for each.
"I just regret what happened that night," he said before his December
death date. "I can't undo the crimes I've done in the past."
Several relatives of his victims came to Huntsville in December to
watch him die and were irate and in tears when they were told of the
last-minute reprieve. They returned to Huntsville Thursday.
"It's just heartbreaking," said Sue Korioth, a Dallas County assistant
district attorney who handles capital case appeals. "It's very
difficult for them. You know, they never volunteered for this assignment."
Barber, who refused to speak with reporters since the December
reprieve, said earlier he was bitter his good behavior while on death row meant nothing in his appeals.
"I'm upset that I spent 15 years in the work program, counseled other
inmates, gone to school and I'm not getting any credit for it," he
said. "I've apologized to everyone I could. I've learned to read and write. I've done all I could from in here. I don't feel I'm a threat to anybody. I've learned my lesson. I believe I've earned a right to
Prosecutors, however, termed him deserving of the death penalty,
especially considering the brutality of Mrs. Ingram's death.
Barber gave various accounts but told authorities in his confession he
found a piece of pipe in her back yard, where he had previously done
lawn work, and planned to use it to break a window.
Instead he found a door open and walked in, startling Mrs. Ingram, who
began screaming. When she wouldn't be quiet, he began clubbing her
with the pipe.
He was charged with the murder while being held in the Dallas County
Jail on charges of breaking into a flea market.
"I don't recall striking her, though there's a lot that I've blocked
out," he said in an interview last year. "Things were hell, and when I gave the confession it eased things."
Jess James Gillies, 38 - 99-1-13, Arizona
FLORENCE, Arizona (CNN) -- A man who kidnapped, raped and killed a
woman in 1981 by pushing her off a cliff and stoning her was executed in Arizona Wednesday.
Jess James Gillies, 38, offered no last words before an official administered a lethal injection.
No members of Gillies' family or the victim's family attended the execution. However, Corrections officials said relatives visited Gillies before the execution.
Gillies and friend Mike Logan were convicted of abducting, raping and murdering Suzanne Rossetti, 26. She had bought them a six-pack of beer and given them a ride as a reward for opening her car after she locked the keys inside at a Phoenix convenience store.
Authorities said she was thrown off a 40-foot cliff but didn't die immediately.
Prosecutors said Rossetti begged for mercy before the men stoned her and buried her under boulders and rocks. A coroner said she probably was still alive when she was buried.
Logan, now 45, cooperated with prosecutors and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance for parole after 25 years.
Gillies' execution was the 13th since Arizona reinstated the death penalty in 1992.
Troy Farris, 36 - 99-1-13 - Texas
Texas executes condemned cop killer
By MICHAEL GRACZYK Associated Press Writer
HUNTSVILLE, JAN. 13 -- Death row inmate Troy Farris was executed Wednesday night for fatally shooting a Tarrant County sheriff's deputy more than 15 years ago.
Farris, 36, was pronounced dead at 7:16 p.m., six minutes after the lethal drugs were released into his arms.
In a brief final statement, he turned to an adjacent witness room and expressed love to four family members of murder victim Clark Rosenbalm Jr.
''I can only tell you Clark did not die in vain,'' Farris said. ''I don't mean to offend you, but through his death, it led this man to God.''
He also expressed love to his family members, several of whom were execution witnesses, and thanked them for their support.
''Like they say in the song, I guess, I just want to go out like Elijah, on fire with the spirit of God,'' Farris said. ''I'm done. Take me, Jesus. Take me, Jesus. I love you.''
As the drugs took effect, Farris gasped a couple times and stopped moving.
''Justice prevailed,'' Rosenbalm's wife, Cindy, said afterward. ''It was very uneventful. I feel he had lots of practice in his last words.''
Outside the prison, about a dozen Tarrant County officers, including Sheriff David Williams, waited in uniform, their badges shining in the darkness.
''It was important to be here to be part of the closure,'' Williams said. ''We can put this in the file and the file can be closed.''
The execution was delayed by more than 30 minutes while Farris' attorneys sought a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. The application was denied at 6:20 p.m.
''Texas criminal justice is a farce and a political game,'' said Tina McIntire, who described herself as a lifelong friend of the inmate and who watched him die. ''I hope voters are going to wake up.''
Farris was the second condemned inmate executed this year in Texas, where 20 convicted murderers - the most in the nation - were executed in 1998.
Farris had insisted he was innocent of the murder of Rosenbalm, who was gunned down after interrupting a drug deal involving Farris. But the former electrician and truck driver said he was ready to die and viewed his execution with relief.
''I don't have any fear,'' he said in an interview last week. ''I'm just happy.
''I think you have to understand this has been a very, very long journey,'' he continued. ''Fourteen years is a long time, especially when you live under these conditions. I'm tired, I really am. It's not that I'm giving up. That's not it at all. It's just that I'm tired. Anything is better than this.''
Testimony showed while he had no previous criminal record, Farris had a reputation as a violent person. He also acknowledged being a heavy methamphetamine user who made money dealing the illegal drug.
''He was an incredibly violent individual who had told a friend he had been waiting for a chance to kill a cop and did so,'' David Montague, who prosecuted Farris, said. ''He also was a freeway shooter. If you didn't use your signal when you moved in front of him he was likely to pull out a gun and start firing at you.''
Montague said in one incident, Farris tried out a new gun by shooting a buffalo at a nature preserve, then drove away.
''He wanted to see what the gun would do,'' the district atorney said.
Rosenbalm, 27, who had been on the Tarrant County force for about two years, was shot the night of Dec. 4, 1983 when he apparently stumbled on Farris and two men from Wichita Falls conducting an illegal amphetamine buy on a road near Saginaw, northwest of Fort Worth.
Authorities said he was shot when he left his patrol car and approached Farris, who was in a pickup truck. One bullet from a .357-caliber Magnum was stopped by Rosenbalm's protective vest but a second bullet entered under his arm and tore through his lungs and heart.
Passersby found the deputy sprawled on the road near his car. It was the first time in 25 years a Tarrant County deputy was killed in the line of duty.
''I was at the scene,'' Farris said. ''I wasn't there when the crime was committed.''
He said he didn't know about the officer's death until he heard about later on the radio.
About a year later, an informant told police a man at a party told him about the slaying. That led to the arrest of Farris and the two Wichita Falls men, Vance Nation and Charles Lowder.
Lowder was given immunity. Nation, who identified Farris as the gunman, wound up with a marijuana possession conviction and a seven-year probated sentence. Farris' former brother-in-law, Jimmy Daniels, also testified that Farris told of killing the officer.
Unlike Monday's scheduled execution of Gary Graham, another convicted murderer who insisted he is innocent, Farris' execution attracted little attention. Farris disagreed with the combative stance of Graham, whose won a court reprieve earlier this week but not before promising to forcefully resist officers leading him to the death chamber and asking supporters to come armed to Huntsville to protest what he said would be a lynching.
''I hate to hear it, not only for repercussions it might have for the rest of the people here, but I hate it for him as an individual,'' Farris said. ''I'd like to think he could find some peace and go in peace. I think it's very important for everybody.''
Mark Arlo Sheppard, 27, 99-01-20, Virginia
In Jarratt, a drug dealer convicted in the shooting deaths of a couple was executed by injection Wednesday night.
Mark Arlo Sheppard, 27, was found guilty in the shootings of Richard and Rebecca Rosenbluth in their suburban Richmond home. Sheppard insisted he was not the trigger man.
Sheppard, asked for a final statement by Warden David Garraghty, mumbled 4 dates and, after each one, said, "I love you."
Sheppard's attorney, Chris Collins, said he believes the dates were birthdays of family members or close friends.
Prosecutors said Sheppard and an accomplice, Andre Graham, were cocaine dealers who killed the Rosenbluths when their finances began to dwindle. Autopsies detected cocaine in the Rosenbluths' bodies, and drug paraphernalia was found in their home.
Rosenbluth, 40, was shot twice in the head and his wife, 35, was shot 4 times in the head and neck.
Graham received a life term in the Rosenbluths' slayings and is on death row for another murder.
Sheppard becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year and the 60th overall since the state resumed executions in 1982. Only Texas, with 166 executions, also since 1982, has executed more condemned prisoners than Virginia.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
99-01-22, South Carolina
In Columbia, a man was executed by injection Friday for shooting to death his adoptive father and a 13-year-old neighbor while on parole for killing his brother.
Joseph Atkins, 51, was the 6th inmate executed in the past 7 weeks in South Carolina. Atkins offered no final statement, and no relatives attended.
His lawyers suggested Atkins, a veteran, was having a flashback to the Vietnam War during the 1985 killings in North Charleston,
but his clemency plea was denied by Gov. Jim Hodges.
Atkins, who lived with his father, was angry with his next-door neighbors, according to trial testimony. He got drunk and broke into their house armed with a machete, a shotgun and a revolver.
He shot Karen Patterson with the sawed-off shotgun while she was in bed. Then he chased her mother back to his house where he shot Benjamin Frank Atkins, 75.
5 years earlier, the older Atkins had convinced parole officials to release his son from prison. Atkins served 10 years of a life sentence for killing his 23-year-old brother, Charles.
Atkins becomes the 2nd condemned inmate in South Carolina to be put to death this year, and the 22nd overall since the state resumed executions in 1985.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
Martin Vega, 37 - 99-1-26
Texas executes man who married murder victim's wife
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer
HUNTSVILLE, JAN. 26 -- A three-time loser convicted of killing a man so he could collect a life insurance benefit and then marry the dead man's wife was executed Tuesday evening.
Martin Vega, 52, of Luling, was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., seven minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.
In a long and rambling final statement, Vega twice proclaimed his innocence, complained about witnesses who testified against him and blasted the criminal justice system.
He described the legal system as a ''very high-priced prostitute that sells justice to the highest bidder.''
''I am innocent of this,'' he said. ''Now all you all are seeing in the process is a perfect example of ole' freaky-deaky Bill Clinton when he signed that anti-terrorism law to shorten the appeals. This is a conspiracy.''
''This is great American justice,'' Vega said bitterly. ''Ain't no telling who gonna be next.''
He finished the statement by blurting out, ''Bye.''
Vega coughed and gasped as the drugs took effect, then he stopped breathing.
Vega was condemned for beating James William Mims and shooting the man eight times with a .22-caliber handgun.
''I thought it was crazy,'' Mims' daughter, Jennifer, said of Vega's statement after watching the inmate die. ''It was just off the charts.
''Martin was always the type to take everything and make himself look like a victim. And even in his dying breath he wanted himself to look like a victim, although he's not.''
At the time of the July 1985 killing, Vega was under mandatory state supervision after serving only one week of a two-year sentence for aggravated robbery. That conviction came after previous prison terms for burglary and drug dealing.
The body of Mims, 36, was found dumped on a Caldwell County road. Police said his killer also tried to drown him.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused an emergency request to halt
Mims' murder went unsolved for 2 years before Vega walked into the police department in Luling, about 50 miles east of San Antonio, and confessed to plotting the slaying for a $30,000 portion of Mims' $150,000 life insurance policy. He also led authorities to the gun.
''Something must have gotten into him,'' Jeff Van Horn, who prosecuted Vega, said. ''He confessed, not only in the classical sense of giving a written and videotaped confession, ... he led them to recovery of some of the evidence.''
Vega said Mims' wife, whom he eventually married, had encouraged the murder so she could pocket the remainder of the payoff. Prosecutors, however, said they never were able to corroborate his claims and the woman never was charged in the slaying.
''It was a really vicious murder for totally inappropriate reasons - if there are any reasons that are appropriate,'' Van Horn said. ''And collecting insurance proceeds and living happily ever after with the deceased's wife is certainly not a legitimate reason.''
Jurors deciding punishment were told of Vega's criminal past, hearing also from a woman who testified how he raped her at gunpoint. Prosecutors also determined he was responsible for a murder in the St. Louis area.
''It's definitely about time,'' Van Horn said. ''Ten years is long enough. It's time for the sentence to be carried out.''
Vega completed just three years of schooling and described himself as a jack-of-all-trades. Before his arrival on death row, his longest prison stay was nine years of an 18-year sentence for selling drugs in Travis County.
Ten years ago, when Vega arrived on death row, his notoriety was that he became the 300th condemned inmate there. Now at least 456 inmates are awaiting execution in the state.
Darick Gerlaugh, 39, 99-02-03, Arizona
In Florence, a man who beat, robbed and killed a man in 1980 by running him over with a car and stabbing him with a screwdriver was executed by injection Wednesday.
Darick Gerlaugh, 38, kept his eyes shut while the death warrant was readand had no last words. He was pronounced dead at 7:09 MST.
He spent his final hours talking with family members and taking part in American Indian religious rituals. He was the 7th American Indian executed in the United States since the death penalty was restored in 1976 and the 2nd Indian executed in Arizona.
The Arizona Department of Corrections said Wednesday it recently recatergorized Jess James Gillies, executed 2 weeks ago, as American Indian. In his final days, he participated in Indian rituals.
Gerlaugh's execution was delayed several hours by a stay from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals designed to give defense attorneys time to finish appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to grant a reprieve.
The state clemency board on Tuesday refused to recommend a reprieve for Gerlaugh, who had told his attorneys not to seek a sentence commutation.
The board also rejected a last-minute request Wednesday from Gov. Mary Thomas of the Gila River Indian Community to reconvene to hear a plea for mercy from Gerlaugh's family and others. Arizona Gov. Jane Hull supported the panel's decision,
spokeswoman Francie Noyes said.
Gerlaugh, Joseph Encinas and James Leisure were convicted of kidnapping, robbing and killing 22-year-old Scott Schwartz of Mesa on Jan. 24, 1980. The 3 men were hitchhiking from Chandler to Phoenix and planned to rob whoever stopped to pick them up.
Authorities said Gerlaugh pulled a gun on Schwartz and ordered him to drive to farm fields outside Mesa. Schwartz, who wore a leg brace because of a motorcycle injury, wrestled the gun from Gerlaugh and tried to shoot him, but the weapon wasn't loaded, detectives said.
While Encinas and Leisure held Schwartz down, Gerlaugh repeatedly ran over him with the victim's Lincoln Continental. Gerlaugh and Leisure then stabbed Schwartz 30 to 40 times with a screwdriver.
Leisure and Encinas received life sentences.
Gerlaugh attracted national attention because he is the 1st American Indian death row inmate permitted to use a sweat lodge for purification ceremonies.
He spent 2 hours Saturday preparing for his death by praying and singing ancient songs in an existing sweat lodge on prison grounds. On Tuesday, he took part in a pipe ceremony, the equivalent of holy communion
Gerlaugh becomes the 2nd condemned prisoner to be put to death in Arizona this year, and the 14th overall since the state resumed executions in 1992.
(sources: The Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
Sean Sellers, 99-02-04, Oklahoma
In McAlester, former Satan worshipper Sean Sellers was executed early today, becoming the 1st U.S. murderer put to death in 40 years for crimes committed at age 16.
Sellers, 29, was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m. after being injected in both arms with poisons designed to put him to sleep, stop his breathing then stop his heart.
Outside, some 100 death-penalty opponents held lit candles and read scriptures. Some came for the 1st time, impressed that Sellers had preached Christianity from prison or upset that a murderer so young should die.
Sellers spent his final day in a holding cell next to the room where he was to die by lethal injection. He ate his last meal and spent most of the day visiting with about 10 friends he had met since entering prison in 1986.
Sellers died for killing an Oklahoma City convenience store clerk in September 1985 and his own mother and stepfather 6 months later.
His last appeal, to the U.S. Supreme Court, was turned down about 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"Sean Sellers' case is an aberration because Sean Sellers is an aberration. He committed multiple murders, the 1st one out of some sort of curiosity," Oklahloma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.
The attorney general complained the world press does not appreciate that hundreds of juvenile killers in Oklahoma never faced the death penalty and many of their cases never left juvenile court.
The execution drew international media interest. TV reporters from England, France and Germany were at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Sellers has become a cause celebre in recent weeks, with Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the American Bar Association and an ex-wife of rock star Mick Jagger among those seeking clemency for him.
Most cited two main reasons for opposition: Sellers' age at the time of the killings and a diagnosis that Sellers suffered from multiple personality disorder.
The diagnosis, by a Texas psychiatrist working on Sellers' behalf, came almost 6 years after Sellers went to prison, and prosecutors were never required to challenge it in court.
Sellers' lead attorney, Steve Presson, argued the diagnosis mandated a sentence commutation. He called it "a horrific legal error" that appeals courts said they couldn't consider the diagnosis because the issue was raised too late.
At last week's clemency hearing, Presson presented a litany of letters from people who said Sellers' ministry had touched their lives. Presson called him "one of the finest people I have ever known."
However, prison officials who have monitored Sellers since his incarceration had a different opinion of him.
2 former wardens and a former death row unit manager described him as a manipulator who was on his best behavior when visitors from the Christian community were around.
Sellers' cause had been helped by an Internet site created on his behalf. His Web page included a confession of his murders and lengthy journal entries he had kept since November.
In his confession, Sellers said he laughed after shooting Robert Bower, a Circle K convenience store clerk, giggling "like it was a fantastic prank since he'd had no clue what we'd come there for." A friend said Sellers admitted he wanted "to see what it felt like."
Bower, 35, was shot in the store on Sept. 8, 1985.
Sellers wasn't a suspect in that death until after he killed his parents on March 5, 1986, in their northwest Oklahoma City home. Dressed only in black underwear, he crept into their bedroom as they slept and shot each in the head. He 1st shot Paul Lee Bellofatto, 43, and then Vonda Bellofatto, 32. He shot his mother again as she rose up.
He later said he was angry at his mother because of her interference in his relationship with his girlfriend, a high school dropout. He said he had performed an occult ritual beforehand and, "There was nothing but cold hatred in me."
The last inmate executed for a murder committed at age 16 was Leonard Shockley, who died in Maryland on April 10, 1959. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 - ruling in an Oklahoma case - declared unconstitutional putting to death anyone younger.
Attorney General Edmondson was asked whether Sellers' death would spark more debate on how young is too young for a murderer to be sentenced to death. Edmondson said he hopes the debate on capital punishment never ends, because "it is such a serious matter."
"However, that is not our role here tonight. Our role here tonight is to see that the laws of Oklahoma are carried out," he said.
Among those seeking clemency for Sellers was Tutu. In a letter to Gov. Frank Keating, Tutu wrote that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that "neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age."
In a written response Tuesday, Keating said he couldn't commute a death sentence without a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. The board denied clemency last week.
"Myself and the majority of Oklahoma citizens support the death penalty as it is applied in Oklahoma courts," Keating wrote. "The law is applied fairly and equally in all cases."
As a sophomore at Putnam City North High School, Sellers drank his own blood at satanic rituals, took a satanic bible to classes and talked of demons flying and influencing him. In his own blood, he wrote, "I renounce God. I renounce Christ. I will serve only Satan. To my enemies, death."
He said he had become a Christian even before his 1986 trial. He later began a religious ministry from prison even though his critics considered the change an act.
"It's not some title I put upon myself, or display as a label on my shirt. It is the heart of WHO I AM and ALL I WANT TO BE. Christian. Christlike," he wrote in his Internet journal. "I dream of heaven."
Bill Mason, a minister who has prayed with Sellers and was in McAlester to protest the execution, said Sellers was being honest.
"He wants to make up for what he's done," said Mason, who wore a picture of a young Sellers with the slogan, "Stop Killing Kids."
Sellers was not eligible to be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It wasn't allowed in Oklahoma law until 1987.
One juror, Dianna Craun, said jurors chose death because they feared Sellers would be paroled in 7 to 15 years if given a life sentence. She also said jurors thought his execution likely would never take place because there had been none in Oklahoma in 20
However, jury foreman Harold D. Niles, said, "I don't recall that being an issue. No, I don't recall that conversation."
Sellers married in prison - on Valentine's Day 1995 - but that was annulled two years later.
7 relatives of Paul Bellofatto were to watch the execution. 7 witnesses were to be present for Sellers, including 2 spiritual advisers.
Among those who turned down a chance to watch were Oklahoma County District Attorney Robert Macy and retired Oklahoma County District Judge Charles Owens.
Macy said, "I've carried out my responsibilities in the case. My duty was to prosecute the case, get the conviction and get the death penalty."
Owens said, "I just refereed it, and I trust I gave him a fair trial.... I don't have any interest in watching him die."
He wrote of watching the movie "Dead Man Walking" 3 weeks ago. Sellers said he felt little compassion for the main male character, who "repents halfheartedly 20 minutes before his execution, more out of fear than sorrow."
Sellers said Oklahoma's death row is filled with such people, who "give nothing and stand for nothing. They don't think or care about what they did."
"It's not good enough to repent the day you die," he wrote.
Sellers becomes the 2nd condemned prisoner to be put to death in Oklahoma this year, and the 15th overall since the state resumed executions in 1990. In his journal, Sellers wrote about discovering that some of those had written their names on the same cell door before their executions.
Sellers also becomes the 12th condemend prisoner to be executed this year in the USA, and the 512th overall since America resumed capital punishment on Jan. 17, 1977. Of those, only 12 were juveniles at the times of their crimes, and all of them were 17.
(sources: Daily Oklahoman and Rick Halperin)
Tony Leslie Fry, 23, 99-02-04, Virginia
In Jarratt, a man convicted of killing a car salesman whose bullet- riddled body was tied to a truck bumper and dragged down a
dirt road was executed by injection Thursday night.
Tony Leslie Fry, 23, pleaded guilty to murder and robbery in the February 1994, slaying of Leland A. Jacobs, who worked for a Richmond-area Ford dealership.
In a final statement, Fry said he was "sorry for what I've done, and I have made peace with myself."
Jacobs was shot 11 times with a .22-caliber handgun. His necktie was tied to the rear bumper of the Explorer. A medical examiner testified that Jacobs probably was still alive when he was dragged.
A police officer who had a warrant for Fry's arrest in an unrelated case spotted Fry and an accomplice, then 17-year-old Bradford
A. Hinson, leaving the scene and stopped them. Fry confessed to the killing when he was arrested.
Hinson was convicted of 1st-degree murder and robbery and is serving an 88-year sentence.
Fry becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year, and the 61st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Only Texas, with 167 executions (also since 1982), has executed more people.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
Wilford Lee Berry Jr. - 99-2-19 - Ohio
In 8 minutes, it was all over.
The tortured life of Wilford Berry, from sickly, abused child to cold-
blooded killer, ended so quietly 8 minutes after the deadly drugs
entered his body that Warden Stephen Huffman couldn't hear the prayers
coming from Berry's lips as he lay dying.
Berry died in front of a handful of witnesses, not far from a prison
waiting room where 100 members of the news media waited on history.
Berry's death, for many, was an antiseptic, detached event devoid of
much emotion. It was a big press conference.
But Berry's calm death at 9:31 p.m. Friday at the Southern Ohio
Correctional Facility near Lucasville was a black-and-white contrast to the high-profile death-wish campaign he had waged over the past 4 years.
It contrasted even more starkly with the cruel, painful death of his
victim, 52-year-old Cleveland baker Charles J. Mitroff Jr., whom Berry
shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber rifle as he crawled
away, begging for his life, during a robbery on Dec. 1, 1989.
Mitroff, the son of immigrants who raised three sons in the Cleveland
suburb of Pepper Pike, has 4 grandchildren he never saw. He was, by
all accounts, a hard worker, loving father and husband, and man with a
fantastic sense of humor who enjoyed golf, the Cleveland Indians and the Browns.
The 2 men's deaths are now intertwined, forever mentioned in the same
Berry's case, in the final analysis, was not at all the one Ohio
officials would have chosen to restart the state's capital-punishment
machinery after it had been idle for nearly 36 years.
Berry's mental problems made him a very questionable candidate for
There is absolutely no doubt Berry suffered severe mental problems,
perhaps a lifelong organic brain disorder.
His problems dated back to age 9, when he first tried to commit suicide after being raped and abused by his baby sitter's family. He was tormented by physical problems, subjected to severe punishment by his mother, and abandoned by a father who later died in a mental hospital.
As a teen-ager and as an adult, Berry was raped and beaten in prison.
At times, he had visions of a "lady in black" who appeared in his
Nonetheless, the Ohio Supreme Court and other courts found Berry
mentally competent to waive his appeals and decide to die.
Nagging doubts, however, were voiced by former Justice Craig Wright of
the Supreme Court in 1995, when Berry's death sentence was confirmed,
and last week by Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, who called it a "potential miscarriage of justice."
The case of "the Volunteer" presented a unique and timely opportunity
for Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery and her phalanx of state
lawyers. They had the law on their side, since Berry's guilt in
Mitroff's murder was never in doubt, and they felt strongly that it was time to make a stand to enforce the death- penalty law Ohio has had on the books since 1981.
Montgomery fought Ohio Public Defender David H. Bodiker relentlessly at every turn on every motion in every court.
Finally, at 2 p.m. Friday, Bodiker threw in the towel. There were no
more appeals in his satchel, no hopes for a last-minute reprieve.
After 4 years of fighting in front of 2 dozen judges in 6 courts,
filing thousands of pages of legal documents, rallying support from
individuals such as Pope John Paul II, and seeking clemency from Gov.
Bob Taft and his predecessor, George V. Voinovich, the battle to keep
Wilford Berry alive against his wishes was over.
Bodiker thinks Ohio made a mistake.
"You have someone who is damaged goods, unquestionably...Wilford
Berry was an unfortunate creature from our point of view," Bodiker said.
"We feel this may bode well for the anti-death penalty community,
because it really exposed the immorality of the cause."
Novelist Thomas Harris, writing about a fictional killer, may have
summed up Berry's life.
"I mourn the child he was," Harris wrote, "but despise the man he had
Andrew Cantu - 99-2-16 - Texas
Texas executes convicted killer of three
By PAULINE ARRILLAGA, Associated Press Writer
HUNTSVILLE, FEB. 16 -- Ten weeks after he came within 15 minutes of being executed, Andrew Cantu was put to death Tuesday for a murder-for-hire scheme in which three people were fatally stabbed in Abilene.
Cantu, 31, was pronounced dead at 9:39 p.m., seven minutes after the lethal injection began flowing into his arms.
Cantu, his leg trembling as he lay strapped to the death chamber gurney, declined to make a final statement. He gasped once and appeared to snore as the drugs took effect.
Five relatives of Cantu's victims attended the execution.
The lethal injection was delayed by more than three hours as the U.S. Supreme Court considered an 11th-hour appeal on Cantu's behalf. The
nation's high court refused the request an hour before Cantu was put to death.
He was the sixth Texas death-row inmate to be executed this year and the third in seven days.
Cantu was to have received lethal injection Dec. 3, but the Supreme Court intervened to review his case. That appeal was rejected last month.
Cantu, a burglar on parole, was condemned for the June 11, 1990, stabbing deaths of Gene Summers and his wife, Helen, both 64, and Summers' mentally retarded 60-year-old brother, Billy Mack Summers. All were attacked at home as they slept.
A federal district court judge ruled last November that Cantu, a high-school dropout who worked in construction, deliberately allowed appeals deadlines to pass in hopes of stalling his punishment.
That led to additional appeals by Cantu, who contended he had been denied the opportunity to contest a one-year time limit to file appeals. It was on that issue the Supreme Court stopped the execution in December.
''I'd like to get it over with,'' Bernice Lott, whose brothers, Gene and Billy Mack, were murdered, said before the execution. ''I'm not happy about any of this situation. Losing three in a family - that's just too much.''
Gene and Helen Summers' son, Greg, also was convicted of capital murder in their deaths and is awaiting execution. He quickly became a suspect when other family members told authorities he angrily had tried to get money from his parents.
Authorities said Greg Summers, who has denied any involvement, arranged with Cantu to break into the home, stage a burglary, then kill the couple and burn the house to conceal the crime.
Cantu was free after serving only seven weeks of a five-year term for burglary. Records show he found two other men to take part in the scheme and offered to share a $10,000 payoff. Summers said the money would be in a dresser drawer, but no money was there.
The two accomplices, Ramon Gonzales and Paul Flores, testified against Cantu in a plea bargain for shorter prison terms, telling how Cantu slipped through a back window and stabbed Gene Summers nine times in the chest before attacking the other victims, stabbing Helen Summers eight times and Billy Mack Summers seven times.
Cantu blamed the killings on Gonzales and Flores, insisting he was buying cocaine in Fort Worth, 150 miles to the east, at the time of the slayings.
Johnie Michael Cox, 42, 99-02-16, Arkansas
n Varner, a triple-murderer who claimed that he might be immune to the poisons used to kill death row inmates was executed by injection Tuesday.
Johnie Michael Cox, 42, admitted killing his step-grandmother and 2 distant relatives on Nov. 1 -- All Saints Day -- 1989. He told police that Marie Sullens would go to heaven if she died that day.
Cox's spiritual adviser said Cox believed the execution "may just be a show" and that it was possible to survive poisons that shut down the heart and lungs.
Asked if he had any final words, Cox replied, "Yes. I'm anxious. Please release me and let me go."
Cox was convicted of killing Mrs. Sullens, 68; Margaret Brown, 34; and Billy Brown, 32. They were tied at the hands and feet with wire and tape and had been shot, stabbed and strangled before their home was set on fire.
Cox becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death in Arkansas this year, and the 18th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
James Edward Rodden, 38 - 99-2-24 - Missouri
In Potosi, a man who stabbed 2 people to death was executed by
injection early Wednesday, the 1st Missouri execution since the
governor commuted the death sentence of a killer last month following
a face-to-face request by Pope John Paul II.
James Edward Rodden, 38, offered no last words.
He was sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Terry Trunnel. Rodden met Trunnel at a bar, then took her back to an apartment he shared with Joseph Arnold, who he also stabbed to death, authorities said. Rodden then tried to set the apartment on fire to cover up the killings.
Rodden maintained that Arnold killed Trunnel, and then he killed Arnold in self defense. Following separate trials, Rodden was given the death sentence for killing Trunnel and life in prison for killing Arnold.
Attorney General Jay Nixon said it was Rodden's lack of remorse that
convinced him the execution should go forth.
Carnahan rejected a clemency plea from Rodden late Tuesday, clearing
the way for his execution.
"The governor decided not to intervene in the Rodden case," said
spokesman Chris Sifford at about 8:35 p.m. "He made the decision a
short time ago not to grant a request for clemency."
Following the pope's January visit to St. Louis, Gov. Mel Carnahan
commuted the death sentence of Darrell Mease to life in prison.
Carnahan said he was moved by the pope's appeal and commuted Mease's
sentence for killing a 19-year-old paraplegic man in an execution-style ambush in 1988 in southwest Missouri. Mease confessed to killing William Lawrence, along with his grandparents, after sitting in the woods for several hours. He had been scheduled to be executed Feb. 10.
Rodden's attorney, Kent E. Gipson, also sent an appeal to the pope on
behalf of his client.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2-25-99
Less than 24 hours after James Edward Rodden was executed for stabbing
a Missouri woman and attempting to burn her body, lawmakers weighed
legislation the would repeal Missouri's death penalty.
Late Wednesday night, the House Criminal Law Committee considered a bill proposed by Rep. Mike Schilling, D-Springfield, that would require those convicted of 1st degree murder to serve life in prison without parole.
It would also commute existing death row inmates' sentences to life in
prison without parole.
"It's wrong for the state to be in the business of killing," Schilling
told the committee. "Having this kind of policy is just another link in the cycle of violence in this country."
The committee took no action on the bill.
Rodden was the 1st prisoner to be executed since Gov. Mel Carnahan
commuted the death sentence of triple-killer Darrell Mease and reduced
it to life in prison after a personal appeal by Pope John Paul II last
Rodden's attorney, Kent Gipson, told the committee it was unfortunate
that Rodden was next in line to die after Mease. Rodden's execution
Wednesday was the 27th carried out since Carnahan took office in 1993.
"From beginning to end, Mr. Rodden's case depended more upon whims,
politics and sheer luck than the severity" of the case, Gipson said.
"He died because of the luck of the draw."
Norman Evans Green, 38 - 99-2-24 - Texas
Associated Press and Rick Halperin:
In Huntsville, convicted killer Norman Evans Green was executed
Wednesday evening for shooting to death a San Antonio electronics
store clerk during a botched robbery in 1985.
Green, 38, was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., 6 minutes after the
lethal drugs began flowing into hs system. The U.S. Supreme Court
denied 2 final appeals earlier in the day.
According to prosecutors, Green and an accomplice waited for the Dyer
Electronics manager to take a lunch break before attempting to rob
19-year-old clerk Timothy Adams. When Adams was slow to follow
instructions, Green fired 4 times, striking the victim in the arm,
chest and abdomen.
Green's fingerprints were found on the .38-caliber pistol used to shoot Adams, an engineering student at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He died 12 hours later of massive damage caused by the bullets, which prosecutors said were cut so they would shred more flesh on impact.
"He (Green) took the time to notch those bullets. He meant for whomever he came across to die," said the victim's mother, Iris Adams.
In 1978, Green, then 17, was convicted and imprisoned for burglary. He
was released on shock probation two months later. In 1980, he went back to prison for stealing a car, was paroled, and returned for a parole violation. He was released again in 1984.
Green 1st was convicted and condemned for the Adams' slaying in 1985,
but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted him a new trial. A 2nd jury convicted him again in 1990.
Appeals courts stayed Green's two previous death dates in 1994 and 1998.
Green blamed the shooting on accomplice Harold Bowens, a man Green
claimed was a stranger he had met on the day of the killing. Bowens was sentenced to life after agreeing to testify that Green was the
On an Internet site established on Green's behalf, supporters back his
assertions of innocence despite the fingerprints and witness testimony linking him to the killing.
Because nothing was stolen, supporters also claim the slaying shouldn't have been a capital case because another crime was not committed in conjunction with the killing. Prosecutors say it was still an armed robbery even though the two were unable to open the cash register and fled empty-handed.
"Norman always has had a hard time grasping with the legal significance of his activities," said Ed Shaughnessy of the Bexar County District Attorney's Office.
Though Green had publicly maintained his innocence, Ms. Adams says he
privately confessed in the courtroom before his first trial.
"Somebody called my name, and he turned around and looked me in the face and said, `I'm sorry,'" Ms. Adams said. "If you hit my dog and look me in the face and say, `I'm sorry,' that's one thing. He deliberately killed my son.
"The only thing he's sorry for is he was caught."
Karl LaGrand, 35 - 99-2-24 - Arizona
The Arizona Republic:
In Florence, a German citizen who chose the gas chamber over lethal
injection in a bid to avoid execution was put to death by injection
Wednesday after being given a last-minute choice.
Karl LaGrand, convicted of stabbing a bank manager to death with a
letter opener during a 1982 robbery, was given the chance to switch to
lethal injection even though he had chosen death by gas. That delayed
his execution for more than 2 hours.
LaGrand apologized to the family of his victim and to a woman injured
during the robbery. He was pronounced dead at 8 p.m., 3 minutes after
the execution began.
LaGrand's brother, Walter, is scheduled to be executed next week for the same crime. He also chose the gas chamber over lethal injection.
The case was front page news in Germany, which has no death penalty. The LaGrands' mother married an American serviceman and moved to the United States when they were boys. German officials, including that country's ambassador to the United States, testified on Karl LaGrand's behalf at a clemency hearing Tuesday.
LaGrand was the 1st German citizen executed in the United States since
World War II, when several prisoners of war were hanged.
The LaGrands and their attorneys gambled that an appeals court would buy their argument that death by gas is cruel and unusual punishment, even though they chose the method. Those sentenced to death before 1992, when Arizona voters approved execution by injection, choose between gas and lethal injection.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a stay for Karl LaGrand
early Wednesday. But the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay late
Justice John Paul Stevens dissented, saying he believed that the
questions raised merited more consideration. Among them was whether gas is cruel and unusual and whether inmates who chose gas waive their right to appeal the method's constitutionality.
Even though the state was supposed to execute LaGrand in the gas
chamber, Gov. Jane Hull directed state officials to offer him the option of death by injection because it is more humane, said Francie Noyes, the governor's spokeswoman.
Attorney General Janet Napolitano, however, said LaGrand's attorneys
approached state officials. She said she approved the change with the
"I don't know why he changed his mind," Napolitano said.
A panel of the 9th Circuit in 1994 concluded prisoners executed in the
gas chamber in California suffered "intense, visceral pain" and that
"cyanide-induced cellular suffocation causes anxiety, panic, terror and pain," in violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
After the ruling, California revised its laws to make injection the
primary method of execution, although inmates condemned before 1993
could still choose the gas chamber.
The U.S. Supreme Court, hearing the case on appeal, vacated the
appellate court's decision that lethal gas was cruel and unusual. It remanded the case to the 9th Circuit with instructions to reconsider the decision since California had made injection the primary method of execution.
LaGrand's attorneys gambled that the high court would revisit the gas
chamber issue and side with the 9th Circuit this time.
Karl LaGrand, 35, and Walter LaGrand, 37, were convicted of killing
Kenneth Hartsock, 63, during a botched bank robbery in rural Marana on
Jan. 7, 1982. Karl LaGrand was convicted of cutting Hartsock's throat
and stabbing him 24 times with a letter opener taken from the manager's desk.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Executive Clemency rejected pleas for
clemency from a German delegation that included Jurgen Chrobog,
Germany's ambassador to the United States, and parliament member Claudia Roth.
Germany had appealed to U.S. officials, including President Clinton, to intervene in the case.
German officials complained that they didn't learn of the brothers' case until 1992 - 8 years after they were condemned to die. International law requires nations to notify consulates when foreign citizens have been arrested.
Arizona officials say the LaGrands were afforded all the legal rights of any U.S. citizen.
Walter LaGrand, 37 - 99-3-3 - Arizona
Associated Press and Rick Halperin:
In Florence, despite repeated protests from Germany, Arizona
executed a German citizen Wednesday night in a cloud of cyanide fumes.
It was the state's 1st use of the gas chamber since 1992.
Walter LaGrand was pronounced dead 18 minutes after cynanide pellets
were dropped into a pan of distilled water and sulfuric acid below the black chair in which he was strapped.
LaGrand apologized to the families of his victims first.
"To all my loved ones, I hope they find peace," he said. "To all of you here today, I forgive you and I hope I can be forgiven in my next life."
As a cloud of white, steam-like mist rose, LaGrand began coughing, shook his head and gagged several times. A couple minutes later, his head slumped forward. He coughed again, raised his head and slumped forward.
He didn't raise his head after that, though over the next few minutes
his shoulders appeared to move involuntarily.
LaGrand was sentenced to death for killing a bank manager during a
botched robbery in 1982. His brother, Karl, was executed last week for
the same crime.
Both brothers chose the gas chamber instead of lethal injection in hopes of winning a stay on the grounds that it is cruel and unusual
punishment. However, Karl LaGrand was allowed to switch to lethal injection at the last moment.
Earlier this week, Walter LaGrand refused the state's offer to switch to lethal injection, saying he would stick with the gas chamber regardless of the outcome.
The case drew widespread attention in Germany, which has no death
penalty, prompting repeated diplomatic protests and an appeal to an
Gov. Jane Hull rejected appeals from German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to stay the execution.
The brothers were born in Augsburg, Germany, and moved to southern
Arizona as children after their mother married an American serviceman.
Karl was the first German citizen executed in the United States since
World War II.
Legal wrangling continued for hours after LaGrand's 3 p.m. execution
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to an extent with LaGrand's argument that the gas chamber was cruel and unusual punishment. It issued a restraining order Wednesday afternoon, saying that Arizona could execute LaGrand but not with gas.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday night lifted a federal appeals court's
restraining order and rejected the last two appeals on his behalf.
Justices Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens dissented on LaGrand's
The 9th Circuit issued a stay in a nearly identical appeal made by
LaGrand's brother, Karl, last week, but the U.S. Supreme Court
overturned it in a matter of hours and he was executed.
Earlier Wednesday, the world court held a 30-minute hearing at which Sri Lankan Judge Christopher Weeramantry, the United Nations court's vice president, urged the United States to use "all the measures at its disposal" to prevent the execution.
It also said the United States should pay unspecified damages for the
death of LaGrand's brother, Karl, who was executed last week for his
part in the same crime. The world court, however, has no enforcement powers.
Walter LaGrand, 37, and his brother Karl, 35, were sentenced to die for fatally stabbing bank manager Kenneth Hartsock and injuring a teller during a botched robbery in rural Marana in 1982.
The last Arizona prisoner to die in the gas chamber was Donald Harding
in 1992. Harding's death was considered so gruesome - it took him 11
minutes to die - that Arizona voters voted to require prisoners condemned to die after November 1992 to be executed by injection.
Those sentenced to death before 1992, like the LaGrands, are given a
choice. The 9th Circuit Wednesday ordered the state to stop making it an option.
The following articles from German newspapers concerning the LaGrand case have been translated by Thomas Dornheck - firstname.lastname@example.org
IT'S MURDER, TOO
Magdeburger Volksstimme, Feb. 25, 1999; page 2
Gas chamber, poisonious needle, electric chair, gallows and much more is being offered. The abundance of ideas by the state to carry out the
death penalty knows few boundaries – not even in the USA. The USA is in the bad company of states which the USA righteously accuse of violating human rights.
There's no justification for the execution of criminals. Rising numbers of executions don't result in a lower crime rate, and the money argument doesn't strike either. Death by the public hand is much more expensive than lifelong imprisonment. Erroneous verdicts do, on the other hand, only give credence to the suspicion it's only the punishment for having had a bad attorney. Causes and chances don't play any role anymore.
The rage, the lust for vengeance precludes any logic and produces
inferior instincts which a broad basis of supporters wants to see
satisfied. Politicians are barely able to withstand this rage against
the will of voters. But the death penalty isn't about judging people.
It's state-sanctioned murder.
OPPORTUNITY TO RE-THINK
Leipziger Volkszeitung, Feb. 25, 1999; page 3
The execution was postponed, but the fate of robbery-murderer LaGrand in the USA remains uncertain. However, the delay only serves to put the case even more in the spotlight of public attention and it reveals that capital punishment leads America into moral and political deadlock.
While other murderers or drug dealers are being sent to their demise
without much ado, this case brings some complications. The LaGrands are considered to be German citizens because of their German-born mother and their dual citizenship.
The pardons board didn't care that US authorities contravened diplomatic rules. Not interesting was, too, that the murderers were not even 20 years old at the time of the crime. The clemency bid by the chancellor fell on deaf ears as well as the more fundamental protests against the death penalty by human rights activists or the pope did.
In the mostly Christian-orientated USA, few care whether executions
violate biblical commandments. And though some executions later proved
to have been a mistake, this is solely seen as regrettable error.
Meting out death isn't punishment. It doesn't give offenders the chance to a lasting remorse; it reduces atonement and painful imprisonment. To carry out an execution only stills public thirst for revenge. Despite the resumption of executions in 1976, crime rates soared shortly thereafter.
The LaGrands won their reprieve by a trick. Instead of poison or an
electric jolt they demanded Auschwitz gas. This violates the taste of
politically correct Americans and produces doubt in the judiciary. Maybe the first step to re-think the policy of the death penalty.
GERMAN DEATH ROW INMATES
Berliner Zeitung, Feb. 25, 1999; page 4
One had already started to like them. How they day after day looked
down to us from the same blurred mug shots - somehow looking sad,
holding identification cards with their name on it: Karl and Walter
LaGrand. Convicted of murder by the US court, condemned to be German
for all eternity by German politicians and journalists. What suddenly
reaches as patriotic caretaking the brothers who live in the USA for 30 years, can't be explained by humanitarian activism. It seems to be just kind of an outdated blood-based solidarity which is based on our ancient laws of citizenship, which the same politicians want to abolish who now fly to Arizona to see the last prayers. The latest was Green Party MP Claudia Roth who visited one of the murderers, who "like her" was born in Augsburg. They couldn't communicate in German, however.
Roth's colleagues at home meanwhile take on the role of judges over the American moral, but demand at the same time the deportation of
vandalizing Kurds - even if they live for 30 years in Berlin-Kreuzberg
and would face the death penalty in Turkey.
It remains the realization that both societies are bound to one
pre-modern legal practice: While the American likes the execution, the
German likes his ancient citizenship laws.
TABOO DEATH PENALTY
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Feb. 26, 1999, p. 2
The macabre prelude and the cruel spectacle of Karl LaGrand's execution:
The case doesn't deserve interest because the man was many years ago
born in Germany. Whether white or black, whether American or European - that isn't the question. The shame is the shocking cat-and-mouse game preceding his death. And the scandal is the death penalty itself: that a democratically constituted society with Christian values lives out its need for vengeance in such a perverse way.
One doesn't even have to quote ethical and moral concerns to expose the abomination of this practice. Plain statistics alone prove that the deterrent effect doesn't exist.
But this is exactly the point. The call for the executioner expresses a fatal misunderstanding: Barbaric crimes can't be prevented when the
state itself is sliding downwards to the level of degradation -- the
same state whose self-respect was based on respect for life; also for
life which took another life.
Despite the clear obligation to toughness on crime: The death penalty
must stay a taboo. In this respect, politicians shall not listen to the people's voice. Instead, they will have to ask themselves if there's something wrong if the call for it is getting louder.
Commentary in Muenchner Merkur, Munich, Feb. 26, 1999
VICTIMS' SATISFACTION IS NO JUSTIFICATION
(...) The murderer Karl LaGrand really wasn't a character whose death
resulted in a lot of compassion. His execution, however, put a glaring
light on the circumstance that the USA experiences a macabre wave of
executions. The late satisfaction by the relatives of the bank manager, who 17 years ago was murdered by the criminal with the German passport and his brother, may be understandable -- but it can't serve as justification for the state-ordered death of a human being.
LETHAL GAS IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, Feb. 25, 1999
A stay of execution would barely make the LaGrand case less gruesome.
(...) The truly indignating question is why the USA as the only Western state still uses the death penalty; the practice is increasing annually. Because it is impossible that Americans are for some mysterious reason more brutal, more vengeful and more hardened than the rest of humanity, all this can only be explained by a big deficit in the organization of the rule of law.
This deficit, however, has often been recognized and described: It has mostly to do with the following:
That the American judiciary is politicized to a highly unhealthy degree, that top judges are elected by the people, that especially inexorable prosecutors are being rewarded with getting good posts, that governors believe they cannot afford executive clemency if they want to be re-elected.
From Europe - and some success by the pope cannot change that - there
are few chances to moderate this aweful populism: The Americans himself will have to do that, and it is not the case that the liberal America, his journalists, jurists and filmmakers, would be silent on this issue.
We Europeans, however, can only state abhorred how thin the layer of
civilization is and how necessary it is to save it. If it is true that
atavistic needs for retaliation, for bloodshed are somehow inside of all people, it is even the more necessary to civilize these needs.
Well, nobody knows what would happen in Germany if a political party
or a politician would start a petition, fighting for the appointment of hangmen. One can grasp with his hands what would go down the drain then:
Nothing less than human dignity. But no state of the world can afford
such a high price.
George Adrian Quesinberry Jr., 37 - 99-3-9 - Virginia
A man who killed an electrical supply company owner during a botched
burglary was executed Tuesday night after Gov. Jim Gilmore declined to
grant clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a stay.
George A. Quesinberry Jr., 37, was put to death by injection at the
Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.
Asked for a final statement, Quesinberry said: "I just want my family to know I love them, and to the victim's family I am sorry for what I've done."
The execution of Quesinberry was Virginia's 3rd of the year, with 6
more scheduled before the end of April. Virginia executes more people
than any state except Texas.
Quesinberry was convicted of the Sept. 25, 1989 murder of Thomas L.
Haynes, who owned the Tri-City Electrical Supply Co. in Chesterfield
County near Richmond. Quisenberry and a friend broke into the company
office about 6 a.m. and were rummaging through desks when Haynes showed up to take care of some chores.
Haynes, 63, fled when he saw the intruders but Quesinberry chased him,
firing a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun as he ran. One shot severed Haynes' spinal cord and another was fired with the muzzle pressed
against Haynes' back. When Haynes tried to push himself up, Quesinberry struck him in the head with the handgun, fracturing his skull.
Quesinberry's lawyer, A. Peter Brodell, asked Gilmore for clemency
because Quesinberry was abused as a child.
When Quesinberry was 2, his mother shot herself to death in front of
him, leaving him covered with blood. He was raped by his paternal grandfather before he was 4, and was beaten during a childhood spent shuttling between Texas and Virginia, relatives said in depositions for the clemency petition.
"He is not a sociopathic killer," Brodell wrote. "Instead, he is a man
who suffered horrible physical and mental abuse throughout his
But Gilmore noted that Quesinberry admitted to killing Haynes and there has never been any question as to the condemned man's guilt. "Upon a thorough review of the petition for clemency, the numerous court decisions regarding this case and the circumstances of this matter, I decline to intervene," Gilmore said.
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to deny Quesinberry's appeal and request for a stay.
Haynes' relatives described him as a kind, community-oriented man who
was always willing to help people who he felt hadn't been given a chance.
"He was a fantastic person," said his widow, June Haynes-Garrett. "He
would have given those jerks (who killed him) probably a job or some
money, you know, if they really needed it."
Ms. Haynes-Garrett said her husband was killed 3 days before their
40th wedding anniversary.
"We had planned a trip,'' she said. "We were going to Cancun."
Quesinberry was baptized a few hours before he was put ot death. Among
his last visitors were his father, stepmother, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, prison officials said.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 7, 1999:
When he was 2 years old his mother shot herself to death in front of
him. He was, relatives said, covered in her blood. He was raped by his paternal grandfather before he was 4 years old. He spent his childhood shuttled between homes in Texas and Virginia, beaten with a belt at times so severely it drew blood.
In 1976, when he was 14 years old, he was shot in the abdomen in a
hunting accident. In 1978 he dropped out of school after completing the 8th grade with an undiagnosed learning disability. He later suffered two serious head injuries.
When he was 18, he snatched two purses. At age 20 he broke into a
grocery store and then he robbed a taxi driver in Houston -- though his lawyers say he merely fled without paying the driver. He developed a drinking problem.
He was 28 years old and drunk on rum the night of Sept. 24, 1989. Early the next morning he burglarized the Tri-City Electric Supply Co. with a friend and shot to death the owner, Thomas L. Haynes.
On Tuesday, at age 37, George Adrian Quesinberry Jr. is to die by
injection for the capital murder of Haynes and robbery unless Gov. Jim
Gilmore or the U.S. Supreme Court steps in.
Quesinberry's lawyers have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court
and a clemency petition with Gilmore. They are set to meet tomorrow with representatives of the governor.
According to a Virginia Supreme Court summary of the crime and news
accounts, on Sept. 24, 1989, Quisenberry visited a friend at a trailer
court in Prince George County. Eric Hinkle also was present.
The 3 got drunk drinking rum and Quesinberry suggested breaking into
the office and warehouse of the Tri-City Electric Supply Co. in Chesterfield County. Quesinberry bought electrical supplies there and
was familiar with its premises.
Hinkle and Quesinberry drove to Quesinberry's stepmother's home and
picked up a handgun, a .45-cal. Remington semi-automatic.
They arrived at the business at approximately 6 a.m. Quesinberry pried
open a rear door with a screwdriver, and the two entered and began
rummaging through offices. They found a desk with a locked drawer and
Quesinberry fired a shot, breaking the lock. They found a box of
money in a cabinet.
Haynes, 63, arrived at the office, turned on the lights and discovered
Hinkle and Quesinberry. Haynes, who was unarmed, fled and Quesinberry
chased him, firing as he ran. One gunshot wound severed Hayne's spinal
cord. The other shot was fired with the muzzle pressed against Hayne's
Later, when Haynes tried to push himself up, Quesinberry struck him a
hard blow in the head with the handgun. The blow fractured his skull.
Hinkle turned himself in to police at 7 that night and implicated
Quesinberry. When police confronted him, Quesinberry told them where
they could find the murder weapon and his share of the $200 in coins that had been taken from the business.
Quesinberry's lawyer, A. Peter Brodell, said he could not comment on the case because he did not have his client's permission to do so.
Quesinberry turned down a request for an interview, corrections
However, in his clemency petition, sent to the governor on Tuesday,
Brodell says that "After the shooting Mr. Quesineberry was devastated by what he had done. . . . Mr. Quesinberry was so upset he contemplated committing suicide, but he did not do so because he had been taught that suicide was an unforgiveable sin."
Brodell complained that Quesinberry's trial lawyers had failed to have
mental health experts testify on behalf of their client.
Had they done so, "the jury would have learned that Mr. Quesinberry
suffers from neurological and psychological dysfunctions that inhibit
his ability to openly express remorse. The jury would have understood that Mr. Quesinberry's fear when he was unexpectedly confronted by Mr. Haynes triggered an extreme response traceable to Mr. Quesinberry's traumatic experiences of violence" earlier in his life.
"Such information is not simply something that could have made the jury 'feel sorry' for Mr. Quesinberry. Rather, the patterns of abuse that he suffered and the resulting behavioral dysfunctions . . . are absolutely essential to understanding the tragic confluence of events that confronted Mr. Quesinberry in Tri-City," Brodell wrote.
Quesinberry's maternal aunt, Lana David, of Houston, gave a deposition
that accompanied the clemency petition. David is the sister of
Quesinberry's mother, Shirley Quesinberry, who killed herself in 1963.
"I attended Shirley's funeral, where I learned from George Sr. and other family members what had happened. George and his sister Rhonda had seen their mother when she was killed. The description of the scene was gruesome, and George was found covered with blood," she said.
David said that when George and Rhonda came to live with her, they "were in terrible condition. They were filthy and malnourished. They both woke up screaming in the middle of the night from nightmares, and they carried on imaginary conversations with their mother."
Robert P. Hart, a clinical neuropsychologist and a professor at the
Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical
College of Virginia, said in an affidavit that "The records I have
received indicate that Mr. Quesinberry suffered extensive emotional,
physical and sexual abuse and trauma during childhood."
"Mr. Quesinberry witnessed his mother's violent death when he was about 2 years and 3 months old. He was reportedly raped by his paternal grandfather before he was four years old. He suffered physical abuse that was sometimes severe at the hands of his stepgrandfather and father throughout early childhood and adolescence," Hart wrote.
Brodell asks Gilmore to spare his client's life.
"He is not a sociopathic killer," he argues. "Instead, he is a man who
suffered horrific physical and mental abuse throughout his childhood.
"Crippled by undiagnosed (though curable) psychological dysfunction, a
lack of formal education, and substance abuse, he nevertheless had never hurt anyone until he was confronted by Tommy Haynes," Brodell pleads.
But Elizabeth Fabian, one of Haynes' daughters, is not impressed with
"I don't think that his background is an excuse for what he did," she
said. "I just don't feel that that's an excuse."
Roy Michael Roberts - 99-03-10, Missouri
Kansas City Star and Rick Halperin:
Roy Michael Roberts, convicted of killing a prison guard in 1983, was
executed early today.
Roberts was pronounced dead at 12:07 a.m., 2 minutes after the state administered the 1st of 3 lethal doses at the state penitentiary in Potosi.
Roberts' last words were, in part, "You're killing an innocent man."
Gov. Mel Carnahan turned down his appeal for a last-minute reprieve
about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Death penalty opponents were angry, saying questions about Roberts'
guilt warranted at least a delay. They said the criticism Carnahan received in January for commuting a death sentence at the pope's request made it difficult for him to consider Roberts' appeal on its merits.
"Roy Roberts is as likely to be innocent as he is guilty," Tom Block, a death penalty activist in St. Louis, said before the execution. "But Carnahan will have pressure not to commute his sentence -- from
political opponents and corrections officers."
Carnahan spokesman Chris Sifford said the governor was not under
pressure to carry out Roberts' death sentence. Carnahan denied the clemency petition because he did not find sufficient evidence to overturn the jury's verdict, Sifford said.
He said the criticism Carnahan received after commuting the sentence of convicted killer Darrell Mease in January was not a factor.
"That's over and done with," Sifford said Tuesday afternoon. "He
(Carnahan) hasn't had a 2nd thought about the Mease case, and it has
no bearing on this one."
Carnahan unexpectedly commuted Mease's death sentence to life in prison after Pope John Paul II pleaded for Mease's life during his visit to St. Louis. Carnahan said at the time that his decision was in response to the pope's simple plea for mercy and did not signal a change in policy.
The Vatican wrote a letter to Carnahan in the latest case, asking that
the governor spare Roberts' life.
Missouri Republicans criticized the decision in the Mease case, saying
that Carnahan acted on a whim to spare the life of a man who admitted he shot three persons from a hunting blind. They hinted that they would use the case against Carnahan next year in his campaign for U.S. Senate.
Death penalty opponents said the case showed the arbitrary nature of
Missouri executions. Block said executions are scheduled seemingly at
random among inmates who have exhausted their appeals.
Mease's execution originally was scheduled for January, but was delayed, apparently because it coincided with Pope John Paul II's visit.
"The politics of these executions stinks," Block said.
Leonard Frankel, a Clayton, Mo., attorney who has handled Roberts'
appeals for 9 years, said he thought Roberts would have had a stronger
case for clemency if Carnahan had not taken so much criticism on the
In his petition to the governor, Frankel quoted Republican governors who have said that executions should be halted if there is any reason to suspect that the condemned man might be innocent.
Roberts was convicted of helping to kill prison guard Tom Jackson during a riot at the medium-security state prison in Moberly in July 1983. 4 witnesses testified at his trial that he held Jackson while 2 other inmates plunged makeshift knives into his eyes and repeatedly into his chest and stomach.
But the initial investigation did not name Roberts as one of the
perpetrators. The internal report by the Corrections Department
concluded that the killers might never be known.
Frankel said no blood was found on Roberts after the attack, despite the severity of Jackson's wounds.
"4 witnesses said after the fact that Roberts did it," Frankel said.
"I think a guard was killed and killed horribly and they wanted someone to pay a penalty. I'm not sure they cared who paid it as long as someone did."
But Denver Halley, a captain at the prison at the time and the main
person who fingered Roberts, said he always identified Roberts as the
inmate who held Jackson while 2 others stabbed him.
"I have no doubt in my mind," Halley said Tuesday. "I knew Roberts and I was close enough to blow in his ear. I was no more than 2 feet from him while they were stabbing Tom and I was trying to get to him to pull them off."
He said he didn't know the inmate with the knife. But Roberts, who
weighed more than 300 pounds, had grabbed Jackson from behind, slipped
his arms under Jackson's armpits and pulled his shoulders back to expose his torso.
"Roberts stands out like a red rose in the Sahara Desert," Halley said. "There is no way I would forget something like that."
He said Roberts avoided getting blood on his clothing because he was
behind Jackson during the attack.
Halley, now 76 and retired in Macon, Mo., said he had no reason to
implicate Roberts unfairly.
"I know they are saying that I picked him out from a whole wing of
prisoners to say he did it," Halley said. "That's a crock."
The attack occurred July 3, 1983, when Halley led a group of 6 guards
into a common area to remove an unruly prisoner, one of several who had become drunk on homemade alcohol.
As the guards approached, about 3 dozen prisoners mobbed them, Halley
recalled. Several guards, including Halley, were injured.
Roberts, who was in prison on an armed robbery conviction, admitted to
punching a guard during the melee. But he denied any role in Jackson's death.
The inmates who stabbed Jackson were later identified as Rodney Carr and Robert Driscoll. But Roberts was the only one who stayed on death row.
Driscoll was convicted and sentenced to death. But the conviction was
reversed in 1995 by a federal appeals court because of a prosecutor's
error. He will be retried in November.
The jury that convicted Carr of murder deadlocked on punishment, so the judge's only option at the time was to sentence him to life in prison.
Frankel said that was just one more example of the unfairness of
"That kind of discrepancy shows how arbitrary you can get," Frankel
said. "It's a sad reading of the Constitution, but it's the reading the courts have given it."
Roberts becomes the 3rd condemned prisoner to be put to death this
year in Missouri, and the 35th overall since the state resumed
executions in 1989.
Andrew Kokoraleis, 35 - 99-3-17, Illinois
In Tamms, convicted killer Andrew Kokoraleis was put to death by
lethal injection at 12:32 a.m. Wednesday, just hours after Gov. George
Ryan denied requests for clemency.
Kokoraleis, 35, of Villa Park, was convicted of the 1982 mutilation and murder of 21-year-old Lorraine Borowski, a secretary from Elmhurst who was abducted on her way to work.
Kokoraleis died within minutes after a fatal combination of drugs was
injected into his arms. He stared at the ceiling and his lips moved
quietly. After 2 deep breaths, his lips stopped moving.
The execution followed a day of legal maneuvers that ultimately left the decision to proceed in the hands of Ryan, a longtime supporter of
capital punishment who nevertheless agonized for days over the issue.
"I must admit that it is very difficult to hold in your hands the life
of any person, even a person who, in the eyes of the many, has acted so horrendously as to have forfeited any right to any consideration of mercy," Ryan said in a statement late Tuesday.
"I have struggled with this issue of the death penalty and still feel
that some crimes are so horrendous and so heinous that society has a
right to demand the ultimate penalty."
Ryan's decision, following two high-profile cases in which condemned men were set free after serious questions were raised about their guilt, underscored the magnitude of the death penalty debate in Illinois.
Though he has long supported capital punishment and said he would continue to do so, Ryan at one point was prepared to issue a 90-day reprieve.
"It's his 1st time," one staff member said as Ryan met with top aides
in his office on the 16th floor of the Thompson Center in Chicago.
"He's not prepared. He can't make up his mind."
The decision to proceed was Ryan's alone because the state Supreme Court had overturned a stay earlier in the day and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to postpone the execution.
The governor was torn by Kokoraleis' troubled upbringing. But that
attitude was balanced by the horrendous nature of his crime.
And there was the larger issue of the fairness of the justice system in a state where 11 men wrongly sentenced to die have been set free.
Less than 5 hours before the execution was scheduled to begin, Ryan
issued a 3-page statement in which he asked for the prayers of
Illinois residents in the belief that he had "acted wisely" by allowing the execution to proceed.
In the days leading up to the execution, Ryan acknowledged to friends
and legislators that it was much easier to vote for the death penalty as a lawmaker than it was to actually decide whether someone should live or die.
At a fundraising dinner on Monday night for House GOP leader Lee Daniels of Elmhurst, Ryan pulled state Rep. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa) aside several times. Earlier that day, Rutherford led a group of new lawmakers through the Pontiac Correctional Center and met briefly with Kokoraleis, who was then being held at the prison's death row.
"I've known Gov. Ryan since 1978, and I think this was probably the most somber, intense time I've spent around him," Rutherford said.
"(Ryan) was interested in what I thought of what kind of person (Kokoraleis) was, what kind of things was he saying, how was he reacting and so forth."
Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, who had urged Ryan to call a meeting of legislative leaders on the fairness of the death penalty, said he was satisfied with the Republican governor's decision.
"From what I read about what this gentleman did, I can't object to what the governor did," Madigan said.
Senate President James "Pate" Philip (R-Wood Dale) wanted the execution to proceed given the heinous nature of the crime.
"What (Ryan) ought to do is what a majority of the people of Illinois
are for. And when you tell them what this guy has done, that (majority) increases," Philip said.
Kokoraleis' attorney, however, said he believes that kind of pressure
led Ryan make a political, rather than a legal or moral, decision.
"We're disappointed," said Alan Freedman. "So I hope that this execution does not stop the moratorium. There's a problem with the system, and this was a heated case. I think it's outrageous for Andy, but I hope the possibility exists for others."
Freedman said Kokoraleis spent his final hours sitting with a Bible and visiting with one of his brothers.
Since being flown by helicopter early Tuesday to the state's new maximum security prison at Tamms, 20 miles north of Cairo, Kokoraleis had refused food and drank only water, officials said.
Kokoraleis' attorneys had begun the day with a flicker of hope:
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison II on Monday had ordered a stay until the nation's high court could rule on a final motion.
But the state Supreme Court voted 4-3 to toss out Harrison's stay. Later Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Kokoraleis' request to postpone the execution.
A statement from Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles E. Freeman said the high court finished formal conferences Tuesday without ruling on a separate emergency motion to stay executions. The motion had been filed by legislators in favor of a death penalty moratorium.
"There are serious questions still to be resolved in connection with
that petition, one of which is whether the petitioners have standing to bring the motion in this court," Freeman said. "The court will continue to study these issues."
Kokoraleis has been linked to as many as 18 slayings in the early 1980s. He eventually was convicted of killing Borowski and Rose Beck Davis of Broadview.
He received a life sentence for killing Davis and a death sentence for
the murder of Borowski, a crime to which he confessed but later recanted.
Charles Rector, 44 - 99-3-25, Texas
Charles Rector, claiming his innocence to the end, was executed Thursday night for the abduction, rape, shooting and drowning of an Austin woman more than 17 years ago.
Rector was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal
drugs began flowing into his body.
"I want you to know I'm not guilty," Rector said in a final statement
while strapped to the death chamber gurney. He turned his head and looked at 5 members of Carolyn Kay Davis' family.
"And I'll say this to the family - I did not kill your daughter. Take
it the way you want. I'm sorry for the pain," he said.
Rector expressed love to members of his family, who also watched through a window. One of his witnesses fainted and had to be assisted out of the viewing area after Rector had slipped into unconsciousness.
He concluded his statement by reciting the words to a song he wrote,
called "God Living With Us 24 Hours."
Among Rector's witnesses were former Dallas Cowboy Thomas "Hollywood"
Henderson, now an Austin businessman who is active in community
Rector, 44, was convicted of killing the 22-year-old Ms. Davis, who
disappeared from her Austin apartment on Oct. 17, 1981.
Rector was on parole for another slaying 7 years earlier when he was
arersted near Ms. Davis' apartment a few hours after she disappeared.
He was wearing her designer jeans, carrying her jewelry in his pocket
and had items from her apartment in his car.
The University of Texas coed's body was found the next morning near an
island in Austin's Town Lake. Although she had been shot once in the
head, a medical examiner ruled drowning as the cause of death.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to consider additional appeals in the case, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week rejected a clemency petition, clearing the way for the 8th execution in Texas this year.
"I ain't scared," Rector said in a recent death row interview. "They
can take my life, but they can't make an innocent man guilty."
Rector, called "Dr. Psycho" by other inmates because of his ability to
tune out distractions and ignore others as he wrote music in his prison cell, said he turned down an offer to plead guilty before his trial in exchange for a life prison term.
"I'm not sorry to have not taken the life sentence," he said. "I'd
rather die than say I'm guilty. It's not my crime. It's not my nature to kill for blue jeans. C'mon, it would take an animal to kill for a pair of blue jeans."
Rector spent more than 16 years on death row, which made him among the
longest-serving condemned prisoners in Texas.
"It's frustrating for us, primarily because it's agonizing for
(victims') families to have these things linger," said Rosemary
Lehmberg, the Travis County assistant district attorney who prosecuted
"It's been a long trail," added Phil Nelson, the other prosecutor in
Rector was stopped for traffic violations the night Ms. Davis
disappeared as he sped from the area of the abduction. Authorities theorized he was attempting to return to the scene to retrieve a knife he left behind.
"The information we had was 3 men followed her home and to her
apartment, kidnapped her, took her to a remote area, sexually assaulted and murdered her and threw her body into the water," Ms. Lehmberg said.
2 other men were arrested with Rector. One was acquitted. A 2nd, Howard Ray Simon, 21, escaped from the Travis County Jail and was fatally shot during a robbery in Louisiana.
In a statement to police, Simon had said Rector spotted Ms. Davis
driving a new car and followed her home because he believed she had money. When she got out to open the door of her apartment, they ambushed her.
Rector said he had purchased the jewelry and other items, including 2
rifles, from a couple of other men outside a convenience store. He said he bought the jeans from a clothing store.
Ms. Davis' roommate identified the jeans as the victim's, and a gun
found in Rector's car was linked to the victim's head wound. A jury
deliberated just 90 minutes before finding Rector guilty.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
David Lee Fisher, 57 - 99-3-25, Virginia
In Jarratt, David Lee Fisher, 57, was executed by lethal injection for
arranging a murder to collect on a $100,000 life insurance policy.
Fisher was executed for hiring another man to kill 18-year-old David William Wilkey while all 3 were on a hunting trip on Nov. 21, 1983. Wilkey and Fisher were residents of Charlotte, N.C.
Wilkey was shot in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun. Fisher - who
had taken out an insurance policy on Wilkey a few months earlier -
contended Bobby Brice Mulligan acted on his own when he shot Wilkey.
The scheme unraveled in 1985 when a 3rd man familiar with the plot, Gerald Steadham, went to the FBI. The FBI arrested Mulligan, who confessed to shooting Wilkey to death and pleaded guilty. He was
sentenced to life in prison.
Fisher was sentenced to death after his capital murder trial in Bedford County. He earlier appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court alleging juror misconduct. One juror, who had been a lone holdout to give Fisher life, relented on the advice of her husband.
Fisher becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia, and the 63rd overall since the state resumed executions on Aug. 10, 1982.
Only Texas exceeds Virginia in the number of condemned inmates it puts to death. Fisher is the 1st of 7 executions set for the next 7 weeks, putting the state on a pace to break its record of 17 executions in a single year, established early in the century.
Fisher also becomes the 28th condemned inmate to be put to death in the USA this year, and the 528th overall since America resumed executions on Jan. 17, 1977.
(sources: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
James David Rich, 26, 99-3-29, North Carolina
In Raleigh, a man on death row for stabbing to death a fellow inmate was put to death by lethal injection Friday night, a day after
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled his execution could move forward.
James David Rich, 26, was pronounced dead at 9:22 p.m., 21 minutes after the lethal injection drugs were administered, said state
correction department spokeswoman Patty McQuillan.
She did not have an immediate explanation for the length of time it took for the drugs to take affect.
Rich pleaded guilty to 1st degree murder in the 1994 stabbing death of Paul Gwyn at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Greene
County. The killing occurred because Rich did not like an educational program at the prison and wanted to be transferred to
Gov. Jim Hunt, who has never stopped an execution, denied clemency for Rich after meeting with members of people of Faith Against the Death Penalty. They said Rich was too mentally ill to decide that he wanted to die. But the governor denied clemency, saying there was no doubt in his mind that Rich carried out the slaying with a clear understanding of what he was doing.
"He carried out thismurder with clear intent, in a calculated, cold-blooded manner, and with a full knowledge of the consequences,"
Hunt said in a release.
On Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (in Richmond, Va.) stopped the execution because of questions surrounding the judge's denial of the independent mental evaluation of Rich.
But state attorneys appealed, and late Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court and state correction officials began preparations for Rich's execution.
Rich spent Friday in the death watch area at Central Prison. In his last statement, Rich, who became a Muslim in the last year, praised Allah and asked for mercy for the world.
Meanwhile about 35 people, including some children and a toddler in a stroller, stood quietly outside Central prison in the rain. Stephen Dear, the executive director of People of Faith Against the Death penalty, said the low turnout of protesters was mainly due to the U.S. Supreme Court's late ruling.
"Mr. Rich as a mentally ill man with a low IQ was allowed to represent himself," said Mary Rider, a social worker for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty. "He has wanted to be dead all his life."
Ed Rawls, a pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Cary, said he's been visiting with Rich at the prison.
"To him this is a way out," he said before the execution was to be carried out.
Rich not only represented himself at his trial, but he later fired apeals lawyers and asked to be executed. But at different times he
has asked that his execution not go forward, said attorneys and supporters.
"Because he is so sick, he is not able to make that decision," Ms. Rider said.
The death penalty abolitionists met about 30 minutes with Hunt in an office at the Wilson County Courthouse, near Hunt's farm. The Rev. Diane Corlett of Raleigh told the governor that Rich had the comprehension of a 10-year-old.
"This is a very unusual case, even for us abolitionists," Corlett said. "We do not believe Mr. Rich fully understood the implications
of the murder he committed. He had no clue of what was coming next.
Now, we are in the position of state-assisted suicide."
Rich becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in North Carolina this year, and the 12th overall since the state resumed executions in 1984.
(sources: Charlotte Observer & Rick Halperin)
Robert Excell White, 61 - 99-3-30, Texas
'Send me to my maker, warden'
Dean of death row executed for '74 killings
03/31/99. By Bruce Tomaso / The Dallas Morning News
HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Robert Excell White, the dean of Texas' death
row, was executed Tuesday, almost a quarter-century after he killed three people in a Collin County gas station robbery.
Mr. White, 61, received a lethal injection at 6:10 p.m. and was pronounced dead seven minutes later, prison officials said.
"Send me to my maker, warden," he said matter-of-factly, when asked if
he had any final words. Right before lapsing into unconsciousness, he
turned his head and winked at his sister witnessing the execution from an adjoining room.
The Mississippi native, once known to authorities as "Excell the
Executioner," was convicted of the May 11, 1974, murder of Preston
Broyles, the 73-year-old owner of a gas station near McKinney.
He also gunned down two 18-year-old customers, Gary Coker and Billy St. John, who had stopped at the station to put oil in their truck.
Robert St. John, the brother of one of Mr. White's victims, watched the execution and said afterward that "a load has been taken off my
"It was great. I enjoyed watching the man die. I really did," said Mr. St. John, 38, of Collin County.
His only complaint, he said, was that the killer didn't appear to suffer. "It was really too easy," he said.
Only one man in the country, a condemned killer in Florida, has spent more time under a death sentence than did Mr. White, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
Mr. White's original 1974 murder conviction was overturned, after years of appeals, in 1987. He was retried that year and convicted again. A second round of appeals, essentially starting all over again, consumed the next 12 years.
"It certainly doesn't speak well of a system that's supposed to provide swift and sure justice," said Dianne Clements, president of Justice For All, a Houston-based advocacy group for crime victims.
"Whatever you think about death penalty, it isn't supposed to work this way. To make these victims' families wait 25 years - it's just perverse."
Mr. White was the 173rd person put to death in Texas since executions
resumed, and the ninth this year. For his last meal he requested two
hamburgers, a double order of french fries and onion rings.
Execution Nears After 25 Years
By Michael Graczyk, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, March 27, 1999; 6:07 p.m. EST
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Robert Excell White wasn't supposed to be
alive this long.
The jury that heard his history -- how he beat his pregnant wife and sliced a friend's throat with a hunting knife -- decided the man police called ``Excell the Executioner'' should be put to death for killing a small-town grocer with machine-gun fire.
Faced with the death sentence at age 36, White wrote U.S. Supreme Court justices saying he opposed appeals to spare him.
That was almost 25 years ago.
``I have a few qualms about the death penalty, but if they're going to have it they ought to carry it out and not wait 25 years,'' says Dorothy Lawson, whose 73-year-old father, Preston Broyle, owned the country store north of Dallas where he and two teen-age customers were gunned down.
``My father had five children living. Now only two of us are left. And White is still living.''
White turned 61 on March 14, the longest serving of 452 men and women
awaiting execution in Texas. Walter Bell, the next in tenure on death row, has been confined nearly 24 years.
Only three of the nation's some 3,600 condemned inmates -- two in Georgia, one in Florida -- have logged more time under a death sentence than White.
But time may be running out for White, who faces lethal injection Tuesday.
``He's exhausted his state and federal appeals,'' says Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general's office. ``It looks like he'll be going.''
A clemency petition to Gov. George W. Bush appears to be White's lone
``It looks to be closer than we've ever gotten before, but in this business you never say never,'' says Tom O'Connell, the Collin County district attorney.
``It's not so much frustrating as it is indicative of how the system can be manipulated.''
White's attorney, Larry Brown, did not return several telephone calls from The Associated Press. White, as is his custom, is not talking to reporters.
When White arrived on Texas' death row Aug. 26, 1974, four other men
had already been sentenced to die under a new capital punishment law
passed after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out all existing death penalty statutes in the nation.
One of White's predecessors committed suicide. The three others had their sentences commuted to life terms, leaving White the dean of the Texas death row.
Some inmates suggest his status has allowed White to delude himself about the chances of being put to death. ``They just can't get around to killing me because I've been here longer than anyone else,'' he's told fellow inmates.
To date, history supports his optimism.
After he wrote to the Supreme Court asking that appeals of his 1974 capital murder conviction be ignored, his case languished in the courts.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction in 1987
because White was not advised that what he told court-appointed psychiatrists could be used against him. Such warnings weren't required in 1974, but a 1981 Supreme Court ruling required them and allowed the mandate to be applied retroactively.
In June 1987, he again was convicted of killing Broyle and sentenced to death. He was never tried for the other killings. Two 18-year-old customers, Gary Coker and Billy St. John, also died in the machine gun burst.
With the second conviction, the mandatory appeals process, which has
averaged 10 years before Texas inmates are executed, began over. It's
taken a dozen more years for White's appeals to run their course.
In the total time he's been on death row, he's been joined by more than 600 condemned prisoners, 172 of whom have been taken to the death chamber.
In a confession, White said his crime spree began May 10, 1974, in Waco, where he fatally stabbed gun collector Roy Perryman, 53, and stole more than two dozen weapons, including a .30-caliber machine gun.
White and two companions, brothers James and Gary Livingston, drank until about midnight, then hopped into White's car and drove north to Dallas and beyond, toward McKinney. At daybreak, May 11, they pulled into the Hilltop Grocery Store in Princeton for gas. They had $2.
Broyle was outside, helping Coker and St. John put oil in their car.
According to court documents, White grabbed the machine gun and ordered the three men inside the store.
``All of them were shot repeatedly in the back of the head,'' Mrs. Lawson, 73, says. ``We were never able to see my father after his death and I had a terrible time for years accepting it, because I didn't see him.''
White and the Livingston brothers got $6 from the register and $60 from the victims' wallets and returned to Waco. White then fled to Cleveland, Miss., where he told a cousin about the shooting and turned himself in to police.
He's been in custody since.
James Livingston, who accompanied White inside Hilltop Grocery but didn't shoot, was also convicted and condemned. His sentence was commuted to life in 1983. No parole is imminent for Livingston, whose record shows at least eight stints in solitary confinement. He remains in administrative segregation, meaning he has violated rules.
Gary Livingston, who remained outside the store as a lookout, received a 20-year term and was freed in 1984. He committed suicide two years later.