killers were executed in March 2003. They had
murdered at least
killers were given a stay in March 2003. They
have murdered at least 9 people.
|Date of scheduled execution
March 11, 2003
Earl Holder, 42
A 40-year-old Corsicana man convicted of murdering a
Buffalo man almost 10 years ago near the Trinity River is scheduled to be
executed on March 11, 2003. Bobby Glen Cook, 40, of Corsicana is scheduled to die
by lethal injection on Feb. 5, 2003 for the February 1993 shooting death of
Edwin Earl Holder, 42, of Buffalo. An execution date was set by 369th State
District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III. On the morning of Feb. 8, 1993, a passerby
saw what he thought was a boat submerged off the east bank of the Trinity River
near a gas station in Cayuga, Texas. On closer inspection, he realized it was
actually a blue truck, partially submerged in the water. The man poked at what
appeared to be a sleeping bag and insulated underwear in the bed of the truck,
and uncovered an arm and part of a shoulder. The rest of the body was submerged
under water. The Anderson County Sheriff's Department pulled the truck from the
river and discovered the body of 42-year-old Edwin Earl Holder. Officers saw
what appeared to be blood on the back bumper of the truck and splattered on the
inside of the tailgate. The truck was in first gear, the ignition was on, and
the windows were rolled up. The medical examiner concluded that Holder died of
six gunshot wounds to the head. The shots had been fired in rapid succession,
from three feet or closer to Holder's head. One bullet entered and exited the
forehead, but the remaining five .22-caliber bullets remained lodged in Holder's
brain, any one of which would have been fatal. The close pattern of the wounds
suggested that Holder was asleep in his sleeping bag when he was shot, and no
struggle had occurred. Holder had left his home on the morning of Feb. 5, 1993,
to go fishing at the Trinity River Bridge. He took with him his blue Dodge truck
packed with camping equipment, fishing gear and his boat. Holder's co-worker saw
Holder's truck and boat trailer parked at the bridge by Baker's Landing around
2:30 p.m. that day. While the witness did not see Holder or his boat, he did see
a red pickup truck and two white males building a camp fire. Holder had been
reported missing by his wife the previous day after failing to meet a friend for
a fishing/camping trip. Upon investigation of Baker's Landing, the police
discovered evidence that Holder had been camping there, and found dirt that
appeared to be mixed with blood. The .22-caliber bullets that killed Holder were
consistent with the type of gun Holder usually carried with him on his fishing
trips; however, no weapons were found in Holder's truck or at Baker's Landing,
nor was Holder's wallet. A boat matching the description of Holder's was later
found on the Trinity River, south of where Holder's truck was found. Several
holes had been punched into the bottom of the boat, which had caused it to
partially sink. An employee from the gas station near where Holder's body was
found, told the police that on Feb. 6, 1993, around 3:00 a.m., he heard a loud
muffler. From the door, he could see the tail lights of one vehicle as well as a
red and white truck with a loud exhaust system, parked about 60 to 75 yards from
the river. The gas station employee informed the driver of the red truck that he
was on private property. The driver told him that he was having problems with
his truck, however, the driver appeared nervous and would not look at the man.
After speaking with four men who were at the river on Feb. 6, 1993, the police
obtained a composite drawing of two suspects and a description of a red and
white Chevrolet pickup truck. Based on the composite drawing and the description
of the truck, the police went to the residence of Robin Jenkins and Steven
Cockroft, where they discovered a red and white pickup truck. On Feb. 9, 1993,
officers obtained a statement from Jenkins and Cockroft, implicating Cook in the
murder. Cook was later arrested at Jenkins and Cockroft's residence. A search of
the residence uncovered items belonging to Holder. On Feb. 10, 1993, Cook gave a
voluntary statement in which he admitted that he, Jenkins and Cockroft were at
the bridge at the same time as Holder. Cook claimed that he was helping Holder
check his fishing lines, but he became frightened by Holder's behavior because
Holder was drinking and waiving a gun around. Cook claimed that at one point,
Holder reached for his gun and Cook attempted to grab it and pull it away but
the gun went off two or three times. Cook admitted disposing of some of Holder's
belongings while keeping others. Judge Bentley set Cook’s execution date after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendant’s writ for certiorari.
Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe, who was not in office when Cook was
convicted in 1994, sounded confident the execution would proceed as planned in
February. “Based on my experience, I think Mr. Cook is going to get what he
deserves on that date,” Lowe said. “I don’t think anybody can do anything for
him. I think what it shows is our system works,” he continued. “It works slowly.
The defendant had the benefit of a lot of good lawyers. He got what he needed to
get.” During a 1994 trial, then-Anderson County District Attorney Jeff
Herrington told the nine-man, three-woman jury that Cook shot and killed Holder
for $21 and fishing equipment that was to be split with an accomplice. Cook, a
ninth-grade dropout with an extensive criminal past, shot Holder with the
victim’s own .22-caliber handgun while the man was asleep in a sleeping bag, the
state argued during the trial. The accomplice, Stephen Ray Cockroft, now 37, of
Dawson was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of capital murder
in November 1994 in Anderson County.
A third defendant, Robin Elaine French Jenkins, 31, of Dawson testified against
Cook in exchange for a 15-year sentence on the lesser charge of robbery.
Previously, Cook had served 8 months of a 6 year sentence in 1987 for burglary
of a vehicle. He was back in prison within six months after receiving a 5
year sentence for theft, and was again paroled in only 4 months. Cook went back
to prison again less than a year later with a 10 year sentence for drugs and
burglary convictions for which he served less than a year. Then one year
later, in 1991, returned to prison with an 8 year sentence for theft and served
only 6 months. He had been on parole for less than a year when Holder was
|Date of scheduled execution
Richard Wayne Whitehead
before his death, Wayne had bought a 1969 Ford
Mustang, which was his pride and joy. He left
his parent's home on
the night of April 11, 1980 to attend a high
Wayne's body was found on the morning of April 15, 1980. He
had been shot three times, twice in the head and once in the upper back. One
shot had been fired at a maximum distance of 18 to 24 inches. Several empty beer
cans and two spent shell casings were found near the scene. A
female friend of Wayne's testified that she was with him during the
evening of April 11, 1980. That evening, Wayne was
driving his automobile, a 1969 Mustang with a light green colored body. Later,
the pair ran into Banks at the
local bowling center, and at his suggestion they purchased some beer.
Wayne worked with Banks at the local Bonanza Steak House.
The three went to the park near Nash, Texas and
drank the beer. At approximately 11:00 or 11:15 p.m. Whitehead took
the girl home. Another friend
testified that Banks and Whitehead visited her at her house around 11:30 p.m. on
April 11. They stayed for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. A
man who lived about 100 yards from the park in Nash
testified that at approximately 4:00 a.m. on
April 12, he heard two gun shots. Charles Cook
testified that he met Banks on the morning of April 12 in Dallas. Banks was
driving a vehicle which had the same description as Whitehead's. Cook and his
wife befriended Banks and allowed him to stay with them at Cook's grandfather's
home. Cook had noticed a sprinkle of blood on Banks' pants and asked Banks about
it. Banks told him that he "shot a white boy." Later that evening, Banks told
Cook that he had killed someone. Banks told him he had been riding around with a
"white boy" and his girlfriend, and after they took the girl home, he and the
boy went to the woods together and drank beer. Banks decided to kill the person
"for the hell of it" and take his automobile to Dallas. Cook eventually obtained
a pistol and the automobile from Banks. Cook sold the pistol to his neighbor and
left the automobile in West Dallas. It was never recovered. The pistol was
recovered from the neighbor and was identified through ballistic testing as the
murder weapon. Cook's wife and sister testified that they saw Banks driving a
green Mustang on April 12. Cook's grandfather stated that Banks stayed at his
house for a night or two. Additionally, telephone records reveal that Banks made
a collect call home to Texarkana from Cook's grandfather's house during the
course of the weekend. Cook's neighbor also testified that he met Banks during
the same time. Banks told him he had a little misunderstanding with someone and
had broken his jaw or "something like that." Banks did
not testify and did not present any evidence during the guilt phase of his
trial. At the
time of Banks' 1980 capital murder trial, he did not have any previous felony
convictions. However, during the punishment phase of trial, the prosecution
offered evidence that Banks had pistol-whipped and threatened to kill a man only
a few days before Whitehead's death. The State also presented evidence that
Banks later attempted to recover the murder weapon so that it could be used in
future armed robberies. Banks confirmed both incidents when he testified in his
own defense during sentencing proceedings.
Banks' sentence had been overturned by a federal judge, but was reinstated by
the 5th Circuit court. Bowie County First Assistant District Attorney James
Elliott prosecuted Banks in the original trial with then-Bowie County District
Attorney Louis Raffaelli. Elliott was prepared to battle the
Banks/Whitehead case in Bowie County had the appellate court upheld Folsom's
ruling, which ordered a new sentencing trial for Banks. "I entertained a
possibility that it would have to be tried over again, both the guilt/innocence
phase and the punishment, due to our federal court's ruling. But the thing that
makes me most happy about this case is not Delma Banks' death but that the
Whiteheads' long nightmare may come to an end in part because of this. I'm sure
it has been a long nightmare for them," Elliott said. Larry Whitehead said he
and his wife, Jackie, had real fears that Banks would be tried again. He called
Folsom's ruling a low point in their family's life. "After 20 years of this
battle going for them to overrule it that way, when you try to start to get
these people and witnesses together after all these years, it's tough. We
actually started to try to track people down," Larry Whitehead said.
"I respect a reasonable time to review a case,
but 23 years is too long." Elliott
said that his investigator on the case is dead. One of two key witnesses is
dead. The surviving witness has had numerous felony convictions, which could be
problematic for prosecutors. "It would have been difficult but not impossible,"
Elliott said. He had been with the prosecutor's office for a year and Banks'
case was his 1st murder trial. During that trial Elliott handled the technical
aspects of the case but has remained involved with it for the past 22 years. "I
retired with 23 years of service and this lasted 22," Elliott said. "I did not
want to leave this office with this one unresolved. This is almost like a
permission slip to let my breath out after 22 years." The Whiteheads have
remained in contact with Elliott throughout the years and shared with him their
belief that the death sentence would be reinstated after they heard Banks' and
the state's arguments before the 5th Circuit in March. "I actually felt pretty
good after the hearing in March. My wife and I went to the hearing in March and
sat through it. I felt pretty good about the questions that the judges were
asking and what was going on at that time. I felt like we would get a favorable
decision," Larry Whitehead said. But he says it is still a waiting game as the
appeals are not yet exhausted. Larry Whitehead called the 5th Circuit's ruling a
major hurdle to overcome. "Getting that overturned and sent back was a big step.
We kind of feel now that we're on the downhill of this climb," Larry Whitehead
said. Elliott said in all likelihood, Banks' execution will be set for early
2003. Larry Whitehead said he understands the need to set an execution date up
to 150 days away to accommodate the time necessary for Banks' final appeals to
clear. Elliott said based on the lengthy 5th Circuit ruling, he does not think
the court will reverse itself. He and Whitehead also doubt Banks will have any
success with the U.S. Supreme Court. Banks has 90 days to petition the nation's
high court once the 5th Circuit's ruling becomes final. For the Whiteheads, the
appellate ruling does not yet seem real. "We've been disappointed so many times
in the past, it's hard to take anything solid anymore. You just kind of wonder
what's going to happen. I never expected that it would come up for retrial after
20 years like it did," Larry Whitehead said. He and his wife plan to attend the
execution if it is carried out. But that will not totally ease the pain that he
says they suffer daily since losing their son 22 years ago. "Of course, nothing
will bring our son back, but we do feel that justice needs to be served," Larry
Whitehead said. Through the various court battles over the years, Elliott says
he has no personal hatred for Banks. "I hate what he did, but I don't hate him,"
Elliott said. He does not believe the killing was so Banks could steal
Whitehead's car. The car was ditched in Dallas. "He says he killed a white kid
for the hell of it. I have no idea how Delma Banks felt about white people,"
Elliott said. But he believes it was cold-blooded since Banks had worked with
Whitehead at Bonanza the summer before the murder. Whitehead was giving Banks a
ride home on a rainy Friday night after the 2 saw each other at an area bowling
alley. It is the victim in the case that makes it personal for Elliott. "I still
remember Wayne Whitehead's face and how he looked at death," Elliott said.
|Date of scheduled execution
March 13, 2003
Maisie Carlene Gray
The Alabama Supreme Court set a March 13 execution date for Michael Eugene
Thompson, who was convicted of the robbery, kidnapping and murder of a
convenience store clerk in Attalla more than 18 years ago. The state Supreme
Court set the execution date Tuesday at the request of the attorney general's
office after the U.S. Supreme Court turned back appeals from Thompson.
Thompson's attorney, Mark Gombiner of New York, said he was reviewing his
options and had not decided what approach to take in trying to halt the
execution. The victim, Maisie Carlene Gray, was working alone at
the Majik Mart convenience store in Attalla on
the night of Dec. 10, 1984.
Thompson, carrying a .22 caliber pistol, forced
Maisie to empty the cash register and then forced her
into his car and left the area. After driving around for some time, Thompson
took Maisie to a well and forced her into it, shooting
into the well several times, until he ran out of ammunition.
Then he drove to his girlfriend's
home, picked up more bullets, and returned
with her to the well. While
his girlfriend, Shirley Franklin held a homemade torch, Thompson fired
seven or eight more shots into the well to make sure
Maisie Gray was dead. The
next day Thompson took the pistol, which he and Shirley had cleaned, and threw
it into another well.
On January 5, 1985, law enforcement authorities received a call from Shirley
Franklin's husband, reporting that he knew where the victim of the Majik Mart
robbery was and who had taken her. When the officers arrived at
the man's home, Shirley Franklin told the officers
that Thompson had killed Maisie and where the victim's
body was located. The police found the body at the well, obtained a statement
from Shirley Franklin, and arrested Thompson the same day.
At the time of arrest, Thompson refused to sign a waiver of his Miranda rights.
However, on the following day, after a visit from Shirley Franklin, he signed a
waiver of his rights and gave a taped confession in which he admitted to the
robbery, kidnapping and murder. Two days later, Thompson was re-interrogated and
again admitted his guilt and gave a similar account of the crime.
Thompson was convicted of capital murder on May 10, 1985, and his
jury unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the trial judge imposed.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Thompson's conviction in 1987. He
filed another appeal, claiming he had an ineffective attorney at trial, but the
U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that issue in 1992. The U.S. Supreme Court
turned back another appeal in June 2002. The appeal contended that investigators
forced Thompson into confessing to the crime because they promised not to
prosecute his girlfriend for capital murder if he talked, Gombiner said.
Alabama's death penalty law will allow Thompson to choose whether he
wants to die by lethal injection or in the electric chair at Holman Prison in
Atmore. UPDATE: After the execution, Evelyn Elliott, Gray's
daughter, said she was disappointed that Thompson showed no remorse toward her
or her two brothers who watched him die. "He did not look in our direction or
offer any apology," Elliott said. "It was horrible ... but if anyone deserved to
die, it was him."
|Date of scheduled execution
||Amanda Jo Maher,
David Lee Myers
was sentenced to death for the 1988 slaying of an
18-year-old woman. Amanda Jo Maher was
found near some railroad tracks in South Xenia in the
early morning hours of August 4, 1988, barely alive, with a railroad
spike driven through her head.
Amanda died shortly thereafter while being
flown to the hospital. On August 3, 1988, Amanda and her boyfriend Glenn
went to the Five Points Tavern, a.k.a. Leahy’s, in Xenia following an afternoon
of house-hunting for themselves and their daughter, Sarah. The couple had a few
drinks and left Five Points at around 7:30 p.m. to attend the Greene County
Fair. They arrived back at Five Points around 9:30 to 10:00 p.m., and Glenn
resumed drinking while shooting pool with the bartender on duty.
Between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. that
night, David Myers arrived at Five Points and played pool and drank with Glenn.
Glenn recognized Myers as an occasional customer of the tavern from Glenn's work
there as a weekend bartender. During this time, Myers remarked to Glenn about
the Mickey Mouse shirt Amanda was wearing, to the effect that he wanted to play
with Mickey’s ears or nose because he liked where they were positioned on the
shirt. Glenn admonished Myers that he didn’t appreciate the remark. Glenn left
the bar for about fifteen minutes to get fresh air, then came back and resumed
drinking and shooting pool with Myers. Sometime after midnight, Glenn and Amanda
left to go to the nearby Round Table bar. Myers asked to come along, and the
three drove over to the Round Table in Glenn’s car. After arriving at the bar,
Amanda went inside, but Glenn “had a few more words” with Myers before they went
in. Glenn was upset with Myers about sexual remarks he was making about Amanda.
After they went inside, Glenn got “kind of rowdy” while drinking whiskey
slammers with Myers. The bartender on duty that night at the Round Table warned
Glenn to quit or she would ask him to leave. Glenn threw his glass to the floor,
and when he refused to leave, the bartender phoned the police. Glenn became
belligerent with the two Xenia police officers who arrived on the scene at
approximately 1:15 a.m. The officers escorted Glenn outside, handcuffed him and
placed him under arrest. The officers then explained to Amanda what was going to
happen with Glenn. Amanda asked whether she could have Glenn’s wallet, and Glenn
allowed the officer to retrieve it from his back pocket to give to Amanda. Glenn
also allowed the officer to retrieve what Glenn thought were his car keys.
Amanda discovered shortly thereafter that none of the keys she received fit
Glenn’s car. At that point, Myers approached the officer and told him, “I will
make sure she gets home. I will take care of her.” Myers also told Glenn in the
back of the patrol car, “I will take care of her, Glenn.” The police took Glenn
to the county jail. Meanwhile, Amanda and Myers reentered the Round Table
looking for Glenn’s car keys. Amanda borrowed a flashlight from the bartender in
order to look for the keys in the parking lot. A bar patron at the Round Table
testified that noticed that Myers had his arm around Amanda, reassuring her that
he would take care of everything. When the patron looked out the tavern door
while buying another beer, he saw Myers and Amanda walk across the tavern
parking lot toward Home Avenue. Also at this time, one of the officers who had
arrested Glenn was in his police car on patrol and saw Myers and Amanda walking
northwest on the sidewalk along Home Avenue toward South Detroit Street. He
testified that he saw Amanda approximately three hundred yards from the spot
where she was eventually discovered, barely alive. At 2:10 a.m., the bartender
at the Five Points Tavern testified that he had looked out the door and observed
Myers, alone, getting into his car and driving away. Around 2:15 a.m., Myers
entered the Round Table, ordered a drink from the bartender, and went straight
to the restroom for several minutes. One of the few patrons left in the bar had
earlier seen Glenn break the glass and get arrested. He also had seen Myers and
Amanda leave the bar together approximately twenty minutes after Glenn’s arrest.
When Myers came out of the restroom, the man asked Myers “if he got any [sex]”
from Amanda. Myers responded that he "tried, but she wasn’t willing" and he
"just dropped her off.” At approximately 3:00 a.m., a woman was walking
home with a friend when she came upon “a girl laying [sic] on the tracks”
gasping for air. They ran to the woman's house, talked the situation over, and
called the police. A police officer arrived on the scene after receiving a
dispatch for “a female down in the area” of Railroad Street. The officer called
out to her but could only hear moans and groans. The woman, later identified as
Amanda, had a shirt pulled up around her neck with no other clothing on. The
officer who had arrested Glenn was in the area nearby investigating a burglary
and also heard the police dispatch and ran down to the railroad tracks. He did
not recognize Amanda from his earlier encounter with her at the Round Table bar.
He noticed what he thought was a cinder on the right side of Amanda’s face. He
suddenly realized that a railroad spike had been driven into her head. He also
noticed that little blood was coming out of that wound. Amanda was rushed to
Greene Memorial Hospital but died shortly after 6:00 a.m. while being life-flighted
to Miami Valley Hospital. An agent of the BCI Crime Scene Search Unit went to
the Greene Memorial Hospital, where Amanda’s body had been returned, and
performed tape lifts on her hands and pubic area for evidence. The Greene County
Coroner testified that Amanda had sustained two fractures to her jaw as the
result of a blunt force injury and noted that some knitted material wrapped
tightly around her throat caused an abrasion on her neck. He further opined that
Amanda’s forehead wounds were caused by an attempt to drive a railroad spike
into her forehead. The spike driven into Amanda’s right temple acted as a plug
that permitted only minimal bleeding. Fingernail mark patterns on Amanda’s neck
indicated that the perpetrator had sustained an injury to his right ring finger.
Myers suffered such an injury in a motorcycle accident one month prior to the
murder. During the autopsy, three stones were removed from Amanda’s vaginal
canal through her abdominal cavity. The three stones were approximately the same
size and measured roughly 2.75 inches by 1.5 inches. The doctor said he believed
that it was likely that the stones were inserted in Amanda’s vaginal canal after
she was unconscious. Amanda died of severe head trauma, produced by a
penetrating railroad spike through her right temple and attempted strangulation.
Xenia police apprehended Myers later on the afternoon of August 4, but he denied
killing Amanda. Myers claimed that he had last seen Amanda on her hands and
knees looking for car keys in the Round Table parking lot. A search of Myers’s
Ford Mustang pursuant to a warrant resulted in the discovery of wallets
belonging to Amanda and Glenn, stuffed inside a glove under the front passenger
seat. While Myers was being booked at the county jail, he remarked to Deputy
Sheriff Thomas A. Adkins, “Tom, man, cocaine will make you do anything. It will
make you do anything to get it.” Myers was indicted for the murder of Maher. The
case was declared nolle prosequi in February 1991. After the nolle prosequi,
Greene County authorities continued investigating the murder case. On February
12, 1993, Myers was arraigned upon reindictment in the Maher murder on a charge
identical to that declared nolle prosequi in February 1991. Over the next few
years, Myers’s case was continued repeatedly at his request. The trial court
overruled several defense motions to dismiss the case on speedy trial grounds.
Finally, on January 9, 1996, a jury trial began, which lasted nearly a month. At
trial, a fellow inmate of Myers in 1988 testified that Myers said to him out of
the blue, “[t]hey couldn’t get me on a rape.” Myers also asked the inmate
whether he had ever “put three rocks in a girl.” The man responded that he had
not, and Myers stated that he had. The inmate knew nothing of Amanda’s murder,
except that it involved a railroad spike. A few days later, he asked Myers, “Why
a railroad spike?” Myers replied, “Because it was handy.” After that, Myers told
him, “Don’t ever try to drive nothing through nobody’s forehead." The inmate
testified, "He said it won’t go, but he said it went through the temple.” Also
during trial, three expert witnesses testified on behalf of the state regarding
the foreign hair found on Amanda. A BCI forensic scientist said that she was 100
percent certain that the hair was a human pubic hair from a Caucasian. Yezzo
found similarities and differences in her comparison of pubic hair samples
provided by Myers. However, she could neither confirm nor eliminate Myers as the
donor of the pubic hair and suggested that the prosecutor’s office submit the
pubic hair to another lab for further analysis. A forensic scientist analyzed
the foreign pubic hair and found that the microscopic characteristics “were
identical to the microscopic characteristics found in the known hair sample”
from Myers. A second forensic scientist also analyzed the foreign pubic
hair and found it “indistinguishable microscopically” from the pubic hair sample
provided by Myers. The hair was subjected to DNA analysis and the serologist
testified that the hair bore the same genotype as Myers' known sample and that
this genotype is found in only 2% of the Caucasian population of North America.
The final witness to testify for the state was a woman who said that Myers had
offered her a ride home after she had a fight with her boyfriend in a Xenia bar
in February 1986. She testified that Myers raped her in a cemetery before
dropping her off at her dorm in Yellow Springs. Myers later entered an Alford
plea to sexual battery, was found guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail
and five years’ probation. Defense attorneys said
Myers would not have had time to kill Maher and that
it made no sense for Myers to tell police and others
who saw him with Maher before her death that he was
taking her home, only to kill her
shortly afterward. Myers took the stand in his
own defense and denied involvement in the
slaying. He said he was a victim of prosecution witnesses who lied.
Myers was found guilty of aggravated murder in February 1996 in
the slaying of Amanda Jo Maher. The jury recommended
the death penalty following the 6-week trial.
In previous appeals, Myers argued he was denied his right to a speedy
trial, but the appeals court said it was Myers who
made numerous requests for delay of his trial.
Myers also said he was denied a fair trial because there was a delay in
his indictment, that the state used delays to obtain scientific testing
of physical evidence, that the state used a false statement to obtain a
search warrant of Myers' car, and that there was "residual doubt" about
Myers' guilt. The appeals court disagreed and
overruled each of Myers' arguments. There are still appeals
pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
|Date of scheduled execution
March 17, 2003
Marie Garvin, 20
Patricia Antoinette Hirt
Laurie Elizabeth Ward, 25
Steven Oken sexually assaulted and murdered Dawn
Garvin at her home in Baltimore County. At midnight on Sunday, November 1, 1987,
Keith Douglas Garvin arrived at the United States Navy base in Oceana, Virginia.
Mr. Garvin, who had a pass from his naval superiors, had just spent the weekend
with his wife, Dawn Garvin, at their apartment in the Baltimore County community
of White Marsh and was returning to his station in Oceana. Upon his arrival at
the base, Keith attempted to call his wife to notify her that he had arrived
safely. Although the telephone rang at their White Marsh apartment, there was no
answer. After making several additional unsuccessful attempts to call his wife,
Keith became worried and telephoned his father-in-law, Frederick Joseph Romano.
Because Frederick lived in close proximity to the Garvins' apartment, Keith
asked him to check on Dawn. Mr. Romano agreed, and attempted to telephone his
daughter twice. Both times there was no answer. Concerned about the fact that
numerous calls to his daughter had gone unanswered, Frederick decided to drive
to his daughter's apartment. When he arrived, he found the front door to the
apartment ajar, all the lights in the apartment turned on, and the television
blaring. Sensing that something was wrong, he rushed into the apartment and
found his daughter, Dawn, in the bedroom lying on the bed nude with a bottle
protruding from her vagina. While attempting to perform CPR, Dawn's father
observed that there was blood streaming from her forehead. He immediately called
for assistance, and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. A paramedic then
began to administer CPR, but his efforts were in vain. Dawn Marie Garvin was
dead. At 2:30 a.m., on November 2, police arrived at the Garvins' apartment to
inspect the scene of the murder. A detective testified that when he entered the
Garvins' apartment he saw no signs of forced entry. Once inside, he observed a
brassiere, a pair of pants, tennis shoes, a shirt, and a sweater on the floor
near the sofa in the living room. The brassiere was not unhooked, but instead,
was ripped on the side. The pants were turned inside out. The detective also
noticed a small piece of rubber on the floor near the television set. In the
bedroom, he found two spent .25 caliber shell casings on the bed, one of which
was lying on top of a shirt. The shirt was blood-stained and had what Roeder
believed to be a bullet hole in it. An autopsy of Dawn's body revealed that she
had died as the result of two contact gunshot wounds; one of the bullets entered
at her left eyebrow and the other at her right ear. Less than two weeks after
Oken murdered Dawn Garvin, he sexually assaulted and murdered his sister-in-law,
Patricia Hirt, at his Maryland home. He then fled Maryland for Maine, where he
sexually assaulted and murdered Lori E. Ward, the 25-year-old desk clerk at his
Kittery, Maine hotel on November 16, 1987. He was arrested in Maine on
November 17, 1987, and was ultimately convicted in Maine for first degree
murder, robbery with a firearm, and theft arising out of Lori's murder. Oken was
sentenced to life without parole on the murder charge, twenty years on the
robbery charge, and five years on the theft charge, all sentences to run
concurrently. Oken was returned to Maryland where he faced separate prosecutions
for charges arising out of other two homicides. He was indicted in the Circuit
Court for Baltimore County in the Garvin case for first degree murder, sexual
offenses, burglary, daytime housebreaking, robbery with a dangerous or deadly
weapon, theft, and a handgun violation. The State's evidence was very strong.
The murder weapon, a handgun, was found in Oken's home shortly after the murder
and a rubber portion of Oken's tennis shoe was found in Dawn Garvin's living
room on the night of the murder. In addition, several witnesses at trial
identified Oken as the person in the neighborhood who had attempted to gain
entry to residences in the vicinity of the Garvin home a few days prior to the
murder. The Kittery Maine Police Chief Edward Strong said the Ward murder
was very difficult for him because at the time, his daughter was the same age.
"The poor girl was working her way through school and putting herself through
college," Strong said. "Oken just checked into the motel and a couple hours
later murdered her." Strong testified in the two murder trials in Maryland
because he found bloody materials and other evidence in the Coachman Motor Inn
that linked the three murders. "This individual brutally murdered the three
women," Strong said. "I have no doubt that he would have murdered again if we
hadn't caught him." Strong said Oken's punishment is suitable for the crimes he
committed. "I've never in my law enforcement career seen a person who deserves
the death penalty more than this individual," Strong said. "I'm just glad they
have the death penalty in Maryland."
would be the first in line to die under the new governor's
administration is no surprise. Baltimore County prosecutors expected him
to be executed last spring -- until a moratorium was
declared by then-governor Glendening. Given
Governor Ehrlich's campaign promise to lift the ban,
the state's attorney's office in the county began preparing a death warrant
around the time of Ehrlich's Jan. 15 inauguration. "Oken
is on a fast track," said Assistant State's Attorney Ann Brobst, who noted that
Oken's conviction and sentence have "never been reversed for any reason."
of scheduled execution
||Tracie McBride, 19
federal prosecutor with a Southern accent came to Jim and Irene McBride's door
in Centerville with a weighty question few Minnesotans have ever had to answer.
Did they want the death penalty for the man who killed their daughter?
It was 1995. Army Pvt. Tracie McBride, 19, had been kidnapped by a
stranger and bludgeoned to death months earlier as she stood watch at an Air
Force base laundry room in Texas. The McBrides didn't
hesitate in their answer. Yes, they said, Louis Jones
Jr. should die for what he did. If Tracie could no
longer feel joy, could no longer call her family, why should he?
A federal jury in Texas agreed. Jones, a decorated Army veteran, is
scheduled to be executed March 18. In the nearly eight years since her death,
McBride family members haven't wavered in their opinion that the sentence should
be carried out, Tracie's mother and sister said. Their
opinions and those of other relatives and friends -- in the form of more than 70
letters to the U.S. Department of Justice pardon attorney -- could play a role
once again. Jones and his attorney have asked President Bush to spare Jones'
life, claiming that his crime was affected by brain damage he suffered from
toxins he was exposed to when he served in the Gulf War.
The clemency petition, which followed two appeals and other court
proceedings, has dredged up painful memories once again for the McBride family,
they said. If the death sentence is carried out, they
feel they won't be forced to dwell on the horror of the crime each time a legal
proceeding pops up, said
Stacie McBride, the victim's sister. "We're not going
to have these constant reminders in the negative sense."
Irene McBride is counting on Bush to let the
sentence stand. She plans to witness Jones' execution.
"We're not looking for comfort out of this," she said. "We're looking for
justice. His execution will not bring Tracie back, but it will show us that the
justice system in America still works."
Jones drove onto the base in San Angelo, Texas, fixated on finding his
ex-wife, who worked there and had made it clear that their separation was
permanent, his defense attorney said in the petition.
But other evidence showed Jones had just gotten off the phone with his wife and
knew she wasn't on the base, Irene McBride said.
Somehow, shortly after 9 p.m. Feb. 18, 1995, Jones ended up at the laundry room
where Tracie McBride was chatting on the phone with her best friend in
Minnesota. The next morning, military officials phoned
Tracie's parents to say Tracie was missing. Two people
had seen a man abduct her the night before. When one man tried to follow, Jones
assaulted him, that man later testified. Nearly 2
weeks later, Jones confessed to killing Tracie and led police to her body under
a bridge about 27 miles from San Angelo, a city of about 100,000 residents in
western Texas, about 225 miles west of Austin. Jones
said he had beaten her with a tire iron. Prosecutors, in a statement of facts
sent to Washington, said Jones also had admitted sexually assaulting McBride.
The mental images of what happened that night still haunt her family,
they said. "It's always a part of you," Stacie McBride
said. Evidence of brain damage was discovered in
connection with Jones' trial in 1995, according to his defense attorney, Timothy
Floyd. But attorneys didn't know its cause or the role it played in the crime,
he said. Now, Floyd contends, medical research has linked Jones' type of brain
damage to exposure to chemicals in the Gulf War.
University of Texas epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley has found that those
suffering from a certain form of Gulf War Syndrome have symptoms including
hostility, aggression, rigid thinking and obsessiveness, according to the
petition. Floyd argues that Jones had fixated on
talking to his former wife the night of the kidnapping. The syndrome, Floyd
wrote, "can cause people like Mr. Jones to embark on a course of behavior that
is driven -- from which they cannot step back or modulate."
After 22 years of service in the Army, Jones
struggled in civilian life. He dropped out of college because of poor grades,
delivered newspapers and drove a shuttle bus. He became increasingly aggressive
and irritable, leading to the breakup of his marriage, ex-wife Sandy Lane
testified at his trial. Lane testified that Jones
raped her at his apartment 2 days before he kidnapped McBride. She also said he
acted "very crazed" and was "spinning out of control, bouncing from thought to
thought." Prosecutor Tanya Pierce portrayed Jones as a
calculating, cold-blooded killer who meticulously sought to cover his tracks.
The petite McBride, who was 5-foot-2 and weighed about 100 pounds, had
volunteered for laundry-room duty at Goodfellow Air Force Base the evening of
Feb. 18, 1995, when Jones kidnapped her at gunpoint.
He raped her at his apartment, then made her gargle mouthwash and clean her
genital area with towels and peroxide.
Jones washed Tracie McBride's clothes after assaulting her and
made her walk out of his
apartment on towels, believing it would prevent her boots and clothes from
picking up carpet fibers, which might link him to the crime. She also had to sit
on towels as Jones drove her to a bridge about 20 miles outside town. About 2
weeks after the kidnapping, Jones led investigators to the bridge where he had
dumped McBride's body. Her head had been crushed with a tire iron.
Prosecutors presented evidence of Jones' aggressive behavior before the
Gulf War. They cited 4 incidents in which he had beaten up co-workers or fellow
soldiers and offered testimony that he had slapped his wife.
The evidence of Gulf
War Syndrome isn't an excuse for Jones' actions, but an explanation and a
mitigating factor, the clemency petition says. In his
letter to Bush, Jones described his sorrow and explained that he has reformed.
"By succombing [sic] to my temptations," he wrote, "I destroyed the
family of Specialist Fourth Class Tracie Joy McBride, as well as my own."
Floyd argued in the petition that the jury already was struggling with
whether to impose the death sentence and the link to Gulf War Syndrome would
have changed the outcome. "Had the jury known of the
link between the crime and Mr. Jones's brain injury from honorable service to
our country in the Gulf War, the jury very likely would not have imposed the
death penalty," he wrote. Haley's office said the
epidemiologist has never presented his research in a court case, but Gulf War
Syndrome has been cited in other criminal cases. In
one, a man convicted of killing his girlfriend and three children in Florida in
1998 had been diagnosed with Gulf War illness 2 years earlier. A judge in his
case said there was no correlation between the diagnosis and the murders,
according to an Associated Press report. Guy H. Baker,
accused of shooting two St. Paul police officers to death, claimed that Gulf War
Syndrome had put him in severe pain. He pleaded guilty to the murders in 1994.
The possibility of the syndrome has been raised in the case of accused
Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad, who has yet to face trial.
Under federal law, a defendant sentenced to death gets an automatic
appeal that is limited to evidence presented at the trial. The defendant can
also file a petition for post-conviction review to bring up evidence not
presented at the trial, explained Elisabeth Semel, director of the death penalty
clinic at the University of California, Berkeley.
While more than one petition can be filed, "the opportunity to succeed on a
second petition is extremely limited to situations such as actual innocence,"
Semel said. Floyd pointed out that the president can
grant clemency for any reason. Irene McBride said she
doesn't expect to feel comforted if Jones is put to death.
"Nobody's going to win. . . .All this is going to be is justice," she
said. Comfort would only come, if when Jones died, "we got Tracie back," she
said. The family simply wants to grieve in a normal
way "rather than it being brought up over and over and over again," Irene
McBride said. The family wants to focus on the happy
memories of Tracie: Her energetic smile. The way she loved to make classmates
happy by baking chocolate chip cookies so often that she knew the recipe by
heart. Her soprano voice at church, she said. How
would they feel if, as in Minnesota, the death penalty were not an option and
Jones was sentenced to life in prison? "No matter what
somebody is convicted of . . . they always try to appeal for something lower,"
Irene McBride said. "I think it would be worse to think that he could ever get
out." Often, Irene McBride wonders what her daughter's
life would have been like. She imagines Tracie Joy McBride marrying the Marine
she was dating 8 years ago. She sees her teaching music to children,
baby-sitting the 7 nieces and nephews born after her death and helping her
sister prepare for her upcoming wedding. But on Feb. 18, 1995, Louis Jones Jr.
kidnapped the 19-year-old Centerville, Minn., soldier from the Goodfellow Air
Force Base in Texas, raped her and bludgeoned her to death. She had been there
just 9 days. Amid the debate over the fairness of capital punishment and
executing a former soldier with Gulf War syndrome, her family says it boils down
to this: Jones deserves to die because Tracie deserved to live. "Closure is a
big word. We're not expecting comfort from all this," said Irene McBride. "All
we're expecting is justice." Tracie's parents, her siblings and nieces and
nephews will be in Terre Haute for Jones' execution. More than 70 family members
and friends have written letters opposing his clemency petition. In one of the
letters, Dawn Bryant relives the last time she heard from her best friend.
Tracie had called and the 2 were chatting about their boyfriends when the phone
was muffled and Tracie started talking to someone else. The phone was
disconnected, but Bryant had no idea that Jones had just abducted her friend
from the laundry room. "I wish I had called somebody," Bryant said eight years
later. "I was the last person she spoke loving words to. I was the last person
who heard her laugh." Friends and family say Tracie was always cheerful, an
achiever who earned the nickname "Guy Smiley" from her drill instructor. She
graduated from basic training at the top of her company before being transferred
to Goodfellow for military intelligence training. She baked cookies for other
soldiers, although those who were mean to her friend, Tracie Rafn, missed out on
many a treat. "I was T1 and she was T2," said Rafn. "I hear my name, and I want
to stay in touch with her parents, but how do I call them and say, 'It's
Tracie?' There's always going to be that reminder of her." After Tracie's death,
residents tied yellow ribbons in the tiny Twin Cities suburb, and a park was
later dedicated to her. A choir director wrote a song in her memory, because she
was active in the choir, band and theater there. Mike Smith, the family's
pastor, describes himself as forgiving but says forgiveness is not an issue
here. "This was one of the most heinous crimes," said Smith. "It's not so much
vengeance against Louis Jones, but there needs to be justice for the crime --
and justice is the death penalty." In the past few months, friends and family
were forced to relive painful memories as Jones petitioned President Bush for
clemency, claiming that Gulf War syndrome contributed to his crimes. "It's like
packing tape stuck to your thigh and then tearing it off," said Rafn. "There's
literally physical pain when you think about what happened." People went to the
Gulf War and didn't commit murder, said Irene McBride. "We feel bad for his
family, but he made the choice, and now he has to (suffer) the consequences. The
rest of us are paying for the choices he made." Irene McBride said. "I don't want him living in a prison where
he can watch cable TV, lift weights, go to the library, eat, sleep, talk with
his family," Stacie McBride said. "Where was the mercy when Tracie pleaded? . .
. She did nothing. . . . he refused to have any lenience on her."
UPDATE: Jones, a decorated Army veteran
who blames childhood abuse and exposure to nerve gas during the Gulf War for his
killing of a female soldier has asked President Bush to spare his life.
Jones has exhausted his appeals. McBride's
mother, Irene McBride, said the petition is a ploy by Jones to escape the
consequences for killing her daughter. "I agree with
the judge, the jury, the Supreme Court and the appellate court," she said. "They
didn't feel (the brain damage) was enough. A lot of
people have come back from the Gulf War and not murdered people.
I feel they are still just looking for an excuse
for murder. Brain injury, Gulf War syndrome -- that's
not an excuse to murder somebody."
Members of the McBride family in Centerville, Minn., their friends and
others who knew Tracie McBride have written letters to the Justice
Department, pleading that Jones' execution take place as scheduled.
UPDATE: "Today was a day of justice for Tracie," Irene McBride, the victim's
mother, said after she witnessed the execution. "Today Louis Jones finally was
made accountable for his actions, and today he will meet his ultimate judge.
Everybody is glad this is over. It's been a long 8 years," she said. "The
healing is not over; it's just beginning."
of scheduled execution
Walanzo Robinson is scheduled for execution March 18 for the murder of
Dennis Hill in an apparent argument over drug turf in northeast Oklahoma City.
Robinson came to Oklahoma City from Los Angeles. Police officers in Los Angeles
testified at his trial that he was a member of the Van-Ness Gangster Bloods, a
violent street gang active in the crack cocaine trade.
Robinson had been staying with friends in Oklahoma City. On May 19, 1989, he and
Hill argued, with Robinson accusing Hill of stealing drug customers, court
transcripts say. Prosecutors said that
Hill was shot in the back by Robinson. Then, Robinson
followed the wounded Hill and fired two more bullets
into him as he lay on the ground. Several witnesses
testified seeing Robinson shoot Hill twice as Hill walked away. They testified
that Robinson walked up to Hill, who was still alive, and shot him two more
times. Robinson then fled the state. Los Angeles police arrested Robinson four
months after the slaying. The arresting officer characterized Robinson as a
dangerous man. "I have been in contact with hundreds
of gang members in my career," former Los Angeles police officer Daniel Mathieu
stated in a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. "Some are considered
'hardcore' while I have heard the term 'wanna-bes' or less hard core with
others. Robinson was a hardcore member of the Van-Ness
Gangsters. This gang was very active in murders, drive-by shootings and drug
sales. They were known for their violence." Mathieu
said he had been threatened by gang members after Robinson's arrest.
The murder occurred in May 1989. Robinson was arrested in California on
September 7, 1989. Four witnesses, all with prior criminal records, identified
Robinson as the man who shot Hill. Although they did not identify him by his
real name, but rather "Bandit," a street nickname they knew him by. Robinson
also admitted to police that during his violent life, he had been the victim of
five drive-by shootings and was a gang member.
Robinson may have been in Oklahoma at the time to set up a drug dealing
operation. Robinson's attorneys claim that prosecutors convicted him with little
hard evidence. They also claim that the jury was tainted by racist leanings of
some jurors. His attorneys said that one juror, a
black woman, had been pressured to vote for a death sentence when she initially
wanted to sentence Robinson to life in prison. The
attorney general's offices disputes these claims. One of the jurors, Joel
Johnson, also said there were no racist leanings by the jury.
The Pardon and Parole Board voted against clemency for Robinson. He has
denied involvement in Hill's death. UPDATE: Walanzo Deon
Robinson was executed Tuesday for the 1989 killing of a rival Oklahoma City drug
dealer who was shot three times in the street. Robinson, 31, died at 6:10 p.m.
after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He
had been convicted of 1st-degree murder for killing Dennis Hill May 19, 1989.
"It's been a long 13 years of waiting, pain and stress for me," Anthony Lee,
Hill's brother, said in a statement. "And now the time has come when my mind can
be free, but Dennis can still be in my heart." The execution was carried out
after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Robinson's last-ditch appeal Tuesday without
comment. His previous appeals had also all been denied. Robinson had alleged in
Monday's appeal that racial bias led the jury to give him the death sentence and
that the evidence used to convict him was circumstantial and filled with
discrepancy. "Walanzo Robinson was properly convicted and sentenced," Attorney
General Drew Edmondson said in a statement. "His appeals have been exhausted and
the Pardon and Parole Board has rightfully denied clemency. It is time the
execution is carried out." Robinson, who was 18 at the time, and Hill were
arguing over who could sell cocaine on a northeast Oklahoma City street corner
when Robinson pulled out a handgun, witnesses said. Robinson shot Hill, 26, in
the back as he tried to run away, then shot him twice more as he lay in the
street asking someone to call an ambulance, according to witnesses. "It is
absolutely cold-blooded," said Gary Ackley, who prosecuted Robinson for the
Oklahoma County District Attorney's office. "He swept away the life of Mr. Hill
the way you would swipe away a fly that's bothering you. People with that little
regard for human life don't deserve to live." Robinson's appeal said a lone
black juror switched her vote in favor of death only after some white jurors
intimidated her and referred to her with racial slurs, like "Little Miss Slave
Trader." Robinson's attorneys used the same argument in unsuccesfully asking for
clemency. The juror, Marcia Davidson, did not testify during the clemency
hearing, leaving Robinson to rely on 2nd-hand accounts of her allegations.
Edmondson responded to Robinson's court appeal Tuesday, citing other jurors'
testimony that they heard no such abuse during the deliberations, a spokeswoman
said. Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board members denied clemency March 12, with
three voting against it, one abstaining and the other recusing herself. It was
the newly appointed board's 1st clemency case. Helen Lee-Hawkins, Hill's sister,
recalled Hill as a fishing enthusiast, who enjoyed reading the newspaper and
detailing cars. Hill was also close to her son, she said. "Walanzo showed no
emotions, no sympathy or a care in the world for his behavior," Lee-Hawkins
wrote in a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
of scheduled execution
Robert Rios, 32
Maria Elda Isabell Rios, 10
Victor Roberto Rios, 11
Houston jury deliberated 8 hours before deciding on the death
sentence for Keith Bernard Clay, 28, in the
murder of Melathethil Tom Varughese,
who came to the United States from India a year earlier, in a $2,000
Clay robbed the store in Baytown on Jan. 4, 1994, shot at Varughese 10
times, hitting him 6, then beat him with a pistol, said prosecutor Marie
Munier. Sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 1994, Clay and 2
friends entered the store so one of them could buy cigarettes. After his friends
left the store, Clay attacked Varughese and shot him several times.
An autopsy on the Indian immigrant, who had been the United States less
than a year, determined he had been shot six times with two different guns and
suffered a fractured skull from blunt force trauma. One of the guns used to
shoot Varughese was a pistol kept in the story for security; the other, a
9-millimeter pistol, was later found in Clay's possession. When Varughese's body
was found, his hands were bound by a string of Christmas lights. Nearly $2,000
had been taken from the store's cash register. Clay
was not arrested for nearly a year, but when he was taken into custody, he was
suspected of playing a role in three other murders.
While Clay did not stand trial for the other murders,
he was indicted for Varughese's murder in March 1996. He was found guilty of
capital murder in April 1997, and sentenced to death later that month.
In the sentencing phase, the jury also heard about the
crime Clay allegedly was involved in just a week before
the robbery -- the Christmas Eve 1993 murders
of a Baytown man and his 2 young children. Clay's co-defendant
in that case, Shannon Thomas, is already on
death row for those murders. At about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 24,
1993, Jose Rios walked into his brother's Baytown home when no one answered his
knock on the door. He and his mother, wife and children were visiting the
brother's family, bearing Christmas gifts. "I opened the door and saw the
Christmas tree with gifts," Rios said. "I opened the door a little more and saw
my brother lying on the floor with blood on him." Rios found his brother,
Robert Rios, shot to
death on the floor, with a knife in his throat. He called 911, and his wife
screamed from upstairs that the children, Maria Elda Isabell Rios, 10,
and Victor Roberto Rios, 11, also were dead. Hours before,
Thomas, 24, and Clay, 27, burst into the Rios home and bound Roberto Rios with
duct tape before stabbing him and shooting him twice in the head. Then the two
men went upstairs to the children's bedroom, made them lie face-down on the
floor and shot each of them once in the back of the head. Police speculated at
the time that that the killings were drug-related. Rios was a drug dealer who
mostly sold marijuana. Thomas and Clay apparently had bought drugs from Rios and
assumed he would have money in the house. The children probably were killed
because they were potential witnesses, according to police. The children's
mother was divorced from Rios and lived in Mexico at the time of the killing.
The triple murder was unsolved for two years before authorities received a tip
after the pair had bragged to friends about the murders. When Thomas and Clay
gave statements to police, each admitted having been at the scene but each
denied that he was the shooter. Prosecutor Munier said that Thomas did
the shooting, but that Clay may
have held the children down. In the convenience
store robbery and murder, there was witness. Clay went
in the store about 8:30 pm. looking more to kill than to rob, Munier
said, adding that "it was a vicious, brutal
murder, I think not so much
for the money, but to prove that he was a killer to his friend."
The jury agreed with the prosecution that Clay
constituted a future threat to society, and, rejecting
the defense's call for a life sentence,
returned with a verdict of death. Regarding
any appellate issues, Roe Wilson, who handles capital murder appeals in
the Harris County District Attorney's office, said
"It's certainly not a good case to try to grasp on to any mental retardation,
the evidence against him was real strong, there's no DNA, and the eyewitness
identification is from a guy that knows him and was with him."
Clay said he was outside the Baytown store where Varughese worked and in a car
when the clerk was gunned down Jan. 4, 1994. "I was
just an innocent bystander," he said. "I didn't have any knowledge the store was
going to be robbed." UPDATE: "I've been praying
for the victim's family, for my family," Clay said from death row. "With regard
to me being down here, if there's one thing I could put my finger on, it would
be decisions were made that bring about consequences, whether good or bad. What
you do or say not only affects your life but others as well." Marie Munier, the
Harris County district attorney who prosecuted Clay said, "I'm not happy to see
someone put to death, but I know that the trial was a fair trial, he was
represented by good counsel and it was a horrible crime. I think it's justice.
It's not that it makes me happy at all, but it's just the price he will pay for
his actions." Before the execution, Clay looked at 3 members of his victim's
family, who were watching through a nearby window, and asked them for
forgiveness. "I know you have suffered a great loss and I am truly, truly sorry.
...There is not a day that I have not prayed for you," he said. Clay then turned
to his mother, watching through an adjacent window. He told her he loved her and
said "The Lord is my shepherd. Let everyone know that I love them. This is not
goodbye. I will see you later." His mother, Cynthia Smith, smiled and flashed 2
thumbs up to him.
of scheduled execution
Carolyn Rihm, 57
February 14, 1998, 67-year-old James R. Taylor shot and killed a married couple,
shot at his own wife, and shot a man who was attempting to disarm him during a
Valentine's Day dance at the Fairborn Order of Eagles. Taylor went to the club
to confront his wife, who had left him a month earlier after 46 years of
marriage. A former cellmate of Taylor's testified at trial that Taylor
said he meant to kill the couple at a Valentine's Day dance and later tried to
arrange to have his estranged wife killed. Michael Sexton said Taylor told him
that Ron and Carolyn Rihm were responsible for the breakup of his marriage.
Taylor was on trial for trying to shoot his estranged wife, Patricia Taylor,
during the dance at an Eagles lodge in Fairborn, then fatally shooting the Rihms.
The couple had taken in Mrs. Taylor when she left Taylor in January 1998.
Taylor opened fire on the
table where his estranged wife was seated with three other individuals. Ron and
Carolyn Rihm, apparent longtime friends of the Taylors, died after Taylor shot
them in the head. Another man was wounded in the arm after Taylor shot at him.
The wounded man and several other dance attendees were able to subdue Taylor.
Taylor's wife was unhurt.
After his arrest, Taylor asked for Sexton's help in
trying to get someone to kill Mrs. Taylor, Sexton testified. "And then he wanted
the ring finger removed, shot off, cut off," said Sexton. Taylor pled innocent
by reason of insanity to two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted
aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder in the wounding of a third
person. Taylor said he went to the lodge to commit suicide in front of his wife.
He said Ron Rihm bumped his arm and the gun misfired.
Taylor insisted on representing himself at trial and would
not allow his court appointed attorneys to assist him. He asserted he went to
the dance so he could kill himself in front of his wife. He requested and
received professional representation during the sentencing phase of his trial.
There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected
to take place on this date.
of scheduled execution
|An Oklahoma jury
convicted John Michael Hooker for the first degree murders of his common-law
wife, Sylvia Stokes, and her mother, Drucilla Morgan. Hooker
and Sylvia lived together for eight years and had three children. Their
relationship was turbulent; they frequently separated and reconciled. It was
also a violent relationship. Prior to the murders, Hooker threatened and
attacked Sylvia, once inflicting severe head lacerations. Five months before her
murder, Sylvia obtained a Victim Protective Order against Hooker. At that time,
she expressed fear he would harm her and stated she did not want to be "like the
The couple reconciled and planned to marry in February
1988. They broke up again.
Hooker did not trust Sylvia. He was angry every time they broke up
and was jealous when other men paid attention to her. When he was drinking, he
talked about killing her. He also resented her mother Drucilla and indicated he
would "get" both of them. In early 1988, Hooker, Sylvia and their three children
lived at the Providence Apartments in Oklahoma City. In late March, Sylvia and
the children moved out of the apartment they shared with Hooker because Sylvia
was afraid Hooker might harm her and the children. They moved in with Drucilla
Morgan, who lived in the same apartment complex. On March 27, 1988, Hooker
repeatedly visited the Morgan apartment, attempting to persuade Sylvia to return
to his apartment. She refused, and Hooker returned to his apartment alone. Later
that afternoon, neighbors saw Drucilla and Sylvia entering Hooker's apartment.
Two women in the apartment below Hooker's apartment heard bumping and thumping
noises, like someone rapidly moving furniture and throwing things. Although they
heard no voices, they prayed about the noises because they thought Hooker and
Sylvia were fighting again. Other witnesses saw Hooker with blood on his
clothing, apparently after he left the apartment. The next day, Cynthia Stokes
went to Hooker's apartment to check on her mother and sister. She had difficulty
opening the door but was able to push it open slightly,
looked in and saw her mother on the floor surrounded by a
pool of blood.
The police were called and found Drucilla and Sylvia in the apartment.
Sylvia Stokes was stabbed 8 times and Morgan 12, causing
internal bleeding that killed them. Both women died of multiple
stab wounds. The police investigation revealed the killer left the apartment
through a bedroom window. The police found a knife, with the victims' blood on
it, on the floor below the window. A partial bloody footprint in the apartment
matched one of Hooker's tennis shoes. The police arrested Hooker approximately
one week after the murders. Police found blood matching the victims' blood type
(B) on Hooker's blue jeans and determined that Hooker has type O blood.
In 2001, officials re-examined DNA evidence in Hooker's
case because it originally had been handled by Oklahoma City police chemist
Joyce Gilchrist. Investigators retested DNA evidence submitted in all of
Gilchrist's cases after officials accused her of performing shoddy work.
Results of the retesting showed that blood from Stokes and Morgan was
found on Hooker's pants, officials said.
Hooker had killed in the past. When he was 17 years-old, Hooker pleaded guilty
to manslaughter and assault and battery with a deadly weapon with intent to
kill. Court documents stated that in 1971, Hooker attended a party, became
involved in an argument with the female hostess and pulled a gun twice. One
bullet wounded the woman and the other hit Hooker's friend, killing him.
Sylvia Stokes and Drusilla Morgan have been gone since 1988, but for Cynthia
Stokes they live on in the faces of her sister's children. Cynthia Stokes was 28
years old when she went from being a mother of three to a mother of seven. She
had to take care of Sylvia Stokes' three young children and her 11-year-old
sister, Crystal. "I miss them and stuff, but they're still here," Cynthia Stokes
said Monday. "Every day is a blessing. They have really been my strength," she
said of the children, now ages 20, 16 and 10. Cynthia Stokes said the children
have had no contact with their father, John Michael Hooker, who faces execution
Tuesday evening for the deaths of their mother and grandmother. "I never raised
them to be against him. I always left that door open," Cynthia Stokes said. "He
never reached out to them either, to make amends or tell his side of the story
or anything like that." UPDATE:
In McAlester, a man
convicted of stabbing his girlfriend and her mother to death in 1988 was put to
death Tuesday. John Michael Hooker, 49, was pronounced
dead at 6:07 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon denied without comment a habeas
corpus appeal and a request for an emergency stay filed by Hooker's attorney.
Hooker was executed almost 15 years after stabbing Sylvia Stokes, 28, and
Drusilla Morgan, 53, so many times on March 27, 1988, they bled internally until
they died. The victims' family members did not speak
to reporters after the execution, but Leonard Stokes, the son and brother of the
two victims, released a statement. "I am feeling a
sense of relief and like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders
personally," he said. "I can finally move on with my life and so can my family.
Now I can focus on what is important to me and that is my family.
We will always love and remember them. They may be gone physically, but
they will never be far from our hearts or our minds."
of scheduled execution
||Ricky Callahan, 34
Larry Eugene Moon was executed Tuesday for the 1984 murder and robbery of a man
who was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. Moon, 57, was
pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta.
It was the state's 9th execution by injection. Moon's attorneys wrote
last-minute appeals as the execution approached, arguing Moon was innocent of
the crime. The Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request
Tuesday. Later in the day, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a motion for a
stay of execution, although Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher dissented. The U.S.
Supreme Court denied a stay less than an hour before the execution was scheduled
to take place. Moon was convicted of killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan by
shooting him twice in the head at close range in Catoosa County in 1984. Moon
always maintained he was innocent of the crime, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee
Davis, for framing him. In his final statement, Moon said, "I'm innocent, and I
did not kill Ricky, I'll add." The execution was witnessed by 2 of Moon's
previous lawyers along with about 30 other witnesses. When Moon was arrested,
police found the murder weapon and some music tapes. No witnesses saw the crime.
Moon has always maintained his innocence. Defense attorney Brian Mendelsohn said
two men signed affidavits pinning the murder on Davis. Davis died in 1988 in a
motorcycle accident, 2 years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder
trial. "Davis was a crazy man. If you looked at him the wrong way, he beat you
to a pulp," Mendelsohn said. "I believe what happened is that Davis and Callahan
had some words and Davis did what Davis was known to do, which was kill him."
Mendelsohn said Davis then framed Moon by giving him Callahan's car and its
of scheduled execution
January 21, 1983, Ernest Martin shot to death,
Robert Robinson, owner of Robinson's Drug Store in Cleveland,
and stealing less than $40. Robert had let Martin's
girlfriend in the store to buy some cold medicine, and Martin shot him through
the glass door. Martin used a gun he had stolen from a security guard. Josephine
Pedro testified that in the early hours of January 21, 1983,
Martin revealed a plan to rob Robinson's Drug Store.
She attempted to dissuade him but said Martin
threatened her if she did not cooperate in the robbery.
Martin then left the apartment and returned approximately ten minutes
later with the gun he had stolen from
a security guard. Martin
told his girlfriend
she was to go to the store and attempt to buy medicine
for a cold. When Robert Robinson, owner of the store, unlocked the door to allow
her entrance, Martin planned
to follow her in and rob the premises. Martin wore
gray pants, tennis shoes and a waist-length black
leather jacket. He covered his face with a brown knit cap in which he cut holes
for his eyes to avoid identification. At approximately 12:45 a.m., Pedro arrived
at the store and knocked on the door. Upon recognizing her,
Robert Robinson unlocked the door to let her in.
However, he locked the door again before Martin had a
chance to gain entrance. As Robert stood in front of
the door after locking it, two shots were fired through the door,
fatally wounding him. After firing the shots Martin
allegedly went to the apartment to change his clothes and then returned to the
store to finish the robbery. An employee
at the drugstore was in the back room at the time of
the shooting. After hearing the shots and seeing what had occurred,
he called an ambulance and the police. He then
instructed Pedro to go to Robinson's house to get his wife.
Pedro complied and upon returning was interviewed by the police concerning the
events. She gave them her name and address and stated she knew nothing about the
shooting. Martin was also present at this time and
talked to the police. Upon completing her interview, Pedro returned to her
apartment. Martin returned approximately thirty-five
minutes later. Pedro asked Martin whether the
evening's events had been worth it. He showed her a pile of bills under a
blanket which he then took into the bathroom and explained that he had stolen
between $38 and $39 from the store. Several days after
the shooting the police again questioned Pedro and Martin.
By this time the two had put together a story for the police that Pedro had gone
to the store to get cough medicine when the deceased was shot and that
Martin only came to the store after she had been gone
for an unusually long time. On January 29, 1983, the police returned and
arrested Pedro and Martin for the murder of Robinson.
After several days in jail, Pedro told the police that she had helped set up the
robbery by going to the store and that Martin had shot
Robert Robinson. Soon afterwards,
Martin's father contacted Pedro asking her to change her statement. While
visiting Martin in jail, Martin's
father again asked Pedro to change her story. During the trial, the state
introduced a letter dated February 13, 1983, wherein Martin
asked Pedro to "tell the truth" and implicate a man named "Slim" for the
murder-robbery of Robinson. An additional letter dated February 17, 1983, in
which Martin again asked her to implicate "Slim," was
also introduced into evidence. Pedro has continually denied that "Slim" had
anything to do with these crimes. The state also offered another letter into
evidence which had been written by Martin to Pedro
when he was in jail in February 1981 for another offense. Pedro identified the
letter and read it into the record. The letter asked Pedro to lie for
Martin and to implicate someone else for the
commission of the offense for which Martin was
charged. Pedro admitted lying for Martin pursuant to
the letter in the previous trial for the other offense. Finally,
another woman testified that she lived with Pedro for
about five or six months until the middle of December 1982. During December she
heard Martin say he was going to rob Robinson's store.
Martin threatened her with a gun, warning her that she
had better not tell anyone of his plan. UPDATE: The Ohio
Supreme Court stayed until at least June 18 the execution of Ernest Martin to
determine whether he is mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death
penalty under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Martin had been scheduled to
die March 26 for the 1983 murder of a Cleveland drug store owner.
of scheduled execution
|James Blake Colburn of
Montgomery County was convicted of the June 26, 1994 stabbing of Peggy Murphy,
55, after she rebuffed his sexual advances. In his confession, Colburn admitted
that he woke up on the morning of June 26, cooked a steak for breakfast, and
decided to go outside. As he crossed the street in front of his apartment, he
noticed Peggy Murphy hitchhiking. Colburn introduced himself and invited Murphy
into his home. Once inside, Murphy asked for a beer. Colburn went next door and
returned with a beer. He then offered to show Murphy some of his artwork, but
when she entered his bedroom, Colburn grabbed her and attempted to rape her.
When Murphy resisted, Colburn strangled her until she stopped breathing. Colburn
then stabbed her in the neck with a steak knife to make sure she was dead. After
the murder, Colburn went to a neighbor's apartment and asked them to call the
police. Colburn told the police in a videotaped confession that he killed Peggy
because he wanted to go back to prison. Colburn was previously convicted of
burglary of a building on Oct. 19, 1977; attempted burglary of a building on
Feb. 23, 1978; unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on July 16, 1979; aggravated
robbery on May 22, 1980; arson on Jan. 25, 1990; and false statement in
acquisition of a firearm on Jan. 2, 1991. Colburn also assaulted his wife with a
motorcycle helmet on Jan. 11, 1990, fracturing her cheekbone and causing nerve
damage. Colburn also kicked her on another occasion. Colburn had served 6 years
of an 18 year sentence for the aggravated robbery charge. He was sent back to
prison for parole violations as well as a new 5 year sentence for arson but was
released less than a year later. Peggy was murdered about four years after
Colburn was released. "I knew what I was doing when I killed her. When I laid
her on the bed, something snapped,'' Colburn said. When he realized she was
dead, he turned himself in, he said. "I'm not scared,'' Colburn said. ``I'll be
free as I know it. I think this is, in a way, a step in the right direction for
me. If I got out, I'm scared somebody else would be hurt or killed.''
Colburn had previously been scheduled for execution in
November of 2002 but received a stay. UPDATE: James Colburn, a mentally
ill man who was executed Thursday, said he made a mistake in 1994 when he
fatally stabbed a woman with a kitchen knife. "None of this should've happened
and now that I'm dying there is nothing left to worry about," Colburn said as he
was strapped to a gurney and covered up to his chest with a white sheet. "I know
it was a mistake. I have no one to blame but myself. Everyone has problems and I
won't be a part of the problem anymore." As the lethal drug cocktail coursed
through his veins, Colburn said: "I can start to feel it now -- it's going to be
like passing out on drugs." Colburn, 43, breathed heavily and then was still. He
was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. He was convicted and sentenced to die for the
murder of Peggy Murphy, a Montgomery County woman. Murphy's family members stood
stoically during the execution as Colburn's sister, Tina Morris, wailed in the
adjacent room. Murphy's son, her niece and two nephews were among those who
witnessed the execution. Her family didn't comment after the execution. "The
state has killed a very mentally ill man," Morris said to reporters outside the
Huntsville Unit. "I feel sorry for the victim's family but I also feel sorry for
my family right now, too." Colburn's brother, Bobby Gene Fitzsimmons II,
said that his brother was blameless because he could not make decisions for
himself. Colburn, a former carpenter and bricklayer, was diagnosed with
paranoid schizophrenia when he was 14. Colburn's lawyers had argued that
Colburn's schizophrenia made him incompetent for execution because he is unable
to understand the reason for his punishment. "He does not have an appreciation
of what is pending -- he understands it in a very superficial way," one of
Colburn's lawyers said just before he delivered the news to Colburn's family
that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's denied the appeal. During the
appeals process, prosecutors argued that Colburn's mental illness is not severe
enough to render him legally insane and should not exempt him from full
enforcement of the law. Court-appointed psychologists interviewed Colburn in
October and concluded that despite his mental illness he understood that his
execution was imminent and the reason for his punishment. A more extensive
evaluation done last month by a neuro-psychologist hired by Colburn's lawyers
determined that he did not fully comprehend that he had been found responsible
for Murphy's death. Colburn murdered Murphy on June 26, 1994, in his apartment
near Conroe. Murphy, 55, was hitchhiking on a street outside Colburn's apartment
when she asked for a drink of water. He invited her inside his apartment and
attempted to rape her. When she resisted, he choked her until she passed out,
then he stabbed her in the neck with a knife. He then asked a neighbor to call
police. He reportedly smoked a cigarette as he waited for their arrival. Colburn
confessed later that day, telling officers he heard a voice telling him that
killing Murphy would send him back to prison, where he felt safe. He had been in
mental institutions at least twice and in and out of prisons for burglary,
robbery, assault and arson. He was on parole at the time of the slaying. Colburn
is not the first prisoner diagnosed with a mental illness to be put to death. At
least four Texas inmates last year were executed after raising the same claim.
of scheduled execution
David Jay Brown's stormy
relationship with his ex-wife and her family was punctuated by intimidation,
threats and violence - violence that culminated in the death of his former
father-in-law. Brown is scheduled to be executed by a lethal dose
of drugs for the Feb. 19, 1988, murder of Eldon Lee McGuire, who was repeatedly
shot inside his home in Norge in Grady County. Brown
was married to McGuire's daughter, Lee Ann, for about 6 months in 1983. Their
breakup was followed by years of family conflict in which Brown often made
threats against the McGuire family, prosecutors said.
In the afternoon of February 20, 1988, Eldon was
discovered dead by his daughter Lee Ann McGuire and his mother Lillie McGuire.
The two had gone to check on him when he could not be reached by telephone. The
prior evening, he had telephoned his wife Laverne McGuire, who was in the
hospital, to tell her that he would visit her the next morning, but he had
failed to do so. At the time he was found, there was unwrapped meat and cheese
on the kitchen table, suggesting he was preparing to eat before he was murdered.
Brown and Lee Ann had had a stormy six-month marriage and eight-year
relationship. Eldon McGuire had never approved of
Brown. And Brown did not like and was afraid of Mr.
McGuire. The two had once
had a physical confrontation. Lee Ann testified that Brown had thrown her puppy
against a wall and then shot and killed it after he learned it had gone to the
bathroom on the floor. Sometime after the marriage had ended, Brown went to the
beauty shop where Lee Ann worked, taking a rifle with him. He argued with her,
told the people in the shop not to touch the telephone or he would blow them
away, and shot at a vacant chair. Most people in the shop retreated to the back
room. Brown was arrested and charged with sixteen criminal counts, including
twelve counts of kidnapping. He thought the charges were manufactured by
McGuire, who was a retired fire department captain and who Brown believed
had influence with law enforcement. When the charges were not dismissed and
Brown believed he could receive a sentence greater
than 150 years, he fled from the area. A little over a year later, he returned.
He called Lee Ann. When she refused to have the charges dismissed, he became
angry. She testified that he told her if they did not do something about the
charges, they would all be sorry. Also, he accurately
described to her specific actions of both her and her
parents on a particular night, indicating he had been watching them. He left an
obscene message in the woodpile at her house. Approximately one month prior to
the murder, Brown called the McGuire house. Laverne testified she picked up the
telephone and heard Brown tell Eldon "you all's time"
is up and they would pay for what they had done to him. At approximately the
same time, Brown told a friend he blamed Eldon McGuire
for his problems. When the friend asked what he could do to help, Brown told him
to beat up Eldon McGuire. Another ex-wife of Brown
testified that Brown said he would like to beat up
Eldon. A friend who had met Brown
after he fled to avoid the charges testified
Brown said he would like to get drunk and get even with McGuire because he had
cost him everything and he did not care if the whole bunch was dead.
The friend also testified Brown told him after the
murder that he had gotten even with Eldon and had left
him on the floor. At trial,
Brown testified he went to the McGuire house to convince his
ex-father-in-law to drop the charges. According
to Brown's claim,
Eldon invited him in; hit him from behind, knocking
him down; kicked toward him striking a bedroom door and told him he would kill
him. Brown said that as he ran to leave the house,
Eldon McGuire fired a shot. Brown
claims he then pulled a semiautomatic gun from his back pocket and fired
eighteen shots in self-defense. Eldon sustained
eight wounds including two bullet wounds to his head.
One came from a gun fired at close range, and the other was a hard contact
wound. He also suffered other gunshot wounds, including a wound to his left
hand, rendering him incapable of using it. At the clemency
hearing, Brown's defense team maintained that the 1988 shooting was
self-defense, saying that the close-range wound could have been the result of
McGuire falling into the line of fire after getting hit. They say the
prosecution did not turn over an OSBI report, which dealt with where shell
casings were found. The report, they say, would have bolstered Brown's
statements about the shooting. Prosecutors say that the close-range wounds
bolster their case that Brown went to the McGuire home, laid in wait for Eldon
McGuire and shot him execution-style. "That defeats any claim of self
defense," Assistant Attorney General Sandy Howard said.
Howard said prosecutors withheld nothing from Brown's defense and offered to
provide the district attorney's entire case file to assure that nothing was
missed. "This is a person who definitely deserves the ultimate
punishment," said Grady County assistant district attorney Bret Burns, whose
office prosecuted the case. "He planned and executed a cold-blooded murder,"
Burns said. "He's not somebody that we want living amongst us."
Brown refused to be present at the sentencing portion of his
trial, even though both the trial judge and his attorneys stressed the possible
disadvantages of not being present. He persisted in waiving his right to be
present and threatened to disrupt the trial if he was required to stay. Brown
had a previous execution date scheduled in June 2002 which was stayed by the
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. At that time, one of the jurors who
helped put Brown on death row commented on a clemency recommendation from the
state Pardon and Parole Board. Lorne Willeford of Chickasha asked then-Gov.
Frank Keating to reject the recommendation and let the June 25 execution occur.
The board recommended clemency by a vote of 3-2. Willeford was among 12 jurors
who found Brown guilty of the 1988 slaying of retired Chickasha Fire Department
Capt. Eldon McGuire. Willeford also voted to sentence Brown to death. Willeford
said that for months after the verdict, he agonized over the case, reviewing in
his mind the evidence, facial expressions of the participants, testimony and
what the families involved were going through. "I finally came to the conclusion
I made the absolutely right decision," he said. Grady County District Attorney
Gene Christian expressed outrage at the board's decision. "It is beyond my
comprehension how anyone would wish to grant clemency on the facts presented in
this case," he said. "I told the board that I would fight their decision and I
will." It was the third time in less than two years that the board has voted for
clemency. Willeford doesn't buy Brown's story that he went to McGuire's home,
armed with a weapon, for the purpose of talking to McGuire. In rejecting
clemency, Keating said in a letter to the parole board, "I appreciate the
thoughtful consideration you have given this difficult decision and I respect
your recommendation. However, I believe this is the appropriate decision in this
case." UPDATE: Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked a federal appellate
court to set aside a stay of execution issued to an Oklahoma death row inmate
scheduled to die next week. The stay granted to David Jay Brown marks the 3rd
time his execution for the 1988 murder of his former father-in-law has been
scheduled and postponed. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection on March
27. The stay was granted on Friday by U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley, who ruled
that a dispute over Brown's legal representation by 2 federal public defenders
in state court had raised constitutional issues. Edmondson's office asked the
10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to set aside the stay, spokesman
Charlie Price said. Brown, 48, was convicted of the Feb. 19, 1988, murder of
Eldon Lee McGuire, who was shot repeatedly at his home in Norge in Grady County.
Brown was married to McGuire's daughter, Lee Ann, for about 6 months in 1983.
Their breakup was followed by years of family conflict in which Brown often made
threats against the McGuire family, prosecutors said. Brown has said he acted in
self-defense in shooting McGuire. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 to
grant clemency to Brown, a recommendation that was rejected by former Gov. Frank
Keating. Brown's latest execution date was set in January by the Oklahoma Court
of Criminal Appeals. The court also canceled an evidentiary hearing it had
ordered in Grady County to explore allegations that prosecutors at Brown's trial
withheld information that supported his defense. The attorney general's office
has said prosecutors withheld nothing from Brown's defense and offered to turn
over their entire case file to assure that nothing was missed. The state
appellate court had ordered Brown's attorneys, federal public defenders Susan
Otto and Kristi Christopher, to represent Brown at the hearing and criticized
them for trying to withdraw from the case. The defense attorneys said in court
papers they were prohibited by federal law from representing Brown in state
court. Alley's ruling says there is circumstantial evidence that the state
appellate court ordered Brown put to death "out of disappointment or
frustration" that its orders concerning his federal public defenders were not
implemented. The judge said it appears that cancellation of Brown's hearing "was
not based on any principle of law or evidence in the case. "A substantial
question is presented whether he was denied some minimal measure of due
process," Alley's order states. Alley stayed Brown's first execution date in
February 2002. Brown's second execution date was set for June 25 and was stayed
by the state appellate court.
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