February 2004 Executions
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Six killers were executed in February 2004.  They had murdered at least 11 people.

Four
killers were given a stay in February 2004.  They have murdered at least 8 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 3, 2004    Ohio Donette Crawford, 21   John Roe executed

On 10/6/84, Roe murdered 21-year-old Donette Crawford in Columbus. Roe kidnapped Donette in her car, shot her in the back of the head and stole her car and money. After his arrest for an unrelated breaking and entering charge, Roe agreed to provide police with information about the murder and correctly disclosed the location of Donette's body. Roe also admitted the murder to an acquaintance who, in turn, told police. On the evening of October 5, 1984, Donette Crawford left her infant daughter with her parents on the west side of Columbus and went with a friend to a tavern in the north end of Columbus. Donette had cashed her paycheck that day and locked most of her money in her car before entering the tavern. The pair left the tavern around 2:15 a.m. on October 6. Donette's friend drove the car to her home while Donette sat on the passenger's side, looking for her cigarettes. Upon leaving her friend at her home on the west side of Columbus, Donette told her she was going to pick up her daughter and go home, which was less than a mile away. On her way, and between 2:40 and 3:00 a.m., Donette stopped at a nearby convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes. An acquaintance of Donette's last saw her as she left the store and continued west. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Donette's mother, who was concerned that Donette had not returned to pick up her daughter, telephoned the friend she had gone out with and Donette's common-law husband, Steve, to find out where Donette might be. When she learned that neither party had seen nor heard from Donette, her mother began looking for her. Later that Saturday morning, when Donette's father went looking for her, he found his daughter's empty car parked in the parking lot of St. Agnes Church on the same street as the store. The car had been ransacked, and the keys were later found in a flower bed at the church. Donette's wallet, purse, and money were never found. The next night, a clothing store on the near east side of Columbus was broken into through a hole in the wall, and a considerable amount of clothing was taken. A security guard was hired to watch the building on Sunday night, October 7, 1984. At 8:05 p.m., the guard observed a car pull into a lot near the store. The driver in the car waited about five minutes and then got out and proceeded to walk to the clothing store. He then entered the store through the hole in the wall. The police were called and the guard attempted to block the hole with his vehicle, but the subject, a slim white male with long hair, slipped out and ran. The guard gave chase and fired three shots at the subject, who nevertheless escaped. The subject's car was impounded and later identified as being registered to Roe. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Roe's mother, Joyce Lucas, took Roe to the home of some friends and asked if he could stay with them overnight. Roe had been shot in the foot, which, he explained, occurred while running from a store he had broken into that night. Roe then characterized the event as minor when compared to his shooting of a woman in the head the previous Friday night. The couple that night dismissed his description of the murder as in keeping with his character as a braggart. A month later, on November 6, 1984, Roe was arrested with Moses Stevens while breaking into a Radio Shack store in Beavercreek, Ohio. Once in custody, Roe was read his rights, which he waived, agreeing to speak with the police. After discussing his breaking and entering charges, Roe offered that he had information regarding a missing woman in Columbus - information that she had been killed and that he knew who was involved and where the body could be found. Roe indicated he wished to exchange this information to deal with his current charges. Beavercreek detectives then asked Roe if he would like to talk about it later, and Roe agreed. The next day, Roe claimed that a person named Jerry had shot the woman in the face and dumped her body behind a cement plant on Alum Creek Drive in Columbus. Roe described Donette's car, stated the woman was possibly shot with a .357 magnum handgun, and gave details including a map of the location of the body. He then indicated his willingness to talk to Columbus police about Donette. Detectives verified the information about the missing woman with Columbus police and then arranged for them to talk with Roe. On November 12, 1984, two Columbus police detectives went to the cement plant to familiarize themselves with the area and then drove to the Greene County Jail to talk with Roe. Roe repeated his earlier description of the body's location, and of Jerry's involvement, and tentatively identified photographs of Donette and her car. On November 15, 1984, the area described by Roe was searched, and the decomposed remains of Donette Crawford were discovered. The remains were identified by the clothing found with them and by use of Donette's dental records. A hole, consistent with a gunshot wound, was located in the lower back right portion of the skull. However, subsequent investigation of the person named Jerry that Roe implicated in Donette's murder, including a polygraph examination, excluded him as a suspect. On November 20, 1984, Detective Judy met with an anonymous caller, who was later identified as the man at whose home Roe had spent the night, who conveyed his information concerning Roe's statement about a murder he had committed in October. Further investigation turned up Roe's weapon, a Ruger Security Six .357 magnum revolver. This weapon was traced back to a burglary of a gun shop in Kirkersville, Ohio, on September 8, 1982. Roe had committed two break-ins of the same gun shop in March 1981, had served jail time thereon, and was suspected of having committed the September 8 break-in as well. Other weapons stolen from the gun shop were later recovered from Roe's parents' home. Ballistics evidence indicated that a .38 caliber bullet fragment recovered from Donette's skull had been fired from Roe's revolver. UPDATE: Death row inmate John Glenn Roe, who maintains his innocence in the shooting death of 20-yearold Donette Crawford, is scheduled to die on Feb. 3. The disturbing execution of his friend Lewis Williams Jr. left Columbus killer John Glenn Roe wondering: How will I die? "I'm feeling nervous, scared, anxious," Roe said during an interview on death row at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. "I definitely ain't ready for it. I don't think Lew Williams was ready for it. I don't think you ever can get ready for something like that." But the younger sister of Donette Crawford, the Columbus woman Roe abducted and murdered on Oct. 6, 1984, said she's glad Roe is afraid. "I think he should be nervous and he should be scared," Michelle Crawford of Columbus said. "My sister was scared to death and he didn't care." Crawford plans to witness Roe's execution, scheduled for Feb. 3 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. "He laughed about it. It was all a joke. Now he's not laughing too much, is he?" Crawford said. "I totally believe once he's gone, I can put her to rest and I can go on." Roe and Williams were teamed in a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Public Defender challenging one of the lethal drugs used as cruel and unusual punishment. The argument was rejected by the 6 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Roe said he fears what the muscle-paralyzing drug Pavulon will do to him. "Lewis read that it was like you were in a tomb or a coma and suffocated," he said. "Suffocation has always been my biggest fear." Roe denied killing Crawford, saying he was breaking into a video-game store on the East Side at the time the 20-year-old woman was abducted from a West Side convenience store and killed. "I'm a real person. I'm innocent. I don't want to die like this," Roe said. Roe contended he and "an associate" found Crawford's body buried in a shallow grave off Alum Creek Drive while they searched for bricks behind a cement plant. He said he does not know who killed Crawford. Roe had been out of prison for just 25 days when Crawford was killed by a single shot from a .357 Ruger revolver. Ballistics tests tied Roe's gun to the bullet that killed Crawford. That, combined with him locating the body, convicted him. But he doesn't believe his death will bring closure to the Crawford family. "My death won't bring nobody back. A lot of people worrying about dying. I don't know what movie it was, but they said everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. I think I can accept death, I just don't want to accept death like this." Toni Jester of Columbus, Donette Crawford's friend who had been with her earlier on the night she died, said she has suffered 20 years of guilt because she was not with her in her final hours. Crawford dropped off Jester at her home on the West Side, then stopped at a convenience store for cigarettes. Her family never saw her alive again. "It's going to be justice for her," Jester said. "It's not about mercy for him."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 4, 2004    Florida Beverly St. George, 31  Johnny Robinson executed

A drifter raped and murdered Beverly St. George in a St. Johns County cemetery in 1985. This week, Gov. Jeb Bush signed the death warrant that could push convicted killer Johnny L. Robinson off death row and into the grave. Robinson, 51, is set for execution Feb. 4, 2004, at 6 p.m. Nearly 20 years of appellate work ended against his favor. No more appeals are pending, according to the governor's office. Court records, information from the governor's office, and an interview with a detective are reflected in the following account. Beverly St. George died brutally among grave sites in Pellicer Creek Cemetery on the night of Aug. 11, 1985. Two bullets from a .22-caliber pistol killed her, one fired point-blank into her cheek. Robinson and a 17-year-old boy from Hastings had abducted her from her disabled car on the side of Interstate 95. They raped and killed her in the dark grounds off County Road 204. She had meant to drive to Quantico, Va., to attend a child custody hearing. Terrifying details emerged during the trial and investigation. Robinson was convicted of 1st-degree murder and received a death sentence. His young codefendant, Clinton Fields, got life after testifying against him. St. Johns County Sheriff's Capt. Chuck West remembers the Robinson case clearly. It was his first homicide case as a detective. "What he did to her was horrible," West said. At first, the evidence amounted to 1 shell casing, 4 tire tracks, and a nameless body. But the point-blank shot to Beverly's cheek clearly came from a target practice weapon, sometimes called a bull-barrel weapon, West said. Investigators searched through burglary reports and found a report of a recently stolen .22-caliber pistol. The owner of the stolen gun gave investigators a tour of his yard, where they collected shell casings. The casings matched the one from the cemetery. "We were lucky. God, we were lucky on that one," West said. Witnesses to the burglary had seen a yellow Chevrolet Caprice, West said. So detectives stopped at every restaurant in the county, looking for a Caprice or for anyone who might have seen it. No luck. Beverly's body was still unidentified at this point. But shortly thereafter, a worker at Charlie T's truck stop on U.S. 1 -- now closed -- called the Sheriff's Office. A yellow Caprice was in the parking lot. Deputies arrived, found Robinson and Fields, and took them into custody. Five days after her murder, Robinson was arrested for robbing four other people in a disabled car and raping one of them. At the Sheriff's Office, West saw that the Caprice tires matched the tracks he had taken from the crime scene. He interviewed Robinson, who admitted to the shooting. "He was just coming up with a story to cover the fact that he'd been caught. He didn't exhibit any remorse about his violence," West said. During the interviews, the suspects explained how and where they encountered the woman they killed: on the side of I-95 in Flagler County. With that information, investigators tracked down a vehicle that had been impounded off I-95 soon after the killing. From there, they identified the victim. "You can see, the case was difficult," West said. And the suspects spun their yarns. Court records show Robinson claiming that sexual activities between him and Beverly were consensual. She was on the hood of his car that night, he claimed. But he insulted her, and she started fighting him, Robinson said. The pistol went off accidentally. Scared that no one would believe it was accidental, he shot her again, he said. But Fields told investigators a different story. Fields told authorities that Robinson handcuffed the woman and forced her to strip. He raped her on the roof of her car, forced Fields to do the same, then raped her again. Then Robinson told Fields that she could identify their car, so he shot her twice. The hand-cuffs Fields referred to were found in the Caprice, along with Beverly's keys, West said. The two men fled with Beverly's purse and burned her belongings, according to information from the governor's office. Fields and Robinson were convicted in 1986. It wasn't the 1st for Robinson. He was convicted of rape in Virginia, and had other violent charges pending against him. But his slaying conviction marked the beginning of the legal work, not the end. Between 1986 and 2002, Robinson's case bounced between the Florida Supreme Court, the St. Johns County Courthouse, the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit. In 1986, Robinson's conviction was affirmed, but his death sentence was remanded to St. Johns County for re-sentencing. In 1989, he was given the death penalty again. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the case in 1991. Petitions to the federal court and federal appellate court in the following decade were unsuccessful. The governor's legal office monitors cases like this, according to Press Secretary Alia Faraj. Once an inmate's appeals have run out and there is an end to the process, the legal office presents the death warrant to Bush, Faraj said. Bush signed it Thursday afternoon. Robinson, one of 365 men and women on Florida's death row, is set to be executed in Florida State Prison in Starke, by an anonymous citizen who will be paid $150 for it.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 5, 2004    Texas Joe Alvarado
Amanda Alvarado 
Scott Panetti stayed

Scott L. Panetti was sentenced to die in 1995 for the shooting deaths of his estranged wife's parents. According to court records, Sonja Panetti had left her abusive husband and was living with her parents, Joe Alvarado and Amanda Alvarado in Gillespie County. Panetti testified that on Sept. 7, 1992, Panetti drove to the Alvarado's home, broke in and assaulted her. When her parents intervened, Panetti shot both of them with a 30.06 rifle. He later freed Panetti and their young daughter and turned himself in to police. UPDATE: A federal judge halted the scheduled execution of a Texas Hill Country killer for at least 60 days to reconsider a claim of mental illness. U.S. District Sam Sparks, who sits in Austin, granted Scott Panetti the stay a day before he was set to die for the 1992 slayings of his estranged wife's parents in Fredericksburg. Panetti, now 45, dressed as a John Wayne movie character as he defended himself at trial and blamed the shootings on "Sarge," one of his personalities. Sparks wrote that Panetti's attorney has presented clinical evidence to support his contention of mental illness, including the findings of psychologist Mark D. Cunningham and the observations of anti-death penalty activist David Dow, a law professor. According to Sparks, Dow observed that Panetti is "delusional and misunderstands whether and why he will be executed." Sparks further ordered the state court to reassess Panetti's competence.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 10, 2004    California Douglas Ryen
Peggy Ryen
Jessica Ryen, 10
Christopher Hughes, 11
Kevin Cooper stayed

A San Diego judge set a Feb. 10 execution date for Kevin Cooper, who was convicted of the 1983 murders of two adults and 2 children near the Southern California prison from which he had just escaped. Cooper, 45, will be the first death row inmate to seek clemency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, like all his predecessors since 1992, supports capital punishment. Cooper, who claims he is innocent, has filed a long series of state and federal court appeals, all unsuccessful, and also obtained DNA testing of evidence at the crime scene, which failed to clear him. Shortly before the hearing to set Cooper's execution date, the state Supreme Court denied his request to fire his attorneys but allowed two new defense lawyers to enter the case. Attorney David Alexander of San Francisco said he had been brought in to assist in Cooper's case by the Innocence Project, which works to free the wrongfully imprisoned. The courts that have reviewed the case, however, have expressed no doubt about Cooper's guilt. Cooper escaped on June 2, 1983, from a state prison in Chino (San Bernardino County), where he was serving time for burglary. He hid in a small vacant house near the family's home in nearby Chino Hills until, on the night of June 4, he committed what the California Supreme Court called a "nocturnal massacre," hacking to death Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and houseguest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8-year-old son, Joshua, was seriously wounded but survived. Cooper used a hatchet, a knife and an ice pick in the horrific attack. Cooper, arrested in Mexico after an aggressive manhunt, was tried and convicted in San Diego, where the case was transferred because of pretrial publicity. The state Supreme Court, in a 1991 ruling, called the case against him overwhelming and said he was tied to the crime by evidence that included shoeprints in the house and prison-issued tobacco in the Ryens' car. Cooper and his supporters have stressed that Joshua Ryen, the only surviving witness, told an officer he believed three Latino men who came to the house during the day were the attackers. Defense advocates also pointed out that blond hair, which could not have belonged to the African American defendant, had been found in Jessica Ryen's hand. But defense hopes to prove Cooper's innocence were dashed last year after a new state law allowed convicted felons to request DNA tests of critical evidence. Cooper was one of the first to be tested, and the attorney general's office reported that his DNA was found in a blood spot in the Ryens' house and other evidence near the scene. Attorney General Bill Lockyer and San Bernardino District Attorney Dennis Stout announced that testing was performed on a drop of blood found in the Ryen home, two cigarette butts found in the Ryens’ vehicle (which was believed to have been used as the getaway vehicle), and a bloodstained t-shirt found near the Ryen home. Lockyer said DNA tests indicated a single person was linked to each of the items tested, and indicated Cooper was that person. Cooper's attorneys contended the evidence had been mishandled and might have been tampered with, but a judge rejected their claim, and the state Supreme Court refused to review it. At the vacant house, a blood-stained khaki green button identical to the buttons on field jackets issued at the state prison from which Cooper escaped was found on the rug. Tests revealed the presence of blood in the shower and bathroom sink of the vacant home, and hair found in the bathroom sink was consistent with that of Jessica and Doug Ryen. A bloodstained rope in the house bedroom was similar to a bloodstained rope found on the Ryens' driveway. A hatchet covered with dried blood and human hair that was found near the Ryens' home was missing from the vacant house, and the sheath for the hatchet was found in the bedroom where Cooper stayed. Buck knives and at least one ice pick were also missing from the vacant home, though a strap from one buck knife was found on the floor. Blood found in the Ryens' home was the victims', except for one drop on a wall near where the murders occurred. It belonged to an African-American male, which Cooper is. Two partial shoe prints and one nearly complete shoe print found in the Ryens' house were consistent both with Cooper's size and the Pro Ked shoes issued at CIM. The Ryens' vehicle, which had been parked outside their house, was missing when the bodies were discovered but was later found in Long Beach. A hand-rolled cigarette butt and "Role-Rite" tobacco that is provided to inmates at CIM (but not sold at retail) was in the car. Similar loose leaf tobacco was found in the bedroom of the house where Cooper had stayed. A witness testified that Cooper smoked handrolled cigarettes using Role-Rite tobacco. A hair fragment discovered in the car was consistent with Cooper's pubic hair and a spot of blood found in the car could have come from one of the victims but not from Cooper. Cooper was charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the first degree, and with escape from state prison. He pled guilty to escaping from state prison. On February 19, 1985, a jury convicted Cooper of the first degree murders of Franklyn Douglas Ryen, Jessica Ryen, Peggy Ann Ryen and Christopher Hughes, and of attempted murder in the first degree of Joshua Ryen. The jury also found true the special circumstance of multiple murders, as was the allegation that Cooper intentionally inflicted great bodily injury on Joshua Ryen. The jury then determined the penalty as death on the four murder counts. Defense lawyers could seek federal court review of the issue but have not yet done so and have no other legal challenges pending. Robert Amidon, Cooper's longtime lead attorney, said Wednesday that some court action would be taken to fight the execution, but gave no details. Cooper did not attend Wednesday's hearing before Superior Court Judge William Kennedy, who scheduled the execution on the date requested by prosecutors. Joshua Ryen, now 28, and the parents of murder victim Christopher Hughes were present, said Deputy Attorney General Holly Wilkens. Outside the courtroom Wednesday, Joshua Ryen, the son who survived, kissed Christopher's mother on the cheek as they hugged. "I'm glad you've grown up so nicely," MaryAnn Hughes said. "Your parents would be proud of you." Bill Hughes, whose 11-year-old son Christopher was one of the four people killed by Cooper, told reporters, "We're finally getting to some form of conclusion, although I'm still wary of how many more hoops we'll have to jump through." Hughes said, "It's been proven he did it. Frankly, I feel people need to pay for their acts, and he has nothing to give but his life." Hughes said he intends to travel to San Quentin to watch the man who killed his son receive society's ultimate punishment. His wife, Mary Ann, said she wanted Cooper to die, but does not want to see it. "I don't need to watch," she said. "I just need it to happen." Mary Ann Hughes said she is weary from 20 years of reliving the loss of her son. She said the frequent newspaper and television reports chronicling Cooper's legal journey have slowed the healing process for her, her husband and their two surviving children. "We need this to stop," she said. "My family needs this to stop." Holly Wilkens said, "We expect nonstop efforts to get this date set aside…. They'll throw everything but the kitchen sink at us." Cooper was arrested two months after the killings, when he was found living on a houseboat and using the name Angel Jackson. Because of the savagery of the attack - Douglas incurred 37 stab wounds; his wife Peggy, was stabbed 32 times; his 10-year-old daughter, was stabbed 46 times, the houseguest Christopher received 26 stab wounds and Cooper also inflicted chopping wounds to the head, and stabbing wounds to the throat, of eight-year-old Joshua Ryen, who survived - Cooper’s defenders claim Cooper could not have committed the murders. When Cooper was first arrested in California on the burglary offense, he was an escapee from the Pennsylvania State prison system according to San Bernardino Chief Deputy District Attorney John Kochis, who was one of the original prosecutors on the Cooper case. Cooper entered the California prison system as David Trautman, an assumed name. “I don’t know if the people who support him are aware of his history in Pennsylvania,” Kochis said. In addition to his escape from prison, Cooper was wanted for assaulting a young woman in that state. Kochis said Cooper kidnapped, raped and stabbed the young woman and left her for dead. Because Cooper received a death sentence in California, Pennsylvania authorities “elected not to return him” to that state for prosecution, Kochis said. UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday refused to overturn a stay of execution for convicted killer Kevin Cooper, following a federal appeals court's decision to take a new look at evidence in the 20-year-old case. "The application to vacate the stay of execution of sentence of death entered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Feb. 9 presented to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and by her referred to the court is denied," the notice from the Supreme Court said. Cooper was to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. for killing two parents, their 10-year-old daughter and her 11-year-old friend in a vicious 1983 attack in which a hatchet, at least one knife and an ice pick was used. Cooper's legal team was quick to praise the court's decision. "The United States Supreme Court recognized that nothing is more important than facts and truth when it comes to killing a man with capital punishment," attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement. "Finally, we are going to have the chance to have a court hear the facts that the prosecutors refused to allow the jury to hear, which is why 5 out of 12 jurors asked for this result. Truth and facts are what make our system of justice work." Relatives of those killed more than 20 years ago voiced their disapproval over the Supreme Court's decision not to lift the stay. "I felt that they erred in their decision. They didn't spend any time looking at the information that was given to them," said Bill Hughes, father of Chris Hughes, the 11-year-old victim. "Personally, I have no doubt in my mind that Kevin Cooper is guilty." "The bottom line is he's still gonna die for this crime," said Mary Ann Hughes, Bill's wife and the mother of Chris. "Now [Cooper] knows what it's like to go to within four hours of execution. So he can think about that in the next year or whatever it takes for it to happen again." In issuing its stay earlier in the day, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said: "No person should be executed if there is doubt about his or her guilt and an easily available test will determine guilt or innocence." "The district court may be in a position to resolve this case very quickly."  The decision by the 11-judge panel of the appeals court stayed the execution pending the review. California immediately asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the 9th Circuit. "The fairness of Cooper's trial and the validity of the judgment of conviction and the sentence of death have been repeatedly upheld by state and federal courts during the past 18 years," said Hallye Jordan, the spokeswoman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. "The California Supreme Court has reviewed and denied no less than seven state habeas corpus petitions, two in the last week." At issue are three pieces of evidence: hair found in the clutched fist of the slain 10-year-old; tennis shoes; and a bloody T-shirt. Prosecutors contend that Cooper broke into an empty home in Chino Hills in June 1983 shortly after he escaped from a nearby prison. They contend he then went to the home next door late on June 4, 1983, and killed Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica and 11-year-old Chris Hughes. According to prosecutors, he also slashed the throat of the Ryens' 8-year-old son, Josh, who survived the attack. DNA testing has connected Cooper to the crime scene from the bloody T-shirt, a spot of blood taken from the hallway and a hand-rolled cigarette found in the Ryens' abandoned car in Long Beach. But during trial in late 1984 and early 1985, jurors did not hear evidence that young Jessica was found "clutching a substantial amount of fairly long blond or light brown hair in her hand," according to the 9th Circuit. Cooper, who is African-American, has maintained his innocence throughout the past two decades. He wants mitochondrial DNA tests to be performed to determine whose hair was found in Jessica's hands. In addition, he wants the bloody T-shirt found at the crime scene to undergo further tests. The blood on that T-shirt has matched Cooper's blood, but he wants the extra tests to determine whether a preservative agent is contained in the blood. If that were the case, Cooper maintains, it "will show that his blood was placed on the T-shirt after the fact by someone who had access to his drawn blood." Another key piece of evidence is a bloody "Pro-Ked Dude" footprint found at the crime scene. At trial, jurors were told that type of shoe was issued only for prisons and other institutions. But the prison warden has since said that was not true, that the shoes were common tennis shoes available at Sears and similar stores. An inmate who was imprisoned at the time has since said he issued Cooper a different type of shoes, a pair of P.F. Flyers. Questions also have been raised about whether others conducted the killings. In the days after the slayings, young Josh Ryen said three or four men committed the murders and that they were not African-American. When he saw a picture of Cooper on television, the boy said Cooper was not the killer. However, at trial, he identified Cooper as the lone murderer. The 9th Circuit's ruling also cites a woman who claims that her then-boyfriend, Lee Furrow, came home late on the night of the murders without a T-shirt he had been wearing earlier in the day and that his overalls were covered in blood. Police later threw away the overalls without testing them. An inmate also has allegedly confessed to another inmate that he and two other men committed the murders. The inmate said "they had gone to the Ryen house to 'collect a debt' but had 'hit the wrong house,'" according to the court documents. Two of the men then went to a girlfriend's house to leave bloody overalls, the documents say. In addition, the 9th Circuit said that just in the last two days, two women filed declarations that they were at a bar near the Ryens' home on the night of the murders when three loud, obnoxious men entered. The women said two of the men's "clothing and faces were splattered with blood." At least two jurors who convicted Cooper have said the evidence should be reviewed. Juror Donna Randle, who still believes Cooper is guilty, told CNN she thinks "he has the right to pursue any avenue up until the very end. I feel like it's the right thing to do. I think there were a lot of questions left unanswered," she said. Kahloah Doxey said she has felt extremely uncomfortable since three years ago when she learned that the young girl was clutching long blond or light brown hair. "We didn't know that. That wasn't presented to us at trial," she said. "It would suggest that either someone else was there, and it could have suggested reasonable doubt. We had a right to that evidence." UPDATE: Four years ago, private investigator Paul Ingels thought death row inmate Kevin Cooper might not be guilty. A former Pomona cop, Ingels was involved in the hunt for Cooper when he was wanted for the 1983 Chino Hills murders of Douglas Ryen, Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 11-year-old houseguest Christopher Hughes, as well as the near fatal attack of Josh Ryen, 8. Later, when Ingels was hired to investigate the case by Cooper's defense lawyers, he was skeptical, but signed on clear in the conviction that it was his job to follow the facts wherever they led -- guilty or not guilty. "I was astounded more than anybody else when some of the facts started to show that perhaps he wasn't guilty," Ingels told "48 Hours" in 2000. While prosecutors were fighting Cooper's push for DNA testing (that was not available when he was tried in 1985), Ingels supported Cooper. "There's a lot of evidence that says that perhaps he didn't do it. There's enough evidence that we need to pursue that evidence before we kill him, that's for sure," Ingels said on national television. Now that an execution date of Feb. 10 has been set -- after the DNA tests were conducted and implicated Cooper -- I wondered what Ingels was thinking today. So I tracked him down and asked. "It proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Kevin Cooper was involved in the murders," Ingels told me over the phone. What about the claims that Cooper was framed? "They're just making this stuff up," was Ingels' assessment. As for Cooper's latest set of lawyers, "They're doing everything they can, professional, unprofessional, ethically, unethically," Ingels opined. "The end justifies the means." Take their argument that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should order testing of Cooper's DNA to see if the test-tube blood preservative EDTA is present. You see, the DNA tests Cooper had demanded found his DNA in the Ryen home (which Cooper said he never entered), on cigarette butts in the Ryen car (which Cooper said he never drove) and on a T-shirt that also contained Douglas Ryen's blood. The presence of EDTA, the lawyers argue, would prove that police tampered with evidence. "The EDTA test costs approximately $1,000 and can be completed in under 3 weeks," reads the Cooper clemency petition. "There is no justification for executing Mr. Cooper before this simple test is conducted." But it isn't simple. EDTA is frequently used in hand creams, laundry detergent and other products. It could show up if the DNA came in contact with an EDTA-laced product. Prosecutors would be insane to agree to a test that could be inconclusive or, worse, misleading. The corker: If the new tests don't implicate investigators, the results would not change a thing, as far as Cooper's lawyers are concerned. They will only use facts to muddy the waters. What I can't figure out is why Hollywood and the hard-left chose such a violent man as their cause clbre against the death penalty. Is it because he's now a "writer?" Somehow the thug huggers always fall for inmate artistes. Start with Jack Abbott, who killed a waiter just weeks after author Norman Mailer helped him obtain early release from prison. Is this the thanks Schwarzenegger gets for not blocking the parole of a convicted murderer, Jeri Becker, in a case that, unlike Cooper's, at least had some arguably mitigating circumstances? Or does Cooper simply provide a happy excuse for state Democrats and union bosses to take a cheap dig at Schwarzenegger in a full-page newspaper ad headlined, "Does the state of California have the wrong man?" Maybe Cooper boosters actually believe, as his lawyers told The Chronicle, that Cooper is "an intensely gentle and kind man who has found his peace with the system and the injustice that has been done to him." For whatever reason, Cooper's fans have paved a dangerous path. Cooper is a violent man. He killed two adults and two children. He raped a teenage girl in Pennsylvania. He was caught after the Chino Hills killings because a woman went to Santa Barbara County authorities to report that Cooper had raped her at knifepoint. This "intensely gentle and kind man" has been in trouble with the law since he was 7 years old, he has been institutionalized so many times that he has escaped 12 times, and still was able to kill and rape by age 25. If Cooper's supporters simply opposed the death penalty, one might respect their conviction. Instead, they invite the release of a violent criminal. They can't ask a governor to stop an execution because a man was framed, and then allow that man to remain in prison. They're the ones who have "the wrong man."  UPDATE: A Nevada woman said she's devastated by the last-minute intervention that stopped the execution of the man convicted of murdering her relatives almost 21 years ago. Cindy Settle, who spoke by phone last week from California, said she and other relatives who had gathered for the execution of convicted murderer Kevin Cooper found out between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Monday that the execution was not going to happen as planned early Tuesday morning. "I'm just so angry," Settle said. Settle had hoped the execution would bring to a close an unsettling chapter in her life that began when she received word nearly 21 years ago that her brother, Doug Ryen, his wife, Peggy, their daughter, Jessica, and her neighborhood friend, Chris Hughes, had been savagely murdered. Settle's nephew, Joshua Ryen, who was 8 years old at the time, was the only survivor of the massacre. Joshua's throat had been slit. Settle told the Journal last week that she was convinced through DNA testing that Cooper had been rightfully convicted of the murders and should be executed. She said Tuesday, however, that she and other relatives were informed by staff of the California Attorney General's Office that 2 questions had been raised as the reason for a stay of execution. "The problem is the blonde hair that was in Jessica's hand," said Settle, who had explained that the hair found in her niece's hand does not belong to Cooper, a black man. A Los Angeles Times account also reported that a federal appeals court issued the stay so blood evidence could be tested for a chemical used by police labs to preserve evidence. A judge in the case wrote that Cooper is either guilty of the murders or was framed by police, according to the Times. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the stay, the Times reported. Family members have been told it could take another 18 months before a resolution is reached. Settle said the entire experience has been grueling. The Times reported that movie stars including Sean Penn, Richard Dreyfuss and Denzel Washington have protested the execution of Cooper. That had Settle feeling like she was thrown in the middle of a Hollywood movie. "It was just sick," she said. "All the movie stars going out there for Kevin Cooper. We don't mind them protesting, but when they say they want to save Kevin Cooper, that is a cheap shot. They just want the publicity and to make a name for themselves. Where were [all these people] when these murders happened?" Before returning home, Settle said, "The hardest thing is not getting justice ... when you get yourself built up after 20 years that it's finally going to happen. That justice was important, because it would have given the closure we need on the legal part. I guess we'll just have to hang on there for another year-and-a-half." UPDATE: In Sacramento on March 17, California's attorney general filed a challenge to a federal court order that halted the scheduled execution of death row inmate Kevin Cooper. Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals violated a federal law limiting the ability of inmates to file habeus corpus petitions. Cooper was slated to die last month for the 1983 murders of 4 people in Chino Hills. A full 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit agreed to halt the execution so that further DNA testing could be carried out. A three-judge panel had earlier refused to block the execution. Although the Supreme Court refused to lift the stay, Lockyer said the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act did not allow condemned prisoners to appeal the ruling of a three-judge "gatekeeper" panel. UPDATE: Juror Kahloah Doxey is irked that high-profile figures such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and actor Denzel Washington have criticized the verdict. Kahloah Doxey served as a juror 19 years ago, but she still remembers the crime-scene photos clearly enough: a family butchered like animals, the dead father kneeling with his head bent low, as if he were in prayer. "It never really leaves you," Doxey said. "The pictures are going to be in my mind forever." Doxey's jury imposed the death penalty on a prison escapee named Kevin Cooper, who came within hours of execution last month before an appeals court ordered a halt to the proceeding. Capital punishment cases drag on for decades in California, causing frustration and stress for all interested parties: victims' families, prosecutors, defense lawyers. And for jurors, too. 12 people vote for a death penalty and then must cope with the consequences: lingering memories, crises of conscience, scrutiny by the appellate system, frustrations about whether their sentence will ever be carried out. In recent interviews, Doxey and two other Cooper jurors expressed exasperation at a case they have been living since 1985, a case that now has come back to visit them in fitful ways. All three said they still believe that Cooper, 46, is guilty, despite defense arguments that he might have been framed. They remain haunted by details and images from the trial a father's anguished testimony, the rug burns one of the victims suffered in a furious but unsuccessful attempt to save her children's lives. They still grieve for Josh Ryen, an 8-year-old boy who lived through the ordeal even after his throat was slashed. In the years since their verdict, none of the 3 jurors has been able to talk to Josh, although Doxey, in recent months, has devised a modest plan to track him down. "We'd like to hug him," Doxey said, "and tell him we did the best we could." The evidence, the jurors said, seemed overwhelming. In June 1983 four people were hacked to death with a hatchet and knife in a Chino Hills house in San Bernardino County. The dead were Douglas Ryen, his wife, Peggy, both 41 and chiropractors; their daughter Jessica, 10; and Christopher Hughes, an 11-year-old boy who was spending the night. Josh, the Ryens' son, lay for hours next to his dead mother, clutching his bleeding throat. Prosecutors accused Cooper, who had escaped two days earlier from a nearby prison where he was doing time for burglary, of killing the family so he could steal their car. As a result of heavy publicity, the case was tried in San Diego County, where the jury convicted him based on several incriminating facts: Cooper admitted to hiding out in a vacant house next door to the Ryens. Inside that house, investigators found blood and hair consistent with some of the victims. A bloodstained hatchet found near the Ryen home had been taken from the vacant house. Shoe prints in the Ryens' house were consistent with Cooper's prison-issued sneakers. Inside the family's stolen car, which was recovered in Long Beach, was a hand-rolled cigarette butt containing a brand of prison tobacco that Cooper was known to smoke. In voting for execution, juror Donna Randle decided she wanted to eliminate any possibility that Cooper might be paroled one day. "It came down to, do we ever want the possibility of this guy getting out again?" Randle said during a recent interview at a Kearny Mesa diner, where she and Doxey agreed to talk about the case. In the jury room, the count reached 11-1 in favor of the death penalty. The lone holdout was Doxey, who had some reservations about capital punishment. She paced the room, chewing on Tums and studying the trial exhibits as the other jurors slumped in their chairs, some resting their heads on the table. She eventually would develop an ulcer. She said she finally decided to vote for death after looking at 2 pictures of 11-year-old Christopher. One was of the boy in life, smiling and happy. The other was of his disfigured body, his arm nearly severed. "I probably won't live to see him die," one of the jurors declared after the panel recommended Cooper be executed. That juror, who was in his 60s or 70s, died a few years later, according to Randle and Doxey. After the trial, the 12 men and women made vague plans to contact one another. But they fell out of touch for reasons that seem understandable in retrospect. "Why would we want to get together to relive all that?" Doxey said. Years passed. The victims would appear in Doxey's dreams from time to time. She would think about Christopher's father, who was the 1st person to find the bodies and whose heartbreaking testimony had made jurors cry. The simple act of driving past the courthouse in downtown San Diego made her physically sick. She felt compelled to save all her juror notebooks, storing them in boxes in her house in Logan Heights. In one of the notebooks she had written, "Conspiracy, Yes" a reference to her belief that investigators cut corners and told some outright lies during the trial. In the years since the trial, different judges have had widely different opinions on the credibility of the police work in the case. Doxey's poor opinion of the investigation, however, didn't change her fundamental belief about Cooper's guilt. Randle would find herself wondering how Josh Ryen was coping with life. At the time of the trial, the boy had testified via videotape, never appearing in person in the courtroom. "Poor Josh," she would think. "He lost his mother, his father, his sister and his very best friend." Over the years, the foreman of the jury, Frank Nugent of downtown San Diego, began to reconsider his views about the death penalty. Stories about wrongly convicted death-row inmates gave him pause. At the time of trial, he said, his decision to vote for death had been made more palatable by the abstraction of it all. It was a penalty, he figured, that probably would never come to pass. "To be honest with you," he said during a recent telephone interview, "I never thought the day would ever come." Decades passed. Nugent, now 72, retired from his job as a church office manager. Randle, now 51 and living in Santee, retired from her job as a Pacific Bell technician. Doxey, now 67, retired from her supervisory position at University of California San Diego Medical Center's department of pathology and became a foster parent and a great-grandmother. Meanwhile, Cooper's various appeals began running out. Last December, San Diego Superior Court Judge William Kennedy set an execution date of Feb. 10. "It's about time," Doxey thought when she heard the news. Nugent, the foreman, was more conflicted. As the execution date grew closer, he said, part of him began thinking, "I hope this just goes away." Was it possible they had convicted the wrong man? Doxey didn't think so, even though a defense investigator arrived at her house in January to talk about some evidence evidence, the investigator said, that might exonerate Cooper. Among other things, one of the victims, Jessica, had been found clutching blond hair in her hand. The hair didn't belong to Cooper, who is black. Other evidence, the defense said, pointed to multiple killers. Doxey was aware that incriminating evidence had emerged in the years since the trial. A 2002 DNA test on a blood spot inside the Ryens' house revealed the blood to be Cooper's. Still, at the investigator's request, Doxey agreed to write a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking the state to perform a DNA test on the hair. She wanted to know the whole truth. "Too much continues to bother me about this case," she wrote. In her interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, she said she has never had any doubts that Cooper played a role in the massacre. She wondered, however, whether he might have had accomplices. At the behest of the defense, Randle also wrote the governor. Her letter expressed concern about "unanswered questions" that she found "damn disturbing." She also wanted a DNA test on the hair in Jessica's hand. Why not perform the test when it might help shed some light on the facts? Like Doxey, Randle wanted to know as much of the truth as possible. She also remained convinced that Cooper was involved in the killings in some fashion. "There is no doubt in my mind that he did it and he deserves to be executed," she said. The defense investigator also convinced Nugent to write to the governor. is letter pleaded with Schwarzenegger to spare Cooper's life, in light of the defense's "newly discovered facts." By this time, Nugent said, he was actually hoping Cooper's lawyers might somehow prove their client had nothing to do with the horrible crime. His unease with the idea of capital punishment had become that pronounced, he said. Yet he continues, to this day, to believe that Cooper is guilty. "The evidence was overwhelming," he said. Despite the jurors' letters, the governor refused to grant clemency. As Cooper's execution date drew near, his case attracted various celebrities and anti-death-penalty activists who said Cooper might well be innocent. The Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up in San Diego to hold a news conference, at which he cited the letters written by the jurors as evidence that executing Cooper would be a grave injustice. Randle said she pulled Jackson aside before he stepped up to the podium. "You listen to me," she told him. "When you go up there, don't you dare say I don't think he's guilty." Eight hours before Cooper's scheduled execution at San Quentin State Prison, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, saying Cooper's defense team should have a chance to perform DNA testing on the hair in Jessica's hand. The court also said Cooper's lawyers should be able to conduct chemical tests that might help determine if some of the evidence was planted. In a recent interview, Deputy Attorney General Holly Wilkens estimated the court's ruling would postpone Cooper's potential execution at least two years, with the new testing guaranteed to set off a new round of appeals. A hearing this Friday before federal Judge Marilyn Huff in U.S. District Court in San Diego will help determine what type of scientific tests the defense can conduct. During the interview at the Kearny Mesa diner, Doxey and Randle expressed astonishment at the possible length of a delay. When the two women wrote their letters to the governor, they figured the scientific tests might postpone the execution by a few days or a few weeks. They talked about other frustrations, too. They said they were miffed that various high-profile figures Jackson, actor Denzel Washington were casting aspersions on a verdict they had worked so hard to reach. Doxey said she regrets sending the letter to the governor, and regrets her choice of wording. Her letter expressed doubts about her decision to sentence Cooper to death, given the shoddy police work and still-unanswered questions. She wrote the letter, she said, because she felt overwhelmed at the time by the defense investigator's persistence, by the pending execution, by all mysteries surrounding the crime that wouldn't go away. She said she now thinks Cooper should be executed as soon as possible. (At least one other juror wrote a letter to the governor requesting additional testing on the hair in Jessica's hand. "I would hate to see an innocent man die for something he didn't do," the juror wrote.) Doxey also said she has given a great deal of thought over the years to the idea of tracking down Josh Ryen. She has even considered placing an open letter to him in Parade magazine, requesting a meeting. She said she just wants to talk to him to see if he is doing OK. Ryen is 29 now, lives in Southern California, works as a carpenter and has a girlfriend. People who have met him say he is a nice, soft-spoken guy. He has turned down numerous recent media requests for interviews, and his lawyer, Milt Silverman of San Diego, said Ryen would rather not meet with any jurors from the case. He would prefer "to be as invisible in the process as he can be," his lawyer said. In a January letter to the governor, Ryen listed some of his scattered memories from the night his parents and sister were killed. He remembers a figure "with bushy hair." He remembers putting all four of his fingers into a hole in his neck to stop the flow of blood. He remembers "seeing my mother, naked, dead and bloody, lying beside me, and knowing from the smell that everyone else was gone as well." He remembers rescue workers putting him into a helicopter and removing his Incredible Hulk pajamas. Ryen has said he wants to see Cooper executed. Nugent, the jury foreman, said he prays that Ryen and the relatives of Christopher Hughes will find peace. "Our suffering is nothing compared to the anguish of the families of the victims and Josh himself," Nugent said. Doxey and Randle, for their part, yearn for the entire truth about what happened in the Ryen house that day in 1983, the sort of complete truth that is elusive in many criminal cases. And, of course, they want finality. "I just want it over," Randle said. "I just want it over. The family needs closure and we need closure, too."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 11, 2004  Texas ShaKeisha Lloyd, 10
Zenobia Anderson, 83
Caola Lloyd, 76
Edward LaGrone executed

The man who fatally shot the 10-year-old girl he had impregnated and killed her two elderly great-aunts during a bloody Stop Six rampage in 1991 will be put to death in February unless the courts, the governor or parole officials intervene. Edward Lewis LaGrone, who had a history of murder and drug dealing, was convicted in a case in which he burst into an east Fort Worth home occupied by the extended family of ShaKeisha Lloyd before dawn May 30, 1991, the day after ShaKeisha completed the fourth grade. According to police records and news accounts, LaGrone and as many as three companions were greeted around 5 a.m. at the front door by Dempsey Lloyd, ShaKeisha's 48-year-old uncle. Lloyd was hit in the arm by a shotgun blast and begged the intruders not to kill him. The men then opened fire on Zenobia Anderson, 83, and Caola Lloyd, 76, who was blind and bedridden with cancer. Both died of wounds to the neck and head. Shakeisha, who had recently learned that she was 17 weeks pregnant, was running for the door when she paused to grab her 19-month-old sister and shield her behind some boxes. She was warning her mother to hide when she was mortally wounded by a shot in the head. The mother and her teen-age son, the seventh occupant of the home, were not harmed in the melee. Dempsey Lloyd's wounds were not fatal. Steve Conder, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney who has handled LaGrone's case during the appeals process, said the murders are among the most chilling in Fort Worth history. No other suspects were arrested. "If I hadn't worked on the case, it would be hard to imagine anything like this ever happening," he said. LaGrone, now 46, had been dating ShaKeisha's mother, Pamela Lloyd, while he was on parole from a 1977 murder conviction. During that time, he had been molesting and assaulting Shakeisha. Five days before the shootings, Lloyd noticed that her daughter's stomach had expanded. A hospital examination confirmed that the girl was pregnant. Lloyd notified police that LaGrone had assaulted her daughter. After the shootings, Lloyd said LaGrone had promised to pay $1,500 for an abortion for ShaKeisha and to compensate the family. LaGrone's execution is scheduled to take place after 6 p.m. Feb. 11 in Huntsville. Six and a half years after her daughter's slaying, Pamela Lloyd was arrested in the shooting death of Gene Anthony Tutt, 36, whom she had married in June 1993. She was convicted of Tutt's murder in July 1999 and is serving a five-year prison sentence. UPDATE: Pamela Lloyd Tutt had awakened before dawn to use the restroom when she heard a knock at the door that was followed quickly by shouting and a violent struggle. Then came a blast of gunfire, and another. Lloyd Tutt screamed to her 10-year-old daughter to run, to hide and to find her baby sister, Mytyl. As the little girl screamed the same warnings to her mother in the home in Fort Worth's Stop Six neighborhood, Edward Lewis LaGrone leveled his shotgun and shot ShaKeisha Lloyd dead. Before he fled from the house on the morning of May 30, 1991, LaGrone also killed 83-year-old Zenobia Anderson and her sister, Caola Lloyd, who was 76, blind and ravaged by terminal cancer. Dempsey Lloyd, 48, who had challenged LaGrone as he burst through the door that morning, was seriously wounded by two shots but would survive his injuries. Pamela Lloyd Tutt, whose life unraveled after the killings, recalled those horrible moments as she discussed Wednesday's scheduled execution of LaGrone -- the man she had once dated, the man who had supplied her with crack cocaine, the man who had impregnated ShaKeisha, and the man who had killed without remorse. "Executing him won't bring back my baby and it won't bring back my aunts," she said quietly during an interview in a Lockhart prison unit last week where she is serving the last year of a five-year sentence for murder. "But I don't even want to think about what I wanted to do to that man if I ever had the chance." Lloyd Tutt escaped death that morning by hiding in a back room as the gunfire raged, she said. Her son, Charles, then 13, also hid. The life of baby Mytyl was spared by ShaKeisha's final act: she scooped up the 19-month-old and flung her behind some boxes just before LaGrone opened fire. "ShaKeisha was a very loving, very supportive young lady," recalled her mother. "She was my best friend. She was an A student, she loved church and she loved meeting people." Billy Lloyd, Pamela's uncle, recalls warning his niece to steer clear of LaGrone in the late 1980s. On the streets of Stop Six, LaGrone was well-known and much-feared, Billy Lloyd said. LaGrone was selling drugs, he had served time for murder and he was mean. "I told Pamela that she didn't want nothing to do with this man," said Lloyd, who still lives in Stop Six. "He was a horrible, horrible man and everybody knew it." Looking back, Lloyd Tutt now agrees. She said she had known it all along, really, but the constant use of crack cocaine clouded her judgment, and she was charmed by the flamboyant LaGrone. "I had just got out of prison [where she was serving a sentence for armed robbery], and Ed starting coming around," she said. "He had this way of getting in good with the children of the people he was selling drugs to. He'd be nice to them and buy them presents and stuff." What Lloyd Tutt said she did not know until just days before the killings was that LaGrone was doing much more than charming her children. One evening at bath time, she noticed that ShaKeisha's midsection and breasts had grown. "She said, 'Mommy, there's something moving around inside of me,' " Lloyd Tutt recalled. A visit to the doctor confirmed that the fourth-grader was 17 weeks pregnant. And ShaKeisha told her mother of the assaults by LaGrone that had begun two years earlier. According to news accounts, court testimony and the prison interview, Lloyd Tutt called LaGrone and demanded that he pay to have ShaKeisha's pregnancy terminated. She also threatened to bring assault charges against him. LaGrone agreed to pay $1,000 for an abortion and $500 more for her to keep quiet about the assaults. But when he arrived at the family's home the next morning, LaGrone had no intention of handing over any money. Billy Lloyd's wife, Beverly, said that despite her niece's chronic dependence on drugs and her questionable judgment in men, Lloyd Tutt loved her children and encouraged their success. Beverly Lloyd said that the extended family would often get together on weekends and holidays, and that her own daughter, Kendra, and ShaKeisha were the same age and were best friends. "I just want people to know that we're a good family," Beverly Lloyd said. "It was just that that generation got off track with the drugs and everything else. Lloyd Tutt, now 43, said that her drug use continued after the Stop Six murders. In 1993, she married Gene Anthony Tutt, even though the relationship had become abusive. "He was the father of my baby," Lloyd Tutt said. "I had never been married before, and this time I wanted to have a father figure in my children's life. I thought that was important." But on the night of Nov. 10, 1997, Pamela and Gene Tutt had a violent argument, Lloyd Tutt recalled. She said she feared for her life when she found a gun and shot him to death. "It was self-defense," she said. "I had reported him before. That's why they only gave me five years." LaGrone, who turns 47 in less than a month, has not filed an application for clemency or a sentence commutation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Calls to his lawyer with the federal public defender's office in Fort Worth were not returned. During his trial, LaGrone was described by family members as a man beset by a lifetime of misfortune. Older brother Joe LaGrone told how Edward had grown up in a southeast Fort Worth housing project, dropped out of school in the 10th grade and was convicted of murder at age 19. The defense presented a set of drawings LaGrone had done in jail of flowers, hummingbirds and landscapes. A colorful drawing of a flower and several bees was captioned, "Busy as a bee." Another was titled "Total Harmony." Lloyd Tutt, whose son, Charles, died at age 22 from a drug overdose in 2000, said she is looking forward to being released after completing her sentence this year. A 10th-grade dropout, Lloyd Tutt said she hopes to complete the course work for a high school general equivalency diploma and get a job when she is freed from the privately run lockup about 45 miles south of Austin. "I know now that I don't need a man in my life and I don't need drugs," she said. "I am determined to stay off drugs this time." Her uncle and aunt, who plan to attend LaGrone's execution in Huntsville, said they will be supportive of Pamela's effort, but they still grieve for the family members who were slain. In a sometimes tearful telephone interview, Billy Lloyd recalled his great-niece as a bright and cheerful 10-year-old who had a penchant for singing children's songs. "She had one I never will forget that she would sing for me. It went, 'Mighty, mighty tiger. Mighty, mighty tiger,' " Lloyd said, first breaking into song, then breaking into tears. His wife marveled at the time that has passed since the killings, saying it still seems like only yesterday. "Kendra is 24 now," Beverly Lloyd said, referring to her daughter. "That means Keisha would have been 24 this June. It's hard to believe." Because she is in prison, Lloyd Tutt has forfeited her right to witness the execution of her daughter's killer. She said the day will flood her with emotions. "I have forgiven him and I have asked God to forgive him, but it's hard," Lloyd Tutt said. "I am trying to forgive myself."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 12, 2004    Texas Sandi Marbut, 18
Jennifer Weston, 19 
Bobby Hopkins executed

On July 31, 1993, in the early evening, the bodies of 18-year-old Sandi Marbut and her 19-year-old cousin Jennifer Weston were discovered by Sandi’s parents. According to Sandi’s father, the girls’ bodies were found in their apartment, which was across the street from Sandi's parents’ house. On the evening of July 30, 1993, Sandi and Jennifer had some friends over at their apartment, and Sandi drove the last guest home about 4:00 a.m. the next morning. It was alleged that between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., Bobby Ray Hopkins entered the apartment and attacked Sandi, who was in the downstairs living room sleeping on the couch, stabbing and cutting her approximately 40 times. Jennifer came downstairs while Hopkins was attacking Sandi. Hopkins saw Jennifer and proceeded to attack her at the foot of the stairway. Jennifer apparently tried to flee upstairs but was overpowered. She died at the landing at the top of the stairs after suffering 66 stab wounds. According to the police, Hopkins began to search the bedrooms for money. Hopkins entered the bathroom and tried to clean the blood off his body. He took some towels to try to stop the bleeding from his wounds. He then walked down the stairs and exited the apartment. Later that evening, Sandi’s father found her on the living room floor and discovered Jennifer at the top of the stairs. Texas Ranger George Turner testified that on the evening the bodies were found, July 31st, he questioned several bystanders at the scene outside the apartment and, as a result, went in search of Hopkins. Apparently, Hopkins had been in the girls’ apartment approximately two weeks before the murders. Hopkins was there with two other men and got in an argument with Sandi over money that was missing from her purse. Sandi thought Hopkins had taken the money and asked him to leave and not come back. Ranger Turner interviewed Hopkins on July 31st, and noticed that Hopkins had cuts on his hands and arms. Turner also noticed what appeared to be blood on Hopkins’ boots. Hopkins allowed Turner to take the boots. Subsequent tests showed the blood on the boots was consistent with the blood of Jennifer, Sandi and Hopkins. On August 5, 1993, the police searched the area around the apartment and found two blood-stained towels in a culvert between the girls’ apartment and the house where Hopkins lived with his parents. The towels belonged to the girls and were given to them by Sandi’s parents. The blood on the towels was consistent with the blood of Hopkins. Blood on hairs found on the towels was consistent with the blood types of Sandi, Jennifer and Hopkins. On August 22, 1993, a knife was discovered in the weeds outside the apartment on a route between the girls’ apartment and Hopkins’ home. The blood on the knife was consistent with the blood of Hopkins, Sandi and Jennifer. Serology testing of the blood stains in the apartment indicated that the blood was consistent with Hopkins’ blood. His blood was located in numerous areas in the apartment, including on a light switch plate in the living room, the living room wall, a sock, a bathroom rug and faucet, a shoe and a magazine in Jennifer’s bedroom, a newspaper article in Jennifer’s purse, the top of the stairway landing, and one drawer of a chest in Sandi’s bedroom. DNA testing of Hopkins’ blood indicated that it was consistent with the blood found on various items throughout the apartment. Further, Hopkins’ boot matched the footprint of a boot left in the blood on the carpet in Weston’s bedroom. In the weeks following the discovery of the bodies, while the State was developing the above evidence, Hopkins was held in isolation. Hopkins was held after being arrested pursuant to a felony probation revocation warrant alleging non-reporting and nonpayment. Apparently, it is unusual to hold such a violator in isolation. After fifteen days in isolation and eight interrogations by law enforcement officers (none of which resulted in a confession), the State called in Detective Tony Knott from New Mexico to just “talk” to Hopkins. Hopkins considered Knott a friend and apparently the two have known each other for quite some time. Knott and Hopkins were taken to a small room on August 19, 1993, which Hopkins alleges was under the guise of letting the two of them “catch-up on old times.” Prior to speaking, Knott claims to have read Hopkins his Miranda rights, though Hopkins claims not to remember this and the reading was not taped as required by Texas law. During this talk, Knott made many statements to Hopkins indicating that he wanted Hopkins to tell him about the murders and that the talk was just between the two of them. During the course of this four-hour talk, Hopkins made incriminating statements, and Hopkins gave a videotaped interview to Knott. In this interview Hopkins stated that he went over to Sandi and Jennifer’s apartment around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. He and Sandi began to argue, Sandi got a knife, a struggle ensued, and he ultimately stabbed her. Hopkins admitted that he was cut during the altercation and bled in the apartment. On May 13 and 14, 1994, the trial court held a Jackson v. Denno hearing to determine whether the confession should be admitted. The court found, amongst other things, that: Knott had given Hopkins the required warnings before both the first and second tapes of the interview and that Hopkins voluntarily waived those rights; Hopkins did not request an attorney prior to or during his confession; and, under the totality of the circumstances, the statement was voluntary. The trial court also determined that Hopkins desired to terminate the interview on page 203 of the transcribed statement, and ruled that any subsequent statement was inadmissible. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 17, 2004    Oklahoma Wanda Neafus  Richard Cleary executed

Convicted killer Norman Richard Cleary is set to be executed February 17th. The 36-year-old from Tulsa County lost his final appeal last month to the US Supreme Court. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set his execution date. Cleary was sentenced to death for killing Wanda Neafus. Wanda was a housekeeper, and she was shot 5 times in 1991 during an attempted burglary at a home where she worked. In the early afternoon of December 6, 1991 Norman Richard Cleary, Kenneth "KC" Chandler, and another man drove around Tulsa in Cleary's truck. The third man was looking for a job; Cleary and Chandler wanted to burglarize a home. The other man wanted no part of the burglary and was dropped off at a shopping mall. Cleary and Chandler drove through Maple Ridge and cased the neighborhood. They knocked on the door of two homes, and when the residents answered from upstairs windows, they asked for the address of a fictitious person. Housekeeper Wanda Neafus answered the door of the third home. The handgun Chandler was carrying slipped out from under his coat, and believing they had been found out, the men pushed open the storm door and came into the house. They took Wanda to the basement where Cleary shot her five times in the face and neck. On their way out, they took Wanda's purse, and a cane with an eagle hand grip from the hall tree. At the capital sentencing proceeding, the jury found four aggravating factors: 1) Cleary was a continuing threat to society; 2) he had killed the victim to avoid being arrested and prosecuted for the burglary; 3) he had a previous violent felony conviction; and 4) he committed this murder while he was serving a prison sentence for a previous felony conviction. The State established that Cleary had previously been convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, robbery by fear and first-degree burglary, all stemming from an attack on an eighty-seven year old woman in her home, during which the elderly victim was beaten bloody about her head and face. Cleary had also previously been convicted of several additional first-degree burglaries or attempts to commit first-degree burglary. In fact, Cleary killed Wanda Neafus while he was still on parole for an earlier conviction. And while in prison, he had stabbed another inmate. Cleary's parole officer believes Cleary poses a threat to society, regardless of whether he is in or out of prison. UPDATE: More than 12 years later, the good memories are still strong, but so is the horror. Members of Wanda Neafus' family plan to be at Oklahoma State Penitentiary tonight to witness the execution of Norman Richard Cleary, the man who killed her on Dec. 6, 1991. "No one can take her place," said Becky Flippin, a sister of the murder victim. "I became a grandmother after Wanda was killed. That was hard. "I wanted to call her up and talk with her, but she wasn't there." Before her death, Neafus had always been there when anyone needed her, family members said. "We were a close family," said Anita Wilson, another of Neafus' sisters. "We still are, but it's not the same. Something's always missing." For the family, that absence is kind of like the lakeside lot on Lottawatah Road near Checotah. The 24-foot storage shed that had been converted into a cabin was just right for Wanda Neafus and her family. The small kitchenette was just fine for cooking up the fish the family members caught. The loft was plenty large for her son Jason to sleep in and the downstairs area also had an area that served as a bathroom. The lot was a family place, full of laughter and happy memories - for both her immediate family and the families of her brothers and sisters. The family doesn't go there anymore. "The place was sold after that," Wilson said. "There were just too many memories." Jerry Neafus, Wanda's husband for almost 26 years, is in poor health and doesn't sleep well. "My dad says he won't feel good or rest until Cleary is dead," said Gerri Morris, the couple's daughter. "None of us will."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 17, 2004    Texas Amber Louise Kuykendall, 2 
Karmon Diane Willingham, 1
Kameron Marie Willingham, 1
Cameron Willingham executed

Cameron Willingham, 36, was sentenced to die for the deaths of his three daughters. The three children -- Amber Louise Kuykendall, 2, and 1-year-old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham -- died in a fire at their home on West 11th Street in Corsicana. The fire occurred on Dec. 23, 1991, just before Christmas. Corsicana fire marshall James Palos was the fire department's chief investigator at the Dec. 23, 1991 fire scene. It's a day he remembers well. "I can remember what I was doing that day, what was going on," Palos said. "I can remember it just like it was yesterday." He said firefighters had been called out earlier in the day to a fire that was also ruled an arson. Palos said there were 11, 1-gallon jugs of gasoline involved in that fire. It was while the fire department was in the mop-up stages of that North 36th Street fire that firefighters got the call to go to the Willingham fire in the 1200 block of West 11th Avenue. The mood back at the firehouse, after the Willingham fire, was different than most after-action gatherings. "Guys that normally joke around, take things in stride ... well, that day was real solemn," Palos said. "And the word of the fire and children's deaths spread around town real quick." Referring to Willingham's execution day being set, Palos said, "It's been due a long time."  Then 22 years old, Willingham told authorities that the fire started while he and the children were asleep. An investigation revealed that it was intentionally set with a flammable liquid. According to autopsy reports, Amber and twins Karmon and Kameron died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation. His claims of heroic effort to save the girls were not borne out by his unscathed escape with little smoke in his lungs. Neighbors of Willingham testified that as the house began smoldering, Willingham was “crouched down” in the front yard, and despite the neighbors’ pleas, refused to go into the house in any attempt to rescue the children. An expert witness for the State testified that the floors, front threshold, and front concrete porch were burned, which only occurs when an accelerant has been used to purposely burn these areas. The witness further testified that this igniting of the floors and thresholds is typically employed to impede firemen in their rescue attempts. The testimony at trial demonstrates that Willingham neither showed remorse for his actions nor grieved the loss of his three children. Willingham’s neighbors testified that when the fire “blew out” the windows, Willingham “hollered about his car” and ran to move it away from the fire to avoid its being damaged. A firefighter also testified that Willingham was upset that his dart board was burned. One of Willingham’s neighbors testified that the morning following the house fire, Christmas Eve, Willingham and his wife were at the burned house going through the debris while playing music and laughing. The proceeds of an insurance policy on the girls were later used to buy a pickup truck. Willingham argued that his ex-wife's boyfriend started the blaze, but the jury in his 1992 trial delivered a guilty verdict and the death penalty. At the punishment phase of trial, testimony was presented that Willingham has a history of violence. He has been convicted of numerous felonies and misdemeanors, both as an adult and as a juvenile, and attempts at various forms of rehabilitation have proven unsuccessful. The jury also heard evidence of Willingham’s character. Witnesses testified that Willingham was verbally and physically abusive toward his family, and that at one time he beat his pregnant wife in an effort to cause a miscarriage. A friend of Willingham’s testified that Willingham once bragged about brutally killing a dog. In fact, Willingham openly admitted to a fellow inmate that he purposely started this fire to conceal evidence that the children had been abused. According to a psychologist for testifying for the state, Willingham fits the profile of a sociopath whose conduct becomes more violent over time, and who lacks a conscience. He explained that a person with this degree of sociopathy commonly has no regard for other people’s property or for other human beings. He expressed his opinion that an individual demonstrating this type of behavior can not be rehabilitated in any manner, and that such a person certainly poses a continuing threat to society.  UPDATE: When firefighters arrived at the burning 5-bedroom house on Corsicana's south side, the man who lived there was outside. Neighbors said they saw Cameron Willingham outdoors even before the blaze engulfed the place, according to testimony at Willingham's trial. "He was engaged in pushing his car out of the way so it wouldn't be scorched by the flames," John Jackson, the prosecutor in the subsequent criminal case, recalled. Inside, Willingham's 3 young children -- 2-year-old Amber, and 1-year-old twins, Karmon Diane and Kameron Marie -- were dying. It was 2 days before Christmas 1991. Willingham was charged with setting the blaze that killed the 3 youngsters, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. His execution was set for Tuesday night. "In my opinion, Willingham was an utterly sociopathic individual," said Jackson, the former Navarro County district attorney and now a state district judge. "He had a lifestyle that really didn't include care and nurturing of children. And, in my opinion, the children were just an impediment to his lifestyle." Willingham, now 36, insisted in a recent interview on death row he wasn't responsible for his daughters' deaths. "I was the only person at home and that was their way of thinking," he said of the charges against him. The resulting trial was "a joke," he said. "Any man who can look at me in the eye and say the justice system is not a farce is a liar. All they're going to do is kill an innocent man for something he didn't do. The most distressing thing is the state of Texas will kill an innocent man and doesn't care they're making a mistake." Evidence at his trial showed an accelerant, believed to be charcoal lighter fluid, was used to ignite the floors, a front threshold to the house and on a concrete porch. A fire marshal testified the placement of the accelerant was designed to impede any rescue efforts by firefighters. Willingham suggested a lantern lamp dumped fluid when a shelf collapsed inside the house and caught fire or his oldest daughter, who was "fascinated with everything," accidentally set off the blaze. "Either that or someone came in with the intent to kill me and the children," he said from prison. "The arson investigator was a liar." "He really just wanted to get rid of them," said Pat Batchelor, who was Navarro County district attorney at the time. "He had a burn on his arm from charcoal lighter fluid." Willingham, a native of Ardmore, Okla., said his wife went out shopping and left him with the children. He was asleep late in the morning when the 2-year-old woke him with her cry for him. He saw smoke, jumped out of bed and told her to get out of the house, he said. Willingham said he tried to get to the twins' room, couldn't get past the flames and ran to get help. His house had no phone. "The only way for me to get back into the house was to jump back into the flames," he said. "I wouldn't do that." Trial testimony showed he expressed no grief over the loss of the children. Neighbors said he "hollered about his car" and a firefighter testified how Willingham was upset over the loss of a dart board. "I died 12 years ago," Willingham said from death row. "At 11:51 a.m., Dec. 23, 1991. That's when I died." Willingham's wife initially supported him and testified on his behalf at his 1992 trial. But Stacy Kuykendall told the Corsicana Daily Sun earlier this month that after reviewing case and meeting with her former husband in prison recently, she doesn't buy his version of the events that day. "It was hard for me to sit in front of him," she said. "He basically took my life away from me. He took my kids away from me." Willingham had a history of violence and a record of felony and misdemeanor convictions both as an adult and juvenile. Evidence at his trial showed he was abusive to his family and once beat his pregnant wife with a telephone to try to force a miscarriage. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. The Texas attorney general's office was unaware of any appeals pending. A clemency request was rejected Friday on a 15-0 vote by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. UPDATE: Spewing profanities at his ex-wife standing a few feet away, an angry former auto mechanic was executed this evening for the deaths of his 3 young children in a fire at their home 2 days before Christmas 12 years ago. "The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit," Cameron Willingham said. "I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do." Willingham, 36, said, "From God's dust I came and to dust I will return so the Earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, Road Dog." He expressed love to someone named Gabby and then addressed his ex-wife, Stacy Kuykendall, who was watching about 8 feet away through a window. He told her repeatedly in obscenity-laced language that he hoped she would "rot in hell" and attempted to maneuver his hand, strapped at the wrist, into an obscene gesture. His former wife showed no reaction to the outburst. She declined to speak to reporters. Willingham was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal dose began flowing through his veins. Willingham previously acknowledged he was a lousy husband but insisted he wasn't responsible for the blaze in Corsicana that killed his daughters -- 2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron. The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to review his case and a late appeal Tuesday was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 15-0 to deny a clemency request. "I can't think of a more horrible case," said Pat Batchelor, who was district attorney in Navarro County when Willingham was the lone survivor of the blaze Dec. 23, 1991. "All you had to do was see the pictures of little babies. "Anybody that can do that, you just think: My God, what kind of sadistic monster is this?" When firefighters arrived at the burning five-bedroom house on Corsicana's south side, Willingham was outside. At his trial, neighbors said he was outdoors even before flames engulfed the place and was concerned about his car getting scorched. Prosecutors contended he just wanted to get rid of the children. Evidence at his trial showed an accelerant, believed to be charcoal lighter fluid, was used to ignite the floors, a front threshold to the house and on a concrete porch. A fire marshal testified the placement of the accelerant was designed to impede any rescue efforts by firefighters. "Dude's a liar," Willingham said in a recent interview on death row. "It's all a farce ... They just didn't want to pursue what really happened." Willingham suggested a lantern lamp dumped fluid when a shelf collapsed inside the house and caught fire or his oldest daughter, who was "fascinated with everything," accidentally set off the blaze. "Either that or someone came in with the intent to kill me and the children," he said. Willingham, a native of Ardmore, Okla., said his wife went out shopping and left him with the children. He was asleep late in the morning when the 2-year-old woke him with her cry for him. He saw smoke, jumped out of bed and told her to get out of the house, he said. Willingham said he tried to get to the twins' room, couldn't get past the flames and ran to get help. Hs house had no phone. Trial testimony showed he expressed no grief over the loss of the children. Willingham, who did not testify in his own defense, disputed the comments. "They were great kids," he said. Willingham, a 10th grade dropout, had a history of violence and a record of felony and misdemeanor convictions both as an adult and juvenile. He said he got hooked on inhalants as a young teenager and was in and out of treatment centers beginning at age 14. He also spent time at a boot camp in Oklahoma. Evidence at his trial showed he was abusive to his family and once beat his pregnant wife with a telephone to try to force a miscarriage. "I was a sorry husband, a piece of crap as husbands go," he acknowledged from death row. "I was so full of myself and so dumb." Willingham's wife initially supported him and testified on his behalf at his 1992 trial. But Kuykendall told the Corsicana Daily Sun earlier this month that after reviewing case and meeting with her former husband in prison recently, she doesn't buy his version of the events that day. "It was hard for me to sit in front of him," she said. "He basically took my life away from me. He took my kids away from me."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 26, 2004    Oklahoma Hai Hong Nguyen  Hung Thanh Le  stayed

On November 12, 1992, Hai Hong Nguyen, his wife Thuy Tiffany Nguyen, and Hung Thanh Le became involved in an altercation that led to the death of Hai Hong Nguyen, to serious physical injury to Mrs. Nguyen, and to the conviction of Le for assault and battery, robbery, and first-degree murder. Le, a Vietnamese refugee, met Hai Hong in a refugee camp in Thailand in the mid-1980s. They became friends, and both later immigrated to the United States. Hai Hong settled in Oklahoma City, where he and his wife owned and operated a beauty salon. Le settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a machinist. According to Le, he and Hai Hong had planned to go into business together by opening a machine shop in Oklahoma City. On July 4, 1992, Le flew to Oklahoma City, visited with Hai Hong, and met Mrs. Nguyen for the first time. Le alleges that at this time he gave the Nguyens $10,000 as initial capital for the machine shop. By September of 1992, however, Le's family had arrived in the United States. Le asserts that because of his family's arrival, he wanted to reclaim the $10,000. Whatever the purpose for his visit, Le returned to Oklahoma City again in November 1992. During the week of November 2, 1992, Le briefly stopped by the Nguyens' house in the early morning and told them that he was returning home to Cleveland after having secured a job in Texas. On November 9, 1992, Le again appeared at the Nguyens' house, and they offered him a place to stay. Le, after claiming to have lost his wallet, went shopping with the Nguyens on November 10. Mrs. Nguyen testified that Hai Hong gave Le $200 on that occasion. On November 11, Le went to the salon with the Nguyens, borrowed their car, returned to their home, removed their home stereo without their knowledge, and then mailed the stereo to himself in Ohio. Le returned the car that afternoon so that Mrs. Nguyen could pick up her daughter, Carolyn, after school. When the Nguyens returned home that evening accompanied by Le, they noticed the missing stereo. A search of the house revealed no other missing items and no signs of a forcible entry. Le told the Nguyens that he did not know what happened to the stereo and that he had an expensive personal bag that was also missing. Mrs. Nguyen testified that the next morning--November 12--she was called from her bed by her husband's words, "Honey, Hung kill me." She ran into the living room of their house and found her husband covered in blood. Mrs. Nguyen dialed 911 and requested help. She next saw her husband try to pick up an 18-inch long metal bar from a barbell set that had apparently been used by Le to hit Hai Hong Nguyen. Mrs. Nguyen stopped him, telling her husband that she had called the police. At this point Le returned to the living room from the kitchen, brandishing a 13-inch long knife and a 7-inch long meat cleaver. According to Mrs. Nguyen, Le was visibly upset and angry, and she asked him to stop his attack. Le then attempted to corner Hai Hong with the weapons. When Le tried to reach for Hai Hong, a struggle ensued into which Mrs. Nguyen interceded, receiving knife wounds to her head and hands. Mrs. Nguyen then retreated to the front door, but she was unable to open it. As Le pulled Hai Hong towards the front door, Mrs. Nguyen sat down next to the television, shielding her injuries, and pleaded with Le to stop his attack. Mrs. Nguyen then watched Le stab her husband in the chest. According to Mrs. Nguyen, when her husband fell down onto the coffee table and couch, Le proceeded to hack at the back of Nguyen's neck with the meat cleaver. Mrs. Nguyen's account of the events, which was uncontested at trial, is that Le responded to her pleas by telling her that he would kill her, too, for calling the police. At some point, Hai Hong apparently asked Le why he was attacking them, and Le responded that he had been hired by someone to kill the Nguyens for $20,000. Le apparently then told Mrs. Nguyen to write him a check for this amount, but she responded that they did not have that amount of money. As her husband lost consciousness, Mrs. Nguyen ran back to the door and made it outside, finding an ambulance on the street. The two paramedics who had arrived on the scene were waiting for the police before entering the Nguyens' house. When Mrs. Nguyen exited the house, they treated her wounds. While the paramedics treated Mrs. Nguyen, Le collected Nguyen's wallet, the Nguyens' keys, and a suit. Le then left the house and drove away in the Nguyens' car. One paramedic testified that he saw Le surveying the scene nonchalantly while driving away. After learning that there was nobody else in the house, one of the paramedics entered, accompanied by two police officers who had just arrived. The paramedic testified that he saw Hai Hong writhing on the ground, stating, "[H]elp me, help me, I'm dying, I'm dying." Hai Hong also asked the paramedic to help his wife, telling the paramedic that she had been hurt, too. Hai Hong had multiple stab wounds to his chest, neck, head, abdomen, and arms, and he subsequently went in to hypovolemic shock and cardiac arrest before arriving at the hospital. At the hospital, Hai Hong went into full cardiac arrest and died. After leaving the Nguyens' house, Le began driving towards Dallas, stopped at a ditch to wash the blood off his body, and then returned to Oklahoma City. At some point after the events of that morning, Le went to the Nguyens' bank and, assuming Nguyen's identity, used the Nguyens' safety deposit box key to open their safety deposit box. Le removed $36,000 in cash and two diamond rings, leaving the box empty. Le left the Nguyens' car at the bank with blood and his fingerprints on it. That day, Le also bought expensive new clothes and paid cash to a downtown travel agent for a one-way first class airline ticket to Cleveland. The ticket was issued under the name Paul Koring. The following day--Friday, November 13, 1992--after placing bets at Remington Park, an equine racetrack in Oklahoma City, Le was apprehended at the Will Rogers World Airport by a police officer who recognized his description. Le claimed his name was Paul Koring and that his identification had been stolen. When Le failed to produce identification, the officer took him into custody and searched him for weapons. During the search, the police officer found Nguyen's wallet and a briefcase containing the Nguyens' safety deposit box key, the Nguyens' car keys, and $34,966.37 in cash. After his arrest, Le was booked at the police station, and his interrogation was videotaped. During the interrogation, he waived his Miranda rights and recounted his version of the events. Le admitted coming to Oklahoma City with the intent of robbing the Nguyens. He admitted to knowing beforehand about the safety deposit box and the address of the bank, but he said he never intended to kill Nguyen. He admitted having taken the Nguyens' stereo and mailing it to Ohio, and he said that Hai Hong had confronted him about the theft the morning of the murder. He told the officers that the morning of November 12--even before being confronted by Hai Hong about the stereo--he intended to rob Hai Hong by knocking him out with the metal pipe from the weightlifting set. Le admitted striking Hai Hong and noted that Hai Hong remained conscious after receiving the blow. Le claimed that Hai Hong then threatened to kill Le if he did not stop, at which point Le said he ran into the kitchen and grabbed only one knife. Le claimed that Hai Hong hit him on the forearm, to which Le responded by stabbing Hai Hong five times. Le claimed that at this point, Hai Hong collapsed on the coffee table. Le admitted to having told Mrs. Nguyen that he was hired to kill her and hitting her as a warning. He then confirmed the rest of the events after the homicide. Le did not mention the business plans he allegedly had with the Nguyens, although he suggested he knew the Nguyens had at least $10,000 in their safety deposit box. UPDATE: Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry granted a 30-day stay of execution to a Vietnamese national on Wednesday so that he will have time to consider a pardon board recommendation that the sentence be commuted. Hung Thanh Le, 34, was scheduled to be put to death on Jan. 6 for the 1992 slaying of fellow Vietnamese refugee Hai Hong Nguyen over a $10,000 business deal gone bad. The state's Pardon and Parole Board voted a week ago to recommend commuting Le's sentence on the grounds that Le was not notified under international law that he could report his case to his consulate or embassy. If his death sentence is commuted, Le will most likely be sentenced to life in prison. Henry said in a statement he plans to personally interview both prosecution and defense attorneys in the case as well as review evidence presented to the pardon board. "I want this case to go through the same deliberative process as previous clemency recommendations, and the only way to do that is by ordering a temporary stay," Henry said. Le was convicted for the 1992 beating and stabbing death of Nguyen after the two argued over $10,000, which Le had given Nguyen for a business partnership. Le hit Nguyen with a metal bar and stabbed him with a butcher knife, according to evidence presented in court.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 27, 2004    North Carolina Stephen Levi Amos George Page stayed

George Page was sentenced to death for the murder of Winston-Salem Police Officer Stephen Amos. At around 8:00 am on February 27, 1995, a woman was sitting in her apartment when she heard a loud explosion coming from her counter. Because she was blind, the woman called maintenance personnel, who discovered that a bullet had gone through her fish tank. The shot was fired by George Franklin Page, who was pointing a high-powered rifle out the window of his apartment directly opposite the woman’s building. He fired another shot when the maintenance person went outside to take a closer look at a hole in the vertical blinds; this shot hit the wall just above the man’s head. Shortly after 9:00 am Page fired a third shot into a moving vehicle, a cable van. Four police officers from the Winston-Salem Police Department arrived after 9:00 am to inspect the woman’s apartment. While two of the officers were walking to Page's building to question the residents, Page fired two more shots. While the officers radioed for help, he again fired his rifle, and the officers all took cover. Several testified that they saw defendant moving from window to window. Officer Stephen Amos arrived at the scene with his partner and drove directly to Page’s building. Stephen Amos was at the hood of the car when Page fired another shot that went through the patrol car’s back window, then hit him in the chest. Several officers took Stephen to the ambulance. One testified that he saw the muzzle flash and heard a shot that passed ten feet above his head. Around 9:30 a.m. Page called his ex-girlfriend and stated that his apartment was surrounded by police officers and that he thought he had shot someone. At 10:00 am a crisis negotiator called Page. After some discussion, Page said he wanted to speak with his clinical psychologist and his psychiatrist. Page had been treated for flashbacks and other psychological problems. The doctors spoke with Page and implored him to surrender. Negotiations continued until 11:45 am when Page agreed to go, without weapons, with officers to his psychologist’s office. He was taken into custody shortly thereafter. Stephen Amos died the next day. At trial, the jury found that the murder was committed while the defendant was under the influence of a mental or emotional disturbance but that this was not enough to outweigh the aggravating factors, namely that that victim was an on-duty police officer. UPDATE: A judge ordered Wednesday that the execution of a convicted cop-killer scheduled for this week be stopped while a defense argument against execution is considered. The stay was issued by Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Catherine Eagles in the case of George Franklin Page. The judge scheduled a hearing for Thursday morning. Defense lawyers had asked that the execution be stopped after a psychiatrist said her diagnosis could change. Page is scheduled to be executed by injection at 2 a.m. Friday at Central Prison in Raleigh. Lawyers representing Page sought the stay of the execution on Monday, citing a new affidavit from Dr. Nicole Wolfe, who testified at Page's 1996 trial. Page was convicted of the shooting death of Officer Stephen Levi Amos in Winston-Salem. Amos was shot Feb. 27, 1995, when he responded to a call at Page's apartment complex. The defense attorneys say that Wolfe was not provided with 2 CT scans taken in 1994 that show "abnormal atrophy of the defendant's brain," according to one of the motions. But the state said the 1994 CT scans were provided before Page's trial and the issue can't be raised again. The issue could have been raised in Page's original appeal, the state said. In her affidavit, Wolfe said if she had been provided CT scans, she would have recommended neuropsychological testing. Assistant District Attorney Vince Rabil of Forsyth County said in an affidavit accompanying the state's response that he obtained 1,047 pages of Page's medical records for Wolfe. Wolfe said in the affidavit that she found the scans when the prosecution requested earlier this month that she examine medical records of Page. But she said she is sure she never received the scans ahead of her original testimony. Page was moved Tuesday to the death watch area of Central Prison. Death watch is a cellblock across a narrow hallway from the execution chamber.

 

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