December 2005 Executions
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Five killers were executed in December 2005.  They had murdered at least 9 people.
Four
killers were given a stay in December 2005.  They have murdered at least 5 people.
 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 1, 2005    Nevada Betty Jane May, 55
Kim Parks
Darryl Mack stayed 

A neighbor found Betty May murdered in her room at a boarding house. An autopsy determined that Betty died by strangulation and suffered a traumatic sexual penetration just prior to her death. Semen and blood samples were taken from Betty’s body and clothing at the time of her death, and after twelve years passed, a detective ordered DNA testing of the evidence. Daryl Linnie Mack was serving life in prison for the 1994 strangulation killing of Kim Parks in a Reno motel when he was linked through the DNA tests to the 1988 murder of Betty Jane May. Law enforcement obtained a blood and saliva sample from Mack at two different times during the investigation. Both the semen and the blood stains matched Mack’s DNA. Additionally, blood and tissue found under Betty’s fingertips matched Mack’s DNA. Mack was charged with first-degree murder with deliberation and premeditation and/or during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a sexual assault. In 2000, the State sought the death penalty, alleging two aggravating circumstances: (1) Mack committed the murder while under sentence of imprisonment, and (2) he committed the murder while committing or fleeing after committing sexual assault. Mack had a lengthy prison record, having served four sentences before he was convicted of the murder of Kim Parks. At the time of Betty's murder, Mack was on probation on a California burglary conviction. Betty May’s son Charles testified at May's trial that he last saw his mother just a few nights before she was murdered and he gave her an extra hug when he said good-bye, not realizing that it would be their last. “She became a victim of a cold-blooded, soulless person who had no regard for human life,” he said. “I am still angry and bitter after all these years. Some nights my sleep is disturbed with visions that my mom is still alive.” Alana Coy, the daughter of Betty May, said, “We lost something that we can never get back. We lost a mother. We lost a friend and a confidant. Because of one thoughtless, ruthless, despicable person we lost our mom.” In October of 2005, after two of three psychiatrists who evaluated Mack had found him to be competent to waive his appeals, Mack, now 47, told the judge that he no longer wants to appeal his death sentence. Mack's attorneys explained that Mack is sick and tired of being on death row and has requested to drop his appeals since July of 2004. In March of that year, Mack had come within a week of being executed when he filed a petition to stay the execution and proceed with his appeals. The Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Gary Hatlestad asked the judge to formally ask Mack's lawyers if there was any legal reason why the execution should not go forward. This will reduce the likelihood of any successful future appeals. Mack's lawyers said there was none. On a web site where Mack asks pen pals to write to him, he says he is on death row "for a crime that does not warrant the death penalty." UPDATE: The scheduled Dec. 1 execution of convicted double-murderer Daryl Mack was stayed Wednesday by the Nevada Supreme Court. The high court had been petitioned by Mack's mother to stop her son's lethal injection at the Nevada State Prison and order another hearing to determine whether he was competent to waive available appeals. Mack claims he didn't commit the murder that led to his death sentence but wants to die anyway. Viola Mack, through Assistant Federal Public Defender Michael Pescetta, said in her "next friend" petition, filed Monday, that Mack deserves "a full and fair" competency hearing. Pescetta said the Reno judge who ruled that Mack, 47, was competent to waive further appeals failed to consider the fact that Mack is being involuntarily injected with a powerful psychotropic drug. The defender said the use of such drugs to make Mack competent violates his constitutional rights. Pescetta also said Washoe District Judge Robert Perry failed to consider whether Mack's claim that he didn't kill Betty May, who was sexually assaulted and strangled in her Reno home, "is the result of a delusion produced by mental illness." The defender added that the judge failed to ensure Mack's right to effective legal counsel. He added that an attorney in earlier proceedings didn't seek a hearing where 3 psychiatrists who had clashing opinions on Mack's competency could be questioned.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2005 North Carolina Julie Curry Boyd
Thomas Dillard Curry 
Kenneth Boyd executed 

A man sentenced to die for killing his wife and father-in-law is scheduled to be executed Dec. 2. Kenneth Lee Boyd, now 57, was was sentenced to death July 14, 1994, in Rockingham County Superior Court for the March 1988 shooting deaths of his estranged wife Julie Curry Boyd and her father Thomas Dillard Curry.  The shootings were committed in the presence of his own children, then ages 13, 12 and 10, as well as other witnesses, all of whom testified against Boyd at trial. According to family members, Julie had endured an extremely stormy marriage for 13 years before finally leaving Boyd and moving herself and her children in with her father. Boyd repeated stalked Julie, once handing one of their sons a bullet and a note to give his mother that said the bullet was intended for her.  On March 4, 1988 Boyd drove around with his boys, telling them he was going to go and kill everyone at his father-in-law's home. When they arrived, he entered the home and shot and killed both his wife and her father with a .357 Magnum pistol. One of Julie's sons was pinned under his mother's body as Boyd continued to fired at her. The child scrambled out from beneath his mom's body and wriggled under a nearby bed to escape the hail of bullets. When Boyd tried to reload the pistol, another son tried to grab it. Boyd went to the car, reloaded his gun, came back into the house and called 911, telling the emergency operator, "I've shot my wife and her father - come on and get me."  Then more gunshots can be heard on the 911 recording.  Law enforcement officers arrived and as they approached Boyd came out of the nearby woods with his hands up and surrendered to the officers. Later, after being advised of his rights, Boyd gave a lengthy confession in which he described the fatal shootings: "I walked to the back door and opened it. It was unlocked. As I walked in, I saw a silhouette that I believe was Dillard. It was just like I was in Vietnam. I pulled the gun out and started shooting. I think I shot Dillard one time and he fell. Then I walked past him and into the kitchen and living room area. The whole time I was pointing and shooting. Then I saw another silhouette that I believe was Julie come out of the bedroom. I shot again, probably several times. Then I reloaded my gun. I dropped the empty shell casings onto the floor. As I reloaded, I heard someone groan, Julie I guess. I turned and aimed, shooting again. My only thoughts were to shoot my way out of the house. I kept pointing and shooting at anything that moved. I went back out the same door that I came in, and I saw a big guy pointing a gun at me. I think this was Craig Curry, Julie's brother. I shot at him three or four times as I was running towards the woods."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2005    South Carolina Mendal Alton "Dickie" Smith Shawn Humphries executed 

Sean Humphries was tried for the murder of Dickie Smith, the owner of a Max-Saver convenience store. Humphries was convicted of murder, attempted armed robbery, and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to death for murder and to concurrent sentences of twenty years for attempted armed robbery and five years for criminal conspiracy. His convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. The evidence at trial, including the video from the store's surveillance camera, established that Humphries and an accomplice, Eddie Blackwell, entered the convenience store with the intention of robbing the store. Dickie Smith, who was working in the store, asked Humphries whether he wanted anything. Humphries flashed the gun he had stolen the night before and replied he wanted money. Dickie Smith appeared to reach under the counter to get a gun and Humphries responded by firing at Dickie and then fleeing from the store. The bullet struck Dickie Smith in the head, killing him. Humphries was apprehended and immediately confessed his crime. Blackwell was sentenced to life in prison. Humphries was sentenced to death. During the sentencing phase of Humphries' trial, the State introduced testimony from the victim's family (his brother and his wife) about Dickie Smith's childhood, work ethic, generosity, and close relationship with his young daughter. Dickie's brother testified he and his brother grew up in a poor family and that they did not have hot water. When Dickie was nine years old, his father died. After his father's death, Dickie and other family members began working to support the family. Dickie's brother testified when Dickie was in the ninth grade, he took a job as a meat cutter at Bi-Lo after school, working until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. In the tenth grade, Dickie acquired a full-time job working second shift in a textile mill while continuing to attend school. Dickie's brother testified further that everyone in the community liked Dickie and that he was a good person. Dickie's wife also testified during the sentencing phase. She described Dickie as ambitious, hardworking, and generous. For instance, after receiving one technical degree and becoming a supervisor, Dickie went back to school to get his residential home builder's license and began building houses in 1986. According to Dickie's wife, she and Dickie had a daughter, Ashley, in 1988. Dickie's wife described Dickie and Ashley's relationship as very close, and testified Ashley was having a hard time since her father was killed and was receiving counseling. According to his own mother's testimony, Humphries was arrested in 1984 for two counts of breaking and entering, and was placed on probation. Thereafter, he was given more probation after he was suspended from school for fighting several times. After Humphries' second probation revocation when he was fifteen years old, he was sent to Reception & Evaluation in Columbia for thirty days and was placed on probation again. Humphries was arrested in January 1989 for breaking into a church, apparently looking for food because he had been living on the street for a week. Humphries pled guilty to that charge and was placed on probation. In 1990, Humphries was charged with stealing an automobile after he was released from substance abuse treatment in Texas. As a result of that charge, Humphries was sentenced to two years imprisonment with four years of probation. UPDATE: Shortly before he was executed, Shawn Humphries apologized to family members of his victim, Dickie Smith.  Victim witnesses were Kathy Smith Carpenter amd Carol Smith Cooley, Dickie's sisters.  Dickie's widow, Patricia, had planned to witness the execution, but left the room moments before the curtain opened. Humphries looked directly at Dickie's family and said, "I'm sorry," through the glass window.  Kathy nodded at Humphries, and later said, "Shawn gave me something very special tonight when he told me through the window that he was sorry, and I knew that he was."  Carol said that witnessing the execution was for her simply a part of the justice process and not an act of vengeance. "Eleven years ago and eleven months and one day was a sad day for us. That's when Dickie's life was taken. We're here tonight for Dickie, for what his life stood for, for the legacy that he left," she said with emotion.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2005   Virginia  Eric Nesbitt, 21  Daryl Atkins  stayed 
Eric Nesbitt, shortly before being murdered by his robbers.

Eric Nesbitt, 21, in his truck between his murderers, being forced to withdraw money from his bank account shortly before he was shot eight times and killed.

On August 16, 1996, Daryl Atkins and William Jones spent most of the day drinking and smoking marijuana at the house Atkins shared with this father. Later that evening, after Atkins borrowed a gun from a friend, he and Jones went to the convenience store to buy some more beer. Lacking money, Atkins started panhandling. At around 11:30 p.m., Eric Nesbitt went to the store. When Nesbitt prepared to leave the parking lot in his truck, Atkins hijacked the truck at gunpoint. Jones drove, Atkins was a passenger, and Nesbitt was kept hostage. They stole $60 from Nesbitt's wallet, and after discovering Nesbitt's bank card, they proceeded to the branch of a local bank where Atkins forced Nesbitt to withdraw $200 from the drive-through ATM. Jones then drove the truck to a local school where he and the defendant discussed what to do with Nesbitt. Jones urged that they just tie Nesbitt up and leave him. Instead, at Atkins' suggestion they drove to a secluded area that he knew. Atkins ordered Nesbitt out of the truck and shot Nesbitt to death. The autopsy showed that Nesbitt had eight different bullet wounds. The two were subsequently arrested. Jones testified against Atkins, and Atkins was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, but reversed the sentence because of an improper sentencing verdict form. At retrial, Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist, testified that the defendant's full scale IQ of 59 meant that he was mildly mentally retarded. This diagnosis was also based upon the defendant's inability to function independently as compared to the average person. Dr. Nelson also "admitted that Atkins' capacity to appreciate the criminal nature of his conduct was impaired, but not destroyed; that Atkins understood that it was wrong to shoot Nesbitt; and that Atkins meets the general criteria for the diagnosis of an antisocial personality disorder." The jury also heard the testimony of the state's witness, Dr. Stanton Samenow, a forensic clinical psychologist. He " 'sharply disagreed' " with Dr. Nelson's diagnosis that the defendant was mildly retarded. He instead concluded that Atkins had at least average intelligence. This conclusion was based upon "Atkins' vocabulary, knowledge of current events, and other factors from the Wechsler Memory Scale, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, and Thematic Appreciation Test." As one example, Atkins knew that John F. Kennedy was president in 1961. He also knew who was the current governor of Virginia, as well as the last two presidents. The defendant was again sentenced to death. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. The opinion analyzed Atkins' alleged retardation under its proportionality review, where it held that the death sentence was not rendered disproportionate due to the defendant's intelligence. UPDATE: The convicted killer whose case prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty for the mentally retarded will not himself benefit, as a jury on Friday ruled he was not retarded. Daryl Atkins is the death row inmate whose case led to the Supreme Court’s ban on executing the mentally retarded. Atkins was given a death sentence for the robbery and murder of 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Eric Nesbitt nine years ago. Atkins was 18 years old when he and accomplice William Jones killed Nesbitt for beer money. Nesbitt was abducted outside a convenience store and taken to an automatic teller machine where he forced to withdraw money. Nesbitt was then driven down a desolate road and shot eight times. Jones testified against Atkins and received a life sentence. Three years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins’ case that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional, but did not specify whether Atkins himself fit this category, and left it up to the states to determine whether inmates are retarded. This week, Atkins was found mentally competent by a Virginia jury, and York County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Smiley Jr. immediately scheduled his execution for December 2. "It's ironic, but as a legal matter, this was always a possibility," said Robert D. Dinerstein, an American University law professor. Jurors deliberated for 13 hours over a two day period before finding that Atkins was not mentally retarded and is therefore eligible for execution. During seven days of testimony, jurors -- whose sole task was to determine whether Atkins is mentally retarded -- did not learn details about the slaying of Eric Nesbitt, 21, or even hear his name. Instead, they heard from psychologists who administered a battery of IQ and other tests and examined Atkins's school and prison records. They also relied on the testimony of family, friends and teachers who were asked to recall the most mundane details of Atkins's daily life. Was he able to cook chicken? Drive a car? Mow the lawn? Dress himself appropriately? Write rap lyrics? For example, jurors learned that Atkins, when interrupted during a meal at prison, placed his soup bowl in a sink containing some hot water to keep it warm. Prosecutors portrayed it as a clever solution for a man with no access to a kitchen. But a defense expert countered that Atkins didn't seem to understand that the water soon would cool and that his fix was only temporary. In Virginia, lawmakers have defined a mentally retarded offender as someone with an IQ below 70 who has "significant limitations in adaptive behavior" that were evident before age 18. Atkins has scored 59, 67, 74 and 76 on IQ tests, according to testimony. Eileen Addison, the York County prosecutor, said she agreed with the decision regarding capital punishment and the mentally retarded but said that Atkins was “the wrong case”. Addison said, “We never disagreed that he was probably a slow learner. That’s not the same as being mentally retarded.” Atkins’ lawyers felt that they had established their client’s mental retardation. Atkins' attorney Richard Burr said, “People in this community rejected that. We don’t know why.”  After the verdict, Atkins, now 27, flashed a peace sign and blew a kiss to his family as he was led from the courtroom. Testimony in the mental retardation case centered on Atkins’ mental capabilities and the crime was never brought into play. The defense claimed that Atkins was so mentally challenged that he was cut from his high school football team because he couldn’t understand the plays, but the state blamed his problems in school on drugs and alcohol, and said the claim of mental retardation was a ploy to avoid execution. said the claim of mental retardation was a ploy to avoid execution. "None of his teachers, friends or family believed Daryl was mentally retarded until he was facing the death penalty," Addison said in her opening statement. Both sides called expert witnesses who disagreed on whether Atkins fell into the category of mentally retarded. An IQ of 70 or lower by the age of 18 is required to be considered mentally retarded in Virginia, which also takes into account social skills and the ability to care for oneself. Atkins had scores of 59, 67, 74 and 76 on IQ tests, but they were given when he was older than 18. Nesbitt’s family attended the trial, and his mother, Mary Sloan, leaned back after hearing the verdict, visibly relieved that her son's killer will return to death row. She declined to be interviewed outside the courthouse Friday. “It was distressing to them that we went through two weeks never mentioning their son’s name,” Addison said. Atkins’ lawyers said they planned to appeal. York County's top prosecutor, Eileen M. Addison, who twice convinced other juries that Atkins deserved the death penalty, said she had never doubted that Atkins knew right from wrong. Drug abuse, laziness and a bad attitude were to blame for Atkins's poor grades in school and problems in life, she indicated. "We've never disagreed that he is probably a slow learner and he is not of high intelligence, but that is not the same as mentally retarded," Addison said. "I do agree with the Supreme Court's decision, but this was the wrong case." Lorraine Batchelor, who taught Atkins at an alternative school, said she saw a teenager who struggled because he came late to class and didn't try to complete his work. Batchelor testified that Atkins blamed drugs for his disinterest and that there was "no indication whatsoever that he was incapable." Although the jury learned nothing about Nesbitt's slaying, future juries will not work in a similar void. Under Virginia law, defendants claiming mental retardation would go to trial, and, if convicted, the same jury would decide whether the defendants' claims were true. Defendants in Virginia must prove mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence, a less-rigorous standard than that used to determine guilt.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 5-9, 2005    Maryland Jane Frances Tyson, 49 Wesley Baker executed 

Jane Frances Tyson was a 49-year-old teacher's aide at Riverview Elementary School in southwest Baltimore County, where she had worked for 10 years. Her husband, John Tyson, was principal at Johnnycake Elementary School. Around 8:30 in the evening on June 6, 1991, Jane had just left Westview Mall after shopping for children's shoes with her grandchildren, a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. After helping the children get into the car, Jane got behind the wheel of her Buick LeSabre. Wesley Eugene Baker walked up to Jane and stuck his gun in Jane's ear, demanded her purse and then, right in front of her grandchildren,  pulled the trigger and shot Jane in the head. The young boy later told police he heard his grandmother scream "No!" before she was shot. Baker grabbed her purse, which contained only about $10 in cash, and fled to a nearby Chevy Blazer driven by his accomplice, Gregory Lawrence.  A man who was driving through the lot when the shooting occurred pursued the Blazer, writing down a description of the car and the license number, which helped police arrest the pair minutes later as they fled from the getaway car. Lawrence, who had served prison time for prior armed robbery convictions,  was convicted of felony murder and a handgun violation and sentenced to life in prison, plus 33 years.  He will have to serve at least 43 years before parole eligibility. Baker had an extensive juvenile crime record and at age 19, in 1978, he was sentenced to 15 years for armed robbery. He was released in 1987, and back in prison again in 1989, on weapons and drug charges. He was released in September 1990, less than a year before Jane Tyson's brutal murder. Baker was scheduled to be executed in May 2002 when then-governor Parris Glendening imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. Karen Sulewski is Jane Tyson's daughter.  Her two children, now in their twenties, were with their grandmother when Baker shot Tyson in the head. In 2001, Karen Sulewski accused Glendening of caving in to political pressure to help the lieutenant governor's bid to succeed him. "I think that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend had to put her 2 cents in, and I think that had a lot do with it," said Sulewski. "I honestly think if this event had happened to someone the governor knew or someone on his staff or someone he was close to, the execution would be going through," she continued. "No one knows what it is like to have it drag on and on and on." Karen Sulewski said race had no role in Baker's death sentence and asked Glendening to explain his decision. "I would like him to sit down and explain it to my two children," she said. But Glendening spokespeople said the governor had a long-standing policy of not speaking to the families of death-row inmates or their victims. The current governor, Robert Erlich, has been under intense pressure from anti-death penalty activists to commute Baker's sentence.  Roman Catholic Cardinal William Keeler Cardinal William Keeler, the archbishop of Baltimore, met with Wesley Baker at the prison on Monday to tell him that Roman Catholic leaders are seeking clemency for him.  To date there is no report of Keeler asking to meet with the victim's family. Jane was married with three children and six grandchildren. She was remembered for her generosity and love of children. At the time of her death, Jane was taking classes to convert to Catholicism. UPDATE: Wesley Baker was executed for the murder of Jane Frances Tyson.  In a statement released just prior to the execution, Ehrlich said, "I have personally reviewed all relevant information about Mr. Baker, his crimes, and the circumstances surrounding his crimes. I appreciate the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the arguments presented to me on Mr. Baker's behalf. After a thorough review of the request for clemency, the facts pertinent to this petition, and the judicial opinions regarding this case, I decline to intervene. My sympathies tonight lie with the families of all those involved in this heinous and brutal crime," Ehrlich said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 7, 2005    Texas Armando Murillo, 17  Tony Ford stayed 

Tony Ford’s conviction arose from a home invasion in which two young black men forcibly entered a Hispanic woman’s home. At the time of the break-in, the mother’s teenage son, Armando Murillo, and her two adult daughters were at the house. After breaking into the house, the two men demanded that the occupants give them “the money.” When the family responded that they had no money, the men demanded jewelry and the family complied. The men then demanded the keys to the car parked outside the house. One of the daughters threw the keys toward one of the men, who wore a long dark coat. After she threw the keys, the man in the long dark coat fired a gun at each member of the family. Armando was hit and died instantly. The daughter who threw the keys and her mother were also hit, but survived; the mother, however, was left severely disabled. When the shooter fired at the other daughter, she fell to the floor and pretended to be hit. Shortly after the incident, both daughters identified Ford as the shooter using a police photo identification lineup. A Texas grand jury then indicted Ford for the capital murder of Armando and the attempted capital murders of the three women. The daughters testified at Ford’s trial and identified Ford as the shooter. The only other evidence linking Ford to the crime was a long dark coat Ford was wearing when he was arrested. Ford testified during his trial and maintained that he never entered the house. Ford explained that although he drove to the house with two other men, he stayed outside while they entered the house. Ford explained that he gave his coat to one of the men to conceal a gun. Although the State introduced Ford’s coat as evidence, Ford did not admit the coat was his. A Texas jury convicted Ford of the capital murder of Armando Murillo on July 9, 1993 and assessed a death sentence. UPDATE: An El Paso judge issued a stay of the scheduled execution of Tony Ford, 32.  Ford's lethal injection has been postponed for at least 90 days by State District Judge William Moody so that DNA testing can be conducted on clothing. His lawyers argue the testing of hairs found on the coat will somehow show he may not have been the gunman in the 1991 slaying of Armando Murillo, 17.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 8, 2005    Pennsylvania  Shawn Hagan, 12  Leroy Fears stayed 

The execution of a Hazelwood man who was convicted of first-degree murder for the strangulation and sexual molestation of a 12-year-old boy has been scheduled for Dec. 8. Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed a warrant Tuesday for the execution of Leroy Fears, 43, who admitted in a videotaped confession that he molested Shawn Hagan of Hazelwood on June 18, 1994 in an area along the Monongahela River known as Duck Hollow. Hagan had gone expecting a day of fishing, swimming and playing on a rope swing with a couple of friends. Later that day, Fears lured Shawn to a secluded area of the river and performed oral sex on the boy. Fears then asked Shawn what happened and if Shawn was going to tell his parents. Shawn threatened to tell and in fear, Leroy strangled him. After Hagan’s death, Fears had anal intercourse with him and then tied a tire rim around Hagan’s neck. Fears then threw the boy’s body into the Monongahala River. His body was found floating in the river on June 21 with a tire rim attached to his neck. Fears confessed to the murder of the boy, then took detectives to the scene and explained what had happened. Fears entered a guilty plea to the charges in December 1994 and was sentenced to die in February 1995. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 13, 2005 California  Albert Lewis Owens, 23
Thsai-Shai
Yen-I-Yang
Yee Chen Lin 
Stanley Williams  executed 

The Supreme Court refused to take the case of California death row inmate Stanley Tookie Williams, who claimed to be a founder of the Crips street gang. The 51-year-old former gang member who maintains he is innocent was condemned for killing four people in 1981 and says jailhouse informants fabricated testimony that he confessed to the murders. While in prison, Williams has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize for literature for his work on a series of children's books and efforts intended to curtail youth gang violence. Last year, the cable channel FX aired a movie that depicted the killer and former gang-banger as an advocate for street peace. The film was called "Redemption." The families of his four victims and the prosecutor who put him on death row were appalled by the film. To them, the movie glorified Williams while ignoring the violent shotgun deaths during two separate 1979 robberies. Outraged and indignant would be just a beginning of how I feel,'' said Lora Owens, the stepmother who raised Albert Owens, a 23-year-old store clerk slain more than two decades ago. "I'm outraged they'd even call it `Redemption,'" she said during a recent interview. "He shot him not once, but twice in the back. He didn't do anything to deserve it. He begged for his life. I believe Williams needs to get the punishment he was given when he was tried and sentenced." Robert Martin, the now-retired prosecutor who tried Williams, has no use for the movie. "The person who lives gets all the attention," Martin said. "The people who die get very little attention. They are in their graves." In the first murder, a jury convicted Williams of shooting to death a 7-Eleven clerk for $120. An accomplice testified that Williams gunned down Albert Lewis Owens, a father of two daughters, to eliminate any witnesses. Williams, according to his cohorts, later mimicked the sounds Owens made as he lay dying. Two weeks later, the same jury found, he killed again at a downtown Los Angeles motel, shooting motel owners Thsai-Shai and Yen-I-Yang, and their daughter, Yee Chen Lin. There were no eyewitnesses, but a number of people testified that Williams told them he killed the three with a shotgun to keep them from identifying him as he robbed them of $600. Williams did not testify at his 1981 trial, but his defense argued that he had alibis for both holdups. The jury, which was not told Williams was a gang leader, didn't buy his defense. That same jury then decided on death for Williams after a penalty phase in which no evidence was presented to spare his life. "I don't think his guilt is an issue anybody has taken seriously,'' says former prosecutor Martin. "I think Williams has had no concern for anybody else's life except his own. When people go to San Quentin, they get San Quentinitis. I don't find it unusual he might have regrets now about being the co-founder of one of the worst gangs in America.'' Williams' supporters say he was railroaded. But every court that has reviewed Williams' case has rejected his claims of innocence. Even his trial lawyer, Joe Ingber, acknowledges that the prosecution ``had a lot on the table'' in terms of evidence. Wes McBride, president of the California Gang Investigators Association and a veteran of Los Angeles gang wars, is skeptical of Williams' rehabilitation and his death row work. "It doesn't balance against four lives," McBride says. Nobody is more offended by Williams' recognition than members of the victims' families, furious at the attention Williams has received. "We are the ones that have been waiting 24 years for justice to be served," says Rebecca Owens Vaul, Albert Owens' daughter. "I find it beyond bad taste that the man that killed my father has been nominated for not one, but two Nobel Peace Prizes. I would like to be able to see my father's grave and tell him that the man that took him away from us has finally been brought to justice." The Williams case reached the Supreme Court following a February decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court, as did the Supreme Court, refused to grant Williams another hearing based on his argument that prosecutors violated his rights when they dismissed all potential black jurors from hearing the case. The California Criminal Justice Legal Foundation is urging against clemency, and no California governor has granted clemency to a condemned murderer since Ronald Reagan spared the life of a severely brain-damaged killer in 1967. "Perhaps now he will finally get the punishment that a jury unanimously agreed he deserved," said the group's president, Michael Rushford.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 14, 2005    Mississippi Virginia Tucker, 45  John Nixon executed 

On January 22, 1985, John B. Nixon and two accomplices, his son, John Nixon Jr, and Gilbert Jimenez, arrived at the home of Thomas and Virginia Tucker. Upon entering the house, Nixon pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and said, “I brought y’all something.” Thomas Tucker, who had married his wife six months earlier, immediately surmised that the men had been hired by his wife’s former husband, Elster Joseph Ponthieux. Thomas offered Nixon money to spare their lives, but Nixon replied, “that’s not what I’m after. The deal’s already been made.” Nixon and one of his associates then shot at Thomas Tucker, who managed to escape despite being hit twice in the side. Thomas made his way to his nearby place of work and asked a co-worker to check on his wife. Meanwhile, Nixon took the gun back from Jimenez, held the gun one inch behind Virginia Tucker’s ear and fired a shot into her head while Jiminez held her down. Nixon and his associates fled. Virginia was soon discovered by Tucker’s co-worker and was taken to the hospital, where she died the next day. Thomas Tucker survived the attempt on his life and later identified Nixon as the man who killed his wife. He has said he wants Nixon to die for killing his wife. "I think there is a place picked out for him. I hope he dies and goes to hell," said Tommy Tucker. "If she was here and the roles were reversed, she would do the same thing. She'd want him put to death too," said Tucker. "Seeing him put to death will relieve my feelings of knowing he's not here anymore, and i won't have to look behind my back thinking he will get out someday," said Tucker. At trial, Nixon was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The man who hired the killers, Ponthieux, is serving a life sentence for capital murder at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.  Nixon's sons Henry Leon Nixon and John B. Nixon Jr. were convicted on lesser charges for their involvement in the murder plot. Jiminez testified against the others and received a 20 year sentence. It took the jury only half an hour to find Nixon guilty, and only one and a half hours to determine the sentence should be death. Virginia Tucker's brother, Jacob Tellez of New Mexico, said his only regret is that his sister's ex-husband didn't get a death sentence for hiring Nixon. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said he found nothing to convince him that granting clemency was justified, saying "The real tragedy is that justice in this case has been delayed for more than 20 years." UPDATE:  John Nixon was executed by lethal injection just after 6:00 pm.  Some members of Nixon's family witnessed the execution, but one of Nixon's daughters stayed home in Texas.  She issued a written statement saying her father's execution "is just and called for. My sympathies go with the remaining family of the victim." Dorothy Nixon-Clark also wrote about her father's "violent outbursts towards anyone in his path."

 

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