April 2007 Executions
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Three killers were executed in April 2007.  They had murdered at least 7 people.
Two
killers were given a stay in April 2007.  They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 11, 2007  Texas Shari Catherine "Cari" Crews, 17
Jesus Garcia, 16
James Clark executed

In the early morning of June 7, 1993, James Lee Clark and James Brown arrived at a Texaco store in Denton, Texas, and asked the store clerk to call an ambulance for Brown who had suffered a gunshot wound. Subsequent investigation revealed that Brown accidentally shot himself in the leg at point blank range with a shotgun while he and Clark were assaulting Shari Catherine "Cari" Crews, 17, and Jesus Garza, 16, at Clear Creek. Police recovered both bodies from the creek and determined that Crews had been sexually assaulted by Clark, as verified by DNA evidence, and then killed with a single shotgun wound (a contact wound) to the back of the head. Garza also died from a single shotgun wound, but it was to the left side of his chin or jaw. Powder residue revealed a short muzzle-to-wound distance, but it was not a contact wound. Police also recovered a 12-gauge double barrel shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle from the crime scene. Further investigation revealed that Clark and Brown, both parolees, stole the shotgun and rifle in car burglaries on June 4, 1993. The stock of the rifle had been shortened and police found the sawed off portion while searching Clark's residence; the stock of the shotgun was cracked. The search of Clark's residence also produced tennis shoes splattered with the blood of Brown, Crews, and Garza. During interrogation, Clark stated that Brown instigated the incident; shot himself while using the shotgun as a bludgeon to strike Garza in the head; and, after suffering the severe gunshot wound to the leg, shot and killed both victims. Brown contended that Clark killed both victims. Clark was indicted on the charge of capital murder arising out of the June 7, 1993, robbery, sexual assault, and death of Crews. Clark was convicted of the capital murder on April 29, 1994, and he was sentenced to death on May 3, 1994. UPDATE: Ten years after the murders of two high school students, their killer is pretending to be mentally retarded to avoid execution, prosecutors argued during a hearing in September of 2003. But defense attorneys said the man, James Lee Clark, is impaired and should be spared because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual. State District Judge Lee Gabriel has about two months to rule on whether Clark is mentally retarded. This hearing was a continuation of one that began in August. Clark was sentenced to death for killing Catherine "Cari" Crews in 1993. Crews, 17, and a friend, 16-year-old Jesus Gilberto Garza, were robbed and killed with a shotgun. Their bodies were dumped in a creek north of Denton. Crews was sexually assaulted. Clark was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die. An accomplice, James Richard Brown, was sentenced to 20 years for robbery. Assistant District Attorney Vicki Foster, who tried Clark's original case, said Clark has changed his behavior. "This isn't him. During the original trial, he participated, he made wisecracks," she said. Clark was scheduled to die in November 2002, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay two days before his execution. The courts define mental retardation as having an IQ below 70. Clark's IQ was 74 when he was sent to the Texas Youth Commission after a juvenile conviction in 1983. Two other tests showed Clark's IQ at 65 and 68. Thomas Allen, a psychologist for the prosecution, said he believes Clark was deliberately getting answers wrong on those tests. Clark reached the equivalent of the 12th grade at the Gainesville State School, completed a GED and took a community college welding class, testimony showed. George C. Denkowski, a psychologist for the defense, questioned Allen's findings. Allen interviewed Clark for only two hours and 16 minutes and never performed any tests to prove whether Clark was malingering, Denkowski said. Clark's cell on Death Row contained copies of newspaper articles, crossword puzzles and two novels: A Tale of Two Cities and Lord Jim. But none of the crosswords had been completed, and his attorneys said outside the courtroom that he never read the books. A few members of Garza's family and a friend of the Crews family were in the courtroom Monday. Clark sported horn-rimmed glasses and a shaven head. He spent most of his time looking down at the defense table. Occasionally, his head twitched, and he appeared to mumble to himself. UPDATE: In November of 2003, a judge ruled that even if the man who killed a 17-year-old Denton high school student 10 years ago is mildly retarded, he is not so impaired that he can be exempted from the death penalty. James Lee Clark also cannot be classified as mentally retarded because he fails to meet the criteria of the definition set in the Texas Health and Safety Code, 367th state District Judge Lee Gabriel states in her ruling. The decision will now be reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Attorneys for Clark had cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bars execution of the mentally retarded. That ruling came down in June 2002, before Clark was to be executed in November 2002 for killing Catherine "Cari" Crews, a Ryan High School student. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Clark a stay of execution in November 2002 after he and his attorneys invoked the Supreme Court ruling. The bodies of Crews and 16-year-old Jesus Gilberto Garza, a classmate and acquaintance, were found in a creek north of Denton with shotgun wounds to the head. Both were robbed and shot the night of June 7, 1993. Clark, who had not previously claimed to be mentally retarded, was arrested in connection with the fatal shootings while on parole after serving less than a year of a 10-year term for burglary in Dallas County. An accomplice in the murders, James Richard Brown, received a 20-year prison sentence for robbery.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 11, 2007  Tennessee Charisse Christopher, 28
Lacie Christopher, 2
Pervis Payne stayed 

Charisse Christopher, age twenty-eight, lived with her two children, Nicholas, age three and one-half, and Lacie, age two and one half, in the Hiwassee Apartments in Millington. Pervis T. Payne’s girlfriend lived in the apartment across the hall from Charisse Christopher’s apartment, and the apartment complex's resident manager lived in the downstairs unit directly below the Christophers. The building in which the Christophers resided consisted of four units, two upstairs and two downstairs.  Each of the upstairs apartments had back doors in the kitchen that led to an open porch overlooking the back yard.  In the center of the porch was a metal stairway leading to the ground. There was also an inside stairway leading to the ground floor hallway and front entrance to the four-unit building. On June 27, 1987, Payne visited his girlfriend’s apartment several times in anticipation of their plans to spend the weekend together. However, he found no one at home. On one visit, he left his overnight bag and three cans of Colt 45 malt liquor near the entrance of her apartment. While waiting for his girlfriend to return, Payne passed the morning and early afternoon injecting cocaine and drinking beer. Later, he and a friend cruised around the area looking at a magazine containing sexually explicit material. At approximately 3:00 p.m., Payne returned to the Hiwassee Apartment complex and entered Charisse Christopher's apartment. At the same time, the manager heard Charisse screaming, “get out, get out.” The noise briefly subsided and then began, “horribly loud.” The manager called the police after she heard a “blood curdling scream” from the Christophers’ apartment. A police unit was immediately dispatched to the Hiwassee Apartments. Meanwhile, although the manager noted that the shouting, screaming, and running upstairs had stopped, she heard footsteps go into the bathroom, the faucet turned on, and the sound of someone washing up. The first police officer arrived at the apartments within minutes of the radio dispatch. Upon arrival, he observed a black man on the second floor landing pick up an object and come down the stairs. The officer encountered Payne as he was leaving the apartment building. He noted that Payne had “blood all over him. It looked like he was sweating blood.” The officer confronted Payne, who responded, “I’m the complainant.” When the officer asked “What’s going on up there?” Payne struck the officer with the overnight bag, dropped his tennis shoes and started running. The officer pursued him, but Payne outdistanced him and disappeared into another apartment complex. Inside the Christophers’ apartment, the police encountered a horrifying scene. Blood covered the walls and floor throughout the unit. Charisse and her two children were discovered lying on the kitchen floor. Nicholas, despite abdominal stab wounds that completely penetrated his body, was still breathing. Charisse and Lacie were dead. Charisse Christopher had sustained forty-two direct knife wounds and forty-two defensive wounds on her arms and hands. The wounds were caused by forty-one separate thrusts of a butcher knife. None of the eighty-four wounds inflicted were individually fatal; rather, the cause of death was most likely bleeding from all of the wounds. The body of Charisse was found lying on her back with her legs fully extended. Her shorts were pushed up on her legs and a used tampon was found beside the victim’s lifeless body. Lacie’s body was on the kitchen floor near her mother. She had suffered nine stab wounds to the chest, abdomen, back, and head. One of the wounds cut the aorta and would have been rapidly fatal. The murder weapon, a butcher knife, was found at her feet. Payne’s baseball cap was recovered from Lacie’s forearm - her hand and forearm sticking through the opening between the adjustment strap and the cap material. Three cans of Colt 45 malt liquor, bearing Payne’s fingerprints, were found on a small table in the living room. A fourth empty beer can was on the landing outside the apartment door. Payne’s fingerprints were also found on the telephone and counter in the Christophers’ kitchen. Payne was apprehended later that day hiding in the attic of the home of a former girlfriend. As he descended the stairs of the attic, he stated, “Man, I ain’t killed no woman.” One of the arresting officers remarked that Payne had a “wild look about him. His pupils were contracted. He was foaming at the mouth, saliva. He appeared to be very nervous. He was breathing real rapid.” Payne had blood on his body and clothes and several scratches across his chest. He also was wearing a gold Helbrose wristwatch that had bloodstains on it. It was later determined that the blood types found on Payne’s clothing matched the victims’ blood types. A search of his pockets revealed a packet containing cocaine residue, a hypodermic syringe wrapper, and a cap from a hypodermic syringe. His overnight bag, which was found in a nearby dumpster, contained a bloody white shirt. A woman who was visiting her sister in the same apartment complex that Saturday afternoon was sunbathing in the back yard and heard a noise like a person moaning coming from the Christophers’ apartment followed by the back door slamming three or four times, “but it didn’t want to shut. And this hand, a dark-colored hand with a gold watch, kept trying to shut that back door.” The medical examiner testified that Charisse was menstruating and a specimen from her vagina tested positive for acid phosphatase. He said that result was consistent with the presence of semen, but not conclusive, absent sperm, and no sperm was found. At trial, Payne took the stand on his own behalf. He testified that he did not harm any of the Christophers. Rather, he asserted that another man had raced by him as he was walking up the stairs. When he reached the landing, he heard a baby crying and a faint call for help and saw the door was ajar. He stated that, motivated by curiosity, he announced that he was coming in, and entered the apartment. He described what he saw as follows: I saw the worst thing I ever saw in my life and like my breath just had--had tooken--just took out of me. . . . she was looking at me. She had the knife in her throat with her hand on the knife like she had been trying to get it out and her mouth was just moving but words had faded away. And I didn’t know what to do. He explained that he got blood on his clothes and his person when he pulled the knife out of Charisse’s neck and . . . “she reached up and grabbed me and hold me . . .” Payne panicked and fled when he heard the police sirens. During the State’s cross-examination, Payne made the following admission: Q. Can you explain why there’s bloodstains on your left leg? A. Left leg? Q. Yes, sir. A. Evidently it probably came--had to come from when she--when she hit the wall. When she reached up and grabbed me. Q. When she hit the wall? A. When she--when she hit--when she hit when I got ready to run up--when I got ready to vomit. Q. When she hit the wall she got blood on you? A. When she splashed. It was blood--a lot of blood on the floor. Q. She got blood on you when she hit the wall. Is that what you said? A. She hit against the wall when she fell back. Q. Is that what you said, sir, that she got blood on you when she hit the wall? A. I didn’t say she got blood on me when she hit the wall. Q. Isn’t that what you said just a moment ago, sir? A. That ain’t--that’s not what I said. The jury returned guilty verdicts against Payne on all counts. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Payne presented the testimony of four witnesses. Payne's girlfriend testified that she met Payne at church and stated that he was a very caring person, and that he devoted much time and attention to her three children. She said that her three children had come to love him very much. She asserted that Payne did not drink, nor did he use drugs, and that it was inconsistent with Payne’s character to have committed these crimes. A clinical psychologist testified that Payne’s IQ scores were verbal IQ 78 and performance IQ 82. Historically, the “mental retardation” score is considered 75. Based upon these scores, the doctor found Payne “mentally handicapped,” but not “retarded.” He also stated that Payne was the most polite prisoner he had ever met. Payne’s parents testified that their son, who was twenty years old, had no prior criminal record and had never been arrested. They also stated that Payne had no history of alcohol or drug abuse, he worked with his father as a painter, he was good with children, and he was a good son. The State presented the testimony of Charisse Christopher’s mother, who related the emotional trauma that the double murders had on Nicholas and how he continues to cry for his mother and sister. The jury found, as to both the murder of Charisse Christopher and Lacie Christopher, that Payne knowingly created a great risk of death to two or more persons other than the victim murdered during his act of murder and that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel in that it involved torture or depravity of mind. As to the murder of Lacie Christopher, the jury found that the murder was committed against a person less than twelve years of age and Payne was eighteen years of age or older. Finding no mitigating circumstances sufficiently substantial to outweigh the statutory aggravating circumstances, the jury sentenced Payne to death on each of the murder counts. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 16, 2007  Federal Lisa Rene, 16  Bruce Webster stayed 

In 1996, a federal jury convicted Webster of three offenses—kidnapping resulting in death, conspiring to kidnap, and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence— for his role in the shocking and exceedingly brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of sixteen-year-old Lisa Rene. Bruce Webster, Orlando Hall, and Marvin Holloway ran a marijuana trafficking enterprise in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They purchased marijuana in varying amounts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with the assistance of Steven Beckley, who lived in Irving, Texas. The marijuana was transported, typically by Beckley, to Arkansas and stored in Holloway's house. On September 21, 1994, Holloway drove Hall from Pine Bluff to the airport in Little Rock, and Hall took a flight to Dallas to engage in a drug transaction. Beckley and Hall's brother, Demetrius Hall, picked up Hall at the airport. Later that day, Hall and Beckley met two local drug dealers, Stanfield Vitalis and Neil Rene, at a car wash and gave them $4700 for the purchase of marijuana. Later that day, Beckley and D. Hall returned to the car wash to pick up the marijuana, but Vitalis and N. Rene never appeared. When Hall got in touch with Vitalis and N. Rene by telephone, they claimed they had been robbed of the $4700. Using the telephone number that Beckley had dialed to contact Vitalis and N. Rene, Hall procured an address at the Polo Run Apartments in Arlington, Texas, from a friend who worked for the telephone company. Hall, D. Hall, and Beckley began conducting surveillance at the address and saw Vitalis and N. Rene exit an apartment and approach the same car they had driven to the car wash, which they claimed was stolen from them along with the $4700. Hall therefore deduced that Vitalis and N. Rene had lied to him about having been robbed. On September 24, Hall contacted Holloway and had him drive Webster to the Little Rock airport. From there, Webster flew to Dallas. That evening, Hall, D. Hall, Beckley, and Webster returned to the Polo Run Apartments in a Cadillac owned by Cassandra Ross, Hall's sister. Hall and Webster were armed with handguns, D. Hall carried a small souvenir baseball bat, and Beckley had duct tape and a jug of gasoline. They approached the apartment from which they had previously seen Vitalis and Neil Rene leave. Webster and D. Hall went to the front door and knocked. The occupant, Lisa Rene, Neil Rene's sixteen-year-old sister, refused to let them in and called her sister and the police emergency phone number. After Webster unsuccessfully attempted to kick in the door, he and D. Hall looked through a sliding glass door on the patio and saw that Lisa Rene was on the telephone. On the tape recording of the 911 call, Lisa is heard saying, "They're trying to break down my door! Hurry up!" The a muffled scream is  heard just seconds later, and a man says, "Who you on the phone with?" before the line goes dead. D. Hall shattered the door with the bat; Webster entered the apartment, tackled Lisa Rene, and dragged her to the car. Hall and Beckley had returned to the car when they heard the sound of breaking glass. Webster forced Lisa Rene onto the floorboard of the car, and the group drove to Ross's apartment in Irving. Once there, they exited the Cadillac and forced Lisa Rene into the back seat of Beckley's car; Hall climbed into the back seat as well. With Beckley at the wheel and Webster in the front passenger seat, they drove around looking for a secluded spot. During the drive, Hall raped Lisa Rene and forced her to perform fellatio on him. Unable to find a spot to their liking, they eventually returned to Ross's apartment. From there, Beckley, D. Hall, and Webster drove Lisa Rene to Pine Bluff. Hall remained in Irving and flew back to Arkansas the next day. En route to Pine Bluff, Webster and D. Hall took turns raping Lisa Rene. Once Beckley, D. Hall and Webster reached Pine Bluff, they obtained money from Holloway to get a motel room. In the room, they tied Lisa Rene to a chair and raped her repeatedly. Hall and Holloway arrived at the motel room on the morning of September 25. They went into the bathroom with Lisa Rene for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. When Hall and Holloway came out of the bathroom, Hall told Beckley, "She know too much." Hall, Holloway, and Webster then left the motel. Later that afternoon, Webster and Hall went to Byrd Lake Park and dug a grave. That same evening, Webster, Hall, and Beckley took Lisa Rene to the park but could not find the grave site in the dark, so they returned to the motel room. In the early morning of September 26, Beckley and D. Hall moved Lisa Rene to another motel because they believed the security guard at the first motel was growing suspicious. The same morning, Webster, Hall, and Beckley again drove Lisa Rene to Byrd Lake Park. They covered her eyes with a mask. Hall and Webster led the way to the grave site, with Beckley guiding Lisa Rene by the shoulders. At the grave site, Hall turned Lisa Rene's back toward the grave, placed a sheet over her head, and hit her in the head with a shovel. Lisa Rene screamed and started running. Beckley grabbed her, and they both fell down. Beckley hit her in the head twice with the shovel and handed it to Hall. Webster and Hall began taking turns hitting her with the shovel. Webster then gagged her and dragged her into the grave. He stripped her, covered her with gasoline, and shoveled dirt back into the grave. When buried, Lisa Rene, although unconscious, likely was still breathing. Hall, Beckley, and Webster then returned to the motel and picked up D. Hall. Based on information from the victim's brothers, D. Hall was arrested; Hall and Beckley subsequently surrendered to the police. On September 29, just after turning himself in, Beckley gave a confession to a police detective and an FBI agent in which he admitted to the kidnapping of Lisa Rene and implicated himself, Hall, and an individual known as "B-Love." Beckley stated that he had last seen Lisa Rene at the Pine Bluff Motel with B-Love. A security guard at the motel informed the agents and officers that Bruce Webster went by the name B-Love, and provided a description of Webster and his vehicle. When Webster pulled into the motel parking lot during the early morning of September 30, he was detained and subsequently arrested.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 17, 2007 Ohio Betty Jane Mottinger, 48  John Spirko stayed 

John Spirko was sentenced to die in 1984 for the murder of Elgin postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger. Spirko claims that the state's case against him was weakened when charges against his co-defendant were dropped last year. He also says prosecutors withheld key evidence and presented a false case. An important element of the Van Wert County prosecutor's case was a witness who said she recognized co-defendant Delaney Gibson, a friend of Spirko, near the Elgin post office the day that Betty Mottinger disappeared. No physical evidence tied Spirko to the murder. He was convicted of the killing based largely on his statements to police and the testimony of the eyewitness who said she had seen Gibson near the post office. Prosecutors had alleged that Spirko participated in the kidnapping and killing of Mottinger with Gibson. Prosecutors never told the jury or defense that they had evidence before the trial that Gibson was with family in North Carolina, hundreds of miles from Elgin, the night before the crime. Recently, Spirko's lawyers said evidence had surfaced that a key investigator told the prosecutor before the 1984 trial that Gibson wasn't involved in the murder, but that the prosecutor used the Gibson allegations against Spirko anyway. The prosecutor has denied this. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge James Carr of Toledo authorized Spirko's lawyers to investigate that evidence further. Gibson was never tried in the Mottinger case. Capital murder charges against him were dismissed last year. Spirko, born in Toledo, was paroled in Kentucky in 1982 for a separate murder. He returned to Swanton to live with his sister. He was soon jailed there on an unrelated assault charge, a parole violation. Spirko's attorneys argued he is sitting on death row because he lied to investigators about having information about the unsolved Mottinger murder. Spirko has maintained he wanted to trade false information for leniency for himself on the assault charge as well as for his girlfriend, who had been charged with helping him to attempt a prison escape. Although investigators dismissed much of what he told them, they latched onto Spirko's connection with Gibson and several details they said could come only from the killer. These details included: 1) the location of the stab wounds in Betty’s body; 2) a description of Betty Mottinger’s clothing; 3) knowledge that a stone had been pried from a ring worn by Betty Mottinger; 4) a description of the ring; 5) the type of shroud and specific method used to enwrap Betty Mottinger’s body after her death; 6) a description of Betty Mottinger’s purse into which the perpetrators placed the fruits of the Post Office robbery; and 7) a description of what was stolen in that robbery. On October 28, 2004 and November 16, 2004, Spirko filed an application for DNA testing in the trial court. Spirko requested DNA testing on “blood or other evidence received from the person of the deceased, Betty Mottinger, or from physical evidence recovered from the area where the body was discovered including blood evidence on tarp and boots.” On March 10, 2005, the trial court denied Spirko’s request for DNA testing. In doing so, the trial court noted the following: 1) There was no biological material found at the site of the abduction; 2) At trial it was never claimed that any of the blood found on or in the area of the victim’s remains was Spirko’s; and 3) As to the boots, it was conceded by the prosecution at trial that it could have been Spirko’s blood on the boots. Thus, the trial court concluded that DNA testing could not exonerate Spirko. In September 2005, Gov. Bob Taft delayed Spirko's execution to allow for a second parole board hearing. Taft ordered the execution delayed from Sept. 20 until Nov. 15 to allow for the hearing. In November 2005, Taft granted John Spirko a 60-day reprieve at the request of Attorney General Jim Petro, who said he needed that long to test several items that Spirko's attorneys wanted reviewed. Spirko received another execution date in January 2006 and in November 2006, and both times received a stay.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 18, 2007  Texas Brandon Baugh, 3 mos  Cathy Henderson stayed 

On the morning of January 21, 1994, the Baughs left their three-and-one-half month old son, Brandon (the child), with Cathy Lynn Henderson. Later that day, the child received massive head trauma, causing his death. Soon thereafter, on 23 and 25 January, respectively, state and federal warrants were issued against Henderson for the felony offense of kidnapping. Approximately a week later, on 1 February, the FBI arrested Henderson in Kansas City, Missouri. During her interrogation by the FBI, Henderson initially denied knowledge of the child’s whereabouts and stated she had left him with his grandmother; then, she offered to provide information about the child in exchange for an agreement that she remain in Missouri. The agent advised that he did not have authority to negotiate such an agreement but that those who did would need information on which to base their decision. Henderson soon confessed to killing the child, claiming it was an accident, and to burying him in a wooded area near Waco, Texas. When the agent asked Henderson to draw a map to the burial site, she refused. After the agent reduced Henderson’s comments to writing, she refused to sign the statement and requested a lawyer. Later that day, Henderson met with an assistant federal public defender (AFPD) in Kansas City, and also with the chief investigator for the federal public defender’s ofice. Concluding that he needed a Texas map to facilitate Henderson’s cooperation with authorities’ efforts to locate the child, the AFPD obtained a map and asked Henderson to draw a map to the burial site. At some point, Henderson did so. After his interview with Henderson, the AFPD met with several persons in law enforcement, including an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), and an FBI agent. The AFPD opined that the child was dead. In addition, agents testified at trial that: the AFPD told them Henderson had drawn a detailed map to the burial site and he could find it using the map. The AFPD denies making these statements or ever giving the agents any indication of any map’s existence. In any event, an FBI agent and the AUSA formed the subjective belief that any map was made with the intent of aiding law enforcement. The next day, February 2, the AFPD faxed maps prepared by Henderson to Nona Byington, Henderson’s counsel in Texas, where the case was being investigated by the Travis County Sheriff. Law enforcement officers, who had learned from the AFPD that he intended to send materials to Byington, contacted her and requested the maps. After she attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a plea agreement in exchange for the maps, she refused to provide any in her possession. Because of her refusal, the Sheriff publicly accused Byington of being an accomplice in an ongoing crime. (Byington’s subsequent defamation action against Sheriff Keel was settled.) On February 3, another Texas lawyer was appointed to represent Henderson on state kidnapping charges. That same day, a Travis County grand jury issued a subpoena for Byington to appear with any maps. She refused, claiming attorney-client privilege. An arrest warrant was issued for Byington, as well as a search warrant for her automobile and house. The arrest warrant was soon withdrawn. Authorities executed the search warrant but did not find any maps. Earlier, on February 2, Henderson (who waived extradition) had been returned to Texas. While in custody there, Henderson was placed in solitary confinement under “firewatch”, a procedure whereby inmates monitor another inmate for safety reasons. During “firewatch”, between 5 and 8 February, Henderson befriended an inmate. The other inmate communicated with Henderson on numerous occasions (correspondence primarily and a few conversations). She provided the correspondence to the correctional authorities, as well as recounting the conversations. In these communications, Henderson gave conflicting statements concerning the child’s location. On the one hand, she told the woman that she could draw a map to where the child was dropped off in Missouri; on the other, that the child was with his grandmother in Oklahoma. On February 7, after a grand jury issued another subpoena for any maps, the State moved to compel their production. Following a hearing on that motion (map hearing), at which Henderson’s counsel and Nona Byington, as well as Byington’s counsel, were present, but Henderson was not, the state court held: an attorney-client relationship existed between Henderson and Byington; but, any maps were not privileged because they were made with the intent to aid law enforcement. Upon being ordered to produce any maps in her possession, Byington produced two. Using the maps, authorities found the burial site. Henderson was charged on February 9, and indicted on April 22, for the capital murder of the child. On May 17, 1995, Henderson was found guilty of the capital murder of a child under age six. After the jury found no mitigating factors to warrant a life sentence, Henderson was sentenced to death on May 30, 1995. Brandon's parents, Eryn and Melissa Baugh, plan to witness Henderson's execution. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. UPDATE: A Texas judge delayed until June 13 the scheduled April 18 execution of a babysitter convicted of killing a 3-month-old baby. The judge granted the delay so attorneys for Cathy Lynn Henderson would have more time to pursue an appeal based on what they maintain is new evidence.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 24, 2007    Ohio Lisa Huff Filiaggi  James Filiaggi executed 

James Filiaggi and Lisa Huff married in December 1991. There were two daughters born during the marriage. Lisa filed for divorce in August 1992, and the divorce was granted in February 1993. Lisa received custody of the children, although Filiaggi had visitation rights. Filiaggi was required to pay child support. Relations between Filiaggi and Lisa were strained. In the spring of 1993, Lisa and the two children moved into the home of Eric Beiswenger. In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric became engaged, and shortly thereafter, became the victims of telephone harassment and vandalism. Eric and Lisa suspected that Filiaggi was responsible for the acts, and set up video cameras hoping to capture him on tape. Lisa also carried a tape recorder with her. In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric recorded a phone conversation in which Filiaggi told Lisa that there are going to be "more headaches and heartaches if she tries to get more money out of him." Lisa Filiaggi had wondered aloud to her family about when authorities would take her complaints seriously. "What's it going to take?" she asked her sister. "One of us dead?" The 27-year-old mother of two tried for months to stop an obsessive ex-husband from harassing her. She told police that he sprayed tear gas on her car and threw a can of motor oil and rocks through her front window. But there was never enough evidence to prosecute. On December 19, 1993, Lisa and Eric went to the home of Filiaggi’s parents to pick up the children after a visit. Lisa carried a tape recorder in her pocket, which recorded the incident. Filiaggi and Lisa were arguing while Filiaggi put one child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. After putting the child in the seat, Filiaggi grabbed Lisa around the neck and she began screaming. Eric, who was outside the vehicle, grabbed Filiaggi by the waist and pulled him off her. Filiaggi turned around and struck Eric in the face numerous times. Eric suffered multiple broken bones in his face. The assault ended when Filiaggi’s mother came out, grabbed Filiaggi, and yelled at him to stop. The recording of the incident was admitted into evidence. Eric and Lisa pressed charges against Filiaggi, and he was arrested and indicted for felonious assault and domestic violence. He was released on bond awaiting trial. The picture window to Eric’s house was also broken on numerous occasions. On January 20, 1994, the last time there was an attempt to break the window, the video camera recorded the incident and clearly showed Filiaggi as the person throwing a bottle at the window. Charges were filed against Filiaggi for attempted vandalism, criminal trespassing, and intimidation of a witness. Two days later, Filiaggi purchased a 9mm Luger pistol, which had two clips for ammunition. He also purchased ammunition for the weapon, despite the fact that he already possessed another gun. According to the defense theory, he intended to go to Lisa’s house and kill himself in front of her. On January 24, 1994, Filiaggi took a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. He left six to seven hundred dollars with his girlfriend, Tracey. At approximately 10:45 p.m., the Lorain Police Department dispatcher received a call from Lisa. The call was tape-recorded. Lisa told the dispatcher that her ex-husband, Filiaggi, was at her back door and was breaking into her house. Filiaggi broke down the door and entered the house. Still carrying the telephone, Lisa fled out the front door. A neighbor named Robert who lived two doors away saw Lisa standing in the yard of the intervening neighbor and frantically looking around. Another neighbor was awakened by someone screaming, "God help me, someone, please, help me, he’s going to kill me." Lisa saw Robert looking out the window and ran towards his front door. He let her in, and Lisa told him that her ex-husband was after her with a gun. She looked petrified and ran past him while Robert locked the door behind her. Moments later, Robert heard a couple of bangs on the door and the door came crashing in. Filiaggi had a gun in his hand and asked Robert where she went. Robert said he did not know, and Filiaggi told Robert to help find her. They both started down the hallway. When they came to a linen closet, with the door partially open, Filiaggi opened the door and found Lisa. Filiaggi was very angry and pulled Lisa from the closet by the arm and swung her into the bathroom, which was across the hall from the closet. There was a struggle. Robert heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you to f*ck with me," and then heard two shots fired. Although shot in the shoulder, Lisa was able to get away and run across the hallway into one of the bedrooms. Robert, standing partially in one of the bedrooms, was pleading with Filiaggi not to shoot her. Robert was in another bedroom and Filiaggi told Robert to close the bedroom door and stay out. Robert again heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you not to f*ck with me" and heard two more shots. Robert then heard footsteps down the hallway. Robert came out of the bedroom and saw Lisa slumped against the wall. She had been shot in the head. Robert attempted to call 911, but noticed a policeman coming through his front door. About twenty minutes away, in Amherst Township, Lisa’s stepfather Delbert, was watching the news. At 11:15 p.m., he heard pounding at the front door. While he had a motion detector light on the side of the trailer, it was not on and the area outside the door was dark. He was home alone and had previously been vandalized, so he picked up a can of red pepper spray and went to the door. He opened the door about three inches and saw Filiaggi. Filiaggi then bashed the door in. Filiaggi came in the house and said, "Are you ready to die?" Delbert saw a gun in Filiaggi’s right hand. Filiaggi brought the gun up to shoot Delbert and said, "I’m going to kill you." Delbert sprayed Filiaggi in the face with the pepper spray, and Filiaggi shot at him twice, but did not hit him. Delbert managed to get out of the trailer, without a coat or shoes. He ran to four separate trailers, knocking on doors, finally gaining admittance to the fourth one where he was able to call 911. He tried to call Lisa, but was shaking too badly. On the morning of January 25, 1994, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Filiaggi arrived at the home of a college friend. Filiaggi asked if he could "crash," and he laid down on the couch. The college friend took his girlfriend to work later that morning. His girlfriend later called him and told him that Filiaggi had killed Lisa. The man confronted Filiaggi about it. Filiaggi got up off the couch and a gun fell to the floor. Filiaggi then left the house. On January 27, 1994, Filiaggi took another $1,000 cash advance. Filiaggi fled the state, but returned to Lorain, when he discovered that his parents may lose their house which had been put up for his bond on the previous charges. Filiaggi had rented a car at the Pittsburgh Airport that was later recovered in an area near Filiaggi’s parents’ home. The car contained the rental agreement as well as several rounds of 9 mm ammunition. The murder weapon was never found. Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming a poor diet was what caused him to react violently; the so-called "Twinkie defense." He also waived his right to be tried by a jury. A three-judge panel heard the evidence presented on all charges. The three-judge panel entered its verdict on the aggravated murder charge, but only the presiding judge entered a verdict on the remaining charges. The three-judge panel found Filiaggi guilty of aggravated murder and the three capital specifications: the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by Filiaggi; the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by Filiaggi; and the victim of the offense was a witness to prior offenses by Filiaggi and was purposely killed to prevent her testimony in a criminal proceeding concerning those prior offenses. The case proceeded to the penalty phase and the panel sentenced Filiaggi to death. UPDATE: A condemned murderer who had hinged his appeals on a challenge to the execution procedure was executed by lethal injection at 11:23 am in Ohio.  The execution was delayed by about 90 minutes while officials awaited a Supreme Court ruling in the case. James Filiaggi, 41, had given up his appeals in 2006 and asked to speed up his execution, but then reconsidered late last week and tried without success to delay his execution. The high court, as well as three other courts, ruled against Filiaggi during the final day before his scheduled execution. In a final statement, Filiaggi suggested that there are many innocent inmates on death row. "For me - it's fine," he said. "I want to say thanks to my family for all the support," he said. "I'm sorry I flipped up the world." Read an article about the impact of this murder here.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2007    Tennessee  Emily Branch, 13 Charles Rice  stayed 

The victim, thirteen-year-old Emily Branch, was reported missing on June 18, 2000, and her body was discovered on June 25, 2000. After a police investigation, Emily's stepfather, Charles Rice, was questioned and arrested for her murder. On June 18, 2000, Emily was staying with her father, Steven Dwayney Branch. Branch lived in Memphis with his girlfriend and her three children. Emily usually lived with Branch’s sister, but she was staying with her father because it was Father’s Day. Emily’s mother Tracie was married to Charles Rice during the time relevant to this case, but Emily never lived with her mother and Rice while they were married. Tracie and Rice had argued on June 6, 2000, prompting Tracie to leave Rice and move in with her brother. She had left Rice on numerous other occasions, but had always returned. Prior to her leaving, Rice told her that if she left him, “it will hurt you more than it hurts me.” Tracie told Branch not to let Emily go to Rice’s house anymore. According to Tracie, Rice used drugs, specifically crack cocaine. On the morning of the 18th, Emily left her father’s house at about 11:00 a.m. with three other girls. She was wearing “a white short-pants overall set with a navy blue shirt, some white socks, her blue and white tennies, and she had a necklace around her neck.” One of the daughters of Branch’s girlfriend was with Emily that day. She testified that she, Emily, and five other girls “walked around because that’s our normal routine every day.” While out walking, Rice came by and talked to Emily. The girl said that she could not hear what was said. After Rice left, the girls went to a store and then to Rice’s house on Firestone Street. Emily went inside the house while the other girls waited outside. Emily later came outside and told them that they all had to leave; they left Emily on Rice’s front porch and went to a park. According to the girl, this was about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. She said that it was not unusual for Emily to go to Rice’s house when Emily’s mother lived there. She did not know that Emily’s mother no longer lived there. She said that she never saw Rice while they were at his house. According to Rice’s stepfather Willie who lived with Rice on Firestone Street, Emily came by the residence on the 18th of June, asking to walk the dog. After Willie refused, Emily went outside to talk to the girls with whom she had been. Then Emily left the house with Rice, walking down the street toward Bellevue Street. According to Willie, this was about 3:40 in the afternoon. Later that afternoon, Rice returned to the house to watch television; he did not change his clothes. Willie said that while at the house, before leaving with Rice, Emily was never out of his sight. Tony Evans, a friend of Emily’s mother and father, also saw Emily on the day of her disappearance. He lived on Firestone Street, and on the afternoon of June 18, around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., he saw Emily and a “lot of little girls” walk to Rice’s house. Later that day, he observed Emily and Rice walking away from Rice’s house heading west on Firestone. He found it surprising that the two were together because he knew that Emily’s mother had recently left Rice due to abuse. Therefore, he followed Emily and Rice. After turning off Firestone Street, the two went up a small street then headed back on Empire Street, and then south on Bellevue toward an Amoco station. Then they walked past the station through the pathway on the side. At that time, Evans returned home to finish his yard work. Evans explained that he stopped following the two when they got to the path by the Amoco station because the path leads to Brown Street, where some of Rice’s relatives lived. He assumed that Emily’s mother and Rice had gotten back together and that Rice and victim were going to visit relatives. Emily’s father began to worry when Emily had not returned home by 5:00 p.m. on June 18. He called the police that night to report her missing. The police told him that she would probably be back and that they would report her as a runaway. Branch testified that Emily had never run away before, so that night he began to search the neighborhood for her. A few of his neighbors helped in his search. The following day, Tracie called Evans and asked him if he had seen Emily. Evans told her that he had seen Emily and Rice go down the path next to the Amoco station. After speaking with Emily’s mother, Evans went to the area of the path to look for Emily, but did not find anything. He explained that he wanted to find Emily because both parents were his good friends. Several days later, Branch also spoke with Evans, telling him that Emily had been missing since June 18. Evans testified that two days after Emily was last seen, he saw Mario Rice, who is Rice’s nephew, and Rice walk together down to the woods by the Amoco station. He said that the police were called, but they did not get there in time because it was night. During the week Emily was missing, Evans saw Rice and Mario sitting in the yard of a house on Alaska Street, watching that same pathway. This made him even more suspicious of Rice. For two to three nights in a row, Evans hid in the crawl space underneath the house on Alaska Street where Mario and Rice were. While there, he overheard Mario and Rice discuss plans to kill Tracie. He never heard them talk about Emily. He remained under the house on those nights until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. On June 25, Evans had repaired his four-wheeler and drove back to the area surrounding the pathway to search again. When he went into the woods, he smelled an odor like something had died, so he began looking in the direction from which the smell was coming. He had to chop through the bushes with a machete. Finally, he stepped up on the tree and looked down, and saw her shoes. Evans ran from the woods to Branch’s house and told him that he had found Emily’s body behind the Amoco station on Chelsea Street. Branch and Evans went in Branch’s truck to the parking lot of the Amoco station. From there, Evans led them down a trail behind the station. They reached Emily’s body, which was lying in a ditch in a heavily wooded area. When they found Emily, her shorts and underwear were down around her ankles. Branch testified that he could not recognize his daughter’s facial features because the body had decomposed, but he recognized her clothing, shoes, and necklace as the same as she had been wearing on the day she disappeared. Evans was also able to recognize Emily by her hair and clothes. After identifying the body as that of Emily, they called the police. Sergeant Robin Hulley of the Memphis Police Department was called to the Amoco station on Chelsea Street at approximately 5:00 p.m. on June 25, 2000, on a “DOA unknown.” Once he arrived at that address, he was led by a uniformed officer to the actual scene behind the store. Sergeant Hulley testified that to the right side of the store there is a pathway that opens onto a big grassy field, about the size of a football field. Emily’s body was located in what appeared to be a dry creek bed in a heavily wooded area to the right of the opening. Emily was lying face up. She had on a pair of white short overalls, which were pulled completely down to around her ankles, and her underwear was also pulled down. Her shirt was still in place. Sergeant Hulley stated that the body was not visible from the path or the grassy field, although it was not covered by any brush. The only blood found at the scene was directly around the body. There was no upper torso, the legs and arms were still intact, and the head appeared to be “mummified.” Emily had on short pants, which were down around below her knees. Michael Jeffrey Clark, an officer with the Memphis Police Department, was also assigned to investigate the murder on June 25, 2000. Rice told the police that on the day of her disappearance, he and Emily parted ways at the intersection of Bellevue and Firestone. Rice was subsequently brought to the police station, where Officer Clark and Officer Ernestine Davison interviewed him at approximately 2:00 a.m. on the morning of June 26. Officer Clark read Rice his Miranda rights, and Rice signed a form indicating that he understood those rights. Clark told Rice that other witnesses had seen him enter the woods with Emily near the Amoco station. Rice denied going into the woods with her and denied any knowledge of her disappearance. Clark then told Rice that it appeared to him that Emily had been raped, and he asked Rice if he would be willing to submit to a DNA test so that police could compare his DNA with the DNA found on Emily. At that point, Rice admitted that he had engaged in consensual sex with Emily inside the kitchen of his parents’ house on June 18, explaining: “I had sex for about a minute with her.” Rice admitted Emily asked him for money and to walk his dog. He said that he asked her to walk to the store with him so he could get some change, but when they arrived at the store, he told Emily that he did not have any money, and they parted ways. Rice then changed his story again, stating that he and Emily went to his house after Emily asked him for money, and this led to the sexual act in the kitchen. Rice said that Emily then left the house alone and that he did not see her again. When Officer Clark confronted Rice with Willie’s story that he saw Rice leave the house with Emily, Rice replied that he entered the woods with Emily, but denied any wrongdoing. Officers Clark and Davison decided to arrest Rice and to place him in the Shelby County jail. While checking him in, Rice asked to be placed in protective custody because he had received some threats from family members in the neighborhood. Officer Clark asked Rice: “Do you mean the family members of the girl you killed?” Rice responded: “Yes, sir.” On cross-examination, however, the officers testified that Rice constantly maintained that he did not kill Emily. Sergeant Fitzpatrick read Rice’s statement to the jury. In his statement, Rice said that the last time he saw Emily was between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on June 18, 2000, behind the Amoco station. When asked how he and Emily came to be behind the Amoco station, Rice replied, “Me and Emily walked down through there on the way to the field. And that’s when my nephew killed Emily Branch.” Rice explained that he and Mario planned to have Emily at that location so that Mario could kill Emily. He said that Mario wanted to kill Emily because Mario “was tired of seeing me go through things I was going through with Emily’s mother.” The initial plan was to have Tracie, Emily’s mother, accompany Rice to the field where Mario would kill her, but they could not find Tracie. Rice stated that he first encountered Emily on the day of her death as she was walking between Bellevue and Smith Street with her friends. Emily wanted to walk his dog and wanted ten dollars, so Rice told her to meet him at his stepfather’s house on Firestone Street. He said that while they were at the house, they had sex in the kitchen, and “that lasted about sixty seconds.” He said that Emily “brushed her chest against me and said she knowed that her stuff was gooder than her mother’s.” He said that this was the first time they had sex and that he did not reach climax. After the sexual encounter with Emily, they left the house and went to the Amoco station on Chelsea Street under his guise that he would get change and give Emily the ten dollars that she requested. Rice then told her that he did not have the money. At that time, Emily followed him into woods, where they were met by Mario. Rice then said: "And that’s when we said, “F*** this b***h; let’s kill this b***h.” I told Emily about an apple tree and a fenced-in area, so she went in there, and that’s when my nephew started to stab her. He stabbed her in the head first and in the throat numerous times and in the chest area numerous times. That’s when I ran, and my nephew, Mario Rice, ran behind me. We got out to the street on Brown, and I ran towards Lewis or Louisville. I don’t know which one. And Mario went the other way on Brown. I went up Louisville or Lewis to a friend’s house on Montgomery. Then I went to another friend’s house on Ayers, and that’s where Mario and I met up again. We started drinking, and we stayed together until about 10:00 p.m. And then he went home and I went home. Rice said that Mario used a “kitchen knife, not a butcher knife.” He then provided more details about the actual murder, saying: "She was facing him, and he was facing her, and there were a lot of words. He was talking to her. I really don’t know exactly what he was saying. Then he pulled the knife from out of his left back pocket, and then he stabbed her in the head. She went down on one or two knees, and that’s when he stabbed her in the throat a bunch of times, and she fell back on her back. She was moving her hands like she was trying to tell Mario to stop. She pulled – and she had pulled her clothes down before the first stabbing, and I guess she thought she was getting ready to be raped by what Mario was saying because it made me wonder why was she taking her clothes down. As I think about it, I think she must of fell back because of the way Mario was stabbing her in the neck and chest." Rice said that the plan was to lure Emily’s mother to the field and to “take care” of her. He said that he “was going to take care of the mother, and Mario was going to take care of anybody else.” He continued, “I was probably going to jump on the mother. That probably wasn’t all I would have done to her.” About Emily’s death, Rice stated that he felt “sad, guilty, and responsible” because he “could have prevented it by not luring her into that field.” Sergeant Fitzpatrick took Rice back to the crime scene on June 27 for a “walk through” video of the events leading to Emily’s death. Rice said he got Emily to accompany him to a secluded part of the field by telling her there was an apple tree back there. Rice then led the officers directly to the spot where the body had been discovered. On cross- examination, Sergeant Fitzpatrick admitted that in every statement given by Rice, Rice denied actually killing Emily. Two or three days after the police first went to Willie’s house, they returned and asked to search the house. Willie granted permission. The police took a knife that was on the dining room table. Willie testified that the knife had been lying there for the “longest time.” Dr. Cynthia Gardner, a medical examiner with the Shelby County medical examiner’s office, testified that she first examined Emily’s body at the crime scene. She said that the body was found “lying on her back in a field” with her shorts pulled down around her ankles. The body was in a state of advanced decomposition, and “in many areas . . . the soft tissues were completely gone and only the skeleton remaining.” She next performed an external examination of the body with the clothing intact. She noted that decomposition was occurring at different rates in different areas of the body. She explained that “differential decomposition is associated with areas of injuries. If there’s a breach in the skin surface somewhere or even if there is a large bruise, which is just a collection of blood, both of those factors are very attractive to the infection bacteria that promote decomposition. So when you see a body where there are areas of decomposition which has occurred at a faster rate, it’s more advanced decomposition in a very specific area. That indicates that there was probably injury in that area." Dr. Garner noted advanced decomposition in the “head, the neck, the chest, the upper back, and in the groin area.” She opined that because of the advanced state of decomposition in the vaginal area, there had been some sort of trauma or injury to that area prior to death. Emily had what appeared to be stab wounds in the right lower quadrant of her torso and on the left wrist. Dr. Garner stated that the wounds to the wrist were defensive injuries. All the wounds were consistent with those inflicted by a kitchen knife. Examination of Emily’s shirt revealed multiple tears that were consistent with those produced by a knife. Ten total defects were found in the shirt: one in the right lower quadrant; four in the anterior left chest; one in the right chest; three in the arm; and one in the back. Dr. Garner observed injury to Emily’s neck, indicating that a sharp instrument went all the way through the soft tissue from the skin down to the bone in the back. She explained that the windpipe and esophagus are located directly in this region of the neck and would “most definitely have been severed.” There was another point of sharp trauma to the back of the skull where there was a puncture wound, but it did not penetrate through the skull. From her examination, Dr. Garner determined that there were ten stab wounds on the shirt, three to the neck, one to the back of the head, and two to the left wrist, for a total of sixteen stab wounds. She concluded that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds. Due to the extent of decomposition, Dr. Garner was unable to obtain DNA from Emily’s body for testing. Emily’s body was identified as that of Emily Branch through comparison of dental records. Dr. Steven Symes, a forensic anthropologist with the Shelby County medical examiner’s office, also testified as to the condition of Emily’s body. He examined the bones of Emily’s upper body and found four instances of “sharp trauma to bone,” three of which were in the neck and one in the back of the skull. The wounds in the neck were inflicted from front to back, penetrated through her neck, and impacted her spinal cord. The knife used had been a single-edged blade, like those of some kitchen knives. After deliberation, the jury convicted Rice of first degree premeditated murder and of first degree felony murder; these convictions were subsequently merged.  

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 26, 2007    Texas Carmelo Surace, 61
Marie Surace, 60
Ryan Dickson executed

On November 27, 1994, police in Amarillo, Texas, were called to the Surace Grocery, a small grocery store run by Carmelo Surace and his wife, Marie. When they arrived, the officers found Marie dead and Carmelo critically injured. The police learned that four young males—Ryan Heath Dickson, his younger brother Dane Dickson, Freddie Medina, and Jeremy Brown—had attempted to steal beer from the store. After first gathering outside the store, the two brothers entered while Medina and Brown waited outside. The Dickson brothers entered the nearby Surace Grocery, which had no customers then. Ryan Dickson headed toward the beer while his younger brother stood between the doorway and the counter. Carmelo Surace said he wouldn't sell beer to Dickson because of his age. Moments later, Dickson fired a shot, and Mr. Surace fell to the floor. Carmelo later died from his injuries. Dane Dickson said he had not seen the weapon earlier that day but added that he was not surprised that the defendant was armed because he was in the "habit" of carrying the weapon. Dickson then walked up to the counter, behind which Marie Surace stood. She told Dickson to take the money she had removed from the cash register and leave. Dickson wanted Mrs. Surace to come out from behind the counter. Dane Dickson grabbed the money, $52, and took off. Mrs. Surace was scooting back and squatting down when he left. When he was two or three steps outside the store, he heard a gunshot. "I kept running. I was running hard. Ryan caught up with me, and we were running side by side (toward their house)," Dane Dickson said. Dickson got the money, then hid his gun under a mattress in the backyard and told other youths what had happened. Dane Dickson later hid the rifle in a garage near an abandoned structure. He subsequently told police about it. Ryan Dickson went for food and socialized hours after the shooting. Police apprehended Dickson late that night after talking to witnesses, and Dane Dickson was picked up early the next morning. Ryan Dickson was 18 at the time of the crimes. Dickson had prior juvenile arrests for burglarizing churches and being a runaway. While living at a residential facility for youth, Dickson punched a female staffer in the face when she confronted him about peeking into a girl's room. Charges were filed against Dickson for the assault, but he was allowed to return to the facility. A short time later, another incident occurred when Dickson was confronted by another staffer about a prank. Dickson stabbed the staffer in the chest. Prosecutors outlined Dickson's violent history of two capital murders and approximately 100 criminal offenses. While awaiting trial for the Surace murders, Dickson sent letters to a young female friend claiming he had killed a black person in San Antonio and a pawn shop clerk in Fort Worth. In the letter he said, "I've done all the killing I need to. I've earned my stripes." One witness testified that, before the robbery, Dickson said he was "going to shoot the two old people in the store." After Dickson was sentenced to death, Surace family members were relieved. The trial lasted more than 12 weeks. "Well, we're all tired, and we're glad that this is finally over," said Rose Surace, her eyes still brimming with grief. "As far as the verdict went today, I speak for my family. I believe that the death penalty and the verdict - however it was done - as victims here that this is our voice going out through the law." She said the family probably could have dealt with the trauma if jurors meted out a life sentence, but the family's loss is a hard one to bear. "Either way, it doesn't bring our parents back," said her sister, Anita Surace. In 2002, Dickson was tried for the murder of Marie Surace and again sentenced to death. Dane Dickson pled guilty to two charges of murder and was sentenced to 15 years. Part of the sentence was served in a juvenile facility and then he was transferred to the state prison system. Ryan Dickson has proven that his jury was correct in finding that he would be a future danger to society. Prison records show that in December of 2006, Dickson stabbed a corrections officer in the eye. "I'm a fighter," he said. "It's pretty much a given that I can't beat the system, but I can create some difficulties for them after the fact. If they go ahead and kill me, that's fine." Incredibly, Dickson blamed Carmelo Surace for confronting him, and said the store owner must have spotted the weapon hidden in his jacket, tried to wrest it away from him and was shot in the tussle. "I had a gun inside my jacket. The man came out from behind the counter. He walked in the aisle with me. He grabbed my gun, tipped the gun. ... When I jerked it back, I pulled the trigger. And that's how he was shot. I didn't go in there and pull a gun and start shooting people," Dickson said. He also insisted Marie Surace was shot by accident as she reached under a counter for a gun. Former Potter County District Attorney Rebecca King, who prosecuted the two capital murder cases against Dickson, disputed his story of the shootings, especially Marie Surace's death. The woman was trying to make a phone call on an old-style rotary phone when she was shot, she said. "When the shooting started, I wasn't thinking about beer no more," said Dickson, who fled the store empty-handed. "I attempted to shoot over her head and we ran out. I didn't even know I shot her until later that night when they told me." King, however, said ballistics evidence disputed Dickson's account. "She was on her knees," King said. "She had the phone in her hand. He bent down. She was looking up at him. Ballistics showed it was execution-style. He shot her. Totally cold." King's co-prosecutor said about the sawed-off shotgun, "What do you think he took it down there for?'' Murphy asked. "... It was fully loaded and one in the chamber, cocked and ready to go." UPDATE: Twelve years after murdering an Amarillo couple during an armed robbery at their grocery store, Ryan Dickson was executed Thursday evening. No witnesses from his family or the victims' family attended the execution. Dickson, 30, spoke rapidly when asked if he had anything to say, expressing love to his family and apologizing to the relatives of his victims. Dickson said, "I am sorry for what I did, and I take responsibility for what I did. I do apologize to the Surace family. I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father, their grandfather and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken." Dickson was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal drugs began running through his veins.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 26, 2007    Pennsylvania Conrad Dumchock, 35  Kevin Marinelli stayed

In August 1995, Kevin J. Marinelli was sentenced to death for the first-degree murder of 35-year-old Conrad Dumchock during a robbery at Dumchock’s home. On the evening of April 26, 1994, Marinelli and his brother, Mark Marinelli, and Thomas Kirchoff met at Marinelli's apartment to plan a burglary of the residence of Conrad Dumchock, whom Mark knew to have stereo equipment. The three men obtained weapons, disguises, and gloves in preparation for the burglary, and proceeded to Dumchock's home in Kulpmont. Dumchock was home alone and had just spoken to his sister and brother-in-law on the telephone for forty-five minutes. The Marinelli brothers and Kirchoff arrived at Dumchock's home and initially had difficulty gaining entry. Observing that Dumchock's car was parked outside his house and concerned about the possibility of being discovered, the threesome left Dumchock's residence but returned a few minutes later to again attempt to enter. Eventually, they broke a small window in the kitchen door and entered the residence. Upon entering Dumchock's residence, Marinelli immediately proceeded to the second floor, where he encountered Dumchock. When Dumchock requested that Marinelli leave his home, Marinelli struck Dumchock's face with his gun and yelled for assistance from Mark and Kirchoff. Marinelli and Kirchoff continued to beat Dumchock, despite Dumchock's pleading with them to take what they wanted and leave him alone. The three rummaged through Dumchock's home looking for items to take and asking Dumchock where his guns and money were located. When Dumchock would moan or not answer, Marinelli would hit Dumchock again. Mark and Kirchoff departed Dumchock's home after they had loaded the items they wished to steal, while Marinelli remained in the residence with Dumchock. Marinelli then shot Dumchock twice in the head, with one shot into Dumchock's eye and the other directly between Dumchock's eyes. Marinelli then ran out of Dumchock's house and exclaimed, “Let's get out of here!” The threesome returned to Kirchoff's home and divided the items stolen from Dumchock. A short while later, the Marinelli brothers returned to Dumchock's house and took a motorcycle from the victim's porch. Marinelli attempted to start the motorcycle on compression, with Mark following in a car. They were observed crossing the main road in Kulpmont heading toward the other side of town. When the motorcycle would not start, Marinelli abandoned it. On the morning following the killing, a friend who was waiting for Dumchock to drive him to work entered the victim's home and discovered Dumchock's stereo equipment had been disarranged and Dumchock's dog was shaking. The friend called out to Dumchock but received no response. He became concerned and left Dumchock's home, and headed to the police station. On his way there, he encountered Kulpmont Police Sergeant Detective Robert Muldowney, and related to him the circumstances he had found. Sergeant Muldowney entered Dumchock's home, noting that the storm door was open, the inside door was propped open with a chair, and the glass had been broken from a window in the door. Inside the house, Sergeant Muldowney discovered that telephone cords had been cut. Upstairs, Sergeant Muldowney discovered the victim's cold body lying at the top of the stairway landing. Sergeant Muldowney noted that Dumchock's bedroom was disheveled, with drawers removed from the dresser and various items strewn on the victim's bed. Pennsylvania State Police and County Coroner Richard Ulrich were called to the scene. The victim's sister also arrived at his house and noted that Dumchock's motorcycle was missing. The motorcycle was later recovered hidden in some brush where it had been abandoned. Dumchock's brother-in-law informed police that guns, tools, and electronic equipment were also missing from Dumchock's residence. Another of Dumchock's friends was brought to Dumchock's residence to assist police in determining which stereo equipment, as well as liquor, was missing. On May 25, 1994, Mark Marinelli's girlfriend turned over to Coal Township Police certain weapons which Mark had brought to her home. These weapons were later identified as having belonged to the victim. County Coroner Ulrich was at the Coal Township police station when the girlfriend turned over these weapons. The coroner connected the items with the Dumchock killing, and notified the District Attorney and State Police. Further, Ms. Chamberlain allowed Shamokin Police to come to her home and remove other items Mark had left there, including a telephone answering machine. Coroner Ulrich recognized the telephone answering machine as being of the type reported missing from Dumchock's house, and he notified the State Police. Additionally, a friend of Marinelli was questioned by police about the Dumchock murder. He stated to police that Marinelli had bragged about how he had killed Dumchock. A search of Marinelli's residence by police recovered a number of items, including stereo equipment, later identified as property belonging to the victim. After being questioned by police, Marinelli gave police both an oral and a taped confession as to his involvement in the Dumchock killing. The Commonwealth conducted a joint trial of Marinelli and Kirchoff from May 8, 1995, through May 18, 1995. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury convicted Marinelli of the following offenses: (1) first-degree murder; (2) robbery; (3) conspiracy to commit robbery; (4) burglary; (5) theft by unlawful taking; (6) receiving stolen property; and (7) aggravated assault. Following a penalty hearing limited to Marinelli, the jury found two aggravating circumstances and two mitigating circumstances and concluded that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances. Accordingly, the trial court sentenced Marinelli to death. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

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