Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

Fight the Death
Penalty in USA

Information about individuals executed January-June 2002

     James R. Johnson, 52, 2002-01-09, Mississippi

A man convicted of a sniper-style shooting rampage a decade ago that left 4 dead and terrorized the central Missouri community of California was executed early today.

James R. Johnson, 52, was pronounced dead at 12:06 a.m. at the Potosi Correctional Center, two minutes after the 1st of 3 lethal doses was administered, state Department of Corrections spokesman Tim Kniest said.

Johnson's fate was sealed late Tuesday when Gov. Bob Holden refused to halt the execution, Missouri's 54th since it resumed capital punishment in 1989. The execution was Missouri's 8th since Holden took office.

Holden spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said no new legal reasons had emerged to spare Johnson for the slayings of a sheriff's wife, a visiting sheriff and 2 deputies in a case that later provided political ammunition in 2 U.S. Senate confirmation battles.

Johnson, who had filed no last-minute appeals, declined interview requests from his cell.

Johnson, a former military helicopter mechanic, didn't deny pulling the trigger in the 4 deaths during the shooting spree around California on Dec. 9-10, 1991 - events that led to one of the largest manhunts in Missouri history.

The shootings started the night of Dec. 9 at Johnson's home near Jamestown, where Moniteau County Reserve Deputy Les Roark had gone on a domestic disturbance call.

After Roark's shooting, prosecutors said, Johnson traveled to the home of Moniteau County Sheriff Kenny Jones. He shot Jones' wife, Pam, through a window as she read a Christmas story to a Bible class.

Prosecutor said he then picked off in sniper style 2 law enforcers who had rushed to California to assist local officials, Cooper County Sheriff Charles R. Smith and Miller County Deputy Sandra Wilson.

Johnson eventually surrendered Dec. 10 at the California home of an elderly woman who fed him, prayed with him and later got away safely.

Johnson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be executed in Missouri this year and the 54th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Missouri trails only Texas (256) and Virginia (83) in the number of executions since the death penalty was re-legalized on July 2, 1976.

Johnson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 750th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Michael Patrick Moore, 38, 2002-01-09

A man who stalked high school girls was executed Wednesday night for killing the mother of one of his stalking victims during a burglary of her home.

Michael Moore, 38, was apologetic and appeared to choke back tears as he expressed love for his family and sought forgiveness for the slaying of Christa Bentley.

"If I could think of a word in the vocabulary stronger, you need to hear something stronger, you deserve something stronger," he said, looking at family members of the victim. They watched through a window a few feet way. "I'm sorry. I can't take back what I have done."

Moore told his family members, including his mother and stepfather, that he would be waiting for them in heaven. "Do not disappoint me by not showing up," he said.

He nodded twice, then gasped and sputtered as his family broke into a verse of the hymn "Amazing Grace."

9 minutes later, at 6:32 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Moore was set to die last March but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the punishment a day before his scheduled execution. In November, the same court dismissed his appeal and no other court action was filed.

"I had prayed to the Lord for more time," he said in a recent death row interview. "I thought I wasn't spiritually ready. He granted me 10 more months.

"This time, I did not ask for more time," Moore said.

Moore was arrested the early morning hours of Feb. 26, 1994, after police in Copperas Cove, about 50 miles southwest of Waco, pursued a car speeding with its lights off on a 2-lane country road. Moore pulled over after about 20 miles and took off running across a field. When police apprehended him, he confessed to killing Bentley, 35.

In their investigation, authorities found he had compiled a notebook he called "The Girls of Copperas Cove" that included the names and addresses of some 300 teen-age girls, including Bentley's daughter. Several had reported burglaries at their homes and others had received threatening letters.

Weapons left at the Bentley slaying - a knife and a .22-caliber pistol - were stolen in the burglaries.

Prosecutors said Moore had established a pattern of breaking into homes that were occupied. They also said the presence of Bentley's car outside the home that night led him to believe the woman's teen-age daughter, known as T.R., was at home. Unknown to him, she was at a friend's house.

Moore said he went through high school yearbooks and "made a list of the most attractive girls and started following them around."

He said on the day of the murder he had been drinking all day - something he learned while serving 9 years in the Navy - and contended he remembered little of the fatal attack.

"I remember looking for valuables and I heard a woman's voice calling out," he said.

As he walked by the woman's bedroom, he said she grabbed him.

"I remember stabbing her but only a couple of stabs. I remember shooting at her but don't know if I hit her," he said, contending he "blacked out."

"I don't know any other word to explain," he said.

Bentley's 14-year-old son was awakened by his mother's screams and called police as her attacker fled.

At his trial, Moore's attorneys tried to convince a jury he was abused as a child, was kept in foster care in his native Buffalo, N.Y., area, found stability while in the Navy but took a bad turn after he was jilted by his fiancee 2 weeks before they were to be married.

"I can cry all I want about how people beat me," he said. "The fact is none of that contributed. I was the one who walked into that house that night.

"I've been trying to come up with a word to express my sincere apology, but there's nothing in the thesaurus, there's nothing strong enough, nothing other than 'sorry,'" he said from death row.

Sandy Gately, the former Coryell County district attorney who prosecuted Moore, said this week she didn't buy his apology.

"I never saw any remorse at all," she said.

Moore becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year, and the 257th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. Texas has carried out 150 executions since 1997, and already has 9 more executions scheduled through May 1.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Jermarr Arnold, 43, 2002-02-16, Texas

Singing Amazing Grace, killer is executed for 1983 murder --Texas death row inmate Jermarr Arnold was executed in Huntsville Wednesday.

A killer with a history of violence in and out of prison was executed Wednesday night for fatally shooting a jewelry-store clerk during a robbery nearly 19 years ago in Corpus Christi.

Jermarr Arnold, 43, his confident voice booming into a speaker into the witness room, took responsibility for the killing, asked for forgiveness and thanked the members of his victim's family for attending.

"I'm deeply sorry for the loss of your loved one. I can't give you any answers. I can give you one thing. I give you my life, a life for a life," he said.

The witnesses included his victim's parents and 2 brothers, who stood silently and expressionless as Arnold spoke directly to them and grinned broadly as he entered the death house.

"The reason I'm smiling is I'm leaving this world. I'm going to a better place," Arnold said.

He then began singing Amazing Grace loudly. When he got to the last line of the 1st verse, "I was blind and now I see," Arnold gasped on the word "see" and slipped into unconsciousness.

He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m., 10 minutes after the flow of the drugs began.

Arnold acknowledged shooting Christina Marie Sanchez, 21, in the head during a July, 15, 1983, holdup of the Corpus Christi jewelry store where she was working.

Arnold becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this yearin Texas and the 258th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Ronald Keith Spivey, 62, 2002-01-24, Georgia

Georgia executed its 5th man in 3 months Thursday, but it was the last time a doctor from the Medical College of Georgia would participate.

Ronald Keith Spivey, 62, was pronounced dead at 7:34 p.m. at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Spivey, a condemned cop killer was executed a few hours after the MCG president notified the Department of Corrections that its doctors would no longer participate in any more lethal injections.

MCG doctors provide most of the medical care to state prisoners and 1 of them was used to pronounce inmates dead at executions.

Daniel Rahn said in letter to corrections Commissioner Jim Wetherington that the school believed "it compromises the physicians' role as a treatment provider in the institution to also be a participant in the execution process."

He said that conflict existed even though the prison doctors do not administer any of the 3 drugs that lead to an inmate's death. "Even his presence in the death chamber could compromise his provider relationship with the inmate population," he said.

It took 7 minutes to end Spivey's life. He was sentenced to die for killing off-duty Columbus police officer Billy Watson, who had interrupted a robbery at a bar.

Spivey willingly walked to the gurney, where he was strapped down. He chatted almost constantly with the warden and at one time, asked for a drink of water.

To the witnesses, Spivey apologized.

"If I had a million lives, I couldn't say I'm sorry enough," he said. He said in the 25 years on death row he has been "decent, caring and useful.... And what happened in that case changed me so much, I'm not the same person I was 25 years ago."

Spivey denounced capital punishment. "In our society, we hear and say 'what would Jesus do.' You can believe I don't believe Jesus would do this... it allows no room for redemption."

He said the death penalty "dragged the victim's family and my family through living hell. It's incredibly sad that we live in a society that feels it has to kill people." He urged his 4 friends who had come to "leave this thing without any bitterness, any hatred, any anger."

As the drugs were administered, he held his head up and spoke of love and repeatedly looked at his friends and mouthed, "I love you." And just as the sedative took effect, he shouted out, "deliver me. Deliver, he is love."

Spivey had spent 25 years on Georgia's death row, where 121 men and 1 woman remain. For much of the time he was isolated from other condemned inmates because he often gave prison officials information against other prisoners.

Thursday was the 2nd death date for Spivey. He was scheduled to be electrocuted last March, but the Georgia Supreme Court called off the execution so it could review the use of the electric chair here. The court ruled in October that electrocution violated the constitutional protection from cruel and usual punishment, prompting the state to begin using lethal injection.

Spivey becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Georgia this year and the28th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

Spivey becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 753rd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution & Rick Halperin)

     Stephen Wayne Anderson, 48, 2002-01-29, California

With a whispered "I love you," from his lawyer, Stephen Wayne Anderson was put to death early Tuesday for murdering an elderly widow 22 years ago.

Anderson died almost entirely surrounded by strangers. No relatives of his victim or members of his own family attended.

Anderson, 48, was pronounced dead from a lethal injection at 12:30 a.m. PST after his attorneys lost a last-ditch battle for the life of the man they said had redeemed himself on death row, learning Latin and writing poems of repentance.

As Anderson was lying on the gurney in the death chamber, his public defender, Margo Rocconi, mouthed the words "I love you" 3 times to the condemned man. Witnesses said he responded by mouthing, "Thank you."

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution late Monday night. The nation's highest court voted 8-0, with Justice Antonin Scalia not participating, to reject Anderson's request for a stay of execution and a request to rehear the case.

Anderson's defenders had asked Gov. Gray Davis to spare his life, saying he didn't get a fair trial because of a bad lawyer and noting that some family members of the victim did not support the death penalty.

Expecting clemency to be denied -- the last California governor to grant clemency was Ronald Reagan in 1967 -- the defense team unsuccessfully waged a separate legal battle arguing that Davis' tough-on-crime platform locked him into an intractable position on clemency.

On Monday, Anderson's lawyers filed a new appeal claiming Davis' 34-page opinion showed his bias. That argument also was rejected by the courts.

Anderson was sentenced to die for killing Elizabeth Lyman in the early hours of Memorial Day 1980.

Prosecutors said Anderson, who had escaped from a Utah prison some months earlier, broke into Lyman's house in Bloomington, a small town in Southern California, and shot her as she sat up in bed. Anderson ransacked the house, finding $112, and then made himself at home, watching television in her living room and cooking himself a meal of noodles, according to court records.

Prosecutors portrayed Anderson as a callous killer with a long criminal record that included confessions to 2 killings in Utah, the stabbing of a fellow inmate and the contract killing of another man. Anderson also confessed to 6 contract hits in Nevada, although it wasn't clear those killings really happened.

His defenders gave a different version. They said Anderson was shaped by a brutal upbringing. They also contended his court-appointed lawyer did a terrible job, failingn to bring out the mitigating circumstances of Anderson's harsh childhood.

The death sentences of 2 other clients of Anderson's trial lawyer, the late S. Donald Ames, were overturned because of incompetent representation. But the courts ruled Anderson got an adequate defense.

Anderson's new lawyers also said the Utah confessions, which were used to bolster the death penalty case against him, should have been suppressed because officials held him too long before he was arraigned.

Anderson did not make a final statement Tuesday morning. The lethal mix of chemicals began running into his veins at 12:17 a.m., and he died 13 minutes later.

About 200 death penalty opponents braved near-freezing temperatures to hold a candlelight vigil outside San Quentin on Monday night, sipping hot chocolate and huddling in blankets to stay warm.

Lyle Grosjean, an Episcopal priest from Santa Cruz, was among 15 people who walked from San Francisco to San Quentin to protest capital punishment.

"We walk 25 miles to show our commitment that we're against the death penalty. Punishment isn't the answer. Compassion is," Grosjean said. "We're unequivocally opposed to the death penalty in all cases, guilty or innocent."

Beyond the legal issues, Anderson's supporters said his writings showed a spirit worth saving.

In prison, Anderson had written a play, started a novel, and published a number of poems.

One, "I Miss Them All," begins, "I miss leaves whispering/softly through the evening haze;/little conversations upon the breeze,/rustling giggles and hush, child, hush."

Anderson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in California and the 10th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992.

(sources: San Francisco Chronicle & Rick Halperin)

     John Joseph Romano, 43, 2002-01-29, Oklahoma

A former car salesman was executed by injection Tuesday night for robbing and killing a man in 1985.

John Joseph Romano, who had maintained his innocence, was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m. in the state's 1st execution of the year. Oklahoma led the nation with 18 executions in 2001.

Romano, 43, had been sentenced to death in 1987 for killing Roger Sarfaty, 52, in Sarfaty's Oklahoma City apartment. Sarfaty, who earned money dealing jewelry out of his home and his pocket, was stabbed in the heart and strangled.

Last week, the state Supreme Court denied Romano's request for DNA tests on nail clippings and swabs taken from Sarfaty's apartment.

Romano also was sentenced to death for killing and robbing Lloyd Thompson, 63, a year after Sarfaty was killed. On Monday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver turned down Romano's appeal of his death sentence in that case.

Romano's co-defendant in both cases, David Wayne Woodruff, is scheduled to be executed Thursday.

2 death penalty opponents began a public fast near the state Capitol on Tuesday. They set up a 2-person tent at a makeshift campsite on a highway median, where they planned to fast until Thursday night on water, fruit juice and vegetable broth.

"We need to examine what's going on in the state," said Dr. Gary Conrad, an emergency room physician. He wore thick mittens, thermal underwear and a parka to protect himself from the cold.

"People have been fasting as a form of protest for many, many years," he said. "We may lose some weight, but we won't lose our heart."

A rally on the steps of the Capitol drew about 60 death penalty opponents who denounced state-sponsored executions.

Sarfaty, who earned money dealing jewelry out of his home and his pocket, was stabbed in the heart and strangled. Gone from his body were the rings he wore on almost every finger as a way of advertising his business. Also missing were the Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets filled with quarters that he kept on hand for guests at his poker games.

On the day Sarfaty died, Romano and Woodruff showed up drunk at a shopping mall and tried to buy a television set with pocketfuls of quarters. Woodruff, who was an acquaintance of the cashier, also had an injured hand and blood on his pants.

Mall security was called after the 2 became disorderly. They were arrested, taken to a detoxification center and released before Sarfaty's body was found 4 days after the killing.

He and Woodward did not become suspects until after they were arrested in Thompson's killing.

Trial testimony limited details of Sarfaty's life to his jewelry trading and the scotch and water he took every night at the same bar.

His daughter, Twyla Alvarez, issued a statement Tuesday saying it was "a great tragedy that my father did not live to expand the boundaries of his life, to meet and know his grandchildren."

"He deserved all the opportunities that life offers us and Romano deserves severe punishment for his role in taking those opportunities away from him," she said.

Alvarez opposes the death penalty, but said she respects the judicial system in Oklahoma.

Eulys Thompson, brother of Lloyd Thompson, said neither his brother nor Sarfaty deserved what happened.

"And both Romano and Woodruff deserve what they get," he said.

Romano becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 49th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)

     Windell Broussard, 41, 2002-01-30, Texas

A parolee convicted of killing his wife and stepson in a bloody stabbing rampage almost 10 years ago was executed Wednesday night.

"I just want to let everyone know this here is a tragedy," Windell Broussard, 41, told those witnessing his execution. "What happened to Dianna, what happened to Corey, what's happening to me is a tragedy."

As he looked at his spiritual adviser, Broussard whispered, "Here I am Lord. I have come to do your will." He expelled a short gasp and a longer, louder gasp before closing his eyes.

4 relatives of his slain wife, Dianna, witnessed the execution, staring straight at Broussard and showing no emotion.

He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m., 8 minutes after the flow of lethal drugs began.

Broussard, who was on parole for robbery and also had a kidnapping conviction on his record, was condemned for the fatal stabbing of his wife, Dianna, 28, and her 10-year-old son, Corey Harris, whose bodies were found in the yard of their Port Arthur home. Both were slashed repeatedly although they died of fatal heart wounds.

Another child, Toccara Harris, 9, was seriously wounded in the April 24, 1992, attacks but survived and identified Broussard as the knife-wielding intruder who came into their home as they slept.

"It was horrible, horrible," Wendell Radford, the Jefferson County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Broussard, said this week.
"He had slashed the hell out of them.

"Anyone that brutally stabs a mother and child to death while they sleep deserves to die."

Attorneys for the former foreman at a waste oil transfer company asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the lethal injection, but the high court rejected the plea about 3 hours before the punishment was to take place.

Besides the testimony from the stepdaughter, Broussard's aunt testified he came home the night of the killings, wearing only his underwear. He jumped up and down and told her he "did something."

"I killed somebody," he said.

A cap from the company where Broussard worked along with a pack of cigarettes he smoked were recovered from the scene.

Broussard, in an interview last week on death row, acknowledged he and his wife were having marital problems and that he was living elsewhere but denied any involvement in the slayings. The couple had been married the previous year.

"I've always, from the very beginning, said I didn't do it," he said. "Why feel sorry for something you didn't do?

"I don't owe anybody any apology. I think I'm owed some justice. I believe in the system but sometimes it's not fair. The system should be able to sort these things out."

Broussard earlier was convicted of kidnaping in Harris County and served about 2 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence before he was returned to prison as a parole violator in August 1986. He was released three months later.
Then in March 1990, he received more than 9 years for robbery and was paroled after serving only 3 months.

The convictions were used by prosecutors in their arguments to the jury that Broussard was a continued threat for violence.

"Just because I'd been to prison doesn't make me a murderer," Broussard said from death row.

Broussard becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 259th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Randal Hafdahl, 48, 2002-01-31, Texas

Shouting rock 'n' roll lyrics, a handyman convicted of gunning down a policeman in 1985 was put to death by injection Thursday.

Randal Hafdahl, 48, expressed love for friends and relatives in his final statement, and choked back tears as he addressed his daughter, who watched through a window a few feet away.

"Approximately 28 years ago, I looked at a bassinet looking at an angel and I'm looking at her right now," he said. His daughter sobbed.

Hafdahl then lifted his head from the death chamber gurney and shouted, "The road goes on forever and the party never ends! Rock 'n' roll!"

In November 1985, Amarillo Police Sgt. James Mitchell was returning home from work when he saw Hafdahl's car veer off a highway and crash through a fence.

Hafdahl ran from the accident, opening fire with a pistol when Mitchell ordered him to stop. Mitchell, 43, was married and had 2 daughters.

Hafdahl said he didn't recognize the officer gun drawn as a policeman: "I was stoned, I was disoriented from the wreck and I thought someone was fixing to kill me."

At the time, Hafdahl was wanted for jumping bond on a charge of aggravated kidnaping.

Hafdahl becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year and the 260th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.

     David Wayne Woodruff, 42, 2002-01-31, Oklahoma

A former Marine was executed Thursday for the 1985 robbery and killing of an Oklahoma City man.

David Wayne Woodruff, 42, was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

He received a lethal injection for the death of Roger Sarfaty, 52.

Woodruff's co-defendant, John Joseph Romano, was executed on Tuesday.

On the day Sarfaty died in his apartment, Romano and Woodruff showed up drunk at a shopping mall and tried to buy a television set with pocketfuls of quarters. Woodruff, who was an acquaintance of the cashier, also had an injured hand and blood on his pants.

Sarfaty was robbed of some jewelry and buckets of quarters at the time of his death.

Romano and Woodruff did not become suspects until almost a year later when they were arrested in the death of Lloyd Thompson, who was also robbed and fatally stabbed in his apartment. Both men were also convicted of his murder.

Woodruff was also convicted of solicitation to commit murder after an informant told police Woodruff asked him to kill everyone in an Edmond coin shop so they could rob it. Woodruff reportedly stopped at the last minute when he saw a police officer in the store.

Sarfaty's only known living relative, daughter Twyla Alvarez, witnessed Romano's execution and was scheduled to see Woodruff's. In a statement Thursday, she said she still hoped to hear some words of remorse.

"Before he died, Romano did say that he hoped anyone he had wronged would forgive him," she said. "But that falls far short of accepting responsibility for my father's death, much less apologizing for it. It is, I suppose, better than nothing. I am not optimistic, but perhaps David Woodruff will be more forthcoming tonight."

Alvarez, a crime analyst for a suburban Boston police department, also said Romano's execution affirmed sentiments she had against the death penalty.

"John Romano was dead. What, exactly, had been improved by that fact? My father is still dead, and the pain and suffering he endured are no less than before Romano died."

Still, Alvarez said she respects Oklahoma's laws and that she "cannot imagine a more humane way to carry out an execution." Thompson's brother, Eulys Thompson, also planned to watch Woodruff die.

"The only ones I feel sorry for are my brother's kids and the rest of the Thompson family," he said. "And I do feel sorry for his (Woodruff's) mother and dad as I've met them both and they seem like good people.

"But, as far as David Woodruff is concerned, I have no feelings except it's over and he's getting exactly what he deserves. He brought it on himself."

Woodruff becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 50th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Only Texs (260), Virginia (83), Missouri (54), and Florida (51) have executed more since the re-legalization of the death penalty on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Michael Owsley, 40, 2002-02-06, Missouri

A man convicted of the shotgun slaying of a teen-ager in 1993 was executed early Wednesday after losing a clemency bid that claimed the justice system is stacked against blacks like him.

Michael Owsley, 40, died at 12:07 a.m. by injection at the Potosi Correctional Center, said John Fougere, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

In a final statement, Owsley said, "I hope for salvation. I hope that the mercy and forgiveness that I have asked for will suffice. Praise Allah."

Owsley's fate was sealed late Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Bob Holden refused to halt the execution, the 9th since Holden took office a year ago.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis rejected Owsley's appeals earlier Tuesday.

In an interview, Owsley had insisted the shotgun blast that killed 18-year-old Elvin Iverson in 1993 came accidentally while Owsley was "catatonic" on gin and PCP, making the slaying unintentional and worthy of a lesser charge not punishable by death.

He also said race played a role in his death sentence.

"This case needs to be reviewed because Missouri's death-row situation is a situation that has been used repeatedly on people like me poor, black and unable to defend ourselves," Owsley said. "I'm nothing to Missouri, I'm nothing to the United States ... As they see it, I'm still chattel property."

In pressing Holden to commute his death sentence to life behind bars, Owsley called his fate unfair compared with the 20-year prison term given accomplice Marion Hamilton on a related 2nd-degree murder conviction.

Owsley was accused of punching and kicking Iverson at his Kansas City home in April 1993, at times beating his face with the shotgun before trying to smother him with a bag. Hamilton tied Iverson and companion Ellen Cole together by the feet before the 2 were blanketed.

"One of you live, one of you die," Owsley reportedly said while hitting the 2 with the shotgun, moments before the shotgun fired into Iverson's head.

Cole managed to escape and call police.

Hamilton, 43, will have his 1st parole hearing in April 2003, a Department of Corrections spokesman said.

Owsley becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 55th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     John W. Byrd Jr., 38, 2002-02-19, Ohio

Convicted killer John W. Byrd Jr., was executed at 10 a.m. today.

A federal appeals court refused to stop the execution Tuesday of Byrd , who was sentenced to die for the 1983 stabbing of a store clerk during a robbery.

The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a last-minute request from Byrd's lawyers to stop the scheduled 10 a.m. lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Byrd, who says he's innocent and that a robbery accomplice committed the crime, had selected the electric chair as his method of execution, to protest the brutality of capital punishment.

However, Gov. Gov. Bob Taft signed a bill in November that banned the use of the electric chair, leaving injection as the only method of execution.

Tonight 6th Circuit judges declared that Monday night's denial by 3 judges of a stay of execution was the court's final judgment. The court did not disclose how the 8 judges voted individually. P> Byrd's lawyers had argued he was entitled to a new trial on his claim that he did not kill store clerk Monte Tewksbury and that another man, John Brewer, was the killer.

Brewer was convicted with Byrd in the 1983 store robbery at which Tewksbury, 40 was fatally stabbed. Prosecutors have rejected Brewer's statement as a last-ditch effort to save Byrd's life.

Meanwhile, Columbus attorney Cliff Arnebeck, hired Sunday by Byrd and his family, unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday morning to delay Byrd's execution. The court told him he was not eligible to file documents in the case because he is not a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar.

Arnebeck said he would ask a colleague with the proper standing to file the documents.

Byrd, 38, spent the morning visiting with family and his lawyers, a spokeswoman for the state's prison system said Tuesday.

He awoke about 5:13 a.m., shaved and showered but did not eat his pancake breakfast, said Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. his daughter's education.

Byrd has insisted he can't remember the events of the night Tewksbury was killed because he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He said the evidence in the case does not prove he's guilty.

Byrd becomes the 1st Ohio condemned inmate to be put to death this year and the 3rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Monty Delk, , 2002-02-28, Texas

Screaming profanity, convicted killer Monty Delk was executed tonight for the murder of an East Texas man gunned down while his car was taken more than 15 years ago.

Delk, strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney, shouted gibberish and obscenities before the lethal drugs knocked him unconscious.

"I am the warden," he shouted as Warden Neill Hodges asked him if he had any final statement. "Get your warden off this gurney and shut up," Delk said.

After spouting more profanity, Delk blurted out, "You are not in America. This is the island of Barbados. People will see you doing this."

He stopped in mid-sentence as the drugs took effect. He became silent, his mouth and eyes both wide open. 6 minutes later, he was pronounced dead at 7:53 p.m. CST.

His victim's widow nearly fainted while watching Delk die and had to be taken away in a wheelchair.

Delk's execution was delayed more than an hour while the U.S. Supreme Court considered an 11th-hour appeal. It came about 5 hours after a federal appeals court agreed with state attorneys and lifted a reprieve that would have blocked the punishment.

U.S. District Judge Richard Schell of Beaumont, acting on an appeal from Delk's lawyers, issued a stay Wednesday, but the Texas attorney general's office went to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to get the reprieve vacated. The Supreme Court denied Delk's application for a stay at 7:05 p.m.

Delk's lawyer, John Wright of Huntsville, contended Delk, who turned 35 on Sunday, was too mentally ill to assist in his own defense and was incompetent to be executed.

Delk, who refused to select a final meal, took his first shower in months late Wednesday in exchange for some commissary privileges, prison officials said. His prison activity in recent years has been marked by a lack of personal hygiene and bizarre behavior.

Wright described Delk as having "long periods of psychotic thought punctuated by grandiose delusions, incoherent ramblings and smearing himself with his own feces, interspersed with brief moments of lucidity and compliance."

State attorneys and prosecutors in Anderson County, where Delk was convicted in 1988, contended Delk's behavior was an act.

"Delk has a history of manipulation," the state said in its motion to the appeals court. "He finds it in his best interest to appear incompetent when an audience is available."

In a 1986 ruling in a Florida case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to give a death sentence to someone who is insane. While not defining insanity, the court said a person must be aware of the punishment and the reason for it.

Delk was condemned for killing Gene Olan "Bubba" Allen II of Grapeland. Allen's body was found in a remote area of Anderson County, about 140 miles north of Houston. He had been shot in the head with a shotgun. His wife, Sheila, last saw him Nov. 29, 1986, driving away with Delk, who had called earlier about a newspaper ad that listed their car for sale. He wanted to take a test drive.

Several days later Delk was arrested in Winnfield, La. He was driving the car, had the sawed-off shotgun used to kill Allen and was carrying the photograph of Allen's wife.

Delk's mental competency was reviewed by his trial court in 1997. The court ruled his behavior, which at the time required him to be gagged in the courtroom because of his repeated outbursts, was voluntary.

In a recent death row interview, Delk claimed to be a commando, the prison warden and a police chief, among others. He said a 900,000-foot submarine was at the prison the previous night and that he had helped open the hatch on the vessel. He gave his age as 50, then 99, then said he didn't remember.

"I was born old," he said, adding that he had been married 95 million years ago, that he had children born in prison and that he craved vanilla wafers.

Retired Anderson County District Attorney Richard Handorf, who prosecuted Delk, said he questioned Delk's intelligence, not his mental competency at the 1988 trial.

"I don't recall him acting that way during the trial," Handorf said. "One of the things that stands out in my mind is when he was arrested, he had in his billfold or on his person the picture of the dead man's wife. As I understand it, he told his own lawyers it was his girlfriend or his old girlfriend.

"To me, that showed very bad judgment on his part."

Delk becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 261st since Texas resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Jeffrey Tokar, , 2002-03-06, Missouri

In Potosi, a man convicted of fatally shooting another man in front of the victim's 2 young children was executed early Tuesday morning.

Jeffrey Tokar died at 12:04 a.m., 3 minutes after the 1st of 3 injections was administered at the Potosi Correctional Center, prison spokesman John Fougere said.

Tokar appeared to be singing until he lost consciousness.

"A dying man should always tell the truth, and the truth isn't necessarily what a person hears, but what they choose to believe," Tokar said in a prepared final statement. "Praise the Lord, I am on my way."

Gov. Bob Holden on Tuesday night denied clemency for Jeffrey Tokar, removing the last apparent legal barrier before his execution. Spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said the governor found nothing to warrant clemency and decided the jury's original verdict should be respected.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Tokar's appeal Tuesday, marking the 4th time the court refused to halt the execution.

Tokar was convicted 10 years ago of murdering Johnny Douglass at his home during what began as a burglary.

After completing sentences for stealing and driving while intoxicated in a Boone County jail shortly before Douglass' murder, Tokar was scheduled to begin a 7-year state sentence for a 1991 burglary conviction. Instead, he was accidentally released.

5 days later, on March 11, 1992, Tokar and his girlfriend, Sandra Stickley, picked the Douglass residence while driving around the Centralia area looking for an unattended house to burglarize. The pair were still inside when Douglass and his 2 children, ages 4 and 9, returned home.

Tokar, using a shotgun he found at the home, confronted the family in the garage, where he shot Douglass twice in the head.

Stickley pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In the clemency request, Tokar's attorneys argued he suffered from paranoid personality disorder, a condition that prevented him from assisting with both his original trial and appeals.

Tokar, according to a doctor who reviewed his records, was "highly suspicious of his attorneys, their legal assistants, the sheriff, the guards, even the judge and the court reporter because, in his mind, they all were conspiring against him, having secret meetings, hiding and distorting evidence in order to turn the jury against him, and even trying to humiliate and possibly kill him."

The petition also cites a history of severe alcohol abuse, which began when he started drinking as a child, and a history that lacks any previous arrests or convictions for a violent crime.

State law prohibited Douglass' children, Jarad and Lynzie, from witnessing the execution because they are not yet 21. But Stuart Miller, the Audrain County Sheriff who investigated the murder, was at the prison. 7 family members witnessed the execution but declined to speak with the media afterward, prison officials said.

"I'm a strong believer and supporter in the death penalty," Miller said. "I don't know if I really want to witness one, but I feel an obligation to the family as the investigator, so that's why I'm going to be there."

Tokar becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 56th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Only Texas (261) and Virginia (83) have executed more people than Missouri since the death penalty was re-legalized on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Gerald Tigner, 29, 2002-03-07, Texas

Maintaining his innocence, Gerald Tigner was executed tonight for killing 2 men during a shooting spree almost 9 years ago when he was free on bond awaiting trial for another slaying.

"I was wrongfully convicted of this crime," Tigner, 29, of Waco said just before the drugs went flowing through the veins of his arms. "I got convicted on a false confession. My lawyer didn't point this out to the jury. I did not kill those two drug dealers."

He expressed love to his family and friends, adding, "I'll see you all later."

He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing.

Tigner becomes the 600th condemned inmate in America to be put to death via lethalinjection since Texas first used that method in 1982.

Tigner's attorneys had asked the courts for DNA testing of blood on shoes he was wearing the day of the shootings, contending if the blood was not from the victims, it would prove Tigner was not there.

"If you're not at the crime scene, you're not guilty," Tigner said in a recent death row interview. "I was not there. I was at home with my family."

Tigner said a friend, Guan Scott, was the gunman who fatally shot James Williams, 22, and Michael Watkins, 32. Scott, however, was killed in an unrelated shooting before Tigner's trial.

Tigner repeated from the death chamber gurney that Scott was the gunman.

Prosecutors disputed Tigner's version of events, noting they had eyewitnesses to the shooting -- 2 of them identifying Tigner at his trial -- and that Tigner, arrested a day after the double slaying, gave investigators 2 confessions that included details only the killer could know.

"He said he shot with 3 different caliber weapons, a 9 mm, a .38 and a .22," Crawford Long, a McLennan County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Tigner, said this week. "He got the exact calibers. It was known only to him and it was confirmed later by ballistics."

Tigner contended the confessions were contrived by a detective who "wrote what he wanted to write."

"I made up an unbelievable self-defense story," Tigner said. "It was not consistent with any evidence at the crime scene. The key part is I did not admit to being at the crime scene, did not admit to driving the truck to the crime scene. This is what the jury missed."

"He's intelligent but he uses that intelligence for evil ends," Long said of Tigner, whose criminal record began at age 16 when he received probation for a burglary. He had later convictions for criminal mischief, making a terroristic threat and evading police.

"There was no doubt ... that he was definitely guilty," Robert Bell, Williams' brother, said after watching Tigner die. "You've got to be on this side in order to understand what we had to go through, to identify our brother and look at pictures and go through that graphic scene again. For any family, that's difficult.

"Our brother is gone. We can thank God that this individual has been taken off the streets where he won't do it again."

In December 1992, he confessed to fatally shooting his mother's ex-boyfriend. Tigner contended that shooting was in self-defense and was out on bond when Watkins and Williams were killed.

Court records show Tigner was driving a truck, accompanied by Scott and Scott's brother, Timothy, when they spotted a car with Watkins and Williams inside. Tigner flagged them down and he and Guan Scott approached the other pair.

What happened next is unclear, although testimony showed Tigner started hollering at them and began firing into the car, walking alongside the car while continuing to fire. Witnesses said after he ran out of ammunition, he went back to his own truck, got another weapon and returned to the car. By then, Watkins had fallen from the car and was trying to crawl away. Tigner straddled him and shot him in the head, witnesses said.

"He's a very cold-blooded person," Long said.

Watkins was shot 10 times, including twice in the head. Williams was shot 7 times, 4 of them to the head. Police found cocaine in the bullet- riddled car and the pockets of at least one of the slain men were turned inside-out, although it wasn't known if the pair also was robbed of cash.

Witnesses reported the license plate of Tigner's truck to police. He was arrested the next day.

Tigner was convicted and condemned twice for the Williams and Watkins slayings. His 1st conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which found prosecutors did not provide to Tigner's attorneys in a timely fashion a tape recorded confession he made to police.

Tigner becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year and the 262nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. 11 more execution dates are already confirmed in Texas through June 26.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Tracy Lee Housel, 2002-03-12, Georgia

Ignoring pleas from Great Britain, Georgia executed a man with dual British-American citizenship Tuesday for the murder and rape of suburban Atlanta woman 17 years ago.

Tracy Lee Housel, who was born in the British territory of Bermuda, was pronounced dead at 7:28 p.m., prison officials said.

Housel admitted picking up Jean D. Drew, 46, at a suburban Atlanta truck stop on Easter Sunday 1985, then robbing and raping her before strangling her and bashing her head. During his sentencing hearing, Housel also admitted he beat a Texas truck driver to death with a hammer, and stabbed and slashed the throat of an Iowa man.

In a final statement, Housel said he was "sorry from the very center of my heart." To his friends and family, he said, "Take care of yourselves. May God be with you all."

After the final statement, a chaplain read the 23rd Psalm. After that, the fatal injections were administered.

Housel's execution drew little interest in Georgia, but media attention from Great Britain was intense. Prime Minister Tony Blair asked the state parole board to commute Housel's sentence to life in prison. The Law Society, representing 80,000 lawyers in England and Wales, also wrote to the parole board, and 121 members of the British Parliament signed a motion calling for Housel's sentence to be commuted.

England abandoned capital punishment 40 years ago.

The Georgia parole board turned down Housel's plea for mercy Monday.

Walt Britt, who was just out of law school when he advised Housel to plead guilty, was among the witnesses. He and Gary Proctor, who like Housel is from Bermuda and has become his friend in recent years, wept as the execution took place.

Proctor said he got involved in the case after he learned of Housel's dual citizenship and helped him locate his birth certificate.

Hours before the execution, Proctor met with Housel for the last time. He said many of Housel's sentences began "Let me tell you about the time I did..."

Housel's lawyers had argued that his initial trial was unfair because Britt lacked experience and failed to mention that Housel had an abusive childhood and suffered from severe low blood sugar, which could have affected his behavior.

Britt's defense at the sentencing trial lasted less than 30 minutes.

"I just wasn't experienced," Britt said. "It's something I've thought about for the last 16 years."

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter called Housel a "dangerous man who does not deserve to have his sentence commuted to life in prison."

Housel becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 29th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     James Earl Patterson, 35, 2002-03-14, Virginia

A killer found through a search of Virginia's vast DNA database was put to death Thursday night in the nation's 1st execution based on a DNA "cold hit."

James Earl Patterson, 35, died by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:10 p.m. EST.

He filed no last-minute appeals of his conviction for the 1987 rape and fatal stabbing of Joyce S. Aldridge, 56, in her Prince George County home. Gov. Mark R. Warner did not receive a request for clemency.

Patterson looked calm as he walked into the death chamber. After being strapped down to the gurney, he stared intently at the witnesses and appeared to give a small nod.

"My heart goes out to the Aldridge family," Patterson said. "...God bless each and every one of you who is here tonight."

His mother, father, sister, brother and 2 daughters visited with him earlier in the day, a Department of Corrections spokesman said.

Patterson was imprisoned for nearly 14 years and would have been released in 2004 without the cold hit.

He was implicated in the murder when the state compared DNA samples from the crime with DNA samples in its database of 175,000 felons. A "cold hit" matched the DNA of Patterson, who was in prison for another rape.

After the 1999 match, Patterson confessed and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and killing Aldridge on Oct. 11, 1987.

"The penalty fit the crime," Patterson said last week in a telephone interview from death row. "I was responsible and I want to pay the ultimate price."

Of the 37 other states with the death penalty, no executions have been based on a cold hit, an Associated Press survey found.

Virginia became the 1st state to execute a person whose conviction was based on DNA evidence when Timothy W. Spencer went to the electric chair in 1993 for a series of stranglings in Richmond and Arlington.

Patterson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year and the 84th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Virginia has executed more people since the 1976 re-legalization of the death penalty in the USA except for Texas (262).

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Daniel Lee Zirkle, 33, 2002-04-02, Virginia

A man who refused to appeal his death sentence for killing his 4-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old half-sister was executed Tuesday night.

Daniel Lee Zirkle, 33, died by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:07 p.m.

"I would just like to say that I'm sorry to everyone who's been hurt in this tragedy that I've had," Zirkle said in a statement after being led into the death chamber. "I also want to thank my family for their love and support, my lawyers, my preacher, for their help in getting me through this. I want my soulmate Gracie to know that I love her with all of my heart and soul and I will always be with her."

Zirkle killed his daughter, Christina M. Zirkle, in Page County on Aug. 2, 1999. Earlier that day, he stabbed to death her half-sister, Jessica L. Shifflett, 14, in neighboring Rockingham County.

Zirkle and Barbara Jo Shifflett, the mother of both girls, had lived together in Rockingham from 1972 until April 1999. On Aug. 2, 1999, the couple were estranged, and Zirkle had just been released from jail for violating a protective order by assaulting Shifflett.

Zirkle becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia and the 85th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Virginia trails only Texas (262) in the number of executions carried out since the United States Supreme Court re-legalized the death penalty on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Paul Kreutzer, 30, 2002-04-10, Missouri

A man convicted of raping and murdering a woman 10 years ago was executed by injection early Wednesday after losing a round of last-minute appeals.

The fate of Paul Kreutzer was sealed after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his application for a stay of execution and Missouri Gov. Bob Holden declined to grant executive clemency.

Kreutzer was convicted of raping and murdering Louise Ann Hemphill at her northeast Missouri home on Sept. 2., 1992.

The autopsy showed that Hemphill's skull had been shattered with a baseball bat, her throat had been cut and she had been strangled with a belt. Her body was discovered by her daughters, Janie and Jessica, when they got home from school.

Witnesses saw Kreutzer's car near the Hemphill home. Possessions belonging to Louise Hemphill were found in his car when he was arrested that night.

Kreutzer, 30, had said he could not have killed Hemphill because he was across the Mississippi River committing 2 burglaries in rural Illinois at the time of the killing. The alibi is a recent change from the 10-year-old defense put forth by his lawyers: that he is guilty but should not be executed because of mental defects caused by a childhood of horrific abuse.

Among abuse the allegations made against his adopted parents: that he was physically abused; that he was forced to drink his own urine after wetting his bed; that he was told to have sexual relations with a cow as punishment for a sexual fixation on his younger sister; and that he was chained to his bed as punishment for having sex with the animal.

Along with his identical twin brother and younger sister, Kreutzer was adopted by Don and Ruth Kreutzer when he was 3. The family lived about a 1/4-mile from the Hemphills.

He was 20 at the time of the murder. By then, he had already served time in Illinois for burglary and later was arrested in Columbia for indecent exposure.

Kreutzer said the abuse was documented in Missouri Division of Family Services records excluded from his trial as hearsay. But 5 family services officials testified at his trial that the claims were investigated and believed to be true.

Don Kreutzer denied his son's allegations, saying they were greatly embellished by lawyers. The retired physician said his son didn't kill Hemphill and that the facts of the case have never been adequately challenged.

Witnesses saw Kreutzer's car near the Hemphill home. Possessions belonging to Louise Hemphill were found in his car when he was arrested that night. Other matches cited by investigators and prosecutors included bootprints found at the scene, duct tape used to bind Hemphill and DNA evidence.

Kansas City attorney Patrick Berrigan filed Paul Kreutzer's petition for clemency with Gov. Bob Holden. In that document, Berrigan said the acts of child abuse by Don and Ruth Kreutzer were the "seeds sown in him long ago" that eventually resulted in Hemphill's murder.

Berrigan has represented Kreutzer for nearly 5 years. He said he believes his client's attempt to change his story is misguided, and he could not "in good conscience" accept Kreutzer's burglary alibi.

"Paul's contention that he didn't commit the murder is contrary, I think, to the defense presented at trial and the overwhelming evidence against him," Berrigan said. "It's not terribly surprising to me that at the 11th hour Paul would make such a claim."

Berrigan said he hopes the claims in the clemency petition are enough to convince the governor to halt the execution.

Kreutzer becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 57th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Missouri trails only Texas (262) and Virginia (85) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Columbia Daily Tribune, Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Jose Santellan, 2002-04-10, Texas

A repentant Jose Santellan was executed Wednesday for gunning down his ex-girlfriend almost 9 years ago in the parking lot of a Fredericksburg hospital where she worked.

"I hope and pray they can forgive me," Santellan said, referring to relatives of Yolanda Garza. "I loved Yolanda a lot."

No one from Garza's family attended the execution. "Even though they're not here, I hope they will read my words," Santellan said.

In a voice choked with emotion, Santellan told his relatives, watching from a nearby room, that he loved them all and thanked them for his support. As they cried, he told them he would be all right.

"To the guys on death row, stay strong. I hope to see you someday." He took a slight gasp as the drugs began to take effect and was pronounced dead at 6:26 CDT, 10 minutes later.

Witnesses told of seeing Garza, 31, confronted by Santellan outside the Hill Country Memorial Hospital as she left her nurse's aide job Aug. 22, 1993. Santellan shot her 4 times and drove off with her body.

"Yolanda became abusive, my mind went blank, I pulled out a handgun with a full clip," Santellan would tell authorities later.

When Santellan sped off from Fredericksburg, the abduction and slaying turned macabre.

Police determined he drove west, committing an armed robbery along the way in Uvalde, before stopping about 80 miles away at Camp Wood, where he checked into a motel and carried the woman's lifeless body into a room.

According to court records, he engaged in sex acts with the corpse over the next night and day and poured perfume on the body to combat the growing odor of decomposition.

"He's kind of a bizarre fellow," E. Bruce Curry, the Gillespie County District Attorney who prosecuted Santellan, said.

2 days after the shooting, authorities got a tip that his car had been spotted at the motel. He was arrested there and confessed, telling police he "just wanted to get away and be with her and spend some time together."

"The evidence was there, particularly for the death penalty aspect once you got the conviction, based on the brutal nature of the killing and then his follow-up," Curry said. "I think he fit the profile exactly on the future dangerousness issue."

A psychiatric report concluded while Santellan was mentally ill and suffering depression, alcohol abuse, personality disorder and "intermittent explosive disorder," he was not mentally retarded and was competent to stand trial.

While awaiting trial on capital murder charges, Santellan attacked a jail deputy, then demanded a trial on the assault charge. After the murder trial and death sentence, he was returned to court, tried again and received a life prison term.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in 2000 overturned the murder conviction on appeal, saying the crime involved murder but not kidnapping because the victim already was dead before she was abducted. The state appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year reinstated the conviction and death sentence.

On Thursday, another convicted killer, William Burns, was set to die for the 1981 shooting death of Johnny Lynn Hamlett, 18, at a wood preserving plant in Texarkana. Hamlett was shot 14 times and robbed of $110.

Santellan becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 263rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

Texas has 3 more executions scheduled for later this month, 6 in May and 4 in June.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     William Burns, 2002-04-11, Texas

William Burns, who gunned down the 18-year-old father of a month-old daughter and robbed him of $110, was executed Thursday night.

"I just want to tell my mom that I am sorry I caused her so much pain," Burns said as he was strapped to the death chamber gurney.

He expressed love for his family and said he "hurt for the fact that they are going to be hurting. I really hate that and I'm just hoping they can be OK."

Burns indicated he was finished with his final statement, then mentioned talking "to the victims," when the lethal drugs began taking effect. He gasped, coughed and gasped again. 10 minutes later, at 6:21 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

Several family members, including his mother, were scheduled to be witnesses, but declined to attend.

Among the victim's witnesses were Johnny Lynn Hamlett's widow, Anita, and daughter, who initially declined to speak to reporters after the execution but later changed their minds.

The execution of Burns, 43, for the slaying of Hamlett in Texarkana 21 years ago was the 2nd in as many nights in Texas.

"He's been dead longer than he was alive, at this point," Hamlett's widow said about her husband in a story in the Texarkana Gazette this week. "I look back and it was like a wonderful dream that ended in a monstrous nightmare."

It was just before midnight, March 27, 1981, when brothers William and Victor Burns, accompanied by a third man, Danny Harris, showed up at Texarkana Wood Preserving, a creosote plant where William Burns was fired from two months earlier and promised revenge.

Hamlett, who had worked there for about three months, was alone pulling a double shift in the boiler room because another employee couldn't make it to work that night.

When his body was found, it had 14 bullet wounds from .22-caliber weapons. His wallet, which contained $110, was among items missing.

Then the Burns brothers were arrested, William Burns was carrying the victim's wallet. He also led authorities to a coffee can he had thrown away on a remote dirt road. Among items inside the can were Hamlett's driver's license, school ID card and a traffic ticket issued to Burns.

The brothers already were known to authorities. They were free on bond and awaiting trial for a February 1980 slaying and an abduction, James Elliott, the assistant district attorney in Bowie County who prosecuted the case, said this week.

"They felt they were bad people who just owned the town and could do what they bloody well pleased," Elliott said. "And for a while, they did."

Both Burns and his brother were convicted in 1981 of capital murder and sentenced to death. Charges against Harris eventually were dropped.

5 years later, an appeals court threw out the convictions because of improper jury instructions.

William Burns was tried again and sentenced to death. His brother pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge and received a life term. He remains behind bars, was rejected for parole last year and can make another parole request next year.

In 1989, Burns' capital murder conviction was overturned again. He was tried a 3rd time, convicted and condemned.

"The main thing, for the good people in this world, is simply don't quit," said Elliott, who has pursued the murder case for the more than 2-decade career he's had as a prosecutor. Execution, he said, "ensures that he'll (Burns) never do it again."

Elliott said Burns, who declined to speak with reporters in recent weeks, told a parole board representative investigating a clemency request that the slaying was the result of being "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Sometimes you see guys undergo a genuine change in prison," Elliott said. "Burns is like a rattlesnake in a jar after 20 years. He's the same thing. He hasn't changed."

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Gerald Casey, 47, 2002-04-18, Texas

A quiet Gerald Casey was executed Thursday evening for killing a 22-year-old woman in a scheme to steal a gun collection from a home northeast of Houston nearly 13 years ago.

The twice-convicted burglar, asked whether he had a final statement, said, "No, I don't."

He took one breath, appeared to gulp, then slipped into unconsciousness as four members of his victim's family watched through a window.

He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., 8 minutes after the drugs were administered.

Casey, 47, had hoped to sell the weapons to raise money so he and his girlfriend could go to Florida, testimony at his capital murder trial showed.

Casey instead got a trip to death row and the girlfriend, Carla Smith, received a 10-year prison sentence for her part in the plot that left Sonya Howell dead in a mobile home in New Caney in Montgomery County.

Howell, who was a friend of Smith's, was shot 9 times with a .22-caliber pistol in the July 10, 1989, attack.

"I wanted to see him suffer," said Linda Howell, whose daughter was killed. "That's a long time for a moment, one moment, to watch him die.

"It was very, very extremely disappointing. We watched him close his eyes. What's that? 30 seconds, 45 seconds, a minute? And that was that. Too easy."

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Alton Coleman, 46, 2002-04-26, Ohio

Alton Coleman, who was sentenced to death in 3 states for a 1984 crime spree, was executed by injection Friday.

As witnesses watched in person and on closed circuit television, Coleman, 46, was put to death at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility for beating Marlene Walters to death in her home in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood.

The time of death was 10:13 a.m., said Joe Case, a spokesman for Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

Coleman was the only person currently under a death sentence in 3 states: Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

He was suspected in as many as 8 deaths, plus numerous robberies, rapes and kidnappings during the 5-state spree with his girlfriend, Debra Denise Brown.

Because of the number of victims, Ohio prison officials decided for the first time to broadcast an execution via closed circuit to another prison room to accommodate additional witnesses.

Coleman's lawyers say he was abused as a child and his brain was affected by his mother use of drugs and alcohol while pregnant. Police and prosecutors, though, saw Coleman as a charismatic man who charmed his way into his victims' lives.

Mrs. Walters, 44, had just served lemonade to Coleman and Brown when she was attacked. He and Brown had said they wanted to buy the Walters camper.

Coleman fought his execution through state and federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he had ineffective counsel in the Walters' trial and that the state should not be allowed to telecast the execution.

Gov. Bob Taft denied clemency, as he did in Ohio's three previous executions.

He and Brown also were sentenced to die for the torture and slaying of Tonnie Storey, 15, of Cincinnati two days before the Walters attack.

Coleman also received the death penalty for strangling Vernita Wheat, 9, whose body was found in his hometown of Waukegan, Ill., and for stomping and strangling 7-year-old Tamika Turks of Gary, Ind.

Coleman becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio, and the 4th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Rodolfo Hernandez, 52, 2002-04-30, Texas

40 days after winning a rare reprieve from the governor, convicted killer Rodolfo Hernandez was executed Tuesday for shooting and robbing an undocumented immigrant from Mexico 17 years ago.

In a brief final statement, he thanked his witnesses, all of them spiritual advisers. "I want to see you all in the same place I'm going," he told them. "Everybody will be all right because I'm going to be all right."

Then he said 3 times: "Here I am God. I come to do your will."

As the drugs began taking effect, he sputtered and gasped before he stopped breathing. Hernandez, 52, was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m., 11 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing.

Hernandez had to be taken by wheelchair into the Walls Unit prison, where executions are carried out, because his left leg last summer was amputated four inches below the knee due to complications from diabetes.

Days before his scheduled March 21 execution, the self-proclaimed contract killer told San Antonio police he had information about numerous murders in his hometown. When some of his details checked out, police asked Gov. Rick Perry to consider halting Hernandez's punishment. Perry agreed, using his authority to issue a 1-time 30-day reprieve.

Word came to Hernandez just as prison officials were about to remove him from his cell for the wheelchair ride to the chamber.

Hernandez had wanted to be fitted with a prosthesis that would allow him to walk himself to the death chamber but prison officials said a persistent infection that kept the wound on his shortened limb from healing blocked any attempts to fit him with an artificial limb.

"They're messing with me," Hernandez said of his medical treatment.

Some would say the same of Hernandez, who said his 11th-hour disclosures about other killings were intended to clear his conscience and not necessarily a ploy to extend his life.

"He's had all this time to make these purported disclosures and he waits until the 11th hour, so to speak," Comal County District Attorney Dib Waldrip said. "How convenient."

Hernandez was condemned for robbing and shooting 5 undocumented immigrants in an attack in a remote area of Comal County, just north of San Antonio. 1 of the 5, 20-year-old Victor Cervan of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, died. He had been shot once in the back and 3 times in the neck.

Hernandez contended he was innocent of the shootings.

"I'm here for something I didn't even do, yet I'm telling some things I did do," he said.

Testimony showed 2 of the men who survived their wounds identified Hernandez as the gunman. Hernandez's brother-in-law, who was at the shooting scene, also testified against him.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier Tuesday refused to block the execution.

San Antonio police formed a 6-person task force to look into Hernandez's claims of participating in or witnessing at least 12 murders. In an interview last month, he took credit for "8 or 9" slayings, all roughly from 1980 to 1985.

Police have said they were able to confirm 2 of the slayings that previously were listed as unsolved but they have been tightlipped about other cases.

After Perry issued the reprieve, Comal County authorities waited 6 days before obtaining Tuesday's execution date.

Waldrip said before he asked a state district judge to set the date, he talked with San Antonio police and told them if they needed more time to look into Hernandez's claims, he'd ask the court to consider withdrawing the date.

"They have not made any such request," he said.

On Wednesday, Curtis Moore, 34, was set to die for abducting, robbing and fatally shooting 3 people in Fort Worth in 1995.

Hernandez becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be executed this year in Texas and the 266th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1981.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Richard Charles Johnson, 39, 2002-05-03, South Carolina

Johnson goes to death insisting he couldn't recall killing trooper

His final appeals rejected by the highest court in the land, Richard Charles Johnson was put to death at 6:18 p.m. Friday for the 1985 slaying of a state trooper.

"It is hard to explain how frustrating it is to be here year after year when you have no memory of what happened, and not to be able to defend yourself," Johnson wrote in a 4-paragraph statement released from the death chamber.

"It is also hard to understand a system that would allow 2 people charged with a crime to go free and take another man's life," he wrote.

Johnson's lawyers insisted the state may have killed the wrong man.

Lisa Goddard of WIS-TV in Columbia, a witness to the execution, said Johnson maintained eye contact with his brother, John Johnson, until he fell unconscious. "I love you brother and I'll see you later," she quoted him as saying.

John Johnson, the only Johnson family member among the 9 witnesses, thumped his chest with his fist and cried.

Wearing a green jumpsuit, Johnson lay on a gurney as his appeals attorney John Blume read Johnson's statement.

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday morning denied 3 applications from Johnson's lawyers that could have stopped the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court was Johnson's last resort after the state Supreme Court denied another last-minute appeal on Monday and Gov. Jim Hodges denied clemency on Thursday.

Through his attorneys, Johnson thanked his supporters and lawyers for their efforts to spare his life Thursday afternoon, after Hodges refused to stop the execution.

Earlier in the day, The Rev. Jesse Jackson, through his Rainbow Push Coalition, denounced Hodges for refusing to grant clemency to Johnson.

"Tonight the state of South Carolina is gearing up for the execution of a man who well could be innocent of the charges for which he has spent the last 16 years on death row," Jackson said.

Noting that Illinois Gov. George Ryan had called for a moratorium on all executions in that state, Jackson said such a move "was a true act of courage."

"As I contrast Gov. Ryan's leadership with what is happening in my home state of South Carolina under Gov. Jim Hodges, my heart grows heavy. I am left wondering what possible good can come from Gov. Hodges' refusal to do what is right," Jackson said.

"Sadly, it appears that election-year politics may be playing a larger role in Gov. Hodges' decision than factual analysis. Politicians like Gov. Hodges, guided by what they perceive to be popular opinion, sacrifice an opportunity to come down on the right side of history," Jackson said.

Others also have focused their ire over the death penalty on the Democratic governor. About a dozen death penalty opponents demonstrated outside the Governor's Mansion Friday. Another dozen protestors marched outside the state prison on Broad River Road where Johnson was executed.

"The governor is supposed to be the last safety valve in the system, and one of the primary reasons the clemency power exists is to prevent the execution of a potentially innocent person. Ricky Johnson's execution demonstrates the ineptitude of the capital appeals process and the impotence of clemency in South Carolina," said a statement issued by the coalition.

Without a last-minute stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, Johnson, 39, will be executed by lethal injection in the state's Capital Punishment Facility in Columbia at 6 p.m.

Johnson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in South Carolina and the 26th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1985.

(sources: Greenville News & Rick Halperin)

     Reginald Lenard Reeves, 28, 2002-05-09, Texas

A convicted killer was executed by injection Thursday for the 1993 fatal beating and rape of a 14-year-old girl he befriended after she ran away from a group foster home.

In a lengthy final statement, Reginald Reeves, 28, apologized repeatedly.

"I do apologize with all my heart and soul," he said as the victim's mother nodded. "I want you to know I do love you. We're all one big family in humanity."

Reeves surrendered to police in Clarksville in northeast Texas in 1993 a day after the body of Jenny Lynn Weeks was found stuffed in a closet of a vacant home. Medical examiners determined she died of strangulation.

"She was chewed on, bitten, raped and sodomized, then severely beaten, beaten to death, then wrapped up in a rug and dumped in an old abandoned house," Red River County District Attorney Val Varley said.

In the final entry in her diary dated Sept. 9, 1993, Weeks wrote of being a bit lonely but otherwise happy living at Reeves' apartment. She was killed later that day.

Testimony showed Weeks was in a group foster home when she joined another resident, a 17-year-old girl, who was running away to Clarksville, about 30 miles away.

The other girl met up with her boyfriend, a friend of Reeves, who offered to share his apartment with Weeks and she agreed.

The last 2 executions scheduled in Texas -- 1 Tuesday and another last week -- were stopped by the high court when 11th-hour appeals cited possible mental retardation of the condemned inmates as reason why they should not be executed. The Supreme Court is considering a Virginia case that questions the constitutionality of executing mentally retarded people and the court halted the Texas punishments pending the outcome of that case, expected to be decided before July.

Reeves was 19 when he was charged with the girl's murder. Bite marks on her body and DNA evidence from hair and blood samples tied Reeves to her death. Her diary was found in a purse that was inside a gym bag in a closet at his apartment. Reeves' capital murder trial was moved on a change of venue to Texarkana, about 60 miles to the east, because of publicity about the case.

On death row, Reeves declined recent requests for interviews.

He was on probation at least twice as a juvenile for assaults -- once at age 11 when he was accused in 1985 of sodomizing 5- and 7-year-old boys with a stick, and again in 1990 when his mother contacted authorities about his unruly behavior, including an assault on her.

A friend of Reeves' testified they all were drinking beer the evening of Sept. 9 and that Reeves denied any sexual relationship with the 14-year-old girl, saying she was like a sister to him. A few hours later she was dead.

During a discussion with friends about police activity where a body was found at a vacant house nearby, Reeves said the victim was a 14-year-old he had choked, strangled and punched, testimony showed. His friends didn't believe him.

The next evening, accompanied by his mother, he turned himself in to police.

Next on the execution schedule is Henry Dunn Jr., facing injection for the 1993 abduction, robbery and fatal shooting of a man in Tyler who prosecutors said was targeted because he was gay.

Reeves becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 267th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Lynda Lyon Block, 2002-05-10, Alabama

Cop-killer dies in Alabama electric chair; 1st woman executed in state in 45 years

In Atmore, a political extremist convicted of murdering a policeman in 1993 was put to death in the electric chair Friday, becoming the 1st woman executed in Alabama in 45 years.

Lynda Lyon Block declined to pursue final appeals late Thursday, claiming the courts were corrupt and lacked jurisdiction in her case. She was put to death shortly after midnight.

Block, 54, may be the last person forced to die in the state's electric chair. Under a law that takes effect this summer, condemned inmates in Alabama will be executed by injection unless they choose the electric chair.

Block and her common-law husband, George Sibley, were sentenced to death for killing Opelika police officer Roger Motley Jr. in a burst of gunfire in a shopping center parking lot. The couple said Motley was reaching for his gun when they shot him.

Block and Sibley, who decried government controls over individuals and renounced their U.S. citizenship, were on the run at the time to avoid being sentenced in the stabbing of Block's former husband in Orlando, Fla.

"The Bible says when murder happens and a person has no sorrow, they are to be immediately executed," said Anne Motley, the victim's mother.

Alabama's electric chair, built in 1927, has been used for 176 executions since it replaced hanging as the state's primary mode of execution.

Block was the 4th woman put to death in Alabama by electrocution and the 1st since 1957, when Rhonda Bell Martin was executed for poisoning her husband with arsenic.

Block becomes the 1st condemned inmate in Alabama to be put to death this year and the 24th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Leslie Dale Martin, 2002-05-10, Louisiana

Leslie Martin made no final statement before the lethal drugs were administered, said prison warden Burl Cain, who described Martin as calm and collected. Martin was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. CDT -- less than an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his latest appeals.

Martin's victim was Christina Burgin, a student at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. She was last seen alive as she left a lounge with Martin on June 20, 1991.

Her badly decomposed body was found nearly 2 weeks later in a pumphouse in the rural southwestern Louisiana town of Iowa. Martin was convicted in 1992.

Prosecutors said said he raped Burgin and killed her to keep her from turning him in. He strangled her and put a board across her neck and jumped on it. He also gouged out her eyes to prevent her from identifying him if she survived.

Martin becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Louisiana and the 27th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Ronford Styron, 32, 2002-05-16, Texas

     Johnny Joe Martinez, 29, 2002-05-22, Texas

Convicted killer Johnny Joe Martinez was executed this evening for fatally stabbing a Corpus Christi convenience store clerk 9 years ago.

In a lengthy final statement, Martinez was apologetic and bitter, blaming his state appointed appeals lawyers for his death.

"I know I'm fixing to die, but not for my mistakes," Martinez said. "My trial lawyers, they are the ones who are killing me."

Martinez had insisted that his initial appeals lawyers were incompetent and inexperienced and failed to take the proper steps to get him off death row.

Late appeals, including some to the Supreme Court this week, were rejected.

He apologized to the parents of his victim, Clay Peterson. Peterson's mother, Lana Norris, lobbied for his sentence to be reduced to a life term.

"I want to thank you," he said, referring to Norris. "It meant a lot to me."

His voice shaking, Martinez said he failed to call his own mother Wednesday. "Tell my mother I love her too. I didn't call her because I just couldn't," Martinez said.

"I'm fine. I'm happy. I love you all. See you on the other side," he said before taking a deep breath and slipping into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m., 12 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Martinez's case gained notoriety when Norris joined the prisoner in asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare the 29-year-old Kingsville man by commuting his sentence to life in prison.

The board, in an unusually close 9-8 vote Monday, refused the clemency request.

Attempts in the courts earlier this week to stop the execution were unsuccessful and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a pair of appeals about an hour before his scheduled lethal injection.

While not violent, prison officials described him as "passively resisting" as he was taken from the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, home of death row, for the 45-mile drive to the Huntsville Unit, where executions are carried out.

"I'm not going to walk," Martinez told prison guards. "You're going to have to carry me."

They did, then repeated the procedure when he refused to walk himself into a cell just outside the death chamber.

Martinez, who worked as a medical care technician at a home for the mentally retarded, said he was drunk and had smoked marijuana at a party when he walked into the store where Peterson was working alone about 3 a.m. July 15, 1993.

The robbery of $25.65 from the cash register and the gruesome killing of the 20-year-old Peterson was caught on videotape by the store's security camera.

"When you see that, you think: God, what a monster!" Martinez said recently from death row. "I couldn't watch it. I couldn't believe it was me...

"There's not one day I don't think about what I did. I wish I could bring him back. To this day, I still can't believe I did something like that."

As shown on the video, Martinez put a knife to Peterson's throat, got money from the cash register, then attacked him.

"To this day, I can't tell you how many times he was stabbed," Martinez said.

"He plunges the knife into the guy's neck 4 times," Mark Skurka, the Nueces County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Martinez, said, recalling the images from the tape. "It's horrible. (Peterson) goes down face first. Johnny Joe Martinez tries to get around him and the guy tries to get back up. And he stabs him 4 more times in the back."

The video then shows Martinez running out of the store and a companion in the parking lot driving off without him.

On the tape, the wounded Peterson climbs to the counter.

"You see a hand come up and grab the phone," Skurka said. "He's talking like he's drowning. You see his bloody hand... You basically see the guy die on camera. He slips down... You see the blood spurting all over the place. Then it's deadly quiet until the cops get there.

"It's very moving, very riveting. It was very upsetting to the jury."

When Martinez gave a confession to police, he said the stabbing came after Peterson struggled. The video disputed the claim.

"The kid never made a move to resist," Skurka said. "Johnny Joe Martinez didn't know there was a security video."

In her letter to the parole board, Peterson's mother urged Martinez, who she met earlier this month in prison, be saved so another mother could avoid losing a son to murder. The rejection left her sad, she said.

"We will be praying for Johnny and his family," she said.

Skurka said it was important to note a jury decided Martinez's fate.

"Not the mother, not me," he said. "12 people apparently looked at the video and decided this guy was a future danger."

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Napoleon Beazley, 25, 2002-05-28, Texas

Napoleon Beazley, whose death sentence for killing the father of a federal judge during a 1994 carjacking at 17 stirred national debate over capital punishment for youths, was executed Tuesday evening.

Beazley, now 25, had repeatedly expressed remorse for shooting John Luttig, 63, while trying to steal the man's Mercedes.

When asked by the warden if he had a final statement to make Tuesday night, Beazley turned and looked toward Suzanne Luttig, the victim's daughter, pausing for several seconds before saying "no." He shook his head and said "no" again.

Then Beazley turned his head and closed his eyes. As the lethal drugs began to take effect, Beazley coughed 4 times, gasped and sputtered as his head bounced against the gurney pillow.

He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., 9 minutes after the drugs began to take effect.

Beazley was high school class president, star athlete and college material in his small East Texas hometown, but he also was known to some in Grapeland as a drug peddler who carried a pistol and told some friends he'd soon be driving a Mercedes.

"Napoleon Beazley's case unfortunately typifies the endemic ills of the U.S. death penalty system," said William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, which opposes capital punishment in all cases.
"This case adds another important factor: the defendant was a child when this crime occurred."

According to Texas law, Beazley was not a child.

Texas is among 5 states that allow the death penalty for 17-year-olds. Another 17 states allow capital punishment for 16-year-olds.

In Texas, Beazley was among 29 death row inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime. His was the 11th prisoner in the state and the 19th in the United States to be put to death since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18.

Last month, in a tearful statement in a Tyler courtroom where he received his execution date, he apologized again for the crime.

"It's my fault," he said. "I violated the law. I violated this city, and I violated a family - all to satisfy my own misguided emotions. I'm sorry. I wish I had a 2nd chance to make up for it, but I don't."

Less than two hours before his execution, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal and a request to halt the punishment. Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement shortly before the execution denying Beazley's request for a 30-day reprieve.

"To delay his punishment would be to delay justice," Perry said, noting denial of appeals and clemency requests by the Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Earlier in the day, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refused Tuesday by 10-7 vote to commute his death sentence to a life prison term. The board also rejected 13-4 a request to stop the punishment from 120 to 480 days.

"They're always complicated," said Gerald Garrett, chairman of the parole board, of the decisions. "The level of public attention varies from case to case but the challenge remains the same."

While in the majority to deny a reprieve, Garrett was among the minority in voting for commutation. He said each member's decision was independent and he would not encourage others to vote his way.

"The overall facts of the case as presented led me to conclude commutation was appropriate," he said. "In this regard, I'm one of 17."

The vote against Beazley was not unexpected. The last time the board commuted a death sentence to life was 4 years ago when Henry Lee Lucas, who gained notoriety as a self-confessed serial killer and then recanted his confessions, was sent to general prison population after questions were raised about the conviction that put him on death row. Lucas died in prison last year of natural causes.

Beazley faced execution in August and the parole board voted 10-6 against commuting his punishment to life. He then was spared by a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision. When that reprieve was lifted, the new execution date was set for Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Beazley had 4 hours to meet with family members at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Livingston, where death row is located. Then he was transported about 45 miles to the west to the Huntsville Unit, where executions are carried out.

He made no final meal request, prison officials said.

In Austin, about 100 death penalty opponents rallied at the governor's mansion to protest Beazley's execution. "Governor Perry, you can't hide; we've got justice on our side," protesters chanted.

"It's just one more in a long line of injustices in this state," said Lily Hughes, who led the protesters in their march back-and-forth in front of the mansion gates. "He, like everyone else on death row, is a human being."

Luttig was the father of J. Michael Luttig, a judge on the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and former clerk or adviser to 3 Supreme Court justices. Those 3 justices - Clarence Thomas, David Souter and Antonin Scalia - did not participate in high court rulings on Beazley's case.

A popular student and athlete, Beazley had been dealing drugs for several years. He was carrying a .45-caliber pistol and had stowed a shotgun in his mother's car before he and two companions went to Tyler, about 60 miles north of Grapeland, stalked and then ambushed Luttig and his wife April 19, 1994.

Beazley shot Luttig once, turned the gun on his wife but missed, then returned to the wounded man and fired again point-blank into Luttig's head. He stepped through a pool of blood to go through the man's pockets to get the car keys, hit a wall while driving away and was forced to abandon the damaged vehicle. The two companions received life in prison. Beazley got death.

"The decision to seek the death penalty was based on the calculated, deliberate, premeditated, predatory hunt-down nature of the crime," said Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen, who prosecuted Beazley.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Stanley Baker, 35, 2002-05-30, Texas

Convicted killer Stanley Baker was executed this evening for fatally shooting a video store clerk 8 years ago in College Station.

"I don't have anything to say," Baker said when the warden asked if he had a last statement. "I'm just sorry about what I did to Mr. Peters and that's all," he said, misidentifying his victim.

Baker had no witnesses and no witnesses from the victim's family attended.

As the drugs began taking effect, he remarked, "My arm feels cold... got some pain in my left arm, I guess that's the poison."

Baker coughed, gasped and slightly wheezed. He was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal does began.

Baker had the murder weapon, was driving the victim's truck and had about $50 taken from the store when he was arrested a couple of hours after shooting Wayne John Walters, 44.

Police also had blood evidence and a piece of a tooth that tied Baker to the crime.

"When I was firing the shotgun, I broke my tooth and I left some DNA evidence behind," he chuckled as he pointed to a chipped front tooth during a recent interview on death row.

He was arrested by a state trooper in Bastrop, about 70 miles west of College Station. When he surrendered, he had a cut lip from the recoil of the shotgun and a bloody shirt.

"I really was depressed all the time," he said. "I just wanted it to end. It's weird the way it happened. It's like I went insane."

Dressed in green fatigues, Baker walked into the adult video store Sept. 28, 1994, carrying a 12-gauge shotgun. Walters surrendered his keys without resistance but Baker opened fire. The 3rd shot hit Walters in the back of the head as the clerk was laying on the floor.

Authorities believed Baker had bigger plans. His notebook found in the stolen truck listed his goals for the year as "30 victims dead, 30 armed robberies, and steal a lot of cars."

Bill Turner, the Brazos County district attorney who prosecuted Baker, said he believed the cut lip and bloody shirt changed Baker's immediate plans to walk armed into a Winn-Dixie supermarket where Baker recently quit work as a stock clerk after a dispute.

Documents found at Baker's home indicated he wanted to kill the store manager and others and leave no witnesses behind.

"Though I've given 4 years to your store, I've long felt my efforts were unappreciated," Baker said in an obscenity-filled resignation letter.

When arrested, he had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a brass-knuckled stiletto, a bulletproof vest, a garrote and survival gear.

At his home, police found a map of New York City and a notation from Baker describing it as "the ultimate hunting ground," Turner said.

"I really think we were lucky there was one person dead," the prosecutor said Wednesday. "I think if he hadn't chipped his tooth, he would have gone on about his way, gotten to Winn-Dixie and caused a lot of problems.

"Some people kill out of meanness or they want your money. To me, this guy was more about killing people to prove he was a bad guy. He wanted the world, at that time, to know he was a bad guy."

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case in late March. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a pair of 17-0 votes Tuesday, refused to recommend his sentence be commuted to life in prison and refused a reprieve request.

"I'm just glad it's about over. I'm looking forward to the last meal, but not the part that comes after," he laughed. "It's going to happen. I might as well accept it."

Baker was born in Paris, France, where his Army father was stationed. He grew up in San Antonio, spent four years in the Army and moved to College Station. He joined the National Guard and spent two years taking classes at Blinn College. He said he wanted to be a history teacher.

Baker, who did not testify at his 1995 trial, said he was at a loss to explain what set him off.

"I ask myself that, too," he said.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Walter R. Mickens, 47, 2002-06-12, Virginia

A man who had been on death row longer than any current Virginia inmate was executed Wednesday for the killing a teenager in 1993.

Walter R. Mickens, 47, died by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:06 p.m. after saying he forgave Gov. Mark R. Warner for not granting him clemency 3 hours before his scheduled execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court stopped Mickens' last scheduled execution in April 2001 and agreed to consider whether Mickens received a fair trial while being represented by a lawyer who had previous ties to his victim. The court ruled 5-4 in March that there was no provable conflict of interest in Mickens' representation.

Mickens had been on death row for 9 years.

In a statement he read moments before the lethal injection was administered, Mickens said "I forgive Governor Warner for his decision and whoever I may have hurt or caused harm to.:

Mickens, who has spent most of his adult life in prison for various crimes, was convicted in 1993 of stabbing Timothy Jason Hall 143 times and attempting to sodomize him in a seedy Newport News warehouse district. The victim was 17.

DNA tests on semen found at the scene were consistent with Mickens', and he allegedly confessed the crime to an investigator and fellow inmate. Last week, Mickens filed a request for clemency, which picked up support among human rights groups and legal ethics watchers.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the former head of the American Bar Association's ethics committee and a Virginia congressman have written the governor on Mickens' behalf. They contend Mickens deserves clemency -- or even a new trial -- because his attorney had been previously appointed to represent Hall and never told Mickens.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, also sent a letter to Warner via the U.S. State Department asking for a stay until it could review the facts in the case.

Warner said he declined the clemency request after a thorough review of the judicial opinions regarding Mickens.

On Monday the inmate who initially testified against Mickens said he was told by a policeman to elicit a confession from Mickens while the 2 shared a cell together.

The inmate, Tyrone Brister, said in affidavits taken over the weekend that Mickens appeared to be repeating a confession he previously had been told to say.

Howard Gwynn, the Newport News prosecutor who tried Mickens in 1993, said Tuesday night that Brister never told prosecutors anything about this before and there was "no reason to doubt any of the sworn testimony he gave in the case."

"Mickens got a fair trial when he was convicted in 1993," Gwynn said. "12 citizens decided unanimously that he was guilty, and based on his crime and prior record, which I think is very telling, the death penalty is appropriate punishment."

Hall's sister, Laura Hare, wrote Warner asking that Mickens' clemency request be denied.

"Please tap a pen 143 times and imagine what must have been involved with stabbing someone 143 times," she wrote. "What kind of evil could have done such a deed, what rage must have consumed Walter Mickens?"

Mickens becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia, and the 86th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Daniel Reneau, 27, 2002-06-13, Texas

Daniel Reneau, a 27-year-old construction worker, was executed this evening for killing a Kerrville convenience store clerk during a robbery more than 6 years ago.

Reneau had no final statement. As the drugs began flowing, he looked at Chaplain Richard Lopez and said, "I thought you were going to speak to me." The chaplain said he would. Reneau's eyes then fell partially shut, his cheeks filled with air and he exhaled 1 last time.

He was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

Texas Rangers Sgt. Henry Fleming and Capt. Clete Buckeleu witnessed Reneau's execution on behalf of his victim's family.

Prosecutors said Reneau hatched the plan that also involved his roommate and culminated with the death of Kriss Keeran, 31, who knew both men.

Evidence showed Reneau entered the store before dawn on Jan. 2, 1996, and shot Keeran once in the face with a .22-caliber pistol. Then joined by roommate Jeffrey Wood, they robbed the store of more than $11,000 in cash and checks. Both were arrested within 24 hours.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to review Reneau's case.

Asked on death row last week to identify the shooter, Reneau had a 1-word reply: "Me."

According to court records, Wood was waiting outside the store and came in after Keeran was shot, then both fled with the store safe, a cash box and a video recorder containing a security tape showing the robbery and slaying.

"As I recall, he was pretty cold, very little emotion shown at any time," said Bruce Curry, the Kerr County district attorney who prosecuted Reneau. "And the method of this particular murder was cold -- just kind of walk up, shoot some guy in the head, walk on by, commit the robbery and leave."

Evidence showed the pair had planned the robbery for a couple of weeks and unsuccessfully tried recruiting Keeran and another employee to stage a phony robbery.

Reneau and Wood drove to Wood's parents home in Devine, about 65 miles to the south, where they tried to open the safe with a sledge hammer and a blow torch.

When Wood's 16-year-old brother, Jonathan, asked them how they got the safe, Wood told him about the holdup and shooting. And when the brother expressed skepticism, Wood showed him the tape. Wood's brother testified he then was ordered to destroy the tape with the blow torch.

Witnesses, including a delivery driver, described for police the pair of men seen at the store during the 6 a.m. robbery. They also had gone on a spending spree and an officer who had pulled them over the previous night remembered them, authorities said.

Wood led police to the murder weapon, which Reneau said had been taken by Wood in an earlier burglary.

"I ended up giving a confession," Reneau said from death row.

He did not testify at his trial.

"I don't think it would have made any difference," he said.

A jury took 15 minutes before returning with its guilty verdict.

Reneau said he thought at the time of the crime only treason or trying to kill the president or something similar would make one eligible for the death penalty. He thought Wood, for example, would end up with only about a five-year sentence.

Wood joined him on death row. He does not yet have an execution date.

"I don't feel like dying," Reneau said. "I don't want to die. But if it does happen, I accept it. I believe in a Christian God, but I won't really know until I die to find out."

Reneau was born in Jacksonville, Fla., when his father was in the Army. He grew up in Kansas near Fort Riley, quit school in the 12th grade and worked construction jobs in Texas.

He said Wood recently wrote him asking that he write a letter exonerating him in the crime. Reneau said he did not respond.

Reneau and Wood were tied to several previous burglaries where several guns were taken although Reneau denied any participation. While in jail, authorities learned the 2 were working on a plan to break out by killing a jailer.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Robert Coulson, 33, 2002-06-25, Texas

Professing his innocence, a Houston man accused of murdering 5 members of his family, including his parents, in a scheme to collect an inheritance almost 10 years ago was executed this evening.

"I'm innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with my family's murder," Robert Coulson, 33, said, strapped to the death chamber gurney.

Coulson then thanked those who supported him, adding, "I hope you continue to fight. You know who you are."

After thanking the warden and as the drugs began taking effect, he spotted Dale Atchetee, a former Houston police officer involved in the murder investigation, and told him, "You know you planted that evidence. You know and I know."

Coulson gasped slightly and slipped into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Coulson was condemned for killing his sister and brother-in-law in a murder spree that also included another sister and his adoptive mother and father. The victims were suffocated or fatally beaten with a crowbar, then bound with tape and plastic ties and burned.

Firefighters responding to the blaze at the home of Otis Coulson, 66, and his wife, Mary, 54, found the bodies. Also killed were their daughter, Sarah, 21; Robert Coulson's biological sister, Robin Wentworth, 25; and her husband, Richard, 27.

Robert Coulson attended their funerals a few days after the Nov. 13, 1992, slayings. Hours later, he was arrested for their deaths.

Evidence showed 2 days after the killings, he called the family attorney, inquiring about the size of the inheritance. It was $600,000.

"He wanted the money," Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said.

Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Coulson's requests for a reprieve, a commutation and a conditional pardon. Vote on each was 17-0.

"People saw him rub his eyes to make them red but no one saw him shed any tears," Rosenthal recalled Coulson's conduct at the funeral. "We had police officers watch the funeral and watch him. At one point, he walked his girlfriend to her car, watched her drive away, then Bob did this little dance before he went into the church...

"I think the jury hated him."

Coulson's roommate at the time of the murders, Jared Althaus, told police he took Coulson to and from the house that day. He later helped investigators build the case.

"I agreed to assist Bob in this crime because he told me we would never have to worry about money as long as I was with him," Althaus said in his confession.

"It's infuriating," Coulson said from death row, denying any involvement in the slayings. "I haven't had a fair day in court."

Coulson called Althaus' confession a lie, saying authorities took advantage of his roommate's mental and emotional problems to force him to lie.

"It's a bogus case," he insisted.

Authorities said Coulson, carrying out a plan he and Althaus had worked on for 3 months, telephoned each victim and told them he'd meet them at a particular time at the family's northwest Houston home.

Then they were systematically killed. Their hands and feet were bound, plastic trash bags were tied over their heads and gasoline was poured on the corpses.

Althaus said Coulson told him a stun gun purchased to incapacitate the family members didn't work properly after the 1st 2 were killed, so he had to suffocate his mother with a pillow and use a crowbar to fatally beat two others. Then a water heater prematurely ignited the fire because of fumes from gasoline.

"Bob jumped into the car and said: 'It went all wrong. It didn't go the way I planned it,'" Althaus said.

Coulson had no previous criminal record. Authorities said he had been having financial problems, a contention Coulson denied. He said a business proposition fell through but not because of his own lack of money.

"My dad had agreed to loan me the money," he said from death row.

Althaus was sentenced to 10 years in prison in exchange for his 1994 guilty plea to murder.

In February 1997, a probate jury assessed $25.6 million in damages against Coulson and Althaus for the killings, but a judge later reduced the verdict to $13.6 million. Lawyers said the monetary award was largely symbolic but resulted in Coulson relinquishing his right to half the $600,000 inheritance.

The inheritance went to Sarah Coulson's son, who she had put up for adoption a month after his birth.

Set to die Wednesday is Jeffrey Lynn Williams, convicted of the 1994 rape-slaying of a Houston woman.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Jeffrey Lynn Williams, 30, 2002-06-26, Texas

A prayerful parolee with a penchant for stealing cars was executed today for the rape-slaying of a Houston woman in an attack where the victim's 9-year-old daughter also was raped and beaten.

The girl's testimony helped send Jeffrey Lynn Williams to death row.

Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Williams, 30, recited the 23rd Psalm.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," he said, reciting the verses, ending with "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever. Amen. Amen."

As the drugs began flowing, Williams added, "I thank you Lord for all good things you have given me. Bless my family."

Then he gurgled and gasped, before slipping into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose began.

From the witness stand, the girl pointed to the three-time convict as the man who woke her Oct. 26, 1994, by choking her in her bed and then punching her in the head as she struggled.

"If you tell anybody, I'll kill you," evidence showed he told her.

After he left, the girl found the lifeless body of her mother, Barbara Pullins, 31. Unable to awaken the woman, the girl went to her grandmother's apartment nearby and police were summoned.

"You hate to have to put the daughter through that but it also is necessary in order for the jury to know what happened and you get the conviction," Harris County Assistant District Attorney Lyn McClellan said his week, recalling the girl's testimony.

Evidence showed Williams, a ninth-grade dropout who lived in an adjacent apartment complex, forced his way into Pullins' place at knifepoint, then raped and strangled her with the cord of an iron she had been using. The strangulation came after he unsuccessfully tried to suffocate the school bus driver by placing a plastic bag over her head.

The evidence also showed he touched her body repeatedly with a lighted cigarette to make sure she was dead, then tried to burn the corpse. After attacking the woman, he moved on to the daughter, then stole Pullins' car and some items from the apartment.

The car was found near Williams' residence. Her purse and keys, her television and a video recorder were found inside his home. His thumbprint and palmprint were found in her apartment. He confessed to police that he "just went off."

When Williams was 17, he picked up his 1st felony auto theft conviction and a 30-day jail term. 2 months later he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for aggravated assault and another auto theft, but was paroled after only 4 1/2 months in January 1990.

By the following year, he was back in prison with a 10-year term for auto theft, but was on parole within nine months. It took less than four months for him to receive 25 years for yet another auto theft. He was paroled about 2 1/2 years later in March 1994. The killing occurred 7 months later.

Defense lawyers at his capital murder trial said Williams was the product of a miserable childhood and a victim of physical and sexual abuse. Prosecutors pointed out that during one of his prison terms, he had to be removed from duties as a hog butcher because he liked it too much.

A Harris County jury deliberated for 23 minutes before returning with a death sentence.

"You're not going to see a lot of protestations about him receiving the death penalty except for people who protest every death penalty case," McClellan said. "There's no issues on guilt-innocence, there's no issues on mental retardation or competency or anything else."

With the executions of 2 death-sentenced inmates in the last 2 days, Harris County has now been the jurisdiction of 66 condemned inmates who have been put to death in Texas. Thus Houston trails only the state of Virginia, which has put to death 86 condemned inmates, also since 1982.

Texas has now carried out more than half (18 of 35) of America's executions this year. There are 11 more known execution dates already set in Texas this year.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)