July 2001 Executions
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Three killers were executed in July 2001.  They had murdered at least 4 people.
Two killers were given a stay in July 2001.  They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 11, 2001 Texas Richard Allan Wood, 28
Larry Wayne McMillan, Jr., 4
James Wilkens Jr.  executed
Two days after Christmas, 1986, Richard Wood, Sandra Williams and her 4-year-old son Larry McMillan returned home to find James Wilkens inside their home, armed with a .22-caliber rifle.  Wilkens, a former boyfriend of Sandra's, shot Richard as he entered the home and then shot the little boy while he was sitting on the couch.  He chased Sandra from the house and shot her in the hip as she ran for help but she made it to the home of a neighbor who called police.  Sandra was 2 months pregnant when she was shot, survived her injury and identified Wilkens as the assailant.  Wilkens had a prior conviction for robbery and had served just over a year of a 5-year sentence before being released on mandatory supervision. UPDATE: Apologizing profusely and repeatedly asking forgiveness, convicted killer James Wilkens Jr. was put to death Wednesday night for a shooting spree that claimed the lives of his ex-girlfriend's 4-year-old son and her new boyfriend almost 15 years ago in Tyler. "I am sorry. Please hear me. Please understand. In the name of God, please forgive me," he said, looking at Sandra Williams, the mother of the 4-year-old killed in the rampage. Only Williams, shot in the back, survived. "Find peace and comfort. I am sorry. For your sake, forgive me, all of you," he said, looking at Williams and the child's two grandfathers, who also witnessed the execution. Then he turned to several friends who also were witnesses and expressed love to them and thanked them for "giving me more than I deserve." Then Wilkens prayed, asking God to forgive "the horror I have committed." After telling the warden he was ready to go and urging that "God be with all of you,'" he exhaled once, gasped a couple of times and slipped into unconsciousness as the drugs took effect. Wilkens was already on parole after serving 14 months of a five-year sentence for robbery when he was arrested a day after the child, Larry McMillan Jr., was shot 13 times as he cried on a couch. Also killed in the rampage two days after Christmas 1986 was Richard Wood, 28. Wood was dating Wilkens' former girlfriend. According to testimony at his trial, Wilkens broke into Wood's empty trailer home and waited until Wood and Williams and the child returned from an out-of-town holiday trip. All three were shot when the apparently jealous and enraged Wilkens opened fire with a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle. "The first thing that goes through my mind is the picture of Larry McMillan Jr. sitting on the couch with a toothbrush in his mouth with several bullet holes in him that Wilkens had fired at point-blank range," Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen said. "I can still see him slumped over with the bullet holes in him. A 4-year-old boy. It was just horrible." Wilkens pleaded innocent, contending he was insane at the time of the attack. "There was no question about his competency," Skeen said. "It was just a story. He was sitting there and waiting. He just ambushed them. It was like: bang! bang! He just waited and executed."  Wilkens, who declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his execution, said in a 1992 death row interview, "In all honesty, as God as my witness, I do not remember. I went nuts, to tell you the truth. I remember some, not all. It's very bizarre. I had killed them so many times in my mind, it was a dream. I didn't know reality." A Smith County jury in 1988 convicted Wilkens of capital murder and decided he should be put to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, however, reversed the conviction and sentence in 1992, saying psychological testimony improperly was admitted during the punishment phase of the trial. He was tried a second time the following year, telling a jury he heard voices and envisioned Wood as his abusive father. The second jury wasn't swayed, convicting him and also deciding he should be executed. "My son didn't get a second chance," Williams, now Sandra Carpenter, said this week. Carpenter, who testified against Wilkens at each trial, had to have a section of her intestine removed because of her injuries. She said she also continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. "It doesn't let you forget," she said. "I wish it did. I hate him for it." The U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago refused to review Wilkens' case and federal appeals courts rejected late requests seeking to halt the execution. 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 11, 2001 Missouri James F. Froemsdorf Jerome Mallett  executed
Jerome Mallett was sentenced to die for the March 2, 1985 shooting death of Missouri Highway Patrol officer James F. Froemsdorf, a father of three.  On March 2, 1985, Trooper Froemsdorf stopped a speeding Ford on northbound Interstate 55 in Perry County, about 60 miles south of St. Louis. The driver was Jerome Mallett, a felon who lived in Dallas and who was wanted on a robbery and probation violation.  Froemsdorf handcuffed Mallett and put him in the front seat of his patrol car. While the trooper was writing a ticket, Mallett, who had a deformed right wrist, slipped one hand out of the handcuffs and fought Froemsdorf for his .357-Magnum revolver.  Froemsdorf was shot once into his bulletproof vest and twice in his neck. His pistol was found several hours later in Mallett's abandoned car. Hundreds of officers came into the community for the funeral and helped to conduct a house to house seach.  Mallett was hiding in a vacant house and when he was arrested three days after the murder in Desloge, the handcuffs still dangled from his left hand.  

Date of scheduled execution

State

Victim name

Inmate name

Status

July 17, 2001

Oklahoma

Ruth Porter, 64

Jerald Harjo

executed

Jerald Wayne Harjo was convicted in the Jan. 16, 1988, murder of 64-year-old grandmother Ruth Porter in her rural Seminole County home. Harjo broke into Ruth's home to try to find the keys to her van and killed her in her bed, authorities said.  Investigators believe he also raped her.  Ruth's daughter found the body of the elementary school secretary the next morning. A pillow had been forced onto her face, crushing her windpipe. Authorities said Harjo had been bicycling to his brother's house when it began to rain. He decided to ditch the bicycle and steal Ruth's van.  At the time, Harjo was on a suspended sentence for stealing a car.  He confessed to the murder after investigators found his muddy tennis shoe prints on Ruth's floor and her van at his brother's house, former Seminole County Sheriff Charles Sisco said.  Harjo's final appeal was denied May 14 by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Date of scheduled execution

State

Victim name

Inmate name

Status

July 20, 2001

Alabama

Rhonda Hardin, 12 

Danny Joe Bradley 

stayed

On January 24, 1983, twelve-year-old Rhonda Hardin and her younger brother were left in the care of their stepfather, Danny Joe Bradley. The children's mother had been hospitalized for over a week. The children normally slept in one bedroom and Danny Joe Bradley and their mother in another. On the night of January 24, 1983, some friends went to the Bradley home where they saw Rhonda and her brother together with Danny Joe Bradley. When the friends left at approximately 8:00 p.m., Rhonda was watching television with her brother and Bradley. Rhonda was lying on the couch, having taken some medicine earlier in the evening. She asked her brother to wake her if she fell asleep so that she could move to the bedroom. When her brother decided to go to bed, Bradley told him not to wake Rhonda but to leave her on the couch and also told him to go to sleep in the other room instead of his own bedroom. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Bradley arrived at the home of his brother-in-law who testified that Bradley arrived driving his automobile and that he was "upset" and "acted funny" and said he had "talked loud and acted like he was nervous and all, which I had never seen him do before." Bradley's father-in-law testified that Bradley came to his house at approximately midnight and told him that Rhonda was gone. Bradley's next-door neighbor said that at approximately 12:50 a.m., Bradley appeared at his home. The neighbor testified that Bradley told him that he and Rhonda had argued over some pills Rhonda wanted to take. He claimed that he had fallen asleep and when he awoke, Rhonda was missing. Bradley then said "let me run over to Rhonda's grandma's house and I'll be back in a few minutes." Bradley returned ten or fifteen minutes later. The neighbor testified that Bradley wanted to go to the hospital rather than report Rhonda's disappearance to the police. They waited at the hospital for one and one-half hours before they were able to enter Mrs. Bradley's room. Throughout that period of time, the neighbor tried to persuade Bradley to go to the police station to report that Rhonda was missing. When the men eventually saw Mrs. Bradley, she told Danny Joe Bradley to report Rhonda's disappearance to the police. They went to the police station where Bradley told an officer that Rhonda was missing. Bradley also told the officer that he and Rhonda had argued earlier in the evening and that she had left the house sometime around 11:00 or 11:30 pm. Bradley claimed that he had fallen asleep and that when he awoke, Rhonda was gone. He stated that he left the house at 11:30 p.m. to go to his neighbor's house to look for Rhonda. Bradley specifically indicated that he had not left the house until he began looking for Rhonda and that he went to the neighbor's home when he learned that Rhonda was missing. After talking with the police, Bradley and the neighbor returned to the neighbor's apartment.  At approximately 7:30 the next morning, Rhonda's body was found in a wooded area less than six-tenths of a mile from Bradley's apartment. Rhonda's body was dressed in a pair of maroon-colored corduroy pants, a short-sleeved red knit shirt, green, white, brown, and purple striped leg warmers, a bra, and a blue windbreaker. Rhonda's tennis shoes were tied in single knots. Several members of her family testified that she always tied her shoes in double knots. Shortly after Rhonda's body was discovered, two plainclothes officers from the Piedmont Police Department arrived at Bradley's residence. Bradley told the police that he had discovered Rhonda missing at approximately 11:20 or 11:25 p.m. and had gone to the neighbor's house in search of her. He also told officers that he had not left the apartment until he began his search for Rhonda. In addition to giving a statement, Bradley consented to a search of his residence and his automobile, submitted to fingernail scraping, submitted to a polygraph test, blood and saliva tests, and gave his clothing to the authorities. After obtaining the consent-to-search form, the police searched his residence and his automobile, seizing several items of physical evidence including a pillowcase, a damp blue towel from a bathroom closet, the living room light switch plate cover, a red, white, and blue sheet from the children's bedroom, a white "heavy" sheet from the washing machine, and fiber samples from the trunk of Bradley's car. At trial, testimony showed that, contrary to Bradley's statements to police on both January 24 and January 25, 1983, a local police officer had seen Bradley in his car at 9:30 p.m. in the area where Rhonda's body was discovered. The officer, who had known Bradley for more than twenty years, positively identified him. Forensic evidence showed that Bradley's fingernail scrapings matched the red, white, and blue sheet taken from the children's bedroom, the fibers from the leg warmers and the pants Rhonda was wearing on January 24, 1983. Fibers found in the trunk of Danny Joe Bradley's car matched Rhonda's clothing. A pathologist testified that Rhonda's body had "evidence of trauma - that is, bruises and abrasions on her neck." She had seven wounds on her neck; the largest was an abrasion over her Adam's apple. The pathologist testified that he had taken swab and substance smears from Rhonda's mouth, rectum, and vagina. Rhonda had been anally and vaginally raped and the samples were consistent with Bradley's blood type. The red, white, and blue sheet on the bed in the children's bedroom contained a stain which included spermatozoa. The white blanket which had been placed in the washing machine also had two large stains consistent with fecal-semen. Semen was found on the blue towel located in the bathroom and the mattress cover contained a number of seminal stains. At trial, Bradley's sister-in-law also testified that a day after Rhonda's funeral she heard Bradley say "I know deep down in my heart that I done it," and Bradley's stepson testified that Bradley had frequently rendered the children unconscious by squeezing their necks. Bradley testified in his own defense. He explained his inconsistent statements to police by suggesting that he had left his home at the time he was observed by the officer who knew him because he had intended to steal a car, remove its motor, and sell it. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of capital murder on counts one and three of the indictment. These counts charged murder during the commission of a rape or sodomy in the first degree. The same jury deliberated in the punishment phase and recommended twelve to zero that Bradley be sentenced to death.  UPDATE: The Alabama Supreme Court indefinitely delayed the July 20 execution of Bradley pending DNA testing of evidence in the 1983 rape and strangulation of his 12-year-old stepdaughter in Calhoun County.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 25, 2001 Texas Kathryn Harrison
Rita Sheron Van Huss
Richard Kutzner stayed
Kutzner was convicted and sentenced to death in September 1996 for the brutal strangling death of Kathryn Harrison. Kathryn Harrison owned and operated a real estate business in Spring, Texas. Her body was found by a coworker on Jan. 22, 1996, in her real estate office. Police officers called to the scene found her lying face down with her wrists bound with red plastic-coated wire and her ankles locked in a cable tie. A cable tie was also secured tightly around her neck. Kathryn's purse had been turned inside out, and a computer keyboard and a videocassette recorder were missing from the office. Just 17 days earlier, on Jan. 5, 1996, Rita Sheron Van Huss was found strangled to death in her living quarters, adjacent to the self-storage business she managed in Houston. Rita's wrists, ankles, and neck were tightly bound with cable ties. Missing was her purse, containing $300 to $400 in cash; two money orders, one for $300 and one for $10; her jewelry and approximately $40 in petty cash from the self-storage office. When Harris County detectives learned of Kathryn's murder, they immediately recognized the similarities and contacted Montgomery County authorities. Investigators discovered Kutzner had cashed the $300 money order at a Houston check-cashing business. The money order bore the name of Roy Landry, but it was Kutzner who endorsed and cashed it according to the clerk who recognized Kutzner as a repeat customer. Kutzner and Roy Landry became suspects in the Harrison investigation, and on Feb. 21, 1996, several detectives went to Kutzner's house. Kutzner was not home at the time, but one of the detectives spotted and recovered a 30-inch white plastic cable tie from Kutzner's driveway. Kutzner's truck had been repossessed and taken to a Houston used-car dealership. Subsequent investigation revealed that Kutzner had confronted and threatened to unleash his dogs on the employee sent to repossess the truck. Kutzner was offered several opportunities to remove any personal property he had in the truck, but he refused. The dealership received the truck the next day. Upon its delivery, all personal items were removed from the truck and secured in a locked storage building at the used-car lot. A day or two later, Kutzner called to inquire about the possibility of retrieving his personal belongings. On Feb. 22, 1996, a detective went to the car lot to look for Kutzner's truck and inquire if any personal items had been left in the truck. A search warrant was obtained for seizure of the items, which included four plastic cable ties and fourteen gauge red electrical wires. Kutzner's fingerprints were discovered on Rita's $10 money order that was found among the items removed from the truck. Also found was a tenant information sheet from Rita's self-storage business and a partially completed lease agreement dated Jan. 5, 1996. Later that night, officers went to arrest Kutzner at his residence. When officers received no response to their knocks, they entered and searched for Kutzner. They obtained another search warrant in order to seize wire and cable ties found in Kutzner's garage. The wire which was wrapped around the victim's wrists, the wire recovered at the used-car lot and the wire recovered from Kutzner's home all bore the same identification numbers, the last of which was a classification number indicating the pieces of wire were all of the same type and had all been manufactured by the same company. This wire was not common in Montgomery County. Additionally, the cable ties all carried the same manufacturer's name. Kutzner was later arrested at another friend's home. The videocassette recorder and computer keyboard taken from Kathryn's real estate office were later recovered in the homes of Kutzner's friends. Kathryn's notes, found in her office, indicated that Kutzner had posed as a potential customer on Jan. 1, 1996. This matched the mode of operation in the Houston murder, where Kutzner had posed as a potential customer by completing a lease agreement for self-storage. Roy Landry testified at trial that he had known Kutzner for many years and had worked for him in the air conditioning business. Landry told the jury that four or five months prior to Kathryn's murder, Kutzner suggested that Landry should rob an elderly lady who worked alone in an office. Landry asked Kutzner why he did not commit the robbery himself if it was so easy, and Kutzner told him the office was too close to where he lived. Kathryn's real estate office was about a mile and a half from where Kutzner lived. An FBI forensic physical scientist specializing in tool mark identification examined the cable ties around the victim's neck and ankles and determined they had been cut by the tin snips recovered from among Kutzner's personal belongings at the auto lot. During trial, the State proved that Kutzner had served several years in a California prison for an armed robbery committed in the late 1960s. The State also showed he had been convicted for theft of stolen property in Johnson County in May 1984 and had four convictions for aggravated robbery from 1985. Finally, the State proved that on Jan. 5, 1996, just two and a half weeks before Kathryn Harrison's murder, Kutzner murdered Rita Sheron Van Huss in Harris County under similar circumstances. Kutzner also received the death penalty for Van Huss's murder. 

 

Page last updated 03/10/09


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