August 2003 Executions
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Two
killers were executed in August 2003.  They had murdered at least 5 people.
Five
killers were given a stay in August 2003.  They have murdered at least 10 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 1, 2003   Indiana John Rease
Henrietta Rease 
Darnell Williams stayed

John and Henrietta Rease, an elderly couple who lived in Gary, Indiana, cared for, fed, and housed foster children at their home in exchange for $160 per month per child. One such foster child was Gregory Rouster, who lived with the Reases from November 1985 until his eighteenth birthday on February 7, 1986. Four months later, the Reases were robbed and shot to death in their home. Police immediately arrested Rouster and his three friends, Darnell Williams, Theresa Newsome, and Edwin Taylor (another foster child living with the Reases), and charged them each with two counts of felony murder. Taylor pleaded guilty and did not proceed to trial. On the night of August 12, 1986, Williams, Rouster, Newsome, and Kim Toney went to the Reases’ house to collect money that Rouster believed the Reases owed to him. A seventeen-year-old foster child who lived with the Reases at the time that the crimes were committed testified that when Williams and Rouster got to the house, they went into a back room with Henrietta Rease and got into an argument with her about whether the Reases owed Rouster money. After Henrietta Rease asked Rouster to leave the house, the foster child heard Williams say, “I won’t let her, she’s doing nothing but gypping him out of the money.” The 17-year-old then heard a series of gunshots and went upstairs into the attic to hide. While in the attic, he heard a conversation take place between Williams, Rouster, and Taylor, whereby Williams and Rouster agreed to rob the Reases at gunpoint. The witness then ran downstairs to hide behind a stairway and heard Williams and Rouster bring the Reases into the bedroom, at which point Henrietta Rease told Williams not to hit John Rease. Next, he heard Williams state, “it’s your time” and heard Rouster reply, “waste them.” The witness then heard a second series of gunshots coming from the bedroom, at which point he ran out of the house and flagged down a police car. Several neighborhood teenagers testified about the events that they witnessed that night and corroborated the Rease’s foster son's testimony regarding two series of gunshots coming from the Reases’ house shortly after Williams and Rouster entered the house. Moreover, the teenagers testified about a third series of gunshots that came from the Reases’ house when Rouster and Newsome were in the Reases’ front yard, but while Williams presumably was still inside of the house.3 The teenagers’ testimony was corroborated by the mother of one of the teens, who explained that she saw Williams and Rouster enter the Reases’ house, heard two series of gunshots, and also heard a third series of gunshots coming from the Reases’ house while Rouster and Newsome were outside. Lake County crime technician Ronald Lach searched the Reases’ house for evidence later that night and discovered the Reases’ bodies lying on the bedroom floor. Lach also found several live .30 caliber cartridges in the Reases’ bedroom as well as several fired .22 caliber and .32 caliber shells. Finally, he found a .22 caliber pistol in the bedroom and a .32 caliber pistol in the Reases’ backyard that were later determined to have fired the gunshots that killed the Reases. Lake County Police Officer Timothy Lukasik arrested Williams that same night. At that time, Williams had a black leather pouch with him that contained, among other things, $232 in cash, a wallet with no money in it, and a .30 caliber live round of ammunition. During the sentencing hearing, Taylor testified about the following events that took place at the Reases’ house on August 12, 1986: Henrietta Rease asked Williams and Rouster to leave after they accused her of keeping money purportedly owed to Rouster. Williams then pointed a gun at Taylor and asked him where the Reases kept their money. Taylor answered that the Reases kept their money on the bedroom dresser, to which Williams replied, “you better not be lying.” Taylor then ran to his friend’s house to call the police and heard several gunshots coming from the Reases’ house. Taylor also testified that Williams was the last person he saw with a gun. The State also introduced evidence that Williams had previously participated in a robbery similar to the one committed against the Reases. Williams presented testimony that he was employed, had graduated high school, and had lived with his mother for most of his life. Further, friends and family members testified about Williams’ character, claiming that he was a kind and responsible young man. The jury ultimately recommended the death penalty for both Williams and Rouster. Thereafter, the trial judge indicated that the State had proved three aggravating factors 1) Williams intentionally killed John Rease while committing the crime of robbery; 2) Williams intentionally killed Henrietta Rease while committing the crime of robbery; and 3) Williams had been convicted of multiple murders—that of both John and Henrietta Rease. He also addressed the potential mitigating circumstances and held that none applied. The judge then sentenced both Williams and Rouster to death.  UPDATE: Governorn Frank O'Bannon issued a 60-day stay of execution for Darnell Williams, who was scheduled for execution August 1 for taking part in the murders of an elderly couple in Gary. The governor issued the stay to allow for DNA testing. Appeals court judges rejected requests by defense lawyers to retest biological material associated with the case. Defense lawyers claim blood found on Williams' clothing is not that of the victims. At his trial, prosecutors said the blood was from the victims. UPDATE: On July 2, 2004 Governor Joe Kernan issued an Executive Order commuting the death sentence of Darnell Williams to Life Imprisonment Without Parole. Noting that Gregory Rouster was more culpable in the murders, but had been spared the death penalty after he was declared mentally retarded, Governor Kernan said “Because Rouster cannot be executed for the crime, it is unjust for Williams to be executed.” The commutation followed a recommendation for commutation from the State Parole Board. This was the first time since the reinstatement of the Death Penalty in Indiana in 1977 that the Parole Board recommended commutation of a death sentence, or that the Governor commuted a death sentence.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 6, 2003   Texas Henry Truevillian, 20
Roderick Moore, 24
LaTanya Boone, 21
Curtis Moore stayed

Darrel Hoyle and his friends Henry Truevillian and Roderick Moore (no relation) met Curtis Moore late in the evening of Nov. 29, 1995. Curtis was with his nephew, Anthony Moore, then 17 years old. The five men agreed to meet to make a cocaine deal at a house on Pate Street that belonged to Curtis' sister. Henry and Roderick rode with Darrel in his beige, four-door Cutlass and Curtis and Anthony rode in a blue Oldsmobile that Curtis said he borrowed from a friend. When they arrived at the Pate Street house, Darrel and Anthony waited outside and talked. The three other men went inside. About five minutes later, Darrel and Anthony entered the house. The five men talked in the kitchen for a while and then Curtis and Anthony went into the bathroom together. Moments later, Curtis came out of the bathroom shouting, "This is a jack," which in street language means a robbery. Curtis took $150 from Darrel and $5 from Henry. While Curtis held a gun on Darrel, Henry and Roderick, he told Anthony to tie up the three men. Anthony tied the victims' hands and feet. Curtis then put Darrel and Henry in the trunk of Darrel's car. From what Darrel could ascertain from inside the trunk, Curtis drove, Anthony rode in the front passenger seat and Roderick rode in the back seat. After a while, the car stopped and Darrel heard Curtis say that the car was out of gas. Curtis went to get gasoline and told Anthony to keep the gun pointed at Roderick. Curtis returned about 10 minutes later, put the gasoline in the car, and drove on. The car stopped sometime later and Darrel assumed that they were at Roderick's house because he heard Roderick's girlfriend, LaTanya Boone, scream after hearing a gun shot. Darrel assumed that LaTanya and Roderick were put into another car because he did not hear them again. The car stopped again, this time Curtis asked Darrel and Henry if they were trying to get loose. Curtis then drove on. Around 2:00 a.m. on November 30, the car stopped again on Wilbarger Street in southeast Tarrant County. Darrel heard Curtis get out of the car and moments later the trunk opened. Curtis fired a gun at Darrel and Henry and then closed the trunk. Darrel heard Henry say, "Oh, I'm hit." Curtis opened the trunk again and poured gasoline on Darrel and Henry. Curtis closed the trunk until it was open only enough to stick in his hand. Darrel heard the flick of the lighter and then his and Henry's clothes caught on fire. Curtis tried to close the trunk but Darrel kicked until it opened. Darrel pulled Henry and himself out of the trunk and ran. When he realized that he was on fire, Henry dropped to the ground and rolled. Curtis then gave chase, while Darrel ran into the woods on the other side of the street. When Curtis caught up to him, he stepped on Darrel's neck and threatened his life. Darrel played dead and Curtis left him alone and walked back to the cars. Darrel then got up, ran farther into the woods and found a hiding place. He watched his car burn and then saw what appeared to be an explosion. When Curtis realized that Darrel was gone, Curtis removed his shirt and yelled that he was going to kill Darrel. Darrel heard sirens and saw Curtis run toward the highway. He saw a blue Oldsmobile that looked like the one Curtis had been driving earlier, drive toward the highway. When the fire trucks and police arrived, Darrel ran up to them. He was able to tell a fireman his and Henry's name, but was unable to tell them anything else because he was in shock and burned on about 60 percent of his body. Truevillian died later of multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and abdomen, burns and smoke inhalation, authorities said. Later that morning, the police were called to a crime scene on David Strickland Street, not far from the Wilbarger site, where the bodies of LaTanya and Roderick were found shot with a 9 mm gun. Darrel gave a statement to the police when he regained consciousness six days after he was shot and burned. When Darrel gave his statement to the police, he told them Anthony's street name -- Kojak -- and that Anthony attended O.D. Wyatt High School. He also told police that he did not know Curtis' name, but he knew Curtis drove a pink truck. With that information, the police were able to find Curtis and Anthony and arrest them on December 12. After his arrest, Anthony led police to the 9 mm gun that a ballistics expert testified had been used to kill LaTanya and Roderick. At age 12, Curtis Moore was detained for running away, resulting in confinement at a juvenile detention center. He was subsequently released to his parents. He was again detained for incorrigibility at age 13, resulting in a voluntary commitment to Boysville Juvenile Home in San Antonio, Texas. He was released to his parents after six months. At age 15, Moore was detained for theft of a bicycle and committed to the Texas Youth Commission. After six months, he was released on juvenile parole, which he successfully completed. In 1985, Moore was sentenced to six years for robbery by threats. He was released on mandatory supervision in March of 1987, but was returned to custody in September 1987 with a subsequent two year sentence for theft of property over $750. He was released on parole in July 1988. Moore returned to TDCJ as a parole violator in October 1988 on a 15-year sentence for theft from a person. He was released on parole in April 1990, but returned as a parole violator in January of 1991 on a 15-year sentence for possession of cocaine and possession of a weapon by a felon (.357 magnum pistol). He returned as a parole violator in November of 1996 for the current offense. TDCJ records indicate that while incarcerated, Moore had one minor and one major violation for refusing to groom. Moore also stabbed another inmate in the jaw with an ink pen during a game of dominoes, exclaiming, "I am going to kill your punk ass like I killed your home boys." This is a very, very bad man," said Chip Wilkinson, the Tarrant County assistant district attorney who is handling the final stages of Moore's case. Anthony Moore, now 24, pled guilty to two counts of murder under a plea agreement and is serving two life prison sentences.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 6, 2003    Texas Luis Daniel Blanco, 3  Jose Rivera stayed

Condemned child killer Jose Rivera was given a reprieve when a federal appeals court blocked his execution. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued the stay based on Rivera's lawyers' claims that Rivera is mentally retarded and may be innocent of the murder that sent him to death row. Rivera, who was scheduled for execution at 6 p.m., waited in a holding cell a few feet away from the execution chamber while the federal appeals court decided his fate. Rivera, 40, was sentenced to death after confessing to the murder of three-year old Luis Daniel Blanco in Brownsville in 1993. Prosecutors said the boy was strangled with elastic from his own underwear. Rivera later gave a videotaped oral confession, admitting to the murder. But, defense lawyers now contend, a psychiatrist and a psychologist believed Rivera shows signs of being mentally retarded. He cannot tell time, read, write or make change for a dollar, according to one report. The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of mentally retarded killers. The murder occurred on July 9, 1993. Prosecutors said Veronica Zavala led the child to a park, where Rivera sexually assaulted the victim and strangled him. It was Zavala, now serving a life term in prison for her part in the murder, who pointed the finger at Rivera as the killer. But, after Rivera was convicted and sentenced to death, Zavala sent letters claiming she falsely accused Rivera. She claims that Rivera was not present when the child was killed and that he had nothing to do with the crime. This prompted Rivera's lawyers to ask for DNA testing, a request that was denied by the courts. Prosecutors say there is no biological material to test. Prosecutors and judges, also, do not believe Zavala's recantations. Court documents stated that Zavala had previously given police eight different stories about the murder and that the trial court judge did not believe her recantation. Rivera has previous convictions for burglary and two parole violations. Jim Marcus, executive director of the Texas Defender Service, which advised defense lawyers on capital cases and represents some death row inmates on appeal, told the Austin-American Statesman that Texas courts and lawmakers are failing to comply with the Supreme Court ruling banning the execution of mentally retarded murderers. Marcus told the newspaper that the state has made no systematic effort to identify inmates already on death row who are mentally retarded. One psychologist reported that as a child, Rivera was enrolled in special education classes, cannot read or write, tell time or even make change for a dollar. Rivera is a 10th grade dropout. In addition, a psychiatrist who testified at Rivera's trial that the convicted child killer was not mentally retarded recently stated that after reviewing records that if Rivera was fully examined again, he would not be surprised if Rivera was found to be mildly mentally retarded. One expert also stated that mentally retarded persons are more likely to confess to crimes they did not commit in order to please people.  

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 7, 2003   Texas George Ray Newman, 45  Ricky Lewis stayed

Thirteen years after Ricky Lynn Lewis murdered a Smith County man during a home burglary and raped the man's fiancée, a judge set an execution date Friday for the killer. State District Judge Diane DeVasto announced Lewis, 40, will die on Aug. 7 by lethal injection in Texas' death chamber. Lewis received the death penalty in 1997 after jurors decided he shot George Newman in the face after the 45-year-old victim confronted Lewis during a home invasion. Newman's longtime fiancée, Connie Hilton, was sexually assaulted. George Newman died Sept. 17, 1990, when he confronted 3 men who were burglarizing his home. Connie Hilton was in the bathroom when she saw one of the men pass the door. She screamed for her fiancée, who was shot in the hall outside the bathroom. After the burglary and rape, the intruders bound her and left. She freed herself and called 911. Law officers arrested Lewis 3 days later after discovering he had been seen with some of Newman's possessions. DNA evidence linked Lewis to the incident but two other men involved were never brought to justice. In 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the punishment phase of Lewis' trial because of an error in the judge's instructions. The district attorney retried the case and a Smith County jury again recommended a death sentence for Lewis in 1997. Lewis also shot George's dog. The punishment phase of an initial trial was overturned due to a judicial error so the 1997 trial was the second for Ms. Hilton, who had just turned 40 when the crime occurred. "This is hopefully going to get me out of the judicial system," Ms. Hilton said of the execution setting. "It's getting closer to being able to close this chapter." Ms. Hilton said she wants to attend Lewis' execution but may not view it. She said she would at least be outside the death chamber in Huntsville. Assistant Smith County District Attorney Ed Marty said Lewis' only hope for a reprieve lies with the U.S. Supreme Court. The killer's latest attorney, Ken Nash of the State Council for Offenders, has filed a writ based on several issues including a head injury Lewis received in the 1980s during a shooting in Smith County. The writ suggests the injury affected Lewis' mind - something Lewis' initial attorney did not present to the jury. Since the 1990 incident, Ms. Hilton has married but keeps a special place in her heart for Newman. What she remembers most about him is "his smile, his caring attitude and his compassion for life. We were friends for years," Ms. Hilton recalled. "We'd been through previous marriages and everything else." Since the heinous crime forced her into the justice system, Ms. Hilton has fought to prevent others from being victimized. She has become a leader in the statewide program, Bridges to Life, which is geared toward offenders preparing for release from prison. Through the program, Ms. Hilton and other victims visit prisons to meet with pre-release inmates and discuss the impact of crime on families of victims and offenders. Participants have recorded an 8.6-percent recidivism rate after two years in society. Although she has talked with numerous prison inmates, Ms. Hilton has had no contact with Lewis. He has not tried to contact her and has shown no remorse, Ms. Hilton said. "Even today, he just stood there with no emotion," she said of the court hearing where the judge set the execution date. "It put me back to the time it happened. It brings back a lot of memories." Ms. Hilton said she has no desire to speak to Lewis because there are no questions in her mind about the attack. "I was there when it happened so I know everything that was said and done," she said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 7, 2003   Alabama Mike Guest, 21 
Wilbur Nelson, 51
Bobby Payne, 43
Nancy Payne, 29
Tommy Fortenberry executed

In Montgomery, the Alabama Supreme Court has denied condemned murderer Tommy Fortenberry's request that the court stop his execution, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. The court voted 7-0 Wednesday to deny Fortenberry's request for a stay. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection in the death chamber at Holman prison in Atmore for the Aug. 25, 1984 murder of 3 men and a woman at the Guest Service Station in Attalla. The Supreme Court decision, released Wednesday afternoon in a 1-sentence order, came a day after Gov. Bob Riley denied Fortenberry's request for clemency. One of Fortenberry's attorneys, Edwin Klett of Pittsburgh, Pa., said an appeal will be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said preparations for the execution are underway at Holman. Fortenberry was moved Tuesday into a holding cell inside the concrete block building that houses the death chamber. Corbett said Fortenberry would spend most of Thursday visiting with family members at the prison. At about 4 p.m. he will be moved back into the holding cell, where he will be given an opportunity to meet with a minister, before officers lead him the 30 steps into the death chamber. Relatives of the 4 victims of the shootings have said they plan to attend the execution. The appeal to the Supreme Court was based partly on the fact that Riley did not personally attend a clemency hearing for Fortenberry on Monday. One of Fortenberry's attorneys, Jim McGlaughn of Gadsden, said he wasn't surprised Riley denied clemency. "You can't rule on something you didn't hear," McGlaughn said. Fortenberry's appeal also repeated previous claims that police coerced Fortenberry into making a confession and that his trial attorneys did not do enough during the sentencing phase of the trial to convince jurors to spare their client's life. Fortenberry was convicted and sentenced to die in 1986 for the deaths of the station owner's son, Mike Guest, 21, store clerk Wilbur Nelson, 51, and customers Bobby Payne, 43, and his wife Nancy Payne, 29, who had come to the station to buy soft drinks and cigarettes. According to trial testimony and evidence presented at Monday's clemency hearing, Fortenberry, who was 20 at the time of the murders, told police he needed money because of a gambling habit. He said he was robbing Nelson at gunpoint when Guest tried to talk him into giving up his weapon and the Paynes drove up to the station. Fortenberry told police he shot Guest and Payne outside the station, returned inside to shoot Nelson, and then fired a shot at Nancy Payne, who was trying to run for help. Fortenberry later claimed he was at the station but that another man shot the 4 victims.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 20, 2003   Texas Jeffery Saunders, 19
Edna Brau, 81
Sean Jason Hill, 19 
Mark Robertson stayed

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the August 20 execution of Mark Robertson, a three-time killer. Defense lawyers argue that the jury at Robertson's trial, before deciding whether to give him life in prison or a death sentence, should have had a chance to consider evidence that Robertson suffered from an abusive childhood and, later, alcohol problems. Robertson killed an 81-year-old woman and her grandson during a robbery at the victims' home in Dallas. Robertson was later arrested in Las Vegas and confessed to the slayings. The victims were Edna Brau and Sean Jason Hill, 19. Robertson received a death sentence for the murder of Edna and a life sentence for the murder of Sean. Robertson was arrested while driving Edna's car. Robertson is also serving a sentence of life in prison for the murder of convenience store clerk Jeffery Saunders, 19. That murder occurred on August 9, 1989, 10 days before the slayings of Edna Brau and Sean Hill. After he was arrested in Las Vegas, Robertson confessed to killing Jeffery and stealing $55 from the store.  The murders occurred August 19, 1989. Court documents stated that Sean Hill was a drug supplier and friend of Robertson. Prosecutors said that Sean was shot in the head while fishing in a pond with Robertson behind his grandmother's house. Before killing Sean, Robertson had used methamphetamine with him, court documents stated. After killing Sean, Robertson then entered the house and killed Edna Brau with a single shot to the head as she lay on the couch watching television. Robertson has an extensive criminal record that began when he was 12 years-old. Over the years, according to court documents, Robertson has waged an almost continuous, losing battle with drugs. He started using them at the age of 14 or 15 and was later sent to a drug rehabilitation clinic by his parents. At one time, he also checked himself into a drug rehab clinic. But, over the years, his drug use has prompted him to be arrested for aggravated robbery, vandalism, car theft, destruction of property, possession of marijuana, violation of probation and at least 13 cases of issuing bad checks.  

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 22, 2003   North Carolina Edward Peebles  Quentin Jones executed

William Quentin Jones is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection for the fatal shooting of Edward Peebles in 1987. Lawyers and relatives of convicted murderer, William Quentin Jones asked Governor Mike Easley on Wednesday to spare his life, saying he is a changed man since the killing. Easley heard arguments on both sides. Shots ring out in a March 1987 convenience store robbery - Ed Peebles is gunned down. Now 16 years later, Ed Peebles’ sister wants justice. The man who gunned down Ed Peebles, William Quentin Jones, is sentenced to die this Friday. Jones is now asking Governor Mike Easley to spare his life. Peebles’ sister says Jones deserves to die. "People make choices - everyone makes choices in their life he has to suffer the consequences my brother he had no choices." This morning in a clemency hearing Governor Mike Easley heard from both the victim and the defendant's family. He also heard about the facts of the case from Wake County District Attorney, Colon Willoughby. The fact that Jones confessed to the crime back in 1987. The fact that this is surveillance video of Jones at the crime scene. "He showed no remorse during the trial I have nothing to say to him." Peebles’ daughter was just seven years old when her father was shot to death. "I'm just here to seek closure." Also at the Capital was William Quentin Jones' family. They say they want Quentin to get another chance. "My brother committed the crime he's already admitted to it he's guilty he's sorry we're sorry for their family's loss." Jones' family says for now they're praying Quentin will be allowed to live. "He's more than just a statistic he has a family who truly loves him and he is sorry for what happened." Not it's up to Governor Easley to decide if Jones is truly sorry. A crowd of protestors rallied outside the State Legislature today calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. 

 

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