December 2003 Executions
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Three killers were executed in December 2003.  They had murdered at least 4 people.

Five
killers were given a stay in December 2003.  They have murdered at least 4 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 3, 2003 Texas John High, 72 
Ruth High, 73
Richard Duncan executed

Richard Duncan was sentenced to die after he murdered his lover's parents to get money for a failing computer business.  Duncan was convicted in 1993 of the October 1987 murders of John High, 72, who had been beaten, and his wife Ruth, 73, who had been smothered in their Houston home. Their son Gary High had been in a relationship with Duncan for over twenty years.  At some point, a third man, Robert Alexander, became roommates with High and Duncan; Mr. Alexander also shared in a computer business with them, Hitech Microsystems. In August 1993, Alexander told Houston detectives that Duncan had admitted killing the High couple to gain Gary's share of a $500,000 estate. Both deaths were originally thought to be accidental. The police arranged for Alexander to tape telephone conversations between himself and Duncan, who was at this point residing in Seattle, Washington. Duncan made incriminating statements in his conversations with Alexander and Duncan was arrested in Seattle. After his arrest, Duncan made a tape statement in which he described the Highs' deaths as "mercy killings." He stated that Ruth High had complained to him about John High's deteriorating heath and had asked Duncan to arrange for she and John High to be killed. UPDATE: Good looks and smarts couldn't save Richard Charles Duncan from death row. "The thing that jumps out at me is he's not the typical defendant anyone would expect to see on death row," Harris County assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler said, describing him as well educated, intelligent, well-groomed and distinguished. Duncan, set for lethal injection Wednesday night, was condemned for killing an elderly Houston couple more than 16 years ago. John High, 72, and his 74-year-old wife, Ruth, the parents of Duncan's homosexual lover, were killed Oct. 8, 1987 at their Houston home. Duncan hoped to use his lover's share of their $500,000 life insurance to save his collapsing computer business, according to prosecutors. "It was all about money," Siegler said. The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to review his case. Duncan, 61, would be the 23rd convicted killer to receive lethal injection in Texas this year and the first of five scheduled to die over the next eight days. Another condemned prisoner, Ivan Murphy, 38, was set to die Thursday night for the slaying of an 80-year-old woman almost 15 years ago at her home in Denison. Three more executions are scheduled for consecutive days next week in the nation's most active death penalty state. Authorities initially believed the couple was asphyxiated by gas, but autopsy results confirmed suspicions they were killed deliberately. John High had been beaten to the head and was found on the kitchen floor. His wife was smothered, probably with a pillow, and her body was arranged in her bed to make it look like she died reading a book. Their killer turned on a portable gas stove and locked the door behind him as he left. More than six years later, Robert John Alexander, who met Duncan in a gay bar in Houston and later lived with Duncan and the Highs' son, Gary, told police Duncan claimed credit for the slayings. "'I did it. I did it. They're gone,'" Alexander told authorities, repeating the words he said Duncan told him. "'Ruth and John. They're at peace.'" According to court documents, Duncan had mentioned earlier that the couple's deaths would solve his financial problems. Homicide investigators arranged with Alexander, who also was involved in the failing computer business with Gary High and Duncan, to talk about the slayings in conversations that were taped. Duncan, living in the Seattle area at the time, was arrested and returned to Houston, where Alexander testified against him at his trial. Neither Alexander nor Gary High was implicated in the plot to kill the couple. Siegler said Duncan tried to explain the deaths as mercy killings because of the victims' failing health. A Harris County jury in 1995 took only 20 minutes before finding him guilty of capital murder. Duncan had no previous criminal record. He declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his scheduled punishment.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 4, 2003   Texas Lula Mae Denning, 80 Ivan Murphy executed

On the night of January 9, 1989, Ivan Murphy and Douglas Stoff went to the home of Lula Mae Denning in Denison, Texas. Ms. Denning, an eighty-year-old lifetime friend of Murphy's, invited the two men into her home. Once inside, the two men robbed Ms. Denning of jewelry, including a wedding ring valued at $7,000, beat her to unconsciousness, and left her for dead. They returned several hours later to steal more jewelry that they could sell for more drugs. Murphy, who had a previous record for theft, was arrested 11 days later in Hugo, Okla. His fingerprints were found in the home. The accomplice, Stoff, was sentenced to life in prison. UPDATE: Ivan Murphy, 38, a former mechanic with an extensive criminal record was executed Thursday night for fatally beating an 80-year-old woman he'd known since childhood.  "This is a celebration of life, not death," Murphy said while strapped to the death chamber gurney. "Through Jesus Christ we have victory over death." He thanked Pope John Paul II and others for prayers, love and support. "I want to thank everybody around the world and Father, let your will be done." As the drugs began taking effect, he gasped several times. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later. Murphy was condemned for the 1989 slaying of Lula Mae Denning at her home in Denison, about 70 miles north of Dallas and just south of the Texas-Oklahoma border. Denning's son Perry Denning said Murphy's comments were nothing but "religious babble" because he never admitted he was guilty. "Just howling in the trees, just wind in the trees. Without true remorse, it means nothing." Murphy smiled and nodded to friends who witnessed his execution but never acknowledged his victim's relatives. Prosecutors said Murphy and an accomplice went to Murphy's old neighborhood to rob Denning. According to Murphy's statement to police, she invited them in and offered him ice cream because she knew him. "She died in her own chair in her own living room. It was horrible," said former Grayson County District Attorney Robert Jarvis. "They took either her cane and or a sawed-off shotgun they brought with them and just beat her as she sat in her chair." The accomplice was sentenced to life in prison. Murphy insisted in a recent death-row interview that he was innocent. "I wasn't there," he said. "No way I can be associated with this crime. I know I got framed." Investigators found Murphy's fingerprint on the bowl that contained the ice cream. Jewelry taken from the victim was linked to Murphy and traces of the woman's blood were found on his clothes. Murphy had convictions in Oklahoma on counts including theft and grand larceny. A week after Denning was killed, he was arrested in Hugo, Okla., on two counts of shooting with intent to kill.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 5, 2003 North Carolina Stephen Wilson Stafford  Robbie Lyons executed

Robbie Lyons was sentenced to die for a 1993 murder in Forsyth County. Robbie James Lyons, 31, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 2 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh. Lyons in 1994 was sentenced in Forsyth County Superior Court to die for the slaying of Stephen Wilson Stafford, the owner of a Winston-Salem store. Lyons also received a 30-year sentence for armed robbery. Lyons was improperly released from prison shortly before murdering Stephen, who was shot to death in his store on September 25, 1993.  Lyons has a long criminal history.  On April 16, 1993, Lyons was convicted of numerous counts of injury to property, larceny and issuing forged checks. He was sentenced to more than 17 months in prison. However, he was improperly released from prison on May 17, 1993, according to court documents. Five weeks after his release, Lyons was arrested on armed robbery charges under the alias of Robby James Johnson. Although authorities knew his real name, Lyons received a plea bargain and three years probation. He was released again on August 10, 1993. Authorities had another chance to keep Lyons behind bars. Lyons was arrested yet again for failing to appear in court for a shoplifting charge in September 1993. He posted a $50 bond and was released. Four days later, Lyons fatally shot Stafford in a grocery store robbery. The murder occurred at the market Stafford owned, Sam's Curb Market. A woman, Victoria Lytle, witnessed the aftermath of the shooting. In addition, an alleged accomplice testified against Lyons. Lytle said that after getting out of her car, she noticed two men on the street. She went into the store to buy soda and saw Derick Hall enter the store. She also noticed Lyons outside the store. After Lytle left the store, she heard three gunshots. She saw Lyons run out of the store with gun in hand. Hall later testified that he did not know Lyons planned to rob the store. Hall said that Lyons carried a long barrel .22 caliber gun when entering the store. Hall testified that as he and the Lyons approached the store, Lyons told him that he needed money and that he was going to rob the store. Hall did not believe Lyons was serious, court documents stated. After Victoria Lytle left the store, Lyons entered and told the victim to freeze and turn around. Hall also claimed he obeyed the command in order to demonstrate that he had no part in the robbery. Hall testified that he then heard five shots, and when he turned around, the defendant was gone and the victim was lying on the floor. Hall further testified that the victim was grunting in an effort to speak and that the victim reached up and pushed the burglar alarm before collapsing back on the floor. The next day, Hall voluntarily turned himself in to the police, court documented stated. Court documents indicate that Lyon's lawyer did not offer any evidence during his client's trial. At sentencing, a psychologist testified that Lyons' suffered from bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse. UPDATE: A man convicted of fatally shooting a storekeeper during an attempted robbery was executed early Friday. Robbie James Lyons, 31, died by injection and was the seventh inmate executed this year in North Carolina, the most since 1949 when 10 people were put to death, officials with the Corrections Department said. "It is from Allah that I come and it is to Allah that I return," Lyons said in a last statement. "If my death brings another person happiness, then I'm happy for them." Lawyers for Lyons had said they wouldn't file last-minute court appeals, relying instead of a clemency petition filed with Gov. Mike Easley. Easley declined Thursday night to commute Lyons' sentence to life in prison, saying he found no reason to do so. The Rev. Jesse Jackson also had sent Easley a letter urging clemency for Lyons, saying Lyons had been beaten frequently, forced to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana and use crack cocaine at a young age. Lyons was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to death for the pistol slaying of Stephen Wilson Stafford. The victim was shot after he tried to grab a Lyons' .22-caliber pistol during an attempted robbery of Stafford's store Sept. 25, 1993. Lyons' two state-appointed lawyers, Kirk Osborn and Ernest Conner, had argued that Lyons didn't have good legal representation when he was charged and tried, and that he has a mental defect. But Assistant District Attorney David Hall said Lyons had an IQ of 110 and was a violent man.  UPDATE: Robbie James Lyons was executed early this morning for the 1993 shooting death of a Winston-Salem convenience store owner. Late Thursday, Gov. Mike Easley denied Lyons' clemency petition, which raised concerns that poor legal representation and racial bias contributed to his death sentence. The Rev. Jesse Jackson sent a letter asking Easley to commute Lyons' sentence to life in prison, citing Lyons' childhood of violent beatings and drug abuse. "I have the deepest sympathy for the victims of violent crime and their families and loved ones left behind -- but the death penalty is not the best way to acknowledge their grief," Jackson wrote. Lyons, 31, was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the killing of Stephen Stafford, 48, during an armed robbery at his store Sept. 25, 1993. Forsyth County prosecutors dismissed the issues raised by Lyons' defense lawyers. They portrayed Lyons as a violent man who showed no remorse about the killing and had not changed his ways. Their proof: Lyons was placed in solitary confinement last month after assaulting a prison guard, disobeying an order and using profanity. "Lyons remains an evil, violent person," said Ramona Stafford, the victim's widow, who was scheduled to be among the execution witnesses along with her two children, Stephanie and Dwayne, and other relatives. Stephen Stafford was a loving husband, a caring father and someone who tried to help the community around his store, his widow said. "He had more IOUs in his cash drawer than he did cash," Ramona Stafford said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 9, 2003   Texas Phillip Kinslow, 50 Billy Vickers stayed

In the spring of 1993, fifty-year-old Phillip Kinslow ran a small combination gas station/grocery store in Arthur City, Texas, the Arthur City Suprette. Philip would bring home the day's receipts in a satchel-type bag after he closed for the evening and openly carried a loaded revolver to protect the large sums of money that he transported between his store and his rural Lamar County home. On the evening of March 12, 1993, as Philip's wife, Dania, awaited the arrival of her husband, she heard what sounded like "rapid gun fire" coming from the area in front of her home. She watched as her husband drove his truck toward the house, veered off the road, and crashed into a tree. Philip's family found him slumped in the seat with what proved to be a fatal gunshot wound to his chest. Inside the truck, the family found Philip's money bag and his handgun, which had recently been fired and contained six spent .38 caliber shells. The medical examiner subsequently confirmed that he had been shot once in his chest and twice in his right arm. A .22 caliber bullet that had lodged in his spine was recovered during the autopsy. Approximately twenty-two hours after the shooting, the police received a report of a suspicious person about two miles from the Kinslow residence. Upon arrival, officers found Billy Frank Vickers walking with the help of some makeshift crutches constructed out of tree branches because he had been shot twice in his left leg. A bullet recovered from Vickers' knee was confirmed to have been fired from Philip's .38 caliber handgun. Investigators also discovered that a shoe print found near the Kinslows' gate was made by the same size, brand, and style of shoe that Vickers was wearing when he was found. The police also located a toboggan hat and a roll of duct tape in a nearby wooded area. The hat contained hairs that were consistent with those collected from Vickers' head. Finally, when police searched Vickers' home, they located several .22 caliber, long rifle, hollow point shells that were of the same sort as the bullet that killed Phillip Kinslow. Jason Martin, one of Vickers' co-defendants, who testified pursuant to a plea agreement, recounted how he, Vickers, and a man named Tommy Perkins decided to rob Philip Kinslow. Martin, Vickers, and Perkins went to Philip's store on at least four occasions in preparation for the robbery. During those trips, the men watched from across the street as the store closed down for the evening. The men noted what time the lights were turned off and what time Philip left to go home. During one trip to the store, the group tailed his pickup back to his home in order to discover where he lived. Martin drove Vickers and Perkins back to the Kinslow house on at least two occasions to look around. They discovered two locked gates leading up to the house, and Perkins suggested that the gates provided a good place to ambush Philip. On the day of the murder, Martin went over to Vickers' house where he observed Vickers with a .22 caliber pistol and Perkins with a .38 caliber pistol. The men went to Philip Kinslow's store to see if he had gone to withdraw money from the bank to cover weekend business. As the three men drove by the store, they saw Philip getting out of his pickup with a "big money bag" in his hands. The men then drove back to Vickers' house, where they discussed how they would rob him. The plan was for Martin to drive the getaway car and for Vickers and Perkins to rush Philip at the gate to his property, tie him up, and drive Philip's truck to a vacant lot where Martin would be waiting. Vickers and Perkins then collected toboggan hats, duct tape and a police scanner, and the men left the house. When they reached a road near the house, Vickers grabbed his .22 and the duct tape off the dash and walked with Perkins toward the Kinslows' gate. Martin then drove his pickup to the vacant lot where he was to rendezvous with Vickers and Perkins after the robbery. As Martin waited in his truck for Vickers and Perkins to return, he heard a gunshot. Martin spent the rest of the evening driving around the area, but he never saw either Vickers or Perkins. Around 8 o'clock the next morning, Perkins went to Martin's house and told him that Vickers had been shot. Perkins explained that he and Vickers had waited for Philip, and when he got out of the pickup, Perkins saw that he had a gun. Undeterred, Vickers rushed Philip and both men fired shots. Philip then got back in his truck and drove away. Perkins told Martin that he tried to help Vickers out of the area, but Vickers had been shot in the knee and could not move very quickly. Vickers then told Perkins to go find Martin and bring the truck back for him. Perkins then walked the several miles back to Vickers' house. Perkins also told his girlfriend that he and Vickers "went out to rob this guy and it didn't go the way it was supposed to." Perkins indicated that the man they had planned to rob had a gun with him. When the man got out of his truck, Vickers said something to him and the man turned to face Vickers. Vickers then asked the man "did he want to die," and both men started shooting at one another. Perkins told her that the man then jumped in his truck and drove off. Perkins suggested that the incident could have been avoided if Vickers had just "backed off" when he saw the gun, and that "[Vickers] messed things up because he was trying to be macho." Perkins was sentenced to Life in prison for capital murder and Martin received a 25 year sentence for robbery. Vickers had a lengthy criminal record.  In 1967, Vickers received a 2 1/2 year sentence for a burglary conviction for which he served one year. Within two years, Vickers committed another burglary and received a 5 1/2 year sentence and served 3 years. One year later, in July of 1974, Vickers was back in prison on convictions for being a felon in possession of burglary tools, and burglary with intent to commit theft. He received a 3 year sentence and served one year. In 1983, Vickers was convicted of arson. He was sentenced to 4 years and served 2 1/2 years. Vickers also has a federal conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2003   Texas Leslie Gilbert Hooks, 33  Kevin Zimmerman stayed

On October 23, 1987, Kevin Lee Zimmerman, George Weber, and Kay Gonzales, arrived at a Motel 6 in Beaumont, Texas. While at the motel, they met the victim, 33-year-old Leslie Gilbert Hooks, Jr., a resident of Suisan City, California who was also staying at the motel. After having drinks with the group, Hooks suggested that they all go to the fair. All four people returned to the motel after going to the fair. After some time, Gonzales went to the bathroom in Zimmerman's motel room and heard a struggle ensuing in the nearby bedroom. In that bedroom, Zimmerman and Weber, armed with knives, had attacked Hooks. The two men stabbed Hooks 31 times, after which Zimmerman took Hook's wallet and gave it to Weber. Then, Zimmerman, Weber, and Gonzales, left in their car to take Zimmerman to a hospital, where he received treatment for a knife wound. Zimmerman was subsequently arrested and placed in jail. Leslie's body was found the next morning by a hotel maid. While in jail, Zimmerman wrote numerous letters to Weber and to the district attorney. At trial, the State introduced many pieces of correspondence which Zimmerman had written and signed. In one of these letters to the district attorney, Zimmerman wrote that he had decided to kill Hooks for his money. Zimmerman also stated in the letter that he was accidentally stabbed in the arm while killing Hooks. The contents of this letter were corroborated by the testimony of Gonzales. According to her, Zimmerman and Hooks were arguing about an incident that had occurred at the fair. Suddenly, Zimmerman "picked up a knife and ... stabbed him [Hooks] in his shoulder." Gonzales then went into the bathroom and came back out, only to see both Zimmerman and Weber stabbing Hooks, who was yelling "Don't kill me."  Zimmerman had been arrested many times including: September 1979 for two separate charges of endangering people through reckless operation of a motor vehicle; January 28, 1980, in Louisiana for theft and forgery; August 8, 1980, in Louisiana for possession of marijuana; September 1980 for battery of a juvenile; January 18, 1981, for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; October 1982 for criminal trespassing, carrying a concealed weapon (a knife), disturbing the peace, and threatening to do bodily injury to an elderly neighbor woman; January 24, 1983, for aggravated battery for stabbing a man who refused to turn over his car keys to enable Zimmerman to steal his car, as well as fleeing from officers, resisting an officer, and battery on a police officer; August 30, 1985, in Louisiana for auto theft, resisting arrest, and possession of cocaine; November 11, 1985, in Louisiana for possession of cocaine. UPDATE: Kevin Lee Zimmerman, from Lafayette Parish, was sentenced to death for a robbery-slaying in Beaumont 16 years ago. But Zimmerman received a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court 20 minutes before he could have been put to death Wednesday evening. "I'm disappointed," Zimmerman told Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons after he was told he would continue to live. "I was ready to go." In a brief order, Justice Antonin Scalia stopped Zimmerman's punishment pending an additional order from him or the court. A couple hours earlier, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the suit that sought a halt to the use of pancuronium bromide - a drug that paralyzes muscles and is one of the 3 chemicals used in the procedure. According to attorneys for Zimmerman, the drug contributed to pain that amounted to an unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment for the inmate. The legal action echoed a Tennessee death row inmate's suit, now on appeal, that cites an American Veterinary Medical Association condemnation of the drug. The lethal cocktail of pancuronium bromide; sodium thiopental, a barbiturate; and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest, has been used in Texas since the state became the 1st in the nation in 1982 to adopt lethal injection as its execution method. "I'm obviously pleased," said Jim Marcus, executive director of the Texas Defenders Service, a legal group that represents death row inmates. "It's an important case and it deserves consideration. What this case boiled down to is whether death-sentenced inmates will have access to federal courts to raise civil rights violations." Marcus said while the court order did not specify why the execution was delayed, he can only assume the court wants more time to consider his lawsuit, which asks for inmate access to the courts to raise such civil rights challenges. "The court has that question under consideration in another case," Marcus said. "We sought a stay pending the outcome of that case." Zimmerman, 42, was condemned for the 1987 fatal stabbing and robbery of Leslie Hooks Jr., 33, a Louisiana oilfield worker staying at a Beaumont motel. Hooks had been stabbed 31 times. In 1992, Zimmerman and 2 other inmates tried to escape from death row by sawing their way through a recreation yard fence. The break was thwarted when a guard opened fire on them. UPDATE: Kevin Lee Zimmerman got a new execution date for a 1987 fatal stabbing and robbery at a Beaumont motel after a divided U.S. Supreme Court lifted a last-minute stay Monday that spared his life less than a week ago. Zimmerman, 42, of Lafayette Parish, La., was scheduled to die Dec. 10 for robbing Leslie Gilbert Hooks, Jr., 33, of Silsbee, and stabbing him 31 times. On Monday, Criminal District Judge Charles Carver set a new execution date of Jan. 21. "From my point of view, I believe the man deserves to get exactly what my daddy did," said Kasheena Hooks, 19, of Fred, in a telephone interview. "The man knew his consequences when he did what he did, so now he needs to pay." Zimmerman's execution was halted 20 minutes before it could have been carried out when Justice Antonin Scalia issued a temporary stay to give the high court more time to consider Zimmerman's case. Attorneys for Zimmerman and other Texas death row inmates argued that the use of pancuronium bromide - a drug that paralyzes muscles - in executions is cruel and unusual punishment. On Monday, the court decided 5-4 to vacate the temporary stay. The court's four more liberal members - Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - objected. The 4 said that the Zimmerman case should not be decided until the court rules next year in a separate case. The case involves an Alabama death row inmate who claims execution by lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel because of his medical condition, collapsed veins, according to The Associated Press. Texas, the 1st state to execute condemned inmates by injection, uses a combination of 3 drugs: pancuronium bromide, the barbiturate sodium thiopental and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest. Zimmerman had said last Wednesday that he was disappointed by Scalia's stay. "I was ready to go," Zimmerman said, according to Associated Press reports. Zimmerman was one of three people charged in connection with Hooks' death. George Andre Weber was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 85 years in prison. He remains in state custody. Kaye Ellen Gonzales pleaded guilty to robbery in exchange for her testimony and was sentenced to 10 years probation. Hooks, a construction worker, had just returned from a job in California and met the 3 people at a Beaumont motel. He was killed after they all returned from the South Texas State Fair. Kasheena Hooks said she, her brother and her sister have few memories of their father because they were so young when he died. Her last memory of him is a Christmas gathering when she was 3. "I remember sitting in his lap, and we was playing pattycake, and I remember he told me that he loved me, and we opened the presents together," she said. Their last family portrait was taken that day, she said. "Every Christmas is hard. Every holiday's hard. Every birthday's hard. Every day's hard," she said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2003 Georgia Leslie English, 2 Eddie Crawford stayed

Eddie Albert Crawford was convicted for the murder of his 29-month-old niece, Leslie English. The evidence at trial showed that Leslie and the her mother, Wanda English, resided with Mrs. English's parents. Eddie Crawford was married to, but estranged from, one of Mrs. English's sisters at the time of Leslie's death. At approximately 11:00 p.m. Saturday, September 24, 1983, Mrs. English readied Leslie for bed. Crawford arrived at the home and asked Mrs. English to accompany him to a liquor store. Mrs. English agreed. Crawford was intoxicated and, en route from the liquor store, made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase marijuana. The two returned to Mrs. English's residence where Crawford asked Mrs. English to spend the night with him. When she refused, he left. Mrs. English encountered Crawford later that same night at the house of another of her sisters. During this visit Crawford kicked an ashtray off a table which struck Mrs. English. As Mrs. English picked up the ashtray's contents, Crawford "grabbed her and pushed her." Mrs. English yelled that she would not allow him to treat her like that, then threw the ashtray at him. As Mrs. English left her sister's home, Crawford swore and called to her, "I'll fix you." During this time Leslie was in the care of Mrs. English's father, Raymond Fuller. Mr. Fuller testified that before he went to bed at 3:00 a.m., he observed Leslie sleeping and pulled the bedclothes about her. Mr. Fuller testified he returned to his own bed and fell asleep. He stated that "sometime later" he was awakened by Crawford walking through the house with a lighted cigarette lighter. Mr. Fuller saw Crawford walking through Leslie's bedroom in the direction of the bathroom. As Crawford was a family member and frequent guest in his home, Mr. Fuller did not consider this unusual. Mr. Fuller testified he again fell asleep and did not wake up until 5:00 a.m. when Wanda English returned home and discovered Leslie missing. A neighbor who lived in a house adjacent to the Fullers testified that between 3:45 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., he observed Crawford drive up to the Fuller home and exit his car, leaving the car headlights on and the motor running. The neighbor testified that "about five minutes later" he noticed the car drive away. When Wanda English could not locate Leslie upon her return home at 5:00 a.m., she initiated a search throughout the neighborhood. She observed Crawford in his car, parked with the motor running, in front of a neighboring house, and asked if he had seen Leslie. Crawford replied that he had not. Later, when Leslie's grandfather asked Crawford if he knew where the victim could be found, Crawford replied "Randy [the victim's father] done it." In the following days Crawford gave three inconsistent stories concerning where he had been between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on September 25. When interviewed by law enforcement officers on September 27, 1983, Crawford stated that he could remember speaking to Leslie's grandfather before Leslie's disappearance, but he remembered nothing more of what took place at the Fuller residence. Crawford told police that he remembered driving his car, with Leslie in his lap, and trying to wake her up, "but she would not talk to me." Crawford stated he believed the child was "mad" because she would not respond to him. Crawford stated he stopped his car and walked "on pavement" with Leslie in his arms. Crawford stated he remembered getting back into his car without Leslie, but did not remember anything that had occurred in the interim. Leslie's body, clothed only in a pajama top, was discovered in a wooded area on September 26, 1983. An autopsy revealed she died as a result of asphyxiation. Two-and-a-half-year-old Leslie had sustained a number of bruises and cuts about the left side of her face. There was a tear in her vaginal opening. Based on the size and shape of the tear, the pathologist who performed the autopsy opined that it had been made by "an object more consistent with a penis than other objects." The pathologist stated his opinion that death occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. on September 25, 1983. Considerable hair and fiber evidence was found on Leslie's body, including three hairs on her pajama top that were consistent with Crawford's head hair, and some fibers that were consistent with fibers from Crawford's car. Also, the police recovered the tee-shirt worn by Crawford on the night of the murder, which they found stuffed behind a dresser in the house in which Crawford slept on the night of the murder. The shirt had blood on it, although the blood could not be typed conclusively. In addition, a pillow case, mattress pad, and bed sheet were recovered on the edge of the road not far from Leslie's body, and Crawford's wife identified these items as coming from their trailer. This bedding also had hairs consistent with both Crawford and Leslie, as well as fibers consistent with the carpet in Crawford's car. Type O blood, the type shared by Leslie and Crawford, was found on the bed sheet. 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2003   Texas Michelle Wendy Haupt, 26 Bobbie Hines stayed

On October 19, 1991, Mary Ann Linch went to the apartment of her friend Michelle Wendy Haupt in Carrollton, Texas, to spend the weekend. Linch brought with her a Marlboro cigarette carton in which only four packs remained. She had purchased the cigarettes at Brookshires' in Corsicana and the carton contained a stamp showing "Brookshires' Store" on the side. Linch left the carton at Haupt's apartment when they left that evening to go to a nightclub. Linch had intended to return to Michelle's, but instead spent the night with another friend. Linch testified that when they went to the club, Michelle was wearing a gold sand-dollar charm necklace which she always wore. During the evening, Michelle became ill and another friend drove her back to her apartment. When he left, he testified that Michelle locked the door behind him. Meanwhile, at Michelle's apartment complex, Bobbie Hines appeared uninvited at a party. When the hostess asked him who he was, he identified himself as the brother of the apartment manager. He told another guest that he was part of the maintenance crew at the complex. He pulled out a ring of keys and stated that he could get into any apartment that he wanted to at any time. At about 6 a.m. on October 20, 1991, Michelle's next-door neighbor heard a woman screaming. He could not determine the source of the screams, but his wife called the police. Two police officers were dispatched to the scene, but the screaming had ended before they arrived. After inspecting the premises, the officers could not determine where the screams had come from and they eventually left. Two other residents in the apartment directly below Michelle's also heard screaming loud enough to awaken them. One of the residents testified that he also heard other loud noises that sounded "like a bowling ball being dropped on Michelle's floor." He heard this noise at least 20 times. The screaming lasted for approximately 15 minutes. The resident of an adjacent downstairs apartment also heard the screaming. Just before noon that morning, she and the other residents discussed what they had heard and became concerned for Michelle. Eventually, the apartment leasing manager was persuaded to check Michelle's apartment. After knocking and receiving no answer, the manager opened the door and saw Michelle lying on the floor just inside the door. A stereo cord was tightly wrapped around her neck, her face was black, and she appeared to be dead. Michelle was found dressed in only a robe and lying face up on the floor. There were puncture wounds to her chest area. The robe was stained with blood, but it had no holes to correspond with the puncture wounds to Michelle's body, indicating the robe was placed on her body after the wounds were inflicted. Further, the belt to the robe was tied tighter than a person would normally tie it against her own body. An object appearing to be an ice pick was found on the nearby couch. Hines' palm print was found inside Michelle's apartment in what appeared to be blood, and his thumbprint was found on the inside of the front door. Later that same day, Hines was found to be in possession of Michelle's gold sand-dollar charm. He had blood on some of his clothing and some other objects from Michelle's apartment, including the Brookshires' cigarette carton, were found under the couch where he had been sleeping. When Hines was arrested, he had a scratch under his right eye, scratches to the left side of his neck, and a scratch on his cheek. DNA testing conducted on a bloodstain found on Hines' underwear indicated that the blood was consistent with Michelle's blood. The Dallas County Chief Medical Examiner testified that the cause of Michelle's death was strangulation and puncture wounds. Michelle had abrasions to her neck and jaw, contusions on her neck, and a fractured hyoid bone from being strangled. She had about 18 puncture wounds. She had rectal tears with hemorrhaging. Barnard testified that the puncture wounds could have been made by the object found on the couch in Michelle's apartment. UPDATE: In February of 1999, the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals denied a habeas corpus appeal from a Dallas County death row inmate convicted of strangling a 26-year-old woman in 1991. The court upheld the death penalty against Bobby Lee Hines who said in his appeal that the autopsy photos used in court were not only irrelevant but "inflammatory and prejudicial" because of their gruesome nature. The victim, Michelle Wendy Haupt, was discovered in the early hours of Oct. 20, 1991, at her apartment. According to court records, she was sexually assaulted, stabbed at least 17 times and strangled with a stereo speaker cord. Her apartment was burglarized. The pictures used in court included close-up color photos and nudity. The judges decided that since the photos were not enhanced in any way and the nudity did not detract from the wounds, the trial court had not "abused discretion to admit any of the exhibits." Bodily fluids found on a robe the victim was wearing were identified as belonging to Hines. In his appeal, he asked that the DNA be retested. The court denied his request. Hines had a string of juvenile convictions.  He was arrested for car theft in 1984 at the age of twelve for which he received a year of juvenile probation. His probation was revoked and he was confined for three months in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC). In 1986 he received ten years of juvenile probation for burglary of a building, which was revoked in 1990. He was then confined in TYC for nine months. In February 1986, Hines was placed on juvenile probation for getting into a school fight, and was committed to TYC for assault. He was confined for 6 months and placed on probation, which he violated in 1987. His probation was revoked and he was confined for another 6 months in TYC. In January 1989, Hines was committed to TYC for attacking an elderly lady and burglarizing a church. In June 1990, Hines received a 10-year prison sentence for a count each of burglary of a habitation and burglary of a building. Under a "shock probation" policy, Hines was sent to prison for 83 days, then released on 10-years probation.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 18, 2003 Virginia Annie Lester, 87 James Reid stayed

James Edward Reid was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 87-year-old Annie Lester. Annie's body was discovered on October 12, 1996. She had been brutally murdered; an autopsy revealed that she had suffered 22 scissor stab wounds. One of the wounds punctured a lung, another her heart. Annie had also been beaten about her head with a can of condensed milk, and a bone in her throat had been crushed by strangulation or being struck with a hard object. A trail of blood led from Annie's kitchen to her bedroom, where her body was found. Annie's clothing was in disarray, and the room had been ransacked. There was a wine bottle on the floor at the foot of the bed where he placed her frail body. Substantial evidence connected Reid to the murder. Reid was acquainted with Annie Lester and had received an automobile ride to her house in the mid-morning of the day of the murder; on the way, he purchased a bottle of wine. Late in the afternoon, Reid was seen walking from the area of Annie's lifelong home, drunk and covered in blood. DNA from Lester's blood was found on Reid's clothing, and Reid's bloody fingerprints were found on the telephone in Annie's bedroom. His saliva was found on a cigarette butt left in the room, and his handwriting was found on pieces of paper in the house. UPDATE: The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted a temporary reprieve for a convicted killer scheduled to be executed Thursday night for bashing 80-year-old Annie Mae Lester in the head with a milk can, strangling her and stabbing her 22 times. A judge convicted James Edward Reid of 1996 capital murder, attempted rape and attempted robbery of the Christiansburg woman and found that the crime was so vile that it warranted the death penalty. The appeals court granted the stay late Wednesday, and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore's office is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the delay, Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. Defense attorney James Turk Jr. said the appeals court granted Reid's request for a delay pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a similar case. Turk said the high court is considering whether to stay the execution of an Alabama death row inmate who has chosen lethal injection, but has damaged veins that prevent an injection in the arm. Alabama officials planned to cut through tissue to inject him, but his lawyers argue that procedure is cruel and unusual punishment. Turk said Virginia prison officials also have had trouble finding a vein in Reid's arm. "I was told today that they were going to have difficulty administering the lethal injection into James Reid's arm and would have to go through his leg," Turk said. "It seems to be similar, if not exactly the same as the Alabama case." Turk said he thinks they can't find the vein because of Reid's poor health. Kilgore's office called the emergency request an attempt to "manipulate this Court into stopping his execution by means of an utterly frivolous motion containing scandalous misrepresentations." Prosecutors argued that Reid's lawyers are trying to evade a rule that limits the number of appeals. Stabbed 22 times, Lester's body was found Oct. 12, 1996, in her ransacked bedroom. A bottle of wine was found near the bed, and a trail of blood led to the kitchen. Forensics later determined that Lester had been hit on the head in the kitchen and dragged to the bedroom, where she was stabbed with scissors and strangled with the cord of a heating pad. After the killing, a drunk and blood-soaked Reid was seen walking from the direction of Lester's house. Blood on his clothes matched Lester's DNA, his fingerprints and saliva were found in her room and his handwriting was found on a card that said "I've gotta kill you," according to the 4th Circuit's ruling in the case. Reid said he did not remember the killing. Two mental health consultants testified during sentencing that a brain injury from a car accident in 1968 combined with Reid's alcohol abuse impaired his judgment. Turk said Wednesday that Reid is preparing to die. "He's a fairly religious man, and always has been," Turk said. "He's consistently stated that he thinks it's out of his control, and that people are going to do whatever they have to do."

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