July 2003 Executions
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Eleven killers were executed in July 2003.  They had murdered at least 22 people.

Two
killers were given a stay in July 2003.  They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 1, 2003   Oklahoma Roxie Lynn Ruddell, 37
William Brewer, 86
Flossie Mae Brewer, 76
Ruth Lucille Loader, 79
Lewis Gilbert II executed

After deliberating five hours until nearly midnight, a Callaway County jury decided that Lewis Gilbert should get the death penalty for murdering Bill and Flossie Brewer. For Gilbert, they are the second and third death verdicts linked to a cross-country crime spree with Eric Elliott that began in Newcomerstown, Ohio, and ended outside Santa Fe, N.M. Gilbert and Elliott were arrested a week later in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The crime spree by Lewis Gilbert and Eric Elliott began in August 1994 in Ohio, where they are suspected of killing Ruth Loader, 79, in Port Washington.  The pair broke into Ruth's home, tied her up and drove her into the woods where they shot her in the head. Ruth disappeared without a trace, and her car was found bogged down in a muddy field near the Brewers’ house. The men had stolen her car and drove southwest across the country to Missouri. They became stuck in the mud in a Callaway County, Missouri, field. They walked to the nearby home of William and Flossie Mae Brewer, intending to steal money and another car. Confessing after his arrest, Gilbert said that he and Elliott were invited inside the house by Mrs. Brewer after they said they needed to use the phone to call a wrecker. Once inside, they realized there was no phone book. After talking with the elderly couple for about 30 minutes, Gilbert confessed, they decided they were going to kill the Brewers. Gilbert used a telephone cord to bind Flossie Brewer's hands, then he and Elliott led the elderly couple down to the basement. According to Gilbert's confession, Elliott shot both of them three times in the head. Bill Brewer was 86; Flossie Brewer was 76. Asked if he was "solely responsible for the murders in Missouri," Gilbert answered that "it was a 50/50 deal." After shooting the couple to death they stole their car, cash and rifles. Gilbert was also sentenced to die in Oklahoma for killing Roxie Ruddell, a security guard in Lake Stanley Draper, Oklahoma. Gilbert and Elliott approached Roxy Lynn Ruddell to steal her truck. Ruddell, 37, was fishing at Lake Stanley Draper after she got off work. She told the men that they could take the truck if they didn’t hurt her, appeals court documents stated. Despite the offer, prosecutors said the victim was forced to sit under a nearby tree and then shot three times in the head by Gilbert. Gilbert received a death sentence and Elliott life in prison. Eddie Ruddell, who said he is still too upset to visit his wife's grave, said execution was the only appropriate punishment. "She was a warm, caring person, loved everybody, did anything for anyone that asked," he said. The Brewers’ car was found near Ruddell’s body in Oklahoma, and Ruddell’s pickup was with Gilbert and Elliott when New Mexico police surrounded them while they slept in a ditch, forcing them to surrender. Public Defenders Bob Wolfrum and Jeff Estes tried to portray Gilbert as the victim of a troubled childhood, including abuse and abandonment by a series of father figures. They also noted Gilbert’s failed marriage. Gilbert went to prison in Ohio for child endangerment after biting and bruising his 3-month-old son in 1992. When he was released from prison, his estranged wife closed the door in his face. Eighteen days later, Gilbert and Elliott set out with a few dollars in their pockets and a .22-caliber revolver that Elliott took from his father’s home. The gun became a murder weapon in Callaway County. Two psychologists and an expert in human development testified for the defense about Gilbert’s psychological makeup, but Assistant Attorney General Bob Ahsens argued it was "psychobabble." Gilbert is simply a serial killer, Ahsens said. A jury convicted Gilbert of first-degree burglary, first-degree tampering, stealing, armed criminal action and two counts of first-degree murder. Gilbert was sentenced to two death sentences, life imprisonment and 29 years in prison. The Brewer family wasn’t impressed by the defense. "He was old enough to have a brain and old enough to know right from wrong," said Gene Brewer of Fulton, one of the victims’ four children. "We’ve run it through our minds - brothers and sisters - and there just wasn’t no reason for it. They could’ve took the car, tied them up in the basement or something." Many members of the Brewer family traveled to Oklahoma for Gilbert’s trial in 1995. They returned to Oklahoma for court proceedings involving Elliott. As the hours passed waiting for the verdicts in Fulton, Gene Brewer said, "it worried me for a while, when they slowed down and wasn’t coming back with nothing." The tragedy fragmented the extended family, but they spent a lot of time together during the trial. They looked over old family photos at Gene Brewer’s house. "I had ’em in my basement, going on seven years now," he said. "Thursday night, everybody went through them and got what they wanted out of them." It was "a good time," he said. The verdicts "kind of lifted a burden," he said. "At least you get a satisfaction. You’re not going to forget, but this here gives us the feeling that he got something out of it. He didn’t walk off scot-free." Under an agreement between Missouri and Oklahoma, Gilbert was sent back to Oklahoma’s death row. Elliott, a juvenile at the time of the murders, pleaded guilty in 1996 to first-degree murder in Ruddell’s death and is serving a life sentence without parole.
 

 
 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 2, 2003   Texas McKay Everett Hilton Crawford executed

McKay Everett was kidnapped, beaten and shot to death because the boy and his parents trusted Hilton L. Crawford completely, a prosecutor told jurors in Crawford's capital murder trial. "This case is about the ultimate betrayal," Nancy Neff said in the opening day of Crawford's trial on capital murder charges. With that, Neff and fellow Montgomery County prosecutor Mike Aduddell called on the 12-year-old's parents -- Carl and Paulette Everett of Conroe -- for their testimony supporting the accusation that Crawford tried to cash in on the family's trust in a kidnapping scheme. In her often-tearful recollection of Sept. 12, 1995 -- the day McKay was snatched from home while his parents attended an Amway sales meeting -- Mrs. Everett said Crawford called her a few hours before the meeting and asked if she and her husband still planned to attend. She said Crawford, who had been recruited into Amway by her husband, told her he was planning to bring two or three other people, whose names she did not recall. But the Everetts and other witnesses noted that Crawford was a no-show at the meeting, which was being held especially for him. Neff suggested to jurors that the call to Paulette Everett was a ploy by Crawford to make sure that McKay would be at home so that he could carry out a kidnapping plan involving a $500,000 ransom. McKay Everett is dead because Hilton Crawford wanted a half-million dollars," Neff told the eight women and four men of the jury. It was believed that Crawford struck the 100-pound boy on the head with multiple crushing blows while the youth was in the trunk of Crawford's car, and later shot him in southern Louisiana, where the body was found in a patch of weeds four days later. "He had been left to rot in Louisiana," Neff said of McKay's badly decomposed body. Crawford admitted involvement in the boy's abduction, but he denied killing McKay, who knew him by the pet name "Uncle Hilty. "McKay's parents said the boy trusted Crawford so much that he was one of the few people McKay would have allowed into the house while they were away by unlocking the doors and de-activating a sophisticated security system. Mrs. Everett, 46, said the relationship that she and her husband had with Crawford and his wife, Connie, began when the two women met and taught school together at Rice Elementary in Conroe 15 years ago. Mrs. Everett said she quit teaching to stay at home after McKay was born. Asked by Neff if the Crawfords had remained friends with her family through the years, Mrs. Everett replied: "I thought they were." A woman accused of helping in the abduction and murder was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to kidnapping. Irene V. Flores was originally charged with capital murder in the death of McKay Everett, a seventh-grader snatched from his home on Sept. 12, 1995, but prosecutors reduced the charge to kidnapping. Flores, a 55-year-old mother of four, pleaded before state District Judge Fred Edwards. Edwards told her he considered her plea to be guilty rather than no contest, and imposed the 25-year term. She will not be eligible for parole for at least 12 1/2 years. Flores was accused of placing a ransom call to the victim's parents on the night of the kidnapping, telling Carl Everett he must pay $500,000 to get his son back. The boy's body was later found in a swamp about 15 miles east of Lafayette, La. He had been beaten and shot to death. Hilton Crawford, a longtime friend of the Everett family, is on death row for the killing after his 1996 capital murder conviction. Prosecutors said the 58-year-old, whom the boy knew as "Uncle Hilty," fell on hard financial times before deciding to kidnap his friend's son. He killed the boy when the plan began to unravel. Flores was on parole after a drug conviction when she placed the ransom call. She has maintained since her arrest that Crawford duped her into making the call and that she thought McKay would not be harmed. McKay's father addressed Flores in the courtroom, telling her she was as much to blame as Crawford for the boy's death. "Hilton killed McKay," said Carl Everett. "Irene Flores can sit here today and plead no contest to a lesser charge, but she is just as guilty of killing McKay as Hilton. You took an active part in killing a child. You crossed over a boundary that you can never come back from. You are ... no good." Prosecutors said the Everett family had agreed to the lesser charges for Flores. Who was McKay Everett? He was born March 1, 1983, in a labor so difficult for his mother that his father worried about losing his wife. At the time of his death, McKay was a seventh-grader at Peet Junior High, weighing only 101 pounds and topping 5-feet by just an inch. His eyes were blue, his hair light brown. He had braces on his teeth. He had no brothers or sisters. He liked going to camp and he liked to play sports. Hilton Crawford knew all this. He had given McKay a football not long before snatching the boy from his home. The football was clutched at a press conference by Carl Everett as he pleaded for his son's safe return. ``I want to take this opportunity to talk to Hilton, who is someone that my family has loved dearly,'' Everett said that day. ``Hilty, something's happened, and I don't know what's happened, but there's been a lot of people involved now. But there's one still missing - and that's McKay. In my heart, I know that you would never harm my son. You gave him this ball. He called you Uncle Hilty, and he loved you dearly. Three weeks ago, we were at your home playing with this ball and when we got ready to leave, I told McKay, `Go give Uncle Hilty a hug,' and he came over and he hugged you and he kissed you on the forehead.'' UPDATE: Convicted killer Hilton Crawford, fondly known to his 12-year-old victim as "Uncle Hilty," was executed Wednesday evening for the abduction and slaying of a Conroe boy almost eight years ago.  Crawford nodded and smiled to witnesses, asking for forgiveness and expressing love for his family. "I thank Jesus Christ. I had an opportunity to serve Jesus Christ, I'm very thankful for that," he said. The victim's mother, Paulette Everett-Norman, was standing behind a window just a few feet from her son's killer when he turned toward her and said, "I want to ask Paulette for forgiveness from your heart. One day I hope you will. It's a tragedy for my family and your family. I am sorry." He asked a witness to deliver a yellow rose to his wife, Connie. He told his wife, who wasn't present, that he loved her and his sons. "They were the greatest gift from God. May God pass me over to the kingdom's shore softly and gently. I am ready," he said. "I'm ready," he said just before the dose of lethal drugs began. He nodded and gasped before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m., eight minutes after the drugs began to flow.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 8, 2003   Oklahoma John Howard  Robert Duckett executed

Robert Duckett was sentenced to die for the robbery and murder of a man who befriended him after Duckett escaped from prison. John Howard was savagely beaten to death in his apartment in Oklahoma City on Oct. 19, 1988. Prosecutors said Duckett used a fireplace poker and a wooden ashtray stand to bludgeon Howard to death. The victim's hands and feet were also bound with wire. Prior to the murder, Howard, who operated a convenience store, had picked up Duckett hitchhiking. Court documents stated that Duckett had escaped from prison - where he was serving time for robbery and assault. Howard helped Duckett find work and offered to let Duckett stay with him at his apartment. While being questioned by police, Duckett said that he and Howard had "exchanged blows," but the victim was "on his feet and breathing" when Duckett left the apartment. Duckett told lawmen that he had bound the victim's hands and feet in order to keep Howard from coming at him again. But authorities didn't buy the explanation. An autopsy revealed that Howard's ankle had been broken, his skull fractured, his left eye ruptured and blood splatters were all over the room. Blood smears indicated that the victim had been trying to crawl on the floor before he died. These facts make it unlikely that Howard was "on his feet" when Duckett left the apartment. Duckett had also told lawmen that he had been gang-raped in prison and that Howard and he got into a fight when Howard made a homosexual pass toward him. Following the murder, Duckett was arrested in Arizona while driving Howard’s car. Authorities said Duckett had switched license plates with another vehicle. These stolen plates were taken from another vehicle parked in Howard's apartment complex. A blood stained jacket and jeans were also found in the car, along with a bank bag taken from Howard's convenience store, court documents stated. UPDATE: The man who killed Tom Howard's brother is running out of time. Robert Don Duckett has exhausted his appeals. He seeks no last-minute stays. Even his attorney says nothing stands in the way of Tuesday's execution, which Howard plans to watch with his nephews. He began last week counting off Duckett's last days. "It's been a long time. I'm 62 years old, and you'd think I'd be over it," Howard said. "But I still miss my brother."  Nearly 15 years have passed since John E. Howard's 1988 beating death in the Oklahoma City apartment he briefly shared with Duckett. Howard does not know exactly how his brother met Duckett, a 24-year-old prison escapee whose rap sheet already included robbery and a beating. But he said the 53-year-old died trying to tell Duckett to move out. "The fight started at the front door," he said. John Howard was beaten repeatedly with a fireplace poker and the wooden stand of an ashtray. Duckett did not deny the killing but the motive was disputed. Prosecutors said John Howard wanted Duckett out; Duckett's defense contended Howard made a homosexual pass at him, triggering a post-traumatic stress disorder-induced rage Duckett would later not remember. The murder took away Mark Howard's father at a time when he was just beginning to feel close to him. Mark Howard said his own brother still struggles with the loss. Mark Howard was attending school in California and planning to return home for Christmas when he received news of his father's slaying. He not only lost his father, but the murder severed the one link to his father's family. Mark Howard said he had not spoken to his uncle Tom until two weeks ago. "That for me was the hardest part of it," he said. "Dad was the link for me back to the family." Mark Howard said his father "had a penchant for helping those who were less fortunate than himself." Just before the murder, John Howard hired Duckett to work at one of the convenience stores he ran with his brother. An appeals court last year refused to overturn Duckett's death sentence despite condemning retired Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy's handling of the case. "Macy's persistent misconduct, though it has not legally harmed the defendant in the present case, has without doubt harmed the reputation of Oklahoma's criminal justice system and left the unenviable legacy of an indelibly tarnished legal career," the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges wrote. Duckett's attorney, Lanita Henricksen, described the inmate as soft-spoken and congenial. The post-traumatic stress disorder alleged in his defense stemmed from a gang rape while he was serving time for the 1983 robbery, she said. After exhausting his appeals, Duckett opted against a clemency hearing and other last-ditch efforts to stay the execution. "He's at the end of the road," Henricksen said. "He's made this decision that this is it." Mark Howard said he has no misgivings about witnessing the execution. "It means the man who took my father's life will not be allowed to have that opportunity anywhere else," he said, "with anyone else." UPDATE: A man who beat an Oklahoma City resident to death with an ashtray stand and fireplace poker died for the crime Tuesday in Oklahoma's death chamber. Robert Don Duckett, 39, received a heart-stopping injection and was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. He had not tried to stay his execution at the last minute, having already exhausted his appeals. In his final statement, Duckett asked for forgiveness. "I just want to apologize and hope my family forgives me. I love them very much, and I hope they never forget that. Let's go," he said, and the execution began. Duckett was a 24-year-old prison escapee in October 1988 when he killed John E. Howard, 53, with whom he briefly shared an apartment. Howard's severely beaten body was found in the apartment with his hands and feet bound with wire. Prosecutors said Howard was killed because he wanted Duckett to move out. The defense alleged that Howard made a homosexual pass at Duckett, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a prison rape. Duckett was serving time for a 1983 robbery and beating when he escaped from prison in 1987. Prosecutors also presented evidence that he had beaten and robbed an 85-year-old man in 1982. Duckett spent his final hours visiting with his parents.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 9, 2003    Texas Katrease Houston, 18 months
Gwendolyn Black, 36
Christina Black, 15 weeks
 
Christopher Black executed

In August 1998, a jury took only 15 minutes Wednesday to convict a man of capital murder in the shooting death of a toddler. The same jury deliberated 7 hours before sentencing him to death.  Christopher Black, 37, of Killeen was convicted of killing 18-month-old Katrease Houston, his wife's granddaughter, on Feb. 7, 1998. Black was also charged with killing his wife, 36-year-old Gwendolyn Black, and the couple's daughter, 15-week-old Christina Black. Relatives claim the triple homicide occurred after Black learned his wife planned to divorce him. Black claimed he shot and killed his wife because she tormented and belittled him and physically abused his 10-year-old son. UPDATE: A retired Army sergeant was executed Wednesday for shooting his 17-month-old step-granddaughter to death in her high chair during a rampage in which his wife and 5-month-old daughter also were killed. Christopher Black declined to make any statement before dying by injection. He groaned as the drugs began flowing and was pronounced dead seven minutes later. Black was convicted of killing Katrease Houston at the Killeen home of his estranged wife Gwendolyn Black, the toddler's grandmother. Katrease was found slumped in a high chair, shot five times in the chest. Her grandmother was shot 10 times. Black's daughter, Christina Marie, was shot once. "I ran out of bullets," Black told a 911 operator he called after the Feb. 7, 1998, attack. The U.S. Supreme Court in April refused to consider Black's appeal and no additional appeals were made, according to his lawyer, Jack Hurley. "We still miss our loved ones but we won't be thinking about him," Mardelouis Hawthorne, Gwendolyn Black's sister, said after watching Black die. Black bought a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol the day before the shooting. He mailed cassette tapes to relatives explaining plans to kill his 36-year-old wife and anyone else in the house. The tapes were timed to arrive after the shooting. Relatives said Gwendolyn Black, who worked as an elementary school teacher, was seeking a divorce. It took a jury in Killeen 15 minutes to convict Black of the capital murder of Katrease. In Texas, murder of a child under the age of 6 can invoke the death penalty, and the jury deliberated about seven hours before choosing that punishment. Black was charged, but never tried, in the slayings of his wife and daughter.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 9, 2003   Arkansas Marcell Young, 17,
Malak Hussian, 10,
Mustafa Hussian, 12
 
Riley Noel executed

In the early morning hours of June 5, 1995, Marcell Young, 17, Malak Hussian, 10, and Mustafa Hussian, 12 -- all siblings -- were shot and killed while their mother, Mary Hussian, wrestled with another gunman in a separate part of the house. In an information filed on July 5, 1995, the prosecutor charged Riley Noel, appellant Carroll, Curtis Lee Cochran, and Tracy Trinette Calloway with the capital murders of the three children and the attempted capital murder of Mary Hussian.  On June 4, 1995, Noel, Carroll, Cochran and Calloway were riding around Little Rock in Cochran's car, "getting high" on drugs. They went to the home of Mary Hussian, where Calloway got out of the car and followed Noel and Carroll to the house. Just before they entered the house, Noel handed her a handgun, and she testified that she returned it immediately. Noel burst into the house, and Calloway followed, stopping just inside the doorway. Noel told three children in the residence to get down on the floor, and Calloway testified that she told them to do what Noel said. She watched Noel shoot each of the children in the head and kill them. According to Curtis Cochran, the murders were in retaliation for the death of Noel's brother. Noel believed that another child of Mary Hussian, a daughter, had been involved in his brother's death. Following the murders, Calloway testified that she ran from the house with Carroll. According to police records, Noel shot Hussian's 3 children, ages 10, 12 and 17, as they lay on the living room floor. A co-defendant tried to shoot the mother with a shotgun but it jammed, and she was able to wrestle it away, records state. Prosecutors argued that Noel, 24, killed the children to avenge his brother's slaying, which had occurred about a week earlier. Noel apparently believed one of Hussian's daughters had set up his brother's death in a drive-by shooting, police said. On June 6, 1995, the Little Rock Police Department focused its investigation on a search of Calloway's neighborhood in an effort to locate a suspect named "Tracy," and Calloway surrendered herself to police officers that same day. Calloway gave a full statement indicating that she was with the young men at the time of the murders but stating that she was not aware of an intention to commit the killings. At trial, the prosecutor's theory of the case against Calloway was one of accomplice liability. Calloway's defense was that she did not know what Noel and Carroll intended to do at the Hussian house and that she did not assist them in any way in the commission of the murders. The prosecutor presented testimony from Curtis Cochran, who was driving the vehicle that day. Cochran testified that everyone in the car knew where they were going and what Noel intended to do because Noel announced it in the car. According to Cochran, Noel gave Calloway a .45 caliber handgun while they were in the car, and she still had it when they went to the Hussian house. Jack Thomas, a neighbor of the victim, also testified for the State and stated that he saw Calloway run from the Hussian house and that it appeared as though she was carrying a gun. Kyle Jones testified that he arrived at the Hussian residence with his fiancee, Marcel Young, and saw three people standing in the carport: Noel, Cochran, and Calloway. The threesome asked Marcel and Kyle if Yashica Young was home, and Kyle said that he would check. Kyle and Marcel entered the house, and Kyle went to the back of the home to tell Marcel's mother, Mary Hussian, that they were home. He heard someone burst in through the front of the house and heard Marcel scream. Kyle and Mary Hussian ran toward the front of the house and were intercepted by Carroll, who was carrying a shotgun. They retreated to the bedroom. Kyle went into the bathroom and closed the door. Mary Hussian hid behind the bed and dialed 911. Kyle testified that he heard three shots come from the front room and that he heard the shotgun blast in the bedroom just before he escaped through the window. Kyle eventually came back to the house and told police officers what he had seen. Mary Hussian told the same story to the jury as Kyle did. She testified that when she hid behind the bed to call 911, Carroll yelled for her to come out from behind the bed. She pleaded with him not to kill her or her children. She eventually rushed Carroll, and they fought for control of the shotgun. The shotgun discharged in the struggle, and the shot went through the roof.  Mary Hussian gained control of the gun and chased Carroll back through the house, where she saw her three murdered children lying on the floor. Carroll left through the front door. Mary Hussian saw three people in the house, but could only identify Carroll and Noel and not Calloway. The State also contended at trial that Calloway's original statement to the Little Rock police officers and her trial testimony were in conflict. She first told police officers that she was in the car and that Cochran and she picked up Carroll and Noel, but at trial she testified that the threesome picked her up to give her a ride home. She also testified at trial that she did not see any guns in the car until the group was about to go into the Hussian house. However, it was established at trial that two weapons were used at the murder scene -- a .45 caliber pistol and a shotgun. Calloway admitted that Carroll was in the back seat of the two-door car with her but maintained that she did not see the shotgun. Calloway was sentenced to a total term in prison of 132 years.  UPDATE: Kyle Jones of Miami, who had been Marcell Young's fiance, was one of the victims' family witnesses who viewed the execution on closed-circuit television. "He chose to make the decision to take their lives," Jones said after the execution. "Today the state of Arkansas chose to take his and I'm happy with it. I can move on knowing I won't have to live with this again."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 18, 2003    Texas Anthony Jiminez, 3  Carlos Granados stayed

On July 18, Texas will put to death a man convicted of capital murder back in 1999. The execution was finally set after the United States Supreme Court denied Granados' appeal last week. In April 2002, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the capital murder conviction and death penalty assessed by a jury against Granados. The Court held that the defendant's complaints regarding the trial did not have merit. The execution order was signed by 368th District Court Burt Carnes. Judge Carnes signed the order because the current judge of the 277th District Court, Ken Anderson, tried the case as District Attorney. On May 3, 1999, a Williamson County jury convicted Granados of stabbing to death Anthony Jiminez, 3, and sentenced Granados to death. On Sept. 14, 1998, police had responded to phone calls from the family of Katherine Jiminez. The family was concerned that Katherine had not arrived at work and that her son Anthony had not been left with his grandmother for regularly scheduled child care. Police and firefighters used a doorjamb spreader to enter the Jiminez residence in a Georgetown apartment after being unable to get them to answer the door. They found Granados, who had been living with Katherine for only a few weeks, holding a large, bloody kitchen knife. Katherine was found alive but with multiple stab wounds. Anthony was found dead from a single stab wound to the chest. Katherine told police that Granados stabbed them both the previous evening Sept. 13 after she argued with him and told him to leave the apartment. "He killed my baby, and I have been waiting for you to come," Katherine said to the police.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 22, 2003   Oklahoma Juan Franceschi 
Lonnie Franceschi 
Bryan Toles executed

The events which culminated in the murder of Juan Franceschi and his fifteen year old son, Lonnie, began shortly after midnight on July 16, 1993. Bryan Toles, David Flowers and Casey Young walked past the  Franceschi home in Lawton and decided to steal a car. The men were on their way from the Honeymooners Bar to the home of their friend, Herbie Foster, and they were tired of walking. None of them knew how to hot-wire the red Mustang 5.0 in the Franceschi's driveway, so they had to get the keys. Toles rang the doorbell while Young and Flowers hid around the corner and put bandannas over their faces outlaw-style. Young had already loaded a .22 revolver and given it to Toles. Toles pushed his way into the home when Lonnie opened the door. He pointed the pistol at Lonnie and told him to get down and shut up. Young and Flowers went down the hall toward the bedrooms. Norma Franceschi heard the commotion and met them in the hall. She screamed for her husband and continued toward the front door. Juan Franceschi struggled briefly with Young and Flowers in the hall and joined his wife. Toles, who had been kicking Lonnie, shot Juan Franceschi in the arm. Toles followed Mr. and Mrs. Franceschi as they retreated toward the bedroom. He aimed at Mr. Franceschi's head, but before he could fire, Mrs. Franceschi grabbed his arm. Thinking that Mr. Franceschi could identify him, and that he "might as well go ahead and kill him," Toles aimed at Franceschi's chest and shot. Even though he was shot, Franceschi fought with Toles in the hallway. Toles' pants became soaked with Franceschi's blood during the fight. Mrs. Franceschi escaped to their grown daughter's bedroom, hiding first in the closet, and then in the drawer of a waterbed. She heard someone come into the room and leave. Meanwhile Lonnie Franceschi was still kneeling on the floor near the front door with his hands behind his back. Toles saw Lonnie on his way out of the house and thought, "damn, there's still him left." Realizing Lonnie could identify him, Toles turned, extended his arm so the barrel of the pistol was about six inches from the back of Lonnie's head, and fired. After Toles, Young and Flowers left, Lonnie went to his bedroom and got in bed. His mother heard him crying and gasping for air. When she tried to call 911 from the back bedroom, she discovered the phone was dead and ran to a neighbor's home to call. Paramedics arrived shortly and placed Lonnie on life support. Juan Franceschi died while the paramedics worked on him. Later that day Lonnie was declared brain dead, removed from life support and allowed to die. After they left the Franceschi home, Toles, Young and Flowers walked two blocks to the home of a friend who gave them a ride to Herbie Foster's. Toles gave his bloody clothes to a runaway girl who was staying there and told her to burn them. He called a family friend and told her and her boyfriend that he shot two people. He then spent the night at the home of another friend. He was arrested later that afternoon while he was talking to his mother on a pay phone at the corner of 17th Street and Gore in Lawton. Following his arrest, Toles agreed to talk to the police. During his first interview, he admitted entering the Franceschi home with David Flowers and Casey Young, but insisted that Young was actually responsible for the murders. During three subsequent interviews, all of which were videotaped, Toles admitted carrying the gun into the Franceschi home and shooting Juan and Lonnie Franceschi. UPDATE: An Oklahoma inmate convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of a man and his teenage son was executed by injection Tuesday night. In Oklahoma, convicted killer Bryan Toles offered condolences to his victims' relatives in his final statement at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. "I'd like to apologize to the victims' family and ask them for their forgiveness," said Toles, 31, as he lay strapped to a gurney. Toles also addressed members of his family and his spiritual adviser, who were witnesses at the execution. "I love all y'all. Thanks for coming. Take care of my mother," he said. Toles was convicted in the shooting deaths a decade ago of 39-year-old Juan Franceschi and his son, Lonnie. The father and son were shot after Toles forced his way into their home in an attempt to get the keys to the family car, prosecutors said. Toles confessed, according to prosecutors. A co-defendant was also convicted on murder charges and sentenced to life in prison. "I have forgiven Toles," Norma Franceschi, the wife and mother, who attended the execution. "I'm nobody to judge nobody. I'm just grateful he said 'I'm sorry.'"

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 22, 2003   Virginia Dawn McNees Snyder, 22 Bobby Swisher executed

Bobby Swisher was sentenced to die for the capital murder of 22-year-old Dawn McNees Snyder. On February 5. 1997, Dawn Snyder disappeared from the florist's shop she co-owned. Swisher, who was 20 years-old at the time, gave an audio-taped confession admitting that he murdered Dawn on Feb. 5, 1997. Her body was recovered Feb. 21, 1997 near the shore of the South River, about two miles away from the Augusta County florist shop in Stuarts Draft. She was a co-owner of the shop. After murdering Dawn, Swisher told a friend. Swisher stated: "You know the woman, Dawn Snyder . . . I killed her." Swisher related the following details to his friend. On February 5, 1997, about 7:15 p.m., Swisher's uncle drove Swisher by car to a grocery store located near the florist shop where Snyder worked. Swisher left the grocery store and walked to the florist shop. Swisher entered the shop, approached Snyder, and said, "I have a gun in my pocket." Swisher showed Snyder a "butcher knife with ridges" and directed her to go with him. Swisher forced Snyder to leave the florist shop through a rear door, and they walked for some distance until they reached a field by the South River. Then, Swisher stopped Snyder and told her to "suck his dick." He forced her to perform an act of oral sex upon him, and he made her remove her clothes. After he raped her, she put her clothes on, and he forced her to perform another act of oral sex upon him. Swisher decided to kill Snyder because she had "seen his face." He "pulled out the butcher knife" that had "ridges around the edge of the blade," and he "slit her across the left side of the face and was holding her; then slit her throat and then gouged her and then tossed her into a river."  He walked along the riverbank, watching her in the river, asking her, "[a]re -- are you dead yet?" After Snyder floated in the river for awhile, Swisher saw her "crawl up the bank." Then, "he got scared and took off running straight to his house from that field." Swisher threw his knife in the river. When Swisher finished his confession to the friend, Swisher stated that "it feels like I could do it again." The following morning, the friend called the police. Swisher was taken in for questioning and admitted, in an audio-taped confession, that he had sodomized, raped, and murdered Snyder by cutting her throat. He also stated that after he cut her throat, he threw her into the South River. Besides the confession, court documents state that Swisher’s DNA was found in semen on the victim’s clothing and in her body. UPDATE: Gov. Mark R. Warner postponed the execution of a convicted murderer today to give the man's attorney’s time to file a petition for a new sentencing hearing with the Virginia Supreme Court. Warner stepped in less than four hours before Bobby Wayne Swisher's scheduled execution by injection at 9 p.m. EDT at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier Tuesday rejected Swisher's appeal for a stay. Warner postponed Swisher's execution for three weeks to allow the state Supreme Court to issue a stay or rule on a petition for a new hearing. Warner said if no action takes place by July 22, he would not intervene again. Lawyers for Swisher, 27, said he was entitled to a new sentencing because the jury that recommended a death sentence in 1998 for the slaying of Dawn McNees Snyder relied on a form that the Virginia Supreme Court later found defective. The form did not tell jurors that the alternative to execution was life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2001, the court ruled that juries must have that information. Defense attorneys and capital punishment opponents say as many as 20 men have been sentenced to death by juries that used the form. They contend that more than a dozen killers executed since 1981 unsuccessfully challenged it. Snyder's mother, Sandi McNees, said yesterday that the delay was "heartbreaking. My daughter was a good citizen, an entrepreneur and a mother," she said in a statement. "Yet, these weren't enough to spare her life in the hands of this killer. Why should his fate be considered on the basis of a painstakingly obscure legal technicality?" UPDATE: A condemned man who raped and murdered a florist in 1997 was put to death Tuesday after Virginia's governor declined to halt the execution a second time. Bobby Swisher was pronounced dead at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:05 p.m. "I hope you all can find the same peace in Jesus Christ as I have," Swisher said after he was led into the execution chamber and strapped to a gurney. Swisher, 27, had exhausted his appeals. Last week, his lawyers asked Gov. Mark R. Warner to grant clemency, but the governor declined to intervene. Swisher was originally scheduled for execution July 1, but Warner halted the execution just hours beforehand, granting Swisher's lawyers' request for a final appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. The high court refused to hear that appeal last Thursday. An Augusta County jury convicted Swisher of abducting 22-year-old Dawn Snyder from her flower shop, raping her, slitting her throat and dumping her in a river. It was Feb. 5, and Snyder was working late to complete Valentine's Day orders. DNA linked Swisher, a high school dropout and former construction worker, to the crime and he confessed to police. Swisher's trial lawyers argued that he was too high on drugs and alcohol to know what he was doing. Sandi McNees, Dawn's mother, who witnessed the execution, said Monday she thinks of her daughter's suffering each day. McNees said Snyder was a devoted mother who volunteered with the rescue squad and had recently opened the florist shop with a friend. "She packed a lot of life into her short years," McNees said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 23, 2003    Texas Herbert Primm  Cedric Ransom executed

Cedric Ransom, the convicted killer of an optometrist who authorities say once attacked his lawyer and a prosecutor with a knife, was sentenced to death in a heavily guarded courtroom in Fort Worth. Jurors deliberated a little more than 2 hours before returning the verdict, the 2nd death sentence that Ransom received. The Fort Worth man's original death sentence was erased in 1994 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that his trial judge made an error in jury selection. Ransom was convicted of capital murder in 1992 for the robbery and slaying of Herbert Primm, who was shot to death in his driveway. At the time, Ransom was under indictment for 3 other murders and robberies. Ransom and three accomplices went to Primm's house on Dec. 7, 1991, planning to steal guns from the optometrist and part-time weapons dealer, according to trial testimony. Primm begged the men to take the guns and spare his life, but Ransom shot him in the head, prosecution witnesses testified. In closing arguments at the second trial in February of 1997, Assistant District Attorney Richard Bland rattled off the list of convictions and charges against Ransom. He said Ransom smuggled a crude knife into his 1992 trial, using it to attack his lawyer and a prosecutor, and had assaulted a corrections officer in the Forth Worth jail. Ransom and fellow death row inmate Willie Pondexter made an escape attempt in June 1997 -- cutting through a fence at the Ellis I Unit with a hacksaw blade, climbing onto the roof and making a run for the two perimeter fences. The attempt was foiled when a guard spotted the inmates and ordered them to stop. Both did.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 24, 2003   Oklahoma Jayne Van Wey, 62 Jackie Willingham executed

On the day of the murder, Jackie Willingham was selling perfume door to door in Lawton, Oklahoma. Working his way through a downtown building, he came to the office occupied by Mrs. Jayne Van Wey. Although she told him she did not wish to purchase any perfume, he continued to press her, adhering to his standard sales procedure of insisting on three 'no' answers from a potential customer. The repeated rejections that ensued led to an escalation of the situation to what Willingham claims was a rude rebuff by Jayne Van Wey and hostile vulgarity on both sides. After calling on some other offices in the building, Willingham noticed Jayne enter a restroom off the hallway near her office. Still angry over their earlier confrontation, he eventually followed her into the restroom, pulled her from a stall, and struck her several times in the face. As she continued to struggle with him, he slammed her head into the wall and let her fall backward onto the floor. When she rolled over and began to push herself up onto her hands and knees, he kicked her in the face with his boot. At that point, all resistance ceased, and he left. Jayne lost consciousness and died, asphyxiating on the blood from her injuries. Shortly after the murder, the police found a sales brochure left at one of the other offices Willingham had visited. Upon contacting the company and speaking with a supervisor, the police learned that a sales team in Lawton would be meeting at a local restaurant later that afternoon. The supervisor also indicated that at least one member of the team, a man named Kevin, fit the suspect's description. The police proceeded to the restaurant and approached the group of salesmen. Detective John Whittington asked about "Kevin" and was told by Willingham that he was not there. Detective Whittington noticed that Willingham was extremely uneasy and had a fresh scratch on his neck. After Willingham offered a facially implausible explanation of the scratch, Detective Whittington asked him to come to the police station. The detective said the entire group would need to come, and explained that the police were investigating an attack on a woman (he did not say murder) downtown that day. At the police station, Willingham was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived in writing. He initially denied any involvement in the attack, but after Detective Whittington pointed out what looked like blood on his boots and asked him to tell his side of the story, Willingham admitted he had beaten Jayne Van Wey. However, some of the details of his version of the attack did not fit the physical evidence, and he was asked to return to the scene and clarify his account. After again waiving his Miranda rights, Willingham walked through the crime scene describing the attack, somewhat differently, on videotape. Thereafter, Willingham learned that Jayne had died. He was interviewed again to clear up additional questions raised by the physical evidence, and at this point finally admitted he had forcefully kicked Jayne in the head before leaving the restroom. Finally, after two of Jayne's credit cards were found in the restaurant where Detective Whittington had first spoken with Willingham, he was advised of his rights and questioned once more, to explain this new development. He eventually admitted he had not immediately followed Jayne into the restroom but had stopped in her office and taken the cards from her purse first, "to make it look like a robbery." Willingham's only defense at trial was to challenge the State's case on the element of intent. Specifically, he testified that while he had attacked Jayne out of anger over their prior confrontation, he had not intended to kill or seriously injure her. Accordingly, the defense requested instructions on the lesser offenses of heat-of-passion manslaughter and second degree depraved-mind murder. The trial court granted the first instruction but denied the second. The jury ultimately rejected Willingham's intent defense, finding him guilty of first degree malice murder.  UPDATE: An Oklahoma inmate who fatally beat a woman he said was rude to him when he tried to sell her perfume was executed by injection Thursday at the state penitentiary. Jackie Lee Willingham, 33, was convicted for beating 62-year-old Jayne Van Wey to death in her office bathroom in 1994 after she refused to buy any perfume from him. "I want to apologize to the Van Wey family. I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused you," Willingham said. The lives of those who loved Jayne Van Wey changed when she was beaten to death in the bathroom of her office. Nine years after her murder, her family is still trying to cope with the loss. "It's almost indescribable, our way of life as we know it no longer exists," said Kim Borcherding, one of Jayne's daughters, who witnessed the execution with several family members and friends.  "Without her we're just never going to be the same." Jackie Lee Willingham, 33, was pronounced dead at 6:09 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. As the curtain opened on the window that separated Willingham from his mother, Lucia Willingham used hand gestures to tell her son "I love you." Willingham looked a little pained to see his mother and mouthed, "I love you," back. Willingham, who said he killed Jayne because she was rude to him, expressed remorse for the 1994 murder.  "I want to apologize to the Van Wey family. I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused you," Willingham said as he lay strapped to a gurney. "I hope by my death you find some closure and one day forgive me. For my family, I'm so sorry for this. I love you." Willingham then looked up and said, "OK, I'm ready." He exhaled a few deep breaths and then closed his eyes. As the lethal injection took effect, Willingham's eyes opened slightly. When the time of death was announced, his mother wept uncontrollably and stomped her feet. Willingham, who was working as a traveling perfume salesman at the time of the crime, was convicted of first degree murder for beating Jayne to death in her office bathroom after she refused to buy perfume from him. Prosecutors say Willingham followed Jayne into the women's bathroom, yanked her off the toilet and beat her to death. Autopsy reports show she died as her lungs filled with blood and she suffocated. Her head had been banged against the wall, her mouth busted and nose broken. Jayne Van Wey, who was the executive director of Arts for All Inc., in Lawton, was vibrant and full of energy, her family said. The petite 62-year-old mother of three daughters promoted the arts and once owned a dance school in Lawton. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted last month in favor of granting Willingham clemency and asked Gov. Brad Henry to stay the execution. Henry rejected the request. Attorneys for Willingham had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution, but those appeals were rejected early Thursday morning. Death penalty opponents protested the execution at the Capitol Thursday. Three were arrested as they walked toward Henry's office. They face misdemeanor charges of disrupting a state office or business.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 24, 2003   Texas John Wanstrath, 35
Diana Wanstrath, 36
Kevin Wanstrath, 1
Trudy Zabolio
Allen Janecka executed

On July 6, 1979, a neighbor discovered the corpses of John and Diana Wanstrath and their 14-month-old son Kevin. Each had been shot in the head. Although the police did not find a weapon on the premises, the medical examiner initially ruled that Diana had killed her husband and son, then committed suicide. Disbelieving the suicide ruling, Officer Johnny Bonds of the Houston Police Department relentlessly pursued his own investigation of the deaths. Bonds' investigation soon focused on Diana's brother, Markham Duff-Smith, who stood to receive a substantial inheritance from his sister that originated from his mother's death. Over the next year-and-a-half, Bond uncovered evidence suggesting that Allen Wayne Janecka had accepted a contract from Walter Waldhauser, Jr., to kill the Wanstraths. In late November 1980, Houston detective Dan McAnulty traveled to Georgia to investigate Janecka's involvement in the Wanstrath murders. While in Georgia, Janecka's girlfriend gave McAnulty a .22-caliber Colt revolver and a can of mace that Janecka had used in the Wanstrath killings. On Nov. 23, 1980, the police arrested Janecka in Houston on warrants for another homicide and arson of the Waldhauser residence. After his arrest, Janecka gave a largely-exculpatory statement. On Nov. 28, 1980, Janecka overheard Detective McAnulty mention to another officer that he had been in Georgia. Janecka asked McAnulty how everyone in Georgia was doing. After McAnulty responded that everyone was fine, Janecka began to inquire about his investigation in Georgia. After McAnulty informed Janecka that he had received the murder weapon from Janecka's girlfriend, Janecka asked to speak with him about the Wanstrath murders. When McAnulty told Janecka that he had not contacted his attorney, Janecka replied that he did not want his attorney present. Janecka proceeded to confess to the murders. He signed a written statement on Nov. 29, 1980. Janecka stated that in early 1979, Waldhauser had contacted him about killing a family. Janecka and Waldhauser had participated in the killing of Duff-Smith's mother in 1975. After learning that they would be paid $30,000 for killing the family, Janecka agreed. On the day of the murders, Janecka and Waldhauser went to the Wanstrath home, driving a rental car with stolen license plates. The Wanstraths allowed them to enter the house supposing that they were architects. At an arranged signal, Waldhauser sprayed Diana with mace. Janecka used the .22-caliber revolver to shoot both John and Diana. Janecka then entered the nursery and took "care of the little one," shooting 14-month-old Kevin in the head. After leaving the house, Waldhauser told Janecka to destroy the revolver, but Janecka kept it. Over the next several months, Waldhauser gave Janecka several thousand dollars. After the police recovered the murder weapon from Janecka's girlfriend, the medical examiner finally ruled the deaths to be the result of murder. Based on the confessions, the gun, and other evidence, the State indicted Janecka in the murder of Kevin for remuneration. UPDATE: You hear a lot about how people commit crimes because of their childhood," said Johnny Bonds, a former Houston Police Department detective. "But Michael Lee Davis -- he just loves being a criminal." Bonds has spent most of the past quarter-century tracking Davis, and helped to put him behind bars in the '80s for arranging the murder of four people in exchange for a slice of their life-insurance payoff. But incarceration didn't make Davis wary of entering the viatical business in Dallas in the '90s with two other convicted felons. Now the 46-year-old stands accused of masterminding a tangled scheme in which HIV positive men were paid to falsify applications for insurance policies eventually sold to investors. Tipped to a warrant for his arrest, Davis fled in June of 1999 to parts unknown. Feds joined the probe of his alleged misdealings involving companies in several states. Then, in the early morning hours of September 22, 1999, Davis walked into the Dallas County Sheriff's Department with his lawyer and gave himself up. The story of one of Houston's most infamous criminals begins in 1975, when Davis was still known as Walter Waldhauser Jr. and a woman named Trudy Zabolio was found hanged by her pantyhose. Four years later, John and Diane Wanstrath (Zabolio's daughter) and their 14-month-old son were all discovered shot in the head. An investigation revealed that Zabolio's son, Markham Duff-Smith, had in fact arranged all the deaths, and that Waldhauser had put him in touch with the hitman, Allen Janecka. All three men were convicted in 1981; Duff-Smith was executed in 1993, and Janecka is still on death row. Waldhauser avoided lethal injection by pleading guilty to three counts of murder. After serving less than 10 years of his 30-year sentence, he was paroled and legally changed his name to Michael Lee Davis.  Waldhauser/Davis is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for defrauding insurance companies of over $5 million.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 24, 2003   Ohio Wendy Offredo, 21
Dawn McCreery, 20 
Richard Cooey stayed

Condemned inmate Richard Cooey said he won't make a final statement if his execution moves forward as scheduled on Thursday. Cooey said he may write a statement that would be handed out after his death by injection at the maximum-security prison near Lucasville. "What could I possibly say?" Cooey said yesterday, in what may be his last interview from death row. "Other than what I have said with regards to just give me a shot in the courts, and I feel I have been wronged in the courts. "And with regards to the victims' families, I am truly sorry for what happened. But like I said, there are no words they could possibly accept, in my opinion, or even believe," he added. Cooey, 36, is on death row at the maximum-security prison in Mansfield for kidnapping, raping, assaulting, and murdering 20-year-old Dawn McCreery and Wendy Offredo, 21, on Sept. 1, 1986. They were University of Akron sorority sisters who were leaving their jobs as waitresses when 17-year-old Clint Dickens threw a chunk of concrete off an I-77 overpass, striking the windshield of the car that Ms. Offredo was driving. Cooey, who was on leave from the Army, was hanging out with a longtime friend, Kenny Horonetz, and Dickens. The three got into the car Cooey had borrowed from his grandmother and offered the two women help. The five drove to a shopping mall and Ms. Offredo used a pay phone to call her mother. "I'm game if you're game," Cooey said as Dickens suggested they rob the two women, according to court records. They had $37. Cooey pulled a knife on the women when they realized they were not being driven back to their car. Horonetz demanded to be let out of the car after Cooey told him to tie Ms. McCreery's hands. Driving to a wooded area in nearby Norton, Dickens raped Ms. Offredo. "Hey Clint, put on the Bad Company tape," Cooey said, court records say. That led Dickens to say the women should be killed because they knew his name, records show. Dickens grabbed Ms. Offredo in a chokehold, and Cooey used a shoelace to strangle her as Dickens strangled Ms. McCreery with his other shoelace. Cooey beat both women with a club, court records say. A coroner's report said they died from the blows. In yesterday's interview, Cooey maintained that Dickens, who could not receive the death sentence because he was 17 at the time of the murders, killed the two women. Dickens is serving two life sentences at the Ross Correctional Institution. Cooey claimed that his attorney let a plea agreement fall through in which he would have pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Cooey said he raped Ms. Offredo, but he said it was "rape under duress." "I was looking at it - you know when you're a kid and you're high and bombed - I was looking at it at the time as getting laid. In hindsight now, I've matured and I've got a clear head and I've seen that it wasn't," he said. Cooey said he had drunk a dozen beers, snorted cocaine, and smoked opium and marijuana that night. Yesterday, he said Horonetz, who served eight months in prison on a felonious assault and obstructing justice conviction, probably could have prevented the killings if he had "talked some sense into me." Mark Gribben, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said there is no doubt about Cooey's involvement in the robbery, the assaults, the rapes, and the murders. "The judicial process in this matter has been exhausted and complete. His case has been considered by state and federal appellate courts, as well as the state parole board," Mr. Gribben said. Cooey said he is spending most of his time in his death row cell, drafting appeals on an electric typewriter that his public defenders gave him. Asked if he has any hope he won't be executed on Thursday, Cooey replied: "Not much, but there's always hope," and then he laughed. He said he has not received many visits on death row over 16 years, with the exception of his father, Richard Cooey, Sr., and grandmother, Audrey. Cooey said he keeps to himself on death row and does not get in the "mix of the rat race." Asked to elaborate, he said: "To be point blank, messing with the homosexuals, gambling, and stuff like that. I don't partake in any of it. " Cooey said he won't need a sedative as the state prepares to execute him. "You've got to face it. It comes with being an adult. It comes with owning up to what society wants," he said. UPDATE: A federal judge last night postponed the execution of Richard Cooey, a convicted murderer who was scheduled to be put to death this morning. Judge Dan Aaron Polster of U.S. District Court in Cleveland granted the request of Cooey's lawyer for more time to study the case. Polster appointed Gregory Meyers of the Ohio Public Defender's office to take over the case after an appeals court dismissed Cooey's previous attorneys. ''Ultimately, I have concluded that the integrity of the federal court would be impugned if the state of Ohio executes Richard Cooey tomorrow,'' Polster said. Cooey, 36, was scheduled to die by injection today at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. He arrived from death row in Mansfield yesterday morning, said Andrea Dean, a prison system spokeswoman. Attorney General Jim Petro's office said it would appeal Polster's ruling. ''We respectfully disagree with the judge's ruling and we are currently working on an appeal with the 6th Circuit,'' Mark Gribben, a spokesman for Petro, said late yesterday. ''That appeal will be filed tonight. The judges will make their decision when they decide.'' Gov. Bob Taft on Tuesday denied Cooey's request for clemency. Cooey admits he kidnapped, robbed and raped University of Akron sorority sisters Wendy Offredo, 21, and Dawn McCreery, 20, of North Ridgeville, in September 1986. He denied he killed them, but says he's ''morally'' responsible for the murders. According to court documents, Cooey was on leave from the Army when he and a friend, Clint Dickens, attacked the women. Dickens was 17 then and could not be sentenced to death. He is serving a life sentence. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 29, 2003   Oklahoma Jayne Van Wey, 62 Harold McElmurry executed

A man who killed an elderly couple who once hired him to do lawn work and odd jobs was executed by lethal injection at the Oklahoma state prison Tuesday night. The victims, Rosa Vivien Pendley, 75, and Robert Pendley, 80, lived in Eufaula. Robert Pendley was a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. "I'd like to say I'm sorry to the Pendleys," Harold McElmurry said in his last statment. "I hope they can forgive me." The lethal injection of chemicals began at 6:04 p.m. and McElmurry was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m. The murders occurred Aug. 2, 1999. The Pendleys were stabbed with scissors and their heads smashed in with a pipe. Harold McElmurry confessed to the murders. McElmurry's wife, Vicki, was sentenced to life in prison for her part in the slayings. Court documents stated that the couple had previously done yard work for the Pendleys. Harold McElmurry had talked of robbing and murdering the couple. He believed he was about to be arrested for a probation violation, court documents stated, and would be sent back to prison. The murderous couple actually walked two days to get to the home of the Pendleys, court documents stated. Outside the Pendley's home, the couple spent several hours discussing the murders. "I wanted to kill them but I didn't feel right about it," Harold McElmurry was quoted as stating in court documents. "I didn't care for Vivien much, but I liked Robert. Robert was real nice to me." McElmurry also stated that he and his wife injected methamphetamines while outside discussing the robbery and murders before returning to the Pendley home to slaughter the couple. In his written statement to investigators, Harold McElmurry said he first killed Robert, using a scissors to repeatedly stab him in the chest and a hoe to strike him in the head. He later used a pipe to smash his head after discovering that Robert was still alive. As for Rosa Pendley, she was stabbed while Vicki McElmurry held her. She was also struck with a pipe. The couple stole $70, costume jewelry, the Pendley's car and a pistol. They fled to Texas and then to Mexico. The couple were arrested when they crossed the border back into the United States on Aug. 5, 1999. Harold McElmurry had previous convictions for grand larceny and concealing stolen property.

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