January 2004 Executions
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Eight killers were executed in January 2004.  They had murdered at least 9 people.

Three
killers were given a stay in January 2004.  They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 2004   Texas  Carolyn Diane Casey, 21 Jamie Hart, 21 Ynobe Matthews  executed

On May 27, 2000, 21-year-old Carolyn Casey attended a party in her apartment complex. Ynobe Matthews, who was living with a friend in the same complex, also attended the party. After drinking alcohol during the evening, Carolyn claimed illness and left the party to return to her apartment. Carolyn vomited before she made her way back to her residence. One of the hosts of the party testified that he did not see anyone leave with Carolyn, and when she left, Matthews was not in the apartment. But when Matthews returned to the party later, the host noticed "a real foul smell" coming from him that he could not describe - only that it was not consistent with body odor. Around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m., Carolyn's neighbor heard loud noises coming from Carolyn's apartment. He testified that they sounded like "multiple thuds, kind of rapid succession, over almost as soon as they began." Around 4:50 the morning of May 28th, the fire department responded to a structure fire call at Carolyn's apartment building. Firefighters quickly determined that the smoke originated from Carolyn's apartment. As they climbed the stairs to Carolyn's apartment, they observed smoke coming from a partially opened window near the door. They also noticed that the screen on the window had been cut and folded outward. Firefighters opened the door to the apartment and encountered thick smoke. Using a flashlight, they entered the bedroom and found Carolyn's body. They also observed a small fire still smoldering in the flesh of her feet. Believing that they had discovered a crime scene, they notified the police before re-entering the apartment to extinguish what remained of the fire. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived at the apartment to investigate. Carolyn was wearing only a t-shirt and socks, and she was positioned with the top half of her body propped against the side of her bed and the bottom half of her body lying along the floor. The inner part of her legs and vaginal area had been burned. Paper and a container of pens and makeup brushes were placed between her legs apparently as combustibles to start the fire. Officer Anthony Kunkel observed that the burned area between the victim's legs also contained fecal matter. Upon further investigation, he found a pair of torn blue panties on the bed. Both seams were completely torn away and the waistband was missing. A large amount of fecal material was discovered inside the panties. The waistband was later discovered underneath the bedding. Noting the cuts in the window screen closest to the door, officers determined that someone could reach in through the slit screen and the open window and unlock the front door. The police also discovered the contents of the victim's purse, including her wallet and checkbook, had been dumped onto the living room table. Carolyn's car and house keys were missing but a number of other valuable items remained in the apartment. In the bathroom, officers noted that the toilet seat was raised, towels were on the floor, and a fire alarm was lying in the sink. A partial set of knives was found in the kitchen. One knife in the set was found in Carolyn's bedroom underneath the bed. A couple of days later, officers located towels matching those that they found on Carolyn's bathroom floor and Carolyn's house and car keys in one of the apartment complex dumpsters. During the late morning of May 28th, police interviewed Matthews and his roommate. Sometime thereafter, they recovered a pair of dark blue shorts and a white t-shirt that Matthews purportedly had been wearing the night of the crime. A videotape from a nearby convenience store, however, showed that Matthews was wearing different clothes on the night of the offense from those that he had turned over to the police. When confronted with this video, Matthews turned over the clothing that he was wearing in the surveillance video. Matthews also consented to the police collecting samples of his head hair, pubic hair, blood, and saliva. Forensic testing revealed that fibers similar to the fibers of Matthews's clothing were found on the victim's clothing, her body, and under her fingernails. Further, fibers from Carolyn's panties were found on Matthews's shirt. Although no semen was found on swabs taken from the victim, Matthews's DNA matched scrapings taken from Carolyn's fingernails on both hands. A forensic pathologist with the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office conducted the autopsy on Carolyn's body. It was determined that Carolyn had been strangled but it could not be determined whether she had been sexually assaulted due to the extensive burns in the genital area. Swabs from the victim's vagina, rectum, and mouth tested negative for the presence of semen. However, the pathologist opined that any evidence that existed in the vaginal area could have been destroyed by the fire. The doctor also noted that it is very common for people to defecate in their undergarments when they are very scared or at the time of death. Based on the crime scene and her autopsy, the pathologist believed that the victim was moved after her death. Matthews' roommate testified that Carolyn was like a sister to him, and they often talked about personal matters. However, Carolyn had never mentioned an interest in Matthews. Nor did anyone else that the police interviewed recall any indication of a romantic relationship between Carolyn and Matthews. On June 2nd, after Matthews had already denied any involvement in the crime, he agreed to meet with detectives. During the interview, a detective confronted Matthews with the fact that his DNA was found at the scene. After speaking with his mother, Matthews told the detective that he and Carolyn had been "seeing each other on and off" for a couple of weeks to a month. He said that, on the night of May 27th or in the early morning hours of May 28th, he went to Carolyn's apartment, and they had consensual sex. Before the sex act, he ripped her panties off while they were "messing around." Matthews noted that after intercourse, he argued with Carolyn because she had been enticing his younger brother. He told police that Carolyn responded that she could "fuck'em if I want to," and Matthews called her a "bitch." Carolyn then took a swing at Matthews, and he threw her on the bed and choked her to death. Matthews further stated that he returned to Carolyn's apartment after the murder and ignited a fire between her legs to cover up any evidence of intercourse. He stated that he used a towel to wipe down any fingerprints and cut the screen to the living room window to give the appearance of a burglary. DNA evidence obtained after Matthews was arrested for Carolyn's murder connected him to the kidnapping, rape and murder of 21-year-old Jamie Hart, 14 months after her unclothed body was found on a rural road. Carolyn Casey's mother, Anita, expressed her anger toward Matthews in court after he was sentenced. “I'm not angry at your family,” she said. “I'm angry at you. You stole my child from me. I don't understand why you took the life of my daughter and the Hart's daughter ... I want to know why.” Matthews cried and looked away as Casey's mother said she finds solace in knowing that she will see her daughter again in heaven.  “But, in the meantime, I want you to sit in that jail and think about what you have done,” she said. Shortly after his first conviction, Matthews pleaded guilty to the 1999 kidnap, rape and murder of Jamie Hart. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for that conviction.  He was also linked to at least five other sexual assaults and is considered as a possible serial killer.  UPDATE: A College Station man, convicted of the May 28, 2000, rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman who lived in the same apartment complex, is scheduled to be executed sometime after 6 p.m. today inside the Huntsville "Walls" Unit. Ynobe Matthews, 27, was sentenced to death in 2001 for killing Carolyn Casey, who also lived at the Doux Chene apartment complex in College Station. Matthews asked that no additional appeals be filed on his behalf and volunteered for execution. "It's my fault that I'm here," he said in a recent death row interview with the Associated Press. "That's that." Matthews said recently, "As a boy, I was always rowdy. Even at 24, I was still boyish. I had kids at 17 years old. I guess I never truly grew up."  For Matthews, now 27, it was hardly a boyhood indiscretion that earned him a trip to death row and a scheduled execution tonight. He was convicted of raping and strangling a 21-year-old woman, Carolyn Casey, at her College Station apartment 3 1/2 years ago, then setting fire to her body in an attempt to cover up the crime. It was 1 of at least 2 deaths he acknowledged. Testimony at his trial also linked him to at least 3 other rapes and 2 attempted rapes. "I argued to the jury that they operate under the assumption they were dealing with a serial (rapist)," Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner, who prosecuted Matthews, said Monday. "My immaturity, alcohol," Matthews said from death row, trying to explain his actions. "You wouldn't give a child a loaded gun. I guess I had the wrong ammunition." Matthews asked that no additional appeals be filed on his behalf and volunteered for execution. "I wish there was something else going on, but there's not," Kevin Dunn, Matthews' lawyer, said Monday. Jurors at his capital murder trial were told he had previous arrests for cocaine possession and cruelty to animals and was considered such a threat in jail that he had to be escorted by 2 officers and placed in leg irons any time he left. "I think the most troubling part of his behavior was it appeared to me he toyed with his victims," said Turner, who called a rape victim to testify at Matthews' trial. "It was the one survivor who gave us a glimpse of what his state was,"Turner said, recalling the woman telling how her attacker "would strangle her until almost unconscious and then let up. It would happen again and again." Authorities found marks of repeated choking on other victims. Matthews, who fathered three sons and a daughter ages 3 to 10, said his decision to volunteer to die was difficult but made with his victims in mind. "Do you want to constantly remind them of the hurt and pain, or do you want to give them a chance to move forward?" he said. "Now it's between me and God -- me and my creator. Whatever he sees fit for my punishment, it's something I can't refuse. That's the finality of the situation, and I can accept it." UPDATE: Condemned killer Ynobe Katron Matthews spent his last waking moments smiling at family members Tuesday evening, and avoiding the gazes from family members of his 2 victims. "I love y'all," the convict whispered to his sister and cousin, blowing a kiss in their direction before losing consciousness. He declined to give a final statement. Matthews, who for the past year has said he is ready to die, maintained an appearance of being jovial up to the execution, even laughing with people in the death chamber after he was strapped to the gurney. The parents and sisters of two 21-year-old women who Matthews violently raped and killed stood in silence as the 6 gathered around an adjoining observation room window watching the lethal dosages be administered. The former College Station resident had been on death row since June 2001 for the killing a year earlier of neighbor Carolyn Casey, a day-care worker whose burned body was found at the Doux Chene apartment complex. Matthews confessed to strangling the woman, who had been at the same party he was at hours earlier. One month after a jury handed him the death sentence, he also pleaded guilty to the May 1999 murder of Jamie Hart, who had been trying to save up money to return to Texas A&M University. He received a life sentence as part of a plea agreement for her death. At least two other women had come to police in the past claiming they were sexually assaulted by Matthews, but both cases were dismissed by grand juries prior to his incarceration. And more women testified during his trial that they had been assaulted. After Matthews execution Tuesday, family members of Carolyn Casey met with media and read aloud a poem written by one of her friends describing her "bubbly laughter" and "impish grin." "Why was she so violated?" asked her mother, Anita Casey. "This was a death she did not deserve. She minded her own business, she stayed at home and she worked." Carolyn's uncle, Tony Kennedy, said he got no personal satisfaction out of knowing Matthews was now dead, but he also didn't feel sorry for him. "He took two lives and he threw away his own," Kennedy said. "He got what he deserved." Hart's family did not meet with the media following the execution. Matthews declined all optional appeals to his sentence, telling a Brazos County judge in 2002 that while he might not be guilty of capital murder he has known all along he was "guilty of something." Without the appeals, his stay on death row - about 2 1/2 years - lasted about 8 years less than the average stay.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 2004    Oklahoma Hai Hong Nguyen  Hung Thanh Le  stayed

On November 12, 1992, Hai Hong Nguyen, his wife Thuy Tiffany Nguyen, and Hung Thanh Le became involved in an altercation that led to the death of Hai Hong Nguyen, to serious physical injury to Mrs. Nguyen, and to the conviction of Le for assault and battery, robbery, and first-degree murder. Le, a Vietnamese refugee, met Hai Hong in a refugee camp in Thailand in the mid-1980s. They became friends, and both later immigrated to the United States. Hai Hong settled in Oklahoma City, where he and his wife owned and operated a beauty salon. Le settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a machinist. According to Le, he and Hai Hong had planned to go into business together by opening a machine shop in Oklahoma City. On July 4, 1992, Le flew to Oklahoma City, visited with Hai Hong, and met Mrs. Nguyen for the first time. Le alleges that at this time he gave the Nguyens $10,000 as initial capital for the machine shop. By September of 1992, however, Le's family had arrived in the United States. Le asserts that because of his family's arrival, he wanted to reclaim the $10,000. Whatever the purpose for his visit, Le returned to Oklahoma City again in November 1992. During the week of November 2, 1992, Le briefly stopped by the Nguyens' house in the early morning and told them that he was returning home to Cleveland after having secured a job in Texas. On November 9, 1992, Le again appeared at the Nguyens' house, and they offered him a place to stay. Le, after claiming to have lost his wallet, went shopping with the Nguyens on November 10. Mrs. Nguyen testified that Hai Hong gave Le $200 on that occasion. On November 11, Le went to the salon with the Nguyens, borrowed their car, returned to their home, removed their home stereo without their knowledge, and then mailed the stereo to himself in Ohio. Le returned the car that afternoon so that Mrs. Nguyen could pick up her daughter, Carolyn, after school. When the Nguyens returned home that evening accompanied by Le, they noticed the missing stereo. A search of the house revealed no other missing items and no signs of a forcible entry. Le told the Nguyens that he did not know what happened to the stereo and that he had an expensive personal bag that was also missing. Mrs. Nguyen testified that the next morning--November 12--she was called from her bed by her husband's words, "Honey, Hung kill me." She ran into the living room of their house and found her husband covered in blood. Mrs. Nguyen dialed 911 and requested help. She next saw her husband try to pick up an 18-inch long metal bar from a barbell set that had apparently been used by Le to hit Hai Hong Nguyen. Mrs. Nguyen stopped him, telling her husband that she had called the police. At this point Le returned to the living room from the kitchen, brandishing a 13-inch long knife and a 7-inch long meat cleaver. According to Mrs. Nguyen, Le was visibly upset and angry, and she asked him to stop his attack. Le then attempted to corner Hai Hong with the weapons. When Le tried to reach for Hai Hong, a struggle ensued into which Mrs. Nguyen interceded, receiving knife wounds to her head and hands. Mrs. Nguyen then retreated to the front door, but she was unable to open it. As Le pulled Hai Hong towards the front door, Mrs. Nguyen sat down next to the television, shielding her injuries, and pleaded with Le to stop his attack. Mrs. Nguyen then watched Le stab her husband in the chest. According to Mrs. Nguyen, when her husband fell down onto the coffee table and couch, Le proceeded to hack at the back of Nguyen's neck with the meat cleaver. Mrs. Nguyen's account of the events, which was uncontested at trial, is that Le responded to her pleas by telling her that he would kill her, too, for calling the police. At some point, Hai Hong apparently asked Le why he was attacking them, and Le responded that he had been hired by someone to kill the Nguyens for $20,000. Le apparently then told Mrs. Nguyen to write him a check for this amount, but she responded that they did not have that amount of money. As her husband lost consciousness, Mrs. Nguyen ran back to the door and made it outside, finding an ambulance on the street. The two paramedics who had arrived on the scene were waiting for the police before entering the Nguyens' house. When Mrs. Nguyen exited the house, they treated her wounds. While the paramedics treated Mrs. Nguyen, Le collected Nguyen's wallet, the Nguyens' keys, and a suit. Le then left the house and drove away in the Nguyens' car. One paramedic testified that he saw Le surveying the scene nonchalantly while driving away. After learning that there was nobody else in the house, one of the paramedics entered, accompanied by two police officers who had just arrived. The paramedic testified that he saw Hai Hong writhing on the ground, stating, "[H]elp me, help me, I'm dying, I'm dying." Hai Hong also asked the paramedic to help his wife, telling the paramedic that she had been hurt, too. Hai Hong had multiple stab wounds to his chest, neck, head, abdomen, and arms, and he subsequently went in to hypovolemic shock and cardiac arrest before arriving at the hospital. At the hospital, Hai Hong went into full cardiac arrest and died. After leaving the Nguyens' house, Le began driving towards Dallas, stopped at a ditch to wash the blood off his body, and then returned to Oklahoma City. At some point after the events of that morning, Le went to the Nguyens' bank and, assuming Nguyen's identity, used the Nguyens' safety deposit box key to open their safety deposit box. Le removed $36,000 in cash and two diamond rings, leaving the box empty. Le left the Nguyens' car at the bank with blood and his fingerprints on it. That day, Le also bought expensive new clothes and paid cash to a downtown travel agent for a one-way first class airline ticket to Cleveland. The ticket was issued under the name Paul Koring. The following day--Friday, November 13, 1992--after placing bets at Remington Park, an equine racetrack in Oklahoma City, Le was apprehended at the Will Rogers World Airport by a police officer who recognized his description. Le claimed his name was Paul Koring and that his identification had been stolen. When Le failed to produce identification, the officer took him into custody and searched him for weapons. During the search, the police officer found Nguyen's wallet and a briefcase containing the Nguyens' safety deposit box key, the Nguyens' car keys, and $34,966.37 in cash. After his arrest, Le was booked at the police station, and his interrogation was videotaped. During the interrogation, he waived his Miranda rights and recounted his version of the events. Le admitted coming to Oklahoma City with the intent of robbing the Nguyens. He admitted to knowing beforehand about the safety deposit box and the address of the bank, but he said he never intended to kill Nguyen. He admitted having taken the Nguyens' stereo and mailing it to Ohio, and he said that Hai Hong had confronted him about the theft the morning of the murder. He told the officers that the morning of November 12--even before being confronted by Hai Hong about the stereo--he intended to rob Hai Hong by knocking him out with the metal pipe from the weightlifting set. Le admitted striking Hai Hong and noted that Hai Hong remained conscious after receiving the blow. Le claimed that Hai Hong then threatened to kill Le if he did not stop, at which point Le said he ran into the kitchen and grabbed only one knife. Le claimed that Hai Hong hit him on the forearm, to which Le responded by stabbing Hai Hong five times. Le claimed that at this point, Hai Hong collapsed on the coffee table. Le admitted to having told Mrs. Nguyen that he was hired to kill her and hitting her as a warning. He then confirmed the rest of the events after the homicide. Le did not mention the business plans he allegedly had with the Nguyens, although he suggested he knew the Nguyens had at least $10,000 in their safety deposit box. UPDATE: Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry granted a 30-day stay of execution to a Vietnamese national on Wednesday so that he will have time to consider a pardon board recommendation that the sentence be commuted. Hung Thanh Le, 34, was scheduled to be put to death on Jan. 6 for the 1992 slaying of fellow Vietnamese refugee Hai Hong Nguyen over a $10,000 business deal gone bad. The state's Pardon and Parole Board voted a week ago to recommend commuting Le's sentence on the grounds that Le was not notified under international law that he could report his case to his consulate or embassy. If his death sentence is commuted, Le will most likely be sentenced to life in prison. Henry said in a statement he plans to personally interview both prosecution and defense attorneys in the case as well as review evidence presented to the pardon board. "I want this case to go through the same deliberative process as previous clemency recommendations, and the only way to do that is by ordering a temporary stay," Henry said. Le was convicted for the 1992 beating and stabbing death of Nguyen after the two argued over $10,000, which Le had given Nguyen for a business partnership. Le hit Nguyen with a metal bar and stabbed him with a butcher knife, according to evidence presented in court.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 2004    Arkansas  Mary Lou York  Charles Singleton  executed

The victim, Mary Lou York, was murdered in York’s Grocery Store at Hamburg on June 1, 1979. She died from loss of blood as a result of two stab wounds in her neck. The evidence of guilt in this case is overwhelming. Patti Franklin saw her relative Charles Singleton enter York’s Grocery at approximately 7:30 p.m. on the day of the crime. Shortly after he entered Patti heard Mrs. York scream, “Patti go get help, Charles Singleton is killing me.” Patti then ran for help. Another witness, Lenora Howard, observed Singleton exit the store and shortly thereafter witnessed Mary Lou, who was “crying and had blood on her,” come to the front door. Police Officer Strother was the first to arrive at the scene and found Mary Lou lying in a pool of blood in the rear of the store. The officer testified Mary Lou York told him that Charles Singleton “came in the store, said this is a robbery, grabbed her around the neck, and went to stabbing her.” She then told Officer Strother that “there’s no way I can be all right, you know I’m not going to make it. I’ve lost too much blood.” Mary Lou was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and was attended by her personal physician, Dr. J. D. Rankin. While en route to the hospital, she told Dr. Rankin several times that she was dying and that Singleton did it. Mary Lou York died before reaching the emergency room of the hospital. UPDATE: Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee set an execution date for convicted Ashley County murderer Charles Singleton, according to a Friday, November 7, press release from Tenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen. Huckabee set a date of January 6 for the execution. "An Ashley County jury sentenced Singleton to death over 24 years ago, and although long overdue, his reckoning time is at hand," Deen said in the press release. Singleton, who has been on death row longer than any other Arkansas inmate, was convicted of the 1979 murder of Hamburg store owner Mary Lou York. Before she died, York identified Singleton as the man who stabbed her. He has been on death row since October, 1979. After his conviction and imprisonment, Singleton was diagnosed as schizophrenic. He has argued that he has been taking anti-psychotic drugs that make him sane enough to be executed. Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe told Huckabee earlier this week that Singleton has no appeals pending and that nothing should prevent Huckabee from setting the execution date. State Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, D-Crossett, wrote Huckabee Tuesday, November 4, urging the governor to set an execution date. Jeffress said he was friends with York's daughter while in college. "Please set an execution date for Charles Singleton," Jeffress wrote. "I feel that it is time for a conclusion to be composed for this story. You have the power to pick up your pen and write the final chapter." Singleton was 19 at the time of the murder. "I'm pleased to know that he has set the date," Jeffress said Monday, November 10. "I still have a level of concern whether he will follow through and let the execution take place. It's still possible for him to review it and stop it. Singleton can change his mind and ask for clemency, and the governor said he would review it if Singleton asks for clemency. "Knowing the governor and seeing his past performance on giving clemency, I'm still concerned he would grant it and give him life without parole. The state has been out between a half million and a million dollars keeping Singleton on death row. I think it's time to put this behind us and get on with what needs to be done. I think it's time the penalty is exacted." UPDATE: Mary York Donaldson of Monticello, daughter of Hamburg store keeper Mary Lou York, who Charles Singleton murdered in her store in 1979, asked Arkansas citizens for letters in opposition to clemency for Singleton. Singleton has applied to the Department of Community Corrections Institutional Parole Services for executive clemency. A panel of the Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Board will interview Singleton at 10 a.m .on December 12 in the Varner Unit in Grady in regard to the request. In addition, a protestors' hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. on December 12 in the fifth floor office of the Post Prison Transfer Board, Two Union National Plaza at 105 West Capitol in Little Rock. After the two sessions, the full board will meet later to review all of the information and make a recommendation to the governor. Mrs. Donaldson asked that local citizens who wish to protest the possibility of executive clemency write letters stating their opposition. She requests that letters be sent to her at P. O. Box 387, Monticello, AR 71655 in time for her to receive them and take them to the protestors' hearing with her. Mrs. York identified Singleton as the man who had stabbed her when police arrived at her store. With apparently all appeals exhausted for Singleton, Gov. Mike Huckabee has set an execution date of January 6. Singleton has been on Death Row since his conviction of capital murder on October 30, 1979.  UPDATE: Charles Singleton was executed by lethal injection at 8:02 p.m. at the Cummins unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections Tues., Jan. 6, 24 years after being convicted and sentenced to death by an Ashley County court for the 1979 murder of Mary Lou York in Hamburg. Singleton said he had planned to say something, but had written his words down and given them to the warden instead. Afterward, a copy of the letter, which was indecipherable spiritual gibberish, was given to the media. In the warden's office at the prison, York's son, daughter, nephew, and two granddaughters watched the events on closed-circuit television, but did not appear for the press afterwards.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 2004    Arkansas  Andi Brewer, 12  Karl Roberts  stayed

Karl Roberts, 35, was convicted in May 2000 by a Polk County Circuit Court jury of capital murder in the May 17, 1999, rape and strangling of his 12-year-old niece, Andi Brewer. Roberts during the July 2000 sentencing phase of his trial told the court, "I want to die." Her body was found May 17, 1999, two days after disappearing from a relative's home in Hatfield in Polk County. Her body was found near Cove in a clear-cut area. Roberts' defense attorney argued he suffered a head injury when hit by a dump truck at age 12 and lost 15 percent of his brain, including a portion tied to the ability to understand consequences for one's actions. Prosecutors argued Roberts knew right from wrong. After his sentence, Roberts waived his rights to any appeals. A judge, however, said his sentence would automatically be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court in April reviewed Roberts' case and in a 6-1 decision upheld the death sentence. January, 2000: Last July, Ann Brewer went to the secluded clearing where her 12-year-old granddaughter, Andi, had been raped and strangled just a few months earlier. "I thought maybe I could find something of hers," she explains, her voice cracking. "I just wanted to find something." Her granddaughter, Andria Nichole Brewer, is dead. And the man accused of the killing was her uncle, a revelation that has left the family shattered. Karl Roberts, 31, is charged with capital murder and faces the death penalty if he's convicted. His trial was supposed to begin today. But much to the disappointment of Andi's many relatives, it was postponed. New evidence offered recently by the defense prompted prosecutors to file a motion Friday asking for an 11th-hour continuance. Judge Gayle Ford of the 18th Circuit Court West granted the request at a hearing Monday morning in Mena. A second trial date will be set within a few days. The new evidence includes medical and forensic information regarding an old head injury of Roberts', which is expected to be a key portion of his defense. "They just now themselves got it," Prosecuting Attorney Tim Williamson said of the defense team. It's been only 9 months since the girl's death, he said, adding, "This has been a rather fast setting. We just need more time to look at it." Defense attorney Darrel Blount fought the delay, saying the prosecution knew about this new information at the beginning of January. "We say that we advised the state of it, but the state disputes that," Blount said. He wouldn't elaborate on what type of new evidence was found, only confirming that it does have something to do with Roberts' head injury, which occurred 20 years ago when he was hit by a dump truck while riding his bicycle down a county road. "We're a little bit let down," Blount said of the trial delay. "We're all dressed up with no place to go." Despite the new findings and the trial's postponement, prosecutors say they remain confident they have a solid case against Roberts. The family is less inclined to speculate about the outcome, so certain are they of Roberts' guilt. This has been not only a tragedy, but a betrayal of the deepest kind, they say, by a man who ate several times a week at their home and played the drums in the family's garage band. Roberts married into the rambunctious, close-knit Brewer clan about a decade ago. He is the husband of Ann Brewer's daughter, Trina. He became a suspect almost immediately when Andi's siblings described to authorities a truck similar to Roberts' that arrived at their home around the time Andi disappeared. The girl, a blond-haired tomboy who was also a bit of a homebody, was frying chicken for her siblings when the pickup pulled up to the house on May 15, 1999, the children said. They assumed it was their Uncle Karl's and that Andi must have gone with him over to their grandparents' home, which was just across the street. But Andi never came back to finish dinner. Her stepmother wasn't home, and her father, Greg, was fishing for catfish in a nearby pond. When he returned, the little girl was still gone and no one, including her grandparents, had seen her. After a panicky, two-day search for Andi, investigators arrested Roberts, saying he had confessed to raping and killing his niece. Roberts then led authorities to a littered clearing at the end of a logging trail, where he had left Andi's body, investigators say. Ford has ruled that Roberts' confession will be admissible when the case goes to trial. Meanwhile, Roberts' family members, particularly Ann Brewer and her husband, Charles, have been left in a strange and uncomfortable position. Firmly convinced that their son-in-law is responsible for Andi's death, they now despise him. But there is their daughter, Trina, to consider. She still talks to her husband and visits him, Ann Brewer says. So the topics of Andi's death and the pending trial are never mentioned. The mother and daughter who once talked about everything now frequently suffer through strained periods of silence. That's why the family is so eager to see the case resolved, one way or another, says Rebecca DeMauro, Andi's mother. Although DeMauro was divorced from Greg Brewer several years ago, she remains close to her former in-laws. She and her ex-husband, who have both remarried, managed to keep their split amicable for the sake of Andi and her 11-year-old sister, Melanie. But Andi's death and the charge against Roberts have made get-togethers uncomfortable and phone calls awkward, she says. Greg Brewer still talks to his sister but is wracked with guilt because he wasn't home at the time Andi vanished, family members say. And several relatives are angry with Trina for supporting her husband and his defense. "It's going to be a daily battle to be in the same room with him," DeMauro says, referring to when the case goes to trial. "Just to breathe the same air as him is almost a disgrace to Andria." Trina, at her mother's house just a few days before the trial was originally scheduled to start, declined to comment on the allegations against her husband. Her parents say she, too, believes her husband is guilty but is hoping he will be spared the death penalty for the sake of the couple's 2 young children. Both the family and investigators remain baffled by the case. They say Roberts never showed much interest in his nieces and nephews, although he was frequently at the elder Brewers' home. Authorities say Roberts gave them no reason for raping and killing Andi, adding that in his statement, Roberts said only: "Something just hit me. I knew I was going to go by and pick up Andi. I couldn't stop." His court-appointed defense team sought to have him declared incompetent at a hearing last fall, citing a low IQ. The judge ruled otherwise, basing his decision on psychiatrists' evaluations of Roberts and some higher-than-average test scores. The defense is expected to focus on the head injury Roberts sustained in 1980, with the argument being that severe bruising of his brain may have left him susceptible to violent episodes, defects or mental illness. Family members don't buy this theory and are upset that they will have to wait even longer for Roberts' trial because of new evidence pertaining to the old injury. Prosecutors and authorities have been tight-lipped about the case, the family says, so only the trial itself will reveal to them what really happened during the last hours of Andi's life. Roberts' case file, which normally would be an open record, was sealed by the court immediately after his arrest. Prosecutors say this was done because the case is inflammatory. Sheriff Mike Oglesby says security at Roberts' trial will be tight, just as it was at his hearing. Six to eight law enforcement officers will be stationed around the courtroom, and anyone entering will have to pass through a metal detector. "It's such a high-profile case, OK? And the family has a right to have some hard feelings," the sheriff says. "It's to protect them just as much as anybody else." Roberts' defense attorney says the extra security will definitely be needed when the case goes to trial. "There's always concerns when you have a client accused of a crime of this nature, especially in a smaller county," Blount says. "Everybody knows everybody else and everybody else's business. And a lot of people are related." At this point, neither side has asked for a change of venue. DeMauro says most of her family also will be present when Roberts is tried. Had the trial started this week, Marc Klaas and Colleen Nick also were expected to attend, she says. Klaas' daughter, Polly, was abducted during a slumber party at her home in Petaluma, Calif., and killed. Klaas is most remembered for the last moments of the trial, when Polly's killer told a packed courtroom that the girl's last words were about her father molesting her. An outraged Klaas had to be restrained, and horrified spectators quieted. Nick, whose daughter Morgan was abducted from an Alma ballpark in 1995, also was planning to attend part of Roberts' trial, DeMauro says. Nick and Klaas met DeMauro through a national group that helps the parents of missing or slain children. No matter when the trial is held, Andi's sister, 11-year-old Melanie, won't be there. She made the trip last fall from their home in Oklahoma to stay in town with her mother during the pretrial hearing. Melanie didn't attend the proceedings. Even so, she didn't do well afterward, DeMauro says. The girl has been in counseling ever since Andi's death and is still grappling with grief in her own way, DeMauro says. "After the hearing, when she went back to school, it was so bad that her teacher called me. She said Melanie was carrying her sister's picture around and not paying attention in class." Melanie has also been upset by the publicity her sister's death has received. It's hard to find normal again when things are anything but, DeMauro explains. Each trip to Arkansas has been a struggle for the child. "She was so mad at me because I had done an interview with the newspaper here [in Oklahoma]," DeMauro recalls. "She asked, 'Why did you have to tell everybody here our story? Now everybody knows.' "  July, 2000: Wearing prison whites and a half-smile, convicted murderer Karl Roberts gave his wife and parents a small wave after entering the courtroom. Moments later, he took the stand and told the court he wants to waive his appeals so that his execution can be carried out as quickly as possible. "I want to die," said Roberts, who was convicted May 19, 2000 of raping and strangling his 12-year-old niece, Andi Brewer. "Are you telling me that you're asking that the death sentence be carried out?" asked Polk County Circuit Judge Gayle Ford. "Yes," Roberts replied. After yes-and-no questions, the judge said it's clear Roberts has the right to waive his appeals. "But it appears to me that to some degree we're in somewhat uncharted territory," Ford said. This will be one of the first cases to follow a course set by the state's high court in December 1999, when justices decided that they would begin reviewing all death penalty cases for "egregious and prejudicial errors." This means that while Roberts has the right to waive all avenues of appeal in both state and federal courts, he will have to wait until the Arkansas Supreme Court has examined his case in full before an execution date can be set, Ford ruled after the 20-minute hearing. The Supreme Court's decision to begin reviewing all death penalty trials developed from the capital murder case of Robert A. Robbins, who was sentenced to die for the Nov. 4, 1997, death of his ex-girlfriend, Bethany White of Jonesboro. Robbins had waived his right to appeal his sentence, saying he wanted to die, and an execution date was set for April 12, 1999. But the Supreme Court stayed the proceeding after it agreed to consider a petition by Robbins' mother, Bobbye Jean Robbins, who sought to intervene in her son's execution. Justices ruled that she had no standing. They also decided, although divided over the question, that they would begin reviewing all death penalty cases as a matter of course. At the time this ruling was issued, Arkansas was one of only two of the 38 states that had the death penalty that did not have a mandatory review of all such cases. Roberts' request to waive his appeals was one of the first subject to the Supreme Court's mandatory review, said his defense attorney, Buddy Hendry of Little Rock. Hendry said he'd heard of one other case since the justices' 1999 ruling in which the condemned has sought a waiver. Asked why his client called him and said he was ready to die, Hendry said he couldn't offer specifics, citing attorney-client privilege. "I just know that's his desire," he added. Roberts' parents and wife declined to comment after the hearing. Roberts' victim was his young niece, Andi, who disappeared from her grandparents' home on May 15, 1999, while cooking dinner for her siblings. Her small, nude body was found two days later after Roberts confessed to authorities and led them to the littered, secluded clearing where he raped and strangled the girl. Andi's family was baffled by Roberts' request Wednesday to waive his appeals. The relatives said they don't know what would have prompted him to seek a swift execution. The case has created a rift in what was once a close-knit family, they say, and they haven't asked Roberts' wife, Trina, for the reasoning behind his decision. "Maybe it's guilt," theorized Andi's maternal grandmother, Ann Taylor. She left immediately after the hearing with Andi's mother, Rebecca DeMauro, and several other family members. They had planned a visit to the nearby cemetery where Andi is buried.  Rebecca DeMauro's Victim Impact Statement: "The effects this brutal crime has had on me and my family are devastating. We have not only lost trust, understanding, and the ability to forgive, but we have lost a precious gift from God, a 12-year-old little girl who captured the heart of every person she met. Andi was a beautiful person who did not deserve the evil that befell her. She was a kind, loving, gentle soul who loved children and wanted to be a schoolteacher when she grew up, but she has been denied that privilege. Because of this horrendous crime my daughter lost her life. She will never go to junior high or high school. She will never have a first date or a first kiss. She was denied her Senior Prom. Andi will never fall in love and get married. I will never hold my grandchildren from my first-born daughter because she is dead. I can only visit her at Six Mile Cemetery, where what remains of her is a five-foot headstone marked with her name. Twelve years is not living life to its fullest. Twelve years was only the beginning for Andi and she was robbed of a wonderful life. Andi was a modest child who would not have harmed a soul, once even compelling her stepfather, Kris, to go out in a thunderstorm to cover the neighbor's kennel with a plastic tarp because the dogs inside were getting drenched. Andi loved her life and was a happy well-adjusted child. She was a little girl whose smile and laughter demonstrated the innocence of who she was. I love and miss her desperately every day. My thoughts are never far from her and weeping has become a daily occurrence. If only I could have done something to save her from the predator lurking in the family; but I didn't know. Now I have to live with thoughts and mental images of a crime so horrendous that even the toughest of law enforcement officers were brought to tears. I am tormented daily with thoughts of my little girl screaming for help with no one to hear her cries. I live nightly with the demons that torment my soul screaming to me that I was not there to stop this, that I couldn't help my daughter the one time in her life that she needed me most. This crime has crushed my family into the dirt of society. People are uncomfortable and refuse to mention the crime to us in fear that we might fall into a heap. Andi was part of me, my blood pumped through her veins, and now whenever I mention her people shy away from the subject. This crime has made us freaks and we did nothing wrong. We tried our best to raise a little girl to adulthood and give her a normal life. Her normal life ended on May 15, 1999, when she was abducted out of the privacy of her home, raped, and strangled. She didn't deserve that. My sentencing recommendation for the defendant is the death penalty. He gave up his right to live a full life when he made the choice to abduct, rape and murder a 12-year-old-girl. My lovely daughter wasn't given the chance to plead before a court of law for her life; instead she was brutally murdered. The defendant does not deserve the sympathy of the court. He is the one who destroyed the lives of many people, including that of his own wife and children. The only one who deserves sympathy is Andi; she has suffered the most. Justice will not be served if the defendant is simply given life in prison. That says to others that it is okay to commit brutal sex crimes against children. I wish each one of you here today could have had the privilege of knowing Andi. She was a wonderful human being who deserved to live. The defendant does not deserve life. We would all be better off if he were dead--the world would be rid of one more evil creature and the citizens of Arkansas would be spared the expense of housing and feeding a confessed child killer. The death penalty is the only sensible solution in this case for the sake of all children, for the sake of the citizens of Arkansas, and, most of all, for the sake of Andi. My daughter deserves to rest in peace, and the death of her killer would warrant that."  UPDATE: The mother of the 12-year-old girl Karl Roberts was convicted of murdering says the state is offering relatives an outdoor tent on prison grounds for Tuesday's execution. However, they won't be able to watch Roberts' execution on closed-circuit television. Roberts kidnapped, raped and murdered Rebecca DeMauro's daughter Andria Nichole Brewer in May 1999. DeMauro has complained about a state law preventing her and other family from being in the room when Roberts is put to death. DeMauro also complained that the law only allows five family members to sit inside the Cummins prison near Varner and watch the execution on closed-circuit television. She said at least 30 relatives want to witness the lethal injection. Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says the other relatives are welcome to enter the prison grounds, but they will be held at a tent set up for execution supporters at a road block. Customarily, the state sets up separate tents for supporters and protesters, but only the few allowed into the execution chamber and the television viewing room can actually watch. DeMauro says the tent further infuriated her. She said her mother, Brewer's grandmother, isn't healthy enough to sit waiting in the cold. Ann and Charles Brewer, Brewer's grandparents, said they hope Roberts' execution will mark a beginning of a healing process for them. The couple said they won't attend the execution but will instead spend the day remembering their granddaughter, who would have been 16 years old. "The hugs (are what I miss,)" said Charles Brewer. "She would come up and wrap her arms around me. I miss that." Ann Brewer said she babysat Andria since she was a baby. "When you are that close and something bad happens to her, it's bad," she said. Andria's life was taken by Roberts, her uncle by marriage. The Brewers said they want nothing to do with him. Andria will be remembered by family and friends at a candlelight vigil at the governor's mansion Tuesday at 8 p.m. UPDATE: Since his conviction, Karl Roberts said he wanted to die for the 1999 kidnapping, rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece. But he changed his mind hours before he was to have been executed Tuesday. Federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court accommodated him by granting a stay of execution even as prison guards prepared to escort the Roberts, 35, to his death. Roberts' lawyer Craig Lambert said that Roberts authorized the appeal 4 hours before he was to have died by lethal injection. Roberts was given the death sentence for the rape and murder of Andria Nichole Brewer, whose body was found 2 days after she disappeared from her relatives' home in Polk County. Lambert said that in all his discussions with Roberts, the inmate never brought up Andria or her family. Rebecca DeMauro, Andria's mother, said she felt re-victimized by the courts' decisions. Lambert now has 90 days to make a case to keep Roberts from execution. He said he thinks his client has a good shot at avoiding execution. Lambert said he will focus on Roberts' mental competency and the validity of a statement he gave police after the crime.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 9, 2004    North Carolina  Howard Rue Sikorski  Raymond Rowsey  executed

On the evening of March 23, 1992, Raymond Rowsey and his half brother, Raymond Lee Steele, were hanging out at Steele’s house, playing cards and listening to the radio. Shortly after midnight, the two men decided to walk to a local Circle K convenience store. They arrived at the store around 1:00 a.m. Once at the store, the men obtained some change from the store clerk, Howard Rue Sikorski, and played several dollars worth of video games. Next, they went to the back of the store to look at the movie display. Rowsey then decided he wanted to buy a snack. Steele gave Rowsey two dollars and Rowsey picked up two bags of M&M’s and paid for them at the counter. Rowsey then pulled a gun out of his coat, pointed it at Sikorski, and clicked the gun without firing it. He turned and smiled at Steele, telling Steele that he had scared the store clerk with a water gun. The gun, however, was not a water gun. Rowsey turned back towards the victim and shot him in the face. After the victim fell to the floor, Rowsey leaned over the counter and shot him again. Rowsey then ran around the counter, fired at least two more shots, and kicked the victim three or four times in the back of the head. Steele ran out of the store and Rowsey ran out after him, still carrying the gun in one hand and something else underneath his arm. During the walk home, Steele asked Rowsey why he shot the victim. Rowsey said he was initially just playing, but he thought that he saw the victim reaching underneath the counter for a gun. Rowsey later told Steele that he kicked the victim to ensure that the victim died. He also told Steele, however, that the victim was still alive and gasping for air when Rowsey ran out of the store. Back at Steele’s house, Rowsey counted the cash that he had taken from the Circle K cash register. He told Steele that he had grabbed the money to make the shooting look like a robbery and to make the shooting worthwhile. In total, Rowsey took $54 in cash and several adult magazines from the store. Steele would not accept half of the money, but did accept a two-dollar bill that had been taken from the register. He also cleaned the murder weapon for Rowsey and provided Rowsey with bullets to reload the gun. The victim’s body was discovered at approximately 2:00 a.m. on March 24. An autopsy revealed six gunshot wounds: one to the face, one to the back of the neck, one to the right side of the head, and three to the back. The autopsy also revealed several blunt-force injuries to the victim’s head and neck area. Store managers determined that $57.54 in cash and several adult entertainment magazines were missing from the store. Among the missing cash was a two-dollar bill. The store had a record of the serial number of that bill which allowed police to track it. On the afternoon of March 24, Steele attempted to make a purchase with the marked two-dollar bill and was arrested shortly thereafter. Steele initially made several false statements denying any involvement in the murder, but he eventually admitted that he was present during the murder. Rowsey was arrested later that day and subsequently charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery. Steele pled guilty to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in exchange for his testimony at trial. At trial, Rowsey tried to finger Steele as the shooter. Rowsey questioned Steele regarding a letter that Steele had written to Rowsey that allegedly concluded with the phrase "even though you didn’t do it." Steele admitted to writing the letter, but denied writing the concluding line. Rowsey also introduced testimony from two jail inmates who testified that they overheard conversations between Rowsey and Steele during which Steele acknowledged that he, not Rowsey, had killed the victim. The State countered this testimony, however, with substantial evidence indicating that Rowsey was the shooter. The State introduced evidence of Rowsey’s shoe prints in the blood around the victim’s head, and evidence that Rowsey possessed the murder weapon both before and after the murder. Furthermore, Steele provided extensive testimony recounting the events of the murder and bolstering the State’s claim that Rowsey was the shooter. Given the weight of the evidence, the jury concluded that Rowsey was indeed the shooter and convicted him of both first- degree murder and armed robbery. At sentencing, Rowsey introduced evidence indicating that he had come from a broken home and suffered a difficult childhood. The State introduced evidence that Rowsey had broken into a church and stolen $900 worth of items only weeks before the murder. The State also introduced evidence of Rowsey’s prior criminal record, which included fifteen counts of injury to personal property in 1990, one count of possession of a malt beverage by a minor in 1990, and two counts of misdemeanor larceny in 1991. The jury returned a recommendation of death. On October 1, 1993, the trial judge entered judgment and sentenced Rowsey to death. 

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 13, 2004    Oklahoma Sherry Goodlow, 26  Tyrone Darks executed

The following evidence was presented during the guilt phase of Darks' trial. On August 7, 1994, the day of her death, Sherry Goodlow went to church with Scott, her two-year old son by Darks. After the service, Sherry and Scott, along with a friend and the friend's sister-in-law, went to the grocery store and made purchases at 2:19 p.m. Sherry declined her friend's invitation for dinner, saying she wanted to go home. At 2:52 p.m., Sherry made a 911 call from a pay phone, claiming Darks had run her off the road and taken their son. The dispatcher advised her a police officer would meet her at Darks' house. At 3:09 p.m., Sherry made a second 911 call asking about the officer and was told there had been a delay. At 3:27 p.m., Sergeant Ken Davis arrived at Darks' house. Sherry was not there, and Darks' mother indicated she had not seen Sherry that day. About that time a man who lived near Draper Lake noticed a car, later identified as that of Darks, drive into his driveway and then back out. He also saw a small white car stopped at a nearby intersection. When the white car pulled away quickly, Darks' car followed it. Ten to fifteen minutes later, the man heard what sounded like firecrackers exploding, coming from the direction of Draper Lake. A second man was working in his home shop in the same area when he heard his dogs barking. Upon investigating, he saw a white Mustang driven by a woman parked in his driveway at the gate. As he began to walk toward the car, the woman backed out and drove away. He could hear her screaming, so he followed her in his pickup. Eventually, he saw tire tracks in the grass leading from the road into the brush. Following the tracks, he discovered the Mustang with its flashers on and the engine running. When he did not see anyone and no one responded to his calls, he returned home and telephoned 911. Returning to the white car a second time, he called out again but received no response. He then went to the home of his neighbor to telephone her husband, a police officer. The man and his neighbor went back to the car and found Sherry, lying across the seat. She had been shot several times. After receiving a call at 3:55 p.m., police officers proceeded to the crime scene. When the police determined that the deceased woman was Sherry, an officer went to the Darks home to check on Scott and to talk to anyone who might know Sherry. Darks was home. He told the officer that Sherry had called him at 2:30 p.m. and asked him to pick up their son, which he did about 3:00 p.m. and then returned home. At 4:00 p.m., Sherry came to his house asking for money, which he gave her, and she left. He went to the mall with his son at 4:30 p.m. and to his girlfriend's house at 5:30 p.m. Darks agreed to go to the police station for further questioning, where he gave approximately the same story and claimed Sherry could not have called 911. Darks denied killing Sherry, but stated she had gotten what she deserved and what goes around comes around. Darks informed police detectives that they could not place him at the scene of the murder and that they had no gun or fingerprints. During the interview, the police arrested Darks. After his arrest, and while incarcerated in a cell with several others, Darks said that he had killed his girlfriend. He told one man that as she was coming from church, he had taken his son from her and put the boy into his car. She had followed him to Draper Lake, where he had shot her twice in the head and three or four times in the back with a .38 caliber gun. The police investigation revealed that Sherry, who was still wearing her seatbelt, had been shot four times at close range twice in the head, once in the back and once in the arm with a .38 caliber gun through the open window of her car. Although Darks' mother testified that Darks and Sherry were on good terms and that Sherry would leave Scott with her and Darks, Sherry's father testified that the court had taken away Darks' visitation rights. It was undisputed that the two had an ongoing hostile relationship. Two days before the murder, Darks had called Sherry's father and told him Sherry should "get her insurance papers up to date because he's going to put a cap in her." Mr. Goodlow explained at trial he believed this meant Darks was going to kill his daughter. Five minutes after making the call, Darks drove by the Goodlow home. Sherry had expressed fear of Darks and bad feelings toward him before her death. The jury rejected Darks' alibi defense, and found him guilty of first degree murder. During the sentencing stage, the State's evidence elaborated upon the acrimonious love/hate relationship between Sherry and Darks. A store clerk testified about an incident in which Darks came up behind Sherry and grabbed her neck while she was walking in the mall pushing Scott in a baby stroller. Darks released Sherry and then tried to pull Scott from the stroller, while Sherry pleaded for him not to take the child. A police officer took Darks into custody after the store clerk called security. At that time, Darks maintained that Sherry had hit him first and that he wished to press charges. A police sergeant testified he had gone to Sherry's house two or three times after Darks reported she was abusing their son. However, the sergeant had found no evidence of child abuse by Sherry. From 1992 on, a series of police reports concerned both Sherry and Darks. Typically, charges were filed against him but not against her. From January to June 1994, police arrested Darks with increasing frequency. Evidence indicated he had broken the front and back windows on Sherry's car, and had spray-painted her mother's new car and later called her mother to ask if she had enjoyed removing the paint. Darks' mother and sisters testified in mitigation that Sherry and Darks had a stormy relationship, marked by mutual arguments, harassments, jealousies and aggression. Sherry had smashed the windshield of Darks' car, broken off his rearview mirror, poured motor oil and Jell-O over his car, and run into it. Darks' family members, however, had taken Sherry's side in order to prevent the police from arresting her. Additional mitigating evidence indicated that Darks was educated, could provide assistance to others and encourage their educational pursuits, was a good and loving father, was a loving and supportive brother and son, could share his faith in God and prayer with others, and had a history of aggression only with respect to Sherry. Based on the first and second stage evidence, the jury found as an aggravating factor that Darks would be a continuing threat to society, but did not find that the murder was committed to avoid lawful arrest or prosecution. Deciding that the continuing threat aggravator outweighed the mitigating evidence, the jury assessed a death sentence.  UPDATE: An Oklahoma death row inmate accused of trying to defraud a compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks was sentenced to a year in federal prison. Tyrone Peter Darks, 38, applied for $300,000 to $1 million from the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, claiming his wife disappeared when she visited the World Trade Center that day. Darks claimed his wife was a wealthy business executive who had earned $4.5 million in each of the last four years, the U.S. attorney said. He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment in state prison, U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said. Darks isn't likely to serve the federal sentence since he is on death row for the 1994 murder of his ex-wife. In 2001, Darks allegedly sent The Daily Oklahoman a letter, made to look like a sworn affidavit from a recently executed inmate, claiming that the inmate had been the real killer of Darks' wife, authorities say. Authorities say Darks described the crime but made many factual errors in the letter. Darks, who reportedly had written a similar letter to the newspaper in the past, was arrested hours after Sherry Goodlow's death and convicted by a Cleveland County jury. UPDATE: Ella Goodlow, whose daughter Sherry was killed by ex-husband Tyrone Darks, thinks that capital punishment is acceptable. "They should do as many executions as they can," she said. Goodlow resents the actions that are being taken by people like Jesse Jackson, who marched in Oklahoma against executions, and state Rep. Opio Toure, who wants the state to stop executions for a while to study the justice system. "We're receiving a groundswell of support for the moratorium," Toure said. But Goodlow said that those fighting the executions haven't been through the pain of losing a family member. "If anybody would lose a child like I lost my child and didn't believe in the death penalty, then something is wrong with them," she said. UPDATE: An Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to die next week received a stay of execution Friday from a federal appeals court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver granted the stay to Tyrone Peter Darks, 38, who was scheduled to die on Tuesday for the Aug. 7, 1994, murder of his ex-wife, Sherry Deann Goodlow. The appellate court took the action shortly after Darks asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution, which would have been the 1st in Oklahoma this year, said Darks' attorney, K. Leslie Delk of Tucson, Ariz. Darks' request for a stay raises procedural issues over his claim that Oklahoma's use of lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited under the Eighth Amendment, Delk said. "A veterinarian cannot use those methods on a pet because they are considered cruel," Delk said. One of the chemicals applied during the lethal injection process paralyzes the inmate. "The individual is not necessarily unconscious when the paralytic agent is used," she said. Delk said Darks wants to raise his objections to lethal injection as a civil rights action. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office has objected to the procedure. The appellate court granted an injunction and stay of execution for Darks until the Supreme Court resolves the issue, she said. Similar issues have been raised in death penalty cases in Texas and Alabama. A spokesman for Edmondson could not be reached for comment Friday evening. Darks was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to die after he shot Goodlow, 26, 6 times after running her off the road and taking the couple's 2-year-old son. UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for the state to execute a man for killing his ex-wife nearly 10 years ago. Tyrone Peter Darks' was to be given a lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The high court vacated a stay of execution that was granted last week by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Darks' attorneys had argued that Oklahoma's use of lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment barred under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court decided 5-4 Tuesday to vacate the stay, with Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer in opposition. Last week, a North Carolina man was executed after the high court rejected his claim that his state's lethal injection process was cruel and unusual punishment. The same 4 justices voted against permitting the North Carolina execution. A Cleveland County jury convicted Darks of 1st-degree murder in the Aug. 7, 1994, shooting death of Sherry Goodlow, 26. Just before 3 p.m. that day, Goodlow placed a frantic 911 call to Oklahoma City police, saying her ex-husband had run her off the road and taken their 2-year-old son, Scott. After a second call about 20 minutes later, police went to meet her at Darks' residence but Goodlow never showed. A man summoned officers after finding Goodlow's Ford Mustang in high brush near Lake Stanley Draper. He told police she had pulled into his driveway earlier and he heard her screaming as she backed out and pulled away when another vehicle approached. Goodlow had been shot 4 times, suffering wounds to the arm, chest and head. The child was found later unharmed. Darks appealed his October 1995 conviction but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his murder conviction and sentence in 1998. A federal judge overturned his conviction in 2001 but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in April. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied him clemency Dec. 12. Darks also was sentenced to a year in federal prison after trying to defraud a compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He also wrote a fake letter made to look like a sworn affidavit from an executed inmate, claiming that inmate had been the real killer of Darks' wife. Joe Goodlow, the victim's father, planned to witness the execution with his daughter.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 14, 2004    Texas Helen Elizabeth Ayers, 54 Kenneth Bruce executed

Kenneth Bruce was convicted of the Dec. 10, 1990, robbery and murder of Helen Elizabeth Ayers of Prosper, Texas.  It was two weeks before Christmas and the holiday lights were glowing outside the rural home of Richard and Helen Ayers when two young men knocked on the door. Their car had stalled and they needed jumper cables, the men told the couple in the house near Prosper, about 30 miles north of Dallas in Collin County. Mr. Ayers led the pair to the garage to look for jumper cables, which he couldn't find, and then invited them inside to keep warm.  As they stood next to a heater, two more young men barged in through the back door, armed with guns. Richard Ayers was ordered to turn over his wallet and his wife was forced to surrender her purse. The couple was herded into a bedroom, told to lie facedown on a mattress and were shot. And shot again moments later to make sure they were dead. Helen Ayers, 54, was killed in the second volley. Her 58-year-old husband, paralyzed after being shot in the back, remained on the floor for about 3 hours next to his dead wife until their son arrived home from work and found them. One of the four men convicted of the woman's slaying, Kenneth Eugene Bruce, who was 19 at the time of the 1990 attack, faced execution Wednesday night. "It was a very ugly, horrible, senseless crime," says Bryan Clayton, who was an assistant district attorney in Collin County and prosecuted Bruce. "They stole some jewelry and small things like that. Within an hour, they had discarded the items on the side of the road." The jewelry was inexpensive. The cash stolen amounted to less than $10. "It didn't make much sense," Clayton said.  Two of the four, Eric Lynn Moore and Sam Andrews, turned themselves in to authorities within days. Bruce and his cousin, Anthony Quinn Bruce, then 15, were arrested four days after the attack. Kenneth Bruce and Moore each received the death penalty. The two others got life terms. Richard Ayers, confined to a wheelchair, testified against each of them at their trials. "They were out in a car one night and looking for somebody to rob," Clayton said. "There was some testimony at one of the trials that since the house had pretty Christmas lights, the people there must be rich." More than 10 years after the trial, Farmersville resident Anthony Rudd said he will never forget the autopsy photos. He remembers those disturbing pictures and imagining what Richard Ayers must have experienced lying lame from gunshot wounds next to his dead wife for several hours in their home near Prosper. Rudd, who was a juror during the 1992 capital murder trial of Kenneth Eugene Bruce, said he struggled with the jury's decision to sentence Bruce to death row. "Part of me just felt so sorry for him because I honestly think that he was not that bad of a kid," he said. "There were a couple of other guys with him, and I always really felt like they were probably the ones who got him into that." Many of the high school teachers Bruce's defense attorney used as character witnesses had also taught Rudd. He remembers hearing them say Bruce, who was working as a pizza delivery driver when the crime occurred, had never been in trouble before the murder. Torn between the violence of the act and the enormity of the decision to take another life, Rudd consulted his minister during the trial. "I wasn't real sure how I felt about giving the death penalty," Rudd said. "I'm going to be honest, I have doubts whether that was really the right thing or not." Bruce had told investigators that his accomplices had pressured him into the robbery, and that he had not fired a shot. But the sight of Mr. Ayers testifying while confined to a wheelchair, and the prosecution's final statement led to Rudd decide on the death sentence. "He said (the lead prosecutor), 'Here's a question for you. Twenty years from now there's a knock on your door, and he's (Bruce is) standing at the front door. Do you let him in?' That got a lot of us," Rudd said. Bruce's attorney Michael Charlton was not available for comment. On a Web site where prisoners seek pen pals, Bruce described himself as a songwriter and poet interested in sports, reading and music. His lawyers were seeking a U.S. Supreme Court review of his case. In other appeals, his attorneys raised questions challenging the instructions given to jurors at his trial. Defense lawyers also were questioning the constitutionality of the drugs used in lethal injection, contending in their appeals the drugs resulted in cruel and unusual punishment when administered to a prisoner. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, refused Tuesday to stop the execution and rejected Bruce's appeal of a lower court's dismissal of the drug suit. UPDATE: In Huntsville, a former pizza delivery driver was executed Wednesday for the 1990 shooting death of a woman after robbing her and her husband of some inexpensive jewelry and less than $10. Kenneth Eugene Bruce first addressed the family of his victim, Helen Ayers, and then spoke to his family. "And to the family of Ms. Ayers, I would like to apologize for all the pain and suffering and that God give you closure," And I pray that he blesses you," he said. Turning to his family, Bruce told them he loved them. "I may not be with you in the physical but by grace my heart will be with you all and I know God loves everyone of you all," he said. Bruce's mother wept loudly and was allowed to sit in a wheelchair when she was unable to stand on her own.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 14, 2004    Ohio Leoma Chmielewski, 76 Lewis Williams, Jr. executed

On 1/20/83, Lewis murdered his cousin's neighbor, 76-year-old Leoma Chmielewski, in her home. Williams ransacked the house, beat Ms. Chmielewski in the head and neck, shot her in the face at close range and stomped on her chest, leaving his shoe print on her nightgown. On January 21, 1983, the body of Leoma Chmielewski, a seventy-six-year-old woman, was discovered lying face down on the floor of her home. An autopsy revealed that Leoma had suffered multiple blunt force injuries to the head and neck, as well as a single gunshot wound fired from close range (approximately two feet or less) into her face. Witnesses established that Leoma was last seen between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. the evening of the 20th, standing in her doorway talking with Lewis Williams. Between 10:30 and 11:00, Leoma's neighbors heard a sound from her house like a door slamming. Williams was arrested on January 22, 1983 and admitted being in the house the night of the murder, but denied killing Leoma. The evidence produced at Williams' trial established the following sequence of events. Early in the evening of January 20, 1983, Williams and two acquaintances, Brent Nicholson and Tyrone Robinson, visited and had dinner with Williams' cousin, Kevin Samuels. Samuels lives across the street from Leoma Chmielewski's house and had known her for several years. Prior to the night of the incident in question, Williams had stayed with Samuels and had known Leoma. On the evening of the 20th, Robinson and Williams left the Samuels residence, at approximately 9:00 p.m., to go to the store. Only Robinson returned a half-hour later, indicating Williams was still at the store. At trial, however, Robinson testified that Williams was in fact at Leoma Chmielewski's house, where he had apparently been invited in. The remarks to the contrary were merely to dissuade Williams's brother, Mark, who had arrived at the Samuels residence, from looking for Williams. Robinson eventually told Mark where Williams was, and the two of them went over to Leoma's house where Mark prevailed upon his brother to return some money. Mark left and Robinson went back to Samuels' house. Samuels sent Robinson back over to ask Williams to return to the Samuels residence. Williams' responses were to tell Robinson he was not ready to leave and to call Samuels and tell him to mind his own business. Samuels, Nicholson, and Robinson were driving down the Samuels driveway around 10:30 p.m. when Samuels saw Williams and Chmielewski at her door. They honked the horn, but Williams motioned for the car to proceed without him. When Nicholson and Samuels returned, a little over an hour later, Nicholson went across the street to find that the door was open and Leoma's body was on the floor. Nicholson returned to the Samuels residence, whereupon Samuels called Williams's mother's home, then the police. When the police arrived, at approximately 1:00 a.m., January 21, 1983, they found not only the body, but also several coins scattered near the doorway, numerous bank envelopes throughout the house and down to the street corner, Leoma's purse with its contents emptied on the bedroom closet shelf, Leoma's false teeth on the floor next to the body, and the phone off the hook. A subsequent police investigation revealed an imprint on the hem of the nightgown Leoma was wearing which matched a portion of a shoe Williams was wearing the day of his arrest. Williams' jacket sleeve cuff also contained a trace of lead powder. In addition to the above evidence, the state presented two witnesses who were former cellmates of Williams while he was confined to the Cuyahoga County Jail pending trial. Michael Anderson and Navarro Brooks each testified that Williams had told them he had murdered Leoma. Specifically, Anderson testified that Williams had said he "stuck the gun in her mouth" to get her "to shut up." Brooks testified that Williams was worried about blood on his shoes apparently from rolling Leoma's body over with his foot. After this testimony, the state rested, as did the Williams, without presenting any evidence. The jury found Williams guilty of aggravated murder and the accompanying specification of having committed the aggravated murder in the course of committing an aggravated robbery, for which the death penalty could be imposed. The jury also found Williams guilty of aggravated robbery as well as a firearms charge. On October 13, 1983, the sentencing phase of the trial commenced. Williams presented three witnesses, his father, sister, and a friend, in addition to making an unsworn statement on his own behalf. The evidence in mitigation was essentially: that Williams was relatively young (twenty-four); that he came from a broken home; that he loved his mother more than himself, but that she rejected him; and that he elected to pursue a life of crime in order to compensate for a lack of love during his childhood. After more than twenty-three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict, finding beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the factors offered in mitigation, and sentencing Williams to death. This conviction and sentence were affirmed by both the trial court and the court of appeals, after each made an independent determination that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors. On appeal, Williams' attorneys claim he is mentally retarded and should not be executed. The Ohio Attorney General's office strongly disputes the assertion that Lewis is mentally retarded. Jim Canepa, who supervises Attorney General Jim Petro's capital-crimes section, says Williams' claims of mental retardation are a false use of the Supreme Court's ruling. Earlier this year, Williams wrote a 62-page brief that has been filed with the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals. The document asserts his innocence, saying that he received "ineffective assistance and representation of trial counsel in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution." Canepa claims Williams' ability to write the brief shows that Williams is not mentally retarded. Earlier this year, the Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency for Williams, saying his claim of innocence is not credible. UPDATE: Convicted killer Lewis Williams, struggling with guards and pleading for his life until the last moment, was executed Wednesday morning for the 1983 fatal robbery of a Cleveland woman. Williams continued to profess his innocence even as he was carried into the death chamber by 4 guards. "I'm not guilty. I'm not guilty. God, please help me," Williams said as he was strapped to the execution table. He continued to cry out as his mother, Bonnie Williams, sobbed in a room separated by windows from the death chamber. He kept pleading even in his final official statement, given at 10:07 a.m. "God, please help me. God, please hear my cry," Williams said. He continued to cry out even after warden James Haviland pulled the microphone away. Williams continued yelling until 10:08 a.m. when he abruptly stopped speaking. His chest rose and fell a couple of times. Haviland ordered the curtains drawn at 10:14 a.m. for the Scioto County coroner to determine that Williams was dead. A lawyer for Williams says he was surprised by his client's struggle against prison guards helping carry out his execution this morning. The 45-year-old Williams continued to profess his innocence and struggled as 4 guards carried him into the death chamber this morning. Several more had to hold him down as they prepared his arms and inserted the needles for the lethal injection. It was the 1st time in 9 executions since the state resumed the practice in 1999 that an inmate has struggled with guards. Assistant state public defender Stephen Ferrell says Williams didn't appear agitated earlier this morning.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 21, 2004   Texas Leslie Gilbert Hooks, 33  Kevin Zimmerman executed

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. UPDATE: Kevin Lee Zimmerman's execution came six weeks after he made a similar trip to the death chamber only to have his life spared with 20 minutes left. Zimmerman's lawyers had filed a lawsuit contending the combination of drugs used in the execution contributes to unconstitutional pain and suffering. The Supreme Court halted his punishment December 10 but rejected an appeal five days later, clearing the way for the new execution date. After expressing love to relatives and friends Wednesday, Zimmerman looked at five members of victim Leslie Gilbert Hooks Jr.'s family and asked for their forgiveness. Zimmerman began praying and was stopped in mid-sentence as the injection of drugs took effect. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later. "I think if he would have felt back then the way he felt now, he never would have done it," KaTreena Reed, 18, said after watching her father's killer die. "I really didn't expect him to apologize, but I'm glad he did." Zimmerman, 42, was convicted of robbing and stabbing Hooks 31 times at a Beaumont hotel. During his trial, Zimmerman sent a letter to the judge threatening in detail to kill him and included a drawing of himself holding an ax. "But the most shocking thing of all was that he drew the picture using his own blood as the ink," Judge Larry Gist recalled.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 27, 2004  Georgia Thelma Carlisha Hall Willie Hall stayed

The state has set Jan. 27 as the execution date for a DeKalb County man who stabbed his estranged wife to death while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. Willie James Hall, 48, was convicted of murdering Thelma Carlisha Hall in 1988. Willie James Hall enlisted in the Army following graduation from high school. Upon completion of a four-year Army term, Hall returned home to Columbus, Georgia, where he pursued a bachelor's degree of science at Columbus College. While he was in college, Hall met Thelma Burns, and dated her for about two and one-half years before marrying her in November 1982. After finishing college and getting married, Hall was commissioned back into the Army, this time as a second lieutenant, and the Halls initially were stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Almost from the beginning, the Halls had a tumultuous marriage. They would constantly fight and undergo extended periods of separation. Hall testified at sentencing that the separations were due to marital problems involving perceived financial difficulties, conflicting personality types, and Thelma's distance from her family. Thelma's sister, Janice Sanks, once visited them at Fort Dix. She testified that she saw evidence of substantial marital discord. Indeed, she said that on one occasion, she saw Hall grab her sister by the hair and pull her into a room, making noises for almost an hour that indicated he was banging her head against the wall. From behind closed doors, Thelma was overheard saying, "Stop it, Bo, stop it." "Bo" is Hall's nickname. Sanks remembered that during the visit, Hall told her that he was "going to end up killing her one of these days." Hall also told her that her sister had given him a venereal disease. In May 1985, Hall was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, and the couple relocated to St. Louis, Missouri where Hall worked at a military processing station. There, the marital problems continued. They enrolled in a nine-week family advocacy program, but Thelma left for Columbus after the first two weeks. Hall finished the nine-week program. Thelma returned to St. Louis pregnant with the couple's child, and the couple again saw a marriage counselor. At a marriage counseling class, Hall voiced his opinion that he did not need to go through counseling since he had already attended the nine-week course. Not long thereafter, Thelma complained to Hall's military supervisor at work, Major Stanford, that Hall refused to take the counseling class. She also told Major Stanford that Hall was not paying the bills and that there was not enough food in the house. Hall denied these claims. After speaking with his supervisor, Hall abruptly resigned from the Army in August 1986, while he was being considered for promotion to Captain. On August 5, 1986, the couple's daughter Tiara was born. Shortly thereafter, Thelma returned to Columbus and Hall departed for California. After reaching California, Hall spoke with Thelma on the phone and returned to Columbus. While back in Columbus, Hall lived with his mother; Thelma and Tiara lived with Thelma's grandmother, although Hall would spend some nights at the grandmother's house. Throughout this period, the marriage continued to deteriorate. Hall again left for California several times, but always returned. By January 1988, Hall moved to Atlanta where he began working at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant. Around April 1988, Thelma and Tiara also moved to Atlanta, where they stayed in an apartment with Thelma's sister, Antoinette Ware, Ware's boyfriend, Ben Marshall, and Thelma's brother, Everette Burns. Hall did not live with them, and at first, did not know that Thelma had moved to Atlanta. One night, he went over to Ware's house and was surprised to see Thelma when she opened the door. They talked, and he began visiting her regularly. Sometime in May, Hall moved into Ware's apartment. By July, Thelma was dissatisfied that Hall had not found them an apartment of their own. At this time, Hall had started working at the Kidney Foundation Thrift Store as a manager/trainee. Over the weekend of July 4, Thelma went home to Columbus and dropped her daughter off at her grandmother's house. The couple argued, apparently because Hall wanted their daughter brought back to Atlanta. Thelma returned to Atlanta a few days later and stayed with her brother's girlfriend, Valerie Hudson. Ware testified that Thelma felt uncomfortable staying in Ware's apartment because Hall was still staying there, and she did not want Hall to know where she was. On Saturday evening, July 9, 1988, Thelma, Hudson, Burns, and Sebastian (a friend of Burns) came over to Ware's apartment to get some of Thelma's clothes. When Hall heard his wife's voice, he came out of his bedroom and tried to get her to step outside and talk, but she refused. After collecting her things, Thelma went out that night with Hudson, Burns, and Sebastian. As the group returned home early Sunday morning, they saw Hall lurking around Hudson's apartment. Thelma asked the group to pretend they did not see him and to continue driving. The group later returned and spent the night at Hudson's apartment. Thelma apparently slept on the couch in the living room, while Sebastian slept on the floor. Ware, Hudson, and Burns all testified that Sebastian was not having a relationship with Thelma. After being observed outside of Hudson's apartment, Hall spent the night sleeping in a "field." On Sunday evening, July 10, Hall returned to Ware's apartment, and had a conversation with Ware and Marshall about the fact that Thelma had moved out. Vicki Gardner, Ware's next-door neighbor, was also present. During this conversation, Ware, Marshall, and Gardner all heard Hall threaten to kill his wife. According to Marshall, Ware told Hall that Thelma had moved out, and "he got kind of angry with that . . . and said 'I am gonna kill her' . . . about a dozen [times]." Ware observed that Hall "was pretty upset because [Thelma] had moved out. He said, you know, that he was tired of it," and that "he knew deep down inside he could really hurt her." Gardner noted that "he just said he was upset and that he wouldn't let her get away with that. And he just said something like he would, he could kill her." Notably, all three witnesses also heard Hall ruminate about what would happen to him if he killed his wife -- two of the witnesses, Ware and Marshall, testified that Hall said he would not get "more than ten years" in jail, and Gardner recalled Hall saying that "he would get about ten or twenty years." The group talked to Hall for hours, trying to convince him that he could find another woman, and trying to calm him down. Hall then told them that he was going back to Columbus, and went to bed. That same night, when Ware was cooking dinner, she noticed that her kitchen knife was missing. She later testified that she "never thought nothing else about the knife" until her neighbor, Gardner, said to her after Thelma's death that she knew where the knife was. When Ware awoke Monday morning at around 6:00 a.m., Hall was not in the apartment. Marshall found a note in the apartment that said: "Annette and Ben, I am hitchhiking to Columbus, so I left early. Thank both of you for everything and as soon as they mail me my check I'll send both of you some money." The note was signed "Bo." At about 7:40 a.m., Monday, July 11, 1988, Hudson left her apartment and took Burns and Sebastian to work. Thelma was still at the apartment, asleep on the sofa, when they left. At 7:58 a.m., a DeKalb County operator received a frantic 911 call from Thelma at Hudson's apartment. During the call, Thelma told the operator that someone was trying to break into the apartment, but that she did not know who was outside. These statements by Thelma were followed by the sound of breaking glass, and Thelma's repeated pleas, "Bo, stop it please, Bo stop it." The call ended with Thelma's final words, "Stop Bo please. Oh God . . . Oh." Thelma's murder was partially observed by Pamela Rathbone, an apartment complex resident. Although Rathbone could not identify Hall as the murderer, she testified that she saw a "fairly slender black girl" wearing a slip, run out of an apartment chased by a man, and heard the girl saying "something to the effect" of "don't, stop." When Rathbone came closer to the apartment, she saw that the apartment door was open, the girl was "lying on the floor, and [the man] was standing over her with his fist raised." Within minutes of Thelma's phone call, the police arrived and discovered a black female, later identified as Thelma, lying next to the open door with a knife sticking out of her back. She suffered four stab wounds to the neck, three to the back, and various other stab wounds to the chest, abdomen and arms. The police specifically noticed a large slash across her neck and a large quantity of blood covering her chest, stomach, and the surrounding floor. The DeKalb County Medical Examiner, Dr. Burton, later observed that Thelma had been stabbed seventeen times in her neck, torso and extremities, and that at least "seven or eight" of those seventeen wounds were potentially fatal. One stab wound was eight inches deep and went completely through her liver and down into the back of her abdomen. She also received a series of wounds in a crisscrossing pattern on her neck.  The Medical Examiner said at trial that the majority of her wounds were consistent with her being on the ground when she was stabbed. He further surmised that Thelma was aware of the injuries she sustained, and that she likely died within five minutes of the time they were inflicted. Finally, he observed that the nature and number of her wounds were indicative of "overkill," which "sometimes, oftentimes, imparts that there is an emotional involvement between the two parties." Further testimony elicited at trial revealed that Hall's fingerprints matched those lifted at the crime scene, and that shoe prints matching Hall's tennis shoes were found at the scene. On July 14, 1988, three days after the murder, Hall called the Clinton, Mississippi police department and indicated that he was wanted for a crime. When the officers picked him up, they noticed cuts on his hand.

 

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 28, 2004  Texas Phillip Kinslow, 50 Billy Vickers executed

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. 

 

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