March 2005 Executions
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Seven killers were executed in March 2005.  They had murdered at least 11 people.
Twelve
killers were given a stay in March 2005.  They have murdered at least 22 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 1, 2005 Georgia John Collins, 24 Steven Mobley executed

Steven Mobley was sentenced to death for killing a pizza shop manager during a three-week robbery spree 14 years ago. Stephen A. Mobley, 39, was executed at the state prison in Jackson for the Feb. 17, 1991 murder of 24-year-old John Collins. The Georgia Supreme Court denied a stay of execution late in the afternoon, but just before 7 p.m. a federal court ordered a delay of up to one hour. The court ended the delay within 30 minutes and the execution took place. In a recorded statement made shortly before the execution, Mobley thanked his family "for their support and prayers through this seemingly unending struggle." He also thanked the victim's family "for their mercy and forgiveness." Mobley was convicted of murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and firearm possession in the death of 24-year-old John Collins at a Domino's Pizza in an Atlanta suburb. Mobley emptied the cash register and shot John in the head.  Mobley committed six additional armed robberies at restaurants and dry cleaners over a three-week period. He was arrested following a high-speed chase as he fled the scene of an attempted armed robbery, and the gun used in the murder was thrown from the car during the chase. Prior to the murder, Mobley had been convicted of at least seven other crimes, including credit card theft and burglary, that were committed between 1983 and 1986. Court records say evidence presented during Mobley's sentencing hearing included testimony that he tattooed the word "Domino" on his shoulder, sexually assaulted another inmate on two occasions while in pretrial detention, and threatened a guard by saying he "looked more and more like a Domino's delivery boy every day."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 2, 2005   Texas Martha Lennox , 85 Willie Pondexter, Jr. stayed

Willie Pondexter was sentenced to death for the 1993 slaying of a Clarksville heiress. On Oct. 29, 1993, James Henderson and Willie Poindexter broke into the home of Martha Lennox, the 85-year-old heiress to millions of dollars of a land-rich Red River County family. The two were arrested in Dallas in a stolen vehicle. Martha's home, land and millions were placed in a foundation for charities in Red River and Lamar counties. Case details are as follows: On the night of October 28, 1993, Ricky Bell, James Bell, Deon Williams, and Willie Earl Pondexter, Jr. met at an apartment and discussed robbing "an old lady." Following this discussion, the group walked to a corner store, and then to Martha Lennox's house where they checked to see what kind of car she owned. The group then walked to a trailer park, and then to a friend's house. Once there, they met with James Henderson. Pondexter borrowed a car and all five drove to Annona to buy beer and go to a club. During the drive to and from Annona, the five talked about robbing “the old lady,” and about “crips and bloods and stuff.” Specifically, they discussed which crip “had the heart” to do what they were planning to do to “the old lady.” On the way to Martha's house, the group stopped at a store where they talked about which crip had the heart to knock out a man who happened to be getting gas. Although Williams and Henderson did get out of the car, no harm was actually done to the man. The group drove to the victim's house, but parked the car a few blocks away. On their first attempt to enter the house, they were scared away by the sight of a patrolling police car. Four of the five ran back to the car, but James Bell ran in another direction and was not seen by the rest of the group again that night. Pondexter, Henderson, Williams, and Ricky Bell went back to the victim's house where Pondexter kicked in the front door. All four proceeded up the stairs and into the bedroom where the victim was sitting on her bed. Once all four were in the bedroom, Williams took the seven dollars that was in the victim’s coin purse. Immediately thereafter, Henderson shot the victim in the head and handed the gun to Pondexter. Pondexter also shot the victim in the head, stating “that’s how you smoke a bitch.” The four drove to Dallas and were arrested in the victim’s car. During the guilt-innocence phase of trial, Dr. Guileyardo, the Chief Medical Examiner for Dallas County, testified that he performed the autopsy on the victim. He testified that she had been shot twice and that the cause of death was “gunshot wounds to the head.” One bullet entered “through the [left] side of her skull, it went into her mouth, it went through her tongue, it went down and struck her jawbone on the right side and shattered that jawbone on the right side and then the bullet came out beneath her right ear. . . .” Another bullet entered through the forehead and “went all the way through the brain and came out the back of her head.” Henderson was tried separately prior to Pondexter’s trial and convicted of the capital murder of Martha Lennox and sentenced to death.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 8, 2005   Texas Rozanne Gailiunas, 33  George Hopper executed

George Hopper was sentenced to death in 1988 for the October 1983 strangulation and shooting of Richardson nurse Rozanne Gailiunas, 33. Hopper was hired to kill Ms. Gailiunas by Dallas socialite Joy Davis Aylor, who was ultimately convicted of capital murder in 1994 and who is now serving a life sentence. George Anderson Hopper, 44, was convicted in March 1992 for the October 1983 murder of Rozanne Gailiunas. Hopper was sentenced to die by lethal injection.  According to court records, Hopper was hired by an unidentified man to kill the 33-year-old Gailiunas for $1,500. Hopper carefully planned the attack by surveying Gailiunas's Richardson home twice - breaking in once, prosecutors said. Once Hopper felt he knew the area well enough, he posed as a flower delivery man and coerced his way into the woman's home. While Gailiunas' 4-year-old son slept across the hall, Hopper tied the woman to her bed, raped her then strangled her. When Gailiunas managed to break free and attempted to struggle, Hopper shot her through a pillow with a .25-caliber pistol, the records say. Hopper was hired by Joy Davis Aylor to kill Ms. Gailiunas. Rozanne was dating Ms. Aylor's estranged husband at the time of the killing. Ms. Aylor was convicted of capital murder in 1994 and is serving a life sentence in prison. Book on this case: Open Secrets   UPDATE: An apologetic former auto insurance appraiser who authorities said collected $1,500 to kill a Dallas-area physician's wife more than two decades ago was executed Tuesday evening. Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, George Anderson Hopper turned toward four members of his victim's family, including the son who discovered his mother's body, and said he was sorry. "I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. The things I did changed so many lives. I can't take it back. It was an atrocity. I am sorry. I beg your forgiveness. I know I am not worthy of it," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. Then he turned his head toward a second window, where his parents were among those watching. He told them he loved them and thanked them "for everything." Hopper, 49, said a brief prayer, which his mother repeated with him. He gasped a couple of times as the lethal drugs took effect. Eight minutes later at 6:22 p.m., he was pronounced dead. Hopper was condemned for being the hit man in a complicated scheme initiated by a woman bitter because her soon-to-be ex-husband was dating the murder victim. Rozanne Gailiunas, 33, was killed in the October 1983 attack at her home in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. She had been raped, choked with pantyhose, shot twice in the head, had tissue jammed down her throat and was tied naked to a four-poster bed. Her then 4-year-old son found her unconscious. She died two days later. It was years, however, before police could unravel the case, which became one of the most intricate and complex ever in Dallas County and took authorities to Canada, Mexico and Europe. "Our family is certainly looking forward to closing this chapter," said Peter Gailiunas, whose wife was killed. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the punishment. In late appeals, Hopper's lawyers had argued his confession was obtained improperly because detectives continued questioning him after he asked to be returned to his jail cell to think about what he wanted to do. Attorneys also contended Hopper had poor legal help in the early portions of his case. Hopper was one of about a half-dozen people convicted of charges related to the scheme authorities said was hatched by Dallas socialite Joy Aylor, who fled the country just before her own murder trial. She was arrested in France years later and eventually was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Hopper had posed as a flower delivery man to get into his victim's house. "It was just such a cunning murder plan," said prosecutor Dan Hagood.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 8, 2005    Ohio Mary Bradford, 47 William Smith executed

On 9/26/87, William Smith murdered 47-year-old Mary Bradford in her Cincinnati apartment. Ms. Bradford had met Smith that evening at a local bar. Smith stabbed Ms. Bradford in the stomach, raped her and then fatally stabbed her nine more times. Smith then made four separate trips to take Ms. Bradford's property from her house to his car. Smith later confessed to police. UPDATE: A murderer who said a brain abnormality may have affected his behavior when he stabbed then raped a bleeding woman was executed Tuesday after courts decided tests did not prove brain damage. William H. Smith, 47, died by injection at 10:19 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility for the death of Mary Bradford, whom he met at a bar in 1987. The defense did not challenge Smith's conviction but said a brain lesion detected after he fainted in prison could have spared him from the death sentence at his 1988 trial. In a final statement that lasted four minutes, Smith took responsibility for the crime and said he had given himself to the Lord. "I hope you have the capacity to forgive," he said, addressing the victim's grandson, Timmy Bradford, who watched with his hands clutched in front of his face. "I cannot control anything from this day. Find the right way. Be a better person than I was," Smith said. Smith was upbeat before the execution, visiting family, chatting about Cincinnati sports with the execution team and sharing a cherry cake recipe with them, a prisons spokeswoman said. Smith and Bradford drank together at the bar for several hours before going to her Cincinnati apartment, where they used cocaine and had sex, police said. The two argued when Smith accused Bradford of owing him money for cocaine. Smith, also of Cincinnati, told police he grabbed a knife away from Bradford, and she was stabbed during the struggle. Bradford, 47, had 10 stab wounds in the neck and chest, and Smith had sex with her again as she lay on her bed bleeding, police said. He then made three trips to his car to steal her stereo and two television sets, police said. Smith's attorneys argued an independent analysis was needed of tests on his brain, including a CT scan in December after Smith fainted when told his execution date had been set. Smith's lawyer Jennifer Kinsley would not give further information about the lesion. Prosecutors had a more precise magnetic resonance imaging test done on Smith on Feb. 25 as recommended by doctors. The abnormality was detected in the cranial nerves that control facial muscles and the sense of taste and relay sound and balance information from the ear to the brain, prosecutors said. "This condition does not in any way explain why Smith stabbed Mary Bradford 10 times, carried his bleeding victim to the bedroom and then raped her," Attorney General Jim Petro's office said in a federal court filing. On Monday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a stay of execution and Gov. Bob Taft declined to commute Smith's sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole, saying the tests did not prove brain damage. The appeals court also rejected the argument that Smith's trial lawyers failed to develop evidence that he had brain damage. The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected his appeal. Appeals judges overturned a decision by U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel, who ruled Feb. 28 that Smith's execution should be postponed to allow for more medical tests. Two brothers and a cousin asked to witness the execution, but Smith did not allow them to watch, prisons spokeswoman Andrea Dean said. A minister who was Smith's spiritual adviser witnessed. "He (Smith) was consoling family yesterday, telling them to be strong," Dean said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 8, 2005    Pennsylvania Mamie Shamsid-Din, 46
Dalton Johnson, 63 
Robert Freeman stayed

On June 17, 1998, Robert Freeman was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime in connection with the shotgun shooting deaths of 46-year old Mamie Shamsid-Din and 63-year old Dalton Johnson. Freeman was formally sentenced to death on June 19, 1998. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in an opinion dated May 30, 2003. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. UPDATE: A judge's order issued today says the state can't execute a convicted killer on March 8th as planned. The ruling comes in the case of Robert Freeman, a 69-year-old man on death row since 1998 for a pair of Philadelphia shootings. Freeman is convicted of killing Mamie Shamsid-Din and Dalton Johnson. Philadelphia Judge John Poserina issued the stay of execution to give Freeman more time to pursue appeals. The evidence presented at trial established that Freeman had an intermittent, romantic relationship with Mamie Shamsid-Din over the course of many years. Although they were never married and never lived together, Freeman and Mamie had a child together, a daughter named Denise, who was approximately 21 years old at the time of the murders. Their relationship was, by all accounts, tempestuous. Testimony was presented that Freeman beat Mamie and frequently stalked her; he would follow her in his car, ride by her place of work, and wait outside of places where he knew she could be located. During the last year of her life, Mamie took steps to avoid contact with Freeman, including entering her place of work by a side entrance, changing her work hours and, on several occasions, not reporting to work at all. Approximately six months prior to the murder, Mamie began a romantic relationship with Dalton Johnson, and she eventually moved into Johnson's home in Ambler, Pennsylvania. On September 6, 1989, Dalton was dropping Mamie off at her place of work at 52nd and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, when Freeman suddenly appeared at the driver's side window of Dalton's car and began beating him in the face and body with his fists. Dalton, who was immobilized by his seatbelt during the attack, sustained cuts and bruises and required hospitalization. Freeman was arrested at the scene and was ultimately charged with aggravated assault. On September 21, 1989, Freeman rented two cars from two separate rental car companies. Later that morning, he appeared at the main office of his employer and requested his paycheck, which was usually delivered to the job site. At approximately 2:00 pm that same day, Freeman met with his daughter who noticed that Freeman had a large amount of cash in his possession - approximately $5,300 - and two rental car keys. Freeman admitted to his daughter that he had beaten Dalton Johnson and told her that he would have killed him if Dalton had gotten out of his car. In addition, Freeman told his daughter that he was not going to let Dalton Johnson take his "wife" and that he was going to kill him. He also told Denise that she would not be seeing him for a long time. The next day, September 22, 1989, Freeman appeared outside Mamie's office in one of the rental cars that he had rented the day before. When Dalton Johnson and Mamie drove up, Freeman walked up to their car armed with a loaded, high-powered, pump-action shotgun and shot Dalton once in the head. He then turned the gun on Mamie and shot her in the face at least once. The victims died almost instantaneously. Freeman then got into his rental car and fled the jurisdiction. Almost seven years later, on August 22, 1996, police apprehended Freeman at his brother's home in Washington, D.C. after his sister-in-law called police with Freeman's whereabouts. As police took him into custody, Freeman told his brother that he would get the gas chamber for killing two people. At trial, several witnesses identified Freeman as the shooter. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 9, 2005    Pennsylvania Kendrick Haskell
John Ford
Steven McCrae stayed

On November 27, 2000, McCrae was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, and criminal conspiracy in connection with the shooting deaths of Kendrick Haskell and John Ford. McCrae was formally sentenced to death on November 30, 2000. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in an opinion dated September 29, 2003.  The evidence at trial showed that at approximately 10:30 pm on August 13, 1998, Kendrick Haskell and John Ford parked their car across the street from a group of people who were sitting on the steps of a Chinese food restaurant in Philadelphia. Among the people in the group were Stephen McCrae, his co-defendant Richard Mitchell and Donta Dawson.  After parking, Haskell exited the car and walked towards the restaurant while Ford remained in the car. As Haskell walked toward the restaurant, he bumped into McCrae's aunt.  He then entered the restaurant and placed his order. After Haskell exited the restaurant, McCrae's group exchanged words with him.  An argument ensued and ultimately a physical altercation broke out between Haskell and McCrae. A few minutes into the altercation, Dawson stepped in and began fighting with Haskell as well. Then, while Dawson and Haskell fought, McCrae stepped back and asked Mitchell for his .32 caliber revolver. Mitchell handed it to McCrae and McCrae then shot Haskell twice in the chest and once in the head.  McCrae then turned around and shot Ford once in the head as he stood by the passenger side of the parked car.  Both men died as a result of their gunshot wounds. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2005    Pennsylvania Milton Wise, 74
Rodney Walters, 30 
Ronald Hanible stayed

In June 2001, Hanible was sentenced to death for the street robbery and shooting of 74-year old Milton Wise, who “ran numbers” in Philadelphia. Hanible was also convicted of second-degree murder for killing Wise’s “numbers” partner, 30-year old Rodney Walters. Hanible was formally sentenced to death on June 13, 2001. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2005    Texas Helen Joyce Oliveros  Alexander Martinez new date
6/7/05

Alexander Martinez had numerous criminal convictions since the age of 18, including theft, criminal mischief, aggravated assault and attempted murder.  He had been released on parole on July 20, 2001.  Less than one month later, Martinez sexually assaulted Helen Joyce Oliveros, a 45-year-old woman, robbed her of $150, then stabbed her to death. In an appeal, Martinez concedes that he murdered the victim, but claims that the only evidence supporting a finding that he committed the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault came from a "jail snitch" who was not worthy of belief. Martinez gave three different versions of the offense to police. In his first confession, videotaped on August 23, 2001, he stated that he arranged a meeting with the victim, a prostitute, on the phone. He agreed to the victim's price of over two hundred dollars, but he "told her that just to get her there." He stated that he really planned on trying "to get it for free." He stated that he met Helen at a mall and they got into her car and began driving. When he attempted to negotiate the price with Helen as they were driving, she became upset. Martinez told Helen to pull over so he could use the phone and when she stopped, he dragged her out of the car and cut her throat with a knife. He said he killed her because he did not like the way she was talking to him. He did not mention anything about sexual contact with the victim. Martinez gave a written statement the following day. This statement was largely consistent with the first statement except that he also stated that he took $150.00 in cash and some cocaine from Helen after he killed her. He reiterated that he agreed to the price for the victim's services on the phone but stated again that he "never intended to pay her that much money." He stated that he "didn't have any money at all." Again, he did not mention sexual contact with the victim. In a third interview Martinez admitted to killing Helen in his room at his mother's house. He stated that he had not been truthful about where he killed Helen because he was trying to protect his mother. In this interview, most of which was taped, Martinez stated that he had sex with Helen before stabbing her and that Helen "complied" with the sex. He also stated, however, that he did not pay her and never intended on paying her. He said he stabbed Helen when she "started tripping" about the money. She wanted to be paid around three hundred dollars and when Martinez told her he would not pay her, Helen started to leave. He said he grabbed her and "put the knife to her."  Cesar Rios, a cell mate of Martinez's at the Harris County Jail, testified for the State. Rios acknowledged his own pending criminal charges for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and aggravated assault. Because he was a "habitual offender" Rios stated that the punishment range for the offenses was two to twenty years and twenty-five to ninety-nine years or life, respectively. Rios testified that could not read and write and that he did not learn any of the facts of the case from any source other than Martinez. Rios testified that Martinez told him about the offense during the course of two different conversations. Martinez told Rios that he contacted Helen through a phone number for an escort service. On the phone, he agreed to the victim's price of $300 which would make her trip across town worthwhile. Martinez told Rios that he really only had $30. Martinez explained that when Helen arrived at his house she sat down on the floor in his room and they began discussing money. Helen wanted the money first and when it became apparent that Martinez did not have it, she got mad and tried to leave. Martinez attempted to stall her, and she again asked him to see the money. Martinez then said Helen "started going off on him." He told Rios that he had a knife in his pocket and when she said she was leaving and started gathering her things, Martinez put the knife to the side of her neck. He said she was still sitting on the floor and he pushed her back. He then got on top of Helen to have sex and pushed the knife into her neck. According to Rios, Martinez told him he was "inside of" Helen attempting to have sex with her when she kicked him off of her. Helen was bleeding and began begging him not to kill her and to call an ambulance. She told him that if he killed her, there would be no one to take care of her dog. Martinez told her to be quiet so as not to wake the others in the house and tried to figure out how he could kill her without making too much noise. He finally sliced across her throat. After she was dead, Martinez put a towel over her sliced throat and had sex with her. He told Martinez he also played with sex toys he found in the victim's bag. When he was done, he stated that he folded Helen up and put her in a trash bag. He kept the body in his closet for about three days before disposing of Helen and her things. Martinez also described cleaning up his room and replacing the carpet. At the end of his testimony, Rios stated that the prosecutor had offered to drop the unauthorized use and habitual criminal charges against him in exchange for his testimony, the result being that Rios would plead to aggravated assault with a punishment range of two to twenty years. Other evidence was consistent with and corroborated Martinez's confessions and Rios' testimony. Houston police officers testified that the blood spatters and stains found in Martinez's room were consistent with Martinez's version that Helen was stabbed while sitting on the floor next to his bed. The victim's body was found in a trash bag at the vacant lot where Martinez stated he had taken it. The condition of the body and the way in which it was wrapped was consistent with Martinez's descriptions. Martinez's brother testified that he had assisted Martinez in replacing the carpet in Martinez's room. He described the stains on the carpet and also described an unpleasant odor in Martinez's room. Finally, the medical examiner testified that although the victim's body was in an advanced state of decomposition when found and was partially "skeletonized," he nonetheless concluded that stabbing to the neck was the cause of death based on hemorrhage in the neck area and cutting lesions to the bones in the neck.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2005    Indiana Patrick Gilligan
Theresa Gilligan
Lisa Gilligan, 5
Gregory Gilligan, 4
Donald Wallace executed

Theresa Gilligan spent the last moments of her life comforting her children. She didn't beg for her life. She didn't cry out. In the moments before two bullets entered the back of her head, she tried to soothe her frightened children. Soon, they would be dead, as would her husband. So says the man sentenced to be executed for killing them. But don't take this as his confession. Twenty-five years after he was arrested and charged with murdering the Gilligan family, Donald Ray Wallace Jr. has never publicly admitted he committed the crime. He did confess privately, in letters he sent to Theresa Gilligan's sister 12 years ago. But he later took it back, saying he'd made up the story to quell her grief. Now he contends it doesn't really matter whether he's guilty or innocent. Either way, he says, he knows he's going to die for the crime. He just doesn't think he should die bearing the title, "the designated crown prince of evil." In more than 25 letters sent to the Evansville Courier & Press, Wallace argues that much of what we know about him or the crime has been fabricated, embellished or distorted. Perhaps most offensive, he writes, is the belief that he was a calculating, cold-blooded killer. It's an image largely woven from testimony at his trial in 1982; in particular the testimony of a girlfriend who swore Wallace confessed to killing Theresa and Patrick Gilligan, and then shooting their 5-year-old daughter, Lisa, and 4-year-old son, Gregory. The reason he gave, she testified, was that he didn't want the children to grow up as orphans, living with the trauma of having seen their parents killed. Those and many other words attributed to him, Wallace writes, never came from his mouth. Wallace, however, has told many versions of what happened on the night of Jan. 14, 1980. He became a suspect hours after the Gilligans' bodies were found. Just two weeks before the murders, Wallace was arrested as a suspect in a string of home burglaries. The method used to break into those homes fit the same pattern used to break into the Gilligan house. At his trial, Wallace refused to take the witness stand. But his lawyer, William Smock, contended Wallace wasn't the killer. Smock's theory was that Wallace and an accomplice set out that night to burglarize homes on Aspen Drive. Wallace broke into one home while the accomplice broke into the Gilligan home. The defense claimed it was the accomplice who shot and killed the family. When Wallace was arrested, he had blood on his clothing that matched the Gilligans. He also had jewelry and other items stolen from the Gilligan home. Later, at his trial, witnesses, including a girlfriend, testified he'd confessed to them on the night of the killings. Then he posed for pictures with guns and jewelry stolen from the Gilligan home and went out to a bar. In 1992, Wallace wrote a series of letters to Theresa Gilligan's sister, Diana Harrington. He wrote that he couldn't imagine her pain or "how must you have felt to lose your sister and her family for nothing - for no meaningful reason? I hate myself when I think these thoughts, and even I have no forgiveness for what I did on January 14, 1980." Wallace went on to describe details of the murders. "...Until the shooting started I treated no one roughly. Patrick was shot first and he collapsed ... I think I believed that I had missed Theresa on the first shot, and that was why she was shot twice ... Then I discovered Patrick was on his hands and knees. And there were no bullets left in the gun ... I was already in an insane state of mind and he moaned as if in great pain. And the sound of it was terrible and I think the only thought I held in my mind at the time was to stop the terrible accusation in that sound. My eyes seized upon the weights..." Wallace told Harrington he was still stunned by his actions. "...I don't think I can find forgiveness for myself. I still find it difficult to believe that I did this thing. Especially it's hard to believe that I harmed children. I've always loved children and been protective of them ... I don't know who I was in 1980. I try to remember that person, but all I can remember is emptiness and shallowness." He offered Harrington this: "I believe I deserve to die ... I hope my death will bring you peace." But four years later, Wallace told a family member that what he'd written to Harrington was a lie. He'd thought it would make Harrington feel better. In his letters to the Evansville Courier & Press, Wallace acknowledges that he wrote Harrington against the advice of his attorneys. He'd decided he had nothing to lose. "I had already accepted that I was going to be executed or imprisoned forever," he writes. "It was clear that she was carrying a load of pain and anger that overshadowed her life. And I played a major role in causing that pain." But nowhere in his letters to the Courier & Press does he admit that he played the only role in causing her pain. He never admits that he was the one who shot the Gilligans. He does, however, describe the last minutes of their lives. "Theresa was brave. Her thoughts weren't for herself but only to comfort and calm her children. Patrick broke free of his bonds and attacked. In the struggle he was shot in the head. Then all hell broke loose. Probably less than 10 seconds elapsed between the first shot and the last. No one begged or even cried out. It was over with too fast for that. Six shots that still ring in my ears." UPDATE: A quarter-century after he murdered an Evansville family of four during a botched burglary attempt, Donald Ray Wallace Jr. was executed by lethal injection. Wallace, 47, was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. EST today at the Indiana State Prison, said Javairya Ahmed, a Department of Correction spokeswoman. "I hope everyone can find peace with this," Wallace said, according to Ahmed. After the execution, Wallace's attorney, Sarah Nagy, read a statement from his family: "Killing Don by the state has only created more pain and helped continue the cycle of hate and violence." From 8:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m., Wallace visited with two friends, said prison spokesman Barry L. Nothstine. After a shower, he was led to a room next to the execution chamber. Wallace declined the chance to meet with a spiritual adviser, saying he preferred to be alone, Nothstine said. Wallace selected nine people to witness his execution, Nothstine said. In Evansville relatives of Wallace's victims — Patrick and Theresa Gilligan and their two children — gathered for a prayer service at St. Theresa Catholic Church, where the Gilligans were married. During the 40-minute service, the priest who notified family members of the killings led a rosary. Diana Harrington, of Louisville, Ky., the sister of Theresa Gilligan, told about 200 who attended that Theresa and Pat Gilligan would have appreciated the turnout and that their "children with their wonderful manners and beautiful smiles would have welcomed you all." Several in the church cried and dabbed their eyes. In January 1980, the Gilligans returned to their home to find Wallace, who had just been released from prison, police said. Wallace, in what he later called a "frenzied blur," killed the couple and Lisa, 5, and Gregory, 4, according to police and Wallace's own letters. He was sentenced to death in October 1982. In a recent interview with a local television channel, Wallace said he panicked during the burglary and had no intention of embarking on a horrific killing spree. Rather, the murders were a "moment of utter madness, " he said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't. I can't change the past." Wallace had instructed his Indianapolis attorney, Sarah Nagy, not to submit a request for clemency. Nagy said earlier this week that she thought Wallace had "resigned himself to the ultimate penalty." Wallace and his attorneys also reached an agreement to avoid a post-execution autopsy, a standard procedure meant to provide evidence that the person put to death was not abused and did not suffer needlessly. Gov. Mitch Daniels reviewed Wallace's case at least twice, including Wednesday. Five protesters had gathered on the sidewalk outside the residence by 11 p.m.; two more stood on the other side of Meridian Street. One said, "I do not believe in the death penalty for any reason at any time. It's gotta stop." It was not a sentiment shared by Mark Hamner, 37, an Indianapolis Police Department officer who drove to the prison with fellow officers Patrick Snyder, 30, and Chris Cooper, 34. They set up a camping stove on a card table and cooked hamburgers and beans for dinner. "We came up here to protest the protesters," Hamner said. "Most of the time, it's the protesters that get the press. We are here to show that the majority of this state does favor the death penalty." At one point, three anti-execution protesters approached the officers and started a spirited but cordial debate. "How are we going to be more safe by killing this man?" asked one. "His next victim will be safe," offered Snyder. "Do you sleep well at night?" asked another protester. "I sleep like a baby," Snyder replied. "And I will sleep well tonight."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 11, 2005    North Carolina Mary Gladden  William Powell executed

William Powell was convicted of the first-degree murder of Mary Gladden, an employee of The Pantry on Charles Road in Shelby, and sentenced to death. The State's evidence tended to show that Mary Gladden was killed on October 31, 1991 while on duty at The Pantry. Scott Truelove testified that he bought five dollars' worth of gasoline there between 3:15 and 3:30 a.m. At the counter he stood near a rough-looking man with unkempt, shoulder-length hair, facial hair, and a tattoo on his left forearm. The next morning Truelove read about the murder and gave a description of the man to Captain Ledbetter of the Shelby Police Department. On November 16, 1991 Truelove identified Powell as the man by picking him out of a photographic lineup.  On October 31, 1991 Clarissa Epps stopped at The Pantry to buy gasoline at approximately 4:15 a.m. She went in to pay for her purchase. After waiting in vain for a clerk to appear, Epps called out but received no answer. Epps then turned and saw Mary lying in blood behind the counter. Epps drove home and called the police.  Officer Mark Lee of the Shelby Police Department arrived at The Pantry at 4:26 a.m. in response to a radio dispatch. Lee first ensured that all customers had left the store and then found Mary behind the counter. She was lying on her back in a pool of blood with her head toward the cash register and her hands at her sides. Lee noticed injuries to Mary's left eye and ear as well as other injuries to her head. He also saw a one-dollar bill on the floor near her left foot and another on the counter. Dr. Stephen Tracey, who performed the autopsy, testified that Mary had numerous lacerations on her head and that her skull was fractured in several places. Additionally, her nose was broken and her left eye had been displaced by a fracture to the bone behind it. Mary's brain had hemorrhaged, was bruised and lacerated in several places, and contained skull fragments. Tracey determined that blunt trauma to the head caused Mary's death and that she died from the trauma before she lost a fatal amount of blood. He also concluded that human hands had not inflicted the wounds; he surmised from their size and shape that the perpetrator used a lug-nut wrench, a tire wrench, or possibly a pipe. Mark Stewart, an employee of The Pantry, testified that he worked on October 27 and  November 1, 1991. On October 27 Stewart saw a tire tool behind the counter to the side of the cash register. The tool had lain there for approximately one year. It was curved on one end with a round hole for a lug nut and was split on the other end for hubcap removal. Stewart noticed that the tool was missing when he worked on November 1, the day after the murder. Thomas Tucker, a district manager of The Pantry, testified that he arrived at The Pantry sometime after 6:00 a.m. on October 31 . He examined the cash register tape for that morning; it showed, among other transactions, a gasoline sale of five dollars at 3:29 a.m. and a no-sale at 3:35 a.m. The cash register enters a no-sale when it is opened but no purchase is made. According to the tape, no transaction occurred between the five-dollar purchase and the no-sale. Tucker opened the register at 6:22 a.m. at the direction of Captain Ledbetter to determine whether any money had been taken during the homicide. He concluded that approximately forty-eight dollars were missing. On November 16, 1991 Lieutenant Mark Cherka and Officer David Lail drove to Anthony's Trailer Park to find Powell and bring him to the police station for questioning. Powell came out of a trailer and allowed Cherka to take four photographs of him. Powell agreed to accompany Cherka and Lail to the police station for questioning as a possible suspect in the murder. Powell was not under arrest at that time; the officers told him he did not have to leave with them. They arrived at the police station at approximately 4:00 p.m., and Cherka began to question Powell. Powell refused to allow Cherka to tape record the interview, so Cherka made notes of what transpired shortly after the interview ended. Powell stated that he had gone to sleep at around 4:00 a.m. on 31 October after drinking with Don Weathers and Powell's girlfriend, Lori Yelton. Later that morning Yelton and Powell took Weathers to the hospital because he had cut himself at some point during the previous night. Cherka left the interview room and related Powell's statement to Ledbetter. While Cherka had been questioning Powell, Truelove had identified Powell from a lineup containing thirty-two photographs as the man he saw in The Pantry on 31 October. Ledbetter informed Cherka of the identification and then accompanied Cherka back into the interview room. Powell again indicated he did not want to be tape recorded, and Ledbetter complied. Ledbetter told Powell about Truelove's identification and asked Powell if he wanted an attorney. Powell stated that he had not killed anyone and did not want an attorney. Ledbetter advised Powell of his Miranda rights, and Powell signed a waiver of those rights. Powell continued to deny involvement in the murder. Ledbetter then told him he knew he had killed the woman and asked, "Why did you kill her?" Powell hung his head and answered, "[S]he slapped me and I went off on her." Powell then asked to speak to Ledbetter alone; Cherka left the room. Ledbetter again asked Powell why he had killed Mary. Powell stated that she had slapped him, he had panicked, he had not intended to harm her, and he merely wanted the money from the cash register. Powell then indicated that he wanted to speak to Ledbetter off the record and asked Ledbetter to tear up the Miranda waiver form, which Ledbetter did. Powell related additional details about the crime, including information about the weapon he had used, after Ledbetter ripped the form into four pieces. At about 6:00 p.m. Powell asked for a lawyer, and one was contacted for him. Powell was arrested and taken into custody after he conferred with his lawyer. Powell testified that he did not read the Miranda waiver form, but signed it because he felt "agreeable" from cocaine he had ingested. He further testified that Ledbetter suggested they talk off the record. On cross-examination he admitted he had given Miranda warnings during his tenure in law enforcement; he recited the warnings on the witness stand. He also admitted he had not mentioned in his pretrial affidavit that Ledbetter proposed that they talk off the record. Billy Joe Sparks testified that sometime after the murder he had a conversation with Paul Barnard, who called himself Rambo. During the conversation Rambo sniffed glue and both men drank beer. Rambo told Sparks he had killed a woman at a supermarket by beating her to death. Rambo died before Powell's trial; Sparks did not tell the police about Rambo's statement until after Rambo's death. Johnny Smith, the operator of a local entertainment center, testified that he had spoken to Truelove about the murder. Smith stated that Truelove told him he had seen a man with red hair in The Pantry on the day of the murder. In rebuttal the State recalled Truelove. He testified that he knew Rambo and that the lineup from which he identified Powell contained a photograph of Rambo. Truelove never picked Rambo as the person he saw at The Pantry on 31 October. Truelove also testified that he remembered having a conversation with Smith about becoming an uncle, not about the murder. Truelove and his sister both have red hair, and his sister had recently given birth to a baby with red hair. The State also called Officer James Glover of the Shelby Police Department in rebuttal. Glover testified that Rambo claimed to be a Vietnam veteran and to have a black belt in karate; neither claim was true. Before his death Rambo had telephoned Glover and told him he had lied to Sparks about committing the murder. Rambo told Sparks he had killed a woman only to maintain his street image. At sentencing the State relied on the evidence it presented at the guilt/innocence phase. Powell's evidence showed that Powell was raised in a loving family, had worked as a jailer and with the fire department, and was well-liked and not violent. Dr. Terrence Onischenko, an expert in psychology and neuro-psychology, testified that he performed comprehensive testing of Powell on 22 November 1992. The results showed that Powell's memory, problem-solving skills, and motor functions are impaired. Powell scored in the average range on other tests. Dr. Onischenko also testified that Powell has an increased chance of developing Alzheimer's disease as well as other organic diseases. Powell's abuse of cocaine and alcohol probably caused his brain dysfunctions. Powell has an average IQ and normal concentration skills, language functions, sensory ability, and visual ability. Powell also presented evidence showing that he took good care of his son, who is profoundly mentally retarded and autistic. Powell implemented the programs devised for his son's development and served on the advisory council of the parent-teacher organization at his son's school. Two jailers at the Cleveland County jail testified that Powell had adjusted well to life as an inmate and had caused no problems. The jury found Powell guilty of first-degree murder under the felony murder rule, with robbery with a dangerous weapon as the underlying felony. At sentencing the jury found one aggravating circumstance, that the murder was committed for pecuniary gain, and no mitigating circumstances. It unanimously recommended that Powell be sentenced to death; the trial court sentenced Powell accordingly. UPDATE: A man convicted of beating a convenience-store clerk to death with a tire iron was executed early Friday after the courts rejected arguments that his crime didn't meet the legal standard for the death penalty. William Dillard Powell, 58, died by injection at 2:09 a.m., said corrections spokeswoman Pam Walker. He was convicted in 1993 of killing Mary Gladden, 54, after he tried to steal money to buy drugs. He was high on cocaine at the time of the robbery attempt. Powell declined to make a final statement. He told his sister, Lavonda Camp, through the double-paned glass in the death chamber that he loved her minutes before his execution started at 2 a.m. He turned quickly toward the back of the room and spoke with his executioners as they began to administer the lethal injection. He then began to count down from 99. His lips stopped moving about the time he reached 95. Gladden's sons, Keith Carroll and Ricky Carroll, watched without any apparent emotion. Camp sobbed as one of her brother's attorneys, Marilyn Ozer, hugged her around her shoulders. Ozer drew her closer as the prison warden pronounced Powell's death. Ken Rose of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham argued that Powell should not have been executed because the killing was not premeditated and because the only aggravating factor was attempted robbery, the same charge used to bolster the murder count to felony murder and make Powell eligible for execution. The Supreme Court declined late Thursday to review Powell's case and Gov. Mike Easley denied his request for clemency later in the evening. The state Supreme Court rejected a defense argument Wednesday that the courts had not adequately considered a recent claim of prosecutorial misconduct during Powell's trial.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 15, 2005    Tennessee Gregory Ewing
D’Angelo Lee 
Adriane Dickerson
Christopher Davis stayed

On the early morning of February 28, 1996, the bodies of the victims, Gregory Ewing and D’Angelo Lee, were discovered in a remote part of a construction site in the Berry Hill area of Nashville, Tennessee. Ewing had been shot seven times, including three gunshot wounds to his head. Lee had been shot five times, including three gunshot wounds to his head. As a result of an investigation, the defendant, Christopher A. Davis, was charged with two counts of premeditated first degree murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. The evidence at the trial was as follows: Antonio Cartwright, age 14, testified that on February 27, 1996, he was smoking marijuana in an apartment located on Herman Street in Nashville with the defendant, Christopher Davis, Yakou “Kay” Murphy, Gdongalay Berry, and an individual nicknamed “Sneak.” Davis told Cartwright that there was going to be a “highjacking . . . and a gun deal” that evening involving D’Angelo Lee and Gregory Ewing. Davis told the others that he wanted Lee’s car and planned to “draw down on him.” Davis told Cartwright that they would have to kill Lee and Ewing because the two victims knew where they lived. Cartwright testified that when Davis, Berry, Murphy, and Sneak left the apartment on foot that evening, Davis was carrying a nine millimeter handgun and Berry was armed with a .45 caliber handgun. Davis and Berry returned in approximately one hour in 2 a white Cadillac with four or five assault rifles, a pair of green tennis shoes with yellow laces, a black and blue jacket, an additional .45 caliber handgun, and a gold cross necklace. Davis told Cartwright that he had killed the two victims and that he had shot Lee nine times in the head. Davis said the bodies had been dumped where they could not be found. Berry said that they needed to burn the Cadillac. Christopher Loyal testified that he saw Davis and Berry on the night of February 27, 1996, and that he helped carry assault rifles from a white Cadillac into Davis’s room in the Herman Street apartment. Loyal saw a backpack with guns in it and noticed that Davis was wearing a gold chain with a cross on it. According to Loyal, Davis said that they had gone to get some guns and that he “unloaded his clip.” Davis told Loyal that one of the victims had begun crying and begging for his life, and that they shot him. Loyal said that Berry seemed upset about what had happened but Davis just appeared “hyper.” Detectives Mike Roland and Pat Postiglione were assigned to investigate the homicides of Gregory Ewing and D’Angelo Lee after the victims were found on the morning of February 28, 1996. Later that morning, Postiglione, along with two other detectives, went to an apartment at 2716-B Herman Street to investigate a tip they received from “Crimestoppers” regarding an unrelated murder that had occurred near Tennessee State University (“TSU”). While the detectives were questioning Ronald Benedict, the lessee of the apartment, and fourteen-year-old Antonio Cartwright, they noticed a rifle under a bed in an adjacent room. As the detectives were discussing a search of the apartment, Christopher Davis walked in unannounced with Dimitrice “Dee” Martin, Berry, and Brad Benedict, Ronald Benedict’s brother. Davis was talking on a cell phone and one of the other men was carrying an assault rifle. When the detectives announced their presence and drew their weapons, Davis, Berry and Brad Benedict fled from the apartment. Davis was caught one block from the apartment. A .45 caliber automatic handgun that Davis had discarded during the chase and the assault rifle that one of the other men had been carrying were also recovered. Berry and Brad Benedict, however, were not apprehended that day. Davis was arrested, taken back to the apartment on Herman Street, and placed in a patrol car while the apartment was searched. Davis denied that he lived in the apartment. The search of Davis’s bedroom uncovered a nine millimeter handgun, an M-1 assault rifle, three SKS assault rifles, several handguns, ammunition, $1,400 in currency inside a Crown Royal bag, two pair of muddy gloves, muddy tennis shoes, handcuffs, a pager, a cell phone, and a backpack containing cans of spray paint. Detective Postiglione also saw a pair of green tennis shoes with yellow laces that were later identified as belonging to the victim, D’Angelo Lee. Davis was taken to the Criminal Justice Center in the back of a patrol car with Antonio Cartwright. Cartwright testified that while riding in the patrol car, Davis told him to remove the gold cross necklace from Davis’s neck and to place it in Davis’s pocket. Dimitrice Martin testified that she was Davis’s girlfriend. While she waited with Davis at the Criminal Justice Center, he asked her to take a gold cross necklace from his pocket and put it in her purse. Davis then told her that Berry and several others had purchased guns the previous night and had returned to the Herman Street apartment with the victims tied up in their car. Davis told her that he and Berry then drove somewhere, took the victims from the car, and began shooting the victims. Davis also told her that Berry had shot both of the victims and that he, Davis, shot D’Angelo Lee. Davis then told Martin to call Ronald Benedict’s girlfriend and ask her to “get rid of” a pair of green and gold tennis shoes left in the apartment. Finally, Martin testified that she received two letters from Davis following his arrest in which he told her to “take the fifth” and not testify against him or in cases involving other members of the Gangster Disciples. Detective Roland interviewed Davis regarding the homicides of Ewing and Lee. Because another detective had previously questioned Davis about the unrelated murder near the TSU campus, Roland confirmed that Davis had been advised of his rights and was willing to talk. Davis denied that he was involved in or had any knowledge of the Ewing and Lee homicides. Detective Roland stopped the interview after 30 minutes because Davis requested an attorney. According to Roland, however, he was later typing up criminal warrants to charge Davis with the Ewing and Lee homicides when Davis told him he wanted to talk to him. Davis signed a written waiver of his rights and gave a videotaped statement. He said that Gdongalay Berry and Yakou “Kay” Murphy met with Ewing and Lee to buy guns and later returned in a Cadillac with the victims tied up in the car. After Berry brought the guns into the Herman Street apartment, Davis accompanied Berry and Murphy in the Cadillac to another location where they got the victims out of the car. Davis told Detective Roland that Berry shot Ewing five times with a .45 caliber handgun and that Murphy shot Lee four times in the back of the head with a nine millimeter handgun. Davis said that they returned to the Herman Street apartment after burning the car. The victims’ family members identified evidence that was recovered from the investigation. Willie Mae Lee, D’Angelo Lee’s mother, testified that the gold cross necklace that was being worn by Davis after the offenses had belonged to her son. Lee testified that her son had been wearing green tennis shoes with yellow laces when he borrowed her car, a white Cadillac, on the evening of February 27, 1996. Brenda Ewing Sanders, Gregory Ewing’s mother, testified that a jacket found in the Herman Street apartment had belonged to her son. The medical examiners who performed the autopsies of the victims were no longer employed by the medical examiner’s office and lived out of state. As a result, Dr. Bruce Levy testified about their findings. Dr. Levy testified that Gregory Ewing had been shot seven times, including three shots to his head. Bullets recovered from Ewing’s shoulder and abdomen appeared to be a different caliber than one recovered from his head. Dr. Levy testified that D’Angelo Lee had been shot three times in the head and once or twice in the hands. One bullet was recovered from the hand wounds. Tommy H. Heflin, the supervisor of firearms identification with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, testified that he received the bullets that had been recovered from the victims’ bodies, a nine millimeter handgun, two .45 caliber handguns, four fired cartridges from a .45 caliber handgun, and eight fired cartridges from a nine millimeter handgun. Heflin concluded that the nine millimeter bullets recovered from the victims had been fired from the nine millimeter handgun that he tested. Although Heflin could not conclude with “absolute certainty” that the nine millimeter cartridges had been fired from the nine millimeter handgun that he tested, he concluded that they had been fired from that handgun or one very similar. Heflin testified that the four .45 caliber cartridges had been fired from the same handgun but not from the two .45 caliber handguns he had been given to examine. He likewise concluded that two .45 caliber bullets recovered from the victims had been fired from the same handgun. Following the prosecution’s case in chief, the defense presented the testimony of the defendant Davis’s grandmother, Susie Boykin. Boykin, who lived five or six blocks from the Herman Street apartment, testified that on February 27, 1996, Gregory Ewing stopped by her house looking for Davis. When Davis later arrived at her house at about 7:00 p.m., she told him that Ewing was looking for him. Davis left but returned a short time later and said he could not find Ewing. According to Boykin, Davis ate dinner with her and stayed until 10:15 p.m. At that point, she asked Davis to stop coming in and out of the house because she needed to get to sleep. Dallas Blackman testified that he saw Davis and Antonio Cartwright at the Court Villa apartments on February 27, 1996, sometime between 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Blackman was with Davis and Cartwright for about 45 minutes. According to Blackman, Davis asked him to rent a motel room for him that evening, but that was not unusual. Donald Moore testified that Yakou Murphy told him that he killed Ewing and Lee after tying them up and making them get on their knees. According to Moore, Murphy said he never liked Ewing and that he had “set up” Davis, Berry, and Moore. Moore conceded that Murphy had testified against him in unrelated cases in which Moore was convicted of first degree murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. Moore also acknowledged that he was Davis’s best friend. Yakou Murphy testified that he did not kill Ewing or Lee and that he was not involved in the murders. He also denied that he had told anyone he killed the victims. Murphy testified that Davis and Berry had asked him to go with them to buy guns and that he saw Davis and Berry driving a white Cadillac with two men who appeared to be tied up. Murphy testified that he knew Davis and Berry had handguns and that later that evening, he saw them carrying clothes, shoes, and assault rifles into the apartment. The defendant, Christopher Davis, age 18 at the time of the offenses, testified that he went to the home of his grandmother, Susie Boykin, at about 6:45 to 7:00 p.m. on February 27, 1996, and that he returned around 7:15 to 7:20 p.m. after leaving briefly to look for Ewing. Davis testified that he left his grandmother’s house several times to smoke marijuana with Antonio Cartwright and to sell cocaine. Davis said that after leaving his grandmother’s home around 10:15 p.m., he returned to his apartment on Herman Street where Yakou Murphy asked him to help carry guns and other items into Davis’s bedroom. Davis testified that Murphy told him that he and Berry had robbed someone, and that Berry later said that he and Murphy shot Ewing and Lee. Davis stated that he purchased a necklace from Berry for $200. Davis testified that his statement to police was a “big lie,” that he had not been feeling well in the days before his arrest, and that he had recently received a blood transfusion at Vanderbilt Hospital for an apparent spider bite. Dr. Steven Wolff testified that Davis had been admitted at Vanderbilt on February 18, 1996, and had been given a blood transfusion to treat anemia. Wolff testified that Davis had a lesion on his arm that was consistent with a spider bite and that such a bite could result in anemia. Wolff testified that Davis did not appear to be in distress and that Davis had a normal red blood cell count when he was discharged. After hearing the evidence and deliberating, the jury convicted Davis of two counts of premeditated first degree murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. After the trial court merged the felony murder convictions with the premeditated first degree murder convictions, a sentencing proceeding was conducted to determine punishment.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 15, 2005    Oklahoma Melody Sue Wuertz, 29
Jessica Rae Wuertz, 1 
Jimmy Slaughter executed

Jimmie Ray Slaughter, 57, was condemned to death for the 1991 deaths of his former girlfriend, 29-year-old Melody Wuertz, and their daughter, Jessica Rae Wuertz. Melody had overcome many obstacles in her life, including epilepsy that began in junior high school. She moved to Oklahoma City because of a new job, and met Jimmy Ray Slaughter there. Slaughter was more than 10 years  older than Melody and had been married three times. In fact, he was married at the time he began his affair with Melody, although he told her he was divorced. Investigators learned that Slaughter had a long history of manipulating insecure and lonely young women. Slaughter, a nurse at the VA Hospital, was a suspect from the very beginning. He and Melody had had a sexual relationship, the result of which Melody became pregnant. Slaughter signed an affidavit acknowledging paternity on July 17, 1990, ten days after Jessica was born. Despite this acknowledgment, Slaughter's support of the child was meager, a fact Melody mentioned more than once. Melody's insistence on getting Slaughter to provide monetary support for her child irritated him. Before leaving for active duty, Slaughter remarked to a co-worker that "he was actually glad to be leaving ... and that he was especially glad to get away from Melody because she was getting pushy, and if she kept pushing him, he'd have to kill her."  Slaughter further asserted that he could kill Wuertz without getting caught; "they would know who did it but they would never be able to prove it." To another co-worker, he said Melody was causing him problems at work, and one day he would have to kill both Melody and Jessica. Slaughter was concerned a paternity action by Melody could jeopardize his status as a reserve officer in the Army; additionally, Slaughter was married, and his wife did not know about the affairs with Melody and other women. In the fall of 1990, Slaughter volunteered for active duty during the Desert Storm military operation, and was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He remained on active duty there until mid-July, 1991. In late October 1990, Wuertz discovered Slaughter was married. In fact, she called Slaughter's wife to tell her about Slaughter's infidelity. Slaughter was furious with Wuertz for this, but managed to explain to his wife that this must have been a prank call, probably made by one of his former wives. Slaughter later told a co-worker in Kansas that "his wife did not know about" Jessica and "he would do anything to keep her from finding out." During this period, what scant payments Slaughter had made to Melody stopped. Although Wuertz had previously considered filing a paternity suit against Slaughter, she had not yet done so because she feared that this would drive him away and they would never marry, as she had hoped. Aware now that Slaughter was already married to someone else, Wuertz sought the Oklahoma Department of Human Services' (DHS) help in collecting child support from him. Slaughter, however, had previously told Wuertz that if she ever pursued such a child-support proceeding, he would kill both Wuertz and the baby. Numerous witnesses testified to Slaughter's rage stemming from Wuertz's commencing those proceedings. On at least one occasion, Slaughter told his then girlfriend in Kansas that he wished Wuertz were dead. Before her death, Melody expressed to several people her fear that Slaughter would take retaliatory action against her because she had initiated child support proceedings against him. While still in Kansas, Slaughter was able to keep tabs on Wuertz's progress with the paternity proceedings through another of his paramours, Cecilia Johnson. Johnson was also a nurse at the Oklahoma City VA hospital, and Wuertz's apparent friend. Although having signed an affidavit soon after Jessica's birth admitting he was the child's father, Slaughter, in response to the paternity proceedings, denied paternity and submitted to blood tests. Those test results established that there was a 99.39% likelihood Slaughter was Jessica's father. Wuertz received those test results on June 19, 1990. Although DHS mailed those results to Slaughter at Fort Riley, via certified mail, and attempted to have the results served on Slaughter through the fort's Provost Marshal's office, Slaughter never officially received those test results. Nevertheless, Wuertz did share the test results with her co-workers. Slaughter testified that Cecilia Johnson, having heard the test results from Wuertz, probably did inform him of those results. Slaughter called Wuertz during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 30, 1991, telling her there was no way that the baby was his, nor was there any way he was going to pay Wuertz anything. Minutes later, Johnson called Slaughter and they talked for over three and one-half hours. Wuertz was afraid to go home that night because she feared Slaughter would be there. The State theorized that Slaughter wanted to kill Wuertz and Jessica while he was still stationed in Kansas, so he could use that as an alibi. If so, he would soon run out of time to do so. Slaughter would be discharged from active duty within a week, and Wuertz and Jessica were to fly to her parents' home on July 3 for a two-week visit. Melody was found on the floor in her bedroom. She had been shot once in the cervical spine and once in the head. In addition, she had been stabbed in the chest and in her genitalia; and there were carvings on her abdomen and breasts which authorities interpreted as symbols of some kind. A comb filled with African-American hairs, some underwear containing African-American head hairs, some unused condoms and some gloves were found near Melody's body. No seminal fluid was found in or on Melody. In the bathroom, Melody's curling iron was still plugged in. Baby Jessica was found in the hallway; just days shy of her first birthday, she had been shot twice in the head. The medical examiners who examined the bodies estimated time of death to be approximately between 9:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on July 2. The prosecution's theory was that Melody was surprised while in the bathroom as she was preparing for work (the evening shift at the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Hospital); was then paralyzed (but not rendered unconscious) by the shot to the cervical spine; was forced to lie paralyzed and conscious as her child was killed; then was dragged to the bedroom, where she was killed by the shot to her head. The killer then planted the evidence in an attempt to throw investigators off the trail. "Slaughter knew what he was doing when he shot and paralyzed her," said Melody Wuertz' father, Lyle Wuertz. "I don't imagine she could speak, but in her mind she was screaming 'no, please no' when he killed her baby. It's time he was removed from this earth. He's not a man. He's an evil it and he must be destroyed. What this man has dumped into our lives is nothing short of a toxic bomb of evil." Slaughter claimed he was innocent of the crime, that he was shopping with his family in Topeka, Kan., when the mother and daughter were killed. But Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham told parole board members "nothing could be further from the truth. Facts inculpate Slaughter. These facts prove he's guilty." Wuertz's neighbors testified at trial that they had not seen any vehicles other than Wuertz's car at her home that morning. At 12:37 p.m., however, several young teenage boys walking down a street near the victims' home noticed a man fairly matching Slaughter's description, in a car parked away from the other houses, next to an open field. The boy walking closest to that car positively identified Slaughter as the man he saw, both in a photo lineup conducted soon after the murders and at Slaughter's trial, three years later. Further, a second boy also positively identified Slaughter at trial as the man he saw in the car. Additionally, these two boys described the car they had seen as a bluish-gray, four-door vehicle which also generally matched Slaughter's car's description. And, although the second boy specifically identified the car he had seen as a Nissan, and Slaughter's car was, instead, a Dodge, both boys did pick Slaughter's car out of a photo lineup soon after the murders. Donald Stoltz, who had spent time with Slaughter in jail, corroborated the boys' identification, testifying Slaughter had told him that the kids who saw him, the day the murders occurred, mistakenly identified his car as a Japanese-made vehicle. According to Stoltz, Slaughter said he did not know why he had left his car window down; and that, if he had kept his tinted window raised, no one would have ever seen him. The State's experts testified that the killer most likely entered Wuertz's home, using a key, and killed the victims in a "blitz-style attack." There was no sign of forced entry, yet Wuertz was very security conscious and always kept her house locked, even when she was inside. The confrontation between Wuertz and the killer appeared to have occurred solely in the hallway, rather than near the front door. Although Slaughter denied having a key to Wuertz's house, investigators found those keys in Slaughter's car the day after the murders. Both victims had been shot twice with Eley brand .22 caliber long-rifle, subsonic, hollow-point bullets that had not been copper washed. This imported ammunition was quite rare, representing only one tenth of one percent of the total .22 caliber ammunition sold in the United States during 1990 and 1991. It could generally not be purchased in American gun shops, but instead had to be special ordered. Police found this same rare ammunition in Slaughter's gun safe in his Oklahoma home. Metallurgical tests indicated that the Eley ammunition in Slaughter's safe was elementally identical to the bullets that had killed the victims. According to the State's expert, this indicated that Slaughter's ammunition had been manufactured from the same piece of lead that produced the bullets that had killed the victims. Based on this information, the State argued the bullets that killed the victims had to come from the very same box of Eley ammunition found in Slaughter's gun safe. Police could not use the bullets that had killed the victims to identify the murder weapon because those bullets were so badly damaged. According to the State's ballistics expert, this is a common phenomenon with .22 caliber ammunition. Slaughter, who collected guns, did own several .22 caliber weapons. In addition to shooting each victim twice, the killer stabbed Wuertz once in the heart; deeply slashed both her breasts multiple times; scratched and cut her abdomen, including apparently inscribing a variation on the letter R; and inflicted a deep, nine-inch cut running from her vagina through her anal canal and lower back. The medical examiner testified that the killer had used a single-edged knife, at least six inches long and one-inch wide. Slaughter had a large collection of knives. Although the killer planted evidence and arranged the crime scene to look like a sexual assault, police could find no physical evidence that a sexual assault had occurred. Nor did robbery appear to be a motive for the killings, as police found cash in plain sight near the bodies, and Wuertz's purse, with $140, had been left untouched. An FBI behavioral scientist testified that the manner in which the killer had carried out these murders suggested, instead, a domestic violence crime, carried out in a very controlled manner. Evidence that the killer left at the crime scene included a comb, on which Negroid hairs had been bunched, and a pair of men's underwear. The comb was a type that was not generally available but sold for institutional use in such places as the Oklahoma City VA hospital and Fort Riley. Another Negroid hair was found on Wuertz's body. Cecilia Johnson admitted having collected these hairs, as well as the underwear, from a transient black man who had been a patient at the VA hospital the month before the murders. Johnson told a co-worker that she had collected these items at Slaughter's request and mailed them to him in Kansas. According to Johnson's co-worker, Slaughter "felt that he could confuse them at the scene" with these items. There was evidence corroborating that Johnson had, in fact, mailed Slaughter a small package in early June 1991. After the murders, Slaughter, who disliked African-Americans, suggested to police and his co-workers that perhaps a black man or a black transient had killed the victims. At different times, Slaughter also suggested to police both that there had been a black man seen jumping fences in Wuertz's neighborhood and that Wuertz preferred to date African-American men. There was, however, no evidence to support either contention. Cecilia Johnson later suggested to a black co-worker, J.C. Sanders, that the planted evidence was actually meant to implicate Sanders in the murders. On Wuertz's body, police also found a heavily-treated head hair, microscopically consistent with one of Slaughter's black co-workers at Ft. Riley. This co-worker, however, had never been to Oklahoma. Finally, two inmates, Dennis Hull and Lloyd Hunter, both testified that, while they were in jail with Slaughter, he confessed to them that he had killed the victims. At trial, Slaughter propounded an alibi defense through his former wife, Nicki Bonner. Bonner, who was married to Slaughter at the time the murders occurred, testified that Slaughter had been in Kansas all day July 2, spending time with her and their two daughters, who were visiting him for the Fourth-of-July holiday. According to Bonner, on that day, Slaughter slept until 10:00 or 10:30 a.m. The family then ate lunch at the Country Kitchen restaurant, arriving between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. The waitress there did recognize Bonner and her two daughters, and further testified that there was a man with them that day who looked similar to Slaughter. The waitress, however, never got a good enough look at the man's face to identify him. According to jailhouse informant Stoltz, Slaughter told him that maybe the waitress could not identify him because he was not at the restaurant that day. Rather, "it could have been a friend" eating with his family. According to Bonner, the family drove around a nearby lake after lunch and then travelled an hour to Topeka to shop. A Walmart store clerk in Topeka remembered Slaughter buying his daughter a watch one afternoon, but could not pinpoint the exact date this had occurred. The sales clerk did remember that Slaughter had paid with a fifty dollar bill. Although Slaughter did not have the receipt for this purchase, the store's register tapes indicated that there was a sale of that particular type of watch at 3:26 p.m. on July 2, and that the customer had paid with a fifty-dollar bill. The defense argued that this must have been Slaughter's purchase. The family also bought several other items at Walmart. The separate receipt for those items indicated that this second purchase occurred at 4:16 p.m. on July 2. The cashier who conducted this sale recognized Bonner and her older daughter, and she remembered there was a younger girl, too. The clerk, however, did not remember seeing a man with them that afternoon. Several other Kansas merchants, located in a mall near the Walmart, did remember seeing Slaughter later that afternoon, beginning just after 5:00 p.m. This, however, does not lend any further support to Slaughter's alibi. According to the parties' stipulation as to the mileage between the victims' home and this mall, if Slaughter had left Edmond soon after 12:30 p.m., he would have been able to drive from Edmond to the mall by 5:00 p.m. At trial, Slaughter's attorneys supplemented his alibi defense by also arguing that it might have been Cecilia Johnson, acting on her own, who killed Wuertz and her baby. The trial court, nevertheless, instructed jurors that they could convict Slaughter of first-degree murder if they found that he had actually killed the victims or, alternatively, if they found, instead, that he had aided and abetted Cecilia Johnson in doing so. Johnson, who had learned that Slaughter was trying to turn suspicions towards her, had committed suicide before Slaughter went to trial. "He was the predator, she was the prey," Melody's mother Susie Wuertz said of Johsnon. "He manipulated her just like he had so many others in his life." Prosecutors contend that at the time of the murders, Slaughter commonly went by his middle name, Ray, and that Jessica had been named after him. The R carved into Melody Wuertz's abdomen looked much like an R on a knife sheath of Slaughter's, Branham said. Prosecutors say Slaughter had left the Fort Riley military post early in the morning of July 2, 1991, driven to Edmond and killed the Wuertz family before returning to Kansas in time to meet his wife and two daughters at a Topeka store. In fact, Branham said, although some of the store clerks at Topeka stores remembered seeing Nicki Slaughter and the two girls, they did not remember Jimmie Slaughter. Investigative reports indicate that although Slaughter had given Melody Wuertz money at various times, he did not want to be forced by the state to pay her child support. In addition, Melody Wuertz had told friends she was afraid of Slaughter and that he still had a key to her house but she could not afford to have the locks changed. Branham said Slaughter was furious after he was served child support papers and told several people that he would kill Melody Wuertz and the baby. As early as April 1991, Branham said, Slaughter talked about trying to place items at a crime scene to throw off investigators. A woman who worked with Slaughter at the Veterans Administration Health Center in Oklahoma City - another former girlfriend - told investigators she had mailed Slaughter a package containing soiled underwear and hairs from a black hospital patient. The underwear and hairs were found in Wuertz's home when her body was discovered. Defense attorneys conceded that Slaughter had received the items. The execution was a huge relief to Melody's family, who traveled from Indiana to witness the execution. "This is the end of a nightmare," Melody's brother Wesley Wuertz said after the execution. "There's no more waiting for the next appeal, no more wondering if a technicality will get him off. What he got tonight was justice."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 16, 2005    Texas Michael W. Sanders  Pablo Melendez, Jr. stayed

Pablo Melendez was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of Michael Sanders. At the guilt/innocence stage of trial, the State presented fifteen witnesses, including testimony from the surviving victim, to establish the circumstances surrounding the robbery/murder of which Melendez was convicted. On the evening of September 1, 1994, Melendez, who was eighteen years old, visited and drank beer with a group of friends in the driveway of a Fort Worth residence. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Melendez stated, in a voice loud enough for most to hear, his intention to rob “some mother fucker,” and he walked away alone. At that same time, in the nearby parking lot of a self-service car wash, the two victims in this case had parked their pick-up truck parallel to a walk-up pay phone. They had been there a number of minutes when one of them, Tommie Joe Seagraves, noticed Melendez walking up behind the truck. As Seagraves looked on, he warned the truck’s driver, Michael Sanders, of Melendez’s approach. Melendez positioned himself about fifteen feet from the driver’s side door. Without any warning or even a word being spoken, Melendez turned and fired one shot into the cab of the vehicle, and it struck Seagraves in the neck. Melendez then announced his first demand that Sanders hand over all the money in the truck. As Sanders pleaded with Melendez not to shoot him, he was ordered from the vehicle, and then forced to walk toward Melendez and hand over the money. Relieved of his money, Sanders turned and started back toward the truck where Seagraves still sat wounded and unable to move. Before he reached the vehicle, Melendez fired again and struck Sanders in the back. In rapid succession, Melendez fired three more shots and all struck Sanders in either the back or the arm. Sanders finally toppled forward through the open driver’s side door and came to rest in the floorboard of the truck with his head resting against Seagraves’ leg. As Sanders lay dying, Melendez approached, reached through the cab with the gun in his hand, placed the muzzle next to Seagraves’ forehead, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. The gun was empty, so Melendez simply turned and walked back in the direction he had come. In the end, Seagraves received two bullet wounds; the initial wound when Melendez first approached and a second wound received from a bullet that had passed through Michael Sanders and struck Seagraves’ arm. Sanders was shot four times and died within minutes. Shortly after Melendez’s trial, Sanders’s mother, Gracie Jett, provided Melendez’s attorneys with information that a man named Jeffrey Jackson had come upon the murder scene, saw a truck with a woman passenger parked nearby, and saw two Hispanic males going through the pockets of one of the victims. According to Melendez, Jett relayed this information to Diane Tefft, the Fort Worth police detective that was handling the case. Tefft purportedly told Jett not to get involved in the investigation and Tefft failed to follow up on the information Jett provided. Upon learning of this information, Melendez’s attorneys interviewed Jackson. Jackson confirmed Jett’s rendition, although Jackson’s version of the events changed somewhat with subsequent interviews. Jackson apparently expressed his willingness to appear in court and testify about what he witnessed, but failed to appear when served with a subpoena for Melendez’s motion for new trial. Melendez claimed his due process rights were violated because the State of Texas failed to disclose material exculpatory evidence; specifically, that the State failed to tell him that Jackson came upon the crime scene and observed someone going through the pockets of one the victims. Although Melendez does not argue that the particular evidence would have made a difference in his case, he maintains the evidence is material and admissible. Melendez complains that by failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing, the state courts denied him the opportunity to develop his Brady claim and foreclosed his ability to show he is entitled to habeas relief. To establish a Brady violation, a petitioner must demonstrate that (1) the prosecution suppressed evidence, (2) the evidence was favorable to the petitioner, (3) the evidence was material either to guilt or punishment, and (4) nondiscovery of the allegedly favorable evidence was not the result of a lack of due diligence. Although Jett testified during the hearing on Melendez’s motion for new trial that she told Tefft about Jackson’s observation, the trial judge determined that Jett was not a credible witness. The state court also determined that the evidence was not material. The district agreed and determined that even if the state trial judge were wrong about whether the State withheld evidence, the evidence is not material. Jett testified to the most favorable version of the disputed evidence. During the hearing on Melendez’s motion for new trial, Jett explained that she spoke with several people who were located near the scene of her son’s death in an effort to solve her son’s murder. Jett stated Jackson owned a barbeque restaurant a block from the car wash where her son was killed and that she spoke with Jackson over the telephone after her son’s death. Jett explained that Jackson told her that he had heard several gunshots around 11:30 on the evening of her son’s death and heard someone scream, “the MFs are shooting at me.” According to Jett, Jackson and his girlfriend then drove to the carwash, saw a white truck parked by the telephone, saw a black truck park along the street with a woman inside the truck, and observed two Hispanic males in the parking lot going through the pockets of a man in the white truck. Jett further testified that Jackson stated that he asked the men if they needed any help and that the men told him everything was under control. Jett explained that Jackson then left the scene and agreed to relay his observations to the police. Jett also testified that she advised Tefft about what Jackson had observed and that Tefft told her not to get involved in the investigation. Jett also stated that she gave the information to the lead prosecutor in the case and that the prosecutor had told her that Melendez had not killed her son. Jett explained that she did not tell Melendez’s attorney about this information because she did not become convinced that Melendez was not the killer until after the trial. Notably, this information, if true, is consistent with the evidence presented during trial and during the hearing on the motion for new trial. Both of the prosecutors for Melendez’s trial stated in affidavits that there was evidence of another truck at the scene of the murder shortly after the shooting and that the defense was aware of that information. To support these assertions, the State submitted Seagraves’s written statement in which Seagraves states that a Mexican man and a younger boy stopped behind the truck after the shooting and asked him what was wrong. This statement was admitted at trial. The State also submitted a written statement by Susie Carillo who stated that after hearing shots, she saw a man run up the street. Carillo explained that she went outside and heard a man crying “please help me.” According to Carillo, she called 911, walked down to the car wash, observed a group of men in a pickup truck stopped at the scene, and saw one of the men trying to help the men in the truck. Although her trial testimony was somewhat disorganized, the written statement summarizes Carillo’s trial testimony. Thus, Jett’s version of what Jackson observed is consistent with Seagraves’s statement about what happened after the shooting and Carillo’s version of the events. Moreover, substantially the same information was presented to the jury. During trial, a paramedic and a police officer who responded to the car wash testified that Sanders’s pockets were turned inside out. The paramedic also testified that several people at the car wash waved the ambulance down as it arrived. In addition, a police detective who responded to the murder scene testified he spoke to a Hispanic male at the scene of the murder. Additionally, a photo exhibit reflected that Sanders’s pants pockets were pulled out. Thus, the jury knew that someone arrived at the car wash after the shooting and that Sanders’s pockets were altered. Even with this information, the jury found Melendez guilty. The information Jackson provided may have helped to explain why the pockets were turned out, but it would not have cast doubt on Melendez’s guilt. As the record makes clear, Jackson’s hearing gunshots and someone yelling and then witnessing a dark pickup truck and two Hispanic men at the scene, one looking through the pockets of the murder victim, is not contrary to Melendez’s conviction. Instead, since everything Jackson witnessed at the scene was after the shooting, it is consistent with testimony given by other witnesses at trial and statements made by other persons at the scene.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 16, 2005    Missouri Barbara Jo Wood Stanley Hall executed

On the evening of January 15, 1994, Stanley Hall and Rance Burton borrowed a car and drove to the South County Shopping Center in St. Louis, Missouri. They were searching for a vehicle to steal. Hall and Burton got out of their car and approached Barbara Jo Wood's car as she pulled into the parking lot. They forced her at gunpoint to the passenger side and then drove her in her car to the McKinley Bridge. Wood was forced out of the car, and there was a struggle on the bridge. At some point she was wounded--witnesses in a passing car saw her bleeding. Burton got back in Wood's car and drove away. Wood, pleading for her life, was still holding on to Hall as he tried to lift her over the bridge railing. He eventually succeeded, and Wood fell ninety feet to the river. Meanwhile, the two witnesses in the car had notified the Venice, Illinois police department. The police arrived and captured Hall moments after he pushed Wood off the bridge. The icy condition of the river impeded search and rescue attempts. Both witnesses identified Hall as the man they had seen struggling with Wood. After waiving his Miranda rights, Hall identified Barbara Jo Wood from a picture as the woman he had forced over the guardrail. Seven-and-a-half months later, the lower portion of a torso matching Wood's physical description was found in the Mississippi River.  On March 7, 1994, a year and eight months before Hall gave his statement pursuant to the alleged plea agreement, he gave the St. Louis County police a complete confession. Hall gave a detailed account of his trip to the mall, the kidnapping of Barbara Jo Woods, and the theft of her car. He recounted how Woods was pleading for her life as he struggled with her on the bridge. He described how, first, she grabbed on to the car door; then she was shot; next she grabbed hold of Hall; and finally, she clung to the bridge itself as Hall struggled to lift her over the guardrail. Hall confessed that he was the one who pushed her until she finally went over the railing. UPDATE: For a man with such a violent life, the end came peacefully for Stanley Hall. The convicted killer who kidnapped a 44-year-old woman at gunpoint in St. Louis County, shot her and, ignoring her pleas, threw her over a bridge railing into the icy Mississippi River, died quietly strapped to a gurney early Wednesday at the Potosi Correctional Center. He mouthed a few words to relatives, heaved deeply, then shut his eyes for good. It was Missouri's 62nd execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1989 but the first since John Clayton Smith was put to death Oct. 29, 2003. In an interview just hours before his death, Hall, 37, said he long ago ceased being the hate-filled, violent person who killed Barbara Jo Wood. “In my heart, I'm content and at peace with myself,” Hall said. “Being in prison has given me time to think about the mistakes in my life. If taking my life would give hers back, I welcome that.” He expressed remorse for the murder. “I would like them (the Wood family) to know I am sorry, sincerely sorry,” Hall said in a final written statement. Wood's relatives weren't moved. “I don't believe he was sorry,” said Daniel Velcheck, Wood's youngest brother. “Just sorry he was getting killed — that's about it.” Hall was on parole when, on Jan. 15, 1994, he and a friend borrowed a car and drove to the South County Mall, looking to steal a car as part of a plan to commit a drive-by shooting. Wood arrived at the mall for her part-time job at a Famous-Barr department store. The men pulled a gun, forced her into the passenger seat of her 1991 Geo, and drove her to the McKinley Bridge over the Mississippi River. There, Wood was forced out of the car and shot. With Wood struggling and pleading for her life, Hall lifted her over the bridge railing. She dropped 90 feet into the river. Witnesses notified police, who captured Hall moments after the crime.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 17, 2005    Pennsylvania Evelyn Heath Brown, 33,
Tina Brown, 17
Russell Cox stayed

Russell Cox was sentenced to death after he murdered a woman and her daughter in their apartment. Cox, 30, faces 2 death sentences for the 1986 murders of Evelyn Heath Brown, 33, and her 17-year-old daughter, Tina.  An accomplice, Percy Lee, also received a death penalty for the killings, however his case will be affected by the recent Supreme Court ruling barring execution of "juvenile" offenders.  Lee, 36, was 17 when he and Cox, 18, broke into an apartment in a Philadelphia high-rise and killed a mother and daughter Feb. 27, 1986. Evelyn and Tina were stabbed repeatedly and slashed with a knife and scissors. Tina Brown also was raped. The mother had 51 wounds, the daughter 38. Lee's accomplice, Russell Cox, told police Lee was angry at the women. Lee and his girlfriend had lived with the Browns for about a year before Evelyn Brown kicked him out in early 1986.  *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 23, 2005    Texas James Davis
Robert Dorsey Read 
Steven Staley stayed

In Fort Worth, Tracey Duke, Steve Staley and Duke's girlfriend Brenda Rayburn tried to rob a Steak and Ale restaurant on Oct. 15, 1989. Robert Read, the restaurant manager, offered himself as a hostage in place of the employees and customers who had been corralled into the back of the restaurant. Read was fatally shot as he sat in the getaway car, and the trio then began shooting at police, according to court records. The trio was arrested after a short chase. At the time of the murder Staley, who killed Read, was an escapee from a Denver halfway house. Rayburn, the driver, received a 30-year sentence in a plea agreement with prosecutors. In his 1991 plea agreement, Duke pleaded guilty to 1 count of murder for Read's death and 2 counts of attempted capital murder for shooting at police. He took the plea to avoid the death penalty and knew that prosecutors would seek the death penalty if he successfully appealed his sentence. In 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voided his sentences. The appellate court ruled that Duke should have had 3 hearings because he accepted plea bargains for 3 consecutive life sentences. Instead all his pleas were heard during the same session. Duke, who has asked for a retrial by jury, said he met Staley in Colorado, and the 2 soon began committing crimes. They killed a man in Colorado and committed a host of robberies in Kansas and Oklahoma before heading to Texas, Duke said. "When I met him, I got deeper and deeper," Duke said. Duke said his addiction to heroin and his admiration of Staley led him to commit crimes. Now he is free from drugs, he said, and could be a productive member of society. Duke said he realizes he might get the death penalty now that the case is going to trial. That's OK, he said. "Then I got appeals." UPDATE: As nearly three dozen employees and customers were held at gunpoint at his Fort Worth restaurant, manager Bob Read volunteered to accompany the robbers if they would spare everyone else. The heroics cost him his life. More than 15 years later, Steven Kenneth Staley, one of the men involved in the botched holdup of a Steak and Ale restaurant, was set to die Wednesday for Read's fatal shooting. Staley and two other people were arrested after a police pursuit around Fort Worth ended their four-state crime spree. Officers summoned to the restaurant gave chase after Read was led away at gunpoint and was forced into a car the robbers hijacked. As they fled, police heard several shots. "I remember this one cop testifying how he ran up to the car, hoping, hoping, hoping to find the man in there alive," said Terri Moore, a former Tarrant County assistant district attorney and one of the prosecutors at Staley's capital murder trial. "But there he was. A big old gunshot wound to the head." Lawyers seeking to block the lethal injection contended Staley, who was an escapee from a halfway house in his native Denver, was mentally incompetent to be put to death. "This guy is nuts," said Staley's attorney, Jack Strickland. "He's just too nuts to be executed." Staley was examined last week by psychiatrists who determined he was aware of his punishment and why he was being put to death. Those are the criteria the U.S. Supreme Court established in 1986 as the standards for allowing execution of people whose competency is at issue. Strickland went to federal court seeking a hearing to have the execution date withdrawn and for a court to rule on Staley's competency. "He was an odd person, but I didn't see anything that made him incompetent," Moore said, describing Staley at his trial as quiet and brooding but appearing able to assist his lawyers. Staley did not take the stand in his own defense. Witnesses said it was late in the evening in October 1989 when Staley and accomplice Tracey Duke ended their meal by pulling semiautomatic weapons from the purse of Duke's girlfriend, Brenda Rayburn. They herded customers and employees to the back of the restaurant, then forced Read to open cash registers and the safe, witnesses said, before stuffing money into a briefcase. In the confusion, an assistant manager slipped out and call police, who surrounded the place. When an officer knocked on a door, Read responded that everything was OK. The tone of his voice, however, indicated otherwise. The robbers panicked and decided to use the group as hostages for a getaway. Read, married and the father of three, urged them: "Don't take my customers," Moore recounted. "Take me." Officers watched as Read walked out the door of the restaurant, guns poked in his ribs. The gunmen then hijacked a car waiting at a red light. As Read struggled when they were forcing him into the back seat, police moved in. Evidence would show Staley then shot Read, then Read and Duke fired on the officers, who sought cover as the robbers sped away. The ensuing chase covered about 20 miles and ended with the gunmen trying to flee on foot. Staley gave a written statement implicating himself in the fatal shooting, was convicted and given a death sentence. Evidence showed Duke, a probation violator from California, also shot Read. Duke, 38, is serving three life sentences in Texas and has a 30-year sentence in Colorado for murder and armed robbery. Rayburn, now also 38, took 30 years in a plea bargain. Investigators tied the trio to a series of robberies, assaults and at least one other murder during a spree across Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma after Staley escaped from the Denver halfway house. In 1994, Read's wife, mother and three daughters accepted a $1 million settlement from the operators of the halfway house. It was about one-third the amount the family had sought in a civil suit. In March 1984, Staley and a friend answered a classified ad for a Camaro in Denver, Colorado. During a test drive of the vehicle, Staley’s friend kicked the owner in the back of the head, smashed his face against the windshield, and forced him out of the car at gunpoint. About five months later, Staley answered another ad for a Camaro. Again, he and the owner went for a test drive. When they reached a secluded area, Staley pulled a gun on the owner and told him to start running. Staley fled in the car. Staley also was implicated in the death of James Davis, a fellow inmate at the Denver correctional center from which Staley escaped on September 18, 1989. Davis disappeared from the correctional center two days after Staley escaped. Davis’s body was found about a month later, with a fatal gunshot wound to the head and another gunshot wound to the back. Staley acknowledged helping Duke kill Davis, but named Duke as the gunman. UPDATE: Steven Kenneth Staley, scheduled to die Wednesday for the October 1989 killing of a Fort Worth restaurant manager during a botched robbery attempt, won a stay of execution in federal court Tuesday on a mental illness claim. The execution was halted by U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth. Means was acting on an appeal from Staley's lawyer who argued the convicted killer is mentally incompetent and should not be put to death. "Judge Means' order was that nobody's ever heard this guy's competency question," attorney Jack Strickland said. The Texas Attorney General's Office, however, filed notice it planned to appeal the reprieve this morning to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. UPDATE: Lawyers from the Texas attorney general's office planned to ask a federal appeals court on Wednesday to lift a judge's order blocking the execution of a convicted killer scheduled for later in the day. UPDATE: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped the scheduled execution of a Colorado man Wednesday about five hours before he could have been put to death and while state lawyers were trying to get another federal court reprieve lifted. Steven Kenneth Staley, 42, won the reprieve after lawyers argued that instructions given to jurors at his 1991 trial were unclear when the panel was deciding whether he should get the death penalty. "This is good news," Jack Strickland, one of Staley's attorneys, said. "I wasn't too confident." The state court ruling cannot be appealed, meaning the execution, which would have been the fifth this year in Texas, was put off. Staley was condemned for the 1989 slaying of Bob Read, a Fort Worth Steak and Ale restaurant manager, during a botched robbery. At the time, Staley was an escapee from a Denver halfway house. The state court ruling came as the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was considering an appeal from the Texas attorney general's office to remove a reprieve that a federal judge issued earlier Tuesday. In that appeal, state attorneys opposed arguments from Strickland who contended Staley should not receive lethal injection until questions about his mental competency were fully reviewed in court. In their motion, state lawyers argued the state courts were correct in denying a reprieve for Staley. Staley was examined last week by psychiatrists who determined he was aware of his punishment and why he was being put to death. Those are the criteria the U.S. Supreme Court established in 1986 as the standards for allowing execution of people whose competency is at issue. A defense expert who reviewed Staley, while agreeing the convict knew his execution was imminent, said in a report the inmate was psychotic and delusional and described himself as a part-time secret agent and inventor of the 1969 Chevrolet Impala. Witnesses said Staley and accomplice Tracey Duke ended their late evening meal Oct. 14, 1989, by pulling semiautomatic weapons from the purse of Duke's girlfriend, Brenda Rayburn. They herded customers and employees to the back of the restaurant, then forced Read to open cash registers and the safe, witnesses said, before stuffing money into a briefcase. In the confusion, an assistant manager slipped out and call police, who surrounded the place. The robbers panicked and decided to use the group as hostages for a getaway. Read, 35, married and the father of three, volunteered himself in exchange for the safety of the others. The group went outside, guns pointed at Read, and hijacked a car. Read was shot as he struggled getting into the car. An ensuing chase covered about 20 miles and ended with the gunmen arrested after trying to flee on foot. Staley gave a written statement implicating himself in the fatal shooting, was convicted and given a death sentence. Evidence showed Duke, a probation violator from California, also shot Read. Duke, 38, is serving three life sentences in Texas and has a 30-year sentence in Colorado for murder and armed robbery. Rayburn, now also 38, took 30 years in a plea bargain. Investigators tied the trio to a series of robberies, assaults and at least one other murder during a spree across Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma after Staley escaped from the Denver halfway house.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 29, 2005    Pennsylvania Beth Ann Anderson
Melanie Anderson, 18 days
Charles Kevin Kelly, 9
Gerald Watkins stayed

On July 20, 1994, at approximately 10:00 pm, Beth Ann Anderson telephoned her friend and neighbor Monique and told her that "Gerald is downstairs banging on the door." Anderson, who was using a portable phone, asked Monique to stay on the line as she went to the door. Monique then heard Anderson say, "Who is it?" and then "Gerald." A few seconds later, an individual whose voice and accent Monique recognized as belonging to Watkins, picked up the phone and spoke with Monique. He identified himself as "G," which Monique recognized as Watkins's nickname. The phone was then placed down and Monique heard Anderson say "ow" or "stop Gerald". She then heard sounds of a struggle, and then Anderson saying, "Call the police."  After summoning the police, Monique went to the Anderson home and, as she pounded on the front door, the police arrived and forced entry. Monique entered the house and observed Anderson on the floor and her 18-day-old baby, Melanie laying on the couch. She tried unsuccessfully to detect pulses on both victims. The police then asked her to wait outside on the porch. Another neighbor named Ronnie saw Watkins on the porch of the Anderson home during the evening of July 20, 1994. He said that he recognized Watkins as Anderson's boyfriend and that he saw him knocking on the front door to her home. He did not see him enter, because he went to answer the phone. When he returned to the front door several minutes later, the police had already arrived. The following day, Ronnie picked Watkins's photo from a photo array as the individual he saw. He also identified Watkins at trial as the person he had seen. Pittsburgh police officer Talib Ghafoor responded to the call from Monique. Officer Ghafoor arrived as Monique was trying to enter the residence. Upon entering, he observed Anderson on the floor and the baby on the couch.  Anderson had wounds to her face and the baby had what appeared to be a shotgun wound to the abdomen. When the officer proceeded upstairs to secure the residence, he discovered the body of 9-year-old Charles Kevin Kelly, Jr. in the hallway at the top of the stairs. Officer Ghafoor observed that Kevin had a bullet wound near his right ear and was not moving or breathing. Pittsburgh homicide detective Thomas Foley processed the crime scene. He testified that in the living room, where the bodies of Anderson and her daughter were found, a coffee table had been upturned and its contents were spilled on the floor. Numerous spent .22 caliber shell casings as well as several live rounds were found throughout the room. Shell casings and spent bullets were also strewn about Kevin's body. All three victims were warm to the touch, indicating recent death. Forensic pathologist Leon Rozin testified that the victims all died of multiple gunshot wounds: 18-day-old Melanie Watkins had been shot twelve times; Beth Anderson received eight shots to her trunk and head; and her son Kevin was shot five times in the face, head and neck. There was soot or powder around many of the wounds, indicating that the bullets had been fired at close range. A ballistics expert testified that all of the spent cartridge casings found at the crime scene were discharged from the same semi-automatic .22 caliber firearm, which was capable of holding a thirty-round clip. Watkins's friend testified that he had been with Watkins at a bar until approximately 9:30 pm on the night of the murders. One or two days after the crime, Watkins called his friend and said, "You know who this is.  I'm not f---ing around. You know what I've done. Shut up and listen." Watkins then told his friend that he needed him to contact several mutual acquaintances who owed Watkins money and instruct them to send the money to Watkins. When the friend declined, Watkins threatened to harm him and his family if he did not cooperate. The friend also testified that he knew Watkins only as "G" and did not learn that his actual name was Gerald until after the murders. In May of 1995, Watkins was apprehended in New York City by the FBI. After waiving his rights, Watkins gave a statement. He said on the night of the murders, he left Pittsburgh at about 7:00 pm in his grandmother's car. He admitted having been at Anderson's house earlier that day, but denied having argued with her. He said that he drove to Fort Lee, NJ, left the car there and took a bus into New York City. Watkins admitted that he knew he was wanted for Anderson's murder but claimed not to have been aware of the deaths of his daughter Melanie or Anderson's son Kevin. He also admitted to seeing an episode of the TV show America's Most Wanted which had featured a story about him, but claimed that he had not paid close enough attention to learn of the death of his daughter, Melanie. He admitted also that he had never inquired into Melanie's well-being after he learned of Anderson's death. On August 3, 1995, Pittsburgh detectives drove to New York to bring Watkins back for trial. During the drive, Watkins was talkative but did not discuss the murders. As they approached Somerset, Pennsylvania however, Watkins raised the topic of the killings. One of the detectives interrupted Watkins and advised him of his rights.  Watkins said that he understood his rights and wanted to make a statement, which he ultimately signed.  Watkins began his statement saying that "he was not the monster that the media and the police had panned him out to be." He claimed that the killings were not premeditated, that they were just "something that happened." He indicated that he had become jealous of a man named Lou who Anderson had begun spending time with and said that he believed that Anderson was not telling the truth about her relationship with Lou. A day or so before the murders, Anderson had spurned a marriage proposal from Watkins. On the before the murders, Watkins borrowed his grandmother's car, in possession of a Tech .22 semi-automatic handgun equipped with a twenty-round clip. In the evening, he drove to Anderson's house, gained entry with his key and found Anderson talking on the phone, whereupon he walked into the kitchen and then came back into the room where she was talking and shot her. Watkins denied picking up the phone and speaking to anyone. After killing Anderson, Watkins heard the television on upstairs. When he reached the top of the stairs, Beth's son Kevin, who had come into the upstairs hallway, made eye contact with Watkins and then grabbed Watkins around the waist. At that point, Watkins decided to kill Kevin "because he knew who I was and what I had just done." He then pushed Kevin away and shot him.  Watkins checked the rest of the second floor of the house and, finding nobody else, proceeded back downstairs where Anderson's body was on the floor and her baby was asleep on the couch. He then shot baby Melanie because he felt that he could not raise her and he did not want anyone else to do so. Watkins tucked the gun in his waistband and left the house, trying to look "normal." He could not recall how many times he had shot any of the victims. As he stopped to put gas in his car, he noticed that his ammunition clip was empty. He then drove to New York where he threw the gun into the incinerator of an apartment building.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 31, 2005 Wyoming Tammy Shoopman, 16
Wayne Martinez 
James Harlow stayed

On the morning of June 26, 1997, James Martin Harlow was a maximum-security inmate at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, as were Bryan Collins and Richard Dowdell. The three had decided to escape, and formed a plan to attack the officer in shift command, whom they believed would be a particular sergeant, kill him and commandeer a vehicle. Harlow knew that Dowdell and Collins were carrying homemade shanks, and because he believed those weapons were insufficient to accomplish their goal, he retrieved a knife that he had previously made. While the three convicts were discussing their escape plans, two prison guards were checking bars and windows because of information that had been received of a possible planned escape attempt. In the course of inspecting cells in the maximum-security unit, the officers had found and confiscated contraband from Collins’ cell, which included a pipe that resembled a “pot pipe,” razorblades, a lamp that had been altered to create a fire hazard, plants and a miniature graveyard scene. The officers summoned Collins to his cell and Collins and Dowdell arrived shortly thereafter. The officers informed Dowdell that they would be inspecting his cell next, after which Collins and Dowdell returned to the yard and met with Harlow near the tag plant. At about 10:30 a.m., the victim, Corporal Wayne Martinez, was sent to shift command in the maximum-security unit to relieve a sergeant while the sergeant escorted another inmate to segregation. The door to shift command did not close after the sergeant’s departure, and recognizing that opportunity, Harlow, Dowdell and Collins rushed into shift command through the unlocked door. Harlow entered first and struck Corporal Martinez several times. While Harlow held Corporal Martinez, Collins and Dowdell stabbed him and struck him on the head with a fire extinguisher. In the course of the attack, Dowdell and Collins inflicted fourteen stab wounds. After Corporal Martinez succumbed, the three convicts fled from shift command and endeavored to climb over the inner perimeter fence. Dowdell and Collins succeeded in that attempt, but Harlow did not get over the fence because of severe injury to his hands and arms received from the razor wire. Harlow then returned to the central rotunda of the maximum-security unit, threw away the shank he had been carrying and remained there until correctional officers apprehended him. Emergency medical personnel went to the prison and transported Corporal Martinez to the local hospital. Corporal Martinez was pronounced dead at the hospital after attempts to resuscitate him were ineffective. An autopsy, which was performed the following day, identified the cause of death as a stab wound to his right lung. The three inmates were also taken to the hospital, and Harlow was treated for the cuts that he had sustained in the escape attempt. Two law enforcement officers, a deputy sheriff and a special agent of the Division of Criminal Investigation, were assigned to interview Harlow, Collins and Dowdell with respect to the murder of Corporal Martinez. The agent and the deputy sheriff first encountered Harlow at the hospital on the evening of June 26, but he declined to speak with them at that time. On July 3, 1997, the agent and the deputy sheriff met with Harlow at the penitentiary just long enough to read him his rights with respect to making any statement. Harlow refused to be interviewed without an attorney, and the investigators terminated that contact. Several days later, on July 7, 1997, Harlow asked to meet with the agent and the deputy sheriff, and he answered questions over the course of seventy-one minutes. The criminal information that charged Harlow with one count of first-degree premeditated murder, one count of first-degree felony murder, one count of attempting to escape from official detention, and one count of conspiring to escape from official detention was filed on July 10, 1997. Harlow’s trial began on October 5, 1998, and the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all four counts on October 27, 1998. At his sentencing hearing, Harlow presented mitigating evidence of his youth when first imprisoned for life, an unstable family background that included drug, alcohol, and sexual abuse, and his positive character traits. On November 5, 1998, the jury returned a sentence of death. The judgment, which sentenced Harlow to death and suspended that sentence pending appeal, was entered in the district court on December 7, 1998. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. UPDATE: Twice-convicted murderer James Harlow, sentenced to death for killing a Wyoming State Penitentiary guard during an escape attempt in 1997, received a stay of execution this week from U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer. Harlow filed a motion Feb. 9 asking the federal court to appoint an attorney to help him draft a petition for habeas corpus -- to physically appear before the court -- and to halt his scheduled March 31 execution until the court rules on the petition. Brimmer granted the motions on Monday, and the orders were filed with the court on Tuesday. Brimmer wrote that he had to look outside Wyoming to find a qualified lawyer in matters of habeas corpus in a death penalty case. He selected Sean O'Brien of Kansas City, Mo., to represent Harlow. O'Brien, Brimmer wrote, will need to learn about the case and probably will not be able to do so before March 31. "In granting this stay, it is not the Court's intent to delay the legal process any longer than necessary," Brimmer wrote. "The Court simply wishes to ensure that the case is handled in a manner that will ensure both an expeditious and just result." State District Judge Wade Waldrip set the date after the Wyoming Supreme Court in February rejected Harlow's appeal that he did not get a fair trial because he was shackled in the courtroom -- the second time in as many years the court had rejected an appeal from Harlow. Harlow has been an inmate at the Wyoming State Penitentiary since 1988, when he was given a life sentence for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Tammy Shoopman of Rock Springs. In 1997, Harlow and two other inmates, Bryan Collins and Richard Dowdell, killed prison guard Wayne Martinez while trying to escape. Harlow was sentenced to death; Collins and Dowdell were given life sentences.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 31, 2005 Pennsylvania Michael Sharpe Jose Uderra stayed

In June 1993, Jose Uderra was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for murdering 25-year-old Michael Sharpe. In October of 1991, Uderra  robbed , beat, shot and killed Michael Sharpe in a Philadelphia street following a dispute concerning a sale of illicit drugs. In 1003, he was tried jointly with his co-defendant, Juan Perez and convicted of first-degree murder. At approximately 7:00 a.m. on October 18, 1991, the victim, Michael Sharpe, went to the 2900 block of North Orkney Street in Philadelphia to purchase drugs. There, Juan Perez sold Sharpe several vials purporting to contain crack cocaine, which in reality contained ordinary detergent. After discovering the ruse, Sharpe returned at approximately 8:00 a.m., and demanded his money back from Perez. As the two men argued, Uderra, armed with a twelve gauge single-barreled sawed-off shotgun, approached to assist Perez. When Sharpe refused to comply with Uderra's and Perez's subsequent demands for money, Uderra and Perez threw Sharpe to the ground, hit and kicked him, and went through his pockets. Perez forcibly removed Sharpe's shoes and coat, throwing the shoes toward the roof of a nearby house and the coat across the street. After unsuccessfully attempting to force Sharpe into an abandoned house, Uderra stood Sharpe up against a wall and shot him in the chest with the shotgun. The victim was shot at such close range that the shotgun shell wadding entered his body. Immediately following the shooting, Uderra fled to a green station wagon parked on North Orkney Street. Before entering the station wagon, Uderra handed the shotgun to Joanne Rivera, who was standing beside the vehicle, and ordered her to hide it. The victim, although mortally wounded, somehow managed to cross the street and enter a vacant lot, where he collapsed. Two eyewitnesses, Maria Martinez and Maria Carrasquillo, separately watched the events from windows of their respective homes on the 2900 block of North Orkney Street. Both eyewitnesses immediately called the police, who arrived at the scene within minutes and found the victim alive and bleeding profusely from his chest wound, unable to speak or respond to questions. The victim was transported to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Having been informed by Martinez and Carrasquillo that the shooter had fled to a green station wagon parked on North Orkney Street, officers later discovered Uderra and an unidentified woman in a green 1973 AMC Hornet station wagon. Martinez and Carrasquillo identified Uderra as the killer. They each recognized Uderra because he had been living in the station wagon parked on North Orkney Street. Later that afternoon, Joanne Rivera admitted that she had hidden the shotgun at the request of Uderra and directed officers to its hiding place under some debris about two blocks from the crime scene. Officers retrieved the shotgun and recovered a fired shell casing from it. Ballistics testing was conducted on the shotgun and the spent shell casing that was found in it and it was determined that the shell found in the shotgun had been fired by that shotgun to the exclusion of all others. Officers also found an unspent shotgun shell in the station wagon, which was consistent with the shell found in the shotgun and with the pellets recovered from the victim's body. The shell wadding recovered from the victim's body was also consistent with the type of shell found in the shotgun. Following the denial of Uderra's motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendant, Juan Perez, trial commenced on June 1, 1993. On June 4, 1993, the jury convicted Uderra of all charges. Uderra was sentenced to death for the murder conviction. The jury found as an aggravating circumstance that Uderra committed the killing while in perpetration of a felony. No mitigating circumstances were found.

 

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