February 2007 Executions
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Three killers were executed in February 2007.  They had murdered at least 7 people.
Eight
killers were given a stay in February 2007.  They have murdered at least 11 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 2, 2007    North Carolina Theresa Ann West  James Thomas stayed 

James Edward Thomas moved into the Sir Walter Tourist Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, in early 1986. While living there, he befriended Teresa West, the manager of the home. In June of that year, Thomas moved to Cary, North Carolina with his fiancée. On the evening of June 13, Thomas borrowed a friend’s car and drove to the tourist home to visit West, who had told Thomas she had some heroin (Thomas was a heroin addict). After unsuccessfully seeking to acquire cocaine to inject along with the heroin, Thomas proceeded to West’s room, where he injected the heroin. He also dissolved and injected some pills West gave him. According to Thomas’ trial testimony, West, who was only partially clothed, confronted him and demanded sex. Thomas refused on the grounds of fidelity to his fiancée and inability due to the heroin. West attempted to start an argument, at which point Thomas claims he passed out. When he awoke, West was dead; Thomas fled the apartment. West’s body was found with a telephone receiver inserted into her vagina. The forensic expert who performed the autopsy testified that West was strangled manually and with a pair of pantyhose and that the insertion of the telephone receiver probably occurred post-mortem. Thomas was charged with, and convicted of, first-degree murder and first-degree sexual offense. The jury sentenced Thomas to death in 1987. On direct appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed Thomas’ convictions but vacated his sentence in 1991 and remanded for re-sentencing on the basis of another appeal that found that North Carolina jury instructions improperly required juror unanimity as to mitigating factors. Thomas was again sentenced to death in February 1995, and this sentence was affirmed.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 7, 2007    Texas Sharon Jackson, 39
Ericka Mayes, 18
Sonceria (Sonny) Mayes, 19
James Jackson executed

James Lewis Jackson confessed that he and his wife, Sharon, argued on Monday and Tuesday, April 6 and 7, 1997, about his unemployment. On Wednesday, she told Jackson that she intended to file for divorce. She refused to talk to him on the phone at work that day. According to Jackson’s statement, “That’s when I made up my mind to just take her out, because I felt like the reason she was leaving me was unnecessary and there was no just cause for it.” Later on Wednesday, Jackson’s step-daughter, Sonny Mayes, returned to their Houston apartment home at 2:30 p.m., and Jackson called her into the master bedroom to discuss the divorce with her. When Sonny expressed indifference about the divorce, Jackson choked her with his forearm. He then hid her body in her bed. When Sonny’s sister, Ericka Mayes, returned home at 2:55 p.m., Jackson also called her into the master bedroom to discuss the divorce with her. Ericka told Jackson that she would love him regardless of the divorce. When Ericka approached Jackson to hug him, Jackson choked her to death, then placed her in her bed. According to Jackson, “that was cleaning up behind a wrong that I had already did.” Shortly thereafter, Sharon phoned Jackson and asked him to pick her up from work. When she asked the whereabouts of the girls, Jackson told her that Sonny had stayed late at school and that Ericka had gone to visit her army recruiter. Sharon checked on the girls when she arrived home and thought they were asleep. She asked Jackson not to wake them because they had stayed up late the night before. After telling Jackson that she still intended to divorce him, Jackson choked her to death, as well. He then pawned her sewing machine and got high on drugs. Family members found the bodies of the victims after Sharon Jackson did not report to work as a data entry clerk at the Harris County Clerk's office. At trial, Sharon's sister Sabrina Farley told a jury how she found their bodies in bed, as if they were sleeping. "They didn't move." Farley testified a friend said Sharon Jackson didn't pick her up for church, so she went to the apartment where a maintenance man broke a window and let her in. James Jackson encountered law enforcement officials shortly after he arrived at the crime scene at 9:40 a.m. on April 9, 1997. Upon his arrival, the victims’ family members cursed Jackson and accused him of committing the victims’ murders. One of these family members asked Jackson what he had done to the victims. Jackson expressed no curiosity about what this family member meant by this question and he did not ask anything about the victims or why the police were in his apartment. Jackson also did not appear upset or surprised about what was going on. Another one of the victims’ family members cursed Jackson and accused him of killing the victims. Family members who continued to shout threats at Jackson. Accordingly, Officer Gutierrez intervened and asked the family members to leave the area while he frisked Jackson, then placed him in the back seat of a patrol car without handcuffs. While Gutierrez removed Jackson from the vicinity of the victims’ enraged family members, Detective Rossi and several other deputies were investigating the crime scene in the apartment upstairs. During his first cursory inspection of the apartment, Rossi discovered a note which read: “I love Sharon, Sonny, Ericka. I could not take care of my family. I don’t have a job. I gave them back to God. He and they will understand. James.” One of the investigating officers then spoke to Jackson in the back of the police car. When the detective asked Jackson where he was the previous evening, Jackson stated that he left the apartment at about 4:15 p.m. and did not return until his recent arrival at the scene. Jackson also stated he had a drug problem and could not keep a job. Jackson agreed to accompany the police to the homicide office to give a statement. Jackson was transported to the homicide office in the back of a police car in handcuffs. The police told Jackson that he was not under arrest and that this was standard procedure. An officer testified that another reason Jackson was transported to the homicide office in handcuffs was for the officer’s safety because Jackson was 6'6" and weighed over 300 pounds. Jackson eventually confessed to the murders. During the punishment phase, the State called Ira Lane Mayes, the grandmother of Ericka and Sonny Mayes. Mayes testified to the reaction of her son, Johnny Melvin Mayes, upon hearing the news of his daughters’ murders, that she and her family had to physically hold him to keep him from going to the apartment where the girls were murdered, and that she finally asked a neighbor to call 911 and request police assistance in talking her son out of going to the apartment. She further testified that her son rolled on the ground of her home and screamed, “Just bury me in a hole, I can’t take it, I don’t have no children, I don’t have anybody anymore.” Since the death of the girls, her son had become forgetful, moaned frequently in the morning and at night, and stood in the dining room turning around and around the night before trial. During the punishment phase of Jackson’s trial, the State introduced the testimony of Wanda Wallace, the grandmother of three of Jackson’s children. Wallace testified that Jackson dated Wallace’s daughter and fathered three children by her. During February of 1989, Jackson introduced the woman to drugs, taking her and their three-year-old daughter over to a “drug house.” Wallace went to the “drug house” herself to retrieve the child and returned to her home with the child. When Wallace arrived home, Wallace’s husband and father were charging a car battery with jumper cables. Wallace returned the jumper cables to the trunk of the car and walked back between the car and the van. Her sister called, “Look out, he got a gun,” and Jackson fired a pellet at Wallace and hit her car trunk. Jackson’s second shot struck Wallace’s father in the face and ear. The third shot went over Wallace’s head and hit the windows of the apartment behind her. Jackson was charged with the felony offense of injury to the elderly and received ten years in the prison. Finally, Wallace testified that when her daughter became pregnant with their first child, Jackson was married to another woman. Jackson’s wife later died. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals made the following comments: "Although Jackson was perturbed about his impending divorce, his state of mind does not temper the commission of a triple murder. Disguising the girls’ deaths and lying to their mother about their whereabouts were deliberate acts calculated to conceal his actions. Further, his determination to kill Sharon on the morning after she told him that she intended to file for divorce exhibited forethought and deliberateness. These factors, coupled with Jackson’s prior criminal record, including his attempt to shoot his children’s grandmother, are evidence of an escalating pattern of violence." Sharon Jackson "lived for the Lord and her children," according to her older sister. Ericka Mayes was a senior honor student at Aldine MacArthur High School. She was an officer in the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps and planned to join the Army. Sonceria "Sonny" Mayes was a freshman at North Harris County Community College. She was taking core requirements while deciding what degree to pursue. Family members said James Jackson was a smooth-talking, well-muscled hulk when he swept Sharon Mayes off her feet and married her two years ago prior to the murders. She was unaware he had been a crack addict for seven years, family members said. "She said she was marrying the man of her dreams because as soon as they met they were in love," said Sharon's sister Jackie Jackson. "The first impression was good," Jackie Jackson said, "but after we found out who he really was, it turned real bad." And they said it didn't take long to find out. Jackson lost several jobs before his wife caught on to the reason things had started disappearing around the house. He even sold her wedding ring. To support his addiction, he traded the family's televisions, a videocassette recorder and even their Thunderbird, though it was later retrieved, family members said. He was in and out of rehabilitation clinics, and his wife threatened to kick him out many times. "He was a smooth talker, buying flowers, apologizing and crying and all that," Sharon Jackson's mother, Ethel Farley, said. He still couldn't keep a job and was often seen roaming the north Harris County apartment complex, neighbors said. On Tuesday morning, he told investigators he traded his wife's sewing machine for more crack. Sharon Jackson had bought it to make clothes for her girls. "She was such a good seamstress," Jackie Jackson said. He probably was still high when the first woman came home, Jorge said. Family members said he had always been particularly nice to the younger girl to the point that it seemed a little strange. "He asked the girl to come into the bedroom," Jorge said. "He asked her, `Does your mother talk about our divorcing?' Apparently he didn't like what she said. "He just held her like this till she went ... ," Jorge said showing how the young woman's neck was forced into the crook of the elbow, between the bicep and forearm. Investigators said he did the same thing to the second stepdaughter and, finally, to Sharon Jackson. "Sharon was such a vivacious person," her boss, Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said. "She had a lot of warmth. She had a great sense of humor. This tragedy is such a great blow."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 9, 2007    North Carolina Katherine Price  James Campbell stayed 

On September 11, 1992, the body of Katherine Price was found in a field in Rowan County, North Carolina. Price had sustained twenty-two knife wounds to her neck. Five days later, North Carolina police officers arrested James Adolph Campbell for the murder. He confessed, and directed the police to various pieces of physical evidence, including the knife used to kill Katherine. Campbell’s confession to police was both extensive and specific. He admitted to the following: Campbell initially met Katherine on September 8, 1992. On this day, he was searching for a weapon to kill himself and his ex-girlfriend, Tina, whom he had raped two days earlier. The next morning, Katherine Price saw Campbell walking on the street, and she offered him a ride. He accepted her invitation. While she was driving, he placed a knife to her throat and forced her to a secluded area. Campbell concluded that he would kill Katherine because he "couldn’t leave the girl there and I couldn’t take her with me." He asked her to have sex with him, and although she allegedly agreed, he explained that under the circumstances "you could call it rape." After raping her twice, Campbell began choking Katherine in her car with such strength that one of his thumbs went numb. He then switched to strangling Katherine with a piece of her shirt. This, however, proved inadequate to kill Katherine, as her shirt ripped and she was still breathing. Campbell thus removed Katherine from the vehicle, placed her where her body was later discovered, and "took my knife and stabbed her in the side of her throat. I sat and watched the blood come out of her throat and she was still moaning and groaning. I stabbed her many more times because I wanted her to die." Katherine Price finally succumbed. Campbell then took Katherine’s car and continued his search for a gun. In the evening, he visited a woman with whom he had carried on a relationship since July. They drove to where Campbell had left Katherine Price’s car, and he set it ablaze. Later, in the presence of police, Campbell confessed that he killed Katherine Price because he had been unable to kill Tina. On October 26, 1992, Campbell was indicted on several counts stemming from Katherine Price’s murder. He was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, the burning of personal property and armed robbery. A jury trial was held beginning in May 1993. At trial, the state introduced substantial evidence of Campbell’s guilt, in addition to his confession to police. A doctor testified that stab wounds to Katherine Price’s neck caused her death, and that blood found on her body matched Campbell’s blood and her own. Campbell’s brother-in-law testified that Campbell told him both that he killed an innocent person, and that he needed to dispose of his knife and tennis shoes. The woman who was with Campbell when he burned a car testified about that incident, and that, after he was arrested, he admitted to her that he had killed a girl. Campbell’s former girlfriend Tina asserted that three days before Campbell killed Katherine Price, he had forced her to drive to a wooded area and had raped her there. Tina further testified that she had not gone to the police out of fear of Campbell. Finally, three other women testified about prior crimes that Campbell had committed against them. He had kidnapped one of them, and raped the other two. Campbell testified at trial that he did not murder Katherine Price. He claimed that he had previously confessed to killing her to protect the woman who testified regarding the burning of the car, who actually committed the murder. According to Campbell, on the day of the murder he drove with Katherine Price to an area where he often took the other woman, and the two had consensual sex. He said the other woman subsequently arrived on the scene, saw the two of them together, and killed Katherine in a jealous rage. Campbell further declared that he had neither raped nor kidnapped the three women who testified for the prosecution about Campbell’s prior crimes. On June 29, 1993, the jury convicted Campbell on all counts. A sentencing hearing was held from June 29 to July 8. At the hearing, six witnesses testified for Campbell. Campbell and his two sisters testified about his abusive childhood. A former employer discussed Campbell’s good work habits, and the woman whom he had tried to blame the murder on described his capacity to love. Finally, a mental health professional opined extensively on Campbell’s mental state. The prosecution, in addition to the evidence presented at the guilt phase, introduced the testimony of two more women who had been accosted by Campbell. Campbell had put scissors to the throat of one, and had taken the other to a field, tied her to a tree, and abandoned her. The jury recommended that Campbell be sentenced to death. It found four aggravating circumstances: that Campbell was previously convicted of four felonies involving the use or threat of violence, that he murdered Price to avoid arrest, that the murder was committed while Campbell was engaged in rape and kidnapping and that the murder "was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel." At least one juror determined that a statutory mitigating circumstance was present, namely, that the murder was committed while Campbell "was under the influence of mental or emotional disturbance." Also, at least one juror found two non-statutory mitigating circumstances: that Campbell was "emotionally neglected and has chronic feelings of deprivation, inadequacy and anger," and that Campbell had "a history of substance abuse which began at a very early age as a consequence of a lack of supervision and a lack of family structure." All the jurors concluded, however, that the aggravating circumstances outweighed any mitigating ones, and were sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty. The trial court accepted the jury’s recommendation, and sentenced Campbell to death for first-degree murder. It also sentenced him to life imprisonment for each of the two counts of rape, thirty years for kidnapping, forty years for armed robbery, and ten years for the burning of personal property.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 13, 2007    Ohio Lisa Huff Filiaggi  James Filiaggi stayed 

James Filiaggi and Lisa Huff married in December 1991. There were two daughters born during the marriage. Lisa filed for divorce in August 1992, and the divorce was granted in February 1993. Lisa received custody of the children, although Filiaggi had visitation rights. Filiaggi was required to pay child support. Relations between Filiaggi and Lisa were strained. In the spring of 1993, Lisa and the two children moved into the home of Eric Beiswenger. In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric became engaged, and shortly thereafter, became the victims of telephone harassment and vandalism. Eric and Lisa suspected that Filiaggi was responsible for the acts, and set up video cameras hoping to capture him on tape. Lisa also carried a tape recorder with her. In the fall of 1993, Lisa and Eric recorded a phone conversation in which Filiaggi told Lisa that there are going to be "more headaches and heartaches if she tries to get more money out of him." Lisa Filiaggi had wondered aloud to her family about when authorities would take her complaints seriously. "What's it going to take?" she asked her sister. "One of us dead?" The 27-year-old mother of two tried for months to stop an obsessive ex-husband from harassing her. She told police that he sprayed tear gas on her car and threw a can of motor oil and rocks through her front window. But there was never enough evidence to prosecute. On December 19, 1993, Lisa and Eric went to the home of Filiaggi’s parents to pick up the children after a visit. Lisa carried a tape recorder in her pocket, which recorded the incident. Filiaggi and Lisa were arguing while Filiaggi put one child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. After putting the child in the seat, Filiaggi grabbed Lisa around the neck and she began screaming. Eric, who was outside the vehicle, grabbed Filiaggi by the waist and pulled him off her. Filiaggi turned around and struck Eric in the face numerous times. Eric suffered multiple broken bones in his face. The assault ended when Filiaggi’s mother came out, grabbed Filiaggi, and yelled at him to stop. The recording of the incident was admitted into evidence. Eric and Lisa pressed charges against Filiaggi, and he was arrested and indicted for felonious assault and domestic violence. He was released on bond awaiting trial. The picture window to Eric’s house was also broken on numerous occasions. On January 20, 1994, the last time there was an attempt to break the window, the video camera recorded the incident and clearly showed Filiaggi as the person throwing a bottle at the window. Charges were filed against Filiaggi for attempted vandalism, criminal trespassing, and intimidation of a witness. Two days later, Filiaggi purchased a 9mm Luger pistol, which had two clips for ammunition. He also purchased ammunition for the weapon, despite the fact that he already possessed another gun. According to the defense theory, he intended to go to Lisa’s house and kill himself in front of her. On January 24, 1994, Filiaggi took a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. He left six to seven hundred dollars with his girlfriend, Tracey. At approximately 10:45 p.m., the Lorain Police Department dispatcher received a call from Lisa. The call was tape-recorded. Lisa told the dispatcher that her ex-husband, Filiaggi, was at her back door and was breaking into her house. Filiaggi broke down the door and entered the house. Still carrying the telephone, Lisa fled out the front door. A neighbor named Robert who lived two doors away saw Lisa standing in the yard of the intervening neighbor and frantically looking around. Another neighbor was awakened by someone screaming, "God help me, someone, please, help me, he’s going to kill me." Lisa saw Robert looking out the window and ran towards his front door. He let her in, and Lisa told him that her ex-husband was after her with a gun. She looked petrified and ran past him while Robert locked the door behind her. Moments later, Robert heard a couple of bangs on the door and the door came crashing in. Filiaggi had a gun in his hand and asked Robert where she went. Robert said he did not know, and Filiaggi told Robert to help find her. They both started down the hallway. When they came to a linen closet, with the door partially open, Filiaggi opened the door and found Lisa. Filiaggi was very angry and pulled Lisa from the closet by the arm and swung her into the bathroom, which was across the hall from the closet. There was a struggle. Robert heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you to f*ck with me," and then heard two shots fired. Although shot in the shoulder, Lisa was able to get away and run across the hallway into one of the bedrooms. Robert, standing partially in one of the bedrooms, was pleading with Filiaggi not to shoot her. Robert was in another bedroom and Filiaggi told Robert to close the bedroom door and stay out. Robert again heard Filiaggi tell Lisa, "This will teach you not to f*ck with me" and heard two more shots. Robert then heard footsteps down the hallway. Robert came out of the bedroom and saw Lisa slumped against the wall. She had been shot in the head. Robert attempted to call 911, but noticed a policeman coming through his front door. About twenty minutes away, in Amherst Township, Lisa’s stepfather Delbert, was watching the news. At 11:15 p.m., he heard pounding at the front door. While he had a motion detector light on the side of the trailer, it was not on and the area outside the door was dark. He was home alone and had previously been vandalized, so he picked up a can of red pepper spray and went to the door. He opened the door about three inches and saw Filiaggi. Filiaggi then bashed the door in. Filiaggi came in the house and said, "Are you ready to die?" Delbert saw a gun in Filiaggi’s right hand. Filiaggi brought the gun up to shoot Delbert and said, "I’m going to kill you." Delbert sprayed Filiaggi in the face with the pepper spray, and Filiaggi shot at him twice, but did not hit him. Delbert managed to get out of the trailer, without a coat or shoes. He ran to four separate trailers, knocking on doors, finally gaining admittance to the fourth one where he was able to call 911. He tried to call Lisa, but was shaking too badly. On the morning of January 25, 1994, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Filiaggi arrived at the home of a college friend. Filiaggi asked if he could "crash," and he laid down on the couch. The college friend took his girlfriend to work later that morning. His girlfriend later called him and told him that Filiaggi had killed Lisa. The man confronted Filiaggi about it. Filiaggi got up off the couch and a gun fell to the floor. Filiaggi then left the house. On January 27, 1994, Filiaggi took another $1,000 cash advance. Filiaggi fled the state, but returned to Lorain, when he discovered that his parents may lose their house which had been put up for his bond on the previous charges. Filiaggi had rented a car at the Pittsburgh Airport that was later recovered in an area near Filiaggi’s parents’ home. The car contained the rental agreement as well as several rounds of 9 mm ammunition. The murder weapon was never found. Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming a poor diet was what caused him to react violently; the so-called "Twinkie defense." He also waived his right to be tried by a jury. A three-judge panel heard the evidence presented on all charges. The three-judge panel entered its verdict on the aggravated murder charge, but only the presiding judge entered a verdict on the remaining charges. The three-judge panel found Filiaggi guilty of aggravated murder and the three capital specifications: the offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by Filiaggi; the offense was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by Filiaggi; and the victim of the offense was a witness to prior offenses by Filiaggi and was purposely killed to prevent her testimony in a criminal proceeding concerning those prior offenses. The case proceeded to the penalty phase and the panel sentenced Filiaggi to death. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 15, 2007    Virginia Stacey Lynn Reed, 16 Paul Powell stayed 

In January 1999, Robert Culver and his fiancée, Lorraine Reed, lived together in a small brick home on McLean Street in Manassas, Virginia, with Reed's two daughters, Stacey Lynn Reed and Kristie Erin Reed. On January 29, 1999, Paul Warner Powell, then 20, went to visit the Reeds' home. Powell was carrying two knives and a 9 mm handgun. Stacey, then 16 years old, left home to go to work, and Powell remained there alone with Kristie, who was 14. That afternoon, Kristie called her mother by telephone and informed her that Powell refused to leave the home. Kristie's mother told Kristie to order Powell to leave. Kristie was concerned because Powell "kept walking back and forth down the hallway looking in the rooms." On the afternoon of January 29, 1999, Kristie arrived home from school and was startled to find Powell in her house. She asked Powell "where Stacey was." He replied, "she was in her room." Kristie walked to Stacey's room, but Stacey was not there. Then, Kristie turned to enter her own room and saw Stacey's body lying on the floor. Powell, who had followed Kristie to the bedroom, ordered Kristie to go downstairs to the basement. Kristie knew that Powell customarily armed himself with a knife. She had previously observed Powell with a butterfly knife and "another long knife that was in a brown pouch type thing." Powell forced Kristie to accompany him to the basement, where he ordered her to remove her clothes. She took her clothes off because she "didn't want to die." Powell told Kristie to lay on the floor, and then he raped her. After Powell raped Kristie, he dressed himself, and he used shoelaces taken from Kristie's shoes to tie her feet together. He also used shoelaces to tie her arms behind her back. Someone knocked on the door to the house, and Powell went upstairs, leaving Kristie naked and bound on the basement floor. While Powell was upstairs, Kristie was able to free her hands, and she tried to "scoot" across the floor and hide beneath the basement steps. Powell returned to the basement, removed Kristie's eyeglasses, and strangled her until she was unconscious. Powell stabbed Kristie in the stomach, and the knife stopped within a centimeter of her aorta. He slashed her in her neck numerous times, and the repair of the knife wounds required 61 sutures. She had multiple stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. She also had wounds on her wrists. Robert Culver arrived at the home at 4:15 p.m. on January 29, 1999. He could not locate Kristie or Stacey. He went to the girls' bedrooms and saw that Stacey's room was in disarray. He entered Kristie's room, turned on the lights, and found Stacey's body on the floor. He observed blood on her body and saw that she was not breathing. When Culver went to the basement in search of a telephone, he discovered Kristie lying naked and bound on the floor, bleeding from her neck and stomach. He saw that she had been stabbed in the stomach and her "throat was slit pretty severely, many times." Culver found a telephone, dialed 911, and spoke to emergency response personnel. In a recent interview, Robert Culver said the worst part for him are the regrets of that day. He says he had a cold and that his boss told him he could leave early on that day. He almost took him up on the offer, but didn't want the girls to think he came home early because he didn't trust them to be alone. "Little things like that," he said. "I should have been home." Although Kristie was experiencing life-threatening injuries, she was able to tell police officers and paramedics that Paul Powell was her assailant. Stacey's death was caused by a stab wound to her chest. The wound pattern indicated that the blade of the knife pierced her heart and was twisted upon withdrawal. The blade of Powell's knife was consistent with the stab wounds. There were numerous bruises on Stacey's head, neck, chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs. She suffered stab wounds in her back and arm. She also had abrasions on her left hand and wrist that were characterized as defensive wounds. Stacey's body contained bruises on her lower neck that were consistent with someone stepping or stomping on her face and neck. Police officers arrested Powell on January 30, 1999 at the home of a friend. The police officers also located a blue sports bag that belonged to Powell. A nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol with a full magazine containing 10 Winchester nine- millimeter cartridges was in the bag. The bag also contained a survival knife with a five and one-half inch blade inside a black sheath and a butterfly knife with a five inch blade. The survival knife sheath contained a dark reddish-brown stain. The DNA profile obtained from the stain on the sheath was consistent with the DNA profile of Stacey Reed and different from the DNA profile of Kristie Reed and Paul Powell. The probability of selecting an unrelated individual with a matching DNA profile is approximately one in 1.1 billion in the Caucasian population. After his arrest, Powell consented to several interviews with police officers. During one interview, he stated that he had been at the Reeds' home on January 29, 1999 and that Stacey was dead because "she was stupid." Powell told the police officers that he and Stacey had an argument because she had a black boyfriend, and Powell "didn't agree with interracial dating." Powell claimed that during the argument, Stacey attacked him and scratched his face, and then he pushed her to the floor. He claimed that Stacey attacked him again, and that she "got stuck" on his knife. Powell also initially denied raping Kristie. In a second statement to police officers, Powell admitted that he raped Kristie. The detective who interviewed Powell testified that Powell stated that he had to kill Kristie because "she was the only witness and he would have to go to jail." Powell was sentenced to death in August, 2000. In 2001, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned his death sentence, saying that prosecutors had failed to prove that Powell had raped Stacey which was part of the reason for defining the case as a capital murder. A murder that is committed in conjunction with another felony is one of the requirements for a death sentence and the appeals court felt that the rape of Stacey's sister Kristie was a separate act. Under the erroneous assumption that this meant he could no longer face the death penalty, Powell wrote two letters to the Commonwealth's Attorney of Prince William County, Paul Ebert. Below is the content of a letter that Powell wrote, dated October 21, 2001. "Mr. Ebert, Since I have already been indicted on first degree murder and the Va. Supreme Court said that I can't be charged with capital murder again, I figured I would tell you the rest of what happened on Jan. 29, 1999, to show you how stupid all of y'all mother f*ckers are. Y'all should have known that there is more to the story than what I told by what I said. You had it in writing that I planned to kill the whole family. Since I planned to kill the whole family, why would I have fought with Stacie before killing her? She had no idea I was planning to kill everybody and talked and carried on like usual, so I could've stabbed her up at any time because she was unsuspecting. I had other plans for her before she died. You know I came back to the house after Bobby's lunch break was over and he had went back to work. When I got back, she was on the phone so I went inside and I laid down on the couch. When the cab came to bring me my pager, I ran out of the house and she jumped and got off the phone and came off the porch to see why I ran out of the house like I did. When the cab left we went in the house. I laid on the couch again and she went to her room and got her clothes and went downstairs to do her laundry. When she went downstairs, I got up and shut and locked the back door and went downstairs. We talked while she put her clothes in the wash. We continued talking when she had everything in the wash and I reached over and touched her ti+ and asked if she wanted to f*ck. She said no, because she had a boyfriend. I started arguing with her because she had never turned anybody down because of having a boyfriend. We started walking upstairs, arguing the whole time. When we got upstairs we went to her room and she turned the radio off. After she turned the radio off I pushed her onto her bed and grabbed her wrists and pinned her hands down by her head and sat on top of her. I told her that all I wanted to do was f*ck her and then I would leave and that we could do it the easy way or the hard way. She said she would f*ck me so I got up. After I got up, she got up and started fighting with me and clawed me face. We wrestled around a little and then I slammed her to the floor. When she hit the floor I sat on top of her and pinned her hands down again. She said she would f*ck me and I told her that if she tried fighting with me again, I would kill her. When I got up she stood up and kept asking me why I was doing this and all I kept saying is take your clothes off. Finally she undid her pants and pulled them down to her ankles. She was getting ready to take them the rest of the way off and the phone rang. When she heard the phone she pulled her pants back up and said she had to answer the phone. I pushed her back and said no. She said that she wouldn't say anything about me being there and I told her no and to take her clothes off. She tried to get out of the room again and I pushed her back and pulled out my knife. I guess she thought I was just trying to scare her and that I wouldn't really stab her because she tried to leave again. When she got to me and tried to squeeze between me and the door jam I stabbed her. When I stabbed her, she fell back against the door jam and just looked at me with a shocked look on her face. When I pulled the knife out she stumbled a couple steps and fell in her sister's room. I walked over and looked at her. I saw that she was still breathing so I stepped over her body and into the bedroom. Then I put my foot on her throat and stepped up so she couldn't breath. Then I stepped down and started stomping on her throat. Then I stepped back onto her throat and moved up and down putting more pressure to make it harder to breathe. When I didn't see her breathing anymore, I left the room and got some iced tea and sat on the couch and smoked a cigarette. You know the rest of what happened after that point. I would like to thank you for saving my life. I know you're probably wondering how you saved my life, so I'll tell you. You saved my life by f*cking up. There were 2 main f*ck-ups you made that saved me. The first was the way you worded my capital murder indictment. The second was the comment you made in your closing argument when you said we won't know because he won't tell us. One more time, thank you! Now y'all know everything that happened in that house at 8023 McLean St. on Jan. 29, 1999. I guess I forgot to mention these events when I was being questioned. Ha Ha! Sike! I knew what y'all would be able to prove in court, so I told you what you already knew. Stacey was dead and no one else was in the house so I knew ya'll would never know everything she went through unless she came back to life. Since the Supreme Court said I can't be charged with capital murder again, I can tell you what I just told you because I no longer have to worry about the death penalty. And y'all are supposed to be so goddamn smart. I can't believe that y'all thought I told you everything. Well, it's too late now. Nothing you can do about it now so f*ck you you fat, c*cksucking, c*m guzzling, gutter slu+. I guess I'll see your bi+ch a$$ on Dec. 18 at trial because I'm not pleading to shi+. Tell the family to be ready to testify and relive it all again because if I have to suffer for the next 50 or 60 years or however long then they can suffer the torment of reliving what happened for a couple of days. I'm gone. F*ck you and anyone like you or that associates with people like you. I almost forgot, f*ck your god, too. Jesus knows how to suck a d*ck real good. Did you teach him? Well, die a slow, painful, miserable death. See ya punk. Do you just hate yourself for being so stupid and for f*ckin' up and saving me? Sincerely, Paul Powell." In a statement to a police officer on November 2, 2001, Powell gave the following description of Stacey's murder: "She walked over to and uh I pushed her back. And then she walked over to me again I think and then I pulled my knife out and you know, and she looked at me you know. I guess she thought I wouldn't stab her or whatever. So she tried to leave and go to answer the phone. That's that. . . . . After she got stabbed, she just looked at me for a minute you know and then you know, she . . .she was surprised and them um, I pulled the knife out, you know she stumbled a few steps, fell down in Christy's doorway. I just walked over and looked at her. And I stepped over top of her and stepped on her throat and then stood on her throat and then stomped on her throat . . . then I stood on her throat until I didn't see her breathing no more. . . . .What I'm saying I was stepping on her. I'm saying I put all my weight on her. I'm saying that I put my foot there you know and then I lifted myself up to where I was standing on top of her. Started stomping on her throat. And then man, I just stood on her throat again until I didn't see her breathe no more." Before he raped Kristie, Powell knew that he intended to kill her. In response to a police officer's question: "Before you raped Kristie, you knew you were going to kill her; didn't you?", Powell responded: "I really didn't have a choice; did I?" While incarcerated in jail awaiting his capital murder trial, Powell sent a letter to Lorraine Reed, the mother of Stacey and Kristie. Powell enclosed a photograph of a partially nude woman. Powell wrote: "Lorraine, I was wondering if you might be able to help me think of something. I found this picture in a magazine and it kinda looks like someone I know or used to know, but I can't think of the persons name. I think you know the person too, so I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the person this picture resembles so I can quit racking my brain trying to think of it? I would appreciate it. If you don't know the person I'm talking about, ask Kristie or Kelly Welch because I know they know who I'm thinking of. If you talk to the person I'm talking about, please give her my address and tell her to write me." The partially nude woman shown in the photograph resembled Lorraine Reed's daughter, Stacey. Powell wrote a letter to a friend while he was incarcerated. He stated: "About when you asked me why I wouldn't do to you what I did to Stacie, I couldn't ever hurt you because you mean to much to me. See Stacie didn't mean anything to me. She was a ni**er lover and some of her wannabe skin head friends were supposed to kill me. That's part of the reason why she died. Almost everything that happened in that house was planned. The only thing that wasn't planned was trying to f*ck Kristie. What was supposed to happen was, Stacie was supposed to die, and did, Kristie was supposed to die and then I was going to wait for their mom and stepdad to get home and I was going to kill them and then I was going to take their moms truck and then I was gonna go to North Carolina and knock this dude off that stole all of my clothes and everything else I owned. I had been thinking about doing it for along time but I could never bring myself to do it. I don't know what happened to make me finally do it. I feel bad for doing it. Stacie was a good kid." Powell wrote, in another letter: "Hey babe, what's happening? Not too much here. I writing you to see if you could get one of your guy friends to do me a favor. You know that Kristie is telling the cops things and that she is going to testify against me in court. I was wondering if you could get somebody to go to a pay phone and call Kristie and tell her she better tell the cops that she lied to them and tell her she better not testify against me or she's gonna die." Powell sent the following letter to the Commonwealth's Attorney of Prince William County: "Fat Ebert, "What's up you fat head f*cker? I'm just writing to tell you, since you want to kill me so Goddamn bad for killing your ni**er loving whore, set up a court date closer than Oct. 25 so I can go ahead and get this bullshi+ over with and plead guilty so you can kill me and get it over with, unless you want to let me out so I can kill the rest of the ni**er lovers and all the ni**ers, Jews, Sp*cs and everybody else in this f*cked up country that's not white. That includes you because you are a ni**er loving Jewish f*cking fa**ot. I will see you in hell bi+ch. your buddy, Paul Powell - P.S. Watch your back!"    The jury viewed writings and drawings taken from Powell's jail cell that demonstrated his hatred of people who were not Caucasian. Additionally, the jury heard evidence that Powell told police officers that he was a racist and described his violent racial views. He stated, "everybody that ain't white shouldn't – he needs to die." Powell had told a police officer that he wanted to purchase a gun to "kill somebody. Kill a lot of somebodies . . . just for something to do." The jury was aware of Powell's criminal record, including three convictions for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two larceny convictions, and three felony convictions for abduction, rape, and attempted capital murder of Kristie. In supporting the jury's finding that Powell's conduct was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved . . . depravity of mind and. . . aggravated battery to the victim beyond the minimum necessary to accomplish the act of murder, the criminal appeals court in Virginia commented, "The day before Powell committed these gruesome crimes, he went to the victims' home and surveyed the interior of the house. He returned the next day and tried to rape Stacey, who struggled with him. He stabbed her in the heart, twisted the knife, and reinserted the knife in her heart. He stomped upon her throat and he placed the entire weight of his body on her throat until she died. Next, he drank a glass of iced tea, smoked a cigarette, and waited for Stacey's younger 14-year-old sister to return home. When Kristie arrived, Powell directed her to her sister's body, forced her downstairs into the basement, and raped her on the floor. He then tied her hands and feet while she was naked, choked her until she was unconscious, stabbed her in the stomach, and slashed her neck numerous times in an attempt to kill her." After the vicious attacks, Powell had snuck out the back door, leaving Kristie for dead. He drove with a friend to Washington and bought some drugs, then returned to the friend's girlfriend's house where the drank beer and ordered a pizza. They were still waiting for it to be delivered when police knocked on the door. Powell did not know his younger victim had survived and identified her attacker. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. UPDATE: Paul Powell's execution was stayed so that Powell can pursue federal appeals. "It doesn't surprise me," said Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert. "I knew when it was set it would be a one in a million chance that it would go through on schedule." Ebert said Powell has exhausted all state appeals and that the state Supreme Court has upheld his convictions. "It just shows how ridiculous it is to continue to afford these folks appeal after appeal to attack their convictions at the taxpayers' expense," Ebert said. Ebert said another major criticism about the United States appeals system is that it's "so slow." "And as they say, justice delayed is justice denied," Ebert said. Powell's attorneys have until March 9 to file his federal habeas corpus petition, and the Attorney General's office is required to respond by April 10.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 22, 2007   Tennessee  Edith Russell  Edward Harbison stayed 

On January 15, 1983, Frank Russell returned home from work to discover that his wife, Edith, had been murdered. The Russells rented an apartment at the back of their Chattanooga, Tennessee, house to a tenant who, at that time, was away on vacation, and Edith’s body was found inside this apartment. Medical examiners determined that the cause of her death was “massive multiple skull fractures with marked lacerations of the scalp and head, expelling brain tissue and literally crushing the victim’s face and disfiguring her beyond recognition.” Edith was last seen that afternoon at a neighborhood market, where witnesses spoke with her between approximately 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. Bags of groceries and ignition keys were found in Edith’s car, which was parked in the driveway, when her body was discovered near midnight. Nothing in the record indicates a precise time of death. The logical inference is that Edith was killed a short time after purchasing the groceries in the middle of the afternoon, or else she would have taken them and her keys out of her car. Moreover, the porch lights were off. Her husband said she always left the outside lights on for protection. The Russells’ house and the rented apartment were burglarized. Missing items included “an RCA XL-100 television, two cable television converters, a quartz heater, a Polaroid 210 camera, a silver Cross pen and pencil set, a jeweler’s loupe, a jewelry box, antique jewelry, a marble vase, and Edith’s purse.” The police later found the quartz heater, the Polaroid camera, the pen and pencil set, and the jeweler’s loop in the residence of Janice Duckett, who was Harbison’s girlfriend and co-defendant David Schreane’s sister. The jeweler’s loop was found in Harbison’s shaving kit. In an adjacent unoccupied apartment, the police found Edith’s purse, a jewelry box, and two large paper bags containing antique glassware and brassware. The stolen television was found in the residence of Schreane’s girlfriend. Schreane was taken into custody and questioned on February 21, 1983, when he led police to the missing marble vase. Chemical testing later revealed the presence of blood on the vase. Furthermore, debris that was vacuumed from the carpet in Harbison’s car revealed crystalline calcite fragments that were consistent with the marble vase. Harbison also was arrested on February 21, 1983. In a taped statement, he confessed to killing Edith Russell. Harbison stated that after he drove his girlfriend home from work, he and Schreane went to the Russell home, determined that it was empty, and used a screwdriver to break into the residence. While he and Schreane were carrying the stolen items from the house and the apartment to their car, Edith returned home. Harbison contended that he thought Edith was reaching for a gun, so he grabbed her. He stated that he hit her with the marble vase, “at the most” two times. At his trial, Harbison testified that he had not killed Edith Russell and that he was not at the Russell house on the day of the murder. He said that he was at his girlfriend’s home that afternoon and evening. He asserted that his confession was coerced, and that the police had threatened to arrest his girlfriend and take away her children if he did not confess. He further testified that the police had told him what to say and that his taped confession, which was played to the jury, had been altered. Finally, he testified that he had purchased the jeweler’s loupe at a pawn shop. The officer principally responsible for investigating Edith Russell’s murder, indicated that Ray Harrison had a motive to burglarize and/or murder Edith Russell. Ray Harrison told the detective that he had tried to sell Russell a ring the previous week, but that she did not buy it. Harrison’s cousin confirmed that he had given a ring to Ray Harrison a week before Edith’s murder and that Harrison was supposed to sell the ring for him. Ray Harrison’s wife told police that Edith Russell had taken the ring to a jeweler for an appraisal and purportedly determined that it contained a fake diamond. The police interview with Ray Harrison’s brother-in-law indicated that “Ray Harrison and (his cousin) were mad at Edith Russell because they believed that she had ‘switched rings on Ray.’” Harbison was convicted and sentenced to death.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 22, 2007    Texas Frank Cobb, 71
Bertha Cobb, 61
Newton Anderson executed 

Frank and Bertha Cobb were murdered on March 4, 1999. Two witnesses saw a man walking along the highway near the Cobbs’ house in New Harmony, Texas at approximately 2:30 p.m. on that date. A neighbor later that day passed the Cobbs’ maroon Cadillac on the highway. When the neighbor arrived at home, she observed that the Cobbs’ house was on fire. A volunteer firefighter who had passed the Cobbs’ Cadillac en route to the Cobb house later identified Newton Burton Anderson as the driver of the car. Firefighters discovered the bodies of Frank and Bertha Cobb in the house. Frank's hands were bound with electrical tape and he was shot in the upper torso and in the head with his own 410 shotgun. Bertha was and they had both been shot in the head. It is believed that the Cobbs caught Anderson in the act of burglarizing their home. Anderson then tied up Bertha Cobb, bound her with duct tape, raped, strangled and suffocated her, then shot her one time in the head with the shotgun. The house was set on fire to conceal the crime. Anderson took approximately $100 in cash, as well as clothing and electronic equipment and fled the scene in the couple's car. Firefighters searched for hours before the couple's charred remains were discovered. On the day of the murders, Anderson pulled into the trailer park where he lived with his brother-in-law’s nephew and asked for help unloading clothing, a duffle bag, a suitcase, toiletry items, and an oscillating fan from the maroon Cadillac. The Cobbs’ son later identified those items as having come from his parents’ home. Anderson left the trailer park after unloading the property, and after returning, he told the nephew that he abandoned the Cadillac off the highway behind a building. Officials later discovered the vehicle where Anderson said he had left it. That night, Anderson asked his brother-in-law’s niece and her boyfriend for a ride to a Dallas night club. He offered to pay them eighty dollars, which was unusual because Anderson did not ordinarily have extra cash. Bertha had cashed a check for $892.00 that very day, and kept eight hundred dollars in cash, but investigating officers found no cash in the Cobb home. Also unusual were the expensive clothes Anderson was wearing. Witnesses at the night club observed that Anderson had a large amount of cash and bought a round of drinks for everyone at the bar. When asked whether he had broken into someone’s house, Anderson replied, “Yeah. I did something like that.” Anderson later told his sister during a phone conversation that he “did it.” Kevin Cobb is the son of Frank and Bertha Cobb, 71 and 61. Smith County district attorney Matt Bingham says "His motive was not just to take the property but was also to torture them and ultimately kill them, and that's what he did. And he deserves exactly what he's getting." The Cobbs' grown children say their parents are missed daily. "My mother was a hard, hard-working, strong-willed Christian who could cook really good," Kevin Cobb said. "They were both devoted Christians and their deaths have been devastating to their church, their friends and their family. They are missed very much."  The Cobbs' names are etched into a granite victims' memorial in downtown Tyler. Their daughter, Carolyn Sanders, said, "It's always there and it's always brought up. It's not as frequent as it used to be, but it's still brought up." Sanders says she will join several of her family members to witness the lethal injection. "I've always believed in the death penalty, and now I know why," Sanders said. She said Anderson’s execution will bring some closure to years of pain. "This will be the end of it and then we can close and go on with the rest of our lives," Sanders said. At trial, a DNA expert testified for the prosecution that the DNA from the semen discovered in Bertha Cobb’s body matched Newton Anderson’s DNA. Anderson was indicted, tried, and convicted in Texas state court of killing two persons “during the same criminal transaction.” At trial he pleaded not guilty, did not testify, and was convicted by a jury. Anderson was sentenced to death, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed. UPDATE: Newton Anderson was executed almost eight years after the brutal murders of Frank and Bertha Cobb.  In a handwritten statement distributed after his death, Anderson again apologized to the family of his victims. "I only want to say that for the last eight years I have had to live with my guilt and shame. I know I was wrong and now I give my life," he wrote. He concluded, "I give my life. I hope it is enough for everyone. If things could be undone, I would do it, I would do it!!:"

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 27, 2007 Texas Michael Dennis Mozingo, 29
Kenneth Whitt, 19 
Donald Miller executed 

In early 1982, Michael Mozingo and Kenneth Whitt, traveling furniture salesmen, were approached by Donald Miller, Eddie Segura, and Danny Woods, who feigned interest in purchasing furniture. After Mozingo and Whitt were lured to Segura’s house to deliver the furniture, they were robbed, bound, and gagged. Miller, Segura, and Woods drove Michael Mozingo and Kenneth Whitt to Lake Houston in Harris County, Texas, where they were murdered by Miller and Woods. The brother of Segura’s then girlfriend visited Miller’s home the night of the murders. Outside Miller’s presence, Segura and Woods described the night’s events to the man. Later that night, Miller paid the man to go to the murder site, in order to confirm the bodies were still there. He was unable to find the bodies, but returned with Miller and found them. In October 1982, Miller was convicted for capital murder, and sentenced to death, for murdering Mozingo while in the course of committing, and attempting to commit, aggravated robbery. Segura testified against Miller; Woods did not testify. (Before Miller’s trial, Woods had pleaded guilty to murder; Segura, to aggravated robbery. Woods was sentenced, before Miller’s trial, to two life sentences. Segura was sentenced, after Miller’s trial, to 25 years in prison.)

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 27, 2007    Ohio Jason Brewer, 27 Christopher Newton stayed 

On 11/15/01, Christopher Newton murdered his cellmate, 27-year-old Jason Brewer, at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. The two men got into an argument over a game of chess when Newton attacked Jason Brewer and began hitting him in the face. He then tied a piece of rope around his neck and stuck a gag down his throat. When Newton realized that Brewer was still alive, he cut a piece of cloth and strangled him with it. Newton wrote out a detailed confession to the murder before he killed Brewer.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 27, 2007    Pennsylvania Jennifer Myers, 44 Kevin Dowling stayed 

Kevin Dowling was sentenced to death for killing Jennifer Myers in order to prevent her from testifying against him. Jennifer, a mother of two, was murdered at her art gallery and frame shop on Route 116 near Spring Grove just days before Dowling was to stand trial for robbing and sexually assaulting her at the store in August of 1996. Four months after the robbery, Jennifer spotted him at After Jennifer was murdered, Dowling was found guilty of the sexual assault and robbery and sentenced to a term of 9 - 18 years in prison. Several witnesses saw Dowling and his car near the frame shop on the day of the killing. Jennifer was found on the floor of her shop shot once in the chest and once point-blank in the eye. Dowling claimed to have gone fishing on the day of the murder and as an alibi he produced a videotape that showed him fishing that was time-stamped and proved he could  not have killed Jennifer. The prosecutor's office believed that the fishing trip was false and used software to help prove that the tape was not recorded on that day. They were able to measure the length of the shadows on the videotape and prove that the actual time and the time stamp differed by as much as three hours, allowing enough time for Dowling to have committed the murder. Additionally, clothing found at Dowling's home showed traces of gun shot residue. At his sentencing hearing, Dowling said he had no remorse "because I have no reason to express remorse." Dowling claimed he was the victim of a vast conspiracy.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 28, 2007    Tennessee Stephen Edward Holton, 12
Brent Holton, 10
Eric Holton, 7
Kayla Marie Holton, 4
Daryl Holton stayed 

Daryl Holton was convicted of four counts of premeditated first degree murder for killing his four children in 1997. All four children, twelve-year-old Stephen Edward Holton, ten-year-old Brent Holton, six-year-old Eric Holton, and four-year-old Kayla Marie Holton, were shot to death with a Russian SKS semi-automatic assault rifle, police said. Kayla was not Holton’s daughter, but he considered her his child. Holton, who had been involved in a custody fight with his ex-wife, turned himself in at the police station and said he had killed the children. They were found, shot to death, in rooms Holton had been living in behind an auto repair shop owned by his uncle. Holton and his ex-wife had married in 1984. Holton was in the Army at the time and was deployed to Germany. The couple had two sons during the Germany assignment. Holton was then stationed in Georgia for a time before volunteering for service in Saudi Arabia. His family remained in the US, and their third son was born during this time. Around this time, Holton's paychecks began to be routed incorrectly and his wife experienced some serious financial problems. Additionally, she left the children alone overnight while out at a dance hall. police and children's services representatives greeted her upon her return. She was allowed to retain custody of the children, but voluntarily placed them in the care of Daryl Holton's father in Tennessee and went to live with a friend in Georgia. Holton secured an emergency leave of absence when he learned of these problems, but could not resolve the problems in the marriage and eventually returned to the middle east and left the children in his father's custody. Their mother lived for a time in Indiana then South Carolina. Upon his return to Georgia in 1992, Holton obtained a divorce from his wife on grounds of desertion, and gained custody of the children. He obtained an honorable discharge from the Army and moved to Tennessee. Holton took the children to South Carolina to visit their mother two or three times a month. In 1993, Holton's ex-wife gave birth to Kayla who was the result of a one-night stand with a black man. Holton accepted Kayla as his own child and suggested that she be given his last name. During the pregnancy, the couple began living together again. They did not remarry but lived together as a family again for about 2 years. However, Ms. Holton was drinking very heavily during this period and this resulted in some violent fights with her husband. She eventually moved out of the apartment and went to a shelter with the children. They then moved into public housing in Murfreesboro. When Holton finally learned of their location, he began visiting the kids daily. Eventually the court awarded him weekend visitation. He told his ex-wife that he was concerned about the crime rate where she lived and also complained to her about the lack of housekeeping and the condition of the apartment. In 1995, an incident occurred where Holton had the children for the weekend and upon returning them, refused to let them get out of the car. He told his ex-wife that she had to get into the car in order to see them. She said she did not see any weapons, but got the impression that Holton was armed. She refused to get in the car, and Holton drove away, saying that she was "going to regret it." She immediately called the police, and Holton heard the report on a police scanner in his car so he drove to the police station and surrendered the children. Thereafter, Holton periodically threatened his ex-wife that she would regret it if she ever took his children away from him. Holton continued visitation with the children until the late summer or early fall of 1997, at which time his ex-wife obtained an order of protection against Holton and moved to a new address. Holton was not informed of the move and did not see the children again until November 30, 1997, the day he murdered them. Ms. Holton had begun living with a man who had a young daughter. On Thanksgiving, she called Holton and told him that the children missed him and wanted to see him. They made arrangements for him to pick them up on Sunday, November 30th and return them by 9:30 that evening. On Sunday, the children appeared to be excited about the scheduled visit with their father. Brent drew his father a picture inscribed with the words, “From Brent and Kayla. I love you Daddy.” Also, when the Holtons met at the Wal-Mart at 3:00 p.m., the children ran to Holton and hugged him. He returned his children’s embraces, however, Ms. Holton recalled that Holton appeared detached or “numb.” After leaving her children with Holton, their mother never saw them alive again. At approximately 9:44 p.m. on November 30, 1997, Holton walked into the lobby of the Shelbyville Police Department and informed the dispatcher that he wished to report a “homicide times four.” The dispatcher testified at trial that Holton appeared to be calm and, indeed, displayed no emotion. She asked him to wait in the lobby and, because there were no officers present at the police station, radioed for assistance. An officer testified at trial that he was driving into the parking lot of the police station when he overheard the dispatcher on the radio requesting assistance. When the officer approached Holton, he stated his name, address, and birth date and again indicated that he wished to report four homicides. When the officer further inquired how Holton had learned of the homicides, he responded that he had killed his four children. Holton then spontaneously stood and placed his hands behind his back in order to allow the officer to handcuff him. Holton continued talking, explaining to the officer that he had murdered his children because his wife and the Department of Human Services had withheld them for several months without permitting him visitation. Holton also informed the officer that he had killed the children in his uncle’s automobile repair garage with an SKS semi-automatic rifle and indicated that both the murder weapon and the bodies were still inside the garage. He also told police he had made some bombs that were located in his apartment. Police found five incendiary devices that were described as similar to molotov cocktails. Holton had planned to return to Murfreesboro after murdering his children and “to basically shoot” the young daughter of his ex-wife’s current boyfriend, in addition to firebombing his ex-wife’s new residence. For the purpose of firebombing his ex-wife’s residence, he prepared five incendiary devices or “fire bombs.” He also ascertained his ex-wife’s new address using a telephone book, street maps, and the number that he had retrieved from the caller ID unit on his telephone. On Sunday, November 30, Holton retrieved his children from his ex-wife at a Wal-Mart in Murfreesboro. He recalled that Ms. Holton “was dressed nicely. She was wearing makeup. She said she was happy. And that did not make me happy.” He also related that his children “all came up and hugged me. Kayla just wouldn’t let go of me. As many times that I hadn’t seen them for a while, and she grabbed me and she wouldn’t let me go.” Notwithstanding his children’s obvious joy at reuniting with their father, Holton never reconsidered his plan to murder them. Holton took his children to a McDonald’s restaurant to eat dinner and to an amusement park or arcade before driving them to his uncle’s garage. He noted to police that he “had to play along to avoid any suspicion on the children’s part.” At the garage, Holton showed the children several motors and permitted them to play with some of the tools. Holton also recalled, “We just told each other we missed each other.” Finally, at approximately 7:00 pm or 7:30 pm, Holton left Eric and Kayla playing in a front bay of the garage with an electric drill and a hammer and led Stephen and Brent to the rear bay where he had earlier hidden the SKS rifle. In the rear bay, Holton indicated to his older sons that he “had something for them.” He then instructed them to close their eyes and stand in a line facing away from him, with Stephen in front and the shorter Brent behind. Holton cautioned, “Don’t peek,” before removing the SKS rifle from its hiding place, kneeling behind the children, and aiming the rifle. Holton explained that he positioned the children to enable him to pierce their hearts with a single shot. When he fired the first shot, the barrel of the rifle was angled upward and touching Brent’s back. Holton conceded that he “used multiple shots to ensure that I killed them both” and recalled that he covered their bodies with a tarpaulin to conceal them from their younger siblings. Holton next brought Eric and Kayla to the rear bay, again indicating that he “had something for them.” The two children evidently had not heard any gunshots and inquired about their older brothers. In response, Holton positioned them in a line as he had their brothers, “placed their hands over their eyes,” and instructed them not to peek before kneeling behind them and firing the rifle into Kayla’s back. Both children were struck by the first bullet, and Holton recalled firing his weapon at least one more time into Kayla’s chest. Holton placed Kayla’s and Eric’s bodies with their older brothers’ underneath the tarpaulin, “squared away the area,” and washed his hands. Holton noted to police that “there was no enjoyment to the murders at all.” After murdering his children, Holton prepared to execute the next phase of his plan, i.e., the murder of Kiki and the firebombing of his ex-wife’s residence. Holton reloaded the SKS rifle and placed the murder weapon and the five “fire bombs” inside the car that he previously had parked outside. He also “checked out the entrance of the shop to see if there was
anything amiss, if anyone could have seen me.” Moreover, he was listening to a “police scanner” “to see if there had been any reports of gunshots or anything.” He then began to drive toward Murfreesboro but soon decided that he did not have enough time to execute the remainder of his plan. Accordingly, he returned to his uncle’s garage. Holton noted that, at the garage, he had difficulty looking at his children’s bodies. He considered committing suicide but ultimately resolved to surrender to the police. In explaining his decision to curtail his original plan, Holton noted, “I planned a lot of different scenarios and chose the one that time permitted. I was constantly subtracting - - going over what . . . options . . . - - were left.” Holton also observed, “I had done what I wanted to do. I wanted to shock [my ex-wife] to death. I was done. I was done.” As to his decision to forego suicide, Holton added that the murders were the culmination of a lot of work . . . [and] people would come up with their own conclusions if I had killed myself. . . . This is only part, one part of the story of what happened here. This is gruesome. This is awful. But it’s only part of it. This has been going on for a long time. And if you’re going to have a chance of understanding this, then you’re going to have to talk to somebody that was involved. And I’m the only one that was involved that’s still living. Holton concluded that he loved his children but conceded that he would have difficulty convincing anyone of his love. He felt no remorse or regret for murdering his children. The State also presented the testimony of a consulting forensic pathologist and assistant medical examiner for Bedford County. The pathologist testified that he performed autopsies on Holton’s four children, and he described the findings relating to each child in turn. First, Harlan related that ten-year-old Brent Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Specifically, the doctor discovered two “contact gunshot wound entrances” in Brent’s posterior chest or back and two corresponding exit wounds in Brent’s anterior chest. The pathologist opined that the contact entry gunshot wounds and the corresponding exit wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “a person . . . knelt down behind Brent Holton pointing the gun in an upward angle and pulled the trigger.” The doctor further noted that the wounds occurred in “very close time proximity.” Finally, the pathologist recounted that he also discovered one “re-entry gunshot wound” in Brent’s anterior chest or “front right shoulder area.” He explained that a “re-entry gunshot wound” is caused by “a bullet which . . . passed through an intermediate target” or “bounced off of something” prior to striking a person’s body. He posited that one of the bullets causing the contact entry gunshot wounds and the corresponding exit wounds may have ricocheted off the concrete floor of the garage and re-entered Brent’s body. He recovered the bullet from the child’s body. The pathologist next testified that twelve-year-old Stephen Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. Specifically, he discovered one “reentry gunshot wound” in Stephen’s posterior chest or back. The doctor reiterated that a “re-entry gunshot wound” is one caused by a bullet that “has either gone through some intermediate target or been deflected.” A corresponding exit wound was located in Stephen’s anterior chest. The doctor confirmed that the wounds were consistent “with someone kneeling . . . holding a gun at an angle upward, shooting through Brent, that bullet passing through his body and entering Stephen’s and then still having enough force and velocity to pass through.” The pathologist continued that the same bullet inflicted a “graze gunshot wound” to Stephen’s chin and nose. The pathologist further noted a contact gunshot wound to Stephen’s anterior chest and abdomen and a corresponding exit wound. Finally, he attested to entry and exit gunshot wounds to Stephen’s right hand. As to the four-year-old Kayla Holton, he testified that she too died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. Specifically, Kayla suffered a contact entry gunshot wound to the posterior chest or back and a corresponding exit wound. The doctor confirmed that the wounds were consistent with a scenario in which a person knelt behind Kayla, held a gun at an upward angle with the barrel touching her back, and pulled the trigger. Additionally, the doctor observed another entry gunshot wound to Kayla’s anterior chest and a corresponding “partial exit” wound. He testified that these wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “the child is standing up. Shooter is kneeling down . . . . Shoots her in the back. She falls down. Falls on her back. She is lying front up . . . on concrete. Concrete floor. Then the shooter stands over her with a gun . . . and goes bang.” The doctor retrieved “an extremely deformed bullet” and “smaller lead fragments” from Kayla’s body. Lastly, the pathologist testified that the six-year-old Eric Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. Specifically, the doctor recorded four entry gunshot wounds to Eric’s posterior chest or back, at least one of which was possibly a “re-entry gunshot wound.” He noted that he was unable to determine whether the wounds were caused by three or four bullets. He explained that, if a bullet first passed through another person, the projectile might have split in two and inflicted two separate wounds to Eric’s back. Eric also suffered two exit wounds to his anterior chest and abdomen, one of which was extremely large and likely resulted from more than one bullet. Finally, Eric suffered a gunshot wound to his right wrist. The pathologist concluded that Eric’s wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “he was standing in front of Kayla when she was shot. . . . The shooter was kneeling down . . . he fired a shot through Kayla’s back . . . . Eric had been told not to peek. . . . He was told to close his eyes and place his hands over his eyes.” He recovered one bullet and several bullet fragments from Eric’s body. The jury imposed a death sentence for each offense.

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