May 2007 Executions
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Six killers were executed in May 2007.  They had murdered at least 7 people.
Five
killers were given a stay in May 2007.  They have murdered at least 6 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 3, 2007    Alabama Willene Nelson
Carl Nelson
Aaron Jones executed

In November 1978, Aaron Lee Jones and a co-defendant brutally murdered a mother and father, and severely wounded a grandmother and three children, all in the same family. Two of the wounded children who witnessed the horror of these crimes testified at Jones’s trial. Tony Nelson testified that on the morning of November 10, 1978, he was sleeping with his ten-year-old brother, Charlie, in one of the bedrooms of his parents’ home in the Rosa community in rural Blount County, Alabama. His thirteen-year-old sister, Brenda, was sleeping with their parents, Willene and Carl Nelson, in another bedroom. Tony’s grandmother was sleeping by herself in a third bedroom of the home. At 3:27 a.m. Tony was awakened by a disturbance inside the home. When the light in his bedroom was turned on, he saw Arthur Lee Giles, a former employee of his father, standing in the doorway of Tony’s bedroom. Tony’s father appeared and asked Giles to leave. Tony got out of bed and followed Giles to make sure Giles left as directed. As Tony stepped out the back door of the home Giles shouted “here,” and shot him twice, once in the neck and once in the chest. Giles, then, re-entered the Nelsons’ home. Tony made an effort to go and get a gun, but was unable to do so due to his injuries. Instead, he crawled to and hid under his father’s truck. Shortly, thereafter, he heard Giles and another man exit his parents’ home. He saw the men only from the waist down. He heard one of them say that they needed to find Tony and that the other man should “get the money.” After they left, Tony went back inside. In his parents’ bedroom he found his mother, his father, his sister, and his brother. All four had been severely wounded and there was blood all over them. Charlie and Brenda responded when Tony asked if anyone was still alive. His parents were dead. Tony rushed Brenda and Charlie to the hospital where all three, including Tony, were treated for their wounds. Charlie Nelson testified that he saw Giles when his father, Carl Nelson, asked Giles to leave the home. He saw Tony leave and heard two gunshots. Giles then reappeared and shot Charlie’s grandmother, who was standing in the doorway to Charlie’s bedroom. Giles proceeded to Charlie’s parents’ bedroom from where Charlie heard more gunshots. Charlie ran to his parents’ bedroom, where he saw Giles and another man, whom he positively identified at trial as Aaron Jones. He realized that his mother, his father and his sister had all been shot. He jumped on top of his sister to protect her from further harm. As he lay there, he saw Aaron Jones stab his mother and father with a knife. His mother and father were both moaning as Jones repeatedly stabbed them. Then Jones turned and stabbed Charlie’s sister Brenda, who had already been shot above one eye. Charlie was hit in the head several times, after which Jones stabbed him twice in the back. Brenda Nelson stated that Giles was the one that shot her, Brenda, in the head. Dr. Joseph Embry of the Alabama Department of Forensic Science testified that Willene Nelson died from multiple stab wounds that damaged her heart, lungs, and kidneys. Her body received 29 knife wounds (17 stab wounds and 12 slash wounds), numerous lacerations and abrasions about the head from a blunt instrument, and one gunshot wound to the left shoulder. Dr. Embry testified that Carl Nelson died from a combination of gunshot wounds and stab wounds. He was shot once through the heart and once in the left arm. He was stabbed, approximately, eight times, including a stab wound in the neck which severed his spinal cord. He also received numerous blunt instrument abrasions about the head. Dr. Embry testified that Carl Nelson was alive when he was stabbed in the neck. Billy Irvin, an investigator with the Blount County Sheriff’s Department, testified that he interviewed Jones at 8:15 a.m. on November 11, 1978. During this interrogation Jones confessed to his participation in the events at the Nelsons’ home the previous night. Jones’s confession was tape recorded and transcribed. In the statement, he admitted participating in the activities that resulted in the deaths of Willene and Carl Nelson. According to Jones, although they never found any money, he and Giles went to the Nelsons’ home to rob Carl Nelson. Giles had told Jones that Carl Nelson had not sufficiently paid Giles for work Giles had done for Nelson in the past. Giles and Jones had been drinking rum and beer prior to their trip to the Nelson’s home. They were both armed with .32 caliber pistols, but Jones’s pistol would not fire at the Nelsons’ home because he lost the firing pin. Jones’s statement confirmed the gruesome details of the attack on the Nelson family. He stated that by the time he entered the back bedroom, Giles had already shot and stabbed “everyone.” In his own words Jones stated: “I goes off in the other room where he [Giles] at . . . shot and stabbed them all there, you know, the kids and . . . he looks at me and tells me, you know, that I had to do something and I told him that I didn’t have a knife so he gave me one and I cut the mother and another man and cut the boy and that’s all I did.” Jones further stated that he used a butcher knife that Giles had, apparently, obtained from inside the Nelsons’ home. He also said that the “little girl” at one point begged him not to do it, and that the “woman” moved right before he stabbed her. Jones explained that when he stabbed the “woman” he “really was just so gone, I just closed my eyes” and stabbed wildly. The jury found Jones “guilty as charged in the indictment” and the trial court, in accordance with the jury’s recommendation, sentenced Jones to death by electrocution in 1979. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and ordered a new trial. Following a retrial in 1982, a jury again found Jones guilty of capital murder and recommended that he be sentenced to death. The trial court followed the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Jones to death. On appeal, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals remanded Jones’s case for the trial court to clarify its sentencing order regarding the mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Following this limited remand, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Jones’s conviction and death sentence.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 4, 2007    Indiana Juan Palencia, 77  David Woods executed 

On April 7, 1984, in Garrett, Indiana, Woods, along with Greg Sloan and Pat Sweet, devised a plan to steal 77-year-old Juan Placencia’s television. Juan  was an acquaintance of Woods and his mother. Woods, Sloan and Sweet went to Juan’s home. Woods was armed with a knife, but assured Sloan and Sweet that he intended only to scare Juan with it. While Sweet stayed in the yard, Woods and Sloan approached the apartment and rang the doorbell. When Juan Placencia opened the door, Woods immediately jumped in and stabbed him several times with the knife. Juan fell back into a chair, directed the intruders to his money, and began asking for help. Woods took $130 from Juan's wallet, then stabbed Juan again repeatedly—twenty-one times to the face, neck, and torso. An autopsy showed that Juan Placencia died from three stabs wounds to the heart and one through the skull to the brain. Woods and Sloan left Juan’s apartment with the cash Woods had taken and a television they later sold for $20. They also washed their clothes and threw the knife and other incriminating items in a creek. Woods was charged with murder and robbery. Placenia’s family will be the first to view an execution since Indiana changed its law last year giving relatives of murder victims the right to watch executions. Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, said he proposed the change after meeting with the prison warden and discovering victims’ families had to get permission from the person being put to death if they wanted to watch the execution. "The person being executed already has caused these people harm. Obviously, they’ve lost a loved one in some way, and they have to ask his permission if they feel they want to watch?" Wyss said. "It just seemed like the state was giving them another slam." The victim’s son, Gene Placencia, who lives in Ridgecrest, Calif., said he wants to watch the execution to show support for the system. “I won’t be there because I’m bitter. I won’t be there because I hate him — I don’t care for the person, but I don’t hate him,” he said. “We’re going to be there because we need to support our courts and we need to support the laws that have been set forth.” Placencia said not all his siblings want to watch the execution. “Some of them wanted to deal with it in another way and didn’t want to be present,” he said. Juan Placencia’s granddaughter, Tonya Hoeffel, who was 20 when he was killed, is not eligible to watch the execution. Only spouses, parents, siblings, children and grandparents can view an execution, and all must be at least 18 years old. A maximum of eight people are allowed. Hoeffel said she would not have wanted to view Woods’ death anyway. “I don’t take any joy in knowing that someone may die on Friday,” she said. “I’m just going to support my family.” Wyss said that was his intent when he proposed the law. “If nobody wants to go, fine. But no one should have to go before the victimizer and ask permission,” he said. Under the new law, the person being executed can have up to five people watch, down from 10 previously. To accommodate the change, the prison built a separate room for family members of the victim. Woods will be able to see the people he invited and the victim’s family members. Hoeffel’s mother, Catherine Placencia, said she has no qualms about watching the execution. “I’ve waited for this to happen for 23 years,” she said. “I’m good with it.” UPDATE: David Woods, 42, was executed for stabbing his elderly neighbor, Juan Palencia, to death while stealing his television over twenty years ago. Woods was pronounced dead at 12:35 am on May 4, 2007. Before his execution, he expressed regret for killing Juan Placencia. "Well I want everybody to know that I do have peace and that it's through Jesus Christ that I have this peace," he said before being executed. "I want Juan's family to know I am truly sorry, I do have remorse." One of Juan's grandchildren posted on a message board that he believes in forgiveness but also believes that individuals must deal with the consequences of the choices they make. "David Leon Woods made choices that others in his same position have chosen not to make. I cannot feel sorry for him at this time. I feel sorry for all of the people whose lives were changed forever all because of this one man. I'm talking about my family." Five of Placencia's children watched Woods die. They say they feel no sympathy for Woods, who blames an abusive childhood for the violence. They see his execution as peace for their father's spirit. Gene Placencia said, "I would have wished that he could have looked me straight in the face. I've got closure here today. I feel very good, and I don't mean that in a mean way. I can get on with my life." His brother David Placencia said of Woods, "He stabbed him 21 times, that takes guts, that takes time, that takes a lot of hate. So why should I feel remorse. I'm just so sad my family and my children could not know my father. He was a great, great man." A vigil for Juan Placencia is scheduled on Sunday in Garrett.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 8, 2007    Nebraska Reuel Eugene Van Ness, Jr.
Maynard D. Helgeland 
Carey Moore stayed 

In August 1979, Carey Dean Moore purchased a handgun and set out to rob and kill Omaha cab drivers. Moore carefully planned to select older targets because he thought it would be easier for him to shoot an older man rather than a man nearer his own age. In carrying out this scheme, Moore called several cabs over a period of time and hid while watching them arrive, and depart, if the driver was young. Moore confessed to the police that he felt an older victim would be an easier mark. Using this approach, Moore selectively abducted and murdered cab driver Reuel Eugene Van Ness, Jr. on August 22, 1979, and Maynard Helgeland on August 27, 1979. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 9, 2007  Tennessee John Bussell, 81 Steven Rollins  stayed 

The proof offered by the prosecution at trial established that thirty-seven-year- old Steven James Rollins, killed the eighty-one-year-old victim, John Bussell, during a robbery. For thirty years prior to his murder, John Bussell owned and operated the Fisherman’s Paradise bait shop and barbeque restaurant in the Colonial Heights area of Sullivan County near Kingsport, Tennessee. John Bussell, a widower, lived alone in a camper next door to the bait shop. Although John suffered from arthritis, bad eyesight, and breathing difficulties, he had remained active and independent for a person of his age. Local residents were aware that Bussell frequently accommodated customers by opening his business late at night to sell bait or fishing and camping supplies. Furthermore, local residents were aware that Bussell carried large amounts of cash on his person, at least $1,000 to $1,500 at any given time, according to Walter Hoskins, Bussell’s friend of five years and maintenance man. Hoskins recalled that Bussell often displayed this “wad” of cash as he provided change to customers. Hoskins and other of Bussell’s friends and relatives cautioned Bussell against opening the bait shop late at night while he was alone and against making change from his “wad” of cash, but to Hoskins’ knowledge, Bussell continued to operate his business as he had for the preceding thirty years. Bussell owned and carried a handgun for his protection, and in July 2001, approximately one-month before his murder, Bussell purchased a two-shot Derringer handgun and carried it with him at all times in his right front pants pocket. Hoskins was the last person to speak with Bussell before his murder. Bussell telephoned Hoskins at 10:30 p.m. on August 21, 2001, to discuss Hoskins’ plans for the next day. Ottie McGuire, who had been Bussell’s friend for ten years, arrived at the bait shop around 8:30 a.m. on the morning of August 22, 2001, intending to have breakfast with Bussell, as was their custom. McGuire became worried when he noticed that the restaurant lights were off and the door still locked. McGuire walked next door and found the door to Bussell’s camper partly open and the morning newspaper still in the box. McGuire knocked on the camper’s window and called for Bussell, and when Bussell failed to respond, McGuire went to a nearby fire hall for help, fearing that Bussell had suffered a heart attack. Eventually Sullivan County Deputy Sheriff Jamie Free arrived at the bait shop. After looking through a window and seeing the victim’s head lying on the floor of the bait shop between two display racks, Officer Free removed the chained “closed”sign and kicked open the locked door. Officer Free then found Bussell’s body lying in a pool of blood on the floor behind the counter of the bait shop. Bussell was clothed in pajamas and house slippers; his clothing was blood-soaked; and he was not breathing. The cash register was open and empty; the change drawer, also empty, was lying on the floor beside the body. Several minnows and cups used to dip out the minnows were on floor near the minnow tank. Bussell’s Derringer was missing. A trail of bloody footprints led from inside the bait shop to the victim’s camper, which had been ransacked. Blood smears were found inside the camper on a variety of the victim’s personal belongings. A wad of $1,150 in cash was found lying on the floor of the camper covered by other items. Forensic experts from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory ultimately spent 112.5 man hours processing the bait shop, the camper, and the area outside but found no physical evidence tying anyone to the crime. The blood found at the scene belonged to the victim. Investigators neither discovered identifiable latent fingerprints nor shoes belonging to a suspect which could be compared to the bloody footprints found at the scene. An autopsy disclosed that the victim had sustained twenty-seven and possibly twenty-eight knife wounds and had bled to death from these wounds. While most of these injuries would not have been immediately fatal, a deep six-inch cutting wound that began near the victim’s left ear and extended across his neck had sliced through his left common carotid artery and jugular vein and would have rendered the victim immediately unconscious and led to his death within four minutes. Another incised wound to the victim’s neck had cut into his right jugular vein and would have been fatal without prompt medical care. A third stab wound to the victim’s shoulder had penetrated the victim’s lung and heart and would also have been fatal without immediate medical care. In addition, Dr. Gretel Harlan Stevens, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, noticed multiple painful but non-life threatening stab wounds to the victim’s collarbone, chest, abdomen, back, and hands. Dr. Stevens testified that the all of these wounds would have been painful, some more than others, but none of these wounds was itself life threatening. Dr. Stevens further explained that the presence of blood on the victim’s feet and clothing as well as defensive wounds to his hands indicated that he had been injured but had remained alive and had struggled with and fled from his attacker. Dr. Stevens opined that the nature of the wounds suggested that the victim initially did a “fairly good job” fending off his attacker, considering his age and health. Shortly after the victim’s murder, Richard Russell, chief investigative officer for the Scott County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department, reported to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department a conversation that he had with Rollins about one month before the murder. In particular, Rollins told Officer Russell that two of Rollins’s acquaintances had mentioned robbing “an old guy . . . that owned some kind of a bait shop . . . and taking his money.” At that time, Officer Russell believed that Rollins was referring to a crime that had already been committed. After determining that no such crime had occurred, Officer Russell forgot about Rollins’s statement. After learning of the victim’s murder, Officer Russell relayed the information to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department. On August 25, 2001, Rollins and his girlfriend, Angela Salyers, were interviewed by Sullivan County officers. Rollins agreed to accompany the officers to the Sheriff’s Department for questioning. Sullivan County Detective Bobby Russell interviewed Rollins, whom he described as cooperative and responsive. Rollins expounded upon the information he previously had given to the Virginia police, telling Detective Russell that about one month earlier Ricky Frasier, for whom Rollins worked as a roofer, and Larry Cowden, Rollins’s co- worker, mentioned going to the trailer of an old man who had a large sum of money and “knocking on the trailer and knocking him in the head. He said he had maybe $40,000.00 or something.” Rollins further admitted that, about three weeks earlier, he had accompanied Frasier and Cowden to a drive-in restaurant across the road from the victim’s trailer while they watched the victim’s trailer, but Rollins denied ever meeting the victim or participating in or knowing anything about the victim’s murder. The police continued to investigate the victim’s murder and received information which, on September 26, 2001, resulted in the underwater investigation team of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department retrieving Bussell’s Derringer from the Holston River. In the meantime, Rollins and Angela Salyers left Tennessee and traveled to a rural area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a two-day drive from Sullivan County. On October 9, 2001, Sullivan County officers arrested Rollins and Salyers in Michigan. After receiving Miranda warnings and signing a waiver of those rights, Rollins gave a statement in Michigan admitting that he had killed Bussell. Rollins then waived extradition, and he and Saylers returned to Tennessee with the Sullivan County officers. The group arrived late on October 11, and Rollins then asked to speak with officers “to clear up” some things. Due to the lateness of the hour, the officers delayed meeting with Rollins until October 12. At that time, Rollins gave a second statement recounting his involvement in the robbery and murder of the victim. This second statement was consistent with the first, but provided additional detail. The substance of Rollins’s two statements was that he and Gregory “Kojack” Fleenor were discussing ways to get money to buy cocaine when Rollins suggested robbing the victim. Rollins purchased four pairs of gloves at a convenience store. Rollins, Fleenor, Salyers, and Fleenor’s girlfriend, Ashley Cooper, then drove to the victim’s bait shop around midnight. Rollins rang the doorbell at the shop. When no one answered, Rollins knocked on the door of the camper. The victim answered, and Rollins told the victim that he needed to buy some bait. Rollins followed the victim into the bait shop, and, while the victim was bent over dipping minnows from the tank, Rollins grabbed the victim’s shoulder. When the victim reached for his gun, Rollins pulled a lock-blade knife from his pocket and began stabbing the victim. Rollins could not remember how many times he had stabbed the victim. After the stabbing, Rollins made sure the victim was dead by shaking him, and then Rollins washed his hands and his knife in the minnow tank before joining Fleenor in searching through the victim’s camper for money, drugs, and anything else of value. Fleenor found $1,000 to $1,200 in the victim’s wallet. The group then drove to Knoxville, where Fleenor purchased cocaine, which the group consumed. Rollins threw away the victim’s wallet and the clothing that Rollins had been wearing when he killed the victim. Rollins also threw the victim’s gun into the Holston River. According to Rollins, Fleenor suggested that he kill the victim and that they “leave no witnesses.” Rollins insisted that he never intended to kill the victim and that he had been “strung out” on cocaine the entire evening. He concluded his last statement with the admission: “I know I should be punished.” Contradicting both of these statements, Rollins testified at trial that Fleenor had killed the victim. Rollins maintained that he had been afraid of Fleenor and was unaware that Fleenor had planned to rob or to kill the victim. At Fleenor’s instruction, Rollins went into the bait shop to buy some bait while Fleenor “checked things out.” Rollins left the bait shop after telling Fleenor to pay the victim for the minnows. Fleenor agreed but instructed Rollins to sneak into the camper and steal anything of value he could find. Rollins ransacked the camper for five or ten minutes until Fleenor joined him. When Rollins asked where the victim was, Fleenor responded, “I took care of it.” Rollins testified that he thought this meant that Fleenor had hit the victim in the head. Fleenor, however, eventually told Rollins that he had killed the victim by “cutting” him, warned Rollins to keep his mouth shut, and threatened to kill Salyers, Cooper, and members of Rollins’s family if Rollins did not keep quiet. Rollins testified that he only had “a little, bitty Old Timer” knife in his pocket while Fleenor had a lock-blade knife. Rollins said that he could not read or write, that he provided the October 9th statement because officers promised that he could ride from Michigan to Tennessee in the same car with his girlfriend, Salyers, and that he had accepted blame for the killing because he was afraid of Fleenor and of Fleenor’s father, both of whom were incarcerated with Rollins in the Kingsport jail. Rollins admitted on direct examination that he had fifteen prior felony convictions but pointed out that he had pleaded guilty in each case because he had been guilty. On cross-examination, Rollins intimated that the Sullivan County investigators had supplied the details of the statements he had given. Rollins explained that he had initialed the erroneous and false written statements because he could neither read nor write with any proficiency. For purposes of impeachment Rollins acknowledged that he had thirteen prior convictions for aggravated burglary from August 1995 to November 1996 and one conviction of felony theft. Testifying in rebuttal for the State, Detective Bobby Russell, the officer who had taken Rollins’s statements, denied supplying Rollins with details concerning the victim’s murder. Another officer, Karen Watkins, testified to rebut Rollins’s testimony concerning events occurring during the ride from Michigan to Sullivan County. Rana Jandron of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan testified that Rollins told her that he could read and write a little bit, “enough to write a letter.” A videotape of Rollins’s booking in Michigan showing Rollins making this statement was played for the jury. Finally, Angela Salyers, Rollins’s girlfriend, testified that Rollins could read and write, that Rollins had owned a lock-blade knife with a four-inch blade at the time of the victim’s murder, and that Rollins had attacked and killed the victim. Salyers admitted that she had been tried for first degree murder in connection with the victim’s murder and had been convicted of facilitation of robbery. The jury found Rollins guilty of premeditated first degree murder, felony first degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. At the sentencing hearing, the State introduced certified copies of Rollins’s two 1996 aggravated assault convictions in Hawkins County, Tennessee. The State also presented photographs of some of the wounds inflicted on the victim. Dr. Gretel Stevens testified at the sentencing phase that none of these injuries had been fatal, that some of these injuries were inflicted while the victim was alive and standing or walking about, and that these injuries would have been painful. The last witness for the State was Marie Carpenter, the victim’s niece, through whom the State presented victim impact testimony. Carpenter testified that the eighty-one-year-old victim had no children and had been a father-figure to her. Carpenter explained that she talked with the victim by telephone every night, saw him weekly, and sometimes drove him to the doctor. The victim had operated his bait shop and barbecue restaurant for thirty years. Although the victim was not in the best of health, he was still able to come and go as he wished. In closing, the State specifically announced that it relied on the proof presented at the guilt phase. The only mitigation proof offered by the defense was a report by a school psychologist dating from 1978, when Rollins was in his early teens. The report reflected that Rollins’s parents were divorced and that Rollins lived with his grandmother. His mother, who had a third-grade education, was not well physically or mentally. No information was available regarding Rollins’s father. Rollins’s older brother was in the Army. According to the report, Rollins had received speech therapy, was enrolled in vocational training in auto body work, and was repeating the seventh grade. His school grades were mostly Ds and Fs. Teacher comments indicated that he was “basically a non-reader” and could not spell or write. When tested in March 1978, Rollins’s I.Q. fell within the borderline defective range, slightly above mentally retarded. The report also noted that Rollins had the academic skills of a second grader. A re-evaluation, performed about six months later, confirmed that Rollins’s I.Q. was borderline defective. Following deliberations, the jury found that the prosecution had proved the following five aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) Rollins was previously convicted of one or more felonies, other than the present charge, whose statutory elements involve the use of violence to the person; (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death; (3) the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of Rollins or another; (4) the murder was knowingly committed, solicited, directed, or aided by Rollins, while Rollins had a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit, or was fleeing after having a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit, any robbery and (5) the victim of the murder was seventy (70) years of age or older. Upon finding that these aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury imposed a sentence of death.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 9, 2007    Tennessee  Ronald Oliver, 43 Phillip Workman executed 

Police Lieutenant Ronald Oliver, 43, was killed on the night of Aug. 5, 1981 while responding to a holdup alarm at a Wendy's restaurant in Frayser. Ronald Oliver approached the robber as he was leaving the restaurant. Testimony indicated Workman broke away from Oliver, who ordered him to stop. Oliver and Officer Aubrey Stoddard then grabbed Workman, who broke free again, shot Oliver once in the chest and Stoddard in the arm. Workman was found hiding in bushes nearby with the .45 caliber murder weapon. Workman admitted during his trial that he fired the shot that killed Oliver. Workman, who wounded another officer and was shot himself, said he had been using cocaine that day and that he did not intend to kill Oliver. The robbery netted about $1,170. Workman was convicted of first-degree murder in the perpetration of a robbery and sentenced to death.  Workman's attorneys argue that Oliver could have been shot by another policeman during the shootout in the Memphis restaurant's parking lot. "It's weighed heavily on my mother, but she's a strong one and she's coped over the years,'' said Oliver's stepson, Capt. Vic Finger of the Bartlett Police Department. "We haven't really said it, but I think an execution would be sort of a closure for us." Finger and his mother, Sandra Noblin, plan to attend Workman's execution. One of two police officers who struggled with Phillip Workman 19 years ago said he had no doubt Workman fatally shot the other officer, Lt. Ronnie Oliver. "I think that it's clear that Workman did it. He admitted he did it. Over the years, he's just trying everything he can to get out of it, changing his story," said retired police officer Aubrey K. Stoddard. Workman's attorneys say they have affidavits from a Georgia medical examiner and a ballistics expert that indicate the bullet that killed Oliver may not have come from the .45-caliber pistol Workman admits he was carrying at the time and fired at least once. "Where else would it come from?" Stoddard asked. Oliver was holding Workman from behind, Stoddard said, as he and Workman were wrestling for control of the gun Workman had pulled. "I had him hugged up next to me. The gun was between my belly and his belly. And he squeezed it up into my arm. That's what pulled me loose of him. When it did, his gun hand was free," Stoddard said. At that point Stoddard was shot. He slid across the pavement backward 10 to 15 feet with a gunshot wound to the right arm. He never pulled his gun. "Mine was never removed from the holster. In fact, it shaved the grip off where I slid across the blacktop. It shaved it down flat," Stoddard said. "What happened when he fired that first shot, it tore me loose. So, I don't know that split second what might have happened. I just spun around. He just kept shooting, that's what it sounded like." Stoddard said the other gunshots followed so closely that Workman must have fired the shots. "The shooting never stopped. It was over probably in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds. All of them shots were just all at one time," Stoddard said. Oliver's gun was empty. Police said they believed that Oliver had fired as a reflex and that none of the shots hit anyone. Stoddard retired from the police department in 1986. During his trial, Workman claimed his memory was clouded because he had injected cocaine in his arm earlier in the day. "I pulled out the gun to give to them and I was hit and grabbed. The gun went off," Workman testified. "The next thing I knew, I heard a noise, gunfire. I guess I shot again."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 10, 2007    Texas John Cruz Jose Moreno stayed 

Jose Angel Moreno confessed to plotting for months to kidnap and ransom someone. He ultimately settled on John Cruz as his victim because he believed Cruz was a member of a wealthy family. After locating Cruz through a high school directory, Moreno enlisted the aid of two friends in digging a grave. After the grave was dug, Moreno plotted to capture and kill Cruz. Moreno first tried to flag Cruz’s car down after Cruz got out of work. When that did not work, Moreno placed large rocks in the road near Cruz’s house, in the hopes that Cruz would stop his car and clear the road, leaving him vulnerable to attack. On the night of January 21, 1986, his plan worked. Cruz got out of his car and attempted to move the rocks. Moreno approached, brandished a gun, blindfolded and handcuffed Cruz, and drove him to the grave site. As Cruz stood in front of the grave, Moreno shot him in the head from a range of three to four feet. Cruz fell into the grave, and Moreno buried him and  concealed the grave with trash. Moreno then made two phone calls to Cruz’s family demanding a $30,000 ransom. In a police-recorded conversation, the Cruz family informed Moreno that the money was in trust and that they could not access it immediately, to which Moreno replied, “You killed him, not us.” After informants identified Moreno’s voice on the recording, the police obtained a search warrant for his home where they found the gun used to kill Cruz. The police arrested Moreno, and he signed a confession. Police found Cruz’s body in a grave off of Wing Road in Bexar County. The body had a gunshot wound to the head. A ballistics examiner stated after examining the bullet recovered from Cruz’s head that it was his professional opinion that it was probably fired from a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. A tip from a confidential informant told police that Jose Moreno owned a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver, that Moreno carried the weapon in his waistband, and that Moreno lived in a particular house in San Antonio. The same gun had been seen by the informant in Moreno’s house. Police testified that they checked the Master Name File of the Bexar County Criminal Justice Information System and verified that the informant had no arrest record. The informant had listened to a tape of the phone call in which Moreno made his ransom demand on Cruz’s parents and had identified Moreno as the caller.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 16, 2007    Tennessee  Lakisha Thomas  David Ivy  stayed 

On the morning of June 6th, a Memphis police officer responded to an assault call at an apartment complex. Upon arriving at the apartment complex, the complainant, Lakisha Thomas, reported that she had been assaulted. Lakisha informed the officer that her ex-boyfriend, David Ivy, had assaulted her in the area of Park and Airways with a black Uzi type pistol with a long magazine. She told the officer that David Ivy was also known as “Day Day.” Indeed, Lakisha had “Day Day” tattooed on the right side of her neck. Lakisha advised the officer that Ivy had “said that he wasn’t going back to jail” and “that he would come back and kill her.” The officer described Lakisha as being visibly upset, both at what had happened earlier in the day and upset with what might occur in the future. Upon a visual examination of the victim, the officer observed that Lakisha “had about a two-inch laceration to the top of her head. She had some bruising just above her left chest above her left breast. And she had a right black eye on the right side of her face.” The officer photographed the victim’s injuries. Although paramedics were called to the scene, Lakisha refused treatment and stated that “she would seek medical attention via her own means.” A warrant charging David Ivy with aggravated assault was issued on June 7, 2001. Although the Sheriff’s Department attempted to serve the warrant on June 7, the warrant was not served until June 27, 2001. Lakisha contacted the Sheriff’s Department on the morning of June 8th and provided the Sheriff’s Department with an alternate address for David Ivy. She indicated that he may be found at “an address on Meda.” Later that day, Lakisha went to the Citizens Dispute office, completed some paper work about the incident, and was eventually interviewed. Lakisha was then taken to the judicial commissioner to obtain an order of protection. She was also referred to the domestic violence unit of the police department for a warrant for aggravated assault. The ex parte order of protection was granted. A hearing was scheduled on the matter for June 21, 2001. The ex parte order was never served on the respondent, David Ivy. The order noted that attempts were made on June 15, 19, and 20. The order further noted: “After diligent search and inquiry Ivy is not found in my county. Two days later, on June 8th, the same officer again encountered Lakisha. However, this time, Lakisha was outside her apartment building in the parking lot and she was pronounced dead. Deborah Kelley, Lakisha’s cousin, testified that Lakisha lived in the Magnolia Place Apartments on Millbranch. She explained that her sister, Jackie Bland, lived in the Millbranch Park apartments. Ms. Kelley knew David Ivy as Lakisha’s boyfriend. The couple dated for almost a year. At some point, Lakisha attempted to end her relationship with David Ivy. Although Lakisha had moved out of the house they shared, Ms. Kelley remarked that the couple “would always end up talking back together.” Ms. Kelley stated that Lakisha Thomas eventually moved into the Magnolia Place Apartments off Millbranch. Ms. Kelley related an incident that occurred at her home about a month before Lakisha’s murder, during which Ivy had grabbed Lakisha by her hair. Ms. Kelley told Ivy, “Uh-huh, don’t do that. Let her go. You’ve got to get out of here with that.” Ivy retorted, “I told you about playing with me, bitch.” He then left. A few days prior to Lakisha’s murder, Ms. Kelley arrived at her sister’s apartment where she found Lakisha, sitting at the kitchen table wearing sunglasses. Lakisha had blood on her shirt. Jackie Bland stated, “Look what Day Day did to Kisha.” Lakisha then removed her sunglasses, revealing a black eye. She remarked that her shoulder was hurting and that “she thinks she had a hole in her head.” Lakisha explained that David Ivy had “caught her at Mapco . . . and jumped on her, hit her in the head with a pistol.” Ms. Kelley testified that Lakisha was nervous and scared, scared that Ivy was “trying to kill her.” Jackie Bland then contacted the police. Ms. Kelley later drove Lakisha to Eastwood Hospital on Getwell. Several hours later, Ms. Kelley accompanied Lakisha to 201 Poplar to “swear out a warrant [for Ivy’s] arrest.” On the way to the police station, Lakisha indicated to Ms. Kelley that Ivy was following them. Ms. Kelley pulled the vehicle into an Exxon parking lot and called the police. However, by the time the police arrived, Ivy was gone. The three then continued to the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center located at 201 Poplar. After leaving 201 Poplar, the three women drove to a liquor store on Poplar Avenue. While inside the liquor store, Ms. Kelley observed Ivy. She requested that someone “[c]all the police.” In response, two men in the store went to the front door. Ms. Kelley stated that Ivy then walked back around the liquor store building. When Ms. Kelley returned to the vehicle, Lakisha stated, “Girl, he said he going to kill me. He’s been following me all day.” Lakisha added that “He told me if I put the police in his business he was going to f*** me up.” An employee at the liquor store overheard Ivy ask Lakisha if she hated him, that “it wasn’t over,” and that “he was going to get her.” The women then waited for the police to arrive to escort them back to 201 Poplar. After the incident, the employee observed that Lakisha “was shaking real bad and crying and saying, ‘I know he’s going to kill me. I know he’s going to get me.’” Another employee of the liquor store confirmed the events occurring at the liquor store. He specifically recalled speaking with Lakisha. He stated that “[s]he was very afraid.” He noticed that she was “bruised pretty badly.” She informed him that she had just filed a charge for assault against “Day Day.” He testified that Lakisha had the name Day Day tattooed on her neck. She stated that “he had beaten her up.” He remembered distinctly Lakisha saying, ‘I’m afraid he’s going to kill me.’” The surveillance cameras of the liquor store videotaped Ivy outside the liquor store on June 6, 2001. On the morning of June 8th, 2001, Ms. Kelley, accompanied by Jackie Bland, Lakisha, Andrea and Jackie’s baby, were preparing to leave Jackie Bland’s house. The plan was to drive Lakisha and Ms. Bland to the beauty shop; then Ms. Kelley would take the vehicle to be tuned up because they had planned on leaving and going out of town. That morning, the police contacted Lakisha, indicating that they could not locate Ivy at the address she had provided. While Ms. Kelley finished getting ready in the house, Lakisha and Andrea had already gotten into the car. Ms. Bland, holding her eight-month-old child, was waiting outside the door for Ms. Kelley. At this time, Ms. Bland saw somebody run up and open fire into the front passenger side of the vehicle where Lakisha was seated. The assailant was wearing a black hat, sunglasses and had a towel over his mouth. Although the assailant’s face was covered, Ms. Bland testified that the assailant resembled David Ivy in appearance. Ms. Kelley, still in the residence, heard one shot and Jackie came running in the house, screaming. Then Andrea came in screaming. Jackie said, ‘Call the police. Day Day shot Kisha.” Ms. Kelley then “heard tires . . . like somebody was getting away fast out in the parking lot.” Andrea confirmed that it was Day Day that shot Kisha. Ms. Hunt related that the assailant pulled the towel from over his face, revealing himself as David Ivy. She also stated that, before firing three shots, David Ivy smiled and remarked, “Oh, bitch, you want me dead, huh?” After calling 911, Ms. Kelley went out into the parking lot where she found Lakisha slumped over in the car seat . . . "with her arm in a sling. . . .” Ms. Kelley raised Lakisha’s body and “saw the bullet hole. . . .” Gregory Kelley, Bland and Kelley’s brother, worked as a maintenance supervisor at the Millbranch Apartments. Upon hearing the gunshots, Gregory Kelley ran in that direction. As he approached, he heard people hollering, “somebody just got shot in that car, that green car.” Gregory Kelley recognized the car as belonging to his cousin Lakisha Thomas. Upon reaching his cousin’s body, he noticed two wounds, one to her chest and one to her side. Gregory Kelley pulled her lifeless body out of the car onto the pavement. He then attempted to apply pressure to the wounds while shouting for someone to call 911. Gregory Kelley never saw the assailant; he just saw a “white car speed up out of the apartments.” He testified that the car resembled the car owned by David Ivy. Jackie Bland and Andrea Hunt further related instances of conflict in David Ivy and Lakisha Thomas’ relationship. Ms. Bland recalled an incident where she observed David Ivy "pull a plug out of Lakisha’s head.” She also recalled an incident that occurred about one month prior to Lakisha’s murder. Lakisha called Ms. Bland, telling her that Ivy had broken all the tables in the house; he had kicked the door in; and she was “fixing” to call the police. Ms. Bland also commented that Lakisha had often stated that “she was tired of fighting with him and she was ready to leave Ivy alone but she was scared.” Ms. Hunt confirmed Ivy’s physical abuse of Lakisha. Ms. Hunt further stated that Lakisha would comment that Ivy “had her on 23 and 1. She could only come out an hour a day. That was to take her kids to school and pick them up from school.” A Memphis police officer stated that in May 2001 he responded to a disturbance call at 3725 Millbranch. Lakisha Thomas informed the officer that her boyfriend, David Ivy, “had forced his way into her apartment and was moving the belongings out of her apartment.” Lakisha further advised the officer that David Ivy had “stated that he was going to kill her.” The officer observed that Lakisha Thomas was “nervous and shaking.” She informed the officers at the scene that David Ivy “was stalking her and was constantly making threats to her to harm her and he was upset because she ended their relationship.” The officer related that Lakisha’s grip on his arm lasted so long and was so firm that she had embedded some fingerprints in his arm. He commented that it was obvious that she was very shaken up and afraid. The next time the officer saw Lakisha Thomas was on June 8, 2001, after she had been murdered. The officer and his partner were flagged down by a maintenance worker at the Millbranch Apartments. Upon reaching the body, the officer was unable to detect a pulse from the victim’s body. The officer then began interviewing witnesses. During this time, the officer observed a white vehicle pull out of the complex at a high rate of speed. An investigation of the crime scene revealed the presence of spent casings and bullet fragments as well as several live rounds. An examination of the casings and bullets led a TBI forensic scientist to conclude that this evidence was consistent with a scenario in which a semi-automatic nine millimeter weapon was fired with some of the bullets passing through a body, some bullets being fired and leaving an empty shell casing, and some bullets not firing but being manually ejected from the weapon. Ivy was arrested on June 27, 2001, in Tipton County, Tennessee. He was transported back to Memphis. On May 16, 2002, Ivy escaped from the Shelby County Jail. Ivy was eventually located in San Diego, California. Tommy Westbrooks was Ivy’s parole officer in February 2001. Ivy had been placed on parole in June of 2000, with parole status scheduled to terminate in the year 2020. Dr. O’Brien Clary Smith, the medical examiner for Shelby County, performed an autopsy on the body of Lakisha Thomas. The postmortem examination of the body revealed the presence of “multiple gunshot wounds,” a total of five wounds of entrance to the right side of the body. “The path of those wounds went . . . from the right side of her body over to the left and had an upward course . . . as they progressed from right to left.” Exit wounds were located on the left side of the body, one in the front of the left shoulder, two behind the left shoulder, one of the left side of the abdomen and one on the left side. Powder burns were located on the victim’s right upper arm. He explained that powder burns are small puncture wounds produced in the skin surface when particles of burned and unburned gun powder are projected from the bale of a weapon at a distance close enough for them to have enough energy to actually embed themselves in the skin. And for most handguns this is out to a range of about two feet. He also noticed “stipple type powder burns on the side of her right arm.” Dr. Smith added that there was also a gunshot wound to the victim’s left arm. Dr. Smith verified that bruising located on the victim’s person would have been consistent with the victim sustaining the “trauma or assault that had occurred on June the 6th.” Dr. Smith was unable to determine the sequence of the gunshot wounds. Nonetheless, he provided the following description of the gunshot wounds inflicted upon Lakisha Thomas. Gunshot wound A is an exit wound. Gunshot wound B entered the victim’s body on the right lateral chest. The bullet fractured a rib, pierced the right lung, and damaged the right atrium of the heart. This bullet also damaged the pulmonary artery and pierced the left lung before exiting the body beneath the left shoulder. Gunshot wound C entered at the right side of the chest. This bullet pierced the right lung and the heart; it also bruised the upper lobe of the left lung and fractured the second rib before exiting on the front side of the shoulder (gunshot wound A). Gunshot wound G entered at the back of the victim’s left upper arm. Dr. Smith described this wound as a re-entrance wound, i.e., one of the bullets that exited her body re-entered due to the position of the victim’s arm. Gunshot wound H entered the victim’s body at her right upper back. This bullet “hit[] the spine at the 7th thoracic vertebra. . . ” and damaged the spinal cord. This bullet continued to damage the left upper lobe of the lung and fractured the back of the second rib. Next, gunshot wound I entered at the right upper buttock. This bullet bruised the intestines and the pancreas; it produced a grazing wound to the liver, and left kidney; the bullet then fractured the tenth rib. This bullet did not exit; rather, it lodged itself between the skin and the left tenth rib. The final gunshot wound of entrance is gunshot wound J. This bullet entered on the right upper outer thigh. This bullet damaged the uterus and the fallopian tube. It also “produce[d] two holes in the lower portion of the colon or large bowel” and produced two injuries to the small bowel. The bullet then exited on the left side of the abdomen. Dr. Smith confirmed that the course of the gunshot wounds through the victim’s body was consistent with the victim “balling up in a fetal like position.” He further confirmed that the victim was no more than two feet from the weapon when it was discharged. Of the victim’s vital internal organs, the spleen was the only organ not affected by the gunshots. Thus, Dr. Smith concluded that the victim’s death was the result of the multiple gunshot wounds; two bullets striking the victim’s heart would have ended “her life the quickest.” Ivy did not testify, rather, he presented the testimony of one witness who testified that Ivy was the father of her daughter born on April 10, 2001. She stated that she and Ivy lived together both before and after the birth of their daughter. The witness explained that she, Lakisha, and Ivy all grew up in the same neighborhood. Lakisha lived near the witness, and their children went to school together. She learned that Ivy was “seeing” Lakisha in October 2000. She stated that there was no indication that Thomas and Ivy were having a difficult time in their relationship. The last time she saw Lakisha was around 3:00 a.m. on June 6, 2001, when she appeared at her residence. Following the proof in the case, the jury returned with a verdict finding Ivy guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 16, 2007    Texas Tim Hudson, 61 Charles Smith executed 

In August 1987, Charles Smith was sentenced to 1-5 years in prison for a burglary in Kansas. He escaped from custody on August 14, 1988.  Less than a week later, he murdered Pecos Country Deputy Sheriff Tim Hudson. Hudson was less than nine  months shy of his retirement when he was sent out on a call that two men had stolen $22 worth of gas from a service station near Bakersfield. Around midnight, Hudson attempted to pull over a van that matched the description of the vehicle. Unbeknownst to Hudson, the stolen van carried two escapees from Kansas, Charles Edward Smith and his cousin Carroll Bernard Smith. The pair had escaped from a work-release center a week earlier, and had stolen the van along with a .357 magnum revolver in Houston and were headed for New Mexico. As Hudson tried to pass the van on the left, Charles Smith fired three shots into the car. One of the shot struck Tim Hudson in the side, killing him. Gwynn Hudson-Simmons, Tim's daughter said, “My dad’s last radio transmission was running the plates,” she said. “He just thought it was a gas thief. He never knew they were escaped convicts. He lived for about 90 seconds after he was shot, and we are thankful that he didn’t suffer.” The criminals stopped in a small town and set the van on fire and then stole a tractor-trailer truck. A U.S. Customs helicopter and multiple law enforcement agency vehicles chased the pair, who engaged in a gunfight as they tried to get away. During an interview published on thebackgate.com, Hudson's daughter said, “I will never forget that Saturday morning. I heard a knock on the door and I thought ‘Why doesn’t dad just come on in?’ But, when I got to the door, it was the sheriff and my yard was filled with officers.” Hudson-Simmons was 28 with two small children at the time of her father’s death. Tim Hudson was a 30-year veteran of law enforcement working in several West Texas counties and cities, including Seminole, Midland, Stanton, Monahans and Hobbs, N.M. He also was a U.S. Marine veteran who served during World War II.  By contrast, Smith was already a career criminal by the age of 22 when he killed Tim Hudson. In Kansas, Smith and some friends tried to pick up several girls that they saw at a store, but the girls were not interested. Smith and his friends followed the girls home and again unsuccessfully tried to pick them up; the encounter eventually devolved into an exchange of obscenities. The girls' brothers heard the cursing and came outside. Smith and his friends cursed and threw lit firecrackers at them before driving away. Smith and his friends returned shortly thereafter and slowly drove around the home several times. The police were called and a report was made. Less than an hour after the police left, however, Smith and his friends returned. The girls' brothers jumped in their car and a chase ensued. Smith and his friends came to a stop. The brothers exited with sticks in their hands and approached Smith's car. Smith and the driver got out of their car and the driver shot two of the brothers, killing one. Before the shooting, Smith yelled at the driver to "Shoot the fucking Mexican!" Also, testimony indicated that the rifle used in the shooting had been stolen by Smith and his friends shortly before returning to the girls' home. Smith got back in the car, drove the car between the shooter and the remaining brothers, picked up the shooter, and then drove off. Smith confessed to the above events, but had a "flippant" attitude towards the crime. He was sent to a minimum security prison unit in Kansas. While in the Kansas jail for his part in the shooting, Smith retaliated against a correctional officer who had reported him for a disciplinary violation by hitting her in the arm. The officer said that Smith was "smuggish" about this violation and gave an insincere apology. The corrections officer testified that Smith escaped with one month left on his sentence. Also, while incarcerated in the Pecos County jail for the murder of Tim Hudson, Smith admitted to a cellmate that killing Hudson fulfilled his life's goals and that he "slept like a baby" the night after the murder. Smith also changed the lyrics to the Bob Marley song "I Shot the Sheriff," by singing in his cell, "I shot the Sheriff but in my case it was the deputy." After a 1996 cell and strip search conducted by Pecos County jailors, Smith became enraged that jailors had "tore up his stuff." He destroyed several light fixtures and a TV in the day room, and his cell door window. In the process, he threw light bulbs and other debris through the bars and at the deputies who were in the control room. He then started a fire by lighting his blanket. Before Smith was finally subdued, he threatened to kill the first person through the door. Furthermore, various Pecos County law enforcement officers characterized Smith as very aggressive and more aggressive than most inmates, a danger to both the inmates and the prison personnel, and a dominating force in the prison. One witness described Smith as having "moods," one day he could be as "docile as can be," and the next day he could be a "raging, crazy, human being." In addition, prison personnel often discovered contraband, including a shank and pieces of metal, in Smith's cell. Although Smith did not use a shank against other inmates, he had assaulted other inmates, some of which were "serious fights." Smith had also grabbed a deputy through the cell bars, which resulted in a minor scuffle. Each witness, whether from Kansas or Texas, who was asked about Smith's reputation for being a peaceful person answered that they thought it was bad. Smith has stood trial for Hudson's murder on three separate occasions. A year after the murder, Smith was found guilty by a jury that needed only 25 minutes to deliberate. He was sentenced to death the following week.  However, this conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal appeals in December of 1991. After finding that one of the jurors in the original trial had a cousin who was a police officer, the conviction was overturned and the case was sent back for a retrial. A second trial was held in 1994 with the same outcome; a guilty verdict and a second death sentence. The same appeals court reserved the conviction again, deciding that an error in the jury instructions could have affected the outcome of the case. A third jury heard the case in November of 1999 and Smith was again found guilty and sentenced to death. Gwynn Hudson-Simmons plans to witness Smith's execution. “This is not a happy occasion for anyone. I have prayed for this man and his family for 18 years,” she said. “I was against the death penalty, but it’s different when someone in your family is killed like this, and their killer doesn’t show any remorse.” Hudson-Simmons said Smith has threatened her and her family from prison. “During the trial, he would turn around, smile and make obscene gestures toward my mother in open court,” she said. “He stated in his confession that it has been his lifelong dream to kill a cop and that he felt like his life was complete now. He said if he had a choice to do it over, he would do it again, and he was very proud of what he did. Putting him to death will guarantee this man will not kill anyone else’s family member. I know there are people against the death penalty, and it is going to be difficult to see someone put to death,” she said, “but I watched blown up photos of my dad in court with four inches of blood in his floor board. I can handle watching this guy getting euthanized. For us, this is closure.” Former Pecos County Sheriff Bruce Wilson, who was sheriff at the time of Hudson’s death, also will be present at the execution. “Bruce and his wife, Martha, have been like second parents to me,” she said. “I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done. Not only did he work with my dad, but they were personal friends.” Hudson-Simmons said she and her children, James and Julie, miss the man who they called father and grandfather. “He truly loved what he did and the fact that he could make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “My son went on to become a Marine and is now married and both he and my daughter grew up without him in their lives.” Mexia Police Detective Javier Ybarra also will attend the May execution. Hudson impacted his life as a teenager. “When he was a teenager, my dad caught him breaking into a store in Fort Stockton,” Hudson-Simmons said. “Instead of taking him in and putting him in juvenile detention, he gave him the talking to of his life and made him ride in the county car for two weeks. He told me if it hadn’t been for my dad, he might be in prison. This guy had a rough childhood, too, but he didn’t go out and kill cops, he became one.” Many of Hudson’s friends and even his wife, Vera, are now deceased, but his daughter says there is no denying that he was full of life and taken too quickly. “Anyone who knew him knew the kind of man he was, and I'm sure he would want to thank all of the officers that were involved in this also,” she said. “He devoted his life to the safety and welfare of others.”

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 22, 2007    Arizona Larry Pritchard Robert Comer executed 

Robert Charles Comer, his companion Juneva Willis and Willis’s two children arrived at the Burnt Corral campground in Apache Lake, Arizona on February 2, 1987. The next evening, Comer invited a nearby camper, Larry Pritchard, to dine with him and Willis, and, after the meal, Comer shot him in the head. It is unclear whether Pritchard died immediately from the gunshot wound or later on. Comer later stabbed him in the neck. Comer then removed an Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”) badge from Pritchard’s pocket, and Willis hid Pritchard’s body by covering it with wood. After the murder, Comer and Willis drove to Pritchard’s campsite, where they stole a number of Pritchard’s belongings, as well as his dog. Comer and Willis then proceeded to the campsite of Jane Jones and Richard Smith, campers whom they had met earlier that day. Remembering from their earlier encounter that Jones and Smith were in possession of a small quantity of marijuana, Comer and Willis posed as “Arizona Drug Enforcement” officers, and ordered them out of their tent at gunpoint. Comer flashed the EMT badge and then tied up Jones and Smith with wire and duct tape. He put them in their truck and stole several items from their tent. Comer then drove Jones’s and Smith’s truck, while Willis followed behind in his. After a short time, Willis stopped following Comer. When Jones asked to relieve herself, Comer permitted her to do so but accompanied her into the woods and sexually assaulted her. He then sexually assaulted her again in front of the truck. Comer threatened to kill Smith but Jones convinced him not to do so. Comer instead left Smith in the woods and drove off with Jones. When the truck ran out of gas, Comer and Jones walked back to Willis, and the three of them then drove together, along with Willis’s two children. During this journey, Comer shot and killed Pritchard’s dog, and sexually abused Jones twice more. Jones managed to escape while Comer was fixing his truck. She was later picked up by a passing motorist and taken to the sheriff’s home. Smith, too, had managed to walk back to the Burnt Corral campground and had reported the incident to the Department of Public Safety. The police quickly apprehended Comer and Willis. Comer and Willis were charged in Maricopa County with the first degree murder and armed robbery of Pritchard and the armed robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault of Jones and Smith. In addition, Comer was charged with two counts of sexual abuse and three counts of sexual assault of Jones. Willis subsequently pled guilty to one count of kidnapping in exchange for agreeing to testify against Comer. The other charges against her were dropped.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 23, 2007    Tennessee  Jacqueline Beard, 9 William Rogers stayed 

On July 3, 1996, nine-year-old Jacqueline Beard was playing with her twelve-year-old brother, Jeremy, and her eleven-year-old cousin, Michael, at a mud puddle near her home in the Cumberland Heights area of Clarksville in Montgomery County. The defendant, thirty-four-year-old William Glenn Rogers, approached the children and introduced himself as “Tommy Robertson.” He said he was an undercover police officer, offered the children fireworks, and invited them to go swimming. Jackie went home and told her mother about the man. Jackie's mother took Jackie back to the mud puddle to investigate. While the children played with the fireworks, Jackie's mother talked with Rogers, who continued to identify himself as undercover officer Tommy Robertson. After approximately thirty-five minutes, Rogers left in his car. At around 1:30 p.m. on July 8, 1996, Rogers appeared at the Meyer residence asking about a lost key. Jackie was with her mother when Jackie's mother spoke with Rogers. Rogers was last seen walking down the road toward a nearby abandoned trailer. A few minutes later, Jackie's mother gave Jackie permission to pick blackberries to take to the doctor’s office where Jackie's mother had an appointment that afternoon. Jackie changed her shorts immediately before leaving the house. At 1:55 p.m., Jackie's mother was ready to leave and called for Jackie but could not find her. At around 2:00 p.m., a neighbor saw a car matching the description of Rogers’ car leaving the immediate area. The neighbor had seen the same car heading in the direction of the Meyer residence about an hour or two earlier. Jackie's mother searched the area by car and on foot to no avail. Jackie was never seen alive again. Jackie's mother reported her daughter’s disappearance to the authorities. A composite drawing of the suspect was published in the Clarksville newspaper. Several people reported to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department that the person in the drawing resembled Rogers. On July 11, 1996, law enforcement officers questioned Rogers, who at first denied being in the Cumberland Heights area. In his next interview, however, Rogers told the officers that he had been in the area on July 3, 1996, shooting fireworks with three boys. He later acknowledged that Jackie was one of the three children. Rogers admitted speaking with Jackie's mother about his lost key on July 8, 1996, but denied seeing Jackie that day. He said he walked to the abandoned trailer, went to the bathroom there, and then left in his car to look for a job. As the questioning continued, Rogers changed his story again and acknowledged that Jackie was present during his conversation with her mother on July 8, 1996. Rogers ultimately confessed that, after leaving the abandoned trailer, he accidentally ran over Jackie as he backed up his car. Rogers said he heard a thud, discovered the victim under the car, and pulled her out. Her chest was moving as she tried to inhale, and blood was coming out of her nose. Rogers saw tire tracks across her right calf, right shoulder, and neck. He covered Jackie’s head with a shirt that he removed from the trunk of the car. Rogers placed Jackie in the front passenger seat of the car, drove to a bridge over the Cumberland River, and threw her body, along with a sandal that had fallen from her foot, into the water. He stated that he did not touch her “in any way sexually or abusive.” Rogers reduced this story to writing and signed the statement. Rogers made a diagram depicting how his car had run over the victim. He also signed the back of a photograph of the victim where he had written, “This is the girl I hit.” The following day, July 12, 1996, when officers asked Rogers about the possibility that the victim’s fingerprints were in the car, Rogers changed his story yet again. In a second written statement, Rogers corrected his earlier statement by adding that the victim had gotten into the passenger side of his car and talked to him for about five minutes before she left saying her mother had to go to the doctor. Later on July 12, 1996, Rogers went with officers and his court-appointed attorney to the sites where he allegedly had run over the victim and thrown her body into the river. Rogers re-enacted the events of July 8, 1996, in a manner consistent with his written statements. Investigation of the abandoned trailer showed that Jackie’s home and yard were visible from a bay window. A search of Rogers’ car revealed a handheld telescope, a can of glass cleaner, and a map opened to the Middle Tennessee region, including the Land Between the Lakes area. A floor mat was on the driver’s side but not the passenger’s side. Although Rogers’ fingerprints were on loose items in the car, officers found no fingerprints on the car’s interior surfaces. Divers searched in the Cumberland River near the bridge where Rogers said he had thrown Jackie’s body, but nothing was found. On November 8, 1996, four months after Jackie’s disappearance, two deer hunters discovered Jackie’s skull in a remote, wooded area in Land Between the Lakes in Stewart County. DNA analysis of the teeth established that the mitochondrial DNA sequence matched the DNA sample from Jackie’s mother. The skeletal remains of the victim were scattered around the area, which was several hundred yards from the Cumberland River and approximately forty-eight miles from her home. Both of Jackie’s sandals were found at the scene. The clothing worn by Jackie when she disappeared was strewn near the bones. Her shirt had been turned completely inside out, and human semen stains were on the inside crotch of her shorts. A DNA sequence could not be obtained from the semen stains for comparison to the DNA sample provided by Rogers. However, fibers consistent with carpet in Rogers’ house were found in his car and on Jackie’s shorts. A forensic anthropologist, examined the victim’s skeletal remains. He testified that the remains had been in the area from three to ten months. The doctor explained that some of Jackie’s bones – the hands, the feet, one entire leg, and the lower part of another leg – were never recovered and probably had been removed from the scene by animals. He could not determine the cause of death but stated that he found no ante-mortem trauma to the bones such as would be expected had a car run over Jackie. Likewise, the Stewart County Medical Examiner was unable to determine the cause or manner of Jackie’s death. Rogers’ estranged wife testified that on July 4, 1996, she and Rogers went to Land Between the Lakes. On the drive back, they stopped at a picnic area off Dover Road about ten to fifteen miles from where Jackie’s body was found. After walking in the woods, Rogers remarked to his wife that “you could bury a body back here and nobody would ever find it.” Mrs. Rogers also testified that on July 8, 1996, the day of Jackie’s disappearance, she did not see Rogers from before lunch until after 6:00 p.m. When he appeared that evening, his pants were muddy at the knees. The outside of the car also was muddy. Rogers told his wife that he had been in a tobacco field on Dover Road. When she noticed a spot of blood on his shirt, he told her that he had cut his finger, but she did not see a cut. Although she had given Rogers money to put gasoline in the car earlier in the day, the tank was almost empty. Mrs. Rogers also noticed small fingerprints on the inside of the passenger side windshield. The muddy prints went down the windshield. When asked by his wife if a child had been in the car, Rogers said no. Mrs. Rogers further testified that on July 9, 1996, the day following Jackie’s disappearance, she accompanied Rogers to the garbage dump. She thought it was unusual that Rogers took only one bag of trash all the way to the dump. She noticed that the car had been cleaned since the day before, both inside and out, but Rogers denied cleaning it. On July 11, 1996, after the police contacted Rogers, he told his wife he had informed the police that he had been with her the entire afternoon of July 8, 1996. She refused to support his alibi. On the evening of July 11, 1996, after his arrest, Rogers called his wife and told her that he had confessed to vehicular homicide and would be home in a couple of hours. Rogers made several additional, sometimes contradictory, statements about his involvement in Jackie’s death. He called his wife numerous times from jail seeking to speak with her and promising, if she would pick up the telephone, he would tell her what really happened and where Jackie Beard could be found. Rogers also wrote his wife a letter stating that Jackie’s death had been an accident, had not been planned or thought out, and had “just happened.” Rogers told his mother and half-brother that he had run over Jackie and informed his mother that she should not worry because “all they could get him for was vehicular homicide.” Rogers sent Jackie’s stepfather a letter, in which he wrote that he did not hurt Jackie in any way. Rogers also contacted a Clarksville reporter and denied ever hitting Jackie with his car. Rogers told the reporter that he had last seen Jackie on July 8, 1996, as she walked away from his car toward her house. Rogers said he had told the police what they wanted to hear because he was confused and frightened. Rogers presented evidence that law enforcement officers had investigated three other suspects in the case. Rogers also tried to point out discrepancies and contradictions in the State’s evidence and offered proof that he was looking for a job on the day the victim disappeared. Three people testified that Rogers applied for a job at a service station on Riverside Drive in Clarksville around 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. on July 8, 1996. According to the witnesses, he was driving a blue pickup truck and wearing a mechanic’s uniform. On rebuttal, an investigator with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department testified that Rogers had never mentioned wearing a mechanic’s uniform or applying for a job at a service station on July 8, 1996. Furthermore, there was no evidence that Rogers ever drove a blue pickup truck. Based upon the above evidence, the jury convicted Rogers of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder in the perpetration of a kidnapping, first degree felony murder in the perpetration of a rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, rape of a child, and two counts of criminal impersonation. The trial court merged the felony murder convictions with the premeditated murder conviction. A sentencing hearing was conducted to determine punishment. During the sentencing phase, the State presented proof that Rogers had pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault in Gwinnett County, Georgia, on April 12, 1991. A prosecutor from Gwinnett County testified that the statutory elements of the offenses involved the use of violence to the person. Jackie’s mother testified that she lost her job because she spent so much time searching for Jackie after she disappeared. Jackie's mother stated that Jackie’s brother felt guilty that he had not been there to save his sister. Following Jackie’s murder, her brother had been placed in juvenile homes and hospitalized for posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. His treatment had cost thousands of dollars. Jackie’s other brother was angry and refused to discuss his sister’s death. Jackie's mother testified that she would never get over the loss of her only daughter and felt powerless and devastated. Jackie's mother said she felt an enormous amount of guilt. She described Jackie as an intelligent, musically talented, happy child with many friends. In mitigation, Rogers presented the testimony of his older sister, his father and other family members, and friends. Their testimony revealed that Rogers’ parents first divorced in 1961 when Rogers’ sister was two years old. After Rogers was born on March 24, 1962, his parents remarried. In 1964, his mother left again and took the children with her. She later told her husband that he was not Rogers’ biological father. When Rogers was a young child, his mother remarried to a man by whom she had two sons. Rogers’ mother and stepfather would argue and fight. The home was dirty and unkempt. The stepfather also showed marked partiality toward Danny, Jr. and David. Rogers' stepfather shunned Rogers’ attempts to be close to him and physically and verbally abused Rogers. Rogers was evaluated by two mental health experts for the defense. A clinical psychologist testified that Rogers’ unstable childhood bred insecurity and a sense of abandonment. He opined that the physical, emotional, and sexual trauma of Rogers’ childhood had permanently affected how Rogers’ brain functioned and led to mood swings and violent behavior. He also recounted that, after leaving LTI in 1978, Rogers had been sent to the Oakley Training School in Mississippi in 1979 and had been incarcerated as an adult in Florida from 1981 to 1984, in Mississippi from 1984 to 1988, and in Georgia from 1990 to 1994. He diagnosed Rogers as suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, depressive disorder not otherwise specified (i.e., mild to moderate depression), dissociative disorder not otherwise specified, and personality disorder not otherwise specified with antisocial and borderline features (i.e., mixed personality disorder). He explained that persons suffering from dissociative disorder report having other personalities and will withdraw from situations too traumatic to experience. This type of behavior indicates severe childhood trauma. Rogers reported two other identities: Billy or William Little and Roger. Letters written by Rogers’ other personalities were introduced into evidence. According to the doctor, however, Rogers did not suffer from “full blown” dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as split or multiple personalities. Rogers had a Global Assessment of Functioning number of fifty, which meant that he was severely impaired. Rogers’ verbal IQ was 95, his performance IQ was 127, and his full-scale IQ was 108 and he found no neuro-organic impairments. In rebuttal, the State called Rogers' wife to introduce a letter in which Rogers told her that he would not plead guilty to something that he had not done and stated, “If I do get time, they will either kill me trying to escape or I’ll kill myself.” Both Mrs. Rogers and Rogers’ former wife testified that Rogers had never mentioned being physically or sexually abused as a child. A psychiatrist testified for the State that, based on his evaluations of Rogers and his review of background information and interviews with Rogers’ wife, Rogers suffered from a dissociative disorder not otherwise specified, possible pedophilia, malingering, and antisocial personality disorder. He stated that, although Rogers suffered a mental disorder, he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his misconduct and that in his opinion no connection existed between the offense and Rogers’ dissociative disorder or difficult childhood. The crime, the doctor said, was driven by Rogers’ antisocial personality disorder and pedophilia. Based upon this proof, the jury found that the State had proven beyond a reasonable doubt all four statutory aggravating circumstances: the murder was committed against a person less than twelve years of age and the defendant was eighteen years of age or older; the defendant was previously convicted of one or more felonies, other than the present charge, whose statutory elements involve the use of violence; the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of the defendant or another; and the murder was knowingly committed, solicited, directed, or aided by the defendant, while the defendant had a substantial role in the committing or attempting to commit, or was fleeing after having a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit, any rape or kidnapping. The jury further found that the State had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the statutory aggravating circumstances outweighed any mitigating circumstances. As a result, the jury sentenced Rogers to death for the murder of Jackie Beard.  

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 24, 2007    Ohio Jason Brewer, 27  Christopher Newton executed 

On 11/15/01, Christopher J. 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 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. 

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