August 2002 Executions
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Eight killers were executed in August 2002.  They had murdered at least 11 people.
Four killers were given a stay in August 2002.  They have murdered at least 4 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 5, 2002 Georgia John Collins Stephen Mobley stayed

Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for the Feb. 17, 1991, murder of a Domino's Pizza store manager, John Collins. The evidence established that shortly after midnight on February 17, 1991, Mobley robbed a Hall County pizza store and shot John C. Collins, the store manager, in the back of the head with a Walther .380 semi-automatic pistol. The physical evidence from the scene was consistent with a statement Mobley later made to a cellblock inmate that Collins was on his knees when Mobley shot him. Approximately three weeks later, Mobley used the pistol while robbing a dry cleaning store, and tried to dispose of it by tossing it out his car window onto the side of a road when he realized he was being followed by an unmarked police car. The pistol was later recovered and Mobley arrested, after a high-speed chase. Mobley made statements to the police confessing to the murder of Collins and the robbery of the pizza store. In response to Mobley's statement to police that on the night of the crimes he was en route from his residence to a family member's home (where he was not expected) and that he robbed the pizza store because it was the only open establishment he passed, the state introduced testimony establishing that out of the three routes available to Mobley, only one passed the pizza store, and that this route exceeded by over 10 miles the next shortest route to the family member's house.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 7, 2002 Texas Reta Sharon Van Huss, 54
Kathryn Harrison, 59
Richard Kutzner executed

A Harris County jury took only 16 minutes to sentence a career criminal to die by lethal injection for robbing and strangling a 54-year-old woman. Richard Kutzner was convicted of capital murder in the death of Reta Van Huss. He is accused of killing a Montgomery County woman in a similar fashion 17 days later, and will be tried on a capital murder charge in that county. Jerry Van Huss, the victim's husband, said "it will make me feel better when he dies. It is too bad they cut out hanging. Lethal injection is too easy." Van Huss, who found his wife's body, said the trial was painful for him. He said he will witness Kutzner's execution. Van Huss found his wife on their living room floor Jan. 5, 1996, with her hands and feet bound and with a 30-inch plastic tie wrap tightened around her neck. Reta worked and lived at a mini-storage lot; testimony showed that Kutzner went to the lot a few days before the killing pretending he was interested in renting a storage space. His contract was found on her desk. In the Montgomery County case, Kathryn Harrison, 59, was found in an identical condition, with her hands and feet bound and a plastic tie wrap around her neck. She was working alone in her real estate office; Kutzner, an air conditioning repair man, had visited her office before the slaying. Kutzner was linked to the crimes after he cashed a $300 money order that he had stolen from Reta Van Huss. Other stolen property was recovered from the defendant's friends, including a VCR and a computer keyboard.  The friend testified that he had gotten the items from Kutzner. Police found identical tie wraps in Kutzner's home, driveway and truck. An assistant medical examiner testified that the killings were nearly identical. Even the injuries to the victims' heads were similar, she said. Kutzner has been in and out of prison since 1968. During the punishment phase of the trial, the state paraded former Kutzner victims through the courtroom. A life prison term was the only sentencing option other than death after the capital murder conviction, but defense attorneys did not argue for a life sentence. Attorney Gerald Bourque said his client asked that they not give closing argument. In the punishment phase, no witnesses testified on Kutzner's behalf.  UPDATE: (July 2001) - Texas' highest criminal appeals court halted the scheduled execution of convicted killer Richard William Kutzner to determine if DNA tests should be run on forensic evidence in the 1996 murder case. The order came in the 1st attempt to use a new state DNA testing law signed by Gov. Rick Perry to postpone an imminent execution. Kutzner was scheduled to receive a lethal injection for a Houston-area murder. A state district judge had turned back an attempt by Kutzner's new attorney to delay the execution for DNA testing, but an appeal was filed with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin to get the judge's decision overturned. In the brief order, the appeals court granted the stay of execution to allow the justices time to hear arguments on whether DNA tests should be conducted in the case. Kutzner's attorney was given as long as 60 days to file his brief, and the prosecution gets 75 days. Jim Marcus, Kutzner's attorney and executive director of the Texas Defender Service, said Tuesday that there was prosecutorial misconduct in the Montgomery County case and some of the DNA evidence was suppressed by the prosecutors. Marcus wanted time to conduct DNA testing on scrapings from the fingernails of the victim and on a hair removed from the murder weapon. He said the hair evidence was suppressed at trial by the district attorney's office and disclosed only this June. "Not only did they suppress the hair, they put on false testimony (at trial) mischaracterizing the evidentiary value of the fingernail scrapings," he said. Marcus, who entered the case in April at the request of Kutzner's sister, said he needed more time to fully investigate the case. Under the new Texas law, a convict can request the testing if he believes it will prove his innocence but he must first convince a judge that DNA evidence was critical in his case. The state provides funds to pay for the testing if the court approves it. Montgomery County District Attorney Michael McDougal said that his office convicted Kutzner without using DNA evidence and there was no evidence withheld. Kutzner was convicted and sentenced to death in September 1996 in Montgomery County for the strangulation of Kathryn Harrison. She was found dead in her real estate office. Her purse was turned inside out and some electronic equipment was missing. Kutzner also was sentenced to death for murdering Reta Sheron Van Huss in nearby Houston during a robbery only 17 days prior to the Harrison slaying. She was also strangled with a cable tie and robbed of $300 to $400 in cash and some money orders. UPDATE: (April 2002) - A new ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals may make it tougher for convicts who say they are innocent to seek DNA testing. The ruling came in an appeal by death-row inmate Richard Kutzner, the 1st case to test the limits of legislation that provided convicts an opportunity for state-funded DNA testing. Kutzner, convicted of the 1996 strangulation of Montgomery County real-estate agent Kathryn Harrison, received a stay of execution last year from Texas' highest court 1 day before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection. The court this week concluded in Kutzner's case that convicts need to show that a "reasonable probability exists that exculpatory DNA tests would prove their innocence." The DNA legislation passed last year and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry demanded a reasonable probability "that the person would not have been prosecuted or convicted" if favorable DNA results were available. "Innocence is not the same thing as the prosecutor's decision whether to prosecute or not - or for that matter, a jury's decision to convict," said Texas Tech University law professor Tim Floyd. "Jurors often might think a person is probably guilty ... but they don't vote to convict because the burden on the prosecution is a heavy burden," he said. The judges agreed unanimously Kutzner was not entitled to DNA testing. The majority opinion asserted that there was no reasonable probability that DNA testing would prove Kutzner's innocence and at most would "muddy the waters." However, in a concurring opinion, Judge Michael Keasler challenged the part of the ruling that set the innocence standard. He wrote that the phrasing in the legislation "unambiguously requires the convicted person to show that he would not have been prosecuted or convicted. Nothing in the plain language of the statute refers to actual innocence." Michael McDougal, Montgomery County district attorney, said the decision was significant because it defines the standard that inmates need to meet when requesting DNA testing. "Basically now, the parameters are set out for everybody," he said. University of Texas at Austin law professor Robert Dawson, however, said he didn't see much of a distinction between the wording in the legislation and what was written in the majority opinion. A key benefit of DNA testing, he said, is that it "represents what we hope to be a virtual scientific certainty that the person either did contribute the biological sample or did not. In DNA testing, if the case is such that the biological sample is going to identify the defendant as not being the offender, you're going to meet either standard," he said. State Sen. Robert L. Duncan, who sponsored the legislation, said the intent was to create a mechanism for courts to order testing when it was appropriate, but also to set the bar "high enough that only the real cases would get considered. There's a lot of frivolous appeals that come out of the correctional system. We didn't want to have a situation where the flood gates would be opened." Prosecutors said the fact that Harrison was killed in her real estate office, a place to which the public had access, makes the significance of the 2 hairs almost zero. The appellate court agreed.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 8, 2002 Texas Willard Lewis Davis, 75 T.J. Jones executed

T.J. Jones was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of 75-year-old Willard Lewis Davis in Longview. On Feb. 2, 1994, around 1:00 p.m., 75-year-old Willard Davis was found lying in the street in front of his home in Longview. Davis had been shot once in the head and his car had been stolen. The police arrested T.J. Jones several blocks from the crime scene after he crashed then abandoned the victim's car less than an hour later. When apprehended, Jones had the murder weapon, a .357 revolver, in his sweatshirt pocket. The weapon was fully loaded, except for one round, cocked, and ready to fire.  After his arrest, Jones confessed to the police that he and three friends had been drinking at a friend's house around 12:15 p.m. Jones asked his friends if they were "down for a jack," meaning did they want to steal a car. The friends agreed, and the four of them went to a known gang-house to obtain a gun to use in the "jack." According to Jones' confession, they saw Davis backing out of his driveway in a red car. Jones approached the car and told Davis to step outside. Jones stated that, although he had the gun out, he was not pointing it at Davis at that time. Davis got out of the car, and Jones' three friends got in. Jones stated that Davis was standing at the back of the car when Jones told him to get into the car. Davis said he would not because of his wife, or something to that effect. Jones then pointed the gun to the side of Davis' head and tried to get him into the car so they could take him to a more secluded area and rob him. When Davis would not get into the car, Jones said that he decided to shoot the gun in an attempt to scare him. Jones claimed that as soon as he shot the gun, he got scared, jumped in the car, and quickly drove off. Jones claims he was not aware that he had hit Davis, and that he did not intend to kill him, only to scare him. The medical examiner testified that Davis died of a single gunshot wound to the head, which entered near the center of his forehead next to his left eyebrow, killing him instantly. A firearm expert testified that the gun did not go off accidentally; it could not have been fired unless the trigger was pulled. Forensic evidence showed that Jones was two to three feet from Davis when the gun was fired.  Jones' cell mate from the Gregg County Jail testified that Jones told him that he and his accomplices saw Davis walking to his car and approached him. Davis told Jones and his accomplices that they could not have his car and that they would have to kill him to get it. Jones told his cell mate, in a very calm manner, that he then shot Davis. Edgar Fletcher Jr., 19, Sanford Ray Jimerson, 18 and Latecia Howard, 17, were also taken into custody. All four suspects confessed to the police investigators. Jones had been accused of shooting the clerk of a convenience store several times just three days before Davis' murder. The victim was shot in the head, chest, arm and shoulder and was permanently disabled as a result of the attack.   Jones' mother testified that she first began having trouble with Jones when he was 16 years old, which was the same time that Jones moved into the gang-house. Jones denied being a member of a gang, and in his defense offered the testimony of Heather McLane, the 16-year-old mother of his child, who testified that she had lived in the gang-house with Jones and his friends, and did not consider herself to be a member of a gang. When asked if Jones considered himself a member of a gang, she replied: "Not that [she] knew of."  Tom Allen, a clinical and forensic psychologist, testified regarding Jones' propensity for future violence. Allen felt that Jones posed a threat to society to commit future acts of violence. Allen's opinion was based on Jones' criminal history, particularly his willingness to use unnecessary violence to obtain property, the number of times Jones had been arrested in connection with criminal activity, his lack of education and job skills, his age, and his use of illegal drugs. 

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 13, 2002 Texas Michael Alan Foster, 31 Brian Davis stayed

Brian Davis was sentenced to die for the brutal murder of a retarded man, Michael Alan Foster, who was 31 years old at the time.  Davis and his accomplice, Tina McDonald, picked Foster up at a bar and drove him home to his apartment.  Once they gained entry to his apartment, Davis stabbed Michael eleven times, seven times in the heart.  They then stole his black leather jacket and left.  Michael's body was found after three days.  Six days after the murder, the pair picked up another man at a bar, robbed him and stabbed him with a knife, but this victim survived and testified against them.  Davis had been scheduled for execution in May 2002, but received a stay.  At the time he said, "Any date is serious. I don't want to die. But the way I look at it is if you ask most people, they'd like to die in their sleep. I'm going to die like most people want to die. I know when, and I know how."  Though mildly retarded, Michael Alan Foster lived an independent life. He had his own apartment in Humble, held a steady job and went to Houston on weekends to see punk rock bands. Foster, 31, loved the Ramones. He grew his hair long, dyed his blond locks black and wore a black leather jacket, much like the singer Joey Ramone. He frequented pubs and bars in the Montrose area, sometimes carrying a pet rat, which earned him the nickname "Rat" among the bar crowds. One of these excursions led to his brutal death in 1991. Foster, a gentle man described at his funeral as "a lamb among wolves," was stabbed seven times in the heart and neo-Nazi slogans were written on his body. A swastika was drawn in ballpoint pen on his abdomen, along with the letters "NSSH," for National Socialist Skin Heads. Skinhead slogans were written on his living room wall near his body. His nose was broken, consistent with having been kicked with a boot or shoe. Foster was left for dead, his pockets turned inside out, his pants pulled down. The man to be executed for the crime, Brian Edward Davis, a former La Porte resident and divorced father of two teens, at one time confessed to the slaying, saying Foster failed to pay gas money after being given a ride home. Today, Davis claims he is innocent and that he took the blame to protect his ex-wife. That former wife, Tina Louise McDonald, 31, who was divorced from Davis in 1996 and is now serving a 40-year prison sentence in Gatesville for a separate aggravated robbery, was never charged in the Foster murder. She later gave written confessions, one as recently as last fall, saying she stabbed Foster and claiming her ex-husband was not involved in the crime -- but she has since recanted. Lawyers, armed with Davis' claim of innocence and McDonald's written admissions, are working feverishly to delay the execution. Others who have waited a decade for Davis to die by injection say they want justice for Foster, a one-time Special Olympics participant who rode his bicycle around Humble. "I can't wait until this guy's fried," said Foster's sister, Pat Foster-Kupritz, 50, of Kingwood. "What goes around comes around, and this guy is definitely getting his turn. ... I just can't wait." Sister-in-law Molly Foster, 50, of Conroe said Michael Foster was victimized by people "who took advantage of a wonderful, sweet man." Foster crossed paths with the couple Aug. 10, 1991, at the Pik-N-Pak bar on Waugh Drive, a biker-type icehouse where loud punk rock bands played. Mentally retarded because of a birth defect and having no driver's license, Foster took a bus into Houston on weekends, where he watched bands, hung out with a skateboarding crowd and would introduce himself to strangers. Tall and lanky, he bounced when he walked. His favorite possession was a black leather jacket with safety pins on the sleeves. "That was his way of trying to be accepted," said Jean Hatfield, 61, of Humble, a co-worker who helped Foster with his finances and took him grocery shopping. He was nothing like Davis, 22 at the time, with long hair, a swastika tattooed on his chest and a terrific temper. Davis later described himself to police as "like a time bomb waiting to go off." Davis, who quit school and once worked as a bridge builder, already had spent time in jail. He was at the bar with McDonald, whom he had met earlier at the Harris County Jail when she came to visit a fellow inmate. The couple, who had been married a month, agreed to give Foster a ride home to his Humble apartment in the 800 block of Wilson Road. Davis later confessed that once they arrived, he began hitting Foster in the face with his fists when Foster said he had no cash and offered some of his records instead. Foster curled up in a ball and asked, "Why are you doing this? What's the matter with you?" Davis said he thought he stabbed Foster in the heart because blood shot out in spurts; he drew a diagram of the apartment for detectives that was accurate, except backward. Today, Davis says he confessed to protect his ex-wife, but no immunity promises were made. He says he was too drunk to drive when they left the bar. The last thing he claims to remember is getting in the back seat so McDonald could drive. He says she dropped him off at their motel before taking Foster home. "When I came to the next day, I'm in the motel room. I don't even remember how I got to the motel," Davis said from death row in Livingston. "I was pretty toasted. That's the way I lived. Jack Daniels and Budweiser were my two best friends." He claims not to know whether McDonald had anything to do with Foster's death, but he describes her as a "wild woman" who was a skinhead when they met but has since given up any allegiance to the white supremacy movement. Davis said he does not believe in racial hate, though he defended his swastika tattoos as support for his own race. "I should never have done what I did -- I should have never confessed to the crime," Davis said. Police and prosecutors say evidence showed both McDonald and Davis were involved in the slaying, but she wasn't charged. "I think it was a joint effort," said Humble police Detective Charles W. Smith, noting that Foster was killed with two different knives. "One killer doesn't switch knives." Red hair, similar to McDonald's, was clenched in the dead man's hand. Though nothing tied Davis to the scene, a witness saw the married couple leave the bar with Foster. The witness remembered the tattoo on Davis' chest. Police later recovered some of Foster's property, his leather jacket and a Ramones tape, that had been in McDonald's car, along with a knife with a broken tip. A week after Foster's death, a similar attack happened at the Road Runner Motel on South Main in Houston, where a 42-year-old man who had met Davis and McDonald in a bar was stabbed in the throat, chest, abdomen and back. A maid heard his screams, banged on the door and threatened to call police. The victim ran out of the room and survived. The couple were arrested in the attack, though Davis denies they stabbed the man; he claims the real assailant ran away. But McDonald later pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery for the incident. She was granted immunity in Foster's slaying as part of a plea bargain, say lawyers trying to stop Tuesday's execution. She later gave several written statements to Davis' lawyers, saying her husband was not at Foster's apartment and that she had killed Foster because he had put his hand on her waist. But in January, she recanted that story and said her previous confessions were lies. Prosecutors say her claims of killing Foster by herself were bogus. "Tina confesses all the time -- she also confesses and says Brian was the one who did it. It just depends how she feels about Brian at the time," said Assistant District Attorney Roe Wilson. "There's no evidence to show she did it by herself. I don't really think she was capable of beating this guy up and stabbing him 10 times like that." From the moment he was born, Foster suffered tragedies. His mental retardation was the result of not getting enough oxygen during his birth, his sister said. He was the youngest of six children, still in diapers when his mother moved out. The boy later went to live with doting grandparents, but his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and became too ill to care for him when he was 6 or 7. He then went to live with his mother in Corpus Christi. Tragedy struck again in 1977 when Foster was 16 and his mother was killed in a car wreck. Police officers who went to notify the family found the boy home by himself. After returning to Houston, he lived in a Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County facility until he was able to get an apartment on his own in Humble. In that small town northeast of Houston, he made his own life and worked for three years at Valve Liquidators, where he was a reliable employee and rode his bike to and from work. Hatfield, a mother figure to him, said Foster would call her when he needed help. She recalled one rainy morning when he knocked on her back door, and she brought him in and made him pancakes. "He was always reaching out for someone to love -- that's why I think he would go into Houston like he did to see the bands," said Hatfield, who lost a daughter to cancer the same year Foster was slain. "I used to get onto him about letting people come into his apartment and stay with him. He was like a 9- or 10-year-old child, I would say. ... To me, he was just like one of my kids. Every time he had a little problem, he'd call me, and we'd work it out somehow." Foster likely would have forgiven the people who killed him, one family member said. Others are not so forgiving. "A lot of people tell me I'm cold-hearted, but it would not bother me to stand there and watch that guy die," Hatfield said of Davis. "He was somebody's child -- somebody loved him -- but he had crossed that line. Once he did that, there was no going back. And the best thing to do is get rid of him." Davis said he doesn't want to die, but he's ready if it happens. "I've lived with it for 11 years. I've witnessed a lot of my friends go to the Walls (prison unit in Huntsville where inmates are executed) and never come back," said the muscular inmate, who is covered with tattoos received in prison, including swastikas on his chest and arm. "We're all under a death sentence. When we were born, we were guaranteed one thing, and that's one day we will die. Only thing is, I have a date to mine. I know when." Asked whether he will say anything to Foster's siblings, who plan to attend his execution, Davis said he probably won't make a last statement. "I feel sorry for them. I feel bad this has happened," he said. "But what can I say? I'm just as much of a victim as they are – my family, my boys are, so I can feel their pain. I don't know what I could say to them. I couldn't tell them, `Hey, I'm sorry, I apologize,' because I ain't done it. So if that's what they're looking for, I can't give them that."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 14, 2002 Texas Lawrence Rudy Cadena Javier Medina executed

Javier Medina was sentenced to death for the 1988 shooting death of Lawrence Rudy Cadena, an undercover Dallas police officer. For Dallas police, 1988 was a bloody year. Five officers died in the line of duty, including Lawrence Cadena, a 17-year veteran who had transferred to narcotics from vice the year before. On Dec. 13, 1988, Cadena, 43, set up a buy for 3 ounces of cocaine outside a convenience store. As Cadena waited in his Camaro for the dealers to produce the cocaine, Medina walked over to the passenger side of the car, pulled a TEC-9 semiautomatic from under his overcoat and opened fire at point-blank range. "He never said, `Hey, I want your money,' he just cold-bloodedly shot him 9 times in the chest," said Dallas police Sgt. David McCoy, who witnessed the shooting from a parked car across the street. Four of the 9mm rounds pierced Cadena's heart. He was pronounced dead a half-hour later. "My chances are slim," said Suarez Medina regarding the possibility of his sentence being commuted to life. "My attorney, my family and friends, they have hope and I guess it's good to have hope, but in my case hope has always let me down." Unlike most crimes, capital murders produce victims long after the actual killing. The families of murder victims must deal with the sudden loss of a loved one. Often the void left by the unrealized life is never filled. For Lorenzo Cadena, the slain officer's father, the day his son died just doesn't exist in his past. His memories of his son are like a photo album with 1 page ripped out. "I don't know how it happened. I don't want to even remember about what happened to him," he said. McCoy said Lawrence Cadena helped him cope with the loss of his father earlier that year and that the two had become close. "As a police officer you never think it's going to happen to you or happen to someone you know. Everybody handles it differently. You don't realize how you're going to react. It's something that you live with the rest of your life," McCoy said. "As time passes, you don't think about it as often, but you still think about it." He also remembers returning to his office after Cadena's funeral and finding the slain officer's raid jacket hanging on the back of his chair. "It was on his desk that night. I just picked it up, and I still got it," he said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 14, 2002 Missouri Elizabeth DeCaro Daniel Basile executed

The events leading up to the murder began on January 10, 1992, when a man named James went to get a tire fat the Old Orchard service station in Webster Groves. Richard DeCaro worked at the station. James and DeCaro knew each other because they both belonged to Gold’s Gym. DeCaro told James that he had heavy payments on his van and asked James if he knew of anyone that could "take it off his hands." In the same conversation, DeCaro asked if James knew anyone who could "put a hit on somebody" for him. DeCaro stated that his wife thought he was having an affair with his secretary and that he would not wish marriage on anyone. Ten days later, DeCaro purchased a $100,000 life insurance policy on behalf of his wife, Elizabeth, listing himself as the primary beneficiary. On January 26, 1992, Richard DeCaro struck Elizabeth with their van knocking her through the garage wall in the kitchen. She sustained severe bruising. The insurance company paid DeCaro over $30,000 as a result of the incident. In January of 1992, DeCaro asked Craig Wells, a manager a Old Orchard service station, if he knew anyone who could steal his van. Well introduced DeCaro to Basile. The two met, and DeCaro offered Basile $15,000 to steal the van and kill Elizabeth. On February 8, 1992, Basile stole the van, drove it to Jackson, Missouri, and burned it. He received $200 for this job. On February 28, 1992, Basile asked a friend for a stolen gun that was not traceable. On March 4, Basile showed his half-brother a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol with pearl like grips. He claimed that he bought the gun from his father for $100. On March 5, Basile asked another friend to get him some latex gloves from the doctors offices in which she worked. On march 6, Basile told his half-brother that he could not work that day because he was working for Richard DeCaro. On March 6, 1992, DeCaro picked up two of his children from school and then went home to pick up the other two. He drove all four children and the family dog to the Lake of the Ozarks, leaving St. Louis a little after noon. They checked into the Holiday Inn at the lake at 2:59 p.m. Two of the children testified that they saw their mother alive before they went to school that morning. They also testified that the dog would always bark at strangers. Between 2:00 and 2:30 p.m., a witness noted that the DeCaro garage door was closed. Elizabeth DeCaro left work at 2:20 p.m. At 3:15 p.m., a neighbor stopped by and noticed the garage door was open and that the DeCaro’s Blazer with personalized license plates reading "RIK-LIZ" was in the garage, but no one answered the doorbell. At 4:15p.m., Basile was seen driving the DeCaro’s blazer in St. Charles. That evening around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., Basile call an ex-roommate for a ride stating "things went down. I did what I had to do." At 7:00 p.m., Basile called his half-brother and asked if he had garage space where Basile could work on his car. Basile drove the Blazer to a friend's home in Florissant and gave him a "boom box" stereo stolen from the DeCaro residence as a birthday gift. Basile told the friend that he "did this lady." Just after 8:00p.m., the Blazer was spotted heading south on Interstate 270. At 10:30 p.m., Basile went to his half-brother’s house, where they ate pizza before going out for drinks. Elizabeth DeCaro had planned to meet her sister, Melanie Enkleman, for dinner at 5:00p.m. When Elizabeth failed to show up for dinner or answer her telephone, Enkleman and a mutual friend went to the DeCaro home. They went in through an open side door in the garage and then thorough an open door leading into the house. They found Elizabeth lying face-down in the kitchen floor. Enkleman called 911 at around 8:00 p.m. Elizabeth DeCaro had two gunshot wounds in the back of her neck and bruises on her body. When she was shot, the gun was in contact with her body, and she was either kneeling or lying down. The bullets recovered from her body were .22 caliber. Police found no signs of forced entry. Basile was arrested on March 12, 1992. UPDATE: In the hours just prior to Daniel Basile's execution, a previously unknown possible alibi witness came forward, prompting Governor Hold to stay the execution. There is apparently no mention of this person in police records or court actions to date. Governor Holden's office issued a news release at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday morning saying since this was a life or death matter he was staying the execution to give Basile's attorneys time to respond to the new information. Corrections Department officials at Potosi say that if the execution does take place today, it will not be before 6:00 or 7:00 p.m.  UPDATE: The state carried out an execution against a convicted 35-year-old hit man. After a delay of about 22 hours, convicted contract killer Daniel Anthony Basile died by lethal injection at 10:05 p.m. His execution had been delayed when a new alibi witness came forward. The woman had said she was with Basile at the time Elizabeth DeCaro was killed in 1992. Basile was convicted of killing DeCaro in exchange for money, a car, and other property from DeCaro's husband. The courts rejected Basile's appeals for more time: the Missouri Supreme Court at 5:15 p.m.; the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals at 6:20 p.m. and the U. S. Supreme Court at 9:10 p.m.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
8/16/02  Georgia  Pattie Fugate  Wallace Fugate III executed

Wallace Marvin Fugate III was sentenced to death for the May 4, 1991, murder of his ex-wife Pattie Fugate. A Putnam County jury took less than an hour to sentence Fugate to death. The victim was attacked in her home and shot point blank in the face with a pistol, in front of her 15 year-old son. The Fugates had been married for 20 years before a divorce that led a judge to order the two to stay away from each other. But on May 4, 199, Pattie and Mark Fugate returned to their Putnam County home to find Buck Fugate hiding in the basement. During the trial, testimony showed that Fugate broke into her Lake Sinclair home and waited for her and their son, Mark, to come home. He forced her outside at gunpoint where he pistol-whipped her about 50 times before fatally shooting her in the forehead. The son told jurors how his mother was slain and said he thought his father should die in Georgia's electric chair. The day Fugate killed his ex-wife, their son Mark had tried to shoot his father to keep his mother from being harmed. A year later, Mark Fugate was beaten to death by 2 supposed friends inside the family home. In that case, Jeffrey Cross was sentenced to life without parole. Shawn Watley also pleaded guilty to murder and is serving 2 life sentences. UPDATE: A 52-year-old man convicted of the 1991 shooting death of his former wife was executed by lethal injection at a Georgia state prison on Friday night, a spokeswoman said. Wallace Fugate was pronounced dead at 9:46 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, Georgia, about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta, according to Peggy Chapman, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections. Chapman said Fugate made a final statement before his execution calling the U.S. criminal justice system corrupt, thanking his lawyers and saying he loved his son. Fugate's execution had been set for Wednesday, but was halted by the Georgia Supreme Court less than an hour before it was to take place. The state high court lifted its stay on Friday evening, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt the execution. Fugate was sentenced to death for the 1991 slaying of Pattie Fugate. Fugate killed her during a struggle outside the family home, according to court testimony. But he insisted the gun fired accidentally as he and his wife scuffled inside a van. Last year, Georgia switched to the use of lethal injection after the state Supreme Court ruled that the electric chair inflicted needless pain and suffering on condemned inmates. Chapman said Fugate did not receive a special final meal before his execution because he had been served such a meal on Wednesday. She said Fugate was given the same meal -- spaghetti, salad and a roll -- as the rest of the inmates after being served sirloin steak, lobster, baked potato and butterscotch ice cream on Wednesday.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 19, 2002 Tennessee Colleen Slemmer, 19 Christa Pike stayed

Christa Gail Pike was convicted in 1996 for the Jan. 12, 1995, torture slaying of 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer, who was slashed and beaten by Pike and Pike's boyfriend, Tadaryl Shipp, for 30 minutes to an hour before Pike finally killed her by smashing Slemmer's skull with a chunk of asphalt. In letters literally splattered with blood, a Tennessee death row inmate reveals her passion for brutal pain to trusted "soul mate" and fellow convicted killer John Lee Fryman. But Fryman, now imprisoned at the Warren Correctional Institute near Lebanon after Lucasville inmates beat him almost to death for being a snitch, mailed the letters to prosecutors to help them put Christa Pike to death. Pike, 24, convicted in the torture slaying of 19-year-old Colleen Slemmer six years ago today, is in the final round of the state's death penalty appeals process. Ms. Slemmer was slashed, beaten and stabbed for at least 30 minutes by Pike and Tadaryl Shipp, who even carved a pentagram into Ms. Slemmer's chest while she was still alive. Then Pike bashed her head with a chunk of asphalt, reached inside and took part of the skull as a souvenir. All three were students at the now-closed Job Corps Center in Knoxville. Just after Christmas, Fryman mailed Knox County Assistant District Attorney Bill Crabtree eight letters of love and violence written between Sept. 11 and Oct. 19, 2000, by Pike, who is held at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, Tenn. The contents of the Sept. 11 letter indicate the two had been writing to each other for some time. The eight letters were filed in Knox County court this week as exhibits in Pike's latest appeal of her 1996 death sentence. "Figure all these things are of more value to you than to me," Fryman wrote to Crabtree. "You see Mr. Prosecutor dude I'm down (in prison) for Satanic Murder. They say that I practice magic still." He goes on to write, "Christa loves me - go figure eh?... Foolish girl that she is." Fryman concludes: "You have a nice day Mr. Crabtree - or whoever has her case." In the letters Pike writes how much she likes blood. "It's quite beautiful before it turns brown," she writes in an Oct. 6 letter sprinkled with what she indicates is her blood. She also writes about how much she likes to inflict pain. "I love the feel of life - then lack thereof in my hands," she writes Fryman. "And just knowing the pain I can cause after accepting so much - and they will all know it's me." In another she notes, "I like to see blood and brains - fatty tissues and wide open ripped flesh." She also writes, "I'm unlike all the others, Johnny," and calls Fryman her soul mate and frequently says she loves him and is his "princess." She also discusses the way her face masks what's inside her. "See, I have an innocent baby face, the face of an angel," she writes. "It disguises me to a lot of people." Fryman, 38, is serving a life sentence in Ohio for the 1987 murder of 21-year-old Monica Lemen, whom he lured to his Fairfield trailer and shot in the back of the head in his "sorcery room." The room featured black-painted walls, a gravestone altar, animal jawbones, satanic figurines and a plastic ram's head. Fryman sawed off Ms. Lemen's legs and left them behind an Indiana church. In 1993, Fryman was nearly killed by other inmates for being a snitch during a riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville that left one guard and nine inmates dead. Pike's attorney, Tennessee Post-Conviction Defender Don Dawson, did not return a call seeking comment. Crabtree declined comment. Ms. Slemmer's mother, May Martinez, said the letters' brutal tone didn't surprise her. "You'd think she'd have more remorse or some kind of sorrow or something," Ms. Martinez said. "But she doesn't." UPDATE, 7/26/02: Less than a month after a Knox County judge granted her impassioned plea to drop her death penalty appeal, Christa Pike has changed her mind. "I do not want to be executed by the state of Tennessee on August 19, 2002," Pike wrote in an affidavit filed with the state Court of Criminal Appeals this week. The 26-year-old condemned killer also wrote that she wants her lawyers to continue to represent her - indicating that she wants to renew the appeal of her death sentence. Pike's affidavit accompanied a motion filed by Pike's attorneys, State Post- Conviction Defender Donald E. Dawson and Catherine Y. Brockenborough, seeking to either vacate or stay Pike's scheduled Aug. 19 execution date. The two lawyers filed an appeal on July 8 - on Pike's behalf - of Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz' order allowing Pike to withdraw her death penalty appeals in late June. At the time Dawson conceded Pike had not changed her mind about being executed. Assistant State Attorney General Jennifer L. Smith responded by filing a motion asking the court to dismiss the July 8 appeal. Smith's filing noted Pike had not signed the appeal and argued that because of Leibowitz' order allowing Pike to drop her appeals, Dawson and Brockenborough did not represent her anymore. "In short (they) no longer (represent) Christa Gail Pike and may not initiate any appeal on her behalf," Smith wrote. She also argued that because Pike waived her right to appeal she must first go back to Leibowitz' court and ask the judge for permission to file an appeal of the judge's decision. In his filing this week Dawson asked the Court of Appeals to give him an additional 10 days file a response to Smith's filing. Without the extension, Dawson must file a response this week. Dawson argued for the additional time on the basis that everyone involved in this situation is on uncertain ground. "Since the passage of the Post Conviction Procedure Act of 1995, no (petitioner) has ever attempted to withdraw his or her petition for post-conviction relief prior to a (hearing) on the petition in the state trial court," Dawson wrote. A post-conviction appeal is the second, and final, round of state appeals in a death-penalty case in Tennessee. A condemned inmate can still appeal in the federal courts once state appeals are exhausted. Dawson wrote that Pike's move to drop her appeals, and now her decision to back down from that position, raises all sorts of questions about what to do next - and he argued he needs more time to deal with them. He also argued the issues will not be resolved by Aug. 19, so the execution should either be delayed or vacated entirely.  When Leibowitz granted Pike's request to drop her death penalty appeal during a June 25, hearing, Pike joyfully cried out, "Oh, thank you! Thank you!" She had told Leibowitz that day she wanted to waive her appeal because even if she won, the best she could get was life in prison. She said she didn't want to grow old in prison while her family and friends died. Her three-sentence affidavit gives no reason for her change of heart. Dawson could not be reached for comment. UPDATE: The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed condemned killer Christa Pike's Aug. 19 execution date and sent her case back to Knox County Criminal Court. Pike's attorney, state Post-Conviction Defender Donald E. Dawson, said he was pleased and relieved with the ruling that came in response to an appeal he and Catherine Y. Brockenborough filed in July. "We're always pleased when a stay of execution is granted," Dawson said Friday in Nashville. The appeals court's order comes barely six weeks after Pike pleaded with Knox County Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz to let her drop her death penalty appeal - a request Leibowitz granted during a June 25 hearing. But Pike changed her mind a short time later and her lawyers filed an appeal in the court of criminal appeals on July 8 before filing a motion in late July in Knox County Criminal Court. Both filings sought to vacate Leibowitz' ruling and allow Pike to basically pick up her appeal where it was left off. Both the state attorney general's office and Leland L. Price, an assistant district attorney general in Knoxville, countered with filings arguing that Leibowitz' June ruling effectively ended any post-conviction appeal Pike had here. A post-conviction appeal is the second and final round of state appeals in a death penalty case in Tennessee. A condemned inmate can still appeal in the federal courts once all the state appeals are exhausted. Appeals Court Judges Gary Wade, Joseph M. Tipton and Curwood Witt, however, ruled in their one-page order that Leibowitz should hear Pike's motion to vacate her order allowing Pike to drop the death penalty appeal. The judges gave no reason for their decision but noted they had carefully considered the matter. Dawson said the order should put Pike's appeal back in the status it was in on June 25, 2001, when Pike suddenly told Leibowitz she wanted to give up her death penalty appeal. "That's what my hope would be," Dawson said. The state attorney general's office can appeal the order staying Pike's execution and sending the case back to Knox County but no decision had been made Friday afternoon. "We're certainly considering our options at this point," said Sharon Curtis Flair, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 20, 2002 Texas Christi Chauvierre, 15 Gary Etheridge executed

Gary Wayne Etheridge is on death row for the 1990 stabbing death of 15-year-old Christi Chauvierre. Etheridge, with a history of theft and burglary convictions, was on parole for about 6 weeks after serving part of a 10-year term for stabbing another inmate when he showed up at the home of Gail Chauviere, who managed a condominium near Surfside and had given him a job. When Ms. Chauviere resisted his demand for money for drugs, he sexually assaulted Christi Chauvierre and stabbed both her and her mother repeatedly. Gail Chauvierre survived the attack and identified Etheridge as the killer, but died 3 years ago from complications of injuries suffered in the attack. Upon his arrest, Etheridge confessed to the crime.  "I'm a Christian hypocrite backslider," Etheridge once said from death row. "I'm repentant but can't follow the rules. I still lust after pretty women. I'm human. I'm scared to death of death."  Etheridge won a reprieve of a June 2002 execution date when the state appeals court delayed his execution based on claims that the judge who once called him a piece of trash should not have signed the execution order. Carolyn Barrett, Christie Chauviere's sister, was discouraged but not surprised at news the execution was delayed again. She would not lay odds on when another date will be set. "It has taken us 2 years to get another one, so I really don't know," Barrett said."It questions your faith in the Texas justice system." Barrett questions the importance of Gayle's comments after Etheridge's sentencing. Comments Etheridge made to Gail Chauviere as he left the courtroom that same day are more important, Barrett said. "Gary looked at my mother and said 'We are all going to die someday,'" Barrett said. "I know because I was sitting at her right side holding her hand. My mother held his stare until he looked away and walked out. I think its very ironic that people will quote Judge Gayle and what Judge Gayle said and ignore what Gary said to my mother," Barrett said. "He can do and say what he wants and nobody cares." District Attorney Jeri Yenne said Etheridge has had 12 years worth of appeals. His case is a model for how safeguards in the legal system should work, Yenne said. "The Gary Etheridge case should be a stellar example of due process," Yenne said. "When people complain and moan about the death penalty I want them to look at the Gary Etheridge case and see how many bites at the apple he has had. It would have been nice if Christie Chauviere had had as much due process as Gary Etheridge is afforded before he executed the death warrant on her," Yenne said.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 23, 2002 South Carolina Susan Barbara Babich Anthony Green executed

The South Carolina Supreme Court voted 4-1 to let Anthony Green's death sentence stand. Green was convicted of shooting a woman in the head with a rifle in the parking lot of the Charles Towne Shopping Mall in November 1987 and taking her purse. The Court has set an Aug. 23 execution date Green. Green has exhausted all of his appeals. Susan Babich was shot moments after she parked her car at the Charles Town Square Mall in November 1987. Based on an eyewitness's description, police apprehended Green in the mall vicinity within thirty minutes. They found a rifle and Susan's checkbook in his car. He told police he killed Susan Babich because she saw him sneaking up on her.  UPDATE: Anthony Green was put to death Friday evening for the killing of a Naval wife and mother out shopping at a mall 15 years ago. On Thursday, Gov. Jim Hodges denied requests from Green's attorneys and humanitarian groups to halt the execution. The state Supreme Court had earlier denied Green's call to stop the execution and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Supreme Court, Green's last chance for a stay, refused to block Green's execution Friday afternoon. Green died by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m., a prisons official said. Green, 37, had been on death row since 1988 for the murder of 36-year-old Susan Barbara Babich of Hanahan. "Because of the act of one selfish individual, our family's perspective on society, as well as how we approach everyday activities, has been forever changed," the Babich family wrote in a statement forwarded by her brother Daniel Merton. No one from Babich's or Green's families was present for the execution. The Babich family thanked the jurors on Green's case and the South Carolina justice system. The Babich family's statement said they chose not to attend Friday "for it will serve no purpose in our lives. We seek not mere revenge but what the justice system has deemed necessary and appropriate. Justice has prevailed," they wrote, "and will be served in our conscious absence."

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 27, 2002 Ohio John McGrath, 79 Gregory Lott stayed

Gregory Lott was sentenced to die in 1987 for killing a 79-year-old man. On 7/12/86, Lott murdered a 79-year-old East Cleveland man. Lott broke into the man's home, set the man on fire, and left him for dead after ransacking the house. The victim, 79-year-old John McGrath, died 11 days later but was able to give a description of his attacker to the police. An eyewitness claimed to see Lott in the victim's car the day after the murder, and Lott was known to have robbed the man before. Police were able to obtain a partial fingerprint of Lott's from an envelope inside McGrath's home but Lott's attorneys said that wasn't significant because Lott had been in the home during the original robbery. Three days after he was attacked, police found McGrath at his home, and he was interviewed shortly thereafter while being treated in the emergency room. He gave police a detailed description of his assailant. McGrath died on July 23. UPDATE: 8/17/2002 - The Ohio Parole Board recommended Friday that Gov. Bob Taft deny clemency for Gregory Lott, the 1st death-row inmate facing execution to claim he is mentally retarded since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to execute retarded prisoners. The board ruled 5-1 that it disagreed with Lott's claim of innocence. Lott's lawyers argued that evidence withheld at his 1987 trial found that the victim had given police a description of his killer that differed from Lott's appearance. Lott was convicted of the 1986 slaying of John McGrath, who was attacked and set on fire in his East Cleveland home. The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed Lott's execution, which had been scheduled for Aug. 27. Mr. Lott's appeal that he should be spared because he is mentally retarded is pending before the court. Board member Sandra Mack cast the vote to recommend clemency. She said Mr. Taft should suspend Lott's execution order until independent psychiatrists can test Lott. Greg Meyers, chief of the public defender's death-penalty division, said Mr. Taft should reject the board's recommendation. "We are deeply disappointed yet remain hopeful that Governor Taft will do the right thing and grant clemency," Mr. Meyers said. "If a jury had heard all the facts we now know to be the truth, Greg Lott would not be on death row." Mr. Taft will review the parole board's recommendation, but has no reason to act quickly since the execution has been postponed, his spokesman Joe Andrews said. Mr. Taft has denied clemency to the 4 inmates executed since he took office in 1999.

 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 28, 2002 Texas Kimberly Brewer
Jennifer Brewer, 6
Ollie Brewer, 3
Toronto Patterson executed

Toronto Patterson began selling crack cocaine when he was 15 years old. As a drug dealer, Patterson earned $500 to $700 a day and developed an affinity for expensive chrome and gold or all gold automobile wheels. Patterson owned a car that was equipped with such wheels, but it was stolen in April 1995. Patterson was aware that Vernon Stiff, a cousin who was serving time in the penitentiary, stored a BMW with expensive wheels at the home of Evelyn Stiff, Patterson's great-aunt.  On June 6, 1995, around 10 or 11a.m., Patterson left his girlfriend's house and informed a friend that he was going to physical therapy for a back injury. On that same day, Patterson drove his grandmother's car to Evelyn Stiff's home and visited with Kimberly Brewer, one of Evelyn's daughters. After chatting with Kimberly for about 15 minutes, Patterson went to physical therapy. Thereafter, Patterson returned to Evelyn's house and fatally shot Kimberly and her two children, three-year-old Ollie, and six-year-old Jennifer, with a .38-revolver. Patterson shot Kimberly in the head as she relaxed on a living room recliner. He shot Jennifer in the head as she watched cartoons and played in her bedroom. Ollie, who was on the bed in the same room, was killed by a gunshot to the head. Ollie also had gunshot wounds to her left hand and neck. The children's injuries indicated that Patterson was only three feet away when he shot them, and Ollie's injuries were consistent with an adult standing over her and firing downward while she cowered in the corner of the bed and covered her ears. After committing the murders, Patterson proceeded to the garage, unfastened three of the wheels from the BMW, and placed them in his grandmother's car. He was unable to unfasten the fourth wheel. Patterson did not take any other valuable items from the house. Around 2 or 3 p.m., Patterson returned to his girlfriend's house looking scared and out-of-breath. He immediately changed his clothes and explained to his friend that he had just robbed and shot someone in an attempt to rob the person of his wheels, and that he needed help carting three of the wheels into the house. That same afternoon, Patterson tried to sell the stolen wheels to Aycock Tire and Wheel but because he was unable to make a deal with the store manager, he kept the wheels in his girlfriend's garage. Police officers arrested Patterson on murder charges the same day, and searched both Patterson's vehicle and the residence of Patterson's girlfriend. The clothing that Patterson wore earlier in the day had tiny spots of blood that were consistent with a blood pattern that would result from shooting someone in the head. On June 7, 1995, Patterson submitted two written statements to a police detective, admitting to, and apologizing for, his involvement in the murders. In the first statement, Patterson claimed that he gave the stolen wheels to "two Jamaicans" who actually did the shooting. In the second statement, after he was confronted with the fact that police had located the wheels at his girlfriend's house, Patterson admitted that he was the one who committed the triple homicide. Patterson testified in his defense at trial, and presented a twist on the "Jamaicans-made-me-do-it" story, claiming that he had nothing to do with the murders and that his previous statements to the contrary were coerced.

 

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