February 2000 Executions

Six killers were executed in the month of February 2000. They had murdered at least 7 people.
Three killers were issued stays of execution. They have murdered at least 5 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 4, 2000 Alabama Hugh Kite, 63 Robert Tarver Jr. stayed
Robert Lee Tarver Jr., convicted of robbing and killing a Cottonton store owner and stealing his wallet. Robert Lee Tarver Jr. was convicted in the Sept. 15, 1984 death of Hugh Kite. Hugh was apparently closing up his store, Kite’s Grocery and Bait Store located on Alabama 165, for the night as Tarver robbed and fatally shot him. Hugh’s wife had called, asking him to bring a bag of ice home. While a 10-year-old helper waited inside, Kite exited the store and went around the corner of the building where he was shot three times with a.38-caliber revolver and robbed of his cash. "That store was kind of a community center," said Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis and chief prosecutor in the Kite murder trial. "Mr. Kite’s death cast a pall over that community. It was frightening and disconcerting and had a chilling effect on everybody there." Kite’s Grocery and Bait Store also served, in a sense, as a crossroads of country culture. Prior to Hugh’s death, it was a gathering place for the people of Cottonton, Jernigan, Pittsview, Glenville and other remote places in the county. Kite also operated a post office inside. Most everybody in the area knew him, including Tarver and Richardson. During his 1985 Russell County trial, co-defendant Andrew Lee Richardson said he was with Tarver on the night Kite was murdered. He said the 2 men were drinking beer in Tarver’s late 1970s Chevrolet Impala in a pasture near Kite’s store before Tarver, armed with a gun, got out of the car and walked toward the store. Richardson said Tarver returned, gave him $80, and told him "he had to kill" Kite. Richardson, who lived in nearby Glenville, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of 1st-degree robbery and remains in Alabama’s Ventress Correctional Facility, serving a 25-year sentence. He is eligible for parole in April 2001. Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell, then a captain and chief investigator of the Kite murder, introduced the physical evidence that contributed to Tarver’s conviction. Mud from the rain yielded footprints that Boswell tracked to the place where Richardson would say the 2 men had parked prior to the murder. There, Boswell found tire tracks leading away from the scene. He also found an empty beer can. After receiving information on Tarver’s possible involvement, he conducted tests that matched the tire tracks near the crime scene with the tire treads on Tarver’s car parked at his home in nearby Pittsview. A fingerprint analysis of the beer can found in the pasture revealed a print matching Tarver’s. Boswell also retrieved a pistol that a ballistics report linked to the murder. Taking the stand in his own defense, Tarver, who was on parole for a previous robbery conviction at the time of the shooting, said he was nowhere near Kite’s store the night of the murder and denied killing him. The jury was not convinced. Finding him guilty, it recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Russell County Circuit Court Judge Wayne Johnson overrode the recommendation, however, ordering Tarver put to death and setting off a chain of appeals that has lasted 15 years. Tarver, now 52, has maintained his innocence throughout. William Allen Motley, who operated a small grocery store in Jernigan until a few years ago, said Hugh’s murder changed the way the community thought about country life. "I think it put everybody around here on their P’s and Q’s," he said. "Especially those who operated businesses. From that time on I made sure I was never alone when I opened or closed my store." The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday granted a stay of execution to Tarver, based on his claim that death by electrocution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 10, 2000 Oklahoma Lula Mae Brooks, 80 Michael Roberts executed
Michael Donald Roberts was executed for the 1988 murder of Lula Mae Brooks, 80, who drowned in her own blood after being stabbed in the head and neck and her throat was slit. She was found dead on the living room floor of her home. Roberts was condemned for the Jan. 16, 1988, death of 80- year-old Lula Mae Brooks. The woman was killed during the burglary of her home. Roberts lived three houses down from Brooks and confessed to the killing in a statement to Oklahoma City police. Roberts also admitted to 19 other burglaries. Attorney General Drew Edmondson called Roberts a "walking crime wave" who also confessed to a count of sexual assault. "Roberts committed a cold- blooded murder on an 80-year- old victim," Edmondson said. Roberts told police that he entered Brooks’ house after he saw the door open. He claimed he stabbed Brooks when she charged at him with a knife. He said he slit her throat with another knife when she came at him a second time. Roberts said he tossed Brooks on the floor and she then asked him to "finish the job," authorities said. Roberts recanted his confession during his trial and said he confessed because detectives offered him a 15-year sentence to clear up the killing and a string of robberies. Police denied the claim. Prosecutors and police said Roberts killed Brooks to avoid arrest and prosecution because Brooks could identify him. The U.S. Supreme Court, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Gov. Frank Keating all denied requests for a stay of execution or to reconsider earlier appeal denials. The state Pardon and Parole Board denied Roberts’ clemency request.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 16, 2000 Arizona John Jamison Anthony Chaney executed
Anthony Chaney and Deanna Jo Saunders-Coleman were on the run from a string of burglaries in Texas and Colorado. They burgled several homes in other states before entering Arizona. At one home they found several guns which they took. After leaving and driving some distance, Chaney decided to re-burgle that home to make sure he did not miss any weapons. Chaney was described as a "gun nut," who knew quite a bit about them. Robert Cline, saw them and, because it was unusual to see people camping there, he decided to investigate. As the deputy approached the campsite, he called in the description of the vehicle and its plates. He drove up behind the pickup and he exited his vehicle. He asked Chaney for identification, and Chaney said it was in his truck and that he would retrieve it. Deputy Cline talked to Deanna and suddenly Chaney was back with a gun pointed at the deputy’s head. Deanna took Deputy Cline’s side arm. Chaney told Deanna to give him the AR-15 rifle (the civilian version of the M-16). While Chaney was pointing the rifle at Deputy Cline, he told him to kneel. Cline complied and, in fear of losing his life, began talking to Chaney in hopes of avoiding death. He told Chaney about his family and also that Chaney could handcuff him to a tree and thereby escape. While this was going on, the dispatcher determined that the pickup was stolen and tried to inform the deputy. When there was no answer, the dispatcher called a second officer, John Jamison, to investigate. Because the area is rural, there was some difficulty in locating the first deputy’s exact position. Chaney, who said he needed "more control" of the situation, handcuffed Cline to the tree, told Deanna to disable the two-way radio in Cline’s vehicle, and took its keys. Chaney and Deanna drove off. When he felt it was safe, Deputy Cline took out a spare key and unhandcuffed himself and ran to the radio. John Jamison was progressing slowly up the dirt road, checking areas along the way. Suddenly he saw Chaney’s vehicle. He called in and asked, "Black Ford pickup?" Chaney stopped his vehicle, jumped out with the AR-15 in hand and fired it while advancing on Deputy Jamison’s vehicle. Deputy Cline was talking with the dispatcher describing the assailants when he heard the gunfire; he grabbed his shotgun and ran towards the gunfire. John Jamison threw himself to the seat to avoid the bullets as Chaney began firing. Over thirty bullets were fired. Glass and other debris were flying around the vehicle and over two hundred objects struck the deputy. One of the bullets nearly severed his left arm. Finally, when Chaney was within nine feet of the car and to its rear, Chaney fired again, leaving powder burns on the victim’s body. Chaney returned to the truck, and he told Deanna: "Murder One" and "reload." As they were leaving, Deanna saw Deputy try to drive his car, but he could not. John Jamison, who was a doctor and only a part-time deputy, was conscious for about thirty minutes after the attack. When the medics arrived he told them: "I’m dying, I’m dying" and "I can’t breathe." Chaney saw two boys in another pickup later in the same general area. He decided to take their pickup because the police had a description of his. Deanna went to the passenger window of the boys’ pickup and began talking with them. Chaney came up to the driver’s side, pointed his gun at the driver and told the boys to get out. They were told to kneel next to the truck. After transferring their booty, Chaney told the boys to run. They did but dodged behind trees when they could because both feared a bullet in the back. Before telling the boys to run, Chaney told them that he had handcuffed one deputy to a tree and had shot another. Chaney headed to Flagstaff to put gas in the pickup he had just stolen. Within minutes the police were in contact with the boys and sent out a description of the new vehicle. In Flagstaff the police spotted the vehicle but hoped to allow Chaney to leave Flagstaff before attempting an arrest. There were many police cars in the area and Chaney remarked that he was in their midst and they did not realize it. Soon the police realized that surprise was gone and they moved in. After arrest, Chaney asked how the deputy was doing, to which the arresting officer said "shut up." Saunders-Coleman pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a 21-year prison sentence. She testified against Chaney.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 23, 2000 Texas Carl Leevy Cornelius Goss executed
Cornelius Goss was sentenced to death in the May 1987 beating death of Carl Leevy in Dallas. Evidence showed that Goss broke into Leevy’s home through a bedroom window and beat Leevy to death with a board. Goss then stole a $10 gold piece, lady’s bracelet, camera, necklace, Rolex watch and two men’s rings. Goss’s fingerprints were found inside the home and he later confessed to police. Goss had a previous conviction for burglary of a building, receiving a 7 year sentence from which he was parole after serving only 6 months.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 23, 2000 Ohio Mary Jennifer Love, 6 Ralph Lynch stayed
Jurors recommended that Ralph L. Lynch receive the death penalty, saying they did not agree with defense arguments that his childhood of sexual abuse mitigated the strangling of his 6-year-old neighbor, Mary Jennifer Love. A jury of 7 men and 5 women recommended that Mr. Lynch be sentenced to death on each of the 3 counts of aggravated murder during the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial. Carol and Mark Williams, parents of the young girl killed by Lynch in his apartment on June 24, 1998, said justice was served with the death sentence. The couple clutched hands as the verdict was read. "I heard exactly what I’ve been waiting 14 months to hear," said a teary-eyed Mrs. Williams. She left the courtroom holding a photo button of her daughter. In the photo, the young girl wears colorful beads on her braids. "I’m extremely happy." Mrs. Williams said she plans to attend Lynch’s execution and will be carrying a picture of the girl. "I want him to see her face when he goes," she said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 23, 2000 Florida George Pfeil, 55 Terry Sims executed
Terry Melvin Sims killed a Seminole County reserve deputy sheriff more than 20 years ago. Sims was condemned to die for the slaying of Deputy George Pfeil, 55, at the Longwood Village Pharmacy on Dec. 29, 1977. Pfeil was in uniform and on his way home when he entered the pharmacy on State Road 434 to pick up a prescription. Inside, Sims and Curtis Baldree were robbing the store while accomplices B.B. Halsell and Clarence Eugene Robinson waited in a getaway car. Pfeil exchanged gunfire with Sims and was shot twice. He died a short time later. Sims, who was shot in the hip, was not arrested until June 1978, after an attempted armed robbery in California. Baldree and Halsell testified against Sims during his 1979 trial and said he bragged that he "killed a cop with one shot." Sims was convicted of 1st-degree murder and robbery. Baldree and Halsell were both killed after being released from 2-year prison terms. Robinson, who was indicted in absentia for murder in the pharmacy shooting, remained at large until June 1983 when he surrendered after being charged with shooting two FBI agents in Volusia County.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 24, 2000 Texas Kimberly Brewer
Jennifer Brewer, 6
Ollie Brewer, 3
Toronto Patterson stayed
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the death penalty in a case in which a 17-year-old Dallas man killed his cousin’s 3-year-old daughter for three chrome and gold wheels. The court voted 9-0 to reject the appeal of Toronto Markkey Patterson, who had argued there wasn’t evidence to convict him for Ollie Brewer’s June 6, 1995 death. According to court records, Kimberly Brewer was found dead from gunshot wounds in her den, and her daughters – 6-year-old Jennifer and Ollie – had been slain in the room which they shared. The only things missing from the house were 3 chrome and gold car wheels from Ms. Brewer’s brother’s BMW, which was parked in the garage. Patterson had visited his cousin, Ms. Brewer, and had returned to his girlfriend’s house in a panic saying he just stole 3 wheels, documents showed. Patterson, in a written confession, stated that he killed all 3, adding that he walked into the children’s room and fired twice with his eyes closed. The courts ruled that the evidence – including the facts that Ms. Brewer and Kimberly were killed in relaxed positions as though by someone they trusted and that Patterson was known to like fancy wheels – was sufficient. He was tried only on charges of killing the 3-year-old. Because the girl was under 6, Patterson was found guilty of a capital offense. There are still appeals pending and this execution is not likely to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 24, 2000 Florida George Wilson Anthony Bryan executed
On May 27, 1983, Anthony B. Bryan robbed a bank in Grand Bay, Alabama with a sawed-off shotgun. He was not caught after the crime and spent the next three months as a fugitive from the law. In June 1983, Bryan met Sharon Cooper in Jacksonville, Florida and the two hitchhiked to Mississippi. After obtaining a truck in Mississippi, they drove back to Florida, stopping en route to retrieve the sawed-off shotgun that Bryan had used in the bank robbery. In Florida, Bryan obtained a cabin cruiser in order to travel back to Mississippi. The boat became damaged and Bryan and Cooper stopped in Pascagoula, Mississippi to make repairs. Bryan borrowed tools from George Wilson and unsuccessfully tried to repair the boat. Needing transportation and money, Bryan robbed George at gunpoint and tied him up for the night. Bryan then took George’s keys and robbed the seafood wholesaler where George worked as a night watchman. After returning from the seafood wholesaler, Bryan placed George in the back of his car. Bryan and Cooper then drove him to Santa Rosa County where the three stayed in a motel. Leaving the motel, Bryan drove George to a secluded spot in the woods. He marched George, with his hands tied, at gunpoint to a spot beside a creek. Fearing for his life, George pleaded that he not be crippled. Bryan knocked George over the head with the shotgun and as he fell into the creek, Bryan shot him in the face with the sawed-off shotgun. Bryan then pushed his car into a nearby river. In August 1983, Bryan and Cooper were arrested in Madison County, Florida for driving a stolen car. Following her release, Cooper went to offices of the FBI to report that Bryan had robbed, kidnapped, and murdered George Wilson. After being arrested by authorities, Bryan escaped from the Santa Rosa County jail in July 1984. He was re-arrested in Colorado in October 1985. At trial for the murder of George Wilson, Cooper was the state’s chief witness. A jury convicted Bryan of first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm, kidnapping with a firearm, and felony murder. At the sentencing, Bryan called seven witnesses to testify on his behalf; including his mother, grandmother, ex-wife, a co-worker, and people who knew Bryan when he was a fugitive between July 1984 and October 1985. Bryan also introduced written reports prepared by four separate mental health experts as well as the deposition of a psychiatrist. The jury returned an advisory sentence of death. On May 16, 1986, Judge Wells accepted the jury’s recommendation, finding numerous aggravating factors and two mitigating factors, and sentenced Bryan to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 24, 2000 Texas Jimmy Don Beets
Doyle Wayne Barker
Betty Lou Beets executed
Betty Lou Beets, a cashier and waitress, was convicted of the August 1983 shooting death of her fifth husband at the couple’s home near Gun Barrel City in East Texas in what authorities said was a scheme to collect over $100,000 in insurance benefits and a $1200 per month pension. She is called a Black Widow because she was also charged but never tried for the 1981 murder of a previous husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, who was found buried behind a tool shed on the same day Jimmy Don’s body was found. Beets had also shot and wounded her second husband, Bill Lane. This resulted in a plea bargained conviction of misdemeanor assault. Lane had been shot in the side of the stomach. Beets’ daughter, Shirley Stenger, told detectives that she had assisted her mother in burying the body of Doyle Wayne Barker in Oct. 1981, after Beets had shot and killed him. Beets later blamed second husband Bill Lane for Barker’s death. Beets’s fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets, a Dallas firefighter, disappeared on August 6, 1983. Beets reported him missing. The couple had been married less than a year. Beets principally contended at trial that it was her son Robbie Branson who actually killed Jimmy Don after an argument. Branson testified that his mother said she intended to kill her husband and told her son to leave the house. Upon returning after two hours, Branson found Jimmy Don dead with two gunshot wounds. He helped his mother conceal the body in the front yard of the house before Beets reported her husband missing. According to her son, the next day, Beets took some of Jimmy Don’s heart medication and put it in his fishing boat. Branson and Beets then left the boat in the lake. It was found washed ashore near the Redwood Beach Marina, and in the boat was found his medication, his fishing license and a life jacket. After three weeks of extensive but unsuccessful searching by law enforcement officials, the search for Jimmy Don was halted. More than a year later, a trailer home that was Jimmy Don’s separate property before his death was destroyed by fire. When the insurer refused Beets’s claim for the loss, Beets sought the counsel of E. Ray Andrews, an attorney who had represented Beets since 1981 or ’82. During their discussions, they also decided that Andrews would pursue any insurance or pension benefits to which Beets might be entitled. Beets and Andrews entered into a contingent fee arrangement whereby Andrews would pursue collection on both Beets’s fire insurance claim and any death benefits to which she might have been entitled in connection with Jimmy Don’s disappearance. Andrews determined that certain benefits existed and so informed Beets. Andrews sought the assistance of two attorneys more experienced in collecting such benefits. Andrews then arranged a meeting in his office with Beets and Randell Roberts, one of the other attorneys. Roberts agreed to associate his firm in the matter. Roberts’s brother, attorney Bruce Roberts, eventually took over responsibility for Beets’s claims. Through his efforts, Jimmy Don’s former employer, the City of Dallas Fire Department, agreed to provide benefits to Beets. After a credible informant gave information that Jimmy Don may have been murdered, and before Beets received the first check from the Fire Department, she was arrested on June 8, 1985, and was charged with the capital murder of Jimmy Don. Beets was charged with shooting and killing her husband and, with the assistance of her son, Robbie Branson, burying him under a planter in her front yard. Beets allegedly disposed of her fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, in a similar fashion. Barker’s body was found buried in the back yard underneath a patio upon which a storage shed had been erected. Shirley Stenger also admitted that her mother told her she planned to kill Jimmy Don. Shirley testified that in October, 1981, almost two years before Beets disappeared, when her mother and Barker were married and living together, while she and her mother were "sitting around a campfire", her mother told her that "she was going to kill Doyle Wayne Barker" because "she couldn’t put up with anymore of him beating her and that she didn’t want him around anymore." Her mother also told her that "the trailer was in his name and she was just a co-signer on it and that if they were to get a divorce, that he would end up with the trailer." Approximately 3 or 4 days later, at Shirley’s residence, Shirley and her mother had another conversation, during which her mother told her that "it was all over with and she had done what she intended to do… She told me that she waited until he went to sleep and then she got the gun and covered it with a pillow and pulled the trigger and when she pulled the trigger, the pillow [interfered] with the firing pin, so she hesitated for a minute, afraid that Wayne was going to wake up, and she cocked the gun again and fired and shot him in the head." Thereafter, Shirley assisted her mother in disposing of Barker’s body: "We drug him from the trailer outside to the back and put him in the hole that had already been dug [in order to build a barbeque pit]." Shirley further testified that "the next day we went and bought some cinder blocks and [built] a patio" over the hole in which Barker’s body had been placed. Subsequently, a large storage shed replaced the patio. During cross-examination, Shirley testified that although she had also been charged with the murder of Barker and her $1,000,000 bail bond had been reduced to $5,000 she had not been promised anything by the prosecution in exchange for her testimony against her mother. Beets had also shot another former husband, Bill Lane, although he survived. Beets was convicted of murder for remuneration and the promise of remuneration on the theory that she killed her husband in order to obtain his insurance and pension benefits. Denny Burris, a chaplain with the City of Dallas Fire Department, met with Beets several times during the first few weeks after Jimmy Don was reported missing. Burris testified that she made inquiry of him whether she was covered by any insurance policies that Jimmy Don might have had with the City of Dallas, as well as inquiring whether she would be entitled to receive any pension benefits that Beets might have accumulated. Beets did not profess to Burris that she had any specific knowledge of either insurance coverage on Jimmy Don’s life or any pension benefits he might have accumulated. Burris told her that he did not know but would check into the matter and report back to her. Burris did check and learned that Jimmy Don’s life was insured with the total amount of insurance being approximately $110,000. He also learned that Beets would be entitled to receive approximately $1,200 each month from Jimmy Don’s pension benefits. Burris advised Beets of his findings, and also told her that according to the City Attorney of Dallas that because Jimmy Don’s body had not been recovered there would be a seven year waiting period before any payment of insurance proceeds could occur. Soon afterwards, Beets applied to have Jimmy Don declared legally dead. This declaration was granted approximately three months before his body was found and Beets was appointed administrator of his estate. From death row, Beets claimed that she did not remember what happened to her husbands.

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