April 2001 Executions

Five killers were executed in April 2001. They had murdered at least 8 people.
Seven killers received stays of execution in April 2001. They have murdered at least 14 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 3, 2001 Texas James Brian King, 14
Christina Benjamin, 13
Jason Massey executed

Jason Massey was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 murders of two young teenagers whose bodies were found by a road worker on a rural road in Telico in Ellis County, Texas. James Brian King, 14, had been shot in the head, and his 13-year-old stepsister Christina Benjamin had been stripped, raped, disemboweled and dismembered. Ellis County sheriff’s Lt. Royce Gothard said the girl’s naked body was in the brush beside a gravel road. Her head and hands were severed and the body was covered with cuts. The boy’s fully clothed body was found 100 yards away in a creek with no visible wounds, Gothard said. The place where the bodies were found was about 15 miles from the teens’ home in Garrett. Officials impounded Massey’s 1982 Subaru. They collected certain forensic evidence from the truck linking Massey to the killings. The jury took just three hours to convict Massey after hearing testimony from a former friend of Massey, 18-year-old Chris Nowlin, who told the court that Massey had said he wanted to have sex with Benjamin, then kill her and mutilate her. "I didn’t pay much attention to him because he was always talking about killing girls," Nowlin testified. Nowlin said he and Massey spent much of the summer of 1993 drinking, driving around and doing LSD, marijuana and cocaine. Her body parts have never been found. Massey had decided he was going to become the worst serial killer that Texas had ever seen. He was known to torture animals and was only nine years old when he killed his first cat. Many more dead animals followed, including dogs and even six cows. Massey stalked a young woman, and revered killers like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and Henry Lee Lucas. Investigators discovered a long list of potential victims and his diaries were filled with fantasies of rape, torture, and cannibalism of female victims. He was obsessed with bringing girls under his control and having their dead bodies in his possession.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 15, 2001 Maryland Dawn Marie Garvin
Patricia Hurt
Laurie Ward
Steven Oken stayed

Steven Oken sexually assaulted and murdered Dawn Garvin at her home in Baltimore County. At midnight on Sunday, November 1, 1987, Keith Douglas Garvin arrived at the United States Navy base in Oceana, Virginia. Mr. Garvin, who had a pass from his naval superiors, had just spent the weekend with his wife, Dawn Garvin, at their apartment in the Baltimore County community of White Marsh and was returning to his station in Oceana. Upon his arrival at the base, Keith attempted to call his wife to notify her that he had arrived safely. Although the telephone rang at their White Marsh apartment, there was no answer. After making several additional unsuccessful attempts to call his wife, Keith became worried and telephoned his father-in-law, Frederick Joseph Romano. Because Frederick lived in close proximity to the Garvins’ apartment, Keith asked him to check on Dawn. Mr. Romano agreed, and attempted to telephone his daughter twice. Both times there was no answer. Concerned about the fact that numerous calls to his daughter had gone unanswered, Frederick decided to drive to his daughter’s apartment. When he arrived, he found the front door to the apartment ajar, all the lights in the apartment turned on, and the television blaring. Sensing that something was wrong, he rushed into the apartment and found his daughter, Dawn, in the bedroom lying on the bed nude with a bottle protruding from her vagina. While attempting to perform CPR, Dawn’s father observed that there was blood streaming from her forehead. He immediately called for assistance, and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. A paramedic then began to administer CPR, but his efforts were in vain. Dawn Marie Garvin was dead. At 2:30 a.m., on November 2, police arrived at the Garvins’ apartment to inspect the scene of the murder. A detective testified that when he entered the Garvins’ apartment he saw no signs of forced entry. Once inside, he observed a brassiere, a pair of pants, tennis shoes, a shirt, and a sweater on the floor near the sofa in the living room. The brassiere was not unhooked, but instead, was ripped on the side. The pants were turned inside out. The detective also noticed a small piece of rubber on the floor near the television set. In the bedroom, he found two spent.25 caliber shell casings on the bed, one of which was lying on top of a shirt. The shirt was blood-stained and had what Roeder believed to be a bullet hole in it. An autopsy of Dawn’s body revealed that she had died as the result of two contact gunshot wounds; one of the bullets entered at her left eyebrow and the other at her right ear. Less than two weeks after Oken murdered Dawn Garvin, he sexually assaulted and murdered his sister-in-law, Patricia Hirt, at his Maryland home. He then fled Maryland for Maine, where he murdered Lori Ward, the desk clerk at his Maine hotel. He was arrested in Maine on November 17, 1987, and was ultimately convicted in Maine for first degree murder, robbery with a firearm, and theft arising out of Lori’s murder. Oken was sentenced to life without parole on the murder charge, twenty years on the robbery charge, and five years on the theft charge, all sentences to run concurrently. Oken was returned to Maryland where he faced separate prosecutions for charges arising out of other two homicides. He was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County in the Garvin case for first degree murder, sexual offenses, burglary, daytime housebreaking, robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon, theft, and a handgun violation. The State’s evidence was very strong. The murder weapon, a handgun, was found in Oken’s home shortly after the murder and a rubber portion of Oken’s tennis shoe was found in Dawn Garvin’s living room on the night of the murder. In addition, several witnesses at trial identified Oken as the person in the neighborhood who had attempted to gain entry to residences in the vicinity of the Garvin home a few days prior to the murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 17, 2001 Kentucky Steve Bennett
Arthur Briscoe
Ralph Baze stayed

A federal judge yesterday indefinitely postponed the execution of Ralph Baze, who was scheduled to die Tuesday for the slayings of the Powell County sheriff and a deputy in a 1992 ambush. In a one-page statement, U.S. District Judge Henry Wilhoit granted a stay of execution until further order of the court. Milt Toby, Baze’s attorney, asked for the stay Wednesday and also filed a petition seeking a review of Baze’s appeal in the federal courts. Toby could not be reached for comment yesterday. He had said earlier this week after talking with Baze that his client was optimistic about continuing his appeal. Wilhoit had turned down an earlier request for a stay of execution until Toby could file his entire appeal. The petition for federal court review of Baze’s case contends various errors occurred at the trial, including the admission of certain evidence and the judge’s instructions to the jury. The petition also says Baze received inadequate representation at the trial. Baze was convicted of shooting Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe, Bennett’s brother-inlaw, on Jan. 20, 1992, when they tried to arrest him on a warrant charging him with endangering a police officer in Ohio. He was convicted of 2 counts of murder in December 1993 and sentenced to die. Baze had claimed the shootings were triggered when Briscoe fired at him as he raised his arms and tried to surrender. But in the Kentucky Supreme Court opinion upholding Baze’s conviction and sentence, Justice Donald Wintersheimer wrote that witnesses had "testified that neither the sheriff nor the deputy fired the 1st shot. The sheriff did not fire any shots." Gov. Paul Patton signed the execution order March 8 but did not make the action public until last week. Baze told the warden at the Kentucky State Penitentiary that he chose to die by lethal injection rather than electrocution.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 17, 2001 Ohio Vinnie M. Prince, 74
Alexander Jones
Jay Scott stayed

On 5/6/83, Jay Scott participated in an attempted armed robbery of the V & E Delicatessen on Cleveland’s East Side. Scott and an accomplice entered the delicatessen and placed an order for food from the eldery female owner, Vinnie M. Price. After the owner had prepared their food she was shot in the chest from a distance of less than 12 inches. Scott was also sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of security guard Alexander Jones. That sentence was reversed when the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals ruled that the jurors’ decision may have been tainted because some of them learned of Scott’s other death sentence when they saw a newspaper headline. Jay D. Scott had bragged he was the "baddest man in town," according to Cleveland homicide detectives who arrested him in Philadelphia after he fled. Vinnie had worked at the V&E Confectionery for 30 years and she became co-owner in 1963. Two co-defendants identified Scott as the triggerman. No physical evidence, such as fingerprints, linked him to the crime; the gun was never found. A Cleveland jury convicted Scott after deliberating 15 minutes, and he was sent to death row in April 1984. Since then, the case has been tied up in appeals.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 17, 2001 Virginia Timothy Jason Hall, 17 Walter Mickens stayed

Walter Mickens was convicted of the forcible sodomy and murder of Timothy Jason Hall, 17. Hall’s body, nude from the waist down except for socks, was found on March 30, 1992, face down on a mattress under a parking garage in Newport News. He had been stabbed 143 times and it was determined that he might have spent about 40 minutes conscious while bleeding to death. In February 2001, the U.S. appeals court in Richmond affirmed Mickens’s conviction and death sentence.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 21, 2001 Texas Manuel Aguirre, 77
Merced Aguirre, 65
Michael Gonzales stayed

Michael Gonzales was convicted of the 4/21/94 stabbing deaths of his longtime neighbors, Manuel and Merced Aguirre during a robbery. They awakened as he was moving about their home. Merced, 65, was stabbed countless times while fighting for her life and Manuel, 77, was stabbed 11 times. Gonzales then stole a VCR, microwave oven, camera, a.22-caliber revolver and a purse with contents from the Aguirre home. Gonzales had spent time in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for auto theft and was paroled in 1992. He was sentenced to 7 years in Texas for a burglary charge and served just over a year. He was paroled on March 1, 1994, less than two months before he killed Manuel and Merced.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 21, 2001 Nevada Hunter Blatchford Sebastian Bridges executed

In a soft voice and chilling detail, Laurie Bridges told a jury how she tried to leave her husband, how he tracked her down, and how her new lover tried to protect her. He was shot to death for his effort, his body dragged to a shallow desert grave dug by his assassin. Acting as his own attorney and railing against prosecutors he called "crooked," Sebastian Bridges tried to convince the jury that Hunter Blatchford’s death was an accident. But, after brief deliberations, the jury convicted Bridges of 1st-degree murder and kidnapping for the Oct. 27 death of 27-year-old Blatchford. Laurie Bridges, 47, and Sebastian Bridges, 34, met while she was a California prison nurse and he was incarcerated for grand theft, police said. They wed in 1993. In 1997 she left him in California and returned to Las Vegas, where she worked as a nurse and where she met Blatchford, also a nurse, on the job, she told jurors during the trial. 6 months later, her husband tracked her down, she said. He told her he had been watching her home. He showed her he had a key that could open and turn on her car. He told her he had been watching her lover and that she would "never get away." Blatchford called Sebastian Bridges and asked to meet "to talk so everyone would know where everyone else stood and there would be no more waiting for something bad to happen," Laurie Bridges testified. First her husband promised Blatchford his truck in return for the return of his wife, she testified. When that failed, they all met at an apartment and got in the car because Sebastian Bridges promised to show his wife were he had stored all their belongings. Farther and farther from town they drove until finally, in the middle of nowhere near some empty trailers, Sebastian Bridges stopped the car and pulled out a gun. "You’re gonna kill me now aren’t you," Blatchford asked seeing the gun. "I trusted you. I trusted you," he said to his killer, Laurie Bridges testified. "I’m sorry and I love you with all my heart," she said she told her lover as he died, shot once in the torso. Sebastian Bridges covered the body in plastic bags, pistol whipped then handcuffed his wife, and drove to the desert near Nipton, Calif., where he took out what she described as a "brand new shovel" from the trunk of the car and began digging a grave. She said she considered running but thought she wouldn’t make it far, cuffed at the arms and legs, badly bruised and in the middle of nowhere, on a night lighted only "by the last sliver of the moon." So she stayed and listened as her husband dug the grave and told her repeatedly, "it’s all your fault." On the way back to Las Vegas they pulled over on the side of the road. A rookie state trooper checked to see if everything was OK, found that it wasn’t, and called police. Sebastian Bridges led them to the body. Sebastian Bridges did not take the stand in his own defense. Instead, he begged the jury in closing arguments to look at photographs of the body and find, as he had, that the shooting was an accident caused by a sharp movement and pressure on the gun. He cried each time he mentioned his wife, hardest when he spoke of her being pistol-whipped. "This is malicious prosecution," he told the panel. "If you find with any reasons, with an intent, I killed this man, you should kill me." District Judge Jeffrey Sobel tried to talk Sebastian Bridges in to accepting the help of an attorney. After a hearing, mental health professionals found him narcissistic, intelligent and competent to serve as his own lawyer, if he chose.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2001 Texas Michael N. McGuire, 34 David Goff executed

In 1984, David Goff was sentenced to 15 years in prison for two counts of attempted capital murder with a deadly weapon. He served less than 5 years due to the mandatory release law which awarded him a day and a half of "good time" for every day he served and was paroled in July of 1989. Just over one year later, on September 1, 1990, he murdered Michael N. McGuire, 34, during an attempted robbery. Michael was kidnapped, handcuffed, drugged and shot to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2001 Missouri Kent Bicknese
James Schneider
Sol Marks, 80
Mose Young executed

At 9 a.m. on February 8, 1983, Lee Rascover opened his pawn shop in St. Louis, and admitted Mose Young who had been waiting in front of the store. Young attempted to pawn a gold-plated stickpin and wanted $1800 for it so he could buy his girlfriend a used Cadillac. Lee told Young that it was worthless and threatened to have Young arrested for attempting to steal by deceit. A heated exchange ensued during which Young attempted to push Lee. Lee pushed Young back and drew his gun from a hip holster and ordered Young to leave, which he did. Lee telephoned his other pawn shop and warned Ronnell Bennett, one of his partners, that Young was bringing the pin there. Young did go to the second pawn shop and attempted to get several thousand dollars for it. Having been forewarned, Ronnell would not take the pin. Young then engaged in an argument with James Schneider, another partner in the pawn shop. Eventually they all agreed that Young might have luck pawning a gun or rifle. Young left after attempting to steal some jewelry which he had asked to examine. Sometime later, Young returned to the second pawn shop carrying a rifle. At the time four people were present. Ronnell, Sol Marks, who was Lee’s grandfather, Kent Bicknese, who was taking the semester off from his aerospace engineering studies at the University of Missouri-Rolla to work for his brother’s billboard company, and James Schneider. Ronnell saw Young as he entered the store, apparently sensed danger and sent the 80-year-old Marks to the back of the store. About this time, Young raised the rifle and fired in the direction of Bennett. The shot killed Kent, who was standing directly in front of Ronnell. At that moment, James emerged from the office and Young turned and killed him. Ronnell retreated with Sol Marks to the back of the store. When Sol hesitated and fell from Ronnell’s arms, Ronnell left him and escaped to the basement where he hid in the vault. While in the basement, Ronnell tripped an alarm. Ronnell remained in the vault until he heard police radios sometime later. The police found three bodies, Bicknese, Schneider and Marks. Young was convicted on three counts of capital murder by a jury and was sentenced to death. "Mose Young is a brutal triple murderer who committed three heinous crimes and is an example of why juries in Missouri need to have the option of the death penalty," Attorney General Jay Nixon said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2001 Delaware Madeline Marie Kisner, 45 David Dawson executed

David Dawson was sentenced to die for the December 1, 1986 murder of Madeline Marie Kisner of Kenton while burglarizing her home. Madeline was a 45-year-old bookkeeper and was stabbed to death by Dawson and a couple other inmates who had escaped from Delaware Correctional Institution near Smyrna a few days earlier. Some of the escapees were found in Arizona. Dawson, who was originally condemned in 1988 to die for the murder, had his sentence vacated in 1992 by the high court because prosecutors wrongly introduced his membership in the Aryan Brotherhood as evidence in his penalty hearing.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 27, 2001 Alabama Troy Wicker
sister of his common-law wife
Tommy Arthur stayed

The Alabama Supreme Court set an April 27, 2001 execution date for a man who asked to be sentenced to death knowing he would get an automatic appeal and better accommodations in prison. Convicted murderer Tommy Arthur was sentenced to die in Alabama’s electric chair for killing Troy Wicker in a 1982 murder for-hire scheme in Muscle Shoals. The decision to set the execution date was unusual because Arthur’s appeal has yet to be heard in federal court, as is routine in capital murder cases. Arthur recently filed papers in state court that include a claim that new evidence will prove him innocent. Clay Crenshaw, an assistant attorney general who asked the Supreme Court to set the execution date, said Arthur has not filed appeals when he was supposed to. "It is our position that he has waived his appeals," Crenshaw said. Crenshaw, who heads the capital litigation section in the attorney general’s office, said his office, and apparently the Supreme Court, agree that Arthur has run out of legal appeals. "This is an oddball case because he technically does have appeals left, but it’s our position he does not because he has not timely filed petitions," Crenshaw said. "Anything he has left is beyond the statute of limitations." A defense lawyer who specializes in death penalty appeals said Arthur didn’t appeal because he couldn’t find a lawyer. Alabama does not provide attorneys for condemned inmates. "It’s somewhat unprecedented to schedule an execution without federal review," said Bryan Stevenson, who heads the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. Arthur has been convicted and sentenced to death three times for shooting Wicker, a riverboat engineer, to death on Feb. 1, 1982. Wicker’s wife, Judy Wicker, testified she had sex with Arthur before the killing and paid him $10,000 from her husband’s life insurance policy for the slaying. Mrs. Wicker was convicted as an accomplice and was sentenced to life in prison. During sentencing, Arthur asked jurors to recommend death. He told them a capital sentence would mean automatic appeals, better accommodations in prison and liberal access to the prison law library. Crenshaw said Arthur "knows how to work the system." Arthur’s appellate court record shows why it’s taken nearly 19 years to send him to the electric chair: "After 3 trials, 4 appellate reviews, approximately 10 different attorneys and numerous delays and continuances, Arthur raises over 40 issues before this court," the Supreme Court said Nov. 21, 1997, when it last upheld his conviction. Arthur has not exhausted all of his federal appeals, but officials in the Alabama attorney general’s office say he failed to meet filing deadlines on the appeals. Tuscumbia attorney William Hovater, who represented Arthur during his 2nd trial and later had the conviction successfully appealed, said Arthur called him Friday after learning that an execution date had been scheduled. "He said he called me because I was the only one he could trust," Hovater said. "He wanted me to check to make sure if he had any appeals available. I told him I would. "He was pretty upbeat and didn’t sound like someone who had just been told the day he was going to be executed. He was confident there will be some appellate measure to help him avoid this." Hovater said Arthur told him that he hopes to draw attention to the fact that people who have exhausted their appeals on the state level no longer have an attorney appointed to represent them. He said Arthur continues to maintain his innocence. Arthur recently filed documents in state court claiming that he has new evidence proving he is innocent. The papers do not elaborate on the new evidence. Crenshaw said this is further evidence of Arthur "working the system." His request to the jury that he receive the death penalty is an example of the way he used the system. He told jurors that a death sentence would mean an automatic appeal and access to the prison law library among other accommodations. Arthur faces the death penalty because he already had been convicted of killing someone before the Wicker slaying. He was convicted in 1977 of killing the sister of his common-law wife. Arthur was sentenced to life in prison in that case. The victim in that case was shot in the right eye, just as Wicker was killed. A person convicted of 2 murders within five years can be tried for capital murder. Arthur was convicted 1st in 1985, but that conviction was overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court because details of the 1977 murder conviction were improperly admitted at the trial. Arthur was serving time in a Decatur work-release center for that killing when Wicker was murdered. Arthur escaped from the Colbert County jail in 1986 while awaiting the start of his second trial. Jailer James Conley was shot during the escape. Arthur was captured less than 2 months later in Knoxville, where he was accused of bank robbery. His 2nd conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals because of improper evidence, Hovater said. Judy Wicker testified in the 2nd trial after declining to do so in the 1st trial.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 27, 2001 North Carolina Eric Ross Joines
Susan Verle Pierce
Larry Darnell Williams stayed

A Charlotte man who was convicted of killing two people in 1979 has been scheduled for execution in North Carolina April 27. Larry Darnell Williams has exhausted his appeals after 21 years on death row. Williams was convicted in the shotgun killing of a Gaston County gas station attendant, Eric Ross Joines, on June3, 1979, and in the killing later that night of Concord convenience store clerk Susan Verle Pierce, during a robbery that netted him and an accomplice $67.27. Williams and 3 others were arrested in connection with the crimes, but 1 defendant was acquitted and the other 2 received lighter sentences after testifying against Williams. Juries ordered Williams to die for both crimes, but the Cabarrus County death sentence was later reversed because of errors at trial. He hasn’t been re-sentenced in that case. Williams’ IQ measured 69 at the time of the crime – just below the score of 70 generally considered mildly mentally retarded. The issue of Williams’ low IQ hasn’t been debated during his appeals because N.C. law allows for the execution of mentally retarded convicts. Prosecutors say Williams’ jury knew about his low IQ but didn’t believe it offset the atrocity of his crimes. "I wasn’t around at the time, but the way the murder has been described, it is certainly one that deserves the death penalty," said Gaston District Attorney Michael Lands. Williams exhausted his appeals in 1999 but won a stay in his previously scheduled execution.

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