April 2002 Executions

Seven killers were executed in April 2002. They had murdered at least 12 people.
killers were given a stay in April 2002. They have murdered at least 9 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 2, 2002 Virginia Jessica Shifflett, 14
Christina Zirkle, 4
Daniel Zirkle executed
In the fall of 2000, Daniel Lee Zirkle was sentenced to death for the murders of Christina Zirkle and Jessica Shifflett. In September 2000, Circuit Judge Porter R. Graves Jr. ordered Zirkle put to death for the August 1999 knife slaying of 14-year-old Jessica Shifflett. Zirkle killed the teen at her home in Mount Crawford before abducting his daughter, 4-year-old Christina Zirkle, and stabbing her to death hours later on a mountain overlook in Page County. After the sentencing, about 2 dozen friends and family members of Barbara Shifflett, Zirkle’s ex-girlfriend and the slain girls’ mother, shed tears and exchanged hugs. Zirkle already had been sentenced to death in Page County for killing his daughter. But Barbara said she still supports the 2 additional orders for his execution. "He took their lives," said a tearful Barbara, struggling to find words. "He deserved no less." Said family friend Lisa Dofflemyer: "It doesn’t fix anything, but justice was served." Graves handed Zirkle one death sentence for killing Jessica Shifflett and another for a separate count of killing within 3 years of committing another murder. Zirkle acted out of rage at Barbara Shifflett, with whom he’d lived for several years until she broke off their relationship because of ongoing abuse around the beginning of 1999, according to court testimony. Zirkle, ordered to serve time behind bars for repeatedly violating four protective orders Barbara obtained against him after their breakup, stewed in jail for 2 months and planned deadly revenge on her and her daughters, according to testimony from a fellow inmate. He made good on his plans days after his release. Jessica was babysitting her little sister when Zirkle broke into the girl’s home Aug. 2, 1999. Jessica told Zirkle that he wasn’t supposed to be in the home. Jessica refused to let Zirkle take Christina from the home and he stabbed her in the neck with a serrated knife. In his confession to police he said he sent Jessica to "a special place." He then kidnapped the 4-year-old and on his way to Page County, Zirkle stopped to call Barbara at her job in Harrisonburg and told her to "Live in hell, bitch." Worried, Barbara left her job and went straight to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office to have a warrant sworn out against Zirkle for ignoring the court order again. But it was too late. Zirkle drove Christina to a mountain overlook in the George Washington National Forest, where he stabbed her to death with the same kitchen knife used against Jessica and then tried to kill himself. When Barbara returned home, she found Jessica dead. Zirkle recovered from the self-inflicted stab wound and he admitted details of the murder plot to doctors. The only remorse that survived with him was his failure to kill Barbara Shifflett, according to other inmates’ testimony. During his court case, he made clear his wish to be put to death – precluding two scheduled jury trials with guilty pleas and giving his lawyers explicit orders not to present evidence that might convince the judges against the death penalty. Marsha Garst, Rockingham County’s commonwealth’s attorney, argued for the condemned killer to get the 2 additional death sentences. "That is what the law demands, what the facts of this case demand and what justice demands," Garst said. "What is the price of Jessica Shifflett’s life?" she asked Graves. "The commonwealth asks you to answer that question with one word: death." In August 2000, a Page County judge sentenced Zirkle to die for stabbing Christina to death. During his argument for the death penalty, Page Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hennessy recalled the statement of a jail inmate who served time with Zirkle last year. Zirkle told the inmate about his intention to kill Barbara Shifflett and both of her daughters. "We know, now, that he was deadly serious," Hennessy told McGrath. The prosecutor paused several times as he emotionally described the violent struggle that forensic evidence suggests Christina put up when she was killed. Before his sentencing, Zirkle told Circuit Judge John J. McGrath Jr. that he was not in control during the incident and that he would forgive his ex-girlfriend’s family for unspecified offenses against him. Several relatives of his slain daughter’s mother gasped during Zirkle’s statements. Authorities had to remove 2 from the courtroom. Zirkle complimented his lawyers and reiterated to McGrath that the decision not to contest the capital murder charge against him or yesterday’s death sentence was his. He then talked about his belief that it is his obligation to the victims’ family. "I have to forgive them because, if I don’t, I won’t get to where I want to go," he said, eliciting an outburst from a relative of Jessica’s that led to her removal from court. Zirkle did not elaborate. "I know that the Lord knows what happened, I couldn’t control," he said. "I have nothing to prove to anyone." When McGrath imposed the death sentence, a member of the victims’ family stood and clapped emphatically in Zirkle’s direction. Authorities removed him from court. The name of the man who murdered Barbara Shifflett’s daughters doesn’t even exist in her vocabulary anymore. She’s replaced it with the word "evil." Shifflett will be present tonight in this southeastern Virginia town near the Greenville Correctional Center, but she won’t watch Daniel Lee Zirkle be injected with a cocktail of lethal drugs. "I just need to know when I leave there that justice has been done," Shifflett said. "It should have been done three years ago when I tried to get help." She tried to get help nearly three years ago to stop Zirkle from killing her two daughters, Jessica, 14, and Christina, 4. Violating a court order, he went to Shifflett’s home in Mount Crawford, murdered Jessica and kidnapped Christina. He took the little girl to Story Book Trail on Massanutten Mountain in Page County, where he killed her. "I guess I just don’t know what justice would even feel like," she said with a tired sigh. In Shifflett’s place, her brother and a close friend will witness Zirkle’s demise. It irks her when people talk about killing criminals humanely, by lethal injection, Shifflett said. "People put their animals down like that every day," she said. "I don’t see how what he did was so humane [to deserve an easy death]." Throughout more than two years of incarceration, Zirkle has continued to scorch Shifflett with words. He has repeatedly told fellow inmates his only mistake was not killing Shifflett, too. But hardest to swallow were comments he made during court proceedings after he asked for the death penalty. He told a judge and people in the Page County courtroom, "I’ll be with my girls. I’ll look over my family." Even today, the statement still makes Shifflett’s skin crawl. "I know that’s not going to happen," she said through sniffles. "He’s going to hell straight forward, full blast." Shifflett said Zirkle set out to take what meant the most to her — her girls, Jessi and Christina. "They meant more than life to me," she said, her voice quivering. "Never could I imagine being without them for a day, much less than going on three years." Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst was charged with getting justice for Shifflett and her two girls. Having fought hard for the death penalty for Zirkle, she hopes the execution will bring Shifflett at least a little peace. During one court appearance, she called Zirkle’s act "revenge by a black heart." For Garst, the case was a strange twist of fate, having attended Turner Ashby High School with the murderer. She wonders how someone she knew as a "punk" teen-ager turned into a cold-blooded murderer. But, in case Zirkle changed his mind and appealed his death sentence, Garst had a method to remind her of the lives he stole. In the corner of her office, she kept cardboard evidence boxes from the case that contained enlarged photos of Christina Marie Zirkle and Jessica Leanne Shifflett, images that still haunt the prosecutor. Still, Garst won’t go to Jarratt to witness the last beats of Zirkle’s heart. "I don’t see it as part of my job," she said. She would "take no joy in seeing anyone die," even if she believed execution was richly deserved. UPDATE: "I would just like to say that I’m sorry to everyone who’s been hurt in this tragedy that I’ve had," Zirkle said after being led into the death chamber.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 3, 2002 Arizona Albert Luna, Sr., 46
Patricia Luna, 40
Rochelle Luna, 17
Damien Luna, 5
Richard Djerf stayed
On September 14, 1993, Richard Djerf arrived posing as a floral delivery person, then forced himself into the Luna residence in Phoenix at gunpoint. Djerf believed Albert Luna, Jr. had burglarized his house and had been plotting revenge for nine months. Various attempts to "get him" had failed including shooting him and planting a bomb. Patricia Luna and her 5-year-old son were at home. Djerf secured Mrs. Luna and her son by tying their arms and legs to chairs with tape and gagging them for several hours. When seventeen-year-old Rochelle Luna arrived several hours later, Djerf took her to her bedroom where he tied her to her bed, cut off her clothing, raped, stabbed and cut her throat, killing her. When Albert Luna, Sr. arrived at home, Djerf forced him into his bedroom at gunpoint. Djerf handcuffed Albert to a bed and smashed his head with a baseball bat, and then removed the handcuffs because he believed Albert was dead. Djerf then returned to the kitchen where Patricia and Damien Luna remained. Djerf tried to electrocute Damien with wires from a lamp and otherwise tortured him. Albert regained consciousness and charged Djerf. Djerf then stabbed Albert and shot him 6 times, and shot Patricia and Damien in the head. The family endured this killing frenzy for 6 or more hours. Djerf then poured gas around the house, put a box on the stove, but it failed to start a fire. Albert Luna, Jr. came home after Djerf left and found the bodies of his family. Djerf had previous arrest for extortion and shoplifting.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 5, 2002 Alabama Jack McGraw, 60 Gary Brown stayed
Gary Leon Brown, 44, of Birmingham has an execution date of April 5. Brown was convicted of capital murder for the stabbing death of a Jefferson County man committed in 1986. Brown, 44, of Center Point, was convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court with 2 others in the Memorial Day slaying of 60-year-old Jack McGraw. Jack had been stabbed and slashed 78 times. His body was found in his trailer, nearly decapitated. Brown, now 43, is scheduled to die in the electric chair at 12:01 a.m. Friday at Holman Prison near Atmore for the 1986 murder of Jack David McGraw of Center Point, a Birmingham suburb. Montgomery lawyer Rhonda Brownstein is expected to seek a stay of execution for Brown and also appeal to the governor for clemency. Brown has exhausted court appeals, according to state prosecutors. Also convicted in the murder were James Lynn Bynum of Trussville — 21 at the time of the slaying — who was paroled March 24, 1997 from a life sentence; and Archie Bankhead of Birmingham, now serving life without parole. Bankhead, then 36, cut McGraw’s throat with a butcher knife, according to testimony. McGraw, described in trial testimony as a homosexual, was stabbed 78 times, with his throat slashed repeatedly and nearly cut through. Prosecutors said the savageness of the berserk attack indicated the killing may not have been simply a robbery. The three had been to McGraw’s home on several prior occasions drinking beer and "allowing him to pay them for certain acts," recalled Bob McGregor, one of the prosecutors and now an assistant U.S. attorney in Birmingham. In an overkill situation like that, McGregor said, "that always has implications of other things. What they did to him was absolutely savage. He was almost decapitated." McGregor said Bankhead’s death sentence was reversed on appeal and at retrial Bankhead, testifying he had "found the Lord," was sentenced to life without parole. McGregor described Bankhead as the "main man" in the attack, which the three had plotted all day. Brown’s family testified at trial that Brown had been reared in a Christian home and shouldn’t be executed. Mixing with "the wrong crowd," Brown quit high school at age 16 after getting involved with drugs and alcohol, his mother, Sarah Joyce Brown, said at the trial. Assistant District Attorney Mike Anderton acknowledged that Brown had a good upbringing, but that McGraw didn’t have the benefit of a family to defend him. "He didn’t have a mom and dad out there at the trailer to plead for their son’s life," Anderton told jurors at the trial in Birmingham. A Korean War veteran with virtually no relatives, McGraw’s body was left in the mobile home where he lived alone. He was robbed of $67 and several appliances. The body was found by neighborhood children. Brown of Center Point told investigators that he and his cohorts went to McGraw’s home on Memorial Day 1986 to drink with him, hoping that McGraw would pass out so they could rob him. But McGraw said he had to work the next day and couldn’t party with them. McGraw was tackled and dragged back inside the residence. Brown said he repeatedly stabbed McGraw with a pocketknife as Bankhead stood over him with a skillet. McGraw was stabbed in the back 59 times, his throat and neck were slashed 16 times and his face showed three knife wounds, Anderton said. At the time of the murder, Brown was out of jail on bond in an unrelated robbery. After Brown’s scheduled execution, an April 19 execution date has been set for Lynda Lyon Block, who would be the first woman executed in Alabama since 1957. Bills to make lethal injection a form of execution in Alabama are pending in the Legislature, but neither would apply to the executions scheduled in April. The legislation, if passed and signed, would not take affect until June at the earliest. Alabama had four executions scheduled last year and all four were blocked by the courts for various reasons. The state’s last execution was June 2, 2000 when Pernell Ford was put to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 10, 2002 Texas Yolanda Garza, 31 Jose Santellan stayed
Jose Santellan was sentenced to death for the Aug. 22, 1993 killing of Yolanda Garza, his former girlfriend, with a 25-caliber handgun in the parking lot of the Fredericksburg hospital. Santellan, a parole violater, shot Yolanda four times, while she screamed, "Think of my kids!" After the shooting, Santellan loaded Yolanda into his vehicle and threatened witnesses before leaving the parking lot and driving onto Interstate 10, police reports said. Santellan then drove to the Hill County Motel in Camp Wood where he rented a room and proceeded to abuse Yolanda’s body and perform sex acts. Shortly after midnight on Aug. 24, police officers arrived at the motel and found Santellan along with the body in his room. Police also said that Santellan had drunk a 12 pack of beer and consumed an unknown amount of pills. Santellan stated that Yolanda might have still been alive when he put her in the car and that he "wanted to be with her." UPDATE: A United States district court has halted the execution of a Wise County man who faced an April date at the Huntsville "Walls" Unit death chamber for the shooting death of his girlfriend. According to a document filed on Feb. 13 by the deputy clerk of the US District Court Western District, after considering his record and listening to the arguments brought by his attorney, Jose Santellan was granted a stay pending application for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 10, 2002 Tennessee Patrick Daniels Abu-Ali Abbdur’Rahman stayed
Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman was sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of Patrick Daniels in Nashville. Daniels’ girlfriend, Norma Norman, was wounded in the attack. UPDATE: Stayed by US Supreme Court.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 10, 2002 Missouri Louise Hemphill, 36 Paul Kreutzer executed
Thirty-six-year-old Louise Hemphill lived with her husband and three children in Pike County near Louisiana, Missouri. Paul Kreutzer lived less than a quarter of a mile from the Hemphill residence with his adoptive parents. Kreutzer was paroled from prison in Illinois in May of 1992 and returned to Pike County to live with his family. Later that year, Kreutzer met Louise Hemphill when he went to the Hemphill residence to look at a horse that was for sale. In the last week of August, Kreutzer was arrested and later released in Columbia, Missouri on a charge of indecent exposure. On the morning of September 2, 1992, Louise Hemphill’s husband left for work and the two oldest children left for school. Mrs. Hemphill drove her youngest child to school. Later in the morning, Mrs. Hemphill’s brother went to the Hemphill’s home. He was the last person to see her alive. Mrs. Hemphill customarily made a list of household tasks for the day, with a time deadline by which she sought to complete each job. When the police later discovered the list, the chore with the time of 10:30 a.m. was crossed out, but the one listed for 11:00 a.m. was not. The same morning, Kreutzer was observed in a number of locations in the vicinity of the Hemphill residence. He was seen pulling into a drive way adjacent to the school to which Mrs. Hemphill had earlier driven her daughter. Kreuzter visited two area schools and offered to speak to students about the dangers of drug and alcohol. Kreutzer bought a BB gun at a store in Louisiana, Missouri, at 9:41 a.m. He attempted to purchase BB’s for the gun but did not have enough money to purchase them. Around 4:00 p.m., the two Hemphill daughters, Janie and Jessie, arrived home from school. Jessie Hemphill went upstairs and discovered her mother’s nude body lying in the floor of her brother Luke’s bedroom, Jessie telephoned her father who returned home, saw the body and called 911. Louise’s wallet was found in Kreutzer’s car, and bloodstained gloves and clothing were found in the car and in Kreutzer’s motel room.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 11, 2002 Texas Yolanda Garza Jose Santellan executed
On Aug. 22, 1993, Jose Santellan confronted his former girlfriend, Yolanda Garza, as she left her job as a nurse assistant at the Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg, Texas. Yolanda was walking through the parking lot with a co-worker. As the two women parted, Santellan approached Yolanda as she was walking toward her car. She changed directions and walked with Santellan. The witness watched Yolanda and Santellan talking, but at a distance of 70 feet, she could not understand what was being said or whether the two were arguing. When the witness last saw her standing, Yolanda was about five feet from Santellan and about 20 feet from where she had first encountered him. The witness heard Yolanda scream, "Think of my kids!" She saw Santellan standing over Yolanda’s body with his pistol drawn. She heard two shots and saw Santellan shake his gun as if to dislodge a jam, but she acknowledged that other shots might have been fired before she took notice. The witness left in her vehicle to go get help. A second eyewitness, a hospital housekeeper, entered the parking lot and saw Yolanda bleeding and motionless. This witness rushed back into the hospital to seek help. When she returned to the parking lot, she saw Santellan’s car parked next to Yolanda as he loaded her into the passenger seat, grabbed her backpack and drove away. Santellan later confessed that he absconded with Yolanda because he "just wanted to get away and be with her and spend some time together." Santellan drove west for several hours before checking into a motel in Camp Wood, Texas. He carried Yolanda’s body into the hotel room and engaged in various sex acts with the corpse. He poured perfume on the body to alleviate the growing stench of decomposition. Santellan also drafted several letters to family members, asking their forgiveness for the murder. The police found and arrested Santellan at the motel on August 24. Santellan confessed voluntarily. Additional evidence at trial indicated that Santellan and Yolanda had been in a relationship but had a "big fight" in July 1993. Subsequently, Yolanda had written a resignation letter to the hospital indicating an intent to move due to a "domestic problem endangering my welfare and possibly that of my children."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 11, 2002 Texas Johnny Lynn Hamlett, 18 William Burns executed
William Kendrick Burns, his brother Victor, and Danny Ray Harris, were accused of the March 28, 1981, robbery and murder of 18-year-old Johnny Lynn Hamlett in Texarkana, Texas. Hamlett, a high school senior who was working the late shift at an East Texas creosote plant, was found dead in the plant’s boiler room with 14 gunshot wounds in his neck, chest and head. The record reflects that Burns previously worked at the plant as a nighttime boiler operator, which is what Hamlett was doing the night he was killed. Burns had been fired from his job there two months prior to the murder. The record also reflects that after he was fired, Burns left the president of the company a note saying that Burns would get even with him or that the president would be sorry. During their investigation, authorities determined that money and a wallet were taken from Johnny Hamlett. After a tip led to Burns, Burns directed authorities to a discarded coffee can on an uninhabited dirt road. The coffee can contained a drivers license, social security card and school identification card belonging to Hamlett. In addition to the items belonging to Hamlett, the coffee can contained a highway patrol ticket issued to Burns. When Burns was arrested, he was in possession of a wallet later identified as belonging to Hamlett. The wallet, in turn, contained a newspaper clipping concerning the police investigation of Hamlett’s murder. Burns gave a written statement to the police after he was arrested and the statement was read to the jury: "I am giving this statement to Detective Jim Reed who has identified himself as a police officer with the Texarkana, Texas Police Department. This statement is in reference to the shooting of Jimmy Hamlett at the Texarkana Wood Preserving Plant…When me and Drew [Danny Ray Harris] and Victor walked down the railroad track to the creosote plant. I was carrying the rifle. I also had the pistol, a 22[,] stuck down my pants. The others didn’t know I had the pistol my shirt tail was covering it up. We approached this big tin building that they call the treating room. I peeped through this crack in the tin and I saw this guy throwing wood in the burner. I told the others to be quiet because there was someone in there. Danny told me to shoot with the rifle, he didn’t know I had the pistol. He kept saying shoot, so I gave the rifle to him. Danny took the rifle and stepped around on the side were the conveyor belt goes in. There is a big opening there. I took the pistol out and shot through the crack. There were only two bullets there. I took the pistol out and I shot through the crack. There were only two bullets in the pistol and I shot them. Then I heard the rifle start popping off. Sounded like about ten or eleven shots. I heard the guy start hollering. I went around and went in the building. The guy was laying over a machine. You could see the guys [sic] billfold sticking out of his back pocket on the right hand side. Danny reached and got the wallet. We went out the door on the other side between the two buildings. Vic was standing outside by the wood piles. Vic said that the guy probably got paid today. Danny opened up the wallet. It looked like there might be eighty or ninety dollars in the wallet. Vic pulled the money out and started to throw the billfold away and I said that I didn’t have a billfold and that I wanted that one. I kept the billfold. I took all the stuff out of the billfold and put it in a coffee can and carried it down around Domino and put it out beside the road. This was on the next day that I did it." After his arrest, Burns directed police to the location of a.22-caliber Winchester rifle, which was found in the attic of an open carport at Burns’ mother’s residence. Ballistics testing confirmed that the rifle fired at least seven of the 11 bullets recovered from Hamlett’s body. Also, eight.22-caliber spent shell casings were recovered from the murder scene which had been fired from the rifle. In addition, a.22-caliber bullet was found in the pocket of Burns’ jacket which he had with him when he was arrested. Two other bullets recovered from Hamlett’s body were identified as having not been fired from the rifle. Burns told police a.22-caliber pistol could be found under his mattress but despite police searching the residence, the second weapon was never recovered. UPDATE: William Burns, who gunned down the 18-year-old father of a month-old daughter and robbed him of $110, was executed Thursday night. "I just want to tell my mom that I am sorry I caused her so much pain," Burns said as he was strapped to the death chamber gurney. He expressed love for his family and said he "hurt for the fact that they are going to be hurting. I really hate that and I’m just hoping they can be OK." Burns indicated he was finished with his final statement, then mentioned talking "to the victims," when the lethal drugs began taking effect. He gasped, coughed and gasped again. 10 minutes later, at 6:21 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead. Several family members, including his mother, were scheduled to be witnesses, but declined to attend. Among the victim’s witnesses were Johnny Lynn Hamlett’s widow, Anita, and daughter, who initially declined to speak to reporters after the execution but later changed their minds. The execution of Burns, 43, for the slaying of Hamlett in Texarkana 21 years ago was the 2nd in as many nights in Texas. "He’s been dead longer than he was alive, at this point," Hamlett’s widow said about her husband in a story in the Texarkana Gazette this week. "I look back and it was like a wonderful dream that ended in a monstrous nightmare." It was just before midnight, March 27, 1981, when brothers William and Victor Burns, accompanied by a third man, Danny Harris, showed up at Texarkana Wood Preserving, a creosote plant where William Burns was fired from two months earlier and promised revenge. Hamlett, who had worked there for about three months, was alone pulling a double shift in the boiler room because another employee couldn’t make it to work that night. When his body was found, it had 14 bullet wounds from.22-caliber weapons. His wallet, which contained $110, was among items missing. When the Burns brothers were arrested, William Burns was carrying the victim’s wallet. He also led authorities to a coffee can he had thrown away on a remote dirt road. Among items inside the can were Hamlett’s driver’s license, school ID card and a traffic ticket issued to Burns. The brothers already were known to authorities. They were free on bond and awaiting trial for a February 1980 slaying and an abduction, James Elliott, the assistant district attorney in Bowie County who prosecuted the case, said this week. "They felt they were bad people who just owned the town and could do what they bloody well pleased," Elliott said. "And for a while, they did." Both Burns and his brother were convicted in 1981 of capital murder and sentenced to death. Charges against Harris eventually were dropped. 5 years later, an appeals court threw out the convictions because of improper jury instructions. William Burns was tried again and sentenced to death. His brother pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge and received a life term. He remains behind bars, was rejected for parole last year and can make another parole request next year. In 1989, Burns’ capital murder conviction was overturned again. He was tried a 3rd time, convicted and condemned. "The main thing, for the good people in this world, is simply don’t quit," said Elliott, who has pursued the murder case for the more than 2-decade career he’s had as a prosecutor. Execution, he said, "ensures that he’ll (Burns) never do it again." Elliott said Burns, who declined to speak with reporters in recent weeks, told a parole board representative investigating a clemency request that the slaying was the result of being "in the wrong place at the wrong time." "Sometimes you see guys undergo a genuine change in prison," Elliott said. "Burns is like a rattlesnake in a jar after 20 years. He’s the same thing. He hasn’t changed."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 17, 2002 Texas Carol Lea Arnold, 57
Hazel V. Rumohr, 83
Robert Henry stayed
Robert Henry was sentenced to death for the murders of Carol Lea Arnold and her elderly mother, Hazel Rumohr in Portland, Texas on September 5, 1993. Henry knew the victims and they were beaten and stabbed repeatedly in the hallway of their home where they were not found for two days. Henry eventually turned himself in and confessed to police that he had killed the women. During the hearing where his execution date was set, Henry appealed to the judge, saying that he wasn’t seeking an unfair advantage, just an even break. "I’m not asking for years or to totally set this aside, but I’m asking for the court to give time to have the first step properly considered," Henry said. "The state has me, it keeps me in a box. I’m not going anywhere." After the request was denied, Henry’s sister, Kathy Henry, slowly shook her head and clenched her fists. After the sentencing, she said she hoped the truth would come out in federal court. "My brother is innocent and I don’t think it would be unreasonable for the judge to allow a respite needed to pursue it further in the court," she said. "I still believe that when the evidence is brought to federal court, they will see that an injustice has been done." Linda Arnold Callais, daughter and granddaughter of the victims, said both families have suffered. "You want to cry but also jump for joy," she said. "It’s hard because it’s emotional both ways because you have to understand his point of view and ours, and it isn’t easy any way you look at it. We’ve had the chance to deal with the reality of our family members being dead, but they have to deal with the fact that their family member will die." Henry, who was 32 at the time of the murders, pleaded innocent during his trial seven years ago, testifying that he didn’t learn of the killings until two weeks after the women’s deaths. Nightmares of their murders then began to torment him, he said, prompting him to speak to a police officer, who testified that Henry confessed. Experts also testified that blood found splattered on a washing machine in the victims’ home matched DNA in a sample taken from Henry. District Attorney Patrick Flanigan said Henry’s execution date could still be pushed back, depending on what the federal court decides. "It may get reset or put off further, but everybody feels confident it’s moving forward and now all sides can get fair resolution of this matter," Flanigan said. UPDATE: Henry was granted a stay by a US District court in order to re-examine evidence.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 18, 2002 Texas Sonya Howell Gerald Casey executed
On July 7, 1989, Gerald Casey and his accomplice, Carla Smith, visited Daryl Pennington at his home and attempted to sell him furniture and a television set in an effort to raise the money they needed to move from Texas to Florida. When Pennington refused the sale, Casey and Smith formulated a plan to steal Pennington’s gun collection and sell it for cash. The gun collection, which included one.22-caliber semiautomatic Ruger, one 30.06 Browning rifle with a scope, one 300 Browning rifle with a scope, two semiautomatic assault rifles, one HK-91 assault rifle, one 8200 Browning double barrel shotgun, and one Mossbery pump, was kept at Pennington’s residence that he shared with the victim, Sonya Howell. In one of three prior visits to the Pennington/Howell residence, Casey had an opportunity to observe and fire several of the guns in Pennington’s collection. Smith testified at trial that, as part of their plan, she was going to call Howell the morning of July 10, 1989, after Pennington had gone to work to make sure that Howell was home alone. Then, she and Casey would go to the Pennington/Howell residence, subdue, bind and gag Howell, and steal the guns. They decided that after the robbery they would leave Howell in the woods so Pennington would believe that Howell was the one who had taken the guns. Finally, they would sell the guns for cash and flee to Florida. In the early morning hours of July 10, 1989, Smith called Howell as planned to confirm that Pennington was not at home. After concluding that Howell was alone, Smith told her that she and Casey were coming over to do some "partying." Before going to the Pennington/Howell residence, Casey and Smith stopped at Coleman’s, a local convenience store, where Casey wrote down the number for the store’s pay phone. Smith then dropped Casey off at the Pennington/Howell residence and returned to Coleman’s to wait for Casey’s call. A short time later, Casey phoned Smith on the pay phone and told her to come pick him up. Smith drove by the residence but did not see Casey. After driving by a second time, Smith noticed Casey emerging from a wooded area near the residence. She also noticed that he was wearing a different shirt and was carrying the shirt he had worn earlier. The shirt was covered in blood that was later determined to be consistent with that of Sonya Howell. Casey also had with him several guns, two imitation Rolexes, a gold nugget ring, a class ring, other assorted jewelry, and an "Ozarka" water jug containing loose change. Once the stolen items were placed in the back seat of Casey’s car, they left the area. Shortly thereafter, they stopped in an unpopulated subdivision to move the guns, jewelry and bloody shirt to the trunk of the car. Casey and Smith returned to their motel room and began removing the change from the water jug. They went to the bank to obtain coin wrappers, then began rolling coins. After a short time, Casey and Smith went to Kehoe’s, a local bar, where Casey made several attempts to sell the stolen guns. While at the bar, Casey made several phone calls and asked the employees and patrons of Kehoe’s if they were interested in purchasing weapons. Eventually, Smith and Casey moved the guns to William’s Gully, a remote area of Harris County, where they also left the bloodstained shirt, a white towel and green washrag, each soiled with blood, various unused rounds of ammunition, and a can of WD-40, used to remove the fingerprints from the stolen weapons. Later, when police searched the motel room they found several of the stolen items, including the gold ring, two imitation Rolex watches, and assorted rolled coins. Pennington identified these items as those that were stolen from his home on July 10, 1989. Sonya Howell’s body was discovered by police on the evening of July 10, 1989. It was determined that she had been hit on the head with a telephone receiver and that she died as a result of 10 wounds inflicted by nine bullets. It was also determined that hair samples taken from Casey matched the unknown hair samples found on the victim’s body, and that blood stains on the washrag and shirt found at William’s Gully matched the blood type of the victim. In addition to this evidence, there was testimony from several witnesses who encountered Casey on the day of the offense and the week following. A daytime bartender at Kehoe’s Bar testified that around 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. on Monday, July 10, 1989, Casey approached him several times about purchasing some guns. A man testified that he purchased a Ruger from Casey while in the parking lot at Kehoe’s later that afternoon. Another man stated that he purchased an HK-91 assault rifle and semiautomatic assault rifles from Casey shortly after July 10, 1989. When purchasing these weapons, he noticed several other guns and a Rolex watch, all of which resembled the items stolen from Pennington. There was additional testimony from another person who testified that he bought a.22-caliber Ruger pistol from Casey. The guns sold were recovered and identified by Pennington as weapons stolen from his collection. Ballistics experts testified that at least five, if not all of the bullets were probably fired from the Ruger. Smith received a ten-year sentence for her part in the crime.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 19, 2002 Alabama Roger Lamar Motley Lynda Block stayed
The Alabama Supreme Court set an April 19 execution date for a Florida woman convicted in the 1993 shooting death of an Opelika police officer. Barring a stay, Lynda Block would be the 1st woman executed in Alabama since 1957. A zealot against all manner of government intrusion, she has refused the help of lawyers, contending the judicial system is fraudulent and corrupt. State prosecutors said she has no active appeal. Block, 54, and her common-law husband, George Sibley Jr., were convicted in the October 1993 shooting death of officer Roger Lamar Motley while they were on the run from a criminal case in Florida. Roger was slain as he approached the couple’s car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. A passerby heard Block’s 9-year-old son call for help and asked the officer to see if everything was OK. Sibley also received a death sentence and remains on death row. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld Block’s death sentence in 1999 and Sibley’s in 2000. At trial, Sibley and Block, who has said she prefers the name Lynda Lyon, said they fired at Motley and his patrol car in self- defense after the officer touched his holster. But witnesses said Sibley fired shots first and Block joined in the shootout after the officer was wounded. Both were sentenced to die in part because forensics experts couldn’t
decide who fired the fatal shots. At the time, the couple was fleeing from Orlando, Fla., to avoid being sentenced on assault convictions in the stabbing of Block’s 79-year-old former husband. They contend they were innocent of assault and had become victims in the case themselves. The couple have refused to pursue the death sentence appeals they are entitled to under state law. The courts had to appoint attorneys to represent them at trial, but they balked at getting help from defense attorneys for the appeals. Assistant Attorney General Beth Hughes has said Sibley and Block refused to "recognize the jurisdiction of the Alabama courts." Block’s court-appointed defense attorney, W. David Nichols of Birmingham, said in 1999 that she contends Alabama never became a state again after the Civil War and its courts hold no jurisdiction. The couple met at a Libertarian Party meeting in 1991 and became active in its politics. They took the position that individuals should be free from government intrusions, eventually getting rid of their driver’s licenses, car registrations and birth certificates. UPDATE: The Alabama Supreme Court delayed the execution of political extremist Lynda Block, who was set to die for the murder of a police officer on April 19 — the anniversary of the Waco fire and the Oklahoma City bombing. The court, in a brief order made public Thursday, rescheduled Block’s execution for May 10. The justices gave no explanation for the change, and court officials said
no one requested the delay. But the widow of the slain officer said she suspected the postponement was intended to avoid executing Block on a date that already is significant to many who share her anti-government beliefs. "I don’t want to make a martyr out of her," said Juanita Motley. "If that’s the reason, I prefer it be May 10." David Koresh and 75 followers, including 21 children, died in the blaze in Waco on April 19, 1993. Prosecutors said the deaths so angered Timothy McVeigh that he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla., 2 years later to the day.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 26, 2002 Ohio Tonnie Storey, 15
Marlene Walters, 44
Tamika Turks, 7
Vernita Wheat, 9
Donna Williams, 25
Alton Coleman executed
The Ohio Supreme Court set April 26 for the execution of Alton Coleman, twice sentenced to death for Cincinnati-area slayings in 1984 in a killing rampage in which he also terrorized Dayton. The slayings were part of a crime campaign that also led to death sentences for Coleman in Indiana and Illinois. Coleman, 46, has been expected to be the next inmate executed in Ohio, after the Feb. 19 execution of John W. Byrd Jr. Coleman of Waukegan, Ill., was sentenced to die in Ohio for the strangulation of Tonnie Storey, 15, of Cincinnati and the beating death of Marlene Walters, 44, of Norwood, a suburb of Cincinnati. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sentence in the Storey case after concluding Coleman’s attorneys did not adequately represent him in a 1985 trial. The court, however, upheld Coleman’s conviction. The court earlier had upheld Coleman’s death sentence for Marlene Walters’ death. Coleman’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Walters ruling. They argue that since the same two attorneys represented Coleman in both Ohio cases, it is inconsistent that his sentence be overturned in one case and upheld in the other. Dale Baich, an Arizona public defender representing Coleman, said he had not decided how to proceed now that an execution date has been set. He said he had several options, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a delay. Coleman also was sentenced to die in Indiana for killing Tamika Turks, 7, of Gary, Ind., and in Illinois for slaying Vernita Wheat, 9, of Kenosha, Wis. Vernita’s body was found in Waukegan. Coleman’s common-law wife, Debra Denise Brown, traveled with him during the killing rampage and was sentenced to death in the Storey and Turks killings. Coleman briefly surfaced in Dayton in July 1984 after he and Brown kidnapped Cumberland, Ky., college associate professor Oline Carmical. He was freed from the trunk of a car near McCabe Park after a passer-by heard noises from the vehicle. Carmical was not injured. That same morning, Coleman beat and robbed an elderly couple, Millard and Katheryn Gay. Her life was spared when Coleman’s gun misfired. Coleman tied up and robbed another Dayton couple, Dallas and Flossie Davis, that same day. Former Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste in 1991 commuted Brown’s sentence to life for the Storey murder. Brown is at Ohio’s prison for women in Marysville and still faces the death sentence in Indiana. Celeste had said a report from his staff showed Brown was retarded, suffered from childlike emotional development and had a "master-slave" relationship with Coleman. Brown and Coleman were accused of committing eight random killings in six states during the summer of 1984. They were captured in Evanston, Ill. Brown and Coleman also were the prime suspects in the kidnap-murder of Donna Williams, 25, of Gary, Indiana. Her body was found in Detroit. They were never tried for the crime. UPDATE: Only moments after Alton Coleman was executed, the far-reaching impact of his 1984 killing spree was vividly demonstrated. Standing shoulder to shoulder and nearly 30 strong, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and other relatives who lost loved ones to the serial killer gathered behind a lectern for the TV cameras Friday morning. Only 2 spoke, but their sheer number lent a human face to the pain and tragedy Coleman inflicted as he left eight dead in Waukegan, Ill., Gary, Ind., Detroit, Toledo, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Near the lectern stood Harry Walters and his 2 sons-in-law, Scott Lillard and Michael Blunt. To the left of the microphone, Harry Storey sat silently. Walters and his sons-in-law watched in person, without displaying emotion, as Coleman died within 4 minutes of receiving a lethal injection in the death chamber of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility for the murder of their loved one.
Walters was badly beaten and his wife, Marlene, 44, bludgeoned to death after they invited Coleman and his companion, Debra Denise Brown, into their Nor wood home to finalize the sale of a camping trailer the Walterses owned. In a written statement, the Walters family said of Marlene Walters: "Today she received justice. We are thankful for that and hope that she may rest in peace. Perhaps now we can close this chapter of our life." Storey was among 15 witnesses who watched Coleman’s execution via closed-circuit TV in a separate room. His daughter, Tonnie, 15, was strangled by Coleman after he stopped in Cincinnati in mid-July 1984. Her near-nude body was found in a vacant Walnut Hills building after Mrs. Walters was murdered. "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord," Storey said after he watched Warden James Haviland pronounce Coleman dead at 10:13 a.m. Coleman was the only murderer in the nation to be sentenced to death in 3 states. Asked by Haviland for his final statement, Coleman, who was baptized 3 days ago, replied with the start of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leadeth me to green pastures…" He then lapsed into a whisper in which he seemed to repeat the phrase before losing consciousness. Coleman’s death house witnesses, 2 ministers and a public defender, cried silently as he died, with the Rev. Robert Garland, who knew Coleman as a child in Waukegan, letting out a sob after death was pronounced. The Rev. Larry Warner of Columbus prayed along with his death row parishioner and said: "No more pain, you are free. Lord, take your son. Thank you, Jesus." Brown, Coleman’s compatriot in crime during his deadly 7-week trek across 6 states, is serving life imprisonment for the Storey and Walters murders and is sentenced to death in Indiana. Some of the victims said justice would not totally be won until she is executed in Indiana, where federal courts are reviewing her appeal. She is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 30, 2002 Texas Victor Cervan Rodolfo Hernandez executed
In March 1985, Rodolfo Hernandez, of San Antonio, shot 5 illegal immigrants in the neck and back, killing Victor Cervan. Hernandez was convicted for his part in the March 1985 shooting death of Cervan, a Mexican citizen, in New Braunfels. Court records show Hernandez rounded up 5 illegal immigrants in San Antonio after they slipped into Texas aboard a boxcar from Mexico. He offered to find them transportation to Denton where they hoped to get jobs. Hernandez and his brother-in-law, Jesse Garibay, agreed to drive them for $150. They stopped in a secluded area of Comal County where the 5 Mexican men were ordered out of the car at gunpoint. When 1 of the men tried to run away, he was shot in the back. Court records indicate Hernandez ordered the men to lie on the ground face down, took their valuables and shot each in the neck, then drove off with his brother-in-law. Cervan was the only 1 of the 5 to die. The 4 others testified against Hernandez at his trial. Garibay got a 4-year prison term for theft. Hernandez had previously been scheduled for execution on March 21, 2002 but received a 30-day reprieve. Gov. Rick Perry, in an unexpected decision, spared the former auto mechanic at the request of San Antonio police who met with Hernandez this week on death row. The police believed Hernandez had information about unsolved murders. Hernandez, 52, got word of the reprieve minutes before he was to be taken to the death house in a wheelchair. Hernandez was found guilty of robbing and shooting five undocumented Mexican immigrants in March 1985 in a remote area just north of San Antonio. One of the men died. "The police department in San Antonio apparently was able to corroborate two of the other murders that he said he participated in and they would like the time to talk with him to try to solve some more of these cases,” Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said. UPDATE: In early March, 1985, five young men in Mexico boarded a box car which would transport them into the United States. When they arrived in San Antonio, they were approached by Rodolfo Baiza Hernandez, who asked them what they were doing. In the course of the conversation, Hernandez learned that the five men were trying to reach Denton, Texas, where they hoped to find work on a farm or ranch. Hernandez then took the five men to his house in an attempt to find them transportation to Denton. While the men waited outside the house, Hernandez awakened his brother-in-law Jesse Garibay and arranged for Garibay to transport the men in the family car for a fee. Garibay drove, Hernandez sat in the passenger’s seat, his brother Richard sat between them in the front seat, and the five men sat in the back. Richard was dropped off at his place of employment and the seven men continued north into Comal County. After reaching a secluded part of the county, Garibay and Hernandez stopped the car and pretended that they were having car trouble. One of them opened the trunk and took out several firearms. Moments later, Garibay and Hernandez ordered the men out of the car at gunpoint. One man tried to run away but Hernandez shot him in the back. Hernandez then ordered the five men to lie face up on the ground and to hand over their money. He went from one to another, taking what ever they had and shooting each one in the neck. After taking what they could and leaving the five men bleeding on the ground, Hernandez and Garibay sped away and returned home to San Antonio. One of the five victims, Victor Manuel Serrano Cervan, died; the other four survived. Two of the survivors testified against Hernandez at trial. After Hernandez and Garibay returned home, Garibay’s wife observed her husband covering himself with blankets and acting scared. Her brother, Rodolfo Hernandez, sat watching television while slinging a gun on his little finger. When a news report came on about the shootings in Comal County, Hernandez told his sister that he was "a gunslinger" and President Reagan told him that "Texas was overpopulated and had instructed him to get rid of some of San Antonio’s illegal aliens." Hernandez was laughing and joking so his sister did not take the statements seriously. Several days later, Hernandez and Garibay were staying with a neighbor. Again, a news report appeared on television about the multiple shootings near New Braunfels. Hernandez, while swinging two little guns on his fingers, bragged to the neighbor that he had shot the men and killed one of them. Soon after these incidents, Hernandez took two guns to a friend and asked the friend to sell them for him. The police later recovered the guns. Firearms experts testified that the two pistols were the ones that had fired the bullets recovered from the five victims.

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