December 2002 Executions

Ten killers were executed in December 2002. They had murdered at least 19 people.
killers were given a stay in December 2002. They have murdered at least 6 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2002 Florida Natalie "Tillie" Brady, 68 Amos King stayed

Amos King, was sentenced to be executed for the murder of Natalie "Tillie" Brady, 68, who was raped, stabbed and beaten in her Tarpon Springs home in 1977. Natalie Brady, known to many as "Tillie", came from an old Tarpon Springs family. She was described as a well-liked Christian woman, a widow who lived alone in a one-story house at the end of Brady Road. In March of 1977, Amos King was an inmate at Tarpon Springs Community Correctional Center, a minimum security work-release facility, where he was serving a sentence for larceny of a firearm. On March 17 he worked at a Clearwater restaurant from 5:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. the following morning. An inmate van picked him up at around 1:30 a.m., and he checked back into the facility at approximately 2:35 a.m. At about 3:40 a.m., the prison counselor, James McDonough, discovered King missing during a routine bed check. McDonough found King outside the building with blood on his pants. After McDonough escorted King back into the facility, a fight broke out between the two in which King repeatedly stabbed McDonough with a knife. King then fled the facility. A few minutes later, police and fire units arrived at Tillie’s house, which was ablaze, and found her body. She had received two stab wounds, bruises over the chin, and burns on the leg. An autopsy revealed other injuries, which included bruises on the back of the head, hemorrhaging of the brain, hemorrhaging of the neck, and broken cartilage in the neck. There was a ragged tear of the vagina which apparently had been caused by blood-stained wooden knitting needles found at the scene. There was evidence of forced sexual intercourse. Arson investigators concluded the fire had been set intentionally sometime between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. Tillie’s home was just 1,500 feet away from the work release facility. The government presented strong circumstantial evidence of King’s guilt on the murder charge. Joan Wood, the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the deceased, for example, testified that King’s blood type was present in the victim’s vaginal washings. Woods stated that if Tillie’s assailant had raped her with his pants on after causing the tear to the wall of her vagina, blood would have been present on the clothing, as McDonough had found on the crotch area of King’s pants. She testified the paring knife used by King to assault McDonough was "consistent" with the wounds found on Tillie, but she admitted she could not say this knife caused the wound. A knife salesman testified that the paring knife was manufactured by the same company and was similar in design to other kitchen knives found in Tillie’s house. An old friend of the deceased testified that the paring knife resembled one Tillie kept in her house. The relatives of Tillie Brady say they would rather not hear King’s name ever again. Eva Lysek, one of Tillie’s sisters, doesn’t care whether King lives or dies. "I just do not want them to let him out," said Ms. Lysek, who lives in Pinellas County and still regularly puts flowers on her sister’s grave on holidays. "All I can say is, I do not have a sister. I have not had a sister for 25 years." King had been scheduled for execution in January 2002, but received a stay. At the time, a victim’s advocate said the family was disappointed and discouraged. "Their opinion is it’s just a joke now," said Wendy Hallowell, who spoke with Tillie’s niece. King had previous execution dates in 1981 and 1988. When Marie Williams heard that the death warrant for her sister’s killer had been reactivated in June of 2002, she knew what was coming: a new round of frustrations. "It’s just bringing back old memories all the time. It’s been 25 years," said Mrs. Williams, who lives in St. Petersburg. "It’s just another one of those things that he’ll get another appeal. That’s what happened the last three times." "It’s about time," said Abe Tarapani, summing up the feeling of many Tarpon Springs residents who are outraged at the delay. Despite the passage of time, for many family and friends of Mrs. Brady, the pain is still fresh, the venom still strong. "This man needs to burn to a crisp for what he did to her," said former Tarpon Springs Mayor Anita Protos. "It’s been too long in coming. He should not have been shown any mercy to last this long." Blaine LeCouris, who was the Tarpon Springs police chief in 1977, said the murder made for a very trying chapter in Tarpon Springs history. LeCouris, a proponent of the work release program, said many residents opposed the location of the minimum security corrections facility, where inmates work during the day outside the facility and return at night. "We need these facilities, but no one wants them near them," LeCouris said. "In counties as close as Pinellas County, there’s nowhere you can put them where they aren’t around someone." Tillie’s murder reignited the debate. LeCouris, father of current police chief Mark LeCouris, said that Mrs. Brady was well-known in the Tarpon community. "She was a good friend of mine," LeCouris said. "She was like a mother to a bunch of us. A better woman never lived. She was just a kind woman." Tempers ran high after King’s arrest, he said. "We almost would’ve killed him ourselves if we could’ve got ahold of him," LeCouris said. "He took the life of a sweet, innocent lady." Elizabeth Palmer of Tarpon Springs, a friend of Tillie’s, said the length of the appeals angers her. "This was a cut-and-dry case," Palmer said. "This should have been done two days after they caught him. It’s hideous what he did to that lady. And (the execution) is way past due. It doesn’t seem fair sometimes. I will never understand it." The scars in Tarpon Springs may never heal, she said. "It was an absolute shock that something like this could happen," Palmer said. "I go back to the day before this happened and think how peaceful it was," LeCouris said. "Here was a hardworking woman who lived alone, and he killed her." *UPDATE: Amos King, who escaped 2 other dates with death this year, escaped a 3rd time Monday when Gov. Jeb Bush granted a 30-day stay so DNA tests can be run. King was due to be executed at 6 p.m. by lethal injection when he won the stay after lawyer Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project met with the governor’s death penalty attorney earlier Monday. King, 48, was condemned for raping and murdering Natalie Brady, 68, in her Tarpon Springs home in 1977 and setting the place ablaze after slipping away from a work-release prison. He was caught, in bloody clothing, trying to slip back in. Bush issued the stay due to new DNA techniques that were not available at the time of King’s conviction in 1977. In a statement, Bush said Scheck "informed my legal office of the existence of previously untested evidence and further DNA testing that could possibly exonerate Amos King. It is wholly appropriate that we delay the execution until we can determine that all potentially useful DNA testing has been completed,"
Bush said. Scheck said he was "gratified and very pleased" – but not surprised after his meeting with Wendy Berger, the governor’s death penalty lawyer. "I had confidence that Gov. Bush would do this," Scheck said, adding that the test results are "just the kind of thing you don’t want to leave any chance to." King’s lawyers called The Innocence Project for help about 10 days ago. They want to test 3 pubic hairs and scrapings from under Brady’s fingernails. The execution was rescheduled for Jan 8. King had spent his final day with his religious adviser, Casey Walpole, a Gainesville Buddhist. King’s jury had voted unanimously to recommend that he receive the death penalty. An autopsy determined that his victim had two stab wounds, bruises on the back of her head, bleeding of the brain and neck, a broken cartilage in her neck and a tear in her vagina. King had received stays of execution in February and July from the U.S. and Florida supreme courts. They had debated whether Florida’s death penalty law is similar to Arizona’s, which was declared unconstitutional by the nation’s high court.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 4, 2002 Texas Jo Ann Reed
David Rojas
Leonard Rojas executed

Leonard Rojas was convicted of the murder of his brother and Rojas’s common-law wife in 1994. Rojas was convicted of capital murder on May 22, 1996 and assessed the death penalty on June 3, 1996. Assistant District Attorney James Cawthon, Jr. said Rojas, who pled not-guilty, had admitted to shooting his common-law wife, Jo Ann Reed, in the head at point-blank range, in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 1994. He then went to the bathroom where his brother was and knocked on the door. When his brother, David Rojas, answered the door, Leonard Rojas shot him three times, wounding him in the neck, lower left-hand chest, and right thigh, according to Cawthon. "After he kills his brother he goes back and he can still hear her (Reed) breathing or gasping for air. He takes a plastic bag and sticks it over her head and ties it. That’s how she died," Cawthon said. Leonard Rojas, David Rojas, and Reed all lived in rural Alvarado, where the murders took place. "What he claimed and we never found any evidence of, is that his brother and this woman he was living with were having an affair and that they were going to kick him out," Cawthon said. "They had been doing speed for some period of time before this happened," he said. "It was a pretty brutal murder and he was extremely cold-blooded about it. After he does this he calls a woman and makes some very sexually explicit offers to her and asks her if she wants to come over and smoke pot." Cawthon said Leonard Rojas then made a cup of coffee, smoked a cigarette, and decided to leave. According to Cawthon, Leonard Rojas hitchhiked to Fort Worth where he then took a bus to Dallas. Once in Dallas, he got off the bus and tells some security guards at the bus station that he was "involved in something." The Dallas Police and the Texas Rangers were then informed. "George Turner (Texas Ranger) was lead investigator," Cawthon said. "And George went and picked him up and got statements from him. And started collecting evidence on the double homicide." Cawthon described Leonard Rojas as being, "able to recall everything in vivid detail and very forthright with the police." Reed was 34 at the time of her death and David Rojas was 43. The gun used was a.38-caliber pistol. Leonard Rojas had two prior convictions in California and Nevada for drug trafficking. Records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice show he served a prison sentence in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army, for drug offenses.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 6, 2002 North Carolina Billy Carlyle White Ernest Basden executed

Ernest Basden has been on death row since 1993 for the shooting death of a Kinston insurance agent. Basden, 49, was sentenced to death April 9, 1993, in Duplin County Superior Court for the murder of Billy Carlyle White during a robbery. Basden claims he was duped into the murder plot by the victim’s wife, Sylvia, and nephew Linwood Taylor. His price was $300. Billy was killed by a shotgun blast after Basden arranged a meeting with him. Basden later confessed to the murder, saying he needed the money. Sylvia White received a life sentence and was also convicted of murdering her four-year-old stepson. Evidence presented at trial showed that Sylvia White had wanted to kill her husband, Billy White, for at least a year. She unsuccessfully tried to poison him with wild berries and poisonous plants. She also enlisted the help of Linwood Taylor, Basden’s nephew. Taylor then approached Basden and told him he needed a hit man and asked if he wanted the job. Basden initially thought the idea was crazy and refused. Later, when Basden got into financial difficulty, he asked Taylor if the offer still stood and agreed to kill Billy. Taylor developed a scheme to lure Billy, who was an insurance salesman, to a location where he could be killed. Taylor pretended to be a wealthy businessman from out of town who had bought property in Jones County and wanted to buy insurance. Taylor arranged for Billy to meet him in a wooded rural area at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, 20 January 1992. On the day of the murder, Taylor and Basden drove to the designated spot and waited for Billy. When Billy arrived, Taylor got out of his car and introduced himself to Billy as Tim Conners. Then Taylor said he needed to use the bathroom and stepped to the other side of the road. Basden got out of the car and picked up a twelve-gauge shotgun he had placed on the ground beside the driver’s side of the car. Basden pointed the gun at Billy and pulled the trigger. The shotgun did not fire because Basden had not cocked the hammer back. Basden then cocked the hammer and fired. Billy was knocked to the ground. Basden removed the spent shell casing and loaded another shell into the shotgun. Basden then approached Billy, who was lying face up on the ground, and while standing over him, shot him again. At trial the pathologist testified that Billy bled to death from massive shotgun wounds to the right upper chest and left lower abdomen. Although his aorta was nearly severed from his heart, Billy did not die instantly but would have remained conscious for some period of time and would have felt pain. Basden and Taylor drove back to Taylor’s house after the shooting. Taylor said he thought he left a map at the crime scene so they returned and went through Billy’s pockets taking a blank check, wallet, and gold ring. They then returned to Taylor’s house and burned all their clothing in the backyard. They also sawed the shotgun into three or four pieces with a hacksaw, put the pieces into a bucket of cement, and threw it over a bridge into the Neuse River. Taylor gave Basden three hundred dollars. Prior to Basden’s arrest, police officers retrieved two metal base portions of spent shotgun shells which were found in ashes from the fire in Taylor’s backyard. Forensic examination indicated they were consistent with twelve-gauge shotgun shells and could have been fired from the same weapon. Officers also went to Basden’s repair shop in Kinston and retrieved a man’s gold-tone ring with three diamond settings from Basden, who had it in his pocket. Taylor and Sylvia White were arrested for murder on February 12, 1992. Basden went to the Jones County Sheriff’s Department where Taylor told Basden that he had confessed. Taylor advised Basden to turn himself in and talk to SBI Agent Eric Smith. Basden was interviewed by Agent Smith and Detective Simms of the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Department. After giving some preliminary background information, Basden told the officers that he shot White. UPDATE: Ernest Basden, 49, was put to death hours after Gov. Mike Easley denied his request for clemency, despite pleas from relatives and defense lawyers to spare his life. Basden was convicted of shooting Billy White to death in 1992. In an interview Tuesday, Basden said he was sorry for what he had done. He said he had become a Christian after being locked up, was a leader in prison services and believed he could help other prisoners if his life was spared. "I’m very sorry for their loss," Basden said of White’s family. "If there was any way at all I could undo it I surely would."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 9, 2002 Florida Catherine Alexander Linroy Bottoson executed

Linroy Bottoson, a self-professed "minister", was sentenced to death for the murder of 74-year-old Catherine Alexander. On Friday October 26, 1979, the Eatonville, Florida, post office was robbed, and over $14,000 worth of money orders were taken along with about $150 in cash. Catherine Alexander, the postmistress of Eatonville, was last seen leaving the post office on that day at around noon led by a tall African-American man. As she left, she whispered to bystanders to call the police and to tell them that the man was stealing. Later that day, Linroy Bottoson’s wife attempted to cash one of the missing money orders, and Bottoson and his wife came under suspicion. Postal inspectors entered Bottoson’s home on Monday October 29 and arrested him and his wife. Upon searching Bottoson’s home the next day, postal inspectors found the missing money orders and Catherine’s shoes. Catherine’s body was found on the side of a dirt road on the same night that the Bottosons were arrested. She had been stabbed fourteen times in the back and once in the abdomen. The medical examiner testified that she died from crushing injuries to the chest and abdomen which were consistent with having been run over by an automobile. The undercarriage of Bottoson’s car, a brown Chevelle, contained hair samples and clothing impressions linked to Catherine’s hair and clothing. Expert evidence indicated that clothing fibers similar to those in Catherine’s clothes and a tip of her fingernail were found in the trunk of Bottoson’s car. At trial, witnesses could not identify Bottoson as the man seen leaving the post office with Catherine but identified from a photograph a red LTD automobile that was rented to Bottoson at the time as the car in which Catherine was taken away. A postal inspector identified the money orders found in Bottoson’s home and traced them to the machine at the Eatonville post office. In addition, there was evidence that Bottoson deposited some of the stolen money orders in his bank account. Bottoson’s former wife, who was married to him at the time of the murder, testified that Bottoson was away from home around noon on Friday, October 26 and that he gave her a postal money order upon returning home. She testified that on the following Monday, she did not see him from 1:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and that he had the brown Chevelle at the time. A jailhouse informant testified that Bottoson confessed to the murder and indicated that the best witness is a dead witness. He also testified that Bottoson said that "the old bitch had a lot of fight in her." Bottoson also gave a written confession to a minister in an effort to obtain leniency. In the confession, Bottoson wrote that "demon spirits" had "got on me." He also made the comment that "dead witnesses are the best witnesses". A jury found Bottoson guilty of first-degree murder. At the sentencing hearing, the state presented an FBI agent who testified that Bottoson was convicted of bank robbery in 1971. Bottoson’s counsel presented the testimony of a minister, the minister’s wife, and Bottoson’s mother, who described Bottoson as kind, honest, respectable, caring, and unselfishly devoted to his church. The jury recommended that Bottoson be sentenced to death, and the trial judge imposed a death sentence on May 1, 1981.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2002 Oklahoma Steve Allen Smith, 34
Tyrell Lee Boyd, 27
Timothy Edward Sheets, 37
Carole Ann McDaniels, 41
Jerry McCracken executed

A convicted Tulsa County killer who claimed another man pulled the trigger in 1990 now says he did it. "I am guilty," said Jerry Lynn McCracken, who was convicted of killing four people in the New Ferndale Lounge during a robbery. "I have no excuse." McCracken refused to discuss the crime, what he would say to his victims’ relatives and a number of other issues, saying he didn’t want to interfere with an interview he had already given to a Tulsa television station. "I am ready to die," said McCracken, adding that he accepted Christ on Sept. 2, 1991. McCracken said he is aware that talking about his case might impact his appeal. McCracken and David Keith Lawrence on Oct. 14, 1990, entered the New Ferndale Lounge, 1216 W. Archer St. The pair began drinking and decided to rob the lounge. McCracken was convicted of the deaths of Steve Allen Smith, 34, Tyrell Lee Boyd, 27, Timothy Edward Sheets, 37, and Carole Ann McDaniels, 41, who were in the lounge. Lawrence was given a life sentence plus 20 years in prison in a plea agreement in which he testified against McCracken. "I am not the one who pulled the trigger," McCracken told a jury in September 1991, blaming the murders on Lawrence. "I am sorry I gave Dave the gun," he said in 1991. "If I had known he would do this, I would have never given him that gun." At the time of the crime, McCracken, who dropped out of high school to join the Army, said he wasn’t aware that he could receive the death penalty. D.D. Nelson Helton, a former manager at the lounge, said McCracken’s actions affected a lot of people, in addition to the relatives of his victims. If she could say anything to McCracken, she would tell him that he didn’t have to murder to get what he wanted. "I think in certain areas, there are things God just doesn’t forgive," Helton said. "I have gotten over the anger of it. I don’t know. I try not to think about it because I have nightmares still." Helton was friends with McDaniels, who was tending bar in her place. McCracken said that had he not been caught and convicted, he might have died sooner and gone to hell, adding that he had attempted suicide. "The only one that can change anyone is God," he said, adding he has been through alcohol treatment and other programs while in jail. "They didn’t help me." In July 1990, he was released from prison for his involvement in stabbing and wounding three people in a Lawton bar. He said the stabbing was self-defense. McCracken said he takes medication to control his temper and that he has been told he is bipolar and antisocial. "At times, I would get so angry," he said. "Now, it is controlled with the medication." He spends his time on death row watching television, reading his Bible, going to church services and drawing.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2002 Pennsylvania Christopher Outterbridge, 18
Tabatha Mitchell, 15
Roger Judge stayed

Roger Judge was convicted of a 1984 double murder and sentenced to death, but escaped from prison in 1987 and fled to Canada. Roger Judge was extradited to Pennsylvania, where he faces execution for the shot-gun slayings of his former girlfriend and a young man as they sat on the porch of a home. Judge had petitioned the Canadian courts to allow him to remain in Canada on the ground that he would be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment — the death penalty — if returned to the United States. Canada has no death penalty and has a policy of not extraditing fugitives sentenced to death in other countries. But the Canadian courts have waived that policy in prior cases involving American citizens convicted in American courts. In 1998, a Quebec court denied Judge’s request to remain in Canada. Judge was turned over to American authorities in Champlain, N.Y., near the Canadian border. Judge fatally shot Christopher Outterbridge, 18, and Tabatha Mitchell, 15, Judge’s former girlfriend, as they sat on the front porch of Outterbridge’s home, talking. On the evening of September 13, 1984, Christopher and his girlfriend Tabatha were outside Christopher’s house when Judge approached and began taunting Christopher. Christopher told Judge he did not want to fight, and as he turned to walk away, Judge struck him in the face. Christopher punched Judge, knocking him to the ground. Christopher then went into his house. Judge chased Christopher into the house, where he was confronted by Christopher’s older brother Kenneth. After a brief scuffle with Kenneth, Judge left. Several times that same evening, Judge returned to the Outterbridge home. On one occasion, Judge told Christopher’s younger sister that he would be back to kill Christopher. On another occasion, Judge returned to the Outterbridge home with a friend and both appeared to be concealing weapons. Afraid of a confrontation, Christopher told his mom what was happening and she went out on the porch to confront the pair. Judge repeatedly ordered Mrs. Outterbridge to send her son outside. She refused and threatened to phone the police. Judge left but told her he would be back. On the following evening, at approximately 11:45 pm, Christopher and his friends were returning home from a nearby sandwich shop when one of his friends spotted Judge near the Outterbridge home. The group arrived at the house and joined Christopher’s little sister on the porch. Moments later, Judge jumped out of the bushes and fired five shots at the teenagers gathered on the porch. Chrisopher was shot in the back and Tabatha Mitchell was shot in the chest. After the gun was empty, Judge fled on foot but turned around when he realized that police vehicles were coming from that direction. As he passed back in front of the Outterbridge home, one of Christopher’s friends tried unsuccessfully to apprehend him. A police officer arrived moments later, after hearing the shots, and found Christopher bleeding profusely from his neck and mouth. He begged to be taken to the hospital. Tabatha lay on her back on the porch with a bullet hole in her chest. The officer called for assistance and Christopher and Tabatha were taken to the hospital. While enroute to the hospital, Christopher, though barely alive, managed to tell police that "Dobe", Judge’s street name, had shot him. Soon after arriving at the hospital, both victims were pronounced dead. Christopher died from a single gunshot wound; the bullet entered the right side of his back, traveled through his right lung, through a large blood vessel, and then lodged in the soft tissue of the right side of his neck. Tabatha Mitchell’s life was also ended by a single gunshot wound; the bullet entered her abdomen, traveled through her liver and pancreas, grazed her backbone and damaged two major blood vessels. The bullet finally lodged in the soft tissue of her back. Judge was arrested two and a half weeks later. A girl that was with Judge on the night of the shooting testified that Judge had left that night stating that he had something to do. He returned about an hour later and was out of breath, wet and wearing different clothes. Judge was convicted in April 1987 and sentenced to death, but 2 days after being sentenced, he escaped from Holmesburg Prison (his second escape attempt). A year later, Judge was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the beating and robbery of 2 people. He was tried and convicted for that crime and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After he completed that sentence, the District Attorney’s Office sought his return to death row in Pennsylvania. Judge attempted to block his deportation by invoking the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which assures all people in Canada the right to life and bans cruel and unusual punishment. His lawyers asked that he remain in custody in Canada and be returned to the United States only on the condition that he would not be put to death. Quebec Superior Court Judge G. B. Maughan denied that request, ruling that there was no legal basis for holding Judge in prison further. And the prospect of setting him free was out of the question. "Mr. Judge escaped from custody and, to this extent, he is the author of his present misfortune," Maughan ruled. "It is his status as a fugitive which prevents him from appealing his murder conviction and the death sentence, and this was brought on by his own act." *Appeals in this case are still pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2002 North Carolina Helen Purdy, 71 Desmond Carter executed

Desmond Carter was sentenced to die for the murder of an elderly woman in 1993. The victim, Helen Purdy, 71, was a neighbor of Carter’s in Rockingham County. She was found stabbed to death. Before the murder Carter had been paroled from a New York prison, where he had served four years of a 12-year sentence for an abduction and beating on Long Island. He had been allowed to move to North Carolina. Carter told police that he had gone to Helen’s home, carrying a butcher knife, to borrow some money to purchase cocaine. He told police that after agreeing to lend him $5, Helen changed her mind. Carter claimed Helen became "excited," attempted to push him and fell on the knife. However, an autopsy revealed that Helen had been stabbed 13 times. Following the murder, Carter drew the suspicions of the police because he was a neighbor and had suffered a stab wound to a leg. He initially told police that four white men had jumped and stabbed him. Helen was killed for a take of $15.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 10, 2002 Kentucky Sarah Hansen, 16 Robert Woodall pending

Sarah Hansen smallRobert Woodall pled guilty for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Hansen, 16, on January 1997. Sarah, a junior at Muhlenberg South High School where she was a cheerleader and band member, was abducted from the parking lot of a convenience store in Greenville. She was taken to nearby Luzerne Lake, where she was raped. Her throat was slashed and she was thrown into the water. Jurors heard gruesome testimony as sentencing got under way. They watched a videotape of the bloody crime scene at a lake in Muhlenberg County. In his opening remarks to the Caldwell Circuit Court jury, Muhlenberg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ralph Vick gave jurors explicit details about the crime and asked them to give Woodall the ultimate penalty. "There is only 1 punishment in this case and that is death; let the punishment fit the crime," Vick said. A jury of 5 women and 9 men was seated in the case. Woodall pled guilty to capital murder, rape and kidnapping in the January 1997 slaying of Hansen, a Muhlenberg South High School honor student and cheerleader. Prosecutors said there was no deal involved in the plea, and they are seeking the death penalty. According to police, Hansen left her home on the night of Jan. 25, 1997, to rent a video at a Greenville convenience store. When she did not return, her parents notified police. Officers found the van she had been driving near Luzerne Lake near Greenville. Her body was found in the lake a short time later. Vick described the crime scene in graphic detail, telling jurors that the middle bench seat and driver’s area of Hansen’s van were drenched in blood. He also said an autopsy revealed the 16-year-old girl’s throat had been slashed twice with a box cutter. "Sarah didn’t die quickly, and she didn’t die easily," he said. Vick said that although Hansen’s throat had been slashed, she did not die from the wounds. "She was placed in the icy waters of Luzerne Lake and drowned," he said. Vick told the jury there were 2 aggravating factors in the case: that Woodall had kidnapped and raped Hansen before she was murdered as well as his prior record of sex offenses. Woodall served 3 1/2 years of a 5-year sentence in 1992 for sexual contact with a girl under 12. The jury was seated the same day that tougher state laws on the release of sex offenders went into effect. Under the new laws, sex offenders cannot be released early for good behavior without entering the state sex-offender treatment program, and they must undergo 3 years of mandatory supervision and treatment after being released from prison. UPDATE: An execution of a Death Row inmate who kidnapped, raped and murdered a teen-ager in Muhlenberg County has been postponed indefinitely, the Department of Corrections said. Robert Keith Woodall was scheduled to be put to death Tuesday at the state penitentiary in Eddyville. However, Woodall had multiple avenues of appeal still available to him, so a stay of execution was not unexpected. The stay was ordered by Lyon Circuit Judge Bill Cunningham. Woodall pleaded guilty to kidnapping Sarah Hansen, 16, outside a convenience store in Greenville on Jan. 25, 1997. He slit her throat and raped her, then threw her nude body into Luzerne Lake. An autopsy indicated she drowned.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2002 Texas Gwendolyn Joy Reed, 51
Timothy Reed, 32
James Collier executed

James Paul Collier was sentenced to die for the slaying of Gwendolyn Joy Reed in Wichita County. Reed’s son, Timothy Reed, was also killed in the attack. On the evening of March 14, 1995, James Paul Collier entered a home in Wichita Falls, Texas, where Collier’s daughter was spending her spring break vacation, and shot and killed Gwendolyn Joy Reed and her adult son, Timmy Reed. Neither of the two victims were related to Collier or involved in a dispute with him, but Collier’s daughter was visiting her former stepfather, who lived in the house with Timmy Reed. After the murders, Collier drove to New Mexico where he was apprehended nine days later. He gave a videotaped confession, during which he admitted shooting each of the victims repeatedly. In his confession, Collier stated that he initially went into the home with his 30-30 rifle because he was angry at his ex-wife and daughter because they refused to have contact with him and because he believed his daughter had been sexually abused by her former stepfather. There was no evidence that the former stepfather abused Collier’s daughter. UPDATE: A Wichita Falls man who insisted on defending himself during his 1996 capital murder trial for the shooting deaths of a woman and her son was executed Wednesday. "I only want to say that I appreciate the hospitality that you guys have shown me and the respect," James Paul Collier said to the chaplain and warden. He made no mention of the killings during his final statement. There were no witnesses for either Collier or his victims’ family. "Thank you guys for being there and giving me a little spiritual guidance and support," he said, his words drifting off. He then twitched, began coughing and let out one loud snore as the drugs took effect. Collier was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m., eight minutes after the drugs began flowing through an IV placed above a tattoo on his right arm. Collier’s court-appointed attorney, prosecutors and the judge unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade him from representing himself at his trial. "He is one of the more difficult individuals I have ever dealt with largely because he is so stubborn," defense attorney John Curry said. "He wanted what he wanted and wouldn’t listen to anything else." After Collier was deemed competent to defend himself, Curry said he was left with no choice but to sit and watch along with jurors as Collier questioned witnesses, fell victim to legal snafus and made the daughter he had gone to kidnap on the day of the shootings recoil in the witness chair as he approached her, the public defender said. "It was horrible," Curry recalled. "He couldn’t have done anything more to get himself on death row than he did, short of threatening the judge and the jury." Macha said defendants have a constitutional right to defend themselves but it isn’t advised. "What he did was outrageous," the prosecutor said. "What he did was slaughter 2 innocent people." Authorities believe Collier planned to kidnap his 13-year-old daughter when he went into the home of her stepfather, Phillip Hoepfner, with a shotgun on March 14, 1995. The girl, who had moved to Oklahoma with her mother, was in Wichita Falls visiting Hoepfner for spring break, Wichita County District Attorney Barry Macha said. "He could not understand why she would prefer the stepfather over him," said Curry, who added Collier wanted to have a close relationship with his daughter but hadn’t spent much time with her. Collier fired his first shots through the glass storm door on Hoepfner’s home and then entered, killing Timothy Don Reed, 31, who lived there with Hoepfner, and also Reed’s mother, Gwendolyn, 51. Collier didn’t know either of the victims he confessed to killing after police caught him in New Mexico. Collier, who describes himself as a mentally ill "child in a man’s body," said he wanted to be found innocent and decided to defend himself when Curry told him the best he could hope for was a life sentence. "I didn’t know nothing about law, except I watched `Perry Mason’ with the kids," Collier, 56, said recently from death row. "That was my whole schooling as far as courtroom tactics." Jurors took 12 minutes to sentence Collier to death for the fatal shootings. The U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional, refused to block Collier’s execution Wednesday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens dissented. An IQ of 70 is generally considered the threshold for retardation. Macha said psychiatrists and psychologists who evaluated Collier during the 1996 trial found signs of a personality disorder, but Dr. Vincent Escandell, a neuropsychologist, testified Collier’s IQ was somewhere in the range of 78 to 91. Macha said Collier meets none of the requirements for mental retardation. "James Paul Collier certainly is an example of where the death penalty is appropriate given the horrific facts in this case and his background," he said. "He is a violent person and has no regard for other people and their rights." Collier says he had a bad reputation prior to the shootings. "Back when I was young, I got into a lot of trouble because I had all those disorders," he said. "Most of my trouble was caused by other people, not something I did." During the punishment phase of Collier’s trial, jurors heard about two 1970 narcotics convictions, a 1971 robbery conviction, a 1987 assault conviction and a 1995 driving while intoxicated arrest during which authorities said they found a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun in Collier’s car. "The DA made it look like I was some kind of notorious criminal," Collier said, "but most of that stuff wasn’t nothing but minor stuff." In 1987, Macha said Collier’s 71-year-old mother, Eula Collier, requested a protective order because she feared her son. ‘"My son has been abusing me since he was young,"’ Macha read from Eula Collier’s affidavit. ‘"I can’t put up with it any longer. He got right up in my face and told me how much he hated me and that he was going to kill me before the night was over. I live in fear all the time."’ The affidavit wasn’t presented during the punishment phase of Collier’s trial, Macha said, but a number of convictions were. They included a 1971 conviction for robbing a man whom Collier hit in the head with an industrial sized broom and then threatened to rape and kill with a shotgun; a March 1987 assault conviction based on Collier stomping on the face of a 15-year-old fast food employee when Collier didn’t find salt in the sack with his hamburger; a January 1995 driving while intoxicated arrest during which authorities said they found a 12-guage sawed-off shotgun in Collier’s car.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2002 Mississippi Karen Ann Pierce, 18 Jesse Williams executed

Jesse D. Williams has twice been sentenced to death for murdering 18-year-old Karen Ann Pierce of Escatawpa in January 1983. His sentence was overturned once, but has stood since the second sentencing in 1990. Almost twenty years since Karen’s murder, Williams is now 51. The seeds of the murder had started at a rowdy bar in Gautier where Karen had been celebrating her recent 18th birthday. Karen had come to the bar with her boyfriend after going out to dinner. While at the bar, witnesses testified that Karen was drinking and taking drugs and had became involved in fights with other women at the bar. She also may have been taken into a bathroom and raped by several men. The man who had brought Karen to the bar had left. Thomas Evans, a cousin of Jesse Williams, later left the bar with Karen to go to an area near a river to continue to party. They were joined by Norwood and Williams and continued to drink and take drugs. Norwood and Williams, in fact, did have sex with Karen, the court said, before the murder occurred. Originally, five men were charged with capital murder in the slaying of Karen Ann Pierce, and numerous others arrested. At least one investigator believes that more than one person should have been sentenced to death for the murder. However, murder charges against two of the men were dropped and two others pleaded to lesser charges after agreeing to testify against Williams. Williams grabbed Karen and tackled her, according to testimony at the trial given by Thomas Evans. Evans testified he saw Williams standing over the top of the victim, holding a knife. Williams lifted her head to show Evans where he had cut her throat, Evans testified. Evans also testified that Williams told him that when he stabbed Pierce in he chest, she "jumped straight up." Another man involved, Michael Norwood, Williams’ roommate, later testified that several days after the murder Williams told him that he had cut Pierce’s throat. The murder occurred on Jan 11, 1983. Pierce’s body was discovered about ten days later by a hunter in Jackson County. Pierce’s throat had been slashed and she had been stabbed in the heart. Her vagina and anus had been excised with a small, sharp knife, and a pathologist testified that Karen was alive while she was mutilated. Norwood and Evans were originally charged with capital murder, but testified in return for receiving less than three years in prison on lesser charges. Williams has claimed others were responsible for the murder of Pierce and that Norwood and Evans lied. Mississippi law calls for the death penalty in cases of kidnap and murder. Prosecutors convinced a jury that by grabbing and tackling Pierce as she tried to run away, Williams had actually kidnapped her. Another aggravating factor leading to Williams’ death sentence was the fact that he had been previously convicted of armed robbery in 1973. Prosecutors said Williams had used a knife in that robbery. Besides the testimony of Norwood and Evans, police also found a serrated knife on Williams that prosecutors said was the murder weapon.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 12, 2002 Oklahoma Kay Bruno, 42
Jeri Bowles, 19
Joyce Mullienix, 25
Ralph Zeller, 33
unborn baby
Jay Neill executed

Jay Neill received a death sentence for his murder of four people during an armed robbery of a bank in Geronimo, Oklahoma in 1984. At the time of the murders, Neill was 19 years old and living with Grady Johnson, his lover. Facing financial difficulties and with their relationship on the rocks, they decided to rob a bank and flee to San Francisco, and proceeded to buy knives, guns, and plane tickets. The robbery took place in December, 1984. During the robbery, Neill stabbed three bank employees to death. All three women, Kay Bruno, Jeri Bowles and Joyce Mullienix, died from multiple stab wounds to their head, neck, chest and abdomen. One woman was seven months pregnant. Neill also attempted to decapitate each woman with a knife. Five customers entered the bank during the robbery. Neill forced all five to lie face down in the back room where the employees had been stabbed. He then shot each customer in the head, killing one, Ralph Zeller, and wounding the other three. Neill denied attempting to shoot the fifth, an eighteen-month-old child. The child’s father testified, however, that he saw someone point a gun at his child’s head and fire several times. The weapon, by this time, was out of ammunition. Neill and Johnson then flew to San Francisco, where they spent some of the approximately $17,000 stolen from the bank on expensive jewelry and clothing, hotels, limousines and cocaine. Neill’s attorney, James Hankins says that the pair planned to commit suicide when the money ran out, but FBI agents arrested the pair there three days after the robbery. The State had initially tried Neill and Johnson jointly. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, however, reversed their resulting convictions, holding, among other errors, that the trial court should have severed their trials. Prior to his second trial, Neill gave a videotaped interview to a religious television program, "The 700 Club," and wrote several letters to an author writing a book about the murders. Neill also wrote letters and made telephone calls apologizing to several victims. In these communications, Neill admitted committing the crimes. Based on this evidence, the jury convicted Neill of four counts of first degree malice murder, three counts of shooting with intent to kill and one count of attempted shooting with intent to kill. At sentencing, the State charged and the jury found, as to each murder, three aggravating factors: Neill had created a great risk of death to more than one person; he had committed the murders to avoid arrest and prosecution; and the murders were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. The jury imposed four death sentences, as well as twenty years’ imprisonment for each non-capital conviction. UPDATE: In McAlester, Jay Wesley Neill, who killed 4 people in one of Oklahoma’s deadliest bank robberies, was put to death in Oklahoma on Thursday. Neill, 37, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Neill was executed for fatally stabbing 3 employees and fatally shooting a customer of the First Chattanooga Bank branch in Geronimo. He wounded 3 others before the Dec. 14, 1984, robbery was over. For Janie Bowles, whose 19-year-old daughter, Jeri, was killed that day, justice can’t come soon enough. "It’s about damn time," Bowles said. "They die so easily and it’s not fair." Bowles’ daughter was one of 3 women who were stabbed more than 15 times each and their throats cut during the robbery. "This is how my grandchildren will remember their aunt," Bowles said. Jeri Bowles, described by her mother as caring and nurturing, was called into work early the day of the robbery. Her father Calvin Bowles, had just dropped her off when Neill entered the bank and herded the 3 female employees into the back room of the bank. He then stabbed them with a hunting knife, cutting so deep that Neill severed the ribs of his victims, court documents show. Jeri Bowles was stabbed 14 times and her throat was cut. Kay Bruno, 42, the manager of the bank, was stabbed 34 times and her throat was cut. Joyce Mullenix, 25, who was 6 months pregnant, was stabbed 27 times and nearly decapitated. Neill forced customers who trickled in after the robbery to get down on the floor next to the women and then he shot at them. He killed Robert Zeller, 33, but Bellen Robles, 15, Ruben Robles, 20, and Marilyn Roach 24, recovered from their wounds. The crime rocked Geronimo, a town of about 960 near Lawton in southwestern Oklahoma. More than 1,700 people attended Jeri Bowles’ funeral, which was held in the town’s high school gym. In March 1986, Neill appeared on the religious program "The 700 Club," confessing to the crime and asking for forgiveness. "I’ve yet to come up with something that I know will make it easier for any of you," Neill told victim’s family members as he testified in his 1992 trial. "I am sorry. It’s eating me and I believe that’s been part of my punishment. I just wish there was something I could say to make it better but there’s not."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 12, 2002 Alabama Kenneth Cantrell Anthony Johnson executed

Anthony Johnson was convicted of capital murder for a gun battle that killed jewelry dealer Kenneth Cantrell during a robbery at his Hartselle home. On the evening of March 11, 1984, the victim, Kenneth Cantrell, and his wife were at their home in Hartselle, Alabama. The Cantrells had been in the jewelry business for 24 years and at this time were conducting the business from their home. Mrs. Cantrell received a phone call from a person who identified himself as Bill Spears from Florence, Alabama, and asked to speak to Mr. Cantrell. He told Mr. Cantrell that he would like to purchase some jewelry from him, and they arranged a meeting a short time thereafter at the Cantrell home. Kenneth was apparently suspicious of the caller, because he asked his wife to hide his wallet and bring him his.38 caliber pistol. When Mrs. Cantrell heard a knock at the door, which led from their carport into the combined living room and dining room area of their home, she went to answer it. She observed that the man already had the storm door open, but she had to open the door to hear what he had to say. When she opened the door she encountered a man between 45 and 50 years of age who identified himself as Bill Spears. She noticed that he held one hand behind his back, and she asked if he was concealing something. He said that he was not and showed her his hand. At the same time he motioned for another man who had been hiding in the carport to come forward. The man already at the door then grabbed Mrs. Cantrell, and the other man, wearing a blue bandana over his face and brandishing a "real shiny" gun in his hand, announced "This is a holdup." At that point, Mrs. Cantrell broke free from the man holding her, eluded a second attempt by the first man to grab her, and fell at her husband’s feet between the couch and coffee table. The first man crossed the room and positioned himself behind a couch he had overturned. The second man then entered the house and began shooting. During or just before the gunfight, Kenneth allegedly said, "Freeze… I have got you covered," to which one of the men replied "No, we have got you, Cantrell." While on the floor, Mrs. Cantrell was able to observe that one of the men wore a pair of brown boots. She also testified that only two guns were fired during the exchange, and that the shots fired at her husband appeared to come from the direction of the second intruder. After several shots had been fired, there was a pause in the gunfire. One of the men said: "Come on in, Bubba… we’ve got him." As the two men in the room made their way to the door, but before they reached it, Kenneth fired one final shot and someone said "Oh." Mrs. Cantrell then heard the sound of shuffling feet, as if one of the intruders was being assisted out of the house. After the intruders left, Mrs. Cantrell waited a moment, looked up at her husband, noticed that he had blood all over him, and that she had blood all over her but had not been shot. She then called an ambulance and police to the scene. Kenneth sustained six gunshot wounds in the exchange, three in the right side of his chest, one in the left side of his chest, one in the back of his right arm, and one to his right middle finger. The bullets that struck him in the chest passed through his lungs and the large arteries from the heart, causing rapid death. On the evening of March 12, 1984, the day after the murder, Johnson went to the home of a friend in Newell, Alabama. Johnson told the friend that he had been shot and stated, "Well you know how it is when you have got the habit." Johnson told his friend that he knew he’d been to Vietnam, and asked if he knew a medic or someone who could get the bullet out. The friend told him that he knew no one who could do that. At Johnson’s request, on the morning of March 13, 1984, the friend drove Johnson to a motel in Oxford, Alabama, to meet Gene Loyd. Loyd and Johnson were glad to see each other, and Loyd asked Johnson where he had been. Johnson replied that he "had to get the hell out of Hartselle." He said that he and some friends had gone into a place to "get some gold" and that he had been shot. Johnson stated: "I got shot, but I got off a couple of rounds, and I believe I got that son of a bitch." When the friend returned home, he heard that a murder had occurred in Hartselle, and he contacted law enforcement. Johnson was arrested on March 14, 1984, at the motel where he had been taken. A pair of brown boots, which Johnson claimed to own, were found at the scene of the arrest. A bullet wound was discovered in his back; that wound was 50.5 inches from the ground when Johnson was standing. A search warrant was eventually obtained, and the bullet was surgically removed from Johnson’s back. The bullet that was removed from his back was a.38 special C.C.I. Blazer, the same kind of bullet fired by Kenneth’s revolver. The bullet had the same characteristics as those test-fired from Kenneth’s R.G. revolver and those found at the scene, although it was impossible to make a definite determination that the same revolver actually fired the bullet. The bullet that was removed from Johnson’s back also had glass embedded in its nose. Test comparisons of the glass removed from the bullet and the glass found in the pane on the back door (through which the unaccounted-for bullet had passed) revealed that all of their physical properties matched, with no measurable discrepancies. Based upon F.B.I. statistical information, it was determined that only 3.8 out of 100 samples could have the same physical properties.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 12, 2002 Pennsylvania Willis Cole Seifulah Abdul-Salaam stayed

Seifullah Abdul-Salaam was convicted of first degree murder for fatally shooting a New Cumberland police officer in 1994. He was convicted of shooting Patrolman Willis Cole to death on Aug. 19, 1994, when the officer was responding to a robbery at D&S Coins in the 200 block of Fourth Street, New Cumberland. The jury convicted his accomplice, Lynwood Scott Anderson, of second degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison. The Supreme Court affirmed the county verdict in 1996 and a 1998 appeal at the county level was denied. *Appeals in this case are still pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 17, 2002 Oklahoma Eugene Manowski Ernest Carter executed

Ernest Carter shot security guard Eugene Manowski in the head in 1990 while attempting to steal a wrecker from the Oklahoma Auto Auction in Oklahoma County. He was convicted in 1991. Co-defendant Charles Summers was found guilty of first-degree murder for helping Carter and knowing about the plan to steal the wrecker. He received a no-parole life term. Carter had been acquitted in 1989 on a murder charge stemming from the burning death of his friend Frederick Jenkins.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 19, 2002 Oklahoma Curtis Wise John Duty pending

An accused killer whose previous crimes included rape and robbery is competent to volunteer for the death penalty, a judge has ruled. A Dec. 19 execution date was set for John David Duty, but a minimum legal appeal process will still be needed before he is executed. Duty, 50, asked to be put to death for killing his cellmate, Curtis Wise, in December 2001. Duty had been serving life sentences for convictions of robbery and rape, as well as lesser terms on other counts. Duty persuaded Wise to let Duty tie him up in order to convince guards that he had taken Wise hostage to get what they wanted, Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull said. Instead, once Duty had Wise tied up, he strangled him with shoelaces, Hull said. Wise’s mother, Mary, appeared at a hearing on Monday in McAlester to say she wanted Duty to spend the rest of his life in prison. A mental competency evaluation, conducted by both the state and the defense, agreed that Duty was competent to volunteer for the death penalty, Hull said. "It’s kind of an unusual case," District Attorney Jim Bob Miller said of Duty volunteering for the death penalty. "I agree with Judge (Steven) Taylor that there’s probably not a better case that’s ever been before his court that required the severe punishment of the death penalty." UPDATE – Press release from the Attorney General’s office: John Duty has asked that his appeals be dropped and that he be executed. The district court set an execution date, the 19th, but that date was stayed by the Court of Criminal Appeals to allow a review of Duty’s trial. If the Appeals court determines that Duty’s trial was fair and his conviction supported by sufficient evidence a new execution date will be set and a procedure set to determine whether Duty still feels his appeals should be dropped and whether he is competent to make that decision. It is not unusual for an inmate to request that his appeals be dropped immediately after being convicted and then change his mind after arrival on death row so it is hard to predict now whether Duty’s new execution date will be next year or several years from now.

Page visited times since 11/11/02

Page last updated 02/05/05