June 2002 Executions

Four killers were executed in June 2002. They had murdered at least 10 people.
killers were given a stay in June 2002. They have murdered at least 6 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/5/02 Missouri Shirley Crook Christopher Simmons stayed

In early September 1993, Simmons then 17, discussed with his friends, Charlie Benjamin (age 15) and John Tessmer (age 16), the possibility of committing a burglary and murdering someone. On several occasions, Simmons described the manner in which he planned to commit the crime: he would find someone to burglarize, tie the victim up, and ultimately push the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends that their status as juveniles would allow them to "get away with it." Simmons apparently believed that a "voodoo man" who lived in a nearby trailer park would be the best victim. Rumor had it that the voodoo man owned hotels and motels and had lots of money despite his residence in a mobile home park. On September 8, 1993, Simmons arranged to meet Benjamin and Tessmer at around 2:00 a.m. the following morning for the purpose of carrying out the plan. The boys met at the home of Brian Moomey, a 29-year old convicted felon who allowed neighbor teens to "hang out" at his home. Tessmer met Simmons and Benjamin, but refused to go with them and returned to his own home. Simmons and Benjamin left Moomey’s and went to Shirley Crook’s house to commit a burglary. The two found a back window cracked open at the rear of Crook’s home. They opened the window, reached through, unlocked the back door, and entered the house. Moving through the house, Simmons turned on a hallway light. The light awakened Shirley, who was home alone. She sat up in bed and asked, "Who’s there?" Simmons entered her bedroom and recognized Shirley as a woman with whom he had previously had an automobile accident. Shirley apparently recognized him as well. Simmons ordered Shirley out of her bed and on to the floor with Benjamin’s help. While Benjamin guarded Shirley in the bedroom, Simmons found a roll of duct tape, returned to the bedroom and bound her hands behind her back. They also taped her eyes and mouth shut. They walked Shirley from her home and placed her in the back of her mini-van. Simmons drove the can from Shirley’s home in Jefferson County to Castlewood State Park in St. Louis County. At the park, Simmons drove the van to a railroad trestle that spanned the Meramec River. Simmons parked the van near the railroad trestle. He and Benjamin began to unload Shirley from the van and discovered that she had freed her hands and had removed some of the duct tape from her face. Using her purse strap, the belt from her bathrobe, a towel from the back of the van, and some electrical wire found on the trestle, Simmons and Benjamin bound Shirley, restraining her hands and feet and covering her head with the towel. Simmons and Benjamin walked Shirley to the railroad trestle. There, Simmons bound her hands and feet together, hog-tie fashion, with the electrical cable and covered Shirley’s face completely with duct tape. Simmons then pushed her off the railroad trestle into the river below. At the time she fell, Shirley was alive and conscious. Simmons and Benjamin then threw Shirley’s purse in to the woods and drove the van back to the mobile home park across from the subdivision in which she lived. Her body was found later that afternoon by two fishermen. Simmons was arrested the next day, September 10, at his high school.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/5/02 Arizona Ruby Reid Christopher Spreitz stayed

On May 19, 1989, the police stopped Christopher John Spreitz after observing that his car was smoking and leaking oil. The officer had observed the same car earlier that night also smoking and leaking oil. The officer noticed Spreitz had blood and fecal matter on his hands, arms, and on the front of his clothing. Spreitz said he had been in a fight. Police checked the location of the alleged fight, and found no indication any fight had taken place. They photographed Spreitz and his car, gave him a traffic citation, and then released him. Three days later, a passing horseback rider discovered the body of Ruby Reid in the desert. The body and surrounding area were covered in blood and fecal material. Recalling the condition of Spreitz’s clothing and person when they stopped him, the police again questioned him about the purported fight, Spreitz admitted picking up the victim at a convenience store, but claimed the victim went with him voluntarily to the desert. Spreitz said they struggled in the desert, and admitted striking her several times before raping her. He admitted crushing her skull with a rock because she would not stop screaming, but said he was not sure if she was dead when he left her. The victim’s wounds included a broken jaw, five broken ribs, numerous bruises on her arms, legs, and trunk. The fatal wound was a skull fracture, consistent with being struck with a V-shaped rock. Spreitz was convicted of first-degree murder (both premeditation and felony-murder), sexual assault, and kidnapping.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/11/02 Texas Deborah Davenport, 27 Willie Moddon stayed

Willie Mack Moddon, convicted of capital murder for the 1984 fatal stabbing of a service station clerk in Lufkin and scheduled to die by injection on June 11. Moddon has been tried and sentenced to death twice for the
stabbing death of 27-year-old Deborah Davenport.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/12/02 Virginia Timothy Jason Hall, 17
Jonathan Woskobinik
Walter Mickens executed

Timothy HallWalter Mickens was sentenced to death for a particularly heinous and brutal murder. His victim, 17yearold Timothy Hall, was forcibly abducted, sodomized and stabbed an incredible number of times. He was then left to die on a rotting mattress under a parking garage beside the James River in Newport News. His body, nude from the waist down except for socks, was found on March 30, 1992. He had been stabbed over 130 times and it was determined that he might have spent about 40 minutes conscious while bleeding to death. The subsequent investigation found DNA evidence which conclusively identified the perpetrator as Walter Mickens. The record shows that Mickens had convictions for two sodomies and four other violent felonies. During the penalty phase of Micken’s murder trial, evidence was presented which demonstrated how little regard Mickens had for societal order. A former cellmate of Mickens had also been sodomized at knifepoint in the city jail by Mickens, much in the same manner that Timothy Hall suffered. Even as a child, Mickens was violent. An elementary school teacher testified that she had been robbed by Mickens after he stormed into her classroom and held one of her young students at knifepoint to get her to hand over her purse.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/13/02 Texas Kris Lee Keeran, 31 Daniel Reneau executed

Daniel Reneau was sentenced to death after he killed a gas station clerk in Kerr County. Reneau was 21 when he shot to death Kris Lee Keeran, 31, during the Jan. 2, 1996 robbery at a Texaco station. In his appeal, Reneau said the circumstances of the crime did not constitute sufficient evidence that he posed a threat to society, as he only "killed one person with a single shot in the course of a robbery that was not well planned," according to court records. The state, however, argued that Reneau had participated in several burglaries in the weeks prior to the incident, including one in which he said he "would kill anyone that comes up." In addition, guards from Reneau’s jail testified they overheard his plans for escape, in which he commented that he "wasn’t afraid to take out a jailer, to take out a law enforcement official, but he was going to get out one way or another." Prosecutors said Reneau hatched the plan that also involved his roommate and culminated with the death of Kriss Keeran, 31, who knew both men. Evidence showed Reneau entered the store before dawn on Jan. 2, 1996, and shot Keeran once in the face with a.22-caliber pistol. Then joined by roommate Jeffrey Wood, they robbed the store of more than $11,000 in cash and checks. Both were arrested within 24 hours. The U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to review Reneau’s case. Asked on death row last week to identify the shooter, Reneau had a 1-word reply: "Me." According to court records, Wood was waiting outside the store and came in after Keeran was shot, then both fled with the store safe, a cash box and a video recorder containing a security tape showing the robbery and slaying. "As I recall, he was pretty cold, very little emotion shown at any time," said Bruce Curry, the Kerr County district attorney who prosecuted Reneau. "And the method of this particular murder was cold — just kind of walk up, shoot some guy in the head, walk on by, commit the robbery and leave." Evidence showed the pair had planned the robbery for a couple of weeks and unsuccessfully tried recruiting Keeran and another employee to stage a phony robbery. Reneau and Wood drove to Wood’s parents home in Devine, about 65 miles to the south, where they tried to open the safe with a sledge hammer and a blow torch. When Wood’s 16-year-old brother, Jonathan, asked them how they got the safe, Wood told him about the holdup and shooting. And when the brother expressed skepticism, Wood showed him the tape. Wood’s brother testified he then was ordered to destroy the tape with the blow torch. Witnesses, including a delivery driver, described for police the pair of men seen at the store during the 6 a.m. robbery. They also had gone on a spending spree and an officer who had pulled them over the previous night remembered them, authorities said. Wood led police to the murder weapon, which Reneau said had been taken by Wood in an earlier burglary. "I ended up giving a confession," Reneau said from death row. He did not testify at his trial. "I don’t think it would have made any difference," he said. A jury took 15 minutes before returning with its guilty verdict. Reneau said he thought at the time of the crime only treason or trying to kill the president or something similar would make one eligible for the death penalty. He thought Wood, for example, would end up with only about a five-year sentence. Wood joined him on death row. He does not yet have an execution date. "I don’t feel like dying," Reneau said. "I don’t want to die. But if it does happen, I accept it. I believe in a Christian God, but I won’t really know until I die to find out." Reneau was born in Jacksonville, Fla., when his father was in the Army. He grew up in Kansas near Fort Riley, quit school in the 12th grade and worked construction jobs in Texas. He said Wood recently wrote him asking that he write a letter exonerating him in the crime. Reneau said he did not respond. Reneau and Wood were tied to several previous burglaries where several guns were taken although Reneau denied any participation. While in jail, authorities learned the 2 were working on a plan to break out by killing a jailer.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/18/02 Georgia Pattie Fugate Wallace Fugate III stayed

Wallace Marvin Fugate III was sentenced to death for the May 4, 1991, murder of his ex-wife Pattie Fugate. A Putnam County jury took less than an hour to sentence Fugate to death. The victim was attacked in her home and shot point blank in the face with a pistol, in front of her 15 year-old son. The Fugates had been married for 20 years before a divorce that led a judge to order the two to stay away from each other. But on May 4, 199, Pattie and Mark Fugate returned to their Putnam County home to find Buck Fugate hiding in the basement. During the trial, testimony showed that Fugate broke into her Lake Sinclair home and waited for her and their son, Mark, to come home. He forced her outside at gunpoint where he pistol-whipped her about 50 times before fatally shooting her in the forehead. The son told jurors how his mother was slain and said he thought his father should die in Georgia’s electric chair. The day Fugate killed his ex-wife, their son Mark had tried to shoot his father to keep his mother from being harmed. A year later, Mark Fugate was beaten to death by 2 supposed friends inside the family home. In that case, Jeffrey Cross was sentenced to life without parole. Shawn Watley also pleaded guilty to murder and is serving 2 life sentences.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/25/02 Texas Mary Coulson, 54
Otis Coulson, 66
Sarah Coulson, 21
Robin Wentworth, 25
Richard Wentworth, 27

Robin & Richard’s unborn child
Robert Coulson executed

A Houston-area man sentenced to death for killing 5 members of his family is scheduled to be executed on June 25. Robert Coulson was sent to death row for the 1992 slayings of his parents, Mary and Otis Coulson; sister Sarah; and a pregnant Robin Wentworth and her husband Richard, his birth sister and her husband. Their bodies were found Nov. 13, 1992, inside the parents’ smoldering home in the 9700 block of Westview in northwest Houston. The only family survivor is Sarah Coulson’s son, who was 1 month old at the time of the November 1992 attack at the Coulson’s home in the Houston surburb of Spring Branch and had been adopted shortly after his birth. Robert Coulson, who was adopted, was listed as an heir in his father’s will but eventually relinquished his rights to the inheritance during a civil trial. The $600,000 inheritance was placed it in a trust fund for the lone survivor, who is now 10 years old and in the care of an adoptive family. Evidence at Coulson’s criminal trial showed that he became bitter after his father refused to finance his windshield repair business and had joked about gaining the inheritance if the family died prematurely. The 5 victims were found Nov. 13, 1992. All had their heads tied in plastic garbage bags, and 1 of the victims had been beaten with a crowbar. An accomplice who said he never entered the house testified that Coulson told of disabling the family with a stun gun, suffocating them and then pouring gasoline on the bodies and setting them on fire. That accomplice, who cooperated with police, received a 20-year prison term. Coulson has insisted that he is innocent of the slayings and was at a shopping mall when the attack occurred.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/25/02 Oklahoma Eldon Lee McGuire David Brown stayed

David Jay Brown’s stormy relationship with his ex-wife and her family was punctuated by intimidation, threats and violence – violence that culminated in the death of his former father-in-law. Tonight, Brown, 48, is scheduled to be executed by a lethal dose of drugs for the Feb. 19, 1988, murder of Eldon Lee McGuire, who was repeatedly shot inside his home in Norge in Grady County. Brown, whose original Feb. 5 execution date was stayed by a federal judge, was married to McGuire’s daughter, Lee Ann, for about 6 months in 1983. Their breakup was followed by years of family conflict in which Brown often made threats against the McGuire family, prosecutors said. At one point, he walked into a hair styling shop his ex-wife owned armed with a rifle and held 12 people hostage before firing the weapon into a vacant barber chair. He was charged with kidnapping and pointing a weapon. "This is a person who definitely deserves the ultimate punishment," said Grady County assistant district attorney Bret Burns, whose office prosecuted the case. "He planned and executed a cold-blooded murder," Burns said. "He’s not somebody that we want living amongst us." Brown has admitted shooting McGuire but claims he acted in self defense. Prosecutors say Brown’s self-defense argument is not believable because McGuire was shot eight times, including two in the head at close range. "That defeats any claim of self defense," Assistant Attorney General Sandy Howard said. UPDATE: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution for David Jay Brown.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/26/02 Texas Barbara Pullins Jeffrey Williams executed

A prayerful parolee with a penchant for stealing cars was executed on Wednesday evening for the rape-slaying of a Houston woman in an attack where the victim’s 9-year-old daughter also was raped and beaten. The girl’s testimony helped send Jeffrey Lynn Williams to death row. Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Williams, 30, recited the 23rd Psalm. As the drugs began flowing, Jeffery Williams added, "I thank you Lord for all good things you have given me. Bless my family." Then he gurgled and gasped, before slipping into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose began. "If a guy set out to kill like he killed, a guy shouldn’t die that easy," Barbara Pullins’ brother, Willie Collins, said after watching Williams’ execution. "I was looking forward to it, like any other family member should. "I’m at ease. I had to wait eight years for this
here." Willie Collins said he’d tell his niece, now 16 and too young according to prison rules to be an execution witness, that "justice was served for her mother at 6:17." From the witness stand, the girl pointed to the three-time convict as the man who woke her Oct. 26, 1994, by choking her in her bed and then punching her in the head as she struggled. "If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you," evidence showed he told her. After Williams left, the girl found the lifeless body of her 31-year-old mother. Unable to awaken her mother, the girl went to her grandmother’s apartment nearby and police were summoned. "You hate to have to put the daughter through that but it also is necessary in order for the jury to know what happened and you get the conviction," Harris County Assistant District Attorney Lyn McClellan said this week, recalling the girl’s testimony. Evidence showed Jeffery Williams, a ninth-grade dropout who lived in an adjacent apartment complex, forced his way into Barbara Pullins’ place at knifepoint, then raped and strangled her with the cord of an iron she had been using. The strangulation came after he unsuccessfully tried to suffocate the school bus driver by placing a plastic bag over her head. The evidence also showed he touched her body repeatedly with a lighted cigarette to make sure she was dead, then tried to burn the corpse. After attacking Barbara Pullins, he moved on to the daughter, then stole Pullins’ car and some items from the apartment. The car was found near Jeffery Williams’ residence. Her purse and keys, her television and a video recorder were found inside his home. His thumbprint and palmprint were found in her apartment. He confessed to police that he "just went off." When Jeffery Williams was 17, he picked up his first felony auto theft conviction and a 30-day jail term. Two months later, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for aggravated assault and another auto theft, but was paroled after only 4 months in January 1990. By the following year, he was back in prison with a 10-year term for auto theft, but was on parole within nine months. It took less than four months for him to receive 25 years for yet another auto theft. He was paroled about 2 years later in March 1994. The killing occurred seven months later. Defense lawyers at his capital murder trial said Jeffery Williams was the product of a miserable childhood and a victim of physical and sexual abuse. Prosecutors pointed out that during one of his prison terms, he had to be removed from duties as a hog butcher because he liked it too much. A Harris County jury deliberated for 23 minutes before returning with a death sentence. "You’re not going to see a lot of protestations about him receiving the death penalty except for people who protest every death penalty case," McClellan said. "There’s no issues on guilt-innocence, there’s no issues on mental retardation or competency or anything else."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
6/27/02 Texas Christie Chauviere, 15 Gary Etheridge stayed

He was sentenced to death in November 1990 for the murder of Christi Chauvierre in February of that year. Fifteen-year-old Christi Chauvierre was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death during a robbery of her home in Brazoria County. Her mother, Gail Chauvierre, was also stabbed during the crime, but survived. UPDATE: The Texas state appeals court delayed Gary Wayne Etheridge’s execution based on claims the judge who once called him a piece of trash should not have signed the execution order. Etheridge was scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday for the 1990 murder of Richwood teen-ager Christie Chauviere. It is the 2nd time Etheridge has won a reprieve within days of a scheduled execution. The 1st was in November 2000. The court stopped the execution this time based on an argument filed last week by Etheridge attorney Jim Marcus. The filing claims District Judge J. Ray Gayle III had no right to set the date because he had recused himself from part of the case before and had another defense recusal request pending. The state Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday delayed the execution to have time to hear the argument. However, a footnote to the order explains that it does not prevent Gayle from "taking any appropriate action" to recuse himself. Marcus claims Gayle is biased against Etheridge because when he accepted a jury’s recommendation and sentenced Etheridge to death in 1990, Gayle called him "a piece of trash" and "blight on society." Gayle later removed himself from hearing evidence in an appellate hearing but said that should not have prevented him from signing the death warrant. Gayle would not say Monday whether he will recuse himself now, but said he will make a decision today. If Gayle does remove himself from the case, the county’s administrative judge would appoint another judge who would sign the death warrant. "I believe its a technicality," said District Attorney Jeri Yenne. Yenne said it is unclear how long it will take to set another execution date, but her office will request one soon. "The Gary Etheridge case should be a stellar example of due process," Yenne said. "When people complain and moan about the death penalty I want them to look at the Gary Etheridge case and see how many bites at the apple he has had. It would have been nice if Christie Chauviere had had as much due process as Gary Etheridge is afforded before he executed the death warrant on her," Yenne said. In November 2000, Etheridge was 2 days away from lethal injection when the state Court of Criminal Appeals granted an indefinite stay, to allow time to consider competency of an attorney who represented Etheridge at a critical point in his appeal. Earlier this year, the court removed the stay and, in May, Gayle set the execution date. Since then, Etheridge attorneys unsuccessfully sued the Court of Criminal Appeals, accusing the court of violating the constitutional rights of condemned killers by appointing incompetent lawyers to handle their appeals. Last week, Marcus wrote a letter asking Gov. Rick Perry to recuse himself from consideration of Etheridge’s pending clemency request. Marcus claims Perry could be biased since Etheridge was the focus of a 1998 political ad blasting Perry as soft on crime. Carolyn Barrett, Christie Chauviere’s sister, was discouraged but not surprised at news the execution was delayed again. She would not lay odds on when another date will be set. "It has taken us 2 years to get another one, so I really don’t know," Barrett said." It questions your faith in the Texas justice system." Barrett questions the importance of Gayle’s comments after Etheridge’s sentencing. Comments Etheridge made to Gail Chauviere as he left the courtroom that same day are more important, Barrett said. "Gary looked at my mother and said ‘We are all going to die someday,’" Barrett said. "I know because I was sitting at her right side holding her hand. My mother held his stare until he looked away and walked out. I think its very ironic that people will quote Judge Gayle and what Judge Gayle said and ignore what Gary said to my mother," Barrett said. "He can do and say what he wants and nobody cares."

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