October 2002 Executions

Three killers were executed in October 2002. They had murdered at least 9 people.
killers were given a stay in October 2002. They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 1, 2002 Texas Falyssa Ann Van Winkle, 10 James Powell executed
falyssavanwinkleExecution is scheduled Oct. 1 for a man who kidnapped a 10-year-old Lake Charles girl from a Texas flea market and killed her in October 1990. A Texas judge scheduled the execution after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal turned down the latest appeal from James Rexford Powell, convicted of killing Falyssa Ann Van Winkle. He has a July 28 deadline to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Falyssa was kidnapped from a flea market in Beaumont, Texas, across the state line from Lake Charles. Her body was found the same day, under a bridge crossing Cow Creek between Newton and Kirbyville. Powell was arrested two days later. Falyssa’s father, Mike Van Winkle, said he is confident Powell will die Oct. 1. "I don’t really know how I feel… can’t put my finger on it," he said this week. "I don’t want to use the word `closure,’ but it goes without saying that I will be there Oct. 1." Van Winkle said he will be on vacation, but will drive to the prison in Huntsville, Texas, the site of the state’s death chamber. "My gut tells me that it will happen that day," he said. "I was concerned about the appeal before the 5th Circuit, but they slammed that down." Powell said prosecutors should not have been allowed to mention an attempted murder charge on which he was acquitted during the penalty phase of his 1991 trial in Newton, Texas. He said it violated his right to a "fair and reliable" sentencing under the Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. The 5th Circuit also rejected a claim about DNA testing. Powell, formerly of Merryville, La., has refused requests to be interviewed. He has never talked publicly about his conviction and death sentence. On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 6, 1990, Joe and Elaine Langley were working with their 10-year-old daughter, Falyssa, at a flea market in Beaumont. Joe Langley saw James Rexford Powell, an acquaintance, at 9 a.m. for about 10 to 15 minutes. Langley also saw Powell talk to his stepdaughter Falyssa. Around 10 a.m., Falyssa left to buy a bag of peanuts; a little while later, Powell came by and indicated he was leaving. Langley did not see Falyssa or Powell again. A vendor saw Powell near the peanut stand around 10 a.m., and another recalled seeing a motor home identified as Powell’s, leaving the market between 10 and 10:30 a.m. Between noon and 1 p.m., Powell’s motorhome was seen traveling on a dirt road toward Bon Weir, a town northeast of Beaumont in Newton County, near the Louisiana border. The vehicle was also spotted near a bridge on a dirt road. About 3:15 p.m., Falyssa’s body was found under the bridge. A rope was tied tightly around Falyssa’s neck and wrists, and her ankles were determined to have also been tied together with a rope at some point in time. The cause of death was determined to be "mechanical asphyxiation associated with homicidal ligature strangulation." Falyssa had also sustained a head injury and sexual assault. Because Powell’s motorhome matched the description of the one several witnesses saw near the bridge on the day of the murder, law enforcement investigators obtained a warrant to search the vehicle. The next day, a neighbor of Powell’s observed him washing the inside, outside and underside of his motorhome. Despite the cleansing, the search of the vehicle produced white dog hairs that matched a similar hair that was found on Falyssa’s body. Law enforcement officers also found six "forcibly removed" hairs that matched Falyssa’s head hair. Tire tracks at the crime scene matched the tires on Powell’s motor home. DNA test results revealed that sperm found in Falyssa’s body matched the DNA of Powell’s blood. UPDATE: A former flea market vendor was executed Tuesday evening for abducting, raping and strangling a 10-year-old Louisiana girl from a Beaumont flea market where her parents also sold items. James Rexford Powell, 56, had a brief final statement, saying only "I am ready for the final blessing." Powell smiled, nodded and grinned to friends and relatives who watched through a window a few feet away. He did not acknowledge his victim’s father, stepmother and other witnesses for the slain girl. When Powell asked for the blessing, a priest among his witnesses made the sign of the cross and led Powell’s friends and relatives, including his wife, in a prayer. Powell took several short gasps as the drugs took effect. Eight minutes later, at 6:17 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling about four hours before Powell’s execution, refused to block the punishment. Falyssa Van Winkle was with her mother and stepfather when she disappeared 12 years ago this week after telling them she was going to buy some peanuts. Five hours later, the Lake Charles, La., girl’s body was found 55 miles to the north, face down under a bridge over a muddy creek in Newton County, along the Texas-Louisiana state line. A rope was tight around her neck. Her wrists were bound with rope. Her ankles bore marks they too had been tied together. She also had been raped. "Anybody who saw photographs of that little child will never get over that," recalls Charles Mitchell, the former Newton County district attorney and now a state district court judge. "A crime like that tends to really enrage people," Mitchell said. "It was truly a horrible case." Her father, Mike Van Winkle, after watching Powell die, offered thanks to "the citizens of Texas for having the courage and conviction to demand that there be consequences for those people who refuse to abide by the most basic rule Ė that you cannot abduct, violate and strangle 10-year-old girls. I am extremely satisfied that Mr. Powell is now assuming room temperature," he added. Van Winkle criticized death penalty opponents for favoring sparing the lives of murderers. "Powell deserves the compassion of a cockroach," he said. Powell was arrested Oct. 8, 1990, two days after the killing, at his home in Mauriceville, northeast of Beaumont. He knew the girl’s parents because he also occasionally was a vendor, talked with them at the flea market in the hour before the girl disappeared and said goodbye to them as he was about to leave. "They watched him walk to his motor home and then watched him drive away not knowing their little girl was unconscious and tied up in the motor home," said Bill Davis, a Beaumont police sergeant who investigated the case. A vendor saw Powell near the peanut stand about the time the girl told her mother and stepfather she was headed there. Davis said authorities believed she was lured to the van and was knocked unconscious. Powell’s distinctive vehicle, seen by a witness near the site where the body was found by a couple riding motorcycles, provided police a lead in the case. "It was a cross between a van and motor home, sort of an enlarged van with a sleeping compartment in the back," Mitchell said. "He had this custom-painted red bird on the side of it." Detectives tracked down the truck, which a neighbor said Powell had been washing inside, outside and underside the day after the killing. Despite the cleaning, crime scene technicians found dog hair that matched a dog hair discovered on the girl’s body and six hairs from her. Tire tracks at the scene matched Powell’s truck. DNA tests showed sperm in the girl matched Powell. A jury took about 45 minutes to find him guilty, then deliberated another 45 minutes to decide on the death sentence. "It is frustrating to me that it’s taken 12 long years for us to ultimately reach this state," Davis said. "The evidence hasn’t changed. The facts of case haven’t changed." Powell did not testify. He declined to speak with reporters in the weeks before his scheduled execution. "I was not the one who committed this crime," Powell said in a letter last year to The Associated Press. Disputing the accuracy of the trial evidence against him, he added, "It’s not only the ‘poor, abused, black man’ that gets screwed, sometimes it’s us ‘poor, old, white folks’ who get shafted too." Powell had no previous convictions. He was arrested in 1984, tried and acquitted by a jury in Beauregard Parish, La., on charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated rape and aggravated burglary for beating and shooting a woman at her home in Merryville, just east of the Sabine River in Louisiana. Despite objections from Powell’s lawyers, the victim in that case was allowed to testify against him at the punishment phase of his murder trial, identifying him as her attacker. "He’d gotten away with that deal in Louisiana and I’m fully convinced he thought he would get away this," Mitchell said. "He was really a bad actor, a truly evil person."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 9, 2002 Florida Katixa "Kathy" Ecenarro, 11 Rigoberto Velasco executed
Governor Jeb Bush ordered the execution of death row inmate Rigoberto Sanchez Velasco, who was condemned for the 1986 murder of a Hialeah girl. Sanchez, who has dropped his appeals, was scheduled to be executed on Oct. 2. Sanchez, 43, is condemned for the murder of 11-year-old Katixa "Kathy" Ecenarro, who was raped and strangled in her home 16 years ago. Sanchez later killed 2 fellow inmates and has been fighting to drop his appeals for more than 7 years. In arguing against pursing a federal appeal, Sanchez told his judge: "I hate people. I don’t like them. I want to kill people. You understand?" Sanchez was part of the boatlift from Mariel, Cuba, in 1980 and was sent to jail for a 1982 burglary and grand theft in Broward County. UPDATE: Sanchez-Velasco was visited in the hours before his execution by a brother, two nephews and a priest. ”I love you, everybody,” Sanchez-Velasco said after he was strapped to the execution table. His mouth trembled slightly before the execution began at 9:31 a.m. The family of Kathy Ecenarro, the Hialeah girl Sanchez-Velasco raped and strangled in December 1986, witnessed the nine-minute execution by lethal injection. "They were nine long minutes but justice was done," said Celia Ecenarro, stepmother of the child. "She was a nice little girl… The thing that is always in my mind is how innocent she was."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 9, 2002 Florida Richard Mallory, 51
David Spears
Dick Humphries, 56
Walter Gino Antonio, 60
Peter Siems
Troy Burress
Charles Carskaddon
Aileen Wuornos executed
Richard Mallory, 51Governor Jeb Bush signed a death warrant for Aileen Wuornos, a hitchhiking prostitute who killed 6 men along Florida highways and volunteered for execution. Her execution was set for Oct. 9. Wuornos, 46, was convicted of fatally shooting 6 middle-aged men who picked her up as a hitchhiker along the highways of northern and central Florida in 1989 and 1990. Her story has been portrayed in 2 movies, 3 books and an opera. Wuornos dropped her appeals and volunteered for execution last year, obtaining the Florida Supreme Court’s permission to fire her appellate attorneys. Wuornos told the Supreme Court in a letter that she is one "who seriously hates human life and would kill again." Wuornos was convicted and condemned in 1 case in Volusia County and pleaded no contest in the other 5, which were in Marion, Citrus, Pasco and Dixie counties. Wuornos is 1 of 3 condemned women in the state, which also has 369 men on death row. Like the other women, she is housed at Broward Correctional Institution in Pembroke Pines. Florida has executed only one other woman since 1848: Judy Buenoano, who died in the electric chair in March 1998. Florida’s main method of execution now is lethal injection. In one of her letters to the court, Wuornos said she wanted to "waive off in the remainder of my appeals, since I’ve come clean. All were in flat murder to rob." Wuornos had previously claimed in requests for a new trial that the victims had tried to rape or kill her. During her 1992 trial for murdering Richard Mallory – her 1st victim and a convicted rapist – Wuornos testified he sexually assaulted her and she feared for her life. She later made similar claims against all her victims. Mallory, a 51-year-old Clearwater electronics technician, picked her up on a rainy night in late 1989. He offered her some vodka and marijuana, but bought her beer when she asked. They drove into the woods and fell asleep. When she awoke, she took out her gun, woke Mallory up and robbed him. She then shot him dead. After killing Mallory, Wuornos laid low for several months until mid-1990, when she robbed and murdered David Spears on another rainy day. Over the next 5 months of Florida’s rainy season, she killed 5 more men. UPDATE: The saga of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos is almost certain to come to an end Wednesday morning in the death chamber at the Florida State Prison at Starke. There are no appeals pending, her lawyers have been fired and the 46-year-old highway prostitute says she wants to die for her crimes. They have been well chronicled in at least three books, a television movie, a documentary and even an original production by the San Francisco Opera. She has been given four death sentences for six murder confessions and is a suspect in a seventh. Her last chance at a longer life appeared to be last Wednesday when a panel of psychiatrists ruled she was mentally competent enough for the lethal injection, and Gov. Jeb Bush lifted a temporary stay of execution. The panel ruled she understands why the death penalty is being imposed and that she understands she will die. "I have a duty to do this, and I don’t think delaying is responsible," said Bush of the death warrants for Wuornos and Rigoberto Sanchez Velasco, who was executed last week after saying he wanted to die. Death penalty opponents say it amounts to state-assisted suicide and contend Bush’s motives are political in a state that polls show strongly favors the death penalty. The governor is in a race for re-election against Tampa lawyer Bill McBride this fall. "The closer you get to an election the policy people step back and the campaign people step forward. They think they are going to get a few points," said Abe Bonowitz of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. He said there is no difference between the cases of Wuornos and Sanchez and that of Robert Trease, who also "volunteered to die" last February. Bush stayed that execution because the state Supreme Court was reviewing a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the death penalty to determine if it has an impact on Florida. The court ruled that Arizona’s death penalty was unconstitutional because the sentences were handed down by judges rather than juries of the defendant’s peers. In Florida, juries make recommendations on the death penalty, but judges make the final decisions. All the 366 other inmates on death row either have appeals pending or are considering them and the death warrants in their cases have been delayed. Wuornos’ status as a female serial killer is unusual but several researchers have found she is not unique. They say she is neither the first or the worst female serial killer in history. That title could very well go to Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory who was said to have killed more than 600 people, most of them young girls, before she was found out. She was imprisoned in one of her castles and died in 1614. She insists that the killings were in self defense while she was resisting assaults by men who had picked her up as she worked as a prostitute along central Florida’s highways. All seven middle-aged men were fatally shot and robbed. The spree began Nov. 30, 1989, and the last victim was reported missing Nov. 19, 1990. The execution Wednesday will be for the first slaying, that of Richard Mallory, 51, an electrician from Palm Harbor, Fla. He was reported missing Nov. 30, and his fully clothed body was found two weeks later in a wooded area northwest of Daytona Beach, Fla. He was described as a heavy drinker who frequented topless bars. Police found no criminal record but an ABC News report in 1992 said he had served time for rape in another state. Wuornos, a native of Rochester, Mich., was arrested in a Harbour Oaks, Fla., biker bar in 1991, and confessed a week later. Wuornos took the witness stand at her trial in 1992, claiming Mallory’s death was self defense. It took the jury only 90 minutes to reach a guilty verdict, and she was sentenced to death. Wuornos’ other three death sentences came as the result of guilty pleas and the other cases were never tried. In her most recent court appearance this summer, Wuornos charged that prison guards were harassing her and trying to drive her to suicide. In a hand-written complaint, she charged guards with poisoning her food, spitting in it and serving her food cooked with dirt. A judge has the case under advisement and it will probably never be resolved. UPDATE: Serial killer Aileen Wuornos was executed Wednesday by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison, more than 10 years after she murdered six men along Florida highways while working as a prostitute. Florida officials said the execution took place at 9:47 a.m. ET. Wuornos, called "The Highway Hooker" and "The Damsel of Death," admitted she killed six middle-aged men in 1989 and 1990, luring some of them by posing as a stranded motorist on north central Florida highways. One of the nation’s few female serial killers, Wuornos had fired her attorneys and dropped her appeals despite lingering questions over her sanity. Her case was the subject of books, movies and even an opera. In time, she apologized to her victims’ families. But last year — after a decade on death row — Wuornos volunteered for the death penalty, saying she’d kill again. "There is no point in sparing me," she said in July 2001. "It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money." Police said Wuornos, 46, was a prostitute who worked the Florida highways. Sgt. Bob Kelley of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department — who investigated Wuornos’ first victim, Richard Mallory — said Wuornos shot her victims to death, robbed them, and then dumped their bodies. At first, she claimed she acted in self-defense. "After she was convicted of the first murder of Richard Mallory, she then pled guilty to the others, and after a certain point in time she started to recant, and say she wasn’t a victim," Kelley said. "She simply robbed and killed those men to gain their personal property and to gain money." When she asked to be put to death, Wuornos said the same thing. "I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I’d do it again, too," she said. "There’s no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I’d kill again. I have hate crawling through my system." Wuornos stood trial only for the killing of Mallory; she pleaded no contest to five other killings. And police believe she was responsible for the death of a seventh man, but his body was never found and Wuornos was not charged in his death. Recently, as the execution date drew near, a defense attorney raised questions about whether Wuornos was mentally competent to demand her own death by lethal injection. But Wuornos insisted she knew what she was doing. "I am so sick of hearing this ‘she’s crazy’ stuff," she said. "I’ve been evaluated so many times. I’m competent, sane, and I’m trying to tell the truth, and I’ll take a polygraph on every single word on those pages." After examining Wuornos, a panel of three psychiatrists ruled her competent for execution and Florida Governor Jeb Bush agreed.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 23, 2002 Pennsylvania Greg Banks
Damon Banks
Shawnfatee Michael Bridges stayed
A Common Pleas judge has stayed the scheduled execution of a Berks County man convicted of the revenge murder of two cousins in 1996. Shawnfatee Michael Bridges, 25, was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Oct. 23 for the shooting deaths of Greg and Damon Banks. He was convicted of the murders in 1998. Judge Scott D. Keller stayed Bridges’ execution Tuesday while his case undergoes a review.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 23, 2002 Missouri Stanley Albert William Jones stayed
The Missouri Supreme Court has set an October 23, 2002, execution date for William R. Jones, convicted of the January 1986 shooting death of Stanley Albert. Albert’s body was found wrapped in a blanket in a wooded area near Independence in early March of 1986. He had been shot five times in the neck and chest. Jones was a bisexual person who was sometimes employed as a male stripper. He became acquainted with Stanley Albert, with whom he had a homosexual relationship, in late 1985. Jones was 21 and Albert was in his fifties. In November of 1985 Albert purchased a white 1985 Camaro Z28. Beginning in December of 1985, Jones told several people that his father was going to help him acquire a white Camaro. On January 16, 1986 at 4:30 p.m. Albert pulled up in front of Jonesí apartment in his Camaro, apparently to keep a prior engagement. Jones borrowed a blanket from his roommate and left with Albert in the car. He told his roommate that his new car had arrived. He said he was going to pick up some new tires and didnít want to get the car dirty. That same evening Jones offered his roommate a ride in the Camaro, which was accepted. During the ride he crushed a pair of sunglasses, remarking that the owner would not need them anymore. He confirmed a tentative arrangement with a female acquaintance to drive her to Indianapolis in his "new car" the following Sunday. He left the apartment early the next morning, purchased a shovel with his roommates credit card, and returned in the afternoon. He had the license plates which had previously been on Albertís Camaro, explaining that he had to give them back to the man who sold him the car and that his father was getting him new plates. He complained to his roommate, saying, "well, it gets pretty tiring when you drag a dead man through the woods." On January 19, Jones picked up his female acquaintance in Topeka, Kansas and they set out on the projected trip to Indianapolis. He was accosted by the Missouri Highway Patrol for speeding and successfully outran the police in a high speed chase through Lafayette and Saline counties, during which he compared his companion and himself to Bonnie and Clyde. He abandoned the car at a farmhouse near Malta Bend and was apprehended about three and a half hours later. The car bore Johnson County, Kansas, license plates stolen from another car. Albert did not report to work on January 17, and was not seen again. His body was found in a wooded area near Independence on March 2, 1986. The medical examiner estimated that he had been dead between two weeks and several months. The body was wrapped in a blanket identical in appearance to the one Jones has borrowed from his roommate. Albert had been shot five times in the neck and chest. Three of the bullets had been fired from the same weapon and the other two could have been. No murder weapon was ever found. UPDATE: On October 4, Missouri Supreme Court has issued a four-week stay of the scheduled October 23 execution of William R. Jones. The new date is November 20, 2002. The court granted a motion by Jones’ attorneys so they could have more time to file a clemency petition.

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