March 2003 Executions

Eight killers were executed in March 2003. They had murdered at least 13 people.
killers were given a stay in March 2003. They have murdered at least 9 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 11, 2003 Texas Edwin Earl Holder, 42 Bobby Cook executed
A 40-year-old Corsicana man convicted of murdering a Buffalo man almost 10 years ago near the Trinity River is scheduled to be executed on March 11, 2003. Bobby Glen Cook, 40, of Corsicana is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 5, 2003 for the February 1993 shooting death of Edwin Earl Holder, 42, of Buffalo. An execution date was set by 369th State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III. On the morning of Feb. 8, 1993, a passerby saw what he thought was a boat submerged off the east bank of the Trinity River near a gas station in Cayuga, Texas. On closer inspection, he realized it was actually a blue truck, partially submerged in the water. The man poked at what appeared to be a sleeping bag and insulated underwear in the bed of the truck, and uncovered an arm and part of a shoulder. The rest of the body was submerged under water. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department pulled the truck from the river and discovered the body of 42-year-old Edwin Earl Holder. Officers saw what appeared to be blood on the back bumper of the truck and splattered on the inside of the tailgate. The truck was in first gear, the ignition was on, and the windows were rolled up. The medical examiner concluded that Holder died of six gunshot wounds to the head. The shots had been fired in rapid succession, from three feet or closer to Holder’s head. One bullet entered and exited the forehead, but the remaining five.22-caliber bullets remained lodged in Holder’s brain, any one of which would have been fatal. The close pattern of the wounds suggested that Holder was asleep in his sleeping bag when he was shot, and no struggle had occurred. Holder had left his home on the morning of Feb. 5, 1993, to go fishing at the Trinity River Bridge. He took with him his blue Dodge truck packed with camping equipment, fishing gear and his boat. Holder’s co-worker saw Holder’s truck and boat trailer parked at the bridge by Baker’s Landing around 2:30 p.m. that day. While the witness did not see Holder or his boat, he did see a red pickup truck and two white males building a camp fire. Holder had been reported missing by his wife the previous day after failing to meet a friend for a fishing/camping trip. Upon investigation of Baker’s Landing, the police discovered evidence that Holder had been camping there, and found dirt that appeared to be mixed with blood. The.22-caliber bullets that killed Holder were consistent with the type of gun Holder usually carried with him on his fishing trips; however, no weapons were found in Holder’s truck or at Baker’s Landing, nor was Holder’s wallet. A boat matching the description of Holder’s was later found on the Trinity River, south of where Holder’s truck was found. Several holes had been punched into the bottom of the boat, which had caused it to partially sink. An employee from the gas station near where Holder’s body was found, told the police that on Feb. 6, 1993, around 3:00 a.m., he heard a loud muffler. From the door, he could see the tail lights of one vehicle as well as a red and white truck with a loud exhaust system, parked about 60 to 75 yards from the river. The gas station employee informed the driver of the red truck that he was on private property. The driver told him that he was having problems with his truck, however, the driver appeared nervous and would not look at the man. After speaking with four men who were at the river on Feb. 6, 1993, the police obtained a composite drawing of two suspects and a description of a red and white Chevrolet pickup truck. Based on the composite drawing and the description of the truck, the police went to the residence of Robin Jenkins and Steven Cockroft, where they discovered a red and white pickup truck. On Feb. 9, 1993, officers obtained a statement from Jenkins and Cockroft, implicating Cook in the murder. Cook was later arrested at Jenkins and Cockroft’s residence. A search of the residence uncovered items belonging to Holder. On Feb. 10, 1993, Cook gave a voluntary statement in which he admitted that he, Jenkins and Cockroft were at the bridge at the same time as Holder. Cook claimed that he was helping Holder check his fishing lines, but he became frightened by Holder’s behavior because Holder was drinking and waiving a gun around. Cook claimed that at one point, Holder reached for his gun and Cook attempted to grab it and pull it away but the gun went off two or three times. Cook admitted disposing of some of Holder’s belongings while keeping others. Judge Bentley set Cook’s execution date after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendant’s writ for certiorari. Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe, who was not in office when Cook was convicted in 1994, sounded confident the execution would proceed as planned in February. “Based on my experience, I think Mr. Cook is going to get what he deserves on that date,” Lowe said. “I don’t think anybody can do anything for him. I think what it shows is our system works,” he continued. “It works slowly. The defendant had the benefit of a lot of good lawyers. He got what he needed to get.” During a 1994 trial, then-Anderson County District Attorney Jeff Herrington told the nine-man, three-woman jury that Cook shot and killed Holder for $21 and fishing equipment that was to be split with an accomplice. Cook, a ninth-grade dropout with an extensive criminal past, shot Holder with the victim’s own.22-caliber handgun while the man was asleep in a sleeping bag, the state argued during the trial. The accomplice, Stephen Ray Cockroft, now 37, of Dawson was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of capital murder in November 1994 in Anderson County. A third defendant, Robin Elaine French Jenkins, 31, of Dawson testified against Cook in exchange for a 15-year sentence on the lesser charge of robbery. Previously, Cook had served 8 months of a 6 year sentence in 1987 for burglary of a vehicle. He was back in prison within six months after receiving a 5 year sentence for theft, and was again paroled in only 4 months. Cook went back to prison again less than a year later with a 10 year sentence for drugs and burglary convictions for which he served less than a year. Then one year later, in 1991, returned to prison with an 8 year sentence for theft and served only 6 months. He had been on parole for less than a year when Holder was murdered.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 12, 2003 Texas Richard Wayne Whitehead Delma Banks stayed
RichardWhitehead smallNot long before his death, Wayne had bought a 1969 Ford Mustang, which was his pride and joy. He left his parent’s home on the night of April 11, 1980 to attend a high school dance. Wayne’s body was found on the morning of April 15, 1980. He had been shot three times, twice in the head and once in the upper back. One shot had been fired at a maximum distance of 18 to 24 inches. Several empty beer cans and two spent shell casings were found near the scene. A female friend of Wayne’s testified that she was with him during the evening of April 11, 1980. That evening, Wayne was driving his automobile, a 1969 Mustang with a light green colored body. Later, the pair ran into Banks at the local bowling center, and at his suggestion they purchased some beer. Wayne worked with Banks at the local Bonanza Steak House. The three went to the park near Nash, Texas and drank the beer. At approximately 11:00 or 11:15 p.m. Whitehead took the girl home. Another friend testified that Banks and Whitehead visited her at her house around 11:30 p.m. on April 11. They stayed for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. A man who lived about 100 yards from the park in Nash testified that at approximately 4:00 a.m. on April 12, he heard two gun shots. Charles Cook testified that he met Banks on the morning of April 12 in Dallas. Banks was driving a vehicle which had the same description as Whitehead’s. Cook and his wife befriended Banks and allowed him to stay with them at Cook’s grandfather’s home. Cook had noticed a sprinkle of blood on Banks’ pants and asked Banks about it. Banks told him that he "shot a white boy." Later that evening, Banks told Cook that he had killed someone. Banks told him he had been riding around with a "white boy" and his girlfriend, and after they took the girl home, he and the boy went to the woods together and drank beer. Banks decided to kill the person "for the hell of it" and take his automobile to Dallas. Cook eventually obtained a pistol and the automobile from Banks. Cook sold the pistol to his neighbor and left the automobile in West Dallas. It was never recovered. The pistol was recovered from the neighbor and was identified through ballistic testing as the murder weapon. Cook’s wife and sister testified that they saw Banks driving a green Mustang on April 12. Cook’s grandfather stated that Banks stayed at his house for a night or two. Additionally, telephone records reveal that Banks made a collect call home to Texarkana from Cook’s grandfather’s house during the course of the weekend. Cook’s neighbor also testified that he met Banks during the same time. Banks told him he had a little misunderstanding with someone and had broken his jaw or "something like that." Banks did not testify and did not present any evidence during the guilt phase of his trial. At the time of Banks’ 1980 capital murder trial, he did not have any previous felony convictions. However, during the punishment phase of trial, the prosecution offered evidence that Banks had pistol-whipped and threatened to kill a man only a few days before Whitehead’s death. The State also presented evidence that Banks later attempted to recover the murder weapon so that it could be used in future armed robberies. Banks confirmed both incidents when he testified in his own defense during sentencing proceedings. Banks’ sentence had been overturned by a federal judge, but was reinstated by the 5th Circuit court. Bowie County First Assistant District Attorney James Elliott prosecuted Banks in the original trial with then-Bowie County District Attorney Louis Raffaelli. Elliott was prepared to battle the Banks/Whitehead case in Bowie County had the appellate court upheld Folsom’s ruling, which ordered a new sentencing trial for Banks. "I entertained a possibility that it would have to be tried over again, both the guilt/innocence phase and the punishment, due to our federal court’s ruling. But the thing that makes me most happy about this case is not Delma Banks’ death but that the Whiteheads’ long nightmare may come to an end in part because of this. I’m sure it has been a long nightmare for them," Elliott said. Larry Whitehead said he and his wife, Jackie, had real fears that Banks would be tried again. He called Folsom’s ruling a low point in their family’s life. "After 20 years of this battle going for them to overrule it that way, when you try to start to get these people and witnesses together after all these years, it’s tough. We actually started to try to track people down," Larry Whitehead said. "I respect a reasonable time to review a case, but 23 years is too long." Elliott said that his investigator on the case is dead. One of two key witnesses is dead. The surviving witness has had numerous felony convictions, which could be problematic for prosecutors. "It would have been difficult but not impossible," Elliott said. He had been with the prosecutor’s office for a year and Banks’ case was his 1st murder trial. During that trial Elliott handled the technical aspects of the case but has remained involved with it for the past 22 years. "I retired with 23 years of service and this lasted 22," Elliott said. "I did not want to leave this office with this one unresolved. This is almost like a permission slip to let my breath out after 22 years." The Whiteheads have remained in contact with Elliott throughout the years and shared with him their belief that the death sentence would be reinstated after they heard Banks’ and the state’s arguments before the 5th Circuit in March. "I actually felt pretty good after the hearing in March. My wife and I went to the hearing in March and sat through it. I felt pretty good about the questions that the judges were asking and what was going on at that time. I felt like we would get a favorable decision," Larry Whitehead said. But he says it is still a waiting game as the appeals are not yet exhausted. Larry Whitehead called the 5th Circuit’s ruling a major hurdle to overcome. "Getting that overturned and sent back was a big step. We kind of feel now that we’re on the downhill of this climb," Larry Whitehead said. Elliott said in all likelihood, Banks’ execution will be set for early 2003. Larry Whitehead said he understands the need to set an execution date up to 150 days away to accommodate the time necessary for Banks’ final appeals to clear. Elliott said based on the lengthy 5th Circuit ruling, he does not think the court will reverse itself. He and Whitehead also doubt Banks will have any success with the U.S. Supreme Court. Banks has 90 days to petition the nation’s high court once the 5th Circuit’s ruling becomes final. For the Whiteheads, the appellate ruling does not yet seem real. "We’ve been disappointed so many times in the past, it’s hard to take anything solid anymore. You just kind of wonder what’s going to happen. I never expected that it would come up for retrial after 20 years like it did," Larry Whitehead said. He and his wife plan to attend the execution if it is carried out. But that will not totally ease the pain that he says they suffer daily since losing their son 22 years ago. "Of course, nothing will bring our son back, but we do feel that justice needs to be served," Larry Whitehead said. Through the various court battles over the years, Elliott says he has no personal hatred for Banks. "I hate what he did, but I don’t hate him," Elliott said. He does not believe the killing was so Banks could steal Whitehead’s car. The car was ditched in Dallas. "He says he killed a white kid for the hell of it. I have no idea how Delma Banks felt about white people," Elliott said. But he believes it was cold-blooded since Banks had worked with Whitehead at Bonanza the summer before the murder. Whitehead was giving Banks a ride home on a rainy Friday night after the 2 saw each other at an area bowling alley. It is the victim in the case that makes it personal for Elliott. "I still remember Wayne Whitehead’s face and how he looked at death," Elliott said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 13, 2003 Alabama Maisie Carlene Gray Michael Thompson executed
The Alabama Supreme Court set a March 13 execution date for Michael Eugene Thompson, who was convicted of the robbery, kidnapping and murder of a convenience store clerk in Attalla more than 18 years ago. The state Supreme Court set the execution date Tuesday at the request of the attorney general’s office after the U.S. Supreme Court turned back appeals from Thompson. Thompson’s attorney, Mark Gombiner of New York, said he was reviewing his options and had not decided what approach to take in trying to halt the execution. The victim, Maisie Carlene Gray, was working alone at the Majik Mart convenience store in Attalla on the night of Dec. 10, 1984. Thompson, carrying a.22 caliber pistol, forced Maisie to empty the cash register and then forced her into his car and left the area. After driving around for some time, Thompson took Maisie to a well and forced her into it, shooting into the well several times, until he ran out of ammunition. Then he drove to his girlfriend‘s home, picked up more bullets, and returned with her to the well. While his girlfriend, Shirley Franklin held a homemade torch, Thompson fired seven or eight more shots into the well to make sure Maisie Gray was dead. The next day Thompson took the pistol, which he and Shirley had cleaned, and threw it into another well. On January 5, 1985, law enforcement authorities received a call from Shirley Franklin’s husband, reporting that he knew where the victim of the Majik Mart robbery was and who had taken her. When the officers arrived at the man’s home, Shirley Franklin told the officers that Thompson had killed Maisie and where the victim’s body was located. The police found the body at the well, obtained a statement from Shirley Franklin, and arrested Thompson the same day. At the time of arrest, Thompson refused to sign a waiver of his Miranda rights. However, on the following day, after a visit from Shirley Franklin, he signed a waiver of his rights and gave a taped confession in which he admitted to the robbery, kidnapping and murder. Two days later, Thompson was re-interrogated and again admitted his guilt and gave a similar account of the crime. Thompson was convicted of capital murder on May 10, 1985, and his jury unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the trial judge imposed. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Thompson’s conviction in 1987. He filed another appeal, claiming he had an ineffective attorney at trial, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that issue in 1992. The U.S. Supreme Court turned back another appeal in June 2002. The appeal contended that investigators forced Thompson into confessing to the crime because they promised not to prosecute his girlfriend for capital murder if he talked, Gombiner said. Alabama’s death penalty law will allow Thompson to choose whether he wants to die by lethal injection or in the electric chair at Holman Prison in Atmore. UPDATE: After the execution, Evelyn Elliott, Gray’s daughter, said she was disappointed that Thompson showed no remorse toward her or her two brothers who watched him die. "He did not look in our direction or offer any apology," Elliott said. "It was horrible… but if anyone deserved to die, it was him."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 13, 2003 Ohio Amanda Jo Maher, 18 David Myers stayed
David Lee Myers was sentenced to death for the 1988 slaying of an 18-year-old woman. Amanda Jo Maher was found near some railroad tracks in South Xenia in the early morning hours of August 4, 1988, barely alive, with a railroad spike driven through her head. Amanda died shortly thereafter while being flown to the hospital. On August 3, 1988, Amanda and her boyfriend Glenn went to the Five Points Tavern, a.k.a. Leahy’s, in Xenia following an afternoon of house-hunting for themselves and their daughter, Sarah. The couple had a few drinks and left Five Points at around 7:30 p.m. to attend the Greene County Fair. They arrived back at Five Points around 9:30 to 10:00 p.m., and Glenn resumed drinking while shooting pool with the bartender on duty. Between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. that night, David Myers arrived at Five Points and played pool and drank with Glenn. Glenn recognized Myers as an occasional customer of the tavern from Glenn’s work there as a weekend bartender. During this time, Myers remarked to Glenn about the Mickey Mouse shirt Amanda was wearing, to the effect that he wanted to play with Mickey’s ears or nose because he liked where they were positioned on the shirt. Glenn admonished Myers that he didn’t appreciate the remark. Glenn left the bar for about fifteen minutes to get fresh air, then came back and resumed drinking and shooting pool with Myers. Sometime after midnight, Glenn and Amanda left to go to the nearby Round Table bar. Myers asked to come along, and the three drove over to the Round Table in Glenn’s car. After arriving at the bar, Amanda went inside, but Glenn “had a few more words” with Myers before they went in. Glenn was upset with Myers about sexual remarks he was making about Amanda. After they went inside, Glenn got “kind of rowdy” while drinking whiskey slammers with Myers. The bartender on duty that night at the Round Table warned Glenn to quit or she would ask him to leave. Glenn threw his glass to the floor, and when he refused to leave, the bartender phoned the police. Glenn became belligerent with the two Xenia police officers who arrived on the scene at approximately 1:15 a.m. The officers escorted Glenn outside, handcuffed him and placed him under arrest. The officers then explained to Amanda what was going to happen with Glenn. Amanda asked whether she could have Glenn’s wallet, and Glenn allowed the officer to retrieve it from his back pocket to give to Amanda. Glenn also allowed the officer to retrieve what Glenn thought were his car keys. Amanda discovered shortly thereafter that none of the keys she received fit Glenn’s car. At that point, Myers approached the officer and told him, “I will make sure she gets home. I will take care of her.” Myers also told Glenn in the back of the patrol car, “I will take care of her, Glenn.” The police took Glenn to the county jail. Meanwhile, Amanda and Myers reentered the Round Table looking for Glenn’s car keys. Amanda borrowed a flashlight from the bartender in order to look for the keys in the parking lot. A bar patron at the Round Table testified that noticed that Myers had his arm around Amanda, reassuring her that he would take care of everything. When the patron looked out the tavern door while buying another beer, he saw Myers and Amanda walk across the tavern parking lot toward Home Avenue. Also at this time, one of the officers who had arrested Glenn was in his police car on patrol and saw Myers and Amanda walking northwest on the sidewalk along Home Avenue toward South Detroit Street. He testified that he saw Amanda approximately three hundred yards from the spot where she was eventually discovered, barely alive. At 2:10 a.m., the bartender at the Five Points Tavern testified that he had looked out the door and observed Myers, alone, getting into his car and driving away. Around 2:15 a.m., Myers entered the Round Table, ordered a drink from the bartender, and went straight to the restroom for several minutes. One of the few patrons left in the bar had earlier seen Glenn break the glass and get arrested. He also had seen Myers and Amanda leave the bar together approximately twenty minutes after Glenn’s arrest. When Myers came out of the restroom, the man asked Myers “if he got any [sex]” from Amanda. Myers responded that he "tried, but she wasn’t willing" and he "just dropped her off.” At approximately 3:00 a.m., a woman was walking home with a friend when she came upon “a girl laying [sic] on the tracks” gasping for air. They ran to the woman’s house, talked the situation over, and called the police. A police officer arrived on the scene after receiving a dispatch for “a female down in the area” of Railroad Street. The officer called out to her but could only hear moans and groans. The woman, later identified as Amanda, had a shirt pulled up around her neck with no other clothing on. The officer who had arrested Glenn was in the area nearby investigating a burglary and also heard the police dispatch and ran down to the railroad tracks. He did not recognize Amanda from his earlier encounter with her at the Round Table bar. He noticed what he thought was a cinder on the right side of Amanda’s face. He suddenly realized that a railroad spike had been driven into her head. He also noticed that little blood was coming out of that wound. Amanda was rushed to Greene Memorial Hospital but died shortly after 6:00 a.m. while being life-flighted to Miami Valley Hospital. An agent of the BCI Crime Scene Search Unit went to the Greene Memorial Hospital, where Amanda’s body had been returned, and performed tape lifts on her hands and pubic area for evidence. The Greene County Coroner testified that Amanda had sustained two fractures to her jaw as the result of a blunt force injury and noted that some knitted material wrapped tightly around her throat caused an abrasion on her neck. He further opined that Amanda’s forehead wounds were caused by an attempt to drive a railroad spike into her forehead. The spike driven into Amanda’s right temple acted as a plug that permitted only minimal bleeding. Fingernail mark patterns on Amanda’s neck indicated that the perpetrator had sustained an injury to his right ring finger. Myers suffered such an injury in a motorcycle accident one month prior to the murder. During the autopsy, three stones were removed from Amanda’s vaginal canal through her abdominal cavity. The three stones were approximately the same size and measured roughly 2.75 inches by 1.5 inches. The doctor said he believed that it was likely that the stones were inserted in Amanda’s vaginal canal after she was unconscious. Amanda died of severe head trauma, produced by a penetrating railroad spike through her right temple and attempted strangulation. Xenia police apprehended Myers later on the afternoon of August 4, but he denied killing Amanda. Myers claimed that he had last seen Amanda on her hands and knees looking for car keys in the Round Table parking lot. A search of Myers’s Ford Mustang pursuant to a warrant resulted in the discovery of wallets belonging to Amanda and Glenn, stuffed inside a glove under the front passenger seat. While Myers was being booked at the county jail, he remarked to Deputy Sheriff Thomas A. Adkins, “Tom, man, cocaine will make you do anything. It will make you do anything to get it.” Myers was indicted for the murder of Maher. The case was declared nolle prosequi in February 1991. After the nolle prosequi, Greene County authorities continued investigating the murder case. On February 12, 1993, Myers was arraigned upon reindictment in the Maher murder on a charge identical to that declared nolle prosequi in February 1991. Over the next few years, Myers’s case was continued repeatedly at his request. The trial court overruled several defense motions to dismiss the case on speedy trial grounds. Finally, on January 9, 1996, a jury trial began, which lasted nearly a month. At trial, a fellow inmate of Myers in 1988 testified that Myers said to him out of the blue, “[t]hey couldn’t get me on a rape.” Myers also asked the inmate whether he had ever “put three rocks in a girl.” The man responded that he had not, and Myers stated that he had. The inmate knew nothing of Amanda’s murder, except that it involved a railroad spike. A few days later, he asked Myers, “Why a railroad spike?” Myers replied, “Because it was handy.” After that, Myers told him, “Don’t ever try to drive nothing through nobody’s forehead." The inmate testified, "He said it won’t go, but he said it went through the temple.” Also during trial, three expert witnesses testified on behalf of the state regarding the foreign hair found on Amanda. A BCI forensic scientist said that she was 100 percent certain that the hair was a human pubic hair from a Caucasian. Yezzo found similarities and differences in her comparison of pubic hair samples provided by Myers. However, she could neither confirm nor eliminate Myers as the donor of the pubic hair and suggested that the prosecutor’s office submit the pubic hair to another lab for further analysis. A forensic scientist analyzed the foreign pubic hair and found that the microscopic characteristics “were identical to the microscopic characteristics found in the known hair sample” from Myers. A second forensic scientist also analyzed the foreign pubic hair and found it “indistinguishable microscopically” from the pubic hair sample provided by Myers. The hair was subjected to DNA analysis and the serologist testified that the hair bore the same genotype as Myers’ known sample and that this genotype is found in only 2% of the Caucasian population of North America. The final witness to testify for the state was a woman who said that Myers had offered her a ride home after she had a fight with her boyfriend in a Xenia bar in February 1986. She testified that Myers raped her in a cemetery before dropping her off at her dorm in Yellow Springs. Myers later entered an Alford plea to sexual battery, was found guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation. Defense attorneys said Myers would not have had time to kill Maher and that it made no sense for Myers to tell police and others who saw him with Maher before her death that he was taking her home, only to kill her shortly afterward. Myers took the stand in his own defense and denied involvement in the slaying. He said he was a victim of prosecution witnesses who lied. Myers was found guilty of aggravated murder in February 1996 in the slaying of Amanda Jo Maher. The jury recommended the death penalty following the 6-week trial. In previous appeals, Myers argued he was denied his right to a speedy trial, but the appeals court said it was Myers who made numerous requests for delay of his trial. Myers also said he was denied a fair trial because there was a delay in his indictment, that the state used delays to obtain scientific testing of physical evidence, that the state used a false statement to obtain a search warrant of Myers’ car, and that there was "residual doubt" about Myers’ guilt. The appeals court disagreed and overruled each of Myers’ arguments. There are still appeals pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 17, 2003 (week of) Maryland Dawn Marie Garvin, 20
Patricia Antoinette Hirt
Laurie Elizabeth Ward, 25
Steven Oken stayed
Dawn Marie Garvin - on her wedding daySteven Oken sexually assaulted and murdered Dawn Garvin at her home in Baltimore County. At midnight on Sunday, November 1, 1987, Keith Douglas Garvin arrived at the United States Navy base in Oceana, Virginia. Mr. Garvin, who had a pass from his naval superiors, had just spent the weekend with his wife, Dawn Garvin, at their apartment in the Baltimore County community of White Marsh and was returning to his station in Oceana. Upon his arrival at the base, Keith attempted to call his wife to notify her that he had arrived safely. Although the telephone rang at their White Marsh apartment, there was no answer. After making several additional unsuccessful attempts to call his wife, Keith became worried and telephoned his father-in-law, Frederick Joseph Romano. Because Frederick lived in close proximity to the Garvins’ apartment, Keith asked him to check on Dawn. Mr. Romano agreed, and attempted to telephone his daughter twice. Both times there was no answer. Concerned about the fact that numerous calls to his daughter had gone unanswered, Frederick decided to drive to his daughter’s apartment. When he arrived, he found the front door to the apartment ajar, all the lights in the apartment turned on, and the television blaring. Sensing that something was wrong, he rushed into the apartment and found his daughter, Dawn, in the bedroom lying on the bed nude with a bottle protruding from her vagina. While attempting to perform CPR, Dawn’s father observed that there was blood streaming from her forehead. He immediately called for assistance, and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. A paramedic then began to administer CPR, but his efforts were in vain. Dawn Marie Garvin was dead. At 2:30 a.m., on November 2, police arrived at the Garvins’ apartment to inspect the scene of the murder. A detective testified that when he entered the Garvins’ apartment he saw no signs of forced entry. Once inside, he observed a brassiere, a pair of pants, tennis shoes, a shirt, and a sweater on the floor near the sofa in the living room. The brassiere was not unhooked, but instead, was ripped on the side. The pants were turned inside out. The detective also noticed a small piece of rubber on the floor near the television set. In the bedroom, he found two spent.25 caliber shell casings on the bed, one of which was lying on top of a shirt. The shirt was blood-stained and had what Roeder believed to be a bullet hole in it. An autopsy of Dawn’s body revealed that she had died as the result of two contact gunshot wounds; one of the bullets entered at her left eyebrow and the other at her right ear. Less than two weeks after Oken murdered Dawn Garvin, he sexually assaulted and murdered his sister-in-law, Patricia Hirt, at his Maryland home. He then fled Maryland for Maine, where he sexually assaulted and murdered Lori E. Ward, the 25-year-old desk clerk at his Kittery, Maine hotel on November 16, 1987. He was arrested in Maine on November 17, 1987, and was ultimately convicted in Maine for first degree murder, robbery with a firearm, and theft arising out of Lori’s murder. Oken was sentenced to life without parole on the murder charge, twenty years on the robbery charge, and five years on the theft charge, all sentences to run concurrently. Oken was returned to Maryland where he faced separate prosecutions for charges arising out of other two homicides. He was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County in the Garvin case for first degree murder, sexual offenses, burglary, daytime housebreaking, robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon, theft, and a handgun violation. The State’s evidence was very strong. The murder weapon, a handgun, was found in Oken’s home shortly after the murder and a rubber portion of Oken’s tennis shoe was found in Dawn Garvin’s living room on the night of the murder. In addition, several witnesses at trial identified Oken as the person in the neighborhood who had attempted to gain entry to residences in the vicinity of the Garvin home a few days prior to the murder. The Kittery Maine Police Chief Edward Strong said the Ward murder was very difficult for him because at the time, his daughter was the same age. "The poor girl was working her way through school and putting herself through college," Strong said. "Oken just checked into the motel and a couple hours later murdered her." Strong testified in the two murder trials in Maryland because he found bloody materials and other evidence in the Coachman Motor Inn that linked the three murders. "This individual brutally murdered the three women," Strong said. "I have no doubt that he would have murdered again if we hadn’t caught him." Strong said Oken’s punishment is suitable for the crimes he committed. "I’ve never in my law enforcement career seen a person who deserves the death penalty more than this individual," Strong said. "I’m just glad they have the death penalty in Maryland." That Oken would be the first in line to die under the new governor’s administration is no surprise. Baltimore County prosecutors expected him to be executed last spring — until a moratorium was declared by then-governor Glendening. Given Governor Ehrlich’s campaign promise to lift the ban, the state’s attorney’s office in the county began preparing a death warrant around the time of Ehrlich’s Jan. 15 inauguration. "Oken is on a fast track," said Assistant State’s Attorney Ann Brobst, who noted that Oken’s conviction and sentence have "never been reversed for any reason."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 18, 2003 Federal Tracie McBride, 19 Louis Jones, Jr. executed
TracieMcBride small1The federal prosecutor with a Southern accent came to Jim and Irene McBride’s door in Centerville with a weighty question few Minnesotans have ever had to answer. Did they want the death penalty for the man who killed their daughter? It was 1995. Army Pvt. Tracie McBride, 19, had been kidnapped by a stranger and bludgeoned to death months earlier as she stood watch at an Air Force base laundry room in Texas. The McBrides didn’t hesitate in their answer. Yes, they said, Louis Jones Jr. should die for what he did. If Tracie could no longer feel joy, could no longer call her family, why should he? A federal jury in Texas agreed. Jones, a decorated Army veteran, is scheduled to be executed March 18. In the nearly eight years since her death, McBride family members haven’t wavered in their opinion that the sentence should be carried out, Tracie’s mother and sister said. Their opinions and those of other relatives and friends — in the form of more than 70 letters to the U.S. Department of Justice pardon attorney — could play a role once again. Jones and his attorney have asked President Bush to spare Jones’ life, claiming that his crime was affected by brain damage he suffered from toxins he was exposed to when he served in the Gulf War. The clemency petition, which followed two appeals and other court proceedings, has dredged up painful memories once again for the McBride family, they said. If the death sentence is carried out, they feel they won’t be forced to dwell on the horror of the crime each time a legal proceeding pops up, said Stacie McBride , the victim’s sister. "We’re not going to have these constant reminders in the negative sense." Irene McBride is counting on Bush to let the sentence stand. She plans to witness Jones’ execution. "We’re not looking for comfort out of this," she said. "We’re looking for justice. His execution will not bring Tracie back, but it will show us that the justice system in America still works." Jones drove onto the base in San Angelo, Texas, fixated on finding his ex-wife, who worked there and had made it clear that their separation was permanent, his defense attorney said in the petition. But other evidence showed Jones had just gotten off the phone with his wife and knew she wasn’t on the base, Irene McBride said. Somehow, shortly after 9 p.m. Feb. 18, 1995, Jones ended up at the laundry room where Tracie McBride was chatting on the phone with her best friend in Minnesota. The next morning, military officials phoned Tracie’s parents to say Tracie was missing. Two people had seen a man abduct her the night before. When one man tried to follow, Jones assaulted him, that man later testified. Nearly 2 weeks later, Jones confessed to killing Tracie and led police to her body under a bridge about 27 miles from San Angelo, a city of about 100,000 residents in western Texas, about 225 miles west of Austin. Jones said he had beaten her with a tire iron. Prosecutors, in a statement of facts sent to Washington, said Jones also had admitted sexually assaulting McBride. The mental images of what happened that night still haunt her family, they said. "It’s always a part of you," Stacie McBride said. Evidence of brain damage was discovered in connection with Jones’ trial in 1995, according to his defense attorney, Timothy Floyd. But attorneys didn’t know its cause or the role it played in the crime, he said. Now, Floyd contends, medical research has linked Jones’ type of brain damage to exposure to chemicals in the Gulf War. University of Texas epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley has found that those suffering from a certain form of Gulf War Syndrome have symptoms including hostility, aggression, rigid thinking and obsessiveness, according to the petition. Floyd argues that Jones had fixated on talking to his former wife the night of the kidnapping. The syndrome, Floyd wrote, "can cause people like Mr. Jones to embark on a course of behavior that is driven — from which they cannot step back or modulate." After 22 years of service in the Army, Jones struggled in civilian life. He dropped out of college because of poor grades, delivered newspapers and drove a shuttle bus. He became increasingly aggressive and irritable, leading to the breakup of his marriage, ex-wife Sandy Lane testified at his trial. Lane testified that Jones raped her at his apartment 2 days before he kidnapped McBride. She also said he acted "very crazed" and was "spinning out of control, bouncing from thought to thought." Prosecutor Tanya Pierce portrayed Jones as a calculating, cold-blooded killer who meticulously sought to cover his tracks. The petite McBride, who was 5-foot-2 and weighed about 100 pounds, had volunteered for laundry-room duty at Goodfellow Air Force Base the evening of Feb. 18, 1995, when Jones kidnapped her at gunpoint. He raped her at his apartment, then made her gargle mouthwash and clean her genital area with towels and peroxide. Jones washed Tracie McBride’s clothes after assaulting her and made her walk out of his apartment on towels, believing it would prevent her boots and clothes from picking up carpet fibers, which might link him to the crime. She also had to sit on towels as Jones drove her to a bridge about 20 miles outside town. About 2 weeks after the kidnapping, Jones led investigators to the bridge where he had dumped McBride’s body. Her head had been crushed with a tire iron. Prosecutors presented evidence of Jones’ aggressive behavior before the Gulf War. They cited 4 incidents in which he had beaten up co-workers or fellow soldiers and offered testimony that he had slapped his wife. The evidence of Gulf War Syndrome isn’t an excuse for Jones’ actions, but an explanation and a mitigating factor, the clemency petition says. In his letter to Bush, Jones described his sorrow and explained that he has reformed. "By succombing [sic] to my temptations," he wrote, "I destroyed the family of Specialist Fourth Class Tracie Joy McBride, as well as my own." Floyd argued in the petition that the jury already was struggling with whether to impose the death sentence and the link to Gulf War Syndrome would have changed the outcome. "Had the jury known of the link between the crime and Mr. Jones’s brain injury from honorable service to our country in the Gulf War, the jury very likely would not have imposed the death penalty," he wrote. Haley’s office said the epidemiologist has never presented his research in a court case, but Gulf War Syndrome has been cited in other criminal cases. In one, a man convicted of killing his girlfriend and three children in Florida in 1998 had been diagnosed with Gulf War illness 2 years earlier. A judge in his case said there was no correlation between the diagnosis and the murders, according to an Associated Press report. Guy H. Baker, accused of shooting two St. Paul police officers to death, claimed that Gulf War Syndrome had put him in severe pain. He pleaded guilty to the murders in 1994. The possibility of the syndrome has been raised in the case of accused Washington-area sniper John Allen Muhammad, who has yet to face trial. Under federal law, a defendant sentenced to death gets an automatic appeal that is limited to evidence presented at the trial. The defendant can also file a petition for post-conviction review to bring up evidence not presented at the trial, explained Elisabeth Semel, director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California, Berkeley. While more than one petition can be filed, "the opportunity to succeed on a second petition is extremely limited to situations such as actual innocence," Semel said. Floyd pointed out that the president can grant clemency for any reason. Irene McBride said she doesn’t expect to feel comforted if Jones is put to death. "Nobody’s going to win….All this is going to be is justice," she said. Comfort would only come, if when Jones died, "we got Tracie back," she said. The family simply wants to grieve in a normal way "rather than it being brought up over and over and over again," Irene McBride said. The family wants to focus on the happy memories of Tracie: Her energetic smile. The way she loved to make classmates happy by baking chocolate chip cookies so often that she knew the recipe by heart. Her soprano voice at church, she said. How would they feel if, as in Minnesota, the death penalty were not an option and Jones was sentenced to life in prison? "No matter what somebody is convicted of… they always try to appeal for something lower," Irene McBride said. "I think it would be worse to think that he could ever get out." Often, Irene McBride wonders what her daughter’s life would have been like. She imagines Tracie Joy McBride marrying the Marine she was dating 8 years ago. She sees her teaching music to children, baby-sitting the 7 nieces and nephews born after her death and helping her sister prepare for her upcoming wedding. But on Feb. 18, 1995, Louis Jones Jr. kidnapped the 19-year-old Centerville, Minn., soldier from the Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, raped her and bludgeoned her to death. She had been there just 9 days. Amid the debate over the fairness of capital punishment and executing a former soldier with Gulf War syndrome, her family says it boils down to this: Jones deserves to die because Tracie deserved to live. "Closure is a big word. We’re not expecting comfort from all this," said Irene McBride. "All we’re expecting is justice." Tracie’s parents, her siblings and nieces and nephews will be in Terre Haute for Jones’ execution. More than 70 family members and friends have written letters opposing his clemency petition. In one of the letters, Dawn Bryant relives the last time she heard from her best friend. Tracie had called and the 2 were chatting about their boyfriends when the phone was muffled and Tracie started talking to someone else. The phone was disconnected, but Bryant had no idea that Jones had just abducted her friend from the laundry room. "I wish I had called somebody," Bryant said eight years later. "I was the last person she spoke loving words to. I was the last person who heard her laugh." Friends and family say Tracie was always cheerful, an achiever who earned the nickname "Guy Smiley" from her drill instructor. She graduated from basic training at the top of her company before being transferred to Goodfellow for military intelligence training. She baked cookies for other soldiers, although those who were mean to her friend, Tracie Rafn, missed out on many a treat. "I was T1 and she was T2," said Rafn. "I hear my name, and I want to stay in touch with her parents, but how do I call them and say, ‘It’s Tracie?’ There’s always going to be that reminder of her." After Tracie’s death, residents tied yellow ribbons in the tiny Twin Cities suburb, and a park was later dedicated to her. A choir director wrote a song in her memory, because she was active in the choir, band and theater there. Mike Smith, the family’s pastor, describes himself as forgiving but says forgiveness is not an issue here. "This was one of the most heinous crimes," said Smith. "It’s not so much vengeance against Louis Jones, but there needs to be justice for the crime — and justice is the death penalty." In the past few months, friends and family were forced to relive painful memories as Jones petitioned President Bush for clemency, claiming that Gulf War syndrome contributed to his crimes. "It’s like packing tape stuck to your thigh and then tearing it off," said Rafn. "There’s literally physical pain when you think about what happened." People went to the Gulf War and didn’t commit murder, said Irene McBride. "We feel bad for his family, but he made the choice, and now he has to (suffer) the consequences. The rest of us are paying for the choices he made." Irene McBride said. "I don’t want him living in a prison where he can watch cable TV, lift weights, go to the library, eat, sleep, talk with his family," Stacie McBride said. "Where was the mercy when Tracie pleaded?… She did nothing…. he refused to have any lenience on her." UPDATE: Jones, a decorated Army veteran who blames childhood abuse and exposure to nerve gas during the Gulf War for his killing of a female soldier has asked President Bush to spare his life. Jones has exhausted his appeals. McBride’s mother, Irene McBride, said the petition is a ploy by Jones to escape the consequences for killing her daughter. "I agree with the judge, the jury, the Supreme Court and the appellate court," she said. "They didn’t feel (the brain damage) was enough. A lot of people have come back from the Gulf War and not murdered people. I feel they are still just looking for an excuse for murder. Brain injury, Gulf War syndrome — that’s not an excuse to murder somebody." Members of the McBride family in Centerville, Minn., their friends and others who knew Tracie McBride have written letters to the Justice Department, pleading that Jones’ execution take place as scheduled. UPDATE: "Today was a day of justice for Tracie," Irene McBride, the victim’s mother, said after she witnessed the execution. "Today Louis Jones finally was made accountable for his actions, and today he will meet his ultimate judge. Everybody is glad this is over. It’s been a long 8 years," she said. "The healing is not over; it’s just beginning."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 18, 2003 Oklahoma Dennis Eugene Hill Walanzo Robinson executed
Walanzo Robinson is scheduled for execution March 18 for the murder of Dennis Hill in an apparent argument over drug turf in northeast Oklahoma City. Robinson came to Oklahoma City from Los Angeles. Police officers in Los Angeles testified at his trial that he was a member of the Van-Ness Gangster Bloods, a violent street gang active in the crack cocaine trade. Robinson had been staying with friends in Oklahoma City. On May 19, 1989, he and Hill argued, with Robinson accusing Hill of stealing drug customers, court transcripts say. Prosecutors said that Hill was shot in the back by Robinson. Then, Robinson followed the wounded Hill and fired two more bullets into him as he lay on the ground. Several witnesses testified seeing Robinson shoot Hill twice as Hill walked away. They testified that Robinson walked up to Hill, who was still alive, and shot him two more times. Robinson then fled the state. Los Angeles police arrested Robinson four months after the slaying. The arresting officer characterized Robinson as a dangerous man. "I have been in contact with hundreds of gang members in my career," former Los Angeles police officer Daniel Mathieu stated in a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. "Some are considered ‘hardcore’ while I have heard the term ‘wanna-bes’ or less hard core with others. Robinson was a hardcore member of the Van-Ness Gangsters. This gang was very active in murders, drive-by shootings and drug sales. They were known for their violence." Mathieu said he had been threatened by gang members after Robinson’s arrest. The murder occurred in May 1989. Robinson was arrested in California on September 7, 1989. Four witnesses, all with prior criminal records, identified Robinson as the man who shot Hill. Although they did not identify him by his real name, but rather "Bandit," a street nickname they knew him by. Robinson also admitted to police that during his violent life, he had been the victim of five driveby shootings and was a gang member. Robinson may have been in Oklahoma at the time to set up a drug dealing operation. Robinson’s attorneys claim that prosecutors convicted him with little hard evidence. They also claim that the jury was tainted by racist leanings of some jurors. His attorneys said that one juror, a black woman, had been pressured to vote for a death sentence when she initially wanted to sentence Robinson to life in prison. The attorney general’s offices disputes these claims. One of the jurors, Joel Johnson, also said there were no racist leanings by the jury. The Pardon and Parole Board voted against clemency for Robinson. He has denied involvement in Hill’s death. UPDATE: Walanzo Deon Robinson was executed Tuesday for the 1989 killing of a rival Oklahoma City drug dealer who was shot three times in the street. Robinson, 31, died at 6:10 p.m. after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He had been convicted of 1st-degree murder for killing Dennis Hill May 19, 1989. "It’s been a long 13 years of waiting, pain and stress for me," Anthony Lee, Hill’s brother, said in a statement. "And now the time has come when my mind can be free, but Dennis can still be in my heart." The execution was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Robinson’s last-ditch appeal Tuesday without comment. His previous appeals had also all been denied. Robinson had alleged in Monday’s appeal that racial bias led the jury to give him the death sentence and that the evidence used to convict him was circumstantial and filled with discrepancy. "Walanzo Robinson was properly convicted and sentenced," Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in a statement. "His appeals have been exhausted and the Pardon and Parole Board has rightfully denied clemency. It is time the execution is carried out." Robinson, who was 18 at the time, and Hill were arguing over who could sell cocaine on a northeast Oklahoma City street corner when Robinson pulled out a handgun, witnesses said. Robinson shot Hill, 26, in the back as he tried to run away, then shot him twice more as he lay in the street asking someone to call an ambulance, according to witnesses. "It is absolutely cold-blooded," said Gary Ackley, who prosecuted Robinson for the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office. "He swept away the life of Mr. Hill the way you would swipe away a fly that’s bothering you. People with that little regard for human life don’t deserve to live." Robinson’s appeal said a lone black juror switched her vote in favor of death only after some white jurors intimidated her and referred to her with racial slurs, like "Little Miss Slave Trader." Robinson’s attorneys used the same argument in unsuccesfully asking for clemency. The juror, Marcia Davidson, did not testify during the clemency hearing, leaving Robinson to rely on 2nd-hand accounts of her allegations. Edmondson responded to Robinson’s court appeal Tuesday, citing other jurors’ testimony that they heard no such abuse during the deliberations, a spokeswoman said. Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board members denied clemency March 12, with three voting against it, one abstaining and the other recusing herself. It was the newly appointed board’s 1st clemency case. Helen Lee-Hawkins, Hill’s sister, recalled Hill as a fishing enthusiast, who enjoyed reading the newspaper and detailing cars. Hill was also close to her son, she said. "Walanzo showed no emotions, no sympathy or a care in the world for his behavior," Lee-Hawkins wrote in a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 2003 Texas Tom Varughese
Robert Rios, 32
Maria Elda Isabell Rios, 10
Victor Roberto Rios, 11
Keith Clay executed
A Houston jury deliberated 8 hours before deciding on the death sentence for Keith Bernard Clay, 28, in the murder of Melathethil Tom Varughese, who came to the United States from India a year earlier, in a $2,000 robbery. Clay robbed the store in Baytown on Jan. 4, 1994, shot at Varughese 10 times, hitting him 6, then beat him with a pistol, said prosecutor Marie Munier. Sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, 1994, Clay and 2 friends entered the store so one of them could buy cigarettes. After his friends left the store, Clay attacked Varughese and shot him several times. An autopsy on the Indian immigrant, who had been the United States less than a year, determined he had been shot six times with two different guns and suffered a fractured skull from blunt force trauma. One of the guns used to shoot Varughese was a pistol kept in the story for security; the other, a 9-millimeter pistol, was later found in Clay’s possession. When Varughese’s body was found, his hands were bound by a string of Christmas lights. Nearly $2,000 had been taken from the store’s cash register. Clay was not arrested for nearly a year, but when he was taken into custody, he was suspected of playing a role in three other murders. While Clay did not stand trial for the other murders, he was indicted for Varughese’s murder in March 1996. He was found guilty of capital murder in April 1997, and sentenced to death later that month. In the sentencing phase, the jury also heard about the unrelated crime Clay allegedly was involved in just a week before the robbery — the Christmas Eve 1993 murders of a Baytown man and his 2 young children. Clay’s co-defendant in that case, Shannon Thomas, is already on death row for those murders. At about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, 1993, Jose Rios walked into his brother’s Baytown home when no one answered his knock on the door. He and his mother, wife and children were visiting the brother’s family, bearing Christmas gifts. "I opened the door and saw the Christmas tree with gifts," Rios said. "I opened the door a little more and saw my brother lying on the floor with blood on him." Rios found his brother, Robert Rios, shot to death on the floor, with a knife in his throat. He called 911, and his wife screamed from upstairs that the children, Maria Elda Isabell Rios, 10, and Victor Roberto Rios, 11, also were dead. Hours before, Thomas, 24, and Clay, 27, burst into the Rios home and bound Roberto Rios with duct tape before stabbing him and shooting him twice in the head. Then the two men went upstairs to the children’s bedroom, made them lie face-down on the floor and shot each of them once in the back of the head. Police speculated at the time that that the killings were drug-related. Rios was a drug dealer who mostly sold marijuana. Thomas and Clay apparently had bought drugs from Rios and assumed he would have money in the house. The children probably were killed because they were potential witnesses, according to police. The children’s mother was divorced from Rios and lived in Mexico at the time of the killing. The triple murder was unsolved for two years before authorities received a tip after the pair had bragged to friends about the murders. When Thomas and Clay gave statements to police, each admitted having been at the scene but each denied that he was the shooter. Prosecutor Munier said that Thomas did the shooting, but that Clay may have held the children down. In the convenience store robbery and murder, there was witness. Clay went in the store about 8:30 pm. looking more to kill than to rob, Munier said, adding that "it was a vicious, brutal murder, I think not so much for the money, but to prove that he was a killer to his friend." The jury agreed with the prosecution that Clay constituted a future threat to society, and, rejecting the defense’s call for a life sentence, returned with a verdict of death. Regarding any appellate issues, Roe Wilson, who handles capital murder appeals in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, said "It’s certainly not a good case to try to grasp on to any mental retardation, the evidence against him was real strong, there’s no DNA, and the eyewitness identification is from a guy that knows him and was with him." Clay said he was outside the Baytown store where Varughese worked and in a car when the clerk was gunned down Jan. 4, 1994. "I was just an innocent bystander," he said. "I didn’t have any knowledge the store was going to be robbed." UPDATE: "I’ve been praying for the victim’s family, for my family," Clay said from death row. "With regard to me being down here, if there’s one thing I could put my finger on, it would be decisions were made that bring about consequences, whether good or bad. What you do or say not only affects your life but others as well." Marie Munier, the Harris County district attorney who prosecuted Clay said, "I’m not happy to see someone put to death, but I know that the trial was a fair trial, he was represented by good counsel and it was a horrible crime. I think it’s justice. It’s not that it makes me happy at all, but it’s just the price he will pay for his actions." Before the execution, Clay looked at 3 members of his victim’s family, who were watching through a nearby window, and asked them for forgiveness. "I know you have suffered a great loss and I am truly, truly sorry….There is not a day that I have not prayed for you," he said. Clay then turned to his mother, watching through an adjacent window. He told her he loved her and said "The Lord is my shepherd. Let everyone know that I love them. This is not goodbye. I will see you later." His mother, Cynthia Smith, smiled and flashed 2 thumbs up to him.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 2003 Ohio Ron Rihm, 51
Carolyn Rihm, 57
James Taylor stayed
On February 14, 1998, 67-year-old James R. Taylor shot and killed a married couple, shot at his own wife, and shot a man who was attempting to disarm him during a Valentine’s Day dance at the Fairborn Order of Eagles. Taylor went to the club to confront his wife, who had left him a month earlier after 46 years of marriage. A former cellmate of Taylor’s testified at trial that Taylor said he meant to kill the couple at a Valentine’s Day dance and later tried to arrange to have his estranged wife killed. Michael Sexton said Taylor told him that Ron and Carolyn Rihm were responsible for the breakup of his marriage. Taylor was on trial for trying to shoot his estranged wife, Patricia Taylor, during the dance at an Eagles lodge in Fairborn, then fatally shooting the Rihms. The couple had taken in Mrs. Taylor when she left Taylor in January 1998. Taylor opened fire on the table where his estranged wife was seated with three other individuals. Ron and Carolyn Rihm, apparent longtime friends of the Taylors, died after Taylor shot them in the head. Another man was wounded in the arm after Taylor shot at him. The wounded man and several other dance attendees were able to subdue Taylor. Taylor’s wife was unhurt. After his arrest, Taylor asked for Sexton’s help in trying to get someone to kill Mrs. Taylor, Sexton testified. "And then he wanted the ring finger removed, shot off, cut off," said Sexton. Taylor pled innocent by reason of insanity to two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder in the wounding of a third person. Taylor said he went to the lodge to commit suicide in front of his wife. He said Ron Rihm bumped his arm and the gun misfired. Taylor insisted on representing himself at trial and would not allow his court appointed attorneys to assist him. He asserted he went to the dance so he could kill himself in front of his wife. He requested and received professional representation during the sentencing phase of his trial. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 25, 2003 Oklahoma Drucilla Morgan
Sylvia Stokes
unnamed victim
John Hooker executed
An Oklahoma jury convicted John Michael Hooker for the first degree murders of his common-law wife, Sylvia Stokes, and her mother, Drucilla Morgan. Hooker and Sylvia lived together for eight years and had three children. Their relationship was turbulent; they frequently separated and reconciled. It was also a violent relationship. Prior to the murders, Hooker threatened and attacked Sylvia, once inflicting severe head lacerations. Five months before her murder, Sylvia obtained a Victim Protective Order against Hooker. At that time, she expressed fear he would harm her and stated she did not want to be "like the others dead." The couple reconciled and planned to marry in February 1988. They broke up again. Hooker did not trust Sylvia. He was angry every time they broke up and was jealous when other men paid attention to her. When he was drinking, he talked about killing her. He also resented her mother Drucilla and indicated he would "get" both of them. In early 1988, Hooker, Sylvia and their three children lived at the Providence Apartments in Oklahoma City. In late March, Sylvia and the children moved out of the apartment they shared with Hooker because Sylvia was afraid Hooker might harm her and the children. They moved in with Drucilla Morgan, who lived in the same apartment complex. On March 27, 1988, Hooker repeatedly visited the Morgan apartment, attempting to persuade Sylvia to return to his apartment. She refused, and Hooker returned to his apartment alone. Later that afternoon, neighbors saw Drucilla and Sylvia entering Hooker’s apartment. Two women in the apartment below Hooker’s apartment heard bumping and thumping noises, like someone rapidly moving furniture and throwing things. Although they heard no voices, they prayed about the noises because they thought Hooker and Sylvia were fighting again. Other witnesses saw Hooker with blood on his clothing, apparently after he left the apartment. The next day, Cynthia Stokes went to Hooker’s apartment to check on her mother and sister. She had difficulty opening the door but was able to push it open slightly, looked in and saw her mother on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood. The police were called and found Drucilla and Sylvia in the apartment. Sylvia Stokes was stabbed 8 times and Morgan 12, causing internal bleeding that killed them. Both women died of multiple stab wounds. The police investigation revealed the killer left the apartment through a bedroom window. The police found a knife, with the victims’ blood on it, on the floor below the window. A partial bloody footprint in the apartment matched one of Hooker’s tennis shoes. The police arrested Hooker approximately one week after the murders. Police found blood matching the victims’ blood type (B) on Hooker’s blue jeans and determined that Hooker has type O blood. In 2001, officials re-examined DNA evidence in Hooker’s case because it originally had been handled by Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist. Investigators retested DNA evidence submitted in all of Gilchrist’s cases after officials accused her of performing shoddy work. Results of the retesting showed that blood from Stokes and Morgan was found on Hooker’s pants, officials said. Hooker had killed in the past. When he was 17 years-old, Hooker pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault and battery with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Court documents stated that in 1971, Hooker attended a party, became involved in an argument with the female hostess and pulled a gun twice. One bullet wounded the woman and the other hit Hooker’s friend, killing him. Sylvia Stokes and Drusilla Morgan have been gone since 1988, but for Cynthia Stokes they live on in the faces of her sister’s children. Cynthia Stokes was 28 years old when she went from being a mother of three to a mother of seven. She had to take care of Sylvia Stokes’ three young children and her 11-year-old sister, Crystal. "I miss them and stuff, but they’re still here," Cynthia Stokes said Monday. "Every day is a blessing. They have really been my strength," she said of the children, now ages 20, 16 and 10. Cynthia Stokes said the children have had no contact with their father, John Michael Hooker, who faces execution Tuesday evening for the deaths of their mother and grandmother. "I never raised them to be against him. I always left that door open," Cynthia Stokes said. "He never reached out to them either, to make amends or tell his side of the story or anything like that." UPDATE: In McAlester, a man convicted of stabbing his girlfriend and her mother to death in 1988 was put to death Tuesday. John Michael Hooker, 49, was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon denied without comment a habeas corpus appeal and a request for an emergency stay filed by Hooker’s attorney. Hooker was executed almost 15 years after stabbing Sylvia Stokes, 28, and Drusilla Morgan, 53, so many times on March 27, 1988, they bled internally until they died. The victims’ family members did not speak to reporters after the execution, but Leonard Stokes, the son and brother of the two victims, released a statement. "I am feeling a sense of relief and like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders personally," he said. "I can finally move on with my life and so can my family. Now I can focus on what is important to me and that is my family. We will always love and remember them. They may be gone physically, but they will never be far from our hearts or our minds."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 25, 2003 Georgia Ricky Callahan, 34 Larry Moon executed
Larry Eugene Moon was executed Tuesday for the 1984 murder and robbery of a man who was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. Moon, 57, was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta. It was the state’s 9th execution by injection. Moon’s attorneys wrote last-minute appeals as the execution approached, arguing Moon was innocent of the crime. The Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request Tuesday. Later in the day, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a motion for a stay of execution, although Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher dissented. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay less than an hour before the execution was scheduled to take place. Moon was convicted of killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan by shooting him twice in the head at close range in Catoosa County in 1984. Moon always maintained he was innocent of the crime, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee Davis, for framing him. In his final statement, Moon said, "I’m innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I’ll add." The execution was witnessed by 2 of Moon’s previous lawyers along with about 30 other witnesses. When Moon was arrested, police found the murder weapon and some music tapes. No witnesses saw the crime. Moon has always maintained his innocence. Defense attorney Brian Mendelsohn said two men signed affidavits pinning the murder on Davis. Davis died in 1988 in a motorcycle accident, 2 years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder trial. "Davis was a crazy man. If you looked at him the wrong way, he beat you to a pulp," Mendelsohn said. "I believe what happened is that Davis and Callahan had some words and Davis did what Davis was known to do, which was kill him." Mendelsohn said Davis then framed Moon by giving him Callahan’s car and its contents.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 26, 2003 Ohio Robert Robinson Ernest Martin stayed
On January 21, 1983, Ernest Martin shot to death, Robert Robinson, owner of Robinson’s Drug Store in Cleveland, and stealing less than $40. Robert had let Martin’s girlfriend in the store to buy some cold medicine, and Martin shot him through the glass door. Martin used a gun he had stolen from a security guard. Josephine Pedro testified that in the early hours of January 21, 1983, Martin revealed a plan to rob Robinson’s Drug Store. She attempted to dissuade him but said Martin threatened her if she did not cooperate in the robbery. Martin then left the apartment and returned approximately ten minutes later with the gun he had stolen from a security guard. Martin told his girlfriend she was to go to the store and attempt to buy medicine for a cold. When Robert Robinson, owner of the store, unlocked the door to allow her entrance, Martin planned to follow her in and rob the premises. Martin wore gray pants, tennis shoes and a waistlength black leather jacket. He covered his face with a brown knit cap in which he cut holes for his eyes to avoid identification. At approximately 12:45 a.m., Pedro arrived at the store and knocked on the door. Upon recognizing her, Robert Robinson unlocked the door to let her in. However, he locked the door again before Martin had a chance to gain entrance. As Robert stood in front of the door after locking it, two shots were fired through the door, fatally wounding him. After firing the shots Martin allegedly went to the apartment to change his clothes and then returned to the store to finish the robbery. An employee at the drugstore was in the back room at the time of the shooting. After hearing the shots and seeing what had occurred, he called an ambulance and the police. He then instructed Pedro to go to Robinson’s house to get his wife. Pedro complied and upon returning was interviewed by the police concerning the events. She gave them her name and address and stated she knew nothing about the shooting. Martin was also present at this time and talked to the police. Upon completing her interview, Pedro returned to her apartment. Martin returned approximately thirty-five minutes later. Pedro asked Martin whether the evening’s events had been worth it. He showed her a pile of bills under a blanket which he then took into the bathroom and explained that he had stolen between $38 and $39 from the store. Several days after the shooting the police again questioned Pedro and Martin. By this time the two had put together a story for the police that Pedro had gone to the store to get cough medicine when the deceased was shot and that Martin only came to the store after she had been gone for an unusually long time. On January 29, 1983, the police returned and arrested Pedro and Martin for the murder of Robinson. After several days in jail, Pedro told the police that she had helped set up the robbery by going to the store and that Martin had shot Robert Robinson. Soon afterwards, Martin’s father contacted Pedro asking her to change her statement. While visiting Martin in jail, Martin‘s father again asked Pedro to change her story. During the trial, the state introduced a letter dated February 13, 1983, wherein Martin asked Pedro to "tell the truth" and implicate a man named "Slim" for the murder-robbery of Robinson. An additional letter dated February 17, 1983, in which Martin again asked her to implicate "Slim," was also introduced into evidence. Pedro has continually denied that "Slim" had anything to do with these crimes. The state also offered another letter into evidence which had been written by Martin to Pedro when he was in jail in February 1981 for another offense. Pedro identified the letter and read it into the record. The letter asked Pedro to lie for Martin and to implicate someone else for the commission of the offense for which Martin was charged. Pedro admitted lying for Martin pursuant to the letter in the previous trial for the other offense. Finally, another woman testified that she lived with Pedro for about five or six months until the middle of December 1982. During December she heard Martin say he was going to rob Robinson’s store. Martin threatened her with a gun, warning her that she had better not tell anyone of his plan. UPDATE: The Ohio Supreme Court stayed until at least June 18 the execution of Ernest Martin to determine whether he is mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death penalty under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Martin had been scheduled to die March 26 for the 1983 murder of a Cleveland drug store owner.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 26, 2003 Texas Peggy Murphy, 55 James Colburn executed
James Blake Colburn of Montgomery County was convicted of the June 26, 1994 stabbing of Peggy Murphy, 55, after she rebuffed his sexual advances. In his confession, Colburn admitted that he woke up on the morning of June 26, cooked a steak for breakfast, and decided to go outside. As he crossed the street in front of his apartment, he noticed Peggy Murphy hitchhiking. Colburn introduced himself and invited Murphy into his home. Once inside, Murphy asked for a beer. Colburn went next door and returned with a beer. He then offered to show Murphy some of his artwork, but when she entered his bedroom, Colburn grabbed her and attempted to rape her. When Murphy resisted, Colburn strangled her until she stopped breathing. Colburn then stabbed her in the neck with a steak knife to make sure she was dead. After the murder, Colburn went to a neighbor’s apartment and asked them to call the police. Colburn told the police in a videotaped confession that he killed Peggy because he wanted to go back to prison. Colburn was previously convicted of burglary of a building on Oct. 19, 1977; attempted burglary of a building on Feb. 23, 1978; unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on July 16, 1979; aggravated robbery on May 22, 1980; arson on Jan. 25, 1990; and false statement in acquisition of a firearm on Jan. 2, 1991. Colburn also assaulted his wife with a motorcycle helmet on Jan. 11, 1990, fracturing her cheekbone and causing nerve damage. Colburn also kicked her on another occasion. Colburn had served 6 years of an 18 year sentence for the aggravated robbery charge. He was sent back to prison for parole violations as well as a new 5 year sentence for arson but was released less than a year later. Peggy was murdered about four years after Colburn was released. "I knew what I was doing when I killed her. When I laid her on the bed, something snapped,” Colburn said. When he realized she was dead, he turned himself in, he said. "I’m not scared,” Colburn said. “I’ll be free as I know it. I think this is, in a way, a step in the right direction for me. If I got out, I’m scared somebody else would be hurt or killed.” Colburn had previously been scheduled for execution in November of 2002 but received a stay. UPDATE: James Colburn, a mentally ill man who was executed Thursday, said he made a mistake in 1994 when he fatally stabbed a woman with a kitchen knife. "None of this should’ve happened and now that I’m dying there is nothing left to worry about," Colburn said as he was strapped to a gurney and covered up to his chest with a white sheet. "I know it was a mistake. I have no one to blame but myself. Everyone has problems and I won’t be a part of the problem anymore." As the lethal drug cocktail coursed through his veins, Colburn said: "I can start to feel it now — it’s going to be like passing out on drugs." Colburn, 43, breathed heavily and then was still. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. He was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder of Peggy Murphy, a Montgomery County woman. Murphy’s family members stood stoically during the execution as Colburn’s sister, Tina Morris, wailed in the adjacent room. Murphy’s son, her niece and two nephews were among those who witnessed the execution. Her family didn’t comment after the execution. "The state has killed a very mentally ill man," Morris said to reporters outside the Huntsville Unit. "I feel sorry for the victim’s family but I also feel sorry for my family right now, too." Colburn’s brother, Bobby Gene Fitzsimmons II, said that his brother was blameless because he could not make decisions for himself. Colburn, a former carpenter and bricklayer, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 14. Colburn’s lawyers had argued that Colburn’s schizophrenia made him incompetent for execution because he is unable to understand the reason for his punishment. "He does not have an appreciation of what is pending — he understands it in a very superficial way," one of Colburn’s lawyers said just before he delivered the news to Colburn’s family that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s denied the appeal. During the appeals process, prosecutors argued that Colburn’s mental illness is not severe enough to render him legally insane and should not exempt him from full enforcement of the law. Court-appointed psychologists interviewed Colburn in October and concluded that despite his mental illness he understood that his execution was imminent and the reason for his punishment. A more extensive evaluation done last month by a neuro-psychologist hired by Colburn’s lawyers determined that he did not fully comprehend that he had been found responsible for Murphy’s death. Colburn murdered Murphy on June 26, 1994, in his apartment near Conroe. Murphy, 55, was hitchhiking on a street outside Colburn’s apartment when she asked for a drink of water. He invited her inside his apartment and attempted to rape her. When she resisted, he choked her until she passed out, then he stabbed her in the neck with a knife. He then asked a neighbor to call police. He reportedly smoked a cigarette as he waited for their arrival. Colburn confessed later that day, telling officers he heard a voice telling him that killing Murphy would send him back to prison, where he felt safe. He had been in mental institutions at least twice and in and out of prisons for burglary, robbery, assault and arson. He was on parole at the time of the slaying. Colburn is not the first prisoner diagnosed with a mental illness to be put to death. At least four Texas inmates last year were executed after raising the same claim.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 27, 2003 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. Brown 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 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. In the afternoon of February 20, 1988, Eldon was discovered dead by his daughter Lee Ann McGuire and his mother Lillie McGuire. The two had gone to check on him when he could not be reached by telephone. The prior evening, he had telephoned his wife Laverne McGuire, who was in the hospital, to tell her that he would visit her the next morning, but he had failed to do so. At the time he was found, there was unwrapped meat and cheese on the kitchen table, suggesting he was preparing to eat before he was murdered. Brown and Lee Ann had had a stormy six-month marriage and eight-year relationship. Eldon McGuire had never approved of Brown. And Brown did not like and was afraid of Mr. McGuire. The two had once had a physical confrontation. Lee Ann testified that Brown had thrown her puppy against a wall and then shot and killed it after he learned it had gone to the bathroom on the floor. Sometime after the marriage had ended, Brown went to the beauty shop where Lee Ann worked, taking a rifle with him. He argued with her, told the people in the shop not to touch the telephone or he would blow them away, and shot at a vacant chair. Most people in the shop retreated to the back room. Brown was arrested and charged with sixteen criminal counts, including twelve counts of kidnapping. He thought the charges were manufactured by McGuire, who was a retired fire department captain and who Brown believed had influence with law enforcement. When the charges were not dismissed and Brown believed he could receive a sentence greater than 150 years, he fled from the area. A little over a year later, he returned. He called Lee Ann. When she refused to have the charges dismissed, he became angry. She testified that he told her if they did not do something about the charges, they would all be sorry. Also, he accurately described to her specific actions of both her and her parents on a particular night, indicating he had been watching them. He left an obscene message in the woodpile at her house. Approximately one month prior to the murder, Brown called the McGuire house. Laverne testified she picked up the telephone and heard Brown tell Eldon "you all’s time" is up and they would pay for what they had done to him. At approximately the same time, Brown told a friend he blamed Eldon McGuire for his problems. When the friend asked what he could do to help, Brown told him to beat up Eldon McGuire. Another ex-wife of Brown testified that Brown said he would like to beat up Eldon. A friend who had met Brown after he fled to avoid the charges testified Brown said he would like to get drunk and get even with McGuire because he had cost him everything and he did not care if the whole bunch was dead. The friend also testified Brown told him after the murder that he had gotten even with Eldon and had left him on the floor. At trial, Brown testified he went to the McGuire house to convince his ex-father-in-law to drop the charges. According to Brown‘s claim, Eldon invited him in; hit him from behind, knocking him down; kicked toward him striking a bedroom door and told him he would kill him. Brown said that as he ran to leave the house, Eldon McGuire fired a shot. Brown claims he then pulled a semiautomatic gun from his back pocket and fired eighteen shots in self-defense. Eldon sustained eight wounds including two bullet wounds to his head. One came from a gun fired at close range, and the other was a hard contact wound. He also suffered other gunshot wounds, including a wound to his left hand, rendering him incapable of using it. At the clemency hearing, Brown’s defense team maintained that the 1988 shooting was self-defense, saying that the close-range wound could have been the result of McGuire falling into the line of fire after getting hit. They say the prosecution did not turn over an OSBI report, which dealt with where shell casings were found. The report, they say, would have bolstered Brown’s statements about the shooting. Prosecutors say that the close-range wounds bolster their case that Brown went to the McGuire home, laid in wait for Eldon McGuire and shot him execution-style. "That defeats any claim of self defense," Assistant Attorney General Sandy Howard said. Howard said prosecutors withheld nothing from Brown’s defense and offered to provide the district attorney’s entire case file to assure that nothing was missed. "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 refused to be present at the sentencing portion of his trial, even though both the trial judge and his attorneys stressed the possible disadvantages of not being present. He persisted in waiving his right to be present and threatened to disrupt the trial if he was required to stay. Brown had a previous execution date scheduled in June 2002 which was stayed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. At that time, one of the jurors who helped put Brown on death row commented on a clemency recommendation from the state Pardon and Parole Board. Lorne Willeford of Chickasha asked then-Gov. Frank Keating to reject the recommendation and let the June 25 execution occur. The board recommended clemency by a vote of 3-2. Willeford was among 12 jurors who found Brown guilty of the 1988 slaying of retired Chickasha Fire Department Capt. Eldon McGuire. Willeford also voted to sentence Brown to death. Willeford said that for months after the verdict, he agonized over the case, reviewing in his mind the evidence, facial expressions of the participants, testimony and what the families involved were going through. "I finally came to the conclusion I made the absolutely right decision," he said. Grady County District Attorney Gene Christian expressed outrage at the board’s decision. "It is beyond my comprehension how anyone would wish to grant clemency on the facts presented in this case," he said. "I told the board that I would fight their decision and I will." It was the third time in less than two years that the board has voted for clemency. Willeford doesn’t buy Brown’s story that he went to McGuire’s home, armed with a weapon, for the purpose of talking to McGuire. In rejecting clemency, Keating said in a letter to the parole board, "I appreciate the thoughtful consideration you have given this difficult decision and I respect your recommendation. However, I believe this is the appropriate decision in this case." UPDATE: Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked a federal appellate court to set aside a stay of execution issued to an Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to die next week. The stay granted to David Jay Brown marks the 3rd time his execution for the 1988 murder of his former father-in-law has been scheduled and postponed. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection on March 27. The stay was granted on Friday by U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley, who ruled that a dispute over Brown’s legal representation by 2 federal public defenders in state court had raised constitutional issues. Edmondson’s office asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to set aside the stay, spokesman Charlie Price said. Brown, 48, was convicted of the Feb. 19, 1988, murder of Eldon Lee McGuire, who was shot repeatedly at his home in Norge in Grady County. Brown 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. Brown has said he acted in self-defense in shooting McGuire. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 to grant clemency to Brown, a recommendation that was rejected by former Gov. Frank Keating. Brown’s latest execution date was set in January by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The court also canceled an evidentiary hearing it had ordered in Grady County to explore allegations that prosecutors at Brown’s trial withheld information that supported his defense. The attorney general’s office has said prosecutors withheld nothing from Brown’s defense and offered to turn over their entire case file to assure that nothing was missed. The state appellate court had ordered Brown’s attorneys, federal public defenders Susan Otto and Kristi Christopher, to represent Brown at the hearing and criticized them for trying to withdraw from the case. The defense attorneys said in court papers they were prohibited by federal law from representing Brown in state court. Alley’s ruling says there is circumstantial evidence that the state appellate court ordered Brown put to death "out of disappointment or frustration" that its orders concerning his federal public defenders were not implemented. The judge said it appears that cancellation of Brown’s hearing "was not based on any principle of law or evidence in the case. "A substantial question is presented whether he was denied some minimal measure of due process," Alley’s order states. Alley stayed Brown’s first execution date in February 2002. Brown’s second execution date was set for June 25 and was stayed by the state appellate court.

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