May 2003 Executions

Six killers were executed in May 2003. They had murdered at least 21 people.
killers were given a stay in May 2003. They have murdered at least 15 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 2, 2003 Indiana Gene Rurbrake
Ted Bosler
Antoni Bartkowiak
Kevin Hough executed
A Fort Wayne man is scheduled to be put to death later this year for killing three people nearly 20 years ago. The Indiana Supreme Court has set May 2 as the date Kevin Hough, 43, will die by lethal injection. Officials say Hough exhausted all of his appeals in Indiana’s courts, but has two federal appeals remaining. Hough was convicted in 1985 for killing Gene Rurbrake and Ted Bosler in the basement of their Fort Wayne home. He was also convicted of killing a Polish immigrant. On November 6, 1985, Hough and his younger brother, Duane Lapp, set out for the home of Ted Bosler and Gene Rubrake. Once there, Hough approached Gene and helped him unload groceries from his car; Lapp accompanied Hough. Hough then followed Gene into the basement where Ted joined them. Once in the basement, Hough pulled a.45 caliber pistol from his shoulder holster and told Ted and Gene to lie down on the floor. Gene swung at Hough with the television remote control. Hough responded by shooting Gene in the chest. Ted, however, dropped to the floor; Hough then shot Ted while he was lying on the floor. When Gene appeared to move, Hough shot him in the face. Hough and Lapp then started up the stairs, but Hough returned to the basement to retrieve a beer can and a remote control that, he believed, might contain his fingerprints. While in the basement, Hough also removed several rings from the bodies of his victims. As Hough left the basement, he stepped on Gene’s face. After the murders, Hough took Lapp back to his (Hough’s) home. There, Hough packed and left for Indianapolis with his fiancee, Noreen Akers. Less than a month before the Bosler/Rubrake murders, Hough had committed another murder. On October 27, 1985, Hough had told his friend, Juan Fernandez, that "[t]onight’s the night to hit Greg’s house." Then Hough, Fernandez, and another man, Donald Maley, went to the home of a man named Greg for the purpose of evaluating the prospects of robbing the house. Hough directed Fernandez to park approximately three to four blocks away on another street; Hough and Maley left the car and went to the house. When Antoni Bartkowiak answered the door, Hough stuck a.45 caliber handgun into his stomach and backed him into the residence. Hough made Antoni lie down on the floor, and Hough and Maley handcuffed Bartkowiak’s hands behind his back. Hough discovered a semi-automatic weapon and shells in the house, which he handed to Maley. Hough then told Maley to hold it against Antoni and use it if necessary. Hough then searched the house. After ransacking the house, Hough questioned Antoni regarding cocaine that he believed to be in the residence. When Antoni denied knowledge of the cocaine, Hough used a device to inflict electric shocks on Antoni. Hough and Maley then took Antoni to the basement. En route downstairs, Hough instructed Maley to return to the main floor to get a cushion from the couch. Once in the basement, Hough forced Antoni to lean over a rollaway bed. Hough then took the cushion, placed it over the back of Antoni’s head and shot Antoni. After the murder, Hough and Maley returned to the car and left for home. Hough took two bags of stolen items to the basement of the house and emptied the contents. Hough then gave Maley $80 and stated that it came from Antoni’s wallet. He also told Maley that he could have the shotgun, but Maley declined. After complaining to Hough that he had not gotten his share, Maley left. After that, Hough told Fernandez that he had found an additional $400, but that he did not wish to divide it with Maley because Maley had not done his part. A few days later, Hough gave Fernandez the.25 caliber semi-automatic weapon and told him to dispose of it; Fernandez did so. Hough was tried and convicted for the murder of Antoni Bartkowiak in November 1986.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 6, 2003 Texas Dora Leveille Watkins, 66 Roger Vaughn executed
Roger Vaughn was sentenced to death in the 1991 strangling of Dora Watkins of Vernon during a robbery. At the time of the attack, Vaughn was an escapee from the Lubbock County Jail. He had been charged with forgery and robbery. Dora was at home when Vaughn broke into her residence. Dora was raped and then strangled with a piece of cloth. Jewelry and bank checks were stolen and Vaughn’s fingerprints were later found on Dora’s wallet. At the time of the murder, Vaughn was an escapee from the Lubbock County jail. He had escaped after being charged with forgery and robbery in a separate incident. On the same day of Dora’s murder, Vaughn had also burglarized the home of his own aunt, who lived just a few blocks away from Dora. Vaughn had previously been convicted of burglary of a habitation for which he served 2 1/2 years of a 10 year sentence before being paroled.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 6, 2003 Georgia Jerry Alday
Ned Alday
Jimmy Alday
Mary Alday
Chester Alday
Aubrey Alday
Carl Isaacs executed
Convicted murderer Carl Isaacs has been scheduled to die by lethal injection, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, the Georgia attorney general said. The state Department of Corrections set Isaacs’ execution for May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison in Jackson. The Supreme Court denied his appeal Monday, ending his last chance to escape the death penalty. Isaacs, convicted as the ringleader of the 1973 Alday family murders in Seminole County, has been on death row for 30 years. Isaacs, 49, and two other men, George Dungee and Wayne Coleman, were convicted and sentenced to die in 1974. But a federal appeals court granted them a new trial on grounds that pretrial publicity and community outrage prevented them from getting a fair trial. Isaacs was convicted again and sentenced to die after a 1988 trial in Houston County Superior Court, but Dungee and Coleman had their sentences reduced to life in prison. Isaacs appealed again in 2001 to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming his rights were violated 32 times during the retrial. But that court upheld his death sentence last year. In May of 1973, Carl Isaacs escaped from a Maryland penal institution and, accompanied by his younger brother Billy Isaacs, his half-brother Wayne Coleman and a friend, George Dungee, drove to Florida. On the afternoon of May 14, 1973, they were in Seminole County, Georgia, and their car was almost out of gas. They thought they saw a gas pump behind the rural mobile home belonging to Jerry Alday and Mary Alday and stopped to investigate it. They discovered there was no pump; however, the trailer was empty, and they decided to burglarize it. Dungee remained in the car while Carl Isaacs and Wayne Coleman entered the trailer. While they were inside, Billy Isaacs warned them two men were approaching in a jeep. Jerry Alday and his father Ned Alday pulled in behind the trailer, unaware that it was being burglarized. Carl Isaacs met them and ordered them inside at gunpoint. After their pockets were emptied, Jerry Alday was taken into the south bedroom of the trailer while Ned was taken to the north bedroom. Carl Isaacs shot and killed Jerry Alday, and then both he and Coleman shot and killed Ned Alday. Soon afterward, Jerry’s brother Jimmy Alday drove up on a tractor, walked to the back door, and knocked on the door. Coleman answered the door, “stuck a pistol up in the guy’s face,” and ordered him inside. He was taken into the living room and forced to lie on the sofa. Carl Isaacs shot and killed him. After Carl Isaacs went outside to move the tractor, which was parked in front of their car, Jerry’s wife Mary Alday drove up. Carl Isaacs entered the trailer behind her and accosted her. Meanwhile, Chester and Aubrey Alday (Jerry’s brother and uncle) drove up in a pickup truck. Leaving Coleman and Dungee to watch Mary Alday, Carl and Billy Isaacs went outside to confront the two men, and forced them at gunpoint into the trailer. Once inside, Aubrey was taken to the south bedroom where Carl Isaacs shot and killed him, while Chester Alday was taken to the north bedroom and killed by Coleman. Coleman and Carl Isaacs raped Mary Alday on her kitchen table. Afterward, they drove to a heavily wooded area several miles away where Mary Alday was raped again. Dungee killed her. They abandoned their car in the woods and took Mary Alday’s car, which they later abandoned in Alabama. They stole another car there, and were arrested a few days later in West Virginia, in possession of guns later identified as the murder weapons, and property belonging to the victims. After his original trial, Carl Isaacs was interviewed by a film maker who was producing a documentary about the case. The defendant admitted shooting Jerry, Ned, Aubrey and Jimmy Alday, raping Mary Alday, and burglarizing the trailer. These admissions were introduced in evidence at the retrial. Prosecutors called the slayings the most gruesome murders in the state’s history. A community left hanging for almost three decades by the legal tap dance of a convicted killer trying to evade execution will soon close a tragic chapter of its history. Carl Isaacs, 49, has been on death row since 1974. The U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal and Isaacs, convicted as the ringleader of the massacre of the Alday family, is now scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 6. The Gateway Restaurant on U.S. Highway 84 serves as a gathering place for Donalsonville residents to swap the latest news. A table known as the "gossip table" lies in the restaurant’s front left corner. Local residents sitting there Wednesday said it was high time justice was served. "I knew every one of the Aldays and they were good people who tended their own business," Don Crawford said. "For the judicial system to carry it out as far as they did — something’s wrong." Roy Ray said, "Carl Isaacs got stabbed a couple of years ago in jail. They should have let him die then." "This is coming about 29 years too late," Bob Ray said. Isaacs, his stepbrother Wayne Coleman, and George Dungee were convicted in 1974 for the murder of the Aldays and sentenced to die. The three received retrials in another Georgia county in 1988. Isaacs was again sentenced to die, but Coleman and Dungee had their sentences reduced to life. Isaacs appealed his sentence in 2001, claiming his rights were violated 32 times during the retrial. Isaacs’ almost 30-year evasion of his date with death has long stuck in the craw of residents of this small farming community. "It ain’t nothing but a damn lawyer’s scheme," Ray said from his chair at the Gateway. Other Donalsonville residents also expressed their frustration with the lengthy appeals process Isaacs has gone through but said they were relieved justice would soon finally be served. "It’s been long in coming, it’s going to finally bring to close a wound that’s needed closing for a long, long time," said Ashley Register, who sat on a jury that convicted Dungee in 1974. Register said the 1988 retrial angered local residents, who he said gave Isaacs and his gang a fair trial. "There’s always been a feeling that the murderers should finally get what’s coming to them," Mayor David Fain said. "That’s probably not very Christian-like but it’s time to put this behind us." The Isaacs gang gunned down Ned Alday along with three sons and a brother inside a family mobile home. A daughter-in-law was raped and killed by the gang. Just about everyone in Donalsonville has some connection to the Aldays, and thus to the crime. "There’s 3,300 people in this town and 9,000 in the county," Kathy Fox, a distant Alday relative, said. "When you go downtown you pretty much know everybody." Fox, who works as a secretary at Commerce State Bank, said she was just 18 when the killings happened. She said the tragedy changed the small farming community forever, as people who never worried about locking their doors learned the meaning of fear. "I was in college in Dothan back then, driving back and forth every day, and my mother didn’t want me to go to school," she said. "We didn’t know where they (the Isaacs gang) were at. People didn’t want to let their children out of the house. J.C. Earnest, a brother-in-law of Ned Alday’s said, "We just didn’t think things like that could happen in Seminole County. Things like that happened in other states." Fain said he hopes the execution of Isaacs next month will put some of the fear that has lingered since the killings to rest. He said he’s tired of his community being known as the site of some of the most gruesome murders in state history. "It’s created a lot of anguish among people," he said. "People are ready to see an end to it." Fox said it was a shame many of the people closest to the Aldays are not alive to see their loved ones’ killer finally brought to justice. Many family members and friends of the slain family have died in the almost 30 years Isaacs has been on death row. "You would like to know that they were going to finally be at peace in their hearts and minds," she said. Over the years surviving, members of the Alday family have expressed bitterness over the length of time it has taken to get Isaacs into the Georgia death house. In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in 1998, Faye Alday Barber, the daughter of Ned Alday, said there was something wrong with a legal system. She wrote that her family had become the victims of "legal plunder" and a justice system that acted like a "predator. For 25 years my family has pursued justice," Barber wrote. "The only thing that stood between the Alday family and justice was the law, and it was the law, not Carl Isaacs that became our ultimate predator. Our courts and legislators are nothing but vandals at the gates of justice. It took them a quarter of a century, but they beat us; they won. Like Pontius Pilate, they simply washed their hands of innocent blood. We lost our family, our farms, and our heritage. We lost hope… but liberty was not lost; it was stolen." She said the family dog, Tub, saw the bodies removed from the crime scene and never got over it. "He went out into the field and laid down, refused to eat or sleep, wouldn’t let anyone touch him, and over a period of time his hair fell out, exposing rib bones that protruded through his skin," Barber wrote. "He was a pitiful sight. He became so thin that when it rained, he could have crawled under a honeysuckle vine to keep from getting wet. A veterinarian said (Tub) grieved himself to death. That dog had more compassion for my family than our courts." The slain members of the Alday family are buried in Spring Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Seminole County. They are remembered with gray marble headstones. Seminole County Sherriff Jerry Godby, who knew the Aldays before he became sheriff, said they were a hardworking family that had raised peanuts, l cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans and also had raised hogs. Godby said he has asked to witness the execution of Isaacs. If executed, Isaacs will die eight days from the 30th anniversary of the slayings. Asked what he thought of the nearly 30-year wait to get Isaacs into the death house, Godby said: "It’s about time." Last year, the Georgia legislature unanimously passed a bill requiring state officials to contact the families of victims of criminals on death row twice a year. The proposal was inspired by the family of Ken Alday, who was killed in Seminole County in 1973. His killer, Carl Isaacs, is on death row, but Alday’s family has complained they aren’t informed of developments in Isaacs’ case.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 14, 2003 Ohio John Henry Turner, 78 Jerome Campbell stayed
Jerome Campbell was convicted of murdering his former neighbor, 78-year-old Henry Turner, in his Cincinnati apartment two days before Christmas in 1988. A neighbor found Turner’s body, with a knife stuck through the wrist, sprawled on the stairs in the building. Turner had bled to death. Turner’s normally neat apartment was in disarray. Dresser drawers lay on the floor. Items lay jumbled on the bedroom and living room floors. The mattress was pulled from Turner’s bed frame, and his television lay face-down on the floor, the court records said. A normally locked liquor cabinet was open. A Hamilton County coroner’s report said Turner suffered two stab wounds to the chest and the wound through the right wrist. Turner also had a half-inch-deep cut on the chin and a defense wound on his left thumb. Police found a set of knives in an open drawer in Turner’s kitchen; the murder weapon was apparently taken from that drawer, the court records said. One of Campbell’s fingerprints was found on the light bulb outside the apartment and his palm print was found on the outside of the kitchen door at the back of the apartment. There was blood found on a pair of Campbell’s shoes, but DNA testing showed that it was Campbell’s own blood. Campbell admitted the burglary-murder to his girlfriend and two fellow inmates. Police arrested Campbell at his sister’s apartment seven days after the murder. After police took him away, his sister allowed them to search her apartment. Court records show that Campbell now disputes whether she did so voluntarily. In a closet, officers found a pair of gym shoes marked with brownish stains. A forensic serologist later testified the shoes were stained with human blood. On appeal, Campbell asked to get the expert testimony about the blood thrown out. The courts, including the Supreme Court, refused. Now, Campbell wants the state to reconsider his sentence based in part on the fact that DNA evidence from a test last year shows blood on the shoes to be his own. His attorney, Pamela Prude-Smithers of the Ohio Public Defenders Office, said Campbell is not only bringing up the DNA but also raising a question about whether two jailhouse snitches, Ronys Clardy and Angelo Roseman, received a deal from the state to testify against Campbell, making their testimony suspect. Campbell is noting that they were released from jail shortly after their testimony. The Supreme Court dealt with the issue of the Clardy and Roseman testimony, saying, "The state’s evidence, if believed, would allow a rational trier of fact to find guilt. Campbell’s fellow jail inmates, Clardy and Roseman, testified that Campbell admitted killing Turner. Campbell attacks their credibility, but we may not ‘substitute our evaluation of witness credibility for the jury’s.’" Because evidence was destroyed shortly after Campbell’s trial, he has been unable to seek a re-trial, Prude-Smithers said. "He cannot do anything to prove himself innocent," she said. Patrick Dinkelacker was the prosecutor who won the guilty verdict and death sentence against Campbell and is now a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge. He says Campbell’s case should be intensely scrutinized — but not because of Campbell’s protestations of innocence. "The injustice in this case was the sentence was set for May 18, 1989, and it has yet to be carried out," Dinkelacker said. Campbell’s claims of innocence come, Dinkelacker noted, despite the case going through five state and federal courts in 14 years without a change in the verdict or sentence. Dinkelacker believed the most compelling evidence against Campbell was his confession to his girlfriend and to the jailhouse snitches. Dinkelacker was stunned when Campbell’s girlfriend, Estella "Niecy" Roe, handed the assistant prosecutor Campbell’s letter in which Campbell asked her to lie to give Campbell an alibi. The letter described details of the alibi she was to give Campbell. She also told authorities that Campbell, in one of her visits to Campbell behind bars, told her "he did it," a comment Campbell later recanted, and that he also asked her to lie for him. Equally important, Dinkelacker said, was Campbell admitting he burglarized Henry Turner’s apartment but saying he didn’t kill him. The investigation also showed that a rum bottle found in Campbell’s sister’s apartment after the killing was sold in the same shipment of rum as bottles found in the dead man’s apartment.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 14, 2003 Missouri Brandie Kearnes
Wayne Hoewing
John Smith stayed
John Clayton Smith and Brandie Kearnes started dating in 1995. At that time, Brandie lived with her mother and her step-father, Wayne Hoewing, near Canton, Missouri. Around June 1, 1997, Brandie broke off the relationship with Smith. Brandie continued to live at the Hoewing residence with her daughter, mother and step-father. At 11:05 on the evening of July 4, 1997, Smith drove to the Hoewing residence and parked his truck some distance from the house. Smith entered the house through the basement door, took off his shoes, and went upstairs. Once inside, he went to Brandie’s bedroom, and attacked her with a knife. Brandie got away from Smith and ran toward the living room area. As she ran, Smith grabbed the back of her shirt and tried to stab her in the back. In the living room and kitchen area, Smith scuffled with Brandie, stabbing and cutting her eight times. Brandie did not die immediately, and as she lay dying, she wrote, "It was Joh_." on the kitchen floor in her own blood. At some point, Brandie also tried to call her father, and she left a message that said, "Dad, come to the house and get Tatum". Smith then went toward Wayne Hoewing’s bedroom and attacked Wayne, who had been awakened by the sounds of the struggle. Smith pushed Wayne onto the bed, got on top of him, and started stabbing him. Smith stabbed and cut Wayne eleven times, but Wayne did not die immediately. Brandie’s mom, who had also gotten out of bed when she heard the sounds of the struggle, tried to push Smith off of Wayne, but Smith cut her on the forearm, and she ran into the bathroom. Smith followed her to the bathroom door and while he was at the bathroom door, Wayne was able to pick up a gun that he kept in the house. As he tried to get into the bathroom, Smith saw Wayne with the gun, and he said, "Shoot me. Go ahead and shoot me". Wayne did not fire the gun, however, and eventually, Smith left the bedroom, went back downstairs, put on his shoes, and left the house through the basement door. After Smith left the Hoewing residence, Brandie’s mother was able to leave the bathroom and call for help. When medical first responders reached the scene, Brandie was already dead. She had been partially stripped of her clothing during the attack, and she was lying face up on the kitchen floor. Brandie had been stabbed or cut eight times in the neck, chest, abdomen, arm, and thigh. Two stab wounds in her right breast punctured her lung. The first responders treated Wayne briefly, but while still at the scene, he was pronounced dead. He had been cut and stabbed eleven times in the chest, arms, leg, hand, and hip; he died from loss of blood.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 15, 2003 Texas Conrad Harris, 16 Bruce Jacobs executed
Bruce Jacobs was convicted of stabbing to death 16-year-old Conrad Harris in July of 1986. Jacobs broke into the teenager’s home in Dallas during the early morning hours and stabbed Conrad repeatedly. Conrad’s parents heard his screams and ran into his room where they found Jacobs standing over the boy with a knife in his hand. Jacobs pointed the knife at the couple, then fled the house. Jacobs fingerprints were found on a butter knife in the home and police found a pair of blood-stained blue jeans at his residence following his arrest. The family reported that $100 was missing from the home. Mrs. Harris told police that Jacobs has tried to break into the home on the day before the murder. He ran off after she managed to close the door and lock it. Jacobs had previously served time for an assault conviction in the state of Oregon. UPDATE: Convicted killer Bruce Charles Jacobs was executed tonight for using a butcher knife to fatally hack a Dallas boy on the victim’s 16th birthday almost 17 years ago. At 6:17 p.m., 6 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing, he was pronounced dead. Jacobs, 56, was condemned for the slaying of Conrad Harris at the teenager’s home near Southern Methodist University July 22, 1986. A medical examiner testified Harris had been stabbed at least 24 times in an "overkill" and lost half of his blood supply in the attack. Part of the knife blade was broken in the frenzy and was imbedded in the boy’s body. "This is one of those cases, if there was ever a death penalty case, in my mind this is one," Day Haygood, one of the prosecutors at Jacobs’ trial, recalled this week. "The most horrific part was his father heard the boy screaming and found Jacobs cutting him." With Hugh Harris providing the eyewitness identification of Jacobs as his son’s killer, a Dallas County jury convicted Jacobs of capital murder and decided he should be put to death. "He’s a brutal murderer without a conscience," Harris told The Dallas Morning News in a story published Thursday. "I’ll be satisfied to see the circle closed." Jacobs, who worked mostly as a dishwasher and had a criminal history of violence with knives and razor blades, acknowledged he was in the Harris house at 6:30 that morning but said another intruder in the house at the same time was to blame for the killing. "I’m going to get executed for something I didn’t do," he said recently from death row. "Somebody jumped me from behind… I left and went home. I didn’t know there was a murder until 3 days later." The victim’s stepmother, Holly Kuper, told authorities a man matching Jacobs’ description tried to push his way into her house the morning before the murder but she managed to get the door locked and called police. "Our theory was Bruce came back the next night and meant to assault her but the father was home and he just turned his attention to killing the boy," Haygood said. Harris and his wife gave police information for a sketch of the suspect and a taxi driver told authorities the drawing looked like a customer he had the morning of the killing. Jacobs was remembered for his beard and a Panama hat that he wore. Jacobs, still wearing the hat but recently shaven, was arrested inside a convenience store. At his Dallas apartment, police found a $100 bill identified as missing from Kuper’s purse. Jacobs’ fingerprints were found on other knives at the Harris home. No late appeals to the courts were filed. Jacobs’ lawyer said his client was mentally ill but couldn’t prove he was mentally retarded, which would make him ineligible for execution under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. "He has this fantasy that somehow he had this relationship with the victim’s mother, which is simply not true," James Volberding said. "We have never been able to get at the bottom of how his mind works or fails to work. Although I’m convinced he’s mentally ill, there’s nothing I can do to prove that that’s sufficient to stop his execution." When he was 14, an intelligence test put Jacobs’ IQ at 77 while subsequent testing over the years put his IQ somewhat higher. Someone with an IQ less than 70 generally is considered retarded. "People tell me I’m slow," Jacobs, a 10th-grade dropout, said from death row. At his trial, jurors heard from witnesses who told of Jacobs at age 16 stabbing a 12-year-old girl with a steak knife during an assault. While in a juvenile lockup, he beat another person with an ax handle. In 1967, he was taken into custody after holding a razor blade to a girl’s neck during a robbery. In the early 1970s, he served time in Oregon for assault and was caught with a razor-tipped broom in his cell.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 15, 2003 Florida Gerald Wood
Peggy Wood
Jennifer Wood, 4
Glendon Wood, 3
unborn son
Newton Slawson executed
Gov. Jeb Bush set an execution date of May 15 for a death row inmate convicted of killing an entire family and cutting an unborn child from its dying mother’s body. The death warrant for Newton Carlton Slawson becomes effective at noon on May 12 and is effective for 1 week. Warden Joseph Thompson of Florida State Prison set the actual execution, by lethal injection, for 6 p.m. on May 15. Slawson was convicted in 1990 of 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in the 1989 deaths of Gerald and Peggy Wood; their 4-year-old daughter, Jennifer; 3-year-old son, Glendon. He also was convicted of manslaughter in the death of an unborn male child carried by Mrs. Wood, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant. Slawson knew the Woods as casual acquaintances. On April 11, 1989, Peggy Wood, her husband Gerald, and their two children, Jennifer (age four) and Glendon (age three) were murdered in their home. Also lost was the fetus Peggy Wood was carrying, which was eight and one-half months old. Peggy Wood lived with her family in a garage apartment that was adjacent to her parents’ home in Hillsborough County. At approximately 10 p.m. on April 11, Peggy Wood was found lying on the back porch of her parents’ home, having been shot once in the abdomen and once in the back, while also having been cut with a knife from the base of the sternum to the pelvic area. She also had several cuts on her right thigh. She managed to crawl next door to her mother’s home and told her mother "Newt did it" before dying. Peggy told her mother that Slawson had “killed Gerry and the kids.” Gerald Wood and the two children died as a result of gunshot wounds. Gerald had also been stabbed in the back. The Woods’ unborn baby was found lying near Gerald’s body, having sustained two gunshot wounds and multiple lacerations that resulted from Slawson’s attack on Peggy. Slawson claimed that he cut the unborn fetus out of Peggy’s body, in an attempt to save it, after determining that both Gerald and Peggy were dead, even though the child was found in the house and Peggy crawled away. The facts from the direct appeal also described the events preceding the murders: After his arrest [on the night of the killings], Slawson told detectives that he went to the Woods’ residence on the day of the murders. He took a six inch knife and a.357 revolver. At Gerald’s request, Slawson put the gun in the bathroom so the children would not get it. He gave the knife to Gerald Wood to use to cut rock cocaine. Gerald Wood offered to sell Slawson some of the cocaine but Slawson refused the offer. When Peggy said Slawson might be the police, Slawson went to the bathroom to get his gun so he could leave. When Slawson returned, Gerald Wood got up with the knife in his hand. According to his statement, Slawson shot Gerald and may have shot Peggy at that time. As Slawson proceeded to the children’s bedroom and shot them, Peggy Wood was screaming. After shooting the children he returned to the living room and shot Peggy again. Slawson then inserted his knife into Peggy Wood’s abdomen and cut upward, causing the fetus to be expelled. Slawson also testified at trial that he believed Gerald had placed drugs in his beer, which caused him to feel odd and to believe he was locked in the apartment. Slawson was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of killing an unborn child by injury to the mother. He received death sentences for each of the first-degree murders, along with a thirty-year sentence for manslaughter of the unborn child.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 21, 2003 Texas Helen Elizabeth Ayers Eric Moore stayed
A federal court has granted a stay of execution to a Collin County man who was scheduled to die next week for killing a Prosper woman more than a decade ago. On Wednesday, the Texas attorney general appealed the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division in Tyler, arguing that Eric Lynn Moore was intelligent enough to lead 3 others in the December 1990 robbery and murder of the 54-year-old woman. Mr. Moore and three friends killed Helen Elizabeth Ayers and shot her husband, Richard, paralyzing him from the waist down. Moore declined to be interviewed this week. After his wife’s death, Richard Ayers formed a support group for victims of violent crimes. He could not be located Thursday. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not execute the mentally retarded. Since then, states that allow executions of mentally retarded criminals have been scrambling because the ruling provided few guidelines. "My position is, if the man is retarded, we need to find that out and have his day in court," said Moore’s attorney, T. Scott Smith of Sherman, whose motion led to the court’s ruling. The state argues that Moore’s "IQ scores of 76 and 74, low average intelligence, and at-times mediocre academic performance" do not qualify him as mentally retarded, according to documents filed this week. On the night of the shootings, two of the men went to the Ayerses’ front door and said they were having car trouble. Richard Ayers searched for jumper cables and couldn’t find them. He then turned on the heater, and when he turned around, four men were in the house and one was pointing a gun at him, police said. During an interview with Collin County sheriff’s investigators after his arrest, Moore "coherently admitted to shooting Richard Ayers because he knew he ‘was going to be an accessory’ and to avoid identification. However, Moore repeatedly shifted the blame for Helen Ayers’s death on to his accomplice…," says the state’s motion to dismiss the stay. "Moore noted, however, that the victims were compliant with the perpetrators demands…. Mr. Ayers later testified that Moore was the leader of the four men. In keeping with his ringleader status, Moore disposed of the guns and stolen property several telephones, jewelry boxes and Mr. Ayers’ wallet." Moore had talked his friends out of breaking into a business because it had an alarm just before robbing the Ayerses, according to a transcript of his interview with Collin County sheriff’s investigators. Moore played spades and dominos after the slaying, court records show. Court records show that Moore had a 74 IQ at age 7 and was achieving at the third-grade level in the 5th grade. Testing later showed his IQ to be 76. Borderline mental retardation is defined as an IQ of 71 to 84. Mild retardation is defined as an IQ of 50 to 70. A psychologist who examined Moore said the defendant might have suffered brain damage from being hit on the head with a baseball bat at age 20 and in a car accident about 10 years earlier. Last year’s Supreme Court decision did not set up guidelines for deciding who is mentally retarded or for what happens if an inmate on death row is found to be mentally retarded, said David Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston. "74 is pretty much at the margins," Mr. Dow said. "Nobody knows what the options are. All it says is that the states can’t execute anyone who is retarded. It doesn’t say what the guidelines are… it just doesn’t address it." Bills are pending in the Legislature regarding execution of the mentally retarded. In 2001, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill to ban execution of the mentally retarded, saying the state had safeguards. State law considers whether a defendant can aid in his defense and whether that person was unable to discern right and wrong at the time of the crime.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 27, 2003 Pennsylvania Damon Banks
Gregory Banks
Roderick Johnson stayed
Roderick Johnson, 27, was convicted and sentenced to die in November 1997 for the drug-related revenge shooting of 2 cousins, Damon and Gregory Banks, in Berks County. The execution was stayed 3 times as Johnson pursued an appeal; the latest stay was lifted Feb. 21, when the state Supreme Court refused to reconsider the appeal. *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
May 27, 2003 Oklahoma Richard Denney, 62
Virginia Denney, 64
Frankie T. Merrifield
Roy E. Donahue
unnamed victim
Robert Knighton executed
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals today set May 27 as the execution date for Noble County death row inmate Robert Wesley Knighton. Attorney General Drew Edmondson requested the date March 24 after the United States Supreme Court denied Knighton’s final appeal. Knighton, 62, was convicted and sentenced to death for the Jan. 8, 1990, murders of Richard and Virginia Denney during a three-day crime spree in which Knighton also killed two people in Missouri. Before Knighton was sentenced to death for the Denney killings, he served 17 years in a Missouri prison for manslaughter, kidnapping and robbery. He was later transferred to a halfway house in Kansas City, Mo., where he hooked up with Lawrence Brittain, a teenager on probation for auto theft. They escaped, picked up Knighton’s girlfriend, Ruth Renee Williams, and embarked on a murderous crime spree. In Clinton, Mo., Knighton shot Frankie T. Merrifield and his stepson, Roy E. Donahue, after the group had been drinking together. Knighton, Brittain and Williams drove on in a stolen van until they ran out of gas in front of the Denneys’ house in Noble County, Okla. Norton said her father walked out to the gate to meet them and offered to give them directions. Knighton then went into the house and robbed Denney of $61 and a pocketknife before shooting the 62-year-old man and his 64-year-old wife. UPDATE: A family tree splintered by the death penalty was put on display Tuesday at the execution of a double-murderer from Missouri. "Me, I’m happy," said Maggie Lange of Enid, the oldest daughter of Virginia Denney, one of killer Robert Wesley Knighton’s victims. "He took my mother’s life while she was drinking a cup of coffee. Is that a way to die? I don’t think so." Asked if justice was served by Knighton’s execution, Lange didn’t hesitate. "You betcha. You betcha," she said. "He got 13 more years than they did." Knighton was put to death for the Jan. 8, 1990, slayings of Virginia Denney, 64, and her husband, Richard Denney, 62, at their Noble County farmhouse. Lethal drugs were injected in to Knighton at 6:25 p.m., and he was pronounced dead 7 minutes later. The adopted daughter of Richard Denney, Sue Norton, witnessed the execution in a separate viewing room from other relatives of the victims. "He just went to heaven," Norton said shortly after Knighton seemed to take his last breath. "And we all just became murderers." Knighton, 62, turned toward Norton before receiving the lethal injection, thanked his attorneys and told Norton he was "really sorry for everything I’ve done. I’ll see you again someday. God bless you." Norton gave him the thumbs-up sign. As the toxic drugs flowed into his bloodstream, Knighton’s chest rattled dozens of times before his face turned red and his body went limp. Norton forgave Knighton for the killings 12 years ago, and the pair became friends, to the chagrin of Norton’s kin, including Maudie Nichols, Richard Denney’s biological daughter. "It’s been rough not having my dad," Nichols said. "It’s been rough trying to learn to deal with all her forgiveness. I no longer have to wake up to the nightmares I’ve had. I’m hoping it gets easier with each day. I’ll see if I sleep tonight." At her motel Monday night, Nichols mistakenly received a call from Knighton that was intended for Norton. Nichols, who briefly spoke to the inmate, said she forgave him years ago but still doesn’t feel like he is truly sorry for his actions. "I wasn’t willing to take the chance of letting him stay in the population so he could do it again," Nichols said. "I would feel somewhat responsible if I had let him off the death row." An inmate who spent roughly 30 years in prison before the slayings, Knighton had been convicted of manslaughter, robbery and kidnapping in Missouri. He walked away from a Kansas City, Mo., halfway house and met up with Lawrence Brittain, a teenager who was on probation for auto theft. The pair, along with co-defendant Ruth Renee Williams, stole a van in Kansas City and drove to Clinton, Mo., where they shot Frankie T. Merrifield and his stepson. The 3 made their way to the Denney residence, where Richard Denney greeted them as they pulled into his driveway and asked for directions. After they forced Richard Denney into the house at gunpoint, Knighton shot him once in the chest as he pleaded for his life. Knighton also shot Virginia Denney in the chest. The Denneys were robbed of $61 and a battered pickup. After being spotted driving the Denneys’ truck, Knighton, Williams and Brittain were arrested in Canadian, Texas, later that day. Brittain was convicted of 2 counts of murder and received 2 life sentences. Williams was charged with 2 counts of accessory to murder after the fact and received two 15-year terms.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 28, 2003 Virginia Jessie Kendrick, 81
Elizabeth Kendrick, 82
Archie Moore, 33
Percy Walton stayed
A Danville Circuit Court judge has set a May 28 execution date for a Danville man who killed 3 neighbors in 1996. Percy Levar Walton, 24, pleaded guilty in 1997 to robbery and capital murder in the fatal shootings of Jessie Kendrick, 81, his wife, Elizabeth, 82, and another neighbor, Archie Moore, 33. The 3, who lived within a mile of each other and of Walton, were killed in November 1996. Walton has exhausted his appeals, and only the U.S. Supreme Court or Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) can intervene.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 29, 2003 Alabama Larry Thomas, Jr.
David Robinson
Rebecca Ledbetter Holladay
Glenn Holladay stayed
In August 1986, Rebecca Ledbetter Holladay was living in a mobile home in Gadsden, Alabama. On the night of the 24th, her son Shea Ledbetter, her sister Katrina Ledbetter, her boyfriend David Robinson, and her son’s friend Larry Thomas, Jr., were all at the mobile home. Thomas left to get something to eat at his own home. As he walked outside, he was shot and his body was later discovered outside of the trailer. Immediately after Thomas was shot, Glenn Holladay burst into the trailer, shoving aside Katrina Ledbetter as she yelled a warning to her sister, who was back in the bedroom. Holladay proceeded down the hallway, stopping at Shea’s bedroom and attempting to turn on the light. After Holladay left Shea’s bedroom, Shea and Katrina left the trailer and ran to Thomas’s parents’ home. Holladay found his ex-wife and her boyfriend in the back bedroom; he shot Robinson in the arm and chest and shot Rebecca in the back of the head. All three shooting victims died of their injuries. Glenn Holladay had told an acquaintance in Nashville that his ex-wife had a new boyfriend and that if she did not stop seeing him, he would kill her. After the shootings, Holladay called a neighbor of his father and told her that he had done a bad thing. He told her that he had not intended to kill Larry Thomas; he thought that Thomas was his ex-wife’s boyfriend. After being shot by the police on October 9, 1986, Holladay was apprehended in Gainesville, Florida. At trial Holladay testified that he was in Nashville at the time of the killings and denied killing any of the victims. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death on July 27, 1987. During his criminal career, he escaped from prison at least two times, including once while awaiting trial for the three murders. Glenn Holladay’s former mother-in-law, Barbara Ledbetter, said her daughter was terrorized during her marriage. In one incident, Holladay took her to a cemetery and tied her to a tree, leaving her there overnight. UPDATE: A federal appeals court halted the scheduled Thursday execution of Alabama death row inmate Glenn W. Holladay, giving the convicted killer another chance to prove he is mentally retarded. Holladay, sentenced to die for a 1986 triple murder in Gadsden, appealed his sentence based on a June 2002 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that said executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutionally cruel. A 3-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling released Monday, said IQ tests and statements during Holladay’s trial indicate that he might be retarded and that he should have a chance to prove so. The decision to block the execution gives Holladay permission to ask a U.S. district judge to consider whether he is retarded. "It’s a tremendously significant victory," Holladay’s attorney, Bryan A. Stevenson, said Tuesday. "If the court finds that Mr. Holladay is mentally retarded, as virtually every professional has in the past, then he cannot be executed, period." Prosecutors had argued that Holladay is not retarded and that he waited too long to revive the mental retardation issue. Clay Crenshaw, who works on death penalty cases for the attorney general’s office, repeated that stance Tuesday. "What happened (Monday) doesn’t change our procedural defense or our belief the evidence demonstrates that Holladay is not mentally retarded," Crenshaw said. Holladay was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday for the shooting deaths of ex-wife Rebecca Ledbetter Holladay, her boyfriend David Robinson, and Larry Thomas Jr., a 16-year-old friend of Mrs. Holladay’s son. Holladay also received a stay in 2001 while the Supreme Court considered the case that led to last year’s ruling against executing the mentally retarded. Stevenson said there is ample evidence to show Holladay is retarded. Holladay scored 65 on his last IQ test, but has had scores as low as 49 in testing dating back to 1958. A score below 70 is considered mentally retarded. "The most reliable evidence of mental retardation is what exists before age 18," Stevenson said. "He was tested three times as a youth, and each time showed he was someone with mental retardation." Prosecutors claim Holladay also has scored above 70 on the IQ test.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 29, 2003 Pennsylvania Alan Winfield
Felicia Hubert
Jacqueline Jones
Gilbert Jones stayed
Gilbert Jones received 3 death sentences in 1993 for the 1990 murders of Alan Winfield, Felicia Hubert and Jacqueline Jones, who was not related to him. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

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