November 2003 Executions

Four killers were executed in November 2003. They had murdered at least 5 people.
killer was given a stay in November 2003. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 3, 2003 Georgia Brenda Watson James Brown executed
At approximately 8:30 p.m. of May 12, 1975, James Brown and Brenda Watson arrived at the Mark Inn lounge in Gwinnett County. They ate a carryout steak and potato dinner that they had brought with them and spent several hours drinking and dancing. They left together at approximately 11:00 p.m. Brenda Watson’s body was found the next day near a trash pile close to an old logging road in a heavily wooded area some 500 feet off Deshon Road in Gwinnett County. A cord was tied around her left ankle, and she had indentations on her wrists and her right ankle which could indicate she had been tied there also. She was nude except for a blue terrycloth blouse which was pulled up over her breasts. A pair of panties had been forced so far down her throat that they were not discovered until the autopsy. Warren Tillman of the State Crime Lab testified that Brenda Watson’s death was caused by suffocation from the panties in her throat. He discovered seminal fluid and sperm in Brenda’s throat and vagina. From abrasions and contusions around the victim’s vagina, Tillman concluded that she had been raped and that this had occurred before her death. An undigested meal of steak and potatoes was found in the her stomach. Since a meal is usually digested within 4 hours, Tillman estimated that Brenda died no later than 4:00 a.m. James Brown was arrested May 15. Nylon cord found in his car was identical to that tied around Brenda’s left ankle. A hairbrush found in Brown’s car contained hair similar in color and medulation to the victim’s hair. Brown was questioned May 16. He initially denied knowing Brenda Watson. Upon being informed that he had been seen with her the night before her body had been discovered, he admitted that he and Brenda had gone to the Mark Inn for drinks, but claimed that afterwards they went to a lounge off Covington Highway, where he left her. Later he stated that when they left the Mark Inn, Brenda suggested they go to a quiet place in the country. Brown took her to a secluded spot off Deshon Road. When he did, she told him that if he didn’t pay her $200 she was going to call the police and claim he had tried to rape her. Brown’s response was to tie her up and gag her. Then he decided he might as well have sexual intercourse with her. So he did. On his way home he discovered that her pocketbook was still in his car. He stopped at a bridge on Killian Hill Road and threw the pocketbook into the Yellow River. Brenda was the third woman Brown had attacked, but the other two were fortunate enough to have escaped with their lives.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 7, 2003 North Carolina John Simmons Joseph Keel executed
On July 7, 1990, John Simmons was murdered by his son-in-law, Joseph Keel. Keel arranged to pick up John on the pretense of going to "check out" the offices at a hog farm where he worked. He said he fired a shot at Simmons while the victim was in his truck on the hog farm. After Simmons got out of the truck holding a knife, Keel shot him again. He then helped the wounded Simmons back inside his truck and later fired another shot into the truck, hitting Simmons in the head. The exact reason for the murder is not clear. Before killing Simmons, Keel told lawmen that he and Simmons had had a fistfight. Keel claimed that he set him up to kill because he was a "wife-beater". Keel received the death penalty because of a previous conviction in the beating death of his young son. In 1987, Keel was convicted by a jury of involuntary manslaughter after his son’s death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 10, 2003 Utah Maurine Hunsaker Ralph Menzies stayed
A death warrant has been signed for inmate Ralph LeRoy Menzies, but a number of motions in the 1986 murder case still are pending and an appeal to the federal court is thought likely. The warrant signed Thursday by 3rd District Judge Leslie Lewis sets a Nov. 10 date for the firing-squad execution of Menzies, 45, for the slaying of Maurine Hunsaker. Matt Hunsaker, 28, one of Maurine‘s children, told Lewis it has been difficult to explain his mother’s fate to his own children. ”How do you explain to a toddler why she is dead, or how she died? ‘This man right here tied my mom to a tree, and strangled her and slashed her throat and left her to die like an animal,” he said. ”The court needs to say, ‘Enough is enough’ and sign the warrant that puts the bullet in this man.” Maurine Hunsaker was kidnapped Feb. 23, 1986, from the Kearns gas station where she worked. She called her husband that night, saying she had been kidnapped and robbed but expected to be set free. Her body was found Feb. 25 near the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon. At the time, Matt Hunsaker was 10, and his younger brother and sister were both under the age of 2. ”Neither one of them ever knew who their mother was,” he told Lewis. Elizabeth Hunt, an attorney acting on Menzies’ behalf, urged Lewis not to sign the warrant because of motions pending before 3rd District Judge Pat Brian. Hunt is asking Brian to set aside a January 2002 ruling rejecting Menzies’ challenge to his conviction. The ruling came after Menzies’ former defense attorney, Ed Brass, failed to respond to prosecutors’ motion seeking the rejection. Brass filed a notice of appeal after the ruling was issued, but never filed the appeal itself, Thomas Brunker, assistant attorney general, said. Brass has since withdrawn from the case. Those arguments are to be heard Sept. 22 and a ruling deadline is set for Dec. 1. Utah legal rules provide for a stay to remain in place when other issues are pending, Hunt argued. Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker countered that Brian had set the Dec. 1 deadline when no death warrant was in place and that the now-signed warrant could expedite that ruling. Brunker also noted that Menzies still has the option to file an appeal in federal court. Matt Hunsaker told Menzies that he will be in the courtroom ”every time you drag us back here. And one day, I will be walking out of the prison, and you will be taken out in a body bag,” Hunsaker said. ”And that will be the end.” UPDATE: The planned Nov. 10 execution by firing squad of Ralph Menzies has been canceled after a federal judge signed a stay of his execution Tuesday. The stay order by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sets the stage for a federal appeal that could keep the convicted kidnapper and killer on death row for years to come. While not unexpected — the state did not object and Menzies still has a legal right to challenge his conviction at the federal level — the decision also keeps justice at bay for the family of his victim, Maurine Hunsaker. "I came to ask you to reaffirm to all counsel to get this (case) as a top priority," Hunsaker’s eldest son, Matt Hunsaker, told Stewart. "It’s taken us 18 years, plus, to get this far…. I ask that we not drag our feet in this." Matt Hunsaker, 28, has been vigilant in reminding judges, attorneys and Menzies himself about the need the family has to see the case resolved. In 3rd District Court last month, Matt Hunsaker implored Judge Leslie Lewis to sign Menzies’ death warrant, saying his mother never got to appeal her murder. Maurine Hunsaker’s children were 10, 15 months and 6 months old on the February 1986 night when she was taken from a Kearns gas station and held captive. She called her husband, Michael Hunsaker, at about 11 p.m. that night and told him she had been abducted and robbed but was expecting to be released. Two days later, Maurine Hunsaker, then 26, was found tied to a tree in the Storm Mountain picnic area of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Her throat had been slit. Police linked Menzies to Maurine Hunsaker’s death after they found her identification cards in a room at the Salt Lake County Jail where Menzies had been held after being arrested for an alleged theft. Menzies was convicted of the kidnapping and killing in 1988, although he has always maintained his innocence. He requested a new trial after it was learned that court transcripts were riddled with errors but was denied by both the state court and the Utah Supreme Court. Just how fast his appeal will travel through the federal system will depend in part on District Judge Pat Brian. Brian is set to rule Nov. 6 on whether or not Menzies still has an avenue for appeal in state court. A January 2000 court decision said he did not. Menzies’ attorney at the time, Ed Brass, said he intended to challenge that decision. Brass never filed the appeal and therefore Menzies should still have the right to pursue it, his current attorney, Elizabeth Hunt, argued last month. No defendant should be denied justice for mistakes made by counsel, she said. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker argued against Hunt, saying that the window for such an appeal has closed. Should Brian rule in Menzies’ favor next month, it would effectively take the case back to 1995, when the state appeals process first began, he said. Hunt, who was appointed by Stewart to represent Menzies in federal court, said she will not file any federal motions on Menzies’ behalf until after Brian’s ruling.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 14, 2003 North Carolina Isabelle Daniels Crawford John Daniels executed
John D. Daniels was sentenced to death for murder in the first degree of his aunt, Isabelle Daniels Crawford; he was also found guilty of robbery of Ms. Crawford; assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury against his wife, Diane Daniels; assault with a deadly weapon against his neighbor; and attempting to burn a dwelling house. He was also indicted for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury against his son, Jonathon Maurice Daniels, but the jury only found Daniels guilty of assault with a deadly weapon against his son. His conviction of first-degree murder was based on theories of both felony murder and premeditation and deliberation. The jury then heard evidence relating to sentencing for first-degree murder, after which the jury found the existence of three aggravating circumstances and eleven mitigating circumstances and recommended that Daniels be put to death. The trial court sentenced Daniels to death for first-degree murder, to a consecutive term of twenty years’ imprisonment on the combined assault convictions, and to a consecutive term of ten years’ imprisonment for attempting to burn a dwelling house. Evidence at trial showed the following: By 3:00 p.m. on January 17, 1990, John Dennis Daniels had consumed two beers. Later, he consumed a fifth of wine and became "somewhat drunk." In the late afternoon or early evening, Daniels went to the home of his seventy-seven-year-old aunt, Isabelle Daniels Crawford, to ask for money and to ask if his aunt would permit Daniels‘s wife, Diane, and his twelve-year-old son, Maurice, to stay with her. Daniels was behind on his rent, and he was having marital problems. Upon arrival at Isabelle’s house, Daniels asked her for money and asked her to take in his wife and son. Isabelle did not give Daniels any money and told Daniels that she intended to phone his mother. Daniels told Isabelle not to call his mother and then punched her in the mouth, knocking her to the floor. Daniels, using an electrical cord he wrapped around his aunt’s neck three times, strangled her and dragged her body to the back of the house. He located Isabelle’s purse, removed $70 to $80 and left. In his pretrial statement, Daniels stated, "I don’t know why I killed her. Bills set me off. My lady has got bills. I tried to kill my lady." After purchasing some cocaine, Daniels walked around Charlotte and then returned to his home around 10:30 p.m. At home, he spoke briefly with his wife, Diane, and smoked some cocaine in their bathroom. After smoking the cocaine, Daniels left the bathroom, holding a hammer. He approached his wife, who was lying on the bed in their bedroom, and began striking her in the head with the hammer. A struggle ensued during which Daniels lost the hammer. Responding to his mother’s cries for help, their son, Maurice, joined the altercation. The fight moved into the hallway, where Daniels hit his wife on the head with a kerosene heater. Daniels then chased his wife and son into the kitchen and den as his wife attempted to get out of the house. Once in the den, Daniels got a rock out of the aquarium and struck Maurice with it; Daniels then found the hammer and hit Maurice in the head with it. Daniels wife and son were finally able to run out the front door. Daniels pursued his wife outside and again hit her in the head with the hammer; he then returned to his house. The Daniels’ neighbor Glenn was aroused by the commotion and went outside. He discovered the son, Maurice, in his yard and took him into his house. Glenn then phoned the police and went to the Daniels house to investigate. Upon entering the house, Glenn noticed flames near Daniels. Daniels, holding a knife, threatened to kill Glenn if he did not leave. Glenn immediately returned to his home and again phoned the police. At about 12:30 a.m., Charlotte Police Officer Thomas Griffith arrived on the scene, joining two other officers and a fire truck that had already arrived. Griffith observed the house on fire. After extinguishing the fire, the firemen brought Daniels from the house and gave him oxygen. After Daniels refused further medical treatment, Officer Griffith told Daniels that he was going to jail for assault. In the car, Daniels repeatedly urged Griffith to go to "Mint Street." When Griffith asked Daniels why he was making this request, Daniels responded: "I think I might have killed my aunt." Griffith then changed course slightly, followed Daniels directions, and at 12:55 a.m. arrived at the house identified by Daniels. After knocking on the back door and receiving no response, Officer Griffith entered the home. Inside, Griffith found a trail of blood beginning in a hallway. Following the trail to a bedroom, Griffith found Isabelle Crawford’s lifeless body lying face down on the floor, with a cord wrapped around her neck. A wastebasket was overturned, and the carpet disturbed; the remaining contents of the house were intact. Griffith then took Daniels to the Law Enforcement Center, arriving at 1:15 a.m. After smoking a cigarette and using the bathroom, Daniels was placed in a room and given a pen and paper, which he had requested. A few minutes later, Daniels returned the paper, requesting that it be sent to the Governor. On it he had written: Dear sir I’m not crazy What I did was premediated! Time 1:42 1/18/90 John D. Daniels I do not want a trial I do not want my family around I do not want news report Shortly after receiving this letter, Griffith heard a noise in the room. He entered the room to find Daniels on the floor with the drawstring from his pants around his neck. Another string was attached to a filing cabinet that was four feet, three inches high. Daniels was not injured. Daniels gave a confession that detailed the events of the night before. The Mecklenburg County medical examiner testified that his examination revealed that Isabelle Crawford had bled from the nose and mouth, her left eye was bruised, her lip was cut and bruised, and her nose was broken. There were also two contusions to her frontal scalp. There were abrasions on the sides and back of her neck and indications that the victim had been dragged. Isabelle also had bruises on her right arm and hand which were consistent with defensive-type wounds. UPDATE: A man who strangled his elderly aunt in 1990 was executed early Friday by injection. John Dennis Daniels, 46, was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh, corrections officials said. A jury sentenced Daniels to death for fatally choking 77-year-old Isabella Daniels Crawford with an ironing cord. He was also convicted of assaulting his wife and son with a hammer, assaulting his neighbor with a knife and attempting to burn his house after Crawford was killed. The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Daniels’ appeal, and Gov. Mike Easley refused to commute Daniels’ sentence to life in prison. A Superior Court judge declined earlier this week to block the execution. Daniels had been having marital problems and was behind on his rent when he went to his aunt’s house in Charlotte on Jan. 17, 1990, to ask for money. He also asked if his wife and son could live with her. Crawford refused and said she was going to call his mother. Daniels hit her in the face and choked her with the cord, took $70 to $80 and returned home.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 20, 2003 Texas Hazel Rumohr, 83
Carol Lea Arnold, 57
Robert Henry executed
A San Patricio County jury found Robert Lloyd Henry guilty of murdering Hazel Rumohr, 83, and her daughter, Carol Lea Arnold, 57. During the 1993 Labor Day weekend, Henry murdered 83-year-old Hazel Rumohr and her daughter, 57-year-old Carol Arnold, in their home in Portland, Texas. Henry and Carol’s son had been good friends during their teenage years and Henry had regularly visited Carol’s home. Henry maintained contact with the victims through Christmas cards. Between midnight and 9:00 a.m. on September 5, 1993, Henry entered the victims’ home leaving no signs of forced entry. While there, he viciously beat and stabbed both Hazel and Carol to death. Hazel, 83 years old and physically frail due to age and health problems, suffered multiple stab wounds. In addition to the defense wounds on her hands and arms, she suffered stab wounds in the neck, back, and chest. The cause of her death was a slashing stab wound to the chest which began near her shoulder, continued through her chest cavity, and punctured her heart. Henry stabbed and beat Carol severely about the head and neck. The medical examiner described her face as "entirely bruised" and it was unrecognizable to her neighbor of two and one-half years who identified Carol by her jewelry and clothing. A rope or cord was attached to Arnold’s leg, indicating that Henry intended some sort of bondage. Carol’s cause of death was blunt trauma to the head and brain. Two months after the murders, Henry walked into the Corpus Christi Police Department to turn himself in to an officer he knew and trusted, E.R. Frobish. Henry told Frobish, "I killed two people in Portland, and I want to turn myself in to you." Henry went on to make other confessions to the double murder, admitting he used a knife and had worn work boots with knobby soles. The soles of Henry’s work boots matched bloody foot prints at the crime scene. Henry’s oral confessions were substantiated by DNA evidence: Hazel’s blood was found in Henry’s car, and Henry’s blood was found on the victims’ washing machine. The chances of the latter match were 1 in 10,000. San Patricio County District Attorney Patrick Flanigan, who prosecuted the case, flatly denied any elicit scheme to convict Henry. "Some death row inmates are concerned with their own peace, getting right with their maker and making comments of remorse," Flanigan said. "Others (like Henry) take the position that they were wrongly convicted." Grant Jones, one of Henry’s defense lawyers, also denied any conspiracy. He said he and his co-counsel provided the best defense possible. Jones said the most damning testimony was from a former co-worker who said Henry and he had watched a sadistic and masochistic video the day before Henry went to police about the case. Paul Johnson also testified Henry told him, in tears, that he had "made his own bed and would have to lie in it," according to an October 1994 Caller-Times article. Some days, Kristy Petersen wakes up and thinks about her 2 slain family members, wanting to see the man convicted of their murders die in the Texas death chamber. Other days, she wants the state to spare the condemned man’s life. Petersen, 27, whose grandmother and great-grandmother were murdered in 1993 in Portland, has tried to prepare herself to view the execution of Robert L. Henry. She said she is convinced of Henry’s guilt, even though he has maintained his innocence. "I go in and out on if I want to see him executed," said Petersen, who was 17 when the murders occurred. "Today I want him to be executed because I am sick of it messing with my life. I have kids, and they don’t understand why mommy is upset. And I can’t tell them why mommy is upset." On days when Petersen opposes the execution, she said, the voice in her head tells her, "Whether it was him murdering my grandmother, or the state murdering him, murder is murder." But for Petersen and her mother, Linda Arnold Callais – Arnold’s daughter – the end of Henry might not be the end of their emotional pain. There still is one unanswered question they hope will not die on the gurney with Henry. "We’ve always had the question, ‘Why?’" Callais said. "And if he is still proclaiming his innocence, there will still be no answer to the question." Callais said from her home in Louisiana that she does not expect anything from Henry before she and her daughter attend the scheduled execution. Henry, himself, said last week that he had not put together any words for the family. "I don’t know what I could say that’ll help them," he said. UPDATE: In Huntsville, the convicted killer of an elderly woman and her daughter at their Corpus Christi-area home was executed Thursday night. Robert Henry, 41, replied, "No sir," when asked by the warden if he had a final statement. In the seconds before the drugs began taking effect, he smiled and nodded toward some friends and relatives watching nearby through a window, then mouthed, "bye-bye. I love you. Here I go." Then he blew them a kiss and immediately snorted and gasped as the drugs took effect. 8 minutes later, at 6:19 p.m. he was pronounced dead. He never looked at relatives of his 2 victims, who were watching through another window. The U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to review his case and no 11th-hour appeals were filed to try to stop the lethal injection. In an interview last week, Henry said "I kind of got suckered through the whole system. I’m getting a bum rap. You can’t avoid it… I’m stuck." Linda Callais, whose mother and grandmother were killed said, "Asking him why would be redundant at this point. I’m not accepting any answers out of him…. He couldn’t say anything to change my mind or make me feel any better."

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