October 2003 Executions

Two killers were executed in October 2003. They had murdered at least 3 people.
killers were given a stay in October 2003. They have murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 1, 2003 Georgia Edna Mary Griffin Earnest Morrison stayed
Earnest Morrison was set to die by lethal injection tomorrow night at the state prison in Jackson until the stay was signed by a Butts County Superior Court Judge. The 43-year-old Morrison is on death row for the rape and murder of Edna Mary Griffin. At the time of the murder, Morrison was a fugitive from Aiken where he was charged with rape and robbery. Morrison’s lawyer claims his client is mentally retarded and received ineffective counsel from the attorney during his murder trial.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 3, 2003 North Carolina Herman Smith Edward Hartman executed
Edward Hartman told authorities he consumed 16 cans of beer before he fired a pistol at close range into Smith’s head while the man sat in a recliner and watched television. Hartman was living at Smith’s home at the time. Court records show Hartman told a friend Smith was wealthy and carried thousands of dollars in his pocket. He took the man’s car and left the body in the chair. He returned five days later after taking several trips where he wrote checks on Smith’s bank account. Bothered by the smell, he dragged the body to a horse stable and buried it. Horses in the stable trampled the ground so thoroughly that it would have been impossible to tell where the body was buried. After he was identified as the suspect, Hartman led officers to the spot. UPDATE: Edward Hartman, who said he had guzzled 16 cans of beer before deciding to shoot the elderly man he was living with in the head, was executed by lethal injection Friday morning at the state prison. Hartman issued no final statement before his execution at Central Prison, staring at the ceiling after greeting one of his lawyers. Hartman, 38, had confessed to the 1993 murder of Herman Smith. Jr. Smith, 77, was Hartman’s mother’s former boyfriend. Hartman later told lawmen that after consuming the beer, he shot Smith in the head as the victim sat in a recliner watching television. The murder occurred in Northampton County. After killing Smith, court documents stated, Hartman left the victim’s body in the reclining chair and took his car. After about five days, Hartman took the body to a stable and buried it. Hartman was originally scheduled for execution in February, but his trip to the death house was delayed while the State Supreme Court decided whether murder indictments must include the "aggravating circumstances" that elevate first-degree murder to a capital offense. The court eventually ruled that prosecutors did not have to list those aggravating factors in the murder indictment. Hartman’s defense lawyers claimed that Hartman was targeted for death because he was gay. During Hartman’s trial, defense lawyers argued that Hartman had various psychological and alcohol related problems and that he had been the victim of sexual abuse. The prosecutor countered that the sexual abuse was not important because Hartman was gay. But the courts rejected those appeals and Gov. Mike Easley rejected pleas to reduce Hartman’s sentence to life in prison.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 9, 2003 Alabama James Dewey Cash
Wilson W. Thompson
David Nelson stayed
David Larry Nelson was convicted of killing James Dewey Cash and Wilson Thompson on the night of December 31, 1978. He was sentenced to die for a slaying during a New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day crime spree 25 years ago. Nelson is scheduled to die at 6 p-m October ninth at Holman Prison in Atmore. Court records show the 58-year-old Nelson was sentenced to die for the January 1st, 1978 shooting death of Wilson W. Thompson in Kimberly. Thompson was fatally shot in the head while he was having oral sex with Nelson’s girlfriend. His girlfriend was also shot, but recovered from her injuries. Nelson was also convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the fatal shooting the night before of Birmingham cab driver James Cash. UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of David Larry Nelson less than three hours before it was to take place Thursday, granting a stay until the court can review his appeal in a quarter-century-old murder case. Nelson’s attorneys filed papers with the court earlier Thursday saying Nelson has collapsed veins and that lethal injection would be so painful it would be cruel and unusual punishment. Nelson, 58, had been sentenced to die at 6 p.m. CDT for the Jan. 1, 1978, shooting death of Wilson Thompson of Kimberly while Thompson was with Nelson’s girlfriend. Nelson also was convicted in the shooting death of a Birmingham cab driver the night before. Nelson has been tried twice and had four sentencing hearings in what has been one of the longest death penalty appeals in Alabama. The Supreme Court said the stay will be lifted if the court later decides not to hear Nelson’s full appeal. Nelson once told a jury and a judge that he wanted to be executed. But when he was scheduled for execution in 1996, he received a stay because of a physician’s statement that he could be a kidney donor for a seriously ill brother. The operation did not take place.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 29, 2003 Missouri Brandie Kearnes
Wayne Hoewing
John Smith executed
The victims in this case were Brandie Kearnes and Wayne Hoewing. John Clayton Smith and Brandie Kearnes started dating in 1995. At that time, Brandie lived with her mother, Yvonne Kurz, 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 stepfather. At about 7:30 a.m. on the morning of July 4, 1997, Smith drove by O.C.’s Tavern in Canton and looked at Kearnes’s car, which had been parked in the lot next to the tavern since the night before. Approximately fifteen minutes later, Smith telephoned his ex-wife and asked what she planned to do with the children that day. Smith was upset and when his ex-wife asked why, he replied, "Everything." When his ex-wife asked Smith if he was having difficulties with Brandie, he said, "Just everything. I can’t talk about it now. I gotta go," and hung up. Sometime later during the same morning, Smith telephoned Yvonne Kurz and asked whether Brandie had come home the night before. Yvonne responded that Brandie had not come home. Smith then asked, "She is seeing someone else, isn’t she?" Later that afternoon, Smith, after seeing Brandie driving on the highway, followed her to a friend’s house and pulled up behind her in the driveway. Brandie got out of her car and spoke to Smith for about three minutes. He then left. At 11:05 p.m., Smith purchased a twelve-pack of beer at a convenience store in Canton. The store clerk noticed that Smith was preoccupied and appeared to be in a "weird mood." Smith left the convenience store and, sometime after 1:48 a.m. on July 5, 1997, drove to the residence where Brandie Kearnes and Wayne Hoewing resided. Smith parked his truck approximately thirty yards from the residence. Taking some of the beers with him, but not any of the three guns he had in the truck, Smith walked around a large pond on the property and approached the residence. He entered the residence through the basement door, took off his shoes, and went upstairs. Once inside, he went to Brandies bedroom, and attacked her with a knife. 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". 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. Smith stabbed or cut Brandie eight times during the scuffle. The wounds did not immediately cause Brandie’s death; she had time to write "It was Joh-" "I Y Tatu-" and "–andi s-v- T-tum" on the kitchen floor with her own blood. The last two messages referred to Tatum, Brandie’s infant daughter, who was found unharmed at the feet of Brandie’s body. Smith then entered the Hoewing’s bedroom and attacked Wayne, who had been awakened by the sounds of scuffling coming from the living room. Smith pushed Wayne onto the bed, got on top him and began stabbing him, inflicting eleven stab or cut wounds, but Wayne did not die immediately. Yvonne Kurz, who had also gotten out of bed when she heard the sounds of the struggle, tried to push Smith off Wayne, but Smith slashed her forearm. She retreated into the bathroom and closed the door. While Smith was at the door of the bedroom, Wayne was able to gain possession of a loaded gun 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, Yvonne was able to leave the bathroom and call for help. Smith walked from the Hoewing residence to the nearby farm of Bill Lloyd, where he hid his knife under some tin and attempted to steal a tractor. After crashing the tractor into a flatbed trailer on the property, Smith fled on foot. He eventually traveled to another nearby residence, where he stole a truck and drove away. Soon thereafter Smith was apprehended after crashing the truck. When medical personnel reached the Hoewing residence, Brandie was already dead. Brandie 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 and the wounds to her abdomen cut her liver and one kidney. 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. Police found several pieces of evidence at the scene of the crime. Police noticed a trail of blood left by Smith as he left the house. One of Smith‘s socks was recovered from under the body of Wayne Hoewing. Police found three beer cans outside of the residence and also found the keys used by Smith to break into the house. After being apprised several days after the murders of the messages written with blood on the kitchen floor, police seized the linoleum bearing those messages. The police did not find any weapons. Later in July, however, a worker at the farm where Smith had attempted to steal the tractor found a knife hidden under some tin. The original owner of the knife identified it as the knife she had given to Smith. At trial, Smith did not contest his identity as the killer, but he offered the testimony of Dr. Michael Stacy, who testified that Smith‘s capacity to deliberate before the killings was substantially impaired. The state offered expert testimony to rebut Dr. Stacy’s diagnosis and findings. The jury found Smith guilty on both counts of murder in the first degree and both counts of armed criminal action. During the penalty phase of the trial, the state introduced evidence of Smith‘s prior violent history with women, his prior convictions for felony stealing and violating an order of protection, and the impact that the murders had on the victims’ families. Smith presented the testimony of friends and family and the testimony of a mental health professional in mitigation of punishment. After the close of the penalty phase evidence and after the instructions and arguments of counsel, the jury found the following aggravating circumstances with regard to Brandie Kearnes: that the murder of Brandie Kearnes was committed while Smith was engaged in the commission of another unlawful homicide and that her murder was committed while Smith was engaged in the perpetration of a burglary. With respect to Wayne Hoewing, the jury found that the same aggravating circumstances applied. The jury also found that Wayne’s murder involved depravity of mind in that the murder was wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman. The jury recommended a sentence of death on each count of murder in the first degree. UPDATE: A Missouri inmate who waived his remaining appeals and said he preferred death over more prison time was executed early today in the 1997 bloody slayings of his former girlfriend and her stepfather. John Clayton Smith, 42, was put to death by injection at the Potosi Correctional Center in the fatal stabbings of Brandie Kearns and Wayne Hoewing in their northeast Missouri home. Smith stabbed and cut Kearns, 22, 8 times. She survived long enough to scrawl "It was Joh-" in her own blood on the kitchen floor and leave a dying farewell to her toddler daughter. The girl was later found unharmed at the feet of her dead mother’s body. Hoewing, 51, was knifed 11 times. Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Bob Holden declined two clemency requests filed without the inmate’s blessings. Smith also had access to forms for 11th-hour federal appeals Tuesday but never made use of them. Department of Corrections officials declared Smith dead minutes after the first of three injections were administered. Smith mouthed the words "I’m sorry" to reporters and other state witnesses, then did the same toward the victims’ witnesses. Smith’s push to halt his appeals dated at least to mid-2001, when he told the judge who condemned him that he was "totally guilty," "very sorry," mentally fit to abandon his legal challenges and ready to die "once and for all." At the time he wrote, "The punishment of death is suitable." Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to intervene. Earlier Tuesday, one of Brandie Kearns’ sisters said she looked forward to watching Smith die, accusing the killer of "taking the easy way out" as a killer "too much of a coward to live in prison. I’m just very glad he’s going to burn in hell," said Bridie Brooks, 31, an insurance claims examiner in Williamstown. She called Smith’s demise "the ultimate justice."

Page visited times since 9/1/2003

Page last updated 01/23/04