April 2004 Executions

Two killers were executed in April 2004. They had murdered at least 3 people.

killers were given a stay in April 2004. They have murdered at least 5 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 13, 2004 Texas Mary Felder, 67 Michael Rosales stayed

A Lubbock killer sent to death row for murdering a 67-year-old woman is scheduled to die April 13. Michael Rosales, 29, stabbed Mary Felder 137 times when she interrupted a June 4, 1997, burglary of her North Overton apartment. Police arrested 23-year-old Michael Flores Rosales the day after Mary was found murdered in her apartment. Mary Felder died of multiple stab wounds to the head, the medical examiner ruled. Mary’s grandson found her body, surrounded by a large amount of blood, around 4 p.m. in the afternoon. She was slumped in the bedroom of her North Overton apartment. The grandson had visited her apartment about 10 a.m. and again at noon Wednesday, both times finding the residence secure and getting no answer at the door. When the man returned a third time, he discovered one of the door’s nine window panes broken and the door unlocked. Rosales was staying in the 4 Seasons with neighbors of Mary Felder. ”He knew her or knew of her,” Jones said. Rosales also was at the crime scene when police first arrived. Relatives and friends said Mary bothered no one and spent her days visiting friends and family and attending church. The only motive suggested by the woman’s sister, Ocie Wilson, was robbery. Mary had $60 cash, saved for an insurance payment, at the time of her death. District Judge Brad Underwood set Rosales’ execution date in December, after Rosales’ appeals appeared exhausted. In July, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Rosales’ case. A jury convicted Rosales of capital murder and sentenced him in April 1998 to death. UPDATE: Attorneys for a condemned Lubbock killer filed an appeal Wednesday seeking to halt his execution. Michael Rosales, 30, is scheduled to die just after 6 p.m. Tuesday for the June 4, 1997, stabbing death of Mary Felder during a burglary of her North Overton apartment. The appeal claims that Rosales is mentally retarded. It asks the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to halt his execution and appoint attorneys to research his case. Rosales did not raise mental retardation claims during his initial appeals. The appeal filed Wednesday will be forwarded to the state Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin. If that court refuses to grant a stay, Rosales can appeal to the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and then the U.S. Supreme Court.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 16, 2004 North Carolina Hazel Colleen Broadway Kenneth Rouse stayed

In Raleigh, a judge stopped an execution scheduled for a death row inmate whose lawyers presented evidence that the man was mentally retarded and shouldn’t be put to death under North Carolina law. Kenneth Bernard Rouse, 41, was sentenced to death in Randolph County Superior Court for the March 16, 1991, murder of Hazel Colleen Broadway. Rouse was convicted of robbing, attempting to rape and killing Broadway, 63, at a Pantry convenience store in Asheboro. Rouse was scheduled to be executed by injection at 2 a.m. April 16. "There’s no longer a pending execution," said defense attorney Gordon Widenhouse after the stay was issued in Randolph County Superior Court. "I’ve been assured the state’s not going to appeal." The stay was issued under a state law that prohibits execution of inmates determined by a court to be mentally retarded. A hearing will have to be held later to make that determination. Widenhouse said 1 test shows Rouse had an IQ as low as 60. Mental retardation is defined as an IQ lower than 70. Other lawyers for Rouse had asked a federal judge to stop the execution while the U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge from Alabama to execution by injection. Attorneys for North Carolina had asked for the execution date for Rouse even though they had agreed not to fight stays for another inmate, George Franklin Page, until the Supreme Court ruled. Lawyers for Rouse contended in their federal appeal that their client would suffer a painful, drawn-out death because of the combination of chemicals used in North Carolina. Federal courts have rejected Rouse’s other appeals, with one court excluding his appeal because the motion was filed a day too late. The U.S. 4th Circuit of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va., said in August that attorneys for Rouse failed to meet a one-year deadline for filing the appeal following state court action. Both federal and state appeals courts rejected requests for earlier appeals based on the evidence and issues in the case. Lawyers for Rouse also have fought for a new trial because a juror in the case failed to disclose that his own mother had been murdered and sexually assaulted. They say the same juror used a racial epithet to describe Rouse and expressed racist attitudes. Rouse is black and his victim was white, as was the juror.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 16, 2004 South Carolina John Perry
David Willis
Jerry McWee executed

The South Carolina Supreme Court on Friday set an execution date for a man convicted of killing an Aiken convenience store clerk almost 13 years ago. Justices said Jerry Bridwell McWee will be put to death April 16. McWee is a former Augusta, Ga., police officer who was convicted of killing John Perry on July 6, 1991. Prosecutors said Perry was working alone at the 19 Corner Store in Aiken County when McWee’s accomplice, George Wade Scott, stopped to use an air hose. As Scott returned the hose, McWee entered the store with a.38-caliber revolver. McWee took Perry to the back of the store and shot him twice in the back of the head. Authorities say McWee and Scott stole $350 from the store’s cash register. They later killed another man, Aiken roofing contractor David Willis. Both men eventually pleaded guilty in that case. Scott pleaded guilty and testified against McWee in the Perry case and was sentenced to life in prison.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 23, 2004 South Carolina Julie Johnson, 36 Jason Byram executed

A man convicted of killing a schoolteacher in 1993 has been scheduled to be put to death April 23, the state attorney general’s office said. Jason Scott Byram, 38, was convicted of stabbing 36-year-old Julie Johnson to death as she slept on a sofa in her home while her family slept upstairs. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Byram’s appeal, said Trey Walker, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office. A federal appeals court previously rejected Byram’s claim that mistakes by his lawyers denied him a fair trial. Byram has not chosen whether to die by lethal injection or electrocution, according to the state Corrections Department. Johnson’s home was broken into May 23, 1993. Byram was arrested later that afternoon. He told authorities he had entered Johnson’s home and stabbed her but said it was an accomplice who stabbed her repeatedly, the attorney general’s office said. According to testimony, police tried to find the accomplice but found no evidence of one. UPDATE: Condemned inmate Jason Scott Byram has chosen to be electrocuted by the state Corrections Department on April 23, according to the agency. Electrocutions in South Carolina and throughout the country have been rare in recent years. The last inmate to choose to die in the electric chair in this state was Larry Gene Bell in 1996. Bell was convicted of murdering 2 young girls. Before Bell, mass murderer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins was executed in the electric chair in 1991 – before the state lethal injection as an option. Byram’s attorney Jay Elliott said Tuesday he had heard his client had chosen electrocution, but he had not yet spoken with him. "He can change his mind," said Elliott, who was unsure whether he would try to persuade his client one way or another. "I think that ultimate determination is up to him." In South Carolina, inmates can choose between lethal injection and electrocution. Nationwide, there have been 21 executions this year – none by electrocution, according to Robert Deans, a researcher with Death Penalty Information Center. The last electrocution in the United States was Eric Bramblett on April 9, 2003, in Virginia, Deans said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 27, 2004 Texas Shari Catherine "Cari" Crews, 17
Jesus Gilberto Garza. 16
James Clark stayed

Cari Crews, 17 - murder victimIn the early morning of June 7, 1993, James Lee Clark and James Brown arrived at a Texaco store in Denton, Texas, and asked the store clerk to call an ambulance for Brown who had suffered a gunshot wound. Subsequent investigation revealed that Brown accidentally shot himself in the leg at point blank range with a shotgun while he and Clark were assaulting Shari Catherine "Cari" Crews, 16 and Jesus Garza, 17, at Clear Creek. Police recovered both bodies from the creek and determined that Crews had been sexually assaulted by Clark, as verified by DNA evidence, and then killed with a single shotgun wound (a contact wound) to the back of the head. Garza also died from a single shotgun wound, but it was to the left side of his chin or jaw. Powder residue revealed a short muzzle-to-wound distance, but it was not a contact wound. Police also recovered a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun and a.22 caliber rifle from the crime scene. Further investigation revealed that Clark and Brown, both parolees, stole the shotgun and rifle in car burglaries on June 4, 1993. The stock of the rifle had been shortened and police found the sawed off portion while searching Clark’s residence; the stock of the shotgun was cracked. The search of Clark’s residence also produced tennis shoes splattered with the blood of Brown, Crews, and Garza. During interrogation, Clark stated that Brown instigated the incident; shot himself while using the shotgun as a bludgeon to strike Garza in the head; and, after suffering the severe gunshot wound to the leg, shot and killed both victims. Brown contended that Clark killed both victims. Clark was indicted on the charge of capital murder arising out of the June 7, 1993, robbery, sexual assault, and death of Crews. Clark was convicted of the capital murder on April 29, 1994, and he was sentenced to death on May 3, 1994. UPDATE: Ten years after the murders of two high school students, their killer is pretending to be mentally retarded to avoid execution, prosecutors argued during a hearing in September of 2003. But defense attorneys said the man, James Lee Clark, is impaired and should be spared because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual. State District Judge Lee Gabriel has about two months to rule on whether Clark is mentally retarded. This hearing was a continuation of one that began in August. Clark was sentenced to death for killing Catherine "Cari" Crews in 1993. Crews, 17, and a friend, 16-year-old Jesus Gilberto Garza, were robbed and killed with a shotgun. Their bodies were dumped in a creek north of Denton. Crews was sexually assaulted. Clark was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die. An accomplice, James Richard Brown, was sentenced to 20 years for robbery. Assistant District Attorney Vicki Foster, who tried Clark’s original case, said Clark has changed his behavior. "This isn’t him. During the original trial, he participated, he made wisecracks," she said. Clark was scheduled to die in November 2002, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay two days before his execution. The courts define mental retardation as having an IQ below 70. Clark’s IQ was 74 when he was sent to the Texas Youth Commission after a juvenile conviction in 1983. Two other tests showed Clark’s IQ at 65 and 68. Thomas Allen, a psychologist for the prosecution, said he believes Clark was deliberately getting answers wrong on those tests. Clark reached the equivalent of the 12th grade at the Gainesville State School, completed a GED and took a community college welding class, testimony showed. George C. Denkowski, a psychologist for the defense, questioned Allen’s findings. Allen interviewed Clark for only two hours and 16 minutes and never performed any tests to prove whether Clark was malingering, Denkowski said. Clark’s cell on Death Row contained copies of newspaper articles, crossword puzzles and two novels: A Tale of Two Cities and Lord Jim. But none of the crosswords had been completed, and his attorneys said outside the courtroom that he never read the books. A few members of Garza’s family and a friend of the Crews family were in the courtroom Monday. Clark sported horn-rimmed glasses and a shaven head. He spent most of his time looking down at the defense table. Occasionally, his head twitched, and he appeared to mumble to himself. UPDATE: In November of 2003, a judge ruled that even if the man who killed a 17-year-old Denton high school student 10 years ago is mildly retarded, he is not so impaired that he can be exempted from the death penalty. James Lee Clark also cannot be classified as mentally retarded because he fails to meet the criteria of the definition set in the Texas Health and Safety Code, 367th state District Judge Lee Gabriel states in her ruling. The decision will now be reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Attorneys for Clark had cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bars execution of the mentally retarded. That ruling came down in June 2002, before Clark was to be executed in November 2002 for killing Catherine "Cari" Crews, a Ryan High School student. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Clark a stay of execution in November 2002 after he and his attorneys invoked the Supreme Court ruling. The bodies of Crews and 16-year-old Jesus Gilberto Garza, a classmate and acquaintance, were found in a creek north of Denton with shotgun wounds to the head. Both were robbed and shot the night of June 7, 1993. Clark _ who had not previously claimed to be mentally retarded _ was arrested in connection with the fatal shootings while on parole after serving less than a year of a 10-year term for burglary in Dallas County. An accomplice in the murders, James Richard Brown, received a 20-year prison sentence for robbery.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 27, 2004 Ohio John McGrath, 79 Gregory Lott stayed

Gregory Lott was sentenced to die in 1987 for killing a 79-year-old man. On 7/12/86, Lott murdered a 79-year-old East Cleveland man. Lott broke into the man’s home, set the man on fire, and left him for dead after ransacking the house. The victim, 79-year-old John McGrath, died eleven days later but was able to give a description of his attacker to the police. An eyewitness reported seeing Lott in the victim’s car the day after the murder, and Lott was known to have robbed the man before. Police were able to obtain a partial fingerprint of Lott’s from an envelope inside McGrath’s home but Lott’s attorneys said that wasn’t significant because Lott had been in the home during the original robbery. Three days after he was attacked, police found McGrath at his home, and he was interviewed shortly thereafter while being treated in the emergency room. He gave police a detailed description of his assailant. McGrath died on July 23. In 2002, the Ohio Parole Board recommended that Gov. Bob Taft deny clemency for Lott who had a previous execution date scheduled for August 2002.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 29, 2004 Texas Sherry Kay Jones, 40 Anzel Jones stayed

Anzel Keon Jones (no relation to his victims) was sentenced to die for the May 1995 murder of Sherry Kay Jones in Paris Texas. Sherry and her mother heard dogs barking and when Sherry went to investigate, Jones appeared at the back door. Sherry offered Jones the keys to two vehicles that were parked in the garage and also gave him $125 in cash if he would not harm the women. He took the cash and then attacked them both with a kitchen knife. Sherry was stabbed eight times and he tried to slit the mother’s throat. He left her bleeding in her bed and then set the house on fire but neighbors saw the smoke and the mother was rescued. Sherry died from her wounds at the scene. Jones, a neighbor’s son, was arrested 10 days after the attack. UDPATE: Jones had a previous execution date set for January 26, 2000, but received a stay. In March of 2005, a divided Supreme Court ruled that persons who were under 18 years of age at the time of their crime could not be executed. On June 24, 2005, Jones’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison with a mandatory 40 years before parole eligibility. He is serving his sentence at the Telford Unit and will be eligible for parole in June of 2036, when he is 57 years old.

Page created 12/10/03

Page last updated 10/12/14