December 2004 Executions

Three killers were given a stay in December 2004. They have murdered at least 17 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 1, 2004 Texas Adrian Newton
Alton Newton, 7
Farrah Elaine Newton, 2
Frances Newton stayed

Virginia Louis does not want to see her daughter-in-law executed on Wednesday night, but she said there is no question in her mind that Frances Newton murdered her family in 1987. "I know she’s guilty; there is no doubt in my mind," said Louis, a 61-year-old retired North Forest school bus driver and mother of the man Newton was convicted of killing. Newton, 39, is scheduled for a lethal injection Wednesday for the April 1987 murders of her husband, Adrian Newton, and her two children, 7-year-old Alton and Farrah Elaine, 21 months. Frances Newton has repeatedly denied killing her family, saying a drug dealer named "Charlie" may have been responsible. She said her husband owed the man money. State and federal courts have dismissed Newton’s claims, and for the family of Adrian Newton, the latest round of denials has been frustrating and painful. "My son didn’t use drugs. Why does she keep saying this Charlie? Who is Charlie? There ain’t no Charlie. She’s Charlie," Louis said in an interview Monday. The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals on Monday rejected Newton’s 11th-hour appeal, and a similar effort remains pending before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her petition for a 120-day reprieve is also pending before the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Prosecutors said Newton killed her family to claim $100,000 in life insurance money. Evidence at the 1988 trial showed Newton forged her husband’s signature on life insurance policies bought several months before the deaths. In the weeks before the slayings, Frances began to use drugs and date another man, and the two together may have plotted the deaths in her north Harris County apartment, family members said. "I think there was a second person involved, and it was that guy she was dating," Tom Louis of Houston, Adrian Newton’s brother, said Monday. "My instincts tell me that she didn’t kill the kids. She killed my brother, and then the other guy killed the kids because they saw the whole thing," Tom Louis said. Adrian Newton’s family members did not testify at the 1988 trial. Prosecutors said the murder weapon was a.25-caliber automatic pistol that was found in a blue bag in an abandoned house near her apartment. A witness saw Newton hide the gun in the house. Newton said she had found the unfamiliar gun at home and removed it as a safety precaution. Key evidence at Newton’s trial included ballistics evidence linking the gun to the murder. Newton’s attorneys have raised questions about the reliability of testing by the Houston Police Department crime lab, which have come under scrutiny in recent years for providing inaccurate evidence at criminal trials. Newton has lodged numerous complaints about Ron Mock, her court-appointed defense attorney. Catherine Coulter, the attorney appointed to work with Mock, signed an affidavit last week agreeing with Newton’s attorneys that she and Mock provided ineffective legal assistance. Prosecutors say state and federal appeals courts have thoroughly reviewed all of Newton’s claims and have no doubt of Newton’s guilt. Several of Adrian Newton’s cousins may attend the execution, but his immediate family will not. "We’re all opposed to the death penalty," Tom Louis said. "In my opinion, if someone commits a crime, they should have to live with their mistakes."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 2, 2004 Pennsylvania Sharon Mazzillo, 24
Kissmayu Banks, 5
Scott Mazzillo, 7
Alice Mazzillo, 47
Regina Clemens, 29
Montanzima Banks, 6
Susan Yuhas, 23
Boende Banks, 4
Mauritania Banks, 20 months
Dorothy Lyons, 29
Nancy Lyons, 11
Foraroude Banks, 1
Raymond F. Hall Jr., 24
George Banks stayed

Regina ClemensScott MazzilloThe state Supreme Court yesterday stopped the execution of mass murderer George Emil Banks, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight. The high court ordered the Luzerne County Court to hold a hearing to determine whether Banks is competent to be executed. Lawyers said that hearing might not happen for months. The execution warrant signed by Gov. Ed Rendell expires at midnight. In a methodical rampage in 1982, Banks killed 13 people, including his five children, their four mothers and four others, in the Wilkes-Barre area. He was deemed competent to stand trial, and the jury rejected his insanity defense, sentencing him to death in June 1983. Yesterday, the state Supreme Court ordered a hearing on Banks’ mental state to comply with a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That ruling says it is unconstitutional to execute defendants who do not understand the proceedings. Banks’ attorneys say he is too mentally ill to be executed. A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections said Banks has not been moved from death row at Graterford state prison to the State Correctional Institution at Rockview in Centre County, where the execution was to have taken place. A Luzerne County judge rejected Banks’ appeal Monday, saying it was filed too late.Michael Wiseman, a lawyer with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, said Banks, 62, believes God has vacated his sentence. He said Banks believes he will not be executed and that the process is just a test of his faith in Jesus. "He doesn’t understand he’s going to be executed," Wiseman said. Wiseman said that even Dr. Robert Sadoff, the prosecution’s psychiatric witness at trial, signed an affidavit stating Banks needed to be examined to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Banks’ brother, John, welcomed the court ruling last night. "I know the decision the judges had to make wasn’t an easy one either politically or emotionally, but I’m glad they had the strength to make it and God bless them for it," John Banks said. But Ray Hall, whose son Raymond F. Hall Jr. was a passerby who was killed by Banks, told The Associated Press the delay was a bitter disappointment. Hall planned to witness the execution. "This is what really has me mad — I mean, it’s enough, you know? How far can they take it? These courts. I’m sort of sickened," the AP quoted Hall as saying. Scott C. Gartley, chief appellate counsel for the Luzerne County district attorney’s office, expressed disappointment. "It’s very unfortunate," he said. "Especially when you remember the case isn’t about George Banks, it’s about the 13 people he killed and their families. It’s unfortunate for them being put through the highs and lows in this case." Albert J. Flora Jr., Banks’ attorney since his 1983 trial, said he expects a competency hearing to take place within 60 to 90 days. "The decision of the state Supreme Court was legally correct and it affords George Banks his day in court, which every person is entitled," Flora said. Banks, a former Camp Hill prison guard, used an assault rifle to kill his victims. The son of a white mother and black father, Banks said he killed his children to save them from the racism he endured as a mixed-race child. All of his girlfriends were white. Prosecutors said Banks lashed out because he was losing control of the women, three of whom lived in the same house. Two of those women were sisters. One girlfriend had left him and another sought help at a battered women’s shelter. Banks was seen slapping another of the women the week before the slayings. At trial, Banks thwarted his attorneys’ attempts to present an insanity defense. Although he confessed to killing some of the victims in a drug-and-alcohol-induced haze, he said police killed others and mutilated the bodies to make the crime seem worse. Since his conviction, Banks has tried to kill himself four times and has gone on hunger strikes that required him to be force fed. A psychiatric report filed in the case states that Banks believed he was in a spiritual fight with an anti-Christ in New York, that Pennsylvania was controlled by the Islamic religion, and that he engaged in a "private war with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky." The state Supreme Court has rejected Banks’ appeals four times. The U.S. Supreme Court has done so twice. List of victims: •Sharon Mazzillo, 24, gunshot wound to the chest. She was a former girlfriend of George Banks and was engaged in a custody dispute over their son, Kissmayu Banks. •Kissmayu Banks, 5, shot in the face as he slept. He was the son of Sharon Mazzillo and George Banks. •Scott Mazzillo, 7, shot in the head. He was the nephew of Sharon Mazzillo. George Banks hit him with a rifle butt, kicked him, and accused him of using a racial slur against one of Banks’ sons. Then Banks shot him. •Alice Mazzillo, 47, shot in the face while calling police. She was Sharon Mazzillo’s mother. •Regina Clemens, 29, shot in the face. She was a girlfriend of George Banks, sister of Susan Yuhas, and mother of Montanzima Banks. •Montanzima Banks, 6, gunshot wound to the heart. She was the daughter of Regina Clemens and George Banks. •Susan Yuhas, 23, shot in the head. She was a girlfriend of George Banks, sister of Regina Clemens, and mother of Boende Banks and Mauritania Banks. •Boende Banks, 4, gunshot wound in the face. He was the son of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. •Mauritania Banks, 20 months, shot in the face. She was the daughter of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. •Dorothy Lyons, 29, gunshot wound to the neck. She was a girlfriend of George Banks, and the mother of Nancy Lyons and Foraroude Banks. •Nancy Lyons, 11, shot in head as she tried to protect her baby brother. She was the daughter of Dorothy Lyons, and the half-sister of Foraroude Banks. •Foraroude Banks, 1, shot in the head. He was the son of Dorothy Lyons and George Banks, and half-brother of Nancy Lyons. •Raymond F. Hall Jr., 24, gunshot wound to the liver and right kidney. He was a bystander who had been attending a party across the street from the second murder site.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 3, 2004 North Carolina Tito Davidson Charles Walker stayed
A Superior Court judge has stayed Friday’s scheduled execution of Charles Walker. Superior Court Judge John Craig said he wants to hear more arguments on defense contention that Walker was convicted largely because of testimony of co-defendants, which under law is considered unreliable. Craig said he also wants the state to show why two girlfriends of the co-defendants weren’t charged, although he said it appears they could have been. Walker was to be executed early Friday morning at Central Prison in Raleigh for his part in the 1992 murder of Tito Davidson in a Greensboro housing project. Davidson’s body has never been found, and police didn’t find blood or other evidence at the scene. Defense lawyers also argued that a stay was warranted in part because Walker is mentally ill and can’t help his defense attorneys.

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