July 2005 Executions

Four killers were executed in July 2005. They had murdered at least 6 people.
killers were given a stay in July 2005. They have murdered at least 11 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 1, 2005 Oklahoma Terry Neal James Fisher, Jr. stayed

Police found the body of Terry Neal in his apartment on December 12, 1982. After interviewing people in an area of downtown Oklahoma City that Mr. Neal was known to frequent, police located and questioned a juvenile. Witnesses stated they had seen someone matching the juvenile’s description and another man with Mr. Neal the evening before the murder. The juvenile was initially charged with first degree murder in the death of Mr. Neal, but the charges were dropped and he was named a material witness instead. Based largely on information from the juvenile, the Oklahoma police identified James T. Fisher, Jr. as a suspect. Fisher was arrested for Terry Neal’s murder by the police in Buffalo, New York, on January 10, 1983, and extradited to Oklahoma to stand trial on the charge of first degree murder. The juvenile testified that he and Fisher met for the first time on the evening of December 11 in an area of downtown Oklahoma City known for homosexual prostitution. He further testified that the victim, Terry Neal, approached him and Fisher in a car and took them to his apartment, and that Fisher and Neal had sex while he watched television. After this, Fisher hit Terry Neal on the head with a bottle of wine and stabbed him in the neck several times with the broken end of the bottle. Then Fisher ordered the juvenile to pick up Neal’s television and the two drove Neal’s car to downtown Oklahoma City and sold the television. Fisher dropped him off several blocks from his home after asking directions to Tulsa. A detective from the Buffalo Police Department testified that at the time of Fisher’s arrest, he made an oral statement that he had hit someone named Terry over the head with a wine bottle but had not killed him, and that the other person he was with, whose name he could not remember, had not killed the man either. "Seeing you’ve got so much evidence, I was in Oklahoma and I used to do something to try and make money. I’d just pick up homos. I met this young dude, 14 or 15 years old. He was out doing the same thing I was. This one guy I’m telling you about, he didn’t kill the man, but he was with me when it happened. I had a bottle and the only thing I did was bust it over his head. I didn’t trust this young dude when I hit this guy upside the head with the bottle and I told him not to say anything." Fisher stated the name of the person he hit over the head was, "Terry, I think," and that the incident occurred in Oklahoma City. Fisher stated, "It happened outside. This young dude was talking crazy. He wanted to go back to the place and take off his TV. The young dude searched him and he didn’t have any money." The state presented no physical evidence that linked Fisher to the crime despite having gathered Fisher’s clothing and fingerprints, and fingerprints from Terry Neal’s apartment and automobile.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 11, 2005 Virginia Clayton Dicks, 45 Robin Lovitt stayed

A judge has set the execution date for an Arlington man convicted of murdering a man with a pair of scissors in 1999. Arlington Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick yesterday scheduled Robin Lovitt’s execution for July 11th. Lovitt, who’s 41, was convicted of killing pool hall manager Clayton Dicks with scissors during a robbery. Lovitt had worked at the pool hall, and the cash register box was found at his cousin’s home. Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr represented Lovitt before the 4th Circuit U-S Court of Appeals in February. He argued that Lovitt was denied his due process rights because a court clerk destroyed much of the physical evidence in the case, making post-conviction D-N-A testing impossible. The appeals court rejected Starr’s argument last month, saying the physical evidence had not been discarded in bad faith and the mistake happened after Lovitt’s trial. Robin Lovitt was 35, and after going through a drug rehab program, he was employed as a cook at Champion Billiards Sports Cafe. A few months after starting his job, he again began using drugs and stopped showing up for work. In early November, he entered a detox program. Out of detox less than one day, Lovitt purchased two rocks of crack cocaine earlier in the night on November 18, 1998. Eventually he ended up at the pool hall where he had once been employed. The pool hall was empty except for the night manager, Clayton Dicks. Lovitt said he told Dicks that he was hungry and tired. In his statement to police, Lovitt said that Dicks told him, "Don’t worry about it. I gotcha," and went into the kitchen to make some eggs for Lovitt. Lovitt ate and said that he went into the restroom. When he came out he said he saw a man fighting with Dicks and Lovitt scurried back into the restroom. Coming out later, he found Dicks dead and the man gone. Clayton Dicks, 45, had been stabbed to death. Lovitt said he was afraid he would be accused, so he decided to leave. Before fleeing however, Lovitt grabbed the cash register drawer containing about $200. "With a track record like mine, would you call for help?" he said to a police detective. "The first thing I thought was I better get the [expletive] out of here…. The stupidest thing I could have done was grab the cash register, ’cause if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here now." During the 1999 trial, prosecutors presented a completely different case. They said Lovitt came to the 24-hour pool hall to steal money after 3:00 am, when he knew no one would be there. Confronted by Dicks, they said, Lovitt grabbed a pair of scissors from the bar and stabbed him six times. At one point, two customers walked in on the scene and called 911, they said; one told jurors that he was 80 percent sure Lovitt was the assailant. Additionally, a cellmate of Lovitt’s testified that Lovitt had confessed the crime to him. Lovitt did not take the stand in his defense. The cash register drawer was found at Lovitt’s cousin’s house, where Lovitt had admitted bringing it in his police statement. After two hours of deliberation, the jurors convicted him of first-degree murder and robbery and later recommended that he be put to death. Mary Dicks, mother of the victim, took heart in the sentence, recalling her son as a quiet, reliable man who did not smoke or drink and who had wedding plans. A single father who lived in Northeast Washington, he had been raising two boys whom a one-time girlfriend had left in his care years earlier. Lovitt "needs the electric chair," she said. "He gave Clayton the electric chair, and Clayton won’t be back. Let him know what death is."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 12, 2005 Georgia George Grant Crooks, 28 Robert Dale Conklin executed

An Illinois parolee who dismembered his former lover in a Sandy Springs apartment and then tossed 10 plastic bags of his remains into a trash bin is scheduled for execution on July 12. Robert Dale Conklin, 44, was given the death penalty for the 1984 mutilation murder of Smyrna attorney George Grant Crooks. Crooks, 28, was a University of Georgia Law School graduate working for Hyatt Legal Services in Marietta. Crooks also had been an aide at one time to former Atlanta-area Congressman Elliott Levitas. Conklin, on parole after serving half of a six-year burglary and armed robbery sentence in Illinois, met Crooks and the two had a brief affair. Conklin stabbed Crooks in the ear with a screwdriver during an apparent argument on March 28. He admitted stabbing Crooks, but said it was self-defense to fend off a sexual assault. Conklin later disposed of the body in the garbage behind his Copeland Road apartment off of Roswell Road near I-285. A man rummaging for recyclable cans found the bags and police quickly tied Conklin to the murder. Conklin, who worked briefly as a fast-food management trainee in Sandy Springs, evaded police for several days. He returned to the apartment after Crooks’ murder, where he dined, rested and watched television. Police got a tip he had come back, but Conklin escaped through a hole he had cut under the stairs. He was arrested the next day by Fulton County police in a parking lot on Roswell Road. At Conklin’s trial, prosecutors told jurors they found a book describing how to gut an animal on Conklin’s nightstand. Former Fulton County Medical Examiner Dr. Saleh Zaki said upon his retirement in 1997 that Crooks’ murder was one of the most gruesome he had worked in his career as a pathologist. The execution by lethal injection is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 19, 2005 Oklahoma Bradley Thomas Grooms, 20 Michael Pennington executed

A former U.S. soldier who said steroids turned him into a killer was executed Tuesday evening for the 1991 murder of a convenience store clerk during a botched robbery attempt. Michael L. Pennington, 37, a former weightlifter and body builder, was convicted in 1993 of murdering Bradley Thomas Grooms, 20, during a robbery attempt at a Lawton convenience store. While the same store no longer occupies that location, the memories remain. James Principi, who was working with Bradley Grooms when Pennington shot him in the back, has refused media requests for interviews. An associate of Principi said he has spent the past 13 years putting this event behind him and going forward with his life, despite the memories. Pennington, who was stationed at nearby Fort Sill, shot Grooms once in the back with a sawed-off shotgun, then left the store empty-handed because he couldn’t open the register. Police tracked Pennington to his wife’s house in Akron, Ohio, where he was arrested. Pennington said that anabolic steroids, which he took to enhance his weightlifting and body building regimen, altered his normal behavior and transformed him from a disciplined soldier into a fleeing killer. Louise Grooms was at her Indiahoma home Tuesday night when her son’s killer received a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. "Mr. Pennington has taken so much from me," Grooms said Monday, commenting on why she wouldn’t attend his execution in McAlester. "I know it’s all clinical, but it’s not something you deal with everyday," Grooms said, expressing her concern for those who witnessed the execution. "I don’t want him taking any more from me." Referring to James Principi, Louise Grooms said, "I’m glad that he survived," noting that, while the event surely affected Principi, his family didn’t lose him. "With his surviving, that helped the police to identify Pennington." Allison Carson, the Attorney General’s Victims’ Witness Coordinator, called Grooms at 6:13 p.m., informing her of Pennington’s official time of death. "It’s been a weird day," Grooms said. "I have to call some friends in Florida. Maybe it’ll sink in by then." The emotion in her voice betraying her, Grooms said, "He got options. He got to pick his last meal and all that stuff." Pennington’s options included addressing the witnesses. "No statement," he said, when asked if he wished to make one, then he looked to his left toward his mother, wife and spiritual adviser and mouthed, "I love you." At a recent clemency hearing, Grooms said Pennington appeared apologetic but then filed a request for a stay of execution in which he alleged his race was the reason he was convicted and sentenced to death. Pennington was black. "That’s not it," Louise Grooms said, expressing hope that the execution would send a message. "It’s because you’re a killer. Once you have killed, what kind of a crime is lying? He’s a liar and a killer. He didn’t have to do this. You can’t get away with committing crimes." While an exact motive was never determined, the lead detective on Pennington’s case said it appeared that he entered the store at 5 a.m. Oct. 21, 1991, to rob it. He fired several rounds from a sawed-off shotgun he had purchased at Kmart. Bradley Grooms was shot in the back, at least one shot went into a cooler and several were fired at the cash register. After the initial gunshot, Principi hid in a bathroom, locking himself in. Pennington didn’t make off with any cash, police said. He flew out of Lawton and was arrested the next day in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Bradley Grooms was barely 20 years old when he was killed. "Bradley was 20 for two months and one week," his mother said. "It’s like he’s still 19 to me."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 19, 2005 Pennsylvania Donald Johnson Darrick Hall stayed

Darrick U. Hall, 34, convicted of murdering Donald Johnson, the owner of a Coatesville coin-operated laundry, was given a reprieve June 7. The Defender Association of Philadelphia was appointed to handle further appeals for Hall, currently incarcerated at Graterford state prison.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 21, 2005 Pennsylvania Jamie Lamb Zachary Wilson stayed

A stay of execution, was issued for Zachary Wilson, 49, found guilty of shooting to death Jamie Lamb in a Philadelphia bar in 1981. The Defender Association of Philadelphia was appointed to handle further appeals for Wilson, currently incarcerated at Graterford state prison.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 21, 2005 Indiana Douglas A. Stilwell, 30
James Corcoran, 30
Robert Scott Turner, 32
Timothy G. Bricker, 30
Jack Corcoran
Kathryn Corcoran
Joseph Corcoran stayed

At 17, Joseph Corcoran was accused of shooting his parents because they were too strict. A jury, though, was unconvinced, and Corcoran went free. Five years later, Corcoran was again charged with murder, this time accused of gunning down his brother, his sister’s fiancÚ and two other men because he couldn’t stand to hear them talking about him. This shocking slaying left one of Corcoran’s staunchest supporters, brother James Corcoran, dead, and another, sister Kelly Nieto, looking at the 1992 slaying of their parents in a whole new light. ”I knew right then and there that he killed my parents. I know he did it,” Ms. Nieto said upon hearing of her brother’s death. ”I’ve cried so many tears, I’m dry. Everything’s gone. He’s ruined my life.” Police say Corcoran walked downstairs in the house he shared with his sister and opened semiautomatic gunfire on the victims as they sat in a living room, eating pizza and watching television. Three were killed on couches, while the fourth apparently attempted to flee and was shot in the kitchen. After the shootings, Corcoran asked a neighbor across the street to call the police. When they arrived, Corcoran told them, ”You might as well just arrest me.” Corcoran was jailed on four counts of murder after giving a statement to police admitting a role in the slayings. ”Suffice it to say,” Sgt. Nancy Becher said, ”the suspect believed the victims were talking about him and he became angry.” In addition to Corcoran’s 30-year-old brother James, the victims included Ms. Nieto’s fiancÚ, Robert Scott Turner, 32; Douglas A. Stillwell, 30; and Timothy G. Bricker, 30. Ms. Nieto was at the store at the time of the shootings. Her 7-year-old daughter was home, but she was upstairs and police do not believe she saw the shootings. Her eyes were covered when she was carried out of the home so she would not see the bodies. Back at the home two days later, police technicians were still cleaning up blood stains and gathering evidence. Ms. Nieto sat outside on her front porch in the muggy afternoon heat, still unable to understand the crime, or her brother. ”I just think he’s sick. I don’t know what made him do it,” Nieto said. ”I don’t know what it was… maybe it was the heat.” Neighbors described Corcoran as a quiet loner with ”movie-star looks” but no friends. ”All I ever saw him do was work on cars,” said next-door neighbor Rose Heintzelman. ”I never saw him have a friend over, a boy or a girl.” His past might explain that. Corcoran was 16 when his parents, Jack and Kathryn, were shot-gunned to death in April 1992 in their home. Police said Corcoran killed his parents because they were too strict, then got on a bus and went to school. But prosecutors had neither witnesses to the shootings nor the murder weapon. All their evidence was circumstantial: He showed little emotion when police pulled him out of class to tell him his parents were dead. He liked guns, and his parents had a large collection in their home for hunting. No one heard the family dog, fiercely protective of Kathryn Corcoran, bark to signal an intruder. Most damaging, Corcoran had offered several friends a shotgun and money – as much as $500 in one case – to kill his parents. His friends thought he was joking. Jurors ultimately acquitted Corcoran after a five-day trial, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to convict. He moved in with his sister, finished high school and got a job. His past was always lurking, though. Heintzelman said he seemed ”paranoid.” Donna Carr, who lived two houses away, said she saw Corcoran carrying several guns into the house two years ago. And when police entered the house Saturday night, they discovered a stash of 25 to 35 weapons upstairs. Police are still trying to determine if Corcoran owned all of the weapons and if any are illegal. ”I think that’s been on his mind and on his soul the last five years,” said neighbor Margaret Anderson. ”And I think it finally caught up with him.” UPDATE: The Indiana Supreme Court has ordered that convicted murderer Joseph Corcoran be put to death by lethal injection in the early-morning hours of July 21. That is just days before the eighth anniversary of the grisly killings that occurred on a hot summer day at a Bayer Avenue home in Fort Wayne in 1997 when Corcoran loaded a semiautomatic rifle and killed his brother and three other men. Corcoran said he shot the men with a semiautomatic rifle in the living room of the Fort Wayne home he shared with his brother and sister because he overheard them talking about him. Corcoran’s attorney said he is seeking a stay in federal court while he pursues a federal appeal. “It’s procedurally such a complicated case,” said Joanna McFadden, deputy public defender. “He should be spared because he has not yet effectively challenged his convictions or really his death sentence. He now wants to challenge them.” During trial, Corcoran’s attorneys conceded their client’s guilt and tried to spare him the death penalty by saying he was mentally ill and couldn’t appreciate the impact of his actions. Since he was transferred to death row, court records have indicated Corcoran believes prison guards have tortured him with the use of an ultrasound machine that caused him pain and uncontrollable twitching. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld Corcoran’s sentence on direct appeal and turned down a post-conviction relief appeal because Corcoran did not authorize it by the imposed deadline. Both the trial court and the state’s highest court have found Corcoran competent even though he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. They said he wants to die because he killed four people and deserves to be executed – not because of delusions. On the day of sentencing in Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull’s courtroom, Corcoran said he wanted to waive all his appeals. His attorney also read this statement from Corcoran: “I can sincerely say I’m sorry. Not sorrow for me but sorrow for those who have good reason to hate me, because I am a horrible person, a person who needs to be punished. Though it may not be seen by others, I grieve in my own way. My sorrow remains, and I’m burdened with its shame. My actions were shameful, and they fill even me with contempt.” A jury from Porter County convicted Corcoran in May 1999 of four counts of murder and recommended he be put to death. He shot and killed Douglas A. Stilwell, 30; James Corcoran, 30: Robert Scott Turner, 32; and Timothy G. Bricker, 30. In 1992, Corcoran was acquitted in the shotgun slayings of his parents in Steuben County. UPDATE: A federal judge on Friday granted a stay of execution for a Fort Wayne man scheduled to be put to death in three weeks for killing four people, including his brother and his sister’s fiance. Joseph Corcoran, 30, had been scheduled to die July 21, but District Judge Allen Sharp granted a request that the execution be blocked so that a federal court can review some of the decisions made by state courts in the case. Corcoran’s attorney, Alan Freedman, filed the appeal Monday. Among the decisions being challenged are rulings that Corcoran was competent to waive further challenges of his sentence even though he had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. Corcoran was convicted of killing four men in 1997 in a Fort Wayne house he shared with his sister because he heard them talking about him. Police say Corcoran walked downstairs and opened semiautomatic gunfire on the victims as they sat in a living room, eating pizza and watching television. Killed were his brother, James, 30; his sister’s fiance, Robert Scott Turner, 32; Douglas A. Stillwell, 30; and Timothy G. Bricker, 30. Sharp’s order gives Corcoran until Oct. 25 to file his appeal. The state attorney general’s office will then have 90 days to respond.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 26, 2005 Arkansas Marie Cholette, 46 Rickey Newman stayed

A July 26 execution date for Rickey Dale Newman has been set by Gov. Mike Huckabee. The governor signed the proclamation Thursday. The proclamation says Newman’s conviction and sentence have been reviewed and affirmed by the state Supreme Court and that all stays of execution for the convicted killer have been dissolved. Newman has been on death row for the February 2001 stabbing death of Marie Cholette, whose body was found under a makeshift tent in a wooded area where transients camped in Crawford County. Newman was to be put to death on Sept. 28, but the state Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Sept. 24, after lawyers filed a motion on behalf of Newman’s aunt. Earlier this month, at Newman’s request, the high court in a one-line order lifted the stay. Since his conviction, Newman has insisted he’s ready to die and fired his lawyers for trying to stop his execution. The Supreme Court issued the temporary stay after lawyers submitted a motion on behalf of Betty Moore, Newman’s aunt. The justices said the lawyers did not have standing to seek a stay, but they granted a temporary stay after lawyers argued that Moore had standing as a "next friend" of the convicted murderer. In November, Newman apparently had a change of heart and decided to fight his execution. He asked that a briefing schedule be vacated so attorneys from the federal Public Defender’s Office could raise whatever claims are available to prove his innocence. However, in December he asked that the briefing schedule be dismissed and that the stay of execution be lifted. Newman, 47, said he butchered Marie Cholette, 46, of Fort Worth, Texas, in 2001 because she told lies about belonging to a railroad gang. He asked jurors at his trial to order his execution and has since told judges that he no longer wants to live. Cholette died in a wooded area where homeless people were camping near Van Buren in February 2001. Newman said he killed Cholette because she lied about being a member of a gang called the Freight Train Riders of America. "I’m a stone cold killer, ma’am," said Newman in a recent interview inside the Varner Maximum Security Prison in Grady, Ark. Newman says "I want to be executed. I murdered Marie Cholette in cold blood and set her up to do so and enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "Marie Cholette represented herself as a member of our gang and tried to affiliate with our gang. She was murdered for it – tortured, murdered and set on fire. I think if you’re man enough to do the crime, you should be man enough to take the punishment," he said. Just hours before he was supposed to die, an aunt by marriage filed an appeal on his behalf, claiming he is mentally retarded. The Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the execution and appointed a public defender against Newman’s wishes. The murderer was outraged. "Right there, it says I have no mental disease or mental defect, by the Arkansas State Hospital. I feel like people need to stay out of my business and let me be executed," said Newman. From an appellate court account of the trial: On February 15, 2001 a transient notified the Van Buren Police Department that he had found a body in the Lee Creek Park area. Upon arrival, Van Buren police officers found the decomposed body of Marie Cholette, a forty-six-year old female transient, in a make-shift tent composed of tarps and scrap lumber. Cholette had been mutilated. Her neck had been slit, and her torso had been sliced from the neck down to her pelvic area. In the course of the investigation, the police officers questioned Ricky Newman, also a transient and a "rail rider." This occurred on February 15, 2001. Newman was unable to identify a photo of Cholette positively, but he told police officers that he had met a female by the name of "Hardhead" or "Hardhat" at the rescue mission in Van Buren. He stated that he and the woman had walked to a camp where the railroad tracks made a "T." There, they met three people named Psycho, Snake, and Copper. He stated that everyone was "huffing" except for himself and that Psycho began talking about human sacrifice which scared him. Newman said he left and walked back to a friend’s house. At trial, the officer who conducted the interview testified that Newman was "loud spoken" and that he kept his arms crossed while leaning back in his chair. During the evening of February 15, 2001, the police officers collected hair and blood samples from Newman, as they had done from the other suspects. After investigating Newman’s initial story, the police officers were unable to locate individuals named Psycho or Snake. They did learn that an individual named Copper had left town around February 5, 2001. As for Newman, the police officers discovered that he had actually gone to the home of his uncle. Video surveillance from Shamrock Liquors in Fort Smith revealed that Newman and Cholette had been in the store on February 7, 2001, and had purchased two bottles of wine and cigarettes. On March 2, 2001, the police officers learned that Newman intended to leave town. Because of this, they asked him to come to the Van Buren Police station for another interview. When he arrived, Newman was advised of his Miranda rights, and he signed a Miranda waiver form. The officer testified at trial that Newman’s demeanor during the ensuing interview was different from that of his previous interview. This time, he seemed to be very stressed, to have blood-shot eyes, and to be soft-spoken. When questioned, he told police officers that he did not remember going to Shamrock Liquors with Cholette and that he had traded the jacket he was wearing that day at the rescue mission. Newman told the police officers that he killed Cholette, and he asked if he could write out a statement. In that statement, Newman stated that at home he was known as Rickey Newman and Renegade "on the track." He wrote that he becomes "Seaco" when he blacks out and that he cannot control Seaco. He told police officers that when he becomes "Seaco," he will kill "anyone he sees as a threat" and confessed that he was "guilb [sic] of all this." Following his statement, Newman claimed that he was getting a headache and told the police officers that "he stabbed her" and that it was all in the statement. He then proceeded to write more on a second piece of paper. In that statement, Newman wrote "Please lock me up Do not push me I hate Scaio Lock me up please." He further wrote: "Help me kill him are kill Rickey Newman all I can remdermed is Scaio came out and kill that helpless Lady" Newman then told the police officers that he was really stressed, that he had a headache, and that he did not want to talk anymore. He asked the police officers to lock him in a cell by himself so he would not hurt anyone else. That same day, Newman was arrested, and a search warrant was issued and executed on his mother’s home to obtain his clothing. On March 27, 2001, Newman was arraigned. At the arraignment, he attempted to waive all of his rights and to plead guilty to the charges against him. The circuit court refused the guilty plea and appointed the office of the public defender to represent him. During April 2001, Newman sent several letters to the police investigators in which he admitted killing Cholette. In May, June, and July 2001, Newman mailed several letters to the circuit court in which he at times requested the death penalty and denied any need for a mental examination and at other times requested an immediate jury trial. He also requested any material from the State that would be used as evidence against him at trial. On May 9, 2001, the circuit court held an inquiry hearing. At that hearing, Newman informed the circuit court that he had fired the public defender. The court informed Newman that if he were to represent himself as he had expressed a desire to do, he would be bound by the rules of evidence and that the likelihood of being convicted was much greater, as was the likelihood of receiving a more severe punishment. Over Newman’s objection, the court decided to leave the public defender as standby counsel and permitted Newman to represent himself, with the lawyer available should Newman need to ask him anything about the law. The circuit court inquired about whether Newman had been evaluated by the Arkansas State Hospital, and Newman’s standby counsel informed the court that Newman was on the waiting list. On March 27, 2002, a hearing on Newman’s motion for production of various material and information was conducted by the circuit court. At that time, the court supervised the State’s delivery of materials and information from the State Crime Lab to Newman. The court then admonished Newman that he should not represent himself. The court further ordered the prosecutor to make known to Newman which, if any, admissions or statements Newman had made, including letters to the prosecutor, that the State intended to use against him. Newman inquired as to whether the State would be seeking the death penalty against him, and the prosecutor responded that death was one of the potential penalties in the case. On April 8, 2002, the circuit court held a second inquiry hearing. At that time, Newman informed the court that his public defender was going to handle his trial and that he himself would address the jury at some point during the trial. On June 5, 2002, the circuit court conducted Newman’s omnibus hearing. At that time, Newman presented testimony from a psychologist with the Arkansas State Hospital who stated that he had examined Newman and did not find any signs or symptoms of multiple personality disorder. The doctor further testified that Newman exhibited no symptoms of mental disease, as defined by Arkansas law, but that a polysubstance abuse history and a history of personality disorder were found. He also stated that a person who is rational and competent to stand trial could still have a deep and abiding conviction that he must pay for his crime. The doctor stated that Newman was competent to stand trial and was rational enough to make decisions regarding what he wanted to do with regard to his case. The circuit court found that Newman was competent to stand trial. His attorney next proceeded to withdraw, at Newman’s request and instruction, virtually every motion that had been filed on his behalf. Newman confirmed to the circuit court that he was in agreement with these actions. The circuit court did deny two of Newman’s motions: (1) motion to quash information on grounds that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and (2) motion to prohibit death qualification of the jury. The court set Newman’s case for trial. Newman’s jury trial took one day, and occurred on June 10, 2002. At the trial, he waived his right to appear in street clothes and instead asserted that he would rather be tried in his orange jail togs and remain shackled. When informed by the circuit court of his right to be unshackled and to wear street clothes, Newman replied: "Sir, it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, I’m guilty, I killed the lady period." The prosecutor then stated that he wanted to conduct voir dire individually, which the court permitted. Newman further waived imposition of Arkansas Rule of Evidence 615 regarding the exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom. Following voir dire, the prosecutor began his case by calling several police officers who testified to the events of their investigation into Cholette’s death. The prosecutor also introduced a videotape of the crime scene as well as several still photographs of the crime scene taken by police officers. The medical examiner next testified that Cholette’s body was the worst mutilation of a body he had seen during his last ten years as a medical examiner in Arkansas. He testified that Cholette suffered an eight-and-a-quarter inch by one-and-one-half inch slicing wound around her neck, which occurred while she was still alive. Additionally, both of her nipples had been cut off, with the right nipple being cut off post-mortem. She also suffered a stab wound to the left lung that was three-and-one-half inches wide, while next to it was another stab wound which terminated in the left lung measuring up to six inches deep and sustained while she was still alive. He stated that the worst injury suffered by Cholette was a large, gaping wound sustained from the sternum down to her pelvic bone. All of her intestines were protruding and half of her liver had been cut out. Additionally, part of her vagina had been removed while she was still alive, and she had sustained injuries to the anal area. He testified that Cholette had multiple contusions, indicating that she had fought her attacker. He added that toxicology results demonstrated that she had a small amount of alcohol in her, as well as "therapeutic concentrations [of] Amitriptlyne and its metabolite Noritriptylne therapeutic." Several photographs taken by the medical examiner were introduced into evidence in connection with his testimony. A criminalist with the State Crime Lab testified that hairs microscopically similar to Cholette’s were found on Newman’s sweatpants, gloves, and boots. She further testified that in examining vacuum samples taken from a sleeping bag and purple comforter found at the crime scene, she found one head hair that was microscopically similar to Newman’s. Police officers testified for the State about Newman’s interviews and subsequent confessions. One told the jury that on March 7, 2001, when Newman left the courtroom following his plea hearing, Newman said: "I killed the bitch, I don’t know why in the world they won’t let me plead guilty." A detective testified that on May 9, 2002, Newman called from the detention center wanting to talk to him. He went to the detention center to visit with Newman, and Newman told him that the murder weapon was a "pocketknife with a blade about five inches long on it" and that he had hidden it and his shirt in a shed down by the rescue mission. The detective went to the location where Newman claimed the weapon could be found but discovered that the property had been razed following Newman’s arrest. Newman then proceeded to describe to the detective the events of Cholette’s death, which the detective recited to the jury: "He started describing the killing, in his words, it was a sacrifice to the devil. And he said that the victim, Marie Cholette, was a fake, referring to the – it’s a group called the freight train riders of America, it’s kind of a street gang style, the rail riders have, and they have different groups that are characterized by their colors, such as red or black, and he said that she was a fake, saying that she was an FTRA black and that that was the reason he had killed. And he said that the reason he could tell is they all wear their rags, which is a bandana style thing, they can have `em on their neck and they’ve got what’s a concha, right up here by their neck where they can tie their bandannas down with, and he said the concha that she had on was not real, and that a true FTRA would have a real concha on. And he said the one she had was tin. He said-he said it’s not right that she was a fake like that, so he said that he left out, had her go up on the bluff with him, he said he took her up there telling her – because they had the alcohol and such, and they was gonna go up there to drink, and he said that he had – the intent whenever he took her up there was to kill her. He said that he went down to the river and washed his hands and then he went down to the house that he had told me about the shed, he put his shirt and also that knife up in the rafters." The court inquired of Newman, outside the presence of the jury, whether he wished to take the stand, as indicated by his attorney. Newman stated that he did and proceeded to testify. He informed the jury that he had lied when he told the police officers about Snake and provided his own recitation of the events leading up to Cholette’s death and the murder itself: "What happened, uh, I came into town, I met up with this lady, she was wearing a black rag and a tin concha, she was a fake. She claimed that she hurt one of our brothers during a little alteration with her and her husband, uh, I went across the bridge and I bought her alcohol, I drugged her up, I got her drunk and I killed her. Cut her from head to toe. I killed her more than once, I killed her until I got tired of killing her, until the passion of blood went away. Then I left it lay like a dog and walked away. Washed my hands of the whole affair." Newman added that he had lied when he told the police that Psycho killed Cholette. He stated that according to the experts there was no Psycho, but that he knew he had a rage inside of him and that he was capable of "hurting real bad," and that he had had headaches for the last nine or ten years. He concluded his testimony with this statement: "Well, the truth is the only justice in this case is the death penalty, and as ladies and gentlemen of the jury you got to think that could have been you, your daughter, uh, anybody you might know, it just had to be somebody, it happened to be somebody claiming-claimed she was who she wasn’t. I don’t know, you’s probably don’t understand gang activity, but we got our own turf we got to protect, garbage’s got to be taken out at all costs, that’s-if you want to ask a few questions I’ll tell you, I don’t know how-I don’t know how to tell ya’ I’m guilty, I’m guilty I did [it] period…." On cross-examination by the prosecutor, Newman confirmed that he had been convicted of battery in 1998. He further conceded that he had written letters to the prosecutor, the circuit court, and the police. He again admitted that he was not denying the State’s allegations and that Cholette had gotten what she deserved. He detailed the events of the murder, saying that he cut Cholette’s throat, burned her, and stabbed her eyes out so "she couldn’t find Heaven or Hell." Newman also called the jail administrator for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, in his defense. He testified that there had been no problems with Newman in his jail cell, but that several other inmates were scared of him. Following this testimony, Newman rested. The circuit court instructed the jury on Capital Murder, Murder in the First Degree, and Manslaughter. During the prosecutor’s closing argument, Newman became disruptive, and the circuit court ordered him gagged. Approximately four hours after retiring to deliberate, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as to the capital-murder charge. During the penalty phase, the prosecutor presented evidence that Newman had been convicted of battery in 1998. Newman presented no mitigating evidence in his defense. Instead, he addressed the jury: "I, Ricky Newman, freely tell the jury that I killed the lady in cold blood. I first cut her a little at a time to make it hurt and then I stabbed her for fun and to watch her bleed. Then I cut her from her neck to her groin, and then I took some her insides out and cooked some of her organs to see how long they would cook. Let’s see-take to cook-how long it takes to cook them. I enjoyed murdering her very much and I had a lot of fun killing her and making her hurt real bad. This tells you that I am guilty of murder. The first time I saw her I knew I was going to kill her and make her hurt real bad with a lot of pain. Her family needs a little peace and comfort in their lives, and the only peace and comfort her family will ever have is to put the one that killed their loved one to death….The only verdict that will serve this horrible crime in the mutilation of the lady I killed-for the lady’s peace, is for her killer to be put to death in this case. I know the jury will come back with the right decision. -And the decision is yours, jury, and only the jury’s I am-I am myself asking for the death penalty and ask for punishment in this capital murder case….I will not appeal on the right verdict of death, the only decision there is to come back with, and I will ask for a fast execution day.Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I know you will not-I know you will do the right thing for her family, and the taxpayers and yourself, the right justice for all is death, come back with the right decision. Respectfully, Ricky Newman, stone-cold killer. Thank you ladies and gentlemen." After deliberating for less than one hour, the jury returned a verdict of death. UPDATE: Little Rock (AP) – A federal judge has raised questions about documents in the case of condemned killer Rickey Dale Newman and has granted Newman a stay of his Tuesday execution. The 47-year-old Newman has resisted attempts to appeal his death sentence. But U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson Friday wrote an order that questions whether Newman is competent to waive his appeals and whether recent documents in the case clearly state Newman’s intentions. The state Attorney General’s office does not plan to appeal the stay. A spokesman says he expects there will be hearings in the matter. Newman was convicted in Van Buren after he admitted killing Marie Cholette, 46, of Fort Worth, Texas. The motion for a stay was filed in federal court in Fort Smith on Wednesday by federal public defender Jenniffer Horan. At issue is a document dated July 13th "purporting” to address whether Newman wants any pleadings filed on his behalf. Lawyers for Newman say in a July 22 filing that the earlier document was a "misleading declaration” that was unethically obtained from Newman by the prison system.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 27, 2005 Indiana Bruce Vogel
Steve Wentland
Tony Moore
Kevin Conner executed

The Indiana Supreme Court has set an execution date for a man convicted of killing three people following an argument. The court ordered Thursday that Kevin Conner, 38, of Indianapolis be executed on July 27. He was sentenced to death in 1988. Conner appealed his death sentence in state and federal courts, both of which rejected his arguments. Conner was convicted in the January 1988 slayings of three former schoolmates, Bruce Voge, Steve Wentland and Tony Moore. Prosecutors said three of the men, who had been drinking, went for a drive while Voge remained behind and Moore stabbed Wentland during an argument. Moore then chased and struck Wentland with the car and Conner stabbed him several times, according to court documents. Conner and Moore then argued and Conner shot Moore, then drove to Moore’s house and shot Voge, prosecutors said. Conner had sought a new trial because the jury was not property instructed to consider that Conner was drunk when he committed the murders, an assertion the justices rejected. "The jury was instructed that, although voluntary intoxication did not excuse commission of a crime, intoxication could be a defense if it was so extreme that the defendant could not form the requisite intent (knowing or intentional) required for murder. This was an accurate statement of law," the justices wrote in their ruling. The court said the jury was adequately advised of the intoxication defense and that Conner was not deprived of a fair trial and he had received all the appeals to which he was entitled. From appeals court account of the case: The facts surrounding Conner’s crimes, which occurred on the south side of Indianapolis, are essentially undisputed. Sometime during the early morning of January 26, 1988, Conner, Tony Moore, Bruce Voge, and Steve Wentland were drinking at Moore’s house. When Conner, Moore, and Wentland went for a drive in Wentland’s car, Voge stayed behind at the house. During the drive, an argument broke out between Moore, who was seated in the front, and Wentland, who was driving. As a result, Moore stabbed Wentland with Conner’s knife, which caused Wentland to abandon the car and run. Conner, armed with the knife, pursued Wentland on foot, while Moore took control of the car and ran Wentland down. After Wentland was down, Conner beat him with his fists and stabbed him multiple times with the knife, eventually killing him. Conner and Moore then drove to Conner’s place of employment, where they awoke Conner’s employer and were given access to a warehouse. Another argument ensued between Conner and Moore about what had just happened and what they should do. During the argument, Conner obtained his sawed-off shotgun, shot, and killed Moore. This reawakened Conner’s employer, who confronted Conner as he exited the warehouse building. Conner replied that “he had to off Tony.” Conner next left the warehouse and drove to Moore’s house, where he shot and killed Voge, while Voge lay on the couch. Conner then went about disposing of Moore’s body with the aid of various friends, abandoned Wentland’s automobile, and fled the area. He was apprehended in Texas on January 30, 1988 and returned to Indiana to face murder charges in the Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis. The trial lasted from October 3 to 7, 1988, and the jury found Conner guilty of each killing. The penalty phase hearing was held on October 9, and the jury recommended death, as sought by the state. Then on November 3, the state court sentenced Conner to death for the murders of Voge and Moore, and to a term of 60 years for the murder of Wentland.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 27, 2005 Virginia Daniel Petrole Jr., 21 Justin Wolfe stayed

An execution date has been set for Justin Michael Wolfe, the Centreville teen convicted of planning the murder of his marijuana supplier in 2001. Prince William Circuit Court Judge Lon E. Farris scheduled Wolfe for a July 27 execution date last week, according to the Circuit Court, Department of Corrections and Attorney General’s Office. Circuit Court Administrator Robert Marsh said Farris signed the execution order after a conference call with the attorney general and Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert. Marsh said he believed Wolfe’s attorneys were also called. "Having determined that the Supreme Court has denied habeas corpus relief to the defendant, this Court hereby orders that the death sentence of Justin Michael Wolfe be carried out on the 27th day of July, 2005, at such a time of day as the Director of the Department of Corrections shall fix," the execution order reads. Inmates are moved from death row at Sussex I State Prison in Waverly to the execution facility at Greenville once an execution date is considered likely, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said in a phone interview. The inmate is moved four days before the execution date. Traylor said he was unaware of any transfer of Wolfe. While an inmate is on deathwatch at Greenville, he has access to television, a phone and visitors, Traylor said. Emily Lucier, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, said she couldn’t comment on any move or potential move of Wolfe for security reasons. Wolfe, 23, was convicted of the murder-for-hire shooting death of his marijuana supplier, Daniel Petrole Jr., 21. Wolfe, Petrole and gunman Owen Merton Barber IV, of Chantilly, had all been members of a marijuana ring operating throughout Northern Virginia. Wolfe was indebted to Petrole; Barber was indebted to Wolfe. The quantity of high-grade marijuana discovered in Petrole’s Braemar town house was one of the largest ever seized in Prince William. Wolfe’s attorneys filed a habeas corpus appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court in March 2004. That appeal was dismissed, Wolfe’s former attorney William Douglas Wham said in a phone interview Thursday. Wham said he and his co-counsel, Jerry C. Lyell, are no longer able to represent Wolfe and that a new counsel would be continuing his appeals in federal courts. Once that final appeal within the Virginia system was exhausted, the attorney general’s office is free to seek an execution date from the Circuit Court judge. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date. UPDATE: The execution of a Centreville man convicted in the murder-for-hire shooting of his marijuana supplier will not take place as scheduled Wednesday. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk on Friday issued a stay of execution for Justin Michael Wolfe after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wolfe’s petition for a stay. Wolfe’s attorneys said they also plan to file a federal habeas corpus petition, which essentially launches Wolfe’s post-conviction federal appeals process. "We do think there are a lot of unanswered questions in this (case)," said Jane Luxton, one of Wolfe’s attorneys. Wolfe, 23, had been scheduled to die Wednesday for the 2001 slaying of 21-year-old Daniel Petrole Jr. Wolfe, Petrole and gunman Owen Merton Barber IV of Chantilly had been members of a marijuana ring operating throughout Northern Virginia. Barber agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder and testify against Wolfe in exchange for a life sentence, which he is serving at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 28, 2005 Texas Kiersa Alexandra Paul, 24 David Martinez executed

kiersapaul smallIn October 1998, a jury convicted Martinez of the capital murder of Kiersa Paul while attempting to commit or committing robbery or aggravated sexual assault. A jogger found Kiersa’s body along a trail on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Kiersa told her sister the previous night that she intended to meet an individual named Wolf at that location. Her body was covered only by a pair of unbuttoned boxer shorts, and her legs were spread open. Further investigation revealed injuries consistent with strangulation, blunt force injury to the head and nose, gouge marks on the neck, bruising of both nipples, cuts on her neck, breast, and stomach, and forceful sexual intercourse. Martinez, whose nickname was “Wolf,” told friends that he intended to meet a girl that evening along the trail. He returned to his friends’ house with a bicycle he did not own. After executing a search warrant, the police determined that Martinez possessed Kiersa’s bicycle and bicycle bag. They also seized a Swiss army pocketknife owned by Martinez. Forensic tests determined that hairs found on Kiersa were consistent with Martinez’s hair and that Martinez’s pocketknife contained blood that matched Kiersa’s DNA. Semen collected from Kiersa’s underwear matched Martinez’s DNA. UPDATE: Kiersa Paul’s parents, from Bloomington, Minn., and another of their daughters witnessed the execution of Kiersa’s killer. Martinez looked at them briefly as they held hands tightly but he made no comment to them and did not express remorse for the murder.

Page visited times since 4/19/05

Page last updated 10/05/08