September 2005 Executions

Four killers were executed in September 2005. They had murdered at least 8 people.
killers were given a stay in September 2005. They have murdered at least 10 people.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 7, 2005 Texas George Newman Rickey Lewis stayed

Rickey Lynn Lewis, a man twice sentenced to die for capital murder, was issued a death warrant Wednesday to be carried out next month. The 43-year-old was set to be executed on Sept. 7 by 114th District Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent, who found that all of his state and federal appeals had been exhausted. Lewis was convicted for the Sept. 17, 1990, murder of George Newman during a burglary at the victim’s house. He was also found guilty of sexually assaulting Newman’s common-law wife, Connie Hilton. Lewis, clad in a bright yellow jail jumpsuit and shackles and flanked by deputies, was transported from death row to Smith County for the hearing, after which he was escorted back to prison. The convict hung his head after the date was announced but moments later, was smiling and talking with his attorney. A handful of people for the victims, including Ms. Hilton, sat in the court’s gallery. Judge Kent ruled in February that Lewis was not mentally retarded, a claim he used to try to escape the death chamber. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, which ordered the trial judge to preside over the writ of habeas corpus hearing, agreed with her ruling and ordered her to set an execution date. Lewis, who has been on death row for about a decade, was convicted and twice sentenced to die for the capital murder. The first Smith County jury selected convicted Lewis and sentenced him to death. But in 1996, the Court of Criminal Appeals remanded the punishment back to the trial court. In 1997, another jury again sentenced him to the death penalty, finding that he committed the murder deliberately, that there was a high probability he would be a continuing threat to society and that there were no mitigating circumstances that warranted a life sentence rather that the death penalty. Former 241st District Judge Diane DeVasto set Lewis’ execution date for Aug. 7, 2003 but Lewis’ attorneys claimed he was mentally retarded, a matter that was finally settled this year. The final judgment came down when the Court of Criminal Appeals’ affirmed Judge Kent’s finding that Lewis is not mentally retarded. Defense attorneys tried to prove that Lewis was wrongly sentenced to death. Mental retardation experts hired by the state testified that he has learning disabilities but is not retarded; doctors hired by the defense disagreed. In a mental retardation claim, the defense has the burden of proof. The three-pronged approach to diagnosing mental retardation includes below-average intellectual functioning usually denoted by an IQ score of 70 or less, manifestation of the disorder by age 18 and consideration of adaptive functioning, or how a person operates in daily life. If the judge had ruled that Lewis was retarded, his sentence would have automatically been commuted to life in prison. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the execution of mentally retarded people. Judge Kent concluded that Lewis entered the home to burglarize it but was interrupted by the victims. He shot Newman and sexually assaulted, bit and hit Ms. Hilton, threatening to kill her. He also killed the couple’s dog. The defendant’s late mother’s testimony during trial indicated he was a "bright" child who began having problems when the family moved in with his father, who beat him and whom he later shot to protect his mother. The shooting occurred when he was 10 years old, she said. Lewis’ capital murder trial attorney, Jeff Baynham, sat in on the hearing Wednesday for Lewis’ appellate attorney Mike Charlton, of New Mexico. District Attorney Matt Bingham, First Assistant DA April Sikes and Assistant DA Mike West represented the state.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 8, 2005 Tennessee Laci Hill
Ray Patterson
Forrest Boyd
Steven Thacker stayed

The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of Steven Ray Thacker. Thacker was found guilty of first-degree murder for the January 2000, stabbing death of tow truck driver Ray Patterson. Thacker also was convicted of killing two others on a three-state crime spree. He murdered Bixby resident Laci Hill in December of 1999, and also killed Forrest Boyd after stealing his car near Springfield, Missouri. The Tennessee court scheduled a September 8th execution date for Thacker, pending state and federal appeals.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 14, 2005 Texas Farrah Elaine Newton, 2
Alton Newton, 7
Adrian Newton
Frances Newton executed

Adrian Newtonfarrah newtonAlton NewtonA September 14, 2005 execution date has been set for Frances Newton, 40, who was sentenced to die for the 1987 shooting deaths of her husband, son and daughter. Prosecutors say she killed her family in order to collect $100,000 in insurance. Newton claims a drug dealer was the killer. Her defense attorney says he wants tests run on bloody carpet from the crime scene that may exonerate Newton. Texas governor Rick Perry granted Newton a 120-day reprieve just a few hours before she was to have been executed on Dec. 1, 2004, in order to give her attorneys additional time to investigate questions about the evidence used to convict her, but their efforts failed to clear her. From the Texas Attorney General’s web site: On the evening of April 7, 1987, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to an apartment complex at 6126 West Mount Houston in response to a report of a possible shooting. The deputy found the bodies of the three victims inside the apartment. All three had been shot to death. Newton and her cousin were at the location when the deputy arrived. A friend of Newton’s testified that earlier in the evening, Newton had taken a blue bag out of her car and put it in an abandoned house which belonged to her parents. A homicide detective later recovered the bag, which containing a.25 automatic pistol. A ballistics expert established that the pistol was the murder weapon. A forensics expert for the State established that nitrites were present on the skirt Newton wore on the day of the shootings. In the expert’s opinion, the nitrites came from gunpowder residue and were consistent with someone shooting a pistol in the lower front area of the skirt. Less than a month prior to the murders, Newton purchased a $50,000 life insurance policy on herself, another on her husband and a third on her daughter. Newton, the primary beneficiary on the latter two policies, made claims on the policies following the killings. Psychologist Charles Covert testified at Newton’s trial that based on a hypothetical scenario paralleling the facts in Newton’s case, there is a probability such a person would commit violent acts constituting a threat to society. From December 2004: 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. 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 bag 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 of Houston, Adrian Newton’s brother, 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
September 20, 2005 Ohio unnamed victim
Betty Jane Mottinger
John Spirko stayed

Betty Mottinger smallThe Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday set a Sept. 20 execution date for one of the state’s longest-serving, death-row inmates, a man who maintains he’s innocent of the 1982 murder of a postal worker. But attorneys for John Spirko, with permission from a federal judge in Toledo, continue to gather facts to support their new claim that the prosecution deceived the jury and the appeals courts about evidence used to convict him. Spirko was sentenced to die in 1984 for the murder of Elgin postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger. He says he didn’t do it. Spirko, 58, claims that the state’s case against him was weakened when charges against his co-defendant were dropped last year. He also says prosecutors withheld key evidence and presented a false case. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Spirko’s appeal in March. The high court was apparently unimpressed by the revelation that the county prosecutor had dismissed the two-decade-old complaint pending against Gibson on the same day last year that the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Spirko’s conviction. Gibson has never been tried for the murder. "I’m glad it is coming to an end, but the main fact is that, even if he is put to death as he should be, it’s not going to bring my mother back," said the victim’s son, Douglas Mottinger of Coldwater, Mich. His father, Clarence, who died in 2003, once said he moved to Indiana so that his tax dollars would not be used to clothe and feed the man who stabbed his wife 15 times in the chest and stomach. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Spirko’s conviction and death sentence. An important element of the Van Wert County prosecutor’s case was a witness who said she recognized co-defendant Delaney Gibson, a friend of Spirko, near the Elgin post office the day that Mottinger disappeared. No physical evidence tied Spirko to the murder. He was convicted of the killing based largely on his statements to police and the testimony of the eyewitness who said she had seen Gibson near the post office. Prosecutors had alleged that Spirko participated in the kidnapping and killing of Mottinger with Gibson. Prosecutors never told the jury or defense that they had evidence before the trial that Gibson was with family in North Carolina, hundreds of miles from Elgin, the night before the crime. Recently, Spirko’s lawyers said evidence had surfaced that a key investigator told the prosecutor before the 1984 trial that Gibson wasn’t involved in the murder, but that the prosecutor used the Gibson allegations against Spirko anyway. The prosecutor has denied this. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James Carr of Toledo authorized Spirko’s lawyers to investigate that evidence further. Gibson was never tried in the Mottinger case. Capital murder charges against him were dismissed last year. Spirko, born in Toledo, was paroled in Kentucky in 1982 for a separate murder. He returned to Swanton to live with his sister. He was soon jailed there on an unrelated assault charge, a parole violation. Spirko’s attorneys argued he is sitting on death row because he lied to investigators about having information about the unsolved Mottinger murder. Spirko has maintained he wanted to trade false information for leniency for himself on the assault charge as well as for his girlfriend, who had been charged with helping him to attempt a prison escape. Although investigators dismissed much of what he told them, they latched onto Spirko’s connection with Gibson and several details they said could come only from the killer. These details included: 1) the location of the stab wounds in Ms. Mottinger’s body; 2) a description of Ms. Mottinger’s clothing; 3) knowledge that a stone had been pried from a ring worn by Ms. Mottinger; 4) a description of the ring; 5) the type of shroud and specific method used to enwrap Ms. Mottinger’s body after her death; 6) a description of Ms. Mottinger’s purse into which the perpetrators placed the fruits of the Post Office robbery; and 7) a description of what was stolen in that robbery. On October 28, 2004 and November 16, 2004, Spirko filed an application for DNA testing in the trial court. Spirko requested DNA testing on “blood or other evidence received from the person of the deceased, Betty Mottinger, or from physical evidence recovered from the area where the body was discovered including blood evidence on tarp and boots.” On March 10, 2005, the trial court denied Spirko’s request for DNA testing. In doing so, the trial court noted the following: 1) There was no biological material found at the site of the abduction; 2) At trial it was never claimed that any of the blood found on or in the area of the victim’s remains was the defendant’s; and 3) As to the boots, it was conceded by the prosecution at trial that it could have been Spirko’s blood on the boots. Thus, the trial court concluded that DNA testing could not exonerate Spirko. UPDATE: Gov. Bob Taft today delayed the execution of a condemned killer professing his innocence to allow for a second parole board hearing. Taft ordered the execution of John Spirko, convicted of killing a northwest Ohio postmistress, delayed until Nov. 15 to allow for the hearing. The parole board had requested the delay of the Sept. 20 execution earlier today.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 22, 2005 Texas Wynona Lynn Harris Michael Riley stayed

An execution date has been set for a former Quitman resident convicted in the 1986 murder of Wynona Harris, a convenience store clerk stabbed more than 20 times. Michael Lynn Riley, now on death row in Livingston, is set to die Sept. 22. Riley was convicted of capital murder after he confessed to stabbing Ms. Harris 23 times and stealing $970 she was counting in the store. Wood County District Attorney Marcus Taylor said that on Feb. 1, 1986, Riley watched Ms. Harris counting the money from outside the Quitman convenience store, then entered, stabbed her to death, took the money, walked home and discarded the knife and money bags in a field. He later went to the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and confessed, signing a written statement. A jury found Riley guilty in 1986 and sentenced him to die, but his conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1991 and remanded to Wood County for a new trial because a potential juror had been improperly dismissed. Riley pleaded guilty to capital murder in his second trial in September 1995, and defense attorneys asked for life in prison, but the jury returned with a death sentence. Riley has exhausted all his appeals. The Harris family has said the execution date is long overdue. "I don’t know what to think right now," said Kitty Harris, Wynona’s sister. "I never dreamed it would continue for this long. Her children were babies when it happened, and now they have babies of their own. That’s how long we sat here with no closure on this." Ms. Harris said the family is glad a date has been set, but is wary that Riley may not get executed if he is proven to be mentally retarded. She said Riley’s nonchalant nature about the murder at the trials showed that he had no regrets. "I hope this is the end of 20 years of emotional unrest," she said. "It’s time to come to an end." Ms. Harris said that even though Riley had not committed violent crimes before, she strongly believed he would murder again. "Yes, this was his first time of violent behavior and taking another human being’s life, but by no means do I think it would’ve been his last," she said. Ms. Harris said she is supporting the death penalty for Riley because her sister’s murder tore her family to shreds. She said she doesn’t think Riley deserves a place in society, or that tax dollars should go to keep him alive. "His mom gets handwritten letters and my mom gets to stare at a headstone," she said. Ms. Harris said despite her feelings about Riley, she still has empathy for his family, and she said she has raised her sister’s children to not hate him or his family. "I sat in court and saw his mom brokenhearted," she said. "I just wanted to hug her… I didn’t want my children ever growing up thinking ‘I hate this person.’" Some of the family members will likely witness the execution, Ms. Harris said. "It’s been very, very difficult," she said. "There have been times when you have to talk yourself into keeping on believing in the justice system."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 22, 2005 Alabama Paul G. Franklin Jr., 34
Judy Choron Franklin, 34
Paul Franklin Jr., 10
John Peoples executed

A man convicted of murdering a Talladega County couple and their 10-year-old son before taking their vintage Chevrolet Corvette is set for execution on Thursday, 22 years after the killings. John W. Peoples Jr. was convicted in 1983 in the murders of Pell City businessman Paul G. Franklin Jr., wife Judy Choron Franklin, both 34, and Paul Franklin Jr., their son. Peoples asked the Alabama Supreme Court to block the execution, but no ruling had been issued Monday. The boy and his mother were beaten to death with a rifle, and Peoples led authorities to the spot where their bodies were dumped in a field. The man’s body was too decomposed by the time he was found for investigators to determine a cause of death. A former prosecutor said Peoples, now 48, killed the three because he was after the Fanklins’ 1968 red sports car. "He wanted the Corvette, and he got in an argument with Paul Franklin, then he decided he needed to get rid of the witnesses," said Robert Rumsey, a former district attorney who prosecuted Peoples, now 48. An attorney for Peoples asked the Alabama Supreme Court to block the execution, arguing it should be halted because Peoples originally was sentenced to die in Alabama’s electric chair but the state has since changed its preferred method of execution to lethal injection. The head of the state’s death penalty appeals office, Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw, said the execution should be allowed to go forward since Peoples could have requested death in the electric chair but didn’t. "If he truly wanted to be electrocuted he could have done that," said Crenshaw. "The default (method) is lethal injection." Peoples’ attorney, William C. Cagney of New Brunswick, N.J., did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Peoples was arrested in the Corvette soon after the slayings. "As far as I’m concerned, it ruined our life. It changed our mother’s life. It changed my life because we’ve lived for this for 22 years. I’m glad it’s coming down. He got what he deserved," Judy Franklin’s brother, Bill Choron of Foley, told The Birmingham News. Evidence showed the woman wrote Peoples’ name inside a clothes hamper with eye makeup before he abducted her and the boy from their home. Peoples and his cousin, Timothy Gooden, who was with him the night of the killings, were both charged with capital murder. Gooden testified for the prosecution in a plea deal and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Gooden later changed his story and said investigators pressured him into testifying against Peoples, coaching him to tell a fabricated story. He was re-indicted for capital murder, pleaded guilty again, and is serving a term of life without parole. UPDATE: Condemned inmate John W. Peoples Jr. flashed a broad grin and gave a thumbs up to his brother before he was executed Thursday for killing a Pell City family of three and driving off in their vintage sports car in 1983. Peoples, 48, of Talladega, died at 6:27 p.m. CST. He was convicted in December 1983 in the killing of Pell City businessman Paul G. Franklin and his wife, Judy Choron Franklin, both 34, and their 10-year-old son, Paul. Officials at Holman Prison near Atmore conducted the execution by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Peoples’ request for a delay and Gov. Bob Riley turned down his bid for clemency. Peoples did not look at or offer an apology to relatives of the Franklins, instead thanking his own family for their support. "I hope I’ve handled everything since I’ve been here with dignity," he said in his final statement as he faced his brother, Gerry Peoples. The Franklins’ relatives said they were relieved that Peoples was executed, but were surprised at his apparent lack of remorse. "Seemed a lot easier on him the way he died versus the way they died," said Bill Choron, Judy Choron Franklin’s brother. Peoples ate very little in the days before the execution and did not make the traditional request for a last meal, prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said. Peoples spent Thursday morning visiting with several relatives, including his mother, two daughters and son. He left $186.19 to his brother. In the final days leading up to his execution, Peoples argued that he had a right to die by electrocution, as his original death sentence stipulated, instead of lethal injection, a method Alabama adopted beginning July 1, 2002. He contended there never was a public court proceeding changing the sentence. The state, in its response to the Supreme Court, said Peoples missed the 2002 deadline to request the electric chair. "He has offered absolutely no justification for the delay," said Assistant Attorney General Beth Hughes in her rebuttal filed Wednesday. State’s attorneys also said his sentence – death – was not changed and that his claim was without merit. The Franklin boy and his mother were beaten to death with a rifle, but the father’s body was too decomposed by the time he was found for investigators to determine the cause of death. Prosecutors say Peoples killed the three because he wanted their 1968 red Corvette, and he was arrested after attempting to sell the car shortly after the killings. Peoples had argued that because he led investigators to the bodies, his attorney should have taken steps to get him a sentence less than the death penalty. Evidence showed that Judy Franklin wrote Peoples’ name on the top of a clothes hamper with an eyebrow pencil before she and her son were abducted. Peoples’ cousin, Timothy Gooden, also testified in a plea deal which got him a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Gooden, who initially testified that he was with Peoples the night of the killings, later claimed investigators pressured him into testifying falsely against Peoples. Gooden was re-indicted for capital murder and, after pleading guilty, sentenced to life without parole. Last week, relatives of Gooden presented prison Commissioner Donal Campbell with a letter from Peoples in which he insists Gooden was never with him the night of the murders. Peoples’ letter, while apparently not asserting his own innocence, says in part that District Attorney Robert Rumsey knew Gooden was not there but still made a deal with Gooden to testify against Peoples. Relatives of the Franklins had said they did not care if Peoples died by electrocution or lethal injection.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 22, 2005 Pennsylvania Edmund Saranchak
Stella Saranchock
Daniel Saranchak stayed

Daniel Saranchak, a father of five, was sentenced to be executed for the October 15, 1993 robbery and murder of his uncle, Edmund Saranchak and his grandmother, Stella Saranchock (she had kept the original spelling of the surname.) Edmund was shot between eyes as he was sitting on the couch. Stella was bedridden and was shot to death in her bed. Saranchak said he killed because he needed money to keep drinking with a friend and stole approximately $355. In November of 2000, a federal appeals court issued a stay 40 minutes before the execution of Saranchak. Saranchak, 37, has opposed all appeals on his behalf, but attorneys who formerly represented him are arguing he is not competent to waive appeals and have requested legal standing to file appeals on his behalf. UPDATE: A Schuylkill County man who’s on death row for murdering his grandmother and uncle in October 1993 has received a stay of execution. Daniel Saranchak will not be executed on September 22nd, as originally scheduled. The 37-year-old Pottsville man has received the stay of execution from U.S. Middle District Judge Sylvia Rambo allowing him to pursue a claim that his trial attorney was ineffective. Paperwork on the claim must be filed by October 16th.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 27, 2005 Ohio Daniel Baker, 40 Herman Ashworth executed

On 9/10/96, Ashworth murdered 40-year-old Daniel Baker outside the Wagon Wheel bar in Newark. After having a few drinks at the Wagon Wheel and Legend Bars with Mr. Baker, Ashworth beat Daniel with a board and kicked him several times. He then stole Daniel’s wallet. Ashworth later confessed and pled guilty to the charges. Ashworth says he has always believed in capital punishment, and his eight years on death row haven’t changed his opinion. Ashworth admits that he beat Daniel Baker to death and robbed him of $40 and deserves to be executed. Except for a brief time early in the case, Ashworth has refused to put on a defense or to let attorneys do it for him. He pled guilty in 1997 to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. In May of 2005, he dropped his lawyers because they were trying to keep him alive, and no other appeals were planned. "The Baker family deserves to have their justice," Ashworth told a psychologist who evaluated him to determine if he was competent to volunteer for execution. "What’s it going to hurt to have them have their day of justice? A needle isn’t all that bad and I’m going to go to sleep." UDPATE: A man who said he deserved to die was executed by lethal injection Tuesday for luring a man into an alley in 1996 and beating him to death for $40. Herman Dale Ashworth, 32, was the fourth Ohio death row inmate since 1999 to drop his appeals to speed his execution. He was pronounced dead at 10:19 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Ashworth pleaded guilty in 1997 to the slaying of Daniel Baker, 40, of Newark, who was beaten so badly a deputy coroner said his injuries were consistent with a high-speed traffic accident or plane crash. "A life for a life, let it be done and justice will be served," Ashworth said in his final statement after taking a couple of labored breaths. He breathed calmly as the execution started, then shook before his breaths became more rapid. Soon the 6-foot-4 Ashworth was motionless, his white Adidas hightops hanging off the gurney’s edge. Before he walked into the death chamber, prison medical technicians in a neighboring room had trouble inserting the shunt into Ashworth’s right arm where the lethal drugs were administered. Workers ran their hands up Baker’s right arm looking for an another location for the second shunt after the one in his left arm went in easily. Within 10 minutes, they had inserted the shunt. Ashworth stayed calm throughout, talking with workers in the room. "I can’t lie and say that I’m sorry that this conclusion happened because I’m not," said Baker’s niece, Tangee Overly, whose husband, Samuel, witnessed the execution while she waited in the prison. "Dan was very brutally murdered." About 100 protesters set up sandwich boards outside the prison fence Tuesday morning with lists of those executed in Ohio and their pictures. Meanwhile, inmates at the prison remained locked in their cells early Tuesday after an inmate was attacked and killed Monday. Ashworth and Baker, who had never met before, had a few drinks and were walking to a bar when Ashworth called Baker over to an alley and beat him with his fists and a 6-foot board and kicked him, according to court documents and Ashworth’s interview with police. After beating Baker, Ashworth took about $40 from him and went back to a bar in Newark, about 30 miles east of Columbus. Ashworth told police that Baker, a divorced father of a then-12-year-old girl, came onto him and he freaked out. His girlfriend at the time, Tanna Brett, testified that Ashworth told her about the beating and said he had to go back to the alley to kill him to prevent Baker from identifying him. Brett said she thought she persuaded Ashworth to leave Baker alone. However, when she went looking for him later she heard a metal sound coming from the alley and found Baker in a different position near a metal loading dock door. Ashworth’s adoptive parents, James Ashworth and Anna Mae Dalton, who live near DeQuincy in southwest Louisiana, had planned to visit with their son before the execution but were unable to make after the area was ravaged by Hurricane Rita. Ashworth stayed up Monday night in an unsuccessful attempt to call the couple, now divorced, before the execution, a prisons spokeswoman said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 28, 2005 Indiana Lisa Bianco Alan Matheney executed

Lisa Bianco

On March 4, 1989, Alan Matheney, while on an eight-hour pass from prison, brutally murdered Lisa Bianco (his ex-wife and the mother of his two daughters, Amber and Brooke). On March 4, 1989, Matheney was given an eight-hour pass from the Correctional Industrial Complex in Pendleton, Indiana where he was an inmate. Matheney was serving a sentence for Battery and Confinement in connection with a previous assault on his ex-wife, Lisa Bianco, who was the victim in this case. The pass authorized a trip to Indianapolis; however, Matheney drove to St. Joseph County. Matheney went to the house of a friend where he changed clothes and removed an unloaded shotgun from the house without the knowledge of those present. Matheney then drove to Mishawaka. He parked his car not far from Lisa Bianco’s house and broke in through the back door. Lisa ran from her home, pursued by Matheney. Neighbors witnessed the chase that ensued. When Matheney caught Lisa, he beat her with the shotgun which broke into pieces. One neighbor confronted Matheney and saw him get into a car and drive away. Matheney surrendered to a policeman later that afternoon. The autopsy showed that Lisa Bianco died as a result of trauma to the head from a blunt instrument. It is worth noting that at trial the prosecution introduced overwhelming evidence of Matheney’s murder of Lisa Bianco. Matheney’s brother and a friend of Matheney’s both testified at trial that Alan Matheney arrived at the friend’s home at about 1:00 p.m. on March 4, 1989. The friend further testified that when Matheney left his home approximately one hour later, a gun belonging to his step-son was missing. Matheney’s daughter, Brooke, testified that she was at home with her mother in St. Joseph County on the afternoon of the Fourth when she saw her father enter the house and confront her mother. At her mother’s request, Brooke ran next door and asked the neighbor to call the police. Several neighbors testified that they watched Matheney violently assault and murder Lisa in the middle of the street by repeatedly striking her with a rifle. The evidence was so powerful that when defense counsel began his opening statement, he admitted: "On March 4, 1989, in the early afternoon, Alan Matheney beat his ex-wife to death in broad daylight, on a public street corner, in Mishawaka, Indiana." Defense counsel went on to argue that Matheney was insane at the time of the killing, his legal defense, however two separate court-appointed doctors individually reported to the court that Matheney was sane at the time he committed the crimes. UPDATE: On Monday, August 29, the Indiana Supreme Court set a September 28 execution date for 54-year-old Alan Matheney for the 1989 murder of his ex-wife, Lisa Bianco. In 1989, Matheney was in serving time in prison for an assault on his former wife, Lisa Bianco. He was released on an eight-hour pass, forced his way into Lisa’s home in Mishawaka, then killed her by beating her to death with an un-loaded shotgun. Sixteen years later, Lisa Bianco’s mother says it’s hard to feel justice has been served. "Justice isn’t exactly what you would hope that it would be," says Millie Bianco. "I imagine we are closer. This is more definitive, but I think that the validity of the death penalty sentence was invalidated a long time ago just because it takes you know, so long." The conviction and sentence were upheld but the time it took to get here has worn on the Bianco family. "I don’t think that justice is really served, has been served with the death penalty because he’s had all these years you know, that Lisa didn’t,” says Millie. "It’s just not that much of a deterrent because it’s not employed on a timely basis. We’ve been subjected to, you know, all these appeals, having to have Lisa slandered again in court. To me it’s just, you know, is a misuse of taxpayers money and the family’s emotions." Matheney could still avoid the death penalty by receiving a stay or seeking clemency from the governor. In 1999, the courts ordered a new evidentiary hearing on Matheney’s competency. In February of 2003, a federal judge in South Bend rejected Matheney’s appeal that he should have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, and his attorneys should have sought such a ruling. The federal judge found no evidence Matheney should have been ruled mentally incompetent, and he noted that Matheney’s attorneys had pursued an insanity defense. The case returned to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which ordered the review. The court ruled in July of 2004 that Matheney was mentally competent to stand trial at the time. The US Supreme Court refused to hear Matheney’s appeal in May 2005. UPDATE: A man who beat his ex-wife to death with an unloaded shotgun during an eight-hour furlough from prison was executed early Wednesday, hours after the governor denied his request for clemency. Alan Matheney, 54, sentenced to death in 1990 for murdering 29-year-old Lisa Bianco, was executed by chemical injection and pronounced dead at 12:27 a.m. EST. "I love my family and my children. I’m sorry for the pain I caused them," Matheney said in his final statement, read by his attorney. When granted the prison furlough, he had been serving an eight-year sentence for a 1987 assault on Bianco and confining their two children. Prosecutors said he drove to the South Bend suburb of Mishawaka, broke into Bianco’s home, chased her outside and beat her to death. The murder came just months after images of Willie Horton, a murderer who committed a rape while on prison furlough in Massachusetts, helped derail Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’ 1988 bid for the White House. In Indiana, then-Gov. Evan Bayh suspended the state’s prison furlough program after Bianco’s murder. The program has since been reinstated, but with tighter restrictions. The state also agreed to pay $900,000 to Bianco’s estate and the couple’s children, who were home at the time of the attack. Bianco had divorced Matheney in 1985. She continued to fear her husband even after his incarceration and had gotten assurances from prison officials that she would be notified if he was ever released. She was not notified of the furlough, however, and Matheney violated the terms of his pass and an earlier court order when he left central Indiana for her home. On Tuesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels denied defense lawyers’ request to consider blocking the execution on grounds he was mentally ill. Millie Bianco, the victim’s mother, said although she believed Matheney deserved to be executed, she had mixed feelings about Daniels’ decision. "This is a man who washed dishes in my kitchen and who could be charming, who loved his dog," she told The Associated Press by telephone from her home in Lake Alfred, Fla. "At times your mind skips back to those parts. So it is hard. The legal system was almost to the point of irresponsibility and a total lack of respect for the victim’s rights," Millie Bianco said. "She knew once he was out that he would be after her. It’s been such an emotional roller coaster for all these years that it’s going to be pretty hard to just turn it off," Millie Bianco said. "You can’t do that because all these lives have been torn apart." But she said even the death penalty was not punishment enough for Matheney. "If we’re talking about true justice, he wouldn’t be receiving a nice, quiet injection. Lisa was chased out of her home half naked and bludgeoned to death on the neighbor’s doorstep, and that’s a horribly indignant murder," she said. "What he is getting is going to be a piece of cake compared to that." About 20 death penalty opponents marched in front of the prison banging drums Tuesday evening to protest the execution.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 29, 2005 Pennsylvania Rashawn Bass, 23 Antyane Robinson stayed

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell today signed a warrant for the execution by lethal injection of Antyane Robinson, a Fort Washington, Maryland man who was convicted of a slaying in Cumberland County. Robinson’s execution is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29. In March 1997, Robinson was convicted and sentenced to die for shooting his former girlfriend’s boyfriend, 23-year-old Rashawn Bass, in Carlisle. Robinson was formally sentenced to death on April 1, 1997. UPDATE: A federal judge halted the scheduled Sept. 29 execution of a man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend in Carlisle in 1996. Antyane Robinson, formerly of Fort Washington, Md., will have more time to pursue an appeal under an order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane. Robinson was sentenced to death in 1997 for killing Rashawn Bass, 23. He also critically wounded his ex-girlfriend, Tara Hodge. Robinson, 36, is an inmate at the state prison in Greene County.

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