August 2006 Executions

Nine killers were executed in August 2006. They had murdered at least 15 people.
killers were given a stay in August 2006. They have murdered at least 5 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 3, 2006 Texas Damien Willis, 3 William Wyatt, Jr. executed

On 4 February 1997, Damien Willis, the three-year-old son of William E. Wyatt’s then-girlfriend, Renee Porter, with whom Wyatt lived, was left in Wyatt’s care while Renee was at work. At approximately 6:00 p.m., Wyatt called 911, reporting the child had accidentally drowned in the bathtub. When emergency personnel arrived, the child had no pulse, was not breathing, and was cold to the touch. Paramedics attempted CPR and transported the child to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m. The attending physician noted the child was unusually cold (his temperature was 84 degrees, when approximately 96 would have been expected) and had bruising on his forehead and thighs and both fresh and healed injuries to his rectum; and opined that the child had been sexually assaulted prior to his death. The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the child stated that the cause of death was homicidal violence, including smothering. Wyatt was taken to the police station, where he signed three statements over three days. His first statement (4 February) provided: he was in the laundry room while the child was bathing; Wyatt returned to the bathroom to find the child underwater; and, after attempting CPR, he called 911. On 5 February, Wyatt gave a similar statement, but, acknowledging he had not told the entire truth previously, confessed to sodomizing the child before he took a bath. On 6 February, again acknowledging he had not been completely truthful previously because he was scared, Wyatt stated: while Porter was at work, the child wanted to take a bath; after the child began running the bath water, Wyatt saw something on the television that “made [him] feel like having sex”; Wyatt sodomized the child; Wyatt left the room and returned; believing the child had lodged something in the light socket, he hit the child with a belt five or six times; the child began screaming; to stop him, Wyatt held a plastic bag over his mouth; when the child tried to jerk away from Wyatt, the child hit his head on the tub; Wyatt left to get ice for the child’s forehead; when Wyatt returned, the child was not breathing; and after attempting CPR, Wyatt called 911. In 1998, Wyatt was found guilty of capital murder of a child under the age of six and sentenced to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 8, 2006 Ohio Thomas King, 61
Arlie Fugate, 68
Mae Fugate, 69
Darrell Ferguson executed

Darrell Ferguson, a drug addict on a two-day leave from a drug rehabilitation center over the Christmas holidays, killed three elderly or disabled East Dayton residents in 2001 while robbing them for drug money. He has reveled in the evil of his acts, saying it thrilled him to stab, stomp and beat his victims. He said if he was released from prison, he would pick up where he left off. He was an avowed Satanist who posted hateful diatribes against his elderly and disabled victims on the Internet. As recently as June 2006, Ferguson had a Web site with graphic details about the "orgasmic" pleasure he took in stabbing, beating and stomping his victims. On Christmas Day, 2001, Darrell Ferguson murdered 61-year-old Thomas King at Mr. King’s home on the east side of Dayton. King, was disabled and used crutches. Ferguson broke into Thomas King’s home, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and stabbed Thomas eight times in the chest. Ferguson then stole televisions and stereos from the home and sold the items in order to buy crack cocaine. He said he then went to a bridge by the river to think. The next day, Ferguson murdered 68-year-old Arlie Fugate and his wife, 69-year-old Mae Fugate. Ferguson broke into the couple’s home and stabbed them with a knife from their kitchen. On Christmas, the Fugates were picked up by their son, James Cornett, and taken to his nearby home. He rented a western movie for his father, who loved westerns, and the couple enjoyed a Christmas dinner prepared by James before he took them home. James Cornett returned to his parents’ home on December 27 and found their bodies lying side-by-side on the living-room floor. They had both been stabbed, and the rings were missing from their fingers. Arlie Fugate had an impression of a boot on his cheek. Arlie Fugate had cancer and Mae Fugate took meals to wheelchair-bound neighbors. The victims let Ferguson into their homes in Dayton because they knew him. Ferguson’s mother had been married to King’s brother, and Ferguson’s family had once lived near the Fugates. Ferguson later wrote a handwritten letter in which he admitted to intentionally and maliciously murdering the victims. "I planned on killing other people, but I got caught too soon," Ferguson wrote. Ferguson admitted to police that, after failing to return to a halfway house where he was completing his sentence for a burglary conviction, Ferguson stabbed and beat the victims to death in their homes in two separate incidents that took place over a 24-hour period. After each killing, Ferguson stole household items including King’s television sets and the Fugates’ wedding rings, which he bartered for crack cocaine. Ferguson, who had an extensive history of mental illness and substance abuse, admitted the killings to friends, who notified Dayton police. Ferguson entered guilty pleas to multiple counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications. These included the specifications that he killed two or more persons, and that the murders occurred during the commission of the violent felonies of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. Ferguson waived a jury trial and was sentenced to death by a three-judge panel. During a psychological exam to determine whether Ferguson was competent to take charge of his case, waive a jury trial and plead guilty, he told the psychologist he had killed eight other people. Dayton police investigated Ferguson’s claims and found them without merit. They said there were no unsolved homicides or missing persons that matched up with what Ferguson described and believe he claimed the additional murders in an attempt to "boost his numbers in the serial-killer ranks." Just prior to sentencing in 2003, Ferguson reading a statement directed towards the victims’ families. "I took the satisfaction… of killing your loved ones with pleasure. And I enjoyed it," Ferguson said. "I will never show any remorse, even on the day I die." Ferguson opted out of pursuing appeals and was given an execution date less than five years after his crimes. UPDATE: Darrell Ferguson’s only redeeming quality may have been that he was true to his word. As he promised, Ferguson showed no signs of remorse as he was executed by lethal injection at 10:21 am on August 8, 2006 for the murders of three disabled senior citizens during Christmas 2001. He did not look towards the victims’ six family members who were present to witness the execution of their loved ones’ killer. Ferguson spoke only to his parents, who were also present. “Mom and dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best,” he said. After the execution, Chris Purdue, a family friend of one of the victims said, "Goodnight. I hope he stays in hell forever."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 11, 2006 Montana Andrew Rodstein, 11
Monica Rodstein, 39
David Rodstein, 39
David Dawson executed

David Thomas Dawson, who robbed then kidnapped a family of four from a motel in Billings in 1986 and killed the 11-year-old Andrew Rodstein and his parents, Monica and David Rodstein, was sentenced to death in 1987. Dawson broke into the family’s motel room on April 18, 1986, and forced them to go to his room in the motel. He bound them with tape, gagged them, took their money and, over the next 2 days, strangled them with a telephone cord. Police found their 15-year-old daughter alive in Dawson’s motel room two days after the murders. The jury deliberated about 14 hours and returned with guilty verdicts for deliberate homicide of the three Rodsteins, four guilty verdicts for kidnapping each family member, and a guilty verdict for robbery. The Rodstein family died on April 18 or 19, 1986. David Rodstein, 39, had been the director of engineering for Ryans IGA in Billings where the family had lived since 1982. In April 1986, they were moving to Atlanta, Ga., where David had accepted a new job. The Rodsteins were staying at the Airport Metra Inn on Main Street while awaiting a move to David Rodstein’s new job in Atlanta. Monica Rodstein, also 39, was a secretary and administrative assistant for Billings School District 2. She also served as a union representative for district clerical employees. A co-worker described Monica Rodstein as "all things to everybody in her family." Their son, Andrew, 11, was a 6th-grader at Alkali Creek school. His friends and classmates knew him as A.J. The Rodstein’s daughter Amy, then 15, was a Skyview High School majorette. See article, "Friends recall the Rodstein family ." Early on April 18, Monica Rodstein and her daughter were packing their car. While they were loading the car, Dawson, using the name John Munroe, checked into the motel and was given the room next to the Rodsteins. Dawson forced his way into their room at gunpoint when the teen-age daughter returned from a trip to the car. Two days later, after family members and co-workers said the Rodsteins had not arrived, police began looking for the family. Late that evening, officers found the Rodsteins’ cars at the motel and began checking rooms. In the room Dawson checked into, they found the bodies of David, Monica and Andrew Rodstein. They had died of strangulation. Their daughter, who was found in the bathroom, had no physical injuries. Ten months after the murders, Amy Rodstein testified about her experience one week into Dawson’s trial, with her therapist standing by her side. The judge allowed her to take breaks during her four-hour testimony. An attorney appointed for Amy by the court asked the questions. Amy started by telling details about her family and their planned move to Atlanta, where her father David had accepted a new job. After moving out of their home, the family planned to spend Thursday night at the Airport Metra Inn. The next morning, 15-year-old Amy and her 11-year-old brother Andrew would leave with their mother Monica for Nebraska to visit their grandmother. They would then drive to Atlanta and meet David there the following Monday. On Friday morning, Amy was loading the family’s Honda Accord to leave on their trip, she said. As she was walking back into the room, a stranger came up from behind her and pushed the door open. She identified the stranger as Dawson. She said he was carrying a duffel bag and she could see a gun inside the bag. Dawson told the family, "Calm down. I need your money. We are going to the next room." Amy said Dawson then took the family out of their motel room and into the room next door. She said he did not point the pistol at anyone, but they could see it in the bag he was carrying. Once they were in the other room, Amy said she saw tape, socks and a bandana on one of the beds. Amy said Dawson turned the television was on with the volume turned up loud. He also placed the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Dawson put the gun on the second bed and ordered them all to lie face down on the floor. Dawson taped David’s hands and feet and then gagged him with a sock and tape. Dawson then moved towards Amy’s mother, Monica, but before she was bound and gagged, Monica pleaded with Dawson. She asked him to take what he wanted but to leave her family alone, Amy said. Dawson bound and gagged Monica, and then Andrew. Dawson then told Amy to help him retrieve her family’s belongings from the room next door. She said Dawson then wiped the room down with a towel. When they returned to Dawson’s room, Amy was bound and gagged. She watched as Dawson rifled through the family’s belongings, taking credit cards, traveler’s checks, money and jewelry. After that, Amy saw Dawson use a syringe to inject something into her father. David Rodstein asked Dawson what he was doing. "He said that we would all, just after he drugged all of us, we would all be asleep, and he would just leave, and we would be found later by maids, or somebody, or he would leave notice at the front desk," Amy testified. After watching Dawson inject her father and mother with an unknown substance, Amy was told to face the wall. Subsequently, she didn’t see most of what Dawson did after that point, but she did see her mother kick at Dawson. Amy testified that Dawson said to her mother, "Calm down. Everything will be fine. Before you know it, I will be gone and you will be back to your life." However, prosecutors said Dawson then strangled David and Monica Rodstein with a telephone cord. Later, Dawson began repacking the family’s belongings in their suitcases. Amy said she saw her parents bound with tape and under a blanket near a sink in the room and she noticed a 6 or 8 inch patch of blood on the floor. She asked Dawson about her parents, and if he had checked on them, but he told her they were fine and not to worry. Later, Dawson mixed something in some water and made her brother drink it. Andrew appeared to go to sleep, she said. Amy said Dawson then took her with him as he moved her parents’ cars and parked them behind the store. On Friday night, Dawson also gave Amy a glass with the mixture, but she poured it out when Dawson wasn’t looking. During the two days Dawson kept Amy captive, he took her with him several times as he picked up milk to settle Andrew’s stomach, a newspaper and cigarettes at a nearby convenience store. Dawson made several phone calls and drove to several houses, where she saw him talking to someone else. During these trips, Dawson stopped twice at his apartment, leaving Amy alone and unrestrained in his car. At one point, Amy got some papers out of the glove box and copied Dawson’s name, Social Security number and other information onto the paper sleeve of a music cassette case. Her attorney asked her why she did this. "I guess to leave something behind in case I didn’t make it," she said. Amy said she thought about trying to escape but decided not to. "I really didn’t think any normal, rational person would believe what I would have told them," she said. On the day of Amy’s rescue, Dawson put Amy in the bathroom and gave her a blanket and pillow and told her to stay there while he checked on something outside the room. Dawson let Amy’s dog, Tigger, into the bathroom, then closed the door. "I was very scared," Amy said later. "I thought that the next person that opened the door would be Dawson to kill me, or do something. It was very horrible, very scary." But when the door finally opened, it was a police detective who had been searching for Amy and her family. Officers arrested Dawson on the spot. UPDATE: David Dawson was executed early Friday at the Montana State Prison for the 1986 kidnap and murder of three members of a Billings family. The Powell County coroner pronounced Dawson dead at 12:06 a.m. Amy Rodstein did not attend the execution, but sent a statement to be read afterward. The statement begins, "My name is Amy. Twenty years ago I experienced a horrific event whose ramifications recently came to a conclusion. My thoughts and feelings about this are private, but I want to publicly acknowledge and thank several people who have helped me over the years." The letter, which she sent to Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos and which he read as her statement, thanks the people of Billings, family and friends, Paxinos and Billings police, among others. "Thanks to the above and in spite of the terrible event, I am doing well and living a wonderful life," she wrote. "Despite my family and I being victimized 20 years ago, I have chosen not to live my life as a victim. Instead of dwelling upon the horrible events that transpired, I concentrate on moving forward, keeping the living qualities of my family as an inspiration: My father’s sense of humor, smile, and work ethic; my mother’s dedication to family, kindness and faith; and my brother’s mischievousness, jest for life and enthusiasm," she wrote. The letter also said she had recently visited Alkali Creek Elementary and saw for the first time a plaque there for her brother. She said it was "beautiful." A letter to Paxinos from Amy’s husband, Mike, said that "Amy quite frankly would rather spend this day with our family and children than allow Dawson’s actions (the execution) to have any more dominion over her life. She by no means wants to belittle the event, she realizes its important, but believes it would be better to honor her family, David, Monica and Andrew, and current family, to spend time vacationing with her children and watching them play at the beach."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 15, 2006 Tennessee Delbert Steed Stephen Hugueley stayed

Stephen Lynn Hugueley was convicted in September 2003 of the murder of a counselor at the Hardeman County prison where he was being held on a life sentence for the murder of his mother in 1986 in their home. He had also received a life sentence in February 1992 after the murder of an inmate in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning. On January 17, 2002, Delbert Steed, a correctional counselor at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility, entered F pod to counsel inmates. At that same time, Hugueley also entered the pod, approached the table where Steed was sitting, and stabbed Steed in the back. As Steed fell to the floor, Hugueley continued stabbing him. Another correction officer working on pod control called a Code One, requesting assistance. The pod officer opened the pod door and told Hugueley to stop. Upon hearing her command, Hugueley raised up, and came towards her with the knife drawn back like he was going to stab her, so she shut the door. Hugueley then returned to stabbing Steed. Another officer then entered the pod and ordered Hugueley to drop his weapon. In response, Hugueley stabbed one or two more times until the handle broke on the knife; then he stopped. Finally, Hugueley complied with the officer’s order and dropped to the floor. By this time, other officers and medical personnel had arrived. After surveying the area, they observed a pillowcase on the floor that appeared to have something inside it. They also saw that the weapon used to stab Steed remained lodged in his back, but the weapon’s handle lay near the shower wall. An internal affairs investigator with the Tennessee Department of Correction was contacted as a result of the incident. By the time the investigator arrived at the scene, Delbert Steed’s body had been removed to the infirmary. However, at the crime scene, the investigator observed that the weapon removed from Steed’s body was a quarter-inch rod that had been sharpened to a very fine point on one end and was almost eleven inches long. Also, the pillowcase observed at the scene was actually a torn piece of a sheet that had D cell batteries in one end. An internal affairs investigator with the Department of Correction was contacted to interview Hugueley at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution later that day. Before conducting the interview, the investigator had Hugueley acknowledge his rights and sign a waiver form, documenting his willingness to talk. In his statement, Hugueley admitted that he and Steed had never gotten along. Steed had been stabbed a total of thirty-six times. Hugueley stated that he intended to kill Steed and had purposefully aimed for his vital organs, "the heart and the lung." The wounds to Steed were comprised of ten to the chest, one to the abdomen, fourteen to the back, and eleven to the arm. Of the thirty-six wounds, twelve were lethal in and of themselves. Hugueley added that, had his weapon not broken off in Steed’s back, he would have killed a lot more people that day. Hugueley further stated that he has no remorse for his actions. At trial, Hugueley took the stand in his own defense and admitted to killing Steed. Hugueley waived his right to present any mitigation evidence. Hugueley was previously convicted of the first degree murder of his mother in 1986 for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. In 1992, he was again convicted of first degree murder; a fellow inmate was the victim. Finally, in 1998, the defendant pled guilty to attempt to commit first degree murder of another inmate. The weapon used in the 1998 offense bore similar characteristics to the one used to murder Steed.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 17, 2006 Texas Terry Wright, 29
unnamed victim
Richard Hinojosa executed

On the morning of May 10, 1994, Terry Wright was reported missing. Evidence showed Wright was taken from her home, stabbed 11 times, thrown into the trunk of her car and dumped in a secluded area known for illegal trash dumping. Co-workers at the dental office Wright managed called her father when she failed to show up for work. Her father found a window broken at her house, the place ransacked and phone lines cut. A footprint was found in the mud in the atrium outside her house directly adjacent to a broken window and her car was missing. Her car was found abandoned and broken down later that day in an isolated location not far from her residence. Fluid from a broken transmission line led police to a dirt road. That evening, with the help of search dogs from a K-9 unit, officers discovered Wright’s nude body in a field not far from where her car was found. A shoe print found near her body matched the shoe print found in the mud at her residence as well as the outsole of the brand and model of tennis shoes that had been purchased for Hinojosa by his wife some months before the murder. An autopsy revealed that Wright had been stabbed eleven times in the chest and back and that there was sperm present in her vagina. DNA testing revealed that Richard Hinojosa was the probable source of the sperm found inside Wright. Evidence also showed that around the time of the murder Hinojosa lived in his father’s house, which was next door to Wright’s house. Hinojosa, a former custodian at a club at San Antonio’s old Brooks Air Force Base, said his sex with the victim was consensual.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 18, 2006 North Carolina Britnie Nichol Hutton, 2 Samuel Flippen executed

Samuel Flippen was convicted of killing his 2-year-old stepdaughter. Flippen was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1994 beating death of Britnie Nichol Hutton. Prosecutors said that the beating was deliberate and brutal. Forsyth County prosecutors said they believed that Flippen started beating his stepdaughter because she was crying after his wife of five months left for work. Flippen dialed 911 about 40 minutes after his wife left to report that the girl was injured. He told paramedics and detectives that he believed she had fallen from a chair. The child later died of what prosecutors said was a blow to her abdomen. After his trial in 1995, the jury recommended that Flippen be executed. The state Supreme Court overturned that sentence and ordered a second jury to consider Flippen’s lack of prior criminal convictions before recommending its sentence. The second jury deliberated for more than six hours before recommending a death sentence in 1997. Forsyth County prosecutors said that they supported the death sentence because Flippen’s former wife testified that he had been violent in the past, although Flippen had never been convicted of a crime, and because of the severity of the child’s injuries. "He hit her so hard her pancreas was split on her backbone," Tom Keith, the Forsyth County district attorney said. "He’s never accepted responsibility." At a clemency hearing for Flippen on August 3rd, 2006, family members asked for the execution to proceed. "Today, we were making the case for Britnie Nichol Hutton, that she is the victim in this case, not Samuel Flippen. We want justice in this case and the only way we believe that can happen is with the death penalty," said Maggie Streatt, the child’s aunt. "It’s very hard on us. We’re having to live through this all over again. It’s like experiencing her death all over again," she said. UPDATE: Samuel Flippen was executed as scheduled on August 22, 2006 for the 1997 beating death of his infant step-daughter. Relatives of the little girl, Britnie Nichole Hutton, stood outside waiting. "We came tonight to make sure that everyone knows Britnie is the victim here. Sammy chose to do what he did," said Ben Streett, the girl’s uncle. "He took from our family a precious, precious child."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 24, 2006 Texas Donald Whittington, III Justin Fuller executed

Donald Whittington III, a hardware store employee, was tortured at his Tyler apartment by people he considered friends, bound, blind-folded, gagged and maced and robbed for trust-fund money. Justin Fuller, Elaine Hays, Brent Chandler and Samhermundre Wideman tied Donald up and searched his apartment for items of value. While one of the group removed property from Donald’s apartment, Fuller and the other two then forced Donald into his vehicle and drove to an ATM – they were angered when his ATM card yielded less than $300 from a machine. So the three split the money, netting about $80 each, and then took Donald to Sandy Beach, a local park at Lake Tyler, forced him to his knees where he was shot execution-style in the head as he prayed. The gunman, Justin Fuller, took two friends from school to view the body the next day and told them about the robbery and murder. The case inspired a new state law, making it a crime to view a body without reporting it. Testimony at trial showed that at least a dozen people viewed Donald’s decomposing body without reporting it to police. Smith County deputies found Donald’s body four days after the murder. Once in custody, Fuller gave a videotaped statement, confessing to the details of the offense. Fuller was eighteen years old at the time he killed Whittington. Widerman and Hays received life sentences and will not be eligible for parole until 2037. Chandler is serving a 25-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery after testifying agains Fuller. He is eligible for parole in 2009. After finding Fuller guilty, the jury needed only 13 hours of deliberation over a two-day period to recommend the death penalty. Donald’s parents plan to attend Fuller’s execution. "I’d do it myself if I could," said Raquella Whittington, who balks at written requests from Fuller to talk to her and her husband, Donald Whittington II. Echoing his wife’s sentiments, Whittington said, "The only way I would talk to him is if he could bring my son back and he can’t." The Whittingtons said they live their lives heavily sedated. Sleeping pills are the only way they get through the nights without hearing the words of their sons’ killers. "It’s hard," Mrs. Whittington said, recalling the grueling trials where she heard the words her son heard as he took his last breaths. "You have to sit there and listen to everything they did to him, what they took, tying him up," she recalled, in addition to testimony about her son’s last words: "Leave me alone, take anything you want. "People say time will heal," Mrs. Whittington said. "He’s my only son. Time has not healed this." welcom e

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 28, 2006 South Dakota Chester Allan Poage, 19 Elijah Page stayed

On March 12 -13, 2000, Briley Piper and two others, Elijah Page and Darrell Hoadley, kidnapped and killed Chester Allan Poage so that they could steal property from the home Poage lived in with his mother and sister in Spearfish, South Dakota. Piper, Page and Hoadley, all of whom were friends with each other and with Poage, met up with Poage at approximately 8:00 p.m. on March 12, 2000. Piper had informed another friend that Poage would give him a ride to the Job Corps facilities. Poage complied with the request for the ride, and he, along with Piper, Page and Hoadley, picked the friend up and dropped him off at Job Corps. The remaining four then went to Poage’s house and played PlayStation games. Poage’s mother and sister were on vacation in Florida at this time. While there, Piper, Page and Hoadley convinced Poage to leave his house, and the four left in Poage’s 1997 Chevrolet Blazer. Testimony as to the origin of the plot to kill Poage and steal his property varies. It is unclear whether all three of the assailants planned on stealing items in the house so they could buy LSD, or whether Piper pulled Page outside to inform him he was going to steal stereo equipment from Poage’s vehicle. It is also unclear whether they initially planned to kill Poage, or just beat him up. However, it is clear that the initial discussions as to killing Poage were limited to Piper and Page, and only after it was decided to kill him was Hoadley informed of the plan. All four ended up at the house in which Piper, Page and Hoadley had been staying. Once there, Page exposed a.22 caliber pistol, which he had stolen from Poage’s mother’s room at the Poage residence, and ordered Poage to get on the floor. Once Poage was on the floor, Piper kicked him in the face, knocking him unconscious. While Poage was unconscious, he was tied up with a cord and sat upright in a chair. After he regained consciousness, Piper laid a tire iron across his feet to prevent him from moving, while Page made him drink a mixture containing crushed pills, beer and hydrochloric acid. During this time, Poage begged for an explanation as to why his alleged friends were doing this. In response, Page hit him in the face and told him to “shut up.” While Piper and Page discussed their plan to kill Poage, which included slitting the victim’s throat, Poage pleaded for his life and offered to give them everything he owned in exchange for his release. At this point, Page asked Poage for the personal identification number for his ATM card, and Poage gave it to him. Next, the group escorted Poage to his own vehicle, placed him in the back seat and threatened his life if he attempted to escape. Piper got in the driver’s seat. The group stopped at a gas station, and then Piper drove the group to Higgins Gulch in the Black Hills, a wooded area about seven miles away from the house where Piper, Page, and Hoadley had been staying. Upon arriving at Higgins Gulch, the group forced Poage out of his vehicle into twelve-inch deep snow. Poage was forced by Piper and Page to take off all of his clothes, except his tank-top style undershirt, shoes, and socks in temperatures of about twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The three young men then took Poage’s wallet. Thereafter, the three tried holding Poage down and covering him up with snow. Poage was then escorted to an icy creek, just over fifty feet from the road they had driven on to reach the gulch. Page and Piper admitted kicking him numerous times in various parts of his body and head. Page said he kicked Poage in the head so many times it "made his own foot sore." At one point in the 3-hour attack, Poage did try to escape, but upon Piper’s urging, Page recaptured him and continued to beat his near-naked body in the freezing temperatures. Poage was also made to lie in the icy creek water for a lengthy period of time. Piper later stated he had kicked Poage at the gulch a couple of times in the body and a couple of times in the head. Throughout the beatings, Piper laughed and said things like “Ohh… like that would suck” and “Ah, that’s got to hurt.” At one point, Poage asked to be let into his vehicle to warm himself. The record indicates that Poage said he preferred to bleed to death in the warmth rather than freeze to death in the cold. Piper agreed to grant his request, so long as he washed the blood off of his body in the creek. After rinsing in the icy waters, Piper refused to let him warm himself in the vehicle. Instead, they continued beating and taunting Poage. Next, Poage was dragged back into the creek, where Piper and the others attempted to drown the victim. The co-defendants’ stories diverge somewhat on the final fate of Poage. One witness stated that Piper admitted standing on Poage’s neck to help Hoadley drown him, then Piper stabbed him twice or more — once by the ear and then under the chin. Piper’s brief contends he did not participate in the drowning attempts or stabbings, but instead that he went back to Poage’s vehicle. After the drowning attempts, stabbings, beatings and stoning, Poage was still moving. According to Piper, Hoadley threw the final basketball-sized rock that killed Poage, but at that point Piper was not there to personally witness this act. Both Page and Hoadley admitted they jointly dropped large rocks on Poage’s head, actions which they believed finally killed him. Approximately four hours after the three kidnapped Poage, and about three hours after the beatings began at the gulch, Poage was left for dead in the creek. Piper drove the three away from the secluded area in Poage’s vehicle, and they proceeded to discuss how they would divide Poage’s property. They went to Poage’s house and stole numerous items. The group then drove to Hannibal, Missouri, together. There, they visited Piper’s sister, but upon her refusal to let them stay, they headed back to South Dakota. The group returned to Rapid City, South Dakota, using Poage’s ATM card for cash and pawning some of Poage’s property throughout the trip. Records from Poage’s bank show the ATM card was used six times in various locations in South Dakota and Nebraska. Some of Poage’s property was later found at pawnshops in Wyoming and Missouri. When the trio returned to Spearfish, Hoadley’s juvenile girlfriend testified that she saw the three unpack the stolen PlayStation, video games and many other items from Poage’s house. She also testified that Piper confessed the murder to her in detail. She said Piper laughed about the killing as he told her about it, “and thought it was just like a really cool neat thing.” Another friend of Piper’s testified that Piper confessed to him as well and confirmed the nonchalant attitude, stating, Piper acted “a bit cocky” while telling the story of the beatings. Eventually, the three went their own ways. Piper ultimately ended up in his home state of Alaska. On April 22, 2000, over a month after the three left Poage for dead, a woman who owned land near Higgins Gulch spotted what was later determined to be Poage’s remains in the creek. His body was found, clad in a sleeveless t-shirt, socks and shoes. A forensic pathologist from the Clinical Laboratory in Rapid City performed an autopsy on the body. He discovered numerous head injuries and stab wounds. Some examples of the head injuries inflicted included: a stab wound that nearly severed the jugular vein, another stab wound through the skull and into the brain, and a complex, spider-web shaped skull fracture that measured five inches. Poage’s ears were almost torn off from being kicked repeatedly. He determined the cause of death was the “stab wounds and the blunt force injury to the head.” After the body was discovered, Piper became a suspect. Law enforcement from South Dakota tracked him down in Alaska, questioned him and arrested him for first degree murder. While still in Alaska, he gave a detailed statement describing Poage’s murder and his participation in it to South Dakota law enforcement. He was subsequently extradited to South Dakota. Piper was then jailed in Lawrence County, South Dakota. He later pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, first degree felony murder; kidnapping; robbery in the first degree; burglary in the first degree; and grand theft. The circuit court ruled that the death penalty would be imposed for the first degree murder conviction. Thereafter, co-defendant Page, who had been arrested in Texas, also pleaded guilty to the same charges, and after an extensive sentencing hearing, he was also sentenced to death by the same judge. Hoadley then stood trial in front of a jury on the same charges. He was found guilty of the same charges but the jury sentenced him to life in prison. "The sheer brutality of this crime places it among the worst of the worst," assistant attorney general Sherri Sundem Wald stated in written arguments to the high court. Piper was enthralled when describing the abduction and slaying to fellow jail inmates after he was arrested, deputy attorney general Craig Eichstadt said. Piper feigned remorse only when he felt it would result in a more lenient sentence, the deputy attorney general said. While waiting to learn his fate, Piper tried to recruit inmates to help him kill a guard and break out of jail. Assistant attorney general Gary Campbell said said Page was a merciless killer who inflicted the greatest punishment on Poage. "We’re not talking about a passive follower here."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 29, 2006 Oklahoma Charlene Kauer Eric Patton executed

Eric Allen Patton was sentenced to death for the murder of Charlene Kauer in Oklahoma City on December 16, 1994. At the time of the murder, Patton was employed as a brick mason. In the morning, he borrowed a co-worker’s car and left a job site, stating that he was going to buy electrical boxes at a local hardware store. Patton was absent from the job site for four hours. When he returned, he was wearing different clothes and did not have the electrical boxes. During that four-hour period, Patton went to Charlene Kauer’s home in northeast Oklahoma City and knocked on the front door. When Charlene answered, Patton asked to borrow money, and she gave him ten dollars. Patton then forced his way into the home, grabbed Charlene by the throat and dragged her through the house looking for money and valuables. He took Charlene to the bedroom and stabbed her numerous times. Then, he dragged her down the hallway into the kitchen, stabbing her several more times with a variety of knives and breaking several of them. Finally, he stabbed Charlene in the chest with a pair of scissors. Expert testimony offered at trial indicated that Charlene Kauer suffered a subgallous hemorrhage to a bone in her head and that a kick from a steel-toed boot was capable of producing this injury. Patton was wearing steel-toed boots during the crime. Patton then left Charlene’s house, cleaned himself up, removed his bloody clothes, and changed into a pair of coveralls that he found in the coworker’s car. He left the bloody clothes in a field in northwest Oklahoma City and returned to the job site. Initially, Patton was not a suspect in Charlene’s murder. However, because he had previously done some painting for Charlene and her husband and had worked with them at a marketing company, Oklahoma City Police Department detectives conducted a series of interviews with him. They arrested Patton after discovering his fingerprints at the murder scene. During his initial police interview, Patton denied any involvement in the murder. He then stated that he had seen a suspicious vehicle at Charlene’s house and added that the person who committed the murder would have had to have control of the Kauers’ dogs, thereby suggesting that Mr. Kauer was involved. When asked about a scratch on his lip and cuts on his hands, he explained that he was changing a tire and the jack had slipped and hit him. During a subsequent interview, Patton stated that the co-worker whose car he had borrowed on the day of the murder was involved in the crime. He added that he had a lot of information to give them but was protecting someone. Patton explained that he had been at the Kauers’ home but that another person had committed the murder. In another interview, Patton admitted that the co-worker was not involved in the murder but then stated that a woman had been involved. Patton reported that this woman had stabbed Charlene while he wrestled with her dog, eventually stabbing it. He explained that the cuts on his hand and the scratch on his lip came from the dog’s bites. In a final interview, Patton described the killing as though he had had an out-of-body experience. He admitted seeing himself at the murder scene and stabbing Charlene, but he said there were demonic forces present and the victim was a demon. He added that he had ingested cocaine before the murder and believed the drug was laced with another drug. He said he was “tripping” from the effects of the drugs. Patton was tried before a jury in the District Court for Oklahoma County in November 1996. The prosecution presented forensic evidence indicating that Patton’s fingerprints were present in the Kauer home and that blood at the scene matched Patton’s type. The prosecution also presented video and audiotapes of Patton’s interviews with police detectives in which he admitted stabbing Charlene. In response, Patton presented expert testimony from a psychiatrist, Dr. John Smith. Dr. Smith testified that, on the day of the killing, Patton was in a cocaine delirium. As a result, Dr. Smith said, Patton was not capable of forming the intent to commit a crime “in a cognitive, logical sense like we think of. I think from then on he was in fact simply reacting to the cocaine intoxication once he saw her. Some of those things he said in the police report indicate he was out of his body watching it. He couldn’t control it. He didn’t know why he was doing it. He couldn’t stop it.” After hearing this evidence, the jury convicted Patton of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Then, upon considering additional evidence presented during the sentencing phase, the jury recommended that the court impose the death penalty. The jury found four aggravating circumstances: ( 1) Patton was previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence; (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel; (3) the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution; and (4) the murder was committed while Patton was on parole for California felony convictions. The jury did not find a fifth aggravating circumstance alleged by the prosecution, that it was probable that Patton would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society. Regarding the "cocaine intoxication" defense offered by the defense psychiatrist, an appeals court said, "In particular, after initially denying any involvement in the killing of Mrs. Kauer, Mr. Patton admitted driving to Mrs. Kauer’s house and stabbing her. Moreover, after the killing, Mr. Patton had the presence of mind to clean himself up and exchange his bloody clothes for those of his coworker. Finally, the prosecution introduced testimony from both Mr. Patton’s girlfriend and from the co-worker that Mr. Patton’s demeanor seemed normal on the day of the killing, evincing no signs of delirium or strange behavior. Although Dr. Smith’s testimony that Mr. Patton was suffering from a cocaine delirium conflicted with some of this evidence, a rational jury could have rejected that testimony, relying on the prosecution’s evidence that Mr. Patton possessed the requisite intent, and convicted Mr. Patton of the first-degree murder charge."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 30, 2006 Texas Bobby Vicha
Zelda Vicha
Robert Vicha
Billie Coble stayed

Billie Wayne Coble was having marital problems and separated from his wife, Karen Vicha, not long before the murders. Coble kidnapped Karen Vicha at knife-point. He attempted to convince her not to divorce him, but eventually released her unharmed. Several weeks later, Coble was seen driving around the area where Karen Vicha and her parents lived. That afternoon, he was waiting at his wife’s house when her daughters returned from school. Coble handcuffed and tied up her three children and one of their cousins. Next, Coble cut the phone lines to the house and went down the street to the house of his brother-in-law, Bobby Vicha. Coble and Bobby Vicha struggled, and Coble ultimately shot Bobby Vicha in the neck. He returned to Karen Vicha’s house for a period of time and then went across the street to the Vicha family home. Coble fatally shot Karen Vicha’s parents, Zelda Vicha and Robert Vicha. He cut the phone lines to the Vicha family home as well. When Karen Vicha arrived home from work, Coble was waiting for her. He admitted to killing her parents and brother and told her that Bobby Vicha had shot him. He then handcuffed her and drove her out to a rural area in her car. Karen Vicha later testified that Coble assaulted her during the drive. Coble was eventually apprehended after a brief high-speed pursuit, which ended when Coble crashed into a parked car. At the hospital where Coble and Karen Vicha were taken for treatment, Coble spontaneously told various hospital personnel and police officers that he had killed three people. Coble was subsequently convicted of capital murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 31, 2006 Texas Betsy Nutt
Cody Nutt, 15
Derrick Frazier executed

On June 26, 1997, Jerry Nutt arrived home from work and found his wife’s body, lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen of their Refugio County home. As he leant down towards his wife, Betsy Nutt, he saw his 15-year-old son’s body in the next room. Rushing to Cody’s side, Jerry Nutt checked his wrist for a pulse, but knew at once that he was too late. "It was just limp and cold, and I knew he was dead." Jermaine Herron and Derric Frazier had planned to burglarize the nearby home of Ron and Donna Lucich and then kill the family. The pair visited the Lucich home as part of their planning for the crime. Members of the Lucich testified that Herron and Frazier visited their house on June 25, the day before the killings. Herron and his father had lived at one time in the same mobile home where the Nutt family now was living. The family said Herron had maintained contact with the family even after Herron’s father took another job and the Herrons moved from the mobile home that the Nutts later lived in. "Jermaine still called us to go to his football games and we still talked to his father. There were no bad feelings." Mrs. Lucich testified that on one occasion, she arrived home and found Herron and Frazier at her house on an unannounced visit while neither parent was present. She invited them to have lunch in town as a ploy to get them to leave, she said. She dropped the men off at the home of one of Herron’s friends and discouraged them from returning to her home when only her children were at home. Jerry Nutt testified that he knew Herron’s father, but not Herron. Herron deceived everyone he introduced to Frazier, including the Luciches, by referring to Frazier as his cousin "Kevin." That night Frazier, Herron and a third man, Michael Brown, approached the Lucich home wearing bandanas over their faces and carrying a sawed-off.22-caliber rifle. They fled when they saw a light come on at the Lucich house. Ron Lucich remembers that he went outside to smoke a cigarette that evening, unaware of the danger his family faced. During the early morning hours the next day, Frazier and Herron, without Brown, crawled under the house while the Lucich family got up. Ron Lucich said that he left the house for work about 10 minutes before his wife and three children left for the day to San Antonio. He said in those 10 minutes his family was vulnerable. "Most definitely," Ron Lucich said. "That is what it was all about. They intended to kill my family." After the family left, the pair entered the Lucich home and collected ropes, tape and socks, apparently to tie up the family upon their return. Then they waited inside the home for the family to return. They took guns, jewelry and clothes, some of which Frazier was wearing when he was arrested. The two men also put on some of Ron Lucich’s clothes and shoes, leaving some of their own garments behind, intending to burn the home down. Investigators recovered a sawed-off 22-caliber rifle from underneath the Luciches’ mobile home, where authorities believe the two men waited for the Luciches to leave for the day. Investigators also found that someone had written “Killa,” allegedly a nickname Herron used, on a concrete block supporting the Lucich family’s mobile home. Eventually the pair tired of waiting for the family and decided to walk to the Nutt residence, which was located on the Lucich’s Dos Amigos Ranch. Betsy Nutt greeted the two men about 1 pm and offered them something to drink and a ride back to town after they told her their car had broken down. After Betsy Nutt started the 1997 green Ford F-150 supercab pickup, Herron claimed that he needed to use the bathroom. Once inside, Herron told Betsy Nutt that there was a phone call for her and insisted that she come back in and take it. Herron shot Cody and then Frazier shot Betsy Nutt twice in head. In a video-taped confession, Jermaine Herron said, "I was in the trailer, and I did shoot at the boy, and I put the gun on the table and left." Herron described how Betsy Nutt began screaming when her son was shot after Herron made him kneel. The medical examiner testified that Cody was shot four times and that three of the shot, one to the chest and two to the head, would have been fatal shots. He testified that the chest wound was the likely first shot because the point of entry was near the back of the body and indicated a downward trajectory. Herron said after shooting the boy, he then left the gun on the table and Frazier picked it up and shot Betsy Nutt, who was shot twice in the head. Herron was asked why he and Frazier decided to kill Cody and Betsy Nutt. "He (Frazier) said, ‘To be able to get away with it,’ " Herron answered. Fragments of glass found in the hallway, kitchen and living room were from eyeglasses that Betsy Nutt apparently was wearing the day she was killed. They then left in the truck to pick up more property from the Lucich house. Refugio County Sheriff Jim Hodges testified that the Nutts’ truck was spotted at a Victoria apartment complex about two hours after it was reported missing. Frazier was arrested at that complex where Frazier was trying to give rifles stolen from the Lucich house to a man to whom he owed money. The 49-year-old Jerry Nutt cried during portions of his testimony as he told the jury about his wife of 20 years and their son. "She was a real good person," he said. "She was the best woman that I had ever met." He recalled how his son Cody, who was an honor student, once represented his class in science competition in Chicago. His son loved to fish, hunt, had just gotten a dirt bike and loved practicing his guitar. "He was practicing so he could play for his grandparents," Jerry Nutt said. Jerry’s parents were coming to visit that day. Jerry said he still finds himself asking "what if?" He had stayed home from work the three days before the slayings and believes that had he stayed home on that day his wife and son would be alive. But that day he went to work in Victoria to pay the drivers in the trucking company he and Ron Lucich own. "If I hadn’t gone to work that day, they wouldn’t be dead,” he said. "I never answer the door without a gun.” A Texas Ranger testified at trial that when he arrived at the Nutt home after the crime, Jerry Nutt was standing outside, and said, "Mr. Ranger, please find who did this to my family." One of the victims’ relatives said he chose not to follow the final appeals process. "Justice grinds along so slowly," said Tom Tiller, Betsy Nutt’s brother. "I try not to dwell on it or think about it too often, put it out of my mind sort of thing." Tiller was 55 when his then-41-year-old sister and nephew were murdered. For Herron’s trial he traveled from his home in Germantown, Ohio, to testify. He described the crime as senseless and said his sister was a rock-solid Texan and his nephew was as bright and nice of a child as you could ever meet. Tiller said some of his family still is bitter about the murders, and he misses them every day, but he has tried to move on with this life. "Justice is going to be served," he said. Frazier once said of the victims, "Driving down the highway, you see a raccoon on the side of the road. It just got run over by a truck. Do you have any remorse? You didn’t even know that raccoon, did you?" Ron Lucich, the ranch owner where the killings took place nine years ago is close friends with Jerry Nutt, who lost his wife, Betsy, and son, Cody. Lucich said he’s shocked by what Frazier said and totally offended by his smirking and disregard for killing two innocent people. "Derrick Frazier, of course, he’s never shown any remorse, or anything about the murders. When he made a statement like they were like road kill, to me it was just like he killed them again," Lucich said. "When you can sit there and make a statement that they’re no different than a raccoon that’s been run over by a truck on the side of the road – they’re human beings. That’s a sad time, and I and Jerry both feel he had a second opportunity to go on TV and kill them again." In April of 2006, Frazier received a stay of execution after his attorney’s alleged that a juror in his trial had an improper conversation with Jerry Nutt. "Frazier gets a stay, and it’s just another slap in the face. They come out here, and they shoot a 15-year-old child, a 40-year-old woman with no remorse, get convicted, get sentenced, and four days before the execution, Frazier gets a stay. It’s mind boggling. It’s just reaching down your throat, pulling out your heart and showing it to you," Lucich said. He and Mr. Nutt are both confident that justice will be served. Both say they will be in Huntsville to witness both executions.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 31, 2006 Oklahoma Tessa Leadford, 1 James Malicoat executed

At about 8:25 p.m. on February 21, 1997, James Malicoat and his girlfriend, Mary Ann Leadford, brought their thirteen-month-old daughter, Tessa Leadford, to the county hospital emergency room. Staff there determined Tessa had been dead for several hours. The child’s face and body were covered in bruises, there was a large mushy closed wound on her forehead, and she had three human bite marks on her body. Tessa had two subdural hematomas from the head injury, and severe internal injuries including broken ribs, internal bruising and bleeding, and a torn mesentery. After an autopsy the medical examiner concluded the death was caused by a combination of the head injury and internal bleeding from the abdominal injuries. Tessa and Leadford began living with Malicoat on February 2, 1997. Malicoat, who was severely abused as a child, admitted he routinely poked Tessa hard in the chest area and occasionally bit her both as discipline and in play. Malicoat worked a night shift on an oil rig and cared for Tessa during the day while her mother worked. Malicoat initially denied knowing how Tessa got her severe head injury; he later suggested she had fallen and hit the edge of the waterbed frame, then admitted he hit her head on the bed frame one or two days before she died. Malicoat admitted punching Tessa twice in the stomach, hard, about 12:30 p.m. on February 21, while Leadford was at work. Tessa stopped breathing and he gave her CPR; when she began breathing again, he gave her a bottle and went to sleep next to her on the bed. When he awoke around 5:30 p.m., she was dead. He put Tessa in her crib and covered her with a blanket, then spoke briefly with Leadford and went back to sleep in the living room. Leadford eventually discovered Tessa and they brought her to the emergency room. Malicoat explained he had worked all night, had car trouble, took Leadford to work, and was exhausted. He hit Tessa when she would not lie down so he could sleep. He said he sometimes intended to hurt Tessa when he disciplined her, but never meant to kill her. His defense was lack of intent; he claimed he had suffered through such extreme abuse as a child that he did not realize his actions would seriously hurt or kill Tessa. Malicoat’s estranged wife testified that he did not pay child support, and that he once grabbed her wrist and fractured it during a fight. She said shortly before their marriage, Malicoat told her he did not like nor want children, and when she became pregnant a month later he said if she did not get rid of the baby that he would when it got here, however there was no evidence Malicoat ever harmed that child. Malicoat’s brother testified that Malicoat was "mean enough" to have done the crime and that he liked to beat women. The medical examiner described the various and extensive internal and external injuries he found on Tessa’s body. He said the abdominal injuries were "non-survivable". In his medical opinion, Tessa’s symptoms from the injuries would have included brief loss of consciousness, fussy behavior, poor eating, restlessness and eventually sleepiness sliding into a coma. He said the chest injuries would have been quite painful: bruises to the lungs could have caused difficulty breathing, the bruised diaphragm would have made every breath painful, and the broken ribs would have been very painful whenever Tessa breathed or moved. He said the ruptured mesentery and bleeding in the liver and kidneys would have been extremely painful when inflicted, and would have continued to cause cramping and probably a dull aching pain associated with the tearing and gradual loss of blood.

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