January 2006 Executions

Five killers were executed in January 2006. They had murdered at least 13 people.
killers were given a stay in January 2006. They have murdered at least 5 people.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 17, 2006 California Mary Sue Kitts, 17
Bryon Schletewitz, 27,
Josephine Rocha, 17,
Douglas White, 18
Clarence Allen executed

Mary Sue Kitts Bryon Schletewitz

Josephine RochaDouglas WhiteIn June 1974, Clarence Ray Allen decided to burglarize Fran’s Market in Fresno, California. Ultimately, Allen was convicted of the burglary and related first-degree murder of Mary Sue Kitts, the crime for which he was serving a life sentence when he committed his current crimes of conviction in an effort to silence the witnesses who testified at the 1977 Fran’s Market/Kitts murder trial. Allen had known the owners of Fran’s Market, Ray and Frances Schletewitz, for more than a decade. To assist in the burglary, Allen enlisted the help of his son Roger, as well as Carl Mayfield and Charles Jones, employees in Allen’s security guard business and frequent co-conspirators in prior criminal pursuits. On the night of the burglary, Roger Allen invited the Schletewitz’s 19-year-old son, Bryon, to an evening swimming party at Allen’s house. There, Bryon’s keys to Fran’s Market were taken from his pants pocket while he was swimming. Later in the evening, while Bryon was on a date arranged by Allen with 17-year-old Mary Sue Kitts, son Roger’s live-in girlfriend at the time, Allen, Mayfield, and Jones used Bryon’s keys to burglarize his parents’ market. They removed a safe from the market and divided the $500 in cash and over $10,000 in money orders found inside. With help from his son Roger, his girlfriend Shirley Doeckel, Mary Sue Kitts, and two others — Barbara Carrasco and her stepson Eugene Leland (“Lee”) Furrow — Allen cashed the stolen money orders at southern California shopping centers by using false identifications. While the stolen money orders continued to be cashed, Mary Sue Kitts contacted Bryon Schletewitz and tearfully confessed to him that she had helped to cash the money orders stolen from Fran’s Market by Allen. Bryon confronted Roger Allen with this story, and Roger admitted that the Allen family had burglarized the store. Bryon, in turn, confirmed to Roger that Mary Sue Kitts had been the one to confess the burglary to him. When Roger told his father of Bryon’s accusation based on Kitts’s confession, Allen responded that Bryon and Kitts would have to be “dealt with.” Allen next told Ray and Frances Schletewitz that he had not burglarized their store and that he loved Bryon like his own son. He also threatened and intimidated the Schletewitzes, however, by hinting that someone was planning to burn down their house and by having Roger pay Furrow $50 to fire several gunshots at their home one midnight. Meanwhile, Allen called a meeting at his house and told Jones, Mayfield, and Furrow that Mary Sue had been talking too much and should be killed. Allen called for a vote on the issue of her execution. The vote was unanimous because those present feared what would happen if they did not go along with Allen’s plan. Allen had previously told his criminal accomplices that he would kill snitches and that he had friends and connections to do the job for him even if he were in prison. He had also referred to himself as a Mafia hitman and stated that the “secret witness program” was useless because a good lawyer could always discover an informant’s name and address. Allen kept a newspaper article about the murder of a man and woman in Nevada, and claimed he had “blown them in half” with a shotgun. Allen thereafter developed a plan to poison Mary Sue Kitts by tricking her into taking cyanide capsules at a party to be held at Doeckel’s Fresno apartment. Allen sent Mayfield and Furrow to get the cyanide and took some heavy stones from his house to weigh down Kitts’s body, which was to be dumped into a canal. He overruled Jones’s suggestion that she merely be sent somewhere until “things died down,” and he dismissed Doeckel’s objection to having a murder committed in her apartment. Shortly before the party began, Allen told Furrow that if he refused to commit the killing, Allen could just as easily get rid of two people as one. Allen left Doeckel’s apartment shortly before Mary Sue Kitts arrived. When she arrived and refused to take the “pills” offered to her, Mayfield and Jones called Allen. Allen told Furrow to kill her one way or another because he just wanted her dead. Later, when she still would not take the cyanide pills, Allen met Furrow outside the apartment and stressed that he “didn’t care how it was done but do it.” Allen added that Furrow would be killed if he tried to leave the apartment. When Furrow and Mary Sue were finally left alone, Furrow began to strangle her, only to be interrupted by a phone call from Allen asking if he had killed her yet. When Furrow answered no, Allen ordered him to “do it” and hung up. Furrow then strangled Mary Sue Kitts to death. Warning Jones, Doeckel, and Furrow that they were all equally involved in the murder, Allen had them tie stones to her wrapped-up body and, while he watched for traffic, throw it into a canal. After the murder, Allen threatened and bragged to his various cohorts. To Carrasco, Allen said that he had had to “ride her up, wet her down and feed her to the fishes.” When Mayfield asked how Furrow was doing, Allen responded that he was “no longer in existence,” explaining that it is easy to go to Mexico, get someone killed, and have the body disposed of for only $50. Allen also told Shirley Doeckel that Furrow was no longer around and repeated his claim that he had killed a woman in Las Vegas. Allen had not actually killed Furrow, however, and would later enlist his help in the 1974 robbery of an elderly couple at their jewelry store. About six months after the murder, when Mayfield asked Allen if he was worried about others talking, Allen said that he was not afraid, that “things would be taken care of” if that happened, that he would have snitches killed, and that he would take care of “secret witness” informers even if he were imprisoned. Allen told Jones and others that “talking was a spreading disease and that the only way to kill it was to kill the person talking.” Allen would say of his cohorts that “none of these people talked” and that, if they did, “he would get them from inside or outside prison.” When Jones’s home was burglarized some time after the murder and Jones told Allen about the burglary, Allen responded that the burglary showed how easily Jones could be reached. Allen later gave Jones a key that fit his residence, and told him in front of his five-year-old son that he knew Jones “would like his kids to grow up without harm.” Allen later brought in new employees, Allen Robinson and Benjamin Meyer, and bragged to Meyer that he “had a broad helping them who got mouthy so they had to waste her” and that she “sleeps with the fishes.” He further warned Meyer, “If you bring anybody in my house that snitches on me or my family, I’ll waste them. There’s no rock, bush, nothing, he could hide behind.” When Meyer asked what would happen if Allen was arrested and could not make bail, Allen replied, “You’ve heard of the long arm of the law before? Well don’t underestimate the long arm of this Indian. I will reach out and waste you.” After holding meetings with his new employees and his son Roger, Allen arranged for the group to rob a K-Mart store in Tulare. Chastising Robinson for making mistakes, Allen told Meyer, “We just might waste him,” and later replaced Robinson with Larry Green as his “inside man.” During an armed robbery of a Visalia K-Mart in March 1977, Green shot a bystander, and police arrested him along with Meyer and Allen. Allen was tried and convicted in 1977 of robbery, attempted robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon. His arrest also led to his second 1977 trial, for the Fran’s Market burglary, conspiracy, and the murder of Mary Sue Kitts. Numerous witnesses, including Bryon Schletewitz, Mayfield, Jones, Furrow, Doeckel, Carrasco, and Meyer, testified on behalf of the prosecution. Allen was convicted of burglary, conspiracy, and the first-degree murder of Kitts, and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. While incarcerated at Folsom Prison, Allen called and wrote his second son, Kenneth, to request several copies of a magazine article about Kitts’s murder. He explained that he wanted to send the copies to other prisons to solicit help retaliating against those who had testified against him. In Folsom, Allen met Billy Ray Hamilton, a fellow inmate and convicted robber who was housed nearby and worked with Allen in the prison’s kitchen for two months in mid-1980. Hamilton, nicknamed “Country,” became Allen’s “dog,” running errands and taking care of various problems in
return for cash. Another inmate, Gary Brady, would occasionally assist Hamilton. Brady was scheduled to be paroled on July 28, 1980; Hamilton was scheduled for parole one month later. After Hamilton and Brady had been helping him for some time, Allen informed them that he had an appeal coming up and wanted certain people taken “out of the box, killed,” because “they had been onto his appeal,” and “messed him around on a beef.” Allen mentioned the names “Bryant” (Bryon), Charles Jones, and “Sharlene” as witnesses to be killed, and offered Hamilton $25,000 for the job. Allen also confided to another inmate, Joseph Rainier, that he had been convicted of first-degree murder based on the testimony of “the guy who did the actual killing” and that he would like to see this person, as well as four other witnesses, killed. Rainier saw Allen and Hamilton huddled close together and talking on the prison yard bleachers and track every day for the four to six weeks before Hamilton’s release in late August 1980. In response to Rainier’s repeated inquiries about what was going on, Allen stated that Hamilton was “going to take care of some rats for me.” Allen later elaborated that Hamilton was going to “get paid for the job” and that “Kenny was going to take care of transportation.” Allen said that he could likely “win his appeal” if the witnesses were killed and offered to have witnesses who had testified against Rainier killed as well. Allen asked his eldest son Kenneth, and Kenneth’s wife Kathy to visit him in jail, which they did with their baby on August 15. Allen told Kenneth that both Ray and Bryon Schletewitz were going to be murdered and that the other witnesses against him would also be eliminated so that he would prevail on retrial if he won his appeal. He added that Shirley Doeckel had agreed to change her testimony if he were granted a new trial. Allen gave Hamilton’s mug shot to Kenneth and explained that Hamilton — whom he referred to as “Country” — would commit the killings and that he expected Kenneth to supply “Country” with guns and transportation. Kenneth agreed to find guns for Hamilton with Kathy’s help, and Kenneth smuggled Hamilton’s photo out of prison in his baby’s diaper. He and Kathy thereafter received a series of letters from Allen detailing the evolving plans. Soon after Hamilton was paroled, Kenneth wired him transportation money and met him at the Fresno bus depot. At Kenneth’s house, Hamilton confirmed that he was there to murder Bryon and Ray Schletewitz, and asked to see the weapons he would be using. He explained that he would not kill Doeckel yet because she was helping him locate the other hit-list witnesses. Hamilton’s girlfriend, Connie Barbo, joined Hamilton in Fresno. She told acquaintances that she had a chance to get a few thousand dollars and a hundred dollars worth of “crank” for “snuffing out a life.” On Thursday, September 4, Hamilton went to Kenneth’s house to get a sawed-off shotgun, a.32 caliber revolver, and seven shotgun shells from Kenneth. Hamilton discussed Fran’s Market, stating that he knew there were two safes there, one in the wall and the other in the freezer. He left that evening with Barbo, telling Kenneth he was going to murder Ray and Bryon Schletewitz. The two returned at about 9:45 p.m., however, explaining that they had aborted the execution because Barbo objected to killing a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was also in the store that night. The next evening Hamilton took thirteen additional shotgun shells and six more cartridges from Kenneth, and went with Barbo back to Fran’s Market. When they arrived at 8 p.m., just before closing time, Bryon Schletewitz and employees Douglas Scott White, Josephine Rocha, and Joe Rios were there. Shortly after entering, Hamilton brandished the sawed-off shotgun and Barbo produced the.32 caliber revolver. Hamilton led White, Rocha, Rios, and Bryon toward the stockroom and ordered them to lie on the floor. He told White to get up and walk to the freezer, warning White he knew there was a safe inside. When White told Hamilton there was no safe there, Hamilton responded, “Get out ‘Briant.’ ” Bryon Schletewitz then volunteered, “I am Bryon.” Following Hamilton’s demand, Bryon gave up his keys and assured Hamilton he would give him all the money he wanted. While Barbo guarded the other employees, Bryon led Hamilton to the stockroom where, from seven to twelve inches away, Hamilton fatally shot him in the center of his forehead with the sawed-off shotgun. Hamilton emerged from the stockroom and asked White, “Okay, big boy, where’s the safe?” As White responded, “Honest, there’s no safe,” Hamilton fatally shot him in the neck and chest at point-blank range. As Josephine Rocha began crying, Hamilton fatally shot her through the heart, lung, and stomach from five to eight feet away. Meanwhile, Joe Rios had escaped to the women’s restroom. Hamilton found him, opened the restroom door, pointed the shotgun at Rios’ face, and shot him from three feet away. Rios, however, had put his arm up in time to take the blast in the elbow, saving his life. Assuming that Rios was dead, Hamilton and Barbo fled the store, only to be spotted by neighbor Jack Abbott, who had come to investigate after hearing the shots. Barbo retreated back into the store’s restroom, and Hamilton and Abbott traded fire. Although hit, Abbott managed to shoot Hamilton in the foot as he ran to his getaway car. Barbo was apprehended by officers at the scene. Hamilton called Kenneth later that evening, saying he had “lost his kitten” and “things went wrong at the store.” The two met and exchanged cars. Hamilton next drove to the Modesto home of Gary Brady, the Folsom inmate who had been paroled one month before Hamilton. While staying with Brady, Hamilton told him he had “done robbery” and had “killed three people for Ray.” He had Brady’s wife write to Allen requesting the money he was owed for the job. The letter, signed “Country,” gave Brady’s Modesto address as the return address. Shortly thereafter, police arrested Hamilton for robbing a liquor store across the street from Brady’s apartment. The police seized from Hamilton an address book containing a list of names and addresses of the eight people who had testified against Allen at the 1977 Kitts murder trial — Lee Furrow, Barbara Carrasco, Benjamin Meyer, Charles Jones, Carl Mayfield, Shirley Doeckel, and Ray and Bryon Schletewitz. When investigators visited Kenneth Allen’s home, Kathy Allen gave them Hamilton’s mug shot. After an article about the Fran’s Market triple-murder appeared in the newspaper, Allen asked fellow inmate Rainier, “Why don’t you testify against me… and see if you can help yourself or get some time off?” When Rainier responded that he could not do that, Allen patted him on the back and said, “You wouldn’t want to do that anyway because you do have a lovely daughter.” Shortly after the Fran’s Market murders, Kenneth was arrested on drug charges. The police interviewed Kenneth about the murders. A week later, he contacted the police to offer his testimony in return for protective custody and his choice of prisons. He eventually entered into a plea agreement in which he promised to testify “truthfully and completely” in all proceedings against Hamilton, Barbo, and Allen. In June 1981, Allen was charged in the Fran’s Market triple-murder and underlying conspiracy. Kenneth testified at Allen’s preliminary hearing. Allen was charged with murdering Bryon Schletewitz (count one), Douglas Scott White (count two), and Josephine Rocha (count three), and conspiring to murder Bryon Schletewitz, Ray Schletewitz, Lee Furrow, Barbara Carrasco, Benjamin Meyer, Charles Jones, and Carl Mayfield (count four). The information further alleged eleven special circumstances: five under count one, three under count two, and three under count three. The jury heard from 58 witnesses over the 23-day guilt phase of Allen’s trial. Although the prosecutor terminated Kenneth’s plea agreement after discovering Kenneth had written to Allen promising to change his testimony at trial, Kenneth, stating he wanted to testify truthfully, and having been fully advised of his rights and the fact that the previous plea agreement was terminated, testified for the prosecution. In addition, Allen took the stand in his own defense. He denied any involvement in the Fran’s Market murders or in the conspiracy to execute the witnesses who testified against him in his previous trial; however, he admitted on cross examination that he had told his “good dog” Hamilton to go to Fresno, and that he wrote all of the letters received into evidence and conceded they referred to Hamilton’s impending visit to Fresno. Allen confirmed that parts of those letters referred to Meyer, Mayfield, and Jones, and that a phrase he had used — “taken care of” — meant “to kill.” He also acknowledged that he had access to mug shots in Folsom Prison, and admitted talking to Hamilton in the bleachers at the prison. After being confronted with a tape recording, he admitted ordering Kathy Allen to call the Schletewitzes to impersonate Mary Sue Kitts, and to pretend to be the mother of Bryon’s baby so as to induce the family to call off the Kitts murder investigation. Allen’s testimony also confirmed many of the details about his former criminal activities and convictions about which Jones, Mayfield, Furrow, Meyer, Doeckel, and Carrasco had all testified. He denied planning the Kitts murder, but described how he had helped transport and dispose of her body. He also described in great detail his formula for executing “fool-proof” armed robberies of various K-Mart stores, and described in detail his role in the Tulare K-Mart robbery. Finally, Allen maintained that “when a guy puts a rat jacket on himself [i.e., becomes a snitch], killing them would do them a favor.” Allen’s daughter-in-law, Kathy, tried to exculpate Allen and implicate her husband, Kenneth, as the drug-crazed, hallucinogenic mastermind of the Fran’s Market murders. She recalled, however, that Kenneth had discussed getting “guns for witnesses” with his father at Folsom and that Barbo had told her that she and Hamilton could not leave any witnesses. Kathy admitted that she had previously testified for Allen, had tried to falsify evidence about the murders, and had transmitted messages to Hamilton for Allen. Three prison inmate witnesses, John Frazier, Henry Borbon, and Andrew Thompson testified that Hamilton, Allen, and Brady could not have met together in the Folsom yard. Thompson nevertheless admitted that he called Allen “Dad” and would lie to protect him. Borbon’s testimony was impeached by that of other witnesses. After three days of deliberation, on August 22, 1982, the jury found Allen guilty as charged. Allen then admitted that he had previously been convicted of murder, confirming three of the eleven special circumstance allegations that had been bifurcated from the trial. Eight days later, the penalty phase began. The State’s evidence showed that Allen had masterminded eight prior armed robberies: (1) the August 12, 1974, armed robbery at Safina Jewelry in Fresno, which yielded $18,000 worth of jewelry; (2) the September 4, 1974, armed robbery of Don’s Hillside Inn in Porterville in which $3,600 was taken from the safe and hundreds of dollars in cash and credit cards were taken from patrons at the scene; (3) the February 12, 1975, residential armed robbery of William and Ruth Cross, an elderly Fresno couple, in which a coin collection valued at $100,000 was taken; (4) the June 18, 1975, attempted robbery at Wickes Forest Products in Fresno, resulting in Allen’s arrest; (5) the October 21, 1976, armed robbery at Skagg’s Drug Store in Bakersfield, in which one of Allen’s associates accidentally shot himself; (6) the November 20, 1976, armed robbery at a Sacramento Lucky’s market, in which grocery clerk Lee McBride was shot and sustained permanent damage to his nervous system; (7) the February 10, 1977, robbery at a Tulare K-Mart, in which more than $16,000 in cash was taken; and (8) the March 16, 1977, Visalia K-Mart robbery, during which Larry Green held a gun to the head of one employee and shot another in the chest, permanently disabling him. Prosecution evidence also showed that while in the Fresno County jail on June 27, 1981, Allen called a “death penalty” vote for inmate Glenn Bell, an accused child molester. According to the evidence, Allen directed an attack during which inmates scalded Bell with two gallons of hot water, tied him to the cell bars and beat him about the head and face, and thereafter shot him with a zip gun and threw razor blades and excrement at him while he huddled in his blanket in the corner of the cell. The evidence also established that Allen repeatedly threatened that anyone who “snitched” on the Allen gang would be “blown away” or killed. Allen had also thwarted prosecution of the attempted robbery at Wickes Forest Products by threatening the chief prosecution witness and his family. Allen’s prior convictions of (1) conspiracy, first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and (2) first-degree robbery, attempted robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon were introduced. The parties also stipulated to the consideration by the jury of the guilt-phase testimony by Ray Schletewitz, Mayfield, Jones, Furrow, and Meyer concerning (1) the prior conspiracy to murder and the first degree murder of Mary Sue Kitts; (2) the 1974 robbery at the Safina Jewelry Store; (3) the 1977 burglary and robbery of the Tulare K-Mart; and (4) the 1977 assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, and attempted robbery of the Visalia K-Mart. Allen put on two witnesses. His former girlfriend, Diane Appleton Harris, testified to his good character, explaining that Allen had helped her financially both before and after her marriage to Jerry Harris. Harris further testified that Allen had helped rush her to the hospital on one occasion, that he was good to children, and that he wrote poetry. But, Harris admitted that Allen had also threatened to kill her husband. The second witness, San Quentin inmate John Plemons, testified that he had instigated the assault on accused child molester Glenn Bell in the Fresno County jail, and that Allen had nothing to do with it. Plemons’s testimony was rebutted by Correctional Officer Delma Graves, who testified that Bell told her immediately after the incident that Allen had instigated the assault. After deliberating for less than one day, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied Allen’s “statutory motion for a new trial” and sentenced him to death. Hamilton was sentenced to death for the Fran’s Market murders. Barbo received a life sentence. Kenneth Allen was sentenced to life without possibility of parole for his participation in the triple slaying. UPDATE: When Allen’s execution date was set, a distant relative of Bryon Schletewitz told the Chico Enterprise-Record that it was a shame the young man’s parents, Fran and Ray, weren’t alive to see justice in the killing that she said tore the family apart. "I just think it’s about time they took care of that fellow," said Fran Schletewitz of Fresno. "I guess due justice is coming around."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 19, 2006 Texas Jason Erie Julius Murphy stayed

Christopher Solomon, Julius Murphy, Javarrow Young, Virginia Marie Wood, and Christina Davis attended a party at Murphy’s mother’s home on the afternoon of September 17, 1997. Young testified that Solomon engaged him in a conversation about a robbery. Murphy was present during this conversation but did not talk. Solomon later proceeded to show Young a pistol from the glove compartment of Wood’s car. Solomon then passed the gun around to several others, including Young and Murphy. The gun was subsequently returned to Solomon, who pocketed it. Young, Wood, and Davis all testified that two vehicles of people traveled together to visit some out-of-town friends. One of the vehicles, a truck, was driven by Young’s girlfriend and contained as passengers Young, Young’s daughter, and a friend named Phil. The other vehicle, a car, was driven by Solomon and contained as passengers Murphy, Wood, and Davis. Upon returning from their out-of-town trip, the two vehicles stopped at a gas station. Young testified that he conversed with Solomon. Solomon related that he had seen a man with car trouble on the side of the road, and the man had waved, indicating he needed assistance. Solomon told Young that he was going to "jack him" – a statement Young interpreted as meaning Solomon was going to rob the man on the road. Young declined to get involved in the robbery but told Solomon "to do what they got to do, and go." Wood and Davis saw Solomon engage in a conversation but did not hear what transpired. Young saw Solomon’s car stop by the man’s car on the side of the road. Young then drove his truck to a different gas station and waited. When Solomon’s car failed to appear after twenty to thirty minutes, Young drove his truck towards town. On the way, he saw the victim, Jason Erie, lying on the ground. Young flagged down a passing ambulance and directed it to the scene. Later, he talked to the police. According to Wood and Davis, Solomon drove Wood’s car, Wood sat in the front passenger seat, Murphy sat behind Solomon, and Davis sat behind Wood. Murphy and Davis were not getting along because they had been fighting earlier on the trip. Solomon pointed to the side of the road to Erie, who was apparently having car trouble. Solomon gave Erie’s car a "jump," and Erie paid Solomon five dollars. According to Davis, as Erie headed away, Solomon told Murphy that Erie had a lot of money in his wallet and said something to the effect of "we should jack him." At first, Murphy resisted the idea, but Solomon goaded Murphy until he agreed. Murphy then said, "Okay, give me the gun. I’ll do it." Solomon then told Wood to take the gun out, Wood removed the gun from the glove compartment, and Murphy grabbed the gun. According to Wood, after Erie paid Solomon five dollars, Murphy told her to hand him the gun and she complied. Wood heard Solomon tell Murphy that he should shoot and kill the man because "that’s how I got caught the last time." Davis was not listening to the conversation but she heard the last phrase "that’s how I got caught the last time." Davis testified that she grabbed Murphy and told him not to go, but Murphy pushed her away and exited the car. Davis put her head down and heard a gun fire. After Murphy stepped from his vehicle armed with the gun, he demanded Erie’s wallet. Initially, Erie protested and refused to hand over his property. As he finally began to comply, Murphy fired a single shot from close range into Jason’s forehead and retrieved the stolen wallet from the spot it had fallen. It was later discovered along a nearby road where Murphy told investigators it had been discarded. Erie was alive when rescue workers arrived, but died a short time later. Murphy and his friends fled through Arkansas, to Tennessee, and finally ended up in Arlington, Texas, where they were apprehended by police. Murphy’s girlfriend, Christina Davis, who was with Murphy throughout the duration of these events, testified that she had fought with Murphy on the day prior to the murder in which he struck her several times. She also explained to the jury how she and Murphy had fought the day they were arrested and how Murphy continued to hit her and threatened to shoot her in the leg to keep her from leaving. Wood saw Murphy shoot the victim and take his wallet. According to Wood, Solomon and Murphy later bragged about the bullet shell remaining inside the gun’s chamber, and Solomon coldly bragged that he was going to keep the five dollars given by Erie as a souvenir. Both Davis and Wood testified that, sometime after the incident with Erie, Davis ran from the car and contacted the police. Solomon, Murphy, and Wood were subsequently charged with capital murder. Solomon and Murphy did not testify. Wood, Davis, and Young all testified as witnesses for the prosecution.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 19, 2006 Ohio unnamed victim
Betty Jane Mottinger
John Spirko stayed

Betty Mottinger smallJohn Spirko was sentenced to die in 1984 for the murder of Elgin postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger. 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. 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 Betty 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 year, 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. In September, Gov. Bob Taft delayed Spirko’s execution to allow for a second parole board hearing. Taft ordered the execution delayed from Sept. 20 until Nov. 15 to allow for the hearing. UPDATE: Gov. Bob Taft on Monday delayed the execution of a condemned killer who says he’s innocent, the second time in two months Taft ordered a delay in a case nagged by questions over evidence. Taft granted John Spirko a 60-day reprieve at the request of Attorney General Jim Petro, who says he needs that long to test several items that Spirko’s attorneys want reviewed. Petro informed Taft and Spirko’s attorneys in letters Monday about his willingness to conduct the testing and his request for the 60-day reprieve. "I am a proponent of DNA technology," Petro said in the two-page letter to Thomas Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney representing Spirko. "It is important to accommodate the use of DNA testing where practical and feasible." Petro, a Republican running for governor next year, said he does not believe the testing will be able to prove either Spirko’s innocence or his guilt. "Notwithstanding, I believe that to the extent possible, all information should be made available for the parties, courts, and the Governor to use for what purpose they feel necessary," Petro said. Spirko was scheduled to die by injection Nov. 15 for the 1982 killing of Betty Jane Mottinger, 48, the postmistress in Elgin in northwest Ohio. She was abducted and repeatedly stabbed, then wrapped in a tarp and dumped in a field. Her body was found three weeks later. Spirko, 59, was convicted on the basis of witness’ statements and his own comments to investigators. No physical evidence linked him to the crime. Authorities say he described details only someone at the scene of the crime could know. Spirko says he got the details from media reports and used the information to make a deal with authorities to gain the release of a girlfriend, who was held on an unrelated crime. Spirko sued in federal court last Wednesday to require the testing of the tarp, a cement block found near Mottinger’s body and duct tape wrapped around her, among other items. On Sept. 8, Taft delayed Spirko’s scheduled Sept. 20 execution to look into whether prosecutors presented inaccurate information at a clemency hearing in August. In response, the Ohio Parole Board granted an unprecedented second clemency hearing for Spirko, and on Oct. 19 voted 6-3 to recommend that Taft allow the execution to proceed. The majority said the claims of new evidence weren’t enough to merit clemency. The delay is encouraging, said Alvin Dunn, an attorney also representing Spirko. "We’re looking forward to having this completed and believe it will demonstrate that our client had nothing to do with this crime," Dunn said Monday. The tarp is important to Spirko’s case because of a house painter who maintains his former boss on a painting crew is the real killer. The house painter, John Willier, passed a lie detector test last month as he repeated a 1997 statement accusing his boss, who is now in a Louisiana prison. Spirko’s attorneys say Willier told investigators in 1984 that the paint-splattered tarp Mottinger’s body was wrapped in was the one his crew was using. Chemical tests matched the paint to houses the crew worked on. In past court filings, Spirko’s attorneys also questioned prosecutors’ attempt to link Spirko to the crime through a friend. Prosecutors alleged the friend, Delaney Gibson, was seen near the post office the day Mottinger was abducted. But Spirko’s attorneys say photographs and other evidence place Gibson with a full beard in North Carolina the day before. Witnesses say the man they saw at the post office was clean shaven. Last year, prosecutors dropped death penalty charges against Gibson in connection with Mottinger’s death, saying the case against Gibson was too old.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 20, 2006 North Carolina Jean Ernest Darter, 92 Perrie Simpson executed

Jean Darter smallPerrie Simpson was sentenced to death in Rockingham County Superior Court in 1993 for the murder of Rev. Jean Ernest Darter. Simpson confessed to the August 27, 1984 murder and robbery of Jean E. Darter, a ninety-two-year-old retired Baptist minister. Simpson pled guilty to the first-degree murder of Reverend Darter, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit murder. In the intervening years, Simpson has received three capital sentencing proceedings after winning two appeals, and each of the three juries, after hearing the evidence, has recommended a sentence of death. At the third capital sentencing proceeding, as in the two previous proceedings, the State presented evidence that on August 27, 1984, ninety-two-year-old Reverend Jean E. Darter was murdered in his Reidsville home. Reverend Darter’s daughter Doris testified she tried to telephone her father the night of his murder but was unable to reach him. Doris and her husband decided to drive to Reverend Darter’s house, and when they arrived, they noticed that the only light turned on was in the bathroom. The couple unlocked the back door and went to the bathroom to see if Reverend Darter had fallen and hurt himself. He was not in the bathroom. Doris went to her father’s bedroom and saw him lying across the bed. "I knew that he was dead because he was so still." Her husband turned the bedroom light on, and what they saw was "so horrible that I seemed not to be able to see it all collectively. I saw it in bits and pieces." Doris noticed a strap around her father’s neck, "and it was tied to the bedpost and then I looked at his eyes and by that time I said ‘somebody did this to him.’" Because the telephone cords had been cut, they called the police from a neighbor’s telephone. Doris testified her father was an avid gardener and at the age of ninety-two, was still very active. He continued to study and still preached occasionally. "His health was remarkable for his age. His mind was very alert." Reverend Darter wore glasses and had injured his back jumping out of a fishing boat a few years before his death. He wore a back brace to maintain his active life when his back gave him pain. Detectives responded to the call for help and when they entered Reverend Darter’s house, they observed there were no signs of forced entry, and that the cords on the telephones in the hall and in the bedroom had been cut. Mobile Crime Laboratory officers with the State Bureau of Investigation ("SBI") identified, collected, and preserved evidence at the murder scene. They conducted a walk- through of the house to determine the housekeeping habits of Reverend Darter and to help identify anything out of place. The inspection revealed that although Reverend Darter kept the inside of the house neat and clean, in one bedroom, the sheets and covers were wadded up, the dresser drawers were pulled out, and the contents dumped onto the floor. He noticed there was a bundle of knives lying in the kitchen sink, and that both the freezer and refrigerator doors were cracked open. The food inside was beginning to thaw. In a room just off of the kitchen was a storage area where they found a carton of glass Tab bottles; one bottle was missing. In the bathroom, there was a pack of razor blades in the sink. They also discovered a writing pad with the names "Lisa Marie Johnson" and "Curtis Anthony Parker" written on it. In another bedroom, the investigators testified they saw Reverend Darter lying on the bed, with his feet on the floor. Two belts were wrapped around Reverend Darter’s neck. The outer belt was the largest and thickest, and it was tied to the bedpost. The inner belt was broken. Reverend Darter’s face was bloated and bloody. He had glass in his left eye, and a design composed of many small circles and dots was imprinted on the Reverend’s left cheek. Both of the Reverend’s arms were cut open from his elbows to his wrists. Blood was on the bed and had run down the side of the bed and formed a puddle on the floor; there was blood on the walls and window blinds. Also on the bed were the contents of two dresser drawers, shattered glass, the Reverend’s broken glasses, his false teeth, a razor blade, and the neck of a glass Tab bottle. Directly under Reverend Darter’s elbow was a photo album entitled, "My Grandchildren." Investigators testified that the family turned over Reverend Darter’s telephone bill. According to the bill, a long-distance telephone call had been made from Reverend Darter’s house to a telephone in Greensboro on August 26, 1984. They determined the telephone number belonged to a woman named Ruby. Detectives visited her and asked if she knew anyone in Reidsville. She replied that the only person who ever called from Reidsville was a man named Perrie Dyon Simpson and that he called her when he wanted to reach his father. Detectives also testified that eight latent fingerprints found in the Darter house matched Simpson’s. The police learned there was an outstanding warrant for Simpson in Greensboro for simple assault, so Simpson was arrested on September 21, 1984. Simpson was advised of his Miranda rights and agreed to talk with officers about the Darter murder. He signed a written statement to the effect that he had read about the Darter murder but knew nothing about it. Simpson stated he had never met or seen Reverend Darter and had never been inside Reverend Darter’s house. Simpson was then transported to Greensboro for a bond hearing on the assault charge. In Greensboro, police asked Simpson if they could talk some more about the Darter murder, and Simpson agreed. During this questioning period, Simpson made a sixteen-page written statement confessing his involvement in the murder. Simpson confessed that he and his pregnant, sixteen-year-old girlfriend Stephanie Eury went for a walk to look for some money. Stephanie went to the front door of Reverend Darter’s house and rang the doorbell. She told Reverend Darter she was hungry, so he brought her a diet soft drink and gave Simpson a glass of milk. Stephanie asked if they could come inside, so the three went into the front living room. Stephanie told the Reverend that she and Simpson were traveling to Florida and had gotten stuck in Reidsville. The Reverend suggested they contact the Salvation Army or the police. Stephanie asked Darter if he could give them some money, and Reverend Darter gave her four dollars, explaining that was all the money he had in cash. Simpson told police that he and Stephanie "noticed the preacher had a nice home." After getting permission to use the telephone, Simpson called Ruby Locklear in Greensboro to see if she had seen Simpson’s father. When Simpson got off of the telephone, he heard Stephanie tell the Reverend her name was "Lisa" and Simpson’s name was "Curtis Anthony." Simpson watched the Reverend write these names down on a pad of paper. Simpson told the police that before he and Stephanie left the house, the Reverend gave them some sponge cake and peaches to take with them. Simpson admitted that "Reverend Darter was real friendly to us and was very helpful." The next day Simpson said that he and Stephanie "both talked about going back to preacher Darter’s house to get some money. Stephanie and I decided we would go back to Darter’s house and we would not come back empty-handed no matter what." Simpson told police that he and Stephanie walked around outside waiting for it to get dark. Once it was dark enough, the two walked to Reverend Darter’s house, looking around to make sure no one saw them. They rang the doorbell, and when Reverend Darter answered the door, they forced their way inside. Reverend Darter ran to the telephone, but Simpson "pulled the preacher’s hands off the telephone." Simpson told Stephanie to cut the telephone cords, and in the meantime, he was "struggling with Preacher Darter holding onto the preacher’s arms to control him and force him back in his bedroom so he would tell me where some money was." Simpson held the Reverend down on the bed, with his hands around his neck, telling him he wanted money "or else," but the Reverend told Simpson he did not have any money. The Reverend told Simpson that if he was killed, he knew he was going to heaven. Simpson told the police, "this frustrated me and I grabbed him tighter around the throat." Simpson reached across the bed and got a belt and "looped it around his neck and tightened the belt." While he held the belt tight, Simpson rummaged through two dresser drawers Stephanie had dumped onto the bed. Not finding anything he wanted, Simpson drew the "belt more tight around his neck and I told the preacher he had better tell us where some more money was but the preacher could not talk because he was choking." When the first belt broke, Simpson got another, thicker belt "and looped this leather belt around the preacher’s neck and tightened up on this leather belt. Then I called Stephanie to bring me something in the bedroom to kill this preacher with." When Simpson did not receive any weapon to his liking, he called for Stephanie to come and hold the belt while he "went in the kitchen and looked for some device to beat the old preacher and finish him off." He picked up a full pop bottle and then decided to put it back and get an empty bottle. He returned to the bedroom, pulled tight on the belt, and "hit the old preacher hard three times with this bottle and on the third blow the soft drink bottle broke." Simpson then decided to tie the end of the belt to the bedpost, and he went into the bathroom and got a double-edged razor blade. "I held this double-edged razor blade between my right index finger and right thumb and then I sliced the preacher’s arms from the biceps all of the way down the under side of the forearms to the wrist. I cut both of the preacher’s arms." Stephanie gathered a bag of food, a porcelain lamp, a radio, and boxes of Kleenex and packed them in a plastic laundry basket. "The last thing we did before leaving the preacher’s house was to turn off all the lights except the bathroom light." Detectives testified that after Simpson made his confession, Simpson read the statement out loud checking for mistakes. When Simpson came to a portion of the statement where he had used profanity, he laughed. A pathologist who performed an autopsy on Reverend Darter testified that the Reverend sustained blunt- trauma injuries to his face causing swelling and bruising. The bone between the eye socket and the brain was fractured, the cheek and the jaw bone were broken, and the Reverend’s tongue was torn. Strangulation bruises appeared on the neck. It was the pathologist’s opinion that Reverend Darter died from ligature strangulation, and that it would have taken several minutes for his heart to stop beating and that because Reverend Darter sustained bruising around his face, his heart was still beating when those injuries were inflicted. In the third sentencing appeal, the Supreme Court of North Carolina said, Simpson "schemed and plotted his attack upon an old and defenseless man who had welcomed defendant into his home and given him food and aid. Defendant lurked outside the house waiting for night to fall before he forced his way inside and mercilessly terrorized and tortured a man who only the day before had tried to help him. Just as the defendant in (a similar case) this defendant’s ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct was not found to be impaired. In light of the fact that the victim befriended the defendant only the day before his murder, and the utterly brutal manner in which defendant murdered this elderly man, we find this murder to be even more callous than the murder in (the other case)." UPDATE: Prior to the execution, Simpson made this statement: "I want to say I am sorry for what I did. I’m sorry for the victim and the families. I’m sorry for my family. I’m sorry for everybody." Murder victim’s family statement: "Our grandfather Jean Earnest Darter was a kind, gentle man who lived his life in service to others. We, the family, live with the memory of terror Perrie Simpson inflicted upon Rev. Darter, but we are not interested in sympathy or being portrayed as victims. Life goes on and we do our best to make the most of it. Our grandfather would want it that way. In attending the execution, we are honoring the wishes and memory of our parents and the life of our grandfather. We respect the legal decision determined with extreme care by three sets of jurors in three separate trials. We are thankful for the dedication of the officers, investigators, attorneys, and other legal professionals that worked long hours to properly determine Perrie Simpson’s guilt and appropriate sentence. We believe the death penalty saves lives. Clemson and Emory Universities determined 18 lives are saved as a result of each execution. Other studies indicate that each death sentence and subsequent execution deters up to 25 murders annually. We hope coverage of Perrie Simpson’s death sentence and execution will cause others to think about the consequences of taking a life, respect the law, and increase the value people place on the life of others. Sincerely, Curtis Faircloth, Grandson The Family of Jean Earnest Darter

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 24, 2006 Florida Stephen A. Taylor Clarence Hill stayed

On October 22, 1982, Clarence Hill and Cliff Jackson left Mobile, Alabama, with a stolen gun in a stolen vehicle. Hill and Jackson drove to Pensacola, Florida, and proceeded to rob a savings and loan association using their stolen gun. The police were notified and arrived during the commission of the felony. Hill ran out of the back door and Jackson fled from the front. Officers Taylor and Bailey apprehended Jackson and, as they were attempting to handcuff Jackson, Hill approached them from behind. Hill shot the law enforcement officers, killing Taylor and wounding Bailey. A shoot-out followed between Hill and Bailey. Hill was shot five times and fled the scene, but was apprehended a short time later. UPDATE: The execution of Clarence Hill, who murdered a Pensacola police officer 23 years ago, was delayed Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay. Hill, 48, claimed he was mentally retarded and should not be executed, and he also had challenged the state’s use of execution drugs. It was not clear if the court’s last-minute intervention would only briefly delay Hill’s execution, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m., to give justices additional time to review his stay requests. Later Tuesday night the Supreme Court rejected one of Hill’s three appeals, but did not act on the remaining two. The court will not rule until tomorrow," said Robby Cunningham, spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections. A total of 29 witnesses gathered at the Florida State Prison, in an observation room separated from the execution chamber by a window over which a curtain remained drawn. Some witnesses exchanged notes while waiting. The witnesses, who included Florida Senate president Tom Lee and several of the victim’s relatives, were sent home after Justice Anthony M. Kennedy filed paperwork that said Hill’s death sentence would "be stayed pending further order" of the justices. Hill was scheduled to die for the Oct. 19, 1982, slaying of Pensacola police officer Stephen Taylor, 26, and the wounding of his partner, Larry Bailly, when they responded to a silent alarm of a bank robbery at Freedom Federal Savings Bank.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 25, 2006 Texas Jose Tovar
Frank Farias, 17
Jessica Quinones, 19
Audrey Brown, 21
Marion Dudley executed

Marion Butler Dudley, who lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, occasionally traveled to Houston to buy drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife Rachel. On June 20, 1992, Dudley and three men drove from Tuscaloosa to Houston. After arriving, Dudley and one of the men went to the Tovar residence and asked for three kilograms of cocaine. Rachel Tovar told the men she did not have the quantity of cocaine they wanted and asked them to come back later. Dudley and the other men returned to the Tovar residence a few hours later and the Tovars showed them a kilogram of cocaine. The men were told more cocaine could be obtained, so the pair left. At dusk, Dudley, Arthur Brown and Antonio Dunson returned and tied up Jose Tovar and three other people in the home – Rachel’s son, Frank Farias, 17; Farias’s pregnant girlfriend, Jessica Quinones, 19; and neighbor Audrey Brown, 21. Rachel Tovar then entered the home and was met by Dunson, who led her in at gunpoint with the other victims. The men then began using strips of bed sheets to tie up their victims. Nicholas Cortes, a friend of the family, was also tied up and robbed when he stopped by for a visit. The victims were tied with their hands behind their backs, and nooses around their necks, and placed in separate rooms. All six were then shot in the head. Jose Tovar and Frank Farias were killed. Rachel Tovar and Nicholas Cortes regained consciousness after a while and found Jessica Quinones and Audrey Brown still alive. Tovar crawled to a neighbor’s house for help and called police. Jessica Quinones died before the police arrived. Audrey Brown died later at a hospital. The killers evaded capture for several months. On August 12, 1992, Dudley and Dunson were arrested in North Carolina while hiding in a mobile home. They had $30,000 in cash on them at the time of their capture. Brown was arrested later in Tuscaloosa. The two surviving victims identified Dudley as one of their assailants and testified against him at his trial. One of them testified that minutes before the six were shot, Dudley told Jose Tovar, "You stupid Mexican, I never did like you." Prosecutors claimed that the drug buy was a ruse, and that Dudley’s true intention was to eliminate the Tovars from his drug operation, seeing them as unnecessary middlemen. Rachel Tovar also said that Dudley told Quinones, "You stupid bi**h, don’t you go into labor on me." At trial, evidence showed that in January of 1991, Dudley was pulled over for having an expired license tag and was observed reaching toward the front seat floorboard where the officer subsequently located a.38 caliber pistol. The State also produced evidence that Dudley had been arrested by Tuscaloosa police officers for possession of crack cocaine and had given a false identity upon that arrest. Several police officers with the Tuscaloosa Police Department testified that Dudley’s reputation for being a peaceful and law abiding person was bad. The State also presented evidence that Dudley had a felony conviction in Alabama for possession of marijuana, and had attempted to escape when the officer arrested him. Several witnesses testified about an incident in which Dudley and a friend, after arguing over the cost of cocaine which Dudley was selling, drove through a neighborhood exchanging gunfire between their automobiles. The superintendent for the Tuscaloosa Board of Education testified that as a juvenile Dudley was expelled from school because he was involved in an altercation in which another student was stabbed. Cecil Hopkins, Dudley’s Tuscaloosa County Juvenile Probation Officer testified that Dudley was placed on probation for a second-degree felony of receiving stolen property and that his probation was revoked for violating curfew. The officer further testified that Dudley also incurred further violations of probation for the offenses of burglary of a vehicle, first-degree assault and another offense of receiving stolen property. Harry McRae, a Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Department deputy, testified that Dudley had participated in a home invasion-type robbery on April 20, 1992, just two months prior to the 1992 capital murders in Houston. Arthur Brown Jr. was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Antonio Lamone Dunson was convicted of capital murder and given a life sentence.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 27, 2006 Indiana Tommy Miller, 21
Kimberly Jane Miller, 19
Marvin Bieghler executed

On December 11, 1981, Kenny Miller went to visit his 21-year-old brother, Tommy, who lived with his pregnant 19-year-old wife, Kimberly, in a trailer near the Howard County town of Russiaville, Indiana, about 10 miles west of Kokomo. When Kenny arrived, he discovered a gruesome scene: Tommy and Kimberly had been shot to death, Tommy with six bullets and Kimberly, who was four weeks pregnant, with three. Marvin Bieghler was eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the two murders in 1983. The federal appeals court referred to the facts of the crime as senseless. Bieghler was a major drug supplier in Kokomo. He obtained his drugs in Florida and had others, including Tommy Miller, distribute them in the Kokomo area. Several witnesses, including a Bieghler bodyguard, testified that prior to the murders, someone within Bieghler’s drug-dealing operation gave information to the police which led to the arrest of a distributor and the confiscation of some dope. An incensed Bieghler declared repeatedly that when he found out who blew the whistle, he would “blow away” the informant. Eventually, Bieghler began to suspect that Tommy Miller was the snitch: he told associates that he was going to get him. A major portion of the State’s case rested on the testimony of the bodyguard, who was not prosecuted for his role in the events. According to that testimony, Bieghler and the bodyguard spent the day of the murders drinking beer and getting high on marijuana. During the evening, Bieghler spoke of getting Tommy Miller. Around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. they left a tavern and drove to Tommy’s trailer. Bieghler got out of the car and went inside carrying an automatic pistol. The bodyguard followed and saw Bieghler pointing the weapon into a room. Bieghler and Brook then ran back to the car and drove away. Later that night, a distraught Bieghler tearfully announced that he was leaving for Florida. Tommy’s and Kimberly’s bullet-ridden bodies were discovered the next morning. Police learned that nine shell casings found at the murder scene matched casings from a remote rural location where Bieghler fired his pistol during target practice. At trial, an expert testified that the two sets of casings were fired from the same gun. Tommy Miller’s mother, Priscilla Hodges of Kokomo, traveled to the prison but was not allowed under state law to witness the execution. She said afterward she felt some sense of relief but that the execution did not bring her any closure. "I hope he was right with the Lord," she said of Bieghler. "I hope he is with the Lord right now."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 31, 2006 Florida Stella Salamon, 63 Arthur Rutherford stayed

Arthur Rutherford killed Stella Salamon when she refused to write him a second check to correct a problem with doors he had installed. Her body was found submerged in a bathtub. Arthur Rutherford was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder and armed robbery of Stella Salamon, for whom Rutherford had worked. On 08/22/85, Arthur Rutherford physically attacked 63-year-old Stella Salamon and then submerged her head under water in the bathtub. Stella’s body had been bludgeoned; her left arm was broken at the elbow and the upper part of the arm was bruised, there were bruises on her face and cuts on her lip, and there were three severe wounds on her head. Two of these injuries were consistent with having been made by a blunt instrument or by her head being struck against a flat surface; another was a puncture wound made by a sharp object; and all were associated with skull fracture. Drowning or asphyxiation were determined as the cause of Stella’s death. Two female witnesses testified that Arthur Rutherford asked for their assistance in cashing a $2,000 check from Stella’s bank account. Rutherford forged Stella’s signature on the check. He took one of the women to a bank where she cashed the check. A third witness who had helped Rutherford when he worked for Stella testified that Rutherford had told him how easy it would be to kill Stella by drowning her in the bathtub and forge a check from her account. At the time, the man thought that Rutherford was joking. Two witnesses testified that, on the day before her murder, the victim told them that she was fearful of Rutherford and "wished he would stop coming by her house." The police found Rutherford’s fingerprints and palm prints in the bathroom where Stella was killed. Beverly Elkins, a neighbor who discovered Stella’s body in the bathtub, she says Rutherford should have been executed long ago. "It would help bring closure. He really needs to pay for that crime. It was just a gruesome, premeditated murder that there was no justification for at all." UPDATE: The US Supreme Court stayed the execution of convicted killer Arthur Rutherford following a new challenge on whether lethal injections are inhumane. The stay is pending the outcome of a decision in the Clarence Hill case, another murderer whose execution was stopped last week. Hill’s lawyers argued that the chemicals Florida uses in lethal injections cause pain and therefore constitute cruel and unusual punishment which is forbidden by the US Constitution. The Supreme Court will not rule on the cruel and unusual aspect of the appeal, just on whether Hill can challenge the use of the chemicals.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 31, 2006 Texas Juan Saenz Guajardo
Marcos Sanchez Vasquez
Jaime Elizalde, Jr. executed

Jaime Elizalde, Jr. was paroled from prison approximately 8 months before he was involved in the murder of two men outside a Houston nightclub. Elizalde had served almost 4 years of a 10 year sentence for possession of cocaine and car theft. On November 1, 1994, Elizalde was at a nightclub with his father when the two men got into a confrontation with Juan Guajardo and Marcos Vasquez. Four days later, the father and son returned to the bar and sat on opposite sides of the room. Jaime Elizalde, Sr. gestured to the two men to follow him outside of the El Lugar bar, where Elizalde Jr. was waiting for them. He pulled a gun and shot both men to death. A witness testified that from the bar he saw Guajado as he was shot. He further testified that, although he did not see the killer shoot Guajado, when he exited the bar he saw Elizalde flee with a gun. Elizalde was arrested a few months later in a drug bust. While incarcerated, Elizalde was a leader of the Mexican Mafia, a dangerous prison gang. Prosecutor Terrance Windham told the jury that Elizaldle stabbed someone in prison and assaulted guards; he added that the defendant had numerous chances to change his life, but failed to do so, adding that "the system tried to rehabilitate him, but he kept getting worse." Authorities suspect that the defendant’s father is hiding in Mexico. Defense attorneys had asked the jury to show mercy for their client because of his age, but that plea went unheeded. After convicting Elizalde for capital murder, in less than 1 hour the jury decided that Elizalde Jr., 25, would be a threat to society and sent him to death row for the slayings of Juan Saenz Guajardo and Marcos Sanchez Vasquez. After the judge read the sentence, the defendant smiled and patted one of his attorneys on the back. In October of 2005, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office asked the court to postpone the execution that was set for November 2 so prosecutors could bring him to Houston to question him about a separate murder case. Assistant District Attorney Jack Roady said, "We are still conducting our investigation," and added that his office wants to question Elizalde in open court. Elizalde is on death row for the Nov. 5, 1994, shooting deaths of two men. He claims he did not commit that crime, and his attorney argues in a clemency appeal before the governor and state parole officials that another man, Albert Guajardo, was the real killer. Guajardo was slain in 1995, and another man is serving a life sentence for that murder. Elizalde claimed in a sworn statement that he strangled Guajardo with a nylon rope, hit him on the head several times with a blackjack and slit his throat with a hunting knife. Guajardo’s body was found wrapped in a carpet in northeast Harris County. Elizalde said he killed Guajardo because he stole drugs and "paperwork" from him. Another man, Hermilio Herrero, Jr. was convicted of killing Guajardo several years ago. The state’s case against Herrero was based largely on the testimony – several years after the slaying – of two prison inmates who claimed Herrero bragged to them about killing Guajardo while he was serving time in a Beaumont federal prison. UPDATE: Jaime Elizalde Jr. was put to death for the 1994 shooting deaths of two men outside an eastside Houston cantina. Neither Elizalde’s nor the victims’ families witnessed the execution. Present were Elizalde’s friends and a girlfriend from Germany and a spiritual adviser who remained silent during the execution. Elizalde did not express remorse before being executed.

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