March 2007 Executions

Five killers were executed in March 2007. They had murdered at least 8 people.
killers were given a stay in March 2007. They have murdered at least 9 people.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 1, 2007 Pennsylvania Terry Smith
Lucy Smith
Landon May stayed

On Saturday, September 1, 2001, Landon May, along with Steven Estes, Raymond Navarro Perez, and Michael Bourgeois, drove to the home of Lloyd and Beverly Good in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, intending to commit a burglary while the Good family was absent on vacation. According to their plan, the perpetrators gained entrance through a side garage door and ransacked the home. They stole a 1996 green Chevrolet Suburban and a 1996 silver Saturn sedan, both of which had been parked in the garage. They also stole a number of weapons: a.22 caliber revolver, a.32-20 caliber revolver, a Marlin 12 gauge bolt action shotgun, an Ithaca 12 gauge pump shotgun, a 30-06 Remington rifle, a Browning 300 Winchester Magnum rifle, two boxes of 300 shells, three boxes of 30-06 shells, two blocks of.22 shells, assorted hunting knives, a Jennings “Buckmaster” compound bow, a Jennings “Bear” bow, two 10-pump BB guns, and one one-pump BB gun. Cash and other assorted household and personal items were also stolen, including dishes and a taxidermist mounted fox. The burglary was discovered by the family upon returning on Monday, September 3, 2001, at approximately 8:00 a.m. and was reported to police. That same day, the Lancaster City Police recovered the Chevrolet Suburban, which was being driven by Estes. The next day, the Saturn was found abandoned on U.S. Route 222 in Manheim Township, Lancaster County. Also on that day, the residence was processed for latent fingerprints. Several prints were lifted, one of which matched fingerprints on file for Bourgeois. On September 5, 2001, police made unsuccessful efforts to locate Bourgeois at the residence of his mother, Lucy Smith, and her husband, Terry Smith, in Ephrata. That evening the Smiths went to a home in Akron which was leased to Drenea Rodriguez, to visit Bourgeois, who had moved out of the Smith home approximately two months earlier to live with Rodriguez, with whom he was romantically involved. During their visit, the Smiths informed Bourgeois that the State Police were seeking his whereabouts. On September 6, 2001, at approximately 10:00 a.m., the Ephrata Borough Police Department received a telephone call from an employee of Terry Smith. She advised the police that Terry Smith had not come to work during the morning hours that day, that she had not heard from him and that he usually reported to work in a reliable and consistent manner. She reported that Lucy Smith was also not at work as an elementary school principal, which was unusual. Detective David Shupp and Officer Douglas Heilman responded to the Smith residence at approximately 10:30 a.m. and attempted to gain the attention of residents inside by knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell. They found the front door locked, but discovered that the rear sliding door was unlocked. Detective Shupp then checked in with his office and learned that Bourgeois was the son of Lucy Smith, that his fingerprint had been discovered at the scene of the earlier burglary, and that firearms had been stolen from the house. Detective Shupp then requested additional assistance and was joined by Detective Ballinger and Sergeant Kurtz of the Ephrata Borough Police Department, and Officer Diane Houston from the Ephrata Township Police Department. At approximately 10:55 a.m., the officers entered the residence through the unlocked sliding door and did a quick sweep of the first floor, finding nothing unusual. Officer Heilman and Detective Shupp went upstairs and entered the master bedroom, where it was obvious that a struggle had taken place. They observed blood spatters on the mattress and wall and what appeared to be a body wrapped in a comforter on the floor in a pool of blood. This body was later identified as Lucy Smith. She had been severely assaulted on the left side of her head and shot in the head. Sergeant Kurtz located another body wrapped in bedding in a front bedroom, which was later identified as Terry Smith. This bedroom also showed signs of a struggle and Terry Smith had been stabbed repeatedly and shot multiple times in the head. In the late morning hours of September 6, 2001, Corporal Raymond Guth of the Pennsylvania State Police and Detective Shupp went to the Rodriguez residence to interview Bourgeois regarding the Good burglary. Bourgeois admitted that he and Perez had committed the burglary. Bourgeois also stated that Perez had told him that the items taken from the burgled residence were stored at Perez’s residence on Plum Street in Lancaster City. Bourgeois was subsequently arrested on the burglary charge. Detective Brad Ortenzi of the Ephrata Police Department and Detective Sergeant Edward Tobin of the Warwick Township Police Department remained at Rodriguez’s residence to interview her. During that discussion, which took place on the front porch, May came downstairs and Rodriguez introduced him to the detectives. May agreed to talk to the detectives after they finished their conversation with Rodriguez. At about 3:30 p.m., the detectives began asking May about the whereabouts of Bourgeois over the days leading up to September 6, 2001. Upon request by Rodriguez, the detectives left the front porch and they asked May if he would accompany them to the police station. May agreed. During the conversation at the police station, May admitted to the detectives that he was involved in the burglary. Near the end of the interview, the detectives informed May that Bourgeois’ parents, Terry and Lucy Smith, were found dead, and asked if May had any involvement in their deaths. In response, May said that he wanted to talk to an attorney. The interview was concluded and May was driven back to the Rodriguez home. Approximately 50 minutes later, at 7:40 p.m. on September 6, 2001, Detectives Ortenzi and Tobin returned to the Rodriguez residence to arrest May for the burglary. The detectives were told that May could be found at his girlfriend’s residence. They then proceeded to 916 Main Street, Akron, and arrested May. May was advised of his Miranda rights by Detective Tobin and was placed in the police cruiser. May then initiated a conversation with the detectives and expressed a willingness to answer questions. After arriving at the Ephrata Borough Police Station, May reviewed and signed a document confirming that he wanted to speak to the police, acknowledging that he had asked for an attorney several hours earlier, and confirming that he initiated a new discussion. May was then given Miranda warnings again, which he acknowledged in writing. May then gave a statement to Detectives Ortenzi and Tobin in which he confessed to participation in the killings of Terry and Lucy Smith. May stated that he had worn rubber gloves to the Smith residence and that Bourgeois did not, and that he was wearing jeans and a tee shirt which he had subsequently placed in the Rodriguez house. May also admitted to police that during the assaults on Terry and Lucy Smith, he went downstairs to get knives from the kitchen, and he used a knife to cut Lucy Smith’s throat and shot her once. The police obtained a search warrant for the Rodriguez home later the same night and executed it immediately. The clothing worn by Bourgeois and May during the murders was found in a dark green plastic garbage bag in the laundry room along with three bloody knives, a bloody claw hammer, Terry Smith’s wallet, a purse with a cell phone, papers and cards belonging to Terry and Lucy Smith, a key ring, a roll of duct tape, five.22 caliber spent casings, a chocolate box full of personal items belonging to Terry and Lucy Smith including credit cards, and other items taken from the Smith residence. Money taken from the Smith home was found in a cigarette box in a gold watering can in the kitchen. During the search, the police also observed in plain view items known to them to be stolen from the burglary, including the stuffed and mounted fox and a canvas bag with the family’s name embroidered on one side. Sergeant Larry Martin of the East Cocalico Township Police Department searched the attic and found several of the weapons stolen from the residence, along with ammunition and hunting supplies. The.22 caliber and.32 caliber revolvers used in the murder were not found during the search. After the officers left, Rodriguez enlisted the help of her two teenage daughters and
two young men to remove the two firearms from the residence and to dispose of them. On September 8, 2001, after a tip about suspicious activity by three juveniles, police recovered the.32 caliber Colt handgun from a dumpster located in Akron, approximately one-half mile from the Rodriguez residence. It had been wrapped in plastic wrap, placed inside a Pizza Hut bread sticks box, and taped shut with masking tape. On September 26, 2001, Detective Shupp, with the cooperation of the two male juveniles recruited by Rodriguez, recovered the.22 caliber revolver which had been buried in a cornfield in Akron. Autopsies of the bodies of Terry and Lucy Smith were performed on September 7, 2001, by Wayne Ross, M.D., the Lancaster County forensic pathologist. At trial, Dr. Ross testified that Terry Smith was stabbed 47 times, his neck was cut at least five times, he was shot “execution-style” five times, and he was strangled or asphyxiated. There were no defensive wounds on Terry Smith. The evidence established that Terry Smith was tortured before being killed.12 During the autopsy of Lucy Smith, Dr. Ross obtained swabbings from her mouth, which were examined and found to contain semen matching a sample of May’s blood. Dr. Ross testified that Lucy Smith was cut 51 times, shot in the head, beaten on the left side of her head with a claw hammer, suffered blunt force trauma to her forehead, and was eventually smothered to death. She also suffered defensive wounds to
her hands and arms. The apparent reason for the torture was to obtain the PIN numbers to Terry Smith’s bank cards, which were stolen and later recovered at the Rodriguez residence. Witnesses testified that the Smiths would be bound with duct tape, with the purpose of forcing them to relinquish their ATM card pin numbers, before being killed. Other scientific testing indicated that the blood discovered on the latex gloves and the DNA on the pants and tee shirt May was wearing at the time of the murders, both confiscated from the Rodriguez residence, were Lucy Smith’s. Lucy Smith’s blood was also found on the 13-1/2” knife recovered from the Rodriguez home. May’s left thumb print was on the back of Terry Smith’s Ephrata rec card, also recovered from the Rodriguez home. Additionally, the.22 caliber casings recovered from the Rodriguez home were traced to one of the firearms stolen from the Good residence. This evidence supports May’s first degree murder convictions. The evidence was sufficient to permit the jury to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that May intentionally, deliberately, and with premeditation participated in the murders of Terry and Lucy Smith. These victims were unlawfully killed; May actively participated in the killings; and that active participation, combined with the fact that the victims were assaulted with deadly weapons on vital parts of their bodies, was sufficient to permit the jury to find that May harbored a specific intent to kill. Even if May did not inflict the specific injuries which caused each of the Smiths’ deaths, the evidence proved that he clearly shared that intent with his accomplice, Bourgeois. Additional evidence of May’s specific intent to kill included the statements he made to police. There was also substantial evidence of premeditation and motive. The jury deliberated only six hours before finding Landon May guilty of the grisly and premeditated murder of a elementary school principal and her husband. In September of 2001, May murdered Terry and Lucy Smith, in their townhouse in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. At trial, police said May joked and was "carefree" and "loose." The judge referred to the torture murders as "unusually heinous and despicable" and said May was a "threat to the community" when he passed sentence. May was also sentenced to 60 to 120 years for sexually assaulting Lucy Smith before killing the couple. The Smith’s own son, Michael Bourgeois, pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder for killing his parents. "I’m extremely sorry for what I’ve done," he said. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 2, 2007 North Carolina Amy Johnson, 11 Archie Billings stayed

Robert Jackson left his Caswell County mobile home at 1:50 a.m. on 7 July 1995 to gather and ready a herd of cows for milking. Jackson left his two children, Bobby, thirteen years old, and Amy, eleven years old, asleep in their beds. Sometime between 1:50 a.m. and 4:50 a.m., Archie Billings entered the mobile home, stabbed Bobby repeatedly with a knife, and began his assault on Amy. Bobby struggled to a telephone in the kitchen and dialed 911. When emergency personnel arrived at 5:00 a.m., Bobby was found on the kitchen floor in a pool of his own blood. Billings had stabbed the boy some twenty-three times. However, Bobby survived and identified Billings as the man who stabbed him and whom he had seen carry his sister out of the mobile home. It was not until some twelve hours later that Amy’s body was found in a field, with her pajama bottoms around her feet and her pajama top partially torn off. Amy had died from a stab to her throat that had severed her carotid artery. An autopsy revealed that Amy had also been sexually assaulted. Billings worked with Jackson on the dairy farm, and both children knew him well. Billings was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on the dairy farm the same morning the children were attacked.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 6, 2007 Texas Jose Travieso
Robert Rivas
Robert Perez executed

On 04/17/94, in San Antonio, Texas, Robert Martinez Perez and two co-defendants fatally shot Jose Travieso and Robert Rivas numerous times with a.380 caliber pistol, a 9 millimeter pistol, and a.38 caliber pistol. The shooting was a result of an internal power struggle within the Mexican Mafia. Co-defendants: Joe Sandoval; Javier Garcia

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 6, 2007 Pennsylvania James Lunario
Angelina Lunario
Victor Lunario
David Chmiel stayed

At approximately 9:00 a.m. on September 21, 1983, Mary Drake, a day nurse hired to attend to James Lunario, found James, his sister, Angelina, and brother, Victor, murdered in the home the three shared in Throop, Pennsylvania. According to the autopsy findings, Angelina sustained eleven stab wounds; James sustained ten stab wounds; and Victor sustained twelve stab wounds. Angelina and James also had defensive stab wounds on their hands and/or arms. Based on the physical findings of the autopsy and the visual and auditory accounts provided by eyewitnesses, the medical examiner estimated the time of death of all three victims was between 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 1983, and 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday September 21, 1983. The time of death was narrowed based upon information provided by several neighbors. One neighbor, who was walking his dog at approximately 11:00 p.m. September 20, observed Victor standing in the kitchen doorway of the Lunario home and heard Angelina call to him. Another neighbor named Linda was startled by her dog barking at 11:45 p.m. and, upon looking out of her window, observed a powder blue car with a shiny grill and hood ornament parked close to her own car. Her husband also saw this vehicle when he arrived home between 2:15 and 2:30 a.m. on September 21. Both witnesses stated the vehicle was gone by 8:00 a.m. Linda subsequently identified a car shown to her in a photograph as the one she saw in front of her house, and also identified a car at a State Police garage as the one she saw on the night of the murders. The vehicle in the photograph and in the garage belonged to Chmiel. At about 1:20 a.m., another neighbor, Deborah Lahotsky Washenko, let her dog out of the house and, while waiting for its return, heard a scream, which she attributed to one of her neighbors. Between 1:20 a.m. and 1:25 a.m., Pauline Stroka heard a noise, and when she walked onto her porch to investigate, heard Angelina scream “Oh my God, no.” Ms. James, who had suffered a stroke, had been discharged from the hospital the previous day. Stroka, who knew James had been ill, did not call the police because she assumed something had happened to him. Based upon these observations the police were able to narrow the time of the murders to between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on September 21. Upon inspecting the murder scene, the police discovered a sweater sleeve that had been used as a mask during the robbery and murders of the Lunarios. Police inspection of the crime scene also uncovered substantial amounts of money, including $12,296 in cash. The Lunarios kept their cash in envelopes, which they hid in drawers, photo albums, and boxes, and maintained a record of their money by keeping a running tally on the front of the envelopes. While inspecting the home, the police discovered empty envelopes with notations on the front indicating that they had once contained a total of over $4000, which the police concluded had been stolen by the intruder. With the assistance of the DeGrazio family, who lived next door to the Lunarios, police were able to trace the sweater sleeve mask to Martin Chmiel, David Chmiel’s brother. In the early 1980’s, Martin married the DeGrazio’s daughter, Mary, and while living in the DeGrazio’s home, had befriended Victor. During their friendship, Victor allowed Martin access to a strongbox, which contained thick envelopes consisting of $100 bills, and lent money to Martin. Thus, Martin knew that the Lunarios had envelopes of cash hidden throughout their house. Just before the murders, Martin had a falling out with Victor that essentially ended their friendship. The murder investigation revealed that five months prior to the Lunario murders, on April 21, 1983, David Chmiel was charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent and aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and recklessly endangering another person. Chmiel was subsequently convicted of these crimes in 1983. Another brother of David Chmiel, Robert D. Chmiel, and his sister, Nancy Chmiel Moran (hereafter Nancy), confirmed that Chmiel needed money to pay his defense attorney. When Chmiel told Martin he needed “fast money” to pay his lawyer, Martin informed Chmiel about Victor’s strongbox of cash and envelopes of money, and Martin and Chmiel agreed to burglarize the Lunario home. Pursuant to their plan to rob the Lunarios, Martin and Chmiel fashioned masks out of one of Martin’s sweaters. Martin also described to Chmiel the layout of the Lunario home. Martin, however, later told police that he subsequently changed his mind because Victor was his friend and he feared he may be seen by his in-laws, who lived next door. Thus, Martin backed out of the plan. On the morning after the Lunario murders, Chmiel and Martin were rebuilding the fire damaged home of their sister Nancy and her husband, Thomas Buffton. At 10:30 a.m. on September 21, 1983, Robert’s wife visited the construction site and informed Martin that the Lunarios had been murdered the previous night. When Chmiel returned to the construction site from gathering supplies, Martin confronted Chmiel about the murders. Chmiel initially denied any involvement. Later that afternoon, however, Chmiel admitted to Martin that he had murdered the Lunarios. Chmiel also provided Martin with a detailed account of what had transpired that night. Chmiel’s description of the crime, later conveyed to police by Martin, matched the information and evidence found at the crime scene. Specifically, Chmiel told Martin that he had tried to enter the Lunarios’ home via the cellar door, but upon finding it locked, proceeded to enter the home through the rear door on the first floor. Once inside the home, Angelina, who was sitting on the couch in the living room, cried out, so Chmiel killed her to silence her. Chmiel told Martin that James also attempted to scream from his hospital bed on the first floor, and Chmiel killed him as well. Chmiel then proceeded up the stairs to the second floor, where he killed Victor in his bed. Chmiel advised Martin that he stole $4,500.00 from the strongbox and $800 from Angelina’s purse. Chmiel also searched for money under the cushions of the sofa Angelina had been sitting on, and then straightened Angelina’s slumped body into an upright position. Chmiel informed Martin that he placed the stolen money in a pillow case he obtained from the Lunario home. After committing the murders and searching the premises for cash, Chmiel drove to Martin’s home, but was advised by Martin’s wife, Mary, that Martin was not home. Later, upon reading a news account of the murders that discussed the substantial sums of money recovered by the police, Chmiel told Martin that “it would have been nice to get that” because “as it stands, I only got $1700 for each of them.” Within a week of the murders, two witnesses testified to seeing Chmiel flash $100 bills while drinking at a neighborhood bar. One of these witnesses, Darryl Crawford, testified that when Chmiel’s wife contacted him by telephone at the bar, they engaged in a heated argument during which Chmiel exclaimed “I’ll kill you too.” Based on the sweater sleeve mask found at the Lunario home, the police investigation led to Martin, whom the police questioned on September 28, 1983. Martin initially denied any involvement with or knowledge of the Lunario murders. Upon being confronted by the police with a photograph depicting him wearing the sweater that was used to make the mask, however, Martin informed police of Chmiel’s confession to him. During the police interview Martin provided details that only the murderer would have known, as no such detailed information had been released to the public. Included in the details provided to the police by Martin was the fact that the victims had been robbed and that money had been removed from a box in Victor’s dresser drawer; the cellar door was locked and the burglar gained entry through an unlocked rear door; Angelina was seated on the sofa, James was in bed on the first floor, and Victor was in an upstairs bedroom; Angelina yelled, and James was unable to do so (because of his stroke); Chmiel drove his light blue 1976 Grand Prix to the Lunario home, and parked a couple of blocks away; Chmiel wore gloves while committing the crimes and disposed of the murder weapon; Chmiel wore one of the sweater masks he and Martin had made; Chmiel searched Angelina’s room for money; Chmiel repositioned Angelina after he searched under the sofa cushions; and Chmiel took a pillow case from the home to carry the money. Based on the detailed information provided by Martin, the police concluded that he could have learned this information only from the actual murderer. Police ruled out Martin’s involvement in the murders by independently verifying his alibi with several impartial sources. According to Martin, he spent the early morning hours of September 21, 1983, with his brother-in-law Mr. Buffton, whom the Lackawanna County Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) employed to keep watch for brush fires occurring on East Mountain in Scranton, twenty-five minutes from the Lunario home in Throop. Scranton Fire Chief and ARC employees confirmed Martin’s alibi for that time period. At the request of Trooper Gaetano and Trooper Carlson, Martin agreed to wear a wire on September 28, 1983, so that he could meet with Chmiel and record their conversation. Arrangements were made for the meeting between Martin and Chmiel to take place in a parking lot.7 During the meeting, Chmiel was guarded with his remarks to Martin. Nonetheless, shortly after midnight, following the conclusion of the recorded conversation, the police arrested Chmiel. After arresting Chmiel, the police administered Miranda warnings and Chmiel indicated that he understood his constitutional rights. Chmiel, however, agreed to answer Trooper Gaetano’s questions. Trooper Gaetano inquired into Chmiel’s whereabouts “last Tuesday night” (i.e., September 21, 1983), to which Chmiel responded that he had been at home watching television with his wife. When Trooper Gaetano pressed further, Chmiel declined to elaborate or provide any more information. The day after Chmiel’s arrest, police conducted a search of his home. During the search, they discovered $2400 in $50 and $100 dollar bills on top of a hutch in the dining room. After Chmiel’s arrest, a Pennsylvania State Police forensic scientist conducted a microscopic analysis of six hairs that were retrieved from the sweater sleeve mask found in Victor’s bedroom. When the forensic scientist compared those hairs microscopically with hairs obtained from Chmiel, both sets of hairs contained identical features. The forensic scientist concluded that the two hairs found on the mask were microscopically similar to Chmiel’s hair, and excluded Martin and the Lunarios as sources. In addition, mitochondrial DNA testing revealed that Chmiel matched one of the mitochondrial DNA profiles retrieved from two of the hairs found in the sweater sleeve mask. On September 29, 1983, Chmiel was charged with criminal homicide, robbery, burglary, and theft by unlawful taking in connection with the deaths of Angelina, Victor, and James. On October 29, 1984, a jury found Chmiel guilty of three counts of murder of the first-degree, two counts of robbery, one count of burglary, and two counts of theft by unlawful taking. Following completion of the penalty phase of trial, the jury sentenced Chmiel to death. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 7, 2007 Texas Claude Schaffer, Jr., 70 Joseph Nichols executed

On October 13, 1980, Nichols, Willie Ray Williams and two women drove to an apartment building in Houston, Texas, intending to rob a nearby grocery store. Committing the robbery was Nichols’ idea. Armed with guns, Nichols and Williams entered the grocery. Seventy-year old Claude Shaffer, Jr. was working as a deli clerk behind the counter. Nichols pointed his gun at Claude, and Claude made a movement that Nichols interpreted as gun retrieval. Nichols then shot at Claude Shaffer. Williams also shot at Claude while fleeing the store, but he returned to the counter to take the cash box. Claude was killed by one bullet to the back. The women drove Nichols and Williams away from the scene. The quartet were arrested soon thereafter. At the punishment phase of Nichols’s trial, the state submitted evidence that Nichols had been convicted of theft in 1979, and had pleaded guilty in May 1980 to an April 1980 robbery for which he was sentenced in July 1980 to nine years’ felony probation, which he was serving when he committed the instant offense. Additionally, it was shown that on August 13, 1980, Nichols committed an armed robbery of a convenience store, shooting the clerk in the shoulder when he did not respond speedily enough to Nichols’ demand for more money. Nichols continued to demand more money as the clerk was bleeding from his wound. Further, on October 11, 1980, two days before the present offense, Nichols committed another robbery of a convenience store, aiming his pistol at the clerks. There was also evidence that when booked into jail following his arrest for the instant offense, Nichols had stated he would “shoot any deputy that got in his way.” Finally, there was evidence that in June 1981, while in jail awaiting trial, Nichols conspired with others to engage in an escape involving the use of a firearm and other weapons. The defense called fifteen witnesses. Many testified they thought Nichols could be rehabilitated, that he was nineteen at the time of the offense, and that at school he had had average grades, had been an excellent athlete, and had presented no disciplinary problems. His parents divorced when he was seven, but both maintained a good relationship with him. He married, and dropped out of school, at about age seventeen to support his young child. His parents thought he had gotten into trouble due to the pressure he was under to support his young child and because he got in with a bad crowd. Nichols’s accomplice, Willie Ray Williams, was also sentenced to death in the robbery and was executed in January 1995.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 7, 2007 Tennessee William Price Michael Boyd
(aka Abu Samad)

Michael Joe Boyd was convicted of felony murder stemming from the shooting death of William Price during an armed robbery in November of 1986. Price and a companion, David Hippen, had solicited two women to accompany them to a Memphis motel. Upon their arrival at the Lorraine Motel, Price gave one of the women a $100 bill to rent two rooms. Michael Boyd, who was the boyfriend of one of the women, drove up to the scene with two other men and approached Price’s van. Boyd pointed his pistol at Hippen and demanded money. Price grabbed Boyd’s arm, Boyd fired the gun, and a struggle ensued. When Price tried to drive away from the scene, Boyd “emptied” the gun at him, striking him with five or six shots which caused his death. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 9, 2007 North Carolina Linda Holman, 49 Allen Holman, Sr. stayed

Allen R. Holman, Sr. was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife in 1997. In July 1997, Holman shot Linda Holman to death in the parking lot of a convenience store. The couple had been married for 7 years. Holman, a former grocery store bagger, pled guilty to the murder. Linda Holman placed a call to 911 in the early-morning hours as her husband chased her in her car at speeds that sometimes exceed 85 mph. Linda said, "Help me! My husband is trying to kill me!" The phone call lasted for 5 minutes, then Linda Holman reached a food store and an Apex police officer began chasing Holman. Holman was able to evade the officer and returned to the store, pulled up next to his wife’s car and shot her twice in the back with a pump-action shotgun. After killing Linda, Holman returned to the couple’s home and engaged in a gunfight with police, then shot himself in the stomach. Holman has fired his attorneys and does not want any additional appeals filed on his behalf, however his former lawyers have asked the judge to stop the execution until the legal challenges over lethal injection in North Carolina are settled. They also requested that a court-appointed psychiatrist evaluate Holman’s mental competency. Holman once wrote a judge demanding that he be executed. "I’m requesting the state of North Carolina’s justice system to do their jobs of seeing my sentence carried out to the fullest!" Holman wrote in 2002. Last year in federal court, Holman testified, "I would like closure for me and all my… everybody connected to my case," Holman said. "I would like to drop my appeals and the state to carry out the sentence." Linda Holman’s daughter hopes that Holman gets his wish. "I’m really hoping and praying that this will happen," said Deborah Hartless, 39, of Baltimore. Hartless said she was surprised that Holman took his stepchildren into consideration when he decided to drop his appeals. Hartless said, "He wants to give some kind of peace to the families, which blows my mind." There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 2007 Ohio Tami Engstrom Kenneth Biros stayed

On 2/7/91, Biros murdered 22-year-old Tami Engstrom in Brookfield Township. Tami had met Biros that night at the Nickelodeon Lounge in Masbury, Ohio. Biros beat and stabbed Tami Engstrom 91 times in an attempt at sexual mutilation and then strangled her to death. Biros also stole Tami’s diamond ring. Biros later showed police where he had hidden Tami’s severed, nude body in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, February 7, 1991, at approximately 5:30 p.m., Tami Engstrom dropped off her one-year-old son at her friend’s house before reporting to work at the Clover Bar in Hubbard, Ohio. Tami’s mother worked with Tami at the Clover Bar. Tami arrived at work at 6:30 p.m. Later, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Tami had to leave work due to illness. Tami’s mother relieved Tami so that she could go home early. However, instead of going directly home, Tami drove to the Nickelodeon Lounge in Masury, Ohio, to visit her uncle who was a regular patron at that tavern. Tami arrived at the Nickelodeon at approximately 10:00 p.m. She was wearing a black leather coat, a sweater, black pants, black shoes, black stockings or socks, and a $1,200 diamond cluster ring she had purchased from a friend a few weeks earlier. She was also carrying a small gray purse which, according to one witness, contained a significant amount of money. At the Nickelodeon, Tami had several drinks and spoke with her uncle and others. Kenneth Biros arrived at the Nickelodeon at approximately 11:00 p.m., having earlier participated in a drinking event sponsored by the Nickelodeon and other bars. Biros knew Tami’s uncle but was a stranger to Tami. By midnight, Tami had passed out, due to either sickness or intoxication, while seated at a table. She later fell off her chair and onto the floor. Her uncle and Biros helped Tami back into her seat. At approximately 1:00 a.m., when the bar was closing, Biros and her uncle assisted Tami outside to the parking lot. Tami insisted on driving herself home, but her uncle took Tami’s car keys upon determining that she was too intoxicated to drive. According to her uncle, Biros then volunteered to take Tami for coffee to help sober her up. Tami’s uncle handed Tami her purse and noticed that she was wearing her leather coat. At approximately 1:15 a.m., Biros and Tami left the Nickelodeon in Biros’s car. Tami’s uncle remained at the bar after closing and waited for Biros to return with Tami. However, Biros never returned Tami to the Nickelodeon. Meanwhile, on February 7, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Tami’s husband Andy went to the Clover Bar to deliver a gift he had bought for Tami. However, Tami’s mother informed Andy that Tami had left work and had gone home sick. Andy drove home and discovered that Tami was not there. Andy then asked the babysitter to continue watching Casey while he went out to search for Tami. At approximately 1:00 a.m., Andy spoke with Tami’s sister who suggested that Tami might have gone to the Nickelodeon. At 1:10 a.m., Andy called the Nickelodeon and was told that Tami and her uncle had already left the bar. Andy then went to sleep, assuming that Tami would soon return home. When he awoke later that morning, he discovered that Tami was still missing. On Friday, February 8, 1991, at or about noon, Andy and a friend went to the Nickelodeon to pick up Tami’s car, which had been left there overnight. At some point, Andy learned that Biros had been the last person seen with Tami. Therefore, Andy drove to Biros’s home and confronted Biros concerning Tami’s whereabouts. Biros told Andy that after he and Tami had left the Nickelodeon to get coffee, he tapped her on the shoulder and she "freaked out, got out of the car and started running through these people’s yards on Davis Street" in Sharon, Pennsylvania. The location where Biros claimed that Tami had jumped from the vehicle was approximately three-tenths of a mile from the Nickelodeon. Andy told Biros that he had already contacted the police in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and that he intended to file a missing person’s report with the Brookfield Township (Ohio) Police Department. Andy told Biros that "if she don’t turn up right fast, they are going to come looking for you, and it’s going to be your ass." Throughout the day on Friday, February 8, Biros told a number of witnesses similar stories concerning Tami’s disappearance. Specifically, he told Tami’s mother, Tami’s brother, Tami’s uncles, her friends, acquaintances, and others, that after he had left the Nickelodeon with Tami, she woke up, became frightened, jumped from his vehicle and ran between houses near Carpenter’s Towing or Carpenter’s Garage on Davis Street in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Biros also indicated that he had initially chased after Tami but that he had been unable to catch her. Biros told a number of these witnesses that he had abandoned the chase to avoid being caught while driving under the influence of alcohol. Several of the witnesses noticed fresh cuts or scratches on Biros’s hands and a fresh wound over his right eye that had not been present the night before. Biros explained that he had cut his hands because he had been locked out of his house and had to break a window, and that he had obtained the cut above his eye while chopping wood. Tami’s brother threatened to kill Biros if Tami had been hurt in any way. One of Tami’s uncles told Biros that if Tami had been hurt, he would "rip your heart out." Tami’s mother told Biros, "if you put one scratch on my daughter, I will kill you." Biros tried to comfort her by telling her, "Don’t worry. Your daughter is going to be just fine. You wait and see." On Friday evening, Biros helped Tami’s relatives search the area in Sharon, Pennsylvania, where he claimed to have last seen Tami. Biros lived on King Graves Road in Brookfield Township, Ohio, with his mother and his brother. On Friday morning, February 8, Biros’s mother found a gold ring on the bathroom floor. The next day, she asked Biros if he knew anything about the ring. Biros claimed to know nothing about it. Biros told his mother that the ring appeared to be made of "cheap gold." When Biros’s mother responded that the ring was not cheap, Biros suggested that perhaps it had belonged to the girl who jumped out of his car early Friday morning. Biros then took the ring and said that he would return it to the Nickelodeon. However, Biros never returned Tami’s ring to the Nickelodeon. Rather, according to Biros, he hid the ring in the ceiling of his house. On Friday night, Biros’s brother was at home watching television while Biros was outside in a pasture behind the house. He went outside and called to Biros to see what he was doing. Biros responded that he was "watching stars." His brother then returned to the house and retired for the evening. On Saturday, February 9, Tami’s family and friends spent hours searching for Tami in Sharon, Pennsylvania. They also searched a wooded area along the railroad tracks near Biros’s home on King Graves Road. However, the search party was unable to uncover any clues concerning Tami’s disappearance. On Saturday afternoon, police called Biros’s home and left a message requesting that he come to the police station for questioning. After receiving the message, Biros drove to the police station to discuss Tami’s disappearance with Brookfield Township and Sharon, Pennsylvania police officers. Police informed Biros that he was not under arrest and that he was free to leave at any time. During questioning, Biros reiterated the same basic story that he had previously told Tami’s friends and relatives. Specifically, Biros told police that he had left the Nickelodeon with Tami in the early morning hours of February 8 to get coffee or food at some location in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Biros claimed that Tami had passed out in his vehicle after they left the Nickelodeon. Biros told police that he stopped at an automated teller machine to withdraw some money and, at that point, Tami woke up and insisted that Biros drive her back to the Nickelodeon. Biros told police that as he was driving on Davis Street in Sharon, Pennsylvania, Tami jumped from the vehicle and ran away. When asked whether Tami’s purse might have been left in his vehicle, Biros responded that he had thoroughly cleaned the vehicle and had found no purse. At some point during the interview, Captain John Klaric of the Sharon Police Department began questioning Biros’s version of the story. Klaric suggested to Biros that perhaps Biros had made some sexual advance toward Tami which, in turn, may have caused her to jump from the vehicle. Biros denied making any sexual advances. Klaric also suggested that perhaps Biros had made some sexual advance and that Tami had jumped from the car and struck her head. Biros denied this as well. Upon further questioning, Klaric suggested that maybe an accident had occurred in which Tami had fallen out of the car and struck her head. At that point, Biros responded "yes," and admitted that he had done something "very bad." Klaric offered to speak with Biros alone. Biros agreed, and indicated that he wanted to speak with Klaric outside the presence of other police officers. According to Klaric, after the other officers had left the room, Biros stated, "It’s like you said, we were in the car together. We were out along the railroad tracks. I touched her on the hand. Then I went further. I either touched or felt her leg. She pushed my hand away. The car wasn’t quite stopped. She opened the door and fell and struck her head on the tracks." Biros told Klaric that Tami was dead and that the incident had occurred along the railroad tracks near King Graves Road in Brookfield Township. At that time, police informed Biros of his Miranda rights. After signing a written waiver of his Miranda rights, Biros repeated his story in the presence of Detective Rocky Fonce of the Brookfield Township Police Department. Fonce, a Brookfield Township police detective working his first case, knew Biros as a "perfectly normal" guy from the area but noticed Biros quickly got nervous while being questioned about the missing woman. "All of a sudden, I’m watching his swallowing, I’m watching his respiration. Kenny’s getting scared. I’m starting to get bad feelings," said Fonce, who had held out hope that Biros and Engstrom had parted ways and Engstrom was trying to find her way home. According to Fonce, Biros admitted that he had reached out and grabbed Tami while parked along the railroad tracks near his house on King Graves Road. Biros told Fonce that Tami had then jumped out of the vehicle, fell, struck her head on the metal part of the railroad track, and died. Biros told police that Tami’s body was in Pennsylvania. When police asked Biros for the precise location of the body, Biros requested to speak with an attorney. Fonce, fearing legal problems with any confession, left him to consult privately with an attorney who emerged ashen-faced. At that point, "I’m still thinking an accidental death," Fonce said. The attorney said Biros was willing to take police to the "locations" where Engstrom’s body would be found. At that moment, the horror dawned on Fonce. "I said, ‘He cut her up.’ This was no accident. I said, ‘This was a mutilation. This goofball murdered this girl and he cut her up.’" The search based on Biros’ information led to body parts that had been buried, and some dug up and reburied, near Masury, in a desolate wooded area of Venango County and 30 miles south in Butler County, both in northwestern Pennsylvania. The victim’s frantic family, already dreading that she was dead, had to wait nearly a day for confirmation of the crime based on the search for body parts. Some organs were never found. "The nightmare just escalated and escalated and escalated," the victim’s sister, Debi Heiss, 41, of nearby Hubbard, told The Associated Press after a teary-eyed courthouse reunion with Fonce, their first meeting since the Biros trial. "Just when we all thought this can’t get worse… " Fonce said. "… It got worse every day," said Heiss, finishing the thought. Tami’s head and right breast had been severed from her torso. Her right leg was amputated just above the knee. Tami’s leg was broken over a railroad track, the torso was found in a rural area of Pennsylvania and part of a liver was found in Biros’ car. The body was completely naked except for what appeared to be remnants of black leg stockings that had been purposely rolled down to the victim’s feet or ankles. The torso had been cut open and the abdominal cavity was partially eviscerated. The anus, rectum, and all but a small portion of her sexual organs had been removed from the body and were never recovered by police. Forensic technicians, police and homicide investigators searched the area of the railroad tracks near King Graves Road where Biros had indicated that the incident with Tami occurred. There, investigators discovered a large area of bloodstained gravel near the railroad tracks. Investigators also found blood spatters on the side of one of the steel tracks. A number of other bloodstains were found in the same general area. Bloodstains and swabbings of blood collected at the scene were later tested and were found to be consistent with Tami’s blood. Additionally, investigators found what appeared to be part of Tami’s intestines in a swampy area near the railroad tracks in Ohio. DNA testing revealed that the intestines were, in fact, part of Tami’s remains. Approximately one month later, police recovered Tami’s black leather coat, which was found partially buried a short distance from the tracks. Two cuts or slash marks were found on or near the collar of the coat. Tami’s house keys and a tube of lipstick were found in a shallow hole in close proximity to the coat. Police also found one of Tami’s black leather shoes in the area of the railroad tracks. A forensic scientist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation found a single pubic hair inside Tami’s shoe. He determined that the microscopic characteristics of that hair were consistent with the characteristics of known samples of Tami’s pubic hair. Police also recovered a number of items during searches of Biros’s residence. Investigators found a bloodstained pocket knife hidden in Biros’s basement. A much larger knife was recovered from Biros’s bathroom. Investigators also recovered a bloodstained coat from Biros’s bedroom, which was later identified as the coat Biros had worn to the Nickelodeon. Forensic experts found numerous bloodstains on the front of the coat, and blood spatters inside the left sleeve. Bloodstains from Biros’s pocket knife and coat were later tested and were found to be consistent with the blood of the victim. Additionally, authorities removed a pair of size eleven tennis shoes from a bedroom in Biros’s home. A forensic scientist in the trace evidence section of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation found a single hair embedded in a seam near the tread of one shoe. He compared the hair to known samples of hair from the victim’s head and testified the hair from the tennis shoe was microscopically consistent with the known samples of hair from the victim’s head. The automobile Biros had driven to the Brookfield Township Police Department was also searched. Forensic technicians found numerous bloodstains consistent with the blood of the victim. Several other bloodstains found in the vehicle were determined to be consistent with Biros’s blood. A small piece of human tissue, believed to be Tami’s liver tissue, was found inside the trunk. Dr. William A. Cox, the Summit County Coroner, performed the autopsy of Tami’s body. Cox testified that he was board certified in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, forensic pathology, and neuropathology. Cox determined that Tami had suffered ninety-one premortem injuries which were indicative of a "severe beating" and "an attempt at sexual mutilation." He also found five stab wounds that had been inflicted immediately after the victim’s death. Among the premortem wounds were at least five blunt force injuries on the top of the victim’s head which, according to Cox, had been caused by an object such as fists or the handle of a knife. Other premortem wounds were found on the victim’s breasts and in the area of her groin. Two premortem knife wounds were discovered near the nipple of the right breast. There were fine linear scratches and a premortem knife laceration or incised wound along the victim’s face and, according to Cox, "the way that is done is the blade of the knife runs down across the mouth and finally gets into the skin, into the soft tissues, then breaks the skin as it continues in the downward direction." Cox also found numerous wounds on the victim’s hands which appeared to be "defensive" injuries. In addition to the ninety-one premortem wounds and the five postmortem stab wounds, Tami’s head, right breast and right lower extremity had been severed from her body at some point after death. Her anus, rectum, urinary bladder, and virtually all of her sexual organs had been cut out and were never found. The gallbladder, the right lobe of the liver, and portions of the bowels had been extracted from her body. According to Cox, a pocket knife like the one removed from Biros’s basement could have been used to inflict some of the wounds found on Tami’s body. However, Cox found that a much larger or heavier knife had been used to amputate Tami’s head and right lower extremity. Cox testified that the victim’s right femur had been severed by a sharp knife which had left a "fine linear cut" in the bone. Cox specifically determined that the evidence indicated that the femur had not been fractured by any blunt force trauma or as the result of an automobile accident. Cox testified that the knife recovered from Biros’s bathroom was consistent with the type of knife that had been used to accomplish the amputations. Cox found that the dismemberment and eviscerations all occurred within minutes after the killer had inflicted the five postmortem stab wounds. He found no evidence that the victim had been struck by an automobile as Biros would later claim. With respect to Tami’s cause of death, Cox concluded that the victim had died of asphyxia due to strangulation. According to Cox, the victim had been strangled to death over a period of four to five minutes. The mucosal lining of the esophagus was torn, indicating that there was a degree of retching and vomiting during this period. Cox testified that, in his opinion, the victim had not been asphyxiated by a hand placed over the nose and mouth. Examination of the victim’s oral cavity revealed no signs of injury to the tongue or the delicate tissue inside the mouth. Absent such injuries, Cox found no evidence to support the theory that the victim had been forcibly suffocated as opposed to being strangled to death. Further, the hyoid bone had been fractured and there was injury to adjacent tissue, which supported the finding that the victim had been strangled. According to Cox, Tami was severely beaten, strangled to death, and then stabbed five times. The five postmortem stab wounds had occurred within minutes after death. Later, but still within minutes, Tami’s body was dismembered. At trial, Biros testified in his own defense. Biros claimed that when the Nickelodeon Lounge was closing at 1:00 a.m., February 8, Tami’s uncle asked Biros to take Tami for coffee or breakfast to help sober her up. Biros agreed and left the Nickelodeon with Tami. He then drove into nearby Sharon, Pennsylvania, to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine. At some point, Biros reached over and shook Tami, since she had fallen asleep. Tami awoke and said that she wanted to go home. She told Biros that her home was in Hubbard, Ohio, but would not say exactly where she lived. Therefore, Biros decided to take Tami to his home to let her "sleep it off." Biros testified that he decided on his way home to drive along the gravel railroad bed which would have taken him to within a few hundred feet of his residence on King Graves Road. While driving on the railroad bed, he reached over and grabbed Tami’s hand to wake her. According to Biros, Tami suddenly awoke, looked at him, and began yelling, "I don’t know you. Where are we at?" She hit Biros and yelled at him. Biros forcibly struck Tami with his forearm. Tami then fled from the vehicle and took off running along the railroad tracks. Biros claimed that he drove along the railroad tracks to try to head Tami off to speak with her. However, according to Biros, he inadvertently struck Tami with the vehicle, causing her to topple over the car at a forty-five degree angle with her head positioned toward the gravel railroad bed. Biros testified that he got out of the car and rolled Tami over onto her back. She was bleeding and her head was positioned against the steel rail of the railroad track. According to Biros, Tami pushed him and began screaming, swearing, and throwing rocks. At that point, Biros decided to pull out his pocket knife to "calm" Tami down. However, Tami grabbed the knife and a struggle ensued. Biros cut his hand, but was able to regain control of the knife. Meanwhile, Tami continued to scream. Therefore, according to Biros, he pinned Tami down and placed his hand over her mouth until she stopped struggling. When Biros removed his hand from Tami’s mouth, he realized that she had died. Biros then became upset and frustrated, so he stabbed her several times. Biros testified that after he had killed and stabbed Tami, he "panicked," drove home, tended to his wounds, and washed his clothes. Biros testified that he returned to the body fifteen to twenty minutes later and became very angry, believing that Tami had "just destroyed my life." At that point, Biros took his pocket knife and began cutting Tami’s body. Biros claimed that he removed Tami’s clothes because they were "in the way." Next, according to Biros, he dragged the body some distance into the woods, and felt Tami’s ring cutting into his left hand. Thus, he removed the ring and placed it in his pocket. Biros testified that he attempted to bury Tami’s body in a shallow hole in the ground, but that the body would not fit into the hole. Therefore, he amputated the head and leg with his pocket knife and placed those body parts in a separate hole. Biros then placed Tami’s clothes in other holes in the ground. After burying the body, Biros returned home. Biros testified that later on Friday morning, February 8, 1991, he found Tami’s purse in his car and burned the purse in the fireplace. He then washed his car. On Friday night, Biros decided to move the body, since he had been confronted and threatened by Tami’s relatives. Late that night, while his brother was watching television, Biros retrieved Tami’s body parts, loaded them into the car, and drove to Pennsylvania and disposed of the body. Biros lied to police, to Tami’s relatives, and to his own mother. At trial, Biros denied telling police at the Brookfield Township Police Department that while Biros and Tami were seated in the car, Biros had placed his hand on Tami’s hand and then "went further" and touched or felt her leg. Biros denied having had any sexual intentions toward Tami, but admitted cutting out her vagina and rectum thirty to forty-five minutes after he killed her. Biros was able to recall some of the most minute details of the night in question, but was unable to remember where he had disposed of Tami’s anus, rectum, and sexual organs. He also denied having had any intention of stealing Tami’s property, but he admitted burying her clothes, taking her ring, and burning her purse. Additionally, Biros admitted lying to his mother about Tami’s ring and later hiding that ring in the ceiling of his house. Biros testified that he had no intention to kill or harm Tami on the night in question. He testified further that he never struck Tami with his fists or with the blunt end of a knife. Dr. Karle Williams, a forensic pathologist, testified for the defense. Williams was not present during Tami’s autopsy and never personally examined the body. Williams based his opinions upon a review of, among other things, Dr. Cox’s autopsy report and a review of numerous photographs of the victim and the crime scene. Williams disagreed, at least in part, with Cox’s conclusion that Tami had suffered a severe beating. Williams believed that perhaps Tami’s right leg had been fractured before death and that some of her injuries may have been caused by being struck by a car and falling or lying on the gravel railroad bed. Additionally, Williams concluded that Tami may have died due to suffocation rather than manual strangulation. However, Williams admitted on cross-examination that, in this case, "you have to think of manual strangulation. Absolutely." The jury found Biros guilty of all charges and specifications alleged in the indictment, with the exception of the offense charged in Count Three of the indictment which had previously been dismissed by the prosecution. Following a mitigation hearing, the jury recommended that Biros be sentenced to death for the aggravated murder of Tami. The trial court accepted the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Biros to death. Tami Engstrom’s sister Debi Heiss spoke at a press conference in December 2006 and urged members of the community to write letters to the Attorney General urging that Biros’s clemency plea be rejected. "Kenneth Biros beat, tortured, sexually assaulted, mutilated, dismembered and robbed Tami with no remorse. He has been given more humanity and mercy from the state than my sister ever had. It’s time for justice to be served." Heiss said she and her mother, Mary Jane, and brother Tom plan to attend the execution. "I want to see him take his last breath," Heiss said. "I will feel a new spirit over my body." Heiss, who also attended the parole board hearing in January 2007, said the murder of her sister has taken a horrible emotional and economic toll on her family, especially Engstrom’s son, who is now 17. Debi Heiss said, "Tami was my sister and my best friend." UPDATE: Gov. Ted Strickland today denied a request to stop Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Trumbull County killer Kenneth Biros. Strickland said he considered a unanimous negative recommendation from the Ohio Parole Board, information from his Biros trial and appeals, the clemency request itself, Biros’ institutional mental health record, and letters received in the governor’s office. “Based on this review, I have decided to deny Mr. Biros’ application for executive clemency,” Strickland said. Biros, 47, was convicted and sentenced to death for the Feb. 7, 1991, murder and dismemberment of 22-year-old Tami Engstrom. While his execution is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, a federal court issued a stay putting the lethal injection on hold. However, the attorney general’s office has appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to lift the stay and allow Biros’ execution to proceed. Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins opposed Biros’ bid for clemency, calling his crime "the worst of the worst." The victim’s family scoffs, sometimes in anger and sometimes in frustration, at Biros, his poetry, his prison tutoring and his reputation for good behavior behind bars, but mostly for the years they have waited to watch him die. "I just don’t want any more delays," Heiss said. "I want him to take his last breath. I want him off the face of the earth so we can have some closure, especially for my poor mother." Her brother, Tom Heiss, 39, who was too upset to speak to the parole board against clemency, said the case has ruined hundreds of lives, including family members, friends, neighbors and investigators haunted by the image of a young woman cut to pieces. At the mention of a fatal heart attack suffered 1 1/2 years ago by the victim’s widower, Tom Heiss simply adds, "Broken heart."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 2007 Texas Jiten Bhakta
Vijay Patel
Charles Nealy executed

Charles Anthony Nealy was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of Jiten Bhakta during an armed robbery of the convenience store owned by Jiten. At trial, Satishbhi Bhakta testified that his brother, Jiten, owned the Expressway Mart in Dallas. On August 20, 1997, at about 8:20 p.m., Bhakta was helping at the store with another employee, Vijay Patel, while Jiten was in the office taking a nap. Two men, one armed with a shotgun and the other with a pistol, entered the store. The men ordered Patel and Bhakta to lie down on the floor. The man with the shotgun went into the office. Bhakta heard Jiten call out and then heard the shotgun discharge. Jiten died from a shotgun wound to the chest. The man with the pistol then shot Patel in the head; he died a few days later. The man with the shotgun came out of the office with a briefcase (containing $4,000) and said, “I got the man in the office.” The man with the pistol said, “I got one over here, too.” The man with the pistol ordered Bhakta to open the cash register, and the man with the shotgun took money from the register and put it in his pocket. Both of the robbers took wine and beer before leaving the store. At trial, Bhakta identified Nealy as the man with the shotgun. Four video cameras in the store recorded the robbery. The videotape was played for the jury. Although the tape was of poor quality, it showed a man with a light-colored hat, and a man wearing a dark hat carrying a shotgun. The tape did not record either of the murders, but it recorded the two men stealing money from the cash register. Nealy’s nephew, Memphis Nealy, testified that between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. on the evening of the robbery, he was riding with Nealy on Central Expressway. When they passed the convenience store, Memphis said that Nealy stated, “I’m going to come back and get ‘em.” Nealy did not want Memphis to participate in their return to the Expressway Mart because Memphis did not have a criminal record. At trial, Memphis testified that he recognized Nealy, Claude Nealy (Nealy’s nephew and Memphis’s brother), and Reginald Mitchell on the videotape of the robbery. Memphis identified Nealy as the man wearing the dark hat and carrying the shotgun and briefcase. On cross-examination, Memphis admitted that he was unable to identify anyone from the videotape until the police told him that his uncle and brother were on the tape. Reginald Mitchell, a co-defendant, testified at trial that on the night of the robbery, he joined Claude and Nealy in Nealy’s car and went to the Expressway Mart. Mitchell stated that Claude and Nealy entered the store, and that Nealy had a shotgun, although he did not see it. He testified that Claude had a.38 or.32 pistol. Mitchell testified that he first heard a shotgun blast and then small arms fire. Nealy and Claude came out of the store and got into the car. Mitchell testified that Nealy said, “This is the way the Nealys do it.” When they got back to Nealy’s house, Nealy said that they committed the crime because “the bitches” wouldn’t sell him “no Blackie mounds” (referring to a type of cigar). Mitchell testified that Nealy threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the robbery. Nealy had a criminal record as a juvenile in the 1970s, including armed offenses; he received a 35-year sentence in 1980 for aggravated robbery (he was sixteen years old, and robbed a woman at gunpoint as she was sitting in her car with her baby in a grocery store parking lot — he pointed the gun at the woman and her son and told her to get out of the car and leave her purse or he would kill her); and he was convicted again in 1994. At age 33, about one month before the capital murder, Nealy and his nephew held up a pawn shop where Nealy had been a regular customer. After they entered the shop, Nealy grabbed the clerk by the back of the neck and put a gun to the side of her head. His nephew grabbed the clerk’s mother and held a gun to her head. Nealy told the clerk that he would kill her if she moved. They took money, two handguns, and a shotgun. The day before the capital murder, Nealy and another man posed as customers in a shoe store robbery. After the owner fitted the two men with new shoes, the owner went to the cash register and Nealy held a handgun close to the owner’s head. Nealy and the other man stole about $250 from the cash register and the two pairs of shoes. Nealy accumulated 70 disciplinary reports while in prison. While he was in jail awaiting trial for capital murder, Nealy and two other inmates assaulted another inmate, breaking his jaw. At trial, after the assaulted inmate had testified, Nealy threatened him and shouted obscenities at him. Nealy was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. UPDATE: A man with a history of robberies was executed Tuesday evening for a fatal shooting during a convenience store holdup in Dallas nearly 10 years ago. In a lengthy statement, Charles Anthony Nealy wished his friends and relatives well and expressed love. "I’m not crying, so y’all don’t cry. Don’t be sad for me. I’m going to be with God and Allah and Mama." Nealy had one request: "Bury me next to Mama." At 7:20 p.m., seven minutes after the lethal dose of drugs began, he was pronounced dead.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 28, 2007 Texas Jose Cobo, 40 Vincent Gutierrez executed

On March 10, 1997, Vincent Gutierrez, Randy Arroyo, and several others met at Christopher Suaste’s residence to discuss Arroyo’s desire to steal an automobile. The next morning, Arroyo, Gutierrez, and Suaste drove to an apartment complex where the target vehicle was parked. It was owned by United States Air Force Captain Jose Cobo. Suaste parked his vehicle nearby and watched Gutierrez and Arroyo approach the target vehicle, enter it, and drive out of the complex. While returning to his home, Suaste saw Captain Cobo lying on the shoulder of the highway with blood stains on his shirt. Several hours later, Suaste received several telephone calls from Arroyo and Gutierrez, asking Suaste to pick them up. Upon doing so, Suaste observed Gutierrez wearing different clothes than those worn earlier that day. The newer clothes were a tee shirt and a pair of gym shorts with the USAF logo. Gutierrez explained his earlier clothes had blood on them, and the new clothes were obtained from the back of the stolen automobile. Upon Suaste’s inquiring about what happened after he left the apartment complex, Gutierrez laughingly explained: upon entering the target vehicle, he forced Captain Cobo at gunpoint to move to the back seat; Arroyo drove the vehicle from the complex; when Captain Cobo begged for his life and offered his wallet, Gutierrez reassured him that he would be released; nonetheless, Captain Cobo attempted to exit the vehicle, but was restrained by his seat belt; Gutierrez grabbed Captain Cobo to prevent him from jumping from the vehicle; at that point, Arroyo yelled “Shoot him. Shoot him. He’s trying to escape.”; Gutierrez fired his pistol twice, striking Captain Cobo in the back; Captain Cobo began choking and coughing up blood; as Gutierrez and Arroyo drove on, Gutierrez stated he did not want to drive around with a “dead man” in the car; Gutierrez directed Arroyo to reduce the vehicle’s speed; and, upon his doing so, Gutierrez shoved Captain Cobo out of the moving vehicle onto the shoulder of the highway. Later that day, Arroyo confessed to being involved in Captain Cobo’s murder and led police to the pistol Gutierrez had used to kill him. Gutierrez was charged with capital murder for an intentional killing by firearm while in the course of kidnapping and robbery. On March 2, 1998, a jury found Gutierrez guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death. Arroyo was sentenced to life.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 29, 2007 Texas Elmer Buitrago
Fabio Buitrago
Roy Pippin pending

Roy Lee Pippin was sentenced to death for the kidnapping murders of Elmer Buitrago and Fabio Buitrago. Pippin owned and operated an air conditioning business known as Pippin Services. In December 1993, Pippin became involved in a money laundering scheme to funnel proceeds from the sale of Colombian cocaine in the United States to Mexico, using air conditioners and modified gas tanks of trucks to transport large sums of money across the Mexican border. When approximately $2 million in drug proceeds was reported missing, Pippin rented a white panel van from PV Rentals and reserved two rooms at a Motel 6 on April 27, 1994. Pippin’s immediate supervisor in the money laundering scheme was a man identified in the record as “Alfredo.” When the missing money was discovered, Pippin apparently proceeded with the kidnapping plot under direct orders from Alfredo. At Pippin’s request, Abraham Pacheco, an employee at Pippin Services, took two men, Elmer Buitrago and his cousin, Fabio Buitrago, to the Motel 6 and held them captive against their will for several days. The record shows that Pippin paid $500 per shift to three employees from his air conditioning business to assist in holding the two men captive. Although Pippin and his wife stayed in the next room for a short time, Pippin would generally only visit the hotel to monitor the situation and occasionally bring food, beer, and drugs to the captors. Before dawn on May 4, 1994, Pippin and Pacheco took Elmer and Fabio Buitrago to a warehouse in the rented van. Pippin then shot them each approximately four times through a pillow to muffle the sound, and both men then left the warehouse to get rid of the murder weapon. Shortly thereafter, Houston Police Officer Eddie Parodi, responding to a call of criminal mischief in progress at the apartment complex located directly behind the warehouse, arrived at the scene and found the fatally wounded Elmer Buitrago crying out in English and Spanish for help. A security guard on duty at the apartment complex at the time, assisted Officer Parodi in finding the source of the commotion that resulted in the calls from concerned residents. Before Officer Parodi arrived at the scene, he had noticed two men fitting the physical descriptions of Pippin and Pacheco driving around the apartment complex in a white van. Before the ambulance arrived, Buitrago spoke with Officer Parodi and identified Pippin as the shooter. Buitrago described Pippin as a white male, approximately 5’9" and 200 pounds, with sandy brown hair. Pippin is a white male with sandy brown hair. At trial, he testified that he is approximately 6’1" and weighs between 210 and 220 pounds. Buitrago also claimed that after Pippin shot him in the warehouse, he was able to hit Pippin with a pipe and escape. The security guard later testified that he also heard Buitrago say “Pippin shot me” and mention the name “Roy.” Buitrago died later that day at the hospital from his gunshot wounds. The body of Fabio Buitrago was not discovered until the next day, when police returned to the warehouse to obtain statements from witnesses. Upon further investigation, the police found eight fired nine-millimeter cartridge cases from a semiautomatic weapon on the right side of the room and some bullet holes and fired bullets lodged in the north wall of the warehouse. Law enforcement officers arrested Pippin on June 28, 1994 at a friend’s house. At his trial, Pippin admitted to participating in the aggravated kidnappings of Elmer and Fabio Buitrago but denied killing any of them or even being present when they were killed. On September 15, 1995, Pippin was convicted of capital murder for intentionally killing more than one person during the same criminal transaction, and for killing Elmer Buitrago during the course of a kidnapping. Despite the presentation of mitigating evidence during the punishment phase of his trial, which consisted mainly of primarily consisted of the testimony of his ex-wife and her mother that he was not a violent person. Pippin was sentenced to death.

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