September 2007 Executions

Four killers were executed in September 2007. They had murdered at least 9 people.
killers were given a stay in September 2007. They have murdered at least 14 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 5, 2007 Texas Ronnie “Kitten” Hewitt Tony Roach executed

In June 1998 firefighters found the body of Ronnie “Kitten” Hewitt inside her burning apartment in Amarillo, Texas. Though the fire burned her body, it was determined that she died from asphyxiation from being choked by a belt found tightened around her neck; she likely had been sexually assaulted; and someone set fire to her house using aerosol hair spray. Later that month, police officers in Oklahoma questioned Roach about an unrelated crime, and during the questioning Roach confessed to killing a woman named Kitten in Amarillo. He signed a written confession in which he stated that he entered Hewitt’s apartment through a window, confronted her, and choked her with his arm and then with a belt until she died. Then, he raped her vaginally and anally and took money, a knife, a beer, and some rings. Finally, he described using hair spray to set the apartment on fire. A knife identified as Kitten’s and two of her rings were retrieved from pawn shops in Amarillo and in Guymon, Oklahoma, along with pawn slips signed by Roach. Semen was present in vaginal and anal swabs. Roach was excluded as the contributor of the vaginal swab, but the DNA profile of the contributor of the semen found in the anal swab matched his DNA in ten different areas; such a profile would occur in only one in six billion Caucasians, Blacks, or Hispanics. A jury convicted Roach of capital murder, and he was sentenced to death. UPDATE: Tony Roach was executed after apologizing to the family members of his victim who had come to watch him die. Roach repeatedly asked for forgiveness from the fiancÚ and the daughter of his victim, who stood a few feet away looking through a window. "So much hurt I’ve caused you all," Roach said. "I can only imagine how you feel. I pray the Lord Jesus Christ touches your heart the way he’s touched mine." Saying that he was to blame for the killing, Roach said he knew the victim was "in a good place. I can’t agree with this justice the state is carrying out, but I accept it and I’m sorry," he said. "I have no ill will toward anyone carrying out this so-called justice. I leave y’all in God’s care."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 11, 2007 Tennessee Edith Russell Edward Harbison stayed

On January 15, 1983, Frank Russell returned home from work to discover that his wife, Edith, had been murdered. The Russells rented an apartment at the back of their Chattanooga, Tennessee, house to a tenant who, at that time, was away on vacation, and Mrs. Russell’s body was found inside this apartment. Medical examiners determined that the cause of her death was “massive multiple skull fractures with marked lacerations of the scalp and head, expelling brain tissue and literally crushing the victim’s face and disfiguring her beyond recognition.” Mrs. Russell was last seen that afternoon at a neighborhood market, where witnesses spoke with her between approximately 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. Bags of groceries and ignition keys were found in Mrs. Russell’s car, which was parked in the driveway, when her body was discovered near midnight. Nothing in the record indicates a precise time of death. The logical inference is that Mrs. Russell was killed a short time after purchasing the groceries in the middle of the afternoon, or else she would have taken them and her keys out of her car. Moreover, the porch lights were off. Her husband said she always left the outside lights on for protection. The Russells’ house and the rented apartment were burglarized. Missing items included “a television, two cable television converters, a quartz heater, a Polaroid camera, a silver Cross pen and pencil set, a jeweler’s loop, a jewelry box, antique jewelry, a marble vase, and Mrs. Russell’s purse.” The police later found the quartz heater, the Polaroid camera, the pen and pencil set, and the jeweler’s loop in the residence of Edward Jerome Harbison’s girlfriend who was also co-defendant David Schreane’s sister. The jeweler’s loop was found in Harbison’s shaving kit. In an adjacent unoccupied apartment, the police found Mrs. Russell’s purse, a jewelry box, and two large paper bags containing antique glassware and brassware. The stolen television was found in the residence of Schreane’s girlfriend. Schreane was taken into custody and questioned on February 21, 1983, when he led police to the missing marble vase. Chemical testing later revealed the presence of blood on the vase. Furthermore, debris that was vacuumed from the carpet in Harbison’s car revealed crystalline calcite fragments that were consistent with the marble vase. Harbison also was arrested on February 21, 1983. In a taped statement, he confessed to killing Edith Russell. Harbison stated that after he drove his girlfriend home from work, he and Schreane went to the Russell home, determined that it was empty, and used a screwdriver to break into the residence. While he and Schreane were carrying the stolen items from the house and the apartment to their car, Mrs. Russell returned home. Harbison contended that he thought Mrs. Russell was reaching for a gun, so he grabbed her. He stated that he hit her with the marble vase, “at the most” two times. At his trial, Harbison testified that he had not killed Mrs. Russell and that he was not at the Russell house on the day of the murder. He said that he was at his girlfriend’s home that afternoon and evening. He asserted that his confession was coerced, and that the police had threatened to arrest his girlfriend and take away her children if he did not confess. He further testified that the police had told him what to say and that his taped confession, which was played to the jury, had been altered. Finally, he testified that he had purchased the jeweler’s loop at a pawn shop. Harbison was convicted and sentenced to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 12, 2007 Tennessee Stephen Edward Holton, 12
Brent Holton, 10
Eric Holton, 7
Kayla Marie Holton, 4
Daryl Holton executed
holtonkidsDaryl Holton was convicted of four counts of premeditated first degree murder for killing his four children in 1997. All four children, twelve-year-old Stephen Edward Holton, ten-year-old Brent Holton, six-year-old Eric Holton, and four-year-old Kayla Marie Holton, were shot to death with a Russian SKS semi-automatic assault rifle, police said. Kayla was not Holton’s daughter, but he considered her his child. Holton, who had been involved in a custody fight with his ex-wife, turned himself in at the police station and said he had killed the children. They were found, shot to death, in rooms Holton had been living in behind an auto repair shop owned by his uncle. Holton and his ex-wife had married in 1984. Holton was in the Army at the time and was deployed to Germany. The couple had two sons during the Germany assignment. Holton was then stationed in Georgia for a time before volunteering for service in Saudi Arabia. His family remained in the US, and their third son was born during this time. Around this time, Holton’s paychecks began to be routed incorrectly and his wife experienced some serious financial problems. Additionally, she left the children alone overnight while out at a dance hall. Police and children’s services representatives greeted her upon her return. She was allowed to retain custody of the children, but voluntarily placed them in the care of Daryl Holton’s father in Tennessee and went to live with a friend in Georgia. Holton secured an emergency leave of absence when he learned of these problems, but could not resolve the problems in the marriage and eventually returned to the middle east and left the children in his father’s custody. Their mother lived for a time in Indiana then South Carolina. Upon his return to Georgia in 1992, Holton obtained a divorce from his wife on grounds of desertion, and gained custody of the children. He obtained an honorable discharge from the Army and moved to Tennessee. Holton took the children to South Carolina to visit their mother two or three times a month. In 1993, Holton’s ex-wife gave birth to Kayla who was the result of a one-night stand with a black man. Holton accepted Kayla as his own child and suggested that she be given his last name. During the pregnancy, the couple began living together again. They did not remarry but lived together as a family again for about 2 years. However, Ms. Holton was drinking very heavily during this period and this resulted in some violent fights with her husband. She eventually moved out of the apartment and went to a shelter with the children. They then moved into public housing in Murfreesboro. When Holton finally learned of their location, he began visiting the kids daily. Eventually the court awarded him weekend visitation. He told his ex-wife that he was concerned about the crime rate where she lived and also complained to her about the lack of housekeeping and the condition of the apartment. In 1995, an incident occurred where Holton had the children for the weekend and upon returning them, refused to let them get out of the car. He told his ex-wife that she had to get into the car in order to see them. She said she did not see any weapons, but got the impression that Holton was armed. She refused to get in the car, and Holton drove away, saying that she was "going to regret it." She immediately called the police, and Holton heard the report on a police scanner in his car so he drove to the police station and surrendered the children. Thereafter, Holton periodically threatened his ex-wife that she would regret it if she ever took his children away from him. Holton continued visitation with the children until the late summer or early fall of 1997, at which time his ex-wife obtained an order of protection against Holton and moved to a new address. Holton was not informed of the move and did not see the children again until November 30, 1997, the day he murdered them. Ms. Holton had begun living with a man who had a young daughter. On Thanksgiving, she called Holton and told him that the children missed him and wanted to see him. They made arrangements for him to pick them up on Sunday, November 30th and return them by 9:30 that evening. On Sunday, the children appeared to be excited about the scheduled visit with their father. Brent drew his father a picture inscribed with the words, “From Brent and Kayla. I love you Daddy.” Also, when the Holtons met at the Wal-Mart at 3:00 p.m., the children ran to Holton and hugged him. He returned his children’s embraces, however, Ms. Holton recalled that Holton appeared detached or “numb.” After leaving her children with Holton, their mother never saw them alive again. At approximately 9:44 p.m. on November 30, 1997, Holton walked into the lobby of the Shelbyville Police Department and informed the dispatcher that he wished to report a “homicide times four.” The dispatcher testified at trial that Holton appeared to be calm and, indeed, displayed no emotion. She asked him to wait in the lobby and, because there were no officers present at the police station, radioed for assistance. An officer testified at trial that he was driving into the parking lot of the police station when he overheard the dispatcher on the radio requesting assistance. When the officer approached Holton, he stated his name, address, and birth date and again indicated that he wished to report four homicides. When the officer further inquired how Holton had learned of the homicides, he responded that he had killed his four children. Holton then spontaneously stood and placed his hands behind his back in order to allow the officer to handcuff him. Holton continued talking, explaining to the officer that he had murdered his children because his wife and the Department of Human Services had withheld them for several months without permitting him visitation. Holton also informed the officer that he had killed the children in his uncle’s automobile repair garage with an SKS semi-automatic rifle and indicated that both the murder weapon and the bodies were still inside the garage. He also told police he had made some bombs that were located in his apartment. Police found five incendiary devices that were described as similar to molotov cocktails. Holton had planned to return to Murfreesboro after murdering his children and “to basically shoot” the young daughter of his ex-wife’s current boyfriend, in addition to firebombing his ex-wife’s new residence. For the purpose of firebombing his ex-wife’s residence, he prepared five incendiary devices or “fire bombs.” He also ascertained his ex-wife’s new address using a telephone book, street maps, and the number that he had retrieved from the caller ID unit on his telephone. On Sunday, November 30, Holton retrieved his children from his ex-wife at a Wal-Mart in Murfreesboro. He recalled that Ms. Holton “was dressed nicely. She was wearing makeup. She said she was happy. And that did not make me happy.” He also related that his children “all came up and hugged me. Kayla just wouldn’t let go of me. As many times that I hadn’t seen them for a while, and she grabbed me and she wouldn’t let me go.” Notwithstanding his children’s obvious joy at reuniting with their father, Holton never reconsidered his plan to murder them. Holton took his children to a McDonald’s restaurant to eat dinner and to an amusement park or arcade before driving them to his uncle’s garage. He noted to police that he “had to play along to avoid any suspicion on the children’s part.” At the garage, Holton showed the children several motors and permitted them to play with some of the tools. Holton also recalled, “We just told each other we missed each other.” Finally, at approximately 7:00 pm or 7:30 pm, Holton left Eric and Kayla playing in a front bay of the garage with an electric drill and a hammer and led Stephen and Brent to the rear bay where he had earlier hidden the SKS rifle. In the rear bay, Holton indicated to his older sons that he “had something for them.” He then instructed them to close their eyes and stand in a line facing away from him, with Stephen in front and the shorter Brent behind. Holton cautioned, “Don’t peek,” before removing the SKS rifle from its hiding place, kneeling behind the children, and aiming the rifle. Holton explained that he positioned the children to enable him to pierce their hearts with a single shot. When he fired the first shot, the barrel of the rifle was angled upward and touching Brent’s back. Holton conceded that he “used multiple shots to ensure that I killed them both” and recalled that he covered their bodies with a tarpaulin to conceal them from their younger siblings. Holton next brought Eric, who was hearing-impaired and Kayla to the rear bay, again indicating that he “had something for them.” The two children evidently had not heard any gunshots and inquired about their older brothers. In response, Holton positioned them in a line as he had their brothers, “placed their hands over their eyes,” and instructed them not to peek before kneeling behind them and firing the rifle into Kayla’s back. Both children were struck by the first bullet, and Holton recalled firing his weapon at least one more time into Kayla’s chest. Holton placed Kayla’s and Eric’s bodies with their older brothers’ underneath the tarpaulin, “squared away the area,” and washed his hands. Holton noted to police that “there was no enjoyment to the murders at all.” After murdering his children, Holton prepared to execute the next phase of his plan, i.e., the murder of Kiki and the firebombing of his ex-wife’s residence. Holton reloaded the SKS rifle and placed the murder weapon and the five “fire bombs” inside the car that he previously had parked outside. He also “checked out the entrance of the shop to see if there was anything amiss, if anyone could have seen me.” Moreover, he was listening to a “police scanner” “to see if there had been any reports of gunshots or anything.” He then began to drive toward Murfreesboro but soon decided that he did not have enough time to execute the remainder of his plan. Accordingly, he returned to his uncle’s garage. Holton noted that, at the garage, he had difficulty looking at his children’s bodies. He considered committing suicide but ultimately resolved to surrender to the police. In explaining his decision to curtail his original plan, Holton noted, “I planned a lot of different scenarios and chose the one that time permitted. I was constantly subtracting – – going over what options – – were left.” Holton also observed, “I had done what I wanted to do. I wanted to shock [my ex-wife] to death. I was done. I was done.” As to his decision to forego suicide, Holton added that the murders were the culmination of a lot of work [and] people would come up with their own conclusions if I had killed myself. This is only part, one part of the story of what happened here. This is gruesome. This is awful. But it’s only part of it. This has been going on for a long time. And if you’re going to have a chance of understanding this, then you’re going to have to talk to somebody that was involved. And I’m the only one that was involved that’s still living. Holton concluded that he loved his children but conceded that he would have difficulty convincing anyone of his love. He felt no remorse or regret for murdering his children. The State also presented the testimony of a consulting forensic pathologist and assistant medical examiner for Bedford County. The pathologist testified that he performed autopsies on Holton’s four children, and he described the findings relating to each child in turn. First, Harlan related that ten-year-old Brent Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Specifically, the doctor discovered two “contact gunshot wound entrances” in Brent’s posterior chest or back and two corresponding exit wounds in Brent’s anterior chest. The pathologist opined that the contact entry gunshot wounds and the corresponding exit wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “a person knelt down behind Brent Holton pointing the gun in an upward angle and pulled the trigger.” The doctor further noted that the wounds occurred in “very close time proximity.” Finally, the pathologist recounted that he also discovered one “re-entry gunshot wound” in Brent’s anterior chest or “front right shoulder area.” He explained that a “re-entry gunshot wound” is caused by “a bullet which passed through an intermediate target” or “bounced off of something” prior to striking a person’s body. He posited that one of the bullets causing the contact entry gunshot wounds and the corresponding exit wounds may have ricocheted off the concrete floor of the garage and re-entered Brent’s body. He recovered the bullet from the child’s body. The pathologist next testified that twelve-year-old Stephen Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. Specifically, he discovered one “reentry gunshot wound” in Stephen’s posterior chest or back. The doctor reiterated that a “re-entry gunshot wound” is one caused by a bullet that “has either gone through some intermediate target or been deflected.” A corresponding exit wound was located in Stephen’s anterior chest. The doctor confirmed that the wounds were consistent “with someone kneeling holding a gun at an angle upward, shooting through Brent, that bullet passing through his body and entering Stephen’s and then still having enough force and velocity to pass through.” The pathologist continued that the same bullet inflicted a “graze gunshot wound” to Stephen’s chin and nose. The pathologist further noted a contact gunshot wound to Stephen’s anterior chest and abdomen and a corresponding exit wound. Finally, he attested to entry and exit gunshot wounds to Stephen’s right hand. As to the four-year-old Kayla Holton, he testified that she too died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. Specifically, Kayla suffered a contact entry gunshot wound to the posterior chest or back and a corresponding exit wound. The doctor confirmed that the wounds were consistent with a scenario in which a person knelt behind Kayla, held a gun at an upward angle with the barrel touching her back, and pulled the trigger. Additionally, the doctor observed another entry gunshot wound to Kayla’s anterior chest and a corresponding “partial exit” wound. He testified that these wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “the child is standing up. Shooter is kneeling down. Shoots her in the back. She falls down. Falls on her back. She is lying front up on concrete. Concrete floor. Then the shooter stands over her with a gun and goes bang.” The doctor retrieved “an extremely deformed bullet” and “smaller lead fragments” from Kayla’s body. Lastly, the pathologist testified that the six-year-old Eric Holton died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. Specifically, the doctor recorded four entry gunshot wounds to Eric’s posterior chest or back, at least one of which was possibly a “re-entry gunshot wound.” He noted that he was unable to determine whether the wounds were caused by three or four bullets. He explained that, if a bullet first passed through another person, the projectile might have split in two and inflicted two separate wounds to Eric’s back. Eric also suffered two exit wounds to his anterior chest and abdomen, one of which was extremely large and likely resulted from more than one bullet. Finally, Eric suffered a gunshot wound to his right wrist. The pathologist concluded that Eric’s wounds were consistent with a scenario in which “he was standing in front of Kayla when she was shot. The shooter was kneeling down he fired a shot through Kayla’s back. Eric had been told not to peek. He was told to close his eyes and place his hands over his eyes.” He recovered one bullet and several bullet fragments from Eric’s body. The jury imposed a death sentence for each offense.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 13, 2007 Texas Frederick Banzhaf, 18
Justin Marquart, 18
Joseph Lave stayed

On the day before Thanksgiving, 1992, Joseph Roland Lave, James Langston and Timothy Bates conspired to rob a suburban Dallas sporting goods store. During the robbery, the assailants brutally killed two of the store’s employees, Frederick Banzhaf and Justin Marquart. A third employee at Herman’s Sporting Goods, Angela, was also attacked but managed to survive, call 911 and identify Langston as one of the perpetrators. All three victims were beaten with a hammer and their throats were slit. As a result of Angela’s identification, the police sought to apprehend Langston. During the attempted arrest, Langston tried to run over the police officers. The police responded by shooting Langston who died soon after. Inside Langston’s shoe, the police found a card with Bates’ name and phone number. Using that information, the police arrested Bates, who identified Lave as the third robber. Subsequently, the police executed a warrant and searched Lave’s apartment and automobile, where they seized merchandise from the sporting goods store and other evidence. When police searched Lave’s car and apartment, they found some loot from the robbery. Authorities said $2,950 in cash, 21 rifles and shotguns and athletic clothing were taken. Lave surrendered to police 2 days later after he rented a Cadillac and drove to New Orleans, where he was told by a friend that he was a suspect in the Richardson slayings. Lave was tried for the murder of Marquart. A police sergeant took the stand at Lave’s trial and testified that Bates told him that, on the night of the crime, he and Langston went to the sporting goods store and met with Lave. Langston gave Lave a gun and the two of them went to the front and broke in. Bates waited in the back until his accomplices allowed him to enter. Bates had told him that while waiting in the hallway he saw Lave in a room with Langston and that Langston was striking one of the victims with a hammer. When Bates saw this, he went outside to the back of the store and waited for his accomplices. Eventually, Lave, with Langston, emerged from the back carrying the knife and drove off with the money. Lave did not testify. At the end of the trial, the jury convicted Lave for the murder of Marquart, under Texas’ law of the parties, and sentenced him to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 18, 2007 Ohio Betty Jane Mottinger, 48 John Spirko stayed

Betty Mottinger smallJohn Spirko was sentenced to die in 1984 for the murder of Elgin postmaster Betty Jane Mottinger. Spirko 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 Betty’s body; 2) a description of Betty Mottinger’s clothing; 3) knowledge that a stone had been pried from a ring worn by Betty Mottinger; 4) a description of the ring; 5) the type of shroud and specific method used to enwrap Betty Mottinger’s body after her death; 6) a description of Betty 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 Spirko’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 2005, 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. In November 2005, Taft granted John Spirko a 60-day reprieve at the request of Attorney General Jim Petro, who said he needed that long to test several items that Spirko’s attorneys wanted reviewed. Spirko received other execution dates in January 2006, November 2006, and April 2007 and each time received a stay. UPDATE: John Spirko’s execution has been stayed yet again, and rescheduled for January 24, 2008.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 18, 2007 Arkansas Scott Stobaugh, 22 Terrick Nooner stayed

At approximately 1:30 am on March 16, 1993, Scott Stobaugh, a college student, was washing clothes at the Funwash Laundromat on West Markham street in Little Rock. An assailant, in an apparent robbery attempt, shot Stobaugh seven times in the back at close range with a.22-caliber pistol, causing his death. A surveillance camera captured a portion of the incident on videotape. The videotape showed the assailant and Stobaugh as Stobaugh raised his hands. Nooner took $20 and a checkbook. Two witnesses identified the person on the Laundromat video as Terrick Terrell Nooner, by clothing and appearance. Other testimony and ballistics evidence tied Nooner to the murder weapon. A Pulaski County Circuit Court jury convicted Nooner of capital murder. During the penalty phase of his trial, the jury heard testimony from several witnesses, including Stobaugh’s mother, who described the impact of Scot’s death on his family. The jury also heard mitigation testimony from Nooner’s stepfather. The jury found two aggravating circumstances (that Nooner had previously committed another felony, an element of which was the use or threat of violence, and that the murder was committed for pecuniary gain) and no mitigating circumstances. Nooner was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murder. Nooner’s co-defendant, Robert Rockett, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the slaying and was sentenced to 65 years in prison. He is also serving a life sentence without parole for a separate murder conviction. UPDATE: A federal judge has issued a stay in an execution scheduled next week for an Arkansas death-row inmate convicted of killing a university student at a coin-operated laundry in 1993. Judge J. Leon Holmes issued the stay for inmate Terrick Nooner, who faced a September 18 execution date. The stay comes after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled last month that a request for mental-health professionals to examine Nooner should be reconsidered in court. Lawyers for Nooner have argued their request for the mental examinations was not an appeal of his original conviction in Pulaski County court. Instead, the lawyers say, it was an attempt to get examinations the Arkansas Department of Correction has denied over the last year and a half. Since his incarceration, Nooner has made a number of rambling legal filings and statements about people poisoning his food, sexually assaulting him, performing witchcraft and "shooting up my blood" with drugs and poisons. Julie Brain, a federal public defender for Nooner, declined to comment on the judge’s stay.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 19, 2007 Pennsylvania Larry A. Bobish Sr., 50
Joanna Marian Bobish, 42
Krystal Leigh Bobish, 17
unborn child of Krystal
Mark Edwards, Jr. stayed

A Fayette County jury found him guilty of breaking into a mobile home and gunning down Larry A. Bobish, Sr., 50, Joanna Marian Bobish, 42, and Krystal Leigh Bobish, 17, on April 14, 2002. The jury returned three first-degree murder convictions and one second-degree murder conviction for death of Krystal Bobish’s unborn child, which was at 28 weeks’ gestation. The jury also found the defendant guilty of arson and attempting to kill the Bobish’s 12-year-old son, Larry Bobish, Jr., a key witness to the shootings. The boy survived gunshot wounds to the hand and head and a stab wound to the neck. He testified that he played dead and only fled when he realized the house was on fire. Witnesses testified that Edwards shot the Bobish family to avoid a drug debt. Two days before the murders, Edwards and a friend reportedly stole six bottles of a street drug called "wet" — cigarettes dipped in formaldehyde mixed with PCP — from Larry Bobish, Sr. at gunpoint. Larry Bobish repeatedly paged Edwards, seeking payment for the drugs, and threatened to call police. Two witnesses testified they heard Edwards say that he planned to kill the Bobish family. When interviewed by police, Edwards waived his Miranda rights. He stated that he killed the parents but did not recall shooting the son and daughter.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 20, 2007 Texas Rachel White, 22
Susan Halverstadt, 22
Brett Roe, 29
Clifford Kimmel executed

Clifford Kimmel and another man, Derek Murphy, were arrested for the April 1999 fatal stabbings of Rachel White and Susan Halverstadt, both 22 and dancers at a topless bar, and Brett Roe, 29. Their bodies were found in a San Antonio apartment. Kimmel, who had a previous burglary conviction, was arrested about six weeks later for a parole violation and confessed to police. Court records show he and Murphy injected two of their victims with the cleaner Tilex to drug them before they robbed them. Kimmel pleaded guilty to capital murder, and a jury decided he should be executed. A defense psychiatrist testified at his trial the Kimmel, now 31, had been a heavy user of methamphetamines since he was 13 or 14. Kimmel’s companion, Murphy, is serving a life prison term for his role in the slayings.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 25, 2007 Texas Marguerite Lucille Dixon, 53 Michael Richard executed

Marguerite Lucille Dixon was the mother of 7 grown children and a registered nurse living in Hockley, Texas when Michael Richard was paroled from prison. On August 18, 1986, Richard approached Marguerite’s son outside her home and asked if a van that was parked in the driveway was for sale. When the son told Richard that the van was not for sale, Richard left but watched the home until he saw Marguerite’s son and daughter leave a short time later. Richard returned to Marguerite’s house and forced his way in. He forced Marguerite into a bedroom where he sexually assaulted her before shooting her in the head with a 25-caliber pistol. After the rape and murder, Richard stole two televisions and the van. He later traded the murder weapon for cocaine. His fingerprint was found on a sliding glass door in Marguerite’s home. Richard later confessed to the murder but claimed the gun discharged accidentally. Prior to murder, Richards had served just over half of a six year sentence for burglary and was returned to prison less than four years later with a five-year sentence for auto-theft, theft and forgery. He served less than 18 months before being released on mandatory release on June 23, 1986, just two months before murdering Marguerite Dixon.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 25, 2007 Kentucky Steven Bennett
Arthur Briscoe
Ralph Baze stayed

Ralph Baze, Jr. was convicted of the 1992 murders of Sheriff Steven Bennett and Deputy Sheriff Arthur Briscoe, whom he shot in the back when they attempted to arrest him pursuant to an outstanding Ohio multiple-felony arrest warrant. Ralph Baze lived in Powell County, Kentucky, in a mountain hollow known as Little Hardwick’s Creek, with his wife. Some of his other relatives lived on another ridge of the same mountain. His cabin was at the end of gravel road, heavily wooded on both sides, approximately 1,000 feet up the mountain, in a small clearing that made maneuvering a vehicle very difficult. By January 1992, the time of the shootings, Baze was a twice-convicted felon and was wanted in Ohio for felonious assault of a police officer, jumping bail, receiving stolen property, and flagrant non-support. On January 15, 1992, authorities from the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office in Toledo, Ohio notified the Powell County authorities that they wished to extradite Baze on the felony counts. At that time, Baze was in Ohio, and his wife, Becky Baze, informed the police that she did not know where he was when they came to arrest her husband in mid-January. She then phoned Baze to warn him that the police were looking for him. Baze left Ohio for Michigan, where he bought a SKS assault rifle and ammunition, which he ultimately used to kill the two police officers. Baze returned to his brother-in-law’s house in nearby Bath County, Kentucky, on January 28 and decided to move to Florida. He returned to his cabin on January 30 with his wife, and his siblings-in-law, Wesley and Sophie McCarty, intending to hold a yard sale to lighten their load and then to leave for Florida that evening. Deputy Sheriff Briscoe heard that Baze was back in town and proceeded to Baze’s cabin to arrest him. When Briscoe arrived, Baze was inside; however, he could hear Briscoe announce his intention to Becky to arrest her husband. While Briscoe returned to his cruiser, Baze left the cabin through a trapdoor in the bedroom floor, retrieved his SKS assault rifle from behind the cabin, and then walked around the cabin to inform Briscoe that he would not allow himself to be arrested. Wesley McCarty intervened to avoid a confrontation, during which Briscoe put his hand on or near his holster. Becky grabbed Briscoe’s arm, and Baze used the opportunity to leave the immediate area. Briscoe then left in his cruiser to recruit additional officers to effect the arrest. Baze used the interim to gather his personal belongings, and 98 rounds of ammunition, and went uphill into the woods. He later told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he circled around to hide behind a stump behind the spot where the police would have to leave their cars. Deputy Briscoe arrived back first, followed by Sheriff Bennett. Both got out of their cruisers with their guns out and they came together on the rear driver’s side of Bennett’s cruiser. Baze’s wife Becky was yelling at them from the porch of the cabin, so
that when they turned to engage her, they had their backs to the woods where Baze was hiding. All agree that at that moment gunfire began. Baze testified that he moved out from behind a large stump and brush pile, unarmed, intending to surrender, but that Briscoe shot him in the leg with a pistol. Wesley and Sophie McCarty supported Baze’s version by testifying that Baze stood up without a gun. In contrast, Baze’s son-in-law, Greg Profitt, who was also at the house, testified that Baze shot first, but he admitted that he could not distinguish between rifle and pistol fire. Becky Baze also testified that Baze shot first, causing Bennett to turn his head back to his right to see where the gunfire was coming from. The policemen who were driving up the road to lend support testified that the first 6-10 shots they heard were rifle fire. Briscoe and Bennett then turned to face the woods and took cover behind the police cruiser on the driver’s side, with Briscoe shooting over the hood and Bennett over the trunk. For reasons that are unclear, Bennett moved around the rear of the cruiser and opened the back passenger door as if to get into the back seat, in fact crossing directly into Baze’s line of fire. Thereupon, Baze shot him three times in the back. Baze then started to walk down the hill towards Briscoe, who continued to shoot at Baze over the hood of the police cruiser until he ran out of ammunition, and Baze was too close to give him time to reload. Briscoe then turned to attempt to escape and, after he had gone about ten feet, Baze shot him twice in the back. Wesley McCarty described Briscoe as “staggering away” before he fell on his face. Baze then approached the fallen officer and, allegedly thinking that he might be reaching for his gun, shot Briscoe in the head at pointblank range. Baze then picked up the weapons and ammunition and fled on foot to adjoining Estill County. He surrendered without incident at 8 p.m. that evening at the home of the former Estill County Sheriff, where he received his Miranda warnings. Upon overhearing a query over the radio as to whether the arresting officer had the correct suspect, Baze responded: “You tell them that you got the right man. I’m the one that killed them son-ofa-bitches.” Baze was tried in Rowan County, convicted, and sentenced to death in February 1994 for shooting the officers.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 27, 2007 Texas Carlton Akee Turner, Sr., 43
Tonya Turner, 40
Carlton Turner stayed

Carlton Akee Turner was a 19-year-old on August 8, 1998 when he killed his adoptive parents in their suburban Dallas home and put their bodies in the garage. Each of the victims was shot several times in the head and Turner dragged their bodies through the house and dumped them in the garage. After the murders, Turner went shopping with his parents’ cash and credit cards, buying new clothes and jewelry and forging a check on their personal account. He continued to live in the family home for three days while his parent’s decomposed in the garage in the hot Texas summer. The family had lived in the neighborhood for less than a year, but neighbors realized something was wrong and called police to say they had not seen the couple for several days and had observed Turner acting strangely and driving his parents’ cars, which they did not allow. Turner was arrested at his home on outstanding warrants for traffic violations. He had marijuana on his person when arrested. Police found the parents’ bodies in the garage and found enough evidence to allow them to charge the son with their murders. Turner testified at trial that he shot his father in self-defense. This self-defense theory contradicted Turner’s pretrial statements in newspaper and television interviews that he had nothing to do with the murders. Turner offered no explanation at trial for killing his mother, saying he could not recall. He testified that he felt nothing when he killed his parents. Turner has a long history of violence and other inappropriate behavior. Turner claimed that a history of parental abuse largely explains his violent behavior. Neighbors of the couple believed that Turner killed his parents because they were being strict with him after he was convicted of a robbery charge and received three years’ probation.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 27, 2007 Alabama Troy Wicker Tommy Arthur stayed

On February 1, 1982, at 9:12 A.M., police officers were called to the residence of Mary Jewel “Judy” Wicker and Troy Wicker in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The officers found Troy murdered in his bed; his wife, Judy Wicker, lying on the floor with traces of blood on her face; and her sister, Teresa Rowland kneeling beside her. The investigators found four.22-caliber expended cartridge cases on the bed. An autopsy revealed that Troy’s death was caused by a close range wound through his right eye from a.22-caliber long rifle bullet which severed his brain stem. Wicker told the investigators that, after she had dropped her children off at school, she had returned to find an African American man in her home. She said that the man raped her, knocked her unconscious, and shot Troy. Wicker was subsequently charged and convicted of murdering Troy to collect insurance proceeds, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Some time after Wicker’s conviction, the prosecuting district attorney appeared before the parole board to inquire about the possibility of an early release in exchange for Wicker’s testimony against Arthur. Wicker’s daughter, Tina Jenkins, retained attorney Gary Alverson to appear at this meeting on her behalf. Alverson was later hired as a state prosecutor. In 1991, during Arthur’s trial for Troy’s murder, Alverson represented the state and Wicker testified as the prosecution’s main witness. She explained that she had known Arthur since they were both young and worked at Tidwell Homes. She revealed that she, Rowland, and Rowland’s boyfriend, Theron McKinney had discussed killing Troy beginning in early 1981. Wicker explained that Troy was physically violent with her, and that Rowland and Troy often argued when Troy threatened to turn Rowland in to the police for the arson on her home which he had committed for her. Wicker recalled that she received a telephone call from Arthur in November 1981 in which he told her that he had been “hired to do the job… to kill her husband.” She saw him the next week and began a sexual relationship with him. At that time, Arthur was residing at the Decatur Work Release Center and was assigned to work at Reagin Mobile Homes. Wicker testified that she knew that the murder was to take place on February 1, 1982, and that she had agreed to tell the police that her home was burglarized and that her husband was murdered by an African American man. She explained that, on the day of the murder, she met Rowland and Arthur at the airport. She stated that Arthur, who had been drinking and was carrying a gun and a garbage bag, had painted his face black and put on an Afro wig and black gloves. She testified that Arthur got into her car and, while driving him to her house, she urged him not to kill Troy. She stated that, after they arrived at her house, she heard a shot and that Arthur then struck her, knocked out several of her teeth, and lacerated her lip. Wicker admitted that, after she collected $90,000 in insurance proceeds from Troy’s death, she paid Arthur $10,000, paid Rowland $6,000, and gave McKinney jewelry and a car for their assistance in the murder. She also admitted that she continued her relationship with Arthur after the murder. Wicker’s testimony was corroborated by other witnesses and evidence. Muscle Shoals Police Sergeant Eddie Lang testified that, while he was working at a school crossing about 7:40 A.M. on February 1, he observed Wicker driving east toward the airport and, about 10 minutes later, returning toward her house. He did not see anyone in the car with her during either trip. The work release facility’s records for the day of the murder showed that Arthur had signed out of work release at 6:00 A.M. and had not returned until 7:50 P.M. Joel Reagin, the owner of Reagin Mobile Homes, was unable to say whether Arthur was at work on the day of the murder. He remembered, however, having seen Wicker and Arthur together at Reagin Mobile Homes while Arthur was working there. Patricia Yarborough Green, a waitress at Cher’s Lounge, testified that, on January 31, 1981, the day before the murder, Arthur asked her to send a friend to purchase.22-caliber Mini-Mag long rifle bullets for him and gave her $10 for the purchase. She said that, while they were waiting for the friend to return with the bullets, Arthur told her that they would be used to kill someone. She gave the bullets to Arthur when she received them. Debra Lynn Phillips Tynes, the manager of Cher’s, went to lunch with Arthur on the day of the murder. While they were out, Arthur drove to a bridge over the Tennessee River, stopped the car, and dropped a black garbage bag into the river. She said that he explained to her that he wanted to get rid of some old memories. On the day of the murder, Wicker’s automobile was found in the parking lot at Northwest Junior College in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Inside the car, officers found Wicker’s purse and an Afro wig; the inside of the wig contained no human hairs. In March 1982, officials at the work release center discovered a discrepancy between the amount of time that Arthur had logged as being at work and the amount of money that he had been paid for that work, and transferred him to the county jail pending investigation. After he left the work release center, his personal belongings at the work release center were inventoried and a Reagin Mobile Homes envelope containing $2000 was discovered. In April 1982, Arthur was interviewed by a Muscle Shoals Police Department detective and denied knowing anything about Troy’s homicide or knowing Wicker or Rowland. When the officer confronted Arthur with contrary information, Arthur asked to see an attorney and refused to make any further comments. Arthur was indicted and charged with intentionally murdering Troy by shooting him with a pistol after having been convicted of second degree murder. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982. UPDATE: Gov. Bob Riley stayed the execution of a contract killer Thursday, hours before it was to have been carried out, so the inmate could be put to death using a new lethal injection formula the governor had ordered just a day earlier. Riley said he issued the 45-day stay of Tommy Arthur’s execution only to allow time for the new lethal-injection procedures to be put in place. The changes are designed to make sure the inmate is unconscious when given drugs to stop the heart and lungs. Riley said evidence is "overwhelming" that Arthur is guilty "and he will be executed for his crime." The governor encouraged the attorney general’s office to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to set another execution date "as soon as possible." Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said the request would be filed with the court Friday.

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