Two killers died while awaiting execution in April 2008. They had murdered at least 4 people.
|Date of scheduled execution||State||Victim name||Inmate name||Status|
|April 8, 2008||Virginia||Ricky Timbrook , 32||Edward Bell||stayed|
On the evening of October 29, 1999, Sergeant Ricky Lee Timbrook and two probation and parole officers were working together in a program known as Community Oriented Probation and Parole Services. One aspect of Sergeant Timbrook’s responsibilities was to assist the probation officers in making home visits to individuals on probation or parole. On that particular evening, these three individuals were patrolling in an unmarked car in Winchester and were, among other things, searching for Gerrad Wiley, who was wanted for violating the terms of his probation. The officers went to Wiley’s residence on Woodstock Lane in Winchester several times that evening to no avail. Just before midnight, when they returned to Wiley’s residence for the sixth time, they saw an individual standing in a grassy area between a trash dumpster and an apartment building. As one of the probation officers and Sergeant Timbrook exited the vehicle and approached that individual, who was later identified as Daniel Charles Spitler, another person, who had "dipped behind in the shadows," began running away. Sergeant Timbrook pursued that individual while calling for assistance on his radio. Spitler identified the individual who ran from Sergeant Timbrook as Edward Bell. Spitler testified that, on the evening in question, he was in the area of Woodstock Lane for the purpose of obtaining cocaine from Wiley. After no one answered his knock on the door of Wiley’s residence, Spitler started walking down a nearby alley where he encountered Bell. Spitler did not tell Bell that he wanted cocaine, but, according to Spitler, Bell "put his hands on me like to pat me down to check and see if I had a wire on." During that encounter, Sergeant Timbrook and the two probation officers arrived in the unmarked vehicle. When the vehicle’s headlights illuminated Spitler and Bell, Spitler started walking toward the headlights, but Bell stepped into the shadows of a building. Spitler identified Sergeant Timbrook as one of the individuals who emerged from the vehicle. According to Spitler, Bell then started running away and Sergeant Timbrook chased after him, yelling "We have one running. Stop." Spitler lost sight of Bell and Sergeant Timbrook when they ran behind a building, but Spitler testified that he heard a shot soon thereafter. Sergeant Timbrook chased Bell along several streets and down an alley between two houses on Piccadilly Street. These houses were separated by a fence approximately two or three feet in height. As Sergeant Timbrook started to climb over the fence, a shot rang out. A police officer, Robert L. Bower, who had responded to Sergeant Timbrook’s radio call for assistance, described the incident in this manner: As Sergeant Timbrook started to cross over, I took my eyes off of him, and directed it toward the subject. I noticed it stopped. And, I saw a, what appeared to be a left shoulder as it stopped. All I could was… it was like a black material…. As soon as I saw it stop, I looked back at Timbrook to say something, at which time I heard the shot. And, I saw Timbrook falling. Sergeant Timbrook’s body was found lying on the ground with his feet close to the fence and his upper torso leaning against a wall. His gun was still in its holster. Sergeant Timbrook was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound above his right eye, caused by a bullet which was fired from a distance of between six and eighteen inches. Brad Triplett, one of the probation officers who had been patrolling with Sergeant Timbrook that evening, ran in a parallel direction during part of Sergeant Timbrook’s pursuit of Bell. At one street intersection, he saw Sergeant Timbrook running after the "same dark-dressed figure" who had originally fled from Sergeant Timbrook. Triplett described that person’s clothing as a "dark black type of jumpsuit, nylon material," with "reflective like stripes on the jacket." Several times during the pursuit, Triplett heard Sergeant Timbrook yelling, "Stop running. Police." He also heard the gunshot. The police searched the area for the suspect throughout the night by securing a perimeter around the neighborhood where the shooting had occurred and by using a helicopter equipped with a heat-sensitive "Forward Looking Infrared" camera and a spotlight. At one point during the search, Officer Brian King spotted an individual lying on the back steps of a house located on Piccadilly Street. King stated that the person was wearing a dark colored jacket with reflective strips on the sleeves that "lit up like a Christmas tree" when he shined his flashlight on the individual. The person then stood up and disappeared behind a bush. Emily Marlene Williams, who lived at the house, testified that she heard the gunshot on the evening in question and about five minutes later heard a "crash" in the basement of her house. After she told the police about the noise in her basement, the police evacuated her and her family from their home. The following morning, the police discovered Bell, a Jamaican national, hiding in a coal bin in the basement of the Williams’ residence. He was wearing a "LUGZ" black nylon jacket and a black beret cap with a gold pin. The jacket had reflective stripes on the sleeves. Spitler identified both of these items of clothing as those that Bell had been wearing on the evening when Sergeant Timbrook was shot. Before Bell was transported from the Williams’ residence to the police department, a gunshot residue test was administered to Bell’s hands and the recovered particles were subsequently identified as gunshot primer residue. During a search of the backyard of the Williams’ residence the day after Bell was apprehended, a deputy sheriff found a pearl-handled, Smith and Wesson.38 Special double action revolver. The gun was located under the edge of a porch on the Williams’ house and was covered with leaves and twigs. Forensic testing established that this handgun fired the bullet that killed Sergeant Timbrook. Forensic testing of DNA that was recovered by swabbing the grips, butt, trigger, and trigger guard of this revolver could not eliminate Bell as a co-contributor of that DNA, which was consistent with a mixture of DNA from at least three individuals. When questioned by the police after his arrest, Bell admitted that he had been on Woodstock Lane when "a white guy" allegedly began bothering him for information. Bell said that when a car drove up and a man got out of the car, he "was scared" and ran. He said he did not know who was chasing him or why, and that when he heard a shot fired, he hid in the basement of the house where he was later discovered. Bell denied having a gun. However, while Bell was confined in jail awaiting trial, he told another inmate that he shot Sergeant Timbrook, threw the gun underneath a porch, and then broke into a house and changed clothes in the basement. Justin William Jones testified that, around nine o’clock on the evening of the shooting, he saw Bell in the vicinity of Piccadilly Street. According to Jones, Bell showed him a revolver and asked if Jones knew of anyone who wanted to buy a weapon. Jones identified the pearl-handled,.38 caliber revolver introduced at trial as the same weapon that Bell had shown him. The evening Sergeant Timbrook was shot was not the first encounter between Timbrook and Bell. Sergeant Timbrook had arrested Bell for carrying a concealed weapon in May 1997. The following year, in September 1998, Sergeant Timbrook was present during the execution of an Immigration and Naturalization Service order to detain Bell. Eight months later, Sergeant Timbrook assisted in executing a search warrant at Bell’s home. Bell was present during that search. In the summer of 1999, one of Bell’s friends heard Bell state, as Sergeant Timbrook drove by in a vehicle, "Somebody needs to bust a cap in his ass." Another of Bell’s acquaintances testified that she heard Bell say that he would like to see Sergeant Timbrook dead, and that if he ever came face to face with Sergeant Timbrook, he would shoot Sergeant Timbrook in the head because he knew that Sergeant Timbrook wore a bullet-proof vest. During the penalty phase, the Commonwealth presented evidence regarding Bell’s criminal history. Several law enforcement officers testified about incidents involving Bell. A police officer from Jamaica provided information about Bell’s commission of the crimes of assault and destruction of property in 1985. In 1997, an officer with the Winchester Police Department found a.38 caliber handgun concealed in the trunk of a car being driven by Bell. The serial number of the gun had been filed off. An officer with the West Virginia State Police stated that when he stopped Bell for speeding in 1999, Bell gave him a false name. When the officer started to arrest Bell and place him in handcuffs, Bell ran away into a cornfield. Another West Virginia law enforcement officer found five.38 caliber rounds of ammunition on Bell’s person during a "stop and frisk" in 1999. Finally, two employees of the jail where Bell was confined while awaiting trial testified that Bell had threatened them. Another witness, Billy Jo Swartz, testified about an incident in 1997 when Bell grabbed her head and slammed it into his car. He also held a gun to her head. During the same incident, Bell got into a fight with his pregnant girlfriend and knocked her to the ground. Swartz further stated that she had seen Bell with illegal drugs. Other witnesses likewise testified about buying illegal drugs from Bell. Members of Sergeant Timbrook’s family described their relationship with him and the effect that his death has had on the family. His wife was pregnant with their first child when Sergeant Timbrook was killed. The only evidence that Bell introduced during the penalty phase was from his sister and father.
|Date of scheduled execution||State||Victim name||Inmate name||Status|
|April 22, 2008||Florida|| Margaret Strack
|William Elledge||died on death row|
|William E. Elledge rented an efficiency apartment at the Normandy Hotel in Hollywood, Florida on 24 Aug 1974. On the afternoon of the 24th, Elledge visited a bar, where he met the victim, Margaret Strack. After drinking and talking for about an hour, the two went to Elledge’s room at the Normandy Hotel, where they smoked marijuana. According to Elledge, Margaret Strack sexually teased him, but she refused to participate in sexual intercourse. Elledge began to strangle Margaret while having intercourse with her. After fifteen minutes, Elledge realized that she was dead. Elledge dragged the body out of the room and threw it down the back porch stairs. He then dragged the body to Margaret’s car, drove it to a church parking lot, and dumped her nearly nude body in the parking lot. The body had a pair of panties around the ankles and had been bound around the ankles with an electric cord. Elledge was also serving two life sentences for the murders of Edward Gaffney in Broward County and Paul Nelson in Duval County. The Gaffney and Nelson murders were committed on the same weekend as the Strack murder.|
|Date of scheduled execution||State||Victim name||Inmate name||Status|
|April 29, 2008||Florida||Gloria Gomez||William Coday||died on death row|
|William Coday testified that he had an on again, off again, intimate relationship with the victim, Gloria Gomez, from January 1996 to June 1997. In early June 1997, they had an argument in which he accused her of having an affair with another man. After this argument, she broke off contact with him and moved out of his apartment in Fort Lauderdale and in with some friends in Miami. For over a month, he attempted repeatedly to reconcile with her. Desperate to contact her, he left an urgent message with her family friend stating that he was going to be hospitalized. In response, she called him that evening. During the conversation, he lied to her and told her that he had cancer. She promised to visit him on Friday, July 11, 1997, between 10:00 am and 11:00 am. She arrived at his home at or near 1:00 pm on July 11, 1997. He was agitated because she was late. They first discussed his medical situation. Coday then shifted the focus of their conversation to his desire to have her back. He led her into his bedroom where the conversation continued. When she told him that she did not love him in the manner that he had thought and that she had to get her things from his apartment, he flew into a rage and punched her. He then picked up a hammer and struck her, causing her to fall. While in the process of striking her again, he lost his balance and fell on top of her. She managed to grab the hammer out of his hand. However, he found another hammer and continued striking her. Coday then went to the kitchen, retrieved a knife, and began stabbing her. Finally, he drove the knife into her throat and held it there until she died. The cause of death was multiple blunt and sharp force trauma injuries. The trial court found that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel and gave this aggravating circumstance great weight. According to Dr. Eroston Price, the Associate Broward County Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy, there were 144 wounds inflicted on her, fifty-seven of which were blunt force trauma injuries consistent with being struck by the flat and claw side of a hammer. The remaining eighty-seven wounds were sharp force wounds consisting of forty-one stab wounds (i.e., the wounds were deeper than they were long) and forty-six incise wounds (i.e., the wounds were longer than they were deep). She had multiple defensive wounds on the palms of her hands and on her arms from blocking the blows and grabbing for a weapon. Dr. Price testified that she was alive for all but one of the 144 stab wounds and hammer blows. The brutality of the attack, coupled with her defensive wounds, bodily movements, and blood spatter, suggested that she knew she was fighting for her life and was aware of her impending death.|
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