August 2008 Executions

Four killers were executed in August 2008. They had murdered at least 9 people.
killers were given a stay in August 2008. They have murdered at least 8 people.
One killer received a commutation in August 2008. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 5, 2008 Texas Jennifer Ertman, 14
Elizabeth Pena, 16

Patrica Lourdes Lopez
Jose Medellin executed

ElizabethPenaJenniferErtmanJennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena were 14 and 16 years old, respectively. They were friends who attended the same high school in Houston, Texas, Waltrip High School. On June 24, 1993, the girls spent the day together and then died together. They were last seen by friends about 11:15 at night, when they left a friend’s apartment to head home, to beat summer curfew at 11:30. They knew they would be late if they took the normal path home, down W. 34th Street to T.C. Jester, both busy streets. They also knew they would have to pass a sexually-oriented business on that route and so decided to take a well-known shortcut down a railroad track and through a city park to Elizabeth’s neighborhood. The next morning, the girls parents began to frantically look for them, paging them on their pagers, calling their friends to see if they knew where they were, to no avail. The families filed missing persons reports with the Houston Police Department and continued to look for the girls on their own. The Ertmans and Penas gathered friends and neighbors to help them pass out a huge stack of fliers with the girls’ pictures all over the Houston area, even giving them to newspaper vendors on the roadside. Four days after the girls disappeared, a person identifying himself as ‘Gonzalez’ called the Crimestoppers Tips number. He told the call taker that the missing girls’ bodies could be found near T.C. Jester Park at White Oak bayou. The police were sent to the scene and searched the park without finding anything. The police helicopter was flying over the park and this apparently prompted Mr. ‘Gonzalez’ to make a 911 call, directing the search to move to the other side of the bayou. When the police followed this suggestion, they found the badly decaying bodies of Jenny and Elizabeth. Jennifer Ertman’s dad, Randy Ertman, was about to give an interview regarding the missing girls to a local television reporter when the call came over a cameraman’s police scanner that two bodies had been found. Randy commandeered the news van and went to the scene that was now bustling with police activity. Randy Ertman appeared on the local news that evening, screaming at the police officers who were struggling to hold him back, "Does she have blond hair? Does she have blond hair?!?" Fortunately, they did manage to keep Randy from entering the woods and seeing his daughter’s brutalized body and that of her friend Elizabeth. The bodies were very badly decomposed, even for four days in Houston’s brutal summer heat and humidity, particularly in the head, neck and genital areas. The medical examiner later testified that this is how she could be sure as to the horrible brutality of the rapes, beatings and murders. The break in solving the case came from, of course, the 911 call. It was traced to the home of the brother of one of the men later sentenced to death for these murders. When the police questioned ‘Gonzalez’, he said that he had made the original call at his 16 year-old wife’s urging. She felt sorry for the families and wanted them to be able to put their daughters’ bodies to rest. ‘Gonzalez’ said that his brother was one of the six people involved in killing the girls, and gave police the names of all but one, the new recruit, whom he did not know. His knowledge of the crimes came from the killers themselves, most of whom came to his home after the murders, bragging and swapping the jewelry they had stolen from the girls. While Jenny and Elizabeth were living the last few hours of their lives, Peter Cantu, Efrain Perez, Derrick Sean O’Brien, Joe Medellin and Joe’s 14 year old brother were initiating a new member, Raul Villareal, into their gang, known as the Black and Whites. Raul was an acquaintance of Efrain and was not known to the other gang members. They had spent the evening drinking beer and then "jumping in" Raul. This means that the new member was required to fight every member of the gang until he passed out and then he would be accepted as a member. Testimony showed that Raul lasted through three of the members before briefly losing consciousness. The gang continued drinking and ‘shooting the breeze’ for some time and then decided to leave. Two brothers who had been with them but testified that they were not in the gang left first and passed Jenny and Elizabeth, who were unknowingly walking towards their deaths. When Peter Cantu saw Jenny and Elizabeth, he thought it was a man and a woman and told the other gang members that he wanted to jump him and beat him up. He was frustrated that he had been the one who was unable to fight Raul. The gang members ran and grabbed Elizabeth and pulled her down the incline, off of the tracks. Testimony showed that Jenny had gotten free and could have run away but returned to Elizabeth when she cried out for Jenny to help her. For the next hour or so, these beautiful, innocent young girls were subjected to the most brutal gang rapes that most of the investigating officers had ever encountered. The confessions of the gang members that were used at trial indicated that there was never less than 2 men on each of the girls at any one time and that the girls were repeatedly raped orally, anally and vaginally for the entire hour. One of the gang members later said during the brag session that by the time he got to one of the girls, "she was loose and sloppy." One of the boys boasted of having ‘virgin blood’ on him. The 14-year-old juvenile later testified that he had gone back and forth between his brother and Peter Cantu since they were the only ones there that he really knew and kept urging them to leave. He said he was told repeatedly by Peter Cantu to "get some". He raped Jennifer and was later sentenced to 40 years for aggravated sexual assault, which was the maximum sentence for a juvenile. When the rapes finally ended, the horror was not over. The gang members took Jenny and Elizabeth from the clearing into a wooded area, leaving the juvenile behind, saying he was "too little to watch". Jenny was strangled with the belt of Sean O’Brien, with two murderers pulling, one on each side, until the belt broke. Part of the belt was left at the murder scene, the rest was found in O’Brien’s home. After the belt broke, the killers used her own shoelaces to finish their job. Medellin later complained that "the bitch wouldn’t die" and that it would have been "easier with a gun". Elizabeth was also strangled with her shoelaces, after crying and begging the gang members not to kill them; bargaining, offering to give them her phone number so they could get together again. The medical examiner testified that Elizabeth’s two front teeth were knocked out of her brutalized mouth before she died and that two of Jennifer’s ribs were broken after she had died. Testimony showed that the girls’ bodies were kicked and their necks were stomped on after the strangulations in order to "make sure that they were really dead." The juvenile, Venancio Medellin, pled guilty to his charge and his sentence was reviewed when he turned 18, at which time he was sent to serve the remainder of the 40 year sentence in prison. He has already been considered and rejected for parole. The five killers were tried for capital murder in Harris County, Texas, convicted and sentenced to death. UPDATE: After a delay while the US Supreme Court considered Jose Medellin’s final appeal, which requested a stay until a law was passed ordering a review of his case, Medellin was finally executed at 9:57 pm. Before the lethal injection, Medellin apologized to the families of the victims. He said he was sorry that his actions had caused them pain and he hoped this would bring them the closure they seek. He spoke to his witnesses and told them "Don’t ever hate them for what they do."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 7, 2008 Texas Armand Paliotta Heliberto Chi executed

Heliberto Chi was sentenced to death for the robbery-murder of the manager of a men’s clothing store in Arlington. Armand Paliotta was the manager of K&G Men’s Store in Arlington, Texas. Around 8 p.m. on March 24, 2001, Heliberto Chi knocked on the door of the K&G Men’s store in Arlington and a employee unlocked the door and allowed Chi, a former employee, to enter, after he explained that he had left his wallet in the store after a visit to the store earlier in the day. The store had closed at 7 p.m., with manager Armand Paliotta and two other employees remaining to attend to closing duties, including preparing the day’s receipts for deposit. After going to search for his wallet, Chi returned to the front door and pulled out a gun and told the employees who were at the entrance to get back inside. As they were walking, Paliotta pushed Chi and began running to the front of the store. Chi ran after him and then stopped and fired at him. When Chi turned around, store employees Adrian Riojas and Gloria Mendoza began running. Riojas ran into the warehouse, pursued by Chi. Riojas quickly found himself trapped by various locked doors. When he saw Chi approaching with his gun drawn, he began to run in a different direction. Chi shot Riojas in the back as Riojas was running from him. Paliotta died from a gunshot wound to the back. Riojas survived. Armand Paliotta was the descendant of Italian immigrants who moved from New York to the Dallas area about 20 years before his death. Paliotta was remembered as a kind-hearted father, husband and a compassionate supervisor. His wife, Acela, came to America from Cuba. His co-workers at the Arlington men’s store recalled him as fun-loving and kindhearted. "He was my friend, and I’ll always remember him as a good man," said Abdon Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant who still works as a tailor in the shop where Paliotta died. "He was very good to me. He was very good to the immigrant community. He loved the Hispanic culture. It’s very painful to me that he was killed by someone who was an immigrant." In an interview with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram shortly after her husband’s death, Acela Paliotta shared that sentiment. At the time, she was the coordinator of English as a second language, bilingual and foreign language programs for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district. "I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be an immigrant so I can minister to them," she said. "I treasure those painful memories. I feel like part of my mission is to be a good mom and to help parents who are immigrants assimilate and acculturate in this great country." Of Chi, she said: "He could have been one of those I would have helped. Instead of picking up a pen and a book, he picked up a gun." UPDATE: Heliberto Chi was executed after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal based on his status as a Honduran citizen. In a final statement, Chi said, "God forgive them" and "receive my spirit." In Spanish, he spoke to a cousin who was in the witness room. "I love you, Edgardo. I appreciate your hard work. Thank you."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 12, 2008 Texas Brad Lindsey, 20
James Lloyd Armstrong, 26
Hyon Suk Chon, 51
Leon Dorsey executed
Around midnight on April 4, 1994, two employees at a Blockbuster Video store in Dallas at the Casa Linda Plaza Shopping Center were robbed of only $392 and murdered. The in-store video camera recorded the crime and shows that the perpetrator was a black male with short hair. The two employees were forced into a back room, where the video shows them speaking briefly before being killed. Brad Lindsey was shot once in the back; employee James Armstrong was shot twice. Later that day, Leon David Dorsey IV, a Waxahachie gang member, admitted committing the robbery and murders to his girlfriend, Arrietta Washington, and to an acquaintance, Antwan Hamilton. In an interview with a newspaper reporter, Dorsey stated that he had burned the jacket he had worn that night and would not disclose the location of the murder weapon. Washington braided extensions into Dorsey’s hair as a disguise. Later that week, she reported Dorsey’s admissions to the police. The police interviewed Dorsey, but he denied any involvement. At the time, police erroneously believed that Dorsey was too tall to be the perpetrator, and he was not charged with the crime, which remained unsolved until the case was reopened by a veteran detective in 1998. During the 1998 investigation, police sent the videotape of the robbery-murder to the FBI for an analysis of the perpetrator’s height. Based on the new estimate of the perpetrator’s height and accurate information about Dorsey’s height, police questioned Dorsey again, and he confessed. While awaiting trial, Dorsey again confessed to this offense during an interview with Dallas Morning News reporter Jason Sickles. In the interview, Dorsey blamed the victims for their deaths and said they could be alive today. "But they didn’t use their choice wisely," he said. Dorsey told the reporter that he feels no remorse for killing James Armstrong and Brad Lindsey. He said their families should not dwell on their deaths, comparing it to losing $1,000 in a craps game. "They’re dead. That’s over and done with," he said. "Why are you going to sit there and worry yourself about that? Move on. I could have came in here and been, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m so bad.’ But I don’t feel like that. That’s not being honest with myself." Dorsey told Mr. Sickles that he was drunk and high when he went to the Blockbuster in search of cash and that one of the men probably angered him, but he doesn’t remember who or how. "One of them had to be bumping me or talking sh.t," he said. "One of them did, or I wouldn’t have did it like that. I killed the second person because the first person fu.ked up. I had a tendency to dehumanize a person in a situation," Dorsey said. "If I was robbing you, and you studded up, I could fu.k you up and say that was business. If you cooperated, you could walk away from it easily." A week before trial, Dorsey admitted committing the murders to a fellow inmate. Dorsey, whose nickname was "Pistol Pete", also sent a letter to another inmate, Rodrick Finley, offering him $5000 to take the blame for the murders. The police had previously suspected Finley of committing the crime. In all, Dorsey confessed to five different persons: his girlfriend, an acquaintance, the police, a news reporter, and a fellow inmate. In addition, the videotape depicted the perpetrator as a black male of medium build with short hair, wearing a multi-colored jacket. Washington and Hamilton both testified that the distinctive jacket of unusual design and colors worn by the shooter in the videotape looked just like one often worn by Dorsey before the offense. They also stated that they never saw Dorsey wear that particular jacket after the offense. Washington also testified that Dorsey wore his hair in the same style as that of the shooter at the time of the offense, but that she had altered the appearance of Dorsey’s hair after the offense by adding braid extensions. Dorsey told the reporter that he wishes he’d never opened his mouth around her. "It ain’t my homeboys that turned on me," he said. "It’s this b.tch that I used to put $100 shoes on her feet and take care of her kids. She better hope I never get out of this penitentiary." According to the FBI expert who analyzed the videotape, the shooter was between 5’7" tall and 6′ tall. Dorsey is 5’10" tall. Five months after the video store killings, Dorsey killed a 51-year-old Korean woman, Hyon Suk Chon, at the convenience store she managed in Ennis, south of Dallas. Dorsey and a co-defendant entered a food store, fatally shooting the woman, then fled the scene with an unknown amount of money. He was in prison serving a 60 year sentence for that slaying when he was questioned again about the double slaying and confessed. The victims’ families say Dorsey’s profane explanations mean little to them now. "That is just about par for the course," said Greg Armstrong, James Armstrong’s brother. "If he has no remorse about it, then he deserves the death penalty." Joan Lindsey Coleman said she has felt better this week than she has in 4 1/2 years, finally knowing who killed her son. "I’ll feel even better when I watch him die," she said. "They’d better not screw this up. Now that they’ve got him, they’d better kill him." During his time in prison, Dorsey has racked up almost 100 disciplinary records, including stabbing an officer 14 times with a homemade knife, or shank. The officer’s flak vest saved him from serious injury. Read more of Dorsey’s interview here. UPDATE: Leon Dorsey was executed for the murders of two Blockbuster Video employees during a robbery 14 years ago in Dallas, Texas. According the TDCJ, Dorsey had recently made threats that he would harm corrections officers prior to his execution, but he did not put up any fight when taken to the execution chamber. In his final statement, Dorsey said, "I love all y’all. I forgive all y’all and I’ll see y’all when you get there. Do what you’re gonna do." Dorsey said, "Hey sis" when the execution witnesses filed in but he did not direct any comments to the parents of his victims who witnessed the execution. According to the Huntsville Item , Brad Lindsey’s mother Joan Coleman did not make a formal statement following the execution. James Armstrong’s parents Gerald and Nancy Armstrong released a letter to the media. “Losing James has been and always will be painful; it doesn’t get any easier, but we’ve gotten stronger,” the letter read. “Viewing Dorsey’s execution will not bring any happiness, but we’ve lived to see justice for James 14 years later and today we pray for Dorsey’s father.” In a segment of the letter which appears to have been written by Nanci Armstrong, more detail is offered regarding her feelings about Dorsey. “While Gerald has said it was different for him, I have struggled with forgiving Dorsey for killing our son,” she said. “Perhaps Dorsey is as evil as Charles Manson and has no remorse, but I knew that I had to forgive him. I could do it in my head, but not in my heart.”
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 14, 2008 Texas Theresa Rodriguez
Aubrey Hawkins
Michael Rodriguez executed

aubrey hawkins

Michael Anthony Rodriguez was one of the Texas Seven, who escaped from the Connally Unit, a Texas prison near Karnes City, in December of 2000 and went on a crime spree which included the murder of police officer Aubrey Hawkins. At the time of the escape, Rodriguez was serving a life sentence for capital murder after hiring a man to kill his wife Theresa for an insurance policy worth $250,000 in 1994. In the escape, the inmates took a dozen employees and 3 other inmates hostage in the maintenance shop where they worked. They took the clothes of the civilian workers, then raided a guard tower for guns and ammunition. They surprised two guards near the back gate and tied them up and stole a white pickup truck in which they theresa rodriguezmade their getaway. The truck was found at a Walmart in Kenedy, Texas, about 3 miles from the prison. The group picked up a second getaway vehicle which authorities believe was provided by Rodriguez’s father. This vehicle was found later about 50 miles from San Antonio. On Christmas Eve, the escapees robbed an Oshman’s sports store in Irving, Texas. They went in at closing time and took several employees hostage while they stole guns and ammunition along with around $70,000 in cash and checks. It was while they were fleeing the store that they ran into Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Aubrey Hawkins was shot 13 times, including six shots to the head, and was run over by the escapees’ car as they fled the scene of the murder. They went to Colorado and bought a truck, a van and an RV and parked in the Coachlight RV Park in Garden of the Gods, Colorado. For nearly a month, the group tried to blend in to the community, telling other residents that they were Christian missionaries. On January 21, 2001, the owner of the RV park and a friend of his became suspicious that the residents of the RV might be the Texas Seven and went to the Americas Most Wanted web site, then contacted authorities. The next day, three of the escaped inmates, including Rodriguez, were arrested peacefully at a local convenience store. The police then went to the RV and found two other of the inmates, one of whom surrendered peacefully while the other committed suicide rather than be returned to prison. The other two had already split from the group and were in Colorado Springs and they were arrested after a short standoff at a hotel. UPDATE: The first member of the Texas Seven was executed after apologizing profusely for his crimes. He had dropped all of his remaining avenues of appeal and went to his execution voluntarily. "My punishment is nothing compared to the pain and sorrow I’ve brought you," Rodriguez said. As he looked directly at the victim witnesses, Lori, the widow of Aubrey Hawkins and his dead wife’s sister, he said, "I’m not strong enough to ask for forgiveness because I don’t know if I am worthy. I ask the Lord to please forgive me. I’ve done horrible things that brought sorrow and pain to these wonderful people. I’m sorry, so sorry." Rodriguez began praying in a whisper, "I’m ready to go, Lord." The parents of Theresa Rodriguez, Eddie and Susie Sanchez spoke to a local Irving television station recently. "He has no idea of the hurt he’s put my family through. No idea at all," Eddie Sanchez said. "I think that’s why he decided to get the needle, because he can’t stand it any more. This is a way out for him." "The memory of Officer Aubrey Hawkins, his dedication to duty and family are cherished by the Irving Police Department and others that knew Aubrey," the Irving department said in a statement released Thursday. "His legacy and his service are not forgotten. Our police family suffered a devastating loss through Aubrey’s ultimate sacrifice." "The hardest thing is the constant presence of it," Hawkins’ wife, Lori, said before the execution. "It’s not like there’s one person involved. There are six." She attended the first couple of trials but then stopped. "It was like reliving it every two years," she said. She had been married to the officer for four years, then at age 27 became a widow. She has since remarried. "I had to move on," she said.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 20, 2008 Texas Michelle Christine Robson, 26 Denard Manns stayed

On November 18, 1998 in Killeen, Denard Manns entered the Killeen home of a 26-year old Michelle Robson. He raped her and then shot her in the head and chest 5 times with a.22-caliber gun, leaving her body in the bathtub of her home. He then took credit cards and cash and fled in Christine’s vehicle. Manns had been recently paroled from a New York state prison after his second conviction for armed robbery and was living with relatives two doors from the victim’s apartment. There was no sign of forced entry. Christine Robson was a US Army Combat Medic with the 21st Combat Support Hospital at Ft. Hood. The evidence in the case was quite clear: Manns’ fingerprint was found on the murder weapon, his DNA was found on Christine’s bra, he had Christine’s jacket and ring. In addition, he confessed to another inmate, telling him details that had not been made public and only the killer could have known. Manns said he got her jacket from a friend who had committed burglaries in the neighborhood, the jewelry from a drug addict, and also blamed his half-brother for the slaying. UPDATE: Denard Manns was given a stay of execution because his lawyer has been removed from his case. A new execution date has been set for November 13, 2008 . Manns previously had an execution date set for January 2008 but it was set aside while the US Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of lethal injection.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 21, 2008 Texas Kriss Lee Keeran, 31 Jeff Wood stayed

On January 2, 1996, around 6:00 am in Kerrville, Jeffrey Lee Wood and his roommate Daniel Reneau robbed a Texaco service station, murdering their acquaintance Kriss Keeran, the service station attendant, in the process. Wood and the co-defendant took the store safe, a cash box, and a VCR containing a security tape. The value of cash and checks was estimated to be $11,350. During the course of the robbery, Reneau shot Kriss once in the face. Wood and Reneau fled to Wood’s parents’ home in Devine, Texas, where they attempted to open the safe with a sledge hammer and blow torch. Wood’s sixteen-year-old brother, Jonathan Wood, asked how they had obtained the safe, and Wood explained that they had robbed the service station and killed the attendant. When Jonathan expressed his disbelief that they had committed murder, Wood played the surveillance video showing Reneau shoot the victim. Then, pursuant to Wood’s instructions, Jonathan destroyed the video with a blow torch. Over Wood’s objection that the State had not laid the proper predicate, Jonathan testified at trial concerning the contents of the tape: "Daniel walked into the store with a small pistol – well, fairly large, but he walked in and he pointed the gun at the dude and said something. It was blurry. I couldn’t understand it, and the next thing I know was a shot and that the dude fell out of sight and he went around the back and then Jeff was out by the truck when the shot went off, but then he walked by the door… and looked through the glass and then he went in and he looked over the counter and after that he went back, too, and he just cut it off." Both were arrested within 24 hours. Wood led police to the murder weapon, which Reneau said had been taken by Wood in an earlier burglary. "I ended up giving a confession," Reneau said from death row. He did not testify at his trial. "I don’t think it would have made any difference," he said. A jury took 15 minutes before returning with its guilty verdict for Reneau who said he thought at the time of the crime only treason or trying to kill the president or something similar would make one eligible for the death penalty. He thought Wood, for example, would end up with only about a five-year sentence. Reneau was executed for this crime in June of 2002. Reneau and Wood were tied to several previous burglaries where several guns were taken although Reneau denied any participation. While in jail, authorities learned the two were working on a plan to break out by killing a jailer. UPDATE: A federal judge has granted a request to delay the execution of condemned inmate Jeffery Wood, granting a request by Wood’s attorneys to give them time to hire a mental health expert to pursue their arguments that he is incompetent to be executed.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 21, 2008 Oklahoma Joseph Sutton Kevin Young commuted

This case arose from a shooting during an attempted robbery at the Charles Steak House in Oklahoma City in the early morning hours of May 14, 1996, where Joseph Sutton ran a gambling operation in a back room. Sometime after midnight on May 14, 1996, two African-American men, armed with guns, entered the Charles Steak House, and walked into the gaming room. Karl Robinson testified the taller man said "all you SOBs are going to die." George Edwards heard the same man say he was going to kill everyone. When Edwards saw the taller man pull a gun, Edwards grabbed the gun and held it in the air while the taller man fired it repeatedly until the gun was emptied. At this same time, the shorter of the two men pulled his gun, pointed it in the air and said "we come for the money." Joseph Sutton threw something on the floor, pulled his own gun, pointed it at the shorter man and tried to fire it, but a bullet was not chambered and the gun did not fire. The shorter man then fired on Sutton. Sutton was shot four times and died as a result of a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Quintin Battle, who was in between Sutton and the shorter gunman, was shot twice during the gunfire. Battle testified he dropped to the floor when the shooting began, because he feared he would be shot and killed. George Edwards suffered powder burns on his arms and face while struggling with the taller gunman. Both gunmen ran from the Charles Steak House after the shooting. One ran down North Lottie, away from the restaurant, holding his arm. Within minutes of the shooting, Kevin Young arrived at Presbyterian Hospital emergency room with three gunshot wounds. He told emergency personnel his name was "Roy Brown." He had a bullet in his left chest, another bullet wound to his right thigh, and a third grazing wound to his right shoulder. Hospital personnel reported the gunshot victim to the police. Officer Cook, who was responding to the Charles Steak House shooting, heard dispatch report a gunshot victim at Presbyterian Hospital. He went to the hospital and asked "Roy Brown" if he was at the Charles Steak House. Young told officer Cook he had not been there and said he was shot near a 7-11 convenience store and an Autozone store. Young told officer Cook he rode a bus to the hospital and did not know where he was shot because he was from out of state. Officer Cook testified he knew Metro Transit buses did not operate after midnight and he suspected "Roy Brown" had in fact been involved in the Charles Steak House shooting. He contacted officers at the shooting scene and asked if any witnesses there could identify the shooter. Young also spoke with Officer Smith at the hospital and gave him a different date of birth than he gave officer Cook. He told officer Smith he was shot near a 7-11 convenience store and an Autozone store, but said he did not know how he got to the hospital. Within 30 minutes of the shooting, Karl Robinson and Ben Griffin were brought separately to the hospital to see if they could identify the person in the emergency room. Karl Robinson saw Young lying on a gurney. Robinson was unsure whether Young was one of the gunmen until he saw Young’s shirt on the floor. He told the officers the shirt looked the same. Robinson was unable to identify Young at the preliminary hearing, but positively identified Young at trial. Ben Griffin thought Young was one of the shooters and asked to see the shirt he was wearing. After he saw the shirt, he too affirmatively identified Young as one of the shooters. Griffin could not identify Young at preliminary hearing and did not try to identify him at trial. No weapons were recovered at the scene of the shooting. However, a.38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver containing six spent shell casings was found in a trash can about two blocks from Presbyterian Hospital. The woman who found the gun heard someone drop it in her curbside garbage can around 12:30 a.m. on May 14, 1996. Joseph Sutton’s Sphinx.380 semiautomatic pistol was given to police officers by the owner of the restaurant a couple of days after the shooting. The owner obtained the gun from the restaurant manager who had hidden the gun and taken Joseph Sutton’s wallet and money from his pockets immediately after the shooting. Police officers also recovered a.9mm handgun and $500.00 from a van belonging to Ben Griffin. Ballistics and firearms testing were done on the recovered weapons, projectiles and casings found at the scene and recovered from Joseph Sutton. Four full metal jacket bullets recovered from the shooting scene were.380 caliber and were determined to have been fired from Joseph Sutton’s gun. Eight.380 caliber auto fired casings were found to be consistent with having been fired from Joseph Sutton’s gun. Two lead projectiles found at the scene had insufficient markings for ballistics comparison. Two copper jacket projectiles could not have been fired from any gun recovered. One projectile found at the scene was consistent with having been fired from the.38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver that was found in the trash can. Two bullets recovered from Joseph Sutton were consistent with having been fired from the.38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. All six casings found in the.38 caliber Smith and Wesson were positively identified as having been fired from that gun. Blood samples were collected from the shooting scene and were also taken from Joseph Sutton, Quintin Battle, the codefendant Antwuan Jackson, and from Young. Of three blood swabbings collected from the scene, one positively matched Joseph Sutton’s blood sample, another did not match any known sample, and the third positively matched Young’s blood sample. DNA testing confirmed a positive match of the blood sample collected from the shooting scene with Young’s blood sample. Two DNA forensic chemists testified to the positive match, and one estimated the combined probability results of a match would occur in the African-American population only one in one hundred thirty-two million times (1:132,000,000). Around 6:30 a.m. on May 14, Young was released to Oklahoma City police custody. A bullet remained in his back left side, below his shoulder blades. Over a year later, Young saw the county jail doctor complaining of pain and drainage from where the bullet was embedded. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, but Young never returned to have the bullet removed. Dr. Jett, a surgeon, saw Young about four weeks later for the purpose of removing the bullet, and determined the bullet was no longer there. Dr. Jett testified a fresh wound was present where the bullet should have been. On May 22, 1996, Young and his co-defendant, Antwuan David Jackson, were each charged with Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Robbery with Firearms, and Shooting with Intent To Kill. Young and Jackson were tried separately, and Jackson was acquitted on all counts. A jury convicted Young on all three counts. During the second stage of the trial, the state sought the death penalty based on three aggravating factors: (1) Young had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to a person; (2) There was a strong probability that Young would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society; and (3) Young knowingly engaged in conduct that posed a great risk of death to multiple persons. Young stipulated that in 1991 he was convicted in California state court of shooting into an occupied vehicle, second degree robbery, and assault with a firearm. In support of the aggravating factors, the state relied on evidence it presented during the guilt stage of the trial, and presented a letter read by the victim’s daughter as victim impact evidence. Young presented three witnesses in mitigation. Fredrick Smith, a record keeper for the county jail, testified that no disciplinary reports had been filed against Young during his two years of incarceration. Smith admitted, however, that he had never had any personal contact with Young, nor spoken with anyone who had. Next, Dr. Phillip Murphy testified that, based on tests he conducted on Young and his personal examination of the defendant, it was his opinion that Young did not pose a continuing threat to society if he remained in a structured prison environment. Finally, Young’s sister, Linda McZeal, testified that Young had lived with her for most of his childhood, and that during that time he was an intelligent, caring, helpful, and well-behaved child. McZeal testified that after he left her home his problems began, and he started to run afoul of the law. The jury found unanimously that all three aggravating circumstances were present, and, after weighing them against the mitigating circumstances, recommended a death sentence on Count One. The jury also recommended sentencing Young to 20 years’ imprisonment and 30 years’ imprisonment for Counts Two and Three, respectively. The trial court adopted the jury’s recommendations in full, and ordered that both terms of imprisonment would run consecutively to Count One. In July 2008, Kevin Young was granted a 30-day stay of execution so the governor can hear arguments for and against his death sentence. UPDATE: Gov. Brad Henry approved clemency for death row inmate Kevin Young. The governor commuted his sentence to life without the possibility of parole as recommended by the state Pardon and Parole Board. “This was a very difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly,” Henry said. “I am always reluctant to intervene in a capital case, and I am very respectful of a jury’s verdict, the prosecutors who tried the case and the victim’s family who suffered because of the crime. However, after reviewing all of the evidence and hearing from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, I decided the Pardon and Parole Board made a proper recommendation to provide clemency and commute the death sentence,” Henry said. The Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Young. In testimony presented at the board’s clemency hearing, Young’s attorneys argued the shooting was not premeditated and did not merit a capital sentence. They said their client turned down a plea agreement in his original trial that would have given him a life sentence. Before making his decision, the governor reviewed Young’s case and personally interviewed both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 27, 2008 Missouri Richard Drummond, 47
Joseph Babcock, 47
Charlene Babcock, 38
Wendell Howell
Paul J. Hines, 31
unnamed female victim
Dennis Skillicorn stayed

On August 24, 1994, Dennis Skillicorn, Allen L. Nicklasson, and Tim DeGraffenreid headed east from Kansas City to obtain illegal drugs. On August 23, 1994, during their return trip to Kansas City, the 1983 Chevrolet Caprice in which they were traveling broke down twenty-two miles east of the Kingdom City exit on I-70. An offer of assistance by a state trooper was refused. The following day, the trio had progressed only 17 miles to the JJ overpass approximately 5 miles east of Kingdom City. They burglarized a nearby home, stole some guns and money, and used the stolen money to pay for a tow to Kingdom City. A garage in Kingdom City was unable to repair the Caprice’s extensive mechanical problems. The trio then drove the car back east toward the site of their earlier robbery. They stalled again on the south outer road east of Kingdom City. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Richard Drummond, a technical support supervisor for AT&T, saw the stranded motorists, stopped, and offered to take them to use a phone. He was driving a white, 1994 Dodge Intrepid, company car. Skillicorn and Allen Nicklasson were both armed. They loaded the booty from the Smith burglary into the trunk of Drummond’s car. While Nicklasson held a gun to his head, Skillicorn asked Drummond, a married father of three, some questions in order to calm him down, including whether Drummond’s "old lady" was going to miss him. As Drummond drove east, Skillicorn "got to thinking… if we let this guy off, he’s got this car phone." So they disabled the car phone. Skillicorn stated that he later determined they would have to "lose" Drummond in the woods. At some point during this time, Nicklasson and Skillicorn discussed what they should do with Drummond. Skillicorn, in his sworn statement, claimed that Nicklasson said "he was going to, you know, do something to this guy. I tell him – you know, now, we’re trying to talk on the pretenses that – that, uh, this guy in the front seat don’t hear us too. Right? Right. ‘Cause, uh, I didn’t want him panicking." They directed Drummond to exit I-70 at the Highway T exit just east of Higginsville. They proceeded four miles onto County Road 202 to a secluded area where they ordered Drummond to stop his vehicle. As Nicklasson prepared to take Drummond through a field toward a wooded area, Skillicorn demanded Drummond’s wallet. Knowing Nicklasson had no rope or other means by which to restrain Mr. Drummond and that Nicklasson carried a loaded.22 caliber pistol, Skillicorn watched as Nicklasson lead Mr. Drummond toward a wooded area. There, Nicklasson told Richard Drummond to say a prayer and shot him twice in the head. Skillicorn acknowledged hearing two shots from the woods and that Nicklasson returned having "already done what he had to do." Drummond’s remains were found eight days later. Skillicorn and Nicklasson fled the state after Drummond’s slaying. They committed a string of house burglaries along the way, and attempted to steal a woman’s purse at a grocery store in California. The jury heard audiotape of Skillicorn’s confession to the FBI in San Diego, in which he recounted the following crimes. Three days after Richard Drummond’s murder, the car they stole from him became stuck in the sand near Kingman, Arizona. The two men approached the house of Joseph Babcock, 47, and Charlene Babcock, 38. As in the case of RIchard Drummond’s murder, Mr. and Mrs. Babcock offered assistance to Skillicorn and Nicklasson and they were murdered. After Joseph Babcock attempted unsuccessfully to pull Richard Drummond’s company car out of the sand, Nicklasson shot and killed him. Skillicorn and Nicklasson then returned to the Babcock home in Joseph Babcock’s truck, where Nicklasson killed Charlene Babcock in a similar fashion. Later, while in Mexico, Skillicorn pulled his handgun on a woman operating a diner where the two men were eating. Unfortunately, the woman did not understand Skillicorn’s demands for money. Nicklasson then shot and killed the woman. After returning to the United States, Skillicorn and Nicklasson were captured. In 1998, Skillicorn pleaded guilty to those murders. Skillicorn also was involved in the murder of Paul J. Hines outside a truck stop in Elko, Nevada. Skillicorn also discussed with police the murder of the woman in Mexico, but this case has not resulted in charges. Additionally, in 1980, Skillicorn had been convicted of second degree murder in the death of Wendell Howell. He served 13 years for that killing and was on parole. UPDATE: On August 20, the Missouri Supreme Court issue a stay because of Skillicorn’s claim that his federally-appointed clemency attorney has not had enough time to prepare a thorough clemency petition to send to the governor. Another execution date would have to be set at least 30 days from the August 27 date.

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