July 2008 Executions

Seven killers were executed in July 2008. They had murdered at least 9 people.
killers were given a stay in July 2008. They have murdered at least 25 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 1, 2008 Florida Junny Rios-Martinez, 11 Mark Schwab executed

Click for larger image - Junny Rios-MartinezEarly in March 1991 Mark Dean Schwab was released from prison after serving three and one-half years of an eight-year sentence for committing sexual battery on a thirteen-year-old boy. In the middle of March a picture of eleven-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez appeared in a local newspaper. Several days later Schwab called the Rios-Martinez home, pretended to be a reporter, and claimed that he wanted to write an article on Junny. Schwab ingratiated himself with the family over the next several weeks, eventually claiming that he could get Junny a contract to represent a surfing company. After school on April 18, 1991, a classmate saw Junny at a little league ball field and saw him get into a U-haul truck with a tall man. Two days later Schwab was in Ohio and called his aunt. He told her that someone named "Donald" had forced him to kidnap and rape the child or else Donald would kill Schwab’s mother. On April 21 the police went to the aunt’s home, and, when Schwab called while they were there, she allowed them to record the call. She also gave the officers permission to tap her telephone, and, when Schwab called later that evening, they traced the call and arrested him in a nearby town. Besides the recorded statements to his aunt, Schwab also gave statements to Sergeant Blubaugh, a Cocoa policeman, who flew to Ohio with assistant state attorney Chris White. The day after his arrest, Schwab, Blubaugh, and White flew back to Florida. Back in Brevard County Schwab eventually indicated where the victim’s body could be found. The police then found the body in a rural, undeveloped area of the county, stuffed into a footlocker. The state indicted Schwab for first-degree premeditated murder, sexual battery of a child, and kidnapping. Schwab waived a jury, and, after a week-long trial, the judge convicted him as charged. Following the penalty proceeding, the judge sentenced him to death. The case prompted Florida’s Junny Rios-Martinez Act of 1992, which prohibits sex offenders from early release from prison or getting credit for good behavior. UPDATE: On July 1, 2008, Florida carried out the execution of Mark Dean Schwab, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 11-year-old boy. Schwab died at 6:15 p.m. "We should all be so lucky when it’s our time," said Junny’s father, also named Junny, after Schwab’s execution. "You have no idea how hard it was for me not to get up and pound on that glass, just to make sure that he knew we were there, but he knew we were there. Let’s just imagine for a second that it wasn’t my son, that it was your son. I am sure that the victim did not die as peacefully as he did today. The torture, the last few minutes of his life, were nothing like this, nothing. And there are people that have supported us that realize that, and there’s other people that want to cover the sun with their hands, they don’t see that. All this outcry, all these bleeding hearts for this pervert." Junny’s mother spoke at length following Schwab’s execution. "I just want you to know that that was the most peaceful passing that I have ever been to. I only wish that I would know that my son had passed as peacefully as well," said Vicki Rios-Martinez . "I am not here today to rejoice in a death, nor do I feel the need to justify our presence here, as this ending represents a new beginning for us. Seventeen years is way too long to wait for justice and without justice, there is no closure. Closure is a time when we finally can close the door to the past, to the hell we have lived through, and begin recreating our heaven on earth. I can identify with the right-to-lifers who are here to protest. Before Junny’s death, I did not believe in the death penalty. Then for me, the shoe was put on the other foot. I viewed life from a whole new perspective. Evil came to live in my heaven. Humanity had taken one of its own, not on TV, or in the movies, not in some other town or state or country, but in my own home, right underneath my eyes. This human became inhumane. He had been caught and convicted of his evil ways. He was given not one, but two life sentences, only to receive a second chance instead. Upon his release, he chose to continue his evil ways. He preyed on the innocent with his lies. He chose his next victim with intent. He chose to violate his probation, knowing that if he got caught, the consequence would be to serve every single day of his two life sentences. So to avoid jail, he plotted and planned Junny’s torture and demise. I believe that we as humans can choose to be evil, and that is the life Schwab chose for himself. He has come full circle; he has lived. Now his drama is finished. His reign of evil has come to an end. The universe has brought about balance, justice and the law of consequence. I have closure."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 10, 2008 Texas Carlton Turner, Sr.
Tonya Turner
Carlton Turner, Jr. executed

On 8/8/98, in Irving, Texas, Carlton Akee Turner, Jr. fatally shot his adoptive parents. The 19-year-old shot and killed his parents in their home and put their bodies in the garage. After this, Turner took their jewelry and went shopping with his parents’ cash and credit cards and a check forged on their account. The Turners’ co-workers became alarmed when they had not seen or heard from them in several days. Irving Police obtained a search warrant for the family’s residence and they discovered both victims in the garage, deceased. Both Carlton Sr. and Tonya Turner died of gunshot wounds. Turner testified at trial that he shot his father in self-defense. This self-defense theory contradicted his 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. 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. UPDATE: As a final statement before his execution, Turner apologized for killing his adoptive parents a decade ago at their suburban Dallas home. "I’ve been sorry for the last 10 years for what I did. I wish you could accept my apology," he said to an uncle who watched impassively through a window. "I know you can’t give your forgiveness. It’s okay and I understand." Turner said he hoped his family could come to terms with what he did. "I accept responsibility as a man. I take this penalty as a man. I am sorry."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 10, 2008 Virginia Beulah Mae Kaiser, 79 Kent Jackson executed

BeulahMaeKaiser smallOn April 18, 2000, the body of Beulah Mae Kaiser, 79 years of age, was found in her apartment. According to the medical examiner, Mrs. Kaiser died from a combination of a stab wound to her jugular vein, a fractured skull, and asphyxia caused by blockage of her airway by her tongue. Any one of these injuries could have been fatal. In addition to these injuries, Mrs. Kaiser suffered two black eyes, a broken nose, and multiple abrasions, lacerations, and bruises. She had five stab wounds to her head and neck, including the wound to her jugular vein. The medical examiner also testified that Mrs. Kaiser had been anally sodomized with her walking cane and that the cane then had been driven into her mouth with such violence that it knocked out most of her teeth, tore her tongue and forced it into her airway, fractured her jaw, and penetrated the left side of her face. When Mrs. Kaiser’s body was found, her apartment was in disarray. Personal items were strewn throughout the apartment, blood spatters were on the surfaces of the apartment, and the contents of Mrs. Kaiser’s purse had been dumped on the floor. The police were unable, however, to find a weapon or any fingerprints of value. The crime went unsolved for over 16 months until DNA testing of saliva on a cigarette butt found in the apartment implicated an individual named Cary Gaskins. An interview with Gaskins led the police to Joseph M. Dorsett and Kent Jermaine Jackson, who had been roommates in an apartment across the hall from Mrs. Kaiser’s apartment at the time of her death. Following an interview with Dorsett, Newport News police arrested Dorsett, charging him with Mrs. Kaiser’s murder, and obtained a warrant for Jackson’s arrest. Police arrested Jackson at a girlfriend’s home in King George County around 4:00 a.m. on August 29, 2001. During an interview with Newport News police detectives at the King George County jail that afternoon, Jackson confessed to the murder of Mrs. Kaiser. On January 14, 2002, Jackson was indicted by a Newport News grand jury for the capital murder of Beulah Mae Kaiser in the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery, robbery, felony stabbing, statutory burglary, and object sexual penetration.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 14, 2008 Illinois Terrance Hanson, 57
Mary Hanson, 55
Kate Hanson-Tsao, 31
Jimmy Tsao, 34
Eric Hanson stayed

In 1993, Eric Hanson threatened to kill his sister Kate after the two had an argument. In her statement to police, Kate told of her brother’s anger over being told to leave the family’s Minnesota home at her parents’ request. She wrote that her brother grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the ground and placed a kitchen knife to her throat. Holding the knife to her throat, he said: "I might as well kill you because as soon as my probation officer finds out, I’ll be sent away anyway. I can cover it up. No one will know." Twelve years later, Hanson killed his sister, about two months after he threatened to do so if she told their parents of his credit-card fraud. He also murdered their parents and Kate’s husband. On the evening of September 28, 2005, Hanson broke into his sister’s home in Aurora, Illinois and bludgeoned her and her husband Jimmy to death. Kate had discovered that Hanson had stolen around $80,000 from his parents through credit-card fraud, forgery, identity theft and mail fraud. Kate planned to tell their father about the theft. After killing the Tsaos, Hanson drove to the home of his parents in Naperville, shot Terry and Mary Hanson in their heads while they slept, then took their bodies to the Tsao home. Police found a pair of gloves and a wristwatch that had Terry Hanson’s blood on them in Hanson’s car on October 1, 2005. Analysis of the GPS system in Hanson’s car showed that Hanson had gone shopping the day after committing the murders. He then returned to his parent’s home and then went to the airport. Hanson had booked a flight to Los Angeles that morning, intending to visit his ex-fiancĂ©e. A friend contacted Hanson in Los Angeles and told him of the deaths of his family members. The friend reported that Hanson had expressed surprise that authorities had gone to his sister’s home. Hanson was arrested the next morning shortly after returning to Illinois. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 14, 2008 Nevada Holly Jean Quick, 16 Tamir Hamilton stayed

Holly jean QuickTamir Hamilton was sentenced to death plus 2 consecutive life prison terms for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Holly Quick. Hamilton was a friend of Holly’s older sister and went to her house one night while Holly’s mother was out on an errand. She returned and went to bed, not realizing that Hamilton was in the house. She found Holly in her bed the next morning, with her throat slashed. Hamilton had been asked to be a pallbearer at Holly’s funeral, but was arrested before the funeral. In March 2008, a jury found Hamilton guilty and sentenced him to death after confirming four aggravating factors: he had two previous felony convictions involving violence, he tortured or mutilated the victim and he killed her during a sexual assault. In 2000, Hamilton was charged with murder and robbery in Clark County. He pled guilty to one count of robbery and battery with a deadly weapon, but the murder charges were dropped. While awaiting trial on the Quick murder, Hamilton was convicted and sentenced to life with parole possible after 10 years for raping a University of Nevada, Reno student weeks before Quick, a Spanish Springs High School student, was killed. That rape had remained unsolved until he was arrested for murder and his DNA matched the unsolved crime. The victim was attacked from behind as she opened the door to her brother’s apartment. Quick’s mother, Patricia Doss, and sister, Jhana Williams, cried with their arms wrapped around each other after the verdict was read, while the victim’s father, Tom Quick, closed his eyes as tears rolled down his cheeks. In a joint statement, the family praised the jury, prosecutor Luke Prengaman, police and the community. "We would like to express our profound relief at the closing of this chapter of this tragedy," the family said. "The matter of justice has been settled." Mike Glenn, Quick’s uncle, said the family was satisfied justice was served. "But even if they execute him, there will never be closure," Glenn said. "Nothing’s going to fix it. The facts of a person getting the death penalty and the time frame it takes to kill them is extensive and long," said Glenn. "But the incarceration level of someone on a death sentence is much different than somebody in general population. I would prefer his stay to be under those conditions myself." There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 15, 2008 Louisiana Billy Lambert, 50
Carol Hooper, 54
Maureen Kelley, 37
Nicholas Kelley, 10 months
Darrell Robinson stayed

Darrell Robinson was convicted in 2001 for murdering four people in the Poland, Louisiana community in 1996. Robinson was found guilty in 2001 in state district court in Alexandria by a jury composed of St. Landry Parish residents for killing Billy Lambert, 50; Carol Hooper, 54; Hooper’s daughter, Maureen Kelley, 37; and Kelley’s 10-month-old son, Nicholas Kelley. Robinson was sentenced to death by lethal injection on April 9, 2001. The bodies of the victims were found in the living room of Lambert’s home in Poland, where Robinson had been staying. Lambert had been shot in the left eye; Hooper once in the left eye; Kelley in the left cheek; the 10-month-old in the top of the head. The murder weapon was never found. Authorities suspect it was a.38-caliber revolver that Lambert’s relatives said he kept in his bedroom that was never recovered. Lambert and Robinson met in a treatment session for alcoholism. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 15, 2008 Louisiana Ronald Williams
Ha Vu
Cuong Vu
Antoinette Frank stayed

On March 4, 1995, Antoinette Frank, then an officer with the New Orleans Police Department, and Rogers Lacaze were arrested and charged with three counts of first degree murder for the deaths of Ronald Williams, Ha Vu, and Cuong Vu. The murders occurred in the early morning hours at the Kim Anh Restaurant in New Orleans East. The Vu family owned the restaurant, and Ronald Williams was an off-duty police officer performing security detail that evening at the restaurant. Frank had occasionally worked at the restaurant as a security guard and was familiar with the Vu family and Ronald Williams. She and Lacaze visited the restaurant several times on the night of the murders. As the restaurant was closing early that morning, Chau Vu, sister of two of the victims, went into the kitchen to count money. She reentered the dining room of the restaurant to pay Ronald Williams, when she noticed Frank approaching the restaurant yet again. Sensing something was wrong, Chau Vu ran back to the kitchen and hid the money in the microwave before returning to the front of the restaurant. Using a stolen key, Frank entered the restaurant and began to walk quickly to the back of the building, pushing Chau, one of Chau’s brothers, Quoc, and a restaurant employee along with her. Shots rang out, and Frank ran back to the front of the restaurant. Chau, Quoc, and the employee hid in a cooler in the kitchen, concerned because they did not know the whereabouts of Chau’s and Quoc’s sister and brother, Ha and Cuong. From inside the cooler, Chau and Quoc could partially see the front of the restaurant. Chau initially could see Frank, who appeared to be looking for something. Frank moved out of Chau’s line of vision, and then the three hiding heard additional gunshots. Quoc next observed Frank searching in the area where the Vus usually kept their money. He then saw her walk over to the area where he later found the bodies of his brother and sister, and he heard more gunshots. After Frank and Rogers Lacaze left the premises, Quoc emerged from the cooler and called 911 to report the murders. After police officers arrived on the scene, Frank returned to the restaurant as well. She approached Chau, asking her what happened. Chau found another officer and reported what she had witnessed. After Chau was interviewed in more detail, Antoinette Frank and Rogers Lacaze were arrested and charged with first degree murder. Frank and Lacaze were indicted by an Orleans Parish Grand Jury on April 28, 1995. Their trials were severed, and Rogers Lacaze was tried first on July 17-21, 1995, found guilty as charged, and sentenced to death. Frank’s trial began on September 5, 1995, and on September 12, 1995, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts and recommended a sentence of death as to all counts. Frank was formally sentenced to death on October 20, 1995. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 22, 2008 Texas Bob G. Tate, 51
Ronald Mayes, 39
Philip Good, 29
Jerry Mac Brown, 52
Lester Bower stayed

Bobby Tate, Philip Good, Ronald Mayes, and Jerry Brown were shot in an ultralight hangar in Grayson County, Texas, on October 8, 1983. Law enforcement officers learned that Tate had been trying to sell an ultralight airplane and that Good was helping him find a buyer. By investigating phone calls made to Good, the authorities located Lester Bower, who had responded to Good’s advertisement. In response to questioning by the FBI, Bower denied having met Good or Tate and denied purchasing the ultralight airplane. After a search of Bower’s home uncovered pieces of Tate’s ultralight, Bower was arrested. The trial began on April 11,1984.2 On April 28, 1984, Bower was convicted and sentenced to death. UPDATE: The execution of Lester Bower has been stayed. District Judge Jim Fallon has withdrawn the death warrant, while lawyers argue about DNA testing of evidence. District Attorney Joe Brown says this does not mean Bower will not be executed. If the judge denies the DNA request, or if DNA testing is done and nothing new is found, then the execution will be re-scheduled.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 22, 2008 Oklahoma Joseph Sutton Kevin Young pending

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, 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 (malice aforethought), 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. UPDATE: Kevin Young was granted a 30-day stay of execution so the governor can hear arguments for and against his death sentence.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 23, 2008 Mississippi Marcus James Gentry Dale Bishop executed

About 10:30 p.m. on the evening of December 10, 1998, Dale Leo Bishop, Mark Gentry, Jessie Johnson, Cory Johnson and Charlie Rakestraw went to Ricky Myhand and Rachel Dobbs’s apartment in Saltillo. Jessie, Bishop’s co-defendant, and Cory were brothers. After drinking a couple of beers, Jessie decided to go to a store for more beer and asked Myhand to go along. Gentry, who had driven his vehicle to Myhand’s apartment, drove Jessie, Bishop and Myhand to the store. Upon reaching their destination, they discovered that the store was closed, so Gentry turned around and headed back toward Myhand’s apartment. On the way back, Jessie, who was seated in the front passenger seat, asked Gentry why he "narced" or "ratted on" his little brother. Gentry denied doing so. Jessie said, "Yeah, you did," then reached down to the floorboard, grabbed a hammer and hit Gentry between the eyes. The car coasted to a stop and Gentry begged Jessie not to hit him again. Bishop, who was seated behind Gentry, grabbed Gentry in a headlock and hit him. While he was being held, Jessie struck Gentry in the head again with the hammer. Bishop and Jessie next made Gentry move over into the front passenger’s seat, and Jessie began driving. He turned off the road and went down a little field road. When Jessie stopped the vehicle, Gentry jumped out of the car and ran. Jessie told Bishop to catch him. In his statement given to the police, Bishop said Jessie was upset at Gentry for ratting on his brothers. As a result of the "ratting," Bishop believed that Jessie’s little brothers were charged with some serious crimes. "Mark Gentry had instigated his brothers’ getting about 9 or 10 counts of grand larceny and burglary." In his statement given to the police, Bishop, whose life-long vocation was being a carpenter, admitted the hammer belonged to him and went into some detail describing its characteristics. He stated that carpenter’s hammers normally used in Mississippi weighed 20 to 22 ounces. He stated, "The hammer owned by Bishop and used to hit Gentry is a 28 ounce Vaughn California framing straight claw." He indicated that his hammer was not available for purchase in Mississippi. When asked by the police about how he came about bringing a hammer with him when he went riding with Gentry, he admitted using a false pretense: BISHOP: Well, when the trip originally began, the excuse was that I was going to go work on my truck and I use the hammer to work on my truck. POLICE: Is that true? BISHOP: That’s just how we got the usage of the car to begin with. There is some discrepancy in the chain of events. In his statement, Bishop indicated that Jessie initially "decked Gentry with his hands." Then Bishop grabbed Gentry and Jessie hit him "probably just twice" with the hammer. After about five minutes Bishop came back with Gentry and forced him to get on his knees in front of the car. Bishop and Jessie began kicking Gentry. Jessie struck Gentry numerous times with the hammer. At one point Myhand was asked to hold Gentry while Bishop retrieved beers for himself and Jessie. In response, Myhand begged Jessie to stop. When they finished, Bishop had to dislodge the hammer from Gentry’s throat, and then he and Jessie drug Gentry into the bushes. While returning to Myhand’s apartment, Jessie and Bishop discussed finding a shovel with which to bury Gentry. At Myhand’s apartment, Jessie and Bishop washed off and changed into some clean clothes given to them by Myhand. When Bishop, Jessie, Cory and Rakestraw finally left the apartment, Myhand and Dobbs called the police. Myhand took the officers to the site of the murder, and Gentry’s body was recovered. Gentry’s car was there, and a shovel was found nearby. Bishop and Jessie apparently fled the scene when the police car pulled up. They hid out in the woods until they were apprehended on December 13, 1998. Steven Hayne, M.D., a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Mark Gentry’s body, testified that there were 23 injuries to the head, neck and hand which were produced either by a blunt object with enough force to break or tear the skin, or with a sharp object such as the edge of a claw hammer. These injuries did not include bruises or scrapes which could have been produced from being kicked. Injuries to the hands, forearms and fingers were consistent with defensive posturing by Gentry. According to Dr. Hayne, "Mr. Gentry died from cranial cerebral trauma, secondary to blunt force trauma to the head, and he also died from lacerations, tears of the voice box, with aspiration of blood." UPDATE: The family of Marcus James Gentry issued this statement after the execution of Dale Leo Bishop: "The family came today with many mixed emotions. With all the media attention and all the appeals, we were just not sure what to expect. We had to relive all the memories and emotions from that December. The pain and loss that this man put upon us will never be forgotten. We lost Mark – not by chance, but by the choice of two ungodly men. Unlike Mark, Dale had a chance to see his family and say goodbye. His family will be in our prayers because we know what it is like to live with that emptiness. This man who knowingly and intentionally helped beat to death and took another life with his own hands was punished the way that was intended, and whether or not people believe in the death penalty, until you stand in our shoes and feel our pain, the loss of someone you love being ripped away, do not judge. A small piece of justice has been served here today. It does not correct the injustice that happened to Mark, but it is the law, and it was carried out as it should have been." Gentry’s mother, Kathy Gentry, and uncle, Gerald Gentry, witnessed the execution.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 23, 2008 Texas Melody Flowers, 27
Patrick Flowers, 2
Derrick Sonnier executed

Derrick J. Sonnier, a Louisiana native, was sentenced to death for the 1991 rape and murder of a mother of five children, Melody Flowers, 27, and the stabbing death of her two-year-old son, Patrick. Sonnier had a prior execution date of Feb. 26, 2008, which was set aside pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the lethal injection process. During his trial in 1993, evidence showed that Sonnier raped then beat Melody with a claw hammer until the handle broke off, strangled and then stabbed her with a kitchen knife. He dumped Melody’s body in her bathtub. After he killed the toddler, Patrick, by stabbing him to death, Sonnier tossed his body atop his mother’s in the bloody bath water. Melody Flowers was a neighbor of Sonnier. Sonnier lived in an apartment with his girlfriend two doors from the Flowers apartment. Prior to her death, the evidence shows that Sonnier, on more than one occasion, intruded into her apartment without her knowledge or consent and scared her. Upon doing so, he would laugh and taunt her for her fear. The precise cause of Melody Flowers’s death is unknown; it could have been from any of the four injuries she endured: (1) the bludgeoning with a hammer upon her head; (2) the asphyxia due to manual and ligature strangulation; (3) the stomping upon her chest and neck; (4) or the two stabbings to her chest. Patrick Flowers, the child victim, died from being stabbed twice in the chest, one of which penetrated his heart; he was thereafter submerged in a bathtub. Jurors learned that Sonnier stalked Melody Flowers for two years before the killings. From a Houston Chronicle article published on May 25, 2008: It was midnight, but Melody Flowers had to get something off her chest. The single mother of five woke her eldest. "If something should ever happen to me," she whispered to 8-year-old Tameka, "I want you to know that I will always love you all. I want you to be there for your brothers and sisters. Even if you are not able to see me, I’m still with you all." The next afternoon, the 27-year-old Flowers was dead. She had been bludgeoned with a claw hammer, raped, strangled and stabbed. Her body was dumped in the partially filled bathtub of her Humble apartment. The lifeless body of her toddler, Patrick, also stabbed, lay on top of her. For her surviving children, the years that followed were cruel. She was the only one who showered them with love. Without it, they felt as though they were little more than burdens. Now, 17 years later, memories of the horrific murders and the years that followed came to the fore with word that their mother’s killer would be executed. Derrick Sonnier, who authorities said stalked Flowers for months, was convicted of the Sept. 16, 1991, murders and sentenced to die. On June 3, the 40-year-old will be the first in Texas to be executed since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injections last month. He initially was set to enter Texas’ death house on Feb. 26, but Harris County prosecutors voluntarily set aside the date to await the high court’s ruling. Sonnier has declined interview requests. During his trial, Sonnier claimed authorities had the wrong man. He told police he had been alone in his apartment. Tameka Traylor, 25, and Sebrina Flowers, 23, Melody Flowers’ daughters, plan to witness his execution in Huntsville. "He took everything from us," said Traylor, now a married mother of four. "Nothing will ever bring Melody and Patrick back or remove all the hurt and pain we had to endure. When he gave them the death sentence, he took the only person that loved us away from us… and my brother didn’t even have a chance to live his life." After the murders, the children lived apart for years while being raised by different family members. The youngest daughter, Morgan, spent most of her life in Lubbock with her father. She now is back in the Houston area. "We really don’t know anything about her," Traylor said, "because she was never around us growing up. She was taken from us." Through Traylor, Morgan and their brother, Reginald, declined to be interviewed for this story. During their upbringing, Traylor said, she and two of her siblings felt as though no one really cared what became of them. No one even made sure they went to school, she said. Melody Flowers’ three oldest children – Tameka, Sebrina and Reginald – first were sent to live with their grandparents, who already were raising two other grandchildren on a limited budget. When their grandparents became too frail to care for them, the trio, then in their early teens, was separated. Reginald and Sebrina Flowers were sent to live with their father, while Traylor, who had a different father, lived with an aunt. Later, Sebrina Flowers ran away from home to live with Traylor. In high school, Traylor said, she became sexually active out of a need to find love. She dropped out after becoming pregnant. Today, Flowers’ eldest children are raising their own families and remain close. The three rarely see their sister Morgan, who is about to graduate from high school. In 1991, it was Morgan’s cries that led authorities to the grisly murder scene. The 1-year-old was found wailing outside the family’s apartment, dressed in a bloodied diaper. Inside, police found overturned furniture and blood all over – an indication that Melody Flowers put up a fierce fight for her life. A broken hammer investigators said was used to deliver crushing blows to her head was found in the hallway. She had been strangled with a rope, and when that failed the killer used his hands. He also stomped on her throat and stabbed her twice in the chest. Patrick was stabbed eight times. He was 2 and had just learned to talk. Investigators suspected he was killed because he may have been able to identify their attacker. Sonnier was dating one of Melody Flowers’ close friends and lived just two doors away from her apartment. But for months, investigators said, he stalked Melody Flowers, sometimes slipping into her apartment when she was not home. One time she found him hiding in her bedroom closet. If their mother was afraid of Sonnier, she never let her children see it. "As children, all we do remember is them being friends," Traylor said. "We trusted them. Never in a million years would we think he could do something like that." The day of the murders, neighbors reported seeing Sonnier with a wounded hand wrapped in a bloody towel. When he answered his door, Sonnier’s first words to police were, "I didn’t hurt her." In his apartment, where Sonnier lived with his girlfriend, police found Melody Flowers’ bloody blouse and a blood-soaked towel that also belonged to her. Police later found a grocery bag stashed in a field near the complex that had his bloody socks, shoes, and other items that linked him to the crime. When Tameka, Sebrina, 7 at the time, and Reginald, who was 4, returned home from school, a neighbor kept them away from the crime scene until their grandparents arrived. The neighbor fed them corn dogs and gave them other snacks, but she kept escaping to her bedroom to use her telephone, Traylor remembers. "She didn’t want us to know at that time what had happened," Traylor said. Sebrina Flowers said that as she and her brother sat in a police car, he told her he had to eat all of his lollipop before Patrick came around. "Our grandparents took us to the scene, and I remember seeing the yellow tape around our patio door," Traylor said. "The first thing I did was start screaming for my mom. I tried to run, and I broke loose from whoever was holding me. One of the police officers grabbed me." Sebrina Flowers, now a mother of five, remembers seeing the covered bodies of her mother and brother being removed from the apartment. "They had already explained to us what happened," she said. The senselessness of the killings and the painful last moments of her mother’s life still weigh heavily on Traylor. She began seeing a counselor when she learned of Sonnier’s execution date. "To this day, it still hurts," she said. "Just having everything, being secure and happy and all that, just taken away from you for no reason at all." A few weeks ago, she wrote Sonnier a letter, telling him that although he robbed her and her siblings of a life with their mother and brother, they no longer were his victims. She told him she no longer felt hatred for him. Still, she and her sister want to hear him confess and apologize for the murders. "We had very, very hard lives growing up, and if my Mom were alive we wouldn’t have had to go through so much," Traylor said. "He needs to understand what he did and what he took from us." Melody Flowers’ children cling to their memories of her, of how she played with them, how she encouraged them to do well in school, and how she loved to make them spaghetti. The sisters said they are raising their own families as their mother would have raised them. "We still have our heads up, and we’re still moving forward," Traylor said. "Everything she placed in us when we were children we still carry that in us." Her mother kept her word. UPDATE: Sonnier was executed without giving a final statement.

Video by Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle.
Tamika Traylor, the daughter of Melody Flowers, reacts to the stay that was granted for Sonnier’s June 3, 2008 execution date. "He took everything from us," said Traylor, now a married mother of four. "Nothing will ever bring Melody and Patrick back or remove all the hurt and pain we had to endure. When he gave them the death sentence, he took the only person that loved us away from us… and my brother didn’t even have a chance to live his life."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 24, 2008 Virginia Ricky Lee Timbrook , 32 Edward Bell stayed

TimbrookOn 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. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 24, 2008 Virginia John Langley Christopher Emmett executed

In the early morning hours of April 27, 2001, Christopher Scott Emmett beat his sleeping coworker John Langley to death with the base of a brass motel room lamp in order to rob Langley and use his cash to buy crack cocaine. Weldon Roofing Company employed Emmett and Langley as laborers for its roofing crews. During late April 2001, both men were assigned to a project in the City of Danville and shared a room at a local motel where the roofing crew was staying. On the evening of April 26, 2001, Emmett, Langley, Michael Darryl Pittman, and other members of the roofing crew cooked dinner on a grill at the motel, played cards, and drank beer. During the course of the evening, Langley loaned money to Emmett and Pittman, who used the money to buy crack cocaine. At approximately 11:00 p.m. that evening, Rainey Bell, another member of the roofing crew, heard a noise he described as "bang, bang" coming from the room Emmett and Langley shared. Shortly after midnight, Emmett went to the motel office and asked the clerk to call the police, saying that he had returned to his room, "seen blood and stuff… and didn’t know what had took place." The police arrived at the motel at 12:46 a.m. on April 27, 2001 and accompanied Emmett back to his room. There they discovered Langley’s dead body lying face down on Langley’s bed beneath a comforter. Blood spatters were found on the sheets and headboard of Langley’s bed, on the wall behind it, and on the wall between the bathroom and Emmett’s bed. A damaged brass lamp stained with Langley’s blood was discovered beneath Langley’s bed. In his initial statement to police, Emmett denied killing Langley. He stated that he had returned to the room and gone to bed. Emmett claimed to have discovered the blood and Langley’s body later that night when he got up to use the bathroom. Observing what appeared to be bloodstains on Emmett’s personal effects, the police took possession of Emmett’s boots and clothing with his permission. Emmett suggested that the blood might be his own because he had injured himself earlier in the week. Subsequent testing, however, revealed that Emmett’s boots and clothing were stained with Langley’s blood. Later in the morning of April 27, Emmett voluntarily accompanied the police to the Danville police station. There he agreed to be fingerprinted and gave a sample of his blood. Emmett admitted to the police that he had been drinking and using cocaine on the previous evening. Over the course of the next several hours, Emmett related different versions of the events of the previous evening to the police. He first implicated Pittman as Langley’s murderer, but ultimately Emmett told the police that he alone had beaten Langley to death with the brass lamp. Emmett was given Miranda warnings and he gave a full, taped confession. Emmett stated that he and Pittman decided to rob Langley after Langley refused to loan them more money to buy additional cocaine. Emmett stated that he struck Langley five or six times with the brass lamp, took Langley’s wallet, and left the motel to buy cocaine. "Based upon the amount of blood and bruising of Langley’s brain tissue at the point of impact," the medical examiner opined that "Langley was not killed immediately by the first blow from the lamp, but might have been unconscious after the first blow was struck and may have suffered ‘brain death’ prior to actual death." At the conclusion of the guilt phase of Emmett’s trial, Emmett was convicted by a jury of the capital murder and robbery of Langley. At the separate sentencing hearing, the Commonwealth sought the death penalty based upon Virginia’s statutory aggravating factors of future dangerousness and of vileness based upon aggravated battery and depravity of mind. In support of the future dangerousness factor, the prosecutor presented Emmett’s prior criminal history, to the extent it could be determined. The prosecutor was unable to establish why Emmett was incarcerated as a juvenile. Emmett’s juvenile criminal record had been destroyed pursuant to North Carolina procedure, and defense counsel intentionally avoided opening the door to Emmett’s extensive juvenile criminal history. The history presented consisted of juvenile convictions for felonious larceny and for assault and battery arising from an incident in which Emmett, while incarcerated in a maximum-security juvenile detention facility, rushed a guard and locked him in a closet in order to escape. In addition, the prosecutor presented evidence of an adult conviction for involuntary manslaughter arising from an incident in which Emmett, while driving a van in the wrong direction and under the influence of alcohol, struck and killed a motorcyclist. Testimony was presented that the drunken Emmett was smiling after the driver was killed and told an officer "‘that there was no need to worry about the man on the motorcycle. He was already dead, and that he, (Emmett) could do nothing to help him.’" As noted by the state court, the evidence showed that Emmett lacked remorse for this earlier violent crime and for the current case of killing a coworker. Indeed, Emmett himself confessed that he killed Langley simply because it "just seemed right at the time." Such lack of regard for a human life speaks volumes on the issue of future dangerousness and leaves little doubt of its probability. In support of the vileness factor, the prosecutor highlighted to the jury the aggravated nature of the beating that Emmett inflicted upon his victim. As noted by the state court, Emmett’s actions demonstrated both aggravated battery and depravity of mind. Specifically, "the use of a blunt object to batter the skull of the victim repeatedly and with such force that blood spatters several feet from the victim is clearly both qualitatively and quantitatively more force than the minimum necessary to kill the victim." Additionally, "the evidence established that Emmett violently attacked a co-worker with whom he had apparently enjoyed an amicable relationship. The brutality of the crime amply demonstrates the depravity of mind involved in the murder of Langley."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 28, 2008 Arkansas Kevin Barkley Jones, 24
Kendall Rachell Rice, 24
Gregory Decay stayed

Gregory Decay was sentenced to death for the murders of Kevin Jones and Kendall Rice on April 3, 2007. Decay shot the couple in the face on April 3, 2007, after he confronted them in their home at Club at the Creek Apartments in Fayetteville. Decay’s attorneys said Decay thought Jones and Rice had broken into his apartment and stolen about 1. 5 ounces of marijuana and a gun. Decay told police he shot Jones because he was afraid he would take the gun from him and kill him. In a police interview videotaped April 6, 2007, Decay described shooting the couple. He said he shot Kevin once in the face, then walked toward Kendall, who was standing in a doorway, and shot her. Decay said that he then picked up one of the spent shell casings and wiped the doorknob before fleeing. Arkansas’ chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles Kokes, told the jury on Tuesday that the bullet never exited Kevin’s skull, and he died from brain trauma. Kokes said that Kendall could have faded in and out of consciousness for about 30 minutes before dying. Kendall was struck on the left side of her face. The bullet severed the carotid artery, Kokes said, so she likely lost consciousness almost instantly and died within a few minutes. Kendall Rice’s older sister Kinlee Sharp said her friends and family called Kendall “Ken-nine-all” from the time she was in kindergarten because she wrote her d’s upside down. She stood in the hallway and watched Decay walk out after being sentenced to death. Decay glanced at her as he passed. Vicki Rice, Kendall Rice’s mother, said after the recommendation that she was relieved. "It won’t bring my daughter back, but it’s justice," she said. Robbie Jones, Kevin’s father, told the jury that his son had been having trouble, but he was working to get his life back on track. He said his son spent the last minutes of his life trying to get to his girlfriend. Jones said that Kevin was born with a brain tumor and could have died during an operation. He worried about him dying in a car wreck when he started driving. But he can’t get over his son’s murder. “This one — this one has got me whipped,” Jones said. During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors showed pictures of Kevin Jones and Kendall Rice at various times in their lives, contrasting the images presented by crime scene photos shown earlier in the day. From an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette : Juror Mark Cunningham of Farmington said none of nine mitigating factors cited by Decay’s defense attorneys was strong enough to keep Decay from getting the death penalty. He said jurors were able to evaluate the evidence without being distracted by the "ramblings of lawyers." "When anyone goes into a room and point blank shoots someone in the head and then walks over and shoots his girlfriend in the head, there’s very little left to your imagination," said Cunningham, the Farmington fire chief. It was difficult for Cunningham to listen to the testimony of Austin Jones, the brother of Kevin Jones. Cunningham’s own brother died four months ago. "If you weren’t bothered by any of that, you don’t have a heart," Cunningham said. "When it comes down to doing your job as a juror, you have to put all of that behind you and look at the law and follow that. That’s how you come up with the decision like that. "No juror should hang his head and feel guilt at any means. That doesn’t say it doesn’t bother you." Juror Joseph R. Parker of Springdale wouldn’t say much about the jury’s discussions or how they decided on the death penalty. "It’s not something I’d want anyone else to have to go through," Parker said. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 30, 2008 Missouri Randy "Happy" Hamilton
Stacey Hodge
Alfred Pinegar
John Middleton stayed

On June 10, 1995, several drug dealers were arrested in Cainsville, Missouri. John A. Middleton, a drug dealer who was not arrested, worried informants would implicate him. That afternoon, Middleton told another individual there were "some snitches that should be taken care of," because Middleton did not want to return to prison. Middleton mentioned several names, including Randy "Happy" Hamilton. On June 11, Middleton and his girlfriend met Hamilton and Stacey Hodge, Hamilton’s girlfriend, on a gravel road. Middleton shot Hamilton in the back once with an SKS rifle and shot Hodge in the back three times. Middleton then killed Hamilton with a shot to the head. Middleton’s girlfriend killed Hodge with another SKS rifle by shooting Hodge in the head. Middleton and his girlfriend placed both bodies in the trunk of Hamilton’s car. Middleton drove Hamilton’s car, looking for a place to dispose of the bodies, with Middleton’s girlfriend following in a truck. While driving around in Hamilton’s car, Middleton encountered Danny Spurling. Middleton, covered in blood, told Spurling he had "taken care" of Hamilton. Middleton then asked Spurling for advice on what to do with the bodies. Middleton indicated he might burn the bodies in Hamilton’s old house. The next morning, Middleton gave Spurling the car stereo from Hamilton’s car and said "they were really going to freak out when they found those two." Middleton also showed Spurling a written list of names and asked if Spurling knew anyone on the list. About a week and a half later, Middleton told Richard Pardun "there was a narc around and they were going to take care of it." Middleton said he had a "hit list" and mentioned several names on it, including Hamilton, Alfred Pinegar, and William Worley. Middleton offered Pardun $3,500 to set up a meeting with Worley. On June 25, John Thomas and Middleton discussed informants at Middleton’s house. Middleton named several people who "needed to be taken care of," including Hamilton, Pinegar, and Worley. While at Middleton’s house, Thomas noticed two SKS rifles as well as a box belonging to Hamilton. When Thomas inquired about the box, Middleton replied "the guy who owned that box wouldn’t be needing it no more." Around the same time, Middleton visited Dennis Rickert in Iowa. Middleton told Rickert, "I’d knowed `Happy’ for 15 years. He knew enough to put me away for life. I done `Happy.’" Middleton then gave Rickert several guns, including two SKS rifles, which Rickert later turned over to the police. Pinegar was found murdered on June 26, 1995, and Middleton was arrested for Pinegar’s murder shortly thereafter. On July 10, Hamilton’s car was discovered abandoned in the woods. Hamilton’s and Hodge’s decomposed bodies were found in the trunk, and the car stereo was missing. Bullet fragments taken from Hodge’s body displayed class characteristics consistent with the SKS rifles Middleton gave to Rickert. While awaiting trial, Middleton confessed to fellow jail inmate Douglas Stallsworth, who testified Middleton described the murders, admitted killing Hamilton and Hodge because they were informants, and acknowledged hiding their bodies and taking the rifles to Iowa. Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Callaway County, Missouri, Middleton was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action. He was sentenced to death for each of the two murders and given consecutive ten-year sentences on the armed criminal action counts.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 31, 2008 Texas Michael Barrow Larry Davis executed

On August 28, 1995, an Amarillo police officer was dispatched to a house in reference to a report that a body had been found in a house. The victim, Michael Barrow, had been beaten and slashed about the throat. The crime scene investigation revealed shoe impressions left on the floors of the residence. It was theorized that there had been more than one assailant. In addition, it was determined that numerous items, such as jewelry, a television and other electronics had been taken from the residence. Interviews with the victim’s known friends revealed evidence which led to the arrest of two persons, Kristy Castillo and Donald Drew. These individuals were later indicted for the murder of Barrow, along with Davis. Further investigation into the case led to the arrest of Ray Drew, brother of Donald Drew. Ray Drew provided a written statement whereby he implicated himself and Davis in the murder and robbery of Barrow. Based upon the confession of Drew, Davis was arrested. Following his arrest, Davis provided a lengthy, detailed written confession to law enforcement. His statement implicated himself and the Drew brothers. Davis described the manner of the robbery which he and the Drew brothers carried out as well the beating and stabbing that Ray Drew inflicted on Barrow. Davis also described the taking of various items from the house and where these items were taken for storage. He also described efforts at selling the stolen items and the money realized from fencing the loot. Davis’s confession ran fourteen single-spaced pages. It did not contain a single reference to Kristy Castillo nor did it implicate Donald Drew as having participated in the actual murder of Barrow. Cynthia Green, Davis’s paramour during the relevant time span, described Davis’s appearance and state of mind on the night of Barrow’s murder. According to Green, Davis came home that night nervous. He had blood stains on his clothes. He also had a bruise on his forehead and scratches on his face. Later that day, Davis brought to Green’s residence items taken from the Barrow residence. Davis and Green pawned most of these items at a local pawn shop. Green later provided consent to the Amarillo Police Department to search her residence. The search of the Green residence turned up bloody clothing linked to the slaying. Green also testified at trial about a visitation she had with Davis at the Potter County Correctional Facility where Davis was incarcerated while awaiting trial. At that meeting, Davis, according to Green, allegedly made an admission to her that he had pinned the victim down while others committed the murder. Green was also permitted to testify that Davis was a known gang member. Davis’s written statement had confirmed that the murder of Barrow was gang-related. One of Davis’s co-defendants, Kristy Castillo, provided law enforcement with a written confession. This statement was read to the jury. It directly implicated Castillo, Donald Drew and two other individuals in the burglary of the Barrow residence, the resulting robbery of the victim and his murder. Castillo recounted in the statement that she held the knife with Drew as the victim’s throat was cut. Castillo also described the beating that the other actors inflicted on Barrow prior to the stabbing murder. Castillo also described the theft of many items from the Barrow residence. At no time in any portion of the written statement did Castillo ever mention Davis by name or implicate him in the burglary, robbery, theft of items or murder. Castillo did not testify live before the jury. A pathologist established that the victim had sustained multiple blunt force injuries to the skull. There was other blunt force trauma to the chest, sufficient to cause rupture of the heart. There were knife wounds to the body as a whole, particularly two sharp wounds to the neck. The hands displayed defensive wounds. Cause of death was multiple blunt force and sharp force injuries with massive internal injuries. A criminalist identified footprints left at the scene of the crime, more specifically on the floor and on the body of the victim, which were consistent with the prints lifted from tennis shoes identified by Cynthia Green as belonging to Davis. The guilt-innocence phase of the trial lasted six days. The essence of the defensive theory was that Davis had been recruited by Castillo and the Drew brothers to assist in the robbery of the victim and the fencing of the loot taken from the residence but that the original conspiracy to break into the victim’s home and kill him in order to carry out the burglary originated with Castillo and the Drew brothers only and that Davis could not be considered an accomplice to those acts. The defense final argument highlighted the irreconcilable inconsistencies between Davis’s confession and the physical evidence recovered from the crime scene. Defense final argument called for the jury to find Davis guilty of the lesser included offense of murder. Davis had an extensive criminal record prior to this murder. In February of 1992, Davis received a 2-year sentence for 1 count each of Possession of a Prohibited Weapon and Theft Over $750. In July of 1992, Davis was released on Parole. He was returned from Parole in August of 1993 and on 05/11/94 was released on Mandatory Supervision. Less than three months later, on July 1, 1994 Davis was returned from Parole with a new conviction, a 4-year sentence for 1 count of Theft. On May 3, 1995, Davis was again released on Mandatory supervision. Less than four months later, Larry Davis and his co-defendants, Raydon Drew, Donald Drew, Jr. and Christie Castillo committed the capital murder of Michael Barrow. UPDATE: Larry Donnell Davis was executed for the robbery and the stabbing and beating death of a man in Amarillo 13 years ago. In his final statement, Davis said, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. It is finished." Michael Barrow’s parents witnessed the execution but Davis did not speak to or acknowledge them.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 31, 2008 Alabama Troy "Junior" Wicker, 35
unnamed victim
Thomas Arthur stayed

Tommy Arthur, who is now in his mid-60s, was sentenced to death in February of 1982 for killing 35-year-old Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals. Troy’s wife, Judy Wicker, testified that she began a sexual relationship with Arthur after he committed to killing her husband and that she paid him $10,000. Tommy Arthur, who had a previous murder conviction, shot Troy Wicker in the face as he lay in bed on February 1st, 1982. Earlier at her own trial, Wicker testified that a man burglarizing her home raped her, knocked her unconscious and then shot her husband. She was convicted as an accomplice and was released after serving 10 years of a life sentence. Arthur has been sentenced to death in this case three times. The custodian of records at the Decatur Work Release Center where Arthur resided testified that on February 1, 1982, Arthur had signed out for work at 6:00 a.m., and that at 7:10 in the evening Arthur had called for a ride back to the center, and that Arthur returned to the center at 7:50 p.m. As a part of his work release program, Arthur was assigned to work for at Reagan Mobile Homes. Joel Reagan, an old acquaintance of Arthur’s, admitted that he did not keep track of Arthur’s daily whereabouts, and “did not know Arthur’s whereabouts on the day of the murder.” Patricia Green testified that Arthur frequented a local bar called Cher’s Lounge “four or five times a week,” sometimes in the company of Joel Reagan, where she worked part-time as a bartender. Debra Phillips, the operator of Cher’s Lounge, likewise testified that Arthur came to the bar four to five times a week. Phillips and Arthur had a romantic relationship and even discussed the possibility of marriage. Pat Halliday, a shift supervisor at the Decatur Work Release Center in 1982, “testified there was a discrepancy between the number of hours Arthur was away from the center and the number of hours he was actually paid for working in February and March of 1982.” On the afternoon before the day of the murder, Arthur, while at Cher’s Lounge, took Patricia Green into the kitchen to speak with her out of hearing range of other bar patrons. At Arthur’s request, Green sent a friend across the street to purchase.22 caliber mini magnum long rifle bullets. After Green’s friend purchased the bullets and brought them back to her, Green gave them to Arthur. Brent Wheeler, an expert in firearm identification, testified that the bullet removed from the victim’s body was a.22 caliber long rifle consistent with a CCI brand bullet. The four shell casings found near
the body were CCI brand.22 long or long rifle casings. As the federal district court that addressed Arthur’s habeas petition correctly stated, the above evidence tended to show that “Arthur had the opportunity and means to kill Troy Wicker.” Furthermore, other evidence corroborated Judy Wicker’s testimony. Joel Reagan saw Judy Wicker and Arthur together at the mobile home business. Judy Wicker stated that, on the morning of the murder, she took her sons to school, drove back and forth on Avalon Avenue a couple of times and then picked Arthur up at the airport. This testimony was consistent with the testimony of Sergeant Eddie Lang, a Muscle Shoals police officer who was serving as a school crossing guard on Avalon Avenue that morning. Lang observed Judy Wicker twice pass by the crossing before 8:00 a.m., when he left his post. Judy also testified that Arthur wore an Afro wig and makeup to disguise himself as a black man. Joseph Wallace, an evidence technician with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, removed an Afro wig from the car that Arthur used to make his getaway. Judy testified that Arthur shot Troy Wicker one time and ransacked the house. Mr. Wallace, the evidence technician, testified that he found the Wicker home in disarray. Dr. Josefino Aguilar, a forensic pathologist, testified that the autopsy performed revealed that the victim had been shot one time. Judy testified that on the day of the murder Arthur was carrying a gun and a garbage bag. Debra Phillips testified that Arthur was supposed to meet her for lunch on the day of the murder, but he was late and, instead of going to lunch, they rode to a bridge over the Tennessee River where Arthur stopped the car and threw a garbage bag, that was half-full and bulky and wrapped in a sheet, into the river. As he disposed of the garbage bag, Arthur said he was “trying to get rid of some old memories.” Consistent with Judy Wicker’s testimony that Arthur was paid $10,000 for murdering her husband, Arthur had a large amount of money in his possession after the murder. Pat Halliday, an employee with the Decatur Work Release Center, testified that Arthur was transferred to the Morgan County Jail after the discovery of the discrepancy between the number of hours he was away from the center and the number of hours he was actually paid for working. Upon routine inspection of his effects before the transfer, twenty one hundred dollar bills were discovered in an envelope in Arthur’s overcoat pocket. Arthur was his own lead counsel at his trial, but was also represented by Harold Walden, and Walden’s son served as stand-by counsel. Arthur conducted the majority of voir dire questioning, examination of witnesses, argument to the jury, and argument to the court. In fact, Arthur cross-examined virtually every one of the prosecution’s 13 witnesses, often at length. Arthur presented four witnesses in his defense. Bruce Coan, a police detective, testified about his observations of the crime scene. Two of Arthur’s four witnesses were called in an apparent attempt to offer an explanation of how, as a prisoner, he came to possess $2100. Bruce Carroll, a friend and fellow inmate, testified that he lost $6500 to Arthur in a poker game. Gene Moon, who resided in the Cullman County Jail at the time of his testimony, said that another inmate gave him an envelope with $2000 in it and that Moon put it in Arthur’s coat. The fourth and final witness, Ronald Spears, an inmate at West Jefferson prison, stated that Patricia Green told him that the police were forcing her to lie about Arthur asking her to buy some bullets for him. The record also reveals that Arthur was searching for witnesses to provide him with an alibi. During cross-examination of Joel Reagan, Arthur asked: “…Do you remember Larry Whitman telling you that he saw me the morning that Mr. Wicker was murdered over in Muscle Shoals?” There are no references in the trial record to either Alphonso High or Ray Melson, the two individuals (of which more later) who signed affidavits filed in the federal district court stating they talked to Arthur around the same time Troy Wicker was being murdered, having seen Arthur on the day of the murder. At the penalty phase, the lawyer who assisted Arthur, Harold Walden, argued that the jury should recommend a sentence of life without parole because of several mitigating factors. First, Walden argued that Arthur had been a model prisoner and had spoken to high school groups as a part of correctional programs to deter young people from committing crimes. Walden also argued that Arthur’s punishment was disproportionate in relation to the other persons that had involvement in Troy Wicker’s murder. He told the jury that Judy Wicker, who was just as culpable as Arthur, was soon to be released from prison and that Rowland and McKinney had never been prosecuted for their roles. Arthur followed Walden and argued to the jury that he should be sentenced to death. Arthur said that Walden was morally opposed to the death penalty and urged the jury to disregard Walden’s argument. Arthur told the jury that he didn’t have a death wish; in fact, he said “I wouldn’t dare ask you for it if I thought for a minute that I would be executed.” Arthur argued that a death sentence would allow him to have more visitations from his children, and to have more privacy in his death row cell as opposed to living in general population, and would allow him to have more control over his appeals. Arthur told the jury that he had already managed to overturn his capital murder conviction on two previous occasions and that, if the jury sentenced him to death, he would be in a better position to overturn his latest capital murder conviction. UPDATE: The Alabama Supreme Court today in a 5-4 vote stayed Thursday’s scheduled execution of Thomas Douglas Arthur after an alleged confession by another inmate surfaced this week. The court narrowly granted the emergency stay of execution requested by Arthur’s attorney, Suhan Han. Voting for the stay were Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, and justices Champ Lyons, Tom Woodall, Patricia M. Smith, and Glenn Murdock. Dissenting were Justices Harold See, Lyn Stuart, Michael Bolin and Tom Parker. Arthur was scheduled to die on Thursday but an inmate in St. Clair prison said this week that he, not Arthur, killed Wicker over 25 years ago.

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