June 2008 Executions

Six killers were executed in June 2008. They had murdered at least 10 people.
killers were given a stay in June 2008. They have murdered at least 4 people.
One killer received a commutation of his death sentence in June 2008. He has murdered at least 3 people.
One killed died in prison in June 2008. He had murdered at least 3 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 3, 2008 Texas Melody Flowers, 27
Patrick Flowers, 2
Derrick Sonnier stayed

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, 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.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 4, 2008 Georgia Linda Lisa Seaborne
Arthur Jones
Curtis Osborne executed

Special Agent David Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified at Osborne’s trial that at approximately 1:45 pm on August 7, 1990, he received a call to investigate a murder on Pine View Road in Spalding County, Georgia. When he arrived at the scene, Agent Mitchell noticed glass fragments lying in the dirt roadbed and saw a 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix about 40 yards from the glass. The car was in gear and still running. Agent Mitchell observed that the driver’s side window was shattered and part of the glass was inside the car on the front seat, floorboards, and armrests. The windshield was cracked, and the passenger window was rolled down. Agent Mitchell saw two individuals, a woman, later identified as Linda Lisa Seaborne, and a man, later identified as Arthur Jones, in the front seat of the car. Linda, who was in the driver’s seat, was slumped over Arthur. Both victims had been shot. Agent Mitchell also noticed a black stick, similar to a policeman’s nightstick, lying on the floorboard to the rear of the driver’s seat. Agent Mitchell testified that he inspected the car and noticed that a bullet had struck the windshield and passed underneath it through the padded dash. The bullet was lying on the vent. There was also a bullet resting on the driver’s door where the glass was shattered. Arthur had sustained a gunshot wound below his left eye, and Linda had been shot in the neck. Agent Mitchell stated that there was blood all over the interior of the vehicle. Special Agent Chris Tolbert of the GBI testified that early on the day following the crime, he interviewed Arthur’s sister, Melinda Jones, and Arthur’s mother. Melinda’s boyfriend, Osborne, was at her house when Agent Tolbert arrived. Osborne told Agent Tolbert that three weeks earlier, Arthur had asked Osborne to help him sell his motorcycle. Osborne stated that he did not sell the motorcycle and had not spoken to Arthur since that time. Osborne also told Agent Tolbert that the only contact he had with Linda was several days earlier when he was trying to change the title on Arthur’s motorcycle. Agent Tolbert interviewed Marcus Matthews, who told Agent Tolbert that a week before the murders, Osborne sold him Arthur’s motorcycle for $400. After obtaining this information, Agent Tolbert considered Osborne a suspect and gave Osborne his Miranda rights before interviewing him a second time. Osborne repeated the same story that he had told Agent Tolbert earlier. Osborne elaborated a bit, though, and told Agent Tolbert that Arthur had approached him about selling the motorcycle because he needed the money. Osborne had offered Arthur an opportunity to sell cocaine for money, but Arthur declined. The next day, police arrested Osborne and interviewed him again. During this interview, Osborne admitted that he had sold Arthur’s motorcycle to Matthews, and he had kept the money. Osborne denied any involvement in the shootings and consented to a gun residue test. He informed the police that the test would be positive for gun residue because he fed his dog gunpowder on a daily basis. Osborne explained that the blood under his cuticles was the result of a hangnail. He also told police that his fingerprints could be on the car in which the victims were found because he had ridden in the car a week earlier when he went to WalMart, where Linda worked, to get a title for the motorcycle, and Linda asked him to move her car from one parking spot to another. Osborne provided police with the clothes he was wearing on the day of the murders, but he told the police that his mother previously had washed the clothes in bleach. Spalding County Sheriff Richard Cantrell testified at trial that he interviewed Osborne on August 10, 1990. Sheriff Cantrell taped the interview. During the interview, Osborne told Sheriff Cantrell that on the day of the crime, he left a message for Arthur to come to Griffin, Georgia, to pick up the money from the sale of Arthur’s motorcycle. Osborne stated that he spent the rest of the day on the street selling cocaine. Osborne further stated that later in the day, Arthur and Linda approached him and told him to get in the car. Arthur then hit Osborne with a nightstick. Arthur asked Osborne for the money from the sale of the motorcycle, and Osborne told him that the money was in a hotel room with two Cuban drug dealers from Florida named Jeff and Scott. Osborne stated that they stopped at a motel, and one of the Cuban drug dealers gave Osborne a.38 caliber gun that he put in his pants. Osborne further stated that he shot Arthur in the back of the head because Arthur had threatened to beat him and was reaching for a weapon on the floorboard of the car. Osborne stated that he climbed out of the driver’s side window and ran. At no time did Osborne state where he left his gun and pager. Ron Buchanan, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Department testified that he searched for a weapon and pager, but could not find either. Buchanan also testified that he went by the hotel where Osborne claimed the Cuban drug dealers were staying, and Osborne pointed out Room 213 as the room they occupied. However, the manager of the hotel, Ramesh Parekh, testified that the hotel records showed that Room 213 was not occupied on the day in question. Dr. Randy Hanzlick, the Fulton County medical examiner, testified that he performed the autopsies on the victims. The autopsy of Arthur Jones revealed that he died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head which exited to the left of his eye. The blood pattern showed that Arthur’s body was in an upright position when he was shot and that the gun was only an inch away from his head when the perpetrator fired. The bullet fractured Arthur’s skull, causing hemorrhage and destruction of brain tissue. Dr. Hanzlick stated that the wound would indicate that the perpetrator used a.38 caliber, 9 millimeter, or a.357 magnum weapon; more likely, it was a 9 millimeter or a.357 magnum. Dr. Hanzlick testified that Linda Seaborne died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the neck. The bullet entered the right side of her neck, grazed the shoulder up through the spinal cord, went through the bottom of her skull and exited through her left cheek. He stated that the gunshot wound was inflicted from one to two feet away from Linda. Dr. Hanzlick testified, however, that the wound was not typical of an “execution” style wound. Additionally, Osborne’s mother testified that her husband’s.357 Ruger was missing. Kelly Fite, the state crime lab firearms examiner testified that she received a.357 magnum lead bullet that Agent Tolbert had found at Osborne’s home pursuant to a search warrant. Larry Hankerson, the latent fingerprint examiner, testified that Osborne’s fingerprints were found on the door of the driver’s side of the vehicle in which the victims’ bodies were found. A Spalding County jury convicted Osborne on two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder, with the underlying felonies consisting of aggravated assault. The jury found that Linda’s murder was committed in the course of Arthur’s murder, itself a capital felony. The jury based their death recommendation on this aggravating circumstance. UDPATE: Executioners struggled for 35 minutes to find a vein before Curtis Osborne died by lethal injection Wednesday for a 1990 Spalding County double murder. Osborne, 37, was pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m., 14 minutes after his executioners injected the first of three fatal drugs. He was the second man Georgia has executed in a month. He also was the fourth person in the country to die by lethal injection since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the method was constitutional. (From the Atlanta Journal Constitution )

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 6, 2008 South Carolina James Riddle
Michael Gregory
Josie Currie
David Hill executed

The South Carolina Supreme Court has set a June 6 execution date for a man who murdered three social workers in Aiken County. Hill had argued that he deserves to die for the killings on September 16, 1996, when he walked into the Aiken County Department of Social Services office in North Augusta and shot to death his family’s case worker and two other employees after losing custody of his children. Hill was found a day later in a wooded area, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. When these murders took place, Hill was married and had three children: a three-year-old daughter who was a quadriplegic and twin two-year-old boys. (The daughter, who was paralyzed in a 1994 car accident, died in 1998.) DSS became involved with the family because of concern about the parents’ abuse of prescription drugs. The children were eventually removed from the home. On the morning of September 16, 1996, Hill had a telephone conversation with his caseworker, James Riddle. Hill then called his sister-in-law to ask for a ride to the DSS office. The sister-in-law and her husband gave Hill a ride to the Business & Technology Center where the DSS office was located. On the way, Hill said that he was tired of people “playing God” with his children. The couple dropped Hill off at the front of the building. Sometime before 2:00 pm, several DSS workers returned to work after a birthday luncheon. Annette Michael was walking towards her cubicle in the DSS office area when another worker, Josie Currie, approached with her hands up. Hill was behind Josie with a gun. Josie asked Annette where James Riddle’s office was. When Annette motioned with her hand, Hill told her to step in behind Josie. The three of them walked down the aisle to James’s cubicle. James was seated at his desk speaking on the telephone. Josie stepped into the cubicle and said, “This man would like to see you.” Hill fired a shot into the cubicle, hitting James in the head. He then pointed the gun over Annette’s shoulder and shot Josie in the head. Annette fell with Josie as a third shot was fired. Annette saw James fall over in his chair and she saw a hole in his forehead before she fainted on the floor. Another DSS worker, Michael Gregory, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the men’s restroom. Both Josie and James died within the next few hours. Annette was not injured. The next morning, police were still searching for Hill. At around 9:20 a.m., he was found lying on the railroad tracks behind the building with his gun nearby. He had a bullet hole through the roof of his mouth and an exit wound in the top of his skull. Although he was seriously injured, Hill was able to speak. After he was taken to the hospital, he was given Miranda warnings. Hill admitted to the shootings. He said he first shot Michael Gregory in the restroom because Gregory had seen him. He shot James Riddle because Riddle was his caseworker. He shot Josie Currie “because she was black.” In deciding to forego his appeals, Hill stated that his religious beliefs are that “if you kill somebody, you shed somebody else’s blood, that your blood has to be shed or you have to die in order to be forgiven for that.” UPDATE: Twelve years finally came to a head Friday for David Mark Hill, as he was the 269th South Carolinian executed. It all happened on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 1996 at a Department of Social Services office in North Augusta. That was the day three department workers were gunned down by Hill. His victims were 30-year-old Michael Gregory, 33-year-old Josie Curry and 52-year-old Jimmy Riddle. Hill was angry that DSS took away custody of his quadriplegic daughter and twin sons. (from WIS News 10 )

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 6, 2008 Illinois Adam Steicher, 23
Jim Giesenhagen
Janet Giesenhagen
Curtis Thompson died in prison

Jim Janet Giesenhagen small

Curtis Thompson was sentenced to die in August of 2003 in Stark Count criminal court. He had murdered Sheriff’s deputy Adam Streicher, 23, after Streicher tried to serve a warrant to Thompson. The warrant was in relation to failing to pay court fees imposed after Thompson was found guilty in an assault case. The police officer was shot on the porch of Thompson’s home, hit in the left shoulder, upper chest and neck by a blast from Thompson’s sawed-off shotgun. Thompson then stole the officer’s 9mm weapon and went on a rampage, driving the police car into a parked vehicle and then through the fence at the home of his neighbors Jim and Janet Giesenhagen, with whom Thompson had a long-running feud. He broke down the door of their home and rushed into the house with his shotgun. He shot Janet in the chest, nearly blasting off one of her arms completely. Then he went to the basement of the home where Jim was with his 10-year-old daughter, and shot Jim directly in the face, destroying Jim’s lower jaw and killing him nearly instantly. He left the child unharmed and fled the house. The girl called her grandmother who lived nearby and said “Curt Thompson just killed my daddy and hurt my mommy!” Janet was still alive when her mother-in-law arrived, and asked for a pillow and said her back hurt. Thompson drove into town and rammed the dead officer’s car into another vehicle, driven by another young man with whom Thompson had issues, then pointed a shotgun at him as he ran away. He then went to the house of another man he had bullied, but that man was not home. Police eventually surrounded Thompson in the deputy’s car and Thompson was injured in a gun battle with the officers and taken into custody. Janet Giesenhagen died before she could be airlifted to a Peoria hospital. A detailed history of the case can be found here . UPDATE: Curtis Thompson, a 66-year-old death row inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center was found dead after he apparently killed himself in his cell. Curtis Thompson was found in his cell shortly after 10 p.m. Friday. Thompson’s wife, Virginia Thompson of Toulon, died recently of cancer. This case was profiled on an A&E television “American Justice” segment on Thompson ran in 2004 called “The Bully of Toulon .”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 10, 2008 Virginia Archie Moore
Elizabeth Kendrick
Jessie Kendrick
Percy Walton commuted

Percy Levar Walton murdered three people in the same neighborhood in Danville, Virginia, in two separate incidents. Two of the victims were an elderly couple, Elizabeth and Jessie Kendrick. While burglarizing their home, Walton shot both of them at close range in the top of the head. Walton murdered the a young man, Archie Moore, in his home by shooting him above his left eye. Although the physical evidence alone overwhelmingly established Walton’s guilt, Walton also admitted to several other jail inmates that he committed the murders and described the graphic details of the murders to his cellmate. Two mental health professionals determined that Walton was competent to stand trial, i.e. that Walton understood precisely the charges against him, he knew that evidence was required to convict him, he was able to assist his lawyers in his own defense, and he realized that he could get the death penalty for his crimes. Based on this evidence and the fact that Walton had told at least two of his fellow inmates that he intended to “play crazy,” Walton’s counsel ultimately decided not to pursue further a claim that Walton was incompetent to stand trial or plead guilty. With the assistance of counsel, on October 7, 1997 Walton pled guilty to all three murders, three counts of robbery, one count of burglary, and six counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. After determining that Walton would likely commit additional criminal acts and would be a continuing serious threat to society, the Danville Circuit Court sentenced Walton to death for the three murders. Walton was no stranger to crime before he murdered these three people. His prior convictions include burglary, grand larceny, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, juvenile possession of a firearm, and assault and battery. Walton has tried to play the mental retardation trump card so popular among condemned inmates these days, however, his IQ score in 1996, shortly before he turned 18, was 90 – well above the accepted threshold for mild mental retardation of 70.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 11, 2008 Texas Felicia Prechtl Karl Chamberlain executed

Karl Eugene Chamberlain lived next door to Felicia Prechtl, a single mother, and her five-year-old son. On August 12, 1991, Chamberlain observed Felicia’s brother leaving with Felicia’s son. Chamberlain went next door “to borrow a cup of sugar.” Upon gaining entry to Felicia’s apartment, Chamberlain bound her with duct tape and sexually assaulted her. Chamberlain then shot Felicia in the forehead, killing her. Felicia’s semi-nude body was discovered on the bathroom floor some thirty-five minutes later by her brother and son upon their return to the apartment. Chamberlain walked his dogs after the murder. Chamberlain’s guilt was not uncovered until 1997. In the meantime, he confessed the murder to others, relating that he had gone to borrow a cup of sugar from his neighbor and that she had answered the door naked and seduced him. Chamberlain further elaborated that Felicia had delighted in their sexual intercourse and explained that he had killed her in a panic only when she threatened to inform his wife of their sexual encounter. While Chamberlain says his non-violent past supports his contention that the evidence is insufficient to show that he is a continuing threat to society, the evidence does show a history of violence. The State introduced evidence that Chamberlain had attacked a fellow soldier with a knife and a woman at a shopping mall with a stun gun. The State also introduced evidence that Chamberlain broke into a pornography shop when, seeking pornography, he had found the shop closed. In addition to this evidence of a violent past, the State introduced the testimony of Dr. Kenneth DeKleva, a psychiatrist. DeKleva asserted that the facts of the offense reveal a sexually sadistic, antisocial personality disorder. DeKleva noted that the crime scene revealed that the perpetrator needed to inflict humiliation, degradation and pain to achieve sexual gratification. DeKleva testified that leaving Felicia uncovered and exposed evinced a lack of regard for her humanity and utter lack of remorse. Similarly, DeKleva testified that the fact that Chamberlain walked his dogs after committing the offense also revealed a disturbing lack of remorse. The subsequent fantasies blaming Felicia for seducing him, along with Chamberlain’s claims that she enjoyed the assault and then blaming her for the murder because she was going to tell his wife, were all, according to DeKleva, evidence of a dangerous personality disorder. DeKleva noted the evidence of Chamberlain’s overpowering sexual urges, i.e., that as a teenager he kept a mannequin with the crotch cut out, that he burglarized the pornography store when he found it closed and had stolen inflatable sex dolls. DeKleva testified that there is no known treatment for a sexually sadistic killer and no evidence that their fantasies eventually subside. DeKleva testified that these traits reveal a dangerous person, particularly when that person had already fulfilled some of his violent fantasies. DeKleva concluded the evidence established that Chamberlain would probably commit criminal acts of violence constituting a continuing threat to society. At trial, evidence showed that a number of obscene calls were traced by the phone company to Chamberlain’s telephone at work. A phone company spokesperson testified that after receiving complaints about obscene phone calls to two Pennsylvania establishments, they traced a number of subsequent calls to a telephone extension registered to a telemarketing firm. The owner of the company testified that each salesman’s telephone was limited to an assigned geographical area. He testified that a computer system recorded each salesman’s calls, so that supervisors could see from what extension a call was made, what time it was made, the number dialed and the length of the call. When he was informed by the police about the obscene calls to Pennsylvania, he ran the two phone numbers given to him by the police through his computer system. Chamberlain’s extension was shown as the number from which the calls originated. Chamberlain was confronted with these facts and though he never admitted to the phone calls, the calls ceased after he was confronted.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 17, 2008 Texas Ronald Williamson
Tracie Lynn Wallace
Charles Hood stayed

Tracie Lynn Wallace smallCharles Dean Hood was convicted for the shootings of two people. He worked as a bouncer at a Plano topless club and was befriended by a club patron, Ronald Williamson, who let him stay at his home. Williamson, 35, and Tracie Lynn Wallace, 26, a dancer, were found shot to death at Williamson’s Plano house in November 1989. Hood, 20 at the time, was arrested in his native Vincennes, Ind., driving Williamson’s $70,000 Cadillac. He has denied any involvement in the shootings. Hood pled guilty to theft and forgery when he was eighteen, and was sentenced to two years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Hood was paroled, but violated that parole when he went to Texas with his fifteen year old runaway girlfriend. In 2005, Hood came within three days of execution before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped the punishment so additional appeals could be considered. “If you murder, you kill, you deserve the same thing,” said Julie Wallace, whose sister was murdered. “For a long time I was very angry. All I know is that from the day my mother said my sister was dead, I said whoever did it will pay for it when they stand before God and our justice system. It may roll slow, but I think justice always is served.” UPDATE: Condemned inmate Charles Dean Hood avoided a trip to the Texas death chamber when lengthy appeals stretching long into the night left prison officials unable to complete their execution procedures in time to meet a midnight deadline to carry out the lethal injection. Gov. Rick Perry then stopped the execution just before midnight Tuesday, using his authority to issue a one-time 30-day reprieve.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 17, 2008 Oklahoma Ken Yamamoto Terry Short executed

Terry Lyn Short was convicted of the murder of Ken Yamamoto. Ken lived in an Oklahoma City apartment directly above that of Short’s former girlfriend, Brenda Gardner, her sister Tammy Gardner, and Tammy’s two minor children. After a fire started in Tammy’s apartment, Brenda, Tammy, and the children escaped. Robert Hines, the former husband of Brenda’s sister, Peggy, and the father of one of Tammy’s children, was also present and escaped with injuries. The fire spread quickly causing Ken Yamamoto’s apartment to collapse. Ken Yamamoto, who had been sleeping, suffered burns to ninety-five percent of his body. He was conscious when taken to the hospital, but he died several hours later. Marjorie Long, Brenda’s mother, testified that in 1994 she rented an Oklahoma City apartment to Brenda and Short, an employee of Two Guys Auto, an auto repair shop. She stated that after Short ransacked the bedroom and broke a window, she took his name off the lease. She testified that in August or September of 1994, Short threw rocks at her car when she was driving with Brenda, and also tried to run her off the road. Short pulled up next to her car and when Brenda refused to talk to him, he said, “I’ll just get some gas and pour it on your mother and set her on fire.” Brenda also testified that Short had threatened her and her family. She also stated that, at another time, he had shown her how to make a firebomb, using a bottle, gasoline, wax, and a towel. The prosecution presented testimony from Oklahoma City police officer Sergeant Chuck Wheeler about Short’s threatening behavior. Sergeant Wheeler stated that, on December 26, 1994, he answered a call that a female, Brenda, was being held against her will by a male, Short. Sergeant Wheeler took Brenda to her sister’s apartment, despite Short’s protests. Brenda admitted to having broken up with Short on December 26, 1994. However, she saw him almost daily from December 28 through January 4, 1995, when she and Short were charged with shoplifting. Brenda’s sister Janet testified that she accompanied Brenda to court on the shoplifting charge. According to Janet, Short was getting angry and wanted Brenda to “take the rap for it.” She stated that he “said she’d better or else.” Hines also went to the courthouse on January 4, and told Short, “Don’t be threatening my family.” According to Hines, Short started threatening Hines at that point. Short’s aunt testified that about three days before the fire, she had seen Short in a red coat that was stained with gasoline and oil. She testified that the coat ­ an exhibit in the case ­ looked about the same as before the fire. Finally, Keith Partain, a friend of Short’s for fifteen years, testified that about a week before the fire, Short remarked that “he was going to burn Brenda and her family up.” Partain thought Short was joking when he said this. When Partain saw Short on the day before the fire, Short seemed depressed about having broken up with Brenda. However, Linda Gonzalez, another friend, testified she saw him at about 7 p.m. that evening and that he seemed to be “happy like he always is.” Brenda Gardner testified that on January 8, 1995, at about 3:00 a.m., she and her sister were in the apartment with the two sleeping children. Brenda heard a noise at the front door as though someone was trying to break in. She yelled out, and it stopped. Sometime in the next thirty minutes, Hines arrived at the apartment. He tried enter through the front door, which was jammed. Tammy let him in through the patio door. At about 4:00 a.m., Brenda looked out the patio door and noticed Short standing by Hines’s truck. Brenda testified Short was wearing a red jacket. She testified that Hines also looked out the patio door. Hines first stated at trial that he was certain the man was Short. On cross-examination, however, Hines admitted he assumed the person outside was Short because Brenda and her sister Tammy told him that Short had been outside the apartment earlier that evening. Brenda stated that Short turned his back, and appeared to be lighting a cigarette. “Then I seen a bigger flame, and at that time I looked up at Robert, and then the next thing I know the window was shattered and Robert was on fire.” She did not see Short throw anything, however. After getting the children, Brenda called 911 and told them her ex-boyfriend had thrown a bomb in the apartment. Later that day, Short telephoned his cousin, David Davis. Short asked Davis to pick him up. Apparently, Short had seen news reports of the fire, and was scared of the city police because of previous “run-ins.” At Short’s request, Davis brought Short a change of clothes. Davis testified that Short denied being involved in the fire bombing. After Short had changed, he surrendered to the Oklahoma City police. Oklahoma City Detective Mike Burke testified that when Short came into the Oklahoma County jail, he was not wearing socks. Detective Burke searched Davis’s vehicle and retrieved a red coat that tested positive for gasoline. The coat contained three disposable lighters, some rolling paper, and a package of leaf tobacco. Short’s sneakers also tested positive for gasoline. Detective Burke found no socks in the vehicle. Homicide Detective Robert Mark Easley testified that he searched what had been Short’s registered room at the Melrose Motel. Inside a white plastic bag, Detective Easley found some clothing, and a bottle of lighter fluid. He also recovered a legal pad that contained some writing about Brenda. Excerpts, as read by Detective Easley, included: 1-4-95… the last time I seen her. 1-5-95… still no word from her. My life is over with her and I know it, but I do love her. 1-7-95, still no word from her. I guess she found somebody else. I only hope I know I still have a chance as long as she did not have sex with nobody. 1-8-95… I need her to go on in my life. She is all I got. Detective Easley also identified photographs he took of items in the motel room, including a bottle cap without the liner, one with the liner, the blue liner to a bottle cap, and an empty two-liter bottle of RC Cola. A jury found Short guilty of the first-degree murder of Ken Yamamoto and five counts of attempting to kill after former conviction of two or more felonies. The jury recommended imposition of the death penalty for the murder after finding the existence of three aggravating circumstances: (1) Short knowingly created a risk of death to more than one person; (2) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel; and (3) Short constituted a continuing threat to society. The jury recommended three 100-year sentences and two 200-year sentences for the attempting-to-kill offenses.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 20, 2008 South Carolina Joseph Lafayette
Barbara Lafayette
James Reed executed

James Earl Reed was sentenced to die for the murders of his ex-girlfriend’s parents in their home. Prosecutors said Reed was supposed to be on a bus on his way to a federal halfway-house program but instead killed Joseph and Barbara Lafayette in their Adams Run home in 1994 while he was looking for his ex-girlfriend. The couple refused to tell Reed the whereabouts of their daughter. Reed denied the killings and argued that no physical evidence placed him at the scene. Reed, 49, acted as his own lawyer during his 1996 trial. He denied the killings, despite his confession to police and three witnesses who said they saw him come out of the couple’s home after the shooting. Prosecutor David Schwacke said, “He apparently had drawn out a diagram of the interior of the house. He had to stop and buy a gun in Greenville, then hitchhike here.” He’s not surprised Reed chose the electric chair over lethal injection. “To him, it’s probably a more flashy way to go out and akin to what he said he wanted to do in the first place, being tied to a tree and shot,” Schwacke said. UPDATE: Reed was executed in South Carolina’s electric chair on June 20, 2008, pronounced dead at 11:27 PM after approximately five hours of delay due to last-minute appeals.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 25, 2008 Virginia Cyril Hamby, 77 Robert Yarbrough executed

Robert Stacy Yarbrough inviting his high-school friend, Dominic Rainey, to join him in his plan to rob Cyril Hamby, the 77-year-old owner of Hamby’s Store, located a short walk from Yarbrough and Rainey’s homes on U.S. Route 1 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. An eyewitness’ testimony placed the two men walking along the highway toward the store between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. on May 8, 1997. The two then waited outside the store until there were no customers inside, entered the store, and locked the door behind them. Yarbrough, armed with a shotgun, ordered Hamby to lie on the floor in an aisle, and, with Rainey’s help, bound Hamby’s hands behind his back. Yarbrough shut off the store’s outside lights and demanded that Hamby reveal where guns were hidden in the store. When Hamby denied having any guns, Yarbrough kicked Hamby in the head and upper arms. Yarbrough then forced open the cash register and took the money inside. After returning to Hamby, he again demanded to know the location of the guns. Hamby continued to deny having any guns, at which point Yarbrough put down the shotgun, took out a pocketknife, and proceeded to cut deeply into the front and the back of Hamby’s neck with a sawing motion. According to Rainey, Hamby pleaded with Yarbrough to stop cutting him, but Yarbrough did not stop and inflicted at least 10 deep wounds before rifling through Hamby’s clothing and taking his wallet. Yarbrough and Rainey then stole beer, wine, and cigarettes, as well as the money Yarbrough had taken from the cash register, and exited the store from the rear. Yarbrough gave Rainey $100 and kept the remainder of the money for himself. The two proceeded to Rainey’s residence, where they changed clothes, and then went to the nearby home of Conrad Dortch, where they drank the wine from Hamby’s store and waited for Dortch to arrive so they could buy marijuana from him. Dortch came home at approximately 12:45 a.m. and sold Yarbrough a marijuana joint for $10. According to Rainey, Yarbrough was “flashing” his money. Yarbrough and Rainey then returned to Rainey’s home, where they spent the rest of the night. The next morning, Yarbrough threw his bloodstained tennis shoes in a trash barrel behind Rainey’s house and left. After Hamby’s body was discovered on May 9, 1997, and an autopsy was conducted, it was determined that Hamby had bled to death from multiple deep wounds around his neck. The Commonwealth’s medical examiner described the wounds as “entirely consistent” with “an attempted beheading,” but because no major arteries were cut, it likely took several minutes for Hamby to bleed to death. The examiner also noted the blunt force injuries on Hamby’s head and upper arm, which were consistent with having been kicked. A day later, Dortch informed the police of his encounter with Yarbrough and Rainey on the night of Hamby’s murder, prompting the police to obtain and execute a search warrant at Yarbrough’s home where they recovered clothing and a pocketknife, both stained with blood. Police also recovered the tennis shoes from Rainey’s home. Subsequent forensic analysis of the items recovered, the crime scene, and samples taken from Hamby, Yarbrough, and Rainey, strongly supported the conclusion that both Yarbrough and Rainey were present at the scene of the murder and that Yarbrough was most likely the person who inflicted the fatal wounds on Hamby. DNA tests of the shoes and clothing established a match with Hamby’s blood, and the DNA test of the knife established a mix of Hamby and Yarbrough’s DNA on the blade. The blood stains on Yarbrough’s clothes were consistent with a spray of blood resulting from trauma and were made “in close proximity to the trauma that released the blood.” Prints from Yarbrough’s tennis shoes were found near the circuit box in the store, behind the counter, and in the blood stains near Hamby’s head. Prints from Rainey’s boots were found near Hamby’s feet and in the living quarters of the store. Following a four-day trial, at which the Commonwealth presented the testimony of Rainey, other witnesses, police investigators, and forensic experts, as well as extensive physical evidence, the jury convicted Yarbrough of capital murder and robbery. In exchange for his testimony, Rainey was charged with first degree murder rather than capital murder, and he later pleaded guilty, receiving a sentence of 50 years’ imprisonment, 25 of which were suspended. At the sentencing phase, which followed immediately upon the completion of the guilt phase, the Commonwealth argued that the death penalty was appropriate for Yarbrough because his crime was “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind or an aggravated battery to the victim.” Yarbrough presented mitigation evidence in the form of testimony from his mother. The jury sentenced Yarbrough to death for the capital murder conviction and to life imprisonment for the robbery conviction.