April 2009 Executions

Four killers were executed in April 2009. They had murdered at least 4 people.
Four killers were given a stay in April 2009. They have murdered at least 4 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 1, 2009 Pennsylvania Jason Bolton Richard Boxley stayed
On June 11, 1997, Richard Boxley and Tito Black were in LaDonna Johnson’s home in Reading, Pennsylvania, discussing a plan to kill the victim, Jason Bolton, who had previously engaged in a shoot-out with Black over stolen drug money. Tamika Johnson was present in the home while the two men discussed their strategy and brandished weapons; Black flaunted a 9 mm handgun and Boxley held a.357 magnum revolver. Black stated that Bolton had 48 hours to live. A short time later, Tamika Johnson left the home and Wilson Melendez, who had sold drugs for Black, arrived. Black introduced Boxley to Melendez and directed the men to go to the grocery store down the street. En route, Melendez saw Bolton walking with another man, Tyrone Bryant. Melendez then entered the grocery store, while Boxley ran back to the house to tell Black of Bolton’s whereabouts. Moments later, Melendez left the store and joined Black and Boxley, who had come from the Johnson home, presumably to confront Bolton. By this time, it was mid-afternoon and there were children playing and people walking on the street. Melendez, Black, and Boxley caught up with Bolton and his companion, Bryant, and began to follow them. When they reached Sixth and Chestnut Streets, Boxley and Black told Melendez to look around the corner to determine Bolton’s exact location. Melendez told the men that Bolton was near. Boxley then reached into his back pocket for his gun, which accidentally discharged. Boxley immediately walked around the corner, pulled the gun out of his pocket, and began firing at Bolton. At the same time, Black shot twice at Bolton. Bolton and Bryant then ran away from their perpetrators into a vestibule of a nearby building, and quickly closed the door. Boxley followed them and attempted to open the door to the building. As Bolton and Bryant struggled to stop the door from opening, Boxley reached his gun into the doorway, and fired into the vestibule, killing Bolton. Bryant was not shot, but was injured when the window glass in the vestibule shattered from the gunfire. Boxley, Black, and Melendez immediately fled on foot and met back at the home of LaDonna Johnson. After Boxley assured Black that he had shot Bolton, the men celebrated Bolton’s death. By this time, Tamika Johnson had returned. Boxley and Black told Tamika Johnson that they had killed Bolton. Boxley and Black gave their weapons to Melendez, who hid them in the backyard of another house in the neighborhood. After the murder, Bryant gave a statement to police, which implicated Boxley and Black. Also, the police recovered the murder weapons which had been hidden by Melendez. Boxley was thereafter charged with criminal homicide. At trial, Boxley claimed that Black and Melendez had killed Bolton, and that he had not been involved in the murder. The Commonwealth presented testimony from several witnesses, establishing Boxley’s involvement in the crime. Further, medical expert testimony demonstrated that Bolton died from a gunshot wound to the chest and ballistics evidence established that bullet fragments found at the murder scene had been fired from Boxley’s.357 revolver. Boxley was convicted of first degree murder, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, possessing instruments of crime, violating the Uniform Firearms Act, and conspiracy, and was sentenced to death. In December 2003, Boxley’s murder conviction was affirmed but the death sentence was overturned. After a second sentencing trial, another jury sentenced Boxley to death on September 24, 2004. This second death sentence was affirmed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on May 29, 2008. There are still appeals pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 7, 2009 Ohio Winda Snipes Brett Hartman stayed
Winda SnipesBrett X. Hartman met Winda Snipes at a bar in Akron, Ohio, sometime during 1997. Subsequently, they engaged in sexual intercourse on several occasions. During the late afternoon of September 9, 1997, defendant went to Winda’s apartment and brutally murdered her by tying her to the bed, stabbing her one hundred thirty-eight times, slitting her throat, and cutting off her hands. Hartman was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence, and sentenced to death. In order to establish Hartman’s guilt, the state introduced statements Hartman had made to the police and to a fellow inmate in jail, and the testimony of a co-worker that Hartman mentioned cutting off a victim’s hands as a way to eliminate evidence in the O.J. Simpson case. The state also introduced as evidence Hartman’s bloody tee-shirt and Winda’s watch recovered from Hartman’s apartment, and forensic testimony linking Hartman to the murder. State’s case Around 2:20 a.m. on September 9, 1997, Hartman met Winda at the Bucket Shop, an Akron bar. Hartman kissed Winda on the cheek and they talked. Thereafter, Hartman and Winda left the bar and they went to her apartment across the street. Around 3:00 a.m., David Morris, an acquaintance of Hartman and Winda, left the Inn Between, another Akron bar. While walking past Winda’s apartment on his way home, Morris observed Winda and Hartman through the upstairs window of her apartment. Morris testified that Winda was yelling at Hartman about touching stuff that was not his. Hartman closed the window blinds and ‘obviously she wasn’t very happy about it’ because she ‘scolded’ him and reopened the blinds. That afternoon, at around 4:30 p.m., Winda was observed crossing a street in a nearby business district. She was never seen alive again. Hartman had the day off from work on September 9. According to Richard Russell, a bartender at the Inn Between, Hartman entered the bar at around 8:00 p.m. and appeared nervous and hyper, and talked excessively. Thereafter, Hartman was in and out of the bar five to six times between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. Hartman first contacted the police on September 9 with a series of anonymous 911 calls, which he later admitted to. His first 911 call at 9:59 p.m. reported the location of a mutilated body. The police officers dispatched to Winda’s address entered Winda’s apartment building and checked around, but left after finding nothing unusual. Meanwhile, Hartman viewed the police unit’s arrival and departure while hiding behind a tree across the street. Hartman then made another 911 call telling the police to return to the apartment building and provided further instructions on the body’s location. Akron police officers responding to this call entered Winda’s unlocked apartment and found her naked, mutilated body lying on the bedroom floor. Winda’s leg was draped across the bed, a pair of pantyhose tied her ankle to the bed leg, and a white plastic chair was on top of her body. Winda’s hands were cut off and have never been found. Around 10:45 p.m., Hartman was at the Inn Between with Morris, while police units were across the street investigating Winda’s murder. Morris, having learned that Winda had been murdered, suggested to Hartman that he should talk to the police, since Morris had observed Hartman at Winda’s apartment the previous evening. Shortly before midnight, Hartman approached Detective Gregory Harrison while he was at a mobile crime lab parked outside Winda’s apartment. Hartman walked up to Harrison and said, ‘I hear it’s pretty bad in there,’ and asked if Harrison had ‘ever seen anything so gruesome.’ Later that evening, Hartman approached Harrison a second time and spontaneously mentioned that Winda was a whore, ‘that she slept around a lot,’ and that ‘he had slept with her and he had even slept with her the night before at 3:00.’ In their final contact at around 3:00 a.m., Hartman was ‘kind of mumbling to himself’ and Harrison heard Hartman say that ‘she was a whore, she was a big whore, she got what she deserved." Between 11:30 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., Hartman also approached Akron Police Lt. John A. Lawson near the murder scene and, "rather abruptly said, ‘You’re going to find my semen in her and my prints over there.’ " When Lawson asked why, Hartman said he "had been with her earlier that morning, the morning of the 9th," and that he had had sex with her. At 12:15 a.m. on September 10, Hartman spoke to Detective Joseph Urbank in front of the apartment building. Hartman began their conversation by announcing that "he had sex with the victim the night before." Moreover, Hartman said he did not know her name but "only knew her as psycho bitch and that everybody knew that if you got drunk and were horny you went to go see her, you went to go see psycho bitch." Hartman also told Urbank that he went to Winda’s apartment at 2:30 a.m. on September 9, and "she started dancing a little bit." He "lifted her onto the bed, undressed her, and they started having vaginal intercourse." Hartman said that he was disappointed because Winda refused to have anal intercourse, and he left her apartment around 3:30 a.m. However, Hartman claimed that he did not know anything about the murder until the bartender at the Inn Between told him about it on the evening of September 9. Around 6:00 a.m. on September 10, police took Hartman to the Akron police station, where he was interviewed by Lawson and Urbank. During his interview, Hartman denied making the 911 calls, and denied hiding behind a tree across from Winda’s apartment. Then, Hartman changed a part of his story and admitted hiding behind a tree near the murder scene. Following the September 10 police interview, the police searched Hartman’s apartment with his consent. The police seized Hartman’s bloody tee-shirt from underneath the headboard of his bed, a pair of his jeans, and his boots. Police found a knife on his dresser and Winda’s wristwatch on Hartman’s bed stand. Police took Hartman to the police station after the search of his apartment. While awaiting transfer to the Summit County Jail, Hartman approached Detective John R. Gilbride and blurted out, "I was the one that called the police" and "I’m the one that found the body." Hartman told Gilbride he had been sexually involved with Winda since February 1997, and had sexual intercourse with Winda during the early morning hours of September 9. Hartman stated that "after having sex the psycho bitch threw him out of the apartment stating that her boyfriend was coming over." He left around 3:30 a.m. and returned to his own apartment. According to Gilbride, Hartman said that he slept until 6:00 p.m. on September 9, and then took the bus to the Inn Between bar around 7:30 p.m. Gilbride testified that while going into the Inn Between bar, Hartman noticed a light on in Winda’s apartment and decided to visit her. According to Gilbride, Hartman gained entry to the apartment through an unlocked door and claimed that he found her dead body in her bedroom. Hartman said that he unsuccessfully tried to pick her body off the floor, noticed that her hands had been cut off, and "freaked out." Thinking "I’m going to get busted for this," Hartman washed her blood off his hands and clothes, tried wiping down everything he touched, removed evidence linking him to her apartment, and went home. Winda was stabbed one hundred thirty-eight times. Bruising on her ankles indicated that she was alive when she was tied to the bed. Additionally, sperm was found in her vagina and anus. The medical examiner concluded that Winda had died from strangulation and a slit throat either in the late afternoon or early evening of September 9. Police found Hartman’s bloody fingerprint on the leg of the white chair draped over Winda’s body, and police found another of Hartman’s fingerprints on Winda’s bedspread. An expert witness testified that the long linear blood patterns found on Hartman’s tee-shirt and Winda’s bedspread were applied by a long-bladed knife. Further, the blood patterns found on Hartman’s tee-shirt were applied while the tee-shirt was lying flat, and not while Hartman was wearing it. At trial, the prosecution introduced a set of Hartman’s knives, including a meat cleaver, a knife, and a knife sharpener that Hartman kept at the Quaker Square Hilton, where he worked as a chef. Christopher Hoffman, a Hilton co-worker, testified that he talked to Hartman in August 1997 about the O.J. Simpson trial. According to Hoffman, Hartman said that Simpson could have disposed of evidence against him by cutting off the victim’s hands and eliminating "fibers and hair and skin that might be found on the fingernails." Bryan Tyson, a fellow inmate at the Summit County Jail, testified that during a jailhouse conversation, Hartman admitted that he had killed Winda. According to Tyson, Hartman said that "he pushed himself on her, something in his mind snapped, she was hitting him, he lost his temper, did things he regretted, killed her." Then, Hartman said that he had "tried to make it look like a burglary," admitted cutting off Winda’s hands, and mentioned a hacksaw, and jokingly said " ‘Don’t leave home without it,’ like the credit card commercial." Jessica O’Neill, an acquaintance of Hartman, talked on the phone with Hartman on September 9. Phone records showed that O’Neill called Hartman’s apartment and spoke with him at 3:12 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. She also claimed that she talked with Hartman on the phone around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. The defense also introduced evidence suggesting an alternative suspect, Jeff Nichols. Nichols lived across the hallway from Winda’s apartment until he moved out of his apartment around September 1, 1997. Nichols worked as a handyman for the apartment building and had access to the landlord’s keys to other apartments. In January 1997, Jeffrey Barnes, a friend of Winda, was visiting Winda’s apartment when Nichols came to her door. According to Barnes, Nichols "got up right to her door and then he said, ‘Slit the bitch’s throat, cut her up,’ and called her a slut and all other kind of vulgar names." Barnes reported this incident to the police upon hearing about Winda’s murder. On an evening prior to September 1, 1997, Linda Zarski, a neighbor in Winda’s apartment building, heard Winda pounding on Nichols’s door and screaming that she wanted her shirt. On another occasion prior to the murder, Linda Kinebrew, a neighbor living at the apartment, "heard Nichols arguing, telling Winda to let him in and she wouldn’t." Carol Parcell, Hartman’s mother, provided an alibi. Hartman lived at his mother’s apartment, and Parcell claimed that when she came home on September 9 at 6:15 p.m., her son was sleeping in his bedroom. According to Parcell, Hartman woke up at 7:00 p.m., got ready, left the apartment at 7:30 p.m., and returned to the apartment around 8:15 p.m. Hartman testified on his own behalf. He admitted having sex with Winda several times over the past year and during the early morning hours of September 9 when he was at Winda’s apartment. After having sex, Hartman returned to his apartment at about 3:30 a.m., slept until 6:15 p.m., left his apartment at 7:35 p.m., and returned to the Inn Between bar. Before reaching the Inn Between, Hartman noticed that Winda’s bathroom light was on at her apartment, and he decided to visit her to see if he could "get laid." Hartman entered Winda’s apartment through an unlocked door and found her mutilated body in the bedroom. Hartman tried to "get her up and put her on the bed to see if there was anything else I could help with." Hartman "freaked out" after noticing Winda had no hands and realized he "could get in a lot of trouble" if he was placed at the scene. Thus, he washed her blood off his hands, wiped down the cupboards, chair handles, and anything else he might have touched, gathered whatever items he could find that belonged to him, and left Winda’s apartment. Hartman "ran home" and threw the items taken from Winda’s apartment into a nearby dumpster. Upon arriving home, Hartman changed his shoes and hid the bloody tee-shirt so that his mother would not find it. Thereafter, Hartman hurried back to the Inn Between bar and started drinking. When he was "semi-intoxicated," Hartman made the anonymous 911 calls reporting the location of Winda’s body, admitted standing behind a tree watching the police arrive at Winda’s apartment, and later approached the police to report that he had been at the apartment the previous evening. Hartman introduced photographs taken of his naked body following his arrest to show the absence of bruises and injuries. Hartman explained that a cut on his elbow had occurred at work while he was moving crates. Hartman acknowledged talking with Chris Hoffman about the O.J. Simpson case but did not recall discussing anything about cutting off a victim’s hands. Hartman knew Tyson as a fellow inmate but denied making any jailhouse admissions that he murdered Winda. Trial result The grand jury indicted Hartman on two counts of aggravated murder, including one count of murder with prior calculation and design and one count of felony murder. A capital specification relating to murder during a kidnapping was included in the felony murder count. He was also charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence. The jury found Hartman guilty of all offenses and recommended death for Winda’s murder. The trial court sentenced Hartman to ten years for kidnapping, five years for tampering with evidence, and death for the aggravated murder of Winda Snipes.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 7, 2009 Texas Ben "Doc" Murray, 68 Jose Briseno stayed
Ben MurrayIn late 1990, Ben Murray, the Sheriff of Dimmit County, was investigating a burglary case. The Sheriff met with Jose Garcia Briseno to enlist his help in solving the burglaries. Briseno was on parole and had previous convictions for burglary, forgery and aggravated assault. Several weeks later, on Sunday, January 6, 1991, Ben was found dead in his home, with numerous stab wounds and a bullet wound to the head. At trial, testimony revealed that over five hundred dollars in cash had been taken from Ben. Additionally, two of his pistols were missing. When Briseno was arrested, he had bandages on both hands. He told police that he had received the cuts in a fight on the previous Friday. While being held, he attempted to escape with several other inmates. After their capture, one of the other inmates told authorities statements Briseno made about the Sheriff’s murder. He testified that on the night of Ben’s murder, Briseno and another defendant, Alberto G. Gonzales, appeared at Ben’s home offering to sell some rings. Briseno and Gonzales did not have any rings for sale, but used the ring story to gain entry to Ben’s home. A struggle began, and they stabbed Ben Murray. When Briseno and Gonzales could not take Ben down, Briseno grabbed Ben’s gun off a table and shot Ben. Afterwards, Briseno and Gonzales stole some money from Ben’s home and hid it. The inmate also testified that during the escape Briseno showed him the spot where Briseno had buried the gun used to kill Ben. Briseno dug up the gun but soon disposed of it in the same general area before the police caught the escapees. Upon being recaptured, the inmate led the officers to the location where Briseno had hidden the gun, and the gun was recovered. At trial, the state introduced evidence demonstrating that blood taken from Ben’s carpet compared positively with that of Briseno. The state’s serologist testified that the enzyme markers found in the blood are shared by Briseno and a little more than one percent of the Hispanic population in the United States. Additional evidence submitted at trial included bloody clothing that was found behind a sofa in a shed in which Briseno had been staying. That clothing contained enzyme markers consistent with Briseno’s and Ben Murray’s. Furthermore, a bullet of the same caliber and brand as that used in the stolen pistol utilized to kill the sheriff was discovered at the shed. Moreover, a bloodhound tracked a lighter found near Ben’s residence to the shed where Briseno had been staying. A jury convicted Briseno of Sheriff Murray’s murder and sentenced him to death. Doc Murray had served as Sheriff for almost 20 years and was survived by his wife and three children. Alberto Gonzales received a life sentence for his part in the crime. UPDATE: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Briseno’s motion for a stay of execution and agreed to review his claim that the trial jury was given an unconstitutional nullification instruction.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 7, 2009 Tennessee Ricci Ellsworth Michael Rimmer stayed
During the middle 1980’s, Michael Dale Rimmer had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship with Ricci Ellsworth. They started dating sometime after Ricci obtained a divorce in 1977 from her first husband, Donald Eugene Ellsworth, by whom she had two children. At the time, Ricci was apparently struggling with a drinking problem and Ellsworth was experiencing drug problems. Later, after his relationship with Ricci had come to an end, Rimmer was indicted for the aggravated assault and rape of Ricci Ellsworth and the first degree burglary of her residence. In 1989, he entered pleas of guilt to each charge and was sentenced to the Department of Correction. During his incarceration, Ricci often accompanied Rimmer’s mother, Sandra Rimmer, on visits to the prison. Because Ricci participated in a religious program that ministered to inmates from about 1988 to 1992, she saw Rimmer regularly. According to Rimmer’s mother, Ricci and Rimmer displayed an affection for each other during the prison visits. Despite this purported renewal of their relationship, however, there was evidence that during this period of time, Rimmer informed two inmates, Roger LeScure and William Conaley, of his desire to kill Ricci upon his release from the prison. He even described to LeScure how he intended to dispose of her body. Rimmer explained to the inmates that he blamed Ricci for his incarceration and was entitled to money from her. Rimmer was released by the Department of Correction in October of 1996 and began work at an auto body repair shop in Memphis. By that time, Ricci, who was employed as a night auditor at the Memphis Inn, had remarried Donald Ellsworth and had experienced some success in controlling her alcohol problems. On February 7, 1997, Ricci was scheduled to begin her shift at 11:00 p.m. Her husband awakened her and kissed her goodbye. She drove to the hotel in her 1989 Dodge Dynasty. The only access to her office was through a door, which was locked, or through a small opening in the glass security window. Several hotel guests saw Ricci at her office desk between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Before 2:00 a.m., one of the guests noticed a “dark-maroonish brown” car that had been backed into an area near the hotel entrance. Although it was raining at the time, the trunk was open. At about 2:30 a.m., a railroad supervisor with CSX Transportation drove to the hotel when the management service was unable to make telephone contact with a work crew which was staying there overnight. Because no one was at the front desk, he entered the office area. When he heard the sound of water running in the office restroom, he looked inside and discovered blood splatters on the sink, the wall, the toilet bowl, and some towels. He reported his findings to Shelby County officers who were leaving a nearby Denny’s Restaurant. The officers notified the hotel manager who lived on the premises. When they investigated, they discovered signs of a struggle in the office area. There were “puddles” of blood throughout the restroom. The sink was cracked, and the lid had been ripped off the commode. Police found Ricci’s purse. There was a trail of blood approximately thirty-nine feet long that led from the restroom, through the equipment room, office, reception area, and to the vending space. The trail ended on the curb outside the night entrance, indicating that Ricci may have been dragged from the restroom to the curb. Some $600 in cash was missing from the register, and three sets of sheets had been taken from the equipment room. Officer Robert Moore of the Memphis Police found a green cigarette lighter under a bloody towel and discovered Ricci’s gold ring between the office and the bathroom. Sergeant Robert Shemwell of the homicide department testified that during the investigation the police questioned Richard Rimmer, Rimmer’s brother, and Richard’s ex girlfriend, Joyce Frazier. According to Sergeant Shemwell, Rimmer appeared at his brother’s house during the morning hours after the murder. Rimmer’s car was muddy and so were his shoes. The back seat of the car appeared to be wet. There was a shovel inside. Rimmer had asked Richard Rimmer, who was a carpet cleaner, if he knew how to get blood out of carpet. Richard Rimmer admitted that sometime after he had learned of Ricci’s disappearance, he disposed of the shovel in a dumpster. The police learned that Rimmer left Memphis without taking the last paycheck he was due from his employer. He gave no notice of his departure. He also left without taking his work tools or the clothing he had stored in the room he occupied. On March 5, 1997, Michael Adams, a Johnson County, Indiana deputy, stopped Rimmer, checked the license plate number on the Honda, and determined that the vehicle had been reported as stolen in early January. Rimmer was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and public intoxication. He registered.06 on a blood-alcohol test. A receipt in the vehicle indicated that Rimmer was in Myrtle, Mississippi on the day after Ricci’s disappearance. Receipts from Florida, Missouri, Wyoming, Montana, California, Arizona, and Texas with dates ranging from February 13, five days after the police were alerted of the crime, to March 3, 1997, two days before Rimmer’s arrest, were found in the vehicle. There were blood stains on the carpet and on a seat belt in the back seat of the Honda. Subsequent testing of the stains in the car revealed that the DNA from the blood was consistent with the bloodline of Ricci’s mother, Marjorie Floyd, who lived in Florence, Alabama. It was also consistent with the blood type of Ricci, as compared through a sample previously taken from a pap smear. Frank Baetchel, the FBI forensic expert who performed the tests, also examined a bloody hotel towel found at the Memphis Inn, concluding that the blood sample matched the stains found inside the Honda. According to Sergeant Shemwell, Rimmer attempted to escape from Indiana authorities on at least two different occasions. Initially, they caught him trying to cut through a fence with nail clippers. Afterward, the officers there found two home-made shanks that he had made in his cell. While in route to Tennessee, Rimmer attempted to escape a second time, gaining control of the extradition van, which included three other inmates, and driving four hours before finally being apprehended by the authorities. A third attempt took place at the Shelby County Jail. During the course of the investigation, the police had explored numerous leads. One report indicated that between 1:45 and 2:00 a.m., a witness saw two white males at the Memphis Inn. It was dark and the weather was rainy. He said that both men had blood on their knuckles and appeared to have been fighting. The witness told officers that one of the men, who he believed to be a clerk, was behind the hotel window and appeared to be giving change to the other. He inferred that the clerk was trying to get the other man, who was “very drunk,” to leave. The witness also saw a dark-colored car “backed in front of the night entrance.” The witness, when shown a photographic line-up, was unable to identify Rimmer as one of the two men. Two composite drawings were made of these individuals, based on the witness’s descriptions. This evidence was not presented to the guilt-phase jury. Although his testimony was presented at the resentencing hearing through Officer Shemwell, the composite drawings were not. Rimmer’s mother, Sandra Rimmer, testified on his behalf, confirming that Ricci had visited Rimmer while he was in prison. She claimed that Rimmer was innocent of the rape charge and contended that Ricci admitted fabricating her claims, saying that her boyfriend at the time, Tommy Voyles, was pushing her to file the charges. Ms. Rimmer also testified that Ricci sent photographs to Rimmer while he was in prison and “acted like” his girlfriend. Prison records indicated that Ricci ceased visitation with Rimmer after her remarriage to Donald Ellsworth. The defense also presented testimony by a sociologist and mitigation specialist, Dr. Ann Marie Charvat, who had interviewed Rimmer and had conducted a study of his background. She testified that she had learned that Rimmer’s parents married very young and then had three children in quick succession, Rimmer being the middle child. Thereafter, the family moved from Memphis to Houston, where the father was arrested for a minor offense and placed on probation, and then to Indianapolis, where the parents divorced. Later, the parents remarried and returned with the children to the Memphis area. The father worked for the city government and, when the mother left the residence to work full-time, Rimmer, at age eleven, first began to exhibit behavioral problems at school. Rimmer was a “C” student but, according to the mitigation expert, would have benefitted from special education classes. Dr. Charvat testified that Rimmer was hospitalized as an adolescent during a time his father was being treated for mental illness. Afterward, Rimmer was hospitalized on at least two other occasions, one of which was the direct result of his involvement with an older woman, possibly a teacher. Rimmer dropped out of school in the ninth grade and began working at a gas station and in his father’s shop. At eighteen, Rimmer was arrested and served a prison sentence. Although the incident came about when he and some friends attempted to purchase some marijuana, he was the only one involved to serve a term in prison. The others received jail terms or probationary sentences. Dr. Charvat learned that while Rimmer was in prison, he met an inmate, Jimmy Watson, who had a relationship with Ricci Ellsworth. When the couple broke up, Rimmer became involved with Ricci. Upon his release from prison, he lived with Ricci and her children, describing this period as the happiest time in his life. Dr. Charvat also understood that Rimmer resumed his relationship with Ricci, through prison visits, even after he had entered his guilty pleas to the burglary and to her assault and rape. The names of Ricci’s two children also were on the prison visitation list. Barbara Dycus, a prison minister at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, testified that Ricci was engaged to Rimmer in 1993, a year before she remarried Donald Ellsworth. She stated that Rimmer played music, wrote gospel songs, and sang during their religious services. Thomas Mach, another prison minister, confirmed that Rimmer had encouraged other inmates to participate in the various programs, including Bible study. During his testimony and in response to a question posed by defense counsel, Mach mentioned that he had met Rimmer on “death row.” Defense counsel repeated the term during direct examination. Mach made two more references to “death row” in the context of when he met Rimmer. Throughout the resentencing hearing, the State made numerous objections on grounds of relevancy and hearsay, most of which were overruled. The trial court did, however, sustain at least three objections by the State, thereby excluding some of the evidence offered by the defense. The first was a statement by Sandra Rimmer, who claimed that immediately before Ricci made the rape accusation, Voyles had offered to persuade Ricci to drop the charges in exchange for $5,000. The trial court concluded that the testimony fell “outside the acceptable hearsay rule as it applies to this sentencing hearing.” Although the jury also did not see the composite drawing of the two unidentified men who were seen at the Memphis Inn near the time of Ricci’s disappearance, the jury heard Sergeant Shemwell testify that these drawings existed. Even though the sentencing jury heard about the witness’s account of the two men, the defense was not allowed to inform the sentencing jury that the original, convicting jury did not hear evidence about these same two men. After weighing evidence from both sides, the jury returned a sentence of death. The sole aggravating factor was the presence of prior felony convictions with statutory elements involving the use of violence to the person. The jury concluded that this aggravating factor outweighed all mitigating factors. Upon first tier review, the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the death sentence. The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the sentence in February 2008. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 15, 2009 Texas Mary Felder, 68 Michael Rosales executed
In May 1998, a Lubbock jury sentenced Michael F. Rosales to death for fatally stabbing a 68-year-old woman in 1997 while burglarizing her Lubbock home. Rosales, 23 at the time, broke into the North Overton home of Mary Felder during the early morning hours of June 4, 1997. Rosales was looking for something to steal so he could get money to buy drugs. After Mary awoke during the burglary, Rosales beat and stabbed her. Rosales beat Mary so severely that he knocked out several of her teeth, causing one tooth to become lodged in her vocal cords. Rosales struck Mary in the neck, crushing her larynx, closing off her airway, and causing her to suffocate. In addition to the beating, Rosales also stabbed Mary with a steak knife and needle-nose pliers. Altogether, Mary sustained 113 wounds, including 21 stab wounds, 28 incised or cut wounds, 33 blunt force injuries, and 31 puncture wounds. Five of her wounds were of lethal force, of which three were inflicted while she was alive. Mary’s grandson found her body, surrounded by a large amount of blood, around 4 pm in the afternoon. She was slumped in the bedroom. The grandson had visited her around 10 am, and again at noon on Wednesday, both times finding the residence secure and getting no answer at the door. When he returned a third time, he discovered one of the door’s nine window panes broken and the door unlocked. Rosales was at the crime scene when police first arrived. Relatives and friends said Mary bothered no one and spent her days visiting friends and family and attending church. The only motive suggested by Mary’s sister was robbery. Mary had about $60 in cash, saved for an insurance payment, at the time of her death. After receiving permission to search the nearby home of one of Rosales’s friends (where Rosales stayed the night of the murder), police discovered a white, blood-stained T-shirt and a pair of bloody blue jeans belonging to Rosales. Subsequent DNA testing showed that the blood on the T-shirt and jeans was consistent with Mary Felder’s blood. Police also recovered a pair of Nike tennis shoes belonging to Rosales that identically matched bloody shoe prints found in Mary’s bedroom. In addition, DNA analysis of a blood sample taken from a bathroom sink used by Rosales was consistent with both Mary Felder’s and Rosales’s blood. DNA analysis also linked Mary’s blood to a sample of blood taken from the front door of the apartment where Rosales stayed the night of the murder. When police confronted Rosales with pictures of the bloody clothing, he confessed to killing Mary Felder. After confessing, Rosales led police to the dumpster where he disposed of the murder weapons. There, police found a white plastic trash bag containing a bloody pair of needle-nose pliers, a bloody steak knife with a 4 ½ inch blade, and a bloody two-pronged kitchen fork. DNA testing revealed that the blood on these instruments was consistent with that of the victim. During the punishment phase of the trial, the State introduced evidence that at the time of committing capital murder, Rosales was on probation in Lubbock County for the felony offense of possession of a controlled substance. Although Rosales had previously violated the terms and conditions of his probation and was on intensive supervision at the time of the capital murder on June 4, 1997, he had removed his electronic monitor and was avoiding his probation officer at that time. In addition, Rosales had also been previously convicted of Class A Misdemeanor theft of property of the value of $200 or more, but less than $750, and Class A Misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle. Both misdemeanor convictions were in Lubbock County. Rosales had a previous execution date that was stayed in April 2004 but it was stayed due to a claim by Rosales’s attorney that he was mentally retarded.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 16, 2009 Alabama Leon Shaw Jimmy Dill executed
The victim, Leon Shaw, drove to Terry Dill’s house on the afternoon of February 8, 1988. Leon was not supposed to be driving because he was serving time at the Federal Work Release Center for a drug violation. Leon was, however, allowed to leave the center to go to work. He operated the Rose Boutique, which he owned with his wife, Junatha Shaw. Terry Dill left the house and got in the car with Leon. Jimmy Lee Dill was in the front seat with Leon. Leon told Terry Dill that Jimmy Dill wanted to buy drugs from Leon. The testimony reveals that Terry Dill was a former cocaine addict who had sold cocaine with Leon for four years. Leon would pay Terry Dill to bring him customers. Leon, Terry Dill, and Jimmy Dill ran into Jacqueline Ball and Freddie Carter near a church on 85th Street. Leon was still driving the car and Terry Dill was sitting in the backseat behind him. Jimmy Dill was still in the front passenger seat. Apparently, Leon and Jimmy Dill got out of the car. Leon talked to Jacqueline Ball, and Jimmy Dill talked to Freddie Carter. Leon was carrying a black pouch in which he normally kept cocaine and money. Leon had at least $200 in his hand. After Ball and Carter left, Jimmy Dill asked Leon if he would give him some cocaine until he could get the money to pay for it. Leon refused. They left for Druid Hills, where the work release center was located, because Leon had to sign in at the center. When they got to Druid Hills, Leon’s beeper went off. They all got out of the car and Leon made a telephone call. They went to the Curb Market and Leon bought wine coolers. Leon had a “folded wad of money.” When they left the store, Leon had everyone in the car switch places so that the people at the center would not see him driving. Terry Dill was now driving and Jimmy Dill was in the backseat. Terry Dill drove to the center. Jimmy Dill again asked Leon for cocaine. Leon told him that he would give him the cocaine when Jimmy Dill got some money. He also showed Jimmy Dill a half ounce of cocaine. Jimmy Dill asked for cocaine again when they pulled up to the center. Leon went to the building. He pulled a “big wad of money” out of his pocket. There was so much money that it could not be rolled up. He told the case manager at the center that he had just left the Rose Boutique and was going to make a deposit. While Leon was inside the center, Jimmy Dill said to Terry Dill, “You don’t believe I’ll rob him or shoot him.” Jimmy Dill 5 On February 12, four days after Leon was shot, Terry Dill spoke to Leon’s wife, Junatha Shaw and, later the same day, contacted the Birmingham police. On February 18, the police contacted petitioner, who voluntarily went to the station house and made the statement 6 continued to talk about killing Leon. When Leon got back in the car, Jimmy Dill said that he would shoot Leon if he did not give him some cocaine. After they drove off, there was a gunshot. Blood spurted onto Terry Dill. Jimmy Dill had a small automatic pistol, approximately.25 or.22 caliber. Jimmy Dill told Terry Dill to be quiet and keep driving. Jimmy Dill pulled the trigger as if he was going to shoot Leon again. They eventually stopped in an alley. Jimmy Dill searched Leon and took the money and cocaine. Jimmy Dill then got a rag and started wiping fingerprints off of the car. Terry Dill ran away. Jimmy Dill also ran away. Terry Dill called his girlfriend to pick him up. He went home later that evening. Jimmy Dill stated that he and Terry Dill were with Leon and that they drove to North Birmingham. Terry Dill was driving the car, Leon was on the front passenger seat, and Jimmy Dill was in the backseat behind Terry Dill. Jimmy Dill stated that Leon’s door opened and that he heard a shot from behind Leon. Jimmy Dill was then asked how Leon was shot from behind without the window being shot out of the car. Jimmy Dill then stated that Leon was actually getting into the car when someone ran up to Leon’s door. Jimmy Dill stated that he heard a gunshot. He and Terry Dill got out and ran. Jimmy Dill then stated that after hearing the shot, they drove off and a car followed them. They drove to an alley, jumped out of the car, and ran away. Jimmy Dill stated that Leon had some cocaine in a black bag but he did not see any money. A woman who lived near the site of the shooting saw the car in the alley, watched the two men leave the scene, and summoned the police, who, upon finding Leon and realizing that he was bleeding profusely, called for an ambulance. The court described what took place thereafter, including the circumstances that led to Leon’s death: Leon was taken to the University Hospital of Birmingham where emergency brain surgery was performed. The bullet entered the left, back side of his brain. Leon was unconscious. He had abnormal movement in his extremities which indicates that the brain is functioning extremely abnormally. Both a feeding tube and breathing tube were inserted. He was discharged from the hospital on April 26, 1988, because there was nothing more the hospital could do for him. Leon could not function independently and required round-the-clock care. Leon eventually pulled the feeding tube out. However, his doctor said he would not replace the tube since he could eat and drink by mouth. Leon was readmitted to the hospital on October 31, 1988. He never regained consciousness and died on November 22, 1988. Leon’s doctors testified that he died of complications from a gunshot wound to the head. Forensic evidence revealed that the bullet removed from Leon’s head was consistent with a.22 caliber projectile. The characteristics of the wound were consistent with a contact gunshot wound. The jury found petitioner guilty as charged. After a brief recess, the jury returned for the penalty phase of the trial. The State put on one witness in its case, parole officer Carl Michael Newman. Newman testified that Jimmy Dill had two Alabama felony convictions and was on parole at the time Leon was shot. The State submitted into evidence certified copies of the two convictions. The certified copies indicated that on October 4, 1983, Dill was convicted of theft of property in the first degree and, on December 9, 1983, was sentenced to prison for a term of ten years. On the same day he was sentenced for the first conviction, Dill pled guilty to second degree robbery and was sentenced to a concurrent ten-year prison term. Dill was on parole on February 8, 1988, when the Leon Shaw shooting occurred. His parole was revoked on March 15, 1988. The defense likewise presented one witness, Jimmy Dill. His testimony was brief. Dill indicated that he had a thirteen-month old child, a common-law wife, had worked a number of jobs, and attended nursing school while on parole. In its closing argument to the jury, the State argued that the evidence (introduced during both the guilt and penalty phases of trial) established three aggravating circumstances: the offense had been committed by a person (1) who was under a sentence of imprisonment; (2) who had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person; and (3) who, at the time of the murder, was engaged in the commission of a robbery. As a result, the prosecution argued, the jury should return a death penalty verdict. Wilkinson, relying on Dill’s testimony, urged the jury to recommend a life sentence. The jury found the aggravating circumstances the State had cited, and, therefore, returned a verdict calling for the death sentence. UPDATE: Just before the execution started, Jimmy Dill said "I just hope that God’s will be done and everybody find the peace that they need. I’m good."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 29, 2009 Georgia Eddie Tucker William Mize executed
William Mark Mize was the leader of a small group, similar to the Ku Klux Klan, called the National Vastilian Aryan Party (NVAP). Witnesses testified that Mize made all the decisions for the NVAP. Several witnesses also testified that Mize displayed a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun at an NVAP meeting and told the members that the shotgun was the kind of weapon that the group would use because it could not be traced. Several of Mize’s friends and co-workers were members of the NVAP, or in the initiation process. Eddie Tucker, the victim, had filled out an application form but was not a full member. On Saturday, October 15, 1994, several NVAP members and applicants gathered at Mize’s home after Mize got off from work. Those present were Mize, Mark Allen, Chris Hattrup, Brian Dove, Samantha Doster (Mize’s girlfriend), and Tucker. Mize told Doster that the group was going camping that night and they all got in Mize’s car. When they were driving, Mize told the group that there was a crack house in Athens that he wanted “gotten rid of.” Mize stated that he wanted Hattrup and Tucker to set the house on fire, and they stopped at a convenience store and bought a can of lighter fluid. Hattrup and Tucker were dropped off near the house but their attempt to set it on fire was unsuccessful. When they rejoined the group, Hattrup told Mize that he needed to talk with him. Hattrup also said, referring to Tucker, that they “didn’t need anybody around that couldn’t follow orders.” After spending an hour at a bar, Mize drove the group to a wooded area in Oconee County. Dove and Doster were given camping gear to carry and the group set out into the woods. No one had a flashlight even though it was night. Tucker was in the lead, followed by Mize, Allen, Doster, Dove and Hattrup. After they had gone only a short distance, Hattrup passed Dove and Doster and moved up the trail to talk with Allen and Mize. Mize told Allen to stop Dove and Doster from continuing into the woods. At this point, Tucker, Hattrup and Mize were out of sight in the woods ahead of Allen, Dove and Doster. There was a shot, and Tucker exclaimed, “My God, what did you do that for?” There was a second shot. Doster heard Hattrup ask Mize if he had the gun and Mize replied, “No, man. I thought you had it.” Hattrup stated, “No. He took it away from me,” and Mize said, “If you can’t finish it I can.” Allen left Dove and Doster and moved up the trail. Dove and Doster heard a discussion among Mize, Allen, and Hattrup about muscle spasms and how Tucker was still moving. There was a third shot. Dove and Doster ran back to Mize’s car. Mize emerged from the woods holding a shotgun and trying to break it down. Once in the car, Mize asked everyone if they knew why it was done. Everyone nodded agreement. Mize told the group that the same thing could happen to them if they ran their mouth. Mize also told the group that, if asked about Tucker, they should say that they had dropped him off at a convenience store. While they were driving, Allen and Hattrup noticed that the barrel of the shotgun had shattered so they stopped at a bridge and threw the gun in a river. Later, Mize confided to Doster that he had finished Tucker off by shooting him in the head. The police discovered Tucker’s body several days later. He had been shot in the back, chest and head with a shotgun. The medical examiner testified that the back and chest wounds were inflicted by a shotgun fired at close range. The victim’s head exhibited widely scattered pellet wounds that failed to penetrate the skull; the head wounds were consistent with a close-range shotgun blast that had shattered the barrel. The medical examiner further testified that the shots to the back and chest tore through the victim’s right lung, but that none of the wounds were immediately fatal. The victim’s death was due to blood loss, and it could have taken him several minutes to die. A fragment of the shotgun barrel was discovered about two feet from the body’s location; the gun was not recovered. After the body was discovered but before anyone was arrested, Chris Hattrup showed his roommate, Paul McDonald, the newspaper article about Tucker’s death and told him what had happened. When the crack house failed to burn, Mize asked how Tucker had done and Hattrup responded that Tucker “didn’t do what he was supposed to do.” Mize then said, “you know what we have to do.” Hattrup admitted to McDonald that he shot Tucker in the back and chest, but that Tucker was still alive. He was out of ammunition, though, so he asked Mize for another shotgun shell and Mize gave it to him. Hattrup then shot Tucker in the head. Hattrup also boasted to McDonald that he was now a “hit man for the Klan.” Brian Dove told the police what he had seen and heard that night, and he later testified at Mize’s trial. The other four NVAP members involved in Tucker’s death were arrested. After spending a year in jail, Doster agreed to testify against the others and her charges were dropped. At trial, the prosecution relied on the testimony of six principal witnesses in addition to the crime scene investigators. Brian Dove and Samantha Doster gave eyewitness accounts of the events before, on, and after October 15. Paul McDonald, Chris Hattrup’s roommate, testified about Hattrup’s statements regarding the incident. Ronald Allen, a member of the NVAP who was not present on October 15, testified that Mize displayed a shotgun at a meeting, and that Mize displayed animosity toward Tucker at a meeting less than a month before Tucker was killed. Michael Hollis, a prospective NVAP member, also testified that Mize displayed a shotgun at a meeting. Finally, Jeremy Phillips, a resident of the supposed crack house, testified that he put out a fire on the night of October 15, and that a detective later found a can of lighter fluid on the property. The defense put on only two witnesses. Both testified that they remembered seeing Tucker at a restaurant on October 18, more than two days after he died (according to the crime scene investigators, Dove, Doster, and McDonald). The defense attempted to call Chris Hattrup, but because he had not yet finalized his plea deal, he asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Hattrup later pled guilty to murder and received a sentence of life with no parole eligibility for twenty years. Mark Allen (who was also present on October 15) also did not testify; the record does not reveal whether he relied on his privilege or whether he was not called. Allen also later pled guilty to murder. The jury convicted Mize of malice murder. During the sentencing phase, Mize took the stand and, while still asserting his innocence, testified that he wanted no sentence other than death. The jury sentenced him to death on the basis of two aggravating factors: he ordered another to commit the murder, and the murder was outrageously or wantonly vile (because it was accompanied by aggravated battery).
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 30, 2009 Texas LaTausha Curry, 25 Derrick Johnson executed
On January 21, 1999, LaTausha Curry, age 25, lived with her parents in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. She owned a red, 1987 Ford Taurus. That evening she set out for Camp Wisdom road to meet someone for a date. She never returned. In a written confession, Derrick Lamone Johnson admitted that he and an accomplice sexually assaulted and killed LaTausha Curry, and in an oral statement given before the body had been discovered, he told the police where her body could be found. The body was found where Johnson said it would be. Johnson’s fingerprints were found in LaTausha’s car, and DNA testing matched Johnson to seminal fluid found on LaTausha’s sweat pants. LaTausha was abducted while making a call at a pay phone. At around midnight on the evening LaTausha disappeared, Stella Wilson went to a gas station. At the station, she noticed what she described as a "burgundy" car occupied by two young black men. One of these men later pointed a gun at her and demanded her purse, which she relinquished. In court, she identified Johnson as the robber and driver of the car. She also identified LaTausha’s red Ford Taurus as the car he was driving. About 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. on January 22nd, Tanya Robinson, an assistant manager at a Jack-in-the-Box, was driving home from work. She noticed behind her a reddish car occupied by two people. The red car began to chase her and hit her car while both vehicles were going about seventy-five miles per hour. She stopped her car, and when the driver of the red car got out of the car, she put the car in reverse and tried to run over him. Robinson then drove back to the Jack-in-the-Box and asked an employee to call the police. She then began to chase the red car to get a license plate number. The police subsequently joined the chase. During the chase, Officer Larry Byers saw the red car crash and two black males run from the car. Byers identified Johnson as the driver. Robinson caught up with the red car after the occupants had fled and therefore was not able to identify the driver at trial. She did, however, identify LaTausha’s Ford Taurus as the car that had chased her. LaTausha’s car was impounded and searched, resulting in the recovery of various items, including a pipe made to look like a gun, a mace dispenser, and a cell phone. As a result of this incident Johnson was charged with the capital murder of LaTausha Curry under three different legal theories: murder in the course of kidnapping, murder in the course of robbery, and murder in the course of aggravated sexual assault. One week prior to the murder, Johnson and his underage accomplice abducted another woman, sexually assaulted her, and attempted to strangle her before she was able to persuade them to take her with them to commit robberies. In the course of twenty-four hours, Johnson committed eight robberies. Further Johnson had prior convictions for robbery and burglary. UPDATED: Derrick Johnson was executed for the capital murder of LaTausha Curry. Johnson, 28, never acknowledged relatives of his victim, LaTausha Curry, including the woman’s father and two sisters. They watched from an adjacent room and declined to speak with reporters following the execution.

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