February 2009 Executions

Eight killers were executed in February 2009. They had murdered at least 14 people.
Three killers expired while awaiting execution in February 2009. They had murdered at least 7 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 4, 2009 Texas Carolina Prado, 37
Eric Prado, 14
David Martinez executed
Late on the evening of July 10, 1994, 11-year-old Belinda Prado was watching television on the living room couch of the home she shared with her mother Carolina and her 14-year-old brother Eric. Eric fell asleep on a mattress on the floor in the living room while Carolina slept in her bedroom. Later that night, David Martinez, who had been staying with Carolina, and another man whom Belinda had never seen before came to her home. The other man left after 15-20 minutes, and Belinda saw Martinez go to her mother’s bedroom. Early on the morning of July 11, 1994, Belinda awoke to the sound of a baseball bat striking something in the living room. Belinda saw Martinez, who was dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts, repeatedly strike Eric in the head with a baseball bat. Belinda saw blood flying as Martinez beat Eric with the bat. When Belinda asked Martinez “to behave,” he told her to be quiet or he would kill her, too. Fearful for her life, Belinda asked where her mother was and he replied Carolina was in the shower. When Belinda looked in the bathroom, however, she did not see her mother. Martinez forced Belinda into Eric’s bedroom at knife-point and tied her to the bed. Martinez was dressed in a white shirt, a pair of black pants, a leather vest Belinda recognized as belonging to her uncle, and a pair of boots. Before leaving the house, he gave Belinda a handwritten note and directed her to take the note to her grandmother, who lived a short distance down the street. Martinez’s handwritten note, which was admitted into evidence at trial, read “I messed up. I’LL Be at the Friends on the EAst side.” Still fearful for her life, Belinda waited several minutes after Martinez left the house before she took his note to her grandparents’ home. Belinda gave her grandmother the note and accompanied her grandparents back to her home, where she learned her mother was dead in her bedroom. Carolina Prado’s mother, Rosa Ramirez, testified at trial that she first met Martinez in June 1994, when Carolina introduced him to her and informed her mother she and Martinez were going to live together. Carolina was divorced from Eric and Belinda’s father, with whom the two children had stayed for several weeks prior to date of the murders. Around 5:10 a.m. on the morning of the murders, Martinez telephoned her and informed her Carolina was tired and did not plan to go to work that day. Around 8:30 a.m. the same morning, Belinda rang her door bell and, when she answered the door, Belinda, who appeared nervous, handed her the note and told her Eric had a lot of blood on his head. As she and Belinda walked down to Carolina’s house, Belinda told her Carolina was at work. When they arrived at Carolina’s home, Belinda directed her to go inside but Belinda refused to enter the house. The grandmother entered the house and walked into the living room, where she found Eric lying dead with a towel covering his head. When she lifted the towel, she observed that Eric’s head was “broken,” his brains were “all over the place,” and there was “lots of blood.” After her husband entered the house and observed Eric, they walked back to their home where her husband called 911 and then called Carolina’s place of employment. By the time they returned to Carolina’s home, a police officer had sealed the house and would not allow them to enter. The officer told her there was a dead woman in the back bedroom. Mrs. Ramirez noticed drops of blood on the curtains and window of Carolina’s bedroom; she never again saw Carolina. San Antonio Police Officers who arrived at the scene found Eric lying dead from obvious head injuries in the living room and Carolina dead from even more gruesome head injuries in the blood-drenched bedroom. Police officers also found what appeared to be a bloody baseball bat covered by a towel on a living room chair. An autopsy established Carolina Prado sustained a large contusion on her right shoulder and arm, a bruise on the back of her elbow, bruising of the eyelids secondary to a massive skull fracture, and the right side of her head caved in due to blunt trauma; suffered multiple fractures in all areas of the skull, including behind the eye and at the base of the skull; suffered a massive multi-rayed laceration on the right side of her head with multiple loose fragments of skull; lost approximate one-half of her brain tissue from her cranial cavity due to massive blunt force trauma and died as a result of multiple, massive skull fractures and severe underlying brain injuries. An autopsy established Eric Prado had sustained a large contusion above and behind the right ear accompanied by a large laceration due to bony skull fragments and brain matter protruding from the defect, as well two smaller lacerations just behind the larger one; suffered a hinge fracture laterally across the base of the brain from ear to ear. Eric was likely rendered unconscious immediately and died almost immediately after he was assaulted. He received “a tremendous blow” by something heavy. Eric did not show any sign of defensive injuries and died as a result of cranial cerebral injuries, including severe fractures of the skull and severe underlying brain injuries. At approximately 3:30 a.m. on July 13, 1994, San Marcos Police Officers arrested Martinez on a capital murder warrant at the residence of his grandmother. Upon his arrest, Martinez repeatedly gave police a fictitious name even after they discovered his identification in his back pocket and noted the identifying tattoos on his arm. Following his arrest, while police were examining a baseball bat they found in the bedroom where he had been arrested, Martinez volunteered a comment along the lines of “that’s not what you’re looking for” or “that’s not it.” During the brief drive to the Hays County Law Enforcement Center, Martinez asked if he were going to San Antonio that night and, when the officer driving the vehicle indicated negatively, Martinez volunteered that he had known there were police officers outside watching the house and that he could have done something if he had wished to do so. He inquired “who ratted on me?” and, when the officer driving the vehicle responded the matter was in the papers, Martinez sat up straight, appeared to be proud, and later volunteered “I killed them just like cockroaches.” Much later on the morning of July 13, 1994, a pair of San Antonio Police homicide detectives traveled to San Marcos to interview Martinez but were forced to wait several hours while Martinez went before a local magistrate. While they waited, the two detectives went to the residence where Martinez had been arrested and obtained consent from Martinez’s grandmother and uncle to search the residence. They took custody of a backpack his grandmother indicated belonged to Martinez, a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap and a pair of tennis shoes, both of which Belinda testified belonged to her brother Eric, and a shirt and pair of trousers Martinez’s uncle indicated belonged to Martinez. Inside the backpack, the detectives found a black leather vest which Belinda testified at trial belonged to one of her uncles. The San Antonio homicide detectives returned to the Hays County Law Enforcement Center and interviewed Martinez. Martinez agreed to be interviewed and signed a waiver of his rights. In his written confession, Martinez stated, "I want to talk to you about what I remember about the murder of Carol Prado and Eric Prado, 231 Obregon, San Antonio, Texas, on Monday, July the 11th, 1994. I have been dating Carol for about two months. I had drank a 12-pack of Bud Light beer, a big bottle of Bacardi rum. I got off work at Handy Andy at 1:45 a.m., and I walked to Carole’s house. I am living with Carole, and when I got home I started drinking. I got home about 1:50 a.m. When I got there, Carole was awake. Eric was asleep in the living room on a mattress on the floor. Belinda was on the couch also in the living room. Belinda was awake. I had a friend of mine there but I don’t want to tell you who he is. I walked my friend down the street at about 3:00 a.m., and I returned a short time later. I went outside and drank more, and then I walked down the street and threw the bottle. I went back in the house at 5:10 a.m. I was freaking and tripping and I hit Carole for no reason. I picked up a baseball bat that I tripped on. It was wooden. I hit Carole in the head with the bat. I must have hit her a lot to make her pass away. When I came in at 5:10 a.m., she told me to call her mom and tell her mom that she was going to stay home with the kids and would not be going to work. After I hit Carole, I went back to the living room and put the bat on the side of the couch, and I sat on the couch. Belinda was half awake and half asleep. Belinda wanted to go see her mother, and I told Belinda not to go in the bedroom because Carole was in the shower. I didn’t want Belinda to see her mother. I told Belinda to lay down and go to sleep. I thought I saw Eric coming at me, so I grabbed the bat and hit him in the head. I realized he was still laying on the floor. I stood up and hit Eric about four times with the same bat. I looked at Eric and said to myself, What the f*ck AM I doing. I then tied Belinda’s hands in front of her with a tie. I told her to go to her grandmother’s house after I left. I tied her hands loosely. Belinda asked me what she was supposed to tell her grandmother. I then wrote a note that said “I messed up. I’LL be on the Friends at the EAst side.” I gave Belinda the note. I then left and went to a friend’s house on the east side of San Antonio. I told him what I had done and I asked my friend to just put a bullet in my head. I can’t give you my friend’s name. I don’t know why I hit Carole and Eric. Carole had told me when I came home that she had seen me talking to a lady at Handy Andy but we didn’t argue. I understand my rights and I am waiving my rights and I am giving this statement because I want to. My statement is true and correct and this happened in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas." Martinez wrote the following appendix to his confession in his own handwriting: "I feel for the actions I took, I’m requesting the only just sentence for me is the “Death Penalty.” I took a life of someone who I cared about a lot. I feel that I can never bring her back. Please, give me the Death Penalty! I’ll never forget Carol. The pain swells within my heart forever. Carol, wherever you are please forgive me. I Do Love you!" The prosecution presented testimony from a forensic documents examiner establishing the same person who wrote the final paragraph of Martinez’s handwritten confession had also written the note Martinez gave to Belinda Prado on the date of the murders. Defense counsel presented no evidence. After deliberating slightly more than an hour, the jury returned its verdict finding Martinez guilty of capital murder. In the punishment phase of the trial, a police officer from Pharr, Texas, testified regarding his arrest of Martinez on September 19, 1988, while Martinez was burglarizing a convenience store. A Hidalgo County juvenile probation officer testified Martinez was charged with six counts of burglary committed June through September 1988. Martinez received a one-year probated sentence on December 13, 1988 and was arrested less than a week later for another burglary. Martinez once threatened the officer’s life, and was committed to the custody of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) on January 30, 1989. A former TYC case manager who met weekly with Martinez during his subsequent stay at a TYC-contract facility testified that Martinez became enraged, threw his chair, and broke a 50-gallon aquarium in March 1989, when she denied his request for a furlough to visit his mother. He briefly escaped in June 1989. Martinez habitually tried to stare down anyone who would not do what he wanted and was a “manipulator” who frequently tried to “sweet talk” her but would try to intimidate her if he did not get what he wanted. She said Martinez had a problem with authority figures, often talked back to officials at his TYC facility, had trouble controlling his temper and aggressive impulses. She said Martinez was intelligent, as demonstrated by his completion of his GED while under TYC supervision, and was discharged from the TYC in May, 1990. A McAllen shoe store employee testified Martinez entered her store on the morning of May 30, 1990 and waited until a courier left the store, then followed her to the back of the store where he grabbed her around the neck and waist and held her tightly against him while she screamed and fought unsuccessfully for her freedom. Martinez said he “wanted to be alone” with her and touched her breast and buttocks, then told her to stop yelling and pulled her down to the floor, injuring her back in the process. He finally released her only after she begged him not to hurt her and convinced him she was pregnant. He left the store only after she promised not to call the police and begged him to leave, and he threatened to return if she called the police. The store clerk also testified she saw Martinez walking along a city street on July 9, 1990, and identified him as her assailant when police brought him to her store later that same day. Martinez was subsequently charged with attempted sexual assault. A former Hidalgo County adult probation officer testified that Martinez received a probated 10-year sentence in May 1991, following his conviction for attempted sexual assault. The conditions of Martinez’s probation included making financial contributions, reporting weekly, and participating in a weekly sex offender group program. In early July, 1991, Martinez stopped reporting weekly, stopped attending weekly group counseling sessions, and ceased working or making his required financial contributions. After several months of unsuccessful attempts to contact Martinez, he filed a motion to revoke probation in December 1991. When law enforcement officers went to execute the warrant for Martinez’s arrest, he fled and was later charged with evading arrest. Martinez pleaded “true” to the motion to revoke and was sentenced to serve a 5-year prison term. A McAllen police officer testified that he assisted in the arrest of Martinez on April 1, 1992, on the motion to revoke probation. When officers announced their presence at the front door of Martinez’s residence, he fled out the back door. Martinez then led several officers on a chase through several backyards, over fences, and through alleyways before catching him several blocks away. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole supervisor testified that Martinez was paroled December 2, 1992. The conditions of Martinez’s parole included mandatory participation in psychological sex offender counseling and making three face-to-face reports to his parole officer each month. A parole revocation was issued September 10, 1993, based on Martinez’s failure to attend sex offender counseling. Following Martinez’s arrest for capital murder, he waived both preliminary and final revocation hearings and admitted he was guilty of capital murder. Five Bexar County Adult Detention Center officers testified regarding a series of incidents in which Martinez violated the rules of that facility or otherwise engaged in violent misconduct. More specifically, those officers testified: (1) on November 19, 1994, Martinez cursed and threatened a detention officer while the officer was escorting him to a visit; (2) on April 14, 1995, Martinez shouted and kicked a food tray out of the food slot under his cell door, spilling food across the floor; (3) on May 27, 1995, Martinez disobeyed a verbal order to stop changing the channel on a television and, when an officer wrote him up for that rule violation, profanely threatened to harm that officer’s family; (4) Martinez engaged in a verbal altercation with another inmate over the television during which Martinez assumed a fighter’s stance and had to be restrained by detention officers before blows were exchanged between the inmates; and (5) on or about August 21, 1995, Martinez attempted to assert “tank boss” status by demanding other inmates pay him with food for the privilege of using the telephone. A Hidalgo County psychologist who had attempted to treat Martinez in a sex offender program in 1991 testified Martinez: (1) was not a successful participant in the program because he would not often attend group sessions and, even when he did, he refused to divulge any information about himself, (2) showed a lack of progression throughout his life, (3) displayed a defiant refusal to admit he had a problem, which makes Martinez dangerous, (4) displayed an extremely poor ability to empathize with others, especially in situations in which dominance or control is an issue, which also makes Martinez dangerous, (5) showed no sign of having sustained any neurological injury or brain damage, (6) tested well above average on one intelligence test, (7) suffers from an antisocial personality, i.e., Martinez demonstrates a pervasive, non-flexible pattern of behavior characterized by the disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others, (8) Martinez’s antisocial personality manifests itself through his persistent unlawful conduct, deceitfulness, impulsiveness, irritability, aggressiveness, irresponsibility, and lack of remorse for his misconduct, (9) is not mentally ill, (10) displays a powerful sex drive directed toward children, (11) refused to admit he had sexually assaulted the shoe store clerk even after he had pleaded guilty to that offense, and (12) poses an obvious danger to society. Finally, a court bailiff testified that on October 10, 1995, Martinez demanded to be placed in handcuffs because, otherwise, he was going to “go off” on his attorney and two days later, Martinez threatened a prosecutor during a heated exchange before the trial judge. On October 30, 1995, the jury returned a verdict recommending a death sentence. UPDATE: "Nothing I can say can ever change the past," David Martinez said from the death chamber gurney. "Asking for forgiveness or saying I’m sorry is not going to change anything. I hope you can find peace from all the pain I’ve caused you all these years." Martinez looked at friends and relatives and told them that he loved them, advising them to "keep on going and it will be OK." As the drugs began taking effect, he mouthed, "I’m sorry. I truly am." He shook his head vigorously, raising it up from the gurney pillow and then closed his eyes. He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow. Among the witnesses was Belinda Prado, who was 10 when she witnessed the murders of her mother and brother. An uncle held her as she watched Martinez die and she had to use a wheelchair to leave the witness room.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 4, 2009 Tennessee Fred Stafford
Edna Stafford
Steve Henley executed

Fred and Edna Stafford, an elderly couple, lived on Pine Lick Creek Road in Jackson County, just a short distance from the farm, owned by Steve Henley’s family, where his grandmother lived. On the day of the Staffords’ death, July 24, 1985, Steve Henley had visited his grandmother and obtained some mechanical parts for some work he was doing. Co-defendant Terry Flatt was with him. Earlier in the day they had been driving about, tending to business affairs of Henley’s. During that time they had consumed some beer and also had taken some drugs, referred to in the record as Dilaudids. According to Flatt, as they passed the Staffords’ residence Henley commented, “there was some people that lived on that road that owed his grandmother or grandfather some money, and they done him wrong, his grandparents wrong years before, and he was going to stop and see about collecting some money off them.” Henley let Flatt out of the truck just before he reached his grandmother’s house. When he returned five or ten minutes later he had a.22 rifle with him. They stopped fifty or seventy-five yards up the road where Henley loaded some more shells into the rifle. He also filled a plastic jug with gasoline from a five-gallon can he had in the back of the truck. They proceeded on toward the Stafford residence. When they reached there Mr. and Mrs. Stafford were standing on the left-hand side of the road looking at a small bridge where some construction work had recently been done. Henley stopped the truck, jumped out and told them, “I want your money, if you don’t give it to me this man in the truck here, he’s going to kill me.” He then directed them to go to the house. Fred said, “Steve, if you want money or something, I got $80, maybe $100, you can have it.” He forced them on to the house at gunpoint and told Flatt to bring the.22 rifle as he followed behind them. When they got within 20 or 30 feet of the house he told Flatt to give him the rifle and go back to the truck and get the plastic jug of gasoline. Flatt did as directed. As he reached the porch he saw Henley begin to shoot. He first shot Fred then turned and shot Edna a time or two. While she was laying on the floor moaning and groaning he threw the rifle to Flatt, took out his pistol and shot her again with the pistol. He told Flatt to pour out some of the gas. Flatt endeavored to do as he was told and poured out a small amount. When he could not finish, Henley took the container of gas from him and finished pouring it out. He then directed Flatt to light it. When Flatt said he could not, he struck the match and as the flames went up they ran to the truck. The house burned to the ground. The bodies of the Staffords were found in the ashes. All that remained of Fred’s body was part of the right leg and the trunk area. The body of Edna Stafford was similarly burned. It was determined that Fred died from a gunshot wound to the chest with the bullet passing through his heart. Edna’s death was caused by burns and inhalation of noxious gases from the fire. It was the opinion of the medical examiner that Edna lived a minute or longer after the fire began. In 1986, a Tennessee jury convicted Henley of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson. The jury recommended a death sentence. The trial court sentenced Henley to death for each murder and to twenty years imprisonment for the aggravated arson conviction.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 10, 2009 Texas Wendie Prescott, 22
Christine Vu, 25
Dale Scheanette executed

On Christmas Eve of 1996, Norman and Brenda Norwood became worried about their 22-year-old niece, Wendie Prescott, a teaching assistant, when she failed to show-up for a planned shopping trip with her sister. Around 11:00 p.m., Norman went to Wendie’s apartment, only to discover her naked body lying face down in a partially filled bathtub. Her neck, hands and feet were tied in duct tape, which trailed from her neck down behind her back to her hands and feet. The medical examiner believed that she had been bound in this fashion prior to death. The autopsy revealed that Wendie had been manually strangled, with the possibility that her immersion in the tub also played a role in her death. A sexual assault examination was conducted and sperm samples collected and preserved for DNA testing. Though investigators found a high-quality dust print at the apartment, initial comparisons yielded no matches. In 1999, DNA evidence from the murder was matched to evidence from a sexual assault at the University of Texas at Arlington and from a rape in Grand Prairie. In the summer of 2000, the print from Wendie’s apartment was resubmitted to the FBI computer system, which, through the use of new technology, was able to narrow the list of possible matches. One of the matches scored over 2500 points, almost 1000 points more than the next highest score. A FBI analyst concluded the print found in Wendie’s apartment matched the known print of Dale Devon Scheanette who had been arrested for a De Soto burglary in March, 1999. It was Scheanette’s first arrest, so it was the first time he was fingerprinted and entered into the FBI database. After obtaining a search warrant, officers obtained saliva samples from Scheanette. DNA testing matched the DNA extracted from these samples to the DNA extracted from Wendie Prescott’s corpse with a statistical certainty of one in 763 million. At the punishment phase of Scheanette’s trial, the State connected Scheanette to yet another capital murder, that of 26-year-old teacher, Christine Vu. Three months before Wendie’s murder, Christine’s body was found bound with duct tape, naked and in a half-filled bathtub in the same apartment complex that Wendie lived in, The Peartree Apartments. Scheanette lived in the same complex but moved out before Wendie’s murder, had no criminal record and no connection to either victim, so he was not considered a suspect. The State also tied Scheanette to five brutal sexual assaults. The State also introduced evidence that, while incarcerated awaiting trial, jail guards found concealed in Scheanette’s cell a contraband triangular piece of plexiglass that could have been used as a weapon. Finally, the State introduced evidence of a burglary conviction from 1999. During the punishment phase, various family members and a chaplain testified on Scheanette’s behalf. In January 2003, a Texas jury deliberated for an hour and a half before they convicted Scheanette of capital murder and sentenced him to death for the murder of Wendie Prescott while in the course of committing or attempting to commit sexual assault on her. Prosecutors began the punishment phase with testimony from women whom Scheanette is accused of raping. Authorities say DNA evidence links him to their assaults. One woman described how the sound of breathing in her Grand Prairie apartment in October 1999 awakened her. She testified that a man raped her at gunpoint. "I was pregnant," the woman testified. "I prayed for God not to forsake me." As her attacker was leaving, she asked him why he raped her. "He said, ‘I don’t know. I’m mad at the world,’ " she testified. Another woman described a brutal rape at her Lancaster apartment in December 1998. The woman testified that she fought back, which enraged her attacker enough that he kicked down her bedroom door. Her 2-year-old son pleaded with the man, "Let my mom go!" as he slapped the man’s legs, she testified. Scheanette also raped a police officer at her Lancaster apartment. The officer told jurors that she was in uniform at a gas station in 1995 or 1996 when Scheanette befriended her and said he lived in a nearby Lancaster apartment complex. She testified that the two spoke several times by phone over the next six months but never dated, because she "had a bad vibe." Scheanette often referred to himself as a "jack of all trades" during their conversations, she testified. In October 1998, as her attacker used her handcuffs to restrain her after he assaulted her, she asked him how he got into her apartment. "He said he was a ‘jack of all trades,’ " the woman testified. "When I heard that, I thought, ‘Was that him?’ " She later told authorities about the connection. Members of Christine’s family said they were pleased with the guilty verdict. "The person responsible has been convicted," her brother, Hiep Vu, said. "We feel he is responsible for Christine’s murder as well. We’ve waited six years for this." Thang Khuu waited six years to face the man accused of raping and killing his fiancĂ©e — Christine Vu, a third-grade teacher at Morton Elementary School in Arlington. "I want the guy to look me in the eye and to see what he did to me," said Khuu, who still carries a photo of Christine in his wallet. "I have waited to see someone go through a trial for this. The crime is unforgivable." Thang Khuu found Christine’s body in their apartment, and was questioned as a possible suspect. He volunteered to provide hair and saliva samples for DNA testing and was cleared. At Morton Elementary School in Arlington, where Vu taught for several years, fellow teacher JoAnna Robbins still wonders why her friend was killed. Scheanette’s arrest did not erase the pain but brought a sense of closure, Robbins said. This case was profiled on an episode of A&E’s Cold Case Files .

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 10, 2009 Alabama Lester Edward Dodd
Pamela Dodd
William A. Nelson, Sr.
James Watkins
Florence Adell Elliott
Steven Pilley Died in prison

Alabama death row inmate Stephen Pilley died in prison of a liver ailment. The Alabama Department of Corrections said Pilley was transported to North Baldwin Infirmary in Bay Minette on Feb. 3, suffering from end-stage liver disease and Pilley died on February 10, 2009. Pilley was one of two men sentenced to death in the 1994 execution-style shooting murders of five people at the Changing Times Lounge in Birmingham. On the morning of October 16, 1994, the bodies of Lester Edward Dodd, Pamela Dodd, William A. Nelson, Sr., James Watkins, and Florence Adell Elliott were found in the Changing Times Lounge, a neighborhood bar, in Birmingham. The Dodds, who worked at the bar, were found lying facedown in the pool-table area of the lounge, while the other three, who were regular bar patrons, were found lying facedown in the bar area. The positions of the bodies suggested an ‘execution style’ killing. All five died from gunshot wounds to the top or back of the head, inflicted by two distinctive types of handgun ammunition:.25 caliber CTI Blazer bullets and 9mm Glazer bullets. A forensic expert testified that, while no guns were ever recovered, he was certain that two weapons had been used in these murders. The bar had been ransacked, the cash register emptied, and the personal effects of the victims scattered around the bar. A bartender at the Crazy Eights Bar in Bessemer testified that, around 7:00 p.m. on October 15, 1994, while working in the bar, he overheard Stephen Pilley and Andrew Apicella discussing a way to make some ‘easy money.’ The bartender testified that he heard Pilley tell Apicella that he did not have a gun, and Apicella responded by telling him he could get guns. Shortly after this conversation, Pilley and Apicella left the Crazy Eights Bar. A number of customers who had been at the Changing Times Lounge at various times the night of October 15, 1994, identified Pilley as having been in the bar that night with another male. These witnesses remembered Pilley and his friend because they were not regular customers and because either Pilley or his friend approached a regular customer at the jukebox, requesting that she play a particular song. While Pilley’s friend was playing pool, Pilley would wander about the bar. The last of these witnesses to leave the bar testified that when he left at approximately 12:30 a.m., Pilley and his friend were still in the bar with about five other customers and the Dodds. Rhonda Haynes, a friend of Pilley’s, testified that, after she had gone to bed on the night of October 15, 1994, Pilley and Andrew Apicella came to her house unannounced, and asked her to arrange for a motel room where they could spend the night. They stayed with her until daybreak, injecting each other with a cocaine solution. During that stay, Haynes helped the two men count and divide money they claimed to have won at a bar playing pool. From this money, Pilley handed Haynes five $2 bills, asking her to hold them for him. Pamela Haddix, who lived with one of the victims, William A. Nelson, Sr., testified that it was their custom to save $2 bills to give to their grandchildren as gifts. Ms. Haddix testified that, at the time of his death, Mr. Nelson had five $2 bills folded in a ‘secret pocket’ in his wallet. A lawyer, retained by the Apicella family on an unrelated matter, turned over to police jewelry that was subsequently identified as belonging to Pamela Dodd. Sgt. Johnny Long, a Birmingham Police Department homicide detective, was the lead investigator of the murders at the Changing Times Lounge. During his investigation, Sgt. Long interviewed Pilley several times. Pilley initially told Sgt. Long that the last time he had gone to the Changing Times Lounge was more than a month before the killings. However, in subsequent interviews, Pilley told Sgt. Long that he had, in fact, been in the lounge on the night of the killings, but he claimed that he went there alone and that he left before 11:00 p.m. Finally, Pilley told Sgt. Long that he had been in the Changing Times Lounge with Andrew Apicella, who was his accomplice, but he denied knowing Apicella or participating in the robbery-homicides of the five victims. As a result of Sgt. Long’s investigation, he arrested two people — Pilley and Apicella — and charged them with capital murder. Sgt. Long testified that he advised Pilley of his rights under Miranda before interviewing him. Pilley elected to waive those rights and answer questions. At trial, Pilley denied any knowledge of Apicella’s plan to rob and murder the customers and employees of the Changing Times Lounge. Pilley claimed that Apicella had threatened him and his family if he told the police what had happened. Pilley’s version of the events surrounding the murders was detailed, but somewhat inconsistent. However, Pilley did not blame the inconsistencies on intoxication. Rather, Pilley claimed that he had not told the police the facts to which he now testified because, at the time of his interviews, he did not believe this information to be relevant to the investigation. Pilley also denied using cocaine at Rhonda Haynes’s house following the murders. He maintained that he filled his syringe with water, rather than a cocaine solution. After both sides had rested and the circuit court had instructed the jury on the law applicable to Pilley’s case, the jury determined that the murders of the Dodds, Nelson, Watkins, and Elliott were committed pursuant to a common scheme or plan, and it convicted Pilley of capital murder. Andrew Apicella was likewise convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for his role in this offense. During the penalty phase of Pilley’s trial, the State resubmitted all of the evidence it had introduced during the guilt phase. Pilley presented no evidence. After both sides had rested and the circuit court had instructed the jury on the law applicable to the penalty phase, the jury returned an advisory verdict recommending that Pilley be sentenced to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
Feburary 11, 2009 Florida Lisa DeCarr, 15 Wayne Tompkins executed

The victim, Lisa DeCarr, aged 15, disappeared from her home in Tampa on March 24, 1983. In June 1984, Lisa’s skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave under the house along with her pink bathrobe and jewelry. Based upon a ligature (apparently the sash of her bathrobe) that was found tied tightly around her neck bones, the medical examiner determined that Lisa had been strangled to death. In September 1984, Wayne Tompkins, Lisa’s mother’s boyfriend, was charged with the murder. At trial, the state’s three key witnesses testified as follows. Barbara DeCarr, Lisa’s mother, testified that she left the house on the morning of March 24, 1983, at approximately 9 a.m., leaving Lisa alone in the house. Lisa was dressed in her pink bathrobe. Barbara met Wayne Tompkins at his mother’s house a few blocks away. Some time that morning, she sent Tompkins back to her house to get some newspapers for packing. When Tompkins returned, he told Barbara that Lisa was watching television in her robe. Tompkins then left his mother’s house again, and Barbara did not see or speak to him again until approximately 3 o’clock that afternoon. At that time, Tompkins told Barbara that Lisa had run away. He said the last time he saw Lisa, she was going to the store and was wearing jeans and a blouse. Barbara returned to the Osborne Street house where she found Lisa’s pocketbook and robe missing but not the clothes described by Tompkins. Barbara then called the police. The state’s next witness, Kathy Stevens, a close friend of the victim, testified that she had gone to Lisa DeCarr’s house at approximately 9 a.m. on the morning of March 24, 1983. After hearing a loud crash, Stevens opened the front door and saw Lisa on the couch struggling and hitting Tompkins who was on top of her attempting to remove her clothing. Lisa asked her to call the police. At that point, Stevens left the house but did not call the police. When Stevens returned later to retrieve her purse, Tompkins answered the door and told her that Lisa had left with her mother. Stevens also testified that Tompkins had made sexual advances towards Lisa on two prior occasions. The final key state’s witness testified that Tompkins confided details of the murder to him while they were cellmates in June 1985. The man testified that Tompkins told him that Lisa was on the sofa when he returned to the house to get some newspapers for packing. When Tompkins tried to force himself on her, Lisa kicked him in the groin. Tompkins then strangled her and buried her under the house along with her pocketbook and some clothing (jeans and a top) to make it appear as if she had run away.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 12, 2009 Texas Leah Joette Smith
unnamed victim
unnamed victim
Johnny Johnson executed

Johnny Ray Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 27, 1995 capital murder of Leah Joette Smith during an aggravated sexual assault. The State presented evidence, including Johnson’s confession, that Johnson offered to give Joette Smith, who was addicted to crack cocaine, some crack cocaine in exchange for sex. After Joette smoked the crack, she refused to have sex with Johnson. He became angry and grabbed her, ripped her clothing off, and threw her to the ground. When she fought back with a wooden board, Johnson repeatedly struck her head against the cement curb. After he hit her head against the cement three or four times, she stopped fighting. He then sexually assaulted her. During the assault, Joette told Johnson that he had better enjoy it because she was going to file rape charges against him. Johnson confessed that he got very angry when she hit him with the board and that it was “like something in my head was just saying “‘KILL, KILL, KILL.’” After sexually assaulting Joette, Johnson stomped on her face five or six times. He walked away, but realized that he had left his wallet at the scene, so he returned. In his confession, he stated that when he saw Joette’s body face up and naked, he sexually assaulted her again and then picked up his wallet and her boots and left her there on the ground to die. Joette Smith sustained numerous severe injuries to her mouth, face, head, and neck: her teeth were knocked out, her tongue was displaced, both sides of her jaw bone were fractured, and she sustained scalp lacerations and a subdural hematoma. The medical examiner testified that Joette died as a result of swallowing her own blood that had accumulated in the back part of her throat when her jaw bones were fractured. He testified that the subdural hematoma also contributed to her death, but that she could have survived it had she received prompt medical attention. The medical examiner testified that Joette Smith did not die instantly, because it takes a while for the blood to accumulate in the back of the throat. The jury convicted Johnson for Joette Smith’s brutal murder. Then at the punishment phase, the jury heard the State’s evidence of Johnson’s extensive criminal history, beginning in 1975, including numerous other brutal sexual assaults and murders. Johnson’s niece Elizabeth testified that when she was eight or nine years old, Johnson asked her to walk to a store in Houston with him. As they were walking down a trail leading to the back of the store, Johnson knocked Elizabeth down, covered her mouth, pulled her pants to the side, and raped her. He threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone. In 1983, Johnson was convicted of sexual assault in Travis County and was sentenced to five years in prison. He confessed to raping numerous women in Houston and Austin after his release from prison. When he drove a cab, he stated that he would pick up prostitutes and take them out to the country, rape them, and leave them there, naked. Theresa Lewis testified that Johnson picked her up in his cab in 1986. She got into the backseat, but Johnson insisted that she sit in the front seat. When he asked her to have sex with him in exchange for $20, she refused and told him she was not a whore. This made him so angry that he pulled over, grabbed her by the neck and began choking her. When she fought back, he struck her in the face with his fist, and then raped her. He was convicted for that crime in 1987, and sentenced to five years in prison. Johnson then met Dora Ann Moseley, a prostitute, who became his wife. They moved to Austin in 1991 and had children together. Johnson once beat her so badly that he claims he would have killed her if the police had not been called. She filed a police report a couple of weeks later, after he beat her again. Johnson spent six months in jail for that beating. Johnson confessed that in the summer of 1994, he met a girl on 11th Street in Austin. They smoked crack and drank, and when she refused to have sex with him, he beat her. He said that she pulled out a razor and cut him on the left side of his neck and that he then bashed her head in and stomped on her. He then claimed that he took her head and gave himself oral sex before having “regular” sex with her. He left her dead body behind a drug store on 11th Street. Johnson confessed that he then raped a woman named Amy on top of a hill across from the Austin police station. He then raped a girl named Eva. When Eva tried to steal his crack cocaine, he grabbed her by the hair, smashed her head into a rock, and then raped her. He said that Eva ran away, yelling and screaming. Shortly before Christmas in 1994, Johnson confessed that he lured a girl into a graveyard in exchange for crack cocaine, and that he raped her three or four times and “slapped her around.” He returned to Houston at the end of December 1994. In February 1995, Johnson sexually assaulted Debra Jenkins, his brother’s common-law wife’s sister-in-law. She testified that he grabbed her by the throat, threw her onto a bed, and began choking her. He cut the crotch of her pajamas with a pair of scissors, and raped her twice. On March 27, 1995, a citizen found the badly decomposed body of a female in her thirties, face-down in a water-filled gully near some railroad tracks. The victim had sustained numerous lacerations on her face, as well as severe injuries to her mouth, and there was evidence of manual strangulation. Johnson confessed that he raped and killed this woman, whose identity had not been determined as of the time of Johnson’s trial. He said he met her at a crack house and offered her some crack cocaine in exchange for sex. She tried to leave after he refused to give her more crack until she had sex with him, so he grabbed her by the throat and hair and threw her to the ground. She grabbed a rock and hit him on the head and he became angry and banged her head on the railroad track. After she passed out, he sexually assaulted her, then dragged her to the gully and left her there. The jury also heard his confession that, three days later, he killed another woman. He said that he took her to a warehouse to smoke some crack cocaine. He became angry when she smoked his crack but refused to have sex with him, so he grabbed her by the neck and threw her down on the ground and sexually assaulted her while he choked her. He sexually assaulted her again later, and they smoked some more crack. When she jumped up, he caught her by the hair. When she kept fighting, he banged her head on the pavement until she became unconscious. The evidence of his brutal rapes and murders seemed endless. On April 28, 1995, the partially clothed body of a female was found underneath a highway overpass in Houston. She had sustained massive head injuries, including a fractured skull and cheekbone, and a large chunk of concrete with blood all over it was found near her head. The autopsy revealed that she died from a crushed head due to blunt trauma and asphyxia due to strangulation. The marking on her throat was consistent with someone placing his foot on her throat and stepping down. Johnson confessed that he killed this woman, who had not been identified as of the time of his trial. They smoked crack cocaine together and he became angry when she refused to have sex with him. She hit him with a wine bottle and he grabbed her and swung her down to the ground. He grabbed her neck and banged her head on a rock. After she quit fighting, he sexually assaulted her, then hit her head with a rock and left. Finally, Angela Morris testified that on May 5, 1995, Johnson grabbed her by the neck as she was walking down the street. He took her down a driveway, struck her, threatened to kill her, and raped her while holding a knife in his hand. He then tied her up with rags and left. The defense had ordered a mental health evaluation of Johnson, but decided not to use the testimony of the expert because it would have been "severely detrimental" to their case. The jury returned a recommendation of a death sentence after deliberating for only one hour and fifteen minutes. Previously, Johnson had been sent to prison in May of 1978 after being convicted of burglary of a vehicle and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was released on mandatory supervision in August of 1979 and finished his supervision in January 1981. In December of 1983, he was sent to prison again for a five year sentence on a sexual assault charge, and was released a year and a half later. In May of 1987, Johnson was again sentenced to 5 years on another sexual assault charge and released again on mandatory supervision only 10 months later.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 12, 2009 Alabama Rhonda Hardin Danny Bradley executed
Rhonda's Last School PictureOn January 24, 1983, twelve-year-old Rhonda Hardin and her younger brother, Gary "Bubba" Hardin, were left in the care of their stepfather, Danny Joe Bradley. The children’s mother, Judy Bradley, had been hospitalized for more than one week. The children normally slept in one bedroom of the residence and Danny Joe Bradley and Mrs. Bradley in another. On the night of January 24, 1983, Jimmy Isaac, Johnny Bishop, and Dianne Mobley went to the Bradley home where they saw Rhonda and Bubba together with Danny Joe Bradley. When Bishop, Mobley, and Isaac left the Bradley home at approximately 8:00 p.m., Rhonda was watching television with Bubba and Bradley. Rhonda was lying on the couch, having taken some medicine earlier in the evening. She asked Bubba to wake her if she fell asleep so that she could move to the bedroom. When Bubba decided to go to bed, Bradley told him not to wake Rhonda but to leave her on the couch. Bradley also told Bubba to go to sleep in the room normally occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Bradley instead of his own bedroom. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Bradley arrived at the home of his brother-in-law, Robert Roland. Roland testified that Bradley arrived driving his automobile and that he was "upset" and "acted funny." Roland testified that Bradley "talked loud and acted like he was nervous and all, which I had never seen him do before." Bradley’s father-in-law, Ed Bennett, testified that Bradley came to his house at approximately midnight and told him that Rhonda was gone. Bradley’s next-door neighbor, Phillip Manus, testified that at approximately 12:50 a.m., Bradley appeared at his home. Manus testified that Bradley told him that he and Rhonda had argued over some pills Rhonda wanted to take. He claimed that he had fallen asleep and when he awoke, Rhonda was missing. Bradley then said "[l]et me run over to Rhonda’s grandma’s house and I’ll be back in a few minutes." Bradley returned ten or fifteen minutes later. Manus suggested that they walk to the hospital to tell Judy Bradley that Rhonda was missing. Manus testified that Bradley wanted to go to the hospital rather than report Rhonda’s disappearance to the police. Manus and Bradley waited at the hospital for one and one-half hours before they were able to enter Mrs. Bradley’s room. Throughout that period of time, Manus tried to persuade Bradley to go to the police station to report that Rhonda was missing. When the men eventually saw Mrs. Bradley, she told Danny Joe Bradley to report Rhonda’s disappearance to the police. Manus and Bradley went to the police station where Bradley told Officer Ricky Doyle that Rhonda was missing. Bradley also told Officer Doyle that he and Rhonda had argued earlier in the evening and that she had left the house sometime around 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. Bradley claimed that he had fallen asleep and that when he awoke, Rhonda was gone. He stated that he left the house at 11:30 p.m. to go to his neighbor’s house to look for Rhonda. Bradley specifically indicated that he had not left the house until he began looking for Rhonda and that he went to the Manus home when he learned that Rhonda was missing. After talking with Officer Doyle, Bradley and Manus returned to Manus’s apartment. At approximately 7:30 a.m. on January 25, 1983, Rhonda’s body was found in a wooded area less than six-tenths of a mile from Bradley’s apartment. Rhonda’s body was dressed in a pair of maroon-colored corduroy pants, a short-sleeved red knit shirt, green, white, brown, and purple striped leg warmers, a bra, and a blue windbreaker. Rhonda’s tennis shoes were tied in single knots. Several members of her family testified that she always tied her shoes in double knots. Within ninety minutes after Rhonda’s body was discovered, two plainclothes officers from the Piedmont Police Department arrived at Bradley’s residence. The officers had neither an arrest warrant nor probable cause. Although the government contends that Bradley was not placed under arrest at that time, Bradley claims that he was told he was under arrest for suspicion of murder, handcuffed, placed in a police vehicle, and taken to the Police Station, where an interrogation began at around 9:30 a.m. Bradley was in the custody of the Piedmont Police from that time until approximately 4:00 a.m. on the following morning. During this period of almost nineteen hours, the officers read Bradley his Miranda rights and questioned him. Bradley told the police that he had discovered Rhonda missing at approximately 11:20 or 11:25 p.m. and had gone to Phillip Manus’s house in search of her. He also told officers that he had not left the apartment until he began his search for Rhonda. In addition to giving a statement, Bradley executed a consent-to-search form authorizing the police to search his residence and his automobile, submitted to fingernail scraping, and was transported to and from Birmingham, Alabama. While in Birmingham, he submitted to a polygraph test and blood and saliva tests, and gave his clothing to the authorities. Although Bradley cooperated with the police in their investigation during this time period, he claims that he did so because the police clearly indicated to him that he would remain in police custody unless he cooperated. After obtaining the consent-to-search form, the police searched his residence and his automobile, seizing several items of physical evidence. Among the seized items of evidence were a pillowcase, a damp blue towel from a bathroom closet, the living room light switch plate cover, a red, white, and blue sheet from the children’s bedroom, a white "heavy" sheet from the washing machine, and fiber samples from the trunk of Bradley’s automobile. Prior to the trial, the court denied Bradley’s two motions to suppress this evidence. At trial, the State presented testimony that, contrary to Bradley’s statements to police on both January 24 and January 25, 1983, Police Officer Bruce Murphy had seen Bradley in his car at 9:30 p.m. in the area where Rhonda’s body was discovered. Officer Murphy, who had known Bradley for more than twenty years, positively identified him. The State’s forensic evidence demonstrated that Bradley’s fingernail scrapings matched the red, white, and blue sheet taken from the children’s bedroom, the fibers from the leg warmers found on Rhonda’s body, and the cotton from the pants Rhonda was wearing on January 24, 1983. The State also proved that fibers found in the trunk of Danny Joe Bradley’s car matched the fibers from Rhonda’s clothing. A pathologist testified that Rhonda’s body had "evidence of trauma-that is, bruises and abrasions on her neck." She had seven wounds on her neck; the largest was an abrasion over her Adam’s apple. The pathologist testified that he had taken swab and substance smears from Rhonda’s mouth, rectum, and vagina. He also removed the gastric contents from Rhonda’s stomach and turned them over to the toxicologist. An expert in forensic serology testified that Danny Joe Bradley and Rhonda Hardin were of type O blood. Bradley is a non-secretor of the H-antigen. Rhonda was a secretor. The serology expert testified that the H-antigen was not present in the semen taken from the rectal swab of Rhonda. The rectum does not produce secretions or H-antigens. On the inside of Rhonda’s pants, a stain containing a mixture of fecal-semen was found with spermatozoa present. The pillowcase found in the bathroom revealed high levels of seminal plasma and spermatozoa consistent with the type O blood group. There were small blood stains on the pillowcase mixed with saliva. These stains were also consistent with an O blood group. The red, white, and blue sheet on the bed in the children’s bedroom contained a four by two and one-half inch stain which included spermatozoa. The white blanket which had been placed in the washing machine also had two large stains consistent with fecal-semen. In both stains, spermatozoa was present and no H-antigens were detected. A combination of semen and sperm with the H-antigen was found on the blue towel located in the bathroom. Although the written report indicated that the blue towel contained a fecal-semen stain containing the H-antigen, the expert testified at trial that her analysis revealed that the towel contained a vaginal-semen stain not a fecal-semen stain and that the word fecal instead of vaginal had been essentially a scriveners’ error. She testified that because the blue towel contained a vaginal semen stain, the H-antigen secretions could have come from Rhonda’s vaginal secretions. The serologist testified that the low level of H-antigen was consistent with a female secretor because the H-antigen is present in low levels in the vagina. The mattress cover contained a number of seminal stains. At trial, Bradley’s sister-in-law also testified that a day after Rhonda’s funeral she heard Bradley say "I know deep down in my heart that I done it," and Bradley’s stepson, Bubba Hardin, testified that Bradley had frequently rendered the children unconscious by squeezing their necks. Bradley testified in his own defense. He explained his inconsistent statements to police by suggesting that he had left his home at the time he was observed by Officer Murphy, because he had intended to steal a car, remove its motor, and sell it. He claimed that Gary Hardin, the father of Bubba and Rhonda, had asked him to obtain such a motor. Hardin testified that he had made no such request. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of capital murder on counts one and three of the indictment. These counts charged murder during the commission of a rape or sodomy in the first degree. The same jury deliberated in the punishment phase and recommended twelve to zero that Bradley be sentenced to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 14, 2009 California Vanessa Iberri, 12 Thomas Edwards Died in prison

vanessa iberri smallThomas Francis Edwards was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of a 12-year-old girl who was camping with her mother Marsha and the attempted murder of Vanessa’s best friend in a campground east of San Juan Capistrano. More than 27 years since the murder, Edwards has died a natural death at age 65. Edwards, suffering from lung cancer, had been moved from San Quentin to the California Medical Facility in Vacaville for hospice care in December, according to California Department of Corrections officials. Edwards was a gun enthusiast and expert marksman who worked at a shooting range. On and saw Vanessa Iberi and Kelly Cartier, both 12 years old, walking together in the Blue Jay campground east of San Juan Capistrano. The girls were heading to an area where they had planned to have a creek-side picnic with Vanessa’s mother. Edwards, who did not know the girls, followed them in his truck. Kelly later said that they noticed the man and saw him turn around and pass them again before driving out of sight around a bend in the road. He waited for them at a remote spot then drove up next to them before stopping and calling out "Girls!" When they turned toward his call, he then he shot them both in the head. He shot Vanessa between the eyes with a.22 Ruger automatic pistol. Kelly, startled by the sound of the gunshot, flinched and was merely grazed in the forehead by the second shot, saving her life. Vanessa died two days later. Within seconds of shooting the girls, Edwards, 37 at the time, fled. With the help of Kelly’s eyewitness account and information from other campers who arrive on the horrible scene within seconds, Edwards was tracked down in his home state of Maryland just over a week later. As a teenager and young adult, Edwards had spent over a dozen years in a correctional facility for sociopaths in Maryland. Psychiatric records showed that Edwards had a fetish for long hair, but there was never a clear explanation for why he targeted these girls. Once arrested, Edwards confessed. "I don’t know why I shot those two little girls," he said to a jailer in Baltimore. "I am as guilty as sin." At the time of Edwards’s death, Vanessa would have been 40 years old if she had survived. Vanessa’s father Joe had campaigned tirelessly for the execution to take place.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 19, 2009 Virginia Ricky Lee Timbrook , 32 Edward Bell executed

Ricky Lee TimbrookOn the evening of October 29, 1999, Sergeant Ricky Lee Timbrook and two probation and parole officers were working together in a program known as Community Oriented Probation and Parole Services. One aspect of Sergeant Timbrook’s responsibilities was to assist the probation officers in making home visits to individuals on probation or parole. On that particular evening, these three individuals were patrolling in an unmarked car in Winchester and were, among other things, searching for Gerrad Wiley, who was wanted for violating the terms of his probation. The officers went to Wiley’s residence on Woodstock Lane in Winchester several times that evening to no avail. Just before midnight, when they returned to Wiley’s residence for the sixth time, they saw an individual standing in a grassy area between a trash dumpster and an apartment building. As one of the probation officers and Sergeant Timbrook exited the vehicle and approached that individual, who was later identified as Daniel Charles Spitler, another person, who had "dipped behind in the shadows," began running away. Sergeant Timbrook pursued that individual while calling for assistance on his radio. Spitler identified the individual who ran from Sergeant Timbrook as Edward Bell. Spitler testified that, on the evening in question, he was in the area of Woodstock Lane for the purpose of obtaining cocaine from Wiley. After no one answered his knock on the door of Wiley’s residence, Spitler started walking down a nearby alley where he encountered Bell. Spitler did not tell Bell that he wanted cocaine, but, according to Spitler, Bell "put his hands on me like to pat me down to check and see if I had a wire on." During that encounter, Sergeant Timbrook and the two probation officers arrived in the unmarked vehicle. When the vehicle’s headlights illuminated Spitler and Bell, Spitler started walking toward the headlights, but Bell stepped into the shadows of a building. Spitler identified Sergeant Timbrook as one of the individuals who emerged from the vehicle. According to Spitler, Bell then started running away and Sergeant Timbrook chased after him, yelling "We have one running. Stop." Spitler lost sight of Bell and Sergeant Timbrook when they ran behind a building, but Spitler testified that he heard a shot soon thereafter. Sergeant Timbrook chased Bell along several streets and down an alley between two houses on Piccadilly Street. These houses were separated by a fence approximately two or three feet in height. As Sergeant Timbrook started to climb over the fence, a shot rang out. A police officer, Robert L. Bower, who had responded to Sergeant Timbrook’s radio call for assistance, described the incident in this manner: As Sergeant Timbrook started to cross over, I took my eyes off of him, and directed it toward the subject. I noticed it stopped. And, I saw a, what appeared to be a left shoulder as it stopped. All I could was… it was like a black material…. As soon as I saw it stop, I looked back at Timbrook to say something, at which time I heard the shot. And, I saw Timbrook falling. Sergeant Timbrook’s body was found lying on the ground with his feet close to the fence and his upper torso leaning against a wall. His gun was still in its holster. Sergeant Timbrook was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound above his right eye, caused by a bullet which was fired from a distance of between six and eighteen inches. Brad Triplett, one of the probation officers who had been patrolling with Sergeant Timbrook that evening, ran in a parallel direction during part of Sergeant Timbrook’s pursuit of Bell. At one street intersection, he saw Sergeant Timbrook running after the "same dark-dressed figure" who had originally fled from Sergeant Timbrook. Triplett described that person’s clothing as a "dark black type of jumpsuit, nylon material," with "reflective like stripes on the jacket." Several times during the pursuit, Triplett heard Sergeant Timbrook yelling, "Stop running. Police." He also heard the gunshot. The police searched the area for the suspect throughout the night by securing a perimeter around the neighborhood where the shooting had occurred and by using a helicopter equipped with a heat-sensitive "Forward Looking Infrared" camera and a spotlight. At one point during the search, Officer Brian King spotted an individual lying on the back steps of a house located on Piccadilly Street. King stated that the person was wearing a dark colored jacket with reflective strips on the sleeves that "lit up like a Christmas tree" when he shined his flashlight on the individual. The person then stood up and disappeared behind a bush. Emily Marlene Williams, who lived at the house, testified that she heard the gunshot on the evening in question and about five minutes later heard a "crash" in the basement of her house. After she told the police about the noise in her basement, the police evacuated her and her family from their home. The following morning, the police discovered Bell, a Jamaican national, hiding in a coal bin in the basement of the Williams’ residence. He was wearing a "LUGZ" black nylon jacket and a black beret cap with a gold pin. The jacket had reflective stripes on the sleeves. Spitler identified both of these items of clothing as those that Bell had been wearing on the evening when Sergeant Timbrook was shot. Before Bell was transported from the Williams’ residence to the police department, a gunshot residue test was administered to Bell’s hands and the recovered particles were subsequently identified as gunshot primer residue. During a search of the backyard of the Williams’ residence the day after Bell was apprehended, a deputy sheriff found a pearl-handled, Smith and Wesson.38 Special double action revolver. The gun was located under the edge of a porch on the Williams’ house and was covered with leaves and twigs. Forensic testing established that this handgun fired the bullet that killed Sergeant Timbrook. Forensic testing of DNA that was recovered by swabbing the grips, butt, trigger, and trigger guard of this revolver could not eliminate Bell as a co-contributor of that DNA, which was consistent with a mixture of DNA from at least three individuals. When questioned by the police after his arrest, Bell admitted that he had been on Woodstock Lane when "a white guy" allegedly began bothering him for information. Bell said that when a car drove up and a man got out of the car, he "was scared" and ran. He said he did not know who was chasing him or why, and that when he heard a shot fired, he hid in the basement of the house where he was later discovered. Bell denied having a gun. However, while Bell was confined in jail awaiting trial, he told another inmate that he shot Sergeant Timbrook, threw the gun underneath a porch, and then broke into a house and changed clothes in the basement. Justin William Jones testified that, around nine o’clock on the evening of the shooting, he saw Bell in the vicinity of Piccadilly Street. According to Jones, Bell showed him a revolver and asked if Jones knew of anyone who wanted to buy a weapon. Jones identified the pearl-handled,.38 caliber revolver introduced at trial as the same weapon that Bell had shown him. The evening Sergeant Timbrook was shot was not the first encounter between Timbrook and Bell. Sergeant Timbrook had arrested Bell for carrying a concealed weapon in May 1997. The following year, in September 1998, Sergeant Timbrook was present during the execution of an Immigration and Naturalization Service order to detain Bell. Eight months later, Sergeant Timbrook assisted in executing a search warrant at Bell’s home. Bell was present during that search. In the summer of 1999, one of Bell’s friends heard Bell state, as Sergeant Timbrook drove by in a vehicle, "Somebody needs to bust a cap in his ass." Another of Bell’s acquaintances testified that she heard Bell say that he would like to see Sergeant Timbrook dead, and that if he ever came face to face with Sergeant Timbrook, he would shoot Sergeant Timbrook in the head because he knew that Sergeant Timbrook wore a bullet-proof vest. During the penalty phase, the Commonwealth presented evidence regarding Bell’s criminal history. Several law enforcement officers testified about incidents involving Bell. A police officer from Jamaica provided information about Bell’s commission of the crimes of assault and destruction of property in 1985. In 1997, an officer with the Winchester Police Department found a.38 caliber handgun concealed in the trunk of a car being driven by Bell. The serial number of the gun had been filed off. An officer with the West Virginia State Police stated that when he stopped Bell for speeding in 1999, Bell gave him a false name. When the officer started to arrest Bell and place him in handcuffs, Bell ran away into a cornfield. Another West Virginia law enforcement officer found five.38 caliber rounds of ammunition on Bell’s person during a "stop and frisk" in 1999. Finally, two employees of the jail where Bell was confined while awaiting trial testified that Bell had threatened them. Another witness, Billy Jo Swartz, testified about an incident in 1997 when Bell grabbed her head and slammed it into his car. He also held a gun to her head. During the same incident, Bell got into a fight with his pregnant girlfriend and knocked her to the ground. Swartz further stated that she had seen Bell with illegal drugs. Other witnesses likewise testified about buying illegal drugs from Bell. Members of Sergeant Timbrook’s family described their relationship with him and the effect that his death has had on the family. His wife was pregnant with their first child when Sergeant Timbrook was killed. The only evidence that Bell introduced during the penalty phase was from his sister and father.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 19, 2009 Alabama James A. Caldwell, 50 Richard Gaddy Died in prison

Richard Eugene Gaddy, 47, sentenced to death for the December 9, 1989 stabbing death of a teacher from Birmingham’s Huffman High School, died on Thursday, February 19, 2009 from liver disease. James A. Caldwell was fifty years of age at the time of his death, lived alone in the East Lake part of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and was employed as a math teacher at Huffman High School. Another teacher, a coach and Driver’s Education instructor, last saw Jim alive on Friday, December 8, 1989. On the following Wednesday, the coach and the school principal became suspicious about Jim Caldwell’s absence from work and went to his apartment, having called the Birmingham Police Department for an officer to meet them at the home. Jim Caldwell was observed through the mail slot in the door lying in a pool of blood behind the door. A forensic pathologist described multiple slash wounds and stab wounds to Jim’s body, in his head, neck, left ear, chest, abdomen and palm of hand. He also described several abrasions. The doctor detailed nineteen slash and stab wounds as well as detailing evidence of ‘severe strangulation,’ obvious from ‘pinpoint’ hemorrhaging in the eyes and stated that strangulation was not the cause of death, that Jim was alive when he was being stabbed as evidenced by the bleeding from the wounds. According to the pathologist, toxicology revealed no evidence of drug or alcohol ingestion by Jim Caldwell and there was no evidence of a sexual assault. A deputy sheriff stopped Gaddy and two other males in Jim Caldwell’s automobile on December 13, 1989, in Saluda County, South Carolina. Gaddy was seated in the backseat of the automobile. A BOLO (be on the lookout) had been issued regarding the vehicle because of two robberies committed in South Carolina. Gaddy was video-taped in the commission of one of the robberies. Prior to being brought to Alabama for the trial of the capital murder of Jim Caldwell, Gaddy entered guilty pleas to two robbery offenses in South Carolina. Gaddy’s statement to police is listed here. "December 14, 1989 – ‘In the last of October when I left Augusta, Georgia hitchhiking, I was headed nowhere particular, I headed for Atlanta, Georgia. I knew it was big enough to make money and to roll people. I stayed in Atlanta, under a bridge one night. I couldn’t find anybody who had anything to roll in Atlanta. So I hitchhiked on down I-20 to Birmingham. I slept outside and I got sick. I went to the Mission when I got to Alabama. I got up with James Sanders. He pulled up and asked me if I wanted to work. I went to work with him at the carnival. I worked one day. That was October 31, 1989. I worked at the race track with his wife. She would get me a visitor’s pass. I also helped them around the house. On the 8th of December, James and his wife asked me to leave. I left on Friday and I slept in the park. On Saturday the 9th of December, 1989, I fooled around, I just bought time until dark until I could find somebody to roll and have the cover of night. I got up on 59 or I-20 hitchhiking, a man, a white man, stopped and I got in the car. He asked me if I wanted to get something to eat. I knew then that he was gay. I knew then that it would be easy to get to his house to roll him and to rob him. This was about 6:00 to 6:30. He told me his name was Jim. We went to his house. He turned on the TV and I was cold and I sat by the heater. About 7:30 he started acting like he was going to freak out or something. He was laying on the couch and I was sitting on the couch. His bed was right across from the couch. He was wearing a white T-shirt, black or navy pants, I was wearing blue jeans and insulated coveralls and a red, white and blue jersey shirt and tennis shoes that night. I got up and I moved toward him and reached behind my back for the knife that I had concealed. It was a paring type knife with a 4 1/2 to 5 inch blade. I had filed the blade to a double edge knife and made it a combat point. He grabbed my hand as soon as I came around with the knife. He was lying down and started to sit up. I moved with an upward thrust, stabbing him in the chest. He grabbed my hand and I stabbed again, but I am not sure I stabbed him that time. Jim got the knife and we were fighting. He came up off the couch and I got around behind him in the fight. Jim said, ‘Just leave.’ As I tried to get the knife from him he got to the door and got it unlocked but not opened. During that struggle from the bed to the couch to the door, my right hand was cut between the thumb and index finger. My left hand got a puncture in the palm. I reached in my back pocket and got a piece of white nylon rope a quarter inch thick about 40 inches long. I wrapped it around Jim’s neck. Jim got the knife between the rope and his neck and cut the rope in two. I had some of the rope wrapped around my hand. I let some of it unwrap from my left hand, reached around and grabbed the loose end with my right hand pulled it back around Jim’s neck and choked him until he was either dead or passed out. I took the knife and stabbed him three more times in the throat below the Adam’s Apple. I let him lay for awhile and searched the rest of the house. The house was junkie. I stole old coins, collections, paper money, loose change, gold and silver rings and a pair of binoculars. I went back over to Jim and I took a small gold ring off his right pinky finger, a nine diamond cluster ring. Then I got his wallet, car keys and money about $60 in his pocket and later I found more cash in the wallet and money hid in the old paper money collection. I put it all in a sack, a plastic sack. I turned out all the lights in the house. Before I turned off the lights, I washed the blood off of my hands. When I went out of the house I locked the front door with the key so no one could easily find him. I went out to the car and got in and drove off. I went back and picked up my clothes where I had them stashed. I headed for Augusta, Georgia. When I crossed into Georgia on I-20 I rolled the window down on the passenger’s side and threw the knife out while I was still moving. When I got to Atlanta, Georgia, I stopped and changed my clothes, I put the clothes I took off in a trash bag and put them back into the car. Every 10 to 15 miles I threw out pieces of clothing out the car until they were gone. I was about 5 miles out of Atlanta and threw clothing out the passenger window of the car. When I got back to Bath, I rented a motel room so I could go through the stuff to see what I had, I separated it into what I thought was valuable and what was not valuable. On Monday I started selling some of it. Monday, I went over to a friend’s house, Tony. I asked him if he would take some rings and money collection to the pawn shop to sell it. He said he could try to sell the rings at the pawn shop. He didn’t know anything about the coins but he would try some coin shops. Tony did not know anything about the car being stolen or the murder. We went to the Gordon Military Pawn Shop on Broad Street. Tony and I went in and had him look at all the rings which was about 25 or 30. Some had settings and some were just settings with the setting removed. Some of them were silver. The man said they did not buy silver. There were only 2 rings he wanted. By this time I had read the papers in the car and I knew the man’s name was James Caldwell. One of the rings that the man bought at the pawn shop was the ring I took off of Jim’s pinky finger. A nine diamond cluster ring. The other was a solid 10K gold ring with the setting removed. The rest of the rings I sold for $5 or $10 or traded for Crack on Hwy 278 in Aiken County, I believe. I traded the binoculars for crack rock. We took paper money to a coin shop in Augusta and sold some of it for $60. I still had some paper money and the coins and stamp collection when I was arrested in Saluda County, December 13, 1989.’"

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 20, 2009 South Carolina Linda Williams, 39
Shaun Williams, 12
Luke Williams, III executed

At approximately 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19, 1991, the bodies of Linda Williams and Shaun Williams were discovered inside the family van in a forest in Edgefield County, South Carolina, approximately six miles from their home near Augusta, Georgia. The front bumper of the van was against a tree, and fire had partially damaged the vehicle. The investigators detected a strong odor of gasoline and found several metal cans containing gasoline inside the van. Linda was discovered in the driver’s seat, which was positioned so far back that her feet could not reach the pedals, and Shaun was seated in the front passenger seat. Blood was found on a piece of PVC pipe on the van’s floorboard. Linda was dressed in a gray t-shirt, gray sweatpants pulled down to her upper thigh, light pink socks, nylon panties, and she was not wearing a bra or shoes. Shaun was also shoeless and was wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. Linda suffered a black eye, a contusion on the bridge of her nose, contusions on her left forearm, and abrasions on her left shoulder. These injuries were consistent with having been caused by a human fist. The autopsy revealed that Linda’s cause of death was blunt head trauma due to a beating. Shaun suffered a bruise to his forehead, as well as abrasions to his chin, back, and right side of his neck. His cause of death was asphyxiation due to manual strangulation. Wounds created by the fire were postmortem. Although the deaths occurred within the same time frame, a specific time of death was not determined. At trial, several friends of Linda testified that she always dressed neatly and would not go out in public dressed in a t-shirt without a bra. Additionally, they stated that because Linda was short in stature, she always positioned the driver’s seat of the van close to the steering wheel. One friend stated that she last spoke with Linda by telephone at 2:50 p.m. on June 18, 1991. A neighbor testified that on June 19, 1991, a car drove into the driveway at Williams’ home between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. At approximately 7:00 a.m. on June 19, 1991, Linda’s van was not parked in the driveway. A bath towel and Shaun’s tennis shoes with blood stains on them were found at Williams’ home. In addition, Williams’ right hand was severely bruised and swollen — this injury was consistent with having occurred on June 19th. Williams told a friend that on the day of the homicides, Linda and Shaun were planning to go shopping at Columbia Mall in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to receiving the autopsy results, Williams informed the friend that Linda had been beaten to death, and Shaun had been strangled with a plastic wire wrap similar to wire wrap Shaun had in his bedroom. When asked if he killed Linda and Shaun, Williams did not respond. Williams and Linda were experiencing significant marital and financial difficulties. Neighbors and friends stated that they frequently overheard Williams and Linda engaging in hostile arguments. One neighbor testified that she heard a "loud thump" during one of the arguments. In addition, Williams and Linda had declared bankruptcy, and foreclosure proceedings had been initiated against their home. Williams had substantially increased life insurance benefits on Linda and Shaun during May of 1991, designating himself as beneficiary. On May 7, 1991, Williams upgraded existing policies with Allstate Insurance Company to include auto related death benefits in the amounts of $100,000 for Linda and $20,000 for Shaun. Williams forged Linda’s name on the enrollment form. After their deaths, Williams made claims under two Allstate policies in the amounts of $200,000 on Linda and $45,000 on Shaun. Williams also took out new life insurance policies for Linda and Shaun with State Farm Insurance Company effective May 30, 1991, providing Linda with death benefit insurance in the amount of $250,000 and Shaun with $25,000 in death benefit insurance. Williams applied for $500,000 in death benefit insurance for Linda; however, until the policy was approved a binder limited the amount of coverage to $250,000. Williams indicated on the claims forms that Linda and Shaun had died in Edgefield County, South Carolina. Shaun was an orphan from El Salvador who had been adopted by the Williams couple, and was an honor student in the 7th grade at the time of his murder. Linda’s mother Dora Azrak said that from the moment she heard the news of her daughter’s death she knew who was responsible. “I said ‘Luke killed her. Call the police and tell them Luke killed her.’ That’s what I told my son. I knew. I knew. I knew,” she said. “I can’t get over it. I loved my daughter very, very much and I miss her every day.”

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