June 2009 Executions

Three killers were executed in June 2009. They had murdered at least 13 people.
killers were given a stay in June 2009. They have murdered at least 6 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 2, 2009 Texas Tammy Hankins, 34
Kevin Galley, 12
Ashley Mason, 11
Earnie Hankins, 55
Pearl Sevenstar, 20
Terry Hankins executed
On August 26, 2001, Terry Lee Hankins killed his estranged wife, Tammy Hankins, and her two children, Kevin Galley and Ashley Mason. Hankins was an auto mechanic in Arlington, Texas. He left the naked bodies of the children and the body of their mother in the trailer in which they lived in Mansfield. They were found on August 29. There was also evidence that Hankins engaged in sexual activity with and around the dead bodies. Hankins’s semen was found on the sheet on Ashley’s bed. After his arrest on August 30 in the murders of his wife and stepchildren, Hankins shocked police by telling them where to find the decomposing bodies of his father and sister, killed 10 months earlier. Hankins was convicted on overwhelming evidence. Ashley had defensive wounds "all over her body" according to prosecutors, and hair later proven to belong to Hankins was found in her hand. In a note found near Ashley’s body, Hankins wrote: "I guess to sum it all up, I’m guilty of murder, incest, hatred, fraud, theft, jealousy and envy." Hankins also wrote in a diary Aug. 17 that he was contemplating the murders. In the notebook, Hankins gave the full address of where he left the bodies of his father, Earnie Hankins, and his half-sister Pearl Sevenstar and wrote that he did not know why he killed his wife and her 2 children. "It was all for the worst excuse. I just didn’t like myself. After you hear things, you start to believe them," he wrote. "People always told me I was nothing and wouldn’t amount to anything. I guess they hit the nail on the head with that one." The notebook also contained some thoughts about his childhood, his use of drugs and alcohol, and graphic descriptions of several sexual encounters with his stepmothers, girlfriends and wife. Bullets from the murders of his stepchildren matched a gun found in the apartment of Hankins’s girlfriend, where he was arrested. His wife’s car was parked at the apartment. In the punishment phase of the trial, Hankins confessed to killing his half-sister, Pearl Sevenstar, with whom he fathered a son seven years prior. He lied to others about his sister’s whereabouts, saying that he had sent her to a home for pregnant mentally-challenged women, when in fact he had stored her dead body in a plastic container. He also admitted to killing his father, Earnie Hankins. He told people his father had moved out of state, when in fact his father’s mummified remains were in his trailer surrounded by air fresheners. In an interview, Hankins said, "I’m very sorry. I’m not happy. I’m not proud," he told me. "It was my family, too. I can’t replace what I’ve taken. I can’t justify what I’ve done. I know this is not right or normal. The shortest word for it is… I’m trying to think of something… ‘evil.’ I still think that’s putting it lightly." Prior to his execution, Hankins said, "I am sorry for what I’ve done and for all of the pain and suffering that my actions have caused."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 3, 2009 Ohio Unnamed male victim
Carol Lutz, 24
Daniel Wilson executed
On 5/4/91, Daniel E. Wilson, 21, murdered his 24-year-old acquaintance, Carol Lutz, in Elyria. Carol had offered Wilson a ride home from a bar. Wilson locked Carol in the trunk of her car and drove around for several hours. Wilson later punctured the car’s gas tank, stuffed a rag into the tank and set the car on fire. Carol died of third degree burns and carbon monoxide poisoning in the car’s trunk, which reached an estimated 550 degrees. Wilson later confessed to police. When Wilson was 14 years old, he broke into an elderly man’s home, assaulted the man resulting in a broken hip, ripped out the phone and left the man for dead. The victim was unable to call for help and died as a result of his injuries. Wilson was found delinquent by reason of involuntary homicide and served a year in a juvenile facility before being transferred to a halfway house.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 3, 2009 Tennessee Tommy Mayford Griffin James Dellinger stayed
On the afternoon of February 21, 1992, James Henderson Dellinger, Gary Wayne Sutton, and Tommy Griffin spent several hours at Howie’s Hideaway Lounge on Highway 321 in Maryville, Tennessee. The three men drank beer and played pool until approximately 7:00 p.m., when they left the bar in a dark-blue Camaro. Witnesses testified that there was no evidence of hostility among the men while they were in the bar. Around 7:00 p.m. a couple was traveling north on Alcoa Highway near the Hunt Road exit. They observed three men who appeared to be fighting in a dark-colored Camaro on the side of the road. Two of the men were standing outside of the car attempting to forcibly remove the third man from the back seat. They used a portable radio to report the incident to the dispatcher for Rural Metro Blount County Ambulance. A woman who was also driving north on Alcoa Highway around the same time observed a shirtless and shoeless man stumbling down the side of the road near the Hunt Road exit. When she passed the same area about thirty or forty minutes later, she saw two men standing outside of a dark-colored Camaro on the side of the road. They appeared to be looking for something. At 7:11 p.m. a dispatcher for Blount County 911 received a complaint about an altercation involving three men in a dark Camaro at the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Hunt Road. Officer Steve Brooks with the Alcoa Police Department was dispatched to the scene. While making an unrelated traffic stop, Officer Brooks noticed a vehicle with flashing headlights parked on the side of Hunt Road. The officer sent his backup, Officer Drew Roberts, to investigate. Officer Roberts found two men, not Dellinger and Sutton, standing next to a pickup truck. A shirtless man sitting on the bed of the truck identified himself as Tommy Griffin. Griffin told the officer that his friends had put him out of a car. Griffin would not identify his friends or tell the officer what had happened. Officer Roberts arrested Griffin for public intoxication. Griffin was booked at the Blount County jail at 7:40 p.m. Dellinger arrived about forty-five minutes to an hour later to ask about Griffin’s release. Sergeant Ray Herron explained to Dellinger that department policy required a minimum four-hour detention for public intoxication and advised him to come back at 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. At approximately 9:00 p.m. a resident of Bluff Heights Road, where Dellinger and Tommy both lived looked out of his trailer window and saw Dellinger’s white Dodge pickup truck. He saw someone enter the passenger side of the truck. The truck drove up the road and pulled into Dellinger’s driveway. He then noticed fire shooting from Griffin’s trailer down the road. His wife reported the fire to the 911 operator at 9:02 p.m. Arson investigator Gary Clabo concluded that the fire was set intentionally with the use of a liquid-type accelerant and an open flame such as a match, candle, or cigarette lighter. Tommy’s niece Jennifer ran to Dellinger’s trailer when she learned that Tommy’s trailer was on fire. Just as Dellinger’s wife was telling Jennifer that Dellinger was not home, Dellinger and Sutton walked down the hall from the living room. The two men were still wearing their jackets, and their pants were wet up to the knees. Jennifer asked them if Tommy was in his burning trailer, and Sutton told her that Tommy was in Blount County with a girl. When Jennifer asked the men to accompany her to the trailer, Dellinger responded that they were already in enough trouble. After returning home, Jennifer looked out the window and saw Dellinger remove an object wrapped in a sheet from his truck and place it into the back of his wife’s Oldsmobile. Jennifer testified that the object resembled a shotgun. A relative of Jennifer’s also observed Dellinger moving an object from his truck to his wife’s car shortly after 10:00 p.m. Dellinger and Sutton then left in the Oldsmobile. At around 11:25 p.m. Dellinger and Sutton returned to the Blount County jail. Dellinger paid a cash bond for Tommy Griffin. Officers in the jail lobby overheard one of the defendants tell Griffin that they needed to get him back to Sevier County. At 11:55 p.m. two people heard two gunshots fired from an area on the Little River in Blount County called the Blue Hole, approximately five hundred yards down the hill from their residence. The next morning, February 22, Jennifer saw Dellinger leave his trailer, remove the object he had placed in his wife’s car the night before, and place the object under his trailer. Around noon on February 22, Connie Branam, Jennifer’s mother and Tommy Griffin’s sister, informed her daughter Sandy of her intent to go to Blount County to look for Tommy. At about 2:00 p.m., Connie went to Jerry Sullivan’s grocery store in Townsend asking if anyone had seen her brother. Sullivan then saw Connie speaking with two men in a white Dodge pickup truck in the grocery store parking lot. Later that afternoon, Connie accompanied Dellinger and Sutton to Howie’s Hideaway Lounge. Connie told the afternoon bartender at Howie’s that she was looking for her brother. Responding to Dellinger’s questioning, the bartender repeatedly told them that she remembered Dellinger, Sutton, and Tommy Griffin from the night before. When Dellinger asked if she remembered with whom Griffin left, she responded that they were still at the bar when her shift ended. Dellinger told the bartender that they last saw Griffin with a short, dark-haired, ugly woman. When the bartender’s shift ended at 5:00 p.m. on February 22, Connie, Dellinger, and Sutton were still drinking beer in the bar. Another woman worked the next shift at Howie’s. When she approached Connie, Dellinger, and Sutton to ask if they needed anything, Dellinger asked her if she remembered them from the night before. She responded that she recalled seeing Dellinger and Sutton with another man drinking beer and playing pool. Connie explained that she was looking for her brother and asked with whom he had left the bar. The woman became confused because she knew that Griffin had left with Dellinger and Sutton. Dellinger asked the woman if she remembered them returning to Howie’s after they bailed Griffin out of jail, but she knew that the three had not returned to Howie’s because she had worked until closing. After unsuccessfully attempting to convince her to join them in their search for Griffin, Sutton asked her if she was married. When Newman responded that she was married, Sutton stated, “Well, your husband is going to be surprised whenever you’re missing one morning, when he wakes up and you’re missing.” Dellinger, Sutton, and Connie left Howie’s around 6:30 p.m. About 8:00 p.m. that night, a couple observed a fire in the woods near the Clear Fork area of Sevier County. The following morning, the woman watched a white truck occupied by two men leave the woods and head toward the main road. She testified that the truck was traveling rapidly and that it came from the general area where they had observed the fire the night before. On Monday, February 24, around 3:30 p.m. Tommy Griffin’s body was discovered lying face-down on a bank at the Blue Hole. He had been shot in the back of the neck at the base of the skull with a shotgun. Two 12-gauge shotgun shell casings and beer cans were found near the body. The shotgun shells were fired from the same gun that fired shells later found in Dellinger’s yard. Forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Harlan opined that Griffin had died between 6:00 p.m. on February 21 and 8:00 a.m. on February 22. Dr. Eric Ellington with the Blount County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy on Griffin’s body. He concluded that the cause of death was the destruction of the brain stem from the shotgun wound. Ellington retrieved two metal pellets and two pieces of shotgun wadding from Griffin’s brain. The pellets were consistent with pellets loaded in the 12-gauge “00” buckshot casings found near Griffin’s body. On Friday, February 28, Connie Branam’s body was discovered in her burned vehicle in the wooded area where the couple had observed the fire on February 22. Arson investigator Gary Clabo determined that the fire had been set by human hands, started by an outside ignition source with the use of an accelerant. Connie’s body was so badly burned that forensic anthropologist Dr. William Bass was unable to determine the cause or time of death. Dental records were necessary to identify the body. Investigators discovered a rifle shell in the burned vehicle that had been fired from the.303 rifle later found in Dellinger’s trailer. Based upon the above evidence, the jury convicted Dellinger and Sutton of the first degree premeditated murder of Griffin. At the penalty stage, the State presented evidence that Dellinger and Sutton were previously convicted of first degree premeditated murder of Connie Branam in Sevier County in 1993. The State also presented proof that Sutton was convicted of aggravated assault in Cobb County, Georgia in 1983. The defense presented mitigation witnesses, including family members, friends, acquaintances, and clinical psychologists. Dellinger presented proof that he was raised in a large family with eight children. His parents were loving but were harsh disciplinarians, and his family was very poor. Dellinger left school when he was ten years old and never learned to read or write. He became a carpenter, and testimony showed that he was a good employee until 1990 when he sustained a back injury that forced him to quit working. Dellinger has four children and two stepchildren from his two marriages. Two of his children had died tragically–an eighteen-year-old daughter died in a car accident, and a fifteen-month-old son died when a stove fell on him. Dellinger presented evidence that he is a non-violent, religious, helpful, and kind-hearted man. He had been a well-behaved prisoner and had prevented another prisoner from committing suicide. Clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Young testified that Dellinger has an IQ between 72 and 83 and has borderline personality disorder. He related that due to a lack of family nurturing Dellinger is distrustful of others. Young testified that although Dellinger is not violent he is capable of “flaring up” when drunk and angry. Young opined that Dellinger would do well in a structured prison environment. Sutton presented evidence showing that he had been a good employee and a well-behaved prisoner. His parents divorced when he was a toddler, and he dropped out of school in the eighth grade. Sutton has one daughter, and witnesses testified that he gets along well with children. Witnesses also testified that he is a generous man and a good family man who provided assistance to his sister-in-law and her son when his sister-in-law had surgery. He also saved his niece’s life by rescuing her from a fire. Sutton is a good artist. He draws well and makes woodwork items as gifts and to earn money. Sutton’s brother testified that the aggravated assault conviction was based upon an incident in which Sutton was merely present when his brother fired a gun into a car and the bullet bounced into a mobile home and struck a woman in the leg. Clinical psychologist Dr. Eric S. Engum testified that Sutton’s IQ is between 77 and 83. His intellect, social judgment, abstract reasoning, and vocabulary are limited. Engum related that Sutton had suffered undiagnosed learning disabilities. Sutton’s father was an alcoholic, and Sutton began abusing alcohol at the age of twelve. Sutton suffered mental and physical abuse due to the conflict between his parents and learned distrust of others at an early age. Engum stated that Sutton self-anaesthetized through the use of alcohol and marijuana. Engum diagnosed Sutton with a depressive disorder and a mixed personality disorder with passive/aggressive and anti-social features. Engum opined that prison would be a good environment for Sutton. The jury returned its verdict, finding the aggravating circumstance, that the defendants were previously convicted of a felony whose statutory elements involve the use of violence to the person. The jury found that this aggravating factor outweighed any mitigating circumstances and sentenced Dellinger and Sutton to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 11, 2009 Alabama Aileen Pruitt, 27
Stephanie Alexis Gach, 21
Betty Jo Richards
Virginia Bryant
Michelle Thomas
Susan Hill
Jack Trawick executed
stephanie gach smallJack Harrison Trawick abducted Stephanie Gach from the parking lot of her apartment complex in Birmingham on October 9, 1992, after following her home from a local shopping mall. Trawick took Stephanie to an isolated area, where he beat her with a hammer, strangled her, stabbed her through the heart, and tossed her body off an embankment. Her body was found on October 10, 1992. On October 26, 1996, while investigating reports of several attempted abductions of women, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Trawick as a suspect in relation to those reports. During a second interview, the police asked Trawick whether he had had any involvement with the murder of Stephanie Gach. In a third interview, conducted on October 29, 1996, Trawick indicated that he knew something about the murder and, in a fourth interview conducted on the same day, Trawick confessed to the crime; he was then arrested for it. The grand jury indicted Trawick for the capital offense of murder committed during a first-degree kidnapping. After arraignment, he pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. After a trial, the jury found Trawick guilty of capital murder and by a vote of 10-2 recommended a sentence of death; the trial court sentenced him to death in accordance with this recommendation. In 1995 a jury also found him guilty of killing 27-year-old Aileen Pruitt and sentenced him to life in prison.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 17, 2009 Missouri Julie Kerry, 20
Robin Kerry, 19
Reginald Clemons stayed

Julie Kerry Robin KerryOn the night of April 4, 1991, Marlin Gray, Reginald Clemons, Daniel Winfrey and Antonio Richardson encountered two sisters, Julie and Robin Kerry, and their cousin, Thomas Cummins, 19. The two groups chatted briefly, then parted. After a few minutes, Gray and his group returned and sexually assaulted the sisters. The sisters and their cousin were pushed off the bridge. Cummins survived the 70-foot fall and swam ashore; Julie’s body was recovered in Caruthersville three weeks later. Robin’s body was never found. A St. Louis Circuit Court jury found Gray guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and imposed two death sentences on Dec. 9, 1992. He was executed on October 26, 2005. Winfrey, who was 15 at the time, received a 30-year sentence. Clemons was sentenced to death on April 9, 1993. Richardson, who was also sentenced to death, had his sentence overturned on appeal to life in prison.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 18, 2009 Pennsylvania Lucille Horner, 88
Minnie Warrick, 86
Sarah Knutz, 85
Roland Steele stayed
Roland William Steele was convicted in January 1986 of three counts of first-degree murder in the karate-style killings of 88-year-old Lucille Horner, 86-year-old Minnie Warrick and 85-year-old Sarah Knutz. The women, all of East Washington, were leaving a charity luncheon when Steele conned them into letting him drive their car. Their bodies were found on the morning of June 22, 1985, in a secluded, wooded area off a dirt road in Cecil Township. During the investigation, the police learned that the three victims had attended a luncheon together on Friday, June 21 at 1:00 p.m. at the former Club International in the Millcraft Shopping Center in Washington and that they had driven to this event together in Lucille Horner’s car, a beige four-door Dodge Dart. A woman testified that on June 21, 1985, she observed, from her apartment window overlooking the shopping center parking lot, an elderly woman standing with a bald, well-dressed, African-American man, identified as Steele, next to a car. She noticed Steele pointing to the rear of the car as if something was wrong with the tire. The two got into the car, with Steele in the driver’s seat, and drove away, apparently to pick up the other two victims who were waiting for the car at another location in the shopping center. Another witness testified that on June 21, 1985, she was at the Millcraft Shopping Center at approximately 2:15, and, as she was parking her car, she observed Steele holding open the rear door of a vehicle (later determined to be Lucille Horner’s car) as two elderly women entered the rear seat. A third witness testified that he was personally acquainted with Lucille Horner, who was his friend’s mother-in-law. The witness owned a shop across the street from the shopping center, and observed Lucille Horner in the passenger seat of her car, with two elderly women in the back seat and Steele driving, as the vehicle left the shopping center at about 2:30 p.m. The owner of a gas station and convenience store 1.5 miles, or a four minute drive from where the bodies were found testified that he observed a cream colored Dodge or Plymouth four-door sedan drive into his station between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. on the day of the murders, June 21, 1985. Steele got out of the car, and there were no other occupants in the vehicle. Witnesses inside the store, who identified Steele from a photographic array, stated that he purchased some soda, and handed a child a gold-chain necklace. He left the store and drove away, heading north. Shortly thereafter, the owner observed Steele driving the same vehicle heading south past the station. Steele appeared a third time, between 4:00 and 4:30, when he coasted into the station with the motor off. An employee assisted Steele in restarting the car, and he drove away. The station owner identified Lucille Horner’s vehicle as the car he had seen Steele driving during his multiple stops at the service station throughout the day of the murders. Other witnesses identified the necklace Steele gave to the child as belonging to Minnie Warrick. Evidence was also introduced at trial concerning a burglary that occurred that day at a home which was located three-tenths of a mile, about a thirty second drive, from the service station. A witness testified that her residence was broken into between 3:25 and 4:50 p.m. on June 21, 1985. She identified evidence introduced at trial as items stolen from her home, and further identified the bottom portion of a dress that she had found in her home while cleaning up after the burglary, which Minnie Warrick’s relative identified as the dress Minnie Warrick wore to the luncheon. In fact, the top portion of Minnie Warrick’s dress was on her body when it was discovered June 22, 1985. At this time, Steele resided with his girlfriend, Joan Whitlock, approximately thirty minutes from the service station. Ms. Whitlock’s neighbors testified that on the evening of June 21, 1985, they observed Steele driving a beige four-door sedan, and saw him unloading from this car items later identified as belonging to the burglary victims. When Steele was arrested on June 23, 1985, numerous items identified as from the burglary were discovered in his possession. A white vinyl purse, identified as the property of one of the victims and containing credit cards in the name of two victims, Lucille Horner and Sarah Kuntz, was found on the grounds outside a housing project in McKees Rocks, approximately one mile from Ms. Whitlocks’ residence. Ms. Whitlock’s brother resided there, and testified that Steele visited him the night of June 21, 1985. A man testified that he grew up with Steele, and that at one time Steele had lived approximately 600-800 yards from where the victims’ bodies were found. Testimony also established that Steele had been an instructor in martial arts, and held a black belt in karate. At autopsy, Dr. Earnest L. Abernathy of Washington County determined that the victims were killed the previous day between 12:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. At Steele’s trial, Dr. Abernathy testified that Lucille Horner’s injuries included significant bruising on her chin, chest, and back, damage to her heart, numerous fractures of her ribs, a fracture of her backbone, damage to her liver, and a torn larynx. Dr. Abernathy concluded that the cause of death was traumatic rupture of the heart. The autopsy of Sarah Kuntz revealed similar injuries, including bruises on her face, chest, and legs, lacerations to the scalp, fractured ribs, and damage to her heart and liver. Dr. Abernathy concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia due to a fracture of the larynx. With regard to Minnie Warrick, Dr. Abernathy testified that she also sustained bruising to the face and chest, fractured ribs, and heart damage, as well as a partially collapsed lung and blowout of the stomach wall. The cause of death for Minnie Warrick was traumatic rupture of the heart, with numerous companion injuries. Dr. Abernathy testified that the pattern of bruising was similar in all three cases, caused by substantial blunt force blows, which, in his opinion, were most likely delivered by human hands. Further, the Commonwealth submitted expert testimony from an FBI Special Agent who testified that he examined samples of a hair found on Steele’s clothing, and determined that the hair had characteristics similar to that of Minnie Warrick’s, and in his expert opinion, the hair was Minnie Warrick’s. The Commonwealth’s last witness at trial was Sarah Hair. Ms. Hair testified that on June 18, 1985, three days before the murders, at approximately 6:15 p.m., she was sitting in her car in the parking lot of Chartiers Valley Shopping Center in Bridgeville when she was approached by a bald African-American man whom she identified as Steele. Steele told her that her car had a flat tire. Ms. Hair inspected the tire, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. Steele was persistent, she stated, saying that he observed someone “fooling” with the tire. Steele attempted to extract a nail from the tire, and after several minutes offered to drive Ms. Hair to a service station to have the tire repaired. She refused his offer, and attempted to drive away. Steele, however, blocked her from driving away, then bent down and stood up holding a pair of scissors, claiming to have found them under the tire. Ms. Hair took the scissors, saying she would take them to the police. Steele took them back, and stated that he would take them there. As a result of this incident, Ms. Hair made a complaint with the Collier Township Police. Steele testified on his own behalf, denying his involvement in the homicides and the burglary. He admitted that he was in the area on June 21, 1985, to see an attorney, but that he left, returning by car to Pittsburgh at about 12:45 or 1:00 p.m. with a man known to him only as “P.I.” Steele further testified that he came to be in possession of the burglary victim’s belongings after meeting with P.I. on the night of the 21st in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Other defense evidence included defense experts who offered their opinions that the blows sustained by the victims were not the result of a karate-style attack, karate blows, or a human hand. Finally, although other witnesses testified as to Steele’s whereabouts on June 21, 1985, none were able to account for the time between 12:00 noon and 7:00 p.m. Dr. Richard Berkey conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Steele in connection with the guilt phase. Dr. Berkey concluded that Steele evidenced some grandiose and paranoid tendencies; his thinking was highly organized; there was no indication of bizarre of delusional ideation; and Steele did not seem psychotic or incompetent. Following the guilt phase, trial counsel presented the testimony of two individuals at the penalty phase in support of the “catch-all mitigator: Lamont Stephens and Steele’s mother. Mr. Stephens testified that when Steele was seventeen, he saved Mr. Stephens, then two years old, from being killed by a train. For this heroic act, Steele received the Carnegie Hero Award. Steele’s mother likewise testified about this award and stated that her son had always been nonviolent. Following the conclusion of the penalty phase, the jury found three aggravating circumstances with respect to Lucille Horner and Minnie Warrick, and, with respect to Sarah Kuntz, the jury found two aggravating circumstances. In each instance the jury found that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the catch-all mitigator apparently accepted by the jury.

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