March 2009 Executions

Five killers were executed in March 2009. They had murdered at least 7 people.
Six killers were given a stay in March 2009. They have murdered at least 9 people.
One killer received a commutation in March 2009. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 2, 2009 Ohio Gina Gay Tenney,19 Bennie Adams stayed
Gina TenneyBennie Adams was sentenced to death for the 1985 kidnapping, rape and strangulation death of YSU Co-ed Gina Tenney. Adams was not arrested until October 2007, 22 years after Gina’s murder. Gina’s body was found floating in the Mahoning River on December 30, 1985 by a muskrat trapper checking his traps in the freezing water. Gina had graduated from Edgewood Senior High School in Ashtabula and was attending Youngstown State University at the time of her murder. Gina’s father Lucian said, "I’ll never forget that day. We had to sit there in the coroner’s officer until midnight…she had been out of the water since early morning but they had to warm her up. When we saw her, she was pretty as a picture, like she was asleep." Gina’s mother Avalon had last spoken with her daughter at 6:30 pm on December 29. Gina had told them she was on the way to meet a friend. Two weeks after Gina’s body was discovered, the coroner ruled that her death was caused by asphyxiation. She had ligature marks on her neck and around her wrists. She had contusions all over her torso and her ankle was broken after she died. Authorities suspected Bennie Adams, who dated a girl who lived in the apartment below Gina’s. However, forensic testing was not adequate at the time. Adams, then 28, was found in possession of Gina’s bank card and her car keys were found in his trash can. However, Adams could not be definitively connected with the actual rape and murder. Additionally, the mate to a potholder from the downstairs apartment was found in Gina’s apartment. Adams also had a television believed to be from Gina’s apartment. He was charged with possession of stolen property but never went to trial. Gina’s friends knew that Adams had been harassing her prior to the murder and said that Gina had changed her phone number to stop the calls. With the improvements in crime science, the Ohio Attorney General’s office began a program allowing law enforcement agencies to resubmit cold cases for DNA testing. The detectives from Gina’s murder had kept tabs on Adams over the years and jumped at the opportunity to check on his possible involvement in the case. Adams was a registered sex offender after being released in 2004 after spending 18 years in prison for the rape, kidnapping and robbery of a school principal in 1985. D-N-A samples taken from Adams, 50 years old on the day he was arrested, tested positive as a match to the DNA found on Gina’s body and clothing. The rape kit had been preserved for over two decades. After Adams was convicted in October 2008, Gina’s sister Gliva said, “I always wanted a brother or sister, so when Gina was born, I was thrilled. I will always miss her. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think of her. And I want everyone to know what a wonderful, wonderful person Gina was. She was vivacious, bubbly, the most loving, gracious, giving, caring person, and I will miss her until the day I die.” The detectives who investigated the case were happy to finally find justice for Gina’s family. “It’s a day that we’ve thought about for many years. We’ve never lost sight of who Gina Tenney is and who Gina Tenney could have been. We reflect today that she would have been 42 years old today,” said Capt. Kenneth Centorame, chief of detectives. “As we remember Gina, this will be something that we can fall back on,” Gina’s father Lucian said of the verdict. “We visit her grave just about every day. And a lot of people say that’s odd. But it’s a place to go and reflect on our life and on Gina’s life, and we loved her very much,” he said, adding that she worked and studied hard. “We know she’s at home now…. She was — and deserved to be — happy today,” he added. There are still appeals pending and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 2, 2009 Oklahoma Mary Agnes Bowles, 77
Jerald Thurman, 44
Victor Miller stayed
Jerald ThurmanMary BowlesJohn Fitzgerald Hanson and Victor Cornell Miller took Mary Agnes Bowles, 77 years old and a retired executive of Bank of Oklahoma, from the parking lot of the Promenade Mall in Tulsa sometime between 4:15 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. on August 31, 1999. They had already robbed two liquor stores, and wanted to use Mary’s tan Buick LeSabre in another robbery. Hanson held Bowles down in the back seat while Miller drove to an isolated area near Owasso. He turned down a road leading to a dirt pit. The man who owned the pit and trucking company, Jerald Thurman, 44, was there loading a dump truck for a delivery. While speaking to his nephew, Jim Moseby, on his cell phone, Jerald said he saw a car circling through the pit. He said he was going to lock the gate to the pit if the car was not gone by the time he finished dumping his load. Sometime after this conversation, Miller shot Thurman four times with a chrome.380 revolver. Miller drove a short distance away. He stopped at an overgrown roadside. Hanson got out with Mary and, using a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, shot her between four and six times as she lay on the ground. Before leaving the scene, they partially covered her with branches. Neighbors heard several shots coming from the pit area and saw an unfamiliar car drive by. Jim Moseby drove to the dirt pit, saw his uncle’s dump truck parked outside the gate, and discovered Jerald on the ground nearby. Jerald Thurman was taken to the hospital; he never regained consciousness and died two weeks later, on September 14. "There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about him," said Sherry Thurman, the victim’s widow. "We just pray to God that he’ll give us strength to get through it and that justice will be done." Sherry Thurman says the memory of her husband is what has kept her going for nine long years. "I know he’s our guardian angel, he’s watching over me and my son. I know he’s there and he’s taking care of us." Betty Thurman, the slain man’s stepmother, said that “it has now been nine years, and our hearts are still broken.” Mary’s decomposed body was found on September 8, 1999, in a secluded area in Tulsa County. Sara Mooney, a niece of Mary Bowles’, described how “Aunt Mary held the role of matriarch” in the family and how her own mother and Mary conferred with each other on “all important life decisions.” Hanson and Miller drove Bowles’s car to the Oasis Motel. Hanson asked the price of a room, then left. He returned shortly, explained that his car wouldn’t start, and asked to borrow tools. The desk clerk gave him a screwdriver and followed him out. The clerk saw Hanson and another black man working on a tan LeSabre, Mary’s car. Eventually the two gave up and returned the screwdriver and Hanson rented a room. He filled out and signed the registration card, and showed the clerk his driver’s license. The clerk never saw either man again, and the car remained parked in the motel lot. Hanson and Miller robbed a liquor store on September 3, a loan service office on September 7 and a federal credit union on September 8. On September 9, Miller’s wife made an anonymous phone call telling police that Hanson and Miller, the credit union robbers, were in the Muskogee Econolodge. Also on September 9, a patrol officer saw Mary’s car parked at the Oasis. The officer discovered Hanson had rented a room and left the car there. Law enforcement officials from various jurisdictions coordinated this information and served warrants on Miller and Hanson at the Econolodge. Miller came out immediately. Hanson stayed in the room until driven out by tear gas. While he was alone in the room Hanson hid the murder weapons and extra ammunition in the toilet tank. Hanson’s fingerprint was found on the driver’s seat belt latch in Mary’s car, and Miller’s fingerprint was on the front passenger seat belt latch. Officers found $650 worth of red dye-stained currency in Miller’s shoes. Ballistics evidence matched the bullets from the two murders with weapons that were found in t he motel room. A friend testified that, a few days before his arrest, Hanson visited him. Miller’s sentence was overturned in 2004 when an appeals court ruled that the friend’s testimony was not trustworthy. Miller received a new trial, and in November 2008, received two death sentences instead of the original single death sentence and single life without parole sentence he had received from the first trial. The panel deliberated only two and a half hours before handing down the death verdicts. Hanson said they carjacked an old lady, described how Miller killed Thurman, and confessed to Bowles’s murder. Miller had been convicted in 1981 on three counts of armed robbery. He had also been recently found guilty of 16 counts of felony crimes associated with a string of robberies he and Hanson committed. His sentences for those federal crimes totaled life imprisonment plus 157 years. George Hanson was sentenced to death in this case also. Hanson’s original death sentence was also overturned by an appeals court but a jury during the sentencing trial in 2008 reinstated the death sentence. There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 3, 2009 Texas Martha W. Lennox, 85 Willie Pondexter executed
On the night of October 28, 1993, Ricky Bell, James Bell, Deon Williams, and Willie Earl Pondexter, Jr. met at an apartment and discussed robbing “an old lady”. Following this discussion, the group walked to a corner store, and then to Martha Lennox’s house where they checked to see what kind of car she owned. Martha was an heiress to millions of dollars of a land-rich Red River County family. The group then walked to a trailer park, and then to a friend’s house. Once there, they met with James Leon Henderson . Pondexter borrowed a car and all five drove to Annona to buy beer and go to a club. During the drive to and from Annona, the five talked about robbing “the old lady”, and about “crips and bloods and stuff”. Specifically, they discussed which crip “had the heart” to do what they were planning to do to “the old lady”. On the way to Martha’s house, the group stopped at a store where they talked about which crip had the heart to knock out a man who happened to be getting gas. Although Williams and Henderson did get out of the car, no harm was actually done to the man. The group drove to Martha Lennox’s house, but parked the car a few blocks away. On their first attempt to enter the house, they were scared away by the sight of a patrolling police car. Four of the five ran back to the car, but James Bell ran in another direction and was not seen by the rest of the group again that night. Pondexter, Henderson, Williams, and Ricky Bell went back to Martha’s house where Pondexter kicked in the front door. All four proceeded up the stairs and into the bedroom where Martha was sitting on her bed. Once all four were in the bedroom, Williams took the seven dollars that was in her coin purse. Immediately thereafter, Henderson shot Martha in the head and handed the gun to Pondexter. Pondexter also shot Martha in the head, stating “that’s how you smoke a bitch”. The autopsy report, introduced at trial, identified two gunshot wounds as the cause of death. The medical examiner, Dr. Guileyardo, testified: both wounds were inflicted while the victim was still alive; and either could have killed her. Along that line, Dr. Guileyardo testified: one bullet entered the left side of the victim’s face (the autopsy report provided that the bullet entered “at the left aspect of the face, 6 inches below the top of the head and 2-1/2 inches anterior to the left ear canal”) and exited below her right ear, perforating her oral cavity, boring a hole through her tongue, and shattering her right jawbone; and the other bullet entered the victim’s forehead, traveled through her brain, and exited at the back of her head. The four drove to Dallas and were later arrested in Martha’s car. James Henderson was tried separately prior to Pondexter’s trial and was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Martha’s home, land and money were placed in a foundation for charities in Red River and Lamar counties. There is a nature trail dedicated to Martha’s memory near Paris, Texas. UPDATE: From the death chamber gurney, Willie Pondexter said he didn’t murder anyone, but expressed remorse and apologized for his involvement in the crime. "I am not mad. I’m a little upset and disappointed in the courts. I feel I’ve been let down," he said. Pondexter said that was all right. "I just played the hand that life dealt me," he said. Pondexter said he hoped that people who read about him would "look at my life and learn from it." He looked toward the district attorney who prosecuted him and a distant cousin of his victim and said, "I know I’m wrong asking you to forgive me."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 3, 2009 Ohio Emma Hill Jeffrey Hill commuted
In March 1991, Jeffrey Hill stabbed to death his mother, Emma Hill, in her Cincinnati apartment. Then, he ransacked her apartment and took money to buy cocaine. Three days later, Hill confessed to killing his mother. According to his confession, Hill went to visit his mother around 6:30 a.m., Saturday, March 23, 1991, because she had promised to help find him an apartment. When he arrived, he had been smoking cocaine. She gave him $20, and he left for thirty to sixty minutes. After he came back, she complained he did not visit her often enough, and they argued. She "was talkin’ to me" and "the next thing I know she’s layin’ on the floor." Hill "stabbed" her "more than once" with a kitchen knife. As Emma lay on her bed, she looked up at him and said, "Why? Why did you do this?" Hill did not bother to reply, but instead he kept "goin’ through `er stuff" looking for "money to get some more crack." He found $20 and left, locking the apartment door behind him. Then he drove around in her Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, threw away the knife, smoked more cocaine, and met a new friend, Charlotte Jones. Around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. that evening, Hill, along with Jones, returned to the area near Emma’s apartment. Hill told Jones he was going to get some money from his mother, and Jones waited in the car. Hill later said he went back "to see if she [his mother] was all right." He used a jack handle to force the apartment door open because he had forgotten to take her apartment key. When detectives asked if his mother was alive then, Hill replied, "she didn’ say nothin’. So I went in `er closet an’ got the rest of the money." Hill admitted taking $80 and putting $40 in the car trunk so Jones would not get it. Later that evening, police officer Paul Fangman noticed a 1985 Oldsmobile being driven without lights. After following the car, Fangman observed the driver make "quick definite movements" as if he was "trying to hide something." In the car, Fangman found a crack cocaine pipe next to the driver’s seat. Hill, the driver, had no license, and was wanted on an unrelated outstanding warrant, so Fangman took him into custody. Fangman verified that the Oldsmobile was registered to Emma Hill and left it, secured, at a nearby parking lot. Fangman established Jones’ identity and released her. On March 25, while in custody, Hill called and asked a friend to check on his mother. The friend checked Emma’s apartment, but got no response. That evening, police entered the ransacked apartment and found Emma’s body next to her bed. On a living room stool, police found a blood-soaked brown cloth purse. On a bathroom faucet, police found Hill’s fingerprints, suggesting he may have last used that faucet. The coroner testified that Emma had been dead for at least thirty-six hours at the time of the March 26 autopsy. Emma died as a result of ten stab wounds to her chest and back. Some were inflicted with "considerable force." One knife wound perforated the heart and nicked a lung; two others punctured a lung and broke ribs. Another wound perforated the scapula or "wing bone." No defensive type wounds were evident. Emma, sixty-one years old, had been partly paralyzed from a stroke she had suffered several years before. On March 26, homicide detectives interviewed Hill and advised him of his Miranda rights. Hill signed a written waiver of those rights. Hill told detectives that around March 23 he had been driving in his mother’s car, using cocaine, but he denied knowing about his mother’s death. Detectives talked with Jones and Vernon Hill, Hill’s brother. Police further learned Emma never let either son drive her car without her being present. Then, detectives readvised Hill of his rights and confronted him about inconsistencies in his statement. After ten or fifteen minutes, Hill "admitted that he stabbed his mother to death." Then police readvised Hill of his rights and tape recorded his confession. After that, Hill asked to see Vernon and told his brother, "he killed mama but he didn’t mean to." That evening, at a location pointed out by Hill, police found a bloodstained knife. Hill identified that as the murder weapon. The coroner confirmed this knife could have caused Emma’s wounds. Pursuant to a warrant, police searched Emma’s Oldsmobile and found a tire tool, two $20 bills, and two $1 bills in the trunk. One $1 bill was stained with type A blood, which was Emma’s blood type. Forensic examination of the tire tool revealed microscopic brass flakes matching the composition of a brass door protector on Emma’s apartment door. That brass protector appeared to have "fresh jimmy marks," and black paint on that protector matched the painted tire tool. A grand jury indicted Hill on four counts. Following competency evaluations by experts, the court found Hill mentally competent to stand trial. After further evaluations, experts found Hill mentally responsible for his acts. At trial, Hill did not pursue his insanity pleas. Despite not guilty pleas, the jury convicted Hill as charged. At the sentencing hearing, Hill testified, under oath, consistent with his earlier confession. When he went to see his mother at 6:30 a.m., he "had been up all night smoking [$400 worth of] crack." After she gave him $20 to buy cigarettes, he took her car and bought more cocaine. After he came back, he recalled talking with her and then seeing her "laying on the floor." When asked if he remembered stabbing her, Hill replied "not really." After he went "through everything," he left to buy more crack. He loved his mother "more than anything" and stated it "ain’t like I meant to" stab her. Hill, who was twenty-seven just after the murder, testified that he left high school at age seventeen to take care of his mother for a year after her stroke. After he left school, Hill worked for several years at various jobs including helping handicapped children. At the time of the murder, he worked for a dry cleaning plant. Over the past five years, Hill claimed he had received some thirty-thousand dollars from settling four accident claims. His mother evidently kept some of this money for him, but he did not know how much she still had. For a time, Hill lived with Shawanna Head, who bore him a daughter, for whom he cared. Hill’s father never lived with his family, but after his father died in 1990, Hill felt "lost" and "hurt" and began using crack cocaine. Dr. Myron Fridman, a psychologist working with addictions, described crack cocaine as producing "a very, very intense addiction" causing a "compulsive behavioral need" to continue use. After a cocaine "binge," a user can develop a "mental state" known as "cocaine psychosis." That may be characterized by "mental confusion, irrational behavior, like a paranoid state or even like schizophrenia with hallucinations." As a cocaine addict, Hill’s behavior could have been directed "by his overwhelming intense need" for more cocaine. Fridman believed Hill could be rehabilitated. Hill also introduced into evidence competency and mental evaluations of Hill performed by four psychologists. After evaluations in July and September 1991, Dr. Nancy Schmidtgoessling concluded Hill was uncooperative, malingering, and mentally competent. After a February 1992 evaluation, she found "no history of any symptoms of any severe mental disease or defect" and concluded Hill was mentally responsible. Dr. Bill Fuess agreed that Hill was malingering, competent, and mentally responsible. Dr. Fuess further stated that Hill did suffer from "borderline personality" and "substance abuse" disorders, and that Hill was "a seriously depressed individual grieving the death of his mother." In August 1991, Dr. Massimo DeMarchis evaluated Hill as an inpatient and found him competent to stand trial. During the evaluation, Hill made "an extremely poor and naive attempt at faking mental illness." DeMarchis found Hill’s "refusal to fully cooperate nothing more than a conscious, calculated attempt to delay court proceedings." Hill displayed no "signs of a major mental disorder." In contrast, Dr. Roger Fisher found Hill incompetent to stand trial, but later concluded Hill did not lack mental responsibility when he killed his mother. Fisher was "not persuaded of the validity" of Hill’s claims of ‘hearing `voices’ and seeing `demons.’" Although Fisher thought Hill was "extremely intoxicated" at the time of the offenses, Fisher had "no reason to believe he was mentally ill." Shawanna Head, Hill’s girlfriend, lived with him for five or six years and they had a daughter whom Hill supported. Robin Hill, Hill’s cousin, lost contact with him shortly after Hill’s father died. Robin never knew Hill to use cocaine, and she described him as a decent person, who helped his mother. The jury recommended the death penalty. The trial court sentenced Hill to death for aggravated murder and terms of imprisonment for the remaining charges. The court of appeals affirmed. UPDATE: Gov. Ted Strickland has granted clemency to a Cincinnati man convicted of stabbing his mother to death in a crack-cocaine induced rage. Jeffrey Hill, 44, had been scheduled to be executed March 3, but the Ohio Parole Board recommended that the governor commute his sentence to life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years. “Based on this review, I concur with the rationale and recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board and have, therefore, decided to commute Mr. Hill’s sentence to a term of from 25 years to life,” Strickland said in a statement.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 4, 2009 Texas James Moody Adams Kenneth Morris executed
Kenneth Wayne Morris was sentenced to die for the 1991 robbery and murder in a residential robbery where the founder of Houston’s Northwest Academy, James Moody Adams, was shot to death. Morris shot Adams four times after he and two accomplices kicked in the door of his house and robbed him at gunpoint. Orlena Ayers was sentenced to life in prison for his role. Prosecutor Debbie Mantooth said Ayers and his co-defendants, Chris Montez and Kenneth Morris, burst into the Adams home at 5002 Happy Hollow on May 1, 1991, in search of guns. But they got only $400 in cash, Mantooth said, and Jim Adams, a retired paint company owner, was killed by four.32-caliber gunshots to the head, neck and back. Jim’s wife, Marcene, was hiding in a nearby closet during the episode. Police subsequently found Montez’s fingerprint on a trash bag in the home. Montez, Ayers’ cousin, testified for the state at the trial. Montez was charged with robbery. UPDATE: Condemned killer Kenneth Wayne Morris won a reprieve from a federal appeals court that spared him from a trip to the Texas death chamber about two hours before he could have been executed today for the fatal shooting of a Houston man during a burglary 12 years ago. The execution of Morris, 32, a 9th-grade dropout with a history of theft and burglary, was stopped with an order from 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. In its order, the appeals court gave Morris’ lawyers permission to file additional legal actions in a lower federal court based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that barred execution of mentally retarded people. Morris’ attorneys had argued in their last-ditch appeals that the inmate was mentally retarded and should not be put to death. Morris was identified as the gunman in a 3-man gang that broke into the home of a 63-year-old man because they thought he had a gun collection. James Moody Adams, however, had no weapons and was shot 4 times after he surrendered the money in his wallet. His terrified wife hid in a closet behind some clothes. Morris’s record included convictions for burglary, theft and marijuana possession while on parole. Morris was 20 and on probation at the time of the May 1, 1991, attack. He was arrested 12 days later and after he pulled another robbery at a gas station. Two companions received long prison terms for their participation in the slaying of Adams, who built a successful paint company and later founded a private Houston school. "We think (Morris) has made a sufficient showing of likelihood of success on the merits that the public interest would be served by granting the stay," a 3-judge panel of the court said in a 5-page ruling. In a concurring opinion, Judge Patrick Higinbotham noted there was no IQ test in evidence to determine whether Morris was mentally retarded. "It is difficult to make informed judgments without the development of the facts in some form of hearing," he said. Prosecutors had argued Morris’ defense experts at his trial did not think he was retarded but Morris never was tested. And he said although school records did use the term retarded, "that is not worth much, given the wide practice of social promotions and the reluctance of school officials’ use of the stigmatizing term ‘retarded.’" "I never thought I was retarded," Morris, whose tattoos on his arms included pictures of marijuana and the word "Gangsta" in large Gothic letters down the back of his right arm, said last week on death row. "People have said I was. When I went to court, they said I was mentally slow. I’m not a bad person," he added. "I accept responsibility. But I was on drugs. It’s unfortunate it had to happen this way." Roe Wilson, who handles capital appeals for the Harris County district attorney’s office, said she was surprised by the reprieve "based on lack of evidence presented that he was mentally retarded. Basically, the court is just giving them more time to try to look for something," she said. Morris already been moved from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit outside Livingston, where death row inmates are housed, to the Huntsville Unit, about 45 miles to the west, where executions are carried out. When word of the reprieve reached the prison, he immediately was returned to death row. Prosecutors said Morris and his cohorts had became disoriented in the middle of the night and selected Adams’ house in error. "Nobody was supposed to be there," said Morris, an unmarried father of two who used the cash from the Adams robbery to buy drugs and new clothes. At his trial, Marcene Adams testified how she could hear the conversation, how her husband moved to the closet to get his billfold and turn over the money. Then she heard the click of the hammer of a gun being pulled back, listened as her husband exclaimed "Oh, no!" and then heard the weapon discharge twice. Shot in the head and neck, Adams fell into the closet, then was shot twice more in the back. As the robbers fled, his wife had to step over his body to run outside and call for help. She and 2 sons were scheduled to watch Morris die Tuesday. Morris did not testify, but his version of what happened differed. As he held a gun on Adams standing half in the closet and half in the hallway, one of his partners came running down the hallway and bumped him, Morris said last week. "The gun went off," he said. "As (Adams) fell, I turned to run and fired two more times in the closet. I didn’t aim at him or anything. It all happened so quick. I had no intentions of killing nobody." The trio left behind garbage bags they intended to use to carry off loot. Police found a fingerprint on one of the bags and arrested Christopher Montez, then 18, who identified Morris as an accomplice. The third man, Montez’s cousin Orlena Ayers, then 20, turned himself in. Montez and Ayers each received long prison terms. Morris got a death sentence. UPDATE: Prior to his execution, Kenneth Morris apologized to family members of the victim, who witnessed the execution. "I have to say that I am sorry for all the pain I have caused you and your family. I only have love in my heart. I hope that you can all forgive me. I pray that you can all forgive me." As the drugs began taking effect, Morris turned again toward the victim’s relatives and said, "I really am sorry." In a post-execution news conference, Jimmy Adams, the victim’s son, described Wednesday as “a sad day.” “We lost a wonderful man. James Moody Adams was our dad. He was a good, humble, giving, kind man,” he said. “… It was sad to see the loss of that other family’s experiencing today. I think we forgave him a long time ago. But the consequences still had to be carried out. It was just.” Another son, Kent Adams, said his family witnessed the execution out of a sense of duty. “We all wanted to be here to honor our parents,” he said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2009 Texas Sandra Walton, 29
Michael Humphreys, 20
James Martinez executed
James Edward Martinez briefly dated Sandra Walton, and gave or loaned her money from time to time. In May of 2000, Sandra signed a promissory note reflecting that she owed Martinez $1,000. Martinez became fixated on obtaining repayment from her, stalking, harassing, and threatening Sandra on numerous occasions. On the night of her murder, Martinez pounded on Sandra’s door, threatening to break it down if she did not open the door. He had earlier told Sandra that her time was almost up. Sandra and Michael Humphreys, who was visiting, went out to get something to eat. When they returned, at approximately 1:00 a.m. on September 21, 2000, they were shot to death with a high-powered rifle. Witnesses saw a man dressed in black trotting away from the scene. Police found twenty-seven shell casings at the scene. Sandra was shot nine or ten times; Michael was shot eight times. On the night of the murders, Martinez called Casey Ashford, a long-time friend, several times. Martinez drove to the farm where Ashford was staying to deliver a black canvas bag for Ashford to keep. Ashford looked in the bag and saw the rifle later determined to be the murder weapon, among other items. He buried the bag, but later disclosed its location to police. Ashford later pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and received three years deferred adjudication. When police opened the bag, they found the rifle, a bag of fertilizer, a fuse, dark clothing, combat boots, gloves, a pipe bomb, a ski mask, a double-edged knife, a bulletproof vest, and ammunition. At trial, Martinez tried to pin the blame for the murders on Ashford. His mother and brother testified that he had been at home on the night of the murders. He also showed that Ashford lied several times when dealing with the police and that, prior to the murders, Ashford had had access to the murder weapon. At the punishment phase of the trial, the State introduced items that had been kept by Martinez in a storage facility. They included bomb-making components, over 3000 rounds of ammunition, other weapons, including two pistols, several illegal knives, illegally modified shotguns, and several rifles. Also introduced were four books bearing the notation “completed reading by James Martinez”: Be Your Own Undertaker: How to Dispose of a Dead Body; Master’s Death Touch: Unarmed Killing Techniques; 21 Techniques of Silent Killing; and Dragon’s Touch: Weaknesses of the Human Anatomy. The State also offered victim-impact testimony by Humphreys’ father, mother, and stepmother, and Walton’s mother. Martinez called a number of people to testify that they had not known him to be a violent person and did not believe he would commit any more crimes in the future. None of them seemed to know Martinez very well, except his mother and brother, and most of them did not know (or admit that they knew) about his extensive collection of weapons and the books Martinez had read. Wilton Humphreys, the grandfather of Michael Humphreys had been murdered 12 years before Michael’s death. Michael’s father Brad Humphreys had witnessed the execution of Jeffrey Tucker just months before Michael was killed by Martinez. UPDATE: James Martinez was executed by lethal injection. James Edward Martinez told his mother and sister, who were watching through a nearby window, that he loved them and thanked them for everything they had done for him. “I hope y’all can move on after this,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I’m fine.” Martinez told them all again that he loved them and added, “take care, OK?” He then told the warden he had nothing else to say.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2009 Georgia Carol Sanders Beatty, 27 Robert Newland executed
Robert L. Newland and Margaret Beggs, his girlfriend of four years, moved to Glynn County, Georgia in February 1984. Newland was self-employed as a drywall construction contractor and Beggs was employed as a social worker in a local mental health clinic. They lived in a house at 230 Broadway Street on St. Simon’s Island, across the street from Carol Sanders Beatty, who lived in a duplex at 231 Broadway Street. Over the two years that they were neighbors, Beggs and Carol increasingly socialized with each other. Newland had infrequent social contact with Carol, although they were on friendly terms. On May 30, 1986, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Newland and Beggs went to a local bar, the Sandpiper, where Newland had several glasses of beer. They left the bar at around 5:15 p.m., and after purchasing Chinese take-out at Ping’s Restaurant and a bottle of vodka at a local store, they went home for dinner. After dining and consuming several Bloody Marys, they went across the street to visit Carol. They arrived at around 8:30 p.m., carrying the bottle of vodka and some Bloody Mary mix with them. While Carol and Beggs talked – mostly about the problems Carol was having with her husband locked up in a Florida prison for dealing drugs – Newland and Beggs had several rounds of Bloody Marys, consuming most of the vodka in the process. As Carol was telling Beggs about her situation, Carol’s husband called from the prison, and talked to Carol and briefly to Newland. Newland left Carol’s residence around 9:30-10:00 pm, announcing that he was going home to bed because he had to get up early the next morning to bid a construction job. Beggs stayed and continued the conversation with Carol. Newland went home, but did not retire for the night. Instead, he packed some clothes and other household items in his pick-up truck and drove to a pier on St. Simon’s Island, where he struck a parked vehicle and immediately fled the scene. He abandoned his pick-up truck on Forest Park Drive, several blocks from his Broadway Street residence, and headed on foot to Carol’s residence. The owner of the vehicle Newland had struck, Donald Sanders, had witnessed the collision and called the police. While these events were unfolding, Beggs remained at Carol’s. She left at around 11:00 pm. After she got home, she discovered that Newland was not there. Neither was his truck. Carol was in her front yard when she and Beggs parted company. Bonnie Smith, who lived in the other half of the duplex at 231 Broadway Street, was there too. Carol and Smith visited for a few minutes; both then retired for the night. It was approximately 11:15 pm. Shortly after the two women returned to their residences, Newland entered Carol’s backyard. Newland described what happened next in his confession to the police on May 31, after he had been taken into custody. He called to Carol, asking her to come outside. Carol came out and Newland attempted to kiss her. She refused, and told him to go home or she would tell Beggs. Newland again attempted to kiss her, and she scratched and slapped him. According to his post-arrest confession to the police, he then “grabbed her and I threw her down and somehow the knife came in my hand and started stabbing her, I don’t know, I just lost out of control… I was drunk, I don’t know why I did it. I had no reason for it.” Newland stabbed Carol in the throat and the abdomen, using a pocket knife that he regularly carried. During the assault, Carol screamed and called for help. When she collapsed, he ran home, discarding the knife as he ran, washed himself off with a hose in his backyard, put on a new pair of jeans, and entered his house. At 11:22 pm, Glynn County Police Department Detectives Barry Moore and James Brundage received a report of a woman screaming in the Broadway Street neighborhood. While they were responding to the call, they received a call from Bonnie Smith, who told them that a woman was screaming in her backyard, behind her residence at 231 Broadway Street. They drove to that address, heard someone run through the backyard, and gave chase. Unable to find the person they were chasing, the detectives returned to Carol’s residence. Brundage found Carol in the backyard, laying in the garden, and still alive. Paramedics were summoned and transported Carol to Glynn- Brunswick Memorial Hospital. According to Dr. Irwin Berman, one of her treating surgeons, Carol had a slash wound in her neck, which had exposed the entire cross section of her windpipe… In addition to that, she had multiple wounds of her great vessels of neck… There were smaller wounds of the flank… and a stab wound of the abdomen through which… some of the organs of the, of the abdomen were protruding. After Carol had been taken to the hospital, Newland, dressed in jeans but without a shirt or shoes, entered his house through the backyard. Beggs was awake. She noticed scratches on his face and chest. When she asked about them, Newland told her that he fell in some bushes on the way back from Carol’s. Beggs then observed the flashing lights of police cars across the street, at Carol Beatty’s, and went over to find out what had happened. She learned that Carol had been attacked and taken to the hospital. Beggs returned home and told Newland that “something terrible had happened to Carol.” Newland told her “he didn’t do it.” He asked Beggs to find his truck, because he could not remember where he had left it, and attempted to crawl into a small attic space, telling Beggs he was going to hide. Beggs, increasingly distraught at Newland’s bizarre behavior, left the house in an attempt to find the truck. She also wanted to get away from Newland, to collect her thoughts. Beggs drove by Carol’s duplex for a minute or two, searched the neighborhood for Newland’s vehicle and, failing to find it, drove to a local convenience store to purchase cigarettes. After that, she drove to the same pier Newland had headed for earlier, to have a smoke and collect her thoughts before returning home. At around 12:15 a.m., Dr. Berman noticed that Carol was mouthing words, apparently in an attempt to communicate. He notified Detective Greg McMichael, who was standing by, and McMichael came to her bedside. McMichael asked the victim who had attacked her and read her lips to say the name, ‘Bob.’ He then sounded out the name, ‘Bob’ and asked the victim if this was correct. She nodded her head affirmatively. When asked the last name of her assailant, the victim mouthed a word McMichael could not understand. He then asked the victim if the name began with an ‘A.’ She shook her head negatively. McMichael proceeded in this manner through the alphabet until he asked about the letter ‘N.’ The victim ‘nodded her head vigorously’ and squeezed his hand. By this procedure McMichael was able to elicit affirmative shakes of the head from the victim to the 10 letters, ‘N E W L A.’ McMichael then asked the victim if the last name was ‘Newland.’ The victim ‘nodded her head again very vigorously,’ and squeezed McMichael’s hand. In like manner, Carol was able to give McMichael Newland’s phone number and the name of the street where he lived. Relying on this information, the Glynn County Police Department dispatched several officers, including Detectives Bill Williams and Dennis Krauss, to Newland’s residence. They arrived at 1:10 am and found Newland sitting up in his bed and pulling on a pair of jeans, as if he had just awakened. They placed Newland under arrest for aggravated assault and transported him to the police department headquarters in nearby Brunswick. Beggs came home shortly after the police left with Newland. Several officers were still there, and they asked her, and she agreed, to accompany them to the headquarters. She was not under arrest. At some point early that morning, on May 31, the police obtained a search warrant for Newland’s residence. They found a blood-stained shirt and a pair of socks on the back porch, and a pair of blood-stained blue jeans in a shed in the backyard. At 1:30 am, Detective Williams questioned Newland in an interview room at the police department headquarters. Williams was the only officer present. Newland smelled of alcohol but his speech was not impaired. Williams began by informing Newland of his Miranda rights. He then asked Newland what he had done the previous evening. Newland said that his truck had broken down early in the afternoon and that he had left it on Forest Park Drive. Later that afternoon, he had gone to the Sandpiper bar with Beggs, had three glasses of beer, picked up Chinese food at Ping’s Restaurant, and gone home for dinner. After dinner, they went over to Carol’s place, where he and Beggs had several Bloody Marys. At around 8:30 p.m., they left Carol’s to go home. On the way, he stumbled, because he had been drinking “quite a bit,” and fell in some bushes, which accounted for the scratches on his face. Once home, he went to bed and fell asleep. Beggs awakened him to say that the police were at Beatty’s. He told her that this was the neighbor’s problem and went back to sleep. He was sleeping when the police arrived to arrest him. Williams asked Newland if he had gotten drunk that evening; he replied that he had been drinking, but was not drunk. Newland asked Williams why he was being questioned – whether he had been charged with anything. Williams gave no answer. The interrogation lasted about half an hour. Around 2:00 a.m., the police had his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) tested. Officer Richard Strickland performed the test, which revealed a.12 percent BAC. Newland was placed in a holding cell following the test. While Newland was submitting to the BAC test, Williams began questioning Beggs, who had arrived at the headquarters (as Williams was questioning Newland). This interrogation began approximately at 2:00 a.m. and was broken into two sessions, which combined lasted no more than two hours. Williams began the first session by informing Beggs that she was not under arrest. He then asked her to tell him what had transpired the previous evening up to the moment she arrived at the department headquarters. Beggs’s account of the first part of the evening was consistent with the account Newland had provided Williams. She stated that they had gone to a local bar, picked up Chinese food, gone home to eat, and then gone over to Carol Beatty’s. At this point, her account began to diverge from Newland’s. She stated that Newland left Carol’s before she did and that when she returned home, she saw Newland lying in bed. Moments later, she saw police lights flashing at Carol’s and went there to find out what had happened. She learned that Carol had been stabbed and hastened home to tell Newland. He was asleep and did not respond. She went back to Carol’s because she was concerned about her friend and wanted to learn more. After a brief conversation with a police officer, she drove to a local convenience store to purchase cigarettes and from there to the St. Simon’s Island pier. Distraught about Carol’s situation, she stayed at the pier for a few minutes, smoking and trying to calm down. She returned home only to find the police waiting. Williams asked her if she had observed any scratches on Newland, and she said that she had not. Williams confronted Beggs with the inconsistencies between her account and Newland’s. He pointed out the contradictions concerning whether they returned from Carol’s together or separately and whether Newland had scratches on his face. Williams asked her if she was lying; she denied it. The first session ended with Williams telling Beggs to sit down on a couch outside the interview room and “think about everything again,” warning her that she would “go down with" Newland if she was trying to cover up for him. A short time later, Williams resumed the questioning. Beggs admitted that she had not actually seen Newland at home when she returned from Carol’s but had assumed he was there, telling Williams, “that’s the part I covered up.” She explained that after she returned to her house, she saw the flashing police car lights at Carol’s, walked over there and then back home, at which point she saw Newland in the bedroom and they talked. She admitted that during this conversation, she saw scratches on his face and asked him what had happened. He said he had fallen. Williams challenged Beggs’s account and told her that Carol had identified Newland as her attacker. He asked Beggs if she was sure about her story and reminded her that “this is your friend laying out there in the garden.” Beggs, reconsidering, told Williams that she had not seen Newland at home – after she crossed the street to inquire about the police car lights. He did not arrive until later, when he entered the house from the backyard. It was then that they talked about the scratches on his face. Williams asked her about the knife used in the attack on Carol. He accused her of disposing of the knife to protect Newland. Beggs denied doing anything with the knife. The interrogation ended around approximately 3:30 a.m. Beggs was taken to a waiting area at the police headquarters where she sat for the next two hours. At 3:50 a.m., Williams resumed questioning Newland after advising him of his Miranda rights. Williams began by asking Newland to recount again the events of the previous evening. Newland repeated what he had told Williams earlier, but stated that after he left Carol Beatty’s, he drove off in his pick-up truck to go to the store, but the truck had “died” on Forest Park Drive. He left the truck there, returned home, and went to sleep. Beggs awakened him later. Williams asked Newland whether his truck died during the evening hours or in the afternoon, and Newland stated that it died that evening. Once again Newland asked Williams why he was being questioned. Williams said he was being questioned because he had attacked Carol Beatty, and confronted him with the inconsistencies between his story and Beggs’s. He told Newland that a bloody shirt and pair of pants had been found at his residence. Newland responded to Williams’s accusation that he had attacked Beatty by stating, “I have no idea, no remembrance, if I did anything like that.” Newland reinforced this statement by repeatedly saying that he had no memory of attacking Carol Beatty. He attributed this to the quantity of vodka he had consumed; he was not used to consuming that amount of alcohol. Williams challenged Newland’s no-memory claim as inconsistent with the rest of Newland’s account of the evening. He asked Newland how he could remember falling in the bushes and conversing with Beggs after they got home, but not remember the attack. Although he had previously told Williams about his conversation with Beggs, he said he could not recall it. He could not explain why he remembered falling in the bushes. Williams attempted to prod Newland’s memory by confronting Newland with the possibility that “if that girl dies, you [will be] charged with murder” and Beggs will be charged as an accessory to murder. Their first exchange involving Beggs went as follows: WILLIAMS: You remember enough to lie about it. You remember enough to lie about it and you don’t even care enough about Peggy, her ass is going to jail. Newland: I do care about Peggy. WILLIAMS:… her ass is going to jail, too. Newland: For what? WILLIAMS: For accessory. Newland: Accessory to what? WILLIAMS: To murder. In their second exchange about Beggs, Williams was more specific about the basis for potential charges against Beggs: Newland: I was in my bed when y’all came. WILLIAMS: Yea, but you hadn’t been asleep. You hadn’t been in bed very long at all, I know that for a fact. Well, I think Peggy carried that knife off and hid it for you. Because the knife has disappeared. Newland: Are you thinking that or do you know that? WILLIAMS: No, I think that she, you know, and my boss wants to charge her as an accessory, so you know, if you know where the knife is, if you don’t want her to go to jail… Newland:… I have no idea, I have no idea, I’m just being straight with you, I just don’t know. The prospect of Beggs being charged as an accessory to murder did not cause Newland to alter his account of the evening; he continued to claim that he did not remember attacking Carol Beatty. The interrogation ended at approximately 5:00 a.m. A short time after Newland’s second interrogation ended, Williams escorted Newland to a rest area within the headquarters building, where Newland was allowed to speak with Beggs in Williams’s presence. Their conversation lasted less than ten minutes. Newland told Beggs that he could not remember what had happened that evening. After this, Beggs returned to a waiting area. At around 6:00 am, the police informed her that she could leave, and a sister picked her up at around 6:20 am. During the interim, Newland was taken to the Glynn-Brunswick Hospital, where his blood was drawn at 6:55 am for its BAC and blood type. The police then transported Newland to the Glynn County Detention Center. Later in the morning, the Detention Center contacted a local mental health hospital that provided emergency psychiatric services for the Center and requested that someone evaluate Newland. Frederick Dodd, Jr., Ph.D., a psychiatric social worker, who was on-call, met with Newland for roughly an hour. Newland appeared to Dodd to be “extremely tearful,” “pretty agitated,” and “very confused.” At Dodd’s request, the Detention Center placed Newland on suicide watch. Police officers brought Beggs back to the police headquarters around 9:00 a.m., where she was questioned for the next several hours. At noon, she was arrested for aggravated assault and taken to the Detention Center. At 9:35 pm, on May 31, Carol Beatty died from excessive blood loss caused by the injuries she had suffered. The following morning, June 1, at around 10:00 am, Detectives Krauss and Putnam went to the Detention Center in order to inform Newland that Carol Beatty had expired and that he was now being charged with murder. Newland was escorted from his cell out to a holding cell to meet with the detectives. Before Detective Krauss began speaking to Newland, Newland stated: “I just want to plead guilty and get out of town.” Krauss instructed Newland not to say anything else and advised him of his Miranda rights. Newland signed a form waiving those rights. Krauss then asked Newland to tell him what happened the night of May 30. Newland, despite his expressed desire to plead guilty, said nothing inculpatory. Instead, he told Krauss that he did not remember assaulting Carol and did not want to continue talking. Krauss informed Newland that Carol had died and that he was being charged with murder. Newland became upset and started to cry, but did not make any inculpatory statements. Since Newland had stated he did not wish to continue talking, Krauss asked that he be taken back to his cell. As Newland was being escorted out of the holding cell, he asked Krauss about Beggs’s status. Krauss told him that Beggs was in the Detention Center and that he was about to inform her that she also was being charged with murder. Newland then confessed to killing Carol Beatty. Newland stated that Beggs was not with him when he went to Carol Beatty’s backyard the night of May 30. According to Krauss, Newland said that he “tried to kiss her that, that she pushed him away, and they got into a struggle, and he got very angry about it. He… hit her and then threw her to the ground. He… pulled out his knife and just started cutting her.” Krauss asked him where the knife was, and he said he could not remember. Newland cried as he recounted the assault and expressed his remorse. The confession, including Krauss’s questions, lasted for ten to fifteen minutes. Krauss informed Williams of Newland’s confession. Because the confession had not been recorded, Williams decided to visit Newland to have him repeat his confession. Accompanied by Detective McMichael and armed with a recorder, he went to the Detention Center to speak with Newland. At 1:05 p.m., Williams and McMichael spoke with Newland in an interview room. Williams informed Newland of his Miranda rights, and Newland signed a waiver-of-rights form. Newland again confessed to the murder. He also stated several times that he lost control and attacked Carol Beatty because he was intoxicated. He explained that after stabbing Carol, he ran home, washed himself off in his backyard, changed clothes, and then entered the house, where he spoke with Beggs. She asked him what had happened and how his face had gotten scratched. He told her nothing had happened. “She went over next door, the next thing I remember I was being arrested.” He claimed that he did not remember getting into an accident with his pick-up truck and what he had done with the knife. Newland expressed remorse throughout the interrogation. On June 3, Beggs, now represented by counsel, gave an affidavit to the police describing Newland’s behavior on May 30 – 31. In exchange for the affidavit, the State reduced her charge from murder to giving a false statement to law enforcement officials. And that charge was eventually dropped. Carol was a former state and national diving champion.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 11, 2009 Texas Martha Sanchez, 28
Melissa Morales
Luis Salazar executed
Melissa Morales, murder victim(pictured, Melissa Morales) In October of 1997, Martha Sanchez lived at 250 Future Street in San Antonio with her husband Oscar Ochoa, ten-year-old stepson Erick, two-year old daughter Brianna, and four-month old son Timothy. For approximately three years, Luis Salazar lived next door to Martha Sanchez and her family and was well-acquainted with them. In fact, Ochoa had helped Salazar obtain employment at the Super K-Mart where Ochoa himself worked. The family’s encounters with Salazar, however, were not always positive. Ochoa testified that earlier in 1997 Salazar approached Martha in her home and asked if he could borrow some sugar, but “not that kind of sugar.” Ochoa confronted Salazar and ordered him to stay away from the family’s home. According to Ochoa’s testimony, Martha thereafter became afraid of Salazar. Martha’s 19-year-old niece Nicole also testified that she had served as a babysitter at the family’s home and spent the night there on numerous occasions. On several of those occasions, she explained, Salazar would call late in the evening asking for Martha’s company. According to Nicole, however, Martha refused to speak with Salazar. Salazar moved out of his house around September of 1997 and took up residence at 122 Ashland in San Antonio. Sanchez last spoke to Ochoa in the early morning hours of October 11, 1997. As was his custom when working the “graveyard” shift, Ochoa called home from work at about 12:30 a.m. Evidence indicated that, at some time after that phone call, Salazar entered Martha’s home through the left front window, using an empty milk crate to climb into the home. A trail of muddy footprints led from the window inside the house. Salazar retrieved a knife from the kitchen and entered Martha’s bedroom. As Salazar began stabbing Martha, a struggle ensued, leaving the bedroom in disarray. Stepson Erick testified that he awoke to Martha’s scream: “Luis, why are you doing this? Leave me alone!” Erick then entered the bedroom where he saw his stepmother struggle while Salazar was stabbing her. As Erick attempted to grab the knife, Salazar stabbed him in the chest. Martha instructed Erick to leave and call for help, and he did so, ultimately finding his way to the home of a woman named Sylvia, who lived nearby. Sylvia testified that she answered her door to find Erick bleeding from his chest and begging frantically for help. He told her that someone had broken into the home and stabbed both him and his stepmother. Erick identified Salazar as the attacker. Sylvia called 911 and sent her future son-in-law Adrian to the Sanchez home to investigate. Adrian removed the two youngest children, Brianna and Timothy, safely from the home. He testified that he then entered the home again and, after checking Martha’s pulse, realized that she was dead. An EMS unit soon arrived, confirmed Martha’s death and transported Erick to University Hospital. Salazar had fled the scene. Later, however, Salazar telephoned 911 to turn himself into police, who arrested him without incident and informed him of his Miranda rights. Meanwhile, police approached Ochoa at work and informed him of his wife’s death. Physical evidence showed that Martha had suffered stab wounds to the heart, lungs, and aorta, causing her death. Moreover, the medical examiner testified that Martha’s death was not immediate; it took several minutes for her to die. In addition, Martha suffered contusions and skin abrasions on the outer thigh, as well as contusions to the inner thigh. According to the medical examiner, although Martha suffered no genital injuries, no sperm was present, and her clothes had not been removed, this pattern of bruises and scratches indicated an attempted sexual assault. Evidence at the scene also indicated that the telephone lines outside the home had been cut and that the interior of the home was in shambles, although no fingerprints were found on the front windows. Investigators found a cordless phone under Martha’s left arm and the bloody kitchen knife on a coffee table near Martha’s bedroom. Salazar testified at trial. Although he did not deny that his actions caused Martha’s death, he offered his own version of the incident. He claimed that, on the evening of October 11, he and his brother went to a friend’s home in San Antonio, where they smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine, and they drank beer and liquor. He left the home between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., went to a local taco bar but was unable to find a ride home. He thus decided to go to his old home on Future Street, which his mother-in-law still owned and at which he still kept some personal belongings. Salazar testified that although he intended to go to the home at 254 Future, he mistakenly approached Sanchez’s home at 250 Future. And because he no longer had his key to the home at 254 Future, he decided to enter through the window. Once inside, he claimed (believing that he was in his own home) that he heard a frightening noise. Salazar then obtained a knife from the kitchen. He testified that he walked out of the kitchen, bumped into a person he could not see, became frightened, and began stabbing the unknown person. Salazar further stated that, during his stabbing frenzy, he felt a pain in his arm, realized that someone was behind him, and he began stabbing that person, as well. He then saw the person behind him and heard the victim say “Run!” or “run Erick!” According to Salazar, he subsequently realized that he was in the wrong home and simply left the house. Salazar testified that his state of mind during the incident was similar to a black-out. He stated that he did not remember Martha screaming “Luis, why are you doing this to me?” he did not remember Brianna crying and he did not remember Erick telling him to leave Martha alone. He also denied cutting the telephone lines at 250 Future and denied trying to rape Martha, although he offered no explanation for the bruises and abrasions on her legs. At trial, Salazar admitted stabbing Martha Sanchez to death after entering her house without consent. He further testified that he found her attractive, he desired to have intercourse with her, and he had recently propositioned her. Salazar also admitted that he told his wife before the murder that violence made him feel good and that he had dreams about killing people. The prosecution also presented evidence that Martha Sanchez was afraid of Salazar and that Salazar had committed a prior sexual assault on an acquaintance, although he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. There was evidence that the telephone lines had been cut before Salazar went into the house. Salazar’s muddy footprints led directly from the point of entry to the kitchen where he obtained two knives, which were the murder weapons. He then went to Martha Sanchez’s bedroom. The only signs of struggle were in Martha Sanchez’s bedroom and her blood was found only in her bedroom. Martha Sanchez’s body was found on the floor of her bedroom on top of some of her bedding. There was no reason for Salazar to be in Martha Sanchez’s house, other than his claim that he entered by mistake. The medical examiner testified that the bruise pattern on Martha Sanchez’s legs was consistent with a person wrapping his hands around her knees and legs in a forcible attempt to separate her legs. The medical examiner concluded, based on her experience with known rape victims, that the bruise pattern indicated an attempted sexual assault. She gave specific testimony regarding the age, size and placement of the bruises and abrasions on Martha Sanchez’s body and explained why those factors supported her conclusion. She also testified that the bruise pattern on Martha Sanchez’s legs, the mud on Martha Sanchez’s inner thigh, and the fingernail abrasions on her thighs was inconsistent with Salazar’s version of events. The medical examiner gave specific, cogent reasons for her conclusion that the bruise pattern indicated an attempted sexual assault. She pointed to ten different contusions and a “scratch abrasion” which formed this pattern. She placed particular importance on four contusions on the inside of her knee and thigh. The defense called no witnesses other than Salazar and rested after Salazar’s testimony. Salazar was charged with a single count of capital murder committed during the course of committing or attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault and burglary. At trial, Salazar’s intent to commit a sexual assault on the night of the murder was an important issue. Among other evidence, the prosecution elicited testimony from the medical examiner that the pattern of contusions on the victim’s body indicated an attempted sexual assault contemporaneous with her death. The medical examiner’s opinion about the pattern of contusions on Martha Sanchez’s body was not expressed in the autopsy report, and defense counsel attempted unsuccessfully to keep this testimony from the jury. Defense counsel also attempted to discredit the medical examiner’s opinion on cross-examination, but he did not consult with an independent pathologist or call any rebuttal witnesses to refute the medical examiner’s testimony. Although a number of lesser-included offenses were included in the jury charge, Salazar was convicted of capital murder as charged in the indictment and sentenced to death. He appealed directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the conviction and death sentence in an unpublished opinion. UPDATE: A man who crawled through the window of a San Antonio home and fatally stabbed a mother of 3 has been executed tonight in Huntsville. Luis Salazar thanked his friends and relatives for their friendship and fellowship and expressed love to his mother, brothers, sister and his children. Salazar never acknowledged the family of 1997 Martha Sanchez or her slaying in an attack police say happened after he’d been on a drugs and drinking binge. Sanchez’s oldest child, Erick, — who was 10 at the time of the killing and tried to stop the slaying — was among the witnesses. In his final statement, Salazar referred to his own family, saying: "I’m going to miss them and take them with me in my heart. Thanks to everyone praying for me." He said: "My heart is going ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump." Salazar then laughed. He asked for forgiveness and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Salazar was asking for forgiveness for what he called the "sins that I can remember" when the drugs began taking effect. Salazar testified at his trial that after a night of marijuana, cocaine and drinking he thought he was in his own house just before dawn Oct. 11, 1997, and that Martha Sanchez, 28, and her three children were intruders. Evidence, however, showed the telephone wires at the home next door to where Salazar previously lived had been cut and Sanchez’s injuries indicated Salazar had tried to rape her before she was fatally stabbed. He denied cutting the phone lines or the attempted rape. The woman’s 2-year-old daughter was asleep in the same bed and a 6-month-old son was in a crib nearby. Sanchez’s screams woke her older son, 10-year-old Erick, who was asleep in an adjacent room and he went into his mother’s room to see what was going on. Then he tried to defend his mother from the knife-wielding intruder he knew as the man who used to live next door and was stabbed in the chest as his mother yelled at him to run outside and get help. Leaving a trail of blood, the boy pounded on the doors of homes until he found a neighbor to respond. Salazar had attacked his mother and him, he told the neighbor. Almost a year later, the boy showed a Bexar County jury the scars from his wound as he testified at Salazar’s capital murder trial. A neighbor testified how she changed the clothes of the 2-year-old who had her mother’s blood all over her. Almost four years before the attack, Salazar had pleaded guilty and received two years probation for misdemeanor assault for a sexual attack on an 18-year-old mentally disabled high school student. And some four years before that, he was given probation for four counts of aggravated robbery for holding up convenience stores. Richard Langlois, one of Salazar’s trial lawyers, said the previous convictions were difficult to overcome in the minds of jurors who had been asked to spare Salazar’s life because he’s endured an abusive childhood. "It was a situation where he had a prior sexual assault," Langlois said. "I think our defense was that he got in the wrong house, that he lived a couple doors away." But he said when evidence showed the phone wires to Sanchez’s home had been cut, "That kind of blew that." "He had a violent history," said Bert Richardson, the former Bexar County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Salazar. Testimony also showed that when he’d lived nearby, he made sexual passes at Sanchez, whose husband had helped Salazar get a job at a Kmart. Sanchez’s husband was at work the night of the slaying. A neighbor who answered Erick’s cries for help saw a man riding a bicycle fleeing from the house. Salazar called police later that day and said he wanted to surrender. "I think the whole town was looking for him at that point," Richardson said. "The guy was on probation for three or four aggravated robberies and had raped a mentally retarded girl. But even if you throw that aside, (this case) was gut-wrenching because of the kids. They were all there." Erick’s wounds were superficial and he recovered. The emotional and psychological scars were more lasting, Richardson said. "It kind of tore his life apart," Richardson said. "He’s had a few bumps in the road." UPDATE: A 17-year-old cold case murder was solved with the confession of a killer just moments from the death chamber. Luis Cervantes Salazar was executed in March 2009 for the stabbing murder of a woman in October 1992. But shortly before his death, he was encouraged by his spiritual counselor to speak with Texas Rangers about other crimes he committed. He confessed to the 1992 stabbing of a young female clerk at the Stop and Go at Woodlawn and 36th Street in San Antonio, just an hour and a half before he was executed. San Antonio police say his confession solved the murder of Melissa Morales. Salazar had not previously been considered a suspect. After Salazar’s death, Texas Rangers contacted SAPD cold case detectives with the information. After learning of the details of the Capital Murder, it was clear that the victim was Melissa Morales, a store clerk who had been stabbed thirteen times while working at the Stop n Go at 2409 NW 36th Street on April 19, 1992, Easter Sunday. Once the audio taped interview was received and transcribed, SAPD Detectives went about verifying Salazar’s confession. Salazar gave details about the Capital Murder that could have only been known by the murderer. These details confirmed that Salazar had murdered Melissa Morales during a robbery. On Thursday April 2nd, 2009 SAPD detectives notified Melissa Morales’ parents, Stephen and Alma DeLeon, and her grandparents, Jesse and Carolina Robledo of Salazar’s confession. After Melissa Morales’ murder, her parents, grandparents, and Carrie Willborn lobbied Legislature with State Representative Leticia Van de Putte to require all convenience stores to install security cameras. Because of their efforts the bill was passed.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 13, 2009 Washington Holly Carol Washa, 21 Cal Brown stayed
Holly WashaIn 1984, Cal Coburn Brown was sentenced as a dangerous offender for his attempted assault on a 24-year-old woman in Corvallis, Oregon. Brown, a freshman at Oregon State University at the time, had been introduced to the woman by her babysitter. Brown appeared at the woman’s home wearing a hat and carrying a backpack. He persuaded her to let him rest what he claimed was a sprained leg. When she turned her head to call him a cab, Brown flung a 43-inch leather thong over her head to choke her, but the thong caught on her lip. The victim recalled the thong instantly tightening and she was yanked off her feet backwards. She landed on her stomach six feet away with the thong still around her neck and Brown kneeling behind her. She rolled to her side and saw him wild-eyed staring into her face." He held her, and she screamed and a police officer who happened to be nearby arrested him. Police found a large knife and a roll of two-inch wide duct tape in his backpack. The woman’s two small sons were home during the attack. At the time, Brown already had an extensive criminal record, including a 1977 conviction in California that involved a knife assault on a woman in a shopping center. Brown served the minimum seven-and-a-half-year sentence for the Oregon attempted assault conviction and was released on parole from the Oregon State Penitentiary on March 25, 1991, after receiving a favorable psychiatric evaluation. Upon Brown’s release, he was placed under the supervision of a parole office who specialized in the supervision of sex offenders. The parole officer was given a letter from the district attorney who had prosecuted Brown on the dangerous offender case. In the letter, the DA stated that not only did he consider Brown to be one of the most dangerous criminals whom he had ever prosecuted, but also that "unless he has undergone a remarkable transformation in prison, he will remain a potential mutilator and killer of women." During the first two months of his parole, Brown had enrolled as a student at Oregon State University and had met with his parole officer. Towards the end of that period, the parole officer could not get in touch with Brown and on May 23, 1991, requested that an arrest warrant be filed on Brown. On the very same day, Brown carjacked Holly Carol Washa in the parking lot of a hotel near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and demanded at knifepoint that she "drive or die." He later forced her into the passenger seat, tied her hands behind her back and drove her to his motel nearby. In his motel room, Brown forced Holly to remove her clothing, then tied her to the bed and raped and tortured Holly repeatedly for the course of several hours. The next day, Brown forced Holly to call in sick at her job at TCI Cablevision. He again tied Holly to the bed, gagged her and sexually assaulted her with foreign objects, including a bottle. He whipped her and shocked her with an electrical cord. Eventually, Brown put Holly Washa in the trunk of her car, slit her throat, stabbed her repeatedly and left her to bleed to death in a parking lot. Several days later, Holly’s body was found in the trunk of her car. After stabbing Holly, Brown then flew to Palm Springs, California, to rendezvous with his next victim, a woman named Susan, whom he had met on an airplane a few days earlier and with whom he had made weekend plans. While inside their hotel room, Brown offered to give Susan a backrub. He was rubbing her back when he suddenly jerked her arms behind her back in a "very fast, brutal way. He said, ‘Don’t scream." I did scream and…he slit my throat." Brown handcuffed Susan with her arms behind her back. She saw blood on the pillow. "At that point he lowered the knife so that I could see it. It was down near my heart, pointed toward me." Brown stopped the bleeding with a makeshift bandage of sanitary napkins held against her throat with her nylons, and then sexually assaulted Susan. Then he forced her to write a check for $4000 to him. He left the room to get more bandages. Amazingly, Susan was able to call the front desk and summon the police, who arrived and obtained a description of Brown from Susan, and arrested Brown in the hotel parking lot. Brown quickly gave audio-taped confessions to both the rape and attempted murder of Susan in California, and the rape and murder of Holly Washa in Washington. After pleading guilty in California and receiving a sentence of life imprisonment, Brown was tried in Washington. A jury convicted Brown of aggravated first-degree murder, and sentenced him to death. In 2007, when the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Brown, Holly’s family expressed their frustration. "Here he is, all these years later, enjoying the life that some people don’t have," said Ruthcile Washa, the grandmother of Holly Washa, a 21-year-old Nebraska native who came to Seattle to follow her big-city dreams and was murdered by Brown. "The death penalty will give us peace of mind that he won’t get out and do this to someone else." Washa left tiny Ogallala, Nebraska because she wanted to be a flight attendant. Washa left Ogallala in February 1988 to attend a three-month course at the International Air Academy in Vancouver, Wash. Three months later, she moved to Seattle. She worked part-time as a dispatcher at TCI Cablevision and two weeks before her murder began a second job in a Hickory Farms store in Southcenter mall. Her former boyfriend, Don Briscoe, said he and Holly had met in the Vancouver school and lived together until the month prior to her murder. He said they had decided to take a break from their relationship but remained close friends. "She was the sweetest person; she cared about people so much," Briscoe said. In 2005, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Brown’s death sentence, but it was reinstated by the US Supreme Court in 2007.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 19, 2009 Alabama Charles Eddie Shannon, 16 Phillip Hallford stayed
Phillip D. Hallford was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of 16-year old Charles Eddie Shannon, the boyfriend of Hallford’s daughter, Melinda. in the early morning of April 13, 1986, Hallford forced his daughter to entice her boyfriend, Charles Eddie Shannon, to a secluded bridge. He then shot Eddie once in the roof of the mouth. While Eddie was still alive, Hallford dragged him to the side of the bridge and shot him two more times, once in the front of the left ear and once in the forehead. Hallford then threw the body over the bridge railing and into the water. Some time after the shooting, Hallford returned to the scene of the crime to remove the blood from the bridge. The next day Hallford burned Eddie’s wallet and its contents. These events were witnessed in part by Hallford’s daughter and his son, who testified against him at trial. While Hallford was burning the wallet he commented that Eddie was a "cheapskate" because he said he found no money in the wallet. However, Eddie’s father testified that he had given the victim money on the afternoon of his disappearance. Eddie’s badly decomposed body was discovered in the water approximately two weeks after the shooting. Hallford maintained at trial that he did not kill Eddie and that he was nowhere near the bridge when the murder occurred. During the guilt phase of the trial, Melinda described Hallford’s plot to lure Eddie Shannon to him and the graphic details of the murder. Melinda was also the only witness to identify directly the wallet Hallford burned as belonging to Eddie. Her further testimony during the penalty phase — where she was the only witness for the State — described her sexual relationship with Hallford that began when she was seven or eight years old; Melinda testified that she and her father were engaged in an incestuous relationship when she became romantically involved with Shannon and that her father was jealous of Eddie. In addition to Melinda’s testimony, the jury heard testimony from Hallford’s stepson, Sammy, that matched Melinda’s in providing critical details tying Hallford to Eddie Shannon’s murder and the robbery. Sammy — as well as Melinda — testified that he witnessed Hallford attack Eddie with a pistol and described how Sammy helped Hallford destroy evidence that could have tied Hallford to the crime. Sammy testified that on the morning after the murder — after Hallford had Sammy return to the crime scene with him to wash blood from the bridge and make sure Shannon’s body was undetectable — Hallford told Sammy to build a fire in a drum outside the trailer. According to Sammy, after the fire was lit, Hallford brought out a wallet and burned its contents. Sammy testified that he saw Hallford burn an orange and white military identification card. Sammy did not read the name on the card, and Hallford’s thumb obscured the card’s picture. Sammy testified that Melinda was present when Hallford burned the wallet. Eddie’s step-brother, David, testified that Eddie carried a wallet in which he kept an identification card. Eddie’s father, Olen Johns, who similarly described Eddie’s wallet and stated that the wallet carried his military identification card, testified that he never saw his son’s wallet after the murder. Melinda’s testimony that Hallford burned Eddie’s wallet on the morning after the murder was more specific than the other wallet-related testimony. Perhaps the most incriminating circumstantial evidence is the timing of Hallford’s acts: Hallford burned a wallet containing a military identification card like Shannon’s less than twelve hours after the murder occurred and after spending most of the same morning undertaking efforts to conceal the crime. Shannon’s wallet was not recovered with his body. UPDATE: Upon hearing that her father’s execution date had been set, Melinda Hallford said, "Thank God. I’m so happy, I’m ecstatic." Melinda was only 15 when her father shot her boyfriend in front of her. "My father had been having sex with me and claiming I was his wife. In his perverted mind, I had an affair." About the execution, Melinda said, "“It will at least give me a sense of closure and help me not to be afraid of him anymore. I’ve been afraid my entire damn life he was going to kill me or send somebody after me to kill me. I hate myself. I hate the fact that I was ever born. I hate the fact that this person is my father. I want to kill him myself. I still have to live with the fact that a 16-year-old boy was killed because of me.” Eddie Shannon’s stepbrother David Ferguson said, "It’s about time. Come on now, it’s been 21 years. Justice should have been given a long time ago."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 2009 Washington Jade Harmony Moore, 18
Telisha Shaver, 22
Dwayne Woods stayed
jade1 smallDwayne Woods was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the April 1996 slayings of Telisha Shaver and Jade Moore in Spokane County and the attempted murder of his girlfriend, Venus Shaver. On Friday, April 26, 1996, Telisha Shaver was "house-sitting" at her aunt’s trailer home in the Spokane Valley. Telisha, who planned to stay the night at her boyfriend’s home, agreed to let her sister, Venus, and Venus’s friend, Jade Moore, spend the night at the trailer. Because Venus and Jade went out that evening, they did not arrive at the trailer home until approximately 1:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 27. Shortly thereafter, Venus and Jade’s friend, Anica, came over to the trailer. The three women then proceeded to engage in conversation and consume alcohol. Eventually, Venus and Jade expressed a desire to contact Dwayne Woods. Eventually, Venus called Woods’s pager number. Woods responded to the page at 3:45 a.m. Venus then agreed to pick him up in her automobile and bring him back to the trailer. At about this same time, Anica departed the trailer home and Jade went to sleep in one of the bedrooms of the trailer. Venus returned to the trailer with Woods at 4:20 a.m. Although Venus and Woods proceeded to engage in conversation, Venus said that she felt "uneased about him. I wasn’t comfortable." According to testimony Venus gave at trial, Woods "poured himself vodka" and expressed unhappiness about the fact that Jade was not awake. At the behest of Woods, Venus tried to awaken Jade, but she did not respond. Woods, according to Venus, became irate and eventually shoved Venus onto the couch and attempted to unbutton her pants. Venus said that she escaped from Woods’s grasp but that he managed to grab her again and "slammed" her head and neck against a door. From that point on, Venus has no memory of events that morning except for reoccurring "flashing" of memory in which she recalls struggling with Woods. After Woods completed his attack on Venus, he moved on to Jade. At about 7:30 a.m., Woods climbed into bed with Jade and forced her, at knifepoint, to get up. He then forcibly took her to witness the severely beaten Venus who was lying unconscious on the floor in one of the bedrooms. Woods proceeded to threaten Jade that if she did not comply with his demands, she would "end up looking just like your friend Venus.’" He then forced Jade to help him loot the trailer and to give him her automatic transaction machine (ATM) card together with her personal identification number. He then raped Jade orally and vaginally. While Woods was attacking Jade, Telisha came over to the trailer to retrieve some of her belongings. As she entered the trailer, Woods seized and bound her and forced her to stand against a wall in the bedroom. Jade, who was laying on the floor at this point, and "acting like she was dead," said that she "heard a baseball bat hit" Telisha’s head. Jade was then hit in the head with the bat, knocked unconscious, and was unable to observe what happened beyond that point. When Telisha failed to return home later that morning, her mother, Sherry, became concerned and decided to go to the trailer. She arrived there at approximately 10:25 a.m. and found the door locked. While peering in through a window in the trailer, she saw a man, whom she later identified as Woods, alighting from the other side of the trailer. Sherry gave chase, but the man she had observed eluded her. She then returned to the trailer and pounded on the locked door. Finally, Jade answered the door. According to Sherry, Jade "looked out of it and she was stark naked." Sherry soon realized that the three women in the trailer had been beaten. Sherry called 911. Police, paramedic, and fire department personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene of the crime, and the victims were rushed to the hospital. While en route to the hospital, Jade told a paramedic about the events surrounding her assault. Once Jade arrived at the hospital she also informed her father, the emergency room physician, and a nurse about what had transpired that morning. Despite the efforts of hospital personnel, Telisha expired without ever regaining consciousness. Jade initially responded favorably to medical treatment, however, her condition eventually worsened and she died the following day due to a blood clot. Venus survived, despite being stabbed numerous times and severely beaten. Soon after exiting the trailer, Woods was seen at two business establishments within close proximity to the crime scene. At one of the businesses, Woods obtained a ride from a patron into downtown Spokane. Shortly thereafter, and within close proximity to where Woods had been dropped off in downtown Spokane, a series of cash machine withdrawals occurred with the use of Jade’s ATM card. At approximately 12:30 p.m. that same day, Woods happened upon his brother-in-law, Louis, at a grocery store in the downtown area. Woods obtained a ride from Louis to the home of a man named Johnny. Johnny and his friend Mary recall that when Woods came to their home he offered at that time to sell them "some rings" and to buy one of their automobiles. Woods passed the bulk of the day in their company, but later that evening went to the apartment of his former girl friend, Elizabeth, where he spent the night. The following morning, April 28, 1996, Elizabeth asked Woods to leave her apartment. Woods became agitated and told her that he was "a wanted man" and that she was "putting him on the streets." Later that day, Johnny heard a television broadcast that indicated the authorities were searching for Woods. This prompted him to telephone the authorities and agree to lead them to Woods. With his cooperation, Spokane County Sheriff deputies followed him as he went to pick up Woods and one of Woods’s friends, Jennifer. After Knight did so, the deputies stopped Johnny’s vehicle. When Johnny exited the vehicle, Woods maneuvered his way into the driver’s seat and sped away in the vehicle. The deputies gave chase, eventually bringing Woods to a halt. Woods was then taken into custody and was interrogated by Spokane County Sheriff detectives. Woods told the interviewing detectives that he ran from the police because he said he had a number of "outstanding traffic violations" and "some traffic warrants." Testimony at trial indicated that at the time Woods was arrested, there were no outstanding traffic warrants for his arrest. Woods also told the detectives that he knew Venus Shaver but that he had not been in contact with her for about a week. Woods denied knowing a woman by the name of Jade. He also said that he had not been in the "Spokane valley" for about a month and said that he had never visited a trailer home in the Spokane Valley. Finally, Woods told the detectives that there was no "logical explanation" for his fingerprints being found in a trailer home in the Spokane Valley. Approximately one month after the murders, the State charged Woods in Spokane County Superior Court with two counts of aggravated first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and, in the alternative, one count of first degree assault. A paramedic, Carol Ragland-Stone, testified over the objection of Woods as to what Jade said to her in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. In addition, Jade’s father, Barry Moore, was allowed to testify, over Woods’s objection, as to what Jade had told him at the hospital on the morning of the attack. The trial court allowed Dr. Edminster to testify, also over Woods’s objection, as to what Jade told him with respect to Telisha’s attack. Finally, an emergency room nurse, Diane Bethel, was allowed to testify as to what Jade told her during a rape examination that was conducted shortly after Jade arrived at the hospital. In addition, a forensic scientist who performed the DNA testing, John Brown, Ph.D., testified that the sperm recovered from Jade was determined to contain the DNA of Woods. Brown testified that the odds of a random match in the African-American population, which included Woods, were 1/125,000,000. A fingerprint expert, Dorothy Blyton, testified for the State and indicated that Woods’s fingerprints were found on a vodka bottle and a telephone, both of which were found in the trailer at which the assault and homicides took place. There was also evidence that Woods’s coat and shirt were found at the scene of the crime. Paging and telephone records, which were admitted into evidence, revealed that Woods’s pager had been called several times from the scene of the crime during the early hours of Saturday, April 27, 1996. Finally, testimony was presented regarding the brutality of the crime. Lieutenant Terence Gese, a 21-year veteran of the Spokane Valley fire paramedics division testified "that someone had perpetrated some of the worst violence I have ever seen." A Spokane Valley fire station captain, Gerald Johnson, testified that in the bedroom where the victims were found "it was something I had never seen before." He said that blood was "everywhere" and that "it looked like someone had taken a paint brush and just splattered it all over the place." Woods did not testify. The defense theory was that Woods could not have murdered Telisha and Jade or assaulted Venus because he was dining at a bar in downtown Spokane at the time the crimes occurred. In support of this defense, the testimony of a bartender was offered to the effect that Woods had been served that morning at the bar at which the bartender was employed. Following closing arguments on Friday, June 20, the jury found Woods guilty of two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of attempting to elude police officers. As Woods was being escorted from the courtroom he informed some journalists that he would not challenge the death penalty. This occurred outside the hearing of the jury. Over the ensuing weekend, Woods instructed his lawyers not to present any mitigating evidence at the penalty phase of the trial. Concerned that Woods was not thinking rationally as a result of the unfavorable verdict, his attorneys sought a continuance of the penalty phase of the trial in order to give them time to have Woods’s mental capacity assessed. The trial court denied their motion and ordered the sentencing phase of the trial commence that afternoon. The State presented victim impact testimony from Telisha Shaver’s mother, Sherry Shaver, and Jade Moore’s father, Barry Moore. The State also presented in-life photos of the two murder victims as well as certified judgments of the defendant’s three prior second degree assault convictions. As per Woods’s instructions, his counsel did not present any mitigating evidence. Defense counsel did, however, inform the trial court that they had planned to call several witnesses to present mitigation testimony: Dwayne Woods’s parents, Janet and Emanuel Hunter; Woods’s sister, Bev Thompson; Woods’s nephew, Willie Lyons; Dr. Amy Paris of Spokane; Dr. Murial Lesack of Portland; and Anna Cowles of Spokane. When Woods exercised his right of allocution, he made the following statement to the jury: "Well, ladies and gentlemen, you heard from [the prosecutor] and so you know that he’s asking that you impose the death penalty. I just want to say that I have no objection. Also, I just want to remind you that a few weeks back during individual voir dire each of you was asked if you could, in fact, impose the death penalty. I believe at that time each of you said you could impose the death penalty providing there’s not sufficient mitigating circumstances. So I am here to tell you there’s absolutely none, not one. So I ask that each of you go back and return a vote to impose the death penalty. Thank you." After deliberating for two days, the jury found that there were insufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency. The trial court thereafter imposed the death penalty.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 26, 2009 Pennsylvania Thomas Puksar
Donna Puksar
Ronald Puksar stayed
Tom and Donna Puksar, murder victimsOn April 14, 1993, Ronald Puksar was charged in connection with the April 15, 1991 deaths of his brother, Thomas Puksar, and his brother’s wife, Donna Puksar. The evidence established that Puksar was “coming” to the victims’ home at or around the time of the killings. There was a recent dispute between Puksar and his brother Thomas regarding a transaction involving model trains. Thomas Puksar’s body was found surrounded by scattered boxes of model trains. A handgun owned by Puksar was recovered at the scene and was established to be the weapon used in the commission of the killings. A box of bullets, of the same type and manufacturer as the bullets used in the killing, was found on a desk on the first floor of the victims’ home. Two of Puksar’s fingerprints were found on this box. The box of bullets was not on the desk at 5:00 p.m. that afternoon when a friend dropped Thomas Puksar off after work. In addition, the evidence was sufficient to establish that Donna Puksar was the victim of a homicide. At trial, the evidence demonstrated that Donna Puksar was her normal, happy self at work the day of the killings. She had invited a co-worker to her home for dinner that evening. Donna Puksar left work at 6:28 p.m. When she was found, Donna Puksar was dressed in the clothing she had worn to work the day of the murders. The bloodstains found on Donna Puksar were of a type consistent with her own blood type and not the blood type of Thomas Puksar. There were no fingerprints or blood on the gun at the time it was recovered. The Commonwealth presented the testimony of Dr. Isadore Mihalakis, an expert in forensic pathology, who testified, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that Donna Puksar was the victim of a homicide. Dr. Mihalakis testified that the evidence established that Donna Puksar would not have been physically able to fire the second fatal shot to her temple following the first shot to the jaw. Archive of local news articles on this case

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