May 2009 Executions

Five killers were executed in May 2009. They had murdered at least 11 people.
Two killers were given a stay in May 2009. They have murdered at least 2 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 8, 2009 South Carolina Robert Montgomery
Thomas C. Harrison
Thomas Ivey executed
Thomas Treshawn Ivey was sentenced to death for the murder of Robert Montgomery. In early January 1993, Thomas Ivey and Vincent Neuman escaped from a prison in Clayton, Alabama. Neuman testified that on January 13th, he and Ivey kidnapped Robert Montgomery in Columbia and drove him in his truck to the town of North, South Carolina. There, Ivey shot and killed Montgomery. Ivey and Neuman drove away in Montgomery’s vehicle. The next day, Ivey and Neuman stole another vehicle. In the vehicle were the owner’s identification and some blank checks. On January 15th, Ivey, Neuman, and Patricia Perkins drove to Orangeburg in order to forge the blank checks. All three entered a Belk’s store where Neuman wrote a check for the purchase of cologne and aftershave. Ivey left the store, but Neuman and Perkins continued to "shop." They tried to purchase certain items costing $279.30. When they tried to pay for the merchandise with a forged check, the clerk became suspicious and said she would have to have the check approved. Neuman left the store. A store security guard called the police who arrived within a few minutes. Ivey, who had been outside, returned to the store to check on Perkins. A police officer and an investigator found Ivey and Perkins in the mall and questioned them; however, they told Ivey he was free to go when they realized that Neuman, not Ivey, was the person trying to pass the check. At that time, Orangeburg police officer Thomas Harrison arrived and began questioning Ivey. There was evidence that Ivey’s.357 Magnum, which was in his left coat pocket, fired. The bullet hit the ground, ricocheted, and struck Officer Harrison. Ivey then pulled the gun out of his pocket and directly shot Officer Harrison five more times. After the shooting, Ivey tried to escape. A few officers chased Ivey out of the mall, shooting at him as he zigzagged into the parking lot where he was finally arrested. Ivey gave a statement to the police admitting that he killed Officer Harrison. He stated that he had a gun in his left coat pocket. While he was talking with Officer Harrison, the gun accidently went off, and the shot hit the floor. "The officer jumped back, and he was going for his gun, and I just panicked, and I pulled it out and started shooting." Initially, Ivey said that he shot Officer Harrison because he was "scared," but later indicated that "I don’t know why I shot the officer." A forensic pathologist testified that the cause of death was two gunshot wounds to Officer’s vital organs. In addition to other wounds, a wound, which exhibited the effects of a ricochet pattern, was found on Officer Harrison’s right leg. A South Carolina Law Enforcement Department crime scene technician found a projectile or bullet had struck the floor near to where Ivey and Officer Harrison were standing. Moreover, there was evidence that Ivey’s left coat pocket was blown out by a gunshot. Ivey was indicted for murder and tried. A jury found Ivey guilty of the murder of Officer Harrison. The State sought the death penalty, relying on three aggravating circumstances: (1) The defendant by his act of murder knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person in a public place by means of a weapon or device which would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person; (2) Thomas C. Harrison, a local law enforcement officer, was murdered during or because of the performance of his official duties; and (3) Two or more persons, including Thomas C. Harrison, were murdered by the defendant by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct. The jury was also instructed on four statutory mitigating circumstances and nine non-statutory mitigating circumstances. Finding the existence of the first two aggravating circumstances listed above, the jury recommended a sentence of death. The judge sentenced Ivey to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 13, 2009 Florida Adella Marie Simmons, 47 John Marek stayed
Adella SimmonsThis tragic incident began on June 16, 1983, when Adella Simmons and her female companion were returning home from a vacation. Adella’s companion testified that when the car in which the two women were riding broke down on the Florida Turnpike near Jupiter, John Richard Marek, who was driving a pickup truck, pulled over; Marek was talkative and friendly and that he unsuccessfully attempted to fix the car and then offered to take one of the women, but not both, to a service station. At approximately 11:30 p.m. Adella left with Marek and Raymond Wigley, who was an occupant of the pickup truck. Wigley had been present during a part of Marek’s conversation with the two women but remained silent. The companion testified that during the five days she and Adella were together on their vacation, Adella did not have sexual intercourse. At approximately 3:35 a.m. the following morning, a police officer patrolling Dania Beach noticed two men walking from the vicinity of a lifeguard shack towards a Ford pickup truck. He testified that he spoke to the men, who identified themselves as Marek and Wigley, for about forty minutes. He noted that Marek was the more dominant of the two; that Marek joked with the officer and interrupted Wigley every time Wigley attempted to speak; and that Marek drove the truck away from the beach when the conversation was completed. Later that morning, the nude body of the 47-year-old victim was discovered on the observation deck of the lifeguard shack. According to medical testimony, Adella had been strangled between approximately 3:00 and 3:30 a.m., and was probably conscious for one minute after the ligature was applied to her neck. Her body was extensively bruised and her finger and pubic hairs had been burned. The medical examiner testified that he found sperm in Adella’s cervix and believed she had had sexual intercourse after 11:30 p.m. on June 16. Bruises indicated that Adella had been kicked with a great deal of force. According to the examiner, some of Adella’s injuries indicated she had been dragged up to the roof of the lifeguard shack and into the observation tower. Police issued a "be-on-the-lookout" bulletin to law enforcement agencies for Marek and Wigley. On the evening of June 17, a Daytona Beach police officer, as a result of that bulletin, stopped Wigley, who was driving a truck on Daytona Beach, and found a small automatic pistol in the truck’s glove compartment. Approximately one-half hour later in the same vicinity, police took Marek into custody. Adella’s jewelry was later found in the truck. A fingerprint expert testified that six prints lifted from the lifeguard shack matched Marek’s fingerprints, and one matched Wigley’s. Only Marek’s print was found inside the observation deck, where the body was discovered. The Marek testified in his own behalf that he and Wigley had traveled together from Texas to Florida for a vacation; that he had attempted to fix Adella’s disabled vehicle and had offered to take the women to a filling station; that he fell asleep after Adella got into the truck and that when he awoke, she was gone; that he went back to sleep and woke up at the beach, where he found Wigley on the observation deck of the lifeguard shack; and that it was dark in the shack and he did not see Adella’s body. Marek admitted that after he had been incarcerated and a detective told him he had "made it to the big time," he responded: "S.O.B. must have told all." Wigley testified that the victim was forced to perform oral sex and was sexually assaulted repeatedly. Simmons was then strangled with a bandana. Wigley was sentenced to life in prison.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 14, 2009 Oklahoma Shane Alan Coffman, 8 Donald Gilson executed
Shane Coffman2Donald Lee Gilson was sentenced to death for the first degree child abuse murder of 8-year-old Shane Coffman. On February 9, 1996, the skeletal remains of 8-year-old Shane Coffman were found in an abandoned freezer located next to a mobile home formerly rented by his mother, Bertha Jean Coffman. A subsequent search of the mobile home revealed a photograph of Gilson. On February 11, 1996, authorities from the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office met with Gilson at his mobile home. Living in the mobile home with Gilson was Bertha Jean Coffman and her four children, 12-year-old Isaac, 10-year-old Tia, 11-year-old Tranny and 7-year-old Crystal. The children were immediately removed from the trailer and taken to Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City. Gilson and Bertha Jean Coffman were detained by the deputies. Examinations of the children conducted in the emergency room revealed Tranny and Crystal were healthy with a few small scars on each. However, Isaac and Tia were malnourished and emaciated. Tia’s feet were swollen and she had difficulty walking. She had gangrenous tissue on her right foot. On her right buttocks was a large open ulcer. Isaac was in the worst condition, emaciated and needing assistance to walk. He was malnourished and had several injuries, in various stages of healing, and scars throughout his body. In their initial interview with police, Gilson and Coffman both denied any knowledge as to the manner in which Shane died. They stated he had run away from home during the early part of November and they had found him dead in the weeds near Coffman’s trailer. They decided that putting him in the freezer would be the best thing to do. However, in subsequent interviews both Gilson and Coffman recanted this story and admitted to knowing more about the circumstances surrounding Shane’s death. From interviews with Gilson, Coffman, the Coffman children and other 3 witnesses, the following picture emerged. The four Coffman children mentioned above, along with the murder victim in this case, and another brother, 13-year-old Jeremy, lived with their mother Bertha Jean Coffman, in a mobile home. During the fall of 1994, the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department received complaints of sexual abuse committed upon one of the Coffman children by Coffman’s then boyfriend (not Gilson). The investigating detective visited Coffman’s mobile home and found the conditions deplorable and unsanitary. The children were removed from Coffman’s home until conditions improved. It was about this time that Bertha Jean Coffman met Gilson. They were both working as janitors at Little Axe Schools. Gilson fixed up Coffman’s trailer so she could get her children back. The children were subsequently returned to their mother. Thereafter, Gilson began spending more and more time with Coffman and was given the authority to discipline the children. In June of 1995, the oldest child, Jeremy, ran away [as a result of his mistreatment by Gilson]. The next month, Coffman and her children walked to Gilson’s trailer for a visit and never returned to their home. Whatever possessions they had were left at Coffman’s trailer. Gilson’s trailer had only 2 bedrooms; Gilson and Coffman slept in one room and the other room contained Gilson’s leather working material. As a result, all five children were forced to sleep on blankets in the living room. They were not permitted to go outside, but had to remain inside the trailer at all times. The children were taken out of school and claimed to be homeschooled by Coffman, although no evidence of homeschooling was ever found. The children were also not permitted to go to church. Gilson and Coffman both disciplined the children. This discipline took several forms, including standing at the wall, sometimes for hours at a time, and beatings with a bamboo stick, a belt, boards, wooden rulers, metal ruler, and a bullwhip. The children were also made to sit in the bathtub, often for hours at a time. Food was withheld, particularly from Isaac and Tia, as punishment. The abuse inflicted upon Shane Coffman resulted in his death on August 17, 1995. At trial, Tranny testified that he last saw his brother Shane sitting in the bathtub. Tranny said Shane had gotten in trouble for going to the bathroom on the living room carpet. He said that before Shane was put into the bathtub, Gilson beat him with a board. Tranny said Shane received several beatings with the board, all over his body. After the beating, Gilson put Shane into the bathtub. After a couple of hours, Shane was let out of the bathtub. He then got into trouble again. Tranny said Gilson and Coffman then took Shane outside the trailer. Tranny did not know what happened to Shane while he was outside, but he said he could hear Shane screaming. Gilson and Coffman carried Shane back inside the trailer. Tranny said Shane’s arms were swollen, he was breathing “weird”, and he had a soft spot on his head. Pursuant to Gilson’s “house rules”, the other children were not permitted to talk to Shane. Gilson then carried Shane to the bathroom and placed him in the bathtub. Tranny said he and the other children heard a few more screams and banging noises. He said both Gilson and Coffman were with Shane when they heard the screams. The children then decided to try and go to sleep. He said they were awakened some time later by Gilson and Coffman and told that Shane had run away, and that Gilson and Coffman were going to look for him. Isaac testified Gilson first sent Shane to stand at the wall for wetting the bed. While he was standing at the wall, Gilson hit him with a board. Gilson and Coffman eventually took Shane to the bathroom and put him in the bathtub. Isaac said Gilson made all the other children go to the bathroom and tell Shane what a bad boy he was. He said that both Gilson and Coffman remained in the bathroom with Shane while the children watched television. He said they could hear Shane crying. Isaac further stated that later that night, Gilson and Coffman told them Shane had run away. In a statement made to police shortly after his arrest, Gilson stated that on August 17, 1995, he had put Shane in the bathtub as punishment. Gilson said he was trying to teach Shane a lesson, so he spanked him and put him in the bathtub where he was to remain until he stopped the disruptive behavior. He said the water in the bathtub was initially warm to help the pain from the spanking, but then he changed it to a cold bath. Gilson said Shane was crying as Coffman talked to him about his behavior. He said he then laid down on the couch to watch television with the rest of the kids where he eventually fell asleep. Coffman was in and out of the bathroom talking to Shane before she went to the bedroom to lay down. A while later, Coffman came into the living room in tears and told Gilson to come to the bathroom. He said Coffman had taken Shane out of the bathtub and laid him on the floor. Shane’s lips were blue and he was not breathing. Gilson said he performed CPR for approximately an hour to an hour and half. When his efforts were unsuccessful, Gilson took the comforter off of his bed, wrapped Shane up and placed him back in the bathtub. Gilson said he and Coffman discussed what to do next. He said Coffman was worried that the Department of Human Services (DHS) would take her kids away if the authorities found out Shane had died. So they left Shane in the bathtub, waiting until the other children had gone to sleep to remove him from the house. Gilson said they carried Shane outside and placed him in the back of a truck. He said they discussed “just dumping him somewhere” or “bury him out in the middle of the boonies.” But they decided neither of those options were right and “even though he wasn’t alive he would still be part of the family being on her property,… thought about putting him in the freezer, it wouldn’t hurt him and then concreting it over. And making a flower bed out of it.” So Gilson and Coffman took Shane’s body to the freezer located next to Coffman’s trailer and put him inside. Gilson said he and Coffman told the other children Shane had run away. Bertha Jean Coffman testified at trial to disciplining her children by making them stand at the time-out wall, and spanking them, only on their bottoms, with a cloth belt or a wooden paddle. She also testified that Gilson disciplined her children by spanking them with the wooden paddle, but at various places on their bodies. Coffman stated Gilson had a quick temper and did not want the children tearing up his trailer. In her statement to police on August 17, 1995, Coffman said she and Gilson found Shane sexually assaulting his younger brother. As punishment, they made him stand at the time-out wall, then Coffman paddled him. When Shane refused to stand at the wall, Coffman spanked him again. When Shane still would not do as Coffman directed, she screamed at him. Shane then fainted. When Coffman could not get a response from Shane, she put a piece of ice on his chest. When he still did not respond, Coffman picked him up and took him to the bathroom where she placed him in a tub of cool water. She said Shane eventually came to and wanted to get out of the tub. She said he slipped and hit his head on the faucet. Coffman stated she pushed on Shane’s shoulders to keep him in the bathtub. They struggled, and the shower doors were knocked off their railing. Coffman called for Gilson to come and fix the doors. Gilson left the living room where he had been watching television with the other children and put the doors back on their railings. Gilson left the bathroom. Coffman and Shane struggled again. Gilson returned to the bathroom to see what the noise was about. He saw the doors had fallen off again so he took them and set them on the floor. Coffman said she remained in the bathroom with Shane while Gilson went back to the living room. After a while, Gilson stepped into the bathroom and told Coffman to leave Shane alone for a while. So Coffman left the bathroom to get Shane dry clothes and prepare lunch. When she saw that Gilson had already prepared lunch, Coffman laid down on her bed. She was awakened by a noise in the bathroom and saw Gilson coming out of the bathroom. When asked how Shane was, Gilson responded he was fine and that he was blowing bubbles. Coffman sat down to have a cup of coffee, then decided to check on Shane. She found him quiet but not breathing. She called for Gilson and they pulled Shane out of the bathtub and gave him CPR. She said they waited until the other children were asleep before taking the body to the freezer. Coffman also stated that once Shane died, Isaac and Tia began receiving the brunt of the discipline from Gilson. Shane’s skeletal remains were not found until approximately 6 months after his death. Therefore, the medical examiner, Dr. Balding, was not able to make a determination as to the cause of death. The medical examiner did testify to injuries to certain bones which were evident upon his examination of the remains. The injuries included a fracture to the right jawbone. The injury was determined to be “acute” as it showed no signs of healing, and therefore was probably less than a week old at the time of death. Another fracture was also found on the left side of the skull. Dr. Balding testified the two fractures were the result of two different blunt force blows. A tooth was missing from the right jaw. Fractures were also found in the collarbone, shoulder blades, numerous ribs, both legs, and several vertebrae in the spine. All the fractures were ruled acute, and not the result of normal childhood play. Gilson and Bertha Jean Coffman were jointly charged with first degree murder by child abuse in the death of Shane Coffman, and one count of injury to a minor child for the abuse suffered by each of the remaining children. They were also jointly charged with conspiracy to unlawfully remove a dead body and unlawful removal of a dead body. On August 20, 1997, approximately 8 months prior to Gilson’s trial, Coffman entered Alford pleas to all counts. Gilson was subsequently tried and convicted on all charges except he was found not guilty of committing injury to a minor child as to Jeremy, Tranny and Crystal. The jury, in connection with the two injury to a minor child convictions, concluded Gilson’s sentence should be life imprisonment. At the conclusion of the second-stage proceedings, which were conducted as a result of Gilson’s murder conviction, the jury found the existence of both aggravating factors alleged by the State and recommended a death sentence. Gilson was formally sentenced by the state trial court at a later hearing.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 14, 2009 Alabama Ella Foy Riley Willie McNair executed
Ella RileyOn the night of May 21, 1990, Willie McNair and another man went to the home of Ella Foy Riley, an elderly widow who lived alone and occasionally hired McNair to do yard work. When Ella came to the door, McNair asked her if he could borrow twenty dollars. Riley told him she had no money to lend him. McNair then asked if he could have a glass of water. Ella invited him in, and when she turned around McNair grabbed her by the neck and stabbed her in the throat. When the blade of the knife broke off in Ella’s neck, McNair’s companion retrieved another knife from the kitchen and McNair stabbed Ella in the neck again. The wounds severed Ella’s carotid artery and jugular vein. Evidence indicated that McNair also strangled Ella Rile, who struggled for several minutes as she bled to death. After killing Ella, McNair took her purse from the kitchen counter and fled the scene with his companion. The pair drove several miles down a rural road, rummaged through Ella’s purse, then dumped it. When an officer came to his house the next morning, McNair admitted killing Ella and was arrested. He subsequently directed officers to the place where he had dumped Ella Riley’s purse and gave detailed descriptions of the murder to investigators. McNair was convicted of capital murder in the course of a robbery on April 18, 1991. He was sentenced to death following a 10-2 jury vote in favor of that penalty. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed the conviction, but it remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing because the sentencing judge had improperly considered as an aggravating factor a prior conviction that resulted from a no contest plea. The second jury recommended a sentence of life without parole by a vote of 8-4. The court rejected this recommendation and again sentenced McNair to death. McNair’s case was twice remanded for correction of the sentencing order before finally being affirmed on direct appeal. The United States Supreme Court denied McNair’s petition for certiorari.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 19, 2009 Texas Wynona Lynn Harris, 23 Michael Riley executed
On February 1, 1986, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Michael Lynn Riley fatally stabbed 23-year-old Winona Lynn Harris in the convenience store where she worked. On February 1, 1986, Riley, a Dallas County native, went to convenience store in Quitman. Armed with a butcher knife, Riley approached Wynona as she was counting money by the cash register and stabbed her to death. Police found her stabbed and cut thirty-one times; some of the stab wounds were delivered with enough force to sever the underlying ribs. Later that day, Riley went to the Sheriff’s office and explained that he had been told by an unknown person to come in and talk to the deputy about the murder. In response to initial questions, Riley said that he had not been to the store that day, and left. After later evidence emerged placing Riley at the store that morning, the Sheriff went to Riley’s house and brought him back to the office for further questioning. Riley led police to the evidence of the crime: bloodstained coveralls with $970 in the pocket that was hidden under some brush in a field close to Riley’s house. Riley waived his Miranda rights and confessed to the murder. The state of Texas twice tried, and twice convicted Riley for capital murder, nine years apart. The first conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal because of an error in jury selection. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1991 overturned Riley’s conviction, saying that a potential juror had been improperly dismissed. Riley has at least six arrests contained in his record resulting in short stays in the Wood County Jail for burglary of a motor vehicle, public intoxication, aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, and theft by check. He was also placed on two years probation in Wood County in 1976 for burglary with intent to commit theft. In 1977, Riley violated his parole and received a two-year state prison sentence from Wood County for burglary with intent to commit theft. He was discharged from prison in 1978. In 1980, Riley was sentenced to nine years in state prison for burglary of a building. He was released on parole to Wood County in 1983. In Wood County in 1985, Riley was placed on five years probation for writing a bad check and a ten years probation for forgery. Wynona Harris’s family feels that the execution is long overdue. "I don’t know what to think right now," said Kitty Harris, Wynona’s sister. "I never dreamed it would continue for this long. Her children were babies when it happened, and now they have babies of their own. That’s how long we sat here with no closure on this." Ms. Harris said the family is glad a date has been set, but is wary that Riley may not get executed if he is proven to be mentally retarded. She said Riley’s nonchalant nature about the murder at the trials showed that he had no regrets. "I hope this is the end of 20 years of emotional unrest," she said. "It’s time to come to an end." Ms. Harris said that even though Riley had not committed violent crimes before, she strongly believed he would murder again. "Yes, this was his first time of violent behavior and taking another human being’s life, but by no means do I think it would’ve been his last," she said. Ms. Harris said she is supporting the death penalty for Riley because her sister’s murder tore her family to shreds. She said she doesn’t think Riley deserves a place in society, or that tax dollars should go to keep him alive. "His mom gets handwritten letters and my mom gets to stare at a headstone," she said. Ms. Harris said despite her feelings about Riley, she still has empathy for his family, and she said she has raised her sister’s children to not hate him or his family. "I sat in court and saw his mom brokenhearted," she said. "I just wanted to hug her… I didn’t want my children ever growing up thinking ‘I hate this person.’" Some of the family members will likely witness the execution, Ms. Harris said. "It’s been very, very difficult," she said. "There have been times when you have to talk yourself into keeping on believing in the justice system." UPDATE: Prior to his execution, Riley spoke to Wynona Harris’s relatives including her two daughters and husband, saying, "To the Harris family. I have been trying to tell you for years that I am sorry. I know I hurt your family bad. I am sorry. Wynona should not of even have happened. I am sorry. I truly am sorry for the hurt and pain I caused you. I hope you can forgive me. One day I hope you can move on and, if not, I understand." The daughters of Wynona Harris were young children when their mother was killed. Brandy Oaks said she accepted Riley’s apology and was pleased to hear it. She was 4 when her mother, Wynona Harris, was killed. "This is a difficult day and there are no winners on either side," she said. "Her spirit will live on in our hearts and in our lives. I think being here was something I needed. It’s the last chapter in the book. I can close it. It’s over for me, emotionally, I guess."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 20, 2009 Missouri Richard Drummond, 47 Joseph Babcock, 47 Charlene Babcock, 38 Wendell Howell
Paul J. Hines, 31
unnamed female victim
Dennis Skillicorn executed
Joe and Charlene BabcockIn late August 1994, Dennis J. Skillicorn, Allen Nicklasson, and Tim DeGraffenreid headed east from Kansas City to obtain illegal drugs. On August 23, 1994, during their return trip to Kansas City, the 1983 Chevrolet Caprice in which they were traveling broke down twenty-two miles east of the Kingdom City exit on I-70. An offer of assistance by a state trooper was refused. The next day they traveled only 17 miles to the JJ overpass approximately 5 miles east of Kingdom City. They burglarized the nearby home, stole some guns and money, and used the stolen money to pay for a tow to Kingdom City. A garage in Kingdom City was unable to repair the extensive mechanical problems. The trio then drove the car back east toward the site of their earlier robbery. They stalled again on the south outer road east of Kingdom City. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Richard Drummond, a technical support supervisor for AT&T, saw the stranded motorists, stopped, and offered to take them to use a phone. He was driving a white 1994 Dodge Intrepid, a company car. Skillicorn and Nicklasson were both armed. They loaded the booty from the Smith burglary into the trunk of Drummond’s car. While Nicklasson held a gun to Drummond’s head, Skillicorn asked Drummond, a married father of three, some questions in order to calm him down, including whether Drummond’s "old lady" was going to miss him. As Drummond drove east, Skillicorn "got to thinking…if we let this guy off, he’s got this car phone." So they disabled the car phone. Skillicorn stated that he later determined they would have to "lose" Drummond in the woods. At some point during this time, Nicklasson and Skillicorn discussed what they should do with Drummond. Skillicorn, in his sworn statement, claimed that Nicklasson said "he was going to, you know, do something to this guy. I tell him – you know, now, we’re trying to talk on the pretenses that-that, uh, this guy in the front seat don’t hear us too. Right? Right. ‘Cause, uh, I didn’t want him panicking." They directed Drummond to exit I-70 at the Highway T exit just east of Higginsville. They proceeded four miles on to County Road 202 to a secluded area where they ordered Drummond to stop his vehicle. As Nicklasson prepared to take Drummond through a field toward a wooded area, Skillicorn demanded Drummond’s wallet. Knowing Nicklasson had no rope or other means by which to restrain Richard Drummond and that Nicklasson carried a loaded.22 caliber pistol, Skillicorn watched as Nicklasson lead Richard toward a wooded area. There, Nicklasson told Richard to say a prayer and shot him twice in the head. Skillicorn acknowledged hearing two shots from the woods and that Nicklasson returned having "already done what he had to do." Drummond’s remains were found eight days later. Following this murder, Skillicorn and Nicklasson dropped DeGraffenreid off in Blue Springs, Missouri, and then fled the state. They committed a string of house burglaries along the way, and attempted to steal a woman’s purse at a grocery store in California. The jury heard audiotape of Skillicorn’s confession to the FBI in San Diego, in which he recounted the following crimes. Three days after Richard Drummond’s murder, the car they stole from him became stuck in the sand near Kingman, Arizona. The two men approached the house of Joseph Babcock, 47, and Charlene Babcock, 38. As in the case of RIchard Drummond’s murder, Mr. and Mrs. Babcock offered assistance to Skillicorn and Nicklasson and they were murdered. After Joseph Babcock attempted unsuccessfully to pull Richard Drummond’s company car out of the sand, Nicklasson shot and killed him. Skillicorn and Nicklasson then returned to the Babcock home in Joseph Babcock’s truck, where Nicklasson killed Charlene Babcock in a similar fashion. Nicklasson and Skillicorn then absconded across California, stealing a purse from a woman in a supermarket and committing armed robbery along the way. Later, while in Mexico, Skillicorn pulled his handgun on a woman operating a diner where the two men were eating. Unfortunately, the woman did not understand Skillicorn’s demands for money. Nicklasson then shot and killed the woman. Eventually returning to the United States, both were arrested in San Diego after the police picked them up on successive days as hitchhikers. Following his arrest in San Diego, Nicklasson gave a confession to the FBI. Nicklasson admitted that he marched Drummond into the woods at gunpoint. Nicklasson alleged in this statement that he had a rope in his pocket to tie Drummond up, but he "snapped" and instead decided to shoot him, somewhat on an impulsive whim. Nicklasson also described the Arizona murders and numerous robberies the two committed while on the lam, and how he had killed his own abusive father at age nine. Skillicorn also was involved in the murder of Paul J. Hines outside a truck stop in Elko, Nevada. Skillicorn also discussed with police the murder of the woman in Mexico, but this case has not resulted in charges. Additionally, in 1980, Skillicorn had been convicted of second degree murder in the death of Wendell Howell. He served 13 years for that killing and was on parole.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 24, 2009 Florida Mary Hammond, 84 David Johnston stayed
On November 5, 1983, at approximately 3:30 a.m., David Eugene Johnston called the police department in Orlando, Florida, identified himself as Martin White, and advised a police officer that someone had killed his grandmother. Johnston also informed the police of the location where the murder had occurred. The police subsequently went to the address supplied by Johnston and found the dead body of eighty-four year old Mary Hammond. The body revealed evidence of multiple stab wounds and manual strangulation. The police arrested Johnston for Hammond’s murder after noticing that his clothes were blood-stained, his face was scratched, and his statements to the police were inconsistent. Other evidence presented at trial also linked Johnston to Hammond’s murder: (a) Johnston worked at a demolition site nearby Hammond’s home, and the police discovered several of Hammond’s household belongings in a pillowcase of a front-end loader parked at the demolition area; (b) a watch that Johnston wore shortly before the murder was found covered with blood in Hammond’s home and a pin that Johnston wore on the morning of the murder was found entangled in Hammond’s hair; and (c) the police discovered a print matching Johnston’s shoe outside the kitchen window of Hammond’s house. A jury convicted Johnston of Hammond’s murder and recommended a death sentence. The trial court imposed a sentence of death after finding as aggravating factors that Johnston previously had been convicted of a violent felony; that this offense had been committed in the course of committing a burglary; and that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.

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