August 2011 Executions

Two killers were executed in August 2011. They had murdered at least 4 people.
Seven killers were given a stay in August 2011. They have murdered at least 11 people.
One killer died on death row while awaiting execution in August 2011. He had murdered at least 5 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 2, 2011 Florida Louis Pena Manuel Valle stayed
Officer Louis Pena, murder victimOn April 2, 1978, Officer Louis Pena of the Coral Gables Police Department was on patrol when he stopped Manuel Valle and Felix Ruiz for running a red light. The car was stolen. The events that followed were witnessed by Officer Gary Spell, also of the Coral Gables Police Department. Officer Spell testified that when he arrived at the scene, Valle was sitting in the patrol car with Officer Pena. Shortly thereafter, Spell heard Pena use his radio to run a license check on the car Valle was driving. According to Spell, Valle then walked back to his car and reached into it, approached Officer Pena and fired a single shot at him, which resulted in his death. Valle also fired two shots at Spell and then fled. He was picked up two days later in Deerfield Beach. Valle provided a detailed confession of killing Officer Pena and shooting at Officer Spell. Following his jury trial, Valle was also found guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Spell and after a non-jury trial, he was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Louis Pena had been on the police force for 12 years and was married with four children; a son and three daughters. UPDATE: A stay was issued by the Florida Supreme Court while Valle’s lawyers question changes in the state’s lethal injection procedure.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 10, 2011 Texas John Commisky, 19
Jesus Omar Gonzalez, 19
Felipe Quiroz, 21
Martin Robles executed
John Commisky, Jesus Gonzalez, Gavino Moreno, and Tony Ortiz sold crack cocaine out of a home on Mary Street in Corpus Christi. Because the Raza Unida gang had a heavy presence in the neighborhood, the men were supposed to, but did not, pay RU a percentage of the money they earned from selling cocaine out of the home. Moreno testified that "if you don’t pay a percentage, then they RU deal with you." In the early morning of November 12, 2002, Moreno was inside the Mary Street home when he looked outside and saw a man standing in the driveway wearing a ski mask. He saw a second man, also wearing a ski mask, jump over the fence in front of the house. Moreno ran out the back door. At this time, Ortiz was asleep in the house when he heard gunshots. He saw two masked men standing in the back room of the house. One was shooting an AK-47, and the other was shooting a nine millimeter handgun. Commisky and Gonzalez died inside the home from multiple gunshot wounds. When the shooting stopped, Ortiz looked out the window and saw Joe David Padron and another man getting into an SUV. Padron was sentenced to life in prison. Both killers have served time in prison for other murders as well. At the time of the killings, Robles had been out of prison for about a year after serving six years in the shooting death of Felipe Quiroz, 21, in Corpus Christi. Police said that shooting happened after an argument between Quiroz, Robles and other gang members. John Commisky’s mother Juanita said recently, "I’m always sad and I think about my son all the time. I wish he was here." Speaking about the family members of Martin Robles, she said, "I’m sorry for what’s happening. May God bless them."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 16, 2011 Arkansas Janet Needham
Rebecca Doss, 18
Bruce Ward stayed
On August 11, 1989, Ward murdered Rebecca Doss at the Jackpot Gas Station in Little Rock, Arkansas. On that day, Little Rock Police Sergeant Michael Middleton was patrolling the area near the Jackpot convenience store on Rodney Parham Drive. Upon pulling into the parking lot, he noticed that the store’s clerk was not at her normal work station. He then went into the store to try and locate the clerk. After he had looked through the store and was unable to find the clerk, Middleton called other officers to assist in the search. In the meantime, Middleton began to check outside the store, near the restrooms. He observed Ward walking from the restrooms toward a motorcycle that was parked nearby. Middleton spoke to Ward and told him that he was looking for the store’s clerk. Ward told the officer that the clerk was inside the store, stocking. Ward stated that he had just had a cup of hot chocolate with the clerk and that she had given him the key to the restroom. Moments later, Sergeant Scott Timmons discovered Doss’s body lying on the floor of the men’s restroom. She had been strangled to death. Ward was arrested and subsequently convicted of the murder. The State submitted only one aggravating circumstance to the jury, that Ward had previously committed a felony offense involving the use or threat of violence to another person. The prior violent act was the 1977 homicide of Janet Needham in Erie, Pennsylvania, for which Ward was convicted of the crime of voluntary manslaughter. In addition to a certified copy of Ward’s manslaughter conviction, the State introduced photographs of the crime scene and testimony from Detective David Bagnoni, one of two Erie police officers that investigated Mrs. Needham’s death. A jury convicted Ward of capital murder and found that he should be sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 16, 2011 Oregon Mary Archer, 39
David Polin
Gary Haugen stayed
Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on September 2, 2003, the body of inmate David "Sleepy" Polin was found in the band room of the activities section of the Oregon State Penitentiary. He was scheduled to be working in that section of the prison that morning. Polin had sustained 84 stab wounds and a blunt-force trauma to the head resulting in skull fracture. His hands reflected wounds that appeared to have been suffered in defending himself against an attack. The attack had occurred in an alcove outside the band room, which was smeared with blood. Subsequently, the body had been dragged into the band room. Polin’s blood also was found in a trash can just outside the alcove. Inside the trash can was a t-shirt soaked with the victim’s blood, one of his shoes, his inmate identification, bloody rags, and a large threaded metal rod with Polin’s blood on it. The rod was part of a stool from the band room. Two "shanks" or homemade knives also were found in the vicinity (although not in the band room), one of which was hidden in a bathroom drain. Strands of Brumwell’s hair were found on the victim’s clothing. Security cameras captured images of Haugen and Brumwell shortly before and after 8:00 a.m. Images from several cameras at different locations in the activities section showed both defendants and Polin in the general area near the band room in the minutes before the attack. The images showed the defendants repeatedly visiting a bathroom, in which one of the shanks later was found, and then showed Haugen shortly before the attack with an oddly shaped item concealed under his t-shirt, possibly the metal rod from the stool. Another camera was located in the band room. That camera showed the defendants dragging the body into that room. Images from the camera also showed movement through a window in the door to the alcove, just before the defendants dragged the body into the band room. Images taken shortly after the attack showed them leaving the area and wearing at least some different clothing than they had been wearing 15 minutes earlier. The day of the murder was "shower" day, when inmates take showers and exchange their clothing. On the morning of the murder, an inmate observed Haugen in the shower clipping his fingernails with fingernail clippers and scrubbing his fingernails with a toothbrush. His hands were soiled by some dark substance. The inmate saw Brumwell, whose hands also were soiled, do the same after Haugen handed him the fingernail clippers and toothbrush. The dark substance turned red as Brumwell washed. When Haugen entered his cell at 9:00 a.m., the pants he was wearing were several sizes too large, and he did not have a belt. Later, in a clothing bin in the shower area, police recovered pants and t-shirts, stained with victim’s blood, matching the sizes worn by defendants. One pair of pants had DNA material in the thigh area matching Haugen’s DNA, suggesting that he had worn them. Those pants also had a splatter pattern of liquid that matched the victim’s blood. Inmate Robert Cameron testified at the trial. He and defendants were members of a band. Cameron did not go to the activities section the morning of the murder, because Brumwell told him that another band had taken their time slot, which was not true. Instead, Cameron was at his station working as a clerk. Sometime that morning, prior to the discovery of the victim, Haugen and Brumwell came to Cameron’s work station. Cameron noticed that Haugen had a "fat lip." Haugen asked Cameron to get a jacket out of the laundry cart. Brumwell asked Cameron to locate Brumwell’s jacket in the laundry cart and rip out the state identification number. Brumwell said that his jacket had a "t-shirt lining," rather than the usual flannel lining. Cameron found such a jacket that had a dark stain on it that appeared to be blood. Cameron did not remove the state identification number as Brumwell had asked; instead, he hid the jacket under a yellow raincoat hanging at the work station. Later, police recovered the jacket and identified the blood on the jacket as the victim’s. Cameron also saw Haugen and Brumwell take off their shower sandals and put them in a bag. When he asked them about that, Brumwell said something about blood. Later, in Haugen’s cell, Haugen stated to Cameron that he had killed Polin because he was a "rat." Haugen stated that he and Brumwell had attacked the victim in the alcove outside the band room. Haugen stated that he had stabbed Polin 30 times and related that, despite the wounds he had inflicted, Polin "wouldn’t die." He said that he had hit the victim with a "drum chair" from the band room and had "caved his fucking head in." Haugen referred to wounds on his hands and asked Cameron if they were noticeable. Brumwell also admitted to Cameron that he had killed the victim. Defendants had suspected that someone was informing prison officials about their drug use. Prisoners had noticed that prison officials usually administered drug tests during the week. Accordingly, prisoners timed their drug use for weekends so that they could produce a clean urinalysis during the week. Contrary to the ordinary timing, prison officials gave a Saturday drug test on August 23, 2003, to a friend of defendants, a member of their band, which identified him as having used drugs. The following Sunday, prison officials gave another test, this time to defendants. Defendants were upset about the tests and suspected the presence of an informant. They believed that Polin was the informant. According to Cameron, Haugen indicated that he wanted to do "something really bad to that Mexican downstairs," referring to Polin. The day before the murder, another inmate overheard defendants say, referring to the victim, "we’ve got to get him." The inmate saw Brumwell walk toward the victim clenching his fist until Haugen stopped him and said, "Stop, not here." The homicide occurred on Tuesday, September 2. Haugen and Brumwell both tested positive for the presence of marijuana based on the sample from the Sunday test. The test results came back September 5, three days after the murder. The state indicted Haugen and Brumwell for Polin’s murder. As noted, after the joint guilt-phase trial, a jury convicted defendants of one count of aggravated murder for committing murder after previously having been convicted of murder, and one count of aggravated murder for committing murder while confined in prison. Haugen was initially imprisoned for the 1981 murder of Mary Archer, the mother of his former girlfriend, in Northeast Portland. Prosecutors said he broke into her home and waited for her to get there. He then raped her and beat her to death with his fists, a hammer and a baseball bat. He then hid her body in the basement of the home. He did this because he was mad she had tried to convince her daughter to terminate a pregnancy. After pleading guilty to Mary’s murder, Haugen was sentenced to life in prison. He had come up for parole consideration several times and been denied and was still serving this sentence at the time of Polin’s murder. Mary Archer’s family was in the courtroom when Haugen was tried for Polin’s murder. "We’re just glad it’s over," said Carolyn Pratt, Archer’s daughter. "He won’t be able to kill anyone else." In his final speech to the jury before they entered deliberations, Haugen had dared them to kill him. "Sentence me to death, because if you don’t, you’re suckers," Haugen said. The jury took 6 hours before reaching its decision.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 16, 2011 Ohio Winda Snipes Brett Hartman stayed
Winda SnipesBrett X. Hartman met Winda Snipes at a bar in Akron, Ohio, sometime during 1997. Subsequently, they engaged in sexual intercourse on several occasions. During the late afternoon of September 9, 1997, Brett Hartman went to Winda’s apartment and brutally murdered her by tying her to the bed, stabbing her one hundred thirty-eight times, slitting her throat, and cutting off her hands. Hartman was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence, and sentenced to death. In order to establish Hartman’s guilt, the state introduced statements Hartman had made to the police and to a fellow inmate in jail, and the testimony of a co-worker that Hartman mentioned cutting off a victim’s hands as a way to eliminate evidence in the O.J. Simpson case. The state also introduced as evidence Hartman’s bloody tee-shirt and Winda’s watch recovered from Hartman’s apartment, and forensic testimony linking Hartman to the murder. State’s case Around 2:20 a.m. on September 9, 1997, Hartman met Winda at the Bucket Shop, an Akron bar. Hartman kissed Winda on the cheek and they talked. Thereafter, Hartman and Winda left the bar and they went to her apartment across the street. Around 3:00 a.m., David Morris, an acquaintance of Hartman and Winda, left the Inn Between, another Akron bar. While walking past Winda’s apartment on his way home, Morris observed Winda and Hartman through the upstairs window of her apartment. Morris testified that Winda was yelling at Hartman about touching stuff that was not his. Hartman closed the window blinds and ‘obviously she wasn’t very happy about it’ because she ‘scolded’ him and reopened the blinds. That afternoon, at around 4:30 p.m., Winda was observed crossing a street in a nearby business district. She was never seen alive again. Hartman had the day off from work on September 9. According to Richard Russell, a bartender at the Inn Between, Hartman entered the bar at around 8:00 p.m. and appeared nervous and hyper, and talked excessively. Thereafter, Hartman was in and out of the bar five to six times between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. Hartman first contacted the police on September 9 with a series of anonymous 911 calls, which he later admitted to. His first 911 call at 9:59 p.m. reported the location of a mutilated body. The police officers dispatched to Winda’s address entered Winda’s apartment building and checked around, but left after finding nothing unusual. Meanwhile, Hartman viewed the police unit’s arrival and departure while hiding behind a tree across the street. Hartman then made another 911 call telling the police to return to the apartment building and provided further instructions on the body’s location. Akron police officers responding to this call entered Winda’s unlocked apartment and found her naked, mutilated body lying on the bedroom floor. Winda’s leg was draped across the bed, a pair of pantyhose tied her ankle to the bed leg, and a white plastic chair was on top of her body. Winda’s hands were cut off and have never been found. Around 10:45 p.m., Hartman was at the Inn Between with Morris, while police units were across the street investigating Winda’s murder. Morris, having learned that Winda had been murdered, suggested to Hartman that he should talk to the police, since Morris had observed Hartman at Winda’s apartment the previous evening. Shortly before midnight, Hartman approached Detective Gregory Harrison while he was at a mobile crime lab parked outside Winda’s apartment. Hartman walked up to Harrison and said, ‘I hear it’s pretty bad in there,’ and asked if Harrison had ‘ever seen anything so gruesome.’ Later that evening, Hartman approached Harrison a second time and spontaneously mentioned that Winda was a whore, ‘that she slept around a lot,’ and that ‘he had slept with her and he had even slept with her the night before at 3:00.’ In their final contact at around 3:00 a.m., Hartman was ‘kind of mumbling to himself’ and Harrison heard Hartman say that ‘she was a whore, she was a big whore, she got what she deserved." Between 11:30 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., Hartman also approached Akron Police Lt. John A. Lawson near the murder scene and, "rather abruptly said, ‘You’re going to find my semen in her and my prints over there.’ " When Lawson asked why, Hartman said he "had been with her earlier that morning, the morning of the 9th," and that he had had sex with her. At 12:15 a.m. on September 10, Hartman spoke to Detective Joseph Urbank in front of the apartment building. Hartman began their conversation by announcing that "he had sex with the victim the night before." Moreover, Hartman said he did not know her name but "only knew her as psycho bitch and that everybody knew that if you got drunk and were horny you went to go see her, you went to go see psycho bitch." Hartman also told Urbank that he went to Winda’s apartment at 2:30 a.m. on September 9, and "she started dancing a little bit." He "lifted her onto the bed, undressed her, and they started having vaginal intercourse." Hartman said that he was disappointed because Winda refused to have anal intercourse, and he left her apartment around 3:30 a.m. However, Hartman claimed that he did not know anything about the murder until the bartender at the Inn Between told him about it on the evening of September 9. Around 6:00 a.m. on September 10, police took Hartman to the Akron police station, where he was interviewed by Lawson and Urbank. During his interview, Hartman denied making the 911 calls, and denied hiding behind a tree across from Winda’s apartment. Then, Hartman changed a part of his story and admitted hiding behind a tree near the murder scene. Following the September 10 police interview, the police searched Hartman’s apartment with his consent. The police seized Hartman’s bloody tee-shirt from underneath the headboard of his bed, a pair of his jeans, and his boots. Police found a knife on his dresser and Winda’s wristwatch on Hartman’s bed stand. Police took Hartman to the police station after the search of his apartment. While awaiting transfer to the Summit County Jail, Hartman approached Detective John R. Gilbride and blurted out, "I was the one that called the police" and "I’m the one that found the body." Hartman told Gilbride he had been sexually involved with Winda since February 1997, and had sexual intercourse with Winda during the early morning hours of September 9. Hartman stated that "after having sex the psycho bitch threw him out of the apartment stating that her boyfriend was coming over." He left around 3:30 a.m. and returned to his own apartment. According to Gilbride, Hartman said that he slept until 6:00 p.m. on September 9, and then took the bus to the Inn Between bar around 7:30 p.m. Gilbride testified that while going into the Inn Between bar, Hartman noticed a light on in Winda’s apartment and decided to visit her. According to Gilbride, Hartman gained entry to the apartment through an unlocked door and claimed that he found her dead body in her bedroom. Hartman said that he unsuccessfully tried to pick her body off the floor, noticed that her hands had been cut off, and "freaked out." Thinking "I’m going to get busted for this," Hartman washed her blood off his hands and clothes, tried wiping down everything he touched, removed evidence linking him to her apartment, and went home. Winda was stabbed one hundred thirty-eight times. Bruising on her ankles indicated that she was alive when she was tied to the bed. Additionally, sperm was found in her vagina and anus. The medical examiner concluded that Winda had died from strangulation and a slit throat either in the late afternoon or early evening of September 9. Police found Hartman’s bloody fingerprint on the leg of the white chair draped over Winda’s body, and police found another of Hartman’s fingerprints on Winda’s bedspread. An expert witness testified that the long linear blood patterns found on Hartman’s tee-shirt and Winda’s bedspread were applied by a long-bladed knife. Further, the blood patterns found on Hartman’s tee-shirt were applied while the tee-shirt was lying flat, and not while Hartman was wearing it. At trial, the prosecution introduced a set of Hartman’s knives, including a meat cleaver, a knife, and a knife sharpener that Hartman kept at the Quaker Square Hilton, where he worked as a chef. Christopher Hoffman, a Hilton co-worker, testified that he talked to Hartman in August 1997 about the O.J. Simpson trial. According to Hoffman, Hartman said that Simpson could have disposed of evidence against him by cutting off the victim’s hands and eliminating "fibers and hair and skin that might be found on the fingernails." Bryan Tyson, a fellow inmate at the Summit County Jail, testified that during a jailhouse conversation, Hartman admitted that he had killed Winda. According to Tyson, Hartman said that "he pushed himself on her, something in his mind snapped, she was hitting him, he lost his temper, did things he regretted, killed her." Then, Hartman said that he had "tried to make it look like a burglary," admitted cutting off Winda’s hands, and mentioned a hacksaw, and jokingly said " ‘Don’t leave home without it,’ like the credit card commercial." Jessica O’Neill, an acquaintance of Hartman, talked on the phone with Hartman on September 9. Phone records showed that O’Neill called Hartman’s apartment and spoke with him at 3:12 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. She also claimed that she talked with Hartman on the phone around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. The defense also introduced evidence suggesting an alternative suspect, Jeff Nichols. Nichols lived across the hallway from Winda’s apartment until he moved out of his apartment around September 1, 1997. Nichols worked as a handyman for the apartment building and had access to the landlord’s keys to other apartments. In January 1997, Jeffrey Barnes, a friend of Winda, was visiting Winda’s apartment when Nichols came to her door. According to Barnes, Nichols "got up right to her door and then he said, ‘Slit the bitch’s throat, cut her up,’ and called her a slut and all other kind of vulgar names." Barnes reported this incident to the police upon hearing about Winda’s murder. On an evening prior to September 1, 1997, Linda Zarski, a neighbor in Winda’s apartment building, heard Winda pounding on Nichols’s door and screaming that she wanted her shirt. On another occasion prior to the murder, Linda Kinebrew, a neighbor living at the apartment, "heard Nichols arguing, telling Winda to let him in and she wouldn’t." Carol Parcell, Hartman’s mother, provided an alibi. Hartman lived at his mother’s apartment, and Parcell claimed that when she came home on September 9 at 6:15 p.m., her son was sleeping in his bedroom. According to Parcell, Hartman woke up at 7:00 p.m., got ready, left the apartment at 7:30 p.m., and returned to the apartment around 8:15 p.m. Hartman testified on his own behalf. He admitted having sex with Winda several times over the past year and during the early morning hours of September 9 when he was at Winda’s apartment. After having sex, Hartman returned to his apartment at about 3:30 a.m., slept until 6:15 p.m., left his apartment at 7:35 p.m., and returned to the Inn Between bar. Before reaching the Inn Between, Hartman noticed that Winda’s bathroom light was on at her apartment, and he decided to visit her to see if he could "get laid." Hartman entered Winda’s apartment through an unlocked door and found her mutilated body in the bedroom. Hartman tried to "get her up and put her on the bed to see if there was anything else I could help with." Hartman "freaked out" after noticing Winda had no hands and realized he "could get in a lot of trouble" if he was placed at the scene. Thus, he washed her blood off his hands, wiped down the cupboards, chair handles, and anything else he might have touched, gathered whatever items he could find that belonged to him, and left Winda’s apartment. Hartman "ran home" and threw the items taken from Winda’s apartment into a nearby dumpster. Upon arriving home, Hartman changed his shoes and hid the bloody tee-shirt so that his mother would not find it. Thereafter, Hartman hurried back to the Inn Between bar and started drinking. When he was "semi-intoxicated," Hartman made the anonymous 911 calls reporting the location of Winda’s body, admitted standing behind a tree watching the police arrive at Winda’s apartment, and later approached the police to report that he had been at the apartment the previous evening. Hartman introduced photographs taken of his naked body following his arrest to show the absence of bruises and injuries. Hartman explained that a cut on his elbow had occurred at work while he was moving crates. Hartman acknowledged talking with Chris Hoffman about the O.J. Simpson case but did not recall discussing anything about cutting off a victim’s hands. Hartman knew Tyson as a fellow inmate but denied making any jailhouse admissions that he murdered Winda. Trial result The grand jury indicted Hartman on two counts of aggravated murder, including one count of murder with prior calculation and design and one count of felony murder. A capital specification relating to murder during a kidnapping was included in the felony murder count. He was also charged with kidnapping and tampering with evidence. The jury found Hartman guilty of all offenses and recommended death for Winda’s murder. The trial court sentenced Hartman to ten years for kidnapping, five years for tampering with evidence, and death for the aggravated murder of Winda Snipes.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 18, 2011 Virginia Ruth Phillips, 88 Jerry Jackson executed
On Sunday, August 26, 2001, 88–year–old Ruth Phillips did not show up to church. Concerned by her absence, Mrs. Phillips’s son tried reaching her by telephone. When there was no answer, he went to her Williamsburg, Virginia, apartment to check on her. After letting himself in, he found his mother’s body “lying ‘twisted and exposed’ on a bed in her bedroom.” As he later described it, her “leg was twisted around, and her pubic region was exposed; her breast was exposed; and her nightgown was up around her neck.” Mrs. Phillips’s autopsy showed that she had died of asphyxia, which “occurs when the brain is without a supply of oxygen for four to six minutes.” The autopsy also found a bruise on her nose and lacerations on the exterior and interior of her vagina. A crime scene investigator recovered a hair from Mrs. Phillips’s chest and another from the bed underneath her stomach; more hairs were found in the vicinity of her left thigh. Forensic analysis revealed that several of the hairs were pubic hair that was inconsistent with samples taken from Mrs. Phillips. These hairs were later found “to be consistent with Jerry Jackson’s DNA to the exclusion of 99.998% of the population with a 95% degree of confidence.” In December 2001, investigators conducted a videotaped interview with Jackson. After waiving his Miranda rights, he “admitted entering Mrs. Phillips’ apartment, searching through and taking money out of her purse.” Jackson claimed he did not know Mrs. Phillips was home when he flipped on the light and began to sift through her purse. As a result, he was “scared” when Mrs. Phillips, who had been lying in bed, exclaimed: “What do you want? I’ll give you whatever, just get out.” Jackson acknowledged that when he realized Mrs. Phillips had seen him, “he held a pillow over her face for two or three minutes and tried to make her ‘pass out’ so she could not identify him” and further “admitted that he inserted his penis into her vagina while he was holding the pillow over her face.” Jackson added that after exiting through a back window, he drove away in Mrs. Phillips’s car, which he ultimately abandoned. He also reported that he used the sixty dollars he stole from Mrs. Phillips’s purse to buy marijuana. Jackson repeatedly insisted that he had not intended to kill Mrs. Phillips. A Virginia grand jury indicted Jackson in March 2002 and charged him, inter alia, with two counts of capital murder for the premeditated killing of Phillips in the commission of rape or attempted rape and in the commission of robbery or attempted robbery. Jackson’s trial was bifurcated into a guilt and a penalty phase. During the guilt phase, Jackson retreated from his earlier statement to law enforcement, testifying that he had confessed to investigators because he believed “that was what [they] wanted to hear” and that an accomplice had in fact smothered Phillips. Jackson further “denied having any knowledge about who raped Mrs. Phillips or about how his pubic hairs got on her body.” The jury found Jackson guilty of both capital counts and of various other state crimes. Following penalty-phase proceedings—which we discuss in greater detail below—the jury found a “probability that [Jackson] would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society” and recommended a death sentence on both capital counts. In April 2003 the state circuit court accepted the jury’s recommendation and imposed a death sentence.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 18, 2011 Texas Melissa Trotter, 19 Larry Swearingen stayed

Melissa Trotter smallLarry Ray Swearingen was convicted of killing Melissa Trotter in the course of either an aggravated kidnapping or aggravated sexual assault. Prosecutors believe that Swearingen became angry that Melissa Trotter rejected his sexual advances. According to the prosecution, Swearingen became acquainted with Melissa Trotter on Sunday, December 6, 1998, talked with her at length, got her phone number, and made plans to see or talk with her again the next day. The next day, she failed to show up for lunch after Swearingen had bragged to his coworkers about his plans to have lunch with Melissa. His coworkers teased him about being stood up even after he had told them that he called Melissa and she said that she had been taking a test. Swearingen appeared to be angry the remainder of the day. Later that evening, while using his truck to help transport some furniture, Swearingen commented to Bryan Foster and William Brown that he was going to meet a young lady named Melissa for lunch the next day, and if everything went right, he was going “to have Melissa for lunch.” Brown noticed various items of clothing in the backseat of Swearingen’s truck. Swearingen called Melissa Trotter from Foster’s house and talked about meeting for lunch and helping her study for an exam. On Tuesday, December 8, Swearingen met Melissa in the college library around 1:30 p.m., after she had purchased some tater-tots from the school cafeteria. After sitting by the computers and talking amicably with Swearingen for some amount of time, Melissa left the library with Swearingen around 2 p.m. Melissa’s vehicle remained in the college parking lot. At 2:05 p.m., Swearingen returned a page he received and said he would have to call back later because he was at lunch with a friend. Swearingen returned to his trailer sometime before 3:30 p.m. and left between 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., then returned again to the trailer sometime before 5:30 p.m., asked his landlord some questions, then left again between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., to pick up his wife, Terry Swearingen, from his mother’s house. His neighbor, seeing Swearingen’s truck come and go, was not able to see through the tinted windows or see who got in and out of the truck. When Swearingen and his wife returned home, a package of Marlboro Light cigarettes and a red lighter were on top of the television. The evidence showed that Melissa Trotter smoked Marlboro Lights and that neither Swearingen or his wife smoked. That evening, Swearingen called a former girlfriend and told her that he was in trouble and the police might be after him. On December 11, Swearingen was arrested pursuant to several outstanding warrants, and while being handcuffed, said that his wrist and ribs were sore from a bar fight he had been in the week before. Melissa’s body was found in the Sam Houston National Forest on January 2, 1999, with a piece of hosiery still tied, as a ligature, around her neck. The state of the body’s decomposition was consistent with having been in the woods approximately 25 days, supporting December 8 as the date of death. The location where Melissa Trotter’s body was found was heavily wooded, secluded, and remote. The police had previously searched the area three times without finding the body. One had to be within twenty feet of the body before seeing it. Swearingen knew his way around this area; he had driven a date around the vicinity a few months earlier in his red pickup. Melissa’s body was on its back in a pile of bushes, her right arm was above her head and slightly to the left. Her top and bra were pulled up under her arms, exposing her breasts and back. There were creases on her back from her neck to her waist that could have been caused by laying on the debris in the bushes for a period of time after she had died. Her jeans were on and the fly was closed, but the right rear pocket was torn downwards exposing part of her buttocks. She was wearing red underwear. There were no scratches found on her exposed skin as one would expect to find if she had been dragged to the location. However, there was no soil on Trotter’s shoes. She had only one shoe on; the other shoe was lying nearby. Melissa Trotter died from asphyxia, lack of oxygen, by ligature strangulation. The nylon ligature was a section cut from a pair of pantyhose; the matching complementary portion of the pantyhose was found in Swearingen’s trailer. There also appeared to be a sharp-forced injury on Melissa’s neck that would have been inflicted before she died, while her blood continued to circulate. Although there was subsequent animal activity and tooth marks on the neck organs at that area, a cut with a sharp object, like a knife, could not be ruled out. The lack of defensive wounds, such as broken fingernails, and the difficulty of tying an elastic piece of nylon around a struggling victim, suggested that she may have been unconscious when the ligature was applied. Although the state of decomposition made it difficult to determine, the left side of Melissa Trotter’s face was much darker and at a more advanced stage of decomposition, which could be consistent with having sustained a bruise on the left side of her face. Evidence showed that animals are drawn to blood and a bruise would collect blood close to the skin’s surface. There was also a deep bruise on Melissa’s tongue, like a bite or a cut, consistent both with being struck under the chin, which would push the lower jaw up onto the tongue, and with biting down on the tongue while being strangled or suffering a seizure. There was also discoloration on her vaginal wall, a bruise that could have been caused by sexual intercourse on the day of her disappearance. There were fibers found on Melissa’s body similar to fibers from Swearingen’s jacket, others similar to the seat and head-liner in Swearingen’s truck, and others similar to the carpet in Swearingen’s master bedroom. There were also fibers found in Swearingen’s truck that were similar to fibers from Melissa’s jacket. There were hairs in Swearingen’s truck that appeared to have been forcibly removed from her head. An internal examination revealed that Melissa’s stomach contained not only what appeared to be a form of potato, but also what appeared to be chicken and a small amount of greenish vegetable material. While in jail awaiting trial, Swearingen sent a letter to his mother that the evidence showed Swearingen had written, with the help of an English-Spanish dictionary and had his cellmate copy. The letter stated it was written by a girl named Robin who could identify Melissa Trotter’s murderer as someone other than Swearingen and who knew the details of the murder. The translation of the letter is as follows:

I have information that I need to tell you about Melissa and Wanda. I was with the murderer of Melissa, and with the one that took Wanda from work. I am not sure what he did with Wanda, but I saw everything that happened to Melissa. He was talking to her in the parking lot. They went to school together is what he told me. “We drove for awhile, and then we went and had breakfast. I began to talk about sex when she said she had to go home.” He hit her in the left eye, and she fell to the floor of her car. He took her to the wood and began to choke her with his hands at first, then he jerked (jalar is slang) her to the bushes. He cut her throat to make sure that she was dead. Her shoe came off when he jerked (slang) her into the bushes. Her jabear (cannot make out/ no such word in Spanish) was torn. I am in love with him, and I don’t want him in jail. The man in jail doesn’t deserve to be in jail, either. To make sure that you know, I am telling you the truth. She was wearing red panties when R.D. murdered her. He choked her with his hands first, but he used A piece of rope the truck from his truck; he had a piece of black rope that he used in his boat to anchor it, or something, he said. When he dragged her from the car, he put her in the shrub on her back. I know that I should turn him in, but he told me that he would kill me, too, and I believe him. He has told about this murder to 3 other women in the past, will tell you that he smokes, and he smoked with her at the college at 2:30 and drove a blue truck. His hair is blonde and brown and lives here. His name is Ronnie, but that is all I can tell, if you want more information, say it on paper and I will continue to write, but I want to come in.

Presumably the "Wanda" referred to in this letter is Wanda May Pitts, 18, who disappeared on January 23, 1999 from her job as a motel clerk in the small town of Shenandoah, near the area where Melissa’ murder occurred. A drifter named William Ray Matthews confessed to killing Wanda, who had only worked at the motel for a couple of months. He said he had taken Wanda to a room at the motel where he sexually assaulted her before strangling her to death. He was unable to show investigator where he put her body, but her remains were found about one year later near a gated driveway.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 23, 2011 Texas Tony Ogburn
Paul Habelt
Randall Mays stayed
Randall Wayne Mays was charged with the capital murder of two sheriff’s deputies and the attempted capital murder of a third deputy, all stemming from a stand-off with police at his rural property. The evidence showed that at about 3:00 p.m. on May 17, 2007, Fran Nicholson called the Henderson County 911 dispatcher and said that Mays, her neighbor, was shooting a handgun at his wife, who was close to the road. Mrs. Nicholson was worried because the school bus was about to drop off her granddaughter near where Mays was shooting. After the first shot, Mrs. Nicholson heard one or two more, and she saw Mays’s wife, Candis, walking down the easement. Candis and Mays were screaming at each other. Deputies Billy Jack Valentine, Duane Sanders, and Eric Ward responded to the "domestic violence-gunshot" dispatch call. Deputy Valentine testified that he had just returned to the sheriff’s office after attending a peace officers’ memorial service for fallen officers when he received the dispatch. All three were in uniform, wearing badges, and driving marked patrol cars or trucks. Mays was a welder and his property contained a residence, several sheds, considerable welding equipment, and some farm machinery, as well as a variety of farm animals. The two-acre property was surrounded by pipe fencing, so Deputies Valentine and Sanders hopped over the fence to talk to the couple who were still standing near the road. Valentine had turned on his patrol-car videotape and body microphone as he pulled up to the property. Virtually everything that was said by the officers, Mays, and Candis during the stand-off was on the audio tape, but the fixed-position video recorder did not capture much of the action. The tape is almost five hours long, although the stand-off itself lasted less than an hour. Candis, who was described as being "slow," walked "right up directly in Deputy Sanders’s face." She was angry and said he had no business being on their property. "We’re just having a spat." Mays, however, was calm, polite, and friendly. He explained that Candis had been sexually assaulted and he was mad about it. Mays told Deputy Valentine that he did not know who had called the police, but he "guessed" that Candis had. Valentine assured Mays that he was just trying to do his job and figure out what was going on, so he called dispatch to find out who had made the 911 call. When the dispatcher said that the call came from the neighbor, Fran Nicholson, Valentine sent Deputy Sanders over to the Nicholsons’ house to find out why she had called. Just as he was leaving, Sanders saw Deputy Tony Ogburn arrive in his patrol car. Deputy Ogburn was wearing his police uniform and hat. In the meantime, Valentine asked Mays if he had a gun on him and whether he had been shooting. Mays said that he had been "target practicing," and that the gun was in his house. Valentine also calmed Candis down, and Mays joked about how he "was wanting to get some loving from her and that’s what started this." Throughout, Mays "was very nice, courteous"; he was "super-calm." However, Valentine also stated that Mays was well known to the local deputies because "he shoots a lot out there." Sanders radioed back that the Nicholsons wanted to press charges against Mays for deadly conduct, so Valentine called dispatch to see if Mays had any felony convictions or arrests. He did; "the most recent arrest was a 7/1/99 assault on a public servant." Valentine said, "That was me, that was on me." Later testimony showed that Mays almost drove into the back of Valentine’s pick-up truck as Valentine was backing out of his driveway one day. The deputy was off-duty, in plain clothes, and with his wife, but when he saw Mays continue to swerve down the road, he followed the car until it pulled into a driveway. When Valentine walked up to the driver’s door and asked the driver to step out, Mays got out and hit the deputy in the head with his fist. Valentine thought that Mays was intoxicated. Although Mays was arrested, the charge was later dismissed. He then approached Mays to arrest him and said, "Before you talk to me any more, OK, listen to me. Now don’t make this no harder than it’s gonna be, OK? You have the right to remain silent- " At that moment, Mays’s face changed, and he started backing up. According to Fran Nicholson, who was watching from her front porch, Mays "broke to run for the house." Valentine reached out to grab the back of Mays’s T-shirt to stop him from getting to the house where Mays had said he had weapons. Mays’s T-shirt ripped, and he pulled a knife and ran in the front door with Valentine close behind. Mays emerged a few seconds later "with the barrel of the rifle coming out." It was a 30.06 deer rifle with a scope. Valentine was about two and a half feet away, but Mays did not shoot; instead, he yelled, "Back off, back off!" Mays disappeared back inside the house as Valentine screamed, "He’s got a gun!" to warn the other officers. Valentine ran back around the side of the house, took cover behind a truck, and kept talking to Mays to calm him down, get him to put down the rifle, and come back outside. Valentine testified that Mays pulled a chair up to a window, sat down, and kept talking to him. "We just kept going back and forth, just different things." Even during the middle of the stand-off, Mays "seemed to be fine mentally." Deputy Sanders had returned from the Nicholsons, and he took cover along with Deputies Ward and Ogburn. More officers kept arriving and they, too, took up defensive positions behind cars, trucks, and sheds. Mays and Valentine intermittently yelled and talked back and forth for more than fifteen minutes. All of this conversation was captured on Valentine’s recorder. Valentine repeatedly promised not to hurt Mays, but Mays yelled that he feared they would kill him and said that "Ya’ll killed all three of my brothers." According to later witnesses, Mays did have three brothers who were all dead: one executed by the state; one shot to death; and one who died of a drug overdose. Mays yelled, "You’ve got a gun and I’ve got one." When Valentine asked Mays to admit that Valentine had been honest with him, Mays responded, "You tried to take me to jail!" Mays expressed confusion about why he was "the bad guy" when the officers had originally come to help his wife. He was mad that Deputy Valentine tore his T-shirt when grabbing for him. He said, "I’m sick, I’m feeling real sick, I’m about to die, anyway, I was poisoned." Later, he said that he was "a military man." Later witnesses said that Mays joined the Army when he was young. Meanwhile, Candis was wandering in the open yard between the deputies and Mays, getting in the line of possible fire, saying that the officers were not going to shoot her husband and he wouldn’t shoot them. A deputy finally tackled her and pulled her off behind a shed where he handcuffed her to keep her safe. Other officers, including Deputy Ogburn, took turns talking to Mays. After about twenty minutes, Mays climbed out of a window without his rifle and started forward toward the officers. As one deputy talked to Mays, keeping him calm, Valentine tried to "slowly ease" between Mays and the open window to ensure that Mays could not run back into the house where the guns were. Mays saw him, turned, and bolted back toward the window. Valentine ran to intercept him, but he tripped over a garden hose and fell as Mays dived head-first through the window. Valentine got up, but he was then trapped against the side of the house as Mays could shoot through either of two windows beside Valentine, and he was in the direct line of fire from his fellow deputies. Three minutes later, Mays shot. All of the witnesses, including the Nicholsons’ daughter, testified that this was the first shot fired. Deputy Sanders heard the blast and saw Deputy Ogburn’s hat fly in the air and saw part of his head explode. Mays then yelled, "Where’s the other one? I’ll take him out, where is he?" Inspector Paul Habelt ran toward Sanders, waving his arms. Mays shot Habelt in the head, killing him also. The officers then started shooting back. Sanders saw Deputy Kevin Harris run past a nearby shed, "and as he got to the end, I saw him jump, exchange the gunfire, and I saw his leg explode from impact." But Mays was also wounded during this exchange. He screamed, "I give up. I’ve been hit. I give up. I’ve been hit." He finally walked out of the house and surrendered. Mays later told news reporters that he had killed the two deputies because "I felt I was being mistreated." Mays was found guilty of capital murder by a jury that only need one hour to deliberate. During the punishment phase, the jury heard brief victim-impact testimony from Deputy Ogburn’s widow and son. Mrs. Ogburn, who testified from her wheelchair, said that she suffered a stroke in 1996, and ever since then her husband had taken care of all of her needs. After his death, she had to move and now lives with her sister in The Colony, TX. Deputy Harris testified that his injured leg continued to affect him and that Deputy Ogburn’s wisdom had helped him during his own father’s terminal illness. Deputy Valentine testified that Deputy Ogburn had been a mentor to him during his law-enforcement career and that the events during the stand-off had adversely affected him. Several family members testified that Mays was good with children and took care of his family. Candis’s daughter, Christina White, testified that she was relieved when Mays married her mother, who was mentally unable to take care of herself. Ms. White noticed that a couple of times Mays suddenly changed moods without any warning. Mays’s sister, Sherry Ross, testified that their older brother had been executed for murder sometime around 1999. Mays saw a second brother shot and killed in 1977. A third brother died of a drug overdose. Ms. Ross testified that Mays had been committed twice for drug use, but that he had stopped using drugs around 1991 when he bought his rural property. Another sister, Linda Ross, testified that Mays sometimes had mental "spells" when his eyes would get wide and he would act suspicious and distrustful of her. Mays’s mother also testified that, a couple of times, she had seen Mays get a "weird look" in his eyes, but he was "a good man… a loving father. He loved children. He always played with the nieces and nephews. He’d give anybody the shirt off his back, if somebody walked up to him and asked him." Various friends testified that Mays was gentle, honest, even-tempered, and never out of control. After deliberating less than three hours, the jury answered "yes" to the future dangerousness issue and "no" to the mitigation question. The trial judge then sentenced Mays to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 30, 2011 Texas James Mosqueda,27
Amy Kitchen, 22
Ivan Cantu stayed
Sometime in 1998 or 1999, James Mosqueda hired his cousin, Ivan Abner Cantu, to work in his mortgage banking business in Dallas. Sometime in mid-2000, Mosqueda terminated Cantu’s employment. On October 15, 2000, Cantu, Amy Boettcher (Cantu’s girlfriend), and Jeff Boettcher (Amy’s brother) moved into an apartment at 4753 Old Bent Tree Lane in Dallas. The apartment was located about one mile from Mosqueda’s residence at 18663 Gibbons Street in Dallas. Sometime in late October 2000, Cantu told Jeff Boettcher that he intended to kill Mosqueda, who was a part-time dealer in illicit drugs, in order to steal his money (around $13,000 in cash) and his drugs (cocaine and marihuana). On November 3, 2000, at around 11:30 p.m., Cantu called Mosqueda and asked if he could come over to his house. Cantu left his apartment and drove away in his Honda automobile. Just before he left, he told Amy Boettcher that he was "going to go kill" Mosqueda and his live-in fiancĂ©, Amy Kitchen but she did not believe him. About an hour later, Cantu returned to the apartment, driving Amy Kitchen’s Mercedes. His face was swollen, and his clothes and hair were bloody. He had both victims’ identification cards and keys. He told Amy Boettcher, "It wasn’t pretty." He then instructed her to put his blue jeans into a bag, but, instead, she put them into their kitchen garbage can. Cantu cleaned up and they both left to go to the victims’ house in Amy Kitchen’s car. There, Boettcher saw both victims’ bodies through the doorway into the master bedroom while Cantu was searching the house for drugs and money. Cantu took Amy Kitchen’s engagement ring and gave it to Boettcher. They left Amy Kitchen’s Mercedes parked in the garage and drove off in James Mosqueda’s Corvette. They later drove to Arkansas to visit Boettcher’s parents, where they were when the bodies were discovered the following evening. On November 4, 2000, members of the Dallas Fire Department, at the request of Amy Kitchen’s mother, forcibly entered the Mosqueda residence. They found both James and Amy in their bedroom, dead of multiple gunshot wounds. James was lying faceup in bed, and Kitchen was lying facedown on the floor beside the bed. There was no indication of a struggle or of forced entry into the residence (other than the firemen’s). Police spoke with Cantu’s mother and then searched Cantu’s apartment. On November 5, 2000, at around 3:00 a.m., Dallas police found Mosqueda’s Chevrolet Corvette automobile parked near the front door of Cantu’s apartment. Later that day, the Collin County Medical Examiner performed autopsies on the bodies of Mosqueda and Kitchen. In the course of the autopsies, the medical examiner retrieved one bullet from Mosqueda’s body and four bullets from Kitchen’s body. On November 7, 2000, Dallas police searched Cantu’s apartment again after obtaining a search warrant. They found, in the master bedroom, a set of keys hidden inside a man’s shoe. One of the keys, they later learned, opened an exterior door of the Mosqueda residence. Another of the keys operated Amy Kitchen’s Mercedes-Benz automobile. The police also found bloody blue jeans and bloody socks in the kitchen garbage can. Subsequent forensic DNA testing revealed that blood on the blue jeans matched Mosqueda’s blood and blood on the socks matched Kitchen’s blood. On November 9, 2000, Dallas police visited Tawny Svihovec, Cantu’s former girlfriend, at her apartment in Dallas. Svihovec directed the police to a cabinet in her apartment, where the police found a.380 caliber, semi-automatic pistol. Subsequent fingerprint testing revealed that latent fingerprints on the pistol’s magazine matched Cantu’s fingerprints, and subsequent ballistics testing revealed that bullets fired from the pistol matched the bullets retrieved from the victims’ bodies. Police arrested Cantu for the murders. At the conclusion of the guilt stage, the jury found Cantu guilty as charged in the indictment. At the conclusion of the punishment stage, the jury answered the special punishment issues in such a way that the trial court was required to assess Cantu’s punishment at death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 31, 2011 Ohio Judith Straub, 18
Billy Lavaco, 21
Kelly Drew, 19
Tim Hack, 19
Dannie Law Gloeckner, 25
Edward Edwards died in prison on 4/7/2011
Judith Straub, murder victim Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, murder victimsDanny Gloeckner, murder victimBilly Lavaco, murder victimEdward Edwards confessed to five murders but has been suspected of being the Zodiac Killer, with many more murders committed. He maintains that he has only committed these five murders. On August 8, 1977, the bodies of Billy Lavaco and Judith Straub were found in Silver Creek Park in Norton, Ohio. The couple had been dating for approximately eight months at the time of their murders. Judy’s car was found in the parking lot of Silver Creek Park, with her shoes and purse containing $400, left inside untouched. Family members were gathered in the lot the next day as the area was searched and the bodies were found. Both had been shot point-blank in the neck. Police did not find a weapon and did not know the motive. Billy’s brother Tom said he had to go to the car in the park lot and tell his mother that the police had found them. He remembers her reaction, saying, "I’ve never seen anybody so hurt. I’ll never forget that." On August 8, 1980, Kelly Drew and Tim Hack, both 19, disappeared in Sullivan, Wisconsin. The couple had been at a wedding reception before their disappearance. Searchers found Kelly’ shredded clothes in the road days later. Edwards was a handyman at a nearby building and was questioned at the time of the murders, but he left Wisconsin a month after the slayings. Their bodies were found in a wooded area 8 miles away, near Ixonia in October 1977. Kelly had been tied up, raped and strangled. Tim was stabbed to death. Edwards was connected to the 29-year-old cold case after his DNA matched semen samples found on Kelly’s underwear. After being charged in the 1980 murders, Edwards, then 76, sent a letter to Ohio prosecutors asking to be interviewed in regards to the 1977 murders. Jeff Straub was 9 years old when his sister Judith was killed. He said he waited decades for this day. "After the first ten years it was very improbable that there was ever going to be any justice in this case," Straub told CNN. "But I never completely gave up hope for Judy’s sake." While Edwards is getting attention, Jeff Straub wants people to know about and remember his sister Judy. "This subject, he’s getting a lot of publicity now and telling his side of the story, but Judy can’t be here so I have to be strong and represent her…so that she would be proud of me," Straub said. "She was an all-American girl. She had blond hair, blue eyes, very pretty girl," Straub said. "At the funeral I remember people were lined up out the door and down the street. Everybody loved her, I had never heard anybody say a bad word about her," he said, adding that he "couldn’t ask for a sister you could be more proud of." Edwards also killed his own foster son, Daniel Law Gloeckner, who had changed his name to Dannie Boy Edwards due to their close relationship. Edwards collected on an insurance policy worth $250,000. He said he lured Dannie to the back of a secluded cemetery near the family home in Burton, Ohio in 1996. He shot Dannie in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. His remains were found a year later in a shallow grave. “I went on home as if nothing had happened,” Edwards said nonchalantly from a wheelchair in Jefferson County jail. “I’m responsible for it. It didn’t work on my conscience. I spent the money. I was having a good time…. you do it, forget it was done and go about your business until next time.” He said he was confessing to the slaying because his family wants him to come clean about his past and because he’d rather die than spend his remaining years rotting in prison.

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