March 2011 Executions

Three killers were executed in March 2011. They had murdered at least 5 people.
killers were given a stay in March 2011. They have murdered at least 8 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 1, 2011 Pennsylvania Jean A. Bittman Wholaver, 43
Vicki Wholaver, 20
"Izzy" Wholaver, 15
Ernest Wholaver, Jr. stayed
Victoria Wholaver, murder victimElizabeth Wholaver, murder victimIn July 2002, Ernest R. Wholaver, Jr. was charged with multiple sexual offenses for alleged conduct involving his two daughters, Victoria and Elizabeth, the latter of whom was still a minor at the time the charges were lodged. On behalf of Elizabeth, Wholaver’s wife, Jean Wholaver, obtained an order under the Protection From Abuse Act, which directed that Wholaver was evicted from the family’s Middletown residence, with no right or privilege of entry, and was prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms. Wholaver subsequently took up residence with his mother, father, and younger brother, Scott Wholaver, in Cambria County. Just after midnight on December 24, 2002, Wholaver set out for the Middletown residence with Scott Wholaver. While his brother waited in the vehicle about a block away, Wholaver approached the house; cut telephone and other wires leading to it; forcibly gained entry; and shot Jean, Victoria, and Elizabeth to death with a pistol, leaving Victoria’s nine-month-old girl, Madison, alive but alone and unattended. Wholaver and his brother then drove to Clearfield County, where Wholaver discarded the pistol, a shotgun, and other potentially incriminating items at a remote location. Following the discovery of the bodies and Madison (who survived) approximately twenty-eight hours after the killings, police obtained search warrants for the Middletown residence to gather evidence. They later executed warrants to search Wholaver’s person, his vehicle, and the Cambria County home where he was living. Wholaver was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, eligible for the death penalty. Prior to trial, Scott Wholaver pled guilty to third-degree murder and agreed to cooperate as a Commonwealth witness. He led police to the Clearfield County location, from where they retrieved the firearms and other evidence. Also before trial, the prior sexual offense charges were consolidated with the murder cases. Wholaver secured a change of venue, in light of pre-trial publicity. Further, he sought suppression of all evidence deriving from the execution of the search warrants, arguing that the warrants were overly broad and/or manifested various technical defects. The common pleas court refused to suppress the evidence obtained from the Middletown residence based on Wholaver’s lack of any reasonable expectation of privacy in a place from which he was barred under an existing protection from abuse order. With respect to the remaining warrants, the court also denied the request. At trial, the Commonwealth presented Scott Wholaver as a central witness. He testified that, following Jean Wholaver’s decision to seek a divorce, Wholaver stated that he would shoot her. He then described the brothers’ nocturnal trip to the Middletown residence on December 24th, indicating that Wholaver had claimed that he wished only to retrieve his dog. The trip involved furtive activities and was corroborated by a surveillance video obtained by police from a convenience store located mid-way between Cambria County and Middletown. Scott Wholaver testified that, upon arrival in Middletown, he was told to stop the vehicle to permit Wholaver to access the rear seat; Wholaver then directed him to proceed to a location about a block from the Wholaver residence; he parked the vehicle there and waited as Wholaver proceeded toward the residence; Wholaver returned five to ten minutes later appearing shaken; Wholaver instructed him to drive to the remote Clearfield County location where he saw the shotgun in the rear of the vehicle and watched Wholaver shuttle from the vehicle to the woods; and Wholaver told him to repeat a false story if asked about his whereabouts during the time period spanning these activities. The Commonwealth also offered testimony from several prisoner-witnesses, who described various incriminatory statements by Wholaver, as well as evidence of Wholaver’s jail-based efforts to hire a West Virginia man to kill the father of Victoria’s child, Francisco Ramos, and to fabricate evidence suggesting that Mr. Ramos had killed Jean, Victoria, and Elizabeth Wholaver. Ballistics evidence was presented to connect the pistol found in Clearfield County to the killings (although the association could not be made firmly, because both the firearm and bullets were degraded). Further, the Commonwealth presented evidence that the pistol was registered to Wholaver’s uncle. The Commonwealth also introduced the preliminary hearing testimony of Elizabeth and Victoria Wholaver from the sexual assault case under the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing exception to the hearsay rule, on the theory that they were killed to prevent their testimony. Wholaver was convicted of first-degree murder pertaining to each of the killings, and of the separate crimes of killing prosecution witnesses, conspiracy, reckless endangerment (of Madison), burglary, and criminal solicitation related to his attempt to have Mr. Ramos killed. He was acquitted of the sexual offenses, however. In the penalty phase of the trial, the Commonwealth pursued the in-perpetration-of-a-felony, grave-risk, multiple-murders, and protection-from-abuse-violation aggravators, incorporating the evidence used in the guilt phase. Wholaver pursued the no-significant-history-of-prior-criminal-convictions and catch-all mitigators. The jury found all of the aggravators, at least some of the jurors accepted Wholaver’s proffered mitigators, and the jurors unanimously returned three death sentences as a consequence of their individual weighing determinations. UPDATE: Ernest Wholaver received a stay from a federal judge, who appointed a public defender to handle Wholavers appeal. His attorneys have until October to file a petition challenging the death sentence. Wholaver had also received a stay of execution in June of 2007.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 2, 2011 Pennsylvania Michael Richardson, 35
Robert Crawford
Lavar Brown stayed
On December 10, 2003, Lavar Brown, then age 24, and Rahsaan Anderson were standing on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia, near a school, subway station, gas station, and restaurant. Around 3:00 p.m., Brown saw Robert Crawford crossing Girard Avenue, and stated, "There go that pussy." Brown approached Crawford and, without provocation, shot him multiple times in the back. After shooting Crawford, Brown and Anderson began to run but were quickly deterred by two police officers in a patrol vehicle. One officer stopped and frisked Anderson, but found no weapon. The second officer saw Brown across the street with his right hand in his jacket pocket and ordered him multiple times to show his hands. Brown refused to remove his hand from his pocket and instead ran back toward the crime scene and down an alley. The officer pursued him, commanding him to stop. Brown continued to run, and other officers joined the chase. Brown eventually crawled beneath a vehicle; the officers pulled him out and took him into custody. A.380 caliber semi-automatic firearm was found near the vehicle’s right rear axle. Multiple witnesses identified Brown as Crawford’s shooter. Royal Smith, a youth advocate worker, and Christiana Ellison, her client, were seated in a vehicle three to five feet away when the shooting occurred. Both identified Brown as the shooter, stating he shot the victim, stood over him after he had fallen, and shot him again. Rahsaan Anderson also identified Brown as the shooter. Angela Sutton testified solely to the shooter’s appearance, confirming previous testimony that the shooter was a dark-complected man, standing 5′ 7"- 5′ 10" tall, and wearing a dark-hooded sweatshirt or dark jacket. Several police officers testified to Brown’s flight and arrest, as well as to finding the gun. Crime Scene Investigator Leo Rahill testified to the ballistic evidence recovered from the scene, including three.380 caliber fired cartridge cases, one fired copper-jacketed projectile bullet, and a sample of Crawford’s blood. Ballistics expert John Cannon opined the three cartridges and fired bullet were collected from locations consistent with someone standing in one spot and firing multiple projectiles, and the semi-automatic weapon found under the vehicle was the same weapon used to fire the projectiles into Crawford’s body. Medical Examiner Dr. Edward Chmara testified Crawford died from multiple gunshot wounds, specifically from blood loss due to a ruptured aorta. The first bullet wound was fatal and entered his upper right back, puncturing his right lung and aorta, and exited under his first rib. The second bullet entered Crawford’s right elbow; bullet and jacket fragments remained in his arm’s soft tissue and bone. The third and fourth wounds were located in Crawford’s lower left back. All bullets recovered from Crawford’s body were.380 caliber, consistent with the gun found under the vehicle where Brown hid from police. Brown did not have a license to carry a firearm. During the penalty phase, the Commonwealth sought to prove two aggravating factors: during the commission of the offense, Brown knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim, and Brown was convicted of a prior murder. To meet its burden, the Commonwealth again called ballistics expert John Cannon, who testified a.380 caliber bullet is capable of passing through a human body and harming another person when shot from 80-100 feet. His testimony also established a person need not be in the immediate line of fire to be lethally wounded by such a bullet, as it could ricochet, taking new, unpredictable courses. The Commonwealth also called Assistant District Attorney William Fisher to testify Brown was previously convicted of second degree murder and robbery for his involvement in the killing of a local Rite-Aid store manager during a robbery. Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Michael Richardon. One month before Robert Crawford’s murder, Brown masterminded the robbery of a pharmacy during which his cohort Christopher Kennedy shot the Michael Richardson to death as the man was trying to open the store safe. It had been Brown’s idea to take hostages during the pharmacy robbery and to shoot the manager in the leg to show that they meant business. Instead, Michael Richardson suffered a gunshot wound to the left side of his head and was found dead in his office. Christopher Kennedy was sentenced to death in 2004 for Michael Richardson’s murder. Brown presented mitigating evidence through various family members and friends who testified to Brown’s difficult childhood, some admirable qualities, and alleged physical and learning disabilities. The testimony alleged Brown struggled with a foot deformity and dyslexia during childhood, his stepfather was an alcoholic, and he had no positive male role model during development. Dr. Allan Tepper, a licensed psychologist, testified Brown was of average intelligence, but had an impaired ability to control his impulses, stunted mental development, and severe personality deficits and defects. Dr. Tepper did, however, find Brown understood rules, was capable of some impulse control, did not suffer from any sort of diminished cognitive ability, was not under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance when he killed Crawford, and presented no indices of an underlying thought disorder. The jury unanimously found the two aforementioned aggravating circumstances, found no mitigating circumstances, and returned a verdict of death. The trial court sentenced Brown as to all three charges, imposing the death penalty for the first degree murder charge in accordance with the jury’s penalty phase findings.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 3, 2011 Pennsylvania Rasheed Abdul Grant Christopher Smith stayed
On November 29, 2002, two rival gangs engaged in a gunfight at the North American Motor Inn on City Line and Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia. Christopher Smith, (also known as Darryl Myers), who was known to some by the nickname “Jughead,” was a member of one of the gangs, and, during the gunfight, two of his fellow gang members, Michael Allen Finney and Antoine Steed, were killed. Afterward, Smith’s gang decided to avenge the deaths of Finney and Steed; Smith and several other gang members, including Aquil Bond, Jawayne Brown, Richard Brown (Aquil Bond’s cousin), Vincent Smithwick, and two others named Damar and Lonnie, gathered at the home of Richard Brown’s girlfriend, Tammy, to formulate a plan. The group decided that two members of the rival group, “Brent” and “G Bucks,” whom they believed were responsible for shooting Finney and Steed, must be killed. Richard Brown, the reputed leader of Smith’s gang, gave orders that any member of the rival gang should be shot on sight. A day or two later, shortly after midnight on December 1, 2002, Richard Carter was sitting with a female friend on the steps of 4220 Ogden Street. Several other men from the neighborhood were standing outside on the street, including someone whom Carter knew as “Buck,” Brent Jenkins, and Jared Barkley. At one point, Carter noticed a burgundy Park Avenue car circling the corner. Jenkins was outside as the car circled the corner the first time, but left the area by the time it circled a second time. As the car circled the corner for the second time, Carter saw the driver’s side window open, and saw Bond, whom Carter recognized from the area, exit the car with a gun in his hand. Bond approached an unidentified male who resembled Jenkins; however, apparently realizing that the man was not Jenkins, Bond returned to the car. The car circled the corner a third time, and then stopped in front of 4210 Ogden Street, at which time Smith and Bond jumped out of the car and began firing shots down Ogden Street. Moments before the shooting began, Carter observed Rasheed Abdul Grant, also known as Abdul Brooks, or “Rev,” standing near the passenger side of his maroon Pontiac Bonneville, which was parked in front of Grant’s father’s house at 4219 Ogden Street. When the shooting began, Carter ran. At approximately 1:40 a.m., Philadelphia Police Officer Joseph Rogers received a radio call indicating gunshots in the area of 42nd and Ogden Streets and the 800 block of Brooklyn Street. When Officer Rogers arrived at the scene, he observed Grant lying face down in the street with his eyes open and not breathing. Rogers radioed for a rescue squad, which arrived approximately ten minutes later. Grant was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:53 a.m., having suffered seven gunshot wounds to his body. Another man, Antwoin Weston, had been shot in the leg and was crawling along the sidewalk. He was transported to the hospital for treatment. At approximately 2:10 a.m., William Whitehouse of the Philadelphia Police Crime Scene Unit arrived at 42nd and Ogden Streets to process the crime scene and observed the following vehicles: (1) a maroon Crown Victoria with two holes in the windshield parked in front of 4210 Ogden Street; (2) a maroon Pontiac Bonneville in front of 4219 Ogden Street, next to which Grant’s body was found; and (3) a red Jeep with some damage in front of 4221 Ogden Street. Whitehouse recovered 30 spent gun cartridges from three separate areas of the scene, including the area in front of 4205 and 4207 Ogden Street; the sidewalk in front of 4217 and 4219 Ogden Street; and the street in front of 4217 and 4219 Ogden Street. All of the cartridges were.357 caliber, and it was determined that 19 were fired from a single weapon, and 11 were fired from a second weapon. Nearly four months after the Ogden Street shooting, on April 13, 2003, Officer Jerrell Short of the 9th Police District was working nightclub detail at 6th and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia. At approximately 3:30 a.m., Officer Short observed Smith and Richard Brown running towards him. Officer Short stopped them and ordered them to stand against a gate and show their hands. Smith appeared to be fumbling around the midsection of his pants or jacket. Ultimately, Smith and Brown ran away, and Officer Short and several other officers, including Officer Short’s partner, Officer Gregory Welsh, pursued them on foot. As they did so, Officer Welsh observed Smith remove a black gun from his waistband and throw it into the street. Officer Welsh retrieved the gun, a Sig Pro 2340.357 caliber black semiautomatic handgun, serial number SP0061985. He removed the magazine from the gun, as well as one live round from the chamber. Police also collected seven spent cartridges from the area, and ballistics analysis established that five of them came from the gun thrown into the street by Smith. Smith was captured by police and arrested. Apparently, just prior to being apprehended, Smith had shot another individual whose identity is not relevant to this case. The shooting was not mentioned at Smith’s trial in the instant case, and the spent cartridges that were retrieved by Officer Welsh were referred to only as “ballistics evidence” so the jury would not know that Smith had committed another crime. During the penalty phase hearing, however, the jury did learn that Smith was convicted of aggravated assault for shooting a man prior to being chased and apprehended by police on April 13, 2003. On May 14, 2003, Agent Anthony Tropea of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms questioned Smith’s girlfriend, Juanita Stokes-Steadley, regarding her purchase of a Sig Pro.357 caliber semi-automatic pistol from the Firing Line Gun Store on November 29, 2002, following the gunfight at the North American Motor Inn. When first questioned, Stokes-Steadley maintained that she purchased the firearm for her own use, with her own money. Agent Tropea asked Stokes-Steadley to produce the firearm, and she indicated that the gun was in the basement of her residence. When agents went to retrieve the firearm, they found an empty gun box bearing the serial number SP0061985, the serial number of the gun Stokes-Steadley admitted to having purchased. Upon further questioning, Stokes-Steadley admitted to Agent Tropea that Smith gave her the money for the firearm and gave her specific instructions to purchase the Sig Pro.357 caliber pistol and ammunition. At trial, Stokes-Steadley testified that Smith first asked her to purchase the gun two days before November 29, 2002; that Smith gave her the money to purchase the gun and ammunition on November 29, 2002; and that after she purchased the gun and ammunition on November 29, 2002, she gave it to Smith, and that was the last time she saw the gun. It later was determined that 19 of the spent cartridges recovered from the scene of the Ogden Street murder came from this gun. In September 2003, one of Smith’s fellow gang members, Vincent Smithwick, nicknamed “Scooter,” was arrested on federal drug charges. As part of a plea agreement, Smithwick gave a statement to police concerning seven different homicides, implicating himself in two of the murders. Smithwick also provided information regarding the murder of Grant. At trial in the instant case, Smithwick testified that the members of Richard Brown’s gang decided to retaliate against their rivals for the November 29, 2002 shooting at the North American Motor Inn. Smithwick described how, on November 30, 2002, he, Bond, and Jawana Moore, who was Smithwick’s half-sister and Bond’s girlfriend, went to the Firing Line Gun Store to purchase a.357 caliber Sig Pro firearm. Smithwick testified that Bond wanted to purchase that particular model because “Richard Brown had one first and liked the model.” He also testified that only he and Moore went inside the store, and that Moore actually purchased the gun. The serial number of the gun purchased by Moore was SP0061983. Smithwick further testified that he was at the home of Richard Brown’s girlfriend, Tammy, on December 1, 2002, when Bond and Smith stated that they were going to 42nd and Ogden Streets to kill whomever they saw “that was hanging with Brent and Malik [and] G Bucks.” Smithwick recounted that, after Smith and Bond returned to the house, Smith bragged that he had shot one man in the leg, and Bond stated that “he needed more bullets” and that both he and Smith had shot someone in the face. The following morning, Smithwick learned that someone named Rev, i.e., Grant, had been shot and killed. Smithwick indicated that he spoke with Bond about Rev being killed, and Bond stated, “That wasn’t the right person, man.” Finally, Smithwick testified that a couple of days after Grant was killed, he and Bond were at the home of Chante Baker, another of Bond’s girlfriends, at 54th and Girard Streets, when police arrived to arrest Bond on another matter. Smithwick stated that, after Bond and Baker left the house, he returned to the house because he had some drugs inside and wanted to retrieve them. In addition to removing the drugs from the house, Smithwick also admitted to removing a.357 caliber Sig Pro firearm, the same gun that Jawana Moore purchased for Bond on November 30, 2002, which Smithwick knew Bond kept under Baker’s mattress. Baker also testified at trial. She recounted that, in late November 2002, Bond asked her to purchase a gun for him, but she was unable to do so because she had a prior felony conviction. She indicated that Bond subsequently advised her that he had another individual, Moore, purchase a gun for him. She testified that she eventually saw the gun, and that Bond kept it underneath her mattress when he stayed at her house. She indicated that she was at home with Bond when police arrived to arrest him on December 10, 2002, and that she was arrested at that time for attempting to stop the officers from entering the house. Baker testified that she subsequently asked Smithwick what had happened to the gun that had been under her mattress, and he advised her that he removed it. On December 10, 2002, police executed a search warrant of the apartment of Richard Brown, also known as Richard Bond or “Mannie-Boo,” at 4000 Presidential Boulevard, Apartment 2006. The police recovered from the apartment two.357 caliber Sig Pro semi-automatic weapons, including one with the serial number SP0061983, which was the serial number of the gun purchased by Moore from the Firing Line Gun Store on November 30, 2002. Ballistics analysis established that 11 of the spent cartridges recovered from the scene of the Ogden Street shooting came from the gun purchased by Moore. While the bullets lodged in Grant’s body were too damaged to be positively matched to either Smith’s or Bond’s weapon, the bullets were the same type of ammunition as used in their weapons. Smith and Aquil Bond were jointly tried before the Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper. On May 6, 2005, a jury convicted Smith of the aforementioned charges; it acquitted him of attempted murder with regard to Antwoin Weston. At the penalty phase, the jury found three aggravating factors and no mitigating factors, and recommended a sentence of death. Smith was formally sentenced to death on July 26, 2005.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 8, 2011 Pennsylvania Faheem Thomas Childs, 10
Walter Smith
Kareem Johnson stayed
Faheem Thomas Childs was a 10 year old who was walking to school and was shot and killed, caught in the crossfire between two gangs. More than 50 shots were fired in the gun battle outside Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School. A crossing guard was also shot in the head but survived. Kareem Johnson was arrested with the gun that matched the bullet that killed Faheem. He was tried and sentenced to life in prison. While serving that sentence, Johnson was charged with the murder of Walter Smith. On December 15, 2002, Johnson and at least one other person shot Walter Smith to death on the street in front of a bar in North Philadelphia. Some three months before his violent death, Walter had told police that an acquaintance of Johnson’s, Clinton Robinson, was responsible for the August 2002 murder of another person, Margaret Thomas. Johnson was arrested in May 2006, for the murder of Walter Smith. The Commonwealth’s theory of the case was that Johnson had killed Walter in order to prevent him from testifying against Robinson. The Commonwealth relied upon physical evidence that included the following: 1) two different types of ammunition recovered from the murder scene as well as from Walter’s body, showing that Johnson had acted in concert with at least one other individual in the murder; and 2) a red baseball-type cap found at the scene that contained Johnson’s DNA on the sweatband and Walter’s DNA in blood stains on the brim. In addition, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of Bryant Younger, who had heard Johnson make two statements with which he implicated himself in Walter Smith’s murder. The defense sought to cast doubt upon the Commonwealth’s evidence largely by challenging the significance of the DNA evidence and by characterizing Mr. Younger as a “rat” who would do anything to avoid an impending life sentence for a federal drug conviction. Johnson was convicted by a jury in June 2007, of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of crime. Johnson was sentenced to death after the jury found that any mitigating circumstances were outweighed by the aggravating circumstance that Johnson had a significant history of felony convictions involving the use of violence to the person . Johnson was also sentenced to a concurrent term of 20 to 40 years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy conviction.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 10, 2011 Ohio Chong Mah Johnnie Baston executed
Chong Mah and his wife, Jin-Ju Mah, owned two retail stores in Toledo. Chong Mah managed the couple’s downtown store, Continental Wigs N’ Things. In addition to wigs, the store sold team logo hats and jackets. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 21, 1994, Jin-Ju Mah telephoned her husband and spoke to him at the downtown store. When Chong Mah failed to answer a later call, JinJu Mah became concerned. She then went to the downtown store, arriving around 5:10-5:15 p.m. She found the store unlocked and the lights on. The cash register was open and empty. In a rear storage room, Jin-Ju Mah found her husband’s body—he had been shot once through the head. Chong Mah was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators found a single.45 caliber hollow-point slug behind the wall paneling in the room where Chong Mah was shot. An autopsy revealed that Chong Mah had been shot in the back of the head at a range of two to three inches. Examination of the crime scene caused investigators to believe that, in addition to the money in the cash register, Chong Mah’s killer had also taken team logo hats and "Starter" type jackets from the store. Also on March 21, 1994, David Smith went to downtown Toledo to meet with his parole officer. Johnnie Baston accompanied him, but was not permitted to stay for the appointment. Records indicated that Smith met with his parole officer at approximately 11:30 a.m., and that the meeting lasted ten to fifteen minutes. When Smith left the meeting, he tried to find Baston. He "beeped" Baston on his pager, but there was no response. Smith then walked back and forth between the municipal building and the county jail four times, finally finding Baston in the vicinity of the municipal court. Baston and another friend, Bobby Mitchell, were in a yellow Cadillac owned by Smith’s cousin, Michael Ridley. Mitchell first saw Baston on March 21, 1994 on River Street. Baston was carrying a dark brown plastic garbage bag that appeared to have something in it. Mitchell passed Baston as Mitchell went to his car, before proceeding to Smith’s apartment, where he again saw Baston. Mitchell was there to see Ridley, who was also staying at the apartment. While Mitchell was at Smith’s apartment, he noticed some sports hats lined up on an end table, as well as a revolver. A short time later, Mitchell and Baston left the apartment in Ridley’s Cadillac to pick up Smith downtown. When the two picked up Smith in front of the municipal court building, Mitchell was driving, Baston was in the passenger’s seat, and Smith got in the back seat. Mitchell overheard Smith and Baston "mumbling" to each other, and heard Baston tell Smith "I did it." The trio then drove back to Smith’s apartment. After news coverage of Chong Mah’s murder, an employee of a nearby bar reported to police that at approximately 11:45 a.m. on the day of the murder, she saw a man carrying a plastic bag walk across a parking lot near the wig shop. The man caught her attention because he was heavily dressed despite it being unseasonably warm that day, and he was wearing a team logo jacket, and another jacket draped over his shoulders. She later said the man could have been Baston, but was unable to positively identify him. A patron of the bookstore adjacent to or near the wig shop told police that he thought he heard a gunshot shortly before noon on March 21, 1994. A few days after the murder, Patricia Chininis contacted the Toledo Police. Patricia Chininis’s daughter, Deana, was Smith’s girlfriend. Both women also knew Baston. Patricia Chininis related that on the day before the shooting, Baston and Smith were at her house. In moving Baston’s jacket, Patricia Chininis noticed it was unusually heavy. She felt the jacket, realized there was a gun in it, and told Baston and Smith never to come back to her house with a gun. Deana Chininis stated she previously saw both Smith and Baston with revolver-type guns and hollow-point bullets. Furthermore, the day or so after the murder Baston offered to give Deana’s girlfriend a Starter jacket. After receiving this information, police obtained a search warrant for Smith’s apartment (where Baston was staying). Police seized four sport logo hats and several Starter jackets. A wig store employee identified these articles as being similar to those the store carried. The employee, an African American, also recalled that three weeks prior to the killing three African American males were in the store acting suspiciously. The employee overheard one of the three say to another: "No, it’s a sister in here," before they left. The employee identified Baston as one of the three. Smith, Deana Chininis, and two other persons were at the apartment when police executed the search warrant. While all four went to the police station, only Smith was cooperative. After interviewing Smith, the police obtained an arrest warrant for Baston. Baston was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, at a church function. He was carrying a.25 caliber semi-automatic pistol and had a.45 caliber semi-automatic revolver in his luggage. The.45 caliber slug recovered at the crime scene matched those test-fired from the.45 caliber revolver seized from Baston. In an interview with Columbus police shortly after his arrest, Baston admitted participating in the robbery of the wig shop, but denied shooting Chong Mah. According to Baston, an accomplice named "Ray" took Chong Mah into the back room and shot him. Baston denied any intention to kill anyone, and claimed that Ray acted without Baston’s prior knowledge. Baston was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated robbery with a firearm specification. Baston pleaded not guilty and elected to be tried before a three-judge panel. Baston contested that he was the principal offender in the aggravated murder. William Nappins, a defense witness, testified that while on his way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at approximately 11:45 a.m. on the morning of the murder, he saw a tall, dark-skinned African-American male emerge from either the wig store or the book store next to it. The man was dressed in black and carrying a bag. Nappins’s description of the man did not match that of Baston. The defense argued that David Smith was the Ray that Baston had named as the actual triggerman during his Columbus interrogation. The defense asserted that the presence of another gunman at the wig shop robbery created a reasonable doubt as to the capital specifications. The panel nevertheless found him guilty on all counts and specifications. The panel sentenced Baston to death on one of the aggravated murder counts, and to terms of imprisonment for both the aggravated robbery and the gun specification.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 29, 2011 Arizona Ron Barman
Richard Butts
Eric King executed
Eric John King committed a robbery of a convenience store and the murders of the clerk and security guard just after midnight on December 27, 1989. Security cameras caught the robbery and murder of the convenience store clerk, Ron Barman, on tape. Though the video did not clearly show King’s face, it did show his distinctive diamond-patterned sweater. Also, despite the late hour, numerous individuals saw parts of the events, and several described the sweater pattern. A Mr. Madden had driven into the parking lot of a restaurant behind the convenience store. He saw two men in the convenience store parking lot, one wearing a blue or black and white sweater with "some kind of pattern like pyramids," and the other wearing a "green sweatshirt." Hearing gunshots, he drove to the convenience store, got out, and saw the security guard, Richard Butts, lying on the ground, his holster empty. Richard was not yet dead, bleeding from the gut, and moaning. Mr. Madden dialed 911. As he dialed, he saw the man in the distinctive sweater go over to the security guard, wipe his holster and belt off with a white cloth, and leave. Two more witnesses, Mr. Harris and Mr. Dils, heard the gunshots as they drove nearby. Mr. Harris saw two men running from the store, one carrying a gun. Mr. Harris and Mr. Dils stopped, and Mr. Harris saw the guard lying on the ground, entered the store, and saw the clerk, shot in the stomach and shoulder but not yet dead, yelling into the telephone. Mr. Dils checked the guard for a pulse, but found none. These two witnesses stayed and tried to help the clerk until the ambulance came. Three more witnesses pulled into the convenience store parking lot. One noticed the guard on the ground, and another saw a man in a dark sweater with a white "logo" bend over the security guard and wipe off his holster with a white cloth before running away. A Phoenix police officer got a radio call directing him to go to the convenience store and providing a description of the suspects. He saw two men more or less fitting the description, got out of his car, and told them to halt. Michael Page Jones stopped; the other, a man wearing a distinctive sweater, ran away. Two more witnesses, Ms. Hill and Ms. Smith, were walking nearby. Ms. Hill was at that time Jones’s girlfriend, and had known King for years. She saw King throw a plastic bag, containing a gun and a distinctive sweater she had seen him wearing earlier that night, into a dumpster. Ms. Hill called the police and identified King after seeing his picture, taken from the security camera, on television. The police then apprehended him. UPDATE: Eric King smiled and waved to the witnesses prior to his executed. King said he had no final words.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 31, 2011 Alabama Fred Blackmon, 76
Evelyn Blackmon, 41
William Boyd executed
The brutal facts surrounding the kidnapping, robbery, and murder of Fred and Evelyn Blackmon are these. The Blackmons disappeared from their home in Anniston, Alabama, on March 26, 1986. Between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. that morning, Fred Blackmon, accompanied by a slender white male with long dark hair, cashed a $5,000 check at the drive-in window of an Anniston branch of the First Alabama Bank, where Fred Blackmon maintained an account. At around 9:00 p.m. that night, Julie Greenwood, William Glenn Boyd’s ex-girlfriend and Evelyn Blackmon’s twenty-year-old daughter, returned to the Blackmons’ house, where she lived, only to discover that Fred and Evelyn Blackmon were missing, along with their black Cadillac Eldorado. Two days later, Julie and her father, Wayne Greenwood, filed a missing person’s report with the Anniston Police Department. The Blackmons were never seen alive again. At about 8:40 a.m. on March 26, 1986, the day the Blackmons disappeared, Anniston Police Officer Ken Murphy was on routine patrol in the Blackmons’ neighborhood. He noticed a 1976 white, two-door Chevrolet Camaro illegally parked near the intersection of Sunset and Fairway Drives, a quarter of a mile from the Blackmons’ home. The license plate number on the illegally parked vehicle had been issued to William Glenn Boyd. Soon thereafter, Boyd was arrested on the charge of first degree kidnapping on April 3, 1986. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Boyd signed a waiver-of-rights form and gave a statement to the police concerning the Blackmons’ disappearance. In addition, Anniston Police Officers Robertson and Hall impounded Boyd’s automobile. The same day, the police arrested Robert Milstead, who also gave a statement to the police about the Blackmons. In the afternoon of April 3, 1986, the police — accompanied by Milstead — went to the locations where each of the Blackmons had been separately killed. At the scene of Evelyn Blackmon’s murder, police found a trail through the woods. Officer Watson discovered bleached hair entwined with white fiber. Watson collected soil and debris samples which contained blood-stained leaves and soil. A.25 caliber shell casing was found close to the blood stain. The hair found near the blood stain later was microscopically compared to a hair sample taken from Evelyn Blackmon’s body and determined to be the same. Fred Blackmon’s 1985 Cadillac Eldorado was recovered from the Coosa River on April 4, 1986. Fred Blackmon was found dead, stuffed into the trunk of the car. The windows were down, the doors were unlocked, the ignition key was in the on position, and the car was in first gear. Upon discovering that the car’s tail light was broken, the officers went to the area in Calhoun County where Milstead said Fred Blackmon had been murdered. At that location, in the middle of a dirt road, the officers found broken pieces of a red plastic tail light lens, a silver plastic Cadillac emblem, two spent.25 caliber shell casings, and a long white fiber. On the same day the Blackmons’ car was recovered, Officer Townsley went to Milstead’s house, where he discovered an ax and several blue metal drums. The state medical examiner, who performed an autopsy on Fred Blackmon, found a torn strip of white cloth tied around his mouth as a gag. Fred Blackmon had been shot twice. One of the gunshots penetrated his neck and the other passed through the heart. Both bullets were recovered. Fred also had suffered a minor blunt force injury to the back of his head. The gun shot wounds were determined to be the cause of his death. Officers Watson and Bradley inventoried the contents of Boyd’s Chevrolet Camaro on April 7, 1986. They found a piece of white and yellow entwined cloth, knotted on one end, with hair entwined in the knot, as well as a black mesh shirt, a pair of blue underwear, a black jacket, and another piece of cloth on the right front floorboard. They also discovered a roll of gauze in the console of the car along with a yellow-gold necklace inside an envelope. The necklace later was identified as belonging to Evelyn Blackmon. Two spent.22 caliber shell casings were found on the dashboard. On April 9, 1986, a metal drum containing Evelyn Blackmon’s body was recovered from the Coosa River too. Evelyn’s mouth had been gagged and a piece of cloth had been tied around her ankles. She had sustained three gunshot wounds: a superficial wound to her head; a wound to the right side of her neck; and a wound to her back. Evelyn also had sustained a laceration to her right forehead, numerous fractures to her nose and face, and an ax wound to her lower back that broke her backbone. The gunshot wounds were determined to be the cause of her death. At trial, there was conflicting testimony regarding whether Boyd had murdered Fred Blackmon, Evelyn Blackmon, or both victims. Anniston Police investigator Gary Carroll testified that Boyd insisted in his first statement to the police that his accomplice, Milstead, had killed both victims. Specifically, Boyd told the police that on the morning of March 26, 1986, he and Milstead, both armed, gained entry into the Blackmons’ home. Boyd and Milstead had previously discussed robbing the Blackmons. Boyd admitted that he accompanied Fred Blackmon to the bank, where Fred withdrew $5,000 and turned it over to Boyd, and returned to the Blackmons’ house. Boyd and Milstead then forced the Blackmons into Fred Blackmon’s Cadillac Eldorado and drove to an area in Ohatchee, Alabama, near the river. After the car was parked, Milstead, according to Boyd, physically assaulted Evelyn Blackmon, and then shot her. Fred Blackmon tried to barter for his life, but Boyd hit him on the back of the head, and then Milstead shot him too. Boyd and Milstead left the crime scene in the Cadillac Eldorado, only to return later that night. They stuffed Fred Blackmon’s body in the trunk of the Cadillac Eldorado and rolled the car down a boat ramp into the river. They left and returned to the crime scene still again the next morning, stuffed Evelyn Blackmon’s body into a 55-gallon barrel and rolled the barrel into the river. They later disposed of the two guns used during the crime by throwing them into a creek. On April 4, 1986, Boyd gave a second statement to the police that provided a detailed description of how to find the locations of the crime scenes. Boyd provided a third statement on April 6, 1986, claiming that he had remained in the car with Fred while Milstead took Evelyn into the woods. Boyd said that Milstead was just supposed to leave her there, but decided to kill her instead. Boyd accompanied police to a creek on April 11, 1986, to show them where the guns had been discarded after the murders. A nickel-plated Raven Arms Company.25 caliber automatic pistol and a black.22 caliber pistol were recovered. There was one unfired round in the.25 caliber pistol, and five rounds still in the.22 pistol. Milstead’s statements and testimony, on the other hand, said that Boyd had killed both victims. Milstead pleaded guilty to capital murder and testified for the State against Boyd, in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. Prior to testifying, he had given five statements to the police, which varied in certain respects, but four of them consistently accused Boyd of shooting both victims as well as assaulting them. Milstead testified that on the morning of the crime, Milstead, who did not know the Blackmons, gained entry into the Blackmons’ house along with Boyd; they were both armed with loaded pistols. Boyd then gagged and blindfolded Evelyn Blackmon, and threatened the Blackmons that Evelyn’s daughter, Julie, had been taken hostage and would be killed if the Blackmons did not pay a ransom. Boyd forced Fred to go to the bank to withdraw money, leaving Evelyn alone at the house with Milstead. After Fred withdrew $5,000 and gave the money to Boyd, they returned to the home. Boyd and Milstead then forced Fred and Evelyn at gunpoint into Fred ’s Cadillac Eldorado, and drove them to a secluded area by the river. At that point, they separated the Blackmons, first forcing Evelyn to walk away from the car to a clearing behind a brush pile. Boyd then re-gagged and blindfolded Evelyn, and, after talking to her, struck Evelyn across her forehead and nose with a stick. Evelyn screamed, whereupon Boyd tried to strangle her with a cloth. Boyd then shot Evelyn with a.22 caliber pistol, which he had muffled with the cloth. After she continued to fight for her life, Boyd took the.25 caliber gun from Milstead, who was standing with them, and shot her still again in the back and in the head. Boyd and Milstead returned to the car and drove Fred to another location. After exiting the car, Boyd hit Fred’s head with a stick. This blow also broke the taillight on Fred’s Cadillac. Boyd then took a piece of cloth and started choking Fred with it. When Fred struggled for his life and stabbed Boyd with a stick, Boyd took out the.25 caliber pistol and put it to Fred’s throat. Fred begged Boyd not to shoot him, offering to give him $50,000. Boyd told Fred that it was too late, and shot him in the chest and neck with the.25 caliber pistol. Boyd and Milstead left the scene in Fred’s car. They returned later that night to the location of Fred’s murder, stuffed his body into the trunk of his car, and rolled it into the Coosa River. After a few minutes, the car sank. They threw the two pistols into a creek that night. The next morning, Boyd and Milstead returned to the crime scene, finding Evelyn’s body. By Milstead’s account, Boyd said the body was too stiff, so he took Milstead’s ax and tried to cut Evelyn’s body in half. Boyd then took the body and broke Evelyn’s back, and along with Milstead threw her body into a metal barrel along with some cement blocks and rocks. Boyd cut some holes in the barrel with the ax. He and Milstead rolled the barrel into the river. The barrel sank in the water. Kenny Surrett, who had grown up with Boyd, also testified for the State, providing another conflicting account indicating that Boyd had confided that he had shot Fred Blackmon, but not Evelyn Blackmon. Surrett said that on the night of March 25, 1986, the evening before the Blackmons were kidnapped and murdered, he was with both Boyd and Milstead. Surrett saw, among other things, a chrome or silver.25 caliber automatic pistol in Boyd’s possession. On the night of March 27, 1986, the day after the Blackmons disappeared, Surrett drove to Boyd’s house to collect on a bad check Boyd had given him. Soon after Surrett arrived, Boyd said, “Kenny, I didn’t realize how coldblooded I was.” Boyd then said he had something to tell Surrett. Boyd admitted that he and Milstead had gone to the Blackmons’ house to rob them, and Boyd had taken Fred Blackmon to the bank where Fred withdrew some money. Milstead and Boyd then took the Blackmons to the river. Boyd said he hit Fred on the back of his head with a stick and then shot him. Boyd also told Surrett that Milstead hit Evelyn in the nose and shot her a couple of times. Boyd confessed that he chopped Evelyn’s back with an ax in order to be able to dispose of her body in a barrel. Boyd paid Surrett with money that, Boyd said, he had obtained from Fred Blackmon. A week later, Boyd joked with Surrett about the Blackmons being “at the bottom of the river.” Sharon Johnson, who was dating Boyd at the time of the crime, gave an account of events roughly consistent with Surrett’s. She testified that Milstead told her that he shot Evelyn Blackmon, and Boyd shot Fred Blackmon. Johnson further said that she saw Boyd with approximately $3,000. The Calhoun County Grand Jury indicted Boyd on eight counts of capital murder on April 25, 1986. The first four counts charged him with murder during the course of a kidnapping, and the remaining four counts charged him with murder during the course of a robbery. On March 16, 1987, Boyd’s capital murder trial began. The jury returned verdicts on March 20, 1987, finding Boyd guilty on all eight counts. Milstead was sentenced to life without parole. UDPATE: William Boyd was executed after declining to make a final statement. Family members of the victims witnessed the execution.

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