October 2011 Executions

Two killers were executed in September 2011. They had murdered at least 3 people.
Four killers were given a stay in September 2011. They have murdered at least 4 people.
One killer was granted clemency in September 2011. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 4, 2011 Tennessee Rose Crabtree, 32 John Henretta stayed
The proof at trial established that in November 1988, John Henretta robbed, kidnapped, raped, and murdered Rose Crabtree, a thirty-two-year-old mother of two. At the time of the offenses, Henretta and an accomplice, Michael Goodhart, were on parole and fleeing authorities in a stolen car when they stopped in Cleveland, Tennessee. Rose Crabtree’s murder remained unsolved for several years until continuing investigation into the case led state and federal authorities to the pair. Upon meeting with investigators at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas, where he was incarcerated for unrelated crimes, Henretta gave a full confession to Rose Crabtree’s murder. In November 1988, Rose and her sister, Helen Williams, both worked at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Cleveland, Tennessee. Ms. Williams described Rose as a very friendly, very likeable person who was never rude to anyone. Although Ms. Williams worked only part-time, Rose worked full-time to support her two children, ages 11 and 13, and the family lived from paycheck to paycheck. On November 30, 1988, Rose worked the closing shift at the thrift store. Ms. Williams telephoned Rose between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. to discuss their plans to meet at church later that evening around 7:00 p.m. and go together to visit a local nursing home. The store’s closing procedure required the remaining employee first to lock the front door, then empty the cash register, count the money, and place it into a bag in preparation for a bank deposit. Fifty dollars was always left in the cash drawer to provide change for the following day’s transactions, while the daily proceeds were deposited at the bank. The final cash register receipt on November 30, 1988, reflected a print time of 5:12 p.m. and daily proceeds of $139.69. When Rose did not arrive at church at 7:00 p.m. as planned, a church member and his son went to the thrift store to check on her. They found Rose’s car in the parking lot and the store’s front door locked. Ms. Williams then went to the store with her boyfriend, Ray. She unlocked the door with her own key, and they began looking for Rose. When Ray turned on the lights at the back of the store, Ms. Williams saw Rose’s lunch box and coat lying on the sales counter at the front of the store, but they did not find Rose. The store appeared to be in normal condition; the sales floor was "orderly." Two rooms at the back were cluttered with items taken in for sale. A door at the very back of the store opened to the street, and the Cleveland Police Station was located directly across from the thrift store. According to Ms. Williams, Rose paid for all of her expenses on a cash basis and had just received $420 from an inheritance. Ms. Williams believed that Rose had the $420 in her possession on the day of the offenses. Ms. Williams never found either Rose’s purse or the bank deposit in the store. Officers who were called to the store found the cash drawer insert, a number of receipts, and one of Rose’s shoes on the floor in the middle section of the store. Officers found an empty money bag just inside the back room. They then found Rose’s partially covered body at the back of the store near a large pool of blood, her right leg and right arm exposed and her other shoe nearby. Rose was clothed in a blue jean skirt, a pink pull-over top, and a bra, but her underwear had been removed. Officers never found Rose’s purse or any cash. An autopsy of Rose Crabtree’s body, performed by Dr. Fenton Scruggs, revealed three stab wounds to Rose’s neck, two on the left side and one on the right side. A three-inch wound to the top left side of the neck severed her jugular vein. A one-inch wound to the bottom left side of the neck did not cut any major veins or arteries. A wound immediately below the right ear, which Doctor Scruggs described as "particularly damaging," severed the carotid artery and the jugular vein and extended so deep that it severed the ligaments holding the backbone vertebra together, exposing the spinal cord. Doctor Scruggs testified that this most severe wound, which was the first such wound that he had seen, resulted from "great force" and would have rendered Rose unconscious within approximately 30 seconds. The autopsy report reflected that Rose ultimately died of the loss of blood resulting from the stab wounds to her neck. Early into their investigation of the murder, detectives developed several suspects, but DNA analysis failed to connect any of the suspects to the evidence collected at the crime scene. As a result, no arrests were made for several years. In January 1994, Bradley County detectives and agents from the FBI received information that led them to speak first with Michael Goodhart and then Henretta, who was then a federal inmate in Leavenworth, Kansas. Before meeting with Henretta, authorities obtained a search warrant to procure blood, hair, and saliva samples from Henretta. After securing the specimens, authorities took Henretta’s sworn statement. Henretta confessed to killing Rose Crabtree and committing the related offenses. In addition, he drew a diagram of the store, and in the process, he described various features of the store and designated the locations where he had killed Rose, "rolled her over," and "covered her up." According to Henretta, he was on parole and "on the run" from authorities in Pennsylvania when he and Mr. Goodhart left Pennsylvania in a stolen car. The two men traveled across Florida, Georgia, and Alabama before stopping in Cleveland, Tennessee. They began "drinking and stuff" at a bar near the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and, after waiting approximately two hours, Henretta and Mr. Goodhart "went back by the store," where they remained until closing time. Henretta explained that Mr. Goodhart hid inside the store and after the store closed, let Henretta in the back door. The men, both armed with knives, grabbed Rose at the "store room entrance." Mr. Goodhart raped Rose while Henretta searched through her purse and found several hundred dollars. Henretta also admitted taking the cash from a money bag he found. After gathering the cash, Henretta raped Rose. He stated that Rose did not struggle or scream during the assault and, as the men were preparing to leave, even advised them against using the back door to exit because the police station was located there. At that point, Henretta asked Mr. Goodhart whether he should kill Rose. Mr. Goodhart said yes, and Henretta stabbed Rose "one time in the neck." After Mr. Goodhart "poked her with his knife to make sure" she was dead, Henretta placed a blanket over Rose’s body. The men took Rose’s purse, panties, and pantyhose and left. They later disposed of these items in Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee. The pair later traveled to Arkansas, where they were eventually arrested by the FBI for unrelated offenses. In concluding his statement, Henretta told investigators that he had covered Rose’s body because he knew what he had done was "wrong." He stated that he and Mr. Goodhart had originally planned to rob but not kill Rose Crabtree. Henretta described Rose as a "nice looking lady" wearing a blue jean skirt and pink top. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") Agent Brooks Wilkins described Henretta as being "very cooperative" during the interview. Henretta made no attempt to deny his role in the victim’s murder and told Agent Wilkins that he would be willing to return to Tennessee and plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Agent Wilkins testified that he believed Henretta’s confession and had "no doubt" that Henretta was present and a perpetrator in the crime. He stated, however, that he always had reservations about people who made confessions while holding back some details. Agent Wilkins noted, for example, that Henretta only admitted stabbing the victim one time. Agent Wilkins said he advised Henretta before interviewing him that he had already spoken with Michael Goodhart. Constance Howard, a TBI forensic scientist who testified as an expert in the areas of serology and DNA analysis, stated that testing indicated the presence of semen on the slide taken from the victim’s "rape kit," on a mattress pad found at the scene, and on two areas of the victim’s skirt. Her initial testing failed to link Henretta to any of the evidence she examined. Agent Howard recalled that various items of evidence were sent to the FBI Crime Laboratory more than once after the initial FBI testing failed to link the evidence to any suspect. She also noted that at the time of the victim’s 1988 murder, the FBI had just begun to perform DNA analysis and that the TBI had not begun to do so. Agent Howard testified that dried blood samples can last "years and years" for purposes of DNA analysis and at least five years for blood type analysis. FBI forensic examiner Alan Giusti testified that of the evidence initially submitted to the FBI laboratory in April 1996, he performed DNA testing on a cutting from the victim’s skirt and vaginal swabs taken from the victim, which he compared with a known blood sample of Henretta and a known blood sample of the victim. His initial testing was inconclusive, but after the evidence was resubmitted in January 1997, he performed a second test using a process known as polymer chain reaction ("PCR"), which, he explained, required a much smaller amount of DNA for analysis. PCR testing yielded a DNA profile that Agent Giusti then compared to the known DNA profiles of Henretta and victim. Analysis of the skirt cutting showed a mixture of DNA with Henretta as the "major DNA donor." Analysis of the vaginal swabs also showed a mixture of DNA with Henretta again providing the dominant DNA profile in the specimens. In summary, Agent Giusti testified that the probability that a person other than Henretta had contributed the DNA profile on the victim’s skirt and vaginal swabs was approximately one in 88,000 from the Caucasian population. He also testified that testing excluded Mr. Goodhart as the contributor of a third DNA profile found on the victim’s vaginal swabs. Following Agent Giusti’s testimony, the State rested its case. The defense entered various exhibits and rested without calling any witnesses. After deliberating for two hours, the jury returned with a verdict convicting Henretta on all counts. The State introduced into evidence judgments for Henretta’s prior violent felony convictions, which included an October 1974 conviction of rape in Crawford County, Pennsylvania; a June 1991 conviction of second degree murder in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania; a June 1991 conviction of first degree rape in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania; and a July 1989 conviction of kidnapping filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In addition, the State introduced the victim impact statement of Rose’s son, David Crabtree, who stated that his mother’s murder had left him depressed, unable to trust people, and unable to work alone. In her victim impact statement, Rose’s daughter, Amanda Crabtree Forest, stated that she was living a "nightmare" as a result of her mother’s death. She said that she was forced to grow up without her mother’s love and guidance when she most needed it and would never be "fully and truly happy" because her heart was filled with pain, sorrow, and hatred and would always be broken. Through its criminal investigator, Judy Randolph, the defense presented proof of Henretta’s background. According to Ms. Randolph, Henretta was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, in February 1943 and lived there with his parents and two brothers until his mother deserted the family when Henretta was about two years old. In 1948, Henretta’s father took the three boys to be cared for by an aunt, who, that same year, took the boys to an orphanage. Each nun at the orphanage supervised approximately 50 children. Medical records from the orphanage showed that Henretta once received five stitches to his left ear after suffering a blow to his head, and a psychological exam showed Henretta to be "dull normal." In 1953, Henretta’s father regained custody of Henretta and one brother, Terrance, and they lived together with Henretta’s stepmother in Detroit, Michigan. Henretta’s other brother, Robert, had been adopted. Henretta’s stepmother died in 1961, and Henretta spent the remainder of his life "mostly incarcerated in different institutions." Ms. Randolph testified that from her discussions with Henretta and her review of the presentence and psychological reports, she learned that Henretta’s father was an alcoholic and "very abusive," but she was unable to find any evidence that he directed his abuse at Henretta. Henretta’s brother, Terrance, had died of cancer in a nursing home in October 1998, and his other brother, Robert, had been killed in New York City at the age of 34. Ms. Randolph discovered that Henretta’s only lasting relationship was his friendship with a Robin McKeehan and her family. Ms. McKeehan and her husband worked with church ministries and had befriended Henretta while he was incarcerated in Pennsylvania and had continued to communicate with him through letters and telephone calls. Neuropsychologist James S. Walker testified that his evaluation of Henretta revealed evidence of brain dysfunction, including poor muscle functioning, difficulty inhibiting impulsive behaviors, mild frontal brain damage, poor memory skills, and poor "executive function," which, he explained, helps a person organize and figure out solutions to problems. Other personality tests showed Henretta to be a person "who has a lot of difficulties with his thinking, his feeling and behavior." Doctor Walker described Henretta as a "very confused, agitated, angry, hostile,… person who feels like he’s not in control of his own impulses, who doesn’t understand why he does the things that he does." Doctor Walker explained that many people with these personality traits become involved in serious criminal behavior. Doctor Walker testified that he concluded that Henretta did not fake his symptoms because Henretta had evidenced the same deficiencies throughout his life. He explained that Henretta did not learn from his mistakes and had tended throughout his life to act in a very disorganized way often based on impulse rather than rationality or reason. Standard intelligence testing showed that Henretta, at the age of nine, had an intelligence quotient ("IQ") of 84, which is slightly below average. At the age of 45, he had an overall IQ of 75, which Doctor Walker described as "quite poor," and at the age of 58, he had an IQ of 79. Doctor Walker explained that a normal IQ ranged from 85 to 115 and that an IQ in the 70s evidenced low or borderline intelligence. Doctor Walker testified that Henretta was "somewhere in that land between normal and mentally retarded." Regarding the victim’s murder, Doctor Walker testified that Henretta had been unable to refrain from acting on a "strong feeling" on the day of the murder, as was consistent with his overall personality. According to the doctor, Henretta reported drinking approximately "a fifth" of whiskey and eight to 10 beers on the day of the murder, and as a result, Henretta was "probably quite intoxicated." Doctor Walker could not identify the source of Henretta’s dysfunction, but he explained that a combination of brain dysfunction and a history of physical abuse would often result in "difficulty coping and managing life." Doctor Walker concluded that all of these factors influenced Henretta’s actions, choices, and reactions and insisted that "it’s not the same as the average person committing the same acts or making the same choices." Doctor Walker agreed that a computerized axial tomography ("CAT") scan of Henretta’s brain showed no evidence of "gross abnormality," that an electroencephalogram ("EEG") was normal, and that Henretta’s brain chemical levels were normal. Doctor William Bernet, a psychiatrist, testified that he performed an evaluation of Henretta that consisted of four separate visits for a total of five hours and included a neurological evaluation, brain scans, and a review of Henretta’s historical information and medical records. According to Doctor Bernet, the evaluation established that Henretta suffered maltreatment, neglect, and abuse as a child; that he had brain damage; that he had a condition called "intermittent explosive disorder," and that, at the time of the offenses, Henretta was intoxicated. Doctor Bernet testified that on the day of the victim’s murder, Henretta’s various brain conditions impaired his ability to control his angry and violent impulses as well as his sexual impulses. Doctor Bernet explained that the type of wounds the victim sustained indicated that Henretta was in a violent state, which the doctor partly attributed to the child abuse, the explosive disorder, the brain damage, and the intoxication. Following its deliberations, the jury concluded that the State had proven all four of the aggravating circumstances alleged: (2), that Henretta had been previously convicted of one or more violent felonies; (5), that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel in that it involved torture or depravity of mind; (6), that Henretta committed the murder for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing his lawful arrest or prosecution; and (7), that Henretta committed the murder while he was engaged in the commission of or attempting to commit rape, robbery, or kidnapping. After also concluding that the established statutory aggravating circumstances outweighed any mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury sentenced Henretta to death for the murder of Rose Crabtree. Goodhart died in prison of natural causes before being brought to trial for Rose Crabtree’s murder.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 11, 2011 Tennessee Charles Mitchell Haney, 81 Harold Roy "H.R." Hester stayed
Dora Mae Hester testified that she and H.R. Hester were married in April 1992 and divorced six months later following a "violent incident." She said Hester "came and went" in the ensuing years. According to Ms. Hester, in 1996 she met Charles Mitchell Haney, the deceased victim in this case, through a mutual friend. Dora became friends with Charles and began cooking and cleaning for him because he was elderly and had health problems. At the time, Charles was about seventy-five years old and unmarried, but had been twice widowed. He had no children but had elderly siblings. Eventually, Charles requested that Dora care for him so that he would not have to live in a nursing home. Dora and Charles made an arrangement whereby Charles purchased a mobile home in which they would live. The mobile home was placed on a lot owned by Dora. Charles also purchased a car for Dora to use in driving him to doctor’s appointments and for other errands. According to Dora, she and Charles combined their incomes, and she wrote checks for Charles’s expenses as needed. Hester initially lived in a camper that Dora formerly occupied that was parked on the same lot. After the camper caught fire, Hester first moved to an apartment, but he later moved into the mobile home with Dora and Charles. About six months after moving into the mobile home, Charles fell and injured his knee. As a result of his injury, he moved into a nursing home to undergo physical therapy. Eight months later, Charles returned to live in the mobile home with Dora. On his return, Charles required a walker to move around. Dora said that in December 1999, Charles lived in a bedroom at one end of the mobile home, and she and Hester shared the second bedroom at the opposite end. Hester did not work steadily but took odd jobs performing plumbing and electrical work. Dora said Hester drank alcohol, "sometimes slightly, and then sometimes heavy… just according to… his moods…." Dora recalled the morning of December 14, 1999. She testified that Hester’s mother came over and that he changed the oil in her car. Hester left with his mother and returned with a 12-pack of beer that he began drinking. He stopped drinking and did some work for a neighbor. Dora said that when Hester returned at around 1:00 p.m., she asked him to look after Charles while she drove her daughter to the store. Dora testified that she was gone "a pretty good while" and returned to find Hester drinking again. Later in the day, Dora tried to get Hester to lie down and relax because he had "started drinking quite a bit." Dora said her daughter called, and she left to take her to the store a second time at about 5:30 that evening. Dora said she returned with cigarettes and dinner for everyone. She served Charles, but Hester told her he was not hungry. Dora said that Hester left the mobile home, then returned and began knocking on all the doors until she let him back inside. He asked her to lend him ten dollars to buy more beer, but she refused, telling Hester he had drunk enough that day. Dora testified that she went to Charles’s room and told him that she thought Hester was mad at her because she had refused to lend him money to buy more beer. Then Hester entered Charles’s bedroom armed with a knife. According to Dora, Hester was "very hostile" as he ordered her and Charles to the front of the mobile home. Hester ordered Charles to sit in a recliner and Dora to sit on a love seat as he walked through the trailer complaining. He threatened Charles with the knife to his throat. Dora said she tried to run out the door and yell for her daughter, but Hester pulled her back inside and placed the knife to her throat. Hester retrieved some duct tape, ordered Charles to lie on his stomach, taped his hands, ankles, and mouth, and instructed Charles to turn over on his back. Dora said that Hester bound her the same way, all the while repeatedly telling them that they were "all three going to die that night" and Hester would "tell the law" what he had done. Hester sat at the dining table for about five minutes, smoked a cigarette, and continued mumbling. Hester went outside and returned with a jug of kerosene that he poured throughout the mobile home. He unplugged the fire alarms then threw Dora’s pet dog outside, saying, "You little bastard. You hadn’t done anything." Dora said that although her mouth was bound, she told Charles that she loved and appreciated him for being so good to her and began to pray. Hester attempted to light a fire, first with matches, then with a cigarette. When this did not work, he lit a twisted newspaper, placed it next to the stove, and left with the trailer on fire. Dora said that white smoke filled the air as she tried to scoot toward the front door, still bound. with duct tape, and she realized her legs were on fire. She recalled that Hester had shut the screen door and slammed the front door as he left. She reached the door but could not open it. The next thing she remembered was lying on the steps outside the trailer and hearing her daughter calling her name and touching her. Someone pulled the tape off her mouth, and Dora said, "H.R. done this to me." She recalled her daughter telling her to "roll" because she was on fire, but she could not because her hands were still taped. Dora recalled a neighbor helping to tear off her jeans and taking her to her daughter’s trailer until an ambulance arrived. She said that she came in and out of consciousness as she was transported to the county fairgrounds to be airlifted to the Erlanger Hospital Burn Unit. In further testimony, Dora recalled that as Hester poured the kerosene throughout the trailer, "sloshing [it] back and forth," some of the fuel got on her and some on Charles. Dora identified the knife that Hester had threatened them with before the fire and a photograph of the scar left by Hester’s knife when he threatened to cut her throat. Dora described her injuries to the jury. As a result of the fire, both of her legs were amputated and she had undergone skin grafts on her arms and entire back. She had severe scars and suffered nerve damage. At the time of the trial, she had artificial legs and was trying to learn to walk unassisted. On cross examination, Dora testified that in December 1999, she and Hester had been living together in the trailer and sharing a bedroom for about four months. Dora said she treated Charles as she would her own father. She said their friendship grew, but their relationship was never romantic. She testified that on the evening of the fire, Charles had asked her about marrying him in order that his social security and veteran’s benefits would go to her after he passed away. Dora said that the discussion was about a "marriage of convenience," not a "lust/love" arrangement. She said that Charles wanted to reward her for taking good care of him and had nothing other than his benefits to leave her. Dora was aware that Charles had discussed the possibility of marrying Dora with Hester, and she knew the idea did not please him because Hester had always considered Dora to be his wife even though they were divorced. Dora said that the only reason she had taken Hester into her home was out of pity because he had no job and no other place to live. She said that although they shared a bed, there was little sexual intimacy because Hester was an alcoholic. Dora did not believe that the discussion about marrying Charles had angered Hester and motivated him to set the fire. She said that Hester had always been "jealous" of her and felt that he was "just mean." She said Hester always commented that she needed a younger man and that he was "just too jealous.". According to Dora, Hester contributed very little financially to the household expenses and spent the money he did earn on beer. She said that she and Hester did not argue on the morning of the fire, but he became very "agitated" with her when she refused to lend him beer money that afternoon. She agreed that Hester was "in a very disturbed and confused state of mind" when he set the fire. She described his appearance and demeanor in the evening hours of December 14: "He was very highly intoxicated and just real out of it, to me, because he was so highly intoxicated he was just mumbling. He couldn’t, you know, just out of it, in other words, intoxicated." Dora said although Hester was intoxicated, she believed that he still knew what he was doing. She said he took many steps before setting the fire and described his actions as methodical, "just like pattern work." Tim Lynn was married to Dora’s daughter, Kathy, and lived in another trailer located on the same property as Dora and Charles. Lynn said he was at a nearby garage talking with the owner, Curtis, on December 14 at about 5:30 p.m. when Hester entered. Hester reached in his coat pocket, pulled out a half-full quart bottle of beer, and began drinking. Hester asked to borrow a chainsaw and also asked whether Lynn or Curtis could help him haul some wood. Hester asked Curtis and then Lynn if they could give him $10.00, but both men declined. Hester asked Lynn to drive him home and finished the bottle of beer as he got into Lynn’s truck. Lynn said as they rode home, "something came up about that we both should get rid of our wives so we don’t have to hear them bitch no more." Asked about Hester’s exact words, Lynn said Hester said, "We should kill them, you know, get rid of them so we don’t have to hear their bitching no more." Lynn said he had heard Hester make similar statements before about getting rid of, but not killing, their wives and did not believe Hester was serious. Lynn said Hester’s speech was normal, and Hester did not seem unstable as he exited the truck and walked toward Dora’s trailer. Lynn said he went back to Curtis’ garage to do some repair work at about 6:45 p.m. About twenty minutes later, Lynn’s wife came to the garage and was crying hysterically, telling him to call 911 for help. They reported a trailer fire and drove back home. Lynn found Dora’s trailer on fire. He and a neighbor, Allen Stevens, tried to enter as the front door was melting. The men saw Charles’s body in the living room, and as Lynn tried to enter, something flew up and burned his face. He and Stevens concluded that Charles was already dead. Lynn returned to his home and found Dora standing in the living room wearing only panties and a t-shirt. There was smoke coming from her body, her pants had burned away and there was duct tape on her ankles. She was shaking and had a shocked expression on her face. Lynn said Dora kept repeating that "H.R. done this to me. H.R. done it to me." He said she sat down and began crying as the fire department and paramedics arrived. Lynn said when he and his wife went through Dora’s trailer to see what could be saved, his wife found a blue and white cooler with six cans of beer in it underneath a cabinet in the kitchen. He observed that the two smoke detectors in the trailer had been unhooked. On cross-examination, Lynn said he did not observe Hester drinking on December 14 except for the quart bottle of beer he had at the garage. He said Hester appeared to be "a little intoxicated" at that time. He acknowledged describing Hester as being "very drunk" in a statement to police on the night of the fire. Betty Fain, sister of Charles Haney, testified that her brother had served in World War II and had worked for Boeing Aircraft before returning to live in Tennessee. After operating a newsstand for about fifteen years, Charles retired in 1980 at age 58 because of medical disabilities. Charles was the second oldest of ten children. Fain said Charles’s siblings convinced him to move back to McMinn County after his second wife passed away so that they could help care for him. Terry Wilson, a canine handler for the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, was dispatched to Dora’s trailer on December 14, 1999, to search for Hester, the suspect in the fire. Wilson learned Hester had been taken into custody and was being transported to the Athens Hospital emergency room for treatment. Wilson then went to the hospital; when he arrived there, he went into the treatment room with Hester and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Special Agent Barry Brakebill. He searched Hester and found a knife in his front pants pocket. Wilson said Hester did not say much and appeared to have some burns to his hands and upper arms. He observed that Hester smelled strongly of petroleum. Agent Brakebill testified that he reported to Dora’s trailer on December 14 and generally assessed the crime scene. He said the bomb and arson squad was there because a fire-related death had been reported. He went inside the front of the trailer, took photographs of the victim, Charles, and conducted some interviews. He went to the home of a neighbor a few miles away where it was suspected that Hester had gone, but Agent Brakebill learned that Hester had already been arrested at that location and taken to the hospital. At the hospital, Agent Brakebill observed that Hester had second-degree, blistered burns on his hands and burns on his left arm. He also noticed a strong kerosene odor. Agent Brakebill obtained Hester’s clothing and personal items including a billfold, license, a small knife, and a lighter, and sealed them in new paint cans as evidence. On further examination, Agent Brakebill testified to his understanding that after arriving at Mr. Cooley’s home, Hester had asked Mr. Cooley to call the police, and Hester was arrested without incident. Agent Brakebill said that he witnessed blood being drawn from Hester at the hospital on the evening of December 14. He turned the blood sample over to the state fire marshal’s office for analysis and understood from other sources that the test was "negative.". TBI Agent William Barker testified that he received Hester’s blood sample from Agent Brakebill and transported it to the laboratory for analysis. Agent Barker said that his request for testing indicated that the sample he received was taken from Hester at 12:45 p.m. on December 15 by a "Robin Smith, R.N." He was not present when the sample was drawn and had no knowledge whether another blood sample was taken from Hester. Agent Brakebill was recalled and testified that he was personally present when the nurse drew Hester’s blood sample. He said the alcohol toxicology request form was filled out partially by himself and partially by the nurse. He said that he recalled that the sample was drawn in the night hours of December 14 or early morning hours of December 15, while he was at the emergency room with Hester. He said if the form reflected that the sample was drawn at 12:45 p.m. on December 15, it was incorrect. Dr. Ron Toolsie testified as an expert pathologist. He examined the body of Charles Haney and determined that he died from a combination of smoke inhalation and burns. Dr. Toolsie found "undoubtedly" that Charles was still alive when the fire started based on smoke deposits in his airways that resulted from breathing in the smoke. Based on the lack of a significant level of carbon monoxide in his blood, Dr. Toolsie determined that "Charles died predominantly of thermal burns and did not survive long enough to inhale sufficient amounts of smoke…." Dr. Toolsie opined that the victim inhaled a few breaths of "super heated" air that caused respiratory arrest, followed. by a loss of consciousness within about a minute. At this point on the second day of trial, the State rested its case. Hester did not testify and presented no proof. After deliberating less than two hours, the jury returned its verdict finding Hester guilty on all counts as charged. Sentencing Phase State’s Proof Agent Brakebill testified that on the date of the fire, he interviewed a nearby neighbor of the victims, Mr. Jeffrey Coleman, who reported that he came out of his trailer and saw Dora lying on the ground on fire and tried to assist her. Agent Brakebill said Coleman suffered substantial burns to his hands in the process. Agent Brakebill identified Exhibit 27, the death certificate of Charles Haney, reflecting that Charles was seventy-seven years old at the time of his death. Agent Barker further testified regarding the trailer fire. As the fire grew, the oxygen in the trailer was depleted. If enough combustion built up, someone who opened the door could very likely have experienced a "back-draft-type explosion." He said that it appeared that the fire, at its highest point, "was at the edge of a flash-over," meaning that everything in the kitchen and living area was about to burn. Opening a door under these conditions could have resulted in a powerful blast or a "blow torch effect," whereby smoke rolls out and ignites as soon as it hits the outside air. Agent Barker said that this effect would be consistent with burns to a person’s face, particularly the forehead. He said that the fire posed a danger and risk to anyone who came into contact with it, particularly untrained civilians attempting to perform a rescue. Regarding Charles, Agent Barker had observed that duct tape had been wrapped all the way around his head and he was facing head up with his hands taped behind his back. On further examination, Agent Barker estimated that it took about five minutes for the fire to reach its highest point. He explained that a lay person such as Hester would probably not know that a smaller amount of accelerant can actually cause more damage. He did not know of anyone other than Dora and Ms. Haney that suffered a life-threatening injury as the result of the fire. Dr. Toolsie testified regarding Charles’s injuries. In his report, he noted "severe third and fourth degree burns to the entire body with relative preservation of back, groin, and distal upper extremities." He explained this was caused by the victim being placed on his back with his hands criss-crossed and tied together behind him. There were burns to the victim’s face and flexing of his hips and knees caused by the muscles being burned away. Some of the burns were "undoubtedly" sustained before he died, while others occurred after death. Unusual patterns of circular blisters on the face, "very typical of direct super heated contact," left him "fairly suspicious that there was a direct fire that started on the face area, possibly if not probably due to the direct application of an accelerant." Dr. Toolsie said that the use of an accelerant "may have minimized the time of suffering, but the degree was probably not minimized." Mild to moderate coronary artery disease was a "very minor" contributor to Charles’s death in that the need for maximum blood flow. increased during a time of high physiological stress such as a fire. To conclude its proof, the State read into evidence victim impact statements from Charles’s siblings. Defendant’s Proof Robert Jackson Thomas, Jr., a minister, was well acquainted with Hester’s parents. He had limited personal knowledge of Hester prior to the crimes but had visited him on numerous occasions in jail. Reverend Thomas said that he was "remarkably… impressed" with Hester’s spiritual growth since he went to jail. He said Hester discussed some "deep theological" things with him that someone with only a "surface religion" would not have discovered. He arranged for Hester to be baptized in jail because Hester felt it would be "the right thing to do.". On cross-examination, Reverend Thomas said that he had no knowledge of Hester’s confessing to the victim’s murder. Hester had told him that he did not remember anything about the fire. Reverend Thomas acknowledged a prior statement in which he stated that Hester may have avoided hypnotism to refresh his memory about the fire and might be intelligent enough to manipulate the situation. Reverend Thomas said Hester was always nice to him, even when he was drunk. He said Hester had the reputation of being "one of the best plumbers or electricians" around. Ronald Dean Elder testified that he was an electrician and had known Hester for about twenty-five years. He said they both began in the plumbing business and had worked side-by-side. Hester did his job well and often helped people "on the side" without charge. Elder knew Hester drank beer in the evenings after work but said Hester always showed up on time for work the next day. He never knew Hester to be violent or threatening. On cross-examination, Elder said Hester could read and write well enough to read blueprints. He knew of Hester having seizures but had not personally observed this. Elder said Hester could be "mouthy" when he drank and agreed that Hester was strong-minded and independent. Jerelene Hester Daugherty, Hester’s mother, testified that Hester’s father, "Troy Sr.," had a drinking problem and drank every day after work and all day on weekends. He was abusive when he drank and often beat her, Hester, and Hester’s four siblings "real bad, for no reason." He did the grocery shopping himself and provided only beans, potatoes, and cornbread for the family to eat. Ms. Daugherty said she was not allowed to shop because her husband was very jealous and feared she would meet someone or a man might speak to her. She said the family moved seventeen times in as many years. Ms. Daugherty said Hester was abused more than the other children because he was the oldest and often tried to stand up and protect her. She said Hester suffered beatings and whippings nearly every weekend from about age eight until his father "ran him off from home and told him not to come back" when he was about twelve years old. She said Hester’s father played "Russian roulette" by aiming his gun at Hester and her. She said she left Troy Sr. after he chased Hester away from home, and Hester then returned to live with her. Ms. Daugherty said that her daughter told her that Troy Sr. had sexually abused her and that Hester was aware of the abuse. She did not know whether Hester had also been sexually abused. She said Hester’s use of alcohol began "real young," when his father gave him sips of beer even before Hester began walking. She said Hester was frequently intoxicated, inhaled gasoline, and had been hospitalized for substance abuse. Daugherty did not believe Hester committed the crimes. She said she loved him and did not want him to get the death penalty. On cross-examination, Ms. Daugherty testified that she married and divorced Troy Sr. twice. She said Troy Sr. fixed sewing machines for a living and was never out of work; he always found a new job before he quit the old one. She said that he worked as a corrections officer in Texas before he died and that Hester had gone to live with him in Texas for a while. Daugherty was aware of Hester’s problem with alcohol, but she bought Hester a six-pack of beer on the day of the fire. Based on its finding of two aggravating circumstances, that the victim was over seventy years of age and that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and upon its finding that these factors outweighed any mitigating evidence, the jury sentenced Hester to death for the murder of Charles Haney.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 18, 2011 Ohio Ruth Predmore, 72 Joseph Murphy commuted
Ruth Predmore, seventy-two years of age and in frail health, resided alone at 887 Davids Street in Marion, Ohio. Joseph D. Murphy resided with his parents at 1049 Davids Street, was acquainted with Mrs. Predmore and had performed yard work for her in the past. Mrs. Predmore was a member of the philanthropic organization known as the "Kings Daughters and Sons." Since approximately 1983, the organization had collected pennies to support its charitable activities. As treasurer of the organization, Mrs. Predmore maintained custody of the pennies and other funds of the organization (which exceeded $100) at her home. The pennies were not in rolls, but were instead retained loose by Mrs. Predmore. In mid-January 1987, Murphy told his girlfriend, Brenda Cogar, that he intended to write a note to Mrs. Predmore demanding money, and threatening her with death if she did not comply. On January 27, 1987, Mrs. Predmore visited a Lawson’s store in her neighborhood near the intersection of Davids Street and Bellefontaine Avenue. While at the store, she talked to Janice Colby, a sales clerk, and displayed to her a note which she had received. The note stated as follows: "You don’t have no phone. I want your money. put it in a bag and put it in your yard or i’ll kill you tonite. No money No life Tonite at 8:00" On February 1, 1987, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Murphy left his parents’ home clad in a blue tee-shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes, maroon vest and brown jacket with white fleece lining. He went to the Sohio gasoline station on the corner of Davids Street and Bellefontaine Avenue and requested penny wrappers. A clerk provided used penny wrappers. At approximately 9:00 p.m., Murphy telephoned his mother and informed her that he had found a credit card. That same evening, between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, Mrs. Predmore was killed by a five-inch knife wound to her neck. The knife severed the trachea, the esophagus, and the right and left carotid arteries and jugular veins. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Murphy returned home. Although his hands and face were covered with blood, he displayed no cuts or bruises on his body. There was no blood on his clothing. He explained that the blood was the result of a fight. Thereafter, he went to the bedroom of his brother Michael where they counted pennies and placed them in paper rolls. The next morning, Murphy had a black bag of pennies in paper rolls, some of which he offered his mother to purchase cigarettes. On February 3, 1987, Murphy entered Lawson’s store, showed the manager some rolled pennies in a dark bag and asked whether she would exchange the coins for currency. The manager declined. Jackie Valentine was a supervisor for the Homemaker and Chore Program of the Marion County Department of Human Services, which delivered meals to the elderly who were unable to leave their homes. On February 2, 1987, Valentine received a telephone call informing her that Mrs. Predmore had not responded when a meal was delivered to her home. Upon arriving at the home of Mrs. Predmore, Valentine entered the unlocked front door and discovered the lifeless body of Mrs. Predmore. Valentine thereafter summoned the Marion city police. The first officer to arrive, Detective Sammie L. Justice, discovered footprints in blood on the front porch and blood splattered on the screen door and wooden front door. Thereafter, Agents Robert D. Setzer and David Barnes of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation ("BCI") searched the Predmore residence. They discovered in the living room the note that Ruth Predmore had previously shown to Janice Colby. Agent Setzer also took blood samples from the shoeprints found on the porch of the Predmore house. Subsequent analysis revealed that the blood was of Ruth Predmore’s type. Meanwhile, as some of the members of the Murphy family were preparing to travel to West Virginia, they noticed the police activity at the Predmore home down the street. Murphy appeared agitated and ventured the opinion that Mrs. Predmore must have been murdered. Thereafter, Murphy placed a telephone call to Cynthia Nichols, his aunt, and asked her whether he could stay with her for a while at her residence in the Wood Valley Trailer Park in Caledonia, Ohio. After she agreed, Murphy and Brenda Cogar departed for Caledonia at approximately 8:00 p.m. After their arrival, Murphy admitted to Cogar that he had killed Mrs. Predmore by slashing her throat with a knife he had taken from a collection of his brother. On February 3, 1987, Detective Wayne J. Creasap discovered a wallet belonging to Mrs. Predmore underneath a shrub, approximately fifty yards south of the Murphy residence. Thereafter, police searched the Murphy residence and found a pair of gloves, a brown windbreaker jacket with white fleece, a woman’s purse, penny wrappers, rolled pennies and writing paper of the type upon which the note found in the Predmore home was written. A subsequent search of the residence revealed a pair of blood-stained blue jeans. Police then traveled to Caledonia, arrested Murphy and advised him of his rights to remain silent and have the assistance of counsel. At approximately 8:06 p.m., BCI agents searched the house trailer of Cynthia Nichols. Among the items recovered were a pair of tennis shoes and a maroon blood-stained vest. Subsequent analysis of the tennis shoes, the gloves, the jacket, the purse and the blue jeans revealed the presence of Type A blood. While both Murphy and Mrs. Predmore had Type A blood, Mrs. Predmore had blood containing a PGM +1 enzyme factor while Murphy had a PGM +2 enzyme factor. Sixteen percent of the population have blood of the type and enzyme factor of Mrs. Predmore’s. The blue jeans recovered from the home of appellant had blood stains of those characteristics. Meanwhile, Murphy was transported to the Marion police station. Upon arrival, Murphy was again advised of his constitutional rights and acknowledged that he understood them. Following both oral and written instructions regarding his rights, Murphy executed a written waiver prior to any conversation with police detectives. The subsequent interview was taped and a transcription thereof produced. During the interview, Sergeant John Gosnell of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department alluded to prior criminal acts of Murphy involving arson and breaking and entering. Murphy acknowledged that he had written the note found in the home of Mrs. Predmore, which she had previously shown to Janice Colby. On February 4, 1987, Murphy sent word from jail that he wished to continue the interview. This second interview was likewise taped and transcribed. At approximately 11:13 p.m., Murphy was again advised of his rights and again executed a waiver form. During this interview, Murphy denied any involvement in the death of Mrs. Predmore and implicated Alvie Coykendall, his brother-in-law, in the crime. Murphy volunteered to submit to a polygraph examination. On February 8, 1987, police again searched the Murphy residence, and recovered a knife lodged in the concrete foundation of the home. It was part of the collection belonging to David Murphy, Murphy’s brother. Analysis of the knife revealed traces of blood. Shortly after this search, Murphy’s mother discovered a plastic bank card bearing the name of Ruth Predmore under a mattress in a basement bedroom of her home.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 20, 2011 Alabama Elias Ocean Johnson, 6 mos Christopher Johnson executed
Christopher Thomas Johnson was sentenced to death for capital murder in the death of his six-month-old son, Elias Ocean Johnson. Johnson’s wife, Dana, gave birth to their son, Elias Ocean Johnson, on August 22, 2004. In February 2005, the Johnsons lived in a duplex in Atmore, Alabama. On February 19, 2005, Suzanne Mims and Jason Mims, along with their infant, Sophie, arrived at the Johnsons’ duplex around 8:30 p.m. to play board games. While playing board games, the Johnsons and the Mims drank alcoholic beverages. At approximately 1:00 a.m., the Mims left. At around 9:00 a.m., Dana woke up and found Johnson and Elias on the couch in the duplex. Dana stated that Elias had bruises on him and that he appeared to be dead. At that point, Dana ran over to feel Elias. Dana testified that Elias felt cool so she tried to check his pulse; however, she could not find one. Worried about Elias, Dana grabbed the telephone and called emergency 911. Tim Grabill, a paramedic with Atmore Ambulance Service, received a call to go to the Johnsons’ duplex. When Grabill and his partner, Jareth Heibert, arrived at the duplex, Johnson was holding Elias. Grabill observed that Elias was "very pale, limp and his extremities were cool to the touch." Based on Elias’s appearance, Heibert carried him to the ambulance where the paramedics checked his vital signs. At that point, Elias was not breathing and had no heartbeat. Although Grabill believed that Elias was already dead, he performed CPR and rushed Elias to the emergency room at Atmore Hospital. When they arrived at the hospital, Grabill carried Elias into the emergency room, still performing CPR, placed him on a trauma bed, and turned him over to Dr. Steven Michael Sharp. Dr. Sharp testified that Elias appeared to be dead when he arrived at the hospital. Dr. Sharp described several injuries he observed on Elias’s body. Specifically, Dr. Sharp noticed several bruises on Elias’s face, a bruise on the bridge of Elias’s nose, and ruptured blood vessels around Elias’s eyes and chin. Dr. Sharp also noticed a bite mark on one of Elias’s arms. Although Elias appeared to be dead, the hospital staff attempted to resuscitate him. Because Elias was unresponsive, Dr. Sharp cleared his airway and placed an endotracheal tube in his throat so that medical personnel "could breath for the child." While attempting to place the endotracheal tube, Dr. Sharp noticed blood in Elias’s mouth. Dr. Sharp also testified that Elias had blood in his stomach. After all attempts to resuscitate Elias failed, he was pronounced dead. Investigator Chuck Brooks and Police Chief Jason Dean, with the Atmore Police Department, went to Atmore Hospital to investigate the circumstances of Elias’s death. One of the law-enforcement officers asked Johnson and Dana to come to the police station and give statements relating to the death of their child. Dana rode to the police station with a member of her church, and Johnson rode to the police station with Chief Dean. During the ride to the police station, Johnson spontaneously stated that he had something to do with Elias’s death. Once at the police station, Johnson gave a statement to Investigator Brooks and Irene Johnson, a social worker with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. After being informed of and waiving his Miranda rights, Johnson indicated that Elias had been crying so Johnson laid on top of him to try to quiet the child. When Elias did not stop crying, Johnson stuck his fingers in the child’s mouth and hit him. Johnson stated that "last night was the hardest that he ever hit Elias and he was pretty sure Elias’s death was his fault." Johnson also stated that after the event that night, he did not think that he had seriously injured Elias. Dr. Kathleen Entice, a medical examiner who was formerly with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, performed the autopsy on Elias and testified that it would be reasonable to estimate that Elias had suffered 85 separate injuries, including a bite mark on his arm. Dr. Entice testified that Elias had multiple bruises on his face and head. She stated that both of Elias’s ears were swollen and bruised which was consistent with a "boxing blow" and squeezing. Dr. Entice testified that Elias’s lower lip was swollen and bloody from a blunt-force injury. Dr. Entice explained that Elias had three impact injuries to his forehead. She informed the jury that Elias’s ethmoid bone, which is in the sinuses, was broken and that Elias’s sinuses were full of blood. Dr. Entice testified that Elias had deep contusions on his head and that his brain had hemorrhaged as a result of blunt-force trauma. Dr. Entice also testified that Elias had hemorrhages in both eyes and had injuries to his inner lips and nose that indicated that he had been smothered by the "forceful covering, sealing off of his mouth and nose." According to Dr. Entice, Elias’s injuries had been inflicted within 24 hours of his death. Dr. Entice finally testified that in her opinion, Elias died as a result of blunt-force trauma and smothering. In addition to the State’s evidence, Johnson testified that he intentionally murdered his son because he hated his wife. Johnson explained that he would have left his wife long before the murder if it had not been for Elias. According to Johnson, he did not want "to worry about her threats of putting me in jail for alimony or child support" so he intentionally inflicted wounds on Elias that caused Elias’s life to expire." Johnson stated that his final words to Elias were: "You go see Jesus." Johnson’s ex-wife Dana said that she welcomes Christopher’s death. "Although I normally do not agree with capital punishment, I will not lose any sleep over this particular execution. Whether it is right or wrong I feel that a weight will be lifted from my soul on Thursday, and finally I will feel relief. I am scarred by this, and Christopher took away my son, my trust in other people, and even my desire to ever have another child. I still have a hard time being around children because of the sorrow it makes me feel. Everyday I see children that are Elias’s age, and I wonder what he would have been like." She has since moved away and is studying to become a nurse. "My son was the most delightful, calm little boy I have ever known. Christopher Johnson took him from me. I have spent years trying to heal from this unimaginable pain," she said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 25, 2011 Tennessee Charles Mitchell Haney, 81 Harold Roy "H.R." Hester stayed
Dora Mae Hester and Harold Roy Hester were married in 1992. The marriage ended by mutual agreement after only six months following a particularly violent domestic abuse incident. They had no children. Even though their marriage was dissolved, Dora and Hester remained in contact with each other and continued an on-again-off-again relationship. Dora met Charles Mitchell Haney, a 74-year-old widower, in 1996. They became friends, and Dora began to stop by Charles’s apartment to assist him with the household work. In 1997, Dora agreed to help Charles care for himself and to maintain his apartment on a more regular basis. In 1998, when Charles Haney became concerned about being required to move into a nursing home, he and Dora decided to change their living arrangements in order to enable Dora to become Charles’s full-time caregiver. Dora Hester owned a tract of land and was living in a camper on that property. She had also permitted one of her daughters to place her mobile home on the same property. Charles Haney purchased a two-bedroom mobile home and had it placed on Dora’s property, approximately twenty-five feet from the other mobile home. He moved into one of the bedrooms, and Dora moved from the camper into the other bedroom which was on the opposite end of the mobile home. Dora used Charles’s automobile for their errands, for his appointments, and for any of her other personal needs. They also pooled their financial resources, and Dora became a live-in caregiver for Charles. He was receiving his social security income and a military veteran’s pension. Dora drew disability benefits. Dora cooked Charles Haney’s meals, washed his clothes, assisted him with bathing, and drove him for errands and appointments with doctors. Charles’s mobility was limited, and he was required to use a walker. Accordingly, Dora also helped him move about the mobile home. After Dora moved into Charles’s mobile home, Hester expressed an interest in purchasing her camper. Dora permitted Hester to live in the camper while he was deciding whether to purchase it. After the camper was destroyed by fire, Hester moved into an apartment. However, he was forced to move out of the apartment when he could not afford to pay the rent. Because Hester was faced with imminent homelessness, Charles and Dora invited him to stay with them in the mobile home. Thus, beginning in 1999, Hester moved into the mobile home with Charles and Dora. He slept in Dora’s bedroom and, on occasion, had sexual relations with Dora. Charles and Dora paid for Hester’s food and cigarettes, and Dora washed Hester’s clothes. Hester earned some income by doing odd jobs, but he used most of his earnings to purchase alcohol. Hester drank heavily quite often with the amount varying depending on his mood. The relationship between Charles and Dora was never romantic; it was more like that of a father and daughter. Nevertheless, because he was becoming increasingly frail with age, Charles suggested to Dora that they should marry in order to enable her to continue receiving his pension and other benefits following his death. Hester did not like the idea. By December 1999, Hester had been living in the mobile home with Charles and Dora for approximately four months. On December 14, 1999, Hester began drinking beer around 11:00 a.m. He left briefly to clear a fence row for a neighbor, and when he returned to the mobile home, Dora asked him to watch Charles while she took one of her daughters shopping. Dora returned to the mobile home around 3:00 p.m. Hester, who had been drinking "quite a bit," insisted that he wanted more beer. Dora tried to convince him to sleep instead. Dora left the mobile home again around 5:00 p.m. to take her daughter on another shopping trip. Around 5:30 p.m., Tim Lynn, Dora’s son-in-law, and Johnny Curtis talked with Hester at Johnny’s garage, which was only a short distance from Charles’s mobile home. Hester was drinking a 32-ounce beer. He asked to borrow a chain saw and for assistance in moving some wood. He also tried to borrow ten dollars, but both men refused to loan him money. Tim offered to drive Hester back to the mobile home. On the way back to the mobile home, Hester suggested to Tim that they should kill their wives so that they would not have to listen to their "bitching" any more. Tim did not believe that Hester was serious. Dora returned to the mobile home approximately one-half hour after Hester returned from Johnny’s garage. She prepared hot dogs for dinner, but Hester stated that he wanted more beer, not hot dogs. Dora locked the door behind Hester when he left the mobile home. She allowed Hester back in the mobile home after he knocked on both the front door and the back door. When Hester asked Dora for ten dollars to purchase more beer, she declined to loan him the money because "he had drank enough that day and he didn’t need any more beer." After Hester left the trailer again, Dora went back to Charles’s bedroom to tell him that Hester was angry with her for not lending him ten dollars to buy more beer. Hester re-entered the mobile home while Dora was in Charles’s bedroom. He was carrying a small knife and was very intoxicated. He ordered Charles and Dora into the front room and directed Charles to sit on his recliner and Dora to sit on the love seat. Using his walker, Charles was able to get to the recliner. Hester told them "that he was tired of the way he was treated, things were going to change…." He then walked up to Charles, held the knife about six inches from Charles’s throat and said, "You old bastard…. I’ve a good mind to cut your throat." Charles looked straight ahead and did not respond. While Hester was "cussing and carrying on," Charles remained absolutely silent. While Hester was threatening Charles, Dora screamed to get her daughter’s attention and tried to escape through the mobile home’s back door. Hester "jerked" her back and threw her behind the love seat. He then held the knife to her throat, saying that he was "of a good mind to cut your throat." After Dora begged Hester not to cut her throat, he told her to sit on the love seat and be quiet. Hester then obtained a roll of duct tape from a cabinet and ordered Charles to lie face down on the floor with his hands high in the air behind his back. Charles complied, and Hester duct-taped Charles’s hands, ankles, and mouth. He then did the same to Dora. All the while, Hester "kept fussing, saying we’re all going to die that night, and he was going to go tell the law what he… was doing." Charles and Dora continued to lie face down with their bound hands in the air behind their backs. Hester paced around the trailer, talking about how the three of them were going to die and how he was going to tell the police. Eventually, he sat at the dining table for approximately five minutes before leaving the mobile home. When Hester returned, he was carrying a large jug of kerosene. He walked past Charles and Dora and began pouring kerosene in and around Charles’s bedroom. After he poured kerosene throughout the mobile home, Hester poured kerosene on Charles’s face and the rest of his body. He then poured kerosene all over Dora. It took Hester approximately five minutes to pour out the kerosene. Hester disconnected all the smoke alarms in the mobile home, and he moved a carrier containing a miniature Dachshund outside the mobile home. In the process, Hester commented, "You little bastard. You haven’t done anything." After completing his grisly preparations, Hester sat down at the dining table and smoked a cigarette. He continued to tell Charles and Dora that he was going to kill them and then tell the police what he had done. Hester first attempted to light the kerosene with matches, and then with his cigarette, but failed. Finally, Hester rolled up some newspaper, lighted it on fire, and then placed the burning newspaper next to the counter. This time the kerosene ignited. Hester left the mobile home, leaving Charles and Dora behind in the burning mobile home with their ankles and hands bound with duct tape. Even though her mouth was covered with duct tape, Dora tried to tell Charles that she loved him and that she appreciated Charles for being so good to her. She told Charles that she hoped to see him again in Heaven, and then she began to pray. As the mobile home filled with smoke, Dora tried to "scoot" towards the door to escape. Somehow, Dora was able to escape from the burning mobile home. Neighbors and family members found Dora, her clothes on fire, on the steps outside the burning mobile home. Dora recalls someone touching her and saying, "Mother, it’s me. Don’t be afraid. Roll, Mother, roll, you’re on fire." Once the duct tape was removed from her mouth, Dora blurted out that "H.R. done this to me." She also stated that she could not roll because her hands were duct-taped behind her back. The next thing that Dora remembered was a neighbor pulling off her jeans which were still burning and voices telling her that she would be okay. Just after 7:00 p.m., Kathy Lynn, Dora’s daughter, drove to Johnny’s garage to find her husband. She had her children in the car, and she was hysterical. Kathy told her husband that Charles’s mobile home was on fire, that someone was trapped inside, and that she was afraid that Hester was trying to kill them. Tim called 9-1-1 and then drove his family back to the burning mobile home. He instructed his wife and children to remain in the car with the doors locked, and then he headed to the mobile home. The mobile home’s door had melted, and smoke and fire was billowing out of the doorway. Tim saw a body inside and tried to enter the home. He retreated when a flash of fire burned his face. Tim and another neighbor who had responded to the fire agreed that Charles was certainly dead and did not attempt to enter the mobile home while the fire was still raging. Paramedics arrived at the scene. Dora was transported first by ambulance and then by helicopter to Erlanger Hospital’s burn unit. She drifted in and out of consciousness, but she recalled the paramedics explaining to her everything that was happening. Dora sustained serious burns that led to a double amputation of her feet and lower legs. She received skin grafts on her arms and across her back and chest. Her burns caused a significant amount of nerve damage and scarring. Because Dora’s injuries were so extensive, she was hospitalized in various medical facilities from December 14, 1999 until March 28, 2000. After leaving Dora and Charles to die in the burning mobile home, Hester walked to a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to contact the police. He surrendered himself to the authorities at approximately 8:00 p.m. When the officers apprehended Hester, they noticed that Hester had fluid-filled blisters caused by the heat and fire on his left arm. Hester and his clothing smelled strongly of kerosene. At that time, the officers recovered from Hester the knife that he had used to threaten Dora and Charles. An autopsy on Charles Haney was performed on December 15, 1999. The medical examiner concluded that Charles died as a result of smoke inhalation and thermal burns and that the thermal burns were the predominant cause of death. The examination ascertained that the kerosene that Hester splashed across Charles’s face had ignited and that Charles was alive when he started to burn to death. Charles died with his hands still tied behind his back, and his body fixed in that position.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 27, 2011 Texas Hector Garza
Jessica Garcia
Frank Garcia executed
On the morning of March 29, 2001, Frank Garcia fatally shot uniformed San Antonio Police Officer Hector Garza and Garcia’s wife Jessica inside the home Garcia shared with Jessica, their children, and Garcia’s parents. After subsequently firing several shots at others outside the Garcia residence, wounding one person, and causing damage to a nearby elementary school, Garcia surrendered to police and gave a formal, written statement in which he admitted to intentionally killing both officer Garza and Jessica. The guilt-innocence phase of Garcia’s capital murder trial commenced on February 4, 2002. In addition to the testimony summarized above, Garcia’s jury also heard testimony from forensic and firearms experts regarding (1) the MAC-10 semi-automatic weapon and the Egyptian-made AK-47 assault rifle Garcia used to shoot Officer Garza and Jessica, (2) ballistics evidence about the shell casings and bullet fragments found at the crime scene, and (3) testimony regarding the blood, blood spatter, and other trace evidence recovered from the crime scene and Garcia’s clothing. The foregoing testimony corroborated those portions of Garcia’s written statement in which he admitted to having emptied both the semi-automatic pistol and assault rifle following his fatal shooting of Officer Garza and Jessica. The defense presented no witnesses or other evidence during the guilt-innocence phase of Garcia’s capital murder trial. On February 8, 2002, after deliberating less than three hours, Garcia’s jury returned a verdict of guilty. The autopsy of Officer Garza revealed (1) he died as a result of four gun shot wounds, each of which would have been fatal alone, (2) the four shots struck Garza, respectively, in the head, two in the back of the neck, and one in the abdomen, which penetrated the lungs and aorta, (3) the shot through Garza’s chest was likely the first to strike him, (4) the shots to Garza’s chest and head came from a non-high-velocity weapon, and (5) the two shots which struck Garza in the neck came from a high velocity weapon, exited through the skull, and caused massive damage to the brain and cranial vault. The autopsy performed on the body of Jessica Garcia revealed (1) she died as a result of three gunshot wounds, only one of which would have been fatal alone, (2) the fatal gunshot struck Jessica in the left forehead, fractured her orbital area, and penetrated through the midbrain, (3) the two, non-fatal shots struck her in the right cheek and her chin, (4) all the gunshots which struck Jessica came from a non-high-velocity weapon, and (5) the latter two gunshot wounds likely struck Jessica while she was down on the floor. Several witnesses testified to having personally witnessed Garcia firing two different weapons at persons located outside the Garcia residence on the morning of the fatal shootings. A friend of Jessica testified (1) an emotional Jessica called her on the morning of the fatal shootings and asked her to help Jessica move out, (2) after securing assistance from John and Rosario Luna, she rode with the Lunas to Jessica’s residence, (3) Garcia’s mother interfered with their efforts to help Jessica remove clothing and other personal items from the Garcia residence, (4) she overheard Jessica telling Garcia over the phone that Jessica was leaving him, (5) Garcia arrived at the Garcia home before the police and Garcia grabbed Jessica in a head lock and dragged her back inside the Garcia home, (6) moments later a police officer walked inside the Garcia home, (7) a few minutes after the officer entered the house, she heard three-to-four shots in rapid succession come from inside the house, (8) after a pause, she heard a second series of approximately three shots come from inside the house, (9) Garcia then emerged from the house, pointed a firearm, and fired several shots, at least a few of which struck their vehicle, (10) Garcia fired at her and John Luna as they attempted to flee the scene toward a nearby elementary school, (11) Garcia went back inside the house and she heard several more shots, (12) Garcia emerged from the house a second time holding a big rifle and fired that weapon, striking the truck behind which she was hiding, i.e., the same truck Garcia had driven to the scene, and (13) she saw Garcia chasing after John Luna as she fled for the safety of the school. The then-vice-principal of the nearby Emma Frey Elementary School testified (1) she noticed a police vehicle in front of the Garcia residence when she arrived at school around 7:30 that morning, (2) she later noticed the police vehicle was gone when she saw Jessica outside the Garcia residence between 8:45 and 8:50, (3) around nine a.m. she was alerted to a problem by other staff, (4) as she exited the campus building near the Garcia residence, she saw a man later identified for her as John Luna running toward her who was yelling "Get out of here. He’s shooting at everyone," (5) she looked toward the Garcia residence and saw a man in the yard holding a rifle, who then pointed it at her or in her direction, (6) as she and Luna attempted to flee away from the Garcia residence, she heard four shots, (7) the school custodian let her and Luna inside the school, (8) once inside the school, she climbed to the second floor, ordered the school locked down, telephoned school district police, and looked out and saw Garcia with the rifle in the front yard of the Garcia residence walking away from the school, and (9) subsequent examination of the school’s exterior disclosed several indentations in the front doors, as well as a hole in a window screen that had not been present before the shootings. The San Antonio Police Officer who arrested Garcia testified (1) he knocked repeatedly and announced himself before entering the Garcia residence, (2) he heard a box of bullets hit the floor and footsteps running his direction, (3) he heard a rifle racking and smelled gunpowder and blood, (4) Garcia came out and pointed an assault rifle at him, (5) when Garcia saw the officer’s weapon, Garcia retreated, shouted "I give up," and threw down his rifle, and (6) Garcia thereafter offered no resistance. In his five-page, formal, written statement executed only hours after the fatal shootings, Garcia admits he deliberately fired at officer Garza’s head multiple times and then turned his weapon on his wife.

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