December 2012 Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 4, 2012 Oklahoma Francisco Morales, 38
Maria Yanez, 35
George Ochoa executed
During the early morning hours of July 12, 1993, Francisco Morales and his wife, Maria Yanez, were shot and killed in the bedroom of their Oklahoma City home. The sound of gunfire woke Yanez’s daughter Christina, who was 14 years old in the summer of 1993. Christina called 911 and told the operator that she believed her step-father, Morales, may have been firing the gun. After hanging up the telephone, she looked out her bedroom door. A light was on in the living room; Christina saw two men. One man was wearing a white t-shirt and the other man was wearing a black t-shirt. Christina stated the man in the black t-shirt had something in his hand, but she did not know what it was. Christina initially denied knowing the two men, but eventually identified Ochoa as the man in the black t-shirt and Torres as the man in the white t-shirt. The shooting also awakened Christina’s step-brother, Francisco, who was eleven years old in the summer of 1993. Francisco saw the man in the black t-shirt shoot his father. He could not identify the gunman. The police quickly responded to Christina’s 911 call. While en route to the Yanez/Morales home, Officer Coats arrested Torres and Ochoa, who were walking together a short distance from the homicide. The men were sweating and nervous, and Coats claimed he observed blood on the clothing of the men. A short time before the shootings, Torres and Ochoa parked their car at a friend’s house. A witness observed one of the men take a gun from the trunk of the car and put the gun in his pants. This gun was different from the gun used in the murders. The witness stated one of the men was Ochoa. She could not identify the other man, but asserted that it was the other man-and not Ochoa-who put the gun in his pants. Another witness testified that the man with Ochoa was Torres. The jury convicted Ochoa and Torres on all counts and the case proceeded to the capital sentencing phase of trial. The State argued that Ochoa and Torres posed a continuing threat to society based on the circumstances of the murders and the defendants’ membership in the Southside Locos, a local gang. To show that Ochoa created a risk of death to more than one person, the State offered the death of the two victims and the presence of three children in the home at the time of the murders. The defense presented in mitigation Ochoa’s personal history, his history of mental illness, his borderline mental retardation and pleas of mercy from his family. The jury found the existence of both aggravating circumstances. After weighing the aggravating and mitigating evidence, the jury imposed the death penalty.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 5, 2012 Arizona Mandy Ruth-Mari Meyers, 13
Mary Snyder, 13
Richard Stokley executed
Mandy Meyers, murder victimMary Snyder, murder victimOn the Fourth of July weekend in 1991, two thirteen-year-old girls, Mary Snyder and Mandy Meyers, attended a community celebration near Elfrida, Arizona. 38-year-old Richard Dale Stokley also attended the festival to work as a stuntman in Old West reenactments. Mary and Mandy, along with numerous other local children, camped out at the celebration site on July 7. That night co-defendant Randy Brazeal, age twenty, showed up at the campsite. Brazeal had previously dated Mandy’s older sister and knew Mandy. During the evening, Brazeal approached the girls’ tent and had a discussion with Mary and Mandy. The girls were also seen standing next to Brazeal’s car speaking to Brazeal, who was in the driver’s seat, while Stokely was in the passenger seat. Around 1:00 a.m. on July 8, 1991, the girls told a friend they were going to the restroom. They never returned. The next day Brazeal surrendered himself and his car to police in Chandler, Arizona. The hood of the car had semen stains, as well as dents matching the shape of human buttocks. Palm prints on the hood matched Brazeal. The back seat had semen stains matching Stokley and also had blood stains. Police found a bloody pair of men’s pants in the car. Meanwhile, Stokley called a woman in Elfrida asking her to send someone to pick him up in Benson, Arizona. The woman asked about the missing girls, to which Stokley replied, "What girls? I don’t know anything about any girls." Police arrested Stokley that same day at a Benson truck stop. Police found blood stains on his shoes, and his pants looked as if they had recently been cut off at the knee. After reading Stokley his Miranda rights, police questioned him at the Benson police station. At first he denied any knowledge of the girls, but after hearing about Brazeal’s arrest and being asked about "a particular mine shaft around Gleason," he admitted that he and Brazeal had sexually assaulted the girls. He admitted having sex with "the brown haired girl" (Mandy) and stated that Brazeal had sex with both of them. He also said he and Brazeal had discussed killing the girls, after which Stokley choked one and Brazeal strangled the other. He admitted, "I choked ’em. There was one foot moving though I knew they was brain dead but I was getting scared. They just wouldn’t quit. It was terrible." Stokley also admitted using his knife on both girls. After killing the girls, they dumped the bodies down a mine shaft . Stokley led the police to the abandoned mine shaft and expressed hope that the trial would not take long so he could "get the needle and get it over with." After explaining how they had moved timbers covering the shaft to dump the bodies, he pointed out where he and Brazeal had burned the girls’ clothes. Police recovered the nude bodies from the muddy mine shaft. Autopsies showed that both girls had been sexually assaulted, strangled (the cause of death), and stabbed in the right eye. The strangulation marks showed repeated efforts to kill, as the grip was relaxed and then tightened again. Both victims suffered internal and external injuries to their necks. Mandy also had stomp marks on her body that matched the soles of Stokley’s shoes. Evidence was consistent with each victim being killed by a different perpetrator. In particular, Mary’s body had a mark on the neck consistent with Brazeal’s boot, whereas bruise marks on Mandy matched the soles of Stokley’s shoes. And more force was used in strangling Mandy than Mary. DNA analysis indicated that both defendants had intercourse with Mandy. Mary’s body cavities were filled with mud, making DNA analysis impossible. The jury found Stokley guilty of two counts of kidnapping, one count of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of fifteen (Mandy), and two counts of premeditated first degree murder. It acquitted him on two counts of sexual assault (Mary and Mandy) and one count of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of fifteen (Mary). Stokley and the state stipulated to sentences on the noncapital offenses. The trial court accepted the stipulation and sentenced accordingly. Following a sentencing hearing on the capital counts, the trial court rendered a detailed, twelve-page special verdict. The trial court found that the facts established beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) both adults engaged in sex with the girls, (2) the defendants agreed to kill both girls, (3) Stokley intentionally killed Mandy, (4) Brazeal intentionally killed Mary, (5) both Mary and Mandy suffered great physical pain and mental anguish during strangulation, (6) Stokley admitted choking both victims, (7) both bodies were stomped, with that of Mandy bearing the imprint of Stokley’s sneaker, (8) Stokley stabbed both girls, Mandy through the right eye and Mary in the vicinity of the right eye, and (9) although alcohol was involved, Stokley had sufficient recall and understanding of the events the next day. The trial court found three statutory aggravating circumstances for both murders: (1) victim under age fifteen; (2) multiple homicides; and (3) especially heinous, cruel or depraved. The court rejected all the claimed mitigating circumstances offered by Stokley, including law-abiding past, cooperation with police, alcohol use, prior head injuries, and co-defendant Brazeal’s twenty-year sentence. The trial court also expressly stated that it was unable to find any other mitigating circumstances not expressly offered by defense counsel. The court sentenced Stokley to death for both murders.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 8, 2012 Arizona Donna Romero Anthony
Danielle Romero, 14
Richard Romero, 12
David Anthony died in prison
David Lamar Anthony and Donna were married in 1997. Donna had two minor children from a previous marriage – Danielle Romero, born in 1987, and Richard Romero, born in 1988 – both of whom lived with the Anthonys. The Anthony marriage was troubled almost from the outset. Donna and Anthony frequently argued and the evidence suggests that Anthony was unfaithful. Donna apparently did not trust Anthony in financial matters. In late 2000, the family home was refinanced. Donna instructed the mortgage officer not to release the loan proceeds, approximately $105,000, to Anthony. She deposited the check into her personal savings account at Bank One, which Anthony could not access. On June 25, 2001, Donna bought plane tickets for her and the children to visit her family in Columbus, Ohio; their flight was to leave Phoenix on July 7. Three days later, someone changed the personal identification number (“PIN”) on Donna’s Bank One account. Later that week, Anthony arranged to buy a new pickup truck, but delayed closing the purchase until July 7, telling the salesman that he shortly expected to “come into some money.” Just before Donna and the children were scheduled to leave town, Anthony arranged for a carpet cleaning service to come to the home on July 9. At 6:00 p.m. on July 6, Donna came home from work and took a nap. Anthony was also at home. At 6:51 p.m., a call was made from Donna’s mobile phone to Bank One; the caller transferred $84,000 – virtually all of the money remaining from the home refinancing – from Donna’s account to the Anthonys’ joint checking account. This transaction required use of the PIN created on June 28. After Donna awoke on July 6, she went to work at a second job at the post office. At 2:18 a.m. on July 7, she clocked out of her shift. At 3:30 a.m., her credit card was used at a gas station between her home and the post office. At 5:57 a.m., Donna’s mobile phone was used to call Bank One customer service. Shortly thereafter, the voicemail on Donna’s mobile phone was called three times. Donna’s mobile phone was never used again. Donna, Danielle, and Richard did not board their 7:35 a.m. flight on July 7 from Phoenix to Las Vegas or the connecting flight from Las Vegas to Columbus. When Donna and the children failed to arrive in Ohio as scheduled, Donna’s family attempted unsuccessfully to contact David Anthony. The family then asked law enforcement to investigate. Early the next morning, July 8, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputy went to the Anthony residence. The deputy told Anthony that Donna and the two children had not arrived in Ohio. Anthony did not seem “overly surprised” and did not ask the deputy to search for them. Later that morning, Anthony finalized his purchase of the pickup truck, writing a $39,147.17 check from the couple’s joint account. On the evening of July 9, Donna’s truck was found in a supermarket parking lot in Phoenix. The doors were unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. There was no sign of forced entry. The vehicle had been recently washed. On July 9, Anthony purchased a new mattress; he paid cash and gave the store a false name and address. That same morning, Anthony arranged for house cleaners to come to the residence on the following day. At 11:00 a.m., the previously scheduled carpet cleaners arrived. One of them helped Anthony remove the old mattress from the master bedroom. Anthony told the carpet cleaners that his dog had bled on the office carpet and asked them to clean it. Anthony said that he had tried to remove the stain and the carpet appeared as if it had been cleaned. At 3:41 p.m., an MCSO deputy returned to the Anthony residence. The carpet appeared to have been cleaned recently, and the house looked “immaculate” with a strong smell of Pinesol. Anthony told the deputy that he did not want Donna listed as missing because she might get angry if detained by officers responding to such an alert. That evening, Anthony bought a new clothes washer, clothes dryer, and vacuum cleaner. On the morning of July 10, the house cleaners arrived and Anthony instructed them to focus on the baseboards and “the dirty areas on the walls.” One of the cleaners saw Anthony place new pillowcases on the bed in the master bedroom. The sheets on the bed also appeared to be new. On the same day, Anthony wrote a check to himself for $40,000 from the joint checking account. He deposited the check into a checking account that he shared with his son. Anthony was questioned several times by MCSO officers in connection with the family’s disappearance. He told detectives that Donna and the children had left for the airport between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. on July 7. He said Donna customarily carried large amounts of cash and sometimes wore expensive jewelry; he suggested that she may have put herself in danger by driving through the wrong neighborhood. He also speculated that Donna may have driven to the airport, but then decided to drive to Las Vegas. Anthony claimed that “they” had transferred the funds from Donna’s account into the joint account; $40,000 was to be used for the new truck and the balance to settle a pending lawsuit with neighbors. The evidence at trial indicated, however, that a proposed settlement would have required the neighbors to pay the Anthonys, not the other way around. He denied any marital problems. From July 17 until July 19, 2001, the MCSO executed a search warrant at the Anthony residence. During the search, carpeting, drywall, and bedding were removed for forensic testing. If blood stains were apparent during the search, MCSO detectives took samples for testing. If no blood stains were visible, the detectives applied Luminol, a chemical that fluoresces when it comes into contact with blood, to suspect areas. When the Luminol test was positive, samples were collected. Because Luminol can give false positives, analysts later ran another test to confirm the presence of blood. Detectives found a new mattress in the master bedroom. The bedding in the master bedroom and in Danielle’s room was also new. In the trash bins, detectives recovered a two-liter bottle of Pinesol, several pairs of rubber surgical gloves, and two knives. There were traces of blood on both knives, but the blood was too degraded for DNA analysis. In the master bedroom, small drops of blood (totaling about the volume of one sugar cube) were found on the wall behind the bed. DNA testing identified some of the blood as Donna’s. The DNA of a second person was also found; Anthony could not be excluded as the possible contributor. The detectives found a.38 revolver behind an air vent. The gun had been cleaned, and it could not be determined whether it had recently been used. Carpeting to the right of the bed also tested positive for blood. In the home office, three spots on the carpeting several inches in diameter tested positive for blood. The concrete slab underneath the carpet had a visible stain that tested positive for blood. The blood on the concrete slab was Danielle’s. In Richard’s room, the side of the mattress, the side of the box springs, a body pillow, and a wall tested positive for blood. The blood on the mattress and on the body pillow was Richard’s. Blood from an unidentified person was also found on the side of the mattress; Donna and Danielle could not be excluded as contributors. In the hallway outside the children’s rooms, four spots on the wall tested positive for blood. One of the stains contained Richard’s DNA, as well as DNA that was consistent with either Donna or Danielle. A hamper in the children’s bathroom tested positive for blood. Blood was found on the coat closet door, on the threshold of the door leading from the kitchen to the backyard, on the exterior wall just outside the door between the kitchen and the backyard, on the back patio, and on a wooden picnic bench on the patio. Several spots in the garage tested positive for blood. The State’s expert testified that the volume of blood discovered in the house was too small to prove either that the victims had died or the cause of any death. Donna’s truck was also subjected to forensic examination. Dried desert vegetation was found on the truck’s undercarriage, the interior door handle, and in the driver’s door hinge. The vehicle was processed for latent fingerprints, but only five were found. This low number, together with wipe marks all over the truck, suggested that someone had cleaned fingerprints from the vehicle. The driver’s door, the interior door panel, the steering column, and the back of the passenger seat tested positive for blood. The bed liner, tailgate liner, 9 and tailgate also tested positive for blood. The blood on the tailgate liner was consistent with the DNA of both Donna and Danielle. Anthony was indicted for the first-degree murders of Donna, Danielle, and Richard on August 10, 2001; the State subsequently filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. The jury found Anthony guilty on all three counts on April 1, 2002. Penalty proceedings began before a new jury on February 18, 2004. On March 2, 2004, that jury found three aggravating circumstances: pecuniary gain, multiple homicides, and victim under the age of fifteen. On March 10, after the penalty phase, the jury returned death verdicts for each murder. On October 18, 2005, construction workers who had been contracted to work on the building of a Walmart store found two trash drums hidden under a tree in Buckeye, forty miles from downtown Phoenix. Skeletal remains were found inside the drums. Police were called to investigate the area, and, after collecting the skeletons, DNA testing was performed, confirming that the skeletons belonged to Donna Anthony and her daughter, who was fourteen at the time of her death. On October 31, police investigating the area found a third trash bin, with more remains inside. The third trash can was found with help of a metal detection machine that had been loaned by the Phoenix Police Department from the United States Air Force.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2012 Florida Mario Amador
Roberto Alfonso
Luis Robledo
Ulpiano Ledo
Michael Millot
Fara Quintero
Sara Musa
Ramon Alvero
Daisy Ricard
Manuel Pardo executed
On January 22nd, 1986, Manuel Pardo and co-defendant Rolando Garcia went to the residence of Mario Amador, ostensibly to purchase two kilograms of cocaine from Amador. Pardo and Garcia were working for Ramon Alvero, known as "El Negro," who later became another of Pardo’s murder victims. Rather than pay good American dollars for the two kilos, Pardo and Garcia elected to murder Mario Amador and steal the cocaine. They arrived at his residence with Pardo carrying a briefcase containing not cash, but rather a.22 cal. semi-automatic, silencer equipped pistol. While Mario Amador was busy with the cocaine, Pardo pulled his pistol and shot both Amador and Amador’s partner, Roberto Alfonso, numerous times in the head and torso. On February 27th, 1986, Pardo and Garcia staged a virtual repeat performance. This time they were sent by their boss, Ramon Alvero ("El Negro"), to purchase three kilograms of cocaine from one Luis Robledo. After their arrival at Robledo’s apartment, Pardo excused himself to go to the bathroom, where he produced a silencer equipped.22 cal. Ruger semi-automatic pistol, with which he then shot both Luis Robledo and Robledo’s partner, Ulpiano Ledo, numerous times in the head and torso. Pardo and Garcia were not idle in the five weeks between the above two drug rip-off double murders. On January 28, 1986, Pardo and Garcia arranged to meet one Michael Millot, a gunsmith who had provided Pardo with several silencers. It seems that Pardo, upon learning that Millot was a federal government informant, had become concerned that Millot might be setting Pardo up for a federal bust. Pardo and Garcia lured Millot into Pardo’s vehicle, and Pardo proceeded to blow his brains out with a.9 mm. Smith and Wesson. They then dumped his body in a rural area and drove his vehicle into a canal. On April 22nd, 1986, Pardo and Garcia visited the home of Fara Quintero and Sara Musa. Pardo and Garcia were upset with the girls because they had failed to purchase VCRs with murder victim Luis Robledo’s visa card, as they had been instructed to do by Garcia (the girls had no knowledge of the prior murders). Additionally, Pardo and Garcia were upset because the girls kept complaining and bothering them about $50 which Garcia owed Fara Quintero. The girls had also made the major mistake of badmouthing the Garcia in conversations with third parties, in which the girls impugned the Garcia’s integrity for failing to repay the $50. Once in their apartment, Pardo, as was his custom, proceeded to the bathroom and pulled out his Ruger. When he emerged he shot Sara Musa numerous times, but then his gun jammed. He unjammed the gun on Fara Quintero’s head, then shot her numerous times. The following day, April 23rd, 1986, Pardo and Garcia finally caught up with their boss, Ramon Alvero ("El Negro"). It seems that Alvero had not come through on two big cocaine deals that Pardo had been counting on. Alvero had been avoiding Pardo, a reasonable strategy all things considered, but on April 23rd Alvero’s luck ran out, as did that of his girlfriend Daisy Ricard, who fulfilled the "wrong place at the wrong time" profile to a T. Pardo and Garcia managed to find Alvero and Ricard and drove them to an isolated spot. Pardo then shot Alvero numerous times with his.22 Ruger and then shot Daisy Ricard once before his gun jammed again. He unjammed it by smashing it against her skull, and meanwhile managed to shoot himself in the foot. After finishing off Daisy with several more shots, they dumped her body in a secluded area and left Alvero’s body in the trunk of Alvero’s vehicle. They then immediately flew to New York where Pardo received medical treatment for his foot.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 11, 2012 Indiana Stacy Payne, 15 Roy Ward stayed
Stacy Payne, murder victimOn the morning of July 11, 2001, fifteen-year-old Stacy Payne was present in her Dale, Indiana home. Also present was her younger sister Melissa who was asleep in her bedroom. Stacy was waiting to leave for work. Other members of the family had already left for their jobs. Pretending that he was searching for a lost dog, Roy Lee Ward approached the Payne residence and convinced Stacy to allow him to enter the house. Thereafter Melissa awoke to the sound of Stacy screaming. Going to the top of the stairs Melissa saw a man lying on top of Stacy holding her down. Melissa then ran to her parents’ room and dialed 911. As she was talking on the telephone Melissa could hear her sister saying “please stop.” Shortly thereafter the Dale Town Marshall arrived and saw Ward standing in the doorway, covered with perspiration, and holding a knife. Drawing his service revolver, the Marshall ordered Ward to the ground. Ward complied saying, “I didn’t do anything.” The Marshall then went to the kitchen and found Stacy lying on the floor, nude from the waist down, covered with blood, and her intestines exposed. Although conscious, Stacy could not speak. She was taken immediately to the emergency room of the Deaconess-St. Joseph Hospital where doctors noted a laceration to Stacy’s abdomen, a laceration to her back that severed her spine, and a laceration across Stacy’s neck cutting her trachea. Efforts to save Stacy’s life were unsuccessful. A subsequent forensic examination revealed that Stacy suffered eighteen blunt force injuries, including injuries found within the vaginal vault. On July 16, 2001, the State charged Ward with murder, and subsequently filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. The jury convicted Ward as charged. The penalty phase of trial began October 21, 2002, and the jury returned a recommendation of death after just 45 minutes of deliberation. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court followed the jury’s recommendation. The trial court also sentenced Ward to two consecutive fifty-year terms of imprisonment for the rape and criminal deviate conduct convictions. At sentencing, Stacy’s mother Julie Payne made a victim impact statement. Julie said she wished she’d been able to share Stacy’s baby pictures, perfect attendance and good grades as an answer to the information the jury had heard that was intended to demonstrate her killer’s troubled childhood. "Stacy’s positive attitude and smile made her the kind of person other people gravitated toward. She had so much potential. She always did her best. Her life was so short, but it was filled with meaning." As Julie described how Stacy was hardworking, caring and loved by all, Ward sat silently between his defense attorneys. He showed no emotion and declined the opportunity to offer his own statement. His arms and legs were shackled. Julie stood beside husband Roger and another daughter, Melissa, and as she listed Stacy’s numerous accomplishments, but Payne said the achievements documented on paper are the easy ones to explain. "The things we feel most deeply are the hardest to put into words," she said. "It has been six horrible, long, hard years. We have yearned for her every day." Melissa Payne told reporters the sentencing does not end her family’s pain. "Stacy is not coming home," Julie Payne said at the end of her statement. "The damage to our family will last a lifetime.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 12, 2012 Texas Nicholas Macias, 19 mo Rigoberto Avila stayed
An El Paso grand jury charged Rigoberto Avila with the capital murder of Nicholas Macias, 19 months old. Avila pleaded not guilty and was tried by a jury. At trial, the evidence established that sometime between 6:00 and 6:15 p.m., on February 29, 2000, Marcelina Macias left her home to attend a class, leaving her 19-month-old son, Nicholas Macias, and his four-year-old brother, Dylan Salinas, in Avila’s care. At 7:02 p.m., Avila called “911” and told the operator that the infant boy he was babysitting had stopped breathing. When the paramedics arrived, they administered emergency treatment to the child before transporting him to the hospital. While treating the boy, paramedics found a bruise on Nicholas’s abdomen in the shape of a foot print. When they asked Avila about the bruise, he denied any knowledge of the marking. At the hospital, surgical attempts to save Nicholas’s life by repairing the injury to Nicholas’s intestines and other abdominal injuries were unsuccessful, and Nicholas died. An autopsy revealed that major organs in Nicholas’s body had been split in two by considerable blunt-force trauma consistent with being stomped by an adult. Specifically, the medical examiner reported that Nicholas “died of internal bleeding due to massive abdominal trauma resulting from blunt force injury.” The surgeon’s testimony likened Nicholas’s injuries to those caused by such events as exiting an automobile traveling at sixty miles per hour or being dropped twenty feet. Officer Jose Lopez testified that on February 29, 2000, he was dispatched to the home of a child who had stopped breathing. Avila told Lopez that he had been watching the television when Dylan came into the room and told him that Nicholas was not breathing. Dylan told Avila that “he had held Nicholas’s mouth” and then Nicholas stopped breathing. Lopez then allowed Avila to drive to the hospital. Detective Tony Tabullo arrived at the hospital to assess the situation. Because Avila was the last adult known to be with Nicholas, Tabullo asked him if he would be willing to discuss the incident with him at the Crimes Against Persons (CAP) offices. Avila initially gave a statement in which he denied injuring Nicholas. Subsequently, Tabullo received from other detectives Polaroid photographs which appeared to show an adult-sized footprint on Nicholas’s stomach. Tabullo confronted Avila with the photographs, after which Avila orally admitted to stomping Nicholas. Tabullo typed the confession, which Avila signed. The confession was admitted at trial. During the guilt-innocence phase of trial, Avila testified that he did not injure Nicolas. The jury found Avila guilty of capital murder. After the punishment phase of trial, the jury affirmatively answered the first special issue regarding whether Avila would be a continuing threat to society. The jury answered negatively the second special issue regarding whether mitigating circumstances warranted a sentence of life imprisonment.

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