January 2012 Executions

Two killers were executed in January 2012. They had murdered at least 3 people.
Five killers were given a stay in January 2012. They have murdered at least 14 people.
One killer was granted clemency in January 2012. He has murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 5, 2012 Oklahoma Robert Hardcastle Gary Welch executed
Gary Roland Welch and his co-defendant, Claudie Conover, were charged with murdering Robert Hardcastle on August 25, 1994. At around 4:00 p.m. that day, Welch and Conover drove to the home of Johnny Rogers. Stephen St. John, Rogers’ brother-in-law, testified he was present when they arrived. St. John saw his brother-in-law walk to Welch’s car and heard Welch ask for a "bump" (a drug injection). When Rogers said he had none, Welch got out of the car and, pointing a knife at Rogers, said "Give me a god damned bump!" Welch turned the knife on St. John and told him to "look the other way." Welch continued to demand drugs until Conover patted him on the back and said "let’s get out of here." Approximately one hour later, Conover appeared at Larry Davis’ home located in a duplex owned by Hardcastle. Davis and his wife lived in the front part of the duplex while Hardcastle resided in the back. Davis testified his friend was cooking dinner and Conover accepted an invitation to join them. Davis noticed a car parked toward the back, but saw only Conover at the time. At some point, Davis went into the kitchen to help cook. While there, he heard banging noises coming from Hardcastle’s residence. When he returned to the living room, Davis said he "wondered if he was winning his wrestling match." Conover jokingly replied, "I wouldn’t worry about it. Somebody’s probably getting a spanking over a deal." A few minutes later, Davis heard his living room window break. Turning, he saw Hardcastle running by the window yelling, "I don’t have any" or "I didn’t do it." Hardcastle then ran to Davis’ porch; there was blood on his hands, forearms, face and bare chest. Both Conover and Davis went towards the door but when Conover went out first, Davis shut the door and returned to his distraught wife. Patricia and Donnie Nading testified they were driving their children to football practice when, in Patricia’s words, they "noticed a commotion at the side of the road." They saw three men run across the street in front of them. As the Nadings pulled even with the men, they saw Hardcastle crouched in a fetal position in the roadside ditch while Conover punched him and Welch stabbed and punched him. The Nadings pulled up to the next house and Donnie used the neighbor’s telephone to call the police. While on the telephone, he spoke from a window with an unobstructed view of the activity. He saw the men continue to beat Hardcastle, as another car stopped and backed up toward the fracas. He saw Conover leave the victim and stride to the car. Banging on the back window and screaming profanities, Conover told the driver to leave. In the meantime, Welch continued to stab Hardcastle until, at one point, Welch left to retrieve a beer bottle five to seven feet away. Welch smashed the bottle and used it to stab and slash at Hardcastle. While Conover was yelling at the first driver, a second car pulled up driven by Rachelle Campbell. She saw Conover leave the first car and run toward a nearby house. The next thing she knew, a car pulled out and stopped to pick up Welch. Conover was driving; he drove the car toward her at a high speed, causing her to back into a ditch to avoid a collision. As the car drove by, Conover yelled profanities and told her to get out of the way. As the two men drove away, Campbell saw Hardcastle, covered with blood, come out of the ditch. Officer Jim Gambill was the first officer to arrive at the scene. He had known Hardcastle since they were children. Hardcastle said, "Jim, Gary Welch did this shit to me." He then asked for water and collapsed. Gambill radioed the ambulance and asked the paramedics to hurry, then radioed in to report Welch as a suspect. Hardcastle died a few minutes later. As they made their escape, Welch and Conover were seen by an officer who testified the car and its occupants matched the descriptions provided over the radio dispatch. Because the officer was in an unmarked car, he called for a marked backup and followed them. When the backup arrived, the officers stopped the car and arrested Welch and Conover. The officers then retrieved a broken knife which had been thrown out of the vehicle prior to its stop. At booking, a knife scabbard was taken from Welch’s belt and another knife was found in the car. A search of Hardcastle’s duplex revealed a major fight had taken place in the kitchen and inside the front door. The autopsy report stated Hardcastle bled to death after receiving at least ten stab wounds, three of which penetrated his lungs, and numerous incision (slice) wounds. Some of the wounds were consistent with the broken knife thrown from the vehicle and the superficial wounds were consistent with those caused by a broken beer bottle. At trial, Welch testified he fought Hardcastle in self-defense. He explained that two weeks before the incident, Hardcastle, who knew Welch did "skin illustrations," had spoken to him about getting a tattoo. Welch decided to visit with Hardcastle about the tattoo while Conover visited with Davis. According to Welch, he and Hardcastle had a pleasant visit until Hardcastle asked Welch to show him the knife he was carrying. When Welch handed Hardcastle the knife, Hardcastle’s attitude abruptly changed. Welch stated that Hardcastle held the knife in a threatening way and said "you’ve been stepping on my old lady’s toes," but he had no idea what Hardcastle was talking about. Hardcastle then tried to stab him. Welch claimed they began to fight while Hardcastle repeatedly tried to stab him. As Welch attempted to defend himself, Hardcastle eventually "went down" while still holding the knife. Welch escaped through the front door and hid behind the cars in the driveway. Hardcastle came out of the house and ran to the front duplex. Seeing Conover come out on the porch, Welch revealed his position and called to Conover for assistance. Hardcastle ran towards Welch, who fled across the street and then, in his own words, "turned, you know, to face the problem." Obviously rejecting Welch’s account of the situation, the jury found him guilty of first degree murder. The State alleged three aggravating circumstances: (1) a previous felony conviction involving the use or threatened use of violence; (2) a probability of future criminal acts of violence constituting a continuing threat to society; and (3) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel. After incorporating the evidence from the guilt phase, the State introduced evidence of two prior felony convictions-aggravated assault and battery upon a police officer (1981) and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after a former felony conviction (1982). In support of the continuing threat aggravator, the State introduced testimony from several police officers recounting an incident from several years before in which Welch attacked an officer while being booked for driving under the influence. In addition, an officer from the Ottawa County Jail testified Welch had threatened him during Welch’s present incarceration. A fellow inmate also testified Welch assaulted him while they were being held in the same cell. The state presented evidence of a history of domestic violence. Two women testified Welch had assaulted them in the past. One stated Welch, while living in her home with his girlfriend, broke down her door, hit her and threw her against the Christmas tree. Welch’s former girlfriend recounted one time Welch came to her home and demanded sex. When she refused, Welch beat her in the presence of her two minor children. Welch told the children to lie down and be quiet or he would kill them. He then tore her clothes off and put her head through a cabinet and a wall. Another time, she believed Welch was going to kill her so she fired a shotgun at him. When she missed, he took the gun, bent it, and hit her in the head with it. Yet another time, he found her in her yard and dragged her inside her home. There, Welch stuck her head in a washing machine, threw her down on a coffee table and held a knife to her throat. The State’s final witnesses were three members of Hardcastle’s family. We discuss these statements in detail infra. Each family member characterized Welch as an "animal" or a "parasite" and implored the jury to impose death. In mitigation, Welch presented the testimony of Dr. Phillip Murphy. He opined Welch’s drug and alcohol abuse caused brain damage but his behavior could be managed with medication in a controlled environment. One man testified Welch was a good friend when he was not drinking or taking drugs and he would maintain this relationship if Welch’s life was spared. Welch’s wife testified she loved Welch and would continue this relationship if he let her. However, she admitted whether the death penalty should be imposed was a "hard question;" she knew he needed an environment where he could not get drugs or alcohol. When asked if she had seen him express remorse for the incident, she did not answer directly but replied "[she had] seen a lot of different changes in him in the two years he’s been in jail." Cross examination revealed that Welch’s wife had requested a protective order against Welch less than a month before Hardcastle’s murder. She explained Welch had hit her, injuring her mouth and blackening her eye. He then forced her to take him to his girlfriend’s house. The next day, Welch and his girlfriend returned and took a television, VCR and cable box from her home. They destroyed a window and air conditioner. The girlfriend left a threatening note. Welch’s mother was his final witness. Her testimony, however, was barely coherent. She had difficulty responding to questions and her answers rambled into nonsense. For example, when asked if there were times when social workers came to her home, she replied: "No, they—they would—the city come out to our house, they come out there and said they wanted to go in and see if they help straighten things in school or something. And we didn’t know… who they was and we thought they was going to go in there and get this—what this principal and stuff was doing in there to Gary. We didn’t know though they was trying to trap us all. And trying to get us to do something to our son to where they could, you know, arrest us, or make us bad parents, in other words." During sentencing deliberations the jury sent two notes to the court relevant here. One note asked, "Can life without parole be reduced by appeal or pleas in the future?" Another asked, "Has anybody ever been released with the sentencing of life without parole?" The trial court responded to each question, "I am not allowed to answer this question." After deliberating further, the jury returned with a death sentence, finding all three aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 17, 2012 Pennsylvania James Bagwell, 18
Gloria Pannell, 36
Ralph Birdsong stayed
Ralph Birdsong was 28 when he was charged with first degree murder and related offenses for fatally shooting two people, seriously wounding six others, and raping a teenage girl during a brutal incident on July 17, 1988. Birdsong waived his right to a jury at both the guilt and penalty phases and was tried jointly with his brother Anthony Birdsong, then 31, who was his co-conspirator. The trial court convicted Birdsong of two counts of first degree murder, six counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of crime. On July 17, 1988, around 5:30 in the morning, Birdsong and his brother, Anthony Birdsong, went to a residence located in the 5000 block of North 17th Street. Birdsong entered the residence while Anthony remained outside. The brothers allegedly went to the house because Ralph Birdsong wanted to get revenge on people he believed started a fire in his girlfriend’s apartment while free-basing cocaine. Firemen found over $400,000 worth of drugs and cash in that apartment. The prosecution presented the testimony of several eyewitnesses who saw Birdsong commit the crimes on the day in question. Gregory Johnson, 26, who lived in the house, testified that he was seated at the dining room table using crack cocaine in the early morning hours of July 17, 1988. Hassan Holmes, 18, and Kim Glenn were also present. The doorbell rang, and Holmes arose and observed through a window that Birdsong, also known as "Hakeem," was at the front door. At that point, Johnson arose from the table to admit Birdsong, whom he had known for ten years. Birdsong then entered the house, walked by Johnson, turned around, and shot Johnson in the back of the head with a shotgun. Although the impact of the shotgun blast caused Johnson to fall to the floor, he was nevertheless able to get up and run out of the house. Hassan Holmes corroborated the testimony of Johnson by identifying Birdsong as the person who rang the doorbell on July 17, 1988. Holmes assumed that Birdsong wished to purchase drugs from Johnson, who was a dealer. After seeing Johnson shot, Holmes attempted to flee to the basement, but Birdsong intercepted him and shot him in the shoulder. Holmes then heard James Bagwell, 18, who was sleeping on the living room couch, get off the couch and attempt to flee to the basement. However, Birdsong intercepted Bagwell and fatally wounded him as he ran down the stairs. Shortly thereafter, Holmes managed to flee from the house. Additionally, James Bagwell’s cousin Andre Kinard, 16, testified that he was in the basement and saw Birdsong shoot Bagwell in the head as Bagwell was running down the basement stairs attempting to flee. Kinard then tried to flee, but Birdsong shot him as well. Kinard was shot in the shoulder and elbow and said he fell to the floor, played dead and stayed there. Birdsong then went over and shot Bagwell again. Kim Glenn also testified that Birdsong, whom she had known for one and one-half years, rang the doorbell that morning. Glenn was able to identify Birdsong because she had sold drugs for him in the past. Glenn hid under the dining room table as Birdsong proceeded to shoot Johnson, Holmes, and Bagwell. When Birdsong went upstairs, Glenn hid under a mattress in the front of the house. From there she heard a second man enter the house and warn Birdsong about the police. She heard footsteps coming up the stairs and a "click-click like someone was reloading." Glenn recognized the man’s voice as that of the co-defendant, Anthony Birdsong. She said Birdsong’s only reply was, "Give me the.45, man, Just give me the.45." The prosecution presented the testimony of Monroe Clark, who testified that he was in the second floor bedroom with Gloria Pannell, 36, when Birdsong kicked in the bedroom door. Birdsong fired three shots, but missed Clark. Birdsong aimed his gun and hit Gloria in the leg. After leaving the room for a brief instant, Birdsong reentered the room and fatally shot Gloria in the chest while standing over her as Clark hid in the bedroom closet. She died later that morning. Fifteen-year old Quinzell Pannell testified that he, his brother Albert, and his 16-year-old sister were in another bedroom when Birdsong entered and struck them repeatedly with the butt of his gun. Quinzell knew Birdsong from an incident that occurred a few weeks earlier in which Birdsong pistol-whipped Glenn, Clark, and other household members. After beating the children, Birdsong then directed them into another bedroom. On the way, Birdsong struck Quinzell in the back of the head causing Quinzell to fall to the floor. Next, Birdsong took Albert out of the room and shot him. Albert Pannell suffered a gunshot wound to the back of the head which rendered him permanently disabled and confined to a wheelchair. Birdsong then returned, stated "I am going to rape you, bitch," and took the 16-year-old girl out of the room. She corroborated the testimony of her brother Quinzell. She also testified that Birdsong forced her out of the house and across the street to a park where he proceeded to rape and sodomize her. By stipulation, the results of the rape kit taken at the hospital were admitted, showing the presence of sperm in the girl’s vagina and rectum. Albert Jones testified that Birdsong, whom he had known for sixteen years, showed up at Jones’ apartment in the early morning hours of July 17, 1988, with blood on his hands and the back of his legs. Birdsong then requested a ride to pick up his car and Jones assented. When the two arrived at the driveway where Birdsong’s truck was located, they were stopped by Detective Thomas Augustine. Detective Augustine testified that when he stopped Jones, the passenger in Jones’ car, who was later identified as Birdsong, looked very nervous. Detective Augustine noticed a jacket under the passenger seat, picked it up, and felt a magazine from a gun. When Detective Augustine asked whose jacket it was, Birdsong admitted it was his, but fled the scene when Detective Augustine indicated that he would like the two men to come with him. Through continued questioning of the driver, Detective Augustine adduced that the passenger was Birdsong. Additionally, upon further investigation, the detective discerned that the jacket contained an empty magazine from a.45 caliber handgun. Birdsong disappeared from Philadelphia and was subsequently arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on November 14, 1988. Anthony Birdsong was arrested approximately one week later in Miami. The parties stipulated that the jacket recovered from Jones’ automobile was stained with human blood. It was further stipulated that Gloria Pannell and James Bagwell died of multiple gunshot wounds. Anthony Birdsong was sentences to two life terms to run concurrently, plus an additional 42-85 years in prison on related offenses. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 18, 2012 Pennsylvania Katherine Hairston
Sean Hairston, 14
Kenneth Hairston stayed
On May 20, 2000, Kenneth Hairston’s stepdaughter, Chetia Hurtt, and her boyfriend, Jeffrey Johnson, returned to Hurtt’s apartment from a movie to discover several voicemail messages left by Hairston, questioning where Hurtt was and when she would be home. Hurtt, 21, had known Hairston since he married her mother when Hurtt was five years old, and had lived under the same roof as Hairston, her mother Katherine Hairston, Hairston’s autistic son Sean Hairston, and her grandmother Goldie Hurtt, until Chetia moved out approximately one month earlier. During Chetia’s adolescence, her relationship with Hairston deteriorated. Hairston prohibited Chetia from socializing with males and frequently threatened that he would kill her and the rest of her family. Bothered by the phone messages that May evening, Chetia asked Jeffrey to spend the night. The following morning, May 21, 2000, Hairston arrived at Chetia’s apartment with a handgun, which he was not licensed to carry. After being let into the apartment, Hairston instructed Chetia to tell Jeffrey to leave. When Chetia did not comply, Hairston threatened to kill Chetia, Jeffrey, and himself, and stated that he would not go to jail. Despite Chetia’s protests that Jeffrey should stay–for fear of what might happen should he leave–Jeffrey left the apartment. Hairston pointed the gun at Chetia’s face and said, “If you’re going to be f***ing anybody, it’s going to be me.” Chetia pleaded with Hairston not to hurt her, but he took her into the bedroom. Hairston removed his clothes and tried to remove Chetia’s clothes, but she resisted. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Johnson stopped Sergeant William Gorman of the Pittsburgh Police Department and explained what was occurring. The police went to the apartment and announced their presence. Hairston pulled the ammunition clip out of the gun, threw it behind the door, and slid the gun underneath the bed. Chetia escaped through the front door of the apartment. The police found a half-naked Hairston in the apartment. He claimed that he lived in the apartment with his daughter and came home to find her with Johnson. A Bryco-Arms 0.380 semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the bedroom. Hairston, yelling, “I can’t go to jail,” broke away from police as they were bringing him out of the apartment building. Hairston then jumped headfirst off a small roof to the ground fifteen to twenty feet below. Hairston got back on his feet and again began yelling, “I can’t go to jail. I’m not going to jail.” As a result of these events, criminal charges were filed against Hairston. One year later, in the morning hours of June 11, 2001, Hairston called the dispatcher at the school bus company that transported Sean Hairston, who was autistic, to school and requested that the bus not pick up Sean. Hairston spoke separately with two neighbors outside of his home that morning, each of whom noticed that Hairston smelled of alcohol and was very agitated. Hairston told both neighbors that he was upset about his stepdaughter’s accusations, telling one neighbor that he would not go back to jail and that if he had to go to jail he “would probably do myself in.” Shortly thereafter, thick black smoke was seen coming out of Hairston’s home. Firefighters who reported to the scene found both the front and back doors locked and barricaded. Finally, the firefighters gained entry. They discovered that the house was covered in garbage bags and debris. They retrieved Sean, who was lying underneath bags and debris, on the living room couch. His face and head were covered with a blanket. He was brought outside alive to paramedics. However, he died while being treated at the hospital after suffering two cardiac arrests. The injuries leading to his death were two or three incidents of blunt force trauma to his head. Firefighters re-entered the house and found Hairston inside the kitchen, at the top of the basement stairwell. Hairston had several puncture wounds to his chest and a laceration on the right side of his neck. He was extremely combative with paramedics, and had to be restrained with handcuffs and stretcher straps, then ultimately paralytic drugs, before being transported to the hospital. Firefighters also found Katherine in the kitchen. She was found with a hole in the side of her head, and was dead weight upon being brought out of the house. Toxicology screening showed no evidence of carbon monoxide or cyanide in her blood stream. Goldie Hurtt, who had previously suffered three strokes and a heart attack, was found incapacitated in an upstairs bedroom and was removed safely from the house. In the kitchen, police found a large amount of blood in front of the refrigerator. Two knives were found in the kitchen. Sheets and bedding materials were found on the floors and counters. Four days after the fire, the Hairston family dog was found covered by debris in the basement and tied to a pole. Police interviewed Hairston at the hospital where, because he was wearing an oxygen mask, he could communicate only by indicating simple yes or no responses. Hairston indicated that he knew who started the fire, that he killed his wife, and that his motivation for the killing and the fire were the impending charges against him. Hairston also indicated that those charges against him were untrue. On June 19, 2001, police again interviewed Hairston. He gave both an oral and a taped statement. He explained that he wrapped a ten-pound sledgehammer in a pillowcase and intentionally struck his wife with it from behind as she sat on their bed. He struck her a second time, then dragged her from their first-floor sleeping area into the kitchen. Hairston also confessed that, minutes later, he struck his son Sean with the sledgehammer twice. After hearing moans in the kitchen, he struck Katherine again with the weapon. Hairston stated that he left the house with the weapon, drove to a local bar, where he consumed two double-shots and two beers, then discarded the sledgehammer in a wooded area. Hairston then drove home and poured gasoline over the basement floor. According to Hairston, flames from the water heater ignited the gasoline before he was ready to ignite them. He then got a knife, stabbed himself twice in the chest, and then lay down next to his wife’s body. Hairston went on to explain that he intentionally piled items throughout the house to ensure that the fire indeed killed everyone: “I just wanted to make sure that we were gone.” Hairston then revealed to police the location of the sledgehammer, which tested positive for blood. Hairston was charged with two counts of criminal homicide. He was appointed counsel, and his jury trial began on April 15, 2002. On April 17, 2002, the jury convicted Hairston on both counts of first-degree murder. At the close of the penalty phase, Hairston was sentenced to death for each murder conviction. The trial court formally imposed sentence on July 11, 2002. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 18, 2012 Ohio Doris Montgomery, 80
Raymond Montgomery, 77
Charles Lorraine stayed
Raymond and Doris Montgomery, murder victimsOn the evening of May 6, 1986, Charles L. Lorraine went to the home of Doris and Raymond Montgomery, age 80 and 77, respectively. The Montgomerys had in the past hired Lorraine to do jobs around the house. Lorraine lured Raymond upstairs. Lorraine stabbed Raymond five times in the back with a butcher’s knife. Lorraine went back downstairs and stabbed Doris, who was bed-ridden, nine times. He then burglarized the home. Lorraine proceeded to a bar and bought drinks with the stolen money. Lorraine bragged about killing two "old people." He and a friend left the bar. They broke into a house and stole $40 and a car. They then went back to the Montgomerys’ house and stole money, jewelry, and a gun. Afterwards, Lorraine and his friend went to Denny’s for breakfast. Lorraine confessed to the killings on videotape. A federal judge granted a stay in this case. The family of the victims have asked the state to appeal the stay. Video interview with relative here.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 19, 2012 Kentucky Mary Smith
Edward Large
Ronnie Lee St. Clair, 40
William Henry Kelsey, Jr.
Timothy Keeling
Frances Chandler Brady, 55
Michael St. Clair stayed
Frank Brady, murder victimOn December 14, 1987, around 6:00 am, Edward Large and Mary Smith were found dead, inside a 1975 Cadillac parked on the side of US Hwy 70 near Boswell, Oklahoma. The car’s ignition was on and the vehicle had apparently been left on until it ran out of gas. Edward was behind the steering wheel and was shot twice with a small-caliber handgun, once between the shoulder blades and once in the mouth. Mary was seated in the back seat and had been shot three times, in her forehead, cheek and jaw. The murders were apparently the culmination of a long-standing feud between the Large and St. Clair families. Fifteen years prior, Large had been charged but acquitted of shooting Michael St. Clair’s brother David after an argument centering around children fighting at school. Mary Smith was apparently just an unintended victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Michael St. Clair was immediately suspected in the Large/Smith murders. His uncles said St. Clair bragged about murdering Edward, saying "I finally killed old Large. The last shot, I shot him near the back where he shot my brother." He also said to his uncle that when he killed Mary Smith, she was looking at him from behind a blanket, like she was playing peep-eye with him. An aunt testified that she was with St. Clair when he committed the murders and that he had used a red flashing light to make Edward Large think he was being pulled over by law enforcement officers. She said he walked up to the car and shot Large as he tried to step out of the vehicle. He told his uncle that he pushed Edward’s leg that was hanging out of the car back inside and said, "Ya’ll have a good time." Michael had returned to his car, but went back to the Cadillac, leaned inside and shot Mary Smith as she was screaming in fear. He then got back in his Suburban and drove to Durant and dropped his aunt off at her home. A few years later, St. Clair hired a man to murder his uncle, Ronnie Lee St. Clair. On May 12, 1990, St. Clair and Kelsey forced their way inside Ronnie’s residence, armed with a rifle and handgun. They demanded that Ronnie give them $20,000 in cash that they had heard Ronnie had, allegedly to buy cocaine for resale. One or both of them beat Ronnie until he finally took the money out of its hiding place. He then was forced outside to a storage building where he had hidden an ounce of cocaine. The pair then forced Ronnie into his own car, and driven to a Lone Star Gas processing station near Silo, and ordered out of the car. Kelsey emptied the 10-round clip into Ronnie’s body, missing only one shot. He was struck in the back, face and back of the head. Both of his wallets were stolen, one containing a large sum on cash. Witnesses saw Kelsey break up the ounce of cocaine into one gram parcels. The next day, Michael St. Clair told his cousin Raymond, Ronnie’s brother, that he knew who killed Ronnie and he said he was going to meet and kill him at 10 pm that night. St. Clair drove to Kelsey’s mobile home and retrieved the cocaine and made an appointment to meet Kelsey at 10:00 pm at another Lone Star Gas processing station. Kelsey spent the day partying with friends, then showed up at his cousin’s home that evening and asked for a pen and paper and wrote a note. He handed the note to his cousin and said he was meeting a guy at 10:15 pm and as he left, he told his cousin, "If I don’t ever see you again, it’s OK. It doesn’t matter." Kelsey was waiting at the meeting place when St. Clair arrived. He allegedly pulled a gun on St. Clair when he learned he wouldn’t be paid for the murder of Ronnie, but couldn’t get the gun out of his pocket quickly enough. St. Clair opened fire with a.38 caliber pistol, then shot him behind the ear, to make sure he was dead. St. Clair called his uncle Raymond and said, "The chickens are out of the coop" a pre-arranged phrase. The next morning, Michael drove to Raymond’s house and told him that Kelsey had tried to kill him. The note Kelsey had written just moments before being killed was delivered to the sheriff’s office. Kelsey had been convicted of murdering a man in 1976 and he served only 11 years in prison. He was the suspect in two additional murders in Oregon and one in Oklahoma in 1957. In September 1991, while he was awaiting final sentencing for the murders of his uncle and the hit man, St. Clair escaped from a jail in Durant, Oklahoma, accompanied by another inmate, Dennis Gene Reese. Reese was awaiting trial for strangling and beating a woman to death in Oklahoma. After escaping, St. Clair and Reese fled from the facility in a pickup truck stolen from a jail employee and, when that truck soon ran out of gas, stole another pickup truck, a handgun, and some ammunition from the nearby home of Vernon Stephens and fled Oklahoma for the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. St. Clair’s then-wife, Bylynn and her brother met the men in Texas and brought them over $1000 in cash, clothing, soap, shampoo, disposable razors, binoculars, a camouflage jacket and a pair of handcuffs. When Reese was subsequently arrested several months later in Las Vegas, Nevada, he confessed to his involvement in an ensuing crime spree. According to Reese, after hiding out in Dallas for a few days, the men boarded a Greyhound bus bound for the Pacific Northwest but disembarked in Denver, Colorado, where St. Clair kidnapped a man, Timothy Keeling, and took his vehicle, again, a pickup truck, and St. Clair and Reese began driving back towards Texas. Timothy Keeling was 22 and was a paramedic. St. Clair and Reese saw a for sale sign on his white, customized pickup truck and approached Tim as he was leaving a grocery store and asked if they could take it for a test drive. Reese drove, St. Clair sat on the passenger side and Tim sat between them. As they left the parking lot, St. Clair pointed a.357 magnum revolver at Tim and handcuffed him. They drove through the night and Tim was talking to his kidnappers, praying for them. He showed them a photo of his infant daughter, scared for his life. While driving through New Mexico, but approaching the Texas border, St. Clair used the pretext of needing to stop to urinate along the roadside to coax Tim into getting out of the truck. St. Clair used the stolen handgun to execute Keeling in the desert, shooting him twice. When St. Clair returned to the truck, he told Reese that killing people was like killing dogs, that after you kill the first one, the next one is easy. Reese said St. Clair was happy and smiling when he said this. As they were driving on after murdering Tim Keeling, St. Clair went through Tim’s wallet. He removed the photograph of Tim’s 18-month-old daughter and tore it up and threw it out of the window. He said the reason he murdered Tim Keeling before crossing the border into Texas was because Texas enforces its death penalty law. The men then drove Keeling’s pickup truck to Denton, Texas, Lafayette, Louisiana and Shreveport, Louisiana before ending up in New Orleans, Louisiana. They went to a nightclub called Mud Bugs. They then drove north though Arkansas and Tennessee before ending up in Hardin County, Kentucky. They spotted a red Ford Ranger pickup truck at a rest stop where St. Clair kidnapped another man, Frances C. Brady and handcuffed him. The men then set fire to Keeling’s pickup truck in order to destroy any incriminating evidence. Again, Reese drove and St. Clair sat in the passenger side with their victim between them. Reese said Frank Brady, a distillery employee, talked nonstop and was "worried and scared." After driving for around an hour and a half, St. Clair marched Frank into the woods and used his handgun to execute Brady, again two shots in the head, in a secluded area of Bullitt County, Kentucky. Frank Brady was the father of three daughters and had four grandchildren at the time of his brutal murder. His fifth grandchild was born six weeks after he died. Frank’s handcuffed body was found on October 8, 1991. Reese said St. Clair had lost his handcuff key so he had to leave Frank handcuffed after he shot him. Shortly thereafter, when Kentucky State Trooper Herbert Bennett initiated a traffic stop of Brady’s vehicle, which St. Clair and Reese were then driving, St. Clair fired shots from his handgun that struck Trooper Bennett’s cruiser;  and during an ensuing flight, initially in Brady’s pickup and subsequently on foot, Reese was able to split away from St. Clair and had no further contact with him prior to his arrest. St. Clair was arrested in Dec 1991 hiding in an upstairs bedroom at the home of his brother Hansel, in Oklahoma. The case was profiled on America’s Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. In February 1992, a Bullitt County Grand Jury returned an indictment that charged that “on or about the 6th day of October, 1991, in Bullitt County, Kentucky, Dennis Reese and Michael St. Clair did commit capital murder by shooting Frances C. Brady with a pistol.” Reese entered into a plea agreement with the Commonwealth and agreed to testify against St. Clair. St. Clair pled not guilty and his case was tried before a jury in August and September 1998. At trial, St. Clair employed an alibi defense and contended that, although he had accompanied Reese to New Orleans for a few days after their initial flight to Dallas, the men had parted ways upon their return to Dallas, and soon thereafter he returned to Oklahoma where he hid out on the farm of a family friend until shortly before he was recaptured in December 1991. St. Clair denied accompanying Reese to Colorado or New Mexico and further denied that he had ever been in Kentucky. Accordingly, the primary issue for jury resolution at trial was whether St. Clair or someone else – specifically Reese and/or an unidentified accomplice – had murdered Brady. The state’s theory of the case was that St. Clair himself shot and killed Brady. In addition to Reese’s testimony, the state proved its case through (1) Trooper Bennett’s identification of St. Clair as the man who had fired two shots in his direction on the night of the murder; (2) another man’s identification of St. Clair and Reese as being in possession of a vehicle similar to Brady’s vehicle at a gas station/convenience store in the area; (3) testimony relating to telephone calls made to St. Clair’s friends and relatives back in Oklahoma from a payphone located at this same gas station/convenience store; (4) testimony identifying items found in Kentucky, on the victim’s person and in his pickup truck, as similar to or the same items that St. Clair’s then-wife had given to St. Clair and Reese when she met them in Texas; (5) a jailhouse informant, Scott Kincaid, who testified that St. Clair had admitted his involvement in the crime; (6) ballistics evidence demonstrating that the same handgun could have fired the shots that killed both Keeling and Brady and damaged Trooper Bennett’s cruiser and bullet composition evidence suggesting that bullets from the same box killed Keeling and Brady; and (7) testimony to the effect that St. Clair’s fingerprints were found both on items recovered from inside the Brady vehicle and on the outside door of the same vehicle. Reese was sentenced to life with no parole eligibility for at least 25 years. After St. Clair was sentenced to death, the court allowed a second sentencing trial after a 1998 law added Life Without Parole as a sentencing option in Kentucky. The second jury also returned a death sentence, as did a third, in October 2011. St. Clair mocks the justice system, calling himself the $5 million man. In an interview with a local newspaper, St. Clair said, "Since May 11, 1995, I’ve been housed in Kentucky at the taxpayers’ expense, hee ha. Now, here it is 2010, April 12, and I AM NOT DEAD." Frank Brady’s daughter, Melanie Brady Drury , is outraged by the delays in this case. Frank’s widow Merle said she is ready and willing to go to another trial and has not lost faith. Three years after Frank’s murder, tragedy again struck this family when his daughter Melisa Maureen Brady Sloan disappeared in Orlando, Florida under very suspicious circumstances. *There are still appeals pending in this case and the execution is not expected to take place on this date.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 20, 2012 Delaware Shirley Y. Slay Robert Gattis commuted
Shirley Slay, murder victimRobert Allen Gattis and Shirley Slay had been in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship for almost six years prior to her shooting death on May 9, 1990. The testimony of family and friends was that the relationship had been stormy and violent. Gattis himself testified that he was extremely jealous and possessive of Shirley. On more than one occasion, his jealousy expressed itself in physical violence. For example, in 1987, Gattis confronted Shirley in a bar while she was talking to another man. Gattis threatened Shirley with a loaded handgun, fired a shot into the floor and pistol-whipped the man. Gattis was prosecuted for this conduct and pleaded guilty to Assault Second Degree and Reckless Endangering First Degree. He received a sentence of five years of incarceration suspended for probation. At one point in their relationship, Shirley lived in an apartment in Wilmington to which Gattis had a key and where he occasionally spent the night. In April 1990, Shirley moved to an apartment outside Wilmington, partly to avoid contact with Gattis. On the day of her death, Shirley told her supervisor at work that she intended to terminate her relationship with Gattis that evening. On May 9, Shirley went to a softball game after she left work. Gattis appeared at the game and apparently persuaded a reluctant Shirley to leave with him. They went to Shirley’s apartment where they argued about the reason that Gattis had not been able to reach Shirley on the telephone the previous evening. Shirley claimed that her telephone had not been operating, but Gattis arranged for a friend to call the apartment and, when the phone rang, he became enraged. He accused Shirley of seeing another man, beat her and left the apartment. Shirley called the police. While a police officer was present in the apartment, Gattis called several times. The officer spoke with Gattis, warning him to have no further contact with Shirley and to stay away from her apartment. Gattis returned to Shirley’s apartment later that evening after borrowing a friend’s car, apparently to avoid detection by the police. He carried with him a loaded.38 caliber handgun. Outside the apartment, Gattis encountered a friend and neighbor of Shirley, Lisa Watson, who urged Gattis to stop fighting with Shirley. The neighbor then telephoned Shirley to advise her that Gattis had returned. Watson then heard the sound of Shirley’s door being knocked in. As Watson ran out of her apartment and up a flight of stairs, she saw a flash and heard a gunshot. She then observed Gattis leaping down the stairs and exiting the apartment building. Shirley died from a bullet that hit her directly between the eyes. The autopsy revealed that she was shot by a.38 caliber handgun from a distance of from 4 to 18 inches. Gattis surrendered to police the following day in the course of admitting himself to the Delaware State Hospital. At trial, Gattis testified in his own defense. He claimed that the shooting of Shirley Slay was an accident which occurred when the gun discharged while he struggled with her to enter the apartment. The jury rejected this version of the events and found Gattis guilty of Murder First Degree as well as the burglary and the weapons offenses. After hearing evidence and argument in the penalty phase, the jury found by a vote of ten to two that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors. The court subsequently heard additional argument from counsel and determined that the death sentence was appropriate for the intentional, premeditated and cold-blooded execution-style murder of Shirley Slay. UPDATE: Four days prior to his scheduled execution, Delaware Governor Jack Markell spared the life of Robert Gattis by commuting his sentence to life in prison. "I realize my decision may cause pain to the family and friends of Shirley Slay. For that, I deeply apologize," Markell said in a statement. The Slay family said they were disappointed by the outcome but accepted it. "We are going to look at it as the way God wanted it to be," said Slay’s mother, who also is named Shirley. She said Markell met with members of the family personally before he made his decision public Tuesday, and they appreciated the chance to share their side of the story with Markell and explain their feelings and concerns. There is a lesson in the experience, she said, but as of Tuesday, Slay said she did not yet know what that lesson was and said the family members are all still working on trying to forgive Gattis for what he did. On some level, both Shirley and Willie Slay say, it feels like Gattis "beat the system." And until last week, he had never admitted that his actions in May 1990 were intentional or offered any sort of apology. Shirley Slay said there are things Gattis and his attorneys said at last week’s hearings, such as the apology and the claims of childhood sexual abuse, that she still has trouble believing. After years of hearing about Gattis and his legal challenges, she was pleased that her family finally got a chance to step forward and have their say — both in front of the Board of Pardons, to the governor directly and to the public — to remind people about what was lost in May 1990. "So yes, we are glad, finally, the world will get to see there was another person in this thing," Shirley E. Slay said. "She was a good girl, a good person." Read more here . Governor Markell put conditions on his offer of commutation, stating Gattis must agree to surrender all future legal appeals and to spend the rest of his natural life in the Maximum Security Unit of Vaughn Correctional Center.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 26, 2012 Texas Susan Verstegen, 38
Muriel Stoepker, 77
Rodrigo Hernandez executed
Susan Verstegen, murder victimMuriel Stoepker, murder victimAround 3:30 am on February 18, 1994, Susan Verstegen, a Frito-Lay snack foods vendor, was delivering products to an H-E-B supermarket in San Antonio. While she was working at a storage bin behind the store, Susan was attacked, sexually assaulted and strangled. The unknown assailant then transported her body to nearby Prince of Peace Catholic Church and left it in a 55-gallon garbage barrel. Susan’s car, a dark green Pontiac Firebird, was later found in an apartment parking lot. The crime remained unsolved until 2002. That February, in Michigan, Rodrigo Rodriguez Hernandez was being released from prison after having served 3½ years for beating a man nearly to death. As a condition of his parole, Hernandez had to provide a DNA sample That sample was then entered into a national database. It was subsequently matched to the DNA evidence from the 1994 San Antonio case. Hernandez was arrested in Michigan in September 2002. Another DNA sample was taken from him. It also matched the DNA evidence from the San Antonio crime scene. Hernandez then gave a written statement, wherein he confessed to attacking, raping, and murdering Susan Verstegen and disposing of her body. "I had been smoking weed, drinking beer and mixed drinks, and did not realize what I was doing," he stated. "I want to say I am sorry and wish it was me instead of her." A jury convicted Hernandez of capital murder in March 2004 and sentenced him to death. During the penalty phase of Hernandez’s trial, jurors learned that Hernandez had been convicted of multiple criminal offenses in Michigan. In 1992, Hernandez had been placed on probation for burglarizing a sporting goods store; however, he had committed numerous violations of the conditions of that probation. As a “youthful offender” facing sentencing for his first felony, Hernandez had been granted probation for burglarizing a home, but did not successfully complete the probation and was sentenced to jail. He had also been convicted of felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm, indecent exposure, felony assault and misdemeanor malicious destruction of property and engaging in an illegal gambling business. A former high-school girlfriend testified that Hernandez had assaulted her. In March 2010, Hernandez was identified, again by DNA, as the perpetrator in another cold case murder. Muriel Stoepker , a 77-year-old affectionately known as "Mary, the bag lady" in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was beaten, raped, and shot in September 1991. Hernandez had been released from jail on a burglary charge one month earlier. In an interview from death row a few weeks before his execution, Hernandez stated that he met Susan Verstegen at a different H-E-B in San Antonio, where he worked. He said that they had a sexual relationship for several months, and he denied killing her. "I have a history," he said. "I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. But it still doesn’t make me a murderer." Hernandez declined to discuss Muriel Stoepker’s killing in the interview. A few days before his execution, however, he wrote a letter to a San Antonio Express-News reporter and claimed, "I didn’t do it; I payed for [oral sex], that’s it, that’s where they found my DNA." Hernandez’ execution was attended by his sister and another relative. Susan Verstegan’s son, Chuck Monney, was among the victims’ witnesses. "I want to tell everybody that I love everybody," Hernandez said in his last statement. "We are all family, people of God Almighty. We’re all good. I’m ready." The lethal injection was then started. Hernandez uttered, "This stuff stings, man," then lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. UPDATE: Minutes before Rodrigo Hernandez was executed for the 1994 rape and murder of a single mother in San Antonio, he reportedly confessed to that killing and the 1991 slaying of a homeless woman in Grand Rapids, Michigan to a Texas Ranger, Michigan authorities said. He agreed to talk to a Texas Ranger assigned to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Huntsville unit as the state prepared to lethally inject him Thursday evening. Hernandez was executed for raping and strangling Susan Verstegen, 38, but while he was on death row, authorities in 2009 determined his DNA matched evidence from the 1991 shooting death of Muriel Stoepker in Michigan. Hernandez had retracted a confession he signed in 2002 in the Verstegen case and up until Thursday had denied killing either woman. He told a San Antonio Express-News reporter weeks before his execution date that he’d had sex with Verstegen the night of her death but claimed someone else killed her, although detectives had matched his DNA to evidence from the scene of the slaying. Just before his execution, though, Hernandez “admitted to his involvement in the 1994 homicide of Susan Verstegen in San Antonio,” the Kent County news release states. Muriel Stoepker, 77, was shot to death in a parking garage at Grand Rapids Community College. In a recent letter to a San Antonio Express-News reporter, Hernandez claimed that he’d paid Muriel Stoepker for a sexual favor that night but maintained he did not kill her. That story also changed as his execution drew near. “Hernandez admitted he shot and killed Muriel Stoepker after he paid her for a sexual favor,” the Kent County news release states. “Hernandez claimed the gun he had in his possession went off accidentally.”
Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/At-death-s-door-condemned-man-confessed-to-2-2843120.php#ixzz1pUSZ8Tfw
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 31, 2012 Georgia Chrissie Williams, 26
Katelyn Williams, 3
Nicholas Tate stayed
Katelyn Williams, murder victimAround 7:00 a.m. on the morning of December 11, 2001, Katelyn Williams, age three, and Brian Williams, age one, were taken from their grandmother’s residence, with whom they lived, by their aunt to visit their parents, Chrissie and Barry Williams. Chrissie and Barry did not have full custody of the children, but had recently gained custody of the children during the day. Each morning the children were taken to their parents’ residence for the day and then returned to their grandmother’s residence at night. At the time they arrived at their parents’ residence, their father was leaving for work and their mother, Chrissie, was still sleeping. Brian, who was wearing one piece zip-up pajamas, was placed in his crib that was located in his parent’s bedroom. Katelyn went to sleep in the bed with her mother. Chrissie’s sister, Kimberly Turpen, went to Chrissie’s home around 1:00 p.m. She knocked on the front door and did not get an answer. Kimberly walked to the back door but was unable to enter the residence. She then heard Brian crying for his mother and decided to break in through the window of Chrissie’s bedroom. Kimberly stepped through the window, onto Chrissie’s bed, and immediately saw that she was standing in a pool of blood. In shock, she unknowingly stepped off the bed onto the lifeless, nude body of Katelyn. Kimberly removed a pillow that had been placed over Katelyn’s head and found her body drenched in blood. Kimberly then ran out of the bedroom and across the hallway to the children’s bedroom where she found Chrissie’s body. Chrissie’s hands were cuffed to the headboard and her feet were bound. In addition, Kimberly observed that Chrissie’s face was partially covered in duct tape, and she had been shot in the head. Kimberly ran to the living room where she found Brian crying and then to the kitchen to call 911. Failing to receive a dial tone and finding that the phone cord had been cut, Kimberly rushed back to her car and drove across the street to a Rite Way Food Store for help. The store employee called 911. The record also showed that, on the morning of December 11, 2001, brothers Chad Tate, age 15, Dustin Wade Tate, age 18, and Nicholas Tate, age 21, packed their weapons into their truck and left their mother’s home where they resided. They drove to Camp’s Sporting Goods store. Nathaniel and Dustin entered the store and purchased duct tape and ammunition for a Winchester 12 gauge rifle, a 9MM pistol, a revolver, an AR15, a knife, and additional ammunition. The brothers left the store around 10:50 a.m. They then drove to the Williams’ home, a five minute drive from Camp’s Sporting Goods store. The record established that the Tates planned to steal weapons, money, and drugs from the Williams’ home. The men, who were related to Chrissie by marriage, knew that Chrissie would be at home as she did not work. In addition to stealing weapons, money and drugs, the Tates planned to rape Chrissie by using a stun gun or taser, erroneously believing it would render her unconscious. When the men reached the residence, Chad carried a.380 semi-automatic gun and a Braco gun, Dustin carried a Rugger 9MM and.38 Special, and Nicholas carried a Smith and Wesson 9MM and.357 semi-automatic. When Katelyn opened the front door and began screaming, Nicholas Tate grabbed her and tried to duct tape her mouth but was unable to restrain her. He then forced three-year-old Katelyn from the living room into her mother’s room, removed her pajamas, and sexually assaulted her. Chad also sexually assaulted Katelyn. In the meantime, Chrissie was found sleeping in her bedroom. Dustin Tate shocked Chrissie Williams with a stun gun, believing it would render her unconscious. When his attempt to render her unconscious failed, Dustin Tate forced Chrissie Williams from the room where she had been sleeping and where her infant son was screaming to the room across the hallway. Both Nicholas Tate and Chad Tate assisted Dustin Tate either in taping Chrissie Williams’s mouth and eyes with the duct tape or in handcuffing her hands to the headboard and taping her legs to the footboard of the bed. Chrissie managed, however, to remove the tape from her mouth and began screaming. Nicholas Tate threatened to beat Chrissie Williams with his handgun if she did not abandon her attempts at screaming. He also yelled at Chrissie to tell him if there were drugs in the home. Nicholas then grabbed Brian out of the crib, and placed him in the living room. Nicholas and Chad Tate rummaged through the home and through Chrissie Williams’s purse looking for drugs and money. Chad Tate and Nicholas Tate undressed Katelyn Williams for their sexual gratification. Katelyn began crying again and Nicholas placed her in Brian’s crib. Still unable to make her stop screaming, Nicholas removed Katelyn from the crib and placed her in the living room. He then yelled at Katelyn “to shut up,” and ordered Chad to take her back to the bedroom. When Katelyn Williams would not stop screaming, Nicholas Tate directed Chad Tate, his 15-year-old brother, to silence Katelyn Williams, who was only three years old. Nicholas then cut the phone wire from the telephone in the kitchen, and directed Chad to silence her. Chad Tate emerged from the room where he had strangled the child with a telephone cord, likely with his hands showing obvious signs of what he had done. When the child regained consciousness and began screaming again, Nicholas Tate, who had initially sent Chad to silence the child, allowed Chad Tate to take his knife and to return to the room where the child was. Chad Tate slit Katelyn Williams’s throat several times and then pushed her off of the bed onto the floor, where she eventually bled to death. Dustin Tate left the house out of fear. Nicholas Tate then placed a seat cushion over Chrissie Williams’s head as she lay bound to a bed, and he fired one shot through her head, killing her. The record showed that the Tates’ truck was seen leaving the victims’ residence at 12:30 p.m. The following day, the men kidnapped a 23-year-old woman at a gas station where she worked in Mississippi and threatened to kill her. They subsequently released the female victim the following morning and took her car, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The brothers abandoned their weapons at a motel in Shawnee, Oklahoma and drove to El Reno, Oklahoma, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. The Tate brothers contacted their parents in Dallas, Georgia and their parents called police. Authorities eventually negotiated their surrender by phone after several hours on December 14, 2001. During the investigation, the police located a bag of marijuana and methamphetamines from a hotel room in Mississippi where Nicholas Tate had stayed with the female victim. The police also retrieved the following guns from Tate’s hotel room: Colt.223; Mossberg 12 Gauge Shotgun; Smith and Wesson 9MM; Ruger P95 9MM; Charter 2000;.38; Ruger.357; and a Bryco Arm gun. The police also located the following knives: a white tail cutlery with a sheath; a KA-Bar USMC with sheath; a Black Knife Frost Cutlery Surgical Steel with a sheath; a MAC USA butterfly; a Black Scharde mounted on a shoulder holster; a black sidekick; and a black bianchi. The following ammunition was found: one and a half boxes of Winchester.30 Special 130 bullets; a partial box of Winchester 357 Magnum bullets; a box of Federal.357 bullets; a box of Gold Dot 9MM Luger bullets; a box of Browning Court 9MM.380 Automatic bullets; two boxes of Winchester 9MM Lugers; nine boxes of Super X Rifle 12 Gauge Slugs; one and a half boxes of 66 Super X Magnum Buckshot bullets; and six boxes of Wolf.223 bullets. Furthermore, a Muscle Man 200,000 volt taser, and a Uniden Bearcut police scanner were retrieved from the hotel room. In addition to the items found in the hotel room, the police also found as many as 44 weapons in the brothers’ bedrooms in Dallas, Georgia, which included: five guns; 26 knives; a grenade; 11 swords; and a bladed knuckle. The majority of the weapons were retrieved from Nicholas’s bedroom. As to the victims’ injuries, the autopsy report confirmed that Katelyn suffered from a cut wound across the front of her neck that measured four and seven-eight inches in length and was deep enough to puncture vital structures of the neck. The medical examiner determined that the knife wound punctured Katelyn’s internal jugular vein, cut the entire length and depth of her trachea, and cut her windpipe. He further opined that it could have taken up to 15 minutes, depending on the rate of blood loss, for the wounds to have killed Katelyn. In addition, Katelyn’s body had petechia, pin point sized hemorrhages, on her face, eyes, mouth and neck, which are indicative of ligature strangulation. Although the strangulation may have played a minor role in the causation of death, the medical examiner reported that the wound to the neck was likely the primary cause of death. The autopsy report also showed that Chrissie died from a gun shot wound to the head above the left ear, which traveled through the brain and exited at the upper edge of the right ear. There was also extensive bruising on the right and left forearm and wrists. The medical examiner opined that Chrissie could have survived up to a few minutes after receiving the gunshot wound. DNA tests were conducted on three pair of blue jeans belonging to the brothers. The blue jean initialed with the letter “N” tested positive for Katelyn’s blood. Firearms examiners also determined that Nicholas Tate’s gun was the weapon used to murder Chrissie. During his guilty plea on November 15, 2005, Nicholas stated that they went to the victims’ residence to steal money, weapons and drugs. Nicholas admitted to shooting Chrissie in the head. Specifically, Nicholas stated that he put a pillow over Chrissie’s head and shot her. Nicholas also admitted that he removed Katelyn’s clothes and took her into her mother’s room “with the intent on looking at her to get sexually aroused.” Tate was indicted by a Paulding County grand jury on February 20, 2002, on two counts of malice murder, eight counts of felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, two counts of kidnapping, four counts of burglary, one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, two counts of false imprisonment, and one count of child molestation. Nicholas Cody Tate pleaded guilty to both murders and to related crimes, and he waived his right to a jury trial as to sentencing for the murders. The evidence also showed that Nicholas Tate had been intent upon eliminating potential witnesses and that Katelyn Williams had recognized him and had called him by name. Both Chad and Nicholas Tate’s pants were shown to have been stained with Katelyn Williams’s blood. UPDATE: Approximately 45 minutes prior to his scheduled execution, Nicholas Tate signaled that he would file a new round of appeals, and he received a stay of his execution date. Friends and family of the victims had hoped the execution would not be delayed. Kellie Young, Chrissie’s elder sister, said her family would be disappointed if it were to be postponed by the courts. “I think justice needs to be served for our family,” she said. “And he wants the same thing. Why not go ahead and do it?” Nicholas Tate filed a motion for a new trial in 2006, but three years later he had a change of heart. That’s when he said he wanted to waive all future appeals, and a trial judge accepted his request. His attorneys went ahead with a direct appeal, asking the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the sentence. Among the arguments they made was that Tate had an abusive childhood that led him to violence. The court rejected that argument, and so do Williams’ relatives. “Our background wasn’t the best either. We came from an abusive family. We were separated, put in foster homes,” Young said. “I mean, Chrissie graduated high school. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

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