April 2013 Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 3, 2013 Texas Jettie Lucas, 85
Maggie Harding, 81
Dorothy E. Booth, 71
Kimberly McCarthy stayed
Jettie Lucas, murder victimMaggie Harding, murder victimDorothy Booth, murder victimIn July of 1997, Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy entered the home of her 71-year old neighbor Dorothy Booth after calling and asking if she could borrow some sugar. Dorothy was a retired nursing professor. McCarthy stabbed Dr. Booth five times with a butcher knife, hit her in the face with a candelabrum, and cut off her left ring finger in order to take her diamond ring. McCarthy then left with Dr. Booth’s purse and wedding ring. Eventually, she drove Dorothy’s white Mercedes Benz to a crack house where she attempted to purchase crack cocaine. She later pawned Dr. Booth’s wedding ring for $200, and used her credit cards at least four times on the day after the murder, at a liquor store in the neighborhood on one occasion. The 10-inch butcher knife was found in McCarthy’s home. It had been washed but after dismantling the handle, forensics experts found a blood sample that was matched to Dr. Booth’s genetic profile. McCarthy also faces capital murder charges in the December 1988 deaths of Maggie Harding, 81, and Jettie Lucas, 85. The elderly women had befriended her through her mother. Maggie had been stabbed and bludgeoned with a metal meat tenderizer, her body dumped in a garage. McCarthy had done part time office work for Maggie in the past. Maggie’s niece told reporters that her aunt had "a tremendous amount of money" in her home. A week later, Jettie Lucas’s body was found in her South Dallas home. She was beaten to death with a claw hammer and also stabbed with a knife. Police found a bloody hammer and several knives in the home. They also found a handprint on the refrigerator that was matched to McCarthy after she was arrested for Dorothy Booth’s murder. The women were murdered within days of one another in December 1988 and DNA evidence linked McCarthy to their murders.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 9, 2013 Texas George Ray Newman, 45 Rickey Lewis executed
Rickey Lynn Lewis murdered a Smith County man during a home burglary and raped the man’s fiancée. Lewis received the death penalty in 1997 after jurors decided he shot George Newman in the face after the 45-year-old victim confronted Lewis during a home invasion. Newman’s longtime fiancée, Connie Hilton, was sexually assaulted. George Newman died Sept. 17, 1990, when he confronted three men who were burglarizing his home. Connie Hilton recently retold the story to a local Tyler new station. "I had gotten up to check the dogs because of the way they were barking, and I saw a man in the hallway with a shotgun. And, I started screaming," said Connie. Connie’s screams brought her fiancé, George Newman, rushing to her aid. But Lewis shot and killed him, then put Connie through a violent hour of torture. "I could hear the other two men talking while they were taking things out of the house and he was raping me while they were doing that. I was taken into the kitchen and tied with my hands and legs behind me and told that somebody would find us in the morning," Connie said Lewis didn’t leave then. He assaulted Connie again, killed her dog and stole her truck. Connie eventually was able to get loose and crawl to her fiance, but he was dead. Determined to do something, Connie crawled out of a window, got in a truck and drove to a local store. "I ran into a few trees because I was afraid to turn the lights on," Connie said. Law officers arrested Lewis 3 days later after discovering he had been seen with some of Newman’s possessions. DNA evidence linked Lewis to the incident but two other men involved were never brought to justice. Seeing Lewis in court when his execution date was set leaves Connie hoping that this time will be the last time he walks away. Even after all these years, Connie said, "I’m determined to be a victor, not a victim. It’s the justice system. Justice. For victims. It’s taken entirely too long," Connie said. When then-district attorney Jack Skeen, Jr., first prosecuted the case, Lewis was sentenced to death row twice. Then, Lewis claimed he was mentally challenged in hopes of halting his execution. "He has now had two state courts and he has had two federal courts look at this and say, ‘We’ve looked at this, we’ve reviewed the evidence and clearly you’re not mentally retarded,’" said Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham. Bingham says Lewis’ decades of appeals have cost Smith County tax payers a significant amount of money, including Connie. "I’m a taxpayer. I’m supporting the man that killed my fiance," Connie said. "We’re ready, finally, for this to be over with and for him to be executed," said Bingham. But for Connie, Lewis’ execution won’t be the end. "It’s just one chapter closing, but not it will never be total closure… never be over," she said. Connie credits God, her family and friends for helping her make it through, but she says she will always feel like she never got a chance to tell her fiancé goodbye. Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham says they’re very thankful Judge Kennedy set Lewis’ execution for as soon as she did. Connie Hilton says she will attend the execution. Since the 1990 incident, she has married but keeps a special place in her heart for George Newman. What she remembers most about him is "his smile, his caring attitude and his compassion for life. We were friends for years," she recalled. "We’d been through previous marriages and everything else." Since the heinous crime forced her into the justice system, Ms. Hilton has fought to prevent others from being victimized. She has become a leader in the statewide program, Bridges to Life , which is geared toward offenders preparing for release from prison. Through the program, Ms. Hilton and other victims visit prisons to meet with pre-release inmates and discuss the impact of crime on families of victims and offenders. Participants have recorded an 8.6-percent recidivism rate after two years in society. Although she has talked with numerous prison inmates, Ms. Hilton has had no contact with Lewis. He has not tried to contact her and has shown no remorse, Ms. Hilton said. When he was given a previous execution date in 2003, "…he just stood there with no emotion. It put me back to the time it happened. It brings back a lot of memories." Ms. Hilton said she has no desire to speak to Lewis because there are no questions in her mind about the attack. "I was there when it happened so I know everything that was said and done," she said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 10, 2013 Texas Nicholas Macias, 19 mo Rigoberto Avila stayed until July 10
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.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 10, 2013 Florida Elisa Vera Nelson , 10 Larry Mann executed
Elisa Nelson, murder victimAt approximately 10:30 a.m. on November 4, 1980, 10-year-old, Elisa Nelson was riding her bike to school. She was late for school because she had a dentist appointment that morning, and her mother had given her a note excusing her absence. Elisa’s bicycle was found later that day in a ditch approximately one mile from Elisa’s school. A search party, which included police officers and community members, was initiated. Elisa’s body was found on November 5, 1980. Elisa died from a skull fracture possibly caused by a single blow to the head. A cement-encased steel pipe was found lying next to the body. There were two lacerations approximately 3.5 and 4.5 inches along the girl’s neck. The medical examiner could not discern if the lacerations were made before or after the child’s death, but they were not the cause of death. There were no signs of molestation on the body. The same day that Elisa disappeared, Larry Eugene Mann attempted to commit suicide by slashing both of his forearms. The police were summoned to help, and Mann stated to them that he had “done something stupid and needed help.” Mann was taken to the hospital were the doctor ruled that Mann had made a serious attempt to end his life. On November 8, 1980, Mann asked his wife to retrieve his glasses from his 1957 Chevy pickup truck. Upon doing so, Mrs. Mann found the bloodstained note that Elisa’s mother had written to excuse her from school. A friend of Mrs. Mann’s reported this finding to the police and that resulted in a search warrant of Mann’s truck and house. Inside the truck, a bloodstain was found with the same blood type as both Mann and Elisa. On November 10, 1980, Mann was arrested. Prior to the above incident, Mann had previously attempted suicide at least three or four times. Mann also has a history of pedophilia and psychotic depressions. UPDATE: Larry Mann was executed without a final statement. He responded "Uh, no sir" when asked if he had any final words. Had she lived, Elisa would have been 42 years old by the time Mann was executed.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 16, 2013 Texas Dexter McDonald, 17 Ronnie Threadgill executed
On the evening of April 14, 2001, a birthday party was held at the Pleasure Garden Club in Navarro County for Christopher Lane and his sister, Mona Lane. The party ended sometime between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. Dexter McDonald and Kevin Williams planned to ride home with Christopher. Williams got in the front passenger seat of Christopher’s car and Dexter McDonald got in the back. Christopher was driving. Before leaving Pleasure Garden, Christopher got out of the car to talk to someone and left the car running with the driver’s side door open. Christopher testified he left Williams and Dexter in possession of his vehicle. Christopher then heard gunshots and saw his car being driven out of the parking lot. The car stopped at the stop sign at the access road and then headed north on Interstate 45 toward Dallas. Williams had jumped out of the car before it left the Pleasure Garden parking lot, but the driver pulled Dexter McDonald from the car and left him on the ground when the car stopped at the stop sign. Friends took Dexter to the hospital where he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Danyel Dwayne Nellums attended the birthday party and was in the parking lot afterwards. He was walking toward Christopher’s car when he saw a man run from behind the car and jump into the driver’s seat. According to Nellums, the man fired a shot and Williams jumped out. The man fired a second shot, which struck Dexter, and drove off. The man was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. He had a bandana over the lower part of his face and was carrying a black pistol. Although Nellums stated that he was not able to identify the shooter in a lineup because of the bandana, he nonetheless testified that he recognized the shooter as a person he saw earlier in the night sitting in an old car parked next to Christopher’s car in the Pleasure Garden parking lot. Nellums identified Ronnie Paul Threadgill in the courtroom as the person he saw that night, stating that he was "positive" it was him. Mona Lane testified that she did not see the shooter’s face, but saw him from the back. He was wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt, and dark shoes. She testified that a car she had seen parked in the club’s parking lot earlier in the night pulled up beside her brother’s car, and the driver jumped out and ran around Christopher’s car, yelling to the passengers to get out. Then she heard gunshots. She testified that she had seen the shooter earlier in the night sitting in the driver’s seat of a car outside of the club. She identified Threadgill as the man she saw earlier in the night sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in the parking lot. The incident was immediately reported to police, and a dispatch went out for the stolen vehicle. Officers with the Ennis Police Department heard the dispatch and saw a vehicle matching the given description traveling on I-45. The officers pursued the vehicle with their sirens on and lights flashing. The vehicle exited the freeway and attempted to turn the wrong way onto the one-way service road. The driver slammed on the brakes and skidded into a ditch, disabling the vehicle. The driver got out of the vehicle and ran to a nearby Mobil Station where a number of semi-trucks were parked. The officers surrounded the station, and found Threadgill hanging from the axle underneath a semi-truck trailer. A bandana was found stuffed under the frame of the trailer where he was hiding. He was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. Ennis police officer Randy Owen identified Threadgill as the person he saw get out of Christopher’s vehicle and the person who was found hiding under the truck. Threadgill’s fingerprints were matched to fingerprints lifted from the rear passenger door of Christopher’s vehicle. The blood of the victim matched blood on Threadgill’s clothes. Threadgill called Kevin Williams, the passenger who escaped from the front seat of the car before it left the Pleasure Garden parking lot. Williams testified that he did not get a good look at the shooter because of the scarf obscuring his face from the middle of his nose down. However, he testified that he believed the skin color of the shooter was a little lighter than Threadgill’s. When questioned further by Threadgill’s counsel, he stated that he was positive the shooter was lighter than Threadgill’s. When questioned by the prosecutor, however, Williams agreed that he was not saying that Threadgill was not the shooter, that he could have been. On re-direct Williams reiterated that he was positive the person who got in the car was a lighter skin color than Threadgill. Again, on re-cross Williams agreed that he was not saying the shooter was not Threadgill and he agreed that it could have been.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 23, 2013 Pennsylvania Robert S. Hayes, 45 Borgela Philistin stayed
Officer Robert Hayes, murder victimOn June 16, 1993, in the City of Philadelphia, two police officers made a routine traffic stop of a vehicle in which Borgela Philistin was a passenger at Limekiln Pike and Andrews Avenue, in West Oak Lane. When the officers approached the vehicle, Philistin emerged, grabbed one of the officers’ guns, and began shooting. Philistin shot Officer Robert Hayes in the head, striking his eye, and also in the abdomen, causing his death. He shot the other officer, John Marynowitz , in the head and back. A woman who lived nearby rushed to the scene of the shooting and saved Officer Marynowitz’s life by resuscitating him. His injuries, however, left him a paraplegic and suffering from brain-damage. At the time of this incident, Philistin was acting as a drug courier and was transporting cocaine in the vehicle. Philistin’s fingerprints were found on the gun used in the shooting and he gave a statement to police admitting that he was present at the crime scene and that he fired the gun. The statement contained an admission that Philistin was in the process of delivering cocaine at the time of the incident. Gunpowder residue was found on Philistin’s right hand. Blood on Philistin’s clothing was of the same type as that of the wounded officers. In addition, various eyewitnesses testified to Philistin’s presence at the crime scene. Police arrived just a moment after the shooting. They saw Philistin and told him to stop, but he fled. Police pursued and apprehended him, and found a bag of cocaine near the point of his arrest. Officer Hayes had joined the police department in 1986 at the age of 38. He had always wanted to be a cop and had served for 7 years at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and three sons.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 24, 2013 Texas John Henry Sepeda , 78
Etta Mae Stallings, 86
Cheryl DeLeon, 40
Albert Bolden, Jr., 35
Willie Ryman, III, 38
Elroy Chester stayed until June 12
Willie Ryman III, murder victimCheryl DeLeon, murder victimOn the evening of February 6, 1998, Chester broke into a home in Port Arthur while seventeen-year-old Erin D. was at home alone with her one-and-a-half year old son, Tony. Unbeknownst to Erin, Chester was outside the house, watching her. He had been walking through her neighborhood, searching for a place to burglarize. He had with him a pair of gloves, a knitted hat in which he had cut two holes to make a ski mask, and a gun which he had stolen in a previous burglary. He had scratched the serial numbers off of the gun. Upon reaching the Ryman home, he recognized it as one he had burglarized previously. He watched Erin through the open window blinds and, when it appeared that she was home alone he went around the side of the house and cut the phone lines, which he later said was his normal practice when committing a burglary. He checked the side door to the house and found it unlocked. Chester put on his mask and gloves, and entered the house through the side door. That door opened into the kitchen, which he entered, and then came into the living room where Erin was. Chester grabbed Erin by the hair, held the gun to her head, and demanded money and jewelry. Erin replied that they had a little jewelry, but no money, in the house. He then took her through the house, still holding her by the hair, searching her mother’s and sisters’ bedrooms to confirm that no one else was at home. He asked Erin where her mother was and if she was coming home. Erin said her mother would be home in the morning. He then asked Erin who she had been on the phone with earlier. Erin replied that she had spoken with her boyfriend. After that Chester took Erin into her mother’s bedroom, from which he took some jewelry. He then did the same in her sisters’ and in Erin’s own bedroom. He took her to the dining room, and then had her turn off all remaining lights in the home. He then took her into the garage, still pulling her by her hair. Once in the garage, Erin offered to turn on the lights but Chester refused. Instead, he began feeling around in the dark until he found a roll of duct tape. Erin later testified that she believed by the way he was feeling around that the he knew exactly what he was looking for in the dark garage. As they re-entered the house, Erin’s sister Claire was arriving at the side door with her boyfriend Tim. They attempted to enter through the side door but Chester had made Erin lock it, so Claire knocked on the door. Chester pulled Erin by her hair toward the door and, while hiding behind her with his gun pointed at her head, ordered Erin to unlock the door and let her sister into the house. When Claire entered the house, he pushed Erin forward and yelled at Claire to not say anything or he would "blow her [Erin’s] head off." Claire began to babble incoherently and Erin tried to quiet her. Tim, still unaware of what was happening, was outside on the porch and asked Claire what was wrong. Chester ordered Claire to tell Tim that nothing was wrong and that he should leave. Claire complied, but Tim persisted, and Chester told him directly to come into the house. Tim’s car was still running, so he asked Chester if he could turn it off first, and Chester told him yes, but if Tim attempted to leave that he would kill both girls. Tim went to turn off his car ignition, and then entered the house. Once inside, Chester was still holding Erin by her ponytail, and with the gun pointed at her head demanded jewelry or money from Claire and Tim. They said they had none. Tim showed Chester his empty wallet, and Claire went to her mother’s bedroom to confirm that there was no more jewelry in the house. When Claire returned, Chester asked Tim what kind of car he had, and specifically whether it was an automatic or a stick shift. Erin later testified that she presumed from those questions that Chester was thinking of using Tim’s car to escape. Chester then ordered Claire and Tim into the bathroom. Alone with Erin in the dining room, the gunman ordered her to remove her clothes. Erin began to do so. Chester tried to remove her bra himself, and did remove her underwear himself. Erin was now kneeling and wearing only her socks, and Chester used the duct tape to blindfold her. He then called for Tim to come out of the bathroom. He ordered Tim to strip, and Tim removed all of his clothes except for his underwear and socks. The applicant then used the duct tape to blindfold Tim, and to bind his wrists and ankles. After that, Chester dragged Tim into Erin’s bedroom. He returned to the dining room and ordered Claire to come out of the bathroom. He ordered Claire to remove her clothes, and she complied. He then blindfolded Claire with the duct tape, and seated her on the floor next to Erin. Erin then removed the tape over her eyes enough to see the applicant unzipping his pants and removing his mask, but Chester came over to push the tape back down over her eyes. Then Chester raped Erin vaginally, on the floor, next to her sister. When he was done and had removed himself from on top of her, Erin tried to get up, but he pulled her over to where he was now sitting in a chair, and forced her to perform oral sodomy on him. Chester kept the gun next to Erin’s forehead and threatened to shoot her if she tried to bite him. After the oral sex, Erin moved to the floor area at one side of the room, and Chester ordered Claire to perform oral sex on him, which she did. The applicant repeated the same threat that he would shoot her if she bit him. Then a car pulled up outside. Chester heard the car, ran into the kitchen to dress himself, then went to stand by the side door to wait for the person approaching, who turned out to be Willie ("Billy") Ryman, Kim Ryman’s brother, the girls’ uncle and a local firefighter. Billy would often come to the house to check on the girls, when he knew their mother was at work. Billy opened the door and turned on the light. Chester yelled at him to come inside and, upon entering, he shot him. Billy fell to the ground immediately, and Chester dragged his body into the kitchen, where he eventually died. Chester then ran out of the house. Claire got up and locked the side door, locking him out of the house. Billy’s girlfriend Marcia Sharp had been waiting outside in Billy’s truck in the driveway while he went up to the house. Marcia heard the gunshot fired at Billy but thought perhaps it was a car backfiring. Moments later, she saw Chester run out of the house and then try to go back in, after realizing he had been locked out by Claire. Chester then approached the truck on the passenger side, where Marcia was sitting. The door was unlocked but, just as he reached for the handle, Marcia locked it. Chester was now wearing his mask again. He pulled out his gun and shot once at the lock on the car door. He then noticed that the driver’s door was unlocked, so he ran around to the driver’s side of the truck, but Marcia quickly reached over and locked that door, too. He shot twice at the lock on the driver’s door, but it did not open. He then stepped back, looked at Marcia, and shot twice more at the driver’s door window. None of the gunshots hit Marcia. Chester then ran down the street, away from the house. The events at the Ryman-Deleon home were the culmination of a six-month spree of criminal activity by Chester, in which he burglarized at least five residences, sexually assaulted two people, murdered at least five people, and fired shots at no fewer than five others. On August 3, 1997, six months before the murder of Willie Ryman, Chester burglarized the home of Kenneth Risinger. There, he obtained the.380 semi-automatic pistol he later used to shoot several victims. Six days later, Chester broke into the home of a ten-year-old girl while wearing a hockey mask. He forced the girl into a closet, tied her up with tape, and anally raped her. On the night of August 16, 1997, Chester attempted to burglarize two homes and ended up shooting the residents. First, he awoke sixteen-year-old Oscar Morales by shouting through his bedroom window and demanding money. When Morales tried to leave the room, Chester shot him in the leg. Later that evening, Chester awakened Matthew Horvarich in a similar manner. When Horvatch got up and came to the window, Chester shot him in the shoulder. Among the crimes that Elroy Chester eventually confessed to committing during this period were the following: The burglary and homicide of John Henry Sepeda. Like the Ryman murder case, he used wire cutters to cut the phone lines to John Sepeda’s home before entering it, he wore a mask which he had brought with him, and he carried a gun. He also carried a flashlight. He entered the bedroom where John and his wife of 55 years, Lupe were sleeping, and began to burglarize the room while they slept. John woke up, and approached Chester, who shot and killed him. Before fleeing, he demanded that Lupe Sepeda give him a ring that she was wearing. The murder of Albert Bolden, Chester’s common-law brother-in-law: Chester gave two reasons to the police for his motive: Bolden had been beating his sister, and/or Bolden had set him up on a date with a woman who turned out to be a transvestite. Chester invited Bolden to commit a burglary with him, and brought him to a vacant home he knew of in Port Arthur. In fact, he had no intention of burglarizing the home and instead admitted that he just wanted to kill Bolden. After leading Bolden to the vacant home, Chester directed him to walk through the door first, and then shot him in the back of the head. He then fled the scene and hid the gun that he used. The burglary and homicide of Etta Stallings: Again, Chester wore a ski mask, carried a gun and a flashlight, staked out the home beforehand to see who was there, and cut the phone lines outside before breaking into the home on November 15, 1997. As in the Sepeda case, he attempted to burglarize the home while Etta Stallings and her husband were asleep, but Etta woke up. She pulled a gun out of her dresser drawer, and he shot her to death. He then took the property he had stolen, as well as Stallings’ gun, and stashed it all under a nearby vacant house. •The murder of Cheryl DeLeon. Chester knew Cheryl DeLeon because they had worked together at a local Luby’s restaurant for eleven months in 1992. He admitted he would often sexually harass her, and she would complain about it to their boss. Knowing that she still worked at Luby’s, he likewise knew that she got off work at 8:00 in the evening. On November 20, 1997, after it had gotten dark outside, he went to Cheryl’s home. As in the Ryman case, Chester was wearing a mask, carrying a gun, and wearing gloves. This time, he unscrewed the light bulb illuminating a storage shed near the back door of her house, so that he could lay in wait under cover of darkness. He lied down on the ground by the storage shed, and waited thirty to forty-five minutes in the dark until Cheryl DeLeon’s car pulled into the driveway. As Cheryl got out of her car and walked to her back door, he ran up and grabbed her. They struggled, she screamed, and he hit her in the side of the head with the gun. According to Chester, the gun went off accidentally when he hit her with it, shooting her dead. He then fled to his father’s home, where he hid the gun in the attic. Even before Chester’s arrest, Port Arthur police had recognized that the series of recent burglaries, assaults, rapes and murders in the Port Arthur area shared a similar modus operandi. For instance, at many of the burglarized homes, Chester would cut the telephone lines, unscrew outdoor security lights, and wear a mask to conceal his identity. The evidence later presented in trial suggested that Chester used the.380 pistol in the shooting deaths of Willie Ryman, John Sepeda, Cheryl DeLeon, Etta Stallings, and Albert Bolden. Shell casings found at the crime scenes and bullets removed from the victims bodies matched characteristics of the pistol found in Chester’s home. Chester had also attempted to use some object to alter the physical characteristics of the barrel and had filed off the serial number. The Port Arthur police arrested him. While in custody, and after being asked to provide a blood sample, Chester told investigator Timothy Smith that he would take him to where the gun that was used in the crime was located. Chester knew Smith and seemed to trust him more than he did the other officers. Smith, two other investigators from the District Attorney’s office, and two local detectives then accompanied Chester to his father’s house. He was wearing a jail jumpsuit, as well as leg restraints attached by a chain to another chain around his waist, which in turn connected to a pair of handcuffs, thereby shackling his wrists to his waist, such that his mobility was extremely limited. Upon reaching his father’s house, Chester attempted to move ahead of the others. Smith had admonished him that he would not be allowed to handle or touch the gun himself, but Chester insisted that he would have to locate the gun personally because it was in a place that was difficult to reach. He assured the detective that the gun was unloaded, and that he himself was the only one who would be able to reach it. Chester led the others to his bedroom and, despite efforts to prevent him from moving ahead too quickly, walked over near his bed and dragged a small nightstand to a position directly underneath a hole in the ceiling. He began to climb on top of the nightstand, but was quickly told to stop. One of the investigators, Reginald Rose, climbed on top of the nightstand to look in the hole, and Chester directed him to look in a specific direction for the gun. Rose looked and reached around inside the hole as directed by Chester, but could not find the gun. Chester then climbed atop the same nightstand where Rose was standing and, while continuing to direct Rose to look in the same direction he had previously indicated, attempted to reach with his shackled hands in the opposite direction from where he had told Rose to look. Smith had been watching him the entire time and, when he saw Chester reach with his hands in the other direction, drew his gun and ordered him to stop moving. He was taken down from the nightstand and escorted to sit on a nearby couch. Smith then climbed atop the nightstand himself and looked in the direction where the applicant had attempted to reach. He immediately saw the gun and retrieved it. The gun was fully loaded. After being sentenced to death, the lawyer’s for Chester sought relief from the sentence on the ground that he was mentally retarded and it would be cruel and unusual punishment to put him to death. The court in which he was convicted found the evidence insufficient to support the claim. The trial court also found that Chester was capable of hiding facts and lying to protect his own interests, as demonstrated by the episode in which he told the investigators that he would take them to where he had hidden his gun, all the while apparently planning to get to the gun himself before the investigators could. Finally, the court found that the specifics of the various crimes to which he confessed, including the use of masks and gloves, his practice of cutting exterior phone lines before entering homes to burglarize, and his deliberate targeting of victims like Cheryl DeLeon and his brother-in-law Albert Bolden, showed persuasively that he was capable of forethought, planning, and complex execution of purpose. Chester pleaded guilty to capital murder. Texas law requires that a jury decide punishment in a case in which death is a possible penalty. At the punishment phase, the facts of the offense were undisputed. After hearing evidence of the offense and other evidence relevant to the punishment issues, the jury returned findings that required the trial court to enter a sentence of death. Prior to Chester’s murderous rampage he had already qualified himself as a career criminal. He had been given a ten year sentence from Jefferson County for one count of Burglary of a Habitation and two counts of Burglary of a Building. He served a 13 year sentence concurrently with a 10 year sentence and was released on parole on February 13, 1990. However, he went back to prison on January 11, 1994 when he violated parole. He was released on Mandatory Supervision on March 21, 1997 beginning his rampage five months later.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2013 Texas Kenneth Vandever, 37 Richard Cobb executed
Richard Aaron Cobb and Beunka Adams committed two armed robberies in August 2002. On the night of September 2, 2002, they committed a third. Armed with a shotgun, and wearing masks and gloves, they entered a convenience store known as BDJ’s. Nikki Ansley and Candace Driver were working as clerks that night. Also present in the store was a frequent customer, Kenneth Vandever, 37. Nikki and Candace were made to stand together behind the cash register. Cobb and Adams demanded money. Candace opened the cash register drawer. While Cobb held the shotgun, Adams grabbed the drawer and took all of the money. Kenneth, who had suffered brain damage in a car accident when he was in college, began to walk out the front door, but was ordered to join Ansley and Candace behind the register. Cobb and Adams then decided to take Nikki, Candace, and Kenneth as hostages. Candace was ordered to surrender the keys to her Cadillac, which was parked outside, and the three hostages were forced into the vehicle. Adams drove to a remote, open pasture known as the "pea patch." Everyone got out of the car, and Adams forced Candace and Kenneth into the trunk while Cobb held the gun. Adams took Nikki into a wooded area and raped her. Cobb and Adams then told the three hostages that they could wait for a little while, and then leave, but soon Cobb and Adams changed their minds. After debating what to do, Cobb and Adams tied up the women hostages with their shirts and forced them to kneel by the vehicle. They began to walk away with Kenneth, intending to allow him to come back later to untie Nikki and Candace. Soon they returned, however, and forced Vandever to sit by the other two victims. After Kenneth began to protest, Cobb shot him in the back. Kenneth fell forward, screaming that he had been shot. Either Cobb or Adams then shot Nikki. Nikki fell forward as well, and pretended to be dead. Candace was not hit initially but pretended she had been shot. During testimony she said Adams drew near her and stuck the gun against her head and said, "Are you dead?" When she flinched, he fired and she sustained a grazing wound and powder burns to her mouth. She again pretended to be dead, as Nikki was doing. Adams started kicking Nikki, and Cobb joined in. Cobb lifted Nikki up by her ponytail, and he and Adams put their lighters up to her face. After satisfying themselves that the three victims were dead, Adams and Cobb left the scene and went to the residence of Adams’s cousin. Kenneth Vandever died, but Nikki and Candace survived. After regaining consciousness, they managed to get to safety. Nikki sustained a shotgun wound to her left shoulder, numerous broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, which required her to spend almost two weeks in the hospital. After undergoing emergency surgery, she identified Cobb and Adams from a photo lineup. Candace, who suffered a gunshot wound to her lower lip, was able to identify Adams, but not Cobb, from a photo lineup while in the hospital. Adams’s cousin contacted the police and disclosed Cobb’s and Adams’s whereabouts. They were arrested at Adams’s cousin’s home on September 3, the day after Kenneth Vandever’s murder. Adams surrendered, but Cobb resisted arrest and had to be subdued. Under questioning, Cobb confessed to shooting Kenneth Vandever and to participating in the robbery and kidnapping. On September 23, 2002, Cobb was indicted for capital murder. His trial began on January 5, 2004. On January 23, 2004, he was sentenced to death. Kenneth Vandever’s father Don said Kenneth had the mental capacity of a child. "When he (Cobb) killed Kenneth, he basically killed a child, because after his accident he was like a child. Kenneth never knew what was going on that night,” he said. Beunka Adams was executed for his part in this crime in April 2012. See Victims’ families react to execution

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 25, 2013 Pennsylvania Peter Levato, 49
Marlene Sue Newcomer, 26
William C. Nicholls, 32
Leonard Clifford Miller , 21
Michael Travaglia stayed

Leonard Miller, murder victimOn December 27, 1979, Michael J. Travaglia and John Lesko kidnapped security guard Peter Levato from outside the Edison Hotel and forced him to drive them out of Pittsburgh. Then they drove him to a remote area where they bound his feet and hands, hit him over the head and pushed him over a bridge near the Loyalhanna Dam outside of Saltsburg. When the men discovered Levato was still alive, Travaglia shot him once in the chest and twice in the head. Travaglia later pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy for Levato’s death. Then the duo robbed and repeatedly shot Marlene Sue Newcomer, a single mother from Leisenring in Fayette County who had offered the hitch-hiking pair a ride in her vehicle on a bitterly cold Jan. 1, 1980 after she attended a New Year’s Eve party in Vandergrift. While they held Sue captive, they robber an Indiana County party store. Sue was handcuffed, covered with a blanket and stuffed in the back seat of her SUV, which was later abandoned in a downtown parking garage. Travaglia later pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy for Sue Newcomer’s death. The next day, they lurked around a hot dog stand near their hotel until church organist William Nicholls pulled up nearby. They jumped in his silver-colored Italian Lancia sports car, pointing the.22 at him. They forced him to to drive them out of Pittsburgh. Travaglia shot Nicholls in the arm, repeatedly punched him and taunted him with a knife. They stole his wallet and his watch. After losing consciousness, Nicholls was gagged with a scarf and taken to a wooded location in Indiana County. He was handcuffed and his legs were bound with a belt. They dragged Nichols down the embankment, put a 15 pound rock in his shirt and dumped him through a hole in the ice into the icy Blue Spruce Lake where he subsequently drowned. Travaglia pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy for that murder. In the early morning hours of January 3, 1980, Travaglia and Lesko repeatedly sped past police officer Leonard Miller at his position at the Apollo Stop-and-Go convenience store. The driver was trying to lure Officer Miller away from the store so they could rob it. When Miller approached the car, Travaglia shot the officer twice, at Lesko’s urging, according to trial testimony. Officer Miller was found lying on the highway by police officers who were responding to his radio request for assistance. His service revolver had been drawn, and all six rounds had been fired. Miller was killed on his third full day as a full-time Apollo police officer. Police investigation turned up the Lancia, abandoned, with the windows shattered and bullet holes in it. Prior to the Miller homicide, state police had received evidence indicating that Travaglia may have been involved in a number of armed robberies and killings which had taken place in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties. Pursuant to their investigation, the state police had found a vehicle, owned by a homicide victim, abandoned near a motel where Travaglia and a man named Daniel Keith Montgomery had been staying. Pittsburgh police located Montgomery in the early evening hours of January 3, 1980 in the downtown area of Pittsburgh. While questioning him, they discovered a.38 caliber revolver on his person. Montgomery told the police that Travaglia had given him the weapon and that he (Travaglia) and John Charles Lesko had at that time talked about "wasting a policeman." Montgomery then told police that both Lesko and Travaglia were staying in a room at the Edison Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. The police proceeded immediately to the Edison where they arrested Lesko and Travaglia. The pair were taken to the Public Safety Building and, after being given the standard Miranda warnings, were individually interrogated. Both gave statements implicating themselves in the killing of Officer Miller, and in the killings of William Nicholls, Peter Levato, and Marlene Sue Newcomer. Following various delays caused by two changes of venue and a mistrial, trial commenced in Westmoreland County on January 21, 1981, before Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Gilfert Mihalich and a jury selected in Berks County. The jury found both men guilty of the first degree murder of Officer Miller on January 30, 1981. On February 3, 1981, the jury, finding aggravating circumstances which outweighed any mitigating circumstances, imposed the penalty of death upon Travaglia and Lesko. This is the 16th execution warrant signed for Travaglia.

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