October 2013 Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 1, 2013 Florida Susan Marie Roark , 19
Robyn Gayle Novick, 30
Marshall Gore executed
Susan Roark was last seen alive on January 30, 1988, in Cleveland, Tennessee, in the company of Marshall Lee Gore. Gore had planned to travel to Florida with a friend from Cleveland. While waiting for his friend at a convenience store, Gore struck up a conversation with Susan Roark. Gore then entered Roark’s car, a black Mustang, and they drove away. Gore accompanied Roark to a party at the home of a friend of hers. Roark had planned to spend the night at her friend’s home. Sometime between 11:30 and 12:00, Roark left to drive Gore home. She never returned. The following day Roark’s grandmother reported her missing. She had been expected home by 7 a.m. that morning. Gore arrived in Tampa on January 31, driving a black Mustang. He convinced a friend to help him pawn several items of jewelry later identified as belonging to Roark. Gore then proceeded to Miami, where police subsequently recovered Roark’s Mustang after it was abandoned in a two-car accident. Gore’s fingerprint was found in the car, as well as a traffic ticket which had been issued to him while he was in Miami. On April 2, 1988, the skeletonized remains of Roark’s body were discovered in Columbia County, Florida. The naked body was found in a wooded area which had been used as an unauthorized dumping ground for household garbage and refuse. Expert testimony established that the body was placed in its location either at the time of death or within two hours of death. In addition to this evidence, the State introduced the testimony of two other witnesses. Specifically, Lisa Ingram testified that she "was riding in a car with Gore on February 19 when she saw a woman’s purse in the back seat. She testified that Gore stated that the purse belonged to ‘a girl that he had killed last night.’" In the early hours of March 12, 1988, Coral Gables Patrolman James Avery had heard the sounds of a car wreck. He followed gouge marks and leaked fluid on the road and found a wrecked yellow Corvette with license tags reading “Robyn.” Inside the car Avery found a gold cigarette case with the victim’s initials along with her driver’s license and several credit cards. Another officer also searched the car and found a power of attorney executed by Marshall Gore. On March 16, 1988, Officer Norman Shipes found a woman’s body beside the road while on patrol in rural Dade County. The medical examiner found a belt wrapped around the body’s neck and a white cloth around the left ankle. The body was nude. There were two stab wounds to the chest and abrasions on the neck under the belt. The victim was alive when strangled, and the cause of death was stab wounds associated with mechanical strangulation. The victim was identified as Robyn Novick. Novick, originally from Cincinnati, was a General Motors credit services representative who met Gore during a brief stint moonlighting as a dancer at a club in North Miami-Dade. Linda Williams testified that she saw Robyn Novick at a tavern about 9:00 p.m. on March 11, 1988; that, when Robyn left, she got into the driver’s side of a yellow Corvette with “Robyn” on the tag; and that a white male resembling Marshall Gore was in the passenger’s seat. David Restrepo testified that Gore awakened him in the early hours of March 12, 1988; that Gore was driving a yellow Corvette with “Robyn” on the tag; that they drove to a strip club where he waited in the car while Gore went into the club; that Gore told him he wanted to be called “Robyn” from then on and that he had borrowed the car from a girlfriend; that Gore wrecked the Corvette; and that, while they were running away from the wrecked car, Gore told him that it was stolen. Jessie Casanova testified that Gore moved into her home in February 1988; that he drove a black Mustang at that time, but wrecked it in February; that her mother asked Gore to leave in March 1988; that, when Gore left in a taxicab on March 11, 1988, she lent him $100; that Gore came back about 2:00 a.m. on March 12, 1988, driving a light-colored Corvette; that Gore returned the following afternoon by taxicab and said the Corvette belonged to a friend; and that Gore gave her keys to a Corvette. Mark Joy testified that he worked at a strip club called the Organ Grinder and that Gore showed up at the club early on March 12, 1988, driving a yellow car with “Robyn” on the tag. Frank McKee testified that Gore came to his home between 11:00 p.m. and midnight on March 13, 1988; that Gore told him that the police were looking for him; that he had been driving a Corvette and wrecked it; and that Restrepo had been with him in that car. Among other things Mike Decora of the Metro-Dade Police Department testified that Jessie Casanova gave him a key that fit the victim’s Corvette and that, when he showed Linda Williams a photographic lineup, she said that Gore’s photograph showed the same features as the man she saw with the victim on March 11, but that she could not be positive because the hair and mustache were different. David Simmons of the Metro-Dade Police Department testified that he and Officer Parr interviewed Gore on March 24, 1988 and that Gore denied ever driving a yellow Corvette or knowing the victim. Gore asked to see a photograph of the victim, but said: “Just make sure it’s not a gory one, my stomach can’t take it.” To that point, no one had said that the victim was dead. When given the photograph, Gore covered his eyes with his hand and turned away, and then said he did not recognize the victim. The officers then told Gore he was a suspect in the victim’s murder and that a paper with his name on it had been found in her car. Gore then stated: “If I did this, I deserve the death penalty.” After a pretrial hearing the court ruled that the state could introduce evidence of similar crimes committed by Gore. The state introduced evidence of the January 1988 murder of Susan Roark. The state also introduced evidence that, on March 14, 1988, Gore raped, beat, choked, and stabbed a young woman, after which he stole her car and personal property. The second victim survived and testified against Gore in this trial. She testified that Gore called her for a ride the evening of March 14, 1988 and told her that his Corvette had broken down. She took her two-year-old son and picked Gore up in Ft. Lauderdale. After driving around looking for Gore’s friend’s house, Gore pulled a knife on her and drove off with the woman unable to see where they were going. When he stopped the car, Gore raped her at knife point, then pulled her out of the car, hit her in the face with a rock, and choked her. When she regained consciousness, she was naked, and Gore her car, and her son were gone. Her jewelry was also missing, and, when she awoke again in a hospital, she discovered she had been stabbed. The child was later found alive. It was while police officers were looking for the boy that they stumbled across Robyn Novick’s remains. Suspicion soon fell on Gore for the disappearance of Tennessee college student Susan Marie Roark, who had disappeared two months earlier. She was last seen in his company. In April 1988, Columbia County deputies found Roark’s body, reduced to almost a skeleton, off a forest road. UPDATE: Marshall Lee Gore refused an opportunity to make a final statement prior to his execution. Relatives of victims Robyn Gayle Novick and Susan Marie Roark were present to witness the execution. “I thought that was quite ironic, that he had nothing to say at the end,” said retired Miami-Dade Detective Dave Simmons, who investigated Gore’s slew of rapes. “He played the system for years faking insanity, saying outlandish things to judges and witnesses, and in his moment of truth, he had nothing to say for himself. He was the ultimate coward in the end.” As the relatives filed out of the gallery, Novick’s sister, Pamela Novick, winked at journalists. Pamela Novick recalled her 30-year-old sister’s “heart of gold” and “zest for life” and the horror of her body dumped “as if one was throwing out garbage.” Novick read a statement after the execution lamenting that Gore had lived for so long after her sister’s death. Pamela Novick said her sister had been a petite, beautiful free spirit who thought people were basically good. “As a free spirit, she enjoyed meeting all types of people,” Pamela Novick said. “Her trusting personality ultimately led to her untimely death.” Novick also criticized people who empathized with Gore, who got to live for more than two decades, exercising, watching television, breathing and eating, she said. “My sister Robyn wasn’t given a choice of how or when she wanted to die. She was violently murdered by a serial killer with no mercy and no appeals. Robyn Gayle Novick was only 30 when Marshall Lee Gore savagely beat, raped, stabbed her in the heart and strangled her to death with her own belt,” Pamela Novick, her sister, said after witnessing Gore’s execution. She choked up and had to start over before continuing the 2½-page handwritten statement. “He continued to squeeze the life out of her until she took her very last breath,” Novick said, surrounded by other family members. “He then dumped her beautiful body as if one was throwing out garbage.” Novick’s elderly mother, Phyllis Novick, who lives in Ohio, did not attend Tuesday’s execution. Neither did her father. “Our dearest father, Alvin, had hoped to see this day. Unfortunately, he passed away too soon,” Pamela Novick said.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 9, 2013 Arizona Lorimer "Leroy" Grove , 74 Edward Schad executed
The victim, Lorimer Grove, a 74-year-old resident of Bisbee, Arizona, and a WWII veteran, was last seen on August 1, 1978, when he left Bisbee driving his new Cadillac, coupled to a trailer, to visit his sister in Everett, Washington. Grove may have been carrying up to $30,000 in cash. On August 9, 1978, Grove’s body was discovered in thick underbrush down a steep embankment off the shoulder of U.S. Highway 89, several miles south of Prescott, Arizona. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was ligature strangulation accomplished by means of a sash-like cord, still knotted around the victim’s neck. According to the medical examiner, Grove had been strangled using a significant amount of force, resulting in breaking of the hyoid bone in his neck and the reduction of his neck circumference by approximately four inches. The time of death was estimated to be four to seven days prior to discovery of the body. No physical evidence at the crime scene implicated Schad in Grove’s murder, and there was no evidence of a prior con- nection between the two men. There was, however, ample evidence establishing Schad’s presence in Arizona at the time of the crime and his possession, after the date Grove was last seen, of Grove’s property, including his Cadillac, credit cards and jewelry. On August 3, 1978, two days after Grove left Bisbee, and six days before his body was discovered, an Arizona highway patrolman found an abandoned Ford Fairmont sedan along- side Highway 89, approximately 135 miles north of where Grove’s body was discovered. The Ford was unlocked, except for the trunk, and its license plates were missing. A check of the Fairmont’s VIN revealed that Schad had rented the car from a Ford dealership in Utah in December 1977, had failed to return it, and that the dealership had reported it as stolen. According to Schad’s girlfriend, Wilma Ehrhardt, she and Schad, along with Ehrhardt’s children, had driven the car from Utah to New York, Florida, and Ohio between Decem- ber 1977 and July 1978. In late July, Schad told Ehrhardt he was going to look for work and left Ohio with the Ford. Ehrhardt and the children remained in Ohio, but later returned to Utah. When police impounded the Ford on August 3, 1978, they found in it, among other things, three Arizona newspapers dated July 31 and August 1, 1978, the days just before the estimated date of Grove’s murder, as well as a special mirror device later identified by witnesses as an object Grove invented to help him couple his trailer to his Cadillac. According to credit card records, on August 2, 1978, Schad began driving the Cadillac from Arizona eastward, using Grove’s credit cards to make purchases in numerous cities along the way. On August 2, Schad used Grove’s credit card to purchase gasoline in Benson, Arizona. On August 3, Schad used the card to purchase gas in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For approximately the next month, Schad continued traveling the country in the Cadillac and using Grove’s credit card. Schad also used Grove’s checkbook to forge a check to himself from Grove’s account, which he cashed on August 7, 1978, in Des Moines, Iowa. In New York state on September 3, 1978, Schad, still driving Grove’s Cadillac, was stopped for speeding by a New York state highway trooper. Schad told the trooper he was delivering the car to New York on behalf of a “rather elderly ” man named Larry Grove. Schad could not produce the car’s registration, and instead gave the trooper the registration for Grove’s trailer. The trooper issued Schad a citation and let him go. Schad then drove back across the country, reuniting with Ehrhardt in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 7, 1978. A man who was living with Ehrhardt at the time, John Duncan, contacted Salt Lake City police the same day to report that Schad had told him the Cadillac was stolen. Schad was arrested in Salt Lake City on September 8. After Schad’s arrest, Salt Lake City police impounded and searched the Cadillac. From the Cadillac’s title application, found in the car, the police learned that the vehicle belonged to Grove. Schad told police that he had obtained the Cadillac four weeks before in Norfolk, Virginia, after meeting “an elderly gentleman who was with a young girl” and who asked Schad to trade vehicles temporarily so that he and the girl would not be recognized. Schad also told the Utah police that he “was supposed to leave the Cadillac at the New York City port of entry at a later date for the man to pick up. ” Police found in the Cadillac’s trunk a set of Utah license plates issued to Ehrhardt. Schad had previously installed these plates on the stolen Ford. He left the Cadillac’s original plates on the car while he was driving it across the country. After Schad’s arrest, Ehrhardt went to the Salt Lake City jail and retrieved Schad’s wallet. Duncan then searched the wallet and found the credit card receipts and the New York traffic citation. He again contacted the Salt Lake City police. When Detective Halterman came to Ehrhardt’s home to collect the wallet and the documents, Ehrhardt also handed over a diamond ring she said her daughter had found in the glove compartment of the Cadillac. Witnesses later identified the ring as belonging to Grove. Duncan also visited Schad in jail. Duncan testified that during the visit Schad talked about lying about his presence in Arizona at the time of the crime and destroying evidence of the crime. On October 5, 1979, the jury found Schad guilty of first-degree murder, and the court sentenced Schad to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 9, 2013 Texas John Yowell, 55
Carol Yowell, 53
Viola Davis, 89
Michael Yowell executed
In 1998, after being caught trying to steal money to buy drugs, Michael John Yowell shot and killed his father, strangled his mother, and opened a natural gas line in the kitchen. When his grandmother, who was disabled, opened her bedroom door, it caused the gas to combust, injuring his grandmother and charring the remains of his parents. His grandmother died several days later from her injuries. Two days after the murders, Yowell confessed to shooting his father, who had caught Yowell trying to steal his wallet to buy drugs, and to struggling with his mother before bludgeoning her and strangling her to death. Yowell said that afterwards, in a panic, he ran to the kitchen and opened a gas jet. He told investigators he initially planned to take a few cigarettes when he entered his parents’ bedroom early on the morning of May 9, 1998 — the day before Mother’s Day. Then he saw his father’s wallet and tried to grab it, waking his mother. He claimed that when she grabbed his arm, the gun in his pocket went off and struck his father. He told investigators that he did not recall what he had done to his mother but he remembered hearing her gurgle. Police believe that after he shot his father in the head, he intended to shoot his mother but the gun malfunctioned. Instead he beat his mother before strangling her with a lamp cord. Yowell already was on probation for burglary and drug convictions. He was arrested on federal firearms charges and charged with his parents’ slayings after authorities determined his mother had been beaten and strangled and his father was shot. “At some point he’s looking his mom in the face, beating her and wrapping a lamp cord around her neck,” Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell, who prosecuted the case, recalled just before the execution. “I think always there are some unanswered questions. You want to know how somebody is capable of doing that to their parents.” Evidence showed Yowell had a $200-a-day drug habit he supported by stealing. Evidence also showed he burned some of his bloody clothes and hid a blood-stained jacket and the murder weapon in the crawl space of a friend’s house. Defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to show Yowell was insane. After murdering his parents, Yowell then shut his grandmother, Viola Davis, who owned the home, in her bedroom before going to the kitchen and opening a gas jet. The house later exploded, blowing out one wall and buckling others and collapsing the roof. Neighbors Charles McMillan and Greg Songer charged into the rubble and pulled Viola Davis out. She would die a dozen days later in a hospital from burns and injuries she received in the blast. Two other bodies, burned beyond recognition, were removed from the ruins — John Yowell’s body so badly burned that, according to reports in the Avalanche-Journal, his gender wasn’t readily apparent. Police weren’t sure who they were at that point, but neighbors insisted the pair were John and Carol Yowell. John was 55 years old, his wife, two years younger. An autopsy would find a bullet wound in John Yowell’s head. Carol Yowell was Viola’s daughter and her body was found face down, a lamp cord around her neck and the lamp on her back. When Michael John Yowell, then 28 years old, went on trial in September 1999 for the double murder, prosecutor Matt Powell told the jury that 2114 39th St. “looked like a war zone.” At the time of the incident, Yowell was nowhere to be found. Two days later, he approached the police at the wreckage of the house and was arrested on a federal warrant of being a felon in possession of a firearm. After the guilt phase of the trial, the jury took only 45 minutes to find Yowell guilty and Yowell told his attorneys not to present a case in the punishment phase. The judge refused this edict and the defense argued against the death penalty, however the jury returned a death sentence in two and a half hours. UPDATE: More than 15 years after murdering his parents and grandmother, a man was executed in Texas. Prior to his execution, Michael Yowel, 43, made a brief last statement, saying, “I love you. To Gerald, you’re a zero. I love you Mandy; Tiffany, I love you, too.” He paused for a moment, then said: “Punch the button. We are ready.” Mandy and Tiffany referred to his daughters, who attended the execution. Gerald may have been in reference to a witness, Gerald Harder, who attended the execution with the daughters and Yowell’s ex-wife, Amanda Weathers. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Yowell spent his final days talking with friends, his ex-wife and his daughters.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 15, 2013 Florida Angie Crowley, 21 William Happ executed
The relevant facts indicate that on May 24, 1986, a fisherman found the partially clad body of a 21-year-old woman on the bank of the Cross-Florida Barge Canal in northwest Citrus County. The woman’s shoulders were covered by a tee shirt that was pulled up to her underarms, and a pair of stretch pants were tied tightly around her neck. The medical examiner testified that her face and skull were badly bruised and hemorrhaged, that she had multiple scrapes on her back and right heel, that she had suffered ten to twenty hard blows to the head, and that she had been anally raped before death. The cause of death was found to be strangulation. Angie Crowley had driven from Fort Lauderdale to Yankeetown to visit a friend. Several newspaper carriers claimed to have seen a small car at a Cumberland Parms store in Crystal River at approximately 2:40 a.m. on May 24, and to have heard a woman scream at approximately the same time. Angie’s car was found on May 25 at a restaurant on U.S. Highway 19, approximately six-tenths of a mile south of the Cumberland Farms store. The window on the driver’s side of the car had been shattered. The glass from the car was consistent with glass found at the Cumberland Farms store and at the canal where Angie’s body was found. A shoe print found outside the driver’s side of the car was later found to match one of Happ’s shoes. Happ’s fingerprints were also found on the exterior of the car. Angie was making the trip through Florida for Memorial Day weekend and had arranged to meet her friend at a convenience store in Crystal River so she could be guided the last few miles of the trip. She found the store but before she could use the pay phone, Happy had smashed her window and kidnapped her. Happ was indicted for first-degree murder, burglary of a conveyance with a battery therein, kidnapping, and sexual battery likely to cause serious personal injury. Happ’s first jury trial ended in a mistrial caused by the prosecutor’s violation of an order in limine prohibiting the State from revealing Happ’s prior record. Before the second trial commenced, Happ filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on double jeopardy grounds. The motion was denied, and his petition to the Fifth District Court of Appeal for a writ of prohibition on this issue was also denied. At the second trial, a friend of Happ’s testified that he had seen Happ walking down U.S. Highway 19 toward the barge canal at 11:OO p.m. on May 23, and that he saw Happ the next morning with a swollen right hand. Happ’s former girlfriend testified that Happ had told her he broke a car window with his fist. Richard Miller, an inmate housed near Happ at the Citrus County Jail, testified at the first trial that Happ had described how he abducted a woman from a parking lot, took her to the canal, beat her, anally and orally raped her, and eventually strangled her. This testimony was read to the jury at the second trial because Miller refused to testify in that proceeding. The jury found Happ guilty of all charges. At the penalty phase, the State produced evidence of Happ’s prior convictions in California, including an incident of an abduction and armed robbery. The medical examiner testified that a person usually chokes for two minutes before losing consciousness and becomes brain dead after four or five minutes. An adult education teacher at the jail testified that Happ had average intelligence, knew right from wrong, was not mentally deficient, and helped teach math to other inmates. Happ’s sister testified concerning Happ’s age, poor upbringing, and drug and alcohol use. Happ’s aunt testified that, when Happ lived with her, he looked for work and helped her with her ailing husband. The jury in the penalty phase recommended the death penalty by a vote of nine to three. The trial judge sentenced Happ to death for the murder of the victim and to three consecutive life sentences on the other three counts. The judge found the following four aggravating circumstances: (1) that Happ had prior convictions for violent felonies; (2) that the murder was committed during the commission of sexual battery, kidnapping, and burglary; (3) that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel; and (4) that the murder was cold, calculated, and premeditated. The trial judge also found three mitigating circumstances, including Happ’s age, family history, and educational aid to other inmates. The trial judge concluded that the mitigating circumstances were outweighed by the aggravating circumstances and imposed the death penalty. Angie Crowley’s brother Chris has pushed for years through an online petition and an email campaign to ensure Happ was executed for what he did to his sister. "He killed my sister, he took her life. But when he took that life, he created so many other victims," Crowley said. "What he did affected everybody. It ate my mother up. I changed jobs and moved all within three months." Angie Crowley was a popular student at Oregon, Illinois High School. After graduating, she attended Northern Illinois University before moving to Fort Lauderdale in December 1985. She worked as a travel agent to help pursue her dreams to travel the world. "He took away the potential. There were seven kids in that family and she had the greatest potential of everybody. She had the personality, she had the looks, she had the smarts and she had the attitude. She really, really accomplished things and he took that," Chris Crowley said. "We were never able to see it." Angie Crowley’s friends said she had a magnetic personality. She was a talented musician, honor student and a cheerleader with tons of friends. Always smiling, she never said anything bad about anybody. "She was a sweetheart. Everybody just loved her, she had a great personality. She was prom queen, she was homecoming queen. She was just a gorgeous, gorgeous girl," said Jim Kaufman, a classmate who visited Angie in Florida just before her slaying. "All of her classmates were devastated. Everybody in the whole town was. The whole town from young to older people knew her very well. She was very, very outgoing." She was also a thoughtful friend who made great efforts to stay connected, said Sharon McBreen, who moved from Illinois to Florida in 10th grade. Not only did Angie write long letters, but she mailed McBreen a senior yearbook signed by all her former classmates. Angie’s note in the book was two-pages long. "She was just one of those really good friends who never missed your birthday. The card was always on time. She would write me six-page letters," McBreen said. "She would just write, front and back. She filled these letters with everything that was going on in town, and what she was thinking and what she wanted to do." UPDATE: Moments before his death Happ told his victim’s family, "For 27 years, the horrible murder of Angela Crowley has been clouded by circumstantial evidence and uncertainty. For the sake of her family, loved ones and all concerned, it is to my agonizing shame that I must confess to this terrible crime." Angie’s brother Chris replied, "You need to ask somebody a lot more important than me for forgiveness." Seventeen members of Angie’s family witnessed the execution, which took more than a quarter century to occur. Her mother and two siblings died during the ensuing years after Angie’s murder.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 16, 2013 Texas Isaac Jackson, 5 Larry Hatten stayed
In the early morning hours of September 19, 1995, Larry Hatten broke down the back door of Isaac Robinson’s apartment in Corpus Christi, Texas, went to the bedroom, kicked the door open, and repeatedly fired six shots from a handgun into the darkness. Hatten believed he was retaliating against Robinson for setting fire to cars following an escalating series of quarrels among local drug dealers. Hatten admitted that he intended to kill Robinson, but Robinson was not home. Instead, Robinson’s girlfriend, Tabitha Thompson, and their five-year-old son, Isaac Jackson, were in the bed. Hatten severely wounded Thompson with four shots and killed Jackson with a single wound. After firing, Hatten moved to the kitchen, but fled when Thompson emerged from the bedroom. Police later arrested Hatten after finding him driving around covered in blood. In February 1996, Hatten was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Hatten, a former food server, was the first person in Nueces County to be convicted under a state law that allows capital murder charges to be filed when the victim of a homicide is younger than 6. He also was convicted of aggravated assault for shooting the child’s mother, Tabatha Thompson, four times and received a 20 year sentence for that case. According to testimony during the trial, the shooting was provoked by an alleged robbery and fight one week earlier between Hatten and two other men about who had a better BMW. On the night of the shooting, police said, a BMW and Jaguar belonging to Hatten’s brother were set on fire. Hatten testified that he thought Isaac Robinson, Thompson’s boyfriend, knew who was responsible for the fire. UPDATE: The execution was stayed in order for the courts to evaluate Hatten’s competency to be executed. After testimony ended in the guilt or innocence phase of the trial, Hatten stopped talking to his attorneys, shouted profanities in the courtroom and spoke incoherently with family members, according to court records.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 23, 2013 Arizona Chip O’Dell
Tom Hardman
Carol Lynn Noel
Maribeth Munn
Judy Bell
Arthur Bell
Richard Roels
Robert Jones executed
Carol Lynn Noel, murder victimThomas Hardman, murder victimDavid Nordstrom, the state’s key witness, was released from prison in January 1996, after serving his sentence for a theft conviction. At that time, he took up residence in his father’s home in Tucson, where he was under “home arrest” status and monitored by an ankle monitor. The home arrest was related to his prior theft conviction, and as a term of the arrest, he had to be inside his father’s home by a certain time every evening. During this period of home arrest, he reestablished his friendship with Robert Jones. Scott Nordstrom, David’s brother, also returned to Tucson and spent time with David and Jones. Sometime before April 1996, David obtained a.380 semiautomatic pistol from a friend, which he gave to Jones after Jones requested it for protection. On May 30, 1996, Scott and Jones picked up David in Jones’s truck, an old white Ford pickup. Jones was wearing his usual attire: a long-sleeved western shirt, Levi’s, boots, sunglasses, and a black cowboy hat. In a parking lot near the Tucson Medical Center, Jones spotted a car that he thought he could steal. Although he failed to start the car, Jones found a 9mm pistol under the seat and left with it, stating, “I’ve got my gun now.” As the three continued driving, they began discussing the possibility of a robbery, and Jones gave Scott the.380 pistol. Jones then suggested that they rob the Moon Smoke Shop. He parked behind the store, telling David that he and Scott would go in, rob it, and be right out. David then heard gunfire from inside, after which, Jones and Scott left the shop and jumped into the truck. David drove up the alley, exited onto the surface street, and headed toward the freeway. Jones stated, “I shot two people,” and Scott stated, “I shot one.” Jones then split the money from the robbery with David and Scott. The survivors from the robbery testified that four employees were in the store at the time of the robbery: Noel Engles, Tom Hardman, Steve Vetter, and Mark Naiman, a new employee on the job for the first time. Just before the robbery, Engles was standing behind the counter, and Vetter and Naiman were kneeling behind it. Hardman was sitting behind another counter, and no customers were in the store. Jones and Scott followed a customer, Chip O’Dell, into the store and immediately shot him in the head. As the door buzzer indicated someone had entered the store, Engles, Vetter, and Naiman all heard the gunshot. Because all three were concentrating on the stock behind the counter, however, none of them saw the robbers or O’Dell enter. Engles looked up to see a robber in a long-sleeved shirt, dark sunglasses, and a dark cowboy hat wave a gun at him and yell to get down. Naiman recognized the gun as a 9mm. Engles noticed a second robber move toward the back room and heard someone shout, “Get the fuck out of there!” Engles dropped to his knees and pushed an alarm button. The gunman at the counter nudged Naiman in the head with his pistol and demanded that he open the register. After he did so, the gunman reached over the counter and began firing at the others on the floor. Thinking the others were dead, Naiman ran out of the store and called 911 at a payphone. On the floor behind the counter, Engles heard shots from the back room and, realizing the gunmen had left the store, ran out the back door. While running up the alley to get help, he saw a light-colored pickup truck carrying two people, which turned sharply onto the surface street, despite heavy traffic. All survivors agreed that no one had offered any resistance to the gunmen, and that the shootings were completely unprovoked. Naiman and Engles survived, as did Vetter, despite the shots to his arm and face. Chip O’Dell died from a bullet through his head, which had been fired from close range. Hardman, who had fled to the back room when the gunmen entered, had been shot fatally in the head from above as he lay on the floor. Three 9mm shell casings were found in the store, one beside Mr. O’Dell and two near the cash register. Two.380 shells were found near Hardman’s body. Two weeks after the robbery, Naiman met with a police sketch artist who used his description of one of the gunmen to create a composite drawing. Two weeks after the Moon Smoke Shop robbery, the Fire Fighters Union Hall was robbed. The Union Hall was a club owned by the firefighters and their guests, which contained a bar, bingo hall, and snack bar. Members entered using key cards, and the bartender buzzed in guests. When member Nathan Alicata arrived at 9:20 p.m., he discovered the bodies of member Maribeth Munn, the bartender, Carol Lynn Noel, and a couple, Judy and Arthur “Taco” Bell. During the ensuing investigation, the police found three 9mm shell casings, two live 9mm shells, and two.380 shell casings. Approximately $1300 had been taken from the open cash register. The coroner, who investigated the bodies at the scene, concluded that the bartender, Carol, had been shot twice, and that the other three victims were shot through the head at close range as their heads lay on the bar. Carol also suffered blunt force trauma which caused a bleeding laceration to the side of her mouth, and Arthur had a contusion on the right side of his head in a shape consistent with a pistol. On August 23, 1996, Ryanne Costello had lunch with her father, Robert Roels, at his house in central Phoenix on Aug.23, 1996. A few hours later, he was murdered. If the killers had arrived two hours earlier, "the homicide detective said they would have killed me, too," Costello said. Roels was bound with duct tape and shot in the head. Phoenix police quickly tracked Roels’ stolen credit cards and found that they had been used in the hours after the killing to buy pizzas and a pair of cowboy boots. Then, as the killers tried to buy ammunition at a gun-supply store, a suspicious store clerk called police and turned over surveillance photos of the two men. The police then sent the photos to local hotels to see if anyone recognized the two men. Staff at a motel near Interstate 17 identified them. Jones and an accomplice named Stephen Coats were leaving the motel as a police helicopter tracked them. The two men led police on a car chase through city streets that reached speeds of 80 mph. Then the killers stopped at a car dealership, hot-wired a Corvette and sped down another road at 100 mph. They eluded police on Arizona 51 at top speeds of nearly 130 mph. The Corvette ran out of gas in Tempe, Ariz., where Jones and Coats split up. Coats forced his way into an apartment at gunpoint; Jones hot-wired a Porsche that he crashed. When he was arrested, Jones was wearing the watch that Roels, a retired Arizona Republic executive, received from the newspaper on his retirement. The link to the Tucson murders came when a man named David Nordstrom went to Tucson police and told them that he had been with Jones and his own brother, Scott Nordstrom, on the day they robbed the Moon Smoke Shop. David Nordstrom, who was on parole and wearing an electronic-monitoring device, said he was driving the pickup truck when the first murders and robbery were committed. Jones fit the description of the gunman; for that matter, so did David Nordstrom. But David pinned the murders on Scott Nordstrom and Jones. He also said he knew of the other robbery and murders from what Jones and Scott Nordstrom told him. David Nordstrom was initially charged in some of the murders, but the charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony. Jones and Scott Nordstrom were both sentenced to death. Coats, who had nothing to do with the Tucson robberies, was sentenced to life in prison for Roels’ murder. David Nordstrom testified at trial that on the day of the Union Hall murders, his brother Scott gave him a ride home, where he remained the rest of the evening. David’s parole officer produced records at trial verifying that David’s ankle-monitoring unit indicated he had not left his father’s home on the night of the murders. Late that evening, Jones entered David’s father’s house and began telling David what had happened. Jones admitted to David that he and Scott had robbed the Union Hall. He stated that because the bartender could not open the safe, Scott kicked her and shot her. Jones said he then shot the three other witnesses in the back of the head. Jones, Scott, and David disposed of the guns by throwing them into a pond south of Tucson, and Scott and David burned one of the victim’s wallets at another location. David kept the secret until he saw an appeal on the television for information. At that time, he told his girlfriend, Toni Hurley, what he knew. Hurley eventually made an anonymous call, which led to David’s contact with the police, and an ultimate release of the information.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 23, 2013 Missouri Richard Drummond, 42
Joseph Babcock, 47
Charlene Babcock, 38
Allen Nicklasson stayed
On August 23, 1994, Allen Nicklasson, Dennis Skillicorn and Tim DeGraffenreid decided to return to Kansas City after a trip east along Interstate 70 to obtain drugs. They drove a 1983 Chevrolet Caprice. It broke down near the westbound Danville exit on I-70. Sergeant Ahern and Trooper Morrison of the Missouri State Highway Patrol came upon the disabled auto, helped push the car to the side of the road and left the men. The troopers last saw the trio as they walked toward a pay phone. By the next morning, August 24, 1994, Nicklasson, Skillicorn and Degraffenreid and their car had made 17 miles’ progress further west. Near Kingdom City the Caprice broke down again. In an effort to find jumper cables, the three approached a Missouri Highway and Transportation Department employee working in the median of the interstate. He could not assist them. They spotted Merlin Smith’s nearby home, decided to burglarize it, and took four guns, ammunition, a skinning knife, money, a pillow case, some change and a cracker box. They stashed most of the stolen property in the bushes, then called for a tow truck to take their car to Roger Redmond’s garage. Redmond’s mechanic found major problems with the car but was able to restart it. The men paid Redmond with a cracker box full of change and left in the car. Nicklasson and his cohorts decided to try and make it back to Kansas City in their ailing vehicle. First, however, the three men coaxed the car back toward Smith’s house to recover the stolen goods they had previously hidden in the bushes alongside the road. The car gave out again, this time on the south outer road, east of Kingdom City. Between 4:00 and 5:00 p. m., Richard Drummond saw the stranded Nicklasson, Skillicorn and Degraffenreid, stopped, and offered to take them to a telephone. They accepted. Drummond drove a white, 1994 Dodge Intrepid that belonged to AT&T, his employer. Drummond was a technical support supervisor. Nicklasson told Drummond to back up the Intrepid to the Caprice. Nicklasson and his friends loaded the stolen property from Smith’s home into the trunk of Drummond’s car, keeping a.22 caliber handgun and a shotgun with them when they got into Drummond’s car. Nicklasson and Skillicorn sat in the back seat. Degraffenried sat in the front, passenger seat. When Drummond took his place in the driver’s seat, Nicklasson put the pistol to the back of Drummond’s head and said, "You’re going to take us to where we want to go." While Nicklasson held a gun to Drummond’s head, Skillicorn asked Drummond questions in order to calm him down, including whether Drummond’s "old lady" was going to miss him. Nicklasson and his pals wanted to go back toward Kansas City. As Drummond drove east, Skillicorn "got to thinking…if we let this guy off, he’s got this car phone." So they disabled the car phone. Skillicorn stated that he later determined they would have to "lose" Drummond in the woods. At some point during this time, Nicklasson and Skillicorn discussed what they should do with Drummond. Skillicorn, in his sworn statement, claimed that Nicklasson said "he was going to, you know, do something to this guy. I tell him -you know, now, we’re trying to talk on the pretenses that-that, uh, this guy in the front seat don’t hear us too. Right? Right. ‘Cause, uh, I didn’t want him panicking." East of Higginsville, they told Drummond to take the Highway T exit. Four miles north of the interstate they turned onto County Road 202. Finding a secluded area, Nicklasson ordered Drummond to stop the car. Skillicorn took Drummond’s wallet. Nicklasson walked Drummond into the woods, ordered Drummond to kneel, told him to say his prayers, and shot him in the head twice. Drummond’s badly decomposed body was found and identified eight days later. Nicklasson, Skillicorn and Degraffenreid continued west on I-70 in Drummond’s car. They stopped at Joe Snell’s house in Blue Springs. Kelly McEntee, who had dated Degraffenried, came to Snell’s house, looking for Degraffenreid. She knocked on the door. Nicklasson answered, then came outside and said, "Don’t nobody touch my car," referring to Drummond’s car. With that Nicklasson went to the trunk of the Intrepid and removed a shotgun to assist him in assuring those watching that he did not want them to touch the car. He put the shotgun to Kelly McEntee’s head and announced that he would kill her. He did not kill her, apparently satisfied that he had made his point after he hit her in the face. Sometime later, Nicklasson, Degraffenried and Skillicorn left Snell’s and went to Annie Wyatt’s house. Nicklasson told Wyatt that he had killed someone in the woods and described the murder. After a planning session at a local restaurant, Nicklasson and Skillicorn decided to drive to Arizona. Degraffenreid stayed behind. Authorities arrested the two in California, where they were hitchhiking. Arizona authorities found the Intrepid stuck in a sandbar. It contained a letter Nicklasson had written and some of Richard Drummond’s and Melvin Smith’s property. Authorities also found shell casings near the Intrepid that matched those recovered at the Smith burglary scene and the Drummond murder scene. When the car became stuck in the sandbar, another good Samaritan, Joseph Babcock, 47, tried to help. Nicklasson murdered him and his wife, Charlene, 38. Nicklasson and Skillicorn were convicted of first-degree murder. Skillicorn was executed by lethal injection in Missouri on May 20, 2009. DeGraffenreid, who was 17 when the crime took place, served time for second-degree murder.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 29, 2013 Texas Jose Guadalupe Tovar
Jessica Quinones
Audrey Brown
Frank Farias
Arthur Brown stayed
Rachel Tovar and her husband, Jose, were drug dealers in Houston, Texas. They supplied marijuana and cocaine to other drug dealers, including Brown and his associates, who were from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. On June 19, 1992, Brown traveled from Tuscaloosa to Houston, accompanied by Marion Dudley, Antonio Dunson, and Maliek Travis. They arrived at the Houston residence of Brown’s sister, Grace, early in the morning on June 20. That evening, six people were bound and shot in the head at Rachel Tovar’s residence in Houston. Four of them died: Jessica Quinones, the pregnant common-law wife of Rachel Tovar’s son, Anthony; Jose Guadalupe Tovar, Rachel Tovar’s husband; Audrey Brown, one of Rachel Tovar’s neighbors; and Frank Farias, Rachel Tovar’s son. Rachel Tovar and Alexander Camarillo, also known as Nicolas Cortez Anzures, survived and testified at Brown’s trial. Both of them identified Brown and Dudley, whom Tovar knew, from previous drug deals, by the nicknames of “Squirt” and “Red,” as the shooters. Three of Brown’s sisters—Serisa Ann Brown, Grace Brown, and Carolyn Momoh—testified as witnesses for the State at the guilt-innocence phase. All three of them claimed that the police and prosecutors had threatened them in order to coerce their cooperation.   Carolyn Momoh was held in contempt and incarcerated at one point during the trial for invoking the Fifth Amendment, despite the fact that she had been given immunity.   After she eventually testified, she was convicted of perjury. The jury convicted Brown of capital murder. At the punishment phase of Brown’s trial, the State re-offered all of the evidence presented at the guilt-innocence phase. The State also presented evidence that Brown had committed an armed robbery in Tuscaloosa four years earlier;  that he had extorted other prisoners while in the Harris County Jail awaiting trial;  and that he had assaulted a deputy at the Harris County Jail. The defense presented Brown’s school records, which reflected that he had a low IQ, suffered from learning disabilities, and performed poorly in special education classes. The defense also presented the testimony of a law professor that convicted, incarcerated offenders become less violent as they age. The jury answered affirmatively the special punishment issues on future danger and whether Brown actually caused the deaths, intended to kill the victims, or anticipated that human life would be taken. It answered negatively the special punishment issue on mitigating circumstances. The trial court sentenced Brown to death.

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