September 2013 Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 10, 2013 Oklahoma David Fremin
Sun I. "Kim" Travis
Anthony Banks executed
On April 11, 1978, Walter Thomas Banks, and his brother, Anthony Rozelle Banks, robbed a convenience store at the corner of 36th and Sheridan streets in Tulsa. Anthony shot and killed the clerk on duty, David Paul Fremin, while Walter stood watch outside. At approximately 11:30 p.m. on June 6, 1979, Sun "Kim" Travis was returning home from work. As she was driving into her apartment complex on South College Street, her husband (Steve Travis) heard their car muffler and peered out the apartment window. He saw Sun I. drive toward her designated parking spot, and also noticed a light blue or white hatchback automobile following her. A few minutes passed. Concerned, Steve walked outside to the lot, where he discovered the car parked in the wrong space with dome and headlights on. The pillow upon which Sun sat to drive was on the ground next to the car. Steve returned to the apartment and called the police. The next morning, Sun’s lifeless and partially clothed body was found in the grass next to a nearby road. Sun had several bruises on her face. She had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head. The Fremin murder case had been unresolved for many months when Anthony Banks, seeking leniency on an unrelated armed robbery charge, offered to give information on David Fremin’s murder. On November 7, 1979, Anthony gave a statement to an assistant district attorney for Tulsa County, which statement was tape-recorded and later played for the jury. In this statement Anthony said that he and Walter Banks, were buying beer and snacks at the Git-N-Go store when a man named McClure entered the store with a gun, told them to leave, and then shot the clerk. McClure then, according to Anthony, left the store with a paper bag and the cash drawer and forced Walter and Anthony at gunpoint to give him a ride across town. After Anthony gave this statement, the police made some progress with physical evidence left at the crime scene and identified a latent fingerprint as that of Anthony Banks. At the same time, Anthony Banks also gave a statement about the Sun Travis murder. Banks’s version of Sun Travis’s death begins at approximately 11:00 p.m. on June 6, 1979: "I was at a convenience store in my light blue AMC Hornet hatchback when Allen Nelson asked me for a ride. I drove him to what turned out to be Travis’s apartment complex; Sun Travis pulled up in her car. Nelson exited my car, began talking to Travis, reentered my car with Travis, and requested that I drive them to the Apache Manor Apartments. Once there, Nelson and Travis entered the apartments while I drank beer and waited. Nelson and Travis, now shirtless, returned. I drove them around for about ten minutes, when Nelson asked me to stop the car on 36th Street, about three hundred yards from the entrance of the Comanche Apartments. Travis exited to the front of the car, Nelson to the rear, after which he circled around to the front and shot Travis in the head. Nelson returned to the car and asked me not to tell anyone. We drove away, until Nelson noticed a sewer drain and asked me to stop. He discarded Travis’s blouse and purse in the drain, then returned to the car. I drove him home." On November 9, 1979, Walter Banks, gave a statement corroborating Anthony’s account of the Fremin murder. However, Walter said that McClure had been with him and Anthony all evening at a party and that McClure left the party with them when they took another friend home. The discrepancies between the two stories raised further police suspicions and soon police were able to locate Anthony’s ex-wife, Traci Banks, who gave a much different account of the evening’s events. At trial Traci testified that she and Walter Banks, his brother Anthony, Becky Moore and another man, were in Walter and Anthony’s apartment in Tulsa. About three o’clock in the morning of April 11, 1978, Walter and Anthony left the apartment "to go do something." Anthony returned about 5:00 a.m. with a small brown box containing money, food stamps, and blank money orders. He also carried a man’s wallet containing the driver’s license of David Paul Fremin. Traci testified that as she helped Anthony count the money he told her that he and Walter had robbed the Git-N-Go store at 36th and Sheridan and that Walter had kept watch outside while Anthony killed the clerk. The two brothers were charged with the First Degree Murder of David Fremin and were tried conjointly in Tulsa County District Court, the Honorable Joe Jennings presiding. The jury found both defendants guilty as charged and sentenced Anthony to death by lethal injection; the sentence for Walter was life imprisonment. Anthony Banks’s death sentence was overturned by an appellate court in 1994. Banks decided to avoid a second trial and pled guilty, receiving a life sentence. Despite Banks’s 1979 statement about Sun I.’s murder, the Travis case remained open until 1997, when DNA analysis was performed on sperm samples obtained from the victim and her clothing. DNA analyst David Muniec testified that the sperm found on Travis’s clothing was a mixture, matching both Banks’s and Nelson’s DNA. Muniec also testified that the sperm found on a vaginal swab matched Banks and the sperm on an anal swab matched Nelson. Forensic Chemist Julie Kempton also testified that the DNA found on Travis’s pants was a mixture of Banks’s and Nelson’s DNA. "Sun I. was kind to everyone," Travis said. "If she could help you in your time of need, she did so, no questions asked." "Sun I.’s death was the most tragic thing in my life," he testified. "There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her…. I cannot understand why someone would want to take the life away from someone so kind and beautiful. We take life for granted and do not realize how precious it is until it is gone. Hopefully, knowing the people that did this will answer to their call will help me to go on with my life, knowing they have been punished."
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 10, 2013 Pennsylvania Darisabel Baez, 2 Harve Johnson stayed
Darisabel Baez, murder victimThe victim was Darisabel Baez, a two-year-old female child living with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Neida Baez and Harve Johnson. On April 6, 2008, police were called to their residence, where they found Harve Johnson outside. Darisabel was on the kitchen floor, unresponsive, and had both old and new bruises all over her body. Police attempted to revive Darisabel, and paramedics transported her to York Hospital. Darisabel was then transferred to Hershey Medical Center, where she died the next day. Her mother Neida initially told police her daughter fell into the bathtub; she later told police Darisabel fell down a flight of stairs. At trial, Neida testified otherwise. She pled guilty to third degree murder for her involvement in Darisabel’s death, in exchange for her testimony against Johnson. Before April 6, 2008, Darisabel had bruises on her fingers and legs and bald spots on her head. On that morning, Darisabel upset Johnson by coming into Neida and Johnson’s bedroom. Johnson hit Darisabel and told her to stand in the corner. At about 12:20 p.m., Neida heard Johnson yelling and Darisabel crying, and saw Johnson spanking the child at the top of the stairs. The spanking caused Darisabel’s diaper to explode, which angered Johnson further; he began beating her again and threatened to beat Neida. Neida, who was in a separate room during most of this incident, indicated Johnson beat Darisabel for 20 to 30 minutes, although she repeatedly asked him to stop. Eventually, Neida could no longer hear Darisabel scream or Johnson yell. She then heard water running in the bathtub for approximately 10 minutes. Johnson returned, carrying Darisabel’s limp body. Johnson and Neida attempted to resuscitate Darisabel and, on Neida’s prodding, Johnson called 911. At trial, Police Sergeant Roy Kohler testified that when he responded to the 911 call, he noticed Johnson near the residence, breathing rapidly and appearing distraught. Kohler asked Johnson if he was okay; Johnson replied, "No, I don’t feel well." Kohler asked Johnson to come to his police cruiser to be medically examined, and Johnson agreed. While they were walking to the cruiser, Johnson said, "I know I’m in trouble because of all the bruises all over her body. I beat her yesterday pretty bad with a belt." Emergency Medical Technician Supervisor Donald Sanders testified he medically examined Johnson in the back of the cruiser. During the examination, Johnson asked how Darisabel was doing. Sanders said they were doing everything possible for the child, and asked what happened to her. Johnson replied, "I’ve been beating her." Sanders inquired, "What do you mean?," and Johnson stated, "I’m sorry, I did it." Sanders asked again, "What do you mean you did it?" Johnson elaborated, "I have been hitting the child for the last two or three days." Sanders then asked, "Well, what did you use on the child?" Johnson responded, "A belt." Kohler subsequently drove Johnson to the York City Police Department. During the drive, Johnson said, "That girl and her mother bruise when I touch them at all. If I bite her mother or hit Darisabel at all, they bruise right up." At the police department, Johnson admitted to detectives that, on multiple prior occasions, he beat Darisabel as a form of discipline. He said Darisabel came into his bedroom between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. the day before her death, waking him up. He told Darisabel to stay in a corner of the bedroom until he and mother awoke. He later woke up, left the residence, and returned to find mother upset. He assumed mother was upset because of Darisabel, so between 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. he struck Darisabel on her arms and buttocks approximately seven times with the cord from an Xbox controller. He noted these blows could have injured Darisabel’s chest and back because the cord wrapped around her body. Darisabel then moved her bowels, so he took her to a running bathtub of hot water. Johnson claimed he left the child in the bathtub to bring her clean clothes and, when he returned, he found her drowning and noticed a lump on her head. Johnson summoned Neida, argued with her about what happened, and sought to revive Darisabel. He admitted he did not call 911 immediately because Darisabel was breathing and he did not want police to see the injuries on her arms. The Commonwealth also introduced evidence showing blood spatter on a bedroom wall matched Darisabel’s DNA. Blood found on the top of the Xbox controller, a child’s boot, Johnson’s clothes, and hairs found in a bedroom also matched Darisabel’s DNA. Blood and blood spatter, consistent with impact spatter and matching Darisabel’s DNA, were found on Darisabel’s clothes. While Darisabel was being treated at York Hospital, a nurse trained in forensic examination documented and photographed Darisabel’s injuries. Eighteen of these photographs were admitted at trial, and the nurse explained the injuries she photographed. The morning after Darisabel died, a forensic pathologist conducted an autopsy on Darisabel’s body and determined she died of multiple traumatic injuries. The pathologist found approximately 220 external injuries on Darisabel, 150 of which were "fresh," meaning they had occurred within 24 hours of Darisabel’s admission to the hospital. He noted Darisabel’s right ear had fresh trauma, and the center of her right ear had an abrasion consistent with someone scraping a fingernail in her ear. Darisabel’s hair on the right side of her head was pulled out by its roots. Injuries on her left shoulder were caused by the cord of the Xbox controller, and her entire left arm was swollen. The pathologist determined bruises on the back of Darisabel’s forearm and contusions, bruises, and abrasions to her feet and lower legs were caused by blunt force trauma. The pathologist discovered numerous fresh internal injuries to Darisabel’s head, including swelling and bleeding in her brain, as well as retinal hemorrhages and damage to her spinal cord. He noted Darisabel suffered trauma to her heart, right lung, liver, pancreas, and right adrenal gland, which were caused by multiple high-velocity impacts to the chest and belly. There were also hemorrhages to her neck caused by compression or strangulation. He opined Darisabel was repeatedly struck at a speed of approximately 20 miles per hour. He concluded, at the rate of an injury every 20 seconds, it would take 45 to 60 minutes to inflict all of Darisabel’s fresh injuries. A jury convicted Johnson of first degree murder. At the penalty phase, the jury found—two aggravating circumstances: the offense was committed by means of torture, and Darisabel was a child under the age of 12. The jury found one mitigating circumstance: Johnson had no significant history of prior criminal convictions. The jury determined the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstance and sentenced Johnson to death.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 19, 2013 Texas Maria Cobarrubias
Danitzene Beltran
Celina Sanchez
Lourdes Torres
Jimmy Almendariz, 22
Jerry Hidalgo, 24
Ray Hidalgo, 30
Juan Delgado Jr., 32
Juan Delgado III, 20
Ruben Castillo, 32
Robert Garza executed
On the evening of September 4, 2002, Maria De La Luz Bazaldua Cobarrubias, Danitzene Lizeth Vasquez Beltran, Celina Linares Sanchez, Lourdes Yesenia Araujo Torres, Karla Espino Ramos, and Magda Torres Vasquez were working at Garcia’s Bar in Donna, Texas. When the bar closed at midnight, Cobbarubias gave the other women a ride to their trailer home. She drove south on Business 83, turned onto Valley View Road, and then parked close to the women’s trailer. Before anyone had a chance to get out of the vehicle, shots were fired. Cobbarubias, Beltran, Sanchez, and Torres sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died from their injuries. Ramos sustained gunshot wounds to her arm and leg, but survived. Vasquez did not sustain any physical injuries. Alejandro Martinez of the Donna Police Department was the first officer to arrive at the scene. He determined that the shooting had actually occurred just outside the Donna city limits and contacted the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Several witnesses told Martinez that a Chevrolet Blazer had been parked close to the trailer at the time of the shooting. The vehicle was white, had paper plates, and did not have any hubcaps. Investigators with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office recovered sixty-one spent bullet casings from the trailer park, which were of two different sizes: 9 millimeter and 7.76 x 39 millimeter. Most of the casings were recovered from a driveway located directly behind where the victim’s Pontiac Grand Am was parked. Investigators also impounded a Chevrolet Blazer a few miles from the trailer park. The vehicle was white, had paper plates, and did not have any hubcaps. It had been reported stolen a few days earlier. Several items of clothing that did not belong to the vehicle’s owner were recovered from the vehicle, including a red bandana with white markings. The vehicle had run out of gas. Juan Antonio Quintero, a neighbor, testified that he saw two people at the time of the shooting. One of them was short and "chubby" and the other one was tall and "skinny." Both of them were wearing black. He noticed that the short person was holding a gun that "looked like a TEC-9." He testified that he could not see their faces, but thought one of them "resembled" Vasquez’s boyfriend, Jesse Munoz. Carlos Villarreal, J.A. Quintero’s guest, told investigators that he saw two people at the time of the shooting. One of them appeared to be between 5’10” and 5’11” and 160 pounds. The other person was 5’8” and 250 pounds. At trial, prosecutors introduced Robert Garza’s booking sheet which showed that he was 5’11” and 160 pounds. Investigator Juan Sifuentes testified that, because of information they had received, patrons at Garcia’s Bar were suspected in the shooting. Ramos told investigators that Abraham Martinez Tienda, who had been in Garcia’s Bar on the evening of the shooting, shot the women. Vasquez told investigators that she suspected her boyfriend, Juan Rudolfo Barrones, who had been in Garcia’s Bar on the evening of the shooting. Another suspect was Antonio Francisco Conteras, because he had followed the victim’s car to the trailer park on the evening of the shooting. Sifuentes testified that they investigated Tienda, Barrones, and Conteras, but could not find any evidence linking them to the shooting. They also investigated several other bar patrons and pursued tips they received from the Crime Stoppers program. However, this investigation did not lead anywhere, and after a few weeks they were left with no suspects. In January 2003, Abraham Osequera and Marco Antonio Mendez told investigators that they believed that members from their criminal street gang, the TriCity Bombers, the "T.C.B.," could be involved. They gave investigators information pointing towards T.C.B. members Jesus Carlos Rodriguez and Mark Anthony Reyna. Also, investigators received information from J.A. Quintero and his aunt, Mercedes Quintero, implicating the T.C.B. Through further investigation, other T.C.B. members emerged as possible suspects including Garza, Rudolfo Medrano, Guadalupe Guerra, and Ricardo Martinez. The State’s theory of the case was that J.C. Rodriguez, who was serving time for attempted murder, ordered "a hit" on Nora Rodriguez and M. Quintero because they had been called to testify against him, but that the wrong women were killed by mistake. N. Rodriguez testified that she and M. Quintero witnessed J.C. Rodriguez commit the attempted murder on March 31, 2001, and were called to testify about the incident. To support this theory, the State introduced a judgment showing that J.C. Rodriguez was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment for an attempted murder committed on March 31, 2001. On January 26, 2003, Garza was taken to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. After receiving Miranda warnings and signing a waiver, Garza gave a statement describing his own involvement in "a hit" which "resulted in the death of four Donna womans." Garza explained that the "hit was organized for us" and that someone left a four-door "Cutlass or Regal" at Plaza Mall to be used in "the hit." Garza was "hoping it would be left alone," but on September 5, 2002, he received instructions "that the hit was to be carried out that day." At approximately 7:00 p.m., Martinez picked up Garza and Reyna in a four-door vehicle. Garza saw that Martinez had an AK-47, a TEC-9, and a nine-millimeter handgun in the trunk of the vehicle. They picked up a fourth person, "Manny," and drove "around Donna to see the bar which was located on old [highway] 83." Then they left Donna to pick up a "second vehicle," which had been stolen. Garza and Reyna got into the second vehicle and waited in the "middle of nowhere" until they saw "them" coming. They saw two vehicles pass by, a "Grand Am" and Manny’s and Martinez’s vehicle, and followed them to "a big house" or an "apartment complex." Martinez and Manny got out of their vehicle and started shooting. Garza saw that Manny "shot as he ran" and Martinez shot "as he stood." After the shooting, they left the scene and abandoned the four-door vehicle "in the middle of nowhere." Then they left the weapons in the trash where they could pick them up the next day. They drove around in the second vehicle for a while until it "broke down," and they left on foot. Finally, Garza stated that: "Apparently Rocha was mad ’cause it wasn’t done right." Medrano, who kept weapons for the T.C.B., told investigators that he knew where the weapons used in the Donna shooting were located. He directed investigators to a black box he kept in his grandparents’ house. Also, he directed investigators to the residence of fellow T.C.B. member Robert Zamora, Jr. Zamora subsequently took investigators to his friend Nicholas Montez’s residence. Firearms specialist Timothy Counce testified that a TEC-9 gun, which had been seized at Medrano’s grandparents’ house, fired eighteen of the nine-millimeter cartridge casings found at the scene. Further, Counce testified that he had been unable to "identify or eliminate" three Chinese-manufactured SKS military assault rifles, which had been seized at Montez’s residence, as having fired the 7.76 x 39 millimeter cartridge casings found at the trailer park. The SKS rifles could appear to be AK-47 rifles to the untrained eye. Detective Roberto Alvarez testified that the T.C.B. was a highly organized criminal street gang that was connected with various crimes including murder, robbery, assault, burglary, and theft. Members identified themselves by the colors red and black; they often carried red bandannas, drove red cars, and wore red t-shirts. They commonly used a hand symbol and tattoos to show their affiliation with the gang. Alvarez testified that photographs depicting Garza wearing red shirts and making the T.C.B. hand symbol confirmed his affiliation with the T.C.B., as did photographs of his tattoos. The tattoo photographs showed the words "Tri City Bomber" and the initials "T.C.B." on his chest, the words "tri" and "city" and a bomb with a fuse on his right shoulder blade, the initials "T.C.B." on his right leg, the nickname "bones" and a skull on his right arm, and a small bomb on his left arm. Over counsel’s objection, Garza was required to take off his shirt and display his tattoos to the jury.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 25, 2013 Ohio Dennis Glivar
John Bryant
Harry Mitts executed
Dennis Glivar, murder victimOn the evening of August 14, 1994, Timothy Rhone helped his sister and brother-in-law, Jeff Walters, move into their apartment. The apartment was on the second floor in the same building where Harry D. Mitts lived. Between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., Rhone noticed a man, who he later learned was Mitts, carrying a gun tucked into the small of his back. Fifteen to thirty minutes later, Mitts, who was wearing blue target-shooting earmuffs, confronted Rhone in the hallway. According to Rhone, Mitts pointed a "black and huge" laser-sighted gun at Rhone’s head and "told him to get out or he was going to fucking die." When Rhone replied that he did not understand, Mitts said, "I’m not joking, get out now." Rhone backed away and asked his mother and sister to call 9-1-1 because "a man with a gun was threatening to shoot people." A short time later, Tracey Griffin and her boyfriend, John Bryant, saw Mitts walking toward them wearing yellow glasses or goggles and carrying a gun. Griffin knew Mitts because they lived in the same apartment complex and their daughters had played together. Mitts’s gun emitted a light, and Griffin saw a dot of red light appear on Bryant’s chest. Mitts said, "Ni**ers, ni**ers, I’m just sick and tired of ni**ers." Mitts aimed directly at Bryant, Griffin heard a shot, and Bryant fell down. Mitts then walked away, sporadically firing his gun, and later walked back toward Griffin, still firing his weapon, but now in her direction. In the meantime, Walters and Terry Rhone, Timothy’s brother, came out to help Bryant. Mitts aimed his gun and shouted at them, "Leave him there, don’t move." Walters and Terry Rhone disregarded Mitts’s instruction and carried Bryant into their second-floor apartment. Around 8:15 p.m., Patrolman John Cermak arrived, and a bystander saw Mitts put a new clip in his gun. Taking "a ready firing position," Mitts fired several shots at Patrolman Cermak, forcing Cermak to drive his car up on a lawn and take cover. Lt. Kaiser and Sergeant Dennis Glivar then arrived. After firing at Patrolman Cermak, Mitts retreated to his first-floor apartment. Patrolman Cermak searched for Mitts, and Lt. Kaiser and Sgt. Glivar went to the apartment building’s second floor, where they found Griffin, Bryant, and the Rhone family. After calling paramedics, Lt. Kaiser and Sgt. Glivar walked down to the first floor. As Lt. Kaiser and Sgt. Glivar approached Mitts’s apartment, Mitts flung his apartment door open and opened fire with a gun in each hand. Mitts repeatedly shot Sgt. Glivar, forcing him to drop his shotgun, and he shot Lt. Kaiser in the chest and right hand. Lt. Kaiser switched his pistol to his left hand and forced Mitts to retreat by firing three or four times. Lt. Kaiser returned to the Rhone apartment, where he kept a watch on Mitts’s apartment, and radioed for police assistance including the area SWAT team. Although wounded, Lt. Kaiser attempted for twenty to thirty minutes to talk Mitts into surrendering, but Mitts replied, "The only way we’re going to end this is if you kill me. You have to come down, you have to do your job and you have to kill me." Mitts, who had overheard Lt. Kaiser’s SWAT request over Sgt. Glivar’s abandoned police radio, additionally told Lt. Kaiser, "Go ahead, bring the SWAT team in, I have thousands of rounds of ammunition. I’ll kill your whole SWAT team. I’ll kill your whole police department." Mitts also threatened Griffin; Mitts told Lt. Kaiser that he was "going to come up and kill that ni**er-loving bitch that’s upstairs with you." Mitts also told Lt. Kaiser that he had been drinking bourbon and was angry because the Grand River Police Chief "stole my wife." Eventually, Patrolman Cermak dragged Sgt. Glivar’s body from the hallway and Patrolman Cermak and others used a ladder and rescued Rhone’s family and Lt. Kaiser from the upstairs apartment. During the standoff, Mitts called his ex-wife, Janice Salerno, and her husband, Grand River Police Chief Jonathon Salerno. Chief Salerno thought Mitts was joking when Mitts told him that "it’s all over with now, I shot a couple of cops and I killed a fucking ni**er." Chief Salerno, who believed Mitts was drunk, tried to talk him into surrendering, but Mitts refused. Mitts claimed that he had intended to kill both Salerno and his wife, but did not because Mitts’s daughter, Melanie, lived with the Salernos. Around 8:40 p.m., Maple Heights Police Officer John Mackey responded to the call for police assistance from the city of Garfield Heights. After helping Patrolman Cermak rescue Lt. Kaiser and the Rhone family, Officer Mackey, Sergeant Robert Sackett, and others took tactical positions in the hallway outside Mitts’s apartment. Taking over Lt. Kaiser’s role as a negotiator, Officer Mackey talked with Mitts for over thirty minutes, but Mitts refused to surrender and, at various times, continued to fire shots. Using Sgt. Glivar’s shotgun, Mitts fired twice into a mailbox across the hall, and he also emptied ten pistol shots into that mailbox. According to Officer Mackey, Mitts’s voice appeared calm, and he "never showed any anger or animosity towards" the officers. Around 9:30 p.m., Mitts discerned Officer Mackey’s position in the upstairs apartment from the sound of his voice and fired up the stairway and through a wall, hitting Officer Mackey’s leg with a bullet fragment. Other police officers returned fire and rescued Officer Mackey. Around 1:00 a.m., the SWAT team injected tear gas into Mitts’s apartment and finally subdued Mitts around 2:00 a.m. Mitts, who had been shot during the standoff, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, then transported by helicopter to a trauma center at Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center. At 3:43 p.m., a blood sample was drawn from Mitts, and his blood-alcohol level was later determined to be.21 grams per one hundred milliliters. After arresting Mitts, detectives searched his apartment and found two sets of shooting earmuffs, a yellow pair of glasses customarily used on shooting ranges, a.44 caliber magnum revolver, a 9 mm automatic pistol, a.22 caliber pistol, a laser gun-sight, thousands of rounds of ammunition in boxes, and two nearly empty liquor bottles. The police later learned that Mitts had spent the afternoon target shooting at the Stonewall Range, a firing range. Upstairs in apartment 204, detectives found Bryant’s body. Dr. Heather Raaf, a forensic pathologist, performed autopsies on John Bryant and Sgt. Dennis Glivar. Bryant bled to death within thirty minutes as a result of a single gunshot wound to his chest piercing both lungs and tearing the aorta. Sgt. Glivar died within "a few minutes" from five gunshots to the trunk causing perforations of his lung, heart, liver, kidney, stomach, and intestines. Sgt. Glivar also had been shot in the left shoulder and forearm. Dr. Raaf recovered multiple bullets or fragments from Sgt. Glivar’s body and one small-caliber bullet from Bryant’s body. A grand jury indicted Mitts for the aggravated murders of Sgt. Dennis Glivar and John Bryant and the attempted murders of Lt. Thomas Kaiser and Officer John Mackey. As death penalty specifications, the prosecution charged that Mitts knowingly murdered a peace officer in the performance of his duties. Both aggravated murder counts contained three separate course-of-conduct specifications relating to the other three shooting victims. All four counts also had firearms specifications, and the attempted murder counts added a specification that the victims were peace officers. At trial, Mitts did not contest the evidence proving the facts, but instead attempted to establish that he was too intoxicated to form the required intent to kill. After a penalty hearing, the jury recommended the death penalty on both aggravated murder counts. The trial court sentenced Mitts to death for the aggravated murders and to terms of imprisonment for the attempted murders.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 26, 2013 Texas Michael Ryan Nichols, 25 Arturo Diaz executed
On April 1, 1999, Michael Ryan Nichols was in McAllen, Texas on business. That night, the night before he was murdered, Nichols went out with an exotic dancer named Danielle Thomas who performed exotic dances at parties and private dances. While they were out, a teller machine destroyed Nichols’ bank card and Thomas loaned him $100. When the nightclubs closed at 2:00 a.m., Nichols and Thomas returned to Thomas’ trailer, where they met up with Arturo Eleazar Diaz and a woman named Arcelia Reyes. The four watched movies until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., when Thomas and Reyes, who provided security for Thomas, borrowed Nichols’ truck to go to a motel so Thomas could dance. Reyes returned the truck to Nichols before the dance ended. Thomas called the trailer several times during the day, speaking sometimes to Diaz and sometimes to Nichols. When Thomas and Reyes returned to the trailer at 8:00 p.m. on April 2, the two men had left. John Shepherd, a coworker of Nichols who shared a company-owned apartment in McAllen with him, later testified that Nichols, Diaz, and a man named Joe Cordova arrived at the McAllen apartment between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. on April 2. Shepherd felt uncomfortable around Nichols’ companions. He noticed that Diaz had tattoos on his forearms. Shepherd left to buy beer and cigarettes. When he returned, he noticed that Nichols’ truck was in the center of the parking lot, a fact that would become important later. Nichols, Diaz, and Cordova were watching television in the living room. Shepherd went to bed. While Shepherd was in bed, Thomas and Reyes stopped by the apartment. Thomas testified that she had come to recover the $100 she had lent to Nichols on April 1. She saw that Nichols had two fifty dollar bills in his wallet. He gave her one and kept the other. After the murder, the second fifty dollar bill was not found in Nichols’ wallet, or anywhere else for that matter. Instead, a piece of paper with Diaz’s telephone number and first name were found in Nichols’ wallet. Later that night, Shepherd was awakened by a loud noise. He went to the living room and found Nichols bleeding from a wound in his arm. Diaz was holding a large butcher knife. After Shepherd asked three times “What’s going on?,” Nichols said, “Do what he says, get the money and they’ll leave.” Cordova said some things in Spanish and in English about Shepherd getting money; and Diaz spoke angrily in Spanish. Diaz then grabbed Shepherd’s shirt and pushed him down the hall to his room. Shepherd got some cash from his pants pocket and gave it to Diaz. Diaz checked the pants for more money, then grabbed Shepherd’s shirt and led him back to the living room. Cordova told Shepherd to sit on the couch and do what he was told. Diaz and Cordova subsequently put Nichols on the floor and bound and gagged him with shoelaces and strips of bedding. The phone rang, and Cordova answered it. Shepherd later testified that Cordova told the caller to “‘come to get us, or come over here,’ something like that…. Pretty quick there was a knock on the door.” Thomas testified that Reyes had received a phone call around midnight and that she had borrowed Thomas’ car and left for about forty-five minutes. Consistent with Thomas’ testimony, Shepherd testified that a large Hispanic woman arrived at the apartment shortly after the phone call. The woman asked Cordova and Diaz what was going on, and Cordova told her something in Spanish. Shepherd testified that the woman did not look happy with Cordova’s response. Cordova told the woman to face the door, and he told Shepherd not to look at her. Diaz and Cordova beat Nichols. They put Shepherd on the floor and bound and gagged him, then returned their attention to Nichols. Cordova lifted Nichols up and held him while Diaz stabbed Nichols in the torso numerous times. An autopsy revealed perforations of Nichols’ liver, kidney, lungs, and heart. A knife thrust had fractured a rib and broken off the tip of the knife, which remained in the rib. The autopsy also revealed lacerations to Nichols’ scalp, neck, and flanks – a total of 92 stab wounds. When Cordova noticed that Shepherd had freed one of his hands, he and Diaz beat Shepherd and stabbed him. Shepherd pretended to be dead and lost consciousness. Diaz and a man known to Thomas as “Danny” arrived at Thomas’ trailer at 3:00 a.m. on April 3. They were very nervous and in a hurry to leave. When Reyes returned, Thomas noted that she was very upset. When Shepherd awoke, the apartment was dark. The evidence indicates that it was between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. Shepherd freed himself from his bindings and left the apartment. He noticed Nichols’ truck at the apartment gate with the driver’s door open. At Shepherd’s request, a neighbor called the police. When the police arrived at the apartment complex, they found the gate locked and Nichols’ truck parked next to the keypad box inside the gate. There was blood in the truck, bedding material on the ground, and a footprint on top of the keypad box that was later found to match Diaz’s shoe. Nichols was found dead in the apartment; a beer bottle with Diaz’s DNA on it was found on the floor next to him. A man named Manuel Montes later testified that Cordova phoned him at about 4:00 a.m. on April 3 and asked Montes to pick him up from another neighborhood. Cordova was Montes’ neighbor and the older brother of Montes’ best friend. Montes picked up Cordova, Diaz, and a large woman and took them over to his house. Cordova had a bloody shirt wrapped around his arm, and when he was arrested, wounds were discovered on his arms and thigh. After day light, Cordova borrowed a pair of Montes’ pants so that he could go home and get pants for himself and Diaz. After Cordova and Diaz changed clothes, Cordova told Montes he would take care of the trash bag, which presumably contained the dirty clothes. Police later found a trash bag of clothing in Montes’ home; the clothing was stained with Cordova’s and Nichols’ blood. Montes also testified that he overheard Diaz telling some other men, in Cordova’s presence, about a murder. According to this testimony, Cordova held the man, and Diaz stabbed him. The defense presented no witnesses during the guilt-innocence phase of trial. Instead, counsel argued that Diaz was not guilty of capital murder because the State had failed to prove that the murder occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a robbery. The jury found Diaz guilty of the capital murder of Nichols. They also found him guilty of the attempted capital murder of Shepherd and of aggravated robbery. During the penalty phase of trial, the State presented evidence that Diaz had engaged in misconduct while in the county jail; that his misconduct included fighting and refusing to go to court; that deputies had caught Diaz trying to dig a hole through the wall of his cell; that Diaz was housed in a unit used to hold members of the Pistoleros gang; and that Diaz had committed other assaults and homicides. Dr. John Edward Pinkerman, a psychologist, testified for Diaz. Prior to testifying, Dr. Pinkerman met with Diaz twice to conduct a psychological evaluation. He documented his findings in a written report. According to Dr. Pinkerman, Diaz’s past medical history included head trauma from being knocked unconscious during fights and a head injury suffered in a car accident. Dr. Pinkerman indicated that Diaz’s history of head trauma could impair his ability to control and regulate his judgment and perceive reality; that Diaz has low-average intelligence and the verbal ability of an eleven-year old; that Diaz is prone to feeling guilty and might act out to incur punishment; and that Diaz has a history of antisocial behavior as a child that correlates with a high probability of adult criminal behavior. Over defense’s objection, the State introduced Dr. Pinkerman’s written report into evidence. The report included Dr. Pinkerman’s conclusion that Diaz “approached the assessment in somewhat of an exaggerated manner which may reflect an inability to cooperate with the testing or malingering in an attempt to present himself with the false claim of mental illness”; that Diaz was not mentally ill; and that Diaz’s profile matches that of Type C offenders, which Dr. Pinkerman described as the most difficult criminal offenders — those who are distrustful, cold, irresponsible, and unstable. Also, on cross, Dr. Pinkerman testified that Diaz had refused to discuss the facts of the offense with him on the advice of Diaz’s attorney. After Dr. Pinkerman testified, the defense called no other witnesses. During closing arguments, the defense reiterated its earlier argument, advanced during the guilt-innocence phase of trial, that Diaz was not guilty of capital murder because the evidence did not show that the murder occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a robbery. The prosecutor, in turn, urged the jury that Diaz was not like them and that they had “a duty to protect the people of the county.” The jury found that there was a probability that Diaz would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society; that Diaz actually killed or intended to kill Nichols, or anticipated that human life would be taken; and that there was not sufficient mitigating evidence to justify the imposition of a life sentence instead of death. The trial court accordingly sentenced Diaz to death on the capital murder charge. It sentenced Diaz to life in prison on the attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery charges. Diaz also confessed to killing another man – David Anthony Nichols, of Combes – by stomping on his head and bludgeoning his face beyond recognition with a hammer during a March 25, 1999, fistfight. Charges in connection with David Anthony Nichols’ death were dropped because no one came forward to identify the victim.

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