1980s Executions

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 9, 1981 Indiana Terry Lee Chasteen, 21
Misty Ann Zollers, 5
Stephen Chasteen, 4
Mark Chasteen, 2
Steven Judy executed

Around 6:00 am on Saturday, April 28, 1979, Terry Chasteen, a young 21-year-old single mother, left home to take her three children to their babysitter’s house before reporting to work in the produce department at a Marsh grocery store. While driving on Interstate 465, Terry noticed the driver of a construction truck motioning toward her car. She pulled over. The man, Steven Timothy Judy, pretending to be a Good Samaritan, pulled to the side of the road. He told her it looked as if a rear tire on the car were loose. He offered to tighten it, and she got a lug wrench out of the trunk. They returned to their vehicles. But Terry got back out and approached Judy, saying something was wrong with the emergency brake. He walked to the front of the car and opened the hood. But instead of fixing anything, he removed a coil wire from the engine so the car would not start. He offered Terry and her kids a ride. So 5-year-old Misty, 4-year-old Mark and nearly 3-year-old Steven crawled into the truck. Their mom sat by the door. Within an hour, Terry was raped and dead, and her children were drowned. All four were killed that morning by 24-year-old Steven Judy. After getting them in his vehicle, Judy then drove the victims to a secluded location and pulled his truck off the road. He testified that he directed them on foot toward the creek, and that he sent the children down the path ahead of Terry and him. Judy testified that he then raped Terry Chasteen and bound her hands and feet and gagged her. When Terry cried out, the children ran back up the path to them. Judy stated that the children stood around him and yelled. At that point, he strangled Terry Chasteen and threw her body into the creek. Judy testified that he then threw each of the children as far as he could into the icy water. He stated that he remembered seeing one of the children standing in the creek. Judy returned to his truck after attempting to eradicate his footprints. He then drove away from the scene. Several witnesses related that they had seen various segments of the incident. On the day of the killings and the preceding day, Steven Judy had in his control a red and gray truck which several witnesses placed at or near the location of Terry Chasteen’s car on Interstate 465. One of the witnesses testified that he saw a blond-haired man, whom he later identified as Judy, standing near a car parked on the interstate with the hood open. Another witness testified that he was driving southwest on State Road 67 and saw a red and gray truck carrying a man, a woman, and some children, proceeding in the same direction. This witness stated that the truck was moving at a fast pace, and in a sometimes erratic manner, and that the woman in the truck waved to him when the two vehicles stopped at a traffic light. Judy’s truck was also seen parked near the scene of the killings by White Lick Creek around 7:00 to 7:30 am. One witness recognized the truck from having seen it on several occasions at a construction site. Another witness testified that he saw a man near the scene carrying a child under one arm and carrying a bundle, which actually had the shape and size of a child, under his other arm. A third child was walking in front of the man. The witness saw no other person at that time. At approximately 7:30 am, a man was seen running away from the creek toward the parked truck. Near that same time, another person saw a man with blond hair backing his truck onto the travelled portion of the highway from this same location. The person who witnessed this occurrence testified that the driver of the truck was alone. Evidence established that Judy returned the truck to his foster father Robert Carr in Indianapolis between 8:00 and 9:00 am on the day of the killings. Judy initially denied any involvement in the incident, and asserted that he was with his girlfriend at the time in question and could not remember what had happened. Judy’s girlfriend first corroborated this story, but subsequently contradicted Judy’s alibi. “I have no use for anyone who kills children,” said Robert Williams, retired officer of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department. He and then-Sheriff Dick Allen were the first on the scene at White Lick Creek that morning after mushroom hunters stumbled upon a body along the fast-flowing creek bank around 9:30 am. Williams’s daughters were 2 and 6 at the time. “I could have pulled the switch myself,” he said, referring to Judy’s electrocution. Terry was naked and had been bound with cloth strips torn from her Marsh uniform. Her head was covered with her slacks and she had been gagged and strangled with other strips of cloth. Tom Gray was in his first term as Morgan County prosecutor when Steven Judy came along. He was among the first at the murder scene. “I’ll not ever forget that morning, the eerie mist of that morning,” Gray said. A moment stands out, after the mother’s body was found and her daughter was found snagged on tree limbs under water nearby. “We found two more,” echoed a shout from downstream. Steve Oliver was working as an intern in the Morgan County prosecutor’s office in April 1979. When his boss called him to White Lick Creek the morning of April 28, he saw a dead body for the first time. Oliver, 28 at the time, spent the day on the creek bank and at the morgue instead of at the party in his honor for passing the bar exam. He spent the next several months collecting information about Judy’s past crimes and compiling evidence to prove Judy was sane when he killed Terry Chasteen and her children. “He was a true sociopath, with absolutely no conscience or remorse or guilt,” Oliver said. “It made me really want to see that this man was killed.” Defense attorney Steve Harris was 34 when the case landed in his lap. Having already defended four murder defendants in his career, Harris was the most likely choice to be appointed public defender in the death penalty case. For months, he and Judy spent time together on a daily basis, preparing for trial and then going through the process. He remembers his client as personable, polite, considerate, cooperative – and also as a calculated killer. “It was a strange situation for me, to be there with this guy who seemed so normal, so sociable on the surface, who was capable of such horrible things.” Even Harris said Judy had to die. “He would have killed again had he not been executed,” his lawyer said. Judy’s version of the events very substantially corroborated the evidence presented by the State at trial. At the death phase of the trial, Judy ordered his attorneys not to present any evidence of mitigating circumstances. Judy testified that he had been committing various offenses since he was ten years old. He asserted that he had been involved in approximately two hundred shoplifting incidents, a like number of burglaries, twenty to fifty robberies, approximately twenty-four car thefts, and from twelve to sixteen rapes. He also estimated that he had been examined by approximately thirty psychiatrists during those years. From 1975 to the time of these offenses, Judy had been out of jail for a total time of approximately four months. During those periods, he testified, he had lived with or had intercourse with fifteen women. Three women with whom Judy had lived testified that he had never threatened or physically harmed them. In fact, Judy was living with one of those women during the week prior to the commission of these murders. However, other women testified as to various attacks Judy had committed upon them. These incidents involved accosting the victims in their cars and kidnapping, threatening and beating them. One witness testified to being a victim of one of Judy’s armed robberies. These witnesses all believed Judy was in control of himself during the incidents and could have stopped doing what he was doing. However, one witness stated at one point that Judy “acted crazy” when he was beating her about the face. Previously conducted psychiatric evaluations classified Judy as having a personality disorder and concluded there was no indication of a mental illness. Two court-appointed psychiatrists, Dr. John Kooiker and Dr. Larry Davis, testified that they had examined Judy and that, in their opinions, he had an antisocial personality disorder. Both concluded that he was legally sane at the time of the commission of these crimes. In fact, the record reveals that every psychiatrist who has ever examined Judy has been of the opinion that he is of normal or above-average intelligence and that he is legally sane. The jury rejected Judy’s insanity defense and convicted him on all charges. Judy stated to the jury in open court at the sentencing hearing that he would advise them to give him the death sentence, because he had no doubt that he would kill again if he had an opportunity, and some of the people he might kill in the future might be members of the jury. He also directed a similar comment to the trial judge. Jury foreman John Sappington, a retired postal clerk, will never forget the day he voted to sentence Judy to death. “He looked at me, and he said, ‘I know where you live, and I know you have a daughter.’ He threatened all of us, and the judge too, if we didn’t give him the death penalty.” The 12 jurors didn’t hesitate. When the nine men and three women got into the jury room to deliberate a sentence, Sappington asked whether they wanted to discuss the options or take an immediate vote. They wanted to vote. They all wanted Judy to die for his crimes. “I said, ‘Let’s sit here for a while, so it doesn’t look so bad.’ We had some coffee, and then called for the bailiff.” On the surface, Steven Judy seemed harmless enough. He could be personable and charming. He liked children, and they liked him. His foster parents supported him. And yet he was capable of evil. “The thing that influenced me the most was the realization that there are many people in society who appear to be as normal and friendly as he was, and yet they are as dangerous as he was,” said defense lawyer Harris. “It’s scary for me to think how many people like him are out there.” When Judy was 13, he posed as a Boy Scout and forced his way into a woman’s home in Indianapolis. He raped her then stabbed her with a pocket knife 41 times, until the blade broke. He then took a hatchet to her head, fracturing her skull and cutting off a finger on her left hand as she tried to block his blows. For that brutal attack, he spent 6 months at a center for delinquent juveniles. From there, he was admitted to Central State Hospital and diagnosed as a sexual psychopath. He stayed there from October 1970 until January 1973, when he was released to the custody of foster parents Bob and Mary Carr. The Carrs, who had several young children at the time, said they didn’t know the violent details of Judy’s past. They bailed him out of jail after an armed robbery arrest a week before he killed Chasteen and her children. Judy admitted the killings. Harris argued that his client was not guilty because he was insane. The state had to prove he was not. Prosecutors Gray and Oliver worried. “A guy kills three little kids and a mother? You worry the jury will think, ‘Only a crazy person could do that,’ ” Gray said. “That was our fear.” And if the jury had found Judy not guilty by reason of insanity, he would have been sent to a mental hospital until he was deemed cured, then released. At the time, Indiana did not give jurors the option of guilty but mentally ill. But jurors agreed that Judy knew what he was doing and knew it was wrong. He was not crazy. He was guilty. And unlike most killers, he wanted to die. In many ways, Judy’s refusal to allow appeals on his behalf to stop the death penalty made it easier to support and carry out – just as his threats to jurors and others in the case had made the penalty of death inevitable. He let Judge Jeffrey Boles know he wanted to die. “I honestly want you to give me the death penalty because one day I may get out,” he said to Boles. “If you don’t want another death hanging over your head, I think that’s the only thing you can do.” Harris said his client wanted to take some kind of action at the sentencing hearing to make sure he was sentenced to death. “He said he was going to jump over the table and choke Tom Gray, and I told him that no, he shouldn’t do that, that someone might shoot him, and that it might be me.” Then Judy asked whether he could address the jurors. Harris said yes, but asked him to keep it clean. In a chilling moment, Judy threatened them, one by one, saying he would come after them and their families if he ever got out. “I never go across that bridge without thinking of those people he killed,” said Sappington, the jury foreman, who lives just a few miles away. “And I never lost one night’s sleep over our decision. We had no choice.” Sappington is a Catholic. His faith opposes capital punishment. “I’ve had to cope with that,” he said. “I’m a man of conscience, and I thought it might bother me.” But it has not. “If anyone against the death penalty had seen and heard what I did, they might reconsider,” he said. “The world is better off.” Death came quickly for Steven Judy once he halted the appeals process. There was no delay, no stay of execution. No years on death row. Harris, his court-appointed attorney, was there ’til the end. “One of the last things he said to me was, ‘You know, this is the best thing,’,” Harris said. “And even though I knew it was probably the right thing to do, it’s hard to go through an execution with someone.” He felt an obligation to be there for his client. And a series of phone lines had been established in case Judy asked for a last-minute stay from the governor. “About a half-hour before the execution, he wavered,” Harris said. A nervous, chain-smoking Judy offered some advice. “He said, ‘If you ever have another client who wants the death penalty, tell them not to do it.’ Then he was making jokes again. He said he was going to quit smoking.” Judy was offered a 10-milligram injection of valium. His lawyer urged him to refuse it so he could think clearly. Judy wanted the shot and quickly relaxed. They said goodbye in a small, barred cell furnished with a toilet and sink that didn’t work. “We shook hands, he said, ‘Thanks, this is the right thing, don’t feel bad about it,’ and that was it.” Harris took a seat in the viewing room. The next time he saw Judy, he was being led to the electric chair. A black cloth covered his face. He was about 15 feet away, beyond a glass panel. Four guards stood on each side. They strapped him in and attached a metal saucer to his head and electrodes to one leg. Judy’s last words were, “I don’t hold no grudges. It was my doing. I’m sorry it happened. A few minutes after 1 a.m., the warden spoke the words: “Commence the execution.” After it began, Judy’s body stiffened, smoke came out of his head, and he shook violently, Harris said. Witnesses sat in silence, waiting 4.5 minutes to make sure Judy’s heart had stopped beating so a physician could declare him dead. One of Judy’s last acts was handing over a letter to his lawyer. He asked Harris to wait until after the execution to read it. Judy had said he would admit to other crimes, other murders, he had committed. Harris figured this was the written admission. Inside were several pages of stenographer’s notebook paper. Written on the first page was this: “I’m sorry, Steve, but I’ve decided to handle it this way because I care too much for my foster mom and family. I hope you can understand. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.” Judy signed his name. The remaining pages were blank. “That little son of a bi+ch,” Harris said. Judy’s was the first, and last, capital punishment case for Harris. “It’s by choice,” he said. “I’ll never do another one.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
August 8, 1982 Virginia Muriel Hatchell, 47 Frank Coppola executed

Frank J. Coppola, a former police officer, was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of Muriel Hatchell. Coppola was aided by his second wife Karen Evans and his friends Joseph Miltier and Donna Mills. Coppola and Miltier had paired up for illicit purposes in the past, convicted of burglarizing an equipment company in June 1971. Coppola served one year in prison for that crime. Muriel, the wife of Peyton Hatchell, a prosperous car dealer, was murdered during a 1978 robbery at her home in Newport News. Police theorized that the group knew that Peyton Hatchell sometimes carried payroll cash in his car. The group had tried to enter the Hatchell home a few days before the murder when Coppola had knocked on the door dressed as a priest. The ruse failed and Muriel did not open the door. Donna Mills, disguised as a flower delivery woman with a bouquet of roses, succeeded in gaining access to the home. Once inside, she pulled out a pistol from amidst the floral display which she was carrying, allowing cover for Coppola and others to rush into the home. Muriel was bound with venetian blind cords, choked and slapped in the face in an effort to get her to tell them where her husband hid money. They also threatened to cut off her breasts, and cut her in that area. Then her head was slammed repeatedly into floor by Coppola. The attack was still going on when Peyton Hatchell walked in and was struck on the head with a pistol. Karen Evans was waiting in the getaway car during the robbery and murder. The group fled with $3,100 in cash and some rings from the crime scene. Before help could arrive, Muriel died from her head injuries and asphyxiation of her own vomit. After his September 26, 1978 conviction, Coppola, who had been a seminary drop-out when he was younger, dropped appeals and volunteered to have his sentence carried out, saying that he wished to spare his family the ”tremendous hardship” of further appeals and to save his two sons from “schoolyard taunts.” His accomplices all received life sentences, however Karen Evans’s sentence was later reduced to 20 years.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 7, 1982 Texas David Gregory, 26 Charlie Brooks executed

On the morning of December 14, 1976, Marlene Smith, an admitted prostitute, thief, and heroin addict, traded sexual services for the use of a car from a used car dealer. She then picked up Woody Loudres and Charlie Brooks, Jr. at a liquor store. Smith testified that she and Loudres lived together in Room 15 of the New Lincoln Motel in Tarrant County. Smith had been acquainted with Brooks for two weeks and Brooks had on occasion stayed with them at the motel. Smith, Loudres and Brooks drove back to the motel, where Smith and Loudres took heroin. The three then drove to the home of Brooks’s mother, where they drank. The trio then left, heading for the south side of Forth Worth so that Smith could go shoplifting. In response to a question as to whether Brooks and Loudres were going shoplifting with her, Smith testified without objection “they were with me” and Brooks had his “booster coat on.” As they were driving, the car vapor-locked and they pushed it into a service station. They were unable to get the car started and, according to Smith, Brooks left the other two and walked to a nearby used car lot to “get a car to test drive” so that the three would have transportation to the south side. An employee of the used car lot talked to Brooks when he walked onto the lot and asked to test drive a car. Brooks was wearing a tan topcoat at the time. Company policy required that customers who walked onto the lot and asked to test drive a car had to be accompanied by an employee. David Gregory was told to accompany Brooks around the block. David was a paint and body repair man who sometimes assisted as a mechanic and also answered wrecker calls. David went along as Brooks drove to a location where Smith and Loudres were waiting in the vapor-locked car. Loudres got into the car with Gregory and Brooks. They drove off with Gregory, leaving Smith with the broken-down car. A car identified as the one taken on a test drive from the used car lot was driven into the New Lincoln Motel at about 6:00 pm. Brooks and Loudres were in the car at the time. Brooks released a man from the trunk of the car and took him at gunpoint into Room 17 of the motel. Loudres came to the office of the motel and told the manager’s wife, Emma Speers, that they had a man tied up and “we are going to have to kill him.” Brooks also came to the window of the motel office, pointed a large revolver at Speers’ head, and told her, “You’re ignorant. If you say anything, I’ll blow you and your daughter’s brains out.” Brooks then walked away from the motel, returned a few minutes later, and walked toward Room 17. Shots were heard soon thereafter. During this time a woman who was delivering cleaning to the motel talked to Speers. When she left the motel she noted the license number on the car in which Brooks and Loudres had arrived. After leaving the premises she notified the police. After hearing the shots, Speers also notified the police and her husband, the manager of the motel. Loudres and Brooks were seen leaving the motel by the back entrance. Fort Worth police officers arrived at 6:24 pm. They were advised that shots had been fired. The officers began checking the rooms for signs of foul play. They began their checking at Room 13. Room 15 was unlocked and empty. Rooms 16 and 17 were locked. When Room 17 was unlocked by the manager, Gregory’s body was found bound and gagged with adhesive tape and shot in the face. Phil Watson testified that at about 11:00 pm that night he met Loudres and Brooks at the Flamingo Club in south Fort Worth. Loudres asked Watson to drive them back to the New Lincoln Motel. When they arrived, the manager told Loudres to leave. When they were passed by two police cars, Brooks stated that “there had been a killing.” Watson, Loudres and Brooks were arrested later at Watson’s home. Brooks, who grew up in a wealthy family, was previously convicted in the State of Louisiana in September 1962 and was sentenced to three years for the offense of “simple burglary” in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was paroled in 1963 and his parole was revoked in 1965. Brooks also pled guilty in Texas in 1968 to three counts of illegal possession of firearms. Brooks was also convicted in Walker County, Texas of Theft over $50 and Burglary. Almost five years after Brooks was convicted, Woody Lourdes, who had been indicted for and convicted of the same offense, and whose conviction had been reversed on appeal, made a plea bargain with the State, pleaded guilty to non-capital murder and was sentenced to forty years in prison. Loudres served only 11 years for his role in the murder before being paroled in 1989.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 22, 1983 Alabama Edward Nasser John Evans executed

John Louis Evans III was sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of Edward Nasser, Jr. Evans had been paroled from prison in Indiana in 1976 and immediately embarked upon a crime spree with fellow parolee Wayne Ritter. Evans admitted to participating in almost three dozen armed robberies, at least nine kidnappings and two extortions in addition to the murder of Edward Nasser. Edward owned a pawn shop in Mobile, Alabama. The pair shot Edward in the back as he crawled along the floor in his store, with his two young daughters (seven and nine years old) nearby. The pair also stole another gun to use in their continuing crime spree. Two neighborhood children wrote down the license plate number of the car. The FBI finally caught the pair in Little Rock, Arkansas about two months after the murders. Evans gave a detailed confession to the entire crime spree. He was put on trial in Mobile for first-degree murder committed during a robbery. Evans, who grew up in a wealthy family, said he felt no remorse for his crimes, including the murder, and threatened that he would certainly kill again under the same circumstances. He told the jury that if they didn’t sentence him to death, he vowed to escape and kill every single one of them. The jurors deliberated less than 15 minutes before convicting Evans of capital murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 2, 1983 Mississippi Derissa Jean Scales, 3
Elda Louise Prince, 16
Jimmy Gray executed

On June 25, 1976, Derissa Jean Scales, a three-year old girl, disappeared from her parents’ apartment in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray, who lived nearby, was the last person seen with Derissa so he was questioned by the police about her disappearance. She was lured into his apartment to play with some kittens. Gray admitted to the police that he had taken Derissa for a ride in the country, stopped the car on a back road, talked with Derissa and touched her vaginal area. He claimed that Derissa then wandered away from the car and fell into a shallow ditch filled with water. Gray stated that he pulled her out of the ditch while she was still breathing, put her into the trunk of his car half alive and began to drive back to Pascagoula. On the way back, Gray crossed a bridge over Black Creek. He stopped the car, opened the trunk, and threw Derissa Scales into the water. He took the police to find her, and her body was recovered around 4:30 am. Evidence showed that Derissa had been gagged with her panties which were pushed into her throat with a stick. She was raped and sodomized, then suffocated in a muddy ditch, then put in the car trunk before being thrown from the bridge into a stream. Gray was convicted in state court of capital murder and sentenced to death. The conviction, however, was reversed on appeal and the case was remanded for a new trial. At the second trial, Gray was again convicted and sentenced to death. The second conviction was upheld on appeal. At the time of Derissa’s murder, Gray was on parole from a second degree murder conviction in Arizona after cutting the throat of a 16-year-old girl, Elda Louise Prince on January 5, 1968. Gray was given a 20 year to life sentence for that crime but served only just over 6 years before being paroled. Somewhat shockingly, a spiritual advisor, Rev. Joseph Ingle, stated at the time that Gray should not be executed because he was a “devout Christian who committed crimes. He’s a sensitive, caring and humorous person. I want us to focus on Jimmy’s humanity because I am sick and tired of hearing about the crime.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 30, 1983 Florida Donald Schmidt, 38 Robert Sullivan executed

Robert Sullivan was a former manager of the restaurant, and had been dismissed in June, 1972. On the night of April 8, 1973, Sullivan, along with Reid McLaughlin, robbed the Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Homestead, Florida where Sullivan had formerly been employed. Sullivan and McLaughlin abducted the assistant shift manager, Donald Schmidt, taped his wrists behind his back, and drove him to a swampy area near the restaurant. Sullivan struck Schmidt twice on the back of the head with a tire iron and then shot him twice in the back of the head, each time with both barrels of a double barrel.12-gauge shotgun. On April 11, 1973, the body of Donald Schmidt, a 38-year-old father of 4 children, was found. When Sullivan was arrested, the police found Schmidt’s credit cards and watch. The police also found a shotgun, a handgun, white adhesive tape and a bloody tire iron in Sullivan’s car. Sullivan subsequently confessed to the murder of Schmidt and implicated McLaughlin. He stated that he wanted to “see what it felt like to kill someone.” McLaughlin also confessed, but entered into a plea bargain with the state. McLaughlin was promised a life sentence in exchange for his testimony at Sullivan’s trial. McLaughlin served only 7 years before being paroled. Sullivan was convicted by a jury in Dade County, Florida in November 1973. The jury recommended a sentence of death. Sullivan had been adopted at the age of two weeks by a Harvard-educated doctor and his wife. He attended the University of Miami for four years. Sullivan had no violent criminal record prior to this murder but was on probation for a theft conviction. The Roman Catholic church became involved in the case and tried to stop the execution. Pope John Paul II asked then-Governor Graham to commute Sullivan’s death sentence. As the judge stated when imposing sentence, “The defendant in this case saw fit to braggadociously state that he wanted to commit a ‘crime’ which in his mind was to be ‘the perfect crime.’ The decedent was bound with hands behind his body with adhesive tape, mentally toyed with by the defendant as to operating and management techniques of the establishment where he worked, a place where the defendant himself had previously been employed. After this mental exercise, the decedent was led to a lonely spot in Dade County with hands still behind him and as he stumbled in the darkness, struck from behind with a tire iron, and then again from behind, while on the ground in a total helpless position, was mortally wounded with four blasts from a.12 gauge shotgun to the back of the head. This Court cannot conceive of a more conscienceless crime. This Court has observed the demeanor and the action of the defendant throughout this entire trial and has not observed one scintilla of remorsefulness displayed, indicating full well to this Court that the death penalty is the proper selection of the punishment to be imposed in this particular case.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 14, 1983 Louisiana Willie Kelly, 67 Robert Williams executed

On January 5, 1979, Ralph Holmes and his niece’s husband Robert Wayne Williams approached a Baton Rouge A&P Supermarket which they intended to rob. Ralph Holmes’s wife was a cashier at the store. Prior to entering, they pulled ski masks over their faces to protect their identities from recognition, and Williams prepared his 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun for use. When they walked inside the store, they spotted the security guard, Willie Kelly, age 67, bagging groceries instead of performing his customary duties. The two men approached Willie and Holmes attempted to remove the guard’s pistol from its holster. He had some difficulty doing this, so Willie Kelly made a move toward the pistol in an effort to free it and thereby aid Holmes. Williams, who was on probation for a theft conviction, responded to Willie’s move by firing the shotgun in the guard’s face at point blank range. The resulting blast severed much of Willie’s head from his body. Police detectives on the scene observed bone fragments, blood, hair, and pieces of skin spread throughout the front of the store. After killing the guard, the two men proceeded to complete the robbery, netting about $2500. Before fleeing the scene, however, Holmes pistol-whipped one customer, and Williams accidentally shot two more people in the legs and feet. At trial, friends of the defendants testified that they had heard the killers bragging about shooting an “old guard” at the A&P. Holmes received a life sentence for his role in the murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 22, 1983 Georgia Joseph Ronald Akins
Juanita Knight Akins
John Smith executed

John Eldon Smith, an insurance salesman who aspired to be a “Mafia hit man” was sentenced to death on two counts for the murders of Joseph Ronald Akins and his wife Juanita Knight Akins. Ronald Akins’s ex-wife was married to Smith. Ronald Akins and his wife of twenty days, Juanita Knight Akins, were killed in a secluded area of a new housing development in Bibb County, Georgia, on August 31, 1974, by shotgun blasts fired at close range. Ronald’s former wife, Rebecca Akins Smith, together with her husband, John Eldon Smith, (a/k/a Anthony Isalldo Machetti, a/k/a Tony Machetti), and John Maree plotted the death of Ronald Akins with the intent of redeeming the proceeds of Ronald’s insurance policies worth $20,000, and other benefits, the beneficiaries of which were Rebecca Smith and her three daughters by her marriage to Ronald. The children were living in North Miami Beach, Florida at the time. According to the testimony of accomplice John Maree, he was to be paid $1,000 for his participation. He testified that he and Smith (known to Maree as Tony Machetti) drove to Macon, Georgia, where they contacted Ronald Akins and lured him into the area of the crime, ostensibly to install a television antenna, and that when he and his wife arrived at the appointed time, Tony Machetti (Smith) killed both of them with a shotgun, after which he and Maree returned to North Miami Beach, Florida. Maree’s palm print was found in the Akins’s car. Maree confessed to the crime and testified against the others. He was sentenced to life in prison and first became eligible for parole in November 1983 and was released on December 23, 1987. In a separate trial, Rebecca Akins Smith received a death sentence on each of the two counts of capital murder, but her conviction was later overturned and after a second trial, she received a life sentence. As of August 2008, she was still serving her sentence. Click here to search for Rebecca Smith’s current status. Use GDC ID number: 0000386183

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
1/26/1984 Florida Richard Cloud, 33 Anthony Antone executed

Anthony Antone was part of a Mafia-enterprise whose membership grew as its criminal interests diversified. The enterprise was founded by Frank Diecidue who sought protection of his vending machine business through the murder of a new competitor, Manuel Garcia. Diecidue supposedly recruited Anthony Antone and Manuel Gispert in April or May of 1975 to carry out the crime. In June Antone brought Ellis Marlow Haskew into the enterprise to drive for Gispert while he attempted to shoot Garcia. Gispert obtained the shotgun for the attempt and told Haskew that Diecidue was to pay the three $20,000 for the killing. Twice Haskew and Gispert drove to Garcia’s hotel with a loaded shotgun but failed to locate him. The next attempt on Garcia’s life was made with explosives. In May, Gispert had met with Larry Neil Miller and Willie Noriega and had purchased a gun from Miller. At that meeting Miller asked Noriega to obtain explosives and suggested he deal with Gispert through Miller so Miller could hike up the price and make some money. Noriega was never able to supply the requested explosives. During the last week of June, Gispert and Haskew drove to a service plaza on the highway from Tampa to Miami where they picked up dynamite from Frank Boni, Jr. The dynamite was transported back to Antone’s house where Antone constructed a triggering device and showed Gispert and Haskew how to attach the dynamite to it. On June 28 Antone, Gispert and Haskew attached the bomb to Garcia’s car. The device exploded, destroying the car and injuring Garcia. Gispert led Garcia to believe that the attempt on his life had been ordered by Cesar Rodriguez, a Tampa bar owner, and Garcia in turn, offered $20,000 for Rodriguez’ murder. Gispert also obtained murder contracts from codefendant Victor Acosta on the lives of Bernard Dempsey, a former U. S. Attorney, and Richard Cloud, a former Tampa police officer now working as a private investigator. In July Gispert and Haskew drove to Miami where they delivered six ounces of cocaine, obtained from Acosta, to Boni. Gispert, Haskew and Antone divided the profits. Later in July the same trio decided to carry out the Rodriguez murder with explosives. Gispert procured the dynamite through Homer Rex Davis, Antone constructed a triggering device and Gispert and Haskew placed the bomb. When the bomb detonated the car was destroyed and the driver, a family friend, was injured. Gispert and Haskew made several unsuccessful attempts to locate and kill Dempsey in August and September. Acosta had issued the contract on Dempsey’s life because, as a US Attorney, Dempsey had prosecuted several organized crime figures and Acosta owed him over $40,000 in legal fees for work done as a defense attorney after leaving the prosecutor’s office. In September the enterprise gained another member when Haskew assisted Benjamin Gilford to escape from prison. Gilford agreed to serve as triggerman on five murder contracts issued by Acosta. Dempsey, Cloud and Rodriguez were identified as three of the intended victims. Later in September Haskew and Gilford unsuccessfully attempted to murder Rodriguez with a sawed-off shotgun during a car chase through Tampa. In September and October Haskew and Gilford, joined on one occasion by Miller, committed several robberies. The proceeds were used to finance enterprise activities or support the participants. The enterprise obtained equipment to carry out the contract murders in September and October. Antone and Haskew purchased a van which was modified into an “assassination” vehicle by cutting shotgun slits in the sides. Antone also gave Haskew a.32 caliber automatic pistol and silencer which he had obtained from Acosta. Gispert had given the weapon to Acosta to procure a silencer. Miller bought the ammunition for the weapon and he and Haskew test-fired it. Richard Cloud was targeted for murder because, as a Tampa policeman, he had harassed Acosta in his drug business and was expected to testify in October at the trial of a close friend of Acosta’s. On October 23, Haskew and Gilford drove to Cloud’s home, and while Haskew circled the block, Gilford fatally shot Cloud, a married father with 2 children, three times with the silenced.32 caliber pistol when he answered a knock at the front door. After the murder, Haskew traveled to Miami where he discussed obtaining counterfeit money with Harvey Davenport and George DeFeis, who were also indicted as co-conspirators in the enterprise. In November Haskew made another trip to Miami and stole a kilogram of cocaine, “speed” capsules, a coin collection and jewelry from DeFeis. The cocaine and a diamond ring were turned over to Antone, who sold the cocaine to Acosta. Another ring, the coins and speed were given to Miller. In December, Haskew purchased from Davenport $40,000 in counterfeit bills, some of which Haskew passed in Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Miller attempted to sell some of the bills and used a counterfeit hundred dollar bill to purchase cologne in a Clearwater department store. In January 1976 Miller, according to Haskew’s testimony, asked Haskew to get him a weapon with a silencer so that he and Scarface Rivera could make a hit on a man living in a trailer who intended to testify against them. Haskew was never able to supply the weapon. In February Gilford attempted to recruit another participant to complete remaining murder contracts and was subsequently arrested. Haskew was arrested shortly thereafter. Both confessed, setting forth the details of the conspiracy. The evidence upon which Anthony Antone was convicted and sentenced showed that he arranged the contract murder of Richard Cloud. Antone provided the murder gun, test-fired it into a couch in his home, specially equipped it, and disposed of the gun after the murder. Antone also paid $1,500 “front money” before the murder and between $7,000 and $8,000 after the murder. Benjamin Gilford, the confessed triggerman, committed suicide while awaiting sentencing. Co-conspirators Vic Acosta, the man who communicated the contracts to Antone, died in jail of a drug overdose and Marlow Haskew, the driver of the car, testified against Antone at trial and plea-bargained for a sentence of not more than 35 years. Antone had a prior conviction for 2 counts of armed robbery. The jury took only an hour and a half to return a guilty verdict and less than half an hour to sentence Antone to death.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 29, 1984 Louisiana David Vogler, 28 Johnny Taylor executed

David Vogler, 28, left his home in Kenner, Louisiana around 8:45 pm on February 8, 1980. He told his wife that a black man had called him and requested to see a 1976 Buick the Voglers had displayed for sale in a nearby parking lot. The next morning David Vogler was found, stabbed some twenty times, stuffed in the trunk of his car, where he had been left by his murderer to bleed to death. His car, a 1979 Cadillac, was parked in the lot where the Buick had been. The Buick was missing. On June 14, 1980, Johnny Taylor, Jr. was stopped for a traffic violation in Millry, Alabama while driving the Buick. The arresting officer testified that he stopped Taylor after Taylor had crossed the highway and swerved in front of the oncoming patrol car. Taylor did not produce a valid driver’s license when asked. While a check of the Buick’s registration was being conducted by the Millry police, Taylor fled. His companions, Linda Pugh and Samuel Young, were arrested when the registration check revealed that the Buick had been stolen and its owner murdered. The next day, detectives from the Kenner police department drove to Millry, Alabama. They interviewed Young and Pugh. They ascertained that the Buick was in fact the one stolen from the Voglers. In the trunk of the Buick they found receipts for body work done at a local garage. The garage owner gave them a copy of a repair estimate he had given Taylor on February 9, 1980, for body work and a paint job. Taylor was arrested on June 17, 1980, for an unrelated auto theft in Butler, Alabama. The Kenner Police detectives questioned Taylor there on June 18, 1980. Taylor signed a written statement indicating he had not come into possession of the Buick until March 1980. When the detectives confronted Taylor with their knowledge that he had taken the car to a garage on February 9, 1980, Taylor stated that he had purchased the Buick on that date from Allen Thomas, a white male known to him, and a black man. At trial, Taylor testified that he identified the black man in his oral statement as “Charlie Robertson’s brother-in-law.” The detectives testified that they did not recall hearing a name other than Thomas. The detectives did not reduce the second statement to writing because they were convinced that Taylor was lying. Taylor’s fingerprints and palmprints, as well as hair samples, were taken in Alabama and later sent by the Kenner police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for comparison with latent prints lifted from the Cadillac in which Vogler’s body was found. The FBI reported that Taylor’s left palm print matched a partial print found on the trunk lid of the Cadillac. Taylor’s hair was also found to be similar to and indistinguishable from hairs found in the visor of the Cadillac. Taylor was indicted on June 28, 1980, and later extradited to Louisiana. Taylor was tried for first degree murder in March 1981. The state relied on Taylor’s possession of the Buick almost immediately after its theft and Vogler’s murder, Taylor’s unsatisfactory explanations of how he came into possession of the Buick, and two pieces of evidence connecting Taylor to the crime scene: the partial palm print and the hairs. Taylor testified that he had not even been in the state of Louisiana since 1978, and that his palm print and hairs could not possibly have been lifted from the victim’s Cadillac. Taylor’s alibi witnesses, however, were not persuasive, and the jury found him guilty of first degree murder. During the sentencing phase of Taylor’s trial, the state relied on evidence previously adduced to show the presence of two “aggravating factors” under the Louisiana death penalty statute; Taylor was engaged in armed robbery when he murdered Vogler, and the murder was committed “in an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner”. Taylor’s attorney presented no new evidence at the sentencing stage. He began to argue that the unreliability of the evidence against Taylor was a factor which the jury should consider in deciding whether to recommend the death penalty. The trial judge forbade this line of argument because it went to the issue of guilt rather than to the appropriateness of capital punishment. Taylor’s attorney made no other argument on Taylor’s behalf. The presentencing report showed unfavorable information that the defense team decided not to enter, including the fact that Taylor had been discharged from the armed forces as “an undesirable”, and that he did not contribute to the support of three illegitimate children. The jury recommended that Taylor be sentenced to die, and the trial judge later entered the death sentence.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 14, 1984 Texas Shirley Drouet, 43
Joseph Broussard, 43
James Autry executed

On the evening of April 20, 1980, Port Arthur, Texas police received a report of a shooting at a Sak-N-Pak grocery store. Arriving officers found Joseph Broussard, a Catholic priest, lying dead on his back with a telephone in his hand, shot through the neck and head; Shirley Drouet, 43, the grocery clerk and mother of five children, seated near a grocery display dying of a gunshot between the eyes; and Anthanasios Svarnas, a Greek seaman, lying seriously wounded in the store parking lot. He survived but suffered brain damage as a result of his injuries. The cash register was turned to an off position, its register tape showing that the last sales were of cigarettes. Nothing was taken from the cash register or the victims, although Father Joe had cash in his wallet as did Shirley in her purse. A carton of beer, worth $2.70, was stolen. Within four hours, John R. Sandifer arrived at the Port Arthur police station accompanied by his two sons, John Alton and Mark. Based on his statement John Alton Sandifer was arrested and an arrest warrant for James David Autry was issued. Two pistols, of.32 and.38-caliber, brought to the station by the Sandifers were secured as evidence. Mark Sandifer had taken the pistols from Autry shortly before the stationhouse trip. Port Arthur police officers Gary Martin and Bill Edmonds were told by radio of the outstanding warrant and at about 1:45 a.m. arrested Autry at the trailer-house he shared with John Alton Sandifer. Detective Edmonds told Autry he was being arrested for the two murders at the Sak-N-Pak store, Shirley Drouet having died in the meantime, and gave full Miranda warnings. Officers searched the trailer with Autry’s consent. After questioning, Autry, who went by the nickname of “Cowboy,” signed a written statement. At about 1:00 p.m., Autry was allowed to telephone his mother. Officer John Anderson testified at trial that he heard Autry make incriminating statements on the phone. Q. What did you hear the defendant say? A. Whoever he was talking to on the other end he told them that he was in Port Arthur Jail. And that he was charged with two counts of murder. Q. What happened then? A. Okay. There was kind of a pause. And I assume whoever was on the other end was saying something. And he said that he had gone into this store and he was going to rob it but it just gone bad. Q. What did he say then? A. He said that he started shooting but once he started he just couldn’t stop. Q. Okay. Did he say anything else? A. If I remember right towards the end of the conversation he stated that whoever was on the other end should not worry because he was going to get out of it. Autry was indicted for capital murder. Before trial and after a hearing, Autry’s motion to suppress his written statement was granted. The state trial court found that the police officers had not honored Autry’s request to remain silent. He denied Autry’s motion to suppress his oral statements overheard by Officer Anderson. At trial, it was developed that Autry’s telephone call from the booking room was to his mother. The oral statements were admitted over his objection that they were tainted by the illegality that accompanied the written statement he had given approximately six and one-half hours earlier. John Richard Sandifer, Judy Francis Sandifer and Mark Sandifer testified for the state. All had been granted immunity over Autry’s objection. Autry objected to the grant of immunity unless John Alton Sandifer was also granted immunity. John Alton was then under indictment for capital murder. Despite Autry’s request, Texas refused to grant immunity to John Alton Sandifer, and, out of the jury’s presence, he invoked the Fifth Amendment when called by Autry at trial. The father, John Richard Sandifer, explained to the jury that he and his son Mark had gone to a trailer-house in the late evening on April 20, 1980, where Mark obtained two pistols which belonged to him and picked up his brother, John Alton; that they took John Alton and the pistols to the police station. John Richard Sandifer was testifying under a grant of immunity, and the state had offered John Alton twenty-five years for a plea to a burglary charge. Mark testified that around noon on April 20, 1980, he loaned his 1978 El Camino to his brother, John Alton. Mark explained to the jury that he did not see his brother again until around 9 p.m. that night when he saw the loaned car parked at a Sak-N-Pak with Autry standing by it. Angry that his brother had been gone with his car so long, he stopped and asked Autry where his brother John Alton was. Autry replied that he was in the store. John Alton then exited the store and got into the El Camino. He told Mark to follow him to the trailer. Autry got into the car with Mark and Mark’s wife and children and they followed the El Camino out. Mark testified that he did not see a body in the parking lot when he left. He related that Autry then asked him to stop the car. When he did so, Autry got out, pulling a chrome-plated, stainless steel pistol, and ran back toward the store which two men were approaching. Mark followed the El Camino to his brother’s trailer, picked up the El Camino, his wife driving his car, and left. Finally, he described, as did his father, the trip to the trailer where John Alton and the guns were picked up. He added that when he asked Autry for his father’s guns, Autry pulled his father’s chrome-plated pistol from his pocket and gave it to him. He explained that Autry reluctantly produced the second pistol, but “told me that he wasn’t going to give it to me… he knew that I knew that he killed some people…. He told me that he killed four people. He said that I just killed four people and you know it.” Mark then identified state’s exhibits as the two guns. Mark’s wife Judy confirmed Mark’s testimony regarding their arriving at the Sak-N-Pak store at around 9 p.m. and Autry’s return to the store. The jury returned a verdict of guilty and sentenced him to death. In 1988, Autry’s brother Robert Allen Autry was sentenced to life in prison for murders committed in Odessa and Amarillo in June of 1984. Testimony showed that Robert Autry ate the eyeball of one of his victims. He committed suicide in jail on September 26, 1988, only a week after sentencing.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 16, 1984 North Carolina Roy Huskey, 42
Owen Messersmith, 58
Robert L. “Pete” Peterson, 37

unnamed victim
James Hutchins executed

On May 31, 1979, James W. Hutchins shot and killed two law enforcement officers in Rutherford County, North Carolina who responded domestic disturbance call. He then fled the scene in a vehicle and subsequently murdered a state trooper who pulled him over. Deputy Sheriff Owen Messersmith, 58, Trooper Robert “Pete” Peterson, 37, and Deputy Sheriff Roy Huskey, 42, were shot and killed after responding to a domestic dispute between Hutchens and his 17-year-old daughter in Rutherford County. They were arguing about the amount of liquor in the punch that was served at a graduation party. She fled next door and called police after being hit, punched and kicked by her father. Deputy Huskey was the first officer dispatched to the scene and was shot in the head by the suspect as he exited his patrol car. When Deputy Huskey failed to check in, Deputy Messersmith responded to the scene. As he pulled into the driveway he saw Deputy Huskey laying next to the patrol car, and he began to back out of the driveway. The suspect opened fire on Deputy Messersmith as he backed out of the driveway, striking him in the head. A neighbor called the sheriff’s office to report that two deputies had been shot. Trooper Peterson heard garbled radio traffic, and although couldn’t make out the transmissions, determined something was wrong and began to head toward Rutherfordton. As he drove into town the suspect sped by him. Trooper Peterson turned around and attempted to stop the car, thinking it was a speeding vehicle and not knowing the suspect had just murdered two deputies. Trooper Peterson’s last transmission was that the suspect was running into the woods. Trooper Peterson as found suffering a from a gunshot wound to the head. His service revolver had been fired once. In prior cases, Hutchins went AWOL from the Air Force in April of 1954 and was hitch-hiking back to North Carolina when shot a Texas man with a.22 pistol. He claimed the man was going to rob him and received a 5-10 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. In December 1966, Hutchins was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill after attacking the husband of his ex-wife. Before his execution, Hutchins expressed remorse for his crimes and hoped people would forgive him.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 31, 1984 Texas Timothy O’Bryan, 8 Ronald O’Bryan executed

Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who worked as an optician at Texas State Optical Company, had serious financial problems. The family was delinquent on a number of loans and had been forced to sell their home to meet their most pressing obligations. O’Bryan discussed his financial burdens with friends and acquaintances, informing some of them that he expected to receive some money by the end of the year. Despite his financial difficulties, O’Bryan substantially increased the life insurance coverage on his two children, Timothy and Elizabeth Lane, during 1974. By mid-October there was $30,000 worth of coverage on each child, while the coverage on O’Bryan and his wife was minimal. In August, 1974, O’Bryan tried unsuccessfully to obtain cyanide where he worked. In September, he called a friend who worked at Arco Chemical Company, and the two discussed the varieties and availability of cyanide. O’Bryan continued to discuss cyanide among his fellow employees at Texas State Optical. Shortly before Halloween, O’Bryan appeared at Curtin Matheson Scientific Company, a chemical outlet in Houston. When he discovered that the company had cyanide available only in large quantities, O’Bryan asked the salesperson where he could obtain a smaller amount. On Halloween, Thursday, October 31, 1974, the O’Bryan family dined at the home of the Bates family. The children of both families had planned to go “trick or treating” together in the Bates’ neighborhood. The defendant and Mr. Bates accompanied O’Bryan’s children and Bates’ son on the Halloween outing. When the party arrived at the Melvins’ home, the lights were out, but O’Bryan and the children went up to the home anyway. When no one answered the door, the children went on to the next house; O’Bryan remained behind for about thirty seconds. He then ran up to the children, “switching” at least two “giant pixy styx” in the air and exclaiming that “rich neighbors” were handing out expensive treats. O’Bryan offered to carry the pixy styx for the children. Back at the Bates’ home, O’Bryan distributed the pixy styx to his and Bates’ two children, and gave a fifth stick to a boy who came to “trick or treat” at the door. After the Halloween festivities had been completed, O’Bryan took his children home, while his wife went to visit a friend. O’Bryan informed the children that they could each have one piece of candy before going to bed; Timothy chose the pixy stick. The boy had trouble getting the candy out of the tube, so O’Bryan rolled the stick in his hand to loosen the candy for his son. When Timothy complained that the candy had a bitter taste, O’Bryan gave him some Kool-Aid to wash it down. Timothy immediately became ill and ran to the bathroom, where he started vomiting. When Timothy became sicker and went into convulsions, O’Bryan summoned an ambulance. Timothy died within an hour after he arrived at the hospital. Cyanide was found in fluids aspirated from his stomach and in his blood. The quantity of cyanide in the blood was well above the fatal human dose. There was conflicting testimony at trial concerning the extent to which O’Bryan showed remorse at the hospital and at his son’s funeral. During the days following Halloween, O’Bryan gave conflicting stories as to the origin of the pixy styx, but he eventually claimed that the pixy styx came from the Melvin home. Mr. Melvin was at work, however, until late in the evening on Halloween. O’Bryan was charged with and convicted of capital murder. At the sentencing proceeding, the State reintroduced the evidence that it had presented at trial and the defendant presented nine lay witnesses who stated that they did not believe that O’Bryan was likely to be a danger to society in the future. The jury answered the two special issues affirmatively and O’Bryan was sentenced to die. As described by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: A more calculated and cold-blooded crime than the one for which O’Bryan was convicted can hardly be imagined. O’Bryan murdered his child in order to collect life insurance money. The record reflects months of premeditation and planning. As Halloween neared, he took out new and additional life insurance policies on both of his children, made his diligent and successful search for the poison which he was to use, set up plans to insure that he would take his children “trick or treating,” bought the children their costumes, and even began making plans to spend the money which he would collect upon the deaths of his children. Well before the carefully planned and executed murder, O’Bryan began to consider buying a new house, paying off his debts, and even quitting his job. O’Bryan, in order to execute his plan to murder his son and to collect the life insurance proceeds, and to escape detection in doing so, was willing to and attempted to commit murder four more times. When he intentionally distributed the four additional poisoned pixy styx to the other children, the likely and predictable result of his acts was to cause their deaths also. The lives which O’Bryan was willing to sacrifice in order to carry out the murder of his son included those of the two children of his good friend Jimmy Bates, and another child who attended O’Bryan’s church, and his own daughter, whose life was also heavily insured. The jury also had before it evidence of O’Bryan’s attempt to implicate another for the poisoning death, by a positive identification of another man as the source of the candy, when the evidence showed that this could not have been true. Further, the jury had before it evidence of O’Bryan’s attitude toward his crime. There was testimony that he was “excited” by widespread news coverage of his son’s death. There was also various testimony concerning the disparity between O’Bryan’s public displays of grief over his son’s death and his behavior when the circumstances were more private. The jury also heard testimony that at approximately 9:00 a.m. on November 1, the morning after his son’s death the previous night, O’Bryan called his life insurance agent to find out how to collect the proceeds of the policy on his son. At approximately 9:30 a.m. this same morning after his son’s death, he inquired at his bank about collecting on a policy there, also. Further, over the next several days, O’Bryan openly discussed how he would use the proceeds of the life insurance; these plans included taking an extended vacation. By his entire conduct, including the facts that O’Bryan, in such a deliberate and calculated way, took the life of his own child for money and jeopardized the lives of four others, the jury could have concluded that O’Bryan had a wanton and callous disregard for human life; the evidence is sufficient for the jury to have found that there is a probability that O’Bryan would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 5, 1984 Florida Jason Steele VerDow, 9
Kenny Dawson, 11
Arthur Goode executed

Arthur Frederick Goode, III was a child molester who went on a crime spree that resulted in the abduction, rape and murder of two boys and the kidnapping and sexual assault of at least one other boy. In his teenage years, Goode had been arrested three times for sexually assaulting minors in his neighborhood. His parents bailed him out each time. In March of 1975, Goode was again arrested on five sexual assault charges regarding a 9-year-old boy. His parents paid the $25,000 bond but while out on bail, Goode molested an 11-year-old boy. Incredibly, he received only a 5 year probation sentence, on the condition that he undergo voluntary psychiatric treatment at a state hospital. Less than four months later, Goode left the hospital and hopped a bus for home. A bench warrant was issued but no further action was taken to arrest Goode. On March 5, 1976, Goode asked 9-year-old Jason VerDow to help him find something in the woods near a bus stop where the boy was waiting. Goode later said, “I told him he was going to die and described how I would kill him. I asked him if he had any last words and he said, “I love you,” and then I strangled him.” Goode said he strangled the boy by putting a belt around his neck and swinging him through the air. The body of Jason VerDow was found near Pondella Road in Cape Coral, Florida, nude except for his socks. A memorial park was later established in Jason’s name in Cape Coral, Florida. Goode was questioned in Jason’s murder on two occasions, so he left town and returned to the state hospital, however he did not remain long. He imagined that the receptionist was calling the police to turn him in so he fled. He then kidnapped 10-year-old paperboy Billy Arthes, taking him to Washington, D.C. where they spent the next 10 days touring the capital. On March 20, Goode picked up 11-year-old Kenny Dawson and took him and Billy on a bus to Tysons Corner, Virginia. While there, Goode took the boys on a hike in a wooded area where he forced Kenny to undress, sexually assaulted him and then strangled him with a belt in front of a frightened and horrified Billy. That same week, a woman in Falls Church recognized Billy Arthes from news photos and called the police, resulting in Goode’s arrest and Billy’s rescue. When Goode was placed under arrest, he said to police, “You can’t to nothing to me. I’m sick.” Goode wrote a letter to Jason’s parents, saying, “Ha! Ha! I murdered your sexy little boy, Jason, and I’m proud of it!” Goode was tried in Maryland for Kenny Dawson’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Extradited to Florida, Goode went on trial for the murder of Jason VerDow. Goode acted as his own attorney and a brave 11-year-old Billy Arthes testified that he was in Goode’s company for several days shortly after Jason VerDow‘s murder and that Goode had told him that he had killed Jason. After Billy’s brave testimony was complete, Goode handed him a piece of candy and said: “I love you, Billy. Goodbye.” The trial judge’s handling of the matter was forceful, effective and appropriate. He called a recess for coffee, and forcefully reprimanded Goode out of the presence of the jury. Goode, although he declined to plead guilty, systematically and cleverly brought out evidence to assure his own conviction, testified in gory detail as to his guilt, and argued to the jury that he should be convicted and sentenced to death. In the sentencing phase Goode himself testified, in awful specificity, of his willingness to kill again: “The next statement I have here to prove my guilt, is if Judge John Shearer would authorize this next statement, which I know he won’t–I know you won’t authorize it–but if the judge would authorize me to murder a little boy… I am ready right now, I am ready right now to murder another little boy. I am strictly a dangerous, cold-blooded murderer.” Prosecutor Joe D’Alessandro said Goode once asked him to visit his jail cell. “I wasn’t there five minutes when he invoked something in me that has never been invoked,” he said. “I wanted to hurt him. If I had been there alone, I would have hurt him. That scared me.” In pronouncing the sentence on March 21, 1977, the trial court judge said, “If organized society is to exist with the compassion and love that we all espouse, there comes a point when we must terminate that, and there are certain cases and certain times when we can no longer help, we can no longer rehabilitate and there are certain people, and Arthur Goode is one of them, that’s actions demand that society respond and all we can do is exterminate. Philosophically I believe that in certain limited instances we should do that. In this particular case that is my opinion, and that is my order, and the only answer I know that will once and for all guarantee society, at least as far as it relates to this man, is that he will never again kill, maim, torture or harm another human being. You have violated the laws, you have had your trial and I am convinced that the punishment is just and proper, and truthfully, may God have mercy on your soul.” Goode was known as the “most hated man on the row.” Other inmates threw things at him and even ministers avoided contact with him. In 1984, a reporter from Baltimore interviewed Goode extensively . During the interview, Goode said, “There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s the damn people in society who are prejudiced against pedophilia. There’s every reason in the world why I want to be executed. Of course, that’s the last thing I really want because I’d like to be on the street doing sex with young boys. What I want to do is get a legal way to marry a boy. Society doesn’t have the right to get into my business.” He also said, “Kenny Dawson, I wish I hadn’t killed him. He was one of the nicest kids I ever met.” When asked later if he felt guilt about killing the boys, Goode said, “Yeah, I do. You see, I loved the kids. That’s one thing I hate to do, but it’s my way to protest. I feel proud I killed those two kids knowing that society will never let me have sex with kids again. At least I can pay them back.” Every line of questioning on other topics was almost instantly turned back to pedophilia by Goode. “I like children in general, be friends with them. I’m like a clown. I’d like to be a scoutmaster. People don’t understand pedophilia. In other words, there’s going to be more kids missing and killed until society understands and possibly considers pedophilia. In the future they’re going to have to do something. People better start considering all sorts of life, not just being selfish on normal sex. They need to understand what it is, not that they’re going to like it, but they’ve got to accept it and understand it. Somehow they must legalize it in certain ways or their kids will be raped or molested. People are responsible for their own kids.” He talked about assaulting a 13-year-old boy in Baltimore. “I lured a 13-year-old boy in the woods in Dundalk area and I had sex with him and kept all his clothes. They found him, some motorist saw him coming out of the woods with no clothes on. I had actually tried to kill him. I gave him some Dramamine. That was before I knew anything about strangling. The thing that was funny is that he came out of the woods with no clothes on.” Eight years after Jason’s murder, Goode was executed in the electric chair. Goode cried as he made his final statement. “I want to apologize to my parents. I have remorse for the two boys I murdered. But it’s difficult for me to show it.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
April 5, 1984 Louisiana Loretta Bourque, 18
David LeBlanc, 16
Elmo Sonnier executed

On the evening of November 4, 1977, David LeBlanc, age sixteen, and Loretta Ann Bourque, age eighteen, attended a high school football game. Later that evening, the couple parked in a remote area of St. Martin Parish. At approximately 1:00 am, Elmo Patrick Sonnier and his brother, Eddie James Sonnier, who were rabbit hunting together, came across the couple’s car. Using a badge one of the brothers had obtained while working as a security guard and armed with 22-caliber rifles, the two posed as police officers and approached and entered the car. The victims were informed that they were trespassing and that they would have to be brought to the landowner to determine if the landowner desired to press charges. At this time the driver’s licenses of both victims were confiscated. David and Loretta were then handcuffed and placed in the back seat of their own car. The Sonnier brothers left their car behind and drove the couple twenty-one miles to a remote oilfield located in Iberia Parish, an area known to Elmo Sonnier. Once at the oilfield, both victims were removed from the car. David LeBlanc was taken into the woods and handcuffed to a tree. Loretta Bourque was taken a short distance away and raped by Elmo Sonnier. She then agreed to have intercourse with Eddie Sonnier in exchange for the couple’s safe release. Upon completion of the rapes, the two youngsters were unhandcuffed and brought back toward the road where the car was parked. At that point, Elmo Sonnier told his brother they could not let the couple go because if the youngsters talked, it would mean he (Elmo) would have to go back to Angola. David LeBlanc and Loretta Bourque were then forced to lie side by side, face down, and were each shot three times at close range in the back of the head. Eddie Sonnier testified that he held a flashlight while his brother shot the youngsters with a 22-caliber rifle. He further related that Bourque began to cry when Elmo Sonnier fired a first shot at her which missed. He then fired a second shot which succeeded in striking Bourque in the back of the head. The third shot likewise struck LeBlanc in the back of the head. Each victim was then shot two additional times. At the trial, expert testimony indicated that any one of the shots would have resulted in instantaneous death to the victims. The brothers then drove the victims’ vehicle back to the original site where the couple was first accosted in order to pick up their own car. Finding their car with a flat tire, they used a jack from the LeBlanc vehicle to make the change. The jack was later seized by police from the trunk of the assailants’ car. The brothers then destroyed the victims’ driver’s licenses and the following day buried the rifles in another remote area. Investigation also revealed that thirty or forty dollars which was in the possession of the murdered couple prior to the abduction could not be accounted for. Elmo Sonnier was arrested on December 5, 1977. He was advised of his rights and taken to the Sheriff’s Office in New Iberia. While there, he made a free and voluntary confession which was transcribed by one of the police officers who was present. The statement was then read and signed by Sonnier. He was then routinely transferred to a parish prison in an adjacent parish. While enroute, he made another statement to the officers who were transporting him. The following day he made a third confession which was taped. All three statements indicated that Sonnier had participated in the abduction of the victims and had shot them. The police later recovered the two rifles which belonged to the brothers. Ballistics tests indicated that one of the bullets taken from one of the victim’s head and four brass casings found by the police at the scene of the crime had positively been fired from the rifle which belonged to Elmo Sonnier. Because of excessive damage, the other five bullets that were recovered could only be identified as having been fired from the same model, brand and caliber rifle as that belonging to Sonnier. The handcuffs used in the abduction were later recovered from Elmo Sonnier’s bedroom. The State also produced a witness who testified that he had seen Sonnier’s blue 1961 Dart at the place where the abduction occurred during the early morning hours of November 5, 1977. The brothers were jointly indicted on two counts of first degree murder by the grand jury of Iberia Parish. On January 19, 1978, Elmo Sonnier was arraigned and pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. I.Q. tests indicated a verbal score of dull-normal range (84), a performance score in the average range (98) and a full scale I.Q. in the average range (90). No neurological impairment was noted. Other tests indicated that Sonnier had contact with reality and there were indications of a potential for above average creativity and intelligence. Sonnier’s criminal record reveals five arrests as a juvenile: disturbance; simple burglary and simple criminal damage; simple burglary; fight; juvenile trouble. His adult record includes an attempted theft of a boat for which he was released. He was convicted on two counts of auto theft in 1968 and sentenced to four and three years at hard labor. (The sentences ran concurrently.) He was paroled in 1970. On July 7, 1970, he was arrested on a charge of theft by false pretenses but the case was dismissed. In November of 1970, he was arrested and charged with the theft of a shotgun and a television which resulted in his parole being revoked. During the period he was on parole, he was in trouble for non-support, and changing jobs and residences. Sonnier served out his term at Angola and was discharged on March 10, 1972. The state first prosecuted Elmo Patrick Sonnier and obtained convictions of first degree murder and death sentences, based primarily on Sonnier’s confessions and his brother’s testimony, which, contrary to Elmo Patrick Sonnier’s trial testimony, depicted Elmo as the instigator and the victims’ actual executioner. The state next prosecuted the younger brother, Eddie James Sonnier and was again successful in obtaining convictions and death penalties. However, both brothers’ death penalties were reversed on appeal: Elmo Patrick Sonnier’s because of a procedural error, which required that his case be remanded for a new sentencing proceeding. Eddie James Sonnier’s because the death penalty was excessive in view of his subsidiary role in the crimes, requiring reduction of his sentences to life imprisonment without parole. At Elmo’s second penalty hearing, on remand, his brother Eddie, no longer exposed to the death penalty, dramatically changed his story to coincide with Elmo’s testimony. Eddie recanted his previous testimony and claimed that he, instead of Elmo, pulled the trigger of the murder weapon and played the dominant role throughout the criminal episode. The prosecution, however, effectively used the brothers’ confessions and Eddie’s previous trial testimony to challenge their credibility. Consequently, the jury’s threshold question was whether Elmo Patrick Sonnier was the principal malefactor or a compliant follower in the course of criminal conduct. An appellate court found that “the jury’s apparent conclusion that Elmo Patrick Sonnier was primarily responsible for the murders and should be sentenced to death is warranted by the record.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 10, 1984 Florida Edgar Rollins Brown, 61 James Adams executed

In the course of a robbery at the victim’s home on November 12, 1973, James Adams beat 61-year-old Edgar Rollins Brown senseless with a fireplace poker. The Brown family was a longtime fixture in the Ft. Pierce community, with a long history of law enforcement. Born in 1912 as one of twelve children, Edgar was a former chief sheriff’s deputy and his brother Benjamin was county sheriff. A horse breeder and cattle rancher, Edgar was known to sometimes carry large amounts of cash in his pockets. In contrast, James Adams had at least three previous convictions in Tennessee, including assault and battery in 1955, larceny in 1957 and, the most serious, a conviction for rape in 1962. The rape conviction resulted in a sentence of 99 years in prison from which he escaped in January 1973. Adams fled to Fort Pierce, Florida, got married and worked in construction. On the morning of the crime, Adams’s did not go to work. He later claimed to have been playing cards. However, while his alibi witness at first supported his claims, she later said that he did not arrive at her apartment until after 11 am, at least 30 minutes after the attack had taken place. Adams’s brown Rambler car had been seen traveling to and from the victim’s house. Edgar Brown returned home to retrieve a jacket and found the car parked in his driveway. He entered his home and confronted the intruder who was ransacking the house. Adams grabbed a fireplace poker and bludgeoned Edgar, who tried to protect himself from the blows. Edgar’s nephew found his badly injured uncle later that day. Edgar’s wife of 40 years arrived before the ambulance, and tried in vain to save her husband’s life. Edgar died in Martin Memorial Hospital the following day. An all points bulletin was issued for the brown Rambler, and it was found in a body shop awaiting a paint job to change its color. Adams had given a different last name at the body shop. Adams was separated from his wife at the time of the murder because of his relationship with a sixteen-year old girl. He was arrested driving his wife’s Oldsmobile car and had $185 in his pocket, a rare circumstance for Adams. One of the bills had a bloodstain on it, which matched Edgar’s blood type. In the trunk of his wife’s car, police discovered some damning evidence, including jewelry and a pair of glasses that belonged to Edgar. In addition, they found bloodstained clothing which also matched Edgar’s blood type. “It’s about as strong a circumstantial case as one could conceive,” Edgar “Al” Brown, the victim’s son, said many years after the murder. “I do feel very strongly that he committed the crime.” A Florida jury found Adams guilty of murder and recommended the death penalty, which the trial judge imposed. Adams was executed on May 10, 1984.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 20, 1984 Florida Judith Ann Carter, 34 Carl Shriner executed

At 6:15 am on October 22, 1976, James Grills entered a Majik Market in Gainesville, Florida and discovered the dead body of Judith Ann Carter, the 34-year-old store clerk. Judith, a mother of 4 children aged 1 to 11, had been shot five times, and the Majik Market apparently had been robbed of beer, chips and $45. Police, summoned to the scene, learned from two women who were the last known customers to enter the store that a young male patron had remained in the Majik Market after they left at approximately 1:30 am earlier that day. Ninety minutes after the women had left the store, at 3:00 am, a young man with a hand gun had robbed an 8 Days Inn motel in Gainesville. Based on information provided by the motel clerk and the two women, the police prepared two composite sketches and a written description of a single suspect. The following afternoon an Alachua County deputy sheriff stopped a car in which the passenger, Shriner, resembled the suspect’s description. The officer who stopped Shriner testified that he bore a “striking resemblance” to the suspect described in the police bulletin and the officer had noticed him taking things to a dump. After advising Shriner of his Miranda rights and briefly questioning him, the deputy took Shriner down to the sheriff’s office, where questioning continued with Shriner’s apparent permission following another set of Miranda warnings. Shriner and the couple in whose home (near the Majik Market) he lived consented to a search of the premises where the police discovered a.38 caliber revolver and cartridges. When law enforcement officers matched the gun to projectiles found in the Majik Market, they took Shriner to the Gainesville Police Department. A ballistics expert identified the gun found in Shriner’s residence as the murder weapon. After Shriner signed a written waiver following further Miranda warnings, questioning began at 9:00 pm on October 23. Shriner initially confessed to only the motel robbery and gave inconsistent statements about his involvement in the murder. At 2:00 am, however, he finally confessed to the murder. At trial, the 8 Days Inn motel night clerk identified Shriner as the robber and testified that the gun used by the robber closely resembled the murder weapon. When filling out the room card, Shriner had used his own address from Arizona. An Alachua County jury found Shriner guilty of first degree murder and unanimously recommended the death penalty. The trial judge followed the jury’s recommendation.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 12, 1984 Georgia Clifford Floyd Ivon Stanley executed

On April 12, 1976, Clifford Floyd, the victim, was making his regular Monday afternoon rounds through the Fowlstown area of Bainbridge, Georgia, collecting weekly insurance premiums. Five weeks earlier, Joseph Thomas and Ivon Ray Stanley had been overheard talking about robbing the insurance man and Baptist deacon because they needed some money. About one month prior to the murder they were again overheard by a different person discussing the planned robbery. The two agreed that after the robbery they would “have to get rid of him because he will tell who we are.” Subsequent events are described from Thomas’ statements. On April 12, Clifford Floyd came by Thomas’ house to collect a premium. When he left, Thomas sent a friend over to Stanley’s house “to tell Ivon to come over to my house.” Stanley “came straight on over. And I told him, I asked him, I said ‘you can get the insurance man if you want him….'” Stanley ran from Thomas’ house and caught up with Floyd. On a pretext he persuaded Floyd to return to the Thomas residence. Stanley was armed with a.22 caliber pistol which Thomas had just given him. When Thomas came out of the house, Stanley had already pulled the gun on Floyd, emptied his pockets and told him not to move and not to say anything. Stanley, armed with the pistol, and Thomas, carrying a hammer, forced Floyd to go with them to the woods near the Thomas house. As they were walking, Floyd and Thomas exchanged some words. Angered, Thomas struck Floyd on the forehead with the hammer. Thomas walked back up to the hog pens near his house, got a length of rope, and returned to the woods where the other two were. Again leaving Stanley and Floyd alone, Thomas went back to where Floyd had parked his car and drove it away in search of a hiding place. He rifled the car, broke into the glove compartment and removed a.22 caliber pistol. Leaving the car he walked back to where he had left the other two men. When Thomas returned, he found Floyd tied to a tree. Stanley said, “You know, you know, we gonna have to, you know he knows.” Thomas responded, “Yeah.” “You know, we are gonna have to get rid of him,” said Stanley. Thomas said nothing, then went back to his house, got his mother’s shovel and returned. With the shovel, Thomas began digging a shallow grave perhaps 11 inches in depth. Tiring, he gave the shovel to Stanley who finished “digging that insurance man’s grave.” When they had completed the grave, Stanley went over and untied Floyd from the tree but left his hands bound. Considerable blood was flowing from Floyd’s forehead. Thomas ripped part of the shirt from the man’s back and stuffed it into his mouth to silence him. As they approached the grave, Stanley handed the gun to Thomas and told him, “You gonna do the rest…” Taking the gun, Thomas turned his head away and fired five times at Floyd’s head. Stanley then took the shovel that had been used to dig the grave and hit Floyd with it twice. He handed the shovel to Thomas who beat the man with the shovel. He hit him once in the stomach, twice in the head and one time in the chest. Floyd was still alive. Stanley then began to shovel dirt over the lower part of Floyd’s body. When he had partially buried the man, he handed the shovel to Thomas who then began to shovel dirt over Floyd’s head. Through all of this, Floyd was not only struggling for breath but, as the dirt began to cover his head, he attempted to say something. Twice, according to Thomas, the insurance man had pleaded for his life. When Floyd, still breathing, was completely covered in his shallow grave, the two men left, Thomas returning to his home. At around 6 p.m. as Thomas was finishing supper, Stanley came over to his house and said that they had “better go move that car.” They drove the car down an old logging road where they eventually bogged down. The car was ultimately discovered by law enforcement officials. At the time of Floyd’s last known collection he would have collected approximately $234. Beginning the next day, four anonymous telephone calls were made to police telling them where they could find the car and giving misleading information about the victim. Through a telephone tap, one of these calls was traced to Thomas’ home. When police arrived, he was the only one at home. He subsequently admitted making the call. An autopsy, performed by James Dawson, Assistant Director of the Georgia Crime Laboratory, disclosed a gunshot wound through the victim’s upper lip; numerous lacerations to the scalp, head, and body, apparently inflicted by the leading edge of a shovel; a depressed skull fracture pushed into the brain consistent with a blow from a hammer; brain hemorrhage; a broken sternum; and “a rather striking accumulation of both blood and dirt which was found in the bronchi of both lungs, scattered up and down the trachea and in the larynx and also in the upper-most part of the stomach…” Based upon the autopsy, death was caused by swallowing a mixture of blood and dirt, vomiting it up, then inhaling the regurgitated mixture into the lungs. In sum, Clifford Floyd either strangled or suffocated on his own blood within about thirty minutes as he lay buried in the shallow grave. Thomas was arrested two days after the murder and confessed in intricate detail to this crime. His confession was tape-recorded seven days after the murder and was introduced at the trial. He took the stand and testified that he had no memory of the incident after ingesting two pills given or sold to him by “some dude” in Macon. He also claimed no memory of the telephone calls or of the confession given seven days later.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 13, 1984 Florida Daniel Pridgen
Frank Meli, 20
Katrina Birk, 64
Unnamed elderly woman
David Washington executed

During a ten-day period in September 1976, David Leroy Washington committed a series of crimes which included three brutal murders. As an appellate justice put it, “Washington’s victims included black and white, young and old, male and female, all intentionally murdered in torturous ways.” On September 20, 1976 Washington and an accomplice, Johnnie Gary Mill, stabbed to death a minister, Daniel Pridgen. Washington stated that they killed Daniel because he believed that a minister who engaged in homosexual activities, as he alleges Daniel did, is a “hypocrite” and “not fit to live.” He claimed that Daniel had approached him in neighborhood laundromat that Daniel ran and offered him money for sex. The accomplice went to Daniel’s apartment with him and Washington snuck into the apartment behind them. While the accomplice covered Daniel’s face with a pillow and held him helpless, Washington stabbed him three times. The two killers then searched the apartment for money, finding about $90, then painted slogans on the wall to suggest that the killing was the work of a homosexual lover. They wiped their fingerprints from all surfaces, and stole money, jewelry and Daniel’s car. Three days later Washington went to the house of Mrs. Katrina Birk. Her three elderly sisters-in-law were staying with her while Katrina’s husband was in the hospital. After a period of surveillance, Washington observed that the four women were together in one room so he entered the house. After binding Mrs. Birk and the three women, when he saw Katrina inching toward the kitched, he shot her in the head and repeatedly stabbed her, killing her. Then he shot each of the other women in the head and stabbed them, inflicting severe injuries. One of the injured women remained in a coma for a year before she died. Another was left permanently blind from her injuries. Washington fled with a small amount of money. On September 29, four days after the murder of Katrina Birk, Washington contacted Frank Meli, a 20-year old college student, in response to Meli’s newspaper advertisement offering a car for sale. Pursuant to a preconceived plan, Washington persuaded Meli to go to Washington’s home to obtain the purchase money. Once inside, Washington bound Meli to a bed. He subsequently sold Meli’s car and forced him to telephone his family to request a ransom. Three days after the kidnapping, Washington stabbed Meli 11 times while he was tied to the bed and a companion covered his face with a pillow. Washington then went to an intersection where he had arranged to pick up the ransom money, but left after determining that the police were watching the area. Washington disposed of the proceeds of the sale of Meli’s car by buying a motorcycle, paying off his accomplices, entertaining himself at the dog track, and, apparently, giving some money to his wife. Frank Meli was a 20-year-old pre-law student who was working his way through college by holding down two jobs, who had planned to become a tax lawyer, who was helping to support his family and who had been left without a father because his father was killed in the service of his country overseas. In Washington’s confession, he discussed killing Frank. “When you say you put a pillow over his face, what for?” The answer is “When we got into it, he just start hollering when I stabbed him. When I stabbed him, that’s when he started hollering. Then he just kept on hollering. Then when he stopped hollering, he just start moaning real loud. Then he start saying the Lord’s Prayer. Said it three or four times, over and over.” Each of these criminal episodes involved a substantial degree of preparation and each included acts of theft. On October 1, 1976 Washington surrendered to Dade County police after his two accomplices were arrested for the murder of Frank Meli. He voluntarily confessed to the crime in a lengthy statement to the police. On October 7 the state indicted Washington for the Meli murder and appointed William Tunkey, an experienced criminal lawyer, to act as his attorney. On November 5, Washington, acting against his lawyer’s advice, confessed to the Pridgen and Birk murders. Additional indictments were returned, and Washington’s trial was set for December 1st before Judge Richard Fuller. Washington waived his right to a jury trial and, again acting against the advice of Tunkey, pleaded guilty to all charges when he went before Judge Fuller. During the plea colloquy Washington stated that he did not have a significant prior criminal record and explained to Judge Fuller that his actions were the result of extreme stress and anxiety due to his unemployment and his corresponding inability to provide for his family. Washington stated, however, that he accepted responsibility for his crimes. Judge Fuller responded that he had “a great deal of respect for people who are willing to step forward and admit their responsibility.” Washington also waived his right to have a sentencing jury. At the sentencing hearing on December 6, Tunkey adopted the testimony that Washington had given during the plea colloquy and argued that Washington’s evident remorse and his willingness to face the consequences of his actions should persuade the court to impose life imprisonment rather than death. Tunkey also successfully moved to exclude Washington’s “rap sheet” from evidence. The judge specifically found, however, that even if Washington had no significant prior criminal record, the aggravating circumstances of the case would still “clearly far outweigh” the factors in mitigation. He therefore sentenced Washington to death on each of the three counts of first degree murder. He also sentenced Washington to consecutive terms of imprisonment for the other crimes. Washington’s final statement before being executed was, “I think my life was just one big mistake. I had all the best breaks
in life, all the right opportunities. Seemed like everything I touched, I destroyed. Family, wife, friends, everything. I just destroyed. I would like to say to the families of all of my victims, I’m sorry for all the grief and heartbreak I have brought them. If my death brings satisfaction to any one, so be it.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 7, 1984 Florida Kelly Ann Dobbert, 9
Ryder Scott Dobbert, 7
Ernest Dobbert executed

Ernest John Dobbert, Jr., who had prior convictions for battery of a child and assault, was convicted of murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, child abuse, and child torture. The victims were his children. He was convicted of the first-degree murder of his daughter Kelly Ann, aged 9, and second-degree murder of his son Ryder Scott, aged 7. He was also found guilty of torturing his son Ernest John III, aged 11, and of abusing his daughter Honore Elizabeth, aged 5. The trial judge, in his factual findings at the sentencing phase of the trial, summarized Dobbert’s treatment of his own offspring as follows: “The evidence and testimony showed premeditated and continuous torture, brutality, sadism and unspeakable horrors committed against all of the children over a period of time.” The judge then detailed some of the horrors inflicted upon young Kelly Ann, upon which he relied to meet the statutory requirement that aggravating circumstances be found: “Over the period of time of the latter portion of Kelly Ann’s short, torturous life the defendant did these things to her on one or many occasions: Beat her in the head until it was swollen. Burned her hands. Poked his fingers in her eyes. Beat her in the abdomen until `it was swollen like she was pregnant.’ Knocked her against a wall and `when she fell, kicked her in the lower part of the body.’ Held her under water in both the bath tub and toilet. Kicked her against a table which cut her head – then defendant sewed up her wound with needle and thread. Scarred her head and body by beating her with a belt and board – causing marks from her cheek, across the neck and down her back – which injuries worsened without treatment `until the body juices came out.’ On one occasion beat her continuously for 45 minutes. On many occasions kicked her in the stomach with his shoes on, and on the night she died he kicked her a number of times. Kept her out of school so that the many scars, cuts and bruises on her body would not be seen by others. Dobbert made no effort to get professional medical care and attention for the child and in fact actively prevented any outsiders from discovering her condition. Choked her on the night she died and when she stopped breathing he placed her body in a plastic garbage bag and buried her in an unmarked and unknown grave.” This sordid tale began to unravel in early 1972 when Ernest John III was found battered and wandering in Jacksonville, Fla. An arrest warrant was issued for the father, who evidently had fled the area. About a year later, Honore Elizabeth was found in a Ft. Lauderdale hospital with a note pinned to her clothing asking that she be sent to her mother in Wisconsin. Shortly thereafter Dobbert’s abandoned automobile was found near a bridge with a suicide note on the front seat. Dobbert, however, had fled to Texas, where he was eventually arrested and extradited to Florida. In overriding the jury’s recommendation for a life sentence, the trial court judge said, “There are sufficient and great aggravating circumstances which exist to justify the sentence of death. In concluding my findings I would like to point out that my 22 years of legal experience have been almost exclusively in the field of criminal law. The Judge of this Court has been a defense attorney of criminal cases, a prosecutor for eight and one half years and a Criminal Court Judge and a Circuit Judge – Felony Division for three and one half years. During these 22 years I have defended, prosecuted and held trial of almost every type of serious crime. During these years of legal experience I have never known of a more heinous, atrocious and cruel crime than this one. My experience with the sordid, tragic and violent side of life has not been confined to the Courtroom. During World War II, I was a United States Army Paratrooper and served overseas in ground combat. I have had friends blown to bits and have seen death and suffering in every conceivable form. I am not easily shocked or affected by tragedy or cruelty – but this murder of a helpless, defenseless and innocent child is the most cruel, atrocious and heinous crime I have ever personally known of – and it is deserving of no sentence but death.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 10, 1984 Louisiana Mary Lee James Peters, 85 Timothy Baldwin executed

On the evening of April 4, 1978, eighty-five year old Mary James Peters was savagely beaten and left to die in the kitchen of her home in West Monroe, Louisiana. The instruments of death were the articles of everyday life: a telephone, a television, a kitchen stool and a cast iron skillet, all shattered into pieces by the force of the assault. She was found the next day, semi-comatose and incoherent, on the floor surrounded by the debris of the attack; she died on April 6 of massive cerebral hemorrhage and swelling, secondary to external head injuries. Timothy Baldwin, his wife and their seven children were neighbors of Mary James Peters in West Monroe, Louisiana, from 1971 until 1977. Mrs. Peters was godmother to their youngest child. During the latter part of their stay in West Monroe, William Odell Jones also resided with the Baldwins. The group went to Bossier City for six months and then moved to Ohio. The oldest daughter remained in West Monroe with one brother. A second son entered the service. Marilyn Hampton and her three daughters stayed with the Baldwins in Ohio. Marilyn, Timothy Baldwin, and her children then left, accompanied by Jones. Baldwin and Jones worked together in the business of installing aluminum siding. After the departure of her husband, Baldwin’s wife got in financial difficulties and was picked up on bad check charges. Her four younger children went to live with Michelle in West Monroe. Meanwhile, Timothy Baldwin, Jones, Marilyn Hampton and her three children led an itinerant existence. Their last means of transportation was a 1978 black Ford van, rented in Tampa, Florida. On April 4, 1978, Marilyn Hampton and Timothy Baldwin drove the van to West Monroe. Jones and the children stayed at a cabin in Holmes State Park, near Jackson, Mississippi. Baldwin and Marilyn Hampton visited Michelle’s apartment in West Monroe but left there around 8:00 p.m. Shortly thereafter, a van was seen parked in front of Mrs. Peters’ house for several hours by half a dozen witnesses. A man and woman were observed leaving the residence between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. Shortly before their departure, passersby saw and heard indications that someone in the Peters’ home was being beaten. Two witnesses testified that they first noticed the van when they walked past Mrs. Peters’ house at about 10:15 p.m. As they passed, one of them heard scuffling. He paused, then called the other man back. Both men approached the house and looked into the lighted kitchen through an open window. As they watched, a man swung his arm, bending with the downswing as if striking a target on the floor. Circling and jumping as if to stay on target, the man struck repeatedly. The men decided they were seeing an inter-spousal quarrel, and resumed their walk to a nearby convenience store. Eight to fifteen minutes later, they returned. Both noticed a man and woman standing in Mrs. Peters’ yard near the van; the woman appeared to have something in her hand. Rice testified that he heard the man call “We’ll see you later, Mrs. Peters”, then watched them get into the van and head north. One of the men also testified that he saw them get into the van, but that he then turned his back and did not see the van pull away. Their testimony puts the assailant’s departure at about 10:25 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and was contradicted only as to the time of the van’s departure by the recollection of another neighbor. This woman stated that she noticed the van from the kitchen window of her home “catercorner” from Mrs. Peters’ home and that she saw the van there at 11:10 p.m. Baldwin testified in his own behalf and admitted that he and Marilyn visited Mrs. Peters that evening but denied the murder. Mrs. Peters, who was 85 years old, was beaten with various things, among them a skillet, a stool, and a telephone. She remained on the kitchen floor overnight and was discovered the next morning shortly before noon by an employee of the Ouachita Council Meals on Wheels, who was bringing her noon meal. Although helpless and incoherent, Mrs. Peters tried to defend herself against the police officers and the ambulance attendant who took her to the hospital. Dr. A.B. Gregory saw her in the emergency room around 12:30 p. m. on April 5, 1978, and found her semi-comatose. Her left cheekbone and jawbone were shattered; she had brain damage from multiple contusions and lacerations. According to Dr. Gregory, Mrs. Peters could not communicate rationally. She died of the injuries the following day. Dr. Frank Chin, who performed the autopsy, attributed her death to massive cerebral hemorrhage and swelling, secondary to external head injuries. Timothy Baldwin and Marilyn Hampton were subsequently located in El Dorado, Arkansas. Timothy Baldwin signed consents for the search of their motel room and the van. Two blue bank bags, one empty and one containing $27,000 worth of savings bonds and certificates of deposit payable to Mary James, the victim’s name prior to her last marriage, were found in the van. Jones, to whom Marilyn Hampton and Timothy Baldwin had made inculpatory statements both before and after the crime, helped police officers locate a safe that had belonged to the victim in the LaFourche Canal in West Monroe. Baldwin’s finger and palm prints were found on various items in the Peters’ home: a cigarette lighter, a television set, and a coffee cup. Baldwin’s step-daughter testified that on the afternoon of the 4th, before his visit to Mrs. Peters, her father told her he was facing “Old Smokey.” When she said that she didn’t understand, he told her that he meant the electric chair. Michelle spoke again with Baldwin on April 7. By then, she was aware of Mrs. Peters’ beating and death; believing it was to the intended assault on Mrs. Peters that her father had referred in his mention of “Old Smokey”, she asked why he did it. She stated that Baldwin answered only, “She didn’t suffer, it was fast.” William Odell Jones, a friend and traveling companion of Baldwin, Baldwin’s girlfriend and her children, testified that before going to West Monroe, Baldwin told him that Mrs. Peters had money and that if he had to kill her to get it, he would kill her. Jones further testified that on the day after the assault Baldwin admitted to him that he had killed Mrs. Peters by striking her with his hand, a telephone, a frying pan, a television and a mixer, and had stolen her valuables. Timothy Baldwin stood trial for her death. The jury convicted him of murder in the first degree and recommended death on finding that the murder was committed in an especially heinous, atrocious and cruel manner during the perpetration of an armed robbery. Marilyn Hampton, who escaped while awaiting trial, was sentenced to life in prison for her role in Mary’s murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 20, 1984 Florida Zellie L. Riley, 81 James Henry executed

James Dupree Henry turned down a deal which would have allowed him to plead guilty to the March 23, 1984, slaying of Orlando civil rights leader Zellie L. Riley in exchange for a life sentence. Henry broke into the 81-year-old Riley’s home with the intention of robbing him. He took $64 and some credit cards. Riley died of strangulation from the gag Henry put in his mouth. At the sentencing hearing, the arresting officer testified that Henry had taken the officer’s gun and wounded him in an attempt to avoid arrest. A city park has been established in Zellie Riley’s name in Orlando. Riley, a slight, balding tailor who owned a men’s clothing store, helped found the Orlando Negro Chamber of Commerce in 1945 along with a waiter named Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy. Kennedy later became the first black person elected to the Orlando City Council, in 1973.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 12, 1984 Virginia Orline Christian
Michael McDuffie
Mary McGowen, 76
Christopher Phillips, 17
Johnny Harvey Gallaher
Mary Wilfong, 62
Blanche Page, 79
Charles Garner, 59
Judy Diane Barton, 23
Harvey Wilkerson
Harvey Wayne Barton, 5
unborn Barton child
Linwood Briley executed

Linwood E. Briley was sentenced to death for the murder of John Harvey Gallaher in Richmond, Virginia, on the evening of September 14, 1979, however, Linwood’s first murder had been committed at the young age of 16. At home alone and bored, Linwood Briley picked up a rifle, aimed and shot it at his elderly next door neighbor Orline Christian as she walked past her window. Orline was fatally wounded. At first her death was believed to be of natural causes, but her family noticed a small amount of blood on her back during a viewing of the body and asked the funeral director to check it. He found a small caliber bullet wound in Orline’s back and the murder was discovered. Seeking to determine the source of the shot, investigators stood at the window in which Orline had been shot, and determined that the shot could only have come from the Briley home next door. Police found the rifle that had been used to kill Orline and when they questioned Linwood, he at first said he was shooting at birds and accidentally shot her, but soon readily admitted to the murder, stating, “I heard she had heart problems; she would have died soon anyway.” Linwood served one year of time in a reform school for Orline’s murder. Although they were born in a stable home, the Briley boys were drawn to violence. Their father admitted to being so disturbed by his sons’ behavior that he slept with his bedroom door padlocked from the inside at night. Linwood’s brother James soon was sentenced to time in juvenile detention after firing on a police officer during a pursuit. On March 12, 1979, a deadly crime spree began with an attack on a couple in Henrico County. William and Virginia Bucher opened the door to Linwood Briley when he knocked and told them he was having car trouble and needed to phone for assistance. Once inside their home, he pulled out a gun and was joined by his brother Anthony. The couple was bound and the pair looted the house of electronics and jewelry. The brothers doused each room with gasoline as they left it. They threw a match on the gasoline and fled the house, leaving the couple in the growing inferno. William Burcher managed to work free of his bonds and got himself and his wife out of the house before the entire structure was engulfed in flame. On March 21, the gang murdered Michael McDuffie, a vending machine repairman, in his home. He was robbed and shot to death. On April 9, Mary McGowen, 76, was attacked outside her home as she returned from a babysitting job. She was raped, robbed and shot to death. On July 4, 17-year-old Christopher Philips was spotted by the gang members in the vicinity of Linwood Briley’s parked car. Suspecting that he might have been trying to break into the vehicle, the gang surrounded him and dragged him into a nearby backyard. There he was pinned to the ground by three members. When Philips screamed for help, Linwood murdered him by dropping a cinderblock on his skull, crushing it. On September 14, “DJ Johnny G” John Gallaher was performing with his band at a bar in the city of Richmond. He took a smoke break between sets and was abducted by the Briley gang, which included the thre brothers Linwood, James and Anthony and sixteen-year-old Duncan Meekins. After being jumped by Linwood and stuffed into the trunk of his car, a Lincoln Continental, he was driven to an abandoned paper mill on Mayo’s Island in the middle of the James River. He was taken out of the trunk and was shot dead at point-blank range, and then robbed before being dumped in the river. His body was found two days later. Meekins testified to the circumstances of the robbery and the brutal shooting of Gallaher in the back as he was being pushed helplessly about by the group. When eventually arrested, Linwood Briley was wearing a ring that he had stolen from Johnny’s hand. On September 30, 62-year-old private nurse Mary Wilfong was followed home to her Richmond apartment. The gang surrounded her just outside the door and Linwood Briley crushed her skull with a baseball bat. The gang then entered her apartment and looted it of valuables. Several days later on October 5, just two blocks from the Briley home on 4th Avenue in Richmond, 79-year-old Blanche Page and her 59-year-old boarder Charles Garner were both brutally murdered by the gang members. Blanche was bludgeoned to death and Charles was fatally assaulted with a variety of weapons, which included a baseball bat, five knives, a pair of scissors, and a fork. The scissors and fork were left embedded in Charles Garner’s back. On October 19, after promising a judge that morning that he was staying out of trouble while out on parole for a 1973 robbery and malicious wounding conviction, James Briley led the gang on the prowl for yet another victim that night. When Harvey Wilkerson noticed the gang down the street from his home and, becoming nervous, closed and locked the front door. Unfortunately, this did not escape the notice of the gang, and put the target on the house. They walked over and knocked, and Harvey opened the door, afraid of what would happen if he did not. Harvey, his 23-year-old wife Judy Barton, eight months pregnant, and their five-year-old son Harvey were bound and gagged with duct tape. Linwood Briley then pushed Judy into the kitchen where she was raped within earshot of her husband and child as well as the other gang members. Fellow gang member Duncan Meekins then raped Judy, after which she was dragged back into the living room. Linwood briefly rummaged the premises for valuables, and then left the house. The three remaining gang members covered their victims with sheets. James told Meekins, “you’ve got to get one”, at which point Meekins took a pistol and fatally shot the Harvey Wilkerson in the head. James then shot Judy and her little boy to death. Police happened to be in the general vicinity of the neighborhood, heard the shots, and later saw the gang members running down the street at high speed. They did not know where the shots had been fired. The bodies were not discovered until three days following the crime, but the gang members were rounded up soon afterwards. This triple homicide marked the end of the Briley rampage in the City of Richmond. During interrogation by police, Duncan Meekins was offered a plea agreement in return for turning state’s evidence against the Brileys. He took the offer and offered a full detailing of the crime spree. As a result, he escaped the death penalty and was briefly incarcerated at a Virginia prison away from any of the Briley brothers. A single life sentence, with parole eligibility was handed down to Anthony Briley, youngest brother of the trio, due to his limited involvement in the killings. Because of Virginia’s triggerman statute, both James and Linwood received numerous life sentences for murders committed during the spree, but faced capital charges only in cases where they had physically committed the actual killing of the victim. Linwood was sentenced to death for the abduction and murder of John Gallaher, while James received two death sentences, one each of the murders of Judy Barton and her son Harvey. A Richmond judge presiding at one of the trials summed up the case following the verdict, “this was the vilest rampage of rape, murder and robbery that the court has seen in thirty years.” Both were sent to death row at Mecklenburg Correctional Center near Boydton in early 1980. There, they were disruptive inmates who used their guile and physical prowess to threaten both fellow inmates and guards. A flourishing drug and weapon trade operated in the prison under their command. Linwood and James Briley were the ringleaders in the six inmate escape from Virginia’s death row at Mecklenburg Correctional Center on May 31, 1984. During the early moments of the escape, in which a coordinated effort resulted in inmates taking over the death row unit, both Brileys expressed strong interest in killing the officers that they had taken hostage. They went so far as to douse captive guards in lighter fluid and were prepared to toss in a lit match to complete the action. Willie Lloyd Turner, another death row inmate, stepped in the way of James Briley and forbade him from doing so. Meanwhile, cop killer Wilbert Evans prevented Linwood Briley from raping a female nurse who had been taken hostage while en route to delivering medication to inmates in the unit. Splitting off from their two remaining free escapees at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Brileys went to live with their uncle in the north of the city. They were captured on June 19 by a heavily armed group of FBI agents and police. Their uncle was charged with harboring criminals. Returned to Virginia, few sought to plead for their lives to be spared. In short order, the remaining appeals ran out for both brothers. They were executed in the electric chair at the Virginia State Penitentiary. Linwood was put to death in Virginia’s electric chair on October 12, 1984. James Briley was executed in the same manner on April 18 of the following year.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 30, 1984 Texas Carl LeVin, 31 Thomas Barefoot executed

Thomas Barefoot was wanted for the rape of a 3-year-old girl, and killed a police officer to avoid arrest. Barefoot was convicted of capital murder for the August 7, 1978, shooting death of police officer Carl LeVin, age thirty-one, of Harker Heights, Texas, outside Killeen. Barefoot, an oilfield roughneck from Louisiana, was wanted in New Mexico for the rape of a three-year-old girl, and killed Levin to avoid arrest. LeVin was attempting to question Barefoot about an arson fire at a bar. Barefoot had threatened to kill LeVin after a previous arrest. Barefoot bragged about Carl LeVin’s murder to 2 of his friends. After shooting Carl, Barefoot fled to Houston and was arrested with the murder weapon in his possession. He had previously been arrested for molestation, aggravated assault, attempted rape, armed robbery, assault and battery, burglary, hit and run, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, possession of amphetamines, possession of marijuana, possession of an unregistered firearm, escape, theft, and driving while intoxicated. His final statement before execution was, “I’m sorry for anything that I’ve ever done to anybody.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 30, 1984 Louisiana Ralph Shell, 52 Earnest Knighton, Jr. executed

Earnest Knighton Jr. fired the shot that killed Ralph Shell, a 52-year-old gas station manager during an armed robbery in Bossier City, Louisiana. Ralph’s wife was a witness to the murder. Knighton had an extensive criminal record that included drugs, robberies and burglaries and had spent most of his life since age 15 in jail.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 2, 1984 North Carolina Stuart Taylor Velma Barfield executed
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
November 8, 1984 Florida James Stone Timothy Palmes executed
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 12, 1984 Georgia Roy Asbell Alpha Stevens executed

Alpha Otis O’Daniel Stephens was convicted of murder in the Superior Court of Bleckley County on January 20-21, 1975, and sentenced to death. Stephens escaped from the Houston County, Georgia, jail and sometime thereafter on August 21, 1974, went to the home of Charles Asbell in Twiggs County allegedly accompanied by another man. Charles Asbell was not at home at the time and Stephens broke into the house wherein he located a.357 magnum pistol, which he loaded, and a number of other weapons, which he placed in a 1972 Dodge. While the burglary was proceeding, Roy Asbell, Charles Asbell’s father, drove up in his Ford Ranchero. Stephens’ later statement to officers was that Asbell said, “What are you ******* doing in my house?”, and seeing rifles in Stephens’ automobile, pulled his gun. Stephens ran to Asbell’s car, jerked Asbell out of the car, and hit him in the face several times. Asbell begged not to be hit any more. Stephens is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, while Asbell was 5 feet, 6 inches, and at that time Asbell was crippled as the result of a tractor accident. Asbell usually carried several hundred dollars on his person, and when he offered Stephens money in exchange for his life, Stephens took the offered money and kicked Asbell again. Stephens hit Asbell with the pistol, knocking him back into the Ranchero and told his alleged partner to kill him if he moved. They drove approximately three miles to a pasture, where they stopped and Asbell got out of the car and tried to escape. He hobbled to an abandoned building being used as a barn, but Stephens took the.357 magnum and ran after him. He took more money from Mr. Asbell and then placed the pistol in his ear and fired twice. Both bullets passed through Asbell’s skull and exited at his right temple, causing his death. An autopsy showed that he sustained a broken jaw and several skull fractures. A trail of evidence connected Stephens to the crime. In pre-trial statements to police, he confessed this crime fully, as well as a string of other serious crimes which he committed after his escape and before the Asbell murder. He presented no defense at trial. During the hearing on sentence, however, he testified that his partner fired the fatal shots.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
December 28, 1984 Louisiana Faith Hathaway
Dennis Buford Hemby
Louis Wagner III
Robert Willie executed
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 9, 1985 Georgia Teresa Carol Allen, 18 Roosevelt Green executed

At approximately 3 p.m. on December 12, 1976, 18-year-old Teresa Carol Allen arrived at her place of part-time employment, the Majik Market in Cochran, Georgia. Shortly before 7 p.m. the store was found to be empty. The cash register and the safe were open and empty and Teresa Allen’s automobile, a late model Pontiac Grand Prix, was missing. The Majik Market area supervisor determined that $466 was missing from the store. On December 14, 1976, Teresa’s body was discovered lying in a wooded grassy area just off a dirt road near Highway 41 in Monroe County, Georgia. Footprints, two 30.06 cartridge hulls, a 30.06 metal jacket of a bullet, parts of the victim’s flesh, teeth and bone, tire tracks and a nylon stocking were found near the body. The cause of her death was determined to be loss of blood from bullet wounds. Examination of the body disclosed bruising on the inside of one thigh, a laceration of the vagina, and blood and mucous like matter in the vaginal canal. A pathologist testified that the wounds in the abdomen, arms and face were caused by a high-powered missile, and that the location and nature of the wounds were consistent with the theory that Teresa Allen had her arms crossed across her stomach and was shot with a high-powered bullet which passed through both arms and the abdomen. Teresa was also shot by a high-powered bullet entering the left side of the neck, penetrating the lower face and exiting the right side of the head. In the early evening of the day of the robbery, Carzell Moore and Roosevelt Green were let off at Moore’s house. Moore’s house was four blocks from the location of the Majik Market. Green was wearing high-heeled shoes. In early January, 1977, Thomas Pasby accompanied Moore to check out an automobile that Moore intended to purchase. At that time, the Moore asked Pasby how Pasby felt about killing when Pasby was in Viet Nam. During their discussion, Moore told Pasby, “Well, I killed somebody, too,” and then related the following: Moore said that he and Green went to the Majik Market in Cochran. Moore told Green to go in and take Miss Allen to the meat counter in order to attract her attention so that Moore could come in the front of the store with a rifle. This was done, and Green and Moore robbed the Majik Market. When they left the store, they took Teresa Allen with them forcibly. They left in her car with Moore driving. Shortly after leaving the store Green turned to Teresa and said, “Bitch, take off your clothes.” Teresa told Green that she was a virgin and pleaded with him not to rape her. Green raped her anyway. Green then changed places with Moore, and Green drove. Carzell Moore then raped Teresa. After driving further, Moore told Green to stop the car. Moore then told Teresa to get out. Teresa and Moore then got out of the car. Moore told Green to drive to a gas station to get gas for the car. After Green left, Teresa begged Moore not to kill her. Teresa crossed her arms over her stomach to protect herself. Moore shot her in the abdomen with the rifle. He then shot her in the face. Moore stated that he shot her in the face in an attempt to disfigure her so as to make it difficult to identify her. When Green returned, the two of them picked up Teresa and threw her into the bushes. Moore told Pasby that one of her hands was so mangled by the rifle blast that he thought it was going to fall off. Medical examiners stated that one of Teresa’s hands was almost severed from her body. The attendant at a nearby gas station recalled selling gas for an automobile like that of the victim with a Georgia county tag that showed only the letters RENS from Laurens. The tag on the victim’s car was in a similar condition. Green later arrived in South Carolina in possession of the car with a large amount of change and a roll of bills, asked a friend to burn the car for him (which request the friend refused), and traded the 30.06 rifle for a.25 caliber automatic. A Cochran florist testified the rifle was stolen from him about the time and in the vicinity Moore was seen with it. When Moore was informed while in jail that Green had been arrested with the Allen car in South Carolina he stated, “Damn, I told Green to get rid of that car and that rifle.” Later, Moore stated to Pasby again, “You know, Green was supposed to have gotten rid of that rifle and the car.” A plaster cast of a footprint found near Teresa’s body was of similar size and impression as a flat Hushpuppy shoe taken from Moore’s room. Tire tracks found near her body were similar in size and tread design to the tires found on Teresa’s car. There was other forensic evidence that circumstantially connected Moore to the crimes. Moore testified in his own behalf that he met Green in an Alabama prison in 1975. On December 11, 1976, he saw Green in Cochran looking for him. Green, out on escape, was using the name Jerome Miller. Moore loaned Green some of his clothes and shoes. They went to various places on December 11, and on the day of the robbery, they went to Rosa Crawford’s house to watch the football game. Rosa’s parents drove Moore and Green to Moore’s house, where Green borrowed the Hushpuppy shoes from Moore. Green left and Moore began drinking, watched Sonny and Cher, and then became nauseated and passed out. He awoke late that night, and went outside. The cafe was closed so he just sat under a tree and smoked. A friend came along and they smoked together. Then he went home and went to sleep. He denied making the statement to Pasby about robbing the Majik Market, raping Teresa Allen, and killing her. He denied getting a 30.06 rifle. He denied Johnson’s testimony concerning Moore’s asking about a place to rob. He denied Johnson’s testimony concerning his statements about the rifle. He denied that he made the statement to Pasby while in jail. Moore explained the forensic evidence by stating that he had skinned himself while having intercourse with his girl friend. He also testified that Green exchanged his high platform shoes for Moore’s Hushpuppys prior to the evening of the robbery. In rebuttal, the state presented testimony that when Green visited in South Carolina the morning following the robbery he was wearing high-heeled shoes and not Hushpuppys.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
February 20, 1985 Georgia Roger Dennis Tackett Van Roosevelt Solomon executed

The victim, Roger Dennis Tackett, was the manager of a Tenneco self-service gasoline station. Two employees, Linda Rosenfield and Carol Menfee, were working the evening shift and realized that they did not have the keys to lock the station when it closed at midnight. One employee talked to Roger by phone and he then came into the station at 11:20 p.m. in order to lock the store after closing. After the station closed, the two employees left and Roger locked the station but remained to catch up on some paper work in order that he could be with his family the next day, which was Father’s Day. At approximately 1:00 a.m., Linda Rosenfield drove by the Tenneco station and noticed Roger’s car still parked in front of the store. Early in the evening on the 16th of June, Jill Cindy Rhoda picked up her dinner date at an apartment complex located near the Tenneco station. She drove her date back to his apartment at approximately 12:30 a.m. They argued and her date took her car keys and went to his apartment. Ms. Rhoda contacted the police in order to get her keys back. Officer Kendle of the Cobb County Police Department accompanied her to the apartment complex, but she could not find her boyfriend’s apartment. She did, however, remember his phone number. At approximately 1:50 a.m., the officer drove her to the Tenneco station in order to call and find out where the apartment was. When they arrived at the station, Ms. Rhoda went to use the pay phone. Officer Kendle noticed an unattended green Dodge automobile parked in front of the station with its door open and a loaf of bread in the front seat. As he went to investigate, he noticed a black male, later identified as Wilbur May, open the back storeroom door inside the station, quickly look out and then close the door. He found the front door of the station to be unlocked, drew his weapon, and proceeded inside. As he walked through the store, he heard three closely spaced shots, a pause, and then another shot. The officer ordered the person in the storeroom to come out but did not get a response. He opened the door and standing near a walk-in cooler were two black males, Wilbur May and Van Roosevelt Solomon. He placed both persons under arrest and asked what they were doing there. The defendant said that “they were burglarizing.” Officer Kendle then had the police radio operator call the emergency number listed on the door of the Tenneco station. He learned that Roger was supposed to be in the store at the time. The officer then broke into the back of the store using a crowbar. When he entered, he found Roger’s body. He had been beaten and shot five times. There was a time interval of approximately twenty to thirty-five minutes between the arrest and the discovery of the body. Near the body the officers found two guns, one of which still had the hammer cocked. One of the guns, a Colt.38 short revolver, had four spent rounds in the chambers. The other, a Smith & Wesson.38, had one spent round. Also, discovered near the scene, well hidden in underbrush, was a van that Solomon and his co-defendant were driving. It contained a large number of tools. Solomon later gave a statement in which he said that he and Wilbur May had been driving around, and he wanted to show Mr. May the Atlanta area. He said that he did not know how the van got to the Tenneco station, because he was tied up in the back of the van by Mr. May. He stated that Mr. May untied him and made him go into the Tenneco station and put him into the cooler. He did not hear any sounds nor did he remember having gloves on. Both the appellant and his co-defendant were subjected to neutron activation tests, and both were determined to have recently fired weapons.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 20, 1985 Georgia Coleman Brice
Gladys Brice
Katie Davis
John Young executed

On the night of December 7, 1974, six elderly persons were attacked, severely beaten, kicked, and stomped in their homes in the City of Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. All lived in the same neighborhood. Three of those people pieced together a description of their assailant. The other three, Coleman Brice, Gladys Brice, and Katie Davis, died as a result of attacks upon them. John Young was connected to the crimes by watches and jewelry taken during the commission of the crimes, a fingerprint, and statements to his friends that he did it. When asked if he was the one who had jumped on those people, he replied: “Yeah, man and I’m going to get me some more.” When asked if they were white or black, he responded: “White.” When asked: “Why, John?” he replied: “I don’t know. The only thing that I am sorry is that they caught me before I got through.” Young filed a special plea of insanity before trial, and on June 30, 1975, a jury returned a verdict against the special plea of insanity. The court granted a new trial on such issue, and on October 21, 1975, a second jury returned a verdict against the plea.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
June 25, 1985 Georgia Wessie Jenkins
Kathryn Stryker
Jerome Bowden executed

Mrs. Kathryn Stryker and her mother had not answered the door or telephone for several days. Their neighbors became alarmed and police were summoned. When Deputy Sheriff Samuel Profitt first entered the house on October 14, 1976 he noticed the ransacked rooms and then heard labored breathing. Profitt found Mrs. Wessie Jenkins, Mrs. Stryker’s mother, lying on a bed in a pool of dried blood, still alive. Sheriff Profitt then discovered the body of Kathryn Stryker in the kitchen. The victim’s skull was beaten in, leaving her features unrecognizable; and a butcher knife was buried deep in her chest. An autopsy revealed that the base of the skull was fractured by the application of extreme force, such as is found in the victims of car accidents and plane crashes. There was also a large open wound behind the ear through which the doctor could see the brain. The knife wound had caused no bleeding, indicating that the victim was already dead when stabbed. Death had occurred three to four days earlier. A blow of great force by a nonsharp object had caused the injuries. Mrs. Jenkins had suffered a stroke earlier in September, resulting in a partial paralysis that left her bedridden. After she was found on October 14, she was removed to a hospital where she became unconscious and died several weeks later. Mrs. Jenkins, when first admitted, had numerous injuries. The police received information from one James Graves implicating Jerome Bowden in the crime, and obtained a warrant for Bowden. On October 15, 1976, Bowden, who was informed that police were looking for him, turned himself in to an officer and was advised of his rights and taken into custody. He made a statement at police headquarters, which was admitted into evidence at trial following a Jackson-Denno hearing. The statement arose spontaneously from a conversation between Bowden and Detective Warren Myles as they sat in a police car while two other detectives were inside a house speaking to the girlfriend of James Graves, to whom they had been directed by Bowden. The other two detectives, Hillhouse and Hardaway, then returned to the car and drove Bowden back to headquarters. When Bowden saw some jewelry that the police had found in a stove on the back porch of Graves’ house, he exclaimed that it was what he had hidden in the stove. In his detailed statement, Bowden related that he and Graves, while raking Mrs. Stryker’s yard one day, talked about burglarizing her home. Graves lived next door to her. Graves had been inside and had seen things he thought were valuable. The following Monday, armed with a pellet gun to knock anyone out who might interfere, Bowden and Graves entered the house about 8:30 a.m., using a screwdriver to open the door. They surprised Mrs. Stryker in the kitchen and Graves hit her twice with the pellet gun, causing her to fall. Graves then unplugged a television and took it over to his yard. Meanwhile, Bowden gathered together several pieces of jewelry that he found around the house. The Bowden then asked the elderly Mrs. Jenkins the location of a gun in the house. When she would not tell him, the Bowden hit her “five or six times” in the face. The Bowden further related how he and Graves searched the house, then left and went to Graves’ house. They spent time “laughing and discussing” what they had done. When Graves suggested going to a shopping center and snatching purses, Bowden advised him that they should “lay low” for awhile. After making this statement, Bowden additionally stated that he hit Mrs. Stryker twice and then, to “put her out of her misery,” stabbed her once with a butcher knife from a drawer. When they returned to Graves’ house, they threw wigs they had worn into the trash can and hid the jewelry in the stove. Bowden said Graves later sold the television to a Sammie Robertson and received a partial payment of $10. Graves also sold some coins belonging to the victims. A wig was found on a couch in Graves’ house. Jewelry found by police in the stove included a piece with Mrs. Stryker’s name on it, and a pin which was identified as having belonged to Mrs. Jenkins. A pellet gun was found under Graves’ house. Sammie Robertson testified that he received a television set from Graves and gave him $ 10. This television was seized by police and the model and serial numbers were compared with the numbers on an order form at a repair shop where Mrs. Stryker had ordered some knobs for her television. The numbers matched. The operator of a coin shop stated that he bought some old coins from Graves on October 11. A strand of hair on the pellet gun was compared with Mrs. Stryker’s hair and found to be similar. There were no dissimilar characteristics. Bowden testified in his own behalf as follows: He turned himself in to the police and told them he did not participate in the crime. He was questioned by Myles about the crime while they were in the car alone and decided to confess because Myles told him he could keep Bowden from getting a death sentence. Bowden knew about the crime because police read him a statement made by Graves while Bowden was interrogated. Bowden denied killing Mrs. Stryker and said he confessed because he was afraid. He testified that he did smoke marijuana as he had said in his statement. The district attorney asked if he had smoked the marijuana on the Monday morning “after you went in and killed that woman and beat her mother” and Bowden replied, “I guess it was.” The defense sought to show he misunderstood the question. The state recalled witnesses to rebut Bowden‘s testimony that his confession was induced by promises.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 15, 1987 Georgia Patrick A. Doe Joseph Mulligan executed

Joseph Mulligan became friends with Timothy A. Helms while Helms was stationed with the United States Marine Corps in Beaufort, South Carolina. On April 12, 1974, Mulligan talked Helms into driving him to Columbus, Georgia, by offering Helms a fee of $1000. During the drive, Mulligan told Helms that he was going to Columbus, to “ice somebody.” In accordance with Mulligan’s suggestion, the two spent the night of April 12-13 at a hotel in Columbus registered under false names. The next day, Mulligan and Helms visited with Patrick A. Doe, an army captain at Fort Benning and Mulligan’s brother-in-law. In the afternoon, they joined Capt. Doe in washing his car. During this activity, Mulligan and Capt. Doe argued. That evening, with Mulligan and Helms sitting in the back seat (Mulligan seated directly behind the driver’s seat), Capt. Doe drove to the house of Marian Jones Miller, the captain’s girlfriend, to pick her up for a party. When Capt. Doe left the car to get Ms. Miller, Mulligan announced to Helms that he would “do it in the next two blocks.” Following Captain Doe’s return to the driver’s seat and shortly after the car had begun to move again, Mulligan held a.38 special automatic in a.45 frame, which Mulligan had earlier borrowed from the captain, to the captain’s head. Mulligan fired once. He then ordered Helms to grab the now-abandoned steering wheel, but Helms was unable to do so before the car had struck both a stop sign and a mail box. When Ms. Miller, who was seated in the front seat next to Captain Doe, cried out for help, Mulligan placed the gun across Helms’ back and shot Ms. Miller as he told her to be silent. After Helms finally brought the car to a stop, Mulligan and Helms towelled it off for fingerprints and then ran. As they fled the scene of the crime, Helms threw away his bloody shirt and the wallet which he had removed from the body of Capt. Doe. Mulligan threw Captain Doe’s gun into some bushes and his own clothes over a bridge. The autopsy performed on Capt. Doe showed that the bullet had entered the left eye, traveled through the brain, and exited the right temple. The autopsy of Ms. Miller revealed that she had been shot four times: in the left forearm, the left shoulder, the right upper arm, and the midportion of the back of the skull, with the exit wound of the last listed shot being the right eye. The cause of death for both victims was laceration and hemorrhage of the brain and cerebral trauma. Several.38 shell casings were found in the captain’s car along with a bullet. The State Crime Laboratory test indicated that the shell casings and the bullet found in Capt. Doe’s car had been fired by Capt. Doe’s.38 pistol. Finally, a latent fingerprint which had been lifted from the left door window of Captain Doe’s car was found to match a rolled print of Mulligan’s left middle finger. The evidence also revealed that Captain Doe had filed a divorce action against Mulligan’s sister and that Captain Doe had told Mulligan on the day of the murders, that his divorce from Mulligan’s sister would be final soon.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 22, 1987 Georgia Edna Sandefur Richard Tucker executed

The evidence revealed that Edna Sandefur was kidnapped from a hospital parking area on a Friday evening and was forced to drive to a secluded area in the rear of an abandoned warehouse. Richard Tucker robbed Edna, killed her by hitting her on the head with an iron pipe, and then stripped the body of all clothing. After burning her clothing, Tucker left the scene in Edna’s car. The body was not discovered until the following Tuesday afternoon.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 29, 1987 Georgia Kathleen Perry William Tucker executed

The evidence introduced showed that after drinking heavily during the day and evening of August 20, 1977, and smoking several joints of marijuana, Tucker went to a Majik Market around 11 p.m. where he drank two more beers and played pinball. After waiting at the store some 45 minutes, Tucker sneaked behind its operator and sole occupant, Kathleen Perry, and stuck his finger in her back. She began putting money from the cash register into a paper bag. Tucker forced Kathleen into his red Volkswagen and drove to Pierce Chapel Road. There Tucker killed Kathleen Perry by stabbing her four times. Three people were driving on Pierce Chapel Road when they passed a red Volkswagen with its lights on, parked in the road. The three saw Tucker in the car and a woman’s shoe in the road beside the car. Shortly after passing, they decided to return to investigate. The Volkswagen passed them as they returned to the place where it had been parked. At the parking spot, they found a vest with a “Majik Market” insignia and then discovered Kathleen Perry’s body, face-down in a ditch about 10 feet from the road. The three left, called the police and then returned to Pierce Chapel Road to await the arrival of the police. Shortly after the police reached the scene of the crime, they saw Tucker returning in the same red Volkswagen. They identified both the car and driver to the police. Tucker was immediately taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, Tucker made an incriminating statement, in which he admitted the robbery by intimidation and the kidnapping. In his statement to police, Tucker stated that he could not remember what happened after Perry got out of the car but did recall a knife with long brown handles and lots of blood. At trial, Tucker again confessed to robbery by intimidation and kidnapping but testified that he could not remember a knife or the murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
September 2, 1987 Georgia Christopher Carr, 14 William Mitchell executed

At 7:00 o’clock on Sunday morning, August 11, 1974, Mrs. James Carr and her 14-year-old son, Christopher Carr, opened IGA Store Number 13, a convenience grocery mart in Worth County, Georgia, for business. Fifteen minutes later, William “Billy” Mitchell entered the store. After meandering by the drink box, he returned to the checkout counter where Mrs. Carr and Christopher stood, pulled a pistol and pointed it at Mrs. Carr, who was less than three feet away, and demanded all the money. She handed him $ 150 in bills from the cash register. He also wanted any money she had personally, so she surrendered $ 15 that was in her purse. He got some money from her son Christopher. Mitchell then ordered them to, “Go to the back (of the store).” Christopher and his mother marched to the rear at the point of appellant’s gun. They walked through the meat room to a door leading to the cooler. Mitchell opened the cooler door, carried Christopher Carr inside, stepped back out, said to Mrs. Carr, “I’ve never had a white bitch before,” shoving her towards the adjoining bathroom. “Oh my God, no!” Mrs. Carr protested, whereupon Mitchell said, “Into the cooler!” and pushed her into the room with her son. At Mitchell’s order both got on the floor, Chris sitting down, his mother squatting. Mitchell then proceeded to shoot Christopher Carr, the murder victim, in the left chest. He then shot Mrs. Carr in the back of the head and left the cooler room temporarily. Moments later he returned, shot Christopher again, this time in the back of his head. He shot Mrs. Carr three more times before returning to the main part of the store. Two young boys had entered the main part of the store and Mitchell pointed his gun at one of them and snapped it several times but it did not fire. He took money from one of the boys and marched them back to the cooler room at gunpoint where he again snapped the gun at one of the boys but again it did not fire. He closed the cooler door and left the store. Mrs. Carr survived her injuries and testified against Mitchell at his trial.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 21, 1987 Georgia Donna Marie Dixon Timothy McCorquodale executed

On the evening of January 16, 1974, the 17-year-old victim, Donna Marie Dixon, and her friend Pamela were in the area of Peachtree and 10th Street in the City of Atlanta known as ‘The Strip.’ While in a restaurant they were accosted by a man named Leroy who invited them to a bar for a beer. While in the bar the two girls engaged in a conversation with two black men. Leroy left the bar and the girls later went to another bar on ‘The Strip.’ Leroy met them at this bar, approached their table and accused Donna and Pamela of stealing $40 or $50 from him and giving the money to a black pimp. At this point they were joined by the defendant McCorquodale and his girlfriend, Bonnie Succaw (now Johnson). At the request of Leroy and McCorquodale the girls were taken to a bathroom and searched by Bonnie and a friend. They found no money. McCorquodale and Leroy then summoned a cab, and joined by Bonnie, they took Donna with them to Bonnie’s apartment. They arrived at Bonnie’s apartment shortly after midnight and found Bonnie’s roommate, Linda, and Bonnie’s three-year-old daughter asleep. McCorquodale had lived some eight months prior to his time in the apartment with Bonnie. Linda joined them in the living room of Bonnie’s apartment and at this point there was some conversation between McCorquodale and Leroy about Donna being a ‘n***** lover’ and that she needed to be taught a lesson. McCorquodale, after telling Donna how pretty she was, raised his fist and hit her across the face. When she stood up, he grabbed her by her blouse, ripping it off. He then proceeded to remove her bra and tied her hands behind her back with a nylon stocking. McCorquodale then removed his belt, which was fastened with a rather large buckle, and repeatedly struck Donna across the back with the buckle end of the belt. He then took off all her clothing and then bound her mouth with tape and a washcloth. Leroy then kicked Donna and she fell to the floor. McCorquodale took his cigarette and burned Donna on her breasts, her thigh, and her navel. He then bit one of Donna’s nipples and she began to bleed. He asked for a razor blade and then sliced the other nipple. He then called for a box of salt and poured it into the wounds he had made on her breasts. At this point Linda, who was eight months pregnant, became ill and went into the bedroom and closed the door. McCorquodale then lit a candle and proceeded to drip hot wax over Donna’s body. He held the candle about 1/2 inch from Donna’s vagina and dripped the hot wax into this part of her body. He then used a pair of surgical scissors to cut around her clitoris. While bleeding from her nose and vagina, Leroy forced Donna to perform oral sex on him while McCorquodale raped her. Then Leroy raped Donna while McCorquodale forced his penis into her mouth. McCorquodale then found a hard plastic bottle which was about 5 inches in height and placed an antiseptic solution within it, forcing this bottle into Donna’s vagina and squirted the solution into her. Donna was then permitted to go to the bathroom to ‘get cleaned up.’ While she was in the bathroom, McCorquodale secured a piece of nylon rope and told Bonnie and her roommate that he was going ‘to kill the girl.’ He hid in a closet across the hall from the bathroom and when Donna came out of the bathroom he wrapped the nylon cord around her neck. Donna screamed, ‘My God, you’re killing me.’ As McCorquodale tried to strangle her, the cord cut into his hands and Donna fell to the floor. He fell on top of her and began to strangle her with his bare hands. He removed his hands and Donna began to have convulsions. He again strangled her and then pulled her head up and forward to break her neck. He covered her lifeless body with a sheet and departed the apartment to search for a means of transporting her body from the scene. By this time, it was approximately 6:00 a.m. on the morning of January 17. McCorquodale soon returned to the apartment and asked Bonnie for her trunk and Leroy and McCorquodale tried to place Donna’s body in the trunk. Finding that the body was too large for the trunk, McCorquodale proceeded to break Donna’s arms and legs by holding them upright while he stomped on them with his foot. Donna’s body was then placed in the trunk and the trunk was placed in the closet behind the curtains. McCorquodale and Leroy then went to sleep on the couch in the living room for the greater portion of the day, leaving the apartment sometime during the afternoon. Because a strong odor began to emanate from the body, and her efforts to mask the smell with deodorant spray had been unsuccessful, Linda called Bonnie to request that McCorquodale remove the trunk from the apartment. Shortly after 8:00 p.m. McCorquodale arrived at the apartment with a person named Larry. As they attempted to move the trunk from the closet, blood began spilling from the trunk on to the living room floor. McCorquodale placed a towel under the trunk to absorb the blood as they carried the trunk to Larry’s car. When McCorquodale and Larry returned to the apartment they told Linda that the body had been dumped out of the trunk into a road and that the trunk was placed under some boxes in a ‘Dempsey Dumpster.’ Donna’s body was found about half a mile off Highway No. 42 in Clayton County.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
July 28, 1988 Georgia Rhonda Tanner James Messer executed

On February 13, 1979, the date of the murder, James Messer left his home to attend a doctor’s appointment. He waited at the doctor’s office briefly, then departed before the time for his appointment arrived. Around mid-day he went to an electrical supply store. There he told the saleswoman that he worked for a construction company in Rome and needed a specialized light fixture. After inspecting the light fixtures on display in the store he appeared dissatisfied, and told her that he wanted to look at “more stuff… that will probably be in the back.” The saleswoman invited him to examine the light fixtures in the supply room, located at the back of the store, but informed him that she could not assist him as she was alone in the store and needed to supervise the unloading of a delivery truck that had just arrived. When Messer persisted in his requests that the saleswoman assist him in the back of the store, she became nervous. Suspecting Messer’s motives, the saleswoman telephoned her husband, who worked nearby, and asked him to come to her assistance. During this period of time Messer did not venture into the supply room. When Messer saw the saleswoman’s husband enter the store, he left. The saleswoman testified that she observed Messer shake his head and mouth the word “damn” as he left. At trial the saleswoman testified that she had seen Messer in the store three months prior to this incident. At that time he had also attempted, unsuccessfully, to get her to go into the back room of the store to look for a specialized item. Around 2:30 that afternoon the saleswoman saw Messer drive slowly by the electrical supply store. She ran out into the street and took down his license plate number. The saleswoman testified that she watched Messer turn in the direction of College Street Elementary School which is located a few blocks from the electrical supply store. That night she and her husband telephoned the police to report this suspicious incident and to request that the police investigate Messer. The following night the police asked the couple to examine photographs at the police station to see if they could identify the man. Both selected a picture of Messer. The license plate number taken down by the saleswoman matched the license number of Messer’s car. On the date of her death Rhonda Tanner was attending College Street Elementary School. Rhonda’s teacher testified at trial that she had an “uneasy, nervous” nature which had complicated her adjustment to school routine. Rhonda apparently cried most of the day, had difficulty socializing with other children, and frequently voiced her fear that her mother would desert her and that she would be left alone at home after school. At 2:30 that afternoon Rhonda was preparing to board the school bus that would take her home when the principal called Rhonda’s homeroom to say that her uncle, Messer, was there to take her home. Messer had informed the principal that Rhonda’s father had been injured on a construction job and that Rhonda’s mother, too upset to drive herself, had requested that Messer pick the child up at school. When Rhonda saw her uncle she ran up to him and, according to an observer, began “prancing around him.” The principal testified that Rhonda took Messer’s hand and “petted” it. Rhonda excitedly told her teacher that she would not have to ride the bus as her uncle would take her home. Subsequently Rhonda and Messer left the school together. The principal later identified a police photograph of Messer as the man who had picked up Rhonda. Between 2:45 and 3:00 that afternoon Rhonda’s mother arrived at the school, alarmed that Rhonda had not come home on the school bus. The mother denied authorizing Rhonda’s uncle, or anyone else, to pick her up. Rhonda’s mother testified that the principal’s description of the man “fit [Messer] to a ‘T.'” Rhonda’s mother telephoned Messer’s wife to see if the child was at their home as Messer and his wife frequently baby-sat for Rhonda. Messer’s wife told her that she had not seen Rhonda that day and that Messer had gone to the doctor. At trial a witness testified that at about 3:30 that afternoon she observed Messer walking away from the woods where Rhonda’s body was later found. Arriving home Messer spoke at length to his family about his long and futile wait at the doctor’s office. When informed of Rhonda’s abduction, Messer told Rhonda’s family that he had seen a child resembling Rhonda in a “dark colored car… headed north,” but that he otherwise knew nothing of the circumstances surrounding her absence. The following day Rhonda’s family conducted an extensive search for the child. A sister-in-law of Messer, driving by the wooded area where Messer had taken Rhonda, spotted Rhonda’s coat. A police search ensued and subsequently Rhonda’s book and crayons were found. Further search uncovered the body of Rhonda, clad only in a knit shirt. Rhonda had been stabbed numerous times in the chest and abdomen. Her face had been so severely beaten that it was not readily recognizable. Her abdomen had been slashed five times by a knife, and bruises and lacerations covered her face, neck and upper chest. Spermatozoa were found in Rhonda’s vaginal area, but there was no evidence to indicate that she had been raped. Autopsy results showed that she had bled to death. That night Messer and his wife voluntarily accompanied GBI agents to the police station for questioning. Although not under arrest at that time, Messer was given Miranda warnings and subsequently signed a waiver form. After being confronted with the fact that he had been identified as the person who removed Rhonda from school, Messer confessed to the murder of his niece. A GBI agent testified that Messer told him “after not getting anywhere… with the female employee” at the electrical supply store, “the first thing that came to his mind was [Rhonda] and that’s why he went to the school to get her.” Messer stated that he had driven Rhonda to a wooded area and parked the car. He told her that he was having trouble with the battery cables in his car and needed to find a rock to fix them. She accompanied him into the woods to search for a rock. Telling her that he “wanted to play a game with her” Messer pushed Rhonda down to the ground, removed her slacks and began touching her “between the legs.” Messer repeatedly stated to the GBI agents that he had originally intended to “just molest” Rhonda and to “make her promise not to tell her father,” but that Rhonda refused to cooperate with him and began to scream. He stated that he hit her repeatedly with his fist to quiet her. He masturbated on the left side of Rhonda’s abdomen and finally stabbed her with his pocketknife to silence her. Messer then kicked Rhonda in the face until she lay motionless. Messer told the agents that he washed his pocketknife in a nearby stream, then returned to his parked car where he removed Rhonda’s coat, book and crayons and threw them into the woods. After Messer confessed to the crime, he was placed under arrest and reminded of his Miranda warnings. The police accompanied Messer to a nearby hospital where blood samples and hair specimen were taken. Expert testimony presented at trial established that the hair found on the shirt and pants Messer had been wearing on the day of the murder belonged to Rhonda. The shoes Messer had been wearing at that time corresponded to the plaster cast of a partial shoe track found at the scene of the crime. Traces of blood were found on Messer’s pocketknife, but were of an amount too small to type.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 18, 1989 Georgia Ed Giddens Henry Willis executed

Henry Willis and two other men, committed an armed robbery of a convenience food store in Adel, Georgia; the police were informed of the robbery and a radio alert to be on the lookout for the perpetrators was broadcast; the victim, Ed Giddens, the Chief of Police of Ray City, Georgia, located fifteen miles east of Adel, stopped the auto in which the three men were traveling; before approaching the auto he reported by radio its description and tag number; when he tried to arrest the men he was seized, disarmed and abducted; thereafter he was taken to a remote area near Banks Lake in the adjoining Lanier County; Ed attempted to flee and ran into some shallow waters whereupon he was shot by one of Willis’s companions; thereafter Willis waded into the water and delivered a coup de grace by shooting Ed in the head several times. Willis testified at the trial. He admitted the robbery, the abduction of Ed Giddens, and that he waded into the water and shot Ed. He stated he thought Ed was dead when he shot him.