Questions Linger for Anthony Shore, Larry Swearingen

Update 2019.

Larry Swearingen, 48, was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening for the December 1998 killing of Melissa Trotter. The 19-year-old was last seen leaving her community college in Conroe, and her body was found nearly a month later in a forest near Huntsville, about 70 miles north of Houston.

Swearingen was pronounced dead at 6:47 p.m. His last words were: “Lord forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Larry Swearingen, en 2009

January, 18 2018

Houston serial killer Anthony Shore faces another death date, this one Jan. 18. Shore was originally set for execution in October, but that got halted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office amid rumors he was planning to confess to another murder: the 1998 killing of Melissa Trotter. Except Larry Swearingen had been convicted of kidnapping, raping, and strangling Trotter in 2000, and by then was preparing for his own execution in November.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg said his office revoked Shore’s execution warrant at the request of Montgomery County D.A. Brett Ligon, who believed Shore was colluding with Swearingen. (He says a folder was found in Shore’s cell with information relating to Trotter’s death.) Berg said the Texas Rangers have since interviewed Shore, who admitted he had “nothing to do” with Trotter’s murder. Shore alleged he and Swearingen once contemplated conspiring, but had since “parted ways.” Berg, who says his office and Ligon’s have reviewed the interview, said Shore decided not to “take the fall” for his fellow inmate. Shore has exhausted his appeals; Berg said he’s unaware of any new attempts to stay Shore’s execution, and concluded that his case will see its “inevitable end” next Thursday.

Shore’s execution is just the beginning of a busy month.

Swearingen, however, had his November execution stayed due to a filing error, and has since been granted additional DNA testing. Unlike Shore, who confessed to killing four girls between 1986 and 1995, Swearingen has maintained his innocence. His supporters, including his lawyer James Rytting, say he was in a county jail for outstanding traffic warrants at the time of Trotter’s murder. The 19-year-old was last seen on Dec. 8, 1998, with Swearingen (who wasn’t arrested until three days later), but her body wasn’t discovered until Jan. 2. Rytting said forensic evidence suggests her body could not have been dumped in the woods until “a week or 10 days” after Swearingen was arrested.

Included in the evidence sent out for testing is Trotter’s rape kit, which was never tested and could exonerate Swearingen should analysts uncover another DNA profile. Samples of hair particles found on Trot­ter’s undergarments and the alleged murder weapon (a torn pair of pantyhose) will also be tested. The evidence was shipped out in December and testing will likely take four weeks.

Rytting was alarmed that the state had reissued an execution date for Shore. “They shouldn’t be putting the guy into the ground with these questions still around,” he said. He says two witnesses, with no connection to Swearingen, told the D.A.’s Office that Shore suggested to them that he was connected to Trotter’s murder. The information, Rytting said, would “sure as hell” make Shore a suspect had it been provided prior to Swearingen’s conviction. “It’s a type of incriminating statement the prosecution seizes on all the time,” he said. “You don’t get to wiggle out of it with an ‘Aw shucks, I was kidding.'”

Shore will likely mark the first state-sanctioned killing of 2018, and his is just the beginning. William Rayford is scheduled for Jan. 30, and John Battaglia for Feb. 1.


November 6, 2012 http://mcalesternews.com

March 7, 2012 dead
Oklahoma death row inmate Garry Thomas Allen, 56, was executed this evening in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Witnessing the execution were two media representatives, two of Allen’s attorneys, the victim’s sister-in-law, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones and several Department of Corrections employees.

At 5:58 p.m., Jones gave the go-ahead for the execution procedure to begin and the blinds between the witness area and the execution chamber were raised.

Allen raised his head from the execution gurney and looked into the witness room. His eyes wandered until they landed on familiar faces. When he saw his attorneys he said, “Hi.” And they lifted their hands and waved at him.

Allen then began to talk. He rambled unintelligibly about Obama and Romney. Allen’s garbled speech about the presidential race coincided with a loud banging noise as the other inmates in H-Unit said their good-byes.

“Obama won two out of three counties. It’s going to be a very close race,” Allen said just before Oklahoma State Penitentiary Deputy Warden Art Lightle asked him if he had a last statement.

Allen looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?” Then he continued in his garbled speech and then again raised his head and said, “Hi,” to his attorneys. Allen’s unintelligible ramblings continued. He spoke about Obama and Jesus.

I hope that more realize Jesus is the son of God — the only son of God. Jesus is the one and only savior,” Allen said. This statement was followed by more unintelligible ramblings.

Lightle told Allen that his two minutes were coming to an end. Allen turned his head to look at Lightle and asked, “What?” Then he continued his garbled speech.

One of Allen’s attorneys began to get teary eyed and she leaned down and placed her head in her hands. At 6:02 p.m., when she sat back up, and as Allen’s unintelligible talking continued, Lightle said, “Let the execution begin.”

Allen again turned his head and looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?”

Then he lifted his head and looked at the witnesses, fixing his eyes on his attorneys. “Hi,” he said to them again. And again they both lifted their hands and waved at him.

His garbled speech continued until the concoction of execution drugs apparently affected his system. He turned and lifted his head one last time and looked at Lightle. He made a loud, strained grunting sound and laid his head back down on the gurney.

At 6:07 p.m., the attending physician checked Allen’s vital signs and said something about a pulse. The physician rubbed Allen’s chest and then stepped away as Allen’s attorney wiped a tear from her cheek.

The physician stepped back to Allen’s body minutes later, checked his vital signs and pronounced Allen’s death at 6:10 p.m.

The victim’s family submitted the following written statement following Allen’s execution:

“Our beloved Gail — daughter, sister and mother of two young boys was taken from our family tragically and senselessly due to domestic violence.

“For over 25 years we have waited for justice to be served and for this sentence to be carried out.

“We are thankful to close the book on this chapter today, but we will never stop grieving the loss of Gail.

“It has been an emotional roller coaster for our family and one we have endured far too long.

“Gail’s memory will continue to live on through the lives of her now grown sons and her grandchildren.”

This was not the first time Allen was scheduled for execution. In April, officials at the OSP conducted normal execution day procedures while waiting to find out about approval or disapproval of an appeal filed with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

A stay was issued for Allen one day before his scheduled execution on April 12.

“A federal judge stayed Garry Allen’s execution,” said OSP Warden’s Assistant Terry Crenshaw in April. U.S. District Judge David L. Russell issued the stay, ruling that Allen’s claims that he is insane and ineligible for the death penalty should be reviewed. Allen had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and his attorneys argued his mental state deteriorated on death row.

“Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a notice of appeal to the stay of execution,” Crenshaw said in April. If the appeal to the stay of execution was granted, officials at OSP had “measures in place to carry out the execution according to court orders.” However, Pruitt’s appeal was not granted at that time.

Allen was also set for execution on Feb. 16, but Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin granted a 30-day stay of execution for the condemned man. She said the stay was issued so her legal team could have more time to consider a 2005 recommendation by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the arguments and evidence presented in this case, I have determined that clemency should be denied in this case, and that the sentence of death be carried out,” Fallin wrote in an executive order filed March 13.

The 30-day stay would have set Allen’s execution for March 17, but that date was moved to April 12, before being stayed yet again.

Allen received his death sentence for the 1986 murder of his 24-year-old wife, Lawanna Gail Titsworth. The McAlester News-Capital reported in May of 2008 that Allen’s conviction and death sentence came after he gunned down Titsworth four days after she moved out of their home with their two sons, who were 6 and 2 at the time.

Allen was first scheduled to be executed May 19, 2005. A stay of execution was granted by Judge Thomas Bartheld one day before his scheduled execution. The Associated Press reported Allen’s mental competency was in question after a psychological exam at OSP indicated he had developed mental problems while confined on death row. The doctor’s report noted Allen had dementia caused by seizures, drug abuse and being shot in the face.

The U.S. Supreme Court and state law prohibit execution of inmates who are insane or mentally incompetent.

On May 1, 2008, a Pittsburg County jury decided, on split decision, that Allen is “sane to be executed.” For more than three years since, numerous court motions and legal arguments have been heard in the case.

On Dec. 28, Bartheld signed a legal order vacating Allen’s stay of execution, stating “the court … having reviewed the pleadings, finds that the issue of the sanity of Garry Thomas Allen for execution has been resolved…”

On Nov. 21, 1986, reports indicate Allen went to his children’s daycare center in Oklahoma City when his wife, Titsworth, was scheduled to pick them up. Titsworth had gone to the parking lot when Allen confronted her, according to court records. As Titsworth opened the door to her truck, Allen shut the door and prevented her from entering, court documents state.

As the two argued, Allen reached into his sock, pulled out a revolver and shot Titsworth twice in the chest.

“It is unclear whether Titsworth was holding her youngest son at the time of the shooting or had picked him up immediately thereafter,” documents filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals state.

After Allen shot Titsworth, she begged him not to shoot her again and fell to the ground. Allen then asked Titsworth if she was all right and lifted up her blouse, apparently attempting to examine her injuries.

“At the time of the shooting, some of the daycare employees were in the parking lot and several of the children were in a van parked a few feet from Titsworth’s truck,” court documents state.

“After the shooting, Titsworth managed to get up and start running toward the building along with a daycare center employee.”

As they headed up the steps leading to the front door, Allen pushed the daycare employee through the door and shoved Titsworth down on the steps, where he shot her twice in the back at close range.

Oklahoma City police officer Mike Taylor responded to a 911 call within minutes and a witness pointed to an alley where Allen was hiding. Taylor spotted Allen in the alley, pulled his revolver and ordered him to stop and remain still.

Although Allen initially complied with the order, he turned and began walking away. When Taylor reached out to place a hand on him, Allen quickly turned and grabbed the policeman’s gun.

During a struggle, Allen gained partial control of the gun and “attempted to make officer Taylor shoot himself by applying pressure to Taylor’s finger which was still on the trigger,” court documents state.

As the struggle continued, Taylor regained control of the gun and shot Allen in the face, according to court records.

Allen was hospitalized for approximately two months for injuries to his face, left eye and brain. Afterwards, he entered a blind plea — meaning no plea bargain agreement had been reached — to first-degree murder and other charges on Nov. 10, 1987.

An Oklahoma County judge subsequently sentenced Allen to death. The appeals court later ordered a second sentence hearing, which also resulted in the death sentence.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Correction’s website, at http://www.doc.state.ok.us, Allen had been incarcerated at OSP since Dec. 23, 1987, and was housed on death row in the prison’s H-Unit.


TEXAS – UPCOMING EXECUTION, Jonathan Marcus Green, 10/10/2012 – EXECUTED 10.45 P.M

Picture of Offender

Name Green, Jonathan Marcus
TDCJ Number 999421
Date of Birth 12/23/1967


Jonathan Marcus Green, is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on October 10, 2012. Green was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in Montgomery County.
On the evening of June 21, 2000, 12-year-old Christina Neal disappeared after leaving a friend’s home in the small community of Dobbin, TX.
The girl’s family began looking for her the next day, after determining that she had not stayed overnight at a friend’s house. Christina’s glasses were found along a road near the Neal home. The glasses were “smashed and broken.”

On June 23, the girl’s father, Victor Neal, asked his sister to look for Christina while he was at work. Christina had run away before, so Victor told his sister to report her as a runaway if she could not find her. Later that day, having failed to locate Christina, the sister reported her missing to a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy. Officers then joined the family in searching for Christina.

On June 26, the FBI joined in the search. Christina’s panties were found at the edge of the woods across from the Neal home, and Christina’s bracelet and necklace were found along a pathway in the woods.

On June 28, investigators spoke with Jonathan Green, who also lived in Dobbin, because his wallet was discovered in the vicinity of Christina’s disappearance. Green said he had no information concerning Christina’s disappearance, and that he was either at home or at his neighbor’s house on the night she disappeared. He gave investigators permission to search his home and property, with the condition that he be present. Investigators performed a cursory search of the house and property, but they noticed nothing significant.

On July 19, a man who lived on the property behind Green’s, told investigators that Green had an unusually large fire in his burn pile the day after Christina disappeared. A few days later, investigators went to Green’s home and asked if they could search his property again, including his burn pile. Green again consented, but insisted that he be present during the search. An FBI agent smelled a distinct odor emanating from a disturbed section of ground which he identified as “some sort of decaying body.” The investigation team then began to dig up the disturbed area. Green, who had been cooperative up to that point, became angry and told the officers to get off his property.
The investigative team returned to Green’s property later that night with a search warrant. They discovered that part of the burn pile had been excavated, leaving what appeared to be a shallow grave. They also smelled the “extremely foul, fetid odor” of a “dead body in a decaying state.”
An officer then arrived with a “cadaver dog,” trained to detect human remains. The dog repeatedly went to the side of a recliner in the house. An FBI agent looked behind the recliner and found human remains in a bag that were identified as Christina’s. An autopsy concluded that Christina was sexually assaulted and then strangled.
During the course of the autopsy, various materials were recovered from Christina’s body.
DNA testing on black hairs found on Christina’s body indicated a higher probability the hairs came from Green.
A Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab criminalist testified that many of the fibers recovered from Christina’s body matched fiber samples seized from Green’s property and residence. On the panties that were recovered near the Neal home five days after Christina had disappeared and nearly a month before her body was found, investigators found a fiber that had characteristics identical to carpet in Green’s residence.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Green’s conviction on Dec. 17, 2004.
On March 6, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review.
On March 23, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the findings and conclusions of the trial court and denied Green’s application for state habeas relief.
On Feb, 15, 2008, a U.S. district court denied Green’s federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
On February 27, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability.
On October 5, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review of this decision.
No litigation is currently pending.
Green had a misdemeanor conviction for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
The State also presented evidence of Green’s history of violent behavior:
A woman testified that Green raped her about four years before he was tried for the capital murder of the 12-year-old girl.
Another woman testified that in July 1999, Green entered her home without permission, jumped on top of her, and demanded that she have sex with him. The woman said she tried to defend herself, but Green forced himself on her. The woman also testified about another time when Green tried to rape her. However, on that occasion, she was armed with a pocket knife and was able to fend him off.
Green was linked to the stabbing death of a pony that was stolen in January 2000 from a pasture in Dobbin. The pony was tied to a tree and stabbed to death. A bloody pair of shears and a bloody broken butcher knife were laying near the pony’s carcass. Green admitted that the shears were his but claimed that they had been stolen a few weeks earlier. However, the only print recovered from the shears matched Green’s left middle finger.
Green also displayed increasingly violent behavior while he was incarcerated in the Montgomery County Jail:
On the morning of September 9, 2000, Green threatened to assault an officer for taking a toothbrush and a bowl of food from him.
On February 5, 2001, Green threatened a fellow inmate asserting that he “would make his heart stop.”
On another occasion, Green threatened a deputy because he would not give him a second glass of juice.
On July 26, 2001, Green assaulted and robbed another inmate.
On March 13, 2002, Green assaulted an officer in the jail.

TEXAS – ROBERT WAYNE HARRIS – Execution scheduled September 20, 2012 EXECUTED 6:43 p.m

Harris expressed love to his brother and three friends who were watching through a window.

“I’m going home. I’m going home,” Harris said. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be alright. God bless, and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.”

Picture of Offender

last meal: the same meal as all the other inmates.

No. 11-70016.United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

The CCA summarized the facts of Harris’s crime in its opinion on direct appeal:

[Harris] worked at Mi-T-Fine Car Wash for ten months prior to the offense. An armored car picked up cash receipts from the car wash every day except Sunday.

Therefore, [Harris] knew that on Monday morning, the safe would contain cash receipts from the weekend and the cash register would contain $200-$300 for making change.

On Wednesday, March 15, 2000, [Harris] masturbated in front of a female customer. The customer reported the incident to a manager, and a cashier called the police. [Harris] was arrested and fired.

On Sunday, March 19[th], [Harris] spent the day with his friend, Junior Herrera, who sold cars. Herrera was driving a demonstrator car from the lot. Although [Harris] owned his own vehicle, he borrowed Herrera’s that evening. He then went to the home of friend Billy Brooks, who contacted his step-son, Deon Bell, to lend [Harris] a pistol.

On Monday, March 20[th], [Harris] returned to the car wash in the borrowed car at 7:15 a.m., before it opened for business. [Harris] forced the manager, Dennis Lee, assistant manager, Agustin Villaseñor, and cashier, Rhoda Wheeler, into the office. He instructed Wheeler to open the safe, which contained the cash receipts from the weekend. Wheeler complied and gave him the cash. [Harris] then forced all three victims to the floor and shot each of them in the back of the head at close range. He also slit Lee’s throat.

Before [Harris] could leave, three other employees arrived for work unaware of the danger. [Harris] forced them to kneel on the floor of the lobby area and shot each of them in the back of the head from close range. One of the victims survived with permanent disabilities. Shortly there after, a seventh employee, Jason Shields, arrived. Shields noticed the three bodies in the lobby and saw [Harris] standing near the cash register. After a brief exchange in which [Harris] claimed to have discovered the crime scene, pointed out the bodies of the other victims, and pulled a knife from a nearby bookshelf, Shields became nervous and told [Harris] he needed to step outside for fresh air. Shields hurried to a nearby doughnut shop to call authorities. [Harris] followed Shields to the doughnut shop, also spoke to the 911 operator, then fled the scene.

[Harris] returned the vehicle to Herrera and told him that he had discovered some bodies at the car wash. [Harris] then took a taxi to Brooks’s house. At Brooks’s house, he separated the money from the other objects and disposed of the metal lock boxes, a knife, a crowbar, and pieces of a cell phone in a wooded area. [Harris] purchased new clothing, checked into a motel, and sent Brooks to purchase a gold cross necklace for him. Later that afternoon, [Harris] drove to the home of another friend and remained there until the following morning, when he was arrested. Testimony also showed that [Harris] had planned to drive to Florida on Tuesday and kill an old girlfriend

To View the Opinion information, click on the Folder icons. ( from Texas Court)

View Case View Opinion Case Number Date Issued Disposition Opinion Type
View case WR-59,925-02 View Opinion for Case WR-59,925-02 WR-59,925-02 9/5/2012 DISMISS/ORD Other
View case WR-59,925-02 View Opinion for Case WR-59,925-02 WR-59,925-02 9/5/2012 DENIED/ORD Other
View case PD-1019-06 View Opinion for Case PD-1019-06 PD-1019-06 10/17/2007 AFFCOA Original
View case PD-1047-06 View Opinion for Case PD-1047-06 PD-1047-06 10/17/2007 AFFCOA Original
View case AP-75,151 View Opinion for Case AP-75,151 AP-75,151 11/9/2005 RELIEFDENIED Original
View case AP-75,151 View Opinion for Case AP-75,151 AP-75,151 11/9/2005 RELIEFDENIED Concurring
View case WR-59,925-01 View Opinion for Case WR-59,925-01 WR-59,925-01 9/15/2004 HCRDEN/ORDER Original
View case AP-73,787 View Opinion for Case AP-73,787 AP-73,787 5/5/2004 AFFIRM Original

OHIO – Palmer Says, ‘I deserve to die’ – execution scheduled september 20, 2012 at 10 a.m EXECUTED 10.35 A.m.

Update september 19, 2012 http://woub.org

A condemned Ohio man is set to be moved from the state’s death row in Chillicothe to the site of his Thursday execution in Lucasville.

State officials are expected to move Donald Palmer to death row on Wednesday, the day before he is set to be executed by lethal injection for a crime committed 23 years ago.

The 43-year-old was convicted of aggravated murder for fatally shooting two strangers along a Belmont County road on May 8, 1989.
Palmer’s attorney says he hadn’t planned on filing any other appeals and expected the execution to proceed.
Palmer also decided not to request mercy from the Ohio Parole Board, which can recommend clemency for a condemned inmate to the governor.
Including Palmer, 10 Ohio inmates are scheduled for execution through March 2014.

September 16, 2012 http://www.theintelligencer.net

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Donald “Duke” Palmer’s worldly possessions include a television, a radio, hot pot, a lamp and a fan.

He will spend much of this week giving those items to his fellow death row inmates. Palmer is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

During a death row interview last week at Ohio’s Chillicothe Correctional Institution, Palmer, a Martins Ferry native who murdered Charles Sponhaltz and Steven Vargo along Belmont 2 near the Jefferson County line on May 8, 1989, offered regrets for the murders but said he’s ready to die.

“I killed Mr. Sponhaltz and I killed Mr. Vargo and I deserve to die for it,” Palmer, 47, said.

He talked at length during the hour-long interview about his victims and their loved ones but asked that his apologies not be published until after his death.

“I don’t want (my apologies) to be cheapened or be seen as a ploy to somehow stop what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m not trying to forgive my way out of this. I’m not.”

Palmer said he did not ask for clemency because he does not want to spend the rest of his life in prison.

“I mean, either way is a death sentence in prison,” he said. “I don’t want to sit around and wait for forever to come down. I’m just at the end of this. I’m tired. I want it to be known that it’s OK that I am being executed.”

Palmer said he has known his execution date for 14 months.

Asked how he is dealing with knowing the exact date and time he is going to die, Palmer said, “I’ve been dealing with it since day one. I didn’t know that I had more than five years coming. Then 10 years went by. And then 15 years went by. And then 20 years. … By the time 20 years go by, I was ready to die. I’m just ready.”

While confirming that Ohio is not putting an innocent man to death, Palmer said “No” when asked if he received a fair trial.

He said he appealed for a new trial in an effort to get to the truth about what happened.

“They didn’t convict me of the truth,” he said.

“Now, like I said, I killed these two guys. So I know that I deserve to die for this. But, they didn’t convict me of the truth. They convicted me of innuendo. They convicted me of things that didn’t happen. They put on evidence of things that just weren’t true.”

Palmer’s recollection of May 8, 1989, the day of the murders, goes like this: he awoke that morning in Columbus, Ohio, with “the shakes” due to his cocaine addiction. He went to a liquor store with his co-defendant, Eddie Hill, where they purchased a bottle of whiskey. Palmer said he drank 80 to 90 percent of that bottle during the day.

The two drove to Belmont County and eventually made their way to Belmont 2, near the Jefferson County line. There, they encountered Sponhaltz when Hill’s vehicle struck the rear the Sponhaltz’s vehicle.

Hill and Sponhaltz exited their respective vehicles, followed by Palmer who had a gun in his hand. Palmer said he attempted to punch Sponhaltz when the gun went off, striking Sponhaltz in the head. He then shot Sponhaltz once more in the head, killing him.

“Everything happened in a panic and fear and in bad, bad judgment, bad decisions, drunken judgment. I’m an addict, I’m afraid and I’m drunk. And it was just, you know, anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and I made all the wrong decisions,” Palmer recalled.

Vargo appeared a few minutes later, stopping to see if the men needed help. Palmer also shot him twice in the head.

“Vargo died because he showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Palmer said.

Asked about his lifestyle at the time, Palmer said, “I was a punk, and I was an addict. I was … a broken person. I was messed up because of my divorce. … That’s why I tried to commit suicide on Feb. 6, 1989. … That was my identity. Father. Husband. I got married the week after I turned 18 at the First Christian Church in Martins Ferry. And, this was my life. …

“I didn’t put God first in my life. And I know that’s why my life didn’t work out for me. But when I got divorced it broke me. I ran around and tried to fill a hole inside of me. Everything. Drugs. Sex. Running around. Fast cars. Motorcycles. Living in Florida on the beach and sailing. You name it, I did it. I had no fear of doing anything. And I was living fast and loose and, I don’t know, God wasn’t around then. Not in my life anyway.”

Palmer said he sometimes questions why he lived while Sponhaltz and Vargo died.

“If I had died, Sponhaltz and Vargo wouldn’t have been killed just a few months later,” he said, referring to his failed suicide attempt. “So it made me question why would God do that? Why would he let me live and these two die to go all the way to this point? But I did find an answer to the question. And the answer was because I didn’t put God first in my life. … People don’t understand when I say it but I thank God for death row. For putting me here. Because if he didn’t put me here, I would have died in my sins. … But now, I know that I’m saved. I know that I’m going to be fine. Every single one of us has a date.”

Palmer said he is a graduate of Martins Ferry High School. He said he worked for a time in construction in Charlotte County, Fla.

As for  Hill,Palmer filed an affidavit with the Ohio Parole Board maintaining that Hill didn’t have anything to do with the murders of Vargo and Sponhaltz. Hill currently is serving lengthy prison sentences for his role in the murders.

Hill “didn’t kill anybody. He couldn’t have stopped me from killing anybody. He didn’t know that I was going to kill anybody. He wrecked the car. He was drinking and driving and wrecked the car. That’s the only crime he committed before the murders,” Palmer said. “I shot Sponhaltz. Eddie ran and jumped down over the side of the road. Didn’t even see Vargo get shot. But, he got 30 to life on Vargo and only 15 to life on Sponhaltz. … I feel really bad that I got this man doing a life sentence.”

Aside from the possessions he will give to fellow inmates, Palmer said he has a few treasured items.

“The only things that mean anything to me are my pictures of my kids and my artwork and my Bibles. That’s it,” he said.

Palmer also said he misses his hometown of Martins Ferry, where he spent his childhood.

“I loved Martins Ferry,” he said. “I loved waking up every morning right across from Nickles Bakery and smelling that bread baking. I could see the Ohio River every morning. I’d see the northern tip of the Island. You could literally walk right down over the hill and go fishing. Every day, I’d sit there and look at Wheeling.

“I miss those things. I remember the train bridge before it was gone. I used to walk across it. Go play on it. Jump off of it. Do all kind of weird things. It’s like Tom Sawyer but not quite, you know. … But I miss that place. That is home to me.”

Palmer said executions should be more public.

“If you have a law on the books, especially when it comes to punishment, if this is what you agree to, as citizens you need to take responsibility for what’s being done in your name,” he said. “I’m not saying there should be public executions. I’m saying that it should be more open. The public should know that it’s being done in their name. They should know that their representatives are the ones who are killing. My blood is on their hands.

“I think the death penalty should be on the ballot every year because if you’re going to kill people, you need to take responsibility for what’s being done. Period. Show me where it’s a deterrent. It’s going to deter me from ever doing it again. But, how is that going to deter the 24-year-old punk that’s out there now?”

Asked what he would say to death penalty protesters who may be outside of the prison during his execution, he said, “Nothing. They’re going to have to work that out for themselves.”

Palmer said there is some irony in his execution date because his mother died on the same date in 2003.

“I’m going to be executed the same date as my mom died,” he said. “My clemency hearing (Aug. 16, 2012) was the same date my son died, Aug. 16, 2005.”

Palmer will be moved from death row in Chillicothe to Lucasville 24 hours before his scheduled execution.

He will visit with his son and daughter on the night prior to the execution but he does not want them to witness it. His attorney, pastor and a penal chaplain will serve as witnesses in his behalf.

As the interview concluded, Palmer offered these final words: “I apologize and I hope that when it comes time for them to find peace that they will seek the Lord Jesus because there is peace there.”

ARIZONA – Samuel Villegas Lopez – Executed 10:37 a.m June 27 2012

June 27, 2012 Source :

Samuel Lopez, who stabbed a Phoenix woman to death in 1986, was executed today at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence, three days before his 50th birthday.

Lopez had no last words.

No members of Lopez’s family were present, witnesses said. Eight members of the family of Estefana Holmes, his victim, spoke with reporters after the execution.

Victor Arguijo, Holmes’s brother, who traveled with other family members from Fort Worth, Texas, said, “We are not here to seek vengeance nor to avenge, but to seek justice for our family. This execution today will not bring our beloved Tefo back, but hopefully will bring closure.”

Lopez’s final meal consisted of one red chili con carne, one green chili con carne, Spanish rice, a jalapeño, an avocado, cottage cheese, French fries, a Coke, vanilla ice cream and pineapple.

The execution procedure began shortly before 10 a.m., as a group of six prison medical team members inserted intravenous catheters into Lopez’s arms. Lopez chatted with them and winced slightly, as government representatives, media, attorneys and Holmes’s family members watched on closed-circuit TV. Then prison officials opened the curtains between the death chamber and the witness area. The execution began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:37 a.m., taking more than twice as long as recent prior executions.

Lopez blinked, yawned, breathed rapidly, then his mouth dropped open, witnesses said.

On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment his appeal for a stay. One aspect of Lopez’s death marked a departure from prior recent executions in Arizona, including three earlier this year, after extended legal disputes. For the first time, the Department of Corrections allowed witnesses to watch, via close-circuit cameras, as executioners inserted the intravenous catheters that deliver the fatal drug, pentobarbital, into the condemned man.

Previously, the department only allowed the curtain between observers and the inmate to be pulled back after the catheters were in place. Where and how the catheters were inserted in earlier executions led to legal accusations that the department was engaging in cruel and unusual punishment. Corrections officials have said that problems finding suitable veins in the condemned man’s arms or legs have forced them to insert catheters into the groin area.

As in past executions, Lopez was told by officials that his microphone would be cut off if he said anything offensive. In March, as convicted murder Robert Towery was being executed, officials refused his requests to speak with his attorney as medical staff repeatedly stuck him without being able to find a vein, eventually using his groin area. Towery communicated with his attorney by code during his last words.

Defense attorneys in Arizona have repeatedly brought these issues to court; the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that no part of an execution should be shielded from media witnesses.

Lopez was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Holmes in her apartment in central Phoenix in 1986. He stabbed the grandmother and seamstress more than 23 times and slashed her throat with her own kitchen knives after a fierce struggle. A few days later, while being interviewed by police investigating an unrelated sexual-assault incident, Lopez mentioned details of Holmes’ murder that hadn’t been released to the public, police said. His attorneys, on appeal of his 1987 conviction and death sentence, argued that those details had been common knowledge in the neighborhood.

Lopez’s attorney, Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender, criticized the execution and said Lopez was denied due process. “This broken process began at trial where untrained attorneys failed to raise crucial evidence about Sammy’s horrific and abusive family history. It continued up until this week as the courts refused to hear the merits of Sammy’s claims because of procedural barriers,” she said.

Lopez’s attorneys had sought stays in both state and federal courts. In state court, they argued that he couldn’t get a fair hearing before Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency, and that a majority of the five members had been improperly appointed as political cronies of Gov. Jan Brewer. In federal court, they argued that state courts hadn’t adequately considered factors that should have mitigated against a death sentence for Lopez, such as his brutal upbringing and a mental impairment caused by his childhood abuse of inhalants and other drugs.

On May 15, Arizona’s Supreme Court stayed his execution, originally set for that day, to allow a lower court to consider the argument that new clemency board members hadn’t received all the training required by state law. But last Friday, the court turned down his attorneys’ request for a second stay of execution, after a lower court ruled that there had been enough time for the training to be completed.

Also last Friday, Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency denied Lopez’s bid for a commutation to life without parole. More than a dozen members of Holmes’ extended family spoke at the board hearing in favor of his execution.

A small group of protesters braved the heat Wednesday to demonstrate against the death penalty, but were kept away from the prison by state troopers.

ARIZONA – Robert Towery was executed

12 news HD live http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

Towery, 38, was pronounced dead at 11:26 a.m., nine minutes after the lethal-injection procedure began at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence.

Towery’s execution came just eight days after Arizona executed another inmate, Robert Moormann, for killing and dismembering his mother 28 years ago.

Wednesday night, Towery was served a last meal of porterhouse steak, baked potato with sour cream, asparagus, mushrooms, clam chowder, milk, Pepsi and apple pie a la mode.

The execution began at 11:17 a.m. Towery looked to his family and attorneys. In his last words, he apologized to his family and to the victims. He talked about bad choices he had made. Then he said, as he appeared to be crying, “I love my family. Potato, potato, potato.”

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2012/03/08/20120308arizona-execution-robert-charles-towery.html#ixzz1ocPWqmXU

Last Meal Request

  •  Porterhouse steak
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Baked potato with butter and sour cream
  • Steamed asparagus
  • Clam chowder
  • Pepsi
  • Milk
  • Apple pie with vanilla ice cream

Supreme Court of United states

No. 11-9089      *** CAPITAL CASE ***
Robert Charles Towery, Petitioner
Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections, et al.
Docketed: March 6, 2012
Linked with 11A840
Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  Case Nos.: (12-15071)
  Decision Date: February 27, 2012
  Rehearing Denied: February 29, 2012
Discretionary Court
  Decision Date: January 10, 2012
~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mar 6 2012 Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed. (Response due April 5, 2012)
Mar 6 2012 Application (11A840) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Kennedy.
Mar 6 2012 Brief of respondent Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections, et al. in opposition filed.
Mar 6 2012 Response to application from respondent Charles L. Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections, et al. filed.
Mar 7 2012 Reply of petitioner Robert Charles Towery filed.
Mar 7 2012 Application (11A840) referred to the Court.
Mar 7 2012 Application (11A840) denied by the Court.
Mar 7 2012 Petition DENIED.

TEXAS – Keith Thurmond – EXECUTED

keith Steven Thurmond was pronounced dead at 6:22 PM CST at Huntsville, Texas, executed for murdering his estranged wife, Sharon, and her boyfriend, Guy Fernandez. Strapped on the Gurney in the execution chamber, Thurmond denied killing his wife, although he murdered her in the presence of the couple’s 8-year-old son

If his loved ones are typical, they are re now rushing to the funeral parlor where his body has been sent so they may touch it while it is still warm. The custom stems from the fact that, once a prisoner enters death row, he is permitted no physical contact with is family. In Thurmond’s case, that was about a decade ago.

Suprem court of United States 

No. 11-9083      *** CAPITAL CASE ***
Keith Thurmond, Petitioner
Docketed: March 5, 2012
Linked with 11A839
Lower Ct: Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
  Case Nos.: (WR-62,425-01, and WR-62,425-02)
  Decision Date: February 29, 2012
~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings  and  Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mar 5 2012 Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed. (Response due April 4, 2012)
Mar 5 2012 Application (11A839) for a stay of execution of sentence of death, submitted to Justice Scalia.
Mar 6 2012 Brief of respondent in opposition filed.
Mar 6 2012 Reply of petitioner Keith Thurmond filed.
Mar 7 2012 Application (11A839) referred to the Court.
Mar 7 2012 Petition DENIED.
Mar 7 2012 Application (11A839) denied by the Court.

Last News from execution watch : NO WORD FROM HIGH COURT ON THURMOND STAY

I just fielded a news call on whether the Supreme Court has ruled on Keith Thurmond’s request for a stay of tonight’s execution. I had to tell them, “No news yet.”


The U.S. Supreme Court is considering an emergency request from Keith Thurmond to stop the State of Texas from executing him tonight.

Last-minute requests like this from Texas are routinely considered by Justice Antonin Scalia, though he has the option to poll the full court.

Thurmond, who was denied any federal appeals because his lawyer missed a deadline, is slated to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife and her new boyfriend a decade ago.

If the execution goes through as planned, Execution Watch will provide live coverage and commentary to inform listeners of the realities, versus the cliches, of the Texas death penalty.

The broadcast will be at 6 p.m. Central Time on nonprofit FM station KPFT 90.1 in Houston and online at http://executionwatch.org/ > Listen.

The execution will be the 480th in Texas since 1982 and the 241st since Rick Perry became governor. Perry has already presided over more than 50 percent of all Texas executions in the modern era.

source : execution watch.org

TEXAS – Last hour of George Rivas- execution February 29, 2012 – EXECUTED 6.22 p.m

Last statement

Yes, I do. First of all for the Aubrey Hawkins family, I do apologize for everything that happened. Not because I am here, but for closure in your hearts. I really believe that you deserve that. To my wife, Cheri, I am so grateful you’re in my life. I love you so dearly. Thank you to my sister and dear friend Katherine Cox, my son and family, friends and family. I love you so dearly. To my friends, all the guys on the row, you have my courtesy and respect. Thank you to the people involved and to the courtesy of the officers. I am grateful for everything in my life. To my wife, take care of yourself. I will be waiting for you. I love you. God Bless. I am ready to go

Aubrey Hawkins, the police officer killed by t...

Aubrey Hawkins, the police officer killed by the Texas Seven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5:59p George Rivas will be strapped to a gurney, arms extended, and an IV for the lethal injection will be inserted in both arms. Once He’s strapped down, the warden will call for witnesses to enter the two observation rooms.

5:58p Once witnesses are in place, guards will ask George Rivas if he wants to make a final statement. He said he did.

5:48p Guards move George Rivas from his holding cell, 15 feet to the execution chamber. The lethal injection procedure is scheduled to begin a few minutes after six o’clock.

5:22p One of George Rivas’ four witnesses did not appear for his execution. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins will attend instead.

5:03p Three drugs are used in the lethal injection cocktail. That used to cost about $86, but the price has recently skyrocketed to more than $1,300 because the state has been forced to resort to a more expensive substitute for one of the drugs being used.

5:01p “I met with him a few minutes ago along with the warden and the chaplain, and Rivas stated that he’s… all these years he’s made it clear that he’s ready to go,” said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “He did say that he was going to make a last statement.” Rivas is said to have made several personal calls from a phone provided by the prison, He asked five friends to witness his lethal injection.

4:50p More than 15 Irving police officers are standing outside the Walls Unit where George Rivas will soon be executed for killing Irving Officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve 2000.

4:42p The widow of Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins, who was killed by George Rivas, will not attend the execution. She told News 8 that she felt no closure after being present at the last execution of a Texas 7 gang member in 2009.

4:40p George Rivas was served barbequeue chicken for his final meal, just like the other inmates at the Walls Unit.

4:30p George Rivas’ appeals have all been denied. Clemency is denied. The state says attorneys for the convicted killer do not plan a last-minute challenge to the scheduled 6 o’clock execution.

ARIZONA – Robert H. Moorman – Execution – February 29, 2012 EXECUTED 10.23 a.m

The Arizona Department of Corrections has scheduled a Feb. 29 execution for a death row inmate convicted of killing his adoptive mother while on a three-day prison release in 1984.Corrections officials announced the execution date Wednesday for 63-year-old Robert Henry Moorman at the state prison complex in Florence.Moorman recently lost an appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider his case.Moorman was serving a nine-year prison term for kidnapping in 1984 when the state let him out on three-day release to visit his adoptive mother at a nearby hotel.Moorman beat, stabbed and strangled the woman, then dismembered her body and threw the pieces away in various trash bins and sewers in Florence before he was captured.

Arizona inmate facing execution hospitalized over illness Arizona death-row inmate Robert Moormann, who is scheduled to be executed Feb.29, was transported to an unnamed hospital Thursday after falling ill at the state prison in Florence, his attorney confirmed.The Arizona Department of Corrections would not provide information — even to Moormann’s attorneys — about Moormann’s condition, but a department spokesman said Thursday afternoon that Moormann was still alive.Moormann, 63, was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of his adoptive mother.He has a history of health problems and was hospitalized twice last fall, first for an appendectomy and later for a quintuple heart bypass.Arizona prison policy requires death-row inmates facing execution to be kept alive until the last minute before execution by lethal injection.The execution protocol requires that a cardiac defibrillator “be readily available on site in the event that the inmate goes into cardiac arrest at any time prior to dispensing the chemicals; trained medical staff shall make every effort to revive the inmate should this occur.”In 1984, Moormannwas already imprisoned in Florence when he was granted a “compassionate furlough” to visit with his mother at a motel near the prison. During the visit, he killed her and dismembered her, dumping her body in garbage cans.In January, his attorneys argued that Moormann’s deteriorating health had lessened his intellectual functioning to the point where he could not be legally executed.
Arizona Supreme Court asked to stay executionLawyers for death row inmate Robert Henry Moormann have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to stay his scheduled Feb. 29 execution.In a 21-page motion filed Tuesday, Moormann’s attorneys say he was diagnosed in early childhood as being mentally retarded and the state can’t execute him because of that fact.The 63-year-old Moormann was sentenced to death for the 1984 death of his adoptive mother while on a prison furlough.Moormann was serving a prison term of nine years to life for kidnapping when the state let him out on three-day “compassionate furlough” to visit his adoptive mother at a Florence motel.Authorities say Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated the woman before meticulously dismembering her body.Moormann’s attorneys used an insanity defense, but a jury convicted him of first-degree murder.
Families, others find closure in executionAt 10:23 a.m. on Feb. 29, convicted felon Robert H. Moorman was declared dead following his execution at the Arizona State Prison – 27 years after receiving his sentence.For Tom Rankin this particular order of execution offered a different kind of closure than that for relatives of the victims. He was the police chief in Florence 28 years ago when Moorman committed one of the most heinous crimes in the town’s history.“That was my third execution to observe, but this one was a bit more personal,” Rankin, one of the witnesses, said. “It provided closure for me, not only on that case, but for my law enforcement career. It was the last case that I had pending that I was involved in.“It’s like saying, ‘You’ve done your career. It’s over with now.’”Ironically, the Blue Mist Motel is within sight from the ASP visitors’ parking area. It was at the Blue Mist where, on Jan. 13, 1984, Moorman beat, stabbed and suffocated his adoptive mother, 74-year-old Roberta Moorman, who, according to defense attorneys, sexually abused him into his adult years.Moorman then dismembered Roberta’s body, cutting off her head, legs and arms, halved her torso, and flushed her fingers down the toilet. Most of her remains were found in trash bins around town after asking various businesses if he could “dispose of spoiled meat and animal guts.”Shortly after Moorman asked a corrections employee to dispose of “dog bones,” he was captured. The incident took place during a a three-day “compassionate furlough” from ASP, where Moorman was already serving nine years to life for kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old girl in 1972.Moorman, 63, was sentenced to death on May 7, 1985. Appeals to overturn his warrant of execution were denied in 1986, 1987 and 1992. A motion to issue a warrant of execution was filed by the attorney general on Oct. 12, 2011 and granted on Nov. 29.Moorman was served his last meal between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. It consisted of one double hamburger (two quarter-pound patties prepared “medium”) with two slices of onion, three leaves of lettuce, three tomato slices and a bun; plus French fries (with four ounces of ketchup), two three-ounce beef burritos, three Royal Crown colas, and two 14-ounce containers of Rocky Road ice cream.

A light breakfast was an option, but there was no word on whether or not Moorman accepted it.

From the reporter’s notebook, here’s the sequence of events:

8 a.m. – The media witnesses are greeted and informed that no cameras, pens or outside note pads are allowed – a pencil and note pad is furnished by the prison.

8:38 a.m. – Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan came to the media room and announced that there were no further stays of execution and no pending motions from the Superior Court.

9:39 a.m. – The media leaves its holding area to another room upstairs. There, a DOC employee offered a briefing on the execution itinerary.

9:45 a.m. – After the briefing, media names were drawn at random to determine the order of entering the viewing gallery. My name was drawn first.

10 a.m. – There’s a delay in the process, as Moorman is having a final meeting with his legal counsel.

10:12 a.m. – The media is led to Housing Unit No. 9, enters the gallery area, and is positioned next to a partition, separate from other witnesses.

10:19 a.m. – Approximately 22 witnesses, other than the media and DOC staff, enter the gallery. An undetermined number of witnesses are on the other side of the partition.

10:21 a.m. – The curtain opens, and Moorman is seen strapped to a gurney, wearing his orange prison apparel. He appears calm as his execution order is being read.

10:23 a.m. – Moorman is asked if he has any final words. Looking up at the ceiling with a slight smile, he responds with an apology to the families involved, adding, “I’m sorry for the pain I caused. I hope this brings closure and they can start healing now. I just hope that they can forgive me in time.”

With that, the process of execution began.

10:24 a.m. – Moorman turns his head to his right and looks at the gallery. One minute later, he begins breathing hard, short of gasping for air, as the lethal injection of pentobarbital began to take effect.

10:27 a.m. – A physician enters the execution room to administer sedation.

10:29 a.m. – Moorman’s eyes are half-closed, looking peaceful, with little, if any, movement.

10:33 a.m. – The DOC announces, “The execution is completed.” The curtain is closed.

10:34 a.m. – The witnesses are excused.

10:40 a.m. – The media gives its witness account to six television stations and various print and radio reporters who did not see the execution.

“Death is never pretty,” Rankin said. “When I was standing there, I was wondering about (Roberta Moorman’s) family and wondering if any of her family was there. I didn’t know because I’ve lost contact with most of them. I didn’t recognize any of the other witnesses.

“For the family’s sake, I hope it’s over. It’s a period I hope they’ll never have to live through again.”

Deacon Ed Sheffer of St. Thomas The Apostle Parish in Tucson, who performs ministry work on death row, has been Moorman’s spiritual advisor for the last 10 years. After the execution, Sheffer said, “At the end, Robert was at a peaceful place and for some time had come to terms with what he had done and his fate. You could hear it in his last words, his thoughts and concerns were for others, not himself.”

Sheffer said Moorman received last rites from Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson on Feb. 21, and had his final communion prior to the execution at approximately 6 a.m.

“He received his communion and was very grateful for our years of working together as he found his relationship with the Lord,” Sheffer said. “He moved from shame to guilt, to asking for mercy and reconciliation.

“His soul is now in God’s hands.”

Rankin noted it was the only case from his days as police chief that resulted in the death penalty, saying, “It’s too bad about the way the death penalty is scheduled, with the long delays and the years it takes to fulfill the sentence. I understand the process, but for the family of the victim, closure should come sooner.

“As for Robert Moorman, he got what he deserved,” Rankin concluded. “There’s no need to talk about him anymore. In law enforcement, we say, ‘case closed.’”