Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals
UPDATE MARCH 20
Gregory Lott – Stayed
Robert Henry executed 6.16pm
Clayton Lockett – Stayed until April 22
Jeffrey Ferguson EXECUTED
Charles Crawford Stayed as execution date had not been affirmed by state court.
Charles Warner – Stayed until April 29
Anthony Doyle EXECUTED
Michelle Byrom Update – The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out Michelle Byrom’s murder conviction and death sentence and ordered a new trial due to numerous problems, including inadequate representation, critical evidence not presented to the jury, confessions by another defendant, and the prosecution’s lack of confidence in its own story of what actually happened.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has sided with an Adams County judge who ruled death row inmate Joseph Patrick Brown was not unfairly treated when his attorneys decided against pursuing a mental evaluation of their client.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision Thursday, agreed with Circuit Judge Isadore W. Patrick that Brown’s attorneys “had not acted deficiently so as to satisfy a claim of ineffective assistance.”
In 2009, Brown‘s case was among nine death row post-conviction appeals in which the Supreme Court asked trial judges why they had not ruled – or scheduled hearings.
Brown’s claims of ineffective counsel were heard in Adams County Circuit Court in 2004. But no ruling was issued. Patrick, who was appointed to the case by the Supreme Court, issued a ruling denying the petition in 2010.
In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he has found new evidence – or a possible constitutional issue – that could persuade a court to order a new trial.
The Supreme Court asked Patrick to determine if there was merit to Brown’s complaint about his attorneys’ failure to ask questions about a state mental examination or to pursue an examination themselves.
Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., writing for the court’s majority, said Thursday that Brown’s attorneys, after talking with doctors from the state mental hospital where Brown was examined, decided “not to have the doctors produce a report after determining that such report would be more harmful than helpful.”
Waller said that decision was courtroom strategy; a case, he said, “where a conscious decision was made to go forward with certain witnesses but not others.”
Four dissenting justices said it appeared Brown was not given all the material and records he needed to support his claims.
Brown was convicted and sentenced to death in Adams County in 1994 for the killing of a convenience store clerk in Natchez.
Prosecutors said Brown and his girlfriend were driving around Natchez on Aug. 8, 1992, looking for drugs when they pulled into the Charter Food Store where Martha Day worked.
Brown’s girlfriend testified that she saw Day grab her chest and fall after Brown approached the counter. The woman said Brown returned to the car with a cash register and other items.
Police said Day was shot four times and died at the scene.
David Gore and his cousin, Freddie Waterfield, picked up fourteen-year-old Regan Martin and seventeen-year-old Lynn Elliott, who were hitchhiking to the beach on July 26, 1983. Gore and his cousin drove the girls back to his house, took them to his bedroom, handcuffed them each, and then separated them. Gorecut Regan’s clothes off her and sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions. After Gore left Regan, she heard Goretell Lynn that he would kill her if she did not shut up. Gore had told Regan to be quiet or he would kill her too. Gore then put Regan in a closet, where she heard two or three gunshots. When Gore returned, he put Regan in the attic, where she was later rescued by the police. A witness testified that a girl (Lynn) ran naked down the driveway of Gore’s home, and Gore, who was also naked, was chasing her. Gore caught Lynn and threw her to the ground, then dragged her to a tree and shot her twice in the head.
Resentenced to death on December 8, 1992.
Regan Martin testified that she was “pretty sure” that Waterfield left Gore’s house, and she did not see or hear him after the girls arrived at Gore’s house. On July 25, 1984, Waterfield, for his involvement in the murder, was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment on one count of manslaughter.
Born in 1951, in Florida, David Gore resembled the stereotypical Southern redneck, weighing close to 275 pounds, and such a firearms fan that he studied gunsmithing in his free time. He also studied women, but in a different fashion. He lost one job as a gas station attendant after the owner found a peephole Gore had drilled between the men’s and women’s restrooms. Born in 1952, cousin Fred Waterfield was another product of Florida’s Indian River County. He was a high school football star whose bad temper and liking for violent sex made him and David seem like brothers. In 1976, they put their heads together and decided to combine their favorite sports by hunting women.
Their first attempts were embarrasing. Following a female motorist outside Yeehaw Junction, Fredflattened her tires with a rifle , but the intended victim escaped on foot. Later, the cousins followed another woman from Vero Beach to Miami, giving up the pursuit when she parked on a busy street. Their first successful rape took place near Vero Beach, and while the victim notified police, she later dropped the charges to avoid embarrassment in court. By early 1981, Gore was working days with his father as caretaker of a citrus grove, patrolling the streets after dark as an auxiliary sheriff’s deputy. Fred had moved north to Orlando, managing an automotive shop, but he made frequent visits home to Vero Beach. Together they recognized the potential of Gore’s situation, packing a badge by night, killing time in deserted orchards by day, and Fred offered to pay cousin Dave $1,000 for each pretty girl he could find. It was an offer David could not refuse. In February 1981, David found 17-year-old Ying Hua Ling disembarking from a school bus, tricking her into his car with a flash of his badge. Driving her home, Gore“arrested” her mother and handcuffed his captives together, then phoning Waterfield in Orlando before he drove out to the orchard. Killing time while waiting for his cousin, David raped both victims, but Fred was more picky. Rejecting Mrs. Ling as too old, he tied the woman up in such a fashion that she choked herself to death while struggling against her bonds. He then raped and murdered the teenager, slipping David $400 and leaving him to get rid of the corpses alone in an orchard a mile from the Ling residence.
Five months later, on July 15, David made a trip to Round Island Park, looking for a blonde to fill his cousin’s latest order. Spotting a likely candidate in 35-year-old Judith Daley, Gore disabled her car, then played Good Samaritan, offering a lift to the nearest telephone. Once inside his pickup, Gore pulled out a pistol, cuffed his victim, and called cousin Fred on his way to the orchard. Waterfield was happier with this delivery, writing out a check for $1,500 after both men finished with their victim. Two years later,Gore would tell about Judith Daley’s fate, describing how he “fed her to the alligators” in a swamp ten miles west of Interstate Highway 95. A week later, Gore fell under suspicion when a local man reported that a deputy had stopped his teenage daughter on a rural highway, attempting to hold her “for questioning.” Stripped of his badge, Davidwas arrested days later, when officers found himcrouched in the back seat of a woman’s car outside a Vero Beach clinic armed with a pistol, handcuffs, and a police radio scanner. A jury deliberated for thirty minutes before convicting him of armed trespass, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Turning down psychiatric treatment recommended by the court, he was paroled in March of 1983.
A short time after Gore‘s release, his cousin moved back home to Vero Beach, and they took up where they left off. On May 20, they tried to abduct an Orlando prostitute at gunpoint, but she slipped away and left them empty-handed. The next day, they picked up two 14-year-old hitchhikers — Angelica Lavallee and Barbara Byer — raping both before Gore shot the girls to death. Byer’s body was dismembered, and buried in a shallow grave, while Levallee’s was dumped in a nearby canal.
On July 26, 1983, Vero Beach authorities received an emergency report of a nude man firing shots at a naked girl on a residential street. Surrounding the suspect house, owned by relatives of Gore, officers found a car in the driveway with fresh blood dripping from its trunk. Inside, the body of 17-year-old Lynn Elliott lay dead with a bullet in her skull. Outnumbered by the police, Gore surrendered, directing officers to the attic where a naked 14-year-old girl was tied to the rafters.
As the victim told police, she had been thumbing rides with Lynn Elliott when Gore and another man picked them up, flashing a pistol and driving them to the house, where they were stripped and raped repeatedly in separate rooms.Elliott had managed to free herself, escaping on foot with Gore in pursuit, but she had not been fast enough. Gore’s companion had left in the meantime, and detectives turned to their suspect in to find out who he was.
Gore cracked while in custody, describing crimes committed with his cousin. On January 21, 1985,Fred Waterfield was convicted in the Byer-Levallee murders, receiving two consecutive life terms with a specified minimum stint of 50 years before parole. Gore received the death penalty for his part in the crimes. Both are still currently incarcerated in Florida.
Letter: Letter writer misrepresents position on Gore‘s execution
In her March 24 letter, Diane DuBose could’ve made points about David Gore and the death penalty without misquoting and blatantly distorting several points in my March 18 letter.
I stated, “Although I’m against the death penalty, the David Gore case has made a mockery of the system.” Now, please pay attention, Ms. Dubose: Since Florida has the death penalty, Gore should’ve been executed a long time ago, whether I favor the death penalty or not. His living all these years made a mockery of the system. Are we clear now?
Hopefully DuBose will be much more responsible and much less emotional with future letters, and not misrepresent other viewpoints.
Mother’s annual tribute to late daughter keeps light on serial killer
Every year, on July 26, Jeanne Elliott places a simple remembrance for her daughter in the Press Journal.
Lynn Elliott died on July 26, 1983.
She was 17.
There’s nothing to indicate how she died. Only longtime residents would know.
She was serial killer David Gore’s final victim.
Beverly Hilton explained in a letter to the editor what the name means to her.
“A memory that has stayed with me since I moved to Vero Beach in 1982 is the murder of 17-year-old Lynn Elliott,” she wrote. “A question that remains in my mind is why her killer, David Gore, is still alive. Exactly what does the death penalty mean?”
That letter to the editor appeared in the Press Journal eight years ago.
Gore, now 56, remains on Florida’s death row at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.
A former auxiliary deputy with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Gore killed six women between February 1981 and July 1983.
Gore’s cousin, Fred Waterfield, was convicted of manslaughter in Lynn Elliott’s death. Waterfield, also at Raiford, is serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders of two teen girls, Barbara Ann Byer and Angelica LaVallee.
As longtime residents know, details of the gruesome Gore-Waterfield killings are hard to stomach. It’s almost unimaginable that something so heinous happened in the county.
Hilton has written multiple letters through the years — all but one in either late July or early August, coinciding with Jeanne Elliott’s remembrance in the Press Journal — to ask the same questions about Gore. According to our electronic library, she has written eight letters about Gore since 1999.
“It’s kind of one of my causes,” Hilton said Thursday. “I just thought it was terrible. He deprived her, and her family, of the joys of growing up, getting married and having a family. I have a daughter right around that same age, and I think, ‘If that would have been her … ’
“Why do they issue a death penalty? What does that really mean?”
Elliott said she appreciates Hilton’s letters to the editor.
“I thought about calling her several times, but I didn’t know if she would be receptive to that,” Elliott said.
Other members of the community have written similar letters to the editor.
An excerpt from Dr. James Copeland Jr.’s strongly worded letter in 2002:
“If the state doesn’t want to put him to death, then bring him back to Vero Beach for 24 hours and I am sure he will no longer be a problem.”
Contacted Thursday, Copeland, who is now retired, said he has written two letters to the editor — as well as personal letters to the last two governors, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist — regarding Gore.
“Nothing’s happened,” Copeland said Thursday. “In my opinion, he should have been hung by his you-know-what.”
After Monday’s remembrance appeared in the Press Journal, a reader, Hank Parman, called and encouraged me to write about Gore avoiding his state-ordered execution.
“I’ve always felt bad over what happened,” he said. “That guy is still up there sucking up tax dollars. I thought he was going to be put away by now. And here we are, 27 years later.”
Jeanne Elliott, 67, wants to live long enough to see Gore executed.
“That would be the closure,” she said.
After Gore is executed, she said she will remove the words “Sail On Silver Girl” from the annual remembrance.
When asked what “Sail on Silver Girl” meant, Jeanne Elliott started crying.
It’s a line from the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel.
Do a Google search and look up the lyrics to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Knowing what happened to Lynn Elliott, the “Sail on Silver Girl” part will tug at your heart.
Russ Lemmon: Aspiring film editor contemplates making documentary on Gore-Waterfield killings
It was one of those moments where you realize just how much time has passed.
When Michael Denninger told me his age (30), I did a quick calculation in my head.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “That means you were 3 years old when the last killing occurred.”
He nodded his head in agreement.
Which, from my perspective, makes what he is contemplating — a feature-length documentary about serial killers David Gore and Fred Waterfield — both fascinating and admirable.
Fascinating because he has no memory of, or any connection to, what happened. Admirable because he wants to undertake a substantial project like this.
Denninger, an aspiring film editor, has been engrossed in research since early August. The timing coincides with the columns I wrote about Jeanne Elliott’s annual memorial for her daughter, Lynn, who was the last victim.
He read “Innocent Prey” — the 1994 book by Bernie Ward — in just two days.
“I couldn’t put it down,” he said. “It’s definitely a page-turner, even 16 years after it was published.”
He also went to the Indian River County Main Library to look at old Press Journal articles from that era. He purchased a DVD of the television program “Crime Stories,” which featured the case.
He’s trying to come up with a new angle to tell the horrific story.
“Serial killers are fascinating to me as a psychology major (at Barry University) … but I can’t think of an angle to come from for the documentary,” he said. “I’m trying to think of something that would be unique and fresh.
“It is just something I’d like to do to honor the memories of the victims of these two monsters, but I can’t figure out how to do it properly. … It keeps bubbling up to the surface of my mind after I push it back down, so maybe I’ll think of some way to approach it eventually.”
As I told Denninger, I’d love to sit in on a brainstorming session. (Note: If you would be interested in participating in such an exercise, I’ll be happy to pass on your name and contact information.)
“You have to have a hook,” said Denninger, a video production specialist at Indian River State College. “You need something that people will talk about.”
Gore’s avoidance of the death penalty being carried out is one possibility.
The impact the killings had on a small community is another.
He’s also interested in the “familial aspect” — about how Waterfield supposedly manipulated his cousin, Gore.
In talking with Denninger, I described the feedback I received after the July 30 and Aug. 6 columns on the killings. I stated the obvious: The fact thatGore is still alive really sticks in the craw of this community.
Shining the light on that judicial travesty would be a winner in these parts, I told him. Whether it would have national appeal is unknown.
Denninger, a New York native, graduated from Sebastian River High School in 1998. He was in the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
The Gore-Waterfield killings meant little to him back then.
“I had heard stories about them in high school,” he said.
It was a movie during that same era — “Pulp Fiction” — that spurred his interest in becoming a film director.
“As soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted to make movies,” he said.
But his project would not resemble “Pulp Fiction” in any way.
“I wouldn’t want to fictionalize it,” he said. “I would want to do real-life interviews. It would have to be a documentary.”
Respecting the families of the victims would be of paramount importance, he said.
It’s just a matter of finding the right angle.
“He’s so meticulous, and he’s so smart,” said his wife, Heather. “Whatever he decides to do, it will be interesting.”
On 04/19/84, Gore filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following errors: errors in voir dire, failing to suppress his confession, admission of two prejudicial photographs, juror interruption of defense’s closing argument, as well as other procedural matters. Gore challenged his death sentence on a number of grounds: failing to provide a list of aggravating circumstances prior to trial, error on jury penalty phase instructions, error in restricting closing arguments, and failure to prove the existence of certain aggravating circumstances. On 08/22/85, the FSC affirmed the conviction and imposition of the death penalty.
Gore filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 12/18/85 that was denied on 02/24/86.
Gore filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 02/24/88 that was denied on 04/19/88.
Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/04/88 and a 3.850 Motion Appeal on 04/22/88, citing numerous issues; however, only one was commented upon by the FSC: ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to present pertinent non-statutory mitigating evidence that his cousin, Waterfield, exerted an influence over Gore that mitigated his participation in the crime. On 08/18/88, the FSC denied the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of the 3.850 Motion.
Gore filed a federal Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court on 02/14/89 that was granted and his death sentence was vacated.Gore raised seventeen issues, but the most important issue was the failure of the trial court to consider non-statutory mitigating evidence. As a result of this, the USDC held that a fundamental error had occurred.
The State filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals on 11/12/89, and on 05/29/91, the USCA affirmed the decision of the USDC.
The State then filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 10/18/91 that was denied on 01/21/92.
On 12/08/92, Gore was resentenced to death. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 12-0.
On 12/15/92, Gore filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court, citing sixteen errors, nine of which were considered by the FSC: denial of challenges for cause in the jury selection process, misleading the jury to believe that parole was possible, improper finding of an aggravating circumstance (prior violent felony conviction), error in jury instructions, unproven aggravating circumstances (avoid arrest, HAC, CCP), admission of improper testimony from a prosecutor, improper admission of a police officer’s testimony, an unqualified judge to rule over a capital sentencing proceeding, and the resentencing violated a constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial. The FSC upheld the death sentence on 07/17/97.
On 07/14/98, Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court that was denied on 10/05/98.
Gore filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 09/30/99 and amended on 01/08/02 and 11/22/02. The motion was denied on 06/14/04.
Gore filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 07/23/04, and on 07/05/07, the FSC affirmed the denial of the motion. A mandate was issued on 09/26/07.
Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 04/28/05 that was denied on 07/05/07. The FSC issued a mandate on 09/26/07.
On 10/02/07, Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the USDC Middle District that was transferred to the Southern District on 10/09/07. This petition was denied on 04/11/08.
On 07/07/08, Gore filed a Habeas Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals that was denied on 09/12/08.
On 11/28/07, Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court that was denied on 02/19/08.
On 02/06/09, Gore filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court that was denied on 05/18/09
Editorial: The time for David Gore to die for his brutal crimes is long past due
August 9, 2011
David Gore has gamed Florida’s judicial system long enough.
It’s time for the state — and Gov. Rick Scott, in particular — to bring this sordid, tragic tale to an end.
Scott should sign the death warrant for Gore. Then Gore should be executed.
Gore killed six women in Indian River County between February 1981 and July 1983, and buried their bodies in the canal banks near Oslo Road. His victims — four of them teenagers — all were denied a future. In an instant, their families lost a loved one. (In the case of Gore’s first two victims — 17-year-old Ying Ling and her mother, Hisang Ling, 48 — the family lost two loved ones.)
Thankfully, Gore was caught and arrested in 1983, and sentenced to death in 1984. As part of a plea deal, he also was given five consecutive life sentences.
Ponder that for a moment: Gore was sentenced to death in 1984. This is 2011. He has been sitting on death row for 27 years.
Is this what passes for justice in our state?
In January 1989, Gov. Bob Martinez signed a death warrant for Gore. Two weeks later, U.S. District Judge Williams Hodges ordered a stay of execution 48 hours before he was to be put to death.
This was just one of many delays throughout the years that prolonged Gore’s execution.
Gore now has exhausted all of his appeals, according to the state Attorney General’s Office, and his fate is in the hands of Scott, who signed his first death warrant June 30, for the execution of Manuel Valle. Valle is slated to be executed Sept. 1.
The families of Gore’s victims — and countless other people in Indian River County and throughout our region who’ve grieved along with them — are looking to Scott to do the right thing and put David Alan Gore to death.
There never will be closure for the families of Gore’s victims. There can, however, be justice.
The time for Gore to die for his brutal crimes is long past due.
Letters for use in Gore’s clemency hearing due this week
Serial killer David Gore can’t be executed until he receives a clemency hearing.
He’s a day closer to receiving one.
Sentenced to death 28 years ago, Gore — who killed six women in the early 1980s — has beaten the odds at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford. The average length of stay on death row before execution is 12.91 years, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
The State Attorney General’s office recently contacted family and friends of Gore’s victims and asked them to write a letter describing how they have been impacted by the crime.
The letters will be included in the final report given to the Clemency Board, which includes Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members.
They were given a Feb. 1 deadline to submit the letters.
Carl and Jeanne Elliott — whose 17-year-old daughter, Lynn, was Gore’s final victim — collaborated on a one-page letter. (They divorced in 1986, three years after Lynn was killed, but they are working together to see that Gore is executed.)
Lisa Burford, one of Lynn’s classmates, also submitted a one-page letter.
She spent the first two paragraphs talking about her friendship with Lynn and the “what-ifs” that will never be answered.
In the third paragraph, Burford, 46, urged members of the Clemency Board to consider what Lynn never got to experience in life.
“I choose to also remind you of how her death impacted HER by sharing what she was never blessed to do, and how guilty I feel that I did,” she wrote. “She never graduated from college, got married, or felt the joy of motherhood. She never had the opportunity to start a career, or two.
“She never had the pleasure of lunching with her mother and sharing that she was getting married, expecting her firstborn, or buying a house. She never had the chance to do the everyday mundane tasks that many of us complain about, because she never had the chance to live!!”
I called Burford on Monday and asked her about the heartfelt letter.
“I’m not a huge proponent of the death penalty,” she said, “but there are situations where there is no other alternative — and this is one of them.”
With Wednesday’s deadline for the victim-impact letters looming, it’s anyone’s guess when the clemency hearing will be held. I tried without success to get anyone in Tallahassee to go on the record regarding a possible timeline.
No one would say if we’re talking days, weeks or months.
“It sounds like this case may well be in the final stages,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. “Typically, clemency hearings are done only close to an execution.”
In a Jan. 17 letter to the State Attorney General’s office, a representative from the Florida Parole Commission indicated the victim-impact letters needed to be received by Feb. 6 to be included in the final report to the governor.
So, the report could be in Scott’s hands as early as next week.
Pete Earley’s new book “The Serial Killer Whisperer” has turned a spotlight of sorts on Gore. The book includes letters written by the serial killer. It was the No. 1 best-seller in nonfiction again last week at the Vero Beach Book Center. (The store reports 70 copies have been sold.)
Burford, who lives in West Palm Beach, said she wants to see the death penalty carried out because Carl and Jeanne Elliott have waited so long for justice.
“Knowing the agony they went through, and knowing how they want the outcome to be, that’s why it’s very important for me,” the former Lisa Pyle said.
Several local residents — including Rick Lane, Beverly Hilton, Charles Searcy and Kim Massung — have written letters urging the governor to sign Gore’s death warrant. Lane says he continues to do it because of the respect he has for Carl Elliott, whom he worked with at the Sheriff’s Office.
Burford and Lynn Elliott met in sixth grade at what is now Gifford Middle School.
“She was from the beach side of Vero, and I was from the country side of Vero,” she said.
They have birthdays just one day apart. (“That’s a big deal when you’re 11,” she said.) She visits Lynn’s grave every year on Lynn’s birthday.
Perhaps this year she’ll have some good news to tell her.
Gov. Rick Scott has signed the warrant for David Alan Gore to be put to death for the 1983 rape and murder of a teenage girl on the Treasure Coast.
Gore’s execution is scheduled for April 12 at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison.
The death-row warrant is the fourth for Scott.
Earlier this year he signed the warrant for Robert Waterhouse, who was out on lifetime parole for second-degree murder in New York when he was convicted of killing of a St. Petersburg woman, Deborah Kammerer, in 1980.
Last year, Scott signed the death warrants for Oba Chandler, convicted of murdering a woman and her two daughters who were vacationing in Tampa from Ohio in 1989, and convicted cop killer Manuel Valle.
Russ Lemmon: Gore’s execution date (April 12) circled on her calendar
Lee Martin is planning to make the 7- to 8-hour drive from her Georgia home to Raiford to witness serial killer David Gore’s execution.
“I’m not going to miss it,” she said. “I want to see that man die.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott signed Gore’s death warrant. The execution, by lethal injection, is scheduled for April 12 at the Florida State Prison.
Martin’s daughter, Regan, and Lynn Elliott were abducted by Gore and his cousin, Fred Waterfield, on July 26, 1983. Gore shot and killed Lynn, who was 17. Regan, 14, survived the ordeal.
Gore, now 58, killed six women in the early 1980s.
Lee Martin, 74, said she wants to be at the execution to show support for Jeanne Elliott, the mother of Lynn.
As of Tuesday, Regan Martin said she was undecided whether she would be attending.
“Whatever she decides is all right with me,” Lee Martin said.
Meanwhile, she described herself as “elated” over news about the governor signing Gore’s death warrant.
“I really wish I could have been there to see the look on his face when he was told April 12 was going to be his last day on earth,” Lee Martin said. “I would have given anything to see that look on his face.”
Thomas Arthur is a death row prisoner in Alabama who could be exonerated by a DNA test, but the courts are preventing this from happening. Another man has already confessed to the crime. Why is this happening?
The death penalty is immoral. No one has the right to intentionally take someone else’s life. And America’s death penalty system is broken.
30 Years On Death Row
Thomas Arthur was sentenced to death for the murder of Troy Wicker in 1982, so he’s been on death row for 30 years. He has always maintained his innocence, and another man has confessed to the crime. So why are the Alabama courts refusing to allow post-conviction DNA testing in this case?
Three times Alabama tried Arthur for murdering Troy Wicker on February 1, 1982. Three times the state got a conviction and death penalty against him. Three times there were problems at trial.
Arthur was set to be executed on March 29, 2012, but received a stay-of-execution related to his claim that it is cruel and unusual punishment for the state to use a new sedative called pentobarbital as part of the lethal injection.
Victim’s Wife Was Lying
Alabama seems to have based its entire case against Arthur upon the testimony of Judy Wicker, Troy’s wife, who said at the time of the murder that she had been raped by a stranger. Over and over again state investigators asked her if Thomas Arthur was involved in the crime. And over and over again she said no.
What happened was that Judy Wicker was lying. Turns out she had hired someone to murder her husband — and got caught doing so! Several months after her husband’s death, Wicker was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. A few years later, however, she cut a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for a recommended early release from prison, she would change her testimony and accuse Arthur of the crime. And that’s what happened. Wicker’s testimony secured Arthur’s third and final conviction. And this time, for over 20 years now, all of the state and federal courts that have reviewed the case have endorsed that result.
Were this all to the story it would be bad enough. But in 2008 things got worse. A man named Bobby Ray Gilbert confessed under oath to murdering Troy Wicker. In a sworn affidavit, Gilbert said he started an affair with Judy Wicker after they met at a bar and soon agreed that he would kill Troy Wicker, whom Judy Wicker claimed was an “abusive” husband. They agreed, Gilbert said decades later on paper, that he would wear an “Afro wig” and dark make-up as a disguise. After he shot Troy Wicker, Gilbert wrote, he and Judy Wicker had unprotected sex, after which she asked Gilbert to “beat her up” so it would look like rape.
Thomas Arthur Must Be Exonerated
Thomas Arthur appears to be innocent. In fact, both the prosecution and defense agree they have evidence worn by the perpetrator of the crime, and Arthur’s lawyers want that evidence retested with advanced DNA technology.
The defense has offered to pay for the testing, and Alabama should allow it.
If you think this case is outrageous, sign our petition telling Governor Bentley of Alabama to allow the DNA testing that could save Arthur’s life.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A federal appeals court has granted a stayof execution for an Alabama man who was set to die next week in a 1982 murder-for-hire case.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday postponed the execution of Thomas Douglas Arthur until further action of the court.
Earlier in the week the court had reversed a judge’s decision to dismiss Arthur’s appeal, which contended that Alabama’s decision to use a new sedative called pentobarbital as part of a three-drug execution combination could be cruel and unusual punishment.
Arthur’s attorneys on Thursday had sought a stay while the state asks the entire 11th Circuit to reconsider the court’s decision.
Arthur was set to be executed on March 29 for the 1982 murder-for-hire killing of Muscle Shoals businessman Troy Wicker.
update march 21 : source
ATLANTA — A federal appeals court has revived an Alabama death row inmate’s challenge of his state’s new three-drug lethal injection protocol.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a judge’s decision that dismissed Thomas Arthur’s appeal.
Arthur is set to be executed on March 29 for the 1982 murder-for-hire killing of Muscle Shoals businessman Troy Wicker. It is unclear whether Wednesday’s decision will postpone his execution.
His attorneys claimed that Alabama’s decision to use a new sedative called pentobarbital as part of its three-drug execution combination could be cruel and unusual punishment. State attorneys pointed to successful executions where pentobarbital was used.
The three-judge panel’s decision said the judge who dismissed Arthur’s appeal should have considered whether the swap constituted a “significant change” to Alabama’s execution protocol.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A lawyer for death-row inmate Tommy Arthur says she wants a chance to argue in court that the procedure the state plans to use this month to execute her client may be unconstitutional.
An April 2011 change in Alabama’s execution procedure is at issue in the case, The TimesDaily of Florence reports (http://bit.ly/wu60LY ).
The change involved a switch in the first of three drugs administered during lethal injections. The state switched to the drug pentobarbital in 2011, when supplies for sodium thiopental ran low.
Arthur’s lawyer, Suhana Han, argued in federal appeals court this week that the change in procedure might result in an inmate suffering cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The second injection in the trio causes paralysis, so even if an inmate were still conscious, they may not be able to communicate that they can feel pain, Han said.
Arthur’s lawyer, Suhana Han, argued in federal appeals court this week that the change in procedure might result in an inmate suffering cruel and unusual punishment, and should have been significant enough to trigger an appeals process.
The change should have been significant enough to trigger an appeals process, she maintains.
Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw argued Monday that the switch in drugs was not a significant change to the state’s lethal injection procedure and that safeguards are taken to ensure an inmate is unconscious.
Those safeguards include saying his name, waving a hand close to his eyes and pinching him, Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw said he expects the three-judge panel to make a decision later in the week or early next week.
Arthur was sentenced to death for the Feb. 1, 1982, contract killing and robbery of Troy Wicker Jr. in Muscle Shoals. He is scheduled to die March 29.
Man on Alabama death row makes appeal for new DNA test
Lawyers for a convicted murderer who has spent the last 30 years on Alabama’s death row and is due to be executed on March 29 are asking for a new DNA test to prove his innocence.
Thomas Douglas “Tommy” Arthur, 70, has spent nearly half his life on death row for his role in the 1982 contract killing of Muscle Shoals businessman Troy Wicker Jr. Arthur’s lawyers say no physical evidence linked him to the crime. “We do believe that reasonable doubt exists here, and advanced DNA testing could resolve any doubt,” Arthur’s lead attorney, Suhana Han, said in an email statement.
The state plans to go ahead with the lethal injection barring a last-minute reprieve by the courts. Arthur’s argument for the testing is based on testimony already found by a court to be untrue and has no bearing on the death row inmate’s pending execution, said Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw. http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt…,7803317.story
Case from Arthur’s website
The following is not provided by the Innocence Project. Information is based on facts from case documents.
1. Thomas Arthur has sat on Alabama’s death row for over 25 years for the murder of Troy Wicker. He has always maintained his innocence.
2. He has been scheduled for execution 4 times. Hair and finger prints found at the crime scene did not match him. No physical evidence linked him to the murder. No murder weapon was ever found. Eye witnesses said he was 75 miles away when the murder was committed. Recent DNA testing in 2009 of the crime scene evidence came back negative for Thomas Arthur. See DNA Test Results
Thomas Arthur’s DNA Was Not Present On Crime Scene Evidence
3. The state’s key witness, the victims wife, Judy Wicker (Mary Turner now) was convicted of murdering her husband for $90,000.00 of insurance money. She was given a life sentence. In her first 7 sworn statements while under oath, Judy Wicker testified Thomas Arthur had nothing to do with the murder.
4. Judy and her sister Theresa were both found at the crime scene with blood on their clothes. Neither woman were tested for GSR (Gun Shot Residue) to see if they had fired a weapon. The bloody clothes have never been DNA tested to see if Troy Wicker’s blood was on them.
5. After serving 10 years in prison Judy Wicker was released from prison in exchange for a new testimony to say Thomas Arthur killed her husband. She also changed her testimony to say it was Thomas Arthur that beat her up and killed her husband. In the original interviews, Judy Wicker now stated Thomas Arthur had sex with her
after killing her husband. This version changed after the interviews and police never charged Thomas Arthur with rape. Originally Judy has said a black man beat her up and raped her. Judy Wickers statements disappeared from the records along with much of the physical evidence including the rape kit.
6. Investigators ignored key evidence and did not disclose key evidence that could of proven Thomas Arthurs innocence. This conviction was based on very weak circumstantial evidence and the key witness is a convicted murderer and has committed perjury.
7. Thomas Arthur has never had his 1st habeas corpus review. 8. Thomas Arthur’s most recent execution scheduled for July 31, 2008 was stayed by the Alabama Supreme Court after the stay had already been denied by the Alabama Supreme Court. Another man, Bobby Ray Gilbert said that he committed the murder not Thomas Arthur. Read Confession
The July 31st, 2008 execution was stayed based on the confession of Bobby Ray Gilbert. A hearing was scheduled
for April 15th, 2009 in Jefferson County Circuit Court before Judge Theresa Pulliam. After hearing testimony from Bobby Ray Gilbert and several others, Judge Pulliam ordered DNA testing on 3 pieces of physical evidence that was collected at the crime scene in 1982. The three pieces of evidence were clothing worn by the victims wife, Judy Wicker, a wig prosecutors and Judy Wicker said Thomas Arthur wore before, during and after the murder, and a single strand of hair found at the crime scene on Judy Wickers shoe. Other key pieces of physical evidence were not available for testing, including a rape kit, because the State had lost them. On July 10th, 2009, DNA test results were turned over to Judge Pulliam. See DNA Test Results 9. Judge Pulliam “sealed” the test results and prevented the defense from disclsoing results.
10. August 10, 2009, Judge Pulliam ruled Bobby Ray Gilbert lied and that DNA test results proved he was not at the crime scene and could not have committed the murder. She also ruled Thomas Arthur perpetrated fraud against the court and provided Bobby Ray Gilbert with information to aid in his confession. There was no evidence to prove Thomas Arthur provided information to Bobby Ray Gilbert. However, lets assume he did provide information to Gilbert. What would this prove? It would prove Thomas Arthur was attempting to prove his innocence in the only way he could, to have the DNA tested. The courts would not allow him to test the DNA evidence simply because of his claims of innocence. The United States Supreme Court has ruled DNA testing to prove your innocence is not a constitutional right.
11. The most crucial piece of evidence, the wig worn by the killer could not be DNA tested by Alabama’s Forensic Department becuase they lack the advanced equipment needed for the test. Arthur requested that the wig be tested by a more advanced lab at the defense’s expense. Pulliam denied the request.
12. April 15th, 2011, the State of Alabama files a motion to set a new execution date.
****Bobby Ray Gilbert’s DNA was not present at the crime scene.
Neither was Thomas Arthur’s. ****That is a fact that cannot be ignored.***
13. June 22nd, 2011 The Supreme Court of Alabama denied the State of Alabama’s Motion to set a new execution date. (click on “links to motions filed” tab on left of home page to see copy of order)
It makes one wonder, if DNA test results prove one man was not at the crime scene and is lying about committing this murder, then how is it possible those same DNA test results cannot confirm Thomas Arthur was not at the crime scene? How can the same DNA test results say one man was not there and then say the other man was there? DNA test results were the same for both men… negative.
Additional DNA Evidence that includes blood, hair and semen was recovered and still exists, but it has never been DNA tested !!! Yet the State of Alabama not only REFUSES to DNA test the crime scene evidence –but it is refusing to allow Arthur to have the evidence DNA tested at HIS EXPENSE!!! See all the Evidence Collected By The State of Alabama
The same day as the confession and the stay of execution the state of Alabama’s attorney general, Troy King and Clay Crenshaw claimed a rape kit and other physical evidence collected at the crime scene in 1982 is missing. After all these years of Thomas Arthurs defense team trying to obtain it, it is now missing. Troy King also stated to the media the DNA would not have matched Thomas Arthur anyway. King said Arthur had planted all the DNA evidence. This stunned legal professionals especially since DNA testing was not around in 1982 when the murder was committed.
The Innocence Project based in New York is involved in Thomas Arthurs case. They are assisting Thomas Arthurs attorneys and have written numerous letters and filed several motions on Arthurs behalf. Click on the Innocence Project link for more information. There are many prominent organizations that have requested additional DNA testing in Arthur’s case. The Innocence Project in New York, Amnesty International, The Saint ‘Egidio Community, The Justice Institute, for the wrongfully convicted, DER/SPIEGEL, former Governor Jim Petro, Alabama Senator Hank Sanders, Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, Sister Helen Prejean. There are many other organizations involved in demanding additional DNA testing in Arthur’s case. Project Hope to Abolish the death penalty, National Coalition to Abolish the death penalty, Florida support groups, The Patrick Crusade, are among the many organizations that have been involved. There are many individuals who are helping on a personal level. There are to many to name them all. Literally tens of thousands of United States Citizens, and people around the World have written or called on Arthur’s behalf.
This page has the basic history of Thomas Arthur’s case. This case is very complex and has many files.The murder of Troy Wicker occurred February 01, 1982. Thomas Arthur has been convicted in 3 separate trials. Most assume that if he has had three trials, he must be guilty if he was convicted three times. The attorneys appointed to represent him at all three trials had never tried a capital murder case before and were subjected to a $1,000.00 cap on fees paid to them by the State of Alabama. Recent Article Thomas Arthur even produced documents showing that his attorney’s had told him they were not prepared or qualified to defend him. He also showed he was not able to communicate with them. Several jury members have since made statements that if they had been allowed to view all of the evidence, they would not have found him guilty. By the time he found a law firm to represent him pro-bono, (2001) , based in New York, they, with a private investigator found many new pieces of new evidence. However, because Arthur had no attorney during his post-conviction appeals,(Alabama is the only State in United States that does not provide a death row inmate an attorney during this post-conviction appeal process) his rule 32 was filed late. Therefore, none of the new evidence has ever been allowed to be shown to a Court of Law.Thomas Arthur, Alabama death row inmateZ-427 has sat on death row for over 20 years. He has been denied DNA testing of crime scene evidence, and his claim of innocence, nor any of the irregularities related to the investigation of the murder, has EVER been considered by a state or federal habeas court for how they affected his constitutional right to due process, a fair trial, effective assistance of counsel. the State of Alabama states he has “exhausted all of his appeals”. When in fact he has never had any of his post-conviction appeals heard by any court.We have added an additional page for the media (click on the link to motions filed) to find all the past and current motions filed. If you have questions or request more file information, go to the contact us page and contact Sherrie Stone for any media information or call Arthur’s Attorneys SuHana Han 212-558-4647 or Jordan Razza 212-558-3496 for legal issues.
The following is the background information :
The following are “facts” in Thomas Arthur’s Case:DNA Evidence that includes blood, hair and semen was recovered and still exists, but it has never been tested!!! Yet the State of Alabama not only REFUSES to DNA test the crime scene evidence—but it is refusing to allow Arthur to have the evidence DNA tested at HIS EXPENSE!!!
DNA Evidence that includes an untested rape kit, bloody shirts, and hair has never been tested. The State of Alabama has denied Thomas Arthur the right to evidence that could conclusively prove Thomas Arthur’s innocence and that Thomas Arthur was never at the crime scene. Because of an act called the AEDPA act, Read the ADEPA Act , this evidence is not being allowed because it is based on a 1 year time limit on filing your petition within a year. Very hard for a death row prisoner to file this if they have no attorney. Arthur had no attorney. The State of Alabama is the only State that does not guarantee a Death Row Inmate the right to an attorney during the post conviction appeals.
No physical evidence links him to the crime. His conviction was based almost exclusively on the testimony of a convicted murderer. Although DNA testing was not available when the crime was committed, hair and fingerprints found at the scene of the crime did not match Thomas Arthur. See all the Evidence Collected By The State of Alabama
Two eyewitness gave statements (exculpatory affidavits) placing Thomas Arthur 75 miles away at the time of the crime. These eyewitnesses were visited by the State of Alabama and under suspicious circumstances changed their statements. However, one of the witnesses changed his story back to the original story, then recently was visited by the State and changed his story again under very “pressured circumstances”. The other witness has made statements that he is frightened of losing his business and “other” things. The first time these witnesses gave their statements, they came forward on their own, under no pressure. See Witnesses 1st StatementsSee Witnesses 2nd Statement After State Visited Them You can view additional statements made by the attorney and private investigator that were present during the first statements made by the witnesses. See Attorney And Investigator Statements
The victim’s wife Judy Wicker was charged with the murder and originally stated under oath Thomas Arthur was not the murderer, but she did name two other people that assisted her with committing the murder. Judy wicker stated she had paid her sister , Theresa Rowling $6000.00 and Theresa’s boyfriend Theron McKinney had received a Trans Am. Theresa had cashed a check in the amount of $6,000.00 from Judy. They were never charged with a crime, regardless of Theresa being found at the crime scene with her sister Judy and both had blood on their clothes. Neither Judy or Theresa were tested to see if they fired the gun that killed Troy Wicker. Numerous Law Enforcement Officials were on the scene with the equipment to perform such a test. See Writ of Certiorari With All Information A recent statement made by the Alabama Attorney General Troy King is “he was aware of an affair Judy Wicker was having with one of the police officers at the crime scene and the untested semen could belong to anyone”. He went on to state “Judy was known for her promiscuous behavior”. This could be why Judy or her sister Theresa were never tested to see if they fired the gun that killed Troy Wicker.
Judy Wicker never testified at Thomas Arthur’s 1st and 2nd trials. However, she did sign statements that he had nothing to do with the murder , and made numerous written statements(7 times) that Thomas Arthur was not the murderer. She did tell investigators Mays, and Aycock she paid her sister Theresa and Theresa’s boyfriend to help her with the murder. However, after serving 10 years in Tutwiler prison, she changed her testimony by force from the DA in exchange for freedom. She then stated that she had sex with Arthur and he then killed her husband . (There is a rape kit the State refuses to DNA test). After signing the statement, they did not release her. The State then told her she would have to wait and see if Thomas Arthur got a new trial and he did. The State lied to her and did not release her. They made her wait four more years. Then Judy Wicker was forced to testify at Thomas Arthur’s 3rd trial to say he was the murderer. She was released from prison in exchange for her testimony. The prosecutor during Arthur’s 3rd trial, when Judy Wicker changed her testimony in exchange for early parole, had represented Wicker as her defense attorney during her previous unsuccessful parole hearing. She also stated at first she was raped by an Intruder then he killed her husband. That was her statement 7 different times. The final statement, the one she gave in exchange for parole, she said Thomas Arthur had sex with her, then killed her husband. The untested rape/sex kit could be compared to the FBI data base to see if it matches someone else that could have murdered Troy Wicker. After the recent statement made by the Alabama Attorney General, Troy King, that untested kit could match the police officer at the crime scene with Judy Wicker that morning. It seems as if it would match anyone other than Thomas Arthur. If you click on the link , look at pgs 2,3,4 & 5 See Writ of Certiorari With All Information .
Alabama is the only State that does not provide death row inmates the right to an attorney during post-conviction petitions. Read Recent New York Times Article The inmates are supposed to have the right to a law library to research and file their own petitions. Thomas Arthur did not have an attorney and was given access to a “day” room with no law books. See Statement From Holman Prison Official He was told he could request the law books. By the time he found a voluntary attorney, his petition was denied for being filed late. Therefore he is denied his FIRST HABEAS CORPUS review. He has been turned down for the right to the reviews that will prove his innocence. He will be executed without receiving ANY State or Federal reviews.
The Holman Prisons Warden denied visitation by an investigator who was willing to try and ferret out the facts that would enable an lawyer interested in Arthur’s case to decide to represent him.
Holman Prison lacks a law library for death row prisoners or information about how to qualify for a state or federal post-conviction lawyer.
Thomas Arthur made many unsuccessful efforts to interest a pro bono lawyer in his case, including an article in Justice Denied (Aug-Sept. 1999) Read Article
Several jury members have made statements that if they had seen all of the evidence, they would not have found him guilty.
The victim, Troy Wicker’s sister has signed an affidavit that she does not believe Thomas Arthur Killed her brother. She is asking that Governor Riley stay the execution until the crime scene evidence can be DNA tested . See Wickers Sister Statement.
The State has made numerous statements that the DNA testing of the crime scene evidence would not prove Arthur’s innocence. The Innocence Project based in New York, is the Nations leading experts in DNA testing, and wrongful convictions have strongly disagreed. The Governor of Alabama’s legal advisors even requested Post-Conviction DNA testing information from the Innocence Project. See Letter From Innocence Project Now with a confession from a man that says he committed the murder, with the leading experts in DNA testing stating that DNA testing the evidence could prove Arthur’s innocence, and prove if the confession of the man that claims to have killed the victim, is in fact the killer. The State still insists on executing Arthur without allowing DNA testing at Arthur’s expense.
CLICK ON “LINKS TO MOTIONS FILED” TO THE LEFT TO SEE ALL
RECENT MOTIONS FILED & ALL FACTS IN CASE
OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin’s office said Tuesday that she does not intend to issue a stay of execution for Tulsa County killer Timothy Shaun Stemple.
Stemple, 46, is set to be executed Thursday for the 1996 killing of his wife, Trisha Stemple, 30.
His family met Tuesday with the Governor’s Office to seek a stay to pursue evidence of his innocence.
They held a news conference with the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to urge a stay.
The Pardon and Parole Board last month voted 4-1 to deny clemency to Stemple.
“We don’t have the power to grant clemency without a recommendation from the (Pardon and Parole) board,” said Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin.
“The governor does have the power to issue a stay, but she does not plan to do that.”
Jenae Matland Smucker, Stemple’s sister, said her brother is innocent. She said her sister-in-law died as a result of a pedestrian-motor-vehicle collision.
“Sean himself has maintained his innocence from time of arrest until today,” Smucker said.
Stemple was sentenced to death in 1997 for beating Trisha Stemple and running over her with a pickup so he could collect $950,000 in life insurance.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office pointed out that a jury found Stemple guilty 14 years ago and that his appeals have been denied by the courts and the Pardon and Parole Board.
“The evidence in this case is strong and showed beyond a reasonable doubt that Stemple committed this murder,” Pruitt spokeswoman Diane Clay said. “It would be a travesty of justice to further delay his punishment.”
OKLAHOMA CITY — Timothy Shaun Stemple’s family met at the Capitol on Tuesday hoping to get a last minute stay of execution. In less than 48 hours the State of Oklahoma will execute the 46-year-old man for the brutal murder of his wife back in 1996.
Court documents reveal the victim, Trisha Stemple, had fractured bones all over her body, including her skull, and appeared to have been intentionally run over.
Led by the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Stemple family gathered at the State Capitol pleading for a stay of execution.
The family says there are theories from forensic pathologists who say the death of the victim was by car accident, not from murder.
The family says that evidence, as well as other items, never made it into court.
“When my sister in law died, my brother didn’t even get to grieve her death. Within a few days, all fingers were pointing to him because he had life insurance and he had an affair,” Janae Smucker said.
She says her brother is no killer.
“There is too much doubt,” Sen. Consatnce Johnson said.
Even those who’ve lost loved ones to murderers stood by the family’s side.
The Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to deny Stemple’s clemency.
All Stemple’s legal appeals have also been denied.
“We don’t have the power to grant clemency without a recommendation from the (Pardon and Parole) board,” Alex Weintz said, Gov. Fallin’s spokesman. “The governor does have the power to issue a stay but she does not plan to do that.”
Stemple is scheduled for execution by lethal injection Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty says the state has released 10 people from death row who were wrongfully convicted.
The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is asking Governor Mary Fallin for a Stay of Execution for Timothy Shaun Stemple so the family can pursue his legal rights in the courts.
OK-CADP representatives and Shaun’s sister, Jenae Mudock Stucker, met with Governor Fallin’s Deputy Counsel Rebecca Frasier today. Stemple is set to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Timothy Shaun Stemple was convicted in February 1998 of the 1996 murder of his wife Trisha Stemple. He was sent to death row and has remained there since then. Shaun and his family have maintained his innocence since he was charged.
“Since our state has released 10 people from death row who were wrongly convicted, we know the possibility of executing an innocent is real. We hope Governor Fallin will not want us to take that risk in the face of so much doubt,” said OK-CADP Co-Chair Lydia Polley.
The family has been pursuing his exoneration since the conviction and has hired forensic experts to provide testimony to counter the state’s evidence that convicted him.
All of Mr. Stemple’s appeals have been denied, and the state Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency at a February hearing.
The family of a death-row inmate who is to be executed next week is asking Gov. Mary Fallin to spare his life.
Timothy Shaun Stemple’s family has hired forensic experts to provide testimony to counter the state’s evidence that convicted him of murdering his wife in 1996.
Shaun Stemple was sentenced to death in 1997 for beating his wife, Trisha Stemple, and running over her with a pickup so he could collect $950,000 in life insurance.
All of Stemple’s appeals have been denied, and the state Pardon and Parole Board did not recommend clemency at a February hearing.
Barring intervention by Gov. Mary Fallin, Stemple, 46, will be executed March 15 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
On Thursday, Stemple’s family spoke at the law offices of Brewster & De Angelis about why they believe that he is innocent.
Janae Matland Smucker said her family believes that the evidence shows that Trisha Stemple died from an auto-pedestrian collision, not from “blunt force trauma to the head,” as a state medical examiner testified during Shaun Stemple’s trial.
Andre Stuart of 21st Century Forensic Animations was hired by Stemple’s family to reconstruct the accident scene using animation technology.
He said his models show that there is “no basis” for evidence that Trisha Stemple died because of multiple hits from a baseball bat instead of being run over by a pickup.
The animation and other testimony and documents can be viewed online at tulsaworld.com/freeshaun, a website the family has set up to garner support for Shaun Stemple.
According to court testimony, Shaun Stemple hired a teenage accomplice, Terry Hunt, to wait in the woods by the highway.
Stemple then reportedly feigned car trouble so he could stop at a preselected spot nearby. He and Hunt took turns beating Trisha Stemple with a cellophane-wrapped baseball bat and ran over her body with a pickup, prosecutors said.
Trisha Stemple’s skull, neck bone and pelvis were crushed, and 17 ribs were broken. Her body was found alongside the highway after Shaun Stemple reported her missing.
Her death originally was investigated as a hit-and-run auto-pedestrian collision, but investigators reportedly suspected foul play as they examined the evidence.
Hunt, the cousin of Shaun Stemple’s then-girlfriend, testified for the prosecution and is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
“All of the state’s witnesses against my brother had perjured themselves” during the trial, Smucker said.
But court records show that the judge who presided over the case noted that despite discrepancies in Hunt’s earlier testimony, he “consistently reported and testified that Stemple approached him about helping kill Trisha Stemple in exchange for $25,000 to $50,000,” among other details.
At his clemency hearing last month, Shaun Stemple spoke briefly and refused to answer questions from board members.
On October 14, 1995, shortly before 5:00 p.m., Mrs. Rhonda Hatten Griffis, age 28, was found lying in a large pool of blood next to the couch in the living room of her home on 198Sunrise Road, Petal, Mississippi. Mrs. Griffis was found wearing a t-shirt, and the only clothing on the lower part of her body was around her left foot. She had several gashes on the back of her head. There were other injuries to Mrs. Griffis’ head, back, and chest, including a deep laceration and three to four hesitation marks to the neck. She was also bleeding from her vagina. She had several defensive wounds on her hands, arms, and elbows. Mrs. Griffis died as a result of the injuries; the cause of death was cranial cerebral trauma, secondary to blunt force trauma. A wooden stick or club covered with blood was recovered outside the residence.
Rhonda’s mother, Nancy Hatten, lived next door, roughly 150-175 feet from the Griffis’ trailer. On the day of the murder, Mrs. Hatten helped Rhonda’s boys, Justin, age 7, and Jeffrey, age 5, put up Halloween decorations in the yard. Rhonda was not feeling well that day, suffering from a headache and bad sinus problems. Later that afternoon, Mrs. Hattenwas in her front yard when she heard a “scream and a thud” come from the Griffis’ trailer. Mrs. Hatten then ran home and telephoned the trailer. The phone rang four or five times, but there was no answer. Mrs. Hatten hung up and dialed again, but there was still no answer. She then immediately went to the trailer.
As Mrs. Hatten neared the trailer, she saw David Griffis, Rhonda’s husband, and their two boys driving up to the trailer. David had been hauling pine straw all day and was returning with his last load. A blue truck was parked in the vacant lot beside the residence. Nancy entered the trailer door at the kitchen/dining room area and called for Rhonda but there was no answer. Puckett came from the hallway into the kitchen/dining area and raised a club back and started towards Nancy. As Nancy backed away from Puckett, Jeffrey entered the house followed closely by David. Justin was still outside. Nancy then took the children, ran to her house, locked the boys in the bathroom, and called 911. This 911 call was received by the 911 system at 5:01:15 p.m. and answered by the 911 operator at 5:01:20 p.m. At 5:01:41 p.m., Nancy was placed on hold, as 911 received a call from the Griffis’ trailer. Mrs. Hatten identified State’s Exhibit Number 3 as the club that Puckett had in his hand in the trailer.by The Griffis family knew Puckett because he was once employed While Puckett was employed by David, the employees would gather at the Griffis’ house before leaving for work.
Jeffrey Griffis testified that when he entered the home, he saw Puckett with a club in his hand and holding on to Mrs. Hatten’s shirt. David Griffis testified that when he entered the home, he saw Mrs. Hatten with Puckett standing in front of her withthe club in his hand raised over his head. David indicated that Puckett was wearing army-type coveralls. The club had blood and a white substance on it. David asked Puckett what he was doing in his house and Puckett said he had hit a deer on the road and came to get David’s help and to 4 use the telephone. David called out for Rhonda but no one answered. However, Puckett told David that Rhonda was down at her mother’s house. David asked Puckett about the blood on the club and Puckett indicated that it was blood from the deer. David then dialed 911 from a portable phone that was laying on the counter beside him. This 911 call was received by the 911 system at 5:01:27 p.m. and answered by the 911 operator at 5:01:41 p.m. This (David’s) call was terminated at 5:04:42 p.m. At some point, David and Puckett struggled and David got the club from Puckett. David tried to keep Puckett in the trailer until the police arrived. However, Puckett took off running towards the door. As Puckett was running for the door, David swung the club and hit Puckett on the shoulder. Then, as Puckett ran out the door, David threw the club at him. Dr. Michael West testified at trial that the club, State’s Exhibit 3, was consistent with the wound pattern found on Puckett’s back.
Once Puckett exited the trailer, David entered the living room and reached for his pistol that was usually on a gun cabinet just to the left of the living room door. However, the pistol was not there. David did not see Rhonda’s body lying in the living room at this time. David then ran into the bedroom to retrieve a rifle from the bedroom closet. The bedroomdoor is straight ahead as you turn towards the cabinet. As David exited the bedroom and re-entered the living room, he then saw Rhonda laying on the floor. He saw that Rhonda was injured and dialed 911 again to inform the police. David’s second 911 call wasreceived by the 911 system at 5:05:01 p.m. and was answered by the 911 operator at 5:05:07 p.m. This call was terminated at 5:11:45 p.m. The time between the end of David’s first 911 call and the beginning of his second 911 call was 18 seconds. Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics arrived within minutes.
Before David fired Puckett, David considered him to be a decent employee and even wrote a letter of recommendation for Puckett to become an Eagle Scout. Another former employer of Puckett’s, Ray Watkins, testified that shortly before Rhonda’s murder, a maul handle was broken at his work site. Watkins had the maul handle for several years,between seven (7) and ten (10) years, and believed the maul handle to be State’s Exhibit No. 3. Watkins also testified that he had seen the handle in Puckett’s truck on several occasions.
Puckett was seen around 3:30 p.m. the afternoon of the murder at the same house from which David Griffis was collecting pine straw. Puckett’s blue 4-wheel drive truck was alsoseen passing the Griffis’ residence at approximately 4:41 p.m.
Puckett’s truck was recovered the next night in a wooded area in Perry County. On October 16, 1995, Puckett was apprehended near his mother’s home in Perry County. At the time of his arrest, Puckett nervously commented to his mother that “[t]his is a lot of law enforcement for somebody who just committed a burglary.” A duffle bag containing various items including a pair of coveralls was recovered from Puckett at the time of his arrest.
5.Puckett did not deny being in the trailer at the time of the murder, but testified that he witnessed David Griffis murder his wife. He indicated that he had originally planned only to burglarize the house in order to find money to pay his truck note. He stated that the idea to burglarize the house just popped into his head at the time he went by the Griffis’ house. Puckett testified that he parked his truck in a vacant lot beside the Griffis’ trailer and put his coveralls on. Puckett saw Rhonda’s car at the trailer, but proceeded to the door anyway and knocked. Puckett said that Rhonda let him in and they began to talk. Puckett said that he saw the stick (State’s Exhibit No. 3) lying on the living room floor. He stated that he and Rhonda began kissing and he then began acting out his sexual fantasy of undressing a woman while he remained fully clothed. He said that Rhonda then saw her mother approaching the trailer, grabbed her clothes and ran into the bedroom, and told Puckett to get rid of her mother. Puckett said heran into the dining room area and had picked up the stick and decided to scare Mrs. Hatten away with the club. Puckett further stated that after Mrs. Hatten fled with the children, David accused Rhonda of sleeping with Puckett and began hitting her with the stick that David took from Puckett. After beating his wife, David struggled to keep Puckett in the trailer, but Puckett was able to escape while David was calling 911. At trial, Puckett indicated the whole incident took four or five minutes. Puckett said he hid in the woods for two days because he was afraid of David.
A group that opposes the death penalty protested two executions scheduled in Mississippi this week.
Thousands of people have signed an online petition seeking to block the execution of death row inmate, Larry Matthew Puckett.
He is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Puckett was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing his former boss’ wife when he was 18 years old.
His lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court last week to block the execution.
A group opposed to capital punishment spoke out Monday at the state capitol.
Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice want Gov. Phil Bryant to grant clemency to Puckett, as well as condemned killer, William Mitchell, who is also scheduled for execution this week.
“Neither of these men, William Mitchell or Matt Puckett, have had a fair trial,” said attorney Jim Craig. “Neither of them have had a real appeal. It’s time to quit hiding behind this fraud and accept the fact that our system is deeply flawed. And these two cases prove it.”
As of Monday, there were nearly 4500 electronic signatures on a petition called ‘Save Matt Puckett: stop an innocent man from being executed.’
JACKSON — A Mississippi prison inmate has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution Tuesday based on the argument that his lawyers didn’t do a good job and prosecutors discriminated against blacks during jury selection.
Larry Matthew Puckett is scheduled to receive a lethal injection for the 1995 sexual assault and beating death of Rhonda Hatten Griffis of Forrest County. His lawyers filed the request Wednesday to block the execution.
March, 16,2012 : Jamie Arpin-RicciAuthor & pastor, Little Flowers Community talks about matthew’s innocence
[…]In less than a week another friend of mine, Matt, is going to be dead — killed as surely and finally as the other two. I will not see his death, but because the setting of his death is determined (and by some, celebrated) I am already haunted by the images of him dying. It has not happened yet, but I feel as powerless to prevent his death as I am with the others.
You see, my friend Matthew Puckett is being executed by the state of Mississippi on Tuesday, March 20. Matthew has been tried and convicted of a brutal murder. Doubtless there are those who believe that deserves this end and will take great joy when his sentence is carried out. I am not one of those people.
While I know many of my fellow Christians do not agree with me on this point, my faith makes it impossible to condone capital punishment. I will not attempt to argue that position here, for there isn’t the space nor is it the primary point. Whether you believe in the death penalty or not, what I hope we can agree on is that, should we use this form of punishment, we had better be damn sure there is no question of their guilt. As I look at Matt’s case, there are simply far too many uncertainties to make such a sentence acceptable.
I believe that Matthew Puckett is innocent. For those not convinced, I hope that you will examine his case and recognize that he was not given the kind of justice our society boasts as being the right of every person. Given that reality, I ask that you consider signing this petition to save Matt’s life and/or contacting Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, and ask for a stay. Allow Matt at least the chance to live his life, even if behind bars.