[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jul 29 16:08:28 CDT 2004
Texas inmate David Ray Harris went to his death with no excuses on June
"Sir, in honor of a true American hero: Let's roll," Harris said when
asked if he had a final statement. By echoing the words of a passenger
before he and others attacked the hijackers of Flight 93 on September 11,
2001, possibly causing the jet to crash before reaching its intended
target in Washington, Harris apparently wanted to sound heroic.
But Harris was no hero. He was a cold-blooded killer who also almost
caused the execution of Randall Dale Adams, an innocent Ohioan Harris
helped frame for the 1st of 2 murders we know Harris committed at a young
Only because Adams had good trial attorneys whose objections to the
actions in the kangaroo court that convicted him and an appeals attorney
who exploited those objections to the hilt was Adams' life saved by the
U.S. Supreme Court 3 days before his scheduled execution in 1979.
Prosecutors asked that the Ohioan's sentence be commuted to life in prison
rather than face the possibility of retrying Adams, who had no prior
record, for the 1976 murder of Dallas police officer Robert Wood. They
knew Adams would probably walk free if tried again for a murder it was
increasingly apparent he did not commit, so they settled for letting him
rot in jail instead of frying him.
When Erroll Morris' acclaimed 1988 documentary, The Thin Blue Line,
finally ripped the evidence against Adams to shreds and ended his film
with a dramatic statement from Harris in which he essentially confessed to
the crime, international public pressure finally forced the Texas court
system to release Adams, who flew back to Columbus a hero for enduring his
nightmare with dignity, faith and courage.
But Harris wasn't "Texecuted" for the murder of Officer Wood. His life was
ended for the 1985 murder of Mark Mays after Harris tried to abduct Mays'
And therein lies the second outrage that resulted in putting Adams on
death row for a murder he didn't commit. By framing Adams and letting
Harris literally get away with murder, then-assistant district attorney
Doug Mulder, several dishonest Dallas detectives and witnesses looking for
a deal or their 15 minutes of fame gave Mark Mays a death sentence as well
as the innocent Adams.
Mulder had never lost a capital trial, and he wasn't going to start then
by letting the non-Texan (which is almost a crime itself in Texas) off the
To bolster the perjured testimony of Harris, the Dallas police and
shameless "eyewitnesses" who saw nothing, Mulder called in his bug gun:
the late James Grigson, who was called "Dr. Death" for his prosecution-
friendly testimony in hundreds of death-penalty cases. The folksy,
always-certain psychiatrist helped persuade juries that almost every
defendant he testified about after a cursory on nonexistent examination
would undoubtedly kill again if given the chance.
The danger of Grigson's testimony was laid bare for the world to see in
The Thin Blue Line. The movie documented how Grigson testified that the
soft-spoken Adams was an "extreme sociopath" who would kill again, even
though Adams had never been in trouble in his life, just as he has never
been in trouble since his release in 1989.
The same couldn't be said for "Dr. Death." The psychiatric hit man was
twice reprimanded by the American Psychiatric Association -- once for
improperly using the results of a competency test against a defendant
during the punishment phase of his trial and then for claiming he could
predict with absolute certainty how dangerous a defendant he had never
examined would be in the future. As more questions about Grigson's ethics
came to the fore, the association finally expelled Grigson from its ranks
and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians followed suit.
The biggest culprit in the vicious, dishonest prosecution of Adams that
freed Harris to kill again was Doug Mulder. Mulder, unlike murder victim
Mark Mays, is alive and well and making lots of money -- as a criminal-
defense attorney, of all things.
As sad as Mark Mays' needless death was, it was not all that unusual. It
is conservatively estimated that more than 10,000 Americans are convicted
of serious crimes they did not commit each year. That means the person who
did commit the crime got a "get-out-jail" card that frequently persuades
them that they know how to beat the system and they keep on trying --
often committing more murders, rapes, robberies or other serious felonies
before the law or time finally catch up with them.
If the mistakes that led to wrongful convictions were honest ones made
after a painstakingly thorough investigation, it cold be argued that is
the price we have to pay in a high-crime society full of fallible people.
But an Innocence Project analysis of what cased the erroneous convictions
of the first 70 people exonerated by DNA testing found that a significant
percentage of wrongful convictions occurred because of doctored, planted
or misinterpreted evidence; false confessions squeezed out of suspects by
psychological manipulation, lies about evidence and mistreatment that
stops just short of physical abuse; false testimony by frequently
discredited jailhouse snitches and other witnesses; scientifically
discredited but still permitted forensic evidence, including microscopic
hair comparison matches; prosecutorial misconduct; poor work by defense
attorneys; police misconduct; and -- the biggest cause of all -- mistaken
Proposals backed by sound science could help eliminate most of these
causes of erroneous convictions, but prosecutors and police are loathe to
admit that the system needs fixed. As long as they resist reform, more
innocent people will go to prison and more serial criminals, killers and
rapists will be allowed to commit more crimes, and more Mark Mayses will
be victimized by more David Harrises. And that's the biggest crime of all.
(source: Martin Yant is the author of Presumed Guilty: When Innocent
People Are Wrongly Convicted and 4 other books. He is also a licensed
private investigator whose investigations have helped exonerate 10
inmates, 2 of whom were originally sentenced to death; FreePress)
The Killer Next Door ----He left clues all over, but it still took
investigators years to unmask the serial murderer in their midst
For 8 years, whenever Danny Billingsley saw a cream-colored van, he'd
think of Dana Sanchez. Then he'd run the license plates, each time hoping
the driver would turn out to be her killer.
Her murder in 1995 was the type of case that haunted even a seasoned
homicide investigator like him: Just 16 years old, Sanchez had been
sexually assaulted and strangled, the noose cinched with a toothbrush.
Even worse, in the 3 years before, 2 other young Hispanic females on the
north side of town had been similarly assaulted and strangled. The second
was only nine years old.
The killings haunted investigators. "The innocence of those girls, and
knowing we were dealing with a sexual predator -- it's just different,"
says Billingsley, a Harris County sheriff's lieutenant. "Every day I'd
think about those girls. Every day it was on my brain."
Sanchez had disappeared almost 11 months after the nine-year-old's murder.
A week passed before a man called KPRC-TV with directions to the field
where her body lay.
Then he added something that police had suspected but had hoped wasn't
A serial killer is on the loose.
Police were convinced that the anonymous tipster was the killer himself:
hungry for attention, eager to display his handiwork, daring them to catch
The cops and deputies formed a task force, desperate to stop him. Only
when leads fizzled and the killer failed to strike did the task force
disband and its detectives take on other cases.
But they never really moved on. Billingsley thought about the killer every
time he went to the post office on West Cavalcade -- Sanchez had lived
just across the street. Or whenever he saw a van that matched the one
spotted at the crime scene.
Sometimes they'd talk about him, Billingsley says. Why had he thrust
himself into the limelight, and then stopped? "Did he die?" "Is he in
prison for something for else?" "Has he moved away?"
Only after they caught him did they realize it was none of the 3. In the 8
years after Sanchez's death, he'd gotten married and divorced, fallen in
love again and started a business.
Anthony "Tony" Shore had crossed paths with law enforcement numerous
times. He'd been in a squad car at least once, in criminal court and at
the police station. But no one ever really noticed the friendly
dark-haired guy with the pierced chin.
And that's how it had always been for Shore. Even as a child, he seemed
driven by two impulses: to seek attention and to molest females. He went
from grabbing and groping to killing. He cruised high schools. Molested
his own daughters. Tried to pick up a hooker. Then, after a few murders,
he called the TV station to give police an added push.
Everyone who might have stopped him, from relatives to social workers to
prosecutors, seemed to be looking the other way. Even the people who
detected his odd behavior failed to put the pieces together. And as
Houston police detectives worked tirelessly to catch the killer, their own
DNA lab failed to test the evidence that could connect Shore to the
In the end, it was left to science to nab him. When Shore confessed last
fall, it was to more crimes than investigators had suspected: the murders
of 4 women, the violent rape of a fifth. But by then, it was too late.
When it comes to serial killers, Tony Shore is more Ted Bundy than Jeffrey
Dahmer. His hairline has started to recede, but he is still good-looking,
with dark puppy-dog eyes and a neat goatee. He has long been fastidious;
even as a child, he hated to get dirty. His sisters used to tease him for
folding his socks over a hanger, for insisting on silk underwear, for
instructing them on the importance of eating their sandwiches in a
straight line, teeth marks precise as a row of type.
Shore was born in South Dakota. His father, Rob, was stationed at an air
force base there; his mother, Deanna, had been honorably discharged after
getting pregnant with Tony.
After Rob's discharge, the Shores relocated to California -- the first of
9 moves the family would make before Tony started high school,
crisscrossing from California to Florida, then finally landing in Houston.
"When I'd get a better job offer, I'd move," Rob Shore says. Since he was
"in computers before there were computers," as he puts it, there was no
shortage of offers.
Tony was well behaved and hypercompetitive, his mother says; he always had
to be the best. His family marveled at his ability to play any instrument,
from piano to trombone to guitar. He won mention in the Sacramento Bee for
his recital of a Bach musette when he was just five years old.
But he was terrible at sports, and not much better with his peers. Unlike
his younger sisters, Gina and Laurel, he had trouble adjusting to new
schools. "He cried easily," his mother says. "And he was arrogant. He
liked to use big words. He'd raise his hand and say, 'I need to
He seemed to require abnormal amounts of attention. "He'd make straight
A's, but he wasn't content to make them," she says. "He wanted
acknowledgement for them." The one teacher he remembered as an adult was
the one who'd disliked him. "He liked to get praise."
It didn't sit well with classmates. "He was beat up a lot," says Gina. "It
was humiliating. And some of these were bad beatings. He didn't handle it
Even at an early age, he behaved strangely around girls. Gina recalls that
when they biked around the neighborhood together, Tony would pick out
houses of girls he wanted to harass. He'd send Gina to knock on the door
and ask for the little girl. When she came out, Tony would grab her and
try to fondle her.
"They were really upset," Gina says. Finally, a woman who answered the
door turned out to be one of Gina's teachers. "That was the last time I
knocked on any doors."
Her brother's high jinks only escalated. When he was 13 and living near
Orlando, Tony told his sister that he and his buddies had beaten up a bum
in a swampy area behind the Publix grocery store. "I think we killed the
guy," she recalls him saying. "I think we killed the guy."
He seemed agitated, but he never cried.
He told her not to mention it again; he certainly never did. She was his
little sister and his friend. She listened, then tried to forget.
Rob Shore finally settled in Houston in the mid-'70s, but his family still
had one more difficult move ahead. In 1976, when Tony was 14 and attending
Clear Creek High School, his parents got divorced. Deanna returned to her
native California with the 3 kids.
Rob didn't fight her for custody. "I figured she'd be a better single
mother than I'd be a single father," he says.
Although they differ on details, Deanna and Rob say the marriage ended
when Rob, who hadn't hit Deanna before, beat her up. He says he told her
he was leaving and she shattered a beer stein over his head. "When someone
hits me in the back of my head with a beer mug, I respond very badly," he
Tony often tried to buffer his mother during his parents' arguments,
Deanna recalls, inserting himself between the couple. That caused Tony to
face his father's wrath -- and his belt, she says. (Rob claims no memory
Tony was hardly sad to see the couple divorce. "He said, 'Good, we're rid
of him,'" Deanna says. "He was 14 and he wanted to take over!"
Deanna wouldn't allow it. "I told him what the rules were," she says. When
Tony borrowed her car one night while she was sleeping, she called the
Back in Sacramento, she was going to school and working 2 or 3 jobs,
including a long stint as a waitress at Denny's. Often, she'd come home,
make dinner and head out to work again. She remembers Tony as a great
help, but she wasn't home enough to monitor his activities.
He'd found new ways to get attention. He joined a jazz band and starred in
theatrical productions. He told his family that, while hiking one day,
he'd almost died in an avalanche. There, he said, he'd seen the face of
God -- an epiphany that briefly compelled him to criticize family members
for smoking or cursing. "You never knew how much he was dramatizing it,"
He'd grown into a handsome kid, a clotheshorse who enjoyed sporting the
tight pants and gold chains of the '70s. His mother thought he looked like
Pernell Roberts, who played Adam on Gunsmoke and later starred as the
titular Trapper John, M.D. He told his mom that he signed up for ballet
classes to meet girls; he always seemed to have a girlfriend.
His aggression toward females continued. Gina remembers cruising bus
stations and high schools with him. He'd ask girls if they wanted a ride
home, then pointedly remind his sister that she had somewhere else to be.
"They'd see me in the car, and they'd be more comfortable getting in," she
explains. "But then he dropped me off."
She's convinced he then molested the girls. "I know that kind of makes me
guilty by association, but I helped him," she says.
They'd talk about it sometimes. "To him this was no big deal," Gina says.
"This is what all the guys were doing."
After dropping out of community college, Tony returned to Texas, took a
job working for Southwestern Bell and got married. He was 21. In three
years, he and his wife, who was also named Gina, had 2 daughters.
Even then, he was on the prowl, his sister Gina says. He still cruised the
high schools, even though he'd grown much older than the girls he was
trying to seduce, even though he was married.
At 24 years of age, police say, Shore became a killer.
Fifteen-year-old Laurie Lee Tremblay left her house at 6:30 a.m. to catch
a Metro bus to her school for troubled kids in Montrose. An hour later,
her body was found behind a Ninfa's restaurant 3 miles from her apartment
complex. She had been strangled.
The murder puzzled investigators, says Houston Police Sergeant John Swaim.
Tremblay hadn't been robbed or sexually assaulted. While she had only
enough money for a one-way bus fare, he says, "the people who caught that
bus had never heard anything about her catching a ride, ever." The police
got tips, but none mentioned a telephone installer named Tony Shore.
Some of Shore's relatives, however, began to suspect that he had taken a
wrong turn in life. "He was halfway slurry to me," says Ogoretta Worley,
his mother-in-law. "I thought he was messing with dope. He always looked
at me suspicious, like I was looking through him."
His sister Gina came to visit soon after earning her bachelor's degree in
psychology, a few years after Tremblay's murder. She became convinced her
brother was molesting his older daughter, who was then about five years
old. He insisted on bathing her himself, kissing her on the lips, ignoring
typical father-daughter boundaries, Gina says.
When Gina complained to her mother, Deanna Shore was unconvinced. She told
her to call Children's Protective Services if she was concerned.
Gina says she did call, but she never heard back.
Deanna visited soon after and didn't notice signs of abuse. But one thing
seemed odd: There was no food anywhere in the house. She also noticed that
Tony and his wife's bedroom was off-limits to their kids. "It felt very
strange to me. But every woman has the right to run her own house. I
(Tony's then-wife Gina, who has since remarried, declined comment.)
Police say that Tony killed his next victim in 1992. She was 21-year-old
Maria Del Carmen Estrada, a slightly built Mexican immigrant with long
dark hair. As with his first victim, she left home at 6:30 a.m., planning
to walk to work. Four hours later, they found her body in a Dairy Queen
drive-through, less than a mile from her residence. Nude from the waist
down, she, too, had been strangled.
Police never connected the two killings, Swaim says. Despite the similar
time of day and method, almost 6 years had passed. Unlike Tremblay,
Estrada was sexually assaulted and her purse taken. P> And when an
intruder raped a 14-year-old girl in her home a year later, police didn't
connect that either.
One year after that, in August 1994, 9-year-old Diana Rebollar left her
house around noon to buy sugar for her mother. Police found her body
behind a vacant building 12 hours later. She'd been beaten, sexually
assaulted and strangled.
Rebollar was the same age as Shore's younger daughter.
Despite the murders, Shore appeared to be a successful, friendly guy. He
enjoyed chatting up strangers on the job and mixed easily with both
musicians and the blue-collar guys at the bar.
After installing telephones at Ernie's on Banks, he initiated
Tuesday-night blues jams at that bar. Regulars called him Telephone Tony.
When bartender Ramiro Gonzalez needed a phone line in his new apartment,
Shore did the job himself. "That was kind of the guy he was," Gonzalez
says. "He'd help you out."
Even Shore's wife didn't seem to realize what she was dealing with. In
April 1993, the same year he allegedly raped the 14-year-old, he and Gina
separated. Gina agreed to pay him $75 a week in child support, and he got
custody of their daughters, according to records.
Deanna says that Tony's ex-wife began making late-night calls to her,
telling her in slurred words that Deanna really knew nothing about her
"You don't even know that he killed someone," she quotes the ex as saying.
Deanna reasoned she was just bitter. "Honey," she remembers telling her,
"you're drunk." For Tony Shore's mother, the truth still hadn't
One hot July night 11 months after Rebollar's death, 16-year-old Dana
Sanchez phoned her boyfriend to say she was hitchhiking to his house. Then
Shore had never bothered to hide his victims' bodies, but the field where
he dumped Sanchez was apparently just too remote. Police didn't find her
body until a week had passed, and only then because a mysterious caller
warned the television station of a serial killer and gave directions to
Police and sheriff's investigators assembled a task force almost
immediately, says Lieutenant Billingsley. Still, they kept it quiet.
"We joked about it, because the understanding given to us by the people
above us was that we don't want to call this a task force, or a serial
murderer. We don't want to panic people," Billingsley says. "It was a
non-task-force task force."
In official statements, the department played down links among the
murders. But the detectives on the case were convinced they had a serial
killer. "We worked and worked and worked," Sergeant Swaim says. "We looked
at everybody: sex offenders and parolees and boyfriends. We looked at
Despite his increasingly odd behavior, investigators never had any real
reason to look at Shore. His sister Gina says she'd previously reported
him to Children's Protective Services, but there is no indication CPS
acted on her complaint. Naturally, he never showed up on a list of sex
offenders in the area.
And even when the Houston police picked him up, seven months after
Sanchez's murder, he stayed cool.
There was no sleuthing in the misdemeanor arrest: An undercover cop posing
as a prostitute randomly offered Shore sex for a fee, according to the
police report, and he accepted. Court records show he got three months'
unsupervised probation and a $122 fine.
Around that time, Shore's sister Gina visited once more. Again, she was
horrified by her brother's behavior: When Tony went out for the evening,
he dead-bolted the door, locking his 2 young daughters inside. Then he and
his friends invited Gina and her companion to do drugs with them.
Instead, her friend called CPS to report Tony for child endangerment, Gina
says. He even sent a certified letter to follow up. But he never heard
Agency spokeswoman Estella Olguin says CPS has no way to verify, or
dispute, Gina's account. She says that if no charges are filed, records of
an investigation are destroyed after 3 years.
But if the agency had spent any time following up on that complaint, Gina
says, they should have noticed problems. Tony's house had no electricity,
she says, and he'd boarded up the windows.
Rob Shore was living in Clear Lake Shores, not far from his son in
Houston, but their relationship had grown chilly. When the two bumped into
each other at the Westheimer Art Festival one spring, Tony didn't have
much to say. Rob's wife, Rose, thought he was on drugs.
He seemed to drop by his father's house only when he had a new girlfriend
to show off. When Tony was 33, that girlfriend was Amy Lynch, an
18-year-old high school student. Friends say he'd worked on her family's
telephone line and arranged an introduction after noticing her picture.
The appeal of such a younger woman was evident. Rose Shore remembers Tony
visiting them that Easter with his daughters and girlfriend. Amy eagerly
blurted out that Tony had told them all what to wear, from their dresses
to their socks and shoes.
"He was in control at that point," Rose says. "They had to do what he
said. They were dressed well, but it was definitely a red flag."
Two years after Tony and Amy got together, in the spring of 1997, Tony
called his mother in California and told her he was getting married. He
asked if he could send his daughters for a long visit during the
honeymoon. When Deanna demurred, his charm abruptly turned into a threat:
"If you don't see them now, you never will."
"It was not a good time for me," Deanna Shore says. "But I said okay."
When they arrived, Deanna knew something was wrong. The girls, now 12 and
13, were silent. They stuck close together -- "like Oscars," Deanna says.
And though it was nearly 100 degrees in Sacramento, they insisted on
wearing layers of clothing.
Frustrated, Deanna sent the younger girl to visit Gina, Tony's sister, in
Washington State. Deanna was convinced they'd been molested. "I said, 'I'm
not going to ask, but if we split them up, they may volunteer it.'"
In Washington, the truth came out. Gina had been complaining about a
situation at work: "Do you ever feel like something is totally
Shore's daughter turned ashen. "How do you know about that?" she gasped.
The girl explained: One night, when Tony's girlfriend was in the hospital,
he'd raped her. "I know he's been doing it to [my sister] for years and
years," she told her aunt. "I was supposed to mind my own business."
Gina called her mother. And her mother called police.
According to their case file, the girls told California authorities about
the abuse and their father's drug use. Sometimes, they said, he even
drugged them. Their medical exams showed evidence of trauma. Tony Shore
was charged with aggravated sexual assault.
Ivy Chambers, a supervisor with Children's Protective Services, told
Deanna they'd gotten numerous complaints about her son over the years.
(Chambers did not respond to requests for comment.) They'd never been able
to prove anything.
Deanna called her son.
"He denied it flatly," she says. At first, she says, she "didn't know who
to believe." He was angry at her for calling the police. Listening to him,
Deanna Shore felt chilled. "He still used the same tone, but I had the
feeling I was talking to a stranger."
It took only a few months for defense attorney Bill R. Gifford to hammer
out a deal with the district attorney's office. Shore agreed to plead
guilty to two counts of indecency with a child. The offense can net five
years to life, but Tony got no prison time, just a $500 fine and eight
years of probation.
There were conditions: He'd have to register as a sex offender, meet
regularly with a probation officer and do community service. But under the
deferred adjudication program, he'd have no record of a conviction if he
made it through probation without a problem, says Denise Oncken, chief of
the D.A.'s child abuse division.
Serious sex offenders like Shore are required to register with authorities
in person every 90 days. Initially, he'd also have to meet with his
probation officer every 15 days.
But his wings were hardly clipped: He was barred from being within 100
yards of a school or day care, but the judge made a special exception to
allow him to keep living on East 18th Street -- in a house that overlooks
the playground at Field Elementary School. He was also exempted from the
rule that barred him from contacting his daughters, according to court
Such a light sentence isn't exactly normal, "but it's not outside the
norm, either," Oncken admits. When prosecutors have a weak case, she says,
their only choice may be to take what they can get.
Assistant District Attorney Terese Buess didn't work on Shore's
molestation case. But she explains that prosecution can be difficult with
out-of-state victims. "Some of these kids are really damaged. To throw
them in with a new prosecutor, when they haven't got a chance to talk or
meet, it's not a good bet."
Still, Deanna Shore says she would have done anything to cooperate, but
the prosecutors didn't seem to care. She learned of the plea bargain only
when she called to check on the status of the case. "They told me they
didn't want the girls to feel guilt. I said, 'Why should they? They are
children. They don't feel guilty.'"
The girls were terrified that Tony would come for them, she says. "I was
furious. I'm still furious."
Only Tony Shore seemed to think he'd gotten a tough sentence. Though he
was hiding four murders, he filed a motion to withdraw his plea just weeks
after accepting it.
Attorney Gifford argued in the motion that Shore had learned of the
stringent requirements for registered sex offenders only 15 minutes before
his plea. And while he agreed to the deal because he thought it would
allow him to keep his job, he'd been fired from Southwestern Bell, the
The judge denied the motion, and an appeals court later upheld the
The authorities seemed intent on moving on. Shore's sister Gina had filed
an affidavit telling how he cruised high schools and groped women. "I
think there were a lot more girls he molested," she says. "A lot more."
No one contacted her. And though urine tests during Tony Shore's first
year of probation twice revealed cocaine, he was never sent to jail.
Tony Shore's arrest as a serial killer came as more denouement than
climax. Years had passed since the task force disbanded. To all but their
shell-shocked relatives and a few devoted police officers, the victims had
His molestation conviction required Shore to give Houston police a DNA
sample in 1998. He'd complained about the terms of his deal in his appeal,
including court-ordered therapy. Curiously, when it came to providing the
DNA, he testified, "I don't have a problem with that."
The DNA, however, was a perfect match to that left by Maria Del Carmen
Estrada's killer in 1992.
But the cops didn't realize that when they obtained Shore's sample in
1998. There is sometimes a few years' delay before samples can be entered
into law enforcement databases, Sergeant Swaim says. But police didn't
realize they had a hit until October 2003 -- 5 years later.
The reason: During the time of Estrada's murder, the police department had
serious problems with its crime lab, problems that didn't become public
until almost a decade later. The department shuttered the lab in December
2002 after an independent audit found that analysts had been poorly
trained, lab conditions were inadequate and the subsequent results were
shaky at best.
In the aftermath of the audit, police decided to send samples from a few
high-profile murder victims -- Estrada was among them -- to an independent
lab in Dallas for testing, Swaim says. Swaim refuses to say why the
evidence hadn't been tested sooner. He referred questions to Captain
Richard Holland, his supervisor. Holland says he can't discuss the
evidence or the reason it wasn't tested, but says "advances in technology
since these murders occurred" were the key to the DNA match by the Dallas
lab. He won't speculate on whether the department would have ordered the
new tests if not for the DNA lab's problems.
Regardless, the test results surprised detectives. Anthony Allen Shore, on
probation for molesting his daughters, was a match. This was the same guy
that social workers apparently let off the hook so many times -- and the
same guy the court had allowed to live next door to an elementary school.
He was also the same guy who stopped in at the police station every three
months to confirm his address.
The detectives rushed out to the quiet brick house off Uvalde Drive where
Shore had moved about a year earlier. His second wife had left him, filing
for divorce just two days after she moved out, according to court records.
She would later tell the Houston Chronicle that she bolted after waking up
to find his hands around her neck.
But she never filed charges, and Shore seemed to have straightened out his
life. He was living with a new girlfriend, whom he called his wife, and
her three teenage kids. He had purchased a wrecker and gone into the
towing business. When he returned to Ernie's bar one night, he handed out
business cards with his phone number and the moniker "Texas T. Shore."
"To say I was shocked was putting it mildly," says his girlfriend, Lynda,
who asked that her full name not be used. "Pretty much everything he had
told me was not true. And to have 12 to 15 homicide detectives at your
house one night--" She stops. Then she says, "I never would have guessed
anything like that."
Investigators believe Shore probably expected to be discovered. "He was
waiting for that hammer to fall, and it fell," Swaim says.
Shore admitted to the killings during an interrogation by Swaim. Then he
added, "Now I'm going to tell you something you don't know," and confessed
to Tremblay's murder, as well as the rape of the teenager in 1993.
In every case, he assured police he had a justification. He'd been dating
Tremblay, he said, and had to strangle her when she promised to tell his
wife. He later told family members that one of the victims had been in his
daughter's school; another had heard his band play.
Swaim is convinced the story is crap. "They tell you just enough, but not
enough to make themselves look bad," he says. "My idea was, he was giving
himself an out: 'I'm not as bad as you think. We had a relationship.' He
has an explanation for everything. But it's not going to wash."
Investigators differ on whether Shore committed more murders in the 5
years after giving his DNA sample. Officers "looked at all the cases of
unsolved females that fit his MO," Swaim says, but he believes the last
killing was Sanchez in 1995.
Swaim knows Shore had a habit of picking up women and making his move. But
he doesn't believe he killed them: "There would be bodies strewn all over
the place. My friends say, 'You're crazy! You're telling me this guy
didn't do any other stuff for so many years?' But maybe we do have all he
Billingsley concedes that "a majority of investigators" think there are
more victims. But, if so, why wouldn't Shore admit to them? "We can only
kill him so many times," Billingsley says. "Why not admit to all of them?"
Billingsley believes Shore wants to be the center of attention. After all,
he says, he called to report Sanchez's body nine years ago. He seems to
enjoy the questioning. "He's got this attention now, and he can keep us
Tony Shore is scheduled for trial in November on capital murder charges,
but even his family doesn't contend he is innocent. His own father won't
argue that he deserves mercy.
Sitting in his Southwestern-themed kitchen in Clear Lake Shores, Rob Shore
says he believes in the death penalty; he doesn't think his son deserves
an exemption. "Fair is fair, and right is right," Rob says simply.
Tony has twice written him long letters from jail, full of explanations.
Tony claims his mother molested him as a child -- Deanna even underwent
hypnosis to see if that could be true, but came up with nothing to support
Rob doesn't believe such allegations, either, nor does he write back.
He and his wife, Rose, have an easy rapport from 20 years of marriage.
Even when he talks about beating up his first wife, they seem at ease.
"I'm not a violent person," he says.
"Only when you get mad," she teases him.
"I haven't beaten you up yet," he says. They smile at each other.
It's raining, and Rob excuses himself to move one of the cars to higher
ground. When he's gone, Rose wonders how Tony could have turned into a
cold-blooded killer. "He wanted his father's attention more than
anything," she offers. "But his dad didn't know that. He was mad at his
dad most of the time, and his dad didn't even know it."
When Rob returns, she changes the subject.
Deanna Shore was 57 when she started as a mother again. Her granddaughters
initially had no clothes or beds or shoes. Despite his promises, Tony
never sent child support.
Raising the girls was also emotionally difficult. The older daughter
couldn't sleep unless her 130-pound dog was in the room; she also
developed a habit of igniting her stuffed animals. The younger one had
nightmares about her dad. "They were not the kind of children that
grandparents long for," Deanna says dryly.
As for her son, "There's a part of me that loves him, and always will.
That loves the child he was.If the other part existed then, I didn't see
it. But he was also every woman's nightmare."
Deanna and her daughter Gina flew to Houston in March to visit Tony. Rob
drove them to the Harris County Jail, but when they went in, he sat in the
car and waited.
The visitors' room is a cacophony of girlfriends and husbands shouting
into speakers, struggling to be heard by prisoners on the other side of
the glass. But even cuffed, even in a bright orange jumpsuit, Tony Shore
was completely unself-conscious. He said he was working on a book of
memoirs; he claimed he was right with God.
"He was just as friendly as if he was having tea with us," Deanna marvels.
He didn't deny anything, but he didn't admit the murders, either. "I know
I'm forgiven," he said.
What about the parents of the murdered girls, Deanna asked him. How could
they forgive him? He told her they had a right to feel that way.
They left without any real answers.
Tony has continued to write. His mother and sister read his letters, but
they don't really believe anything he says. Deanna's therapist warned her
that the letters were classically sociopathic: He praises her, then asks
for something. Or he plays the guilt card. "He blames it all on cocaine,"
In letters to his sister Gina, Tony seems to be reveling in his notoriety:
He asks for copies of any newspaper stories she can find about his case.
He doesn't talk about guilt. He never says he's sorry. "Most of what he
writes about," she says, "is his book."
(source: Houston Press)
Defending life consistently
As we get into the election mode, labels start to be passed around. We
hear often about candidates who are "pro-life." What does that mean? There
are many different interpretations of that term. Our Catholic
interpretation of this term, it would seem to me, would be following the
"consistent ethic of life" that was so eloquently expressed and defended
by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. The consistent ethic of life states
that we believe in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to
natural death. To me that is the real meaning of pro-life.
There are all kinds of discussions about whether or not a Catholic can
call himself or herself pro-life and still be pro-death penalty. We talk
about innocent life and, I guess, the opposite is guilty life. I can't
imagine that God is making that kind of distinction. We are all His
children and all life is precious -- even the life of someone who does not
believe that all life is precious.
The state has the obligation to protect its citizens. It does not have the
right to kill them. Pope John Paul II's encyclical "The Gospel of Life"
(Evangelium Vitae) states that the instances where the death penalty could
be used are "very rare, if not practically non-existent" because of the
"steady improvements of our penal system." There is no valid reason in the
United States to justify the death penalty.
Revenge is the only reason for retaining the death penalty in the United
States, and that is not acceptable for people who believe in a God who is
When Pope John Paul II was in St. Louis in 1999 and the state of Missouri
was preparing to execute Darrell Mease, the Pope said, "The dignity of
human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has
done great evil." The people of Missouri did not seem to understand what
the Pope meant, so his spokesperson, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, clarified it
by saying, "Whenever he (Darrell Mease) is executed, the state must know
that what it is doing is morally wrong." Can something that is morally
wrong be pro-life?
The Catholic Bishops of Texas wrote in 1992: "Our opposition to capital
punishment is based on our strong belief in the inherent sacredness of
human life and on our obligation to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus
Christ." I believe Jesus was clear about His stance on the death penalty.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought forward, leaders of the
group said that according to their law she should be stoned to death.
Jesus simply replied, "Let the one among you without sin cast the first
stone." It seems clear from Jesus that none of us has the right to "cast
the first stone."
How can we call ourselves pro-life and support something that the Pope
calls "morally wrong" and that Jesus says only a sinless person can take
part in? I believe that only those who believe in the consistent ethic of
life can truthfully call themselves pro-life.
(source: Father George Horan co-directs the Office of Restorative
Justice/Detention Ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He can be
reached a frgehoran at la-archdiocese.org.----The Tidings)
Friday's 'Dateline' to show film produced by Dallas Brennan of Monroe
A documentary film on the death penalty produced by a Monroe woman will be
shown on NBC Friday night as a "Dateline" presentation.
"Deadline" focuses on Gov. George Ryan's 2003 commutation of the sentences
of 156 Illinois inmates who were on death row, following the discovery by
a group of journalism students that at least one of them was innocent.
Ryan, a Republican who earlier had voted to reinstate Illinois' death
penalty as a member of the state legislature, reduced most of the
sentences to life in prison, but pardoned four convicts he was convinced
were not guilty. The film includes interviews with Ryan and some of the
inmates whose lives he saved.
Dallas Brennan Rexer of Monroe is one of three producers of the film,
which drew the attention of NBC CEO Bob Wright when it was shown at the
Sundance Film Festival last winter.
Rexer said the network's purchase of the film's rights for a year is a
first for an independent documentary and could lead to showings on Bravo
and MSNBC, which are also owned by NBC. She expects 6 million viewers will
see the film on Friday between 8 and 10 p.m.
Big Mouth Productions, the collaborative Rexer has worked with in recent
years, cut "Deadline" a bit and divided it into 10 segments to meet the
format of the TV show. But it is otherwise intact, she said.
A Mt. View High School and Swarthmore College graduate, Rexer said
"Deadline" has had an up-and-down life. It began as a look into the 1972
Supreme Court decision that outlawed capital punishment in America.
The decision gave life to 600 inmates on death row, several hundred of
whom were later paroled. The film examined the lives of those who were
given a second chance by the court.
Rexer said the film crew was looking for a current event to provide
relevance to the historical analysis when Ryan made his surprise
announcement just days before his term ended in January, 2003. The crew
changed its reservations from Florida to Chicago and got a new cast of
characters to interview, including those who were pardoned, she said.
Ryan's decision angered the families of victims of the crimes and the
state's prosecutors. "I believe he is wiping his muddy shoes on the faces
of victims, using them as the doormat as he leaves office," was one
prosecutor's reaction to CNN.
Ryan said, "Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in
determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves
to die." He said he would "sleep well knowing I made the right decision."
Though "Deadline" has one similarity with the box office hit "Farenheit
9/11" -- appearances by George W. Bush as both Texas governor and
presidential candidate -- the tone of the film is markedly different from
Michael Moore's polemic.
Though the filmmakers are philosophically opposed to capital punishment,
"our film has its own style," Rexer said. "There are no voice-overs, and
the characters speak for themselves. The film emerged gradually in an
She said, "Michael Moore does fantastic work to bring documentaries to
people who don't think (the genre) is interesting." But there are many
ways to make a documentary.
In January of 2003 Rexer showed the previous five films made by Big Mouth
Productions at the Colonial Theater in Belfast. They dealt with such
emotional issues as justice among the poor in Washington, D.C., the Puerto
Rican experience in New York and a filmmaker's journey to see her
born-again Christian brother in Alaska.
Rexer said several of the films have been shown on public television and
HBO and are available for showing at schools and other institutions. "But
none has hit 6 million households in one night" like "Deadline," she said.
Big Mouth is organizing group screenings of the film across the country,
especially in the 38 states that have a death penalty (Maine isn't one of
them, though there is a group in Portland that has signed up for a group
watch). Rexer said she hopes the groups will e-mail the results of the
discussions generated by the film for use in efforts to overturn the death
In the case of Furman vs. Georgia in 1972, the Supreme Court banned
capital punishment as a violation of the constitution's ban against "cruel
and unusual punishment." In 1976 the court gave states the right to kill
convicts under certain conditions, and hundreds of executions have
occurred since then.
Rexer said the film raises powerful issues, including "whether we can
execute people with confidence that they aren't innocent."
(source: The Village Soup)
More information about the DeathPenalty