[Deathpenalty] death penalty news------TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Oct 18 12:06:43 CDT 2007
Death Row history
Collin County juries have sentenced 17 defendants to the death penalty
John Steven Gardner is currently on death row for shooting his wife,
41-year-old Tammy Dawn Gardner, in the head on Jan. 23, 2005, during a
burglary at her home in Westminster.
Moises Mendoza is currently on death row for strangling and stabbing
20-year-old Rachelle ONeil Tolleson, of Farmersville, on March 18, 2004.
He hid her body behind his home until officers questioned him, then tried
to dispose of her body by burning it in a field.
Ivan Abner Cantu is currently on death row for shooting his 27-year-old
cousin and a 21-year-old female on Nov. 4, 200 during a home invasion in
Dallas. He stole some jewelry and a vehicle from the residence.
Michael Adam Sigala is currently on death row for shooting a 27-year-old
man and sexually assaulting and killing the victims 25-year-old wife on
Aug. 22, 2000, in Plano. He also stole several pieces of jewelry from the
home and later pawned them.
Victor Saldano is currently on death row for abducting and murdering Paul
Ray King, 46, on Nov. 25, 1995, from a Plano market. He robbed and killed
King at the Tickey Creek area of Lake Lavon. John Avalos Alba is currently
on death row for murdering his wife, 28-year-old Wendy Alba, after forcing
his way into an apartment on Aug. 5, 1991, and shooting her repeatedly
with a .22-caliber pistol. He also shot Gail Webb, the apartment's
resident, but she survived the attack. He was arrested in Plano after a
stand-off with police officers.
Eric Lynn Moore and Kenneth Eugene Bruce were convicted of capital murder
in connection with the robbery and murder of 54-year-old Helen Elizabeth
Ayers and 58-year-old Robert Ayers of Prosper on Dec. 10, 1999. Moore,
Bruce, Sam Andrews Jr. and Anthony Quinn Bruce (who was a juvenile at the
time) went to Ayers home and asked for help because their car broke down.
Mrs. Ayers invited them in and after they entered the home, the suspects
produced weapons and demanded money and jewelry. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers were
forced into a bedroom and shot twice each. Mrs. Ayers died from gunshot
wounds to the head and leg. Mr. Ayers was shot twice in the back and
survived. Moore is currently on death row. Kenneth Bruce was executed by
lethal injection on Jan. 14, 2004. Andrews and Anthony Bruce were
sentenced to life in prison.
Charles Dean Hood is currently on Death Row for the murders of 40-year-old
Ronald Williamson and Williamson's 26-year-old girlfriend, Traci Lynn
Wallace. Both were found shot to death in Williamsons home in Plano, where
Hood was also living at the time. Hood attempted to cash a forged $400
check from Williamson's company account, and stole Williamsons vehicle,
jewelry and credit cards.
Miguel Angel Flores was convicted for the murder of a 20-year-old woman
from Borger who he abducted from a video store, then sexually assaulted
and killed by stabbing her to death on June 28, 1989. He left the victim
in the vehicle and fled the scene. The case was tried in Collin County due
to a change of venue request filed in Hutchinson County. He was executed
on Nov. 9, 2000.
Patrick F. Rogers was sentenced to death for shooting 23-year-old David
Roberts, a Paris police officer on Sept. 15, 1985. He and accomplice
Willis Cooper robbed a Paris store and were stopped by Roberts at a nearby
hotel. Rogers got out of his vehicle and opened fire on the officers car,
then walked to the driver's side of Roberts' car and fired 4 to 6 more
times through the drivers side window. Roberts died at the scene. Rogers
was executed on June 2, 1997. Cooper was convicted of aggravated robbery
and sentenced to life in prison.
Robert Excell White and James Livington were convicted for killing
73-year-old Preston Broyles, 18-year-old Gary Coker and 18-year-old Billy
St. John execution style at a rural country store between McKinney and
Princeton on May 11, 1974. All 3 were shot several times with a
.30-caliber machine gun stolen from a Waco gun dealer who was found
stabbed to death in his apartment. White and 2 accomplices, James Owen
Livington and Gary Dale Livington, left the store with money they stole
from the cash register and the victims wallets. White was executed on
March 30, 1999 and became the longest serving Death Row inmate in Texas
history. He was nicknamed "the Dean of Death Row." James Livingtons
sentence was changed to life in April 1983. Gary Livington was sentenced
to 20 years in prison in May 1975 and discharged from prison more than
nine years later.
Billy Stanley was sentenced to death for beating his wife, Linda Stanley,
to death Sept. 16, 1969. He was scheduled to be executed by electrocution,
but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared capital punishment was "cruel and
unusual." Texas Gov. Preston Smith converted Stanley and 44 other death
row inmates' sentences to life in prison. Stanley committed suicide by
hanging himself in his cell Aug. 17, 1978.
L.C. Sims was sentenced to death for rape Sept. 20, 1950. The offense
occurred on June 17, 1950, and he was executed by electrocution Sept. 5,
J.W. Rickman was sentenced to death for shooting McKinney PD Officer
Marion Taylor during a traffic stop on March 2, 1938. Rickman abducted a
taxi-cab driver and his vehicle and the driver made a deliberate traffic
violation to the get the officer's attention. When Taylor pulled the
vehicle over, Rickman shot and killed him. He was executed by
electrocution on March 18, 1940.
Ezell Stepp was sentenced to death for murdering Hardy Mills by striking
him with a garden hoe and a hammer, and stabbing him with a knife Sept. 2,
1921. He and his nephew, Arlie Stepp, disposed of the body in an abandoned
well. He was the last defendant to be executed by hanging at the Collin
County Jail on Nov. 17, 1922. Arlie Stepp testified against his uncle at
the trial. He pleaded guilty to accessory to murder, and was sentenced to
5 years in prison.
[sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Collin County court
records, McKinney Police Department records, The Associated Press]
(source: McKinney Courier-Gazette)
In Texas, hang 'em high justice has dropped to a new low
Let me see if I have this right.
Judge Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the state's highest criminal
court, doesn't see anything wrong with closing the court's doors at 5 p.m.
sharp on a day when 1) the U.S. Supreme Court announces it will hear a
precedent-setting lethal injection case and 2) a Texas man is set to be
executed by lethal injection.
Wow. That's some Texas justice there, boy.
Michael Richard was executed on the evening of Sept. 25. He had been
convicted in the rape and murder of Marguerite Lucille Dixon, a
53-year-old nurse and mother of seven. He stole 2 televisions from the
Harris County woman's home and later swapped them for cocaine.
Earlier that day, the U.S. Supreme Court had announced it would hear an
appeals case out of Kentucky in which 2 defendants assert the
unconstitutionality of lethal injection.
That announcement prompted a flurry of appeals, and at least two death row
cases so far those of Carlton Turner Jr. and Heliberto Chi have received
stays pending the outcome of the Kentucky case next year.
Richard's attorneys spent Sept. 25 preparing his appeal but weren't ready
to submit it until 5:20 p.m. because of a printing problem. The court does
not accept e-mailed filings.
Keller told the Associated Press she got a call from Richard's attorneys
shortly before 5 p.m. asking the court to stay open, but they didn't say
why their filing would be late.
"And given the late request, and with no reason given, I just said 'We
close at 5.' I didn't really think of it as a decision as much as a
Keller failed to notify her colleagues, some of whom stayed late or were
available to receive the expected appeal. That included Judge Cheryl
Johnson, the designated person for late motions in that case who read
about Keller's decision the next morning in the Austin American-Statesman.
"If I'm in charge of the execution, I ought to have known about those
things, and I ought to have been asked whether I was willing to stay late
and accept those filings," she said in news reports.
Reached this week, Johnson was less impassioned, but perhaps no less
"For me, that subject has been explored fully. I'm not going to say
anything more than I've already said," she told me by phone.
In the wake of Keller's disastrous judgment call, several attorneys have
filed complaints with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Good for
them. Judges like Keller need to be challenged when they mess up.
Keller declined to comment Wednesday and referred media inquiries to Judge
Tom Price, who also declined to comment.
Keller, remember, is the same judge who in 1998 wrote that convicted
rapist Roy Criner hadn't proved his innocence even though the semen in the
victim belonged to someone else. Criner may have failed to ejaculate or
could have worn a condom, she said.
Criner was pardoned in 2000 by then-Gov. George W. Bush.
2 weeks ago, I wrote that it's important for the Supreme Court to iron out
the constitutionality of lethal injection because the Constitution is
worthless if its tenets are only applied to some of the people, some of
The same logic holds true in this instance.
Keller may have had the legal right to close the court's doors at 5 p.m.
But determining whether she should have done so is important because the
process is worthless if it's only applied to some of the people, some of
Even death penalty supporters should want to see this resolved. Is it OK
for a judge to refuse a legitimate death row appeal because she wants to
uphold the court's hallowed tradition of closing on time?
I'm writing about this case is because it involves the death penalty,
which I oppose.
But that's the point. If Richard hadn't been on death row, it wouldn't
matter if Keller had closed the office at 5 p.m. or noon. Richard would
still be around to file his appeal.
He's not. That may be fine with a lot of people in this state, but it
(source: Commentary, Rebecca Chapa, San Antonio Express-News)
Man sentenced to death in slaying at McKinney model home
A man convicted of killing a real estate professional was sentenced to
A Collin County jury reached its decision against Kosoul Chanthakoummane
after 3 hours of deliberations.
Mr. Chanthakoummane, 27, was found guilty in the fatal beating and
stabbing of Sarah Walker, 40, inside a McKinney model home where she was
During the trial's final day of testimony Tuesday, Jackie Mull Ms.
Walker's younger sister became emotional as she talked about the day her
sister was killed in July 2006.
In the hushed courtroom, Mrs. Mull fought tears as relatives among the
observers wiped their own eyes and passed around tissues.
She testified that she was playing with her 3-month-old when the phone
It was McKinney police Capt. Randy Roland.
"I knew Sarah worked in McKinney. I asked him if Sarah was OK. He said
'No,' " Mrs. Mull said, her head hanging low, her long, dark hair
shielding her face.
"He told me that Sarah had been assaulted at work and she had died from
her injuries," she said sobbing.
Defense attorneys Steve Miears and Keith Gore had used the trial's
punishment phase to try to convince the jury that their client's life
should be spared.
They called as witnesses North Carolina prison guards, a juvenile
probation officer and a fellow inmate who worked with Mr. Chanthakoummane
on work release in North Carolina.
All said Mr. Chanthakoummane exhibited model behavior while incarcerated.
They said he spent time drawing pictures, including renditions of Mahatma
Gandhi, professional football player Terrell Owens, Clint Eastwood and
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Former detective in KFC murders says he didn't see key evidence
The former lead detective in one of Texas' most notorious and
longest-unsolved mass killing cases said Wednesday he never saw a napkin
and box that prosecutors say contained blood splatter tying a convicted
burglar and his cousin to the crime.
Danny Pirtle, retired from Kilgore police, was the 1st investigator at the
Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant the night of Sept. 23, 1983, when 5
people disappeared and later were found murdered in a field about 15 miles
Under cross-examination by Jeff Haas, the lawyer for accused killer Romeo
Pinkerton, Pirtle described the scene but said if he would have seen a box
or napkin with blood, he would have photographed them or collected them as
Asked if he's ever seen crime scene photos of the box or napkin, he
relied, "Not to my knowledge."
"I never saw the napkin," he said. "I believe I did see the box later, I
want to say it was at the lab."
Defense lawyers for Pinkerton, 49, the 1st of 2 Tyler men charged with the
slayings, are trying to show the investigation and evidence collection
were handled poorly.
Late Tuesday, Pirtle described enlarged murder scene photos showing the 5
victims in a field near an oil well. Displayed in a way so only jurors
could see them, Pirtle's description during questioning from lead
prosecutor Lisa Tanner still left several of the victims' relatives in the
courtroom audience distraught.
"Anything significant about how they are lying?" Tanner asked Pirtle.
"They were lying on their arms," he replied.
In the poster-size photos, 4 of the victims were close together, virtually
on top of one another, face down in the dirt and grass, their heads over
their arms. A 5th victim was yards away. The pictures also included
close-ups of some of the wounds.
All had been shot in the head. At least 1 had wounds to the back.
Dead were Mary Tyler, 37, the KFC's assistant manager; and 3 employees,
Opie Hughes, 39, Joey Johnson and David Maxwell, both 20. Monte Landers,
19, a friend of Johnson and Maxwell, was visiting with them as they closed
up the store that night and also became a victim.
Lawyers for Pinkerton, whom prosecutors have tied to the slayings by DNA
evidence, have suggested authorities mishandled evidence from the
abduction scene at the restaurant, where about $2,000 was stolen in a
robbery and where there were signs of a struggle and bloodshed.
Pirtle said he found blood in his initial search when he was summoned to
the scene. After searching areas near the KFC in hopes of finding the
victims, he returned to get fingerprints off the two cash registers, which
were empty of money but still had paper tapes in them recording the day's
Fingerprints were "the main thing we had to go with," he said.
Tanner asked if blood was a "big deal" compared with fingerprints.
"In 1983, it wasn't that important because the only thing you could do was
type it," Pirtle replied.
His work was interrupted that next morning when he was summoned to the
site where the bodies had been found.
Pirtle said the investigation, which soon included numerous other law
enforcement agencies, was going in many directions and it wasn't until
three weeks later that he was designated by his superiors to be the lead
investigator in the case and finally tried to consolidate all the evidence
that had been collected.
One early glitch was that nine of 10 rolls of film he shot at the KFC the
night of the disappearances were ruined in processing. He didn't find that
out until a few days later, and well after numerous other officers had
been at the scene.
The case is being tried in Bowie County, almost 100 miles away, because of
publicity in the Kilgore area.
In opening statements, Tanner revealed that authorities believe DNA tests
also show an unknown 3rd person was involved in the crimes. She also said
DNA tests showed Hughes was raped, a previously undisclosed element of the
Pinkerton's cousin, Darnell Hartsfield, is to be tried on the same
charges, probably next year.
Records show Pinkerton, a convicted burglar who's been to prison at least
five times, had been out of prison just two days when the crime occurred.
His blood was found on a napkin. Blood from Hartsfield, who was arrested
for aggravated robbery three days after the KFC slayings, was found on a
box of cash register tapes.
Defense lawyers also are trying to show how a man earlier charged with the
slayings could still be responsible even though DNA tests absolved him.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty