Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Impending Execution of Michael Wayne Hall

Michael Wayne Hall is scheduled to be executed by the people of Texas on 15 Feb 2011 for the murder of 19-year-old Amy Robinson. I find no credible evidence that Hall might be factually innocent of the crime.

For those of you convinced that we execute only guilty people, I suggest you consider the many cases of people wrongfully executed. Examples of people executed though likely innocent include (but are no means limited to) Johnny Frank Garrett, Frances Elaine Newton, and Cameron Todd Willingham.

For those of you opposed to the death penalty under any condition, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the details of some of the crimes for which people are condemned to die. For the details of the crime committed by Michael Wayne Hall, I offer the following description taken from his appeal Hall v. State
Eighteen-year-old Hall and his friend Robert Neville decided to kill someone because Hall was angry that he had a "sucky-ass" life. They started searching for the right victim and preparing for their crime by obtaining rifles, pellet guns, a crossbow, and ammunition. After much looking, Hall and Neville finally chose nineteen-year-old Amy Robinson, a friend and former coworker, because she trusted them and they "didn't have to put bruises on her to get her in the car." The evidence also revealed that Amy had a genetic disorder that made her small and mentally and physically slow. She stood four feet five inches tall and had the mental capacity of a third or fourth grader.
On February 15, 1998, Hall and Neville went looking for Amy in order to carry out their murderous plan. They checked her schedule at the Kroger grocery store and then lay in wait for her to ride by on her bicycle on her way to work. When the pair saw Amy, they coaxed her into the car, promising to drop her at work after they circled around in the country. As Neville drove, Amy complained that she did not want to be late for work.
Neville then pretended to have a flat tire and pulled the car over on a dirt road by a remote field. Hall and Neville got out of the car and walked into the field carrying their weapons while an unsuspecting Amy waited in the car listening to the radio. At some point, Hall persuaded Amy to get out of the car, telling her she needed to go talk to Neville near a tree. As Amy walked toward Neville, he fired a crossbow at her several times. Neville missed each shot, but Amy became angry when the last arrow grazed her hair. When Amy started walking back to the car, Hall shot her in the back of her leg with his pellet gun. Hall and Neville laughed while Amy cried in pain.
Meanwhile, Neville returned to the car and got his .22 caliber rifle. When Hall managed to maneuver Amy back into the field, Neville shot her in the chest. Hall then shot her in the chest "three or four or six times" with the pellet gun. Amy fell to the ground making loud noises and shaking. Hall then stood over her and stared for five to ten minutes. The pair worried that someone would hear Amy, so Neville shot her in the head, killing her instantly. Hall and Neville then left Amy and her bicycle in an area where they would not be easily discovered.
A few days later, they returned to the scene. Neville fired shots into Amy's dead body, and Hall took keys and money from her pocket. When Amy's family and coworkers realized she was missing, a massive search ensued. More than two weeks later, authorities focused on Hall and Neville. Fearing they would be caught, the pair fled Arlington but were soon arrested when they attempted to cross the border into Mexico. The authorities found Amy's body on the day of the arrest.
Hall apparently gave an incriminating interview to the press while in custody. One basis for his appeal was the admissibility of the interview as evidence during his trial. Again from  Hall v. State:
Finally, Hall boasted in his media interview that he was the one who got Amy to trust him, and she would have escaped had Neville tried to commit the offense without him. Indeed, Hall told the media that he had no remorse for Amy's death. When asked how he felt about Amy dying the way she did, Hall snickered, "Well, I wouldn't want to be in her place. She had to take a lot of pain." After his arrest, Hall told law enforcement and the media that he and Neville had wanted to become serial killers and kill one to five people a week. They also wanted to become white supremacists and kill African Americans.
From the Texas Execution Information Center, we learn more based on  the execution (5 years ago) of Michael Wayne Hall's accomplice, Robert Neville:
That day [of the murder], a store employee called Robinson's family to notify them that she had not shown up for work. The family then called the police, who questioned Neville and Hall. Neville told the police that he worked with Robinson and knew her socially, but had not seen her in a couple of months.
Two weeks later, Hall's mother reported to the police that Hall had been missing for several days. Hall's stepbrother told the police that Hall had told him he and Neville had abducted and killed Robinson. Neville and Hall were arrested on 3 March in Eagle Pass, as they were attempting to cross into Mexico.
Neville admitted killing Robinson and told police where to find her body. He said that one day when he and Hall were drunk, he told Hall that he "would just like to [go] out and kill somebody." They initially discussed killing a black person, but then changed their minds and agreed that Amy Robinson, being small and mentally challenged, was an easier target. Robinson was also part Native American.
After his arrest, Robinson told reporters that he and Hall wanted to become serial killers of racial minorities. "We had a bet going to see who could shoot and kill the most people between the two of us," he said. "No matter if it was blacks or Mexicans - anybody as long as they weren't our color."
Neville used his final words to apologize for his role in the crime.
Yes.  Ms. Carolyn Barker, and Tina, I would like to apologize to you all.  To Amy's sister, and everybody else here.  I love you all.  I hope you can find it in yourselves to forgive me and I hope all this here will kinda settle your pain and I hope the Lord will give you comfort and peace.  And I just want you to know I am very sorry for what I have done.  And if I see Amy on the other side, I will tell her how much you love and miss her and we will have a lot to talk about.  Mom, Dad, and Charlotte -- I am sorry for putting you through all this pain and stuff.  I did talk to Brandon and I think I got a little stuff stopped.  I love you all and I will see you on the other side. Okay.
I oppose the execution of people who might be factually innocent of the crime for which they are to die. I suspect that to prevent the execution of the factually innocent, we might have to ban the death penalty entirely.

With respect specifically to the execution of Michael Wayne Hall, I stand mute.