Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Impending Execution of Benny Stevens

Benny Stevens sits on death row. On Tuesday, the people of Mississippi will execute him. I have reviewed Stevens' case, as I have reviewed each execution this year, and I find no reasonable possibility that Benny Stevens is factually innocent of the crimes for which he is to die.

From the Mississippi Supreme Court decision in the case of Benny Joe Stevens v. State of Mississippi, I offer the State's summary of his crime. I exclude, without ellipses, the legal references.
Benny Joe Stevens was charged with the shooting deaths of his ex-wife, her husband and two children. Stevens was convicted of four counts of capital murder on December 4, 1999, and sentenced to death on all four counts. The convictions and sentences were affirmed by this Court. Stevens has now filed his application for post-conviction relief.
The murders of Wesley Reid, Glenda Reid, Heath Pounds and Dylan Lee, as well as the aggravated assault of Erica Stevens, took place on Sunday, October 18, 1998, in Marion County. Erica is the daughter of Benny Joe Stevens, and she lived with her mother, Glenda Reid, with her stepfather, Wesley Reid, and her brother, Dylan, in a trailer home in Marion County located on Shiloh Firetower Road in Foxworth, Mississippi. Glenda and Stevens had divorced when Erica was three years old. Benny Joe Stevens subsequently married Lauren Stevens ("Lauren") in 1993 and thereafter gained custody of his daughters, Erica and Angela, in 1996. However, in August of 1998, Glenda regained custody of Erica. ...

On Sunday, October 18, 1998, ... Lauren entered Stevens's bedroom, she saw her husband with his gun belt laid out on the bed and putting shotgun shells in the gun belt. Lauren also remembered seeing his .357 handgun. Stevens then took his guns and left the home in his truck.

On Sunday, October 18, 1998, Erica, Heath, Wesley, Glenda and Dylan were all at the trailer and had finished eating supper when Erica saw Stevens park his truck beside Wesley's truck in the backyard. No one was with Stevens. Erica saw Stevens get out of his truck. According to Erica, Wesley opened the sliding glass back door wide enough to stick his head out the door and called, "Benny Joe, Can I help you?" Erica then heard a gunshot and Wesley scream, "[S]hit, he shot me." Erica tried to rescue her brother and his friend but Stevens shot her in the back. She then hid in the trailer's master bath and watched helplessly as her mother was shot by Stevens. She then heard Benny Joe say, "[B]itch, I told you that I'd kill you one of these days."

Erica climbed through a small window in the bathroom where she had been hiding and heard more gunshots while she was running away from the trailer. Erica went to a neighbor's house for help and collapsed at the door. Erica told the neighbors that her father had shot her mother, stepfather, brother and friend. Stevens returned to his home where his wife inquired, "[W]hat did you do?", to which Stevens replied, "I just killed a family."
For a more detailed and more grisly recitation of the States' case, see an earlier ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

I find nothing in the States' summary which suggests to me that Stevens may be factually innocent.

I find not a single organization or person who suggests that Stevens may be innocent.

I therefore stand mute regarding the execution of Benny Stevens.