Sunday, July 14, 2013

Shore: The Possible Unacknowledged Victims

 << Previous Post in this Series: Residence -- Miscellaneous

In this series, I am considering the possible unacknowledged victims of Anthony Allen Shore. I am limiting the discussion to attacks prior to 16 January 1999 when Shore raped Amy Lynch and nearly strangled her to death. Since Shore tended to attack young women that he first encountered near his residence, I have presented several posts regarding his residences. In this post I will give brief summaries of possible unacknowledged victims of Anthony Allen Shore. I will not discuss herein his four acknowledged murders and his one acknowledged rape. I will simply list the names of those five victims and the dates of their attacks, providing a link for detailed information.
 Laura Tremblay -- 1986 09 26  (yyyy mm dd)
 Carmen Estrada -- 1992 05 16
 Selma Janske -- 1993 10 19  (pseudonym)
 Diana Robellar -- 1994 08 07
 Dana Sanchez -- 1995 07 06
As I will describe in the next post, the timing of these killings indicate that list above is incomplete. When I include the cases summarized below, the time increments between attacks follow the Random Walk pattern associated with attacks of a serial killer. In other words, the timing of the attacks inform us that Shore has not acknowledged all his victims. The circumstances, locations, and dates of the following attacks suggest that Shore may have been the attacker in each case.

Shandra Charles: 16-year-old, black, female murdered on 26 September 1986; stabbed in the throat; murdered two years to the date after the murder of Laura Tremblay, while Shore was living at the Tallulah Lane residence; murdered in a dark, vacant field located 1.6 miles from where Shore was living. Preston Hughes III was wrongfully convicted of and executed for this murder. I wrote 100,000 words on that case in this blog. I prepared an application for writ of habeas corpus for him, as well as a motion for DNA testing, as well as a civil suit complaint against the city of Houston. I sat by helplessly as he was wrongfully executed by the people and State of Texas. I learned of Anthony Allen Shore while trying to figure out who in fact murdered Shandra Charles. A summary and directory of my blog posts for that case are here. The habeas is here. The motion for DNA testing is here. The civil suit is here.

Marcell Taylor: 3-year-old, black, male, murdered on 26 September 1986; stabbed in the throat; murdered during the same attack that ended the life of Shandra Charles. Other information and links are same as above.

Monalisa Espinosa: 16-year-old, Hispanic female; disappeared from 10120 Irvington Boulevard in North Houston on 5 February 1989. That would place the point of her disappearance 22 miles from Shore's Tallulah Lane residence. Monalisa's body was discovered on 9 December 1991 in a wooded area behind an auto shop located at 5350 Addicks Satsuma Road in Houston. That is 10 miles from the Tallulah Lane residence. The body was decomposed: a cause of death could not be determined. Monalisa used drugs and was sexually active. She engaged in prostitution to support her habit. Shore was known to hire prostitutes, having been arrested for paying an undercover cop for sex. I wonder if Shore took Monalisa to one of his miscellaneous residences, had sex with her there, kept her hostage there, strangled her there, and disposed of her body. She was found 8 miles from the apartment complex at 10438 Hammerly Blvd, where Shore had rented an apartment. I learned of Monalisa's case from Victor Jackson, who married Monalisa's mother (Alice) sometime after Monalisa's disappearance. Victor nonetheless refers to Monalisa as his step-daughter. Victor continues to search for the person who killed his step-daughter. I continue to search for the person who killed Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor. We independently determined Anthony Allen Shore to be the likely culprit. We now work together to learn more about Shore and his possible unacknowledged victims.

Jane Doe Westheimer: a young, white or Hispanic female; unidentified body found at 5433 Westheimer Road in Houston on 29 December 1989; around 5' 3" tall; around 160 pounds; black hair, 20" long; brown eyes; small half-moon scar below right knee; wearing black corduroy pants, a white pullover shirt, black shoes, white panties, white bra, and black lace-up shoes. The body was found 9 miles from the Tallulah Lane residence, where Shore was probably living at the time. It is 9 miles also from the 10000 Hammerly Blvd. apartment complex where Shore rented an apartment. Several months before this victim was found, Shore rented yet another apartment within the complex at 10000 Hammerly Blvd. It is not certain he was renting two apartments at the complex at the same time, but it seems as if he might have been.

Stephanie Beuhler: 18-year-old, white, female. last seen on 8 September 1990. Her car was found one half mile from her home near the corner of Westheimer and Beltway 8. It had a flat tire. Police suspect that she attempt to walk back to her house but never arrived. Her car was located 4 miles from Shore's Tallulah Lane residence, where he was probably living at the time of Stephanie's disappearance. Her car was also less than 7 miles from the apartment complexes on Hammerly Blvd. Sometime between the discovery of Jane Doe Westheimer and the disappearance of Stephanie Beuhler, Shore rented yet another apartment within the complex at 10000 Hammerly Blvd. Shore rented one house and three different apartments during that period, either sequentially or concurrently.

Trellis Sykes: 16-year-old, black, female; strangled manually on the morning of 13 May 1994 while taking a shortcut across an empty field (Shandra Charles was also black, and was also murdered in a empty field.) Trellis was 6 foot tall and athletic. She played for the Worthing High School basketball, volleyball, and track teams. In addition to being strangled, she was beaten about the head and face. The field was located near 3900 Redbud. That is 18 miles from Shore's 18th Street residence, where he was living at the time. It is less than 7 miles from the apartment complex at 6363 West Airport Blvd., where Shore had lived sometime previously.

Erica Ann Garcia: 14-year-old, Hispanic, female; strangled with her own underwear; found inside the boarded-up and vacant Alief General Hospital. She had been sexually assaulted. The abandoned hospital was located at 11101 Bellaire, just a mile from the Dimension nightclub where she had visited the night before with friends. She told her friends that someone was going to pick her up. The hospital was 18 miles from Shore's 18th Street residence, where he was living at the time. It is only 5 miles from Shore's previous residence on Tallulah Lane. Erica's attack is similar to Shore's acknowledged killing of Diana Robellar. Diana was sexually assaulted, strangled, then dumped behind a large, abandoned building.

Melissa Trotter: 19-year-old, white, female; strangled with one leg of a pair of pantyhose; discovered in the Sam Houston National Forest on 2 January 1999. According to the medical examiner, she had been dead for 25 days. According to 7 distinguished forensic medical experts, she had been dead less than one week. Since she had disappeared on 8 December 1998, it appears as if she had been held hostage for some time before she was strangled, just as several other of the unacknowledged victims may have been held hostage. Larry Swearingen was convicted of Melissa's murder, and Texas has tried to execute him several times for the crime, being thwarted each time by successful appeals based on new forensic evidence. This is another case about which I have written a substantial amount. For my explanation of why Larry Swearingen is The Most Innocent Man on Death Row, see my multi-part series beginning here. To understand why I believe Melissa may have been another victim of Anthony Allen Shore, look here.

Amy Lynch: Amy Shore was Shore's second wife, 14 years his junior. The two began living together while Amy was still in high school. On or sometime before the date of Melissa Trotter's murder, Shore came home with blood on his shirt. Two weeks after Melissa's murder, Shore choked Amy nearly to death, and had sex with her when he thought she was dead. She filed for divorce the next day that the court was open for business. For more details, see the post just mentioned, here.

In the next post, I will begin using a temporal analysis to provide evidence that these victims were all victims of Anthony Allen Shore.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shore: Residence -- Miscellaneous

<< Previous Post in this Series: Residence -- 18th Street

In this series, I am considering the possible unacknowledged victims of Anthony Allen Shore. I am limiting the discussion to attacks prior to 16 January 1999 when Shore raped Amy Lynch and strangled her nearly to death. Since Shore tended to attack young women that he first encountered near his residence, I have presented one post for each of the four residences that I believe were Shore's primary residences. Those four residences are.

An apartment on Renwick Drive west of downtown Houston.

An apartment in the Atrium Apartments complex near the Gulf Freeway and Hobby Airport.

A house, probably owned by a friend, on Tallulah Lane well west of downtown Houston.

A house, rented, on 18th Street, slightly northwest of downtown Houston.

Public records for the time period of interest show that Anthony Allen Shore and/or his first wife (Gina Worley Shore) resided at multiple other addresses. The beginning and end dates of the stays at these residents overlap one another as well as the dates for the primary residences. It's seemingly impossible to envision how Shore might have simply moved sequentially from one residence to the next. It seems instead that Anthony and/or Gina Shore were maintaining multiple residences. I have formed several hypotheses for the significance of the multiple residences, but my hypotheses are not well-formed or substantiated. I'll therefore leave it to you to devise your own.

In this post, I'll simply provide the addresses of the miscellaneous residences (without the specific apartment number), then provide a map showing all of Shore's addresses in comparison to his victims, both his acknowledged victims and the others I suspect of him.

I list the miscellaneous addresses in the order of earliest-to-latest occupation date.

10438 Hammerly Blvd, Houston 77043
10438 Hammerly Blvd, Houston 77043 (same apartment complex, different apartment)
10000 Hammerly Blvd, Houston 77080
6363 West Airport Blvd, Houston 77035

The four "primary" residences and the four "miscellaneous" residences combine for a total of eight different residences for Anthony Allen Shore after his return to Houston (sometime before April of 1981) until the time he raped and strangled (nearly to death) his live-in girlfriend Amy Lynch (in January 1999).

I now present the map showing the eight possible residences (yellow house icons) of Anthony Allen Shore and the fourteen attacks (red balloon icons) for which he may have been responsible. Click to enlarge.

There are only seven residence icons because two residences were in the same apartment complex. There are only thirteen attack icons because two people were murdered in the same attack at the same location.

Anthony Allen Shore has acknowledged five of the attacks. In the next post in this series, hopefully next before the end of next weekend, I'll summarize the cases of the nine other individuals who may have been attacked by Anthony Allen Shore.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shore: Residence -- 18th Street

 << Previous Post in this Series Residence -- Tallulah Lane

Soon after Anthony Allen Shore separated from his first wife Gina Worley Shore, he moved from his friend's house on Tallulah Lane into a rented house on the 700 block of East 18th Street. While living there he murdered (as a minimum) Diana Robellar and Dana Sanchez. While living there he raped (as a minimum) the pseudonymous Selma Janske.

With the addition of the East 18th Street address to those already discussed, it is now possible to easily portray Shore's hunting grounds for the 13-year period of time I consider in this series. In the map below, I have connected Shore's residences by a driving path from (A) his first apartment on Renwick, to (B) his apartment off the Gulf Freeway, to (C) his friend's house on Tallulah Lane, to (D) the rented house on East 18th Street. I have also added a red marker for each PFE (point of first encounter) for the four murders and one rape to which Shore has confessed. Click on the image to enlarge.

Not only did Shore hunt his victims close to home, he sometimes hunted them exceptionally close to home. Any young woman living near Anthony Allen Shore was unwitting putting her life at risk.

I'll soon be discussing the cases of numerous young women who were murdered (or abducted and never found) while living near Anthony Allen Shore. First though, I want to discuss something odd about Anthony Shore's residences. I'll do that in my next post in this series, probably next weekend.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shore -- Residence: Tallulah Lane

 << Previous Post in this Series: Residence -- Atrium Apartments

When confessing to the murder of Laurie Lee Tremblay, Shore described his residence as: "I was living in Alfred's house at the time."

Laurie Lee Tremblay was murdered on 26 Sep 1986. According to a public records search, Anthony Allen Shore moved into a house located on Tallulah Lane in west Houston in November of 1985. The public records have him living there until October of 1999, but that can't be correct. The public records searches tend to shift the move-in date somewhat later than actual, since the searches may miss the earliest indications that the subject has moved. Furthermore, the searches tend to lengthen the stay beyond actual duration, sometimes significantly, since they do not find assertive information that the person has moved out. The public records searches do attempt to resolve suggestions that a person is living at two, or three, or more residences at the same time.

What's clear is that Shore was living at a house at the time of the Laurie Tremblay murder. Since the public records search show him living in only in a specific house during that time frame, the one on Tallulah Lane, I'm confident that Shore was living in the house on Tallulah Lane at the time of the Tremblay murder.

I'll not give the specific address of his Tallulah Lane residence, since I do not want the current occupants to be disturbed in any fashion regarding Shore's earlier stay in their current house.

Shore first encountered Laurie Lee Tremblay at the corner of S. Dairy Ashford Road and Westella Drive. That intersection is only 0.4 miles from where Shore was living at the time. This is an extreme example of Shore seeking his prey close to his home.

Two years after the murder of Laurie Lee Tremblay, two years to the day, 16-year-old Shandra Charles and 3-year-old Marcell Taylor were murdered in a field behind the Fuddrucker's restaurant located at 2475 South Kirkwood Road in Houston. That is only 2.1 miles from Shore's Tallulah Lane residence. Preston Hughes III was executed for those murders, though he was innocent of them. I wrote 100,000 words about that case in this blog. An outline of my posts can be found here. I also wrote an 82 page Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus for Preston Hughes. That document is here.

One of the reasons I am pursuing Shore for all his killings, not just for those to which he has confessed, is Preston's mother. I came to know her as I tried to save her son's life. I've stayed in touch with her since her son's wrongful execution. She has asked nothing of me. I am doing this of my own accord.

There are now other reasons why I am pursuing Shore for all his killings and all his attacks. I got started, however, because of Preston's mother. 

So that you can get a sense of how close the three murders were to Shore's residence, I've included the three locations on a map which includes downtown Houston. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, all three locations are clustered in far west Houston. The uppermost location is where Shore first encountered Laurie Lee Tremblay. The intermediate location is Shore's Tallulah lane residence. The location at the lower right is the field where Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor were murdered two years to the day after Laurie Lee Tremblay was murdered.

The proximity of Shandra and Marcell's murder to Shore's residence does not necessarily mean that Shore killed the two of them. It is, however, good reason to consider the possibility. I will do so later in this series, just as I will consider each of Shore's possible victims later in this series.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shore: Residence -- Atrium Apartments

 << Previous Post in This Series: Residence -- Renwick Drive

From Strangler: "One month after they were married, Gina got pregnant. After they returned from California, the couple moved into the Atrium apartment complex near the airport."

With no more than that to go on, I searched endlessly (or thereabouts) for any apartment complex having anything like the name Atrium near any of the numerous large and small airports in the Houston area. I came up empty. I assumed the apartment complex had been renamed or torn down.

Once Victor Jackson and I joined forces to investigate Shore, we soon figured out where Shore lived after moving out of the apartments on Renwick Drive. I had been guessing that Anthony Allen Shore had moved in with his father, Robert Shore somewhere in the League City area. I asked Victor if he could find an address for Robert Shore. Victor came up with an address of 9150 Gulf Fwy, Houston.

After a little confusion in Google Maps, which randomly shows one of two locations for that address, I found this overhead view.

That's William P. Hobby Airport nearby, so the address looked promising. I checked Google street view and found this:

I suggested that this could have been the location of the Atrium Apartments. In other words, instead of finding where Robert Shore had lived, Victor may have found where Anthony and Gina Shore lived after their wedding and honeymoon.

Victor quickly came up with this compelling bit of information.

Notice that the nearby property at 9100 Gulf Fwy is owned by Atrium Finance LLP. It is worth $19,008,940. Perhaps it is the large hotel to the north, the Houston Marriott South at Hobby Airport. In any case, I am convinced that we have located Shore's second Houston residence.

Notice that Victor did all the real work in finding these addresses.

I believe that Gina and Anthony Shore may have lived in the Atrium Apartments at 9150 Gulf Fwy, Houston, TX 77017 from April 1983 to October 1985. The April 83 date is based on the Gina and Anthony's wedding. The October 85 date is based on when I believe they moved into a house on Tallulah Lane, to be discussed in a separate post soon in the series. Those dates are not definite.

This date range encompasses several unsolved strangulation murders of young women along the Gulf Freeway. These unsolved murders of young women are often referred to as the I-45 murders. The area has become known as The Killing Fields. A field near the corner of Calder Road and Ervin in League City is particularly well known, since the bodies of four female victims have been found there. Two of those victims are Jane Does. The other two were abducted 11 months apart from the were last seen at the same convenience store pay phone. That is a signature consistent with Anthony Allen Shore.

The convenience store is 14 miles south of Shore's 9150 Gulf Freeway residence. That's substantially beyond Shore's normal prey radius. For that and other reasons, I've been disinclined to believe Shore was responsible for any of the I-45 killings. Certain recent events are causing me to reconsider. I'm not yet free to discuss those events, and I haven't yet completed enough research and analysis on the I-45 killings to justify including them in this series. I therefore intend still to limit this series to cases ranging from the murder of Laurie Tremblay (26 Sep 86) to the murder of Melissa Trotter (Dec 98).

Perhaps after this series, I'll consider a series on Anthony Allen Shore and the I-45 murders.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shore: Residence -- Renwick Drive

 << Previous Post in this Series: Possible Victims

As do many serial killers, Anthony Allen Shore prowled for his victims close to his home. It is therefore important to know where Shore lived when attempting to determine which of the unsolved (or incorrectly solved) crimes he may be responsible for.

I have, for some time now, been attempting to determine all of Shore's residences since he moved back to the Houston area. (He attended to Clear Lake High School in League City for one year, then moved to California, then moved back to Houston.) I've relied on the book Strangler, public records searches, and some clever research by Victor Jackson. (Victor Jackson is married to the mother of Monalisa Espinosa, one of Shore's possible victims.)

I'll describe Shore's residences in this and subsequent posts. I'll not give sufficient information to locate the specific house or apartment, since I don't want the current residents being bothered.

6114 Renwick Drive, Houston 77081
Shore probably lived at the Renwick address beginning sometime before 16 April 1981 and ending sometime after 25 March 1983.

On or about 16 April 1981, Anthony Allen Shore was in a traffic accident. He was named as a defendant in a civil suit regarding that accident. The petition, provided below, identified Shore as living at 6114 Renwick in Houston.

The plaintiff apparently tried to collect damages prior to filing a lawsuit. The Petition wasn't filed until 24 March 1983, as shown in the second page, provided below.

In what may be only a coincidence, Shore married his first wife, Gina Lynn Worley, only one day later, on 25 March 1983. In the quote from Strangler below, author Corey Mitchell overstates his years by one.
She met Shore after Thanksgiving in 1983. 
"I was checking the mail in my mailbox and he ran down the stairs all flustered and introduced himself, saying "Hi! I'm Tony Shore! I'm the nicest guy you'll ever meet." Gina was smitten. "I thought he was charming. He is a charming guy. He was really a nice, open genuine person." 
Shore asked her out then and there. The couple spent most of their time together gearing up for the Christmas holiday. He would take Gina in his big Impala, for which he paid $100, to the upscale Galleria in Houston for some serious Christmas shopping. Gina remembered she thought his car was cute with a peace sign sticker in the back window an a rusty scraped-up bumper. 
"It had an exhaust leak," Gina remembered, "so [whenever] you drove more than ten minutes, man you were happy [when] you got there. 
"It was really neat when we met, We had almost the same kind of books. At that point in time we were reading things like Jonathan Living Seagull, those types of books. So, we really hit it off. We really got along." 
The young lovebirds wasted no time in trying the know. They were married in on March 25, 1984.
Later in his book, Mitchell provides dates that clarify Shore met Gina around Thanksgiving of 1982 and married in March 1983. Mitchell also explains that the couple moved to the Atrium Apartments near the airport soon after their marriage. Victor and I have recently figured out the specific location of that vague description. I'll be discussing the Atrium Apartments in the next post in this series.

Since Gina described Shore as running "down the stairs" while she was checking her mail, it sounds as if they were living nearby in the same apartment complex. The building at 6114 Renwick Drive is indeed a two-story apartment building. I offer an image from Google street view below.

The apartment complex is located in the west Houston area, as were most of Shore's residences. I provide a Google map view of the area below.

Strangler author Corey Mitchell was not able to pin down when Shore returned to the Houston area after living in California. In his book, he left the issue vague. "By 1983," he wrote, "Tony Shore moved back to Houston, Texas. He was twenty-one years old when he met the love of his life, an older woman named Gina Worley."

By discovering the traffic accident in which Shore was involved, Victor Jackson has placed Shore's return to Houston two years earlier than Mitchell's approximation. This means that Shore may have been dismissed as a potential culprit for one or more unsolved attacks from perhaps as early as 1980 through 1983.

Here are two images of Shore as he appeared around that time.

If you have any information about an unsolved attack against a young woman in this area during this time frame, or you have any information about Tony Shore around this time period, please contact the Houston PD or email me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shore: Possible Victims

 << Previous Post in this Series: Introduction

In this post, I will briefly summarize 16 cases of rape and murder that I believe occurred at the hands of Anthony Allen Shore. Of those cases, Shore confessed to murdering four of the victims and raping one of them. One other case is that of Shore's second wife. She claims that Shore nearly strangled her to death while raping her.

For this series, I will limit the discussion to attacks for the 12-year period between 26 September 1986 (when Shore murdered Laurie Trembly) and 16 January 1999 (when Shore raped Amy Lynch). I am aware of one possible attack by Shore prior to his murder of Laurie Trembly, but I am not presently at liberty to discuss that attack. I am aware of at least two attacks after the rape of Amy Shore. I will mention them later in the series. I will not, however, analyze them in detail due to insufficiency of information.

I have a database of unsolved cases of young women abducted and attacked in the Houston area for the 22-year period between 1981 (when Shore moved backed to Houston) and 2003 (when Shore was arrested for the murder of Carmen Estrada). I can attribute only a minority of those cases to Anthony Allen Shore. The victims listed in this post are a subset of all those cases I have in my database.

I will discuss the attacks in the order in which they occurred. I will reserve any effort to justify my attribution of the cases to Anthony Allen Shore until later posts in this series.

Now for the list of the definite and possible victims of Anthony Allen Shore.

26 Sep 1986: Laurie Trembly -- Shore confessed to murdering this young woman. I have described this case in substantial detail here.

26 Sep 1988: Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor -- The sixteen-year-old girl and her three-year-old nephew were murdered by precise stab wounds to their necks in a field a mile and a half from where Shore was living. Texas executed Preston Hughes for the murders, though he was innocent. My extensive series on that case is outlined here. The petition for Habeas Corpus I prepared for Hughes is here.

02 Feb 1989: Monalisa Espinosa -- This sixteen-year-old girl went missing from 10120 Irvington Boulevard in Houston. I learned of her case only recently from Victor Jackson. Victor married Monalisa's mother, Alice, some time after the murder. Working together, Victor and I have been able to uncover additional information about Shore that is relevant to this series. Because Victor and Alice Jackson are determined that Monalisa's murder be solved, they allow me to mention their names and (eventually) share their contact information. It is their determination and involvement that has prompted me to resume blogging on a limited basis.

15 Dec 1989: Jane Doe Westheimer -- The body of this unidentified young female was discovered at 5433 Westheimer Road in Houston on 29 December 1989. I estimate the date of her murder to be two weeks prior to the discovery of her body. It's important to remember that the date of her murder is approximate.

08 Sep 1990: Stephanie Beuhler -- This eighteen-year-old female had a flat tire near the corner of Westheimer Road and Beltway 8. The police believe she was abducted when she attempted to walk the half-mile back to her home.

16 May 1992: Carmen Estrada -- Shore confessed to murdering this young woman. He was tried and convicted for her murder, and her murder only. Shore sits on death row now because of her murder. I have describe this case in substantial detail here.

19 Oct 1993: Selma Janske -- Shore confessed to raping this young woman. She survived the attack, desires to remain anonymous, and the name used herein is an alias adopted from the book Strangler. I have described this case in substantial detail here.

13 May 1994: Trellis Sykes -- This sixteen-year-old girl was abducted as she walked to school. Her body was discovered in a field near the 3900 block of Redbud in Houston. She had been beaten and strangled.

07 Aug 1994: Diana Robellar -- Shore dragged this nine-year-old girl into a van as she walked home from a nearby store. Shore raped and strangled her. He dumped her body behind a large, abandoned storage building. Shore confessed to murdering her. I have described this case in substantial detail here.

06 Jul 1995: Dana Sanchez -- Shore confessed to murdering this young, pregnant woman. I have described this case in substantial detail here.

07 Jun 1997: Erica Garcia -- The body of this fourteen-year-old girl was discovered in the vacated Alief General Hospital at 11101 Bellaire, Houston. She had been raped and strangled.

08 Dec 1998: Melissa Trotter -- This nineteen-year-old female was abducted on the date indicated. Her body was discovered in the Sam Houston National Forest 25 days later on 2 January 1999. Larry Swearingen was convicted of murdering her and sentenced to death. Because Swearingen was in jail when Melissa Trotter was killed, I have described him as The Most Innocent Man on Death Row. I presented my hypothesis that Shore killed Melissa Trotter here.

16 Jan 1999: Amy Lynch -- This young woman was Shore's second wife. He nearly choked her to death while raping her. She was waiting at the courthouse door to file divorce papers the first morning the courthouse was open after Shore's attack. Shore's attack on her is discussed in Strangler.

I will begin analyzing the attacks as a whole and individually beginning with the next post in this series.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shore: Introduction

I am returning to blogging temporarily to present a case that Anthony Allen Shore is responsible for killing seven more young women and one young man beyond the four murders to which he has confessed. If I am correct in my assessment, then Texas has attempted to execute an innocent man four times for one of those murders, and did in fact execute an innocent man for two of those murders.

To determine whether or not Shore committed any particular murder, I relied on four criteria:

1. Was the victim the type of person that Shore would murder? 

2. Was the murder performed in a fashion consistent with Shore's other murders?

3. Was the possible point-of-first-contact between Shore and the victim near Shore's home?

4. Was the timing of the murder consistent with a random walk analysis of Shore's other murders?

I understand that even a strong match on all four criteria does not prove that Shore committed a specific murder. I note, however, that I have identified eight murders that meet three or more of the criteria. The chance that all eight are only coincidentally consistent with Shore is exceptionally small.

In other words, I believe my analysis shows that Anthony Allen Shore is responsible for three times as many murders as he has confessed to. By extension, I believe my analysis reinforces my argument that Larry Swearingen did not kill Melissa Trotter, despite Texas' repeated efforts to execute him for that murder. Similarly by extension, I believe my analysis reinforces my argument that Preston Hughes killed neither Shandra Charles nor Marcell Taylor, despite the fact that Texas has already executed him for those murders.

I will present my analysis in this series, beginning with my next post in which I will identify the other victims of Anthony Allen Shore.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Bryon Case

I have converted The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Byron Case to PDF format and I have placed it among my Skeptical Juror Docs. I make this PDF version of the book public and free.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Last year was a difficult year, for many reasons. One of the reasons is that my mother died. She died before Mother's Day 2012, so this will be the second that I cannot wish her a happy Mother's Day.

Even when my mother was alive, Mother's Day meant something different to me than most people. I've noticed that most (not all, but most) of the people who fight stubbornly to free loved ones are mothers. On Mother's Day, therefore, I find myself thinking of those who have lost children for crimes they did not commit.

It seems inappropriate to wish them a happy Mother's Day as their children languish in prison, or lie in a grave, for crimes they did not commit. Furthermore, it seems insensitive to merely ignore them for fear of not having the right words. I therefore want to take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to some of those mothers, to those I have worked with and continue to work with.

I offer my best wishes to Evelyn Case. Her son Byron is serving two life sentences without possibility of parole for a murder he did not commit. Byron's petition to Governor Nixon for an absolute pardon is here. My two letters to Governor Nixon in support of that petition are here and here. My book on the case is here. The Kindle version, which I shall soon make free, is here.

I offer my best wishes to Pat Ledford. Her son Michael is serving 50 years without the possibility of parole for a murder he did not commit. Michael's petition to Governor McDonnell, which I prepared with the help of his mother, is here.

I offer my best wishes to Brenda Johnson. Her son Preston Hughes III was executed for a crime he did not commit. Preston's application for Writ of Habeas Corpus, which I prepared, is here.

I also offer my best wishes to Alice Jackson. Her teenage daughter, Monalisa Espinosa, was murdered. The case remains unsolved. I have recently been contacted by Victor Jackson. Victor believes that his step-daughter was murdered by Anthony Allen Shore. Victor and I have quickly built a working relationship that has led to some new discoveries in the case of Anthony Allen Shore. Because of Victor, I have decided to resume blogging on a limited basis.

On this Mother's Day, 2013, I offer my best wishes to Evelyn Case, Pat Ledford, Brenda Johnson, and Alice Jackson.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Going Dark Once Again

I am taking another hiatus from blogging. I don't know how long I will be away. I know only that I am now deeply involved in another project, one that is not depressing and discouraging, and that the siren songs are too seductive to resist.

_______ Welcome To The Skeptical Juror ________

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Strangulation of Melissa Trotter

Two seemingly insignificant incidents intersected recently in surprising fashion. The surprise, to me at least, is that I have long overlooked a powerful argument of Larry Swearingen's innocence. I have overlooked a gaping hole in the State's theory of the crime.

The first incident occurred as I was working my way through the Numb3rs episodes on Netflix. I was watching Season 1, Episode 8.  From
A man wanted for stock fraud is found garroted in his apartment, and the crime is eerily similar to a murder committed a year earlier, a case in which Don closed when an ex-con confessed. Now, Don must re-investigate the old case to determine if he put an innocent man in jail. He asks Charlie to go over the evidence to see if he missed anything the first time around.
As part of his review, Charlie finds that "according to the FBI's crime stats, in the entire country, three or four people are killed with a garrote every year."

Holy Rarity, Batman!

I had become so used to reading / researching cases of strangulation that I simply presumed they were frequent. Melissa Trotter was strangled with one leg of a pantyhose, and Texas wants to execute Larry Swearingen as her murderer.

I've been writing about Anthony Allen Shore who acknowledges strangling four other young women to death. Shore is far more likely the one who murdered Melissa Trotter than is Swearingen, particularly since Swearingen was in jail when Trotter was murdered.

I've looked a little into the case of Boston Strangler (who almost certainly was not Albert DeSalvo), and  I'm aware of the Hillside Strangler (who was actually two people working in concert).

JonBenet Ramsey was also strangled.

I really could go on and on, so the number of 3 to 4 strangulations per year seemed way too low. I therefore assumed the show's writers meant a particular type of ligature. I also thought a garrote was a ligature with a handle at each end, used as per the sketch below.

The murder weapon used in the Numb3rs episode only reinforced my belief. Here's a portion of the garrote from that episode. If those gloves had a length of wire between them, then they would fit my understanding of a garrote. If, on the other hand, those gloves were bound tightly together by the wiring, they would not fit my understanding of a garrote.

Here's a portion of the murder weapon used in the JonBenet Ramsey case. The FBI referred to it as a garrote. If there was another similar handle on the other end, it would fit my notion of a garrote.

Here's the device Anthony Allen Shore used to kill Carmen Estrada: There was only one handle, and Shore used it to tighten the ligature by twisting it.

When I begin checking definitions, however, I find only modest support for my thought that a garrote must include two handles, or even one. Instead I find that many sources define garrote as simply a synonym for a ligature. From Wikipedia:
A stick may be used to tighten the garrote (the Spanish word actually refers to the stick itself) so it is a pars pro toto where the eponymous component may actually be absent. In Spanish, the term may also refer to a rope and stick used to constrict a limb as a torture device.
From that article, here's a photo of someone being executed by means of a garrote (Manila, 1901):

A method of execution formerly practiced in Spain, in which a tightened iron collar is used to strangle or break the neck of a condemned person. ... A cord or wire used for strangling.
A method of execution by strangulation ... the apparatus used ... an implement (as a wire with a handle at each end) for strangulation
A method of capital punishment of Spanish origin in which an iron collar is tightened around a condemned person's neck until death occurs by strangulation or by injury to the spinal column at the base of the brain ... the collarlike instrument used for this method of execution ... an instrument, usually a cord or wire with handles attached at the ends, used for strangling a victim.
From  Lexic:
An iron collar formerly used in Spain to execute people by strangulation ... something, especially a cord or wire, used for strangulation
A weapon consisting of a wire or cord with handles at each end, used in strangulation ... an iron band placed around the neck and tightened in order to execute somebody
I realized recently that I'm beginning to prefer Bing Maps to Goggle Maps for some applications. Now I realize that I prefer Bing Dictionary to the some of the other online dictionaries, since it reinforces my preconceived notion of what constitutes a garrote.

Even if the Numb3rs episode was correct in that there are only 3 or 4 garrote murders each year in the U.S., that number is of no use to me because it was not accompanied by a definition of garrote. Even if it had been accompanied by a definition, it would have been meaningless in the case of Melissa Trotter since no object (other than the murderer's hands) were used to tighten the pantyhose leg around her neck. I therefore let the number just rattle around in my head.

Later it struck me that I should try and find out how frequently someone is strangled. Perhaps such an occurrence is less common than I assumed. If it was sufficiently rare, it would suggest that Melissa Trotter was more likely murdered by someone known to use a ligature (such as Shore) than someone who had no history of using a ligature (such as Swearingen).

It took me a while, but I finally found this document. Click to enlarge.

Averaging the data for the four years, I get 123.5 strangulations per year out of 14,085 murders per year. That's 0.9%. That includes manual as well as ligature strangulations.

Then I found this document.

This document breaks the data down not only by weapon, but by the age of the victim. Melissa Trotter was only 19 years old when she was murdered. According to the data, in 2002, 1,184 people between the ages of 17 and 19 were murdered. Of those, only 6 were strangled. That's only 0.5%.

This article provides data indicating that the ratio of manual strangulation to ligature strangulation is 10 to 8. The sample size, however, was small.

This article provides data indicating that the ratio of manual strangulation to ligature strangulation is 46 to 23. The mean age of the victims, however, was 78 years.

Assuming ligature strangulations constitute 40% of all strangulations, they constitute only 0.2% of all homicides.

Whatever the final, more precise numbers may be, it is exceptionally unlikely that Melissa Trotter was murdered by anyone other than a person who has demonstrated a propensity for ligature strangulation. Larry Swearingen is not such a person. Anthony Allen Shore is.

So much for the first of two intersecting incidents in this already overly-long post. I'll have to pick up the pace for the second of the two intersecting incidents.

Three days ago I received a comment to my post Spectacular News in the Swearingen Case from astute reader Matthew Faler.
TSJ - I largely agree with the science in this matter regarding how long Trotter had been dead when her body was found. However, a few lingering questions bother me (1) was she wearing the same clothes when they found her as she was last seen in? and (2) if she was alive for several weeks after she went missing, where was she?
I responded with:
You ask two $1,000,000 questions. I have a couple 10 cent answers. 
First, I've wondered myself about the clothes. I've never seen that discussed. It seems as if the police could have clarified that point reasonably easily. A number of people saw her shortly before she disappeared. Was she wearing the same clothes or not? If the clothes were different, where did she change? If the clothes were the same, had she worn them continuously or had they been cleaned? 
I suspect the police / prosecutor must know the answer. I suspect that since it is a secret, it doesn't help their case. My guess is that information about the clothing would tend to further exonerate Swearingen. 
Regarding where she might have been, I speculated in my series Who Killed Melissa Trotter: Anthony Allen Shore.
His comment and my reply, coupled with the infrequency with which people kill via ligature strangulation, caused me to do what I should have done early on. If I had been a juror in the case and if I had failed as I had just failed as a blogger, I would have difficulty living with myself. That task is challenging enough as it is.

Here's what I didn't do. I didn't attempt to recreate the crime, even in my mind. I never walked through the State's case step-by-step to see if it made sense, to see if they proved the critical elements beyond a reasonable doubt. I was so focused (initially) on the post-conviction science and (later) on the possibility that Shore killed Trotter that I failed to carefully walk through the State's case. It wouldn't have been hard. It wouldn't have taken very long.

I'll do it now, at least the portion immediately surrounding the murder. The State claimed that Swearingen and Trotter had recently met and had arranged to have lunch the next day. Swearingen told some friends that he had met a young woman named Melissa and that if things went well, he would "have Melissa for lunch."

Swearingen picked up Melissa at the community college where Melissa went to school. After a delay no greater than an hour and a half, the two arrived at Swearingen's mobile home. While there, the two had a sexual encounter that left a bruise on the wall of Trotter's vagina. At some point, there was a struggle that left Swearingen's home in disarray. Swearingen strangled Trotter with one leg of his wife's pantyhose, put Trotter in his truck, drove to the Sam Houston National Forest, dumped Trotter's body, then returned home.

Here's where the State's case makes absolutely no sense. After having sex, Swearingen decided to kill Trotter, for whatever reason. To kill his victim, he didn't use a firearm, as do 70% of the murderers in this country. Perhaps he didn't own a firearm, or have it at the ready, or feared the noise.

Nor did Swearingen stab his victim to death, as do 13% of the murderers in this country. Surely he had a knife or pair of scissors in his home. He must have had something of the sort in order to cut one leg from his wife's pantyhose.

Nor did Swearingen asphyxiate his victim, as do 6.4% of all murderers in this country. There must have been a pillow nearby.

Nor did Swearingen pummel or kick or stomp his victim to death, with his hands or feet, as do 6.2% of murderers in this country. I know that those makeshift weapons were handy.

Nor did Swearingen bludgeon his victim with a blunt object, as do 4.4% of murderers in this country. Surely he had a frying pan or a hammer laying around.

Nor did Swearingen strangle his victim with his bare hands, as do 0.6% of murderers in this country. Once again, I'm confident those makeshift weapons were readily available.

Instead, according to the State, Swearingen elected to strangle his victim with a ligature, as do only 0.2% of the murderers in this country. Only 1 in 500 murders is committed by ligature strangulation, and the State's case is even more unlikely than that, more unlikely than 1 in 500.

In a moment of passion and panic, Swearingen did not just grab a nearby object to strangle his victim. He did not use any of the victim's clothing, such as a sweater arm, or a brassiere, or a belt. Nor did he use a pillowcase or a lamp cord. According to the State, Swearingen decided to use his wife's pantyhose.

But the State's case is still more unlikely than described so far.

Swearingen took time to manufacture a ligature from his wife's pantyhose. Instead of stabbing or cutting his victim with a knife or scissors, he used a knife or scissors to stab or cut his wife's pantyhose. The State offers no explanation why Swearingen would do such a thing in such a frantic moment, nor does it explain what Melissa Trotter may have been doing while Swearingen manufactured the ligature that would be used to kill her.

And still it is worse than all this.

According to the State, Swearingen left the remainder her of his wife's pantyhose behind when he took Melissa's body to Sam Houston National Forest. He presumably removed the body from his home so that his crime would not be discovered, but he left the obvious remnant of the murder weapon behind.

He couldn't have left it behind carelessly or unconsciously. It must have been deliberate, because he hid the remnant of his hastily crafted murder weapon so well that the police were unable to find it on either of two thorough searches. Swearingen hid it so well that it would not be discovered for three weeks, in the garbage outside his home, after the police finally knew which murder weapon was used to kill Melissa Trotter.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Impending Execution of Paul Howell

Paul Augustus Howell sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Florida on 26 February 2013. I offer the following details of the crime from the appellate decision of Howell v. State (2004):
In January of 1992, Howell constructed a bomb for the specific purpose of killing Tammie Bailey at her home in Marianna, Florida. Bailey, Howell, and Howell's brother, Patrick, were part of a drug ring involving a number of other individuals in which drugs were obtained in Fort Lauderdale and then sold in Marianna, Florida. Howell intended to eliminate Bailey as a witness because she had knowledge that could link Howell and his brother to a prior murder. The bomb was placed inside a microwave oven and then the oven was gift-wrapped. Howell paid Lester Watson to drive and deliver the microwave to Bailey. Although he knew that Howell had often made pipe bombs, Watson testified that he thought the microwave contained drugs. Howell rented a car for Watson to use for the trip. Watson was accompanied on the trip by Curtis Williams. 
While traveling on I-10 toward Marianna, Watson was stopped by Trooper Jimmy Fulford for speeding. Fulford ran a registration check on the car and a license check on Watson, who gave the trooper a false name and birth date because he did not have a valid driver's license. The radio dispatcher contacted the car rental company and was informed that Howell had rented the car. The dispatcher contacted Howell at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to determine whether the rental car had been stolen from him. Howell told the dispatcher that he had loaned the car to Watson but did not know that Watson would be traveling so far with the vehicle. Howell was informed by the dispatcher that Watson was going to be taken to the Jefferson County Jail. Howell did not give any warning to the dispatcher regarding the bomb. 
Deputies Harrell and Blount of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department arrived at the scene and Watson gave them permission to search the vehicle. Trooper Fulford and the deputies observed the gift-wrapped microwave in the trunk of the car. Watson was arrested for speeding and driving without a valid driver's license and was transported, along with Williams, to the jail by Deputy Blount. Deputy Harrell also proceeded to the jail, leaving Trooper Fulford alone with the rental car. Shortly thereafter, a massive explosion took place at the scene. Testimony presented at Howell's trial by the State's explosives expert indicated that Trooper Fulford had been holding the microwave in his hands when the bomb went off. Trooper Fulford died instantly due to the massive trauma caused by the explosion.
I oppose the execution of any person who may be innocent of the crime for which he is to be executed. In all other cases, I stand mute regarding the propriety or wisdom of the execution. In the case of Paul Augustus Howell, I stand mute.

The Impending Execution of Andrew Allen Cook

Andrew Allen Cook sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Georgia sometime during the week of 21-28 February. I present the details of his crime as presented in the adverse appellate decision Cook v. State (1999):
The evidence adduced at trial shows the following: at approximately midnight on January 2, 1995, Mercer University students Hendrickson and Cartagena were parked on a small peninsula known as "the Point," which juts into Lake Juliette in Monroe County, north of Macon. Cook drove onto the Point, parked his Honda CRX near Hendrickson's and Cartagena's car, and shot them. Cook fired fourteen times with an AR-15 rifle from a distance of about forty feet and then moved closer and fired five times with a nine millimeter Ruger handgun. Hendrickson and Cartagena were each hit multiple times and killed. Cook then went to the passenger side of the victims' car, removed Cartagena, and dragged her about 40 feet. He partially undressed her, knelt between her legs, and spit on her. Cook then drove away. The murders were completely random: Cook did not know the victims and there was no interaction between Cook and the victims before he killed them. 
Several people parking or camping around Lake Juliette heard the shots, and the murders were reported to the police the next morning when some campers found the bodies. A couple parked near the Point when the shots were fired said they saw a 1980s-model Honda CRX parked near the entrance to Lake Juliette. Later, they saw headlights going onto the Point, heard shots, and observed the CRX speeding away from the Point. The police recovered .223 caliber and nine millimeter bullets and shell casings from the crime scene, and the State Crime Lab reported that the weapons used in the murders were probably an AR-15 rifle and a nine millimeter Ruger handgun. There was saliva mixed with tobacco dried on Cartagena's leg, and the Crime Lab extracted DNA from the saliva. The police began looking for suspects who chewed tobacco, matched the DNA taken from the saliva, and owned or had access to a Honda CRX, an AR-15 rifle, and a nine millimeter Ruger pistol. 
The investigation lasted almost two years. Many people were interviewed and dozens of suspects were excluded after they submitted blood or saliva samples to the Crime Lab, or allowed their weapons to be examined by a state firearms expert. In the fall of 1996, GBI Agent Randy Upton began tracking the purchasers of AR-15 rifles in the Macon area. He obtained a list of 108 people who bought AR-15 rifles from 1985 to 1995 from one of Macon's most popular gun stores, and he started calling them and asking if they would give saliva samples and allow examinations of their rifles. On November 27, 1996, Agent Upton contacted Cook. Agent Upton told Cook he was conducting an investigation into the Lake Juliette murders and that Cook owned an AR-15 rifle in 1994 and 1995. Cook replied that he had "gotten rid of" his AR-15 in April 1994. Agent Upton stated that that was not possible because the records show that Cook did not buy his AR-15 until August 1994. Cook then became defensive and stated that his father was an FBI agent, and he did not have to cooperate. Agent Upton asked for a saliva sample, and Cook said he needed to talk with his father before giving a saliva sample. The conversation ended. 
Agent Upton learned that Cook pawned his AR-15 rifle back to the gun store in May 1995, five months after the murders. The police also discovered that Cook had an acquaintance purchase a nine millimeter Ruger handgun for him in December 1993 at the same gun store, because Cook was too young to buy it himself. Cook sold the Ruger to a friend in July 1995. The police sought to obtain these weapons from their current owners. They also learned that Cook owned a 1987 Honda CRX at the time of the murders. 
One of Cook's friends, who worked with Cook at a diaper factory, testified that in late November 1996 he and Cook had a conversation about "the worst thing you ever did." Cook said he had killed someone with an AR-15. The friend did not believe Cook, but asked why he did it. Cook replied that he did it "to see if I could do it and get away with it." Cook refused to provide any more details. The friend testified that the following day at work, Cook received a call on his pager, and left his work area to return the call. Cook returned 15 minutes later and was "as white as a ghost." Cook said "I got to go," and spit the tobacco he had been chewing into a trash can. Cook said it was the GBI who had called and they wanted to question him about what he and the friend had talked about the day before, and test his saliva. He said, regarding the saliva, "that's a DNA test right there, so they got my ass." Another friend testified that Cook told him in late November 1996 that he needed to leave town because it was "getting hot." 
After going to Cook's home and not finding him, Agent Upton called Cook's father, John Cook, on December 4, 1996. John Cook was an FBI agent and had been an FBI agent for 29 years. Agent Upton said he needed to ask Cook a few questions regarding the Lake Juliette murders, and asked John Cook for assistance in locating him.[2] John Cook said he could probably contact his son. John Cook, who knew about the case from the media but had not worked on it, testified that he did not think his son was a suspect. 
John Cook paged his son several times and at 11:00 p.m. Cook returned his calls. John Cook told his son the GBI was looking for him concerning the Lake Juliette murders and asked him if he knew anything about them. Cook replied, "Daddy, I can't tell you, you're one of them ... you're a cop." John Cook said he was his father first and, believing his son may have been a witness, asked Cook if he was there during the shooting. Cook said yes. John Cook asked his son if he saw who shot them, and Cook replied yes. Although he still thought "maybe he was just there and saw who shot them," John Cook asked his son if he shot them. After a pause, Cook said yes. Cook told his father he was fishing at Lake Juliette and had an argument with the male victim. The male victim threatened him with a gun, and Cook shot the victims in self-defense. Cook realized that the male victim had only threatened him with a pellet gun, and he threw the pellet gun into the woods. John Cook urged his son to go to the authorities but Cook said he was going to run and "just disappear." John Cook was worried that his son was going to kill himself. 
John Cook was stunned by what his son had told him. After speaking with his wife, he called his friend and FBI supervisor, Tom Benson, who was at a conference in New Orleans. He and Benson decided that Benson would fly back to Georgia the next day and the two men would go to Monroe County Sheriff John Bittick, and John Cook would tell the sheriff what his son had told him. They arrived at the Monroe County sheriff's office at about 4:00 p.m. on December 5, 1996. 
At about 11:45 a.m. on December 5, 1996, Cook was arrested by a game warden for shooting deer and turkeys out of season and giving a false name. He was taken to the Jones County sheriff's office. Agent Upton, who did not know about Cook's admission to his father, learned that Cook was being held in Jones County for game violations. He drove to Jones County to question Cook about the Lake Juliette murders. When Agent Upton introduced himself and asked to speak with him about the murders, Cook blurted, "it's been two years since the murders and you guys don't have anything; I had a CRX; I had an AR-15; I had a Ruger P89; you guys are going to try to frame me." Cook added, "get my father and get me [a] lawyer and I'll tell you what you want to hear." The interview terminated. Agent Upton subsequently learned from Sheriff Bittick that John Cook was in Monroe County, and that Cook had made an admission to his father the night before. Agent Upton transported Cook to Monroe County. 
After Cook arrived at the Monroe County sheriff's office, John Cook asked Sheriff Bittick if he could speak with his son, and the sheriff agreed. Cook and his father had a private meeting. Both men were crying and John Cook hugged his son. John Cook told his son he did not believe that he told the whole truth on the phone. Cook replied that there was no pellet gun, that "I pulled in, the car was already there, and I just stopped and shot them." Cook then dragged the female victim from the car to make it look like an assault or robbery. John Cook testified at trial about his son's admissions. 
The police recovered from the current owners the AR-15 rifle and nine millimeter Ruger handgun that Cook owned in January 1995. Ballistics testing revealed that they were the murder weapons. Cook's DNA matched the DNA extracted from the saliva on Cartagena's leg; the state DNA expert testified that only one in twenty thousand Caucasians would exhibit the same DNA profile. 
The evidence was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Cook guilty of two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence was also sufficient to enable the jury to find the existence of the statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt.
I oppose the execution of any person who might be innocent of the crime for which they are to be executed. In all other cases, I stand mute with respect to the propriety or wisdom of the execution. In the case of Andrew Allen Cook, I stand mute.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Impending Execution of Carl Blue

Carl Henry Blue sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Texas on 21 February 2013. From the decision in Blue v. Thaler (2010):
Blue left his College Station apartment in the early morning hours of August 19, 1994.He walked seven miles to Bryan where the victim, his ex-girlfriend Carmen Richards-Sanders, lived.Blue entered a convenience store across the street from her apartment complex three times: once to purchase a beer, once to pay for fifty cents worth of gasoline, and once to obtain a  soda cup.
At the same time, the victim readied herself for work.  She was not alone in the apartment; Lawrence Williams was an eyewitness to the events that would unfold.  A few minutes before eight o’clock, the victim prepared to leave.  As Mr. Williams wished her goodbye, she unlocked the door.  Blue’s eligibility for a death sentence depended on the events transpiring in the next few seconds.  At trial, the State of Texas argued that, after the victim unlocked the door but before she could open it, Blue threw the door open from the outside. 
Blue has never disputed his identity as the killer.  In fact, only hours after the crime Blue turned himself into the police and confessed.  During closing arguments at trial, his attorneys emphatically stated: “We’re not going to suggest to you that Carl Blue did not murder Carmen Richards. He did. And I agree, it would be ridiculous for us to suggest that he did not.” 
Blue’s defense in the 1995 trial of his guilt instead focused on whether his crime amounted to a capital, rather than simple, murder.  In essence, the defense argued that “he did not murder her in the course of a burglary.” ... 
The defense did not seriously question the events that transpired once Blue opened the door. Blue entered the apartment, doused the victim with gasoline, and set her on fire with a lighter. As Mr. Williams stepped out of the kitchen, Blue threw gasoline on him and also lit him on fire. Blue then turned to the victim, emptied the last bit of gasoline from his cup, and said “I told you I’m gonna get you.” 
Blue “threw the cup down on the ... floor and left.” Mr. Williams rolled on the floor, but could not entirely put out the flames.  He struggled  to the bathroom shower and extinguished the remaining sparks. The victim, still burning, stumbled into the bathroom. Mr. Williams helped her into the shower.  Because Blue’s assault had also set the room aflame, Mr. Williams and the victim staggered from the apartment. Mr. Williams spent two weeks in the hospital recovering.  Blue’s assault caused second degree burns on 40% of the victim’s body. She died 19 days later from multi-system organ failure resulting from her burns.
A jury convicted Blue of capital murder. After a separate punishment hearing, he received a death sentence.
I oppose the execution of any person who might be innocent of the crime for which he is to die. In all other cases, I stand mute regarding the propriety and wisdom of the execution. In the case of Carl Blue, I stand mute.