execution

EXECUTED – ‘Tourniquet Killer’ set to be executed in Texas – Anthony Shore 6:28 p.m


 

JAN. 18, 2018

In his final statement, Shore, 55, was apologetic and his voice cracked with emotion.

“No amount of words or apology could ever undo what I’ve done,” Shore said. “I wish I could undo the past, but it is what it is.”

He was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m. CST.

Texas’ “Tourniquet Killer” is set for execution Thursday. It would be the first execution under Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Democrat who oversaw the first year without an execution in the county for more than 30 years.

Death row inmate Anthony Shore.

 

The first execution of 2018 in Texas and the nation is expected to take place Thursday evening for Houston’s “Tourniquet Killer.”

Anthony Shore, 55, is a confessed serial rapist and strangler whose murders went unsolved in the 1980s and 1990s for more than a decade. With no pending appeals, his execution is expected to be the first under Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Democrat who took office last January and has said she doesn’t see the death penalty as a deterrent to crime.

Still, she has said the punishment is appropriate for Shore, deeming him “the worst of the worst.”

“Anytime a person is subject to government’s greatest sanction, it merits thoughtful review,” Ogg said through a spokesman Wednesday. “We have proceeded as the law directs and satisfied all doubts.”

Shore wasn’t arrested in the murders until 2003, when his DNA was matched to the 1992 murder of 21-year-old Maria Del Carmen Estrada, according to court documents. His DNA had been on file since 1998, when he pleaded no-contest to charges of sexually molesting his two daughters. After his arrest, he confessed to the murders of four young women and girls, including Estrada.

Between 1986 and 1995, Shore sexually assaulted and killed 14-year-old Laurie Tremblay, Estrada, 9-year-old Diana Rebollar and 16-year-old Dana Sanchez, the court documents said. He also admitted to the rape of another 14-year-old girl, but she managed to escape after he began choking her. The murder victims’ bodies were all found in various states of undress behind buildings or in a field with rope or cord tied around their necks like tourniquets.

Though he doesn’t argue that his client is innocent or undeserving of punishment, Shore’s lawyer, Knox Nunnally, said Wednesday that he was surprised Ogg continued to pursue the death penalty for Shore based on her previous statements on capital punishment. Ogg’s first year in office also coincided with the first year Harris County didn’t carry out an execution in more than 30 years.

“Many people in the death penalty community were expecting other things from her,” Nunnally said.

Though she has said the death penalty is “pure retribution,” Ogg told the Texas Observer last year that she still believes in it. But in two major death penalty cases that made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ogg opted for reduced punishments.

After the high court ruled death row inmate Duane Buck should receive a new trial because an expert witness claimed he was more likely to be a future danger to society because he was black, Ogg offered a plea agreement in October to a sentence of life in prison rather than holding a new death penalty trial. The next month, Ogg asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reduce the death sentence of Bobby Moore, whose case had earlier prompted the Supreme Court to invalidate Texas’ outdated method of determining intellectual disability in death-sentenced inmates.

But for a “true serial killer” such as Shore, Ogg said in a July statement that he was “a person deserving of the ultimate punishment.”

Shore’s execution was originally set for October, but Ogg postponed it after Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon requested a delay from her and Gov. Greg Abbott. Ligon was concerned that Shore might falsely confess to the Montgomery County murder of Melissa Trotter, potentially disrupting the existing death sentence for the man already convicted in Trotter’s murder.

“We knew that was not true, but, that said, we knew that if we didn’t investigate it, it would look like we ignored potential evidence,” Ligon said.

Ligon said that after Shore talked to Texas Rangers and his office, investigators were convinced that Shore was not responsible for Trotter’s death or any other open murder cases. Nunnally said Shore never confessed to Trotter’s murder.

Now, Nunnally says he thinks he’s done everything he can for Shore. He had hoped to ask for a delay if the U.S. Supreme Court elected to hear a case out of Arizona that questions the constitutionality of the death penalty as a whole, but the justices have yet to make a decision and don’t meet again until Friday — the day after his scheduled execution.

Shore’s execution will the be the first in 2018, following a years-long trend of fewer executions in Texas and across the country. Four other executions are scheduled in Texas through March.

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The electric chair could make a comeback in South Carolina


January 10, 2018

The electric chair could make a comeback in South Carolina.

S.C. state senators Wednesday discussed making it easier for the state Corrections Department to carry out death sentences by electrocution – an option that hasn’t been used in nearly a decade.

The proposal is necessary, some senators say, because the state can’t get its hands on the chemicals necessary to carry out lethal injections.

Lawmakers on Wednesday also considered a proposed “shield law” to protect the identities of pharmaceutical companies that provide chemicals for lethal injections. Those companies currently won’t sell to South Carolina, fearing legal challenges, protests and bad publicity.

Neither proposal moved forward Wednesday, but a state Senate committee plans to discuss the ideas more this spring.

South Carolina last used the electric chair in June 2008 for the execution of James Earl Reed. The 49 year old was convicted in 1996 of the execution-style murder of his ex-girlfriend’s parents.

The state hasn’t executed any death row inmates since March 2011. In part, that is because the last of the state’s lethal injection chemicals expired in 2013.

The state can’t execute any of its current 36 death row inmates – all men – unless they ask to be killed in the electric chair, Corrections Department director Bryan Stirling told senators Wednesday.

None of the death row inmates have made that request, Stirling said.

In 2008, Reed, who fired his own defense attorney and unsuccessfully represented himself, was the first S.C. inmate in four years to choose electrocution over lethal injection.

Because it cannot be carried out, South Carolina’s death penalty is ineffective, senators were told Wednesday.

“We’ve had people on death row for over two decades now,” said Stirling, who took over the prisons system in 2013.

One death row inmate is scheduled to be executed later this month but is expected to get a postponement from a federal court so his appeal can be heard, Stirling told the Senate panel. If that delay isn’t granted, the state quickly is approaching an execution it can’t carry out.

“It’s possible that can happen,” Stirling said.

Don Zelenka, an attorney in the state Attorney General’s Office, said at least one S.C. prosecutor has opted not to pursue the death sentence because the Corrections Department can’t do the job.

A proposal by state Sen. William Timmons, R-Greenville, would change that. The former assistant solicitor’s bill would allow the Corrections Department to use the electric chair when lethal injection is unavailable.

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said he could support the proposal because it helps corrections officers do their jobs, even though he disagrees with the death penalty, which, critics say, is an ineffective deterrent more often used on minorities and the poor.

“This, to me, is a question about efficiency, not about the death penalty,” Hutto said.

Hutto and others were more skeptical of Timmons’ other proposal, the “shield law.”

Lindsey Vann, executive director of the Columbia-based Justice 360 nonprofit, which represents death-row inmates, called that proposal a “secrecy” law that would “create a state secret out of administering the death penalty.”

Shielding pharmaceutical companies’ identities would absolve them of accountability and create the potential for botched executions, Vann said. “If the government is going to exercise this power … they should do so in a transparent manner and with accountability to the citizens of this state.”

Stirling told senators the state’s electric chair, located at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, still works.

South Carolina has executed 282 inmates since 1912, including 280 men and two women. Of those executed, 208 were black and 74 were white. The youngest inmate executed was 14; the oldest was 66.

Corrections officials began using lethal injection in August 1995, two months after state lawmakers OK’d the practice.

DEATH ROW AND SC

The dates

1995: S.C. legislators approve lethal injection to execute inmates on the state’s Death Row; however, those inmates can opt for electrocution

June 2008: Late S.C. inmate electrocuted

March 2011: Last S.C. inmate executed by lethal injection

The numbers

282: Inmates S.C. has executed since 1912

280: Men executed

2: Women executed

208: African Americans executed

74: Whites executed

66: Oldest inmate executed

14: Youngest inmate executed

Texas leads the nation in executions, but its death row population is dropping


December 14, 2017

The number of inmates on Texas’ death row dropped again this year, continuing a decades-long trend.

The decline is caused largely by fewer new death sentences and more reduced punishments in recent years, according to end-of-year reports released Thursday by groups critical of the death penalty in Texas and across the country. But Texas still held more executions than any other state.

“Prosecutors, juries, judges, and the public are subjecting our state’s death penalty practices to unprecedented scrutiny,” said Kristin Houlé, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, in the release of the group’s annual report. “In an increasing number of cases, they are accepting alternatives to this flawed and irreversible punishment.”

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which has supported death penalty practices in legal cases throughout the country, said he agrees that the decline is partially due to shifting attitudes among jurors and prosecutors, but added that death sentences are also down because there has been a drop in the murder rate nationwide.

“The support for the death penalty for the worst crimes remains strong,” he said.

There are currently 234 inmates living with death sentences in Texas, according to the state’s prison system. That number has been dropping since 2003. The death row population peaked at 460 in 1999, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Here’s how the death row population has changed over the last year:

Seven men were executed.

The same number of men were put to death this year as in 2016, which had the fewest executions in two decades. But even with its relatively low number, Texas was still the state with the most executions in the country. This isn’t unusual given that the state has put to death nearly five times more individuals than any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Texas accounted for 30 percent of the nation’s 23 executions in 2017. Arkansas was second in the country with four. Last year, Georgia put more people to death than Texas — the first time Texas hasn’t been responsible for the most executions since 2001.

Four more men got cells on death row.

One more person was sentenced to death this year than in 2015 and 2016, when only three men were handed the death penalty in each of those years.

The number of new sentences, which ranged in the 20s and 30s each year in the early 2000s, dropped in 2005 after jurors were given the option to sentence convicts to life without the possibility of parole as an alternative to the death penalty. Before then, if a capital murder convict wasn’t sentenced to death, he or she would be eligible for parole after 40 years. About 10 people in Texas were sentenced each year after that until the additional decrease in 2015.

Two men died while awaiting execution.

Joseph Lave and Raymond Martinez both died this year before they were taken to the death chamber, even though they had had extended stays in prison. Lave passed away more than 22 years after his murder conviction, and Martinez had lived more than 30 years with a death sentence.

Four men had their sentences changed from death to life in prison.

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions this year have so far resulted in the reduction of three death sentences to life in prison. The high court ruled against Texas in the death penalty cases of Duane Buck and Bobby Moore.

Buck reached a plea agreement with Harris County prosecutors to change his death sentence to life in October after a February ruling by the court said his case was prejudiced by an expert trial witness who claimed Buck was more likely to be a future danger because he is black.

In Moore’s case, the justices invalidated Texas’ method for determining if a death-sentenced inmate was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. Though Moore’s case has yet to be resolved (Harris County has asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reduce his sentence to life), two other men on death row with intellectual disability claims received life sentences after the ruling.

Another man this April received a new punishment hearing in a 1991 murder and pled guilty, landing four consecutive life sentences over the death penalty, according to the Texas death penalty report.

Nine men narrowly escaped execution — for now.

Executions were scheduled — then canceled — for nine men this year. Six were stopped by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in light of pending appeals, and one was stopped by a federal court, the report said.

One man, Larry Swearingen, evaded execution in November because of a clerical error, and convicted serial killer Anthony Shore’s death was postponed because prosecutors were concerned he would confess to the murder for which Swearingen was convicted.

 

What Do the Last Words of Death Row Inmates Tell Us?


December 12, 2017

Any last words?

It’s a question prisoners on death row hear before their execution begins. Along with last meals and long cell block walks, the opportunity to give a final statement has become deeply ingrained in the highly ritualized process of executing prisoners.

Most prisoners take the opportunity to pause on the lip of annihilation and utter a final statement, and the content of these messages range from expressions of guilt and sorrow to expletive-laced outbursts. Examining the final thoughts of people who have not only had time to think about their ultimate end, but who must also wrestle with overwhelming feelings of guilt and sorrow (though not in every case), provides a unique opportunity for sociologists and psychologists alike.

It’s Time

There is a growing body of scientific literature centered around the study and analysis of prisoners’ last words, although the subject is far from closed. At the moment, most studies work to identify recurring themes, though work in the future could go beyond this to search for correlations between last words and type of crime, prisoner demographics, personal history and mental health. At the moment, we can break down the final statements of death row inmates into a few broad categories: expressions of guilt and remorse, proclamations of innocence, spiritual statements and communications to their families. Journalist Dan Malone undertook such a content analysis in 2006, and found a few broad categories into which most final statements fall.

For many prisoners, the act seems to be an attempt to reach some sort of peace with their situation. Statements like “I’m ready” and those that express hope for some sort of afterlife are common. Some choose to address their victim’s families directly, and nearly every one that does so expresses remorse for their actions. Many acknowledge that they can never make up for what they did. Most inmates stop short of admitting guilt — instead of focusing on the past, they look to the future.

More rarely, the soon-to-be executed will directly own up to their crimes, most usually along with an expression of sorrow or an apology. In rare cases, the prisoner will choose to go down swinging, lashing out with angry and defiant words in their final minutes.

Still, these cases are rare, and it seems that the finality of death impresses a measure of humility and grace on most people. Most common overall are words of regret and personal statements, usually concerning their family, such as “I love you,” or references to being in a better place. It’s an oddly one-sided view of men who have been convicted of horrible crimes.

What Does It Mean?

Of course, it can be difficult to trust the words of someone who won’t be around to face the consequences of their actions any more. On the other hand, a dying man has very little left to lose, and few among us want to die with regrets. Further work is needed to truly parse out exactly why prisoners choose to say the things they do. As of right now, we have a few hints, though.

Many final statements seemed aimed at lessening psychological pain, something that a 2017 study identified as one of three main themes among prisoners’ last words. Identification with lost or forgotten ideals and rejection and aggression were the other dominant subjects that emerged in their analysis, which aligns roughly with what Malone found in his work.

This makes sense, since both studies used very similar datasets. Because of the nature of the death penalty in the United States, the statements come largely from Texas, which has been responsible for about a third of all executions since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976. While no recording devices are permitted in the execution chamber, a secretary is on hand to transcribe the prisoner’s final words, and, at least up till 2005, when Malone’s study ended, the Associated Press had a reporter on hand to chronicle the event as well.

This means that the final words of Texas death row inmates carry outsized influence in these kinds of studies. Most death row inmates are also men, another limitation. To truly understand the impact that final statements have, and what they say about our relationship with death, a more diverse sample size is necessary. These studies are a start, of course, but looking at how final statements differ across countries, by type of crime, and by demographic could prove illuminating. In addition, the prevalence of mental illness among death row inmates could impact the way they frame their crime, and their lives, just before execution.The last words we say before death are not usually uttered casually. This doesn’t mean they necessarily offer a glimpse of who we truly are, but instead a premonition of who we wish we were, or hope to be someday. It’s a rarified moment in a human being’s life; one that could help us all come to terms with our impending doom.

Serial killer : Anthony Allen Shore EXECUTED 01.18.2018 6.28 PM


UPDATE JANUARY 18 2018 

In his final statement, Shore, 55, was apologetic and his voice cracked with emotion.

No amount of words or apology could ever undo what I’ve done,” Shore said. “I wish I could undo the past, but it is what it is.”

He was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m. CST.

 

Anthony Allen Shore (born June 25, 1962) is a convicted serial killer and child molester who is responsible for the slayings of one woman and three girls. He operated from 1986 to 2000, and was known as the “Tourniquet Killer” because of his use of a ligature with either a toothbrush or bamboo stick to tighten or loosen the ligature. The instrument was similar to a twitch, a tool used by farmers to control horses.

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Shore’s parents were both with the United States Air Force; he was born in South Dakota where his father was stationed. Because of his parents’ enlistments in the military, Shore’s family moved nine times before he entered high school. He has two sisters.[ Although he possessed much musical talent, he did not pursue a career in music, but instead became a telephone lineman. He married and had two daughters Tiffany and Amber, but later divorced and was given custody of his two young girls. He later married and again divorced.

Statement of Facts

Appellant confessed to committing four murders in which he attacked and sexually assaulted, or attempted to sexually assault his victims, an aggravated sexual assault that did not end in murder, and the sexual molestation of two children.

On September 26, 1986, appellant murdered fourteen-year-old Laurie Tremblay while attempting to sexually assault her. In discussing this crime, appellant stated that he was preoccupied with young girls and that he had met Tremblay by giving her rides on a semi-regular basis. During one of these rides, appellant, then twenty-four years old, became sexually aggressive and unhooked the fourteen-year-old’s bra. She demanded that appellant stop, and the two argued. Appellant hit Tremblay in the back of the head and then used a cotton cord to strangle her. According to appellant, the cord kept breaking, and he injured his finger while tightening the ligature; “I tried to make sure that she would never, ever tell anybody.” The strangulation left a knuckle impression on the back of Tremblay’s neck, and the cord itself left two distinct pressure lines. Appellant dumped the victim’s body behind a restaurant. The crime remained unsolved until 2003.

On April 16, 1992, appellant, at twenty-nine years old, gave a ride to twenty-year-old Maria Del Carmen Estrada, the victim in this capital-murder prosecution. Recounting the event, appellant stated that she “freaked out” when he made sexual advances toward her, but he persisted in his attack, using a pair of shears to aid in his attempt to rape her. He ultimately strangled Estrada by twisting a nylon cord around her neck and tightening it with a piece of wood. As in his first murder, appellant dumped the victim’s body behind a restaurant and left. When Estrada’s body was found, signs of trauma were apparent on her face. Her pants had been removed, her underpants and hose had been pulled below her pubic area, her shirt was open, her bra had been cut, and her hose appeared to be cut in the crotch. An examination revealed that Estrada’s vagina had a bloody contusion deep inside. The crime remained unsolved until 2003.

About a year and a half later, at thirty-one, appellant became infatuated with a fourteen-year-old student who was often home alone after school. On October 19, 1993, she came home to find appellant waiting for her. He was wearing baggy clothes, surgical gloves, sunglasses, and a bandana over his face. Appellant bound the girl’s hands with an electrical cord and wrapped her head in duct tape. He took her into the bedroom, took off her pants, and cut her panties off with a knife; appellant then raped the girl as she screamed and cried. He then began choking her, but she managed to escape. Before fleeing the home, appellant threatened that he would return and kill her and her family if she reported the crime. He also told her that he had been watching her and named her school and sports activities. A sexual-assault examination revealed that the victim’s hymen and anus were torn, and that semen was present. DNA recovered from that semen eventually pointed to appellant as its source. Appellant admitted to this crime, saying that he had watched the girl during his work as a “telephone man.” He admitted that he fantasized about her and wanted to rape but not murder her; this depraved desire, he believed, was proof that he could “beat the evilness” by possessing and controlling another human being without killing her. Again, the crime remained unsolved until 2003.

The next year, on August 7, 1994, appellant, at thirty-two years old, abducted, raped or attempted to rape, and killed nine-year-old Diana Rebollar. He recounted that he saw the child walking down the street while he was driving a van. He pulled into a parking lot and began talking to her. Noticing that nobody else was around, appellant grabbed Rebollar, threw her into the van, duct taped her hands and feet, drove behind a building, then attacked her. Her body was later found on the loading dock of a building, naked except for her black t-shirt, which had been pulled up to her armpits, and her vagina and anus were bloody. Appellant admitted to killing her by strangulation; a rope with a bamboo stick attached to it was found around Rebollar’s neck. This crime also remained unsolved until 2003.

On, or soon after, July 6, 1995, appellant saw sixteen-year-old Dana Sanchez at a pay phone; appellant was thirty-three. Appellant stated that Sanchez appeared angry, and he offered her a ride. Sanchez accepted the ride, but soon objected when appellant began touching her. She tried to evade him, but he pulled her into the back of the van and restrained her after she bit his chest. He then removed her clothes. Appellant claimed that he did not sexually assault Sanchez, but admitted that he did kill her. Sanchez’s decomposed body was found after appellant made an anonymous call to a television news station reporting that there was a “serial killer out there” and giving the body’s location and a detailed description of the victim. The nude body was found with a yellow rope wrapped around its neck; a toothbrush was twisted in the ligature with a knot. Like the other murders, this crime remained unsolved until 2003.

About two and a half years after killing Sanchez, appellant plead no contest to two charges of indecency with a child. The two victims were appellant’s children. Appellant was charged with sexually molesting his older daughter from the time she was in kindergarten until she was thirteen. She testified that appellant would touch her breast, vagina, and anus as she pretended to sleep and that “[appellant] would stand unclothed [at the doorway to her and her younger sister’s bedroom] and touch himself inappropriately.” Appellant also began molesting his younger daughter, and both girls eventually informed their aunt of the assaults. Appellant was arrested, and as a result of a plea agreement, he was placed on deferred-adjudication community supervision.

On October 17, 2003, about eleven and a half years after the Estrada assault and killing, Houston homicide detective Robert King forwarded evidence of the unsolved Estrada murder to Orchid Cellmark for DNA analysis. Appellant’s DNA profile, from the sample he had been required to give when he was placed on deferred adjudication for molesting his daughters and which was included in the CODIS data-bank, matched DNA found on Estrada’s body. Appellant was arrested for the murder. He confessed to that crime, as well as to the murders of Tremblay, Rebollar, and Sanchez, and the aggravated sexual assault of the fourteen-year-old student. The state sought a capital-murder conviction against appellant in the Estrada case. After the guilt phase of the trial, the jury found appellant guilty and, at the punishment phase, it learned of the three other murders and the aggravated sexual assault, as well as the details of appellant’s molestation of his two daughters. Additionally, the jury learned that appellant would frequently drug and choke his adult sexual partners and have intercourse with them while they were unconscious or semi-unconscious. The jury answered the special issues in favor of assessing the death penalty, and appellant was sentenced to death on October 21, 2004.

 

SHORE V. STATE, AP-75,049 (TEX.CR.APP. 12-12-2007)