USA: TWO EXECUTIONS IN ALABAMA AND GEORGIA
March 15, 2018:
Two prisoners were executed in the states of Alabama and Georgia, leading to 5 executions since the start of the year in the US and to 1,471 prisoners put to death since the US resumed executions in 1977. (Sources: The Marshall Project, 15/03/2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 15/03/2018)
Michael Wayne Eggers was executed in Alabama.
Eggers (50, White) was convicted of the 2000 murder of 67-year-old Bennie Francis Murray. Walker County jurors in August 2002 voted 11-1 for the death penalty.
On December 30, 2000, Eggers came looking for a job from the 67-year-old Murray, his former employer who ran a travelling carnival concessions business. She did not hire him, but offered to give him a ride and to help him find work elsewhere.
After driving him around, she took him to a remote area where he said he had left his car after accidentally driving it off the road. He later told police that they had gotten into an argument during the ride. In a remote area, Eggers said, he pulled over the car and beat, kicked and choked Murray to death and left her body in the woods.
More than a week later, Eggers was arrested in Florida. Murray's body was then discovered after Eggers told police where it was. At his sentencing after his conviction in 2002, he asked the jury to sentence him to death. His attorneys argue that Eggers is mentally ill, suffering from paranoid delusions since the 1980s. His older brother had similar symptoms and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized. He has repeatedly fired his lawyers at various levels of appeals and attempted to represent himself. He believes his lawyers are engaged in a conspiracy against him with the U.S. government and are not properly litigating his case. Thursday's execution is its first of 2018 after the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm was called off last month. An execution team on Feb. 22 punctured Hamm’s legs and groin at least 11 times in an attempt to set an IV.
Eggers was the 62nd person executed in Alabama since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.
Carlton Gary was executed in Georgia by injection of compounded pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson. Gary (67, Black) was one of Georgia's most notorious serial killers, coming to be known as the "stocking strangler" who terrorized elderly women in the late-1970s.
Gary was convicted in 1986 on three counts each of malice murder, rape and burglary for the 1977 deaths of 89-year-old Florence Scheible, 69-year-old Martha Thurmond and 74-year-old Kathleen Woodruff. Though charged only in those deaths, prosecutors say Gary attacked nine elderly women in the west Georgia city of Columbus from September 1977 to April 1978. Most were choked with stockings, and seven of them died.
Police arrested Gary six years after the last killing, in May 1984. Gary was linked to seven murders in Columbus, and two sexual assaults that occurred over seven months in 1977 and 1978. He also was tied to the strangulations of two women in New York and attacks on others in the years before the killings in Columbus. Gary pleaded guilty to burglary in the case of Nellie Farmer, who was found raped and strangled in her home in Albany, N.Y., on April 14, 1970, but he said another man killed the 85-year-old woman.
Three months after he was released from prison, Marion Fisher, 40, was found raped and strangled, and in 2007 his DNA was matched to evidence found on her body.
Gary went to prison in New York again in 1977 for possessing a watch taken from a Syracuse, N.Y., home where a 55-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by a man who tried to strangle her. Gary returned to his hometown in Columbus in August 1977 after escaping from jail in New York's Onondaga County, where he was serving a sentence for assault and possessing stolen property.
The first Columbus homicide eventually blamed on the "stocking strangler" was on Sept. 16, 1977, when 59-year-old Mary Willis "Fern" Jackson was found raped and strangled. It was after the third death of a woman in the Wynnton neighborhood that a state and local task force was created. All the homicides attributed to the "stocking strangler" had several things in common. The victims were all women between the ages of 55 and 89. They lived alone and within a mile of each other in Columbus' Wynnton neighborhood. And they were all strangled, most with their own stockings. Then the murders stopped. Janet Cofer, 61, was believed to be the "stocking strangler's" seventh and final victim on April 10, 1978.
In February 1979, Gary was convicted of several armed robberies in South Carolina and was sentenced to prison. He escaped from prison again in 1984 and returned to Columbus.
Fingerprints found at some of the murder scenes were matched to Gary, and he was arrested in 1984. Gary offered to take police to houses he burglarized, though he said another man strangled the women living there. Prosecutors decided to try Gary for the murders of three women — Florence Scheible, 89, Martha Thurmond, 69, and Kathleen Woodruff, 74 — because his fingerprints were found at their homes. Gary's right thumbprint was lifted from the bedroom door frame in Scheible's house, where she was murdered on Oct. 21, 1977. A few days later, Gary's fingerprints were found on the frame of a rear bedroom window of the fifth victim, Thurmond. Her housekeeper found her body the morning of Oct. 25, 1977. And police found a print from Gary's right little finger on the aluminum screen on a window at Woodruff's house. His palm print was on the window sill outside. Woodruff was killed on Dec. 28, 1977. It was later that the testing of DNA, a science that was not available when he was tried in 1986, saved him from execution in 2009. Just four hours before he was scheduled to die, the Georgia Supreme Court called off his lethal injection to allow testing of semen found at the scenes. But testing did little to resolve any confusion. The DNA found on Thurmond was not Gary's. Testing of the DNA found at the Woodruff crime scene was inconclusive. And prosecutors did not test DNA found on Schieble because they thought the same was unreliable.
At the same time, testing confirmed that the DNA on the strangled body of 71-year-old Jean Dimenstein belonged to Gary, however he was never tried for her murder. Gary was the first inmate executed by Georgia this year.