|Updated Sept. 2, 2010
Note: names in [ ] are defendants whose court ordered conviction or sentence reversal is not yet final. This list may include inmates who have received a verdict of death from the jury, but in which the judge has not yet issued the formal sentence. In the federal system, the judge is obliged to follow a unanimous jury recommendation. (Source: Federal Capital Habeas Project)
Synopsis of Cases (in chronological order)
Inmates Sentenced Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988:
Richard Tipton, Corey Johnson, James H. Roane, Jr. - Members of an inner-city gang in Richmond, VA. These three black defendants were sentenced to death in February 1993 for their participation in a series of drug-related murders.
Sentenced Since the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994:
Orlando Hall, Bruce Webster - Black; charged in Fort Worth, Texas with the abduction, sexual assault and beating murder of a 16-year-old black female. Hall was sentenced to death in November 1995. In a separate trial, Webster was sentenced to death in June 1996.
Len Davis - Davis, a black New Orleans police officer who was under investigation in a drug conspiracy case, was sentenced to death on two convictions in April 1996 for ordering the murder of a young black woman who witnessed his beating of a witness in an unrelated incident. A co-defendant, Paul Hardy, also black, was the triggerman in the killing. Hardy was also sentenced to death on two convictions in May 1996. The Fifth Circuit reversed the sentences for both defendants and one of the two capital convictions for each defendant. The court ordered a new sentencing hearing for both defendants. UPDATE: A federal jury again recommended a sentence of death for Len Davis on August 9, 2005. A judge will formally impose the sentence at a later date. (Associated Press, Aug. 10, 2005). Hardy is not under a sentence of death.
Anthony Battle - Black inmate incarcerated in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia; history of psychiatric problems; sentenced to death in March 1997 for the murder of a prison guard. An appeal before the Eleventh Circuit is pending.
Jeffrey Paul - White; sentenced to death in June 1997 for the robbery-murder of a retired National Parks employee on federal land in Arkansas. An appeal before the Eighth Circuit is pending.
Darryl Alamont Johnson - Black; convicted of ordering the murder of two informants in Illinois in connection with the Gangster Disciples drug conspiracy cases. Sentenced to death on November 17, 1997. His co-defendant was sentenced to life in prison.
Aquilia Barnette - Black; convicted of murdering a man in North Carolina in a carjacking and a woman in Virginia, who was his former girlfriend. Sentenced to death by a jury on 2/10/98. The Fourth Circuit reversed his death sentence on 5/4/00. Barnette was re-sentenced to death in 2002. On Oct. 3, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the judgment against Barnette and remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit in light of the Court's 2005 ruling in Miller-El v. Dretke.
Billie Jerome Allen and Norris Holder- Both black; convicted of the fatal shooting of a bank guard during a robbery in St. Louis, Missouri. Allen was sentenced to death by a jury on Mar. 10, 1998. In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated Allen's death sentence and remanded the case back to the Eighth Circuit for reconsideration in light of the Court's ruling in Ring v. Arizona. Because his federal indictment did not include the aggravating factors necessary to support his death sentence, the 8th Circuit said Allen's sentence should be reduced to life in prison. (February 5, 2004, St. Louis Post-Dispatch). However, in September 2004, the 8th Circuit conducted a rehearing en banc of the earlier decision and reinstated Allen's death sentence. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 2005). Holder was sentenced to death by a jury on April 3, 1998.
[David Paul Hammer] - White; convicted after killing of federal prison inmate at the federal penitentiary at Allenwood, PA where Hammer was serving a 1200+ year Oklahoma state sentence. Sentenced to death on July 24, 1998. The third Circuit allowed him to waive his appeal and an execution date of Nov. 15, 2000 was set. Hammer then filed a clemency petition and a request to appeal. The judge stayed his execution date, giving him until Jan. 31, 2001 to file an appeal. Hammer's death sentence was overturned by a federal District Court judge because the prosecution had withheld statements that might have led to a differenct sentence. (Associated Press, Dec. 27, 2005).
German Sinistera and Arboleda Ortiz - Hispanic; in May, 2000, a federal jury in Kansas City, Missouri, recommended a death sentence for Sinistera of Houston, Texas, for his role as triggerman in the murder of a drug dealer. Sinistera is a citizen of Colombia. He was convicted along with two co-defendants, Arboleda Ortiz and Plutarco Tello, who are also Colombian nationals. The jury also recommended a death sentence for Ortiz, but not for Tello. The judge sentenced them to death.
Christopher Andre' Vialva and Brandon Am Bernard - Black* defendants; a federal jury in Waco, TX, convicted the two in June, 2000, of carjacking and the murder of an Iowa couple visiting central Texas. Both defendants were sentenced to death. Vialva was 19-years-old at the time of his arrest, and Bernard was 18. Four younger teen-agers have also pled guilty to federal charges relating to the crime.
*Mr. Vialva's mother points out that her son is bi-racial, since she is white and Vialva's father is from the West Indies.
Dustin John Higgs - Black; Higgs was convicted in October 2000 of ordering the 1996 murder of three Maryland women after arguing with one of them in his apartment. The triggerman, Willis Mark Haynes, was convicted in May 2000 and sentenced to life plus 45 years in prison. Higgs's case is the third death penalty prosecution in Maryland since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, but marks the first time a jury has imposed the death penalty. Under federal law, the judge is obligated to follow the jury's sentencing determination. (Washington Post, 10/27/00)
Richard Allen Jackson - White; Jackson was convicted in federal court on May 7, 2001 for use of a firearm on federal property (Bend Creek Recreation Area) during a felony resulting in the death of the victim. He was subsequently sentenced to death. Jackson had earlier been convicted in North Carolina state court for offenses arising from the same actions. He was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Karen Lynn Styles in 1994. That conviction was overturned and Jackson later pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Keith Nelson - White; Nelson was convicted of kidnapping a girl from her Kansas home and murdering her in Missouri. On November 28, 2001 a jury recommended the death penalty for Nelson, and on March 11, 2002, a federal judge imposed the death penalty.
Marvin Gabrion - White; On March 16, 2002, Marvin Gabrion was sentenced to death for a 1997 murder in Michigan's Manistee National Forest. Although Michigan does not have the death penalty, Gabrion was sentenced under the federal system because the victim was killed on federal property. Gabrion's case marks the first federal death sentence imposed on a defendant in a state that does not have the death penalty since the federal death penalty was reinstated.
Julius Robinson - Black; Robinson was sentenced to death on March 18, 2002, for the killings of Juan Reyes in May 1999 and Rudolph Resendez in June 1999 in Fort Worth, Texas. Both men were killed drug related incidents. Robinson was formally sentenced by the trial judge on June 5, 2002.
Daniel Lee - White; convicted in Arkansas in May, 1999 of a triple murder of a gun dealer and his family. Lee was convicted along with Chevie Kehoe in a plot to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest. Kehoe was considered by prosecutors to be the mastermind of the plot, but he was given a life sentence by the same jury. The jury in Lee's case recommended a sentence of death. Lee was formally sentenced to death on May 13, 2002.
Lezmond Mitchell - Native American. Mitchell and his co-defendants (including a juvenile) allegedly got a ride from a woman and her 9 year old granddaughter in Arizona. They killed both victims and stole the car supposedly for use in an armed robbery. Each victim was stabbed at a separate location. The Attorney General required a capital prosecution against Mitchell under a carjacking theory -- although the tribe has not "opted in" to the federal death penalty. Attorney General Ashcroft required a capital prosecution. Mitchell was found guilty on May 20, and sentenced to death on September 15, 2003.
Meier Jason Brown - Black. A U.S. District judge affirmed the recommendation of a jury for a death sentence against Meier Brown on November 8, 2003. Brown was convicted of the November 2002 murder of a 48-year-old white female-- a Fleming, Georgia postal worker-- during a robbery. Brown had agreed to plead guilty in return for a sentence of life without parole in light of Brown's confession, but federal prosecutors sought the death sentence. (Savannah Morning News, November 8, 2003)
Wesley Purkey - White. A jury recommended that Purkey be sentneced to death for the 1998 kidnapping, rape, and murder of a Kansas City, Missouri, teen. While serving life in prison for another 1998 murder in Kansas, Purkey confessed to the Kansas City crime in hopes of being transferred to federal prison. Prosecutors instead chose to seek the death penalty for Purkey under the 1994 federal statute. The judge is required to follow the jury's recommendation. (Kansas City Star, November 19, 2003)
Gary Sampson - White. Sampson pled guilty to the carjacking and murder of two Massachusetts men during a weeklong crime spree. A jury sentenced Sampson to death on December 23, 2003. Sampson is only the second federal case tried in Massachusetts since the federal government reinstated the federal death penalty in 1988. (Las Vegas Sun, December 23, 2003) Judge Mark L. Wolf sentenced Sampson to death, but ordered that the execution be carried out in New Hampshire, which has not carried out an execution since 1939. (Boston Globe, January 30, 2004)
William LeCroy, Jr. - White. A jury sentenced LeCroy to death in the 2001 carjacking and murder of a North Georgia woman. Attorneys for LeCroy argued that the murder took place inside the victim's house, and thus did not fall under the 1994 federal death penalty statute. The judge is required to follow the jury recommendation. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 11, 2004)
Alfred Bourgeois - Black. On March 24, 2004 a jury recommended a death sentence for Alfred Bourgeois for the 2002 murder of his daughter at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station in Texas, based in part on the testimony of a prisoner housed with Bourgeois. The judge is required to follow the jury's sentencing recommendation. (Department of Justice Press Release, March 24, 2004)
Sherman Lamont Fields - Black. A jury sentenced Fields to death for the shooting death of his girlfriend in 2001. Fields was also sentenced to lengthy prison terms for other charges. An U. S. District Judge formalized the sentence in April 2004, and ordered Fields transferred to Terre Haute, IN. The murder took place during Fields' escape from a detention center in Texas while Fields was being held on a federal weapons charge. (Associated Press, April 8, 2004)
Rejon Taylor - Black. On Oct. 21, 2008, a jury in Chattanooga, Tennessee recommended a death sentence for Taylor after convicting him of murder, kidnapping and carjacking. The victim was Guy Luck, a white businessman who lived in Atlanta, Georgia. He was brought across state lines and murdered in Tennessee. Taylor's attorney said he was very confident that the verdict would be overturned on appeal. The judge indicated that formal sentencing would take place in about a month. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, Oct. 22, 2008).
Daniel Troya and Ricardo Sanchez, Jr. - Both Latino. On Mar. 31, 2009, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, recommended a death sentence for Troya and Sanchez for the murder of two children on the Florida Turnpike in 2006. The defendants also were convicted of murdering the children's parents and received life sentences for that crime. All the victims were Hispanic. The father of the children was allegedly killed because of a drug debt. The reputed kingpin of the drug operation did not receive a death sentence. The judge is required to follow the jury's recommendation in imposing the formal sentence. (South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 1, 2009). On May 13, 2009 both Troya and Sanchez were formally sentenced to death.
Joseph Ebron - Black. On May 11, 2009, a jury convicted Ebron of the 2005 murder of Keith Davis, also black, in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas. The District Court judge followed the jury's recommendation and condemned Ebron to death on May 18. Both defendant and victim were said to be members of a Washington, D.C. gang. Ebron is 30 years old and has been incarcerated for most of his life since he was 15. (Beaumont Enterprise, May 19, 2009).
David Runyon - White. On August 27, 2009, a jury in Norfolk, Virginia, unanimously recommended a death sentence for Runyon for the murder of Cory Allen Voss, a white Naval officer, in Newport News in 2007. Runyon, a former soldier, was convicted of shooting Voss in a murder-for-hire plot organized by Voss's wife, Catherina Voss, and her boyfriend, Michael Draven. The federal government did not seek the death penalty against the other two defendants. Catherina Voss pled guilty and received a life sentence. Draven was found guilty and faces a life sentence. Catherina hired Runyon to kill her husband in the hope of being the beneficiary of a $500,000 life insurance policy. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith will formally sentence Runyon in December. She is obligated to follow the jury's recommendation. (Daily Press, Aug. 27, 2009).
Alejandro Umana -Latino. On April 28, 2010, a jury in Charlotte, NC, unanimously recommended a death sentence for Umana, who was reputed to be a member of the gang MS-13. He was found guilty of killing 2 brothers in a Greensboro restaurant in 2007. Both victims were Latino. Umana was one of 26 suspected MS-13 gang members indicted in Charlotte in 2008. Chief U.S. District Judge Bob Conrad is required to follow the jurors' recommendation and impose the death penalty. (Charlotte Observer, Apri 29, 2010). Umana was formally sentenced to death on July 27, 2010.
Mark Snarr (White) and Edgar Garcia (Latino) - On May 24, 2010, a jury in Beaumont, Texas, recommended death sentences for these two federal prison inmates for the murder of a fellow inmate, Gabriel Rhone. They also stabbed and wounded 2 corrections officers. They were convicted on May 7, 2010, of the murder that occurred in the U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont. Both inmates were serving lengthy sentences for drug trafficking. (AOL News, May 24, 2010). According to the FBI, the presiding judge sentenced the defendants to death on the same day.
Reversal of death sentence final or clemency granted:
John McCullah - White; sentenced to death for a drug-related kidnap/murder of a Muskogee, Oklahoma auto dealership employee. The 10th Circuit granted McCullah a new penalty hearing in 1996, and in February, 2000, McCullah was resentenced to life in prison.
David Ronald Chandler- White, marijuana grower in Alabama; sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder for hire of a white male under the drug kingpin statute. Most of the government's witnesses, including the triggerman in the killing, have now recanted their testimony. The Eleventh Circuit overturned his death sentence in October, 1999 because of ineffectiveness of counsel. In December, 1999, the Court voted to rehear the case en banc, and by a 6-5 vote re-affirmed his death sentence. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was filed. Sentence commuted to life by President Clinton on January 20, 2001.
Boutaem Chanthadara - Asian; sentenced to death in October 1996 for the armed robbery/murder of the female proprietor of a Chinese restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. In November, 2000, the 10th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned Chanthadara's death sentence and remanded his case for a new sentencing hearing. At resentencing, Chanthadara was sentenced to life in April 2002.
Paul Hardy - black, was the triggerman in a killing in New Orleans along with a co-defendant Len Davis. Hardy and Davis were sentenced to death on two convictions in May 1996. The Fifth Circuit reversed the sentences for both defendants and one of the two capital convictions for each defendant. The court ordered a new sentencing hearing for both defendants. Hardy is no longer under a sentence of death. Davis was resentenced to death.
Richard Thomas Stitt -Black; convicted of ordering the murder of three people in Norfolk Virginia. He was sentenced to death by a jury in November 1998 after a joint trial with three of the non-capital codefendants, who did not face the death penalty but rather life in prison. Stitt's death sentence was overturned by a federal District Court judge in April 2005 because of ineffectiveness of counsel. In March 2006, the District Court was unanimously upheld by the 4th Circuit, finding that Stitt's attorney did not render effective assistance because of a conflict of interest. (Associated Press, Mar. 25, 2006). UPDATE: The federal District Court ruled that Stitt's sentence should be reduced to life plus 65 years. The prosecution had requested a new sentencing jury. The government may appeal this ruling. (Virginian Pilot, June 17, 2007). UPDATE: The 4th Circuit overturned the District Court's sentence and allowed the government to conduct a new sentencing hearing. Attorney General Eric Holder approved the seeking of the death penalty at the new sentencing trial. (Virginian Pilot, Oct. 27, 2009).
Jury Verdict for Death but No Formal Sentence
George Lecco and Valerie Friend (female) - Both White. On May 29, 2007, a jury in Charleston, West Virginia, recommended death sentences for both defendants for the murder of Carla Collins in order to protect their drug ring. Prosecutors maintained that Lecco arranged to have Collins killed and that Friend did the shooting in 2005. These were the first federal death vericts in West Virginia since the federal law was reinstated in 1988. (Charleston Daily Mail, May 29, 2007). UPDATE: Prior to formal sentencing by the judge, Lecco and Friend's convictions were overturned by a federal District Court in May 2009 because a juror at the trial, William Griffith, did not reveal that he was under investigation for allegedly possessing child pornography by the same U.S. Attorney’s Office that was prosecuting Lecco and Friend. (Williamson Daily News, May 7, 2009). A new trial date of Oct. 27, 2009 was set for Friend and the prosecution said it intended to seek the death penalty. UPDATE: Valerie Friend pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, 2009 to a number of charges, including the murdeer of Collins. In exchange for her plea and cooperation against her co-defendant, she will be sentenced to life in prison. (Assoc. Press, Oct. 1, 2009). UPDATE: On May 3, 2010, a federal jury chose not to sentence Lecco to death after finding him guilty. He will be sentenced to life without parole. (Charleston Gazette, May 3, 2010).
John Wayne Johnson - Black. On May 27, 2009, a jury in New Orleans, Louisiana, unanimously recommended a death sentence for Johnson for the murder of an off-duty sheriff's deputy working as a guard during a bank robbery. There were two other accomplices in the 2004 robbery in which officer Sidney Zaffuto was killed. Johnson admitted he shot Zaffuto, but said it was unintentional. The jury found him guilty on May 19. Johnson's attorneys planned to appeal on several grounds, including an assertion that the federal death penalty is being employed unconstitutionally in New Orleans because all 42 defendants indicted on capital offenses were either black or Hispanic. (Times-Picayune, May 27, 2009). UPDATE: The District Court judge delayed formal sentencing until Feb. 3, 2010 to allow more time for a challenge to the trial. UPDATE: Prior to formal sentencing, the District Court vacated Johnson's death verdict and remanded the case for a new penalty hearing because of admission of improper victim-impact evidence; a discovery violation related to this victim-impact evidence; introduction of an unadjudicated murder which the jury found was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and; improper government argument in the penalty phase which (a) compared worth of defendant and victim, (b) compared conditions of a life sentence to the permanency of the victim's death, and (c) pressured the jury into believing that a life sentence would be a capitulation. (Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel, May 18, 2010).Sentence to death and executed
Timothy McVeigh - White; sentenced to death in June 1997 for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. The United States Supreme Court denied review on March 8, 1999. McVeigh was scheduled for execution on May 16, 2001 but was granted a 30 day stay by Attorney General John Ashcroft after it was discovered that the FBI did not disclose over 3,000 pages of document to McVeigh's defense team. McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001. McVeigh's co-defendant, Terry Nichols, was found guilty in a separate trial by the federal government and given a life sentence. Nichols was later tried by the state of Oklahoma for the murder of the 161 non-federal employees in Oklahoma City, found guilty, and again sentenced to life in prison.
Juan Raul Garza - Hispanic; marijuana distributor. Garza was sentenced to death in August 1993 in Texas for the murders of three other drug traffickers. Garza was denied review by the U.S. Supreme Court in late 1999 and was facing an execution date of August 5, 2000. The date was postponed until the Justice Department finished drafting guidelines for federal death row inmates seeking presidential clemency, which were issued in early August. Garza was offered the opportunity to apply for clemency under the new guidelines and a new execution date of Dec. 12, 2000 was set. In December, 2000, President Clinton again delayed Garza's execution for at least six months to allow further study of the fairness of the federal death penalty. Garza was executed on June 19, 2001.
Louis Jones - Black; sentenced to death in November 1995 in Texas for the kidnap/murder of a young white female soldier. The United States Supreme Court granted review of the case and heard arguments on February 22, 1999. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction on June 21, 1999. Jones, a decorated Gulf War veteran who had no prior criminal record, claimed that his exposure to nerve gas in Iraq and post-traumatic stress from his combat tours contributed to his murder of Pvt. Tracie Joy McBride in Texas. President Bush refused Jones' clemency request. Jones was executed on March 18, 2003.
See also, list of federal prisoners executed since 1927.