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Robert Ronald ATWORTH






A.K.A.: "Nino"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 2, 1995
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: August 18, 1968
Victim profile: Thomas Carlson, 56
Method of murder: Shooting (9 mm caliber pistol)
Location: Dallas County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on December 14, 1999


Date of Execution:
December 14, 1999
Atworth, Robert #999199
Last Statement:
Well, first, My people, you guys have heard everything I needed to say today. I hope I said the right things. I hope you heard me. And I hope you go beyond here and do what you need to do, do the right thing. Strength in numbers. Look out for each other. You still got a chance with Shawn. Edwin you know what you gotta do. You have my love. It's the right thing. And for everybody else, those people who have malice in their heart, allow ambitions to over ride what they know. Be right. Even though they just gotta do their job. For all of you with hatred in their veins, and think this is ashamed. You've done nothing. I did this, I chose this, you've done nothing. Remember this, if all you know is hatred, if all you know is blood love, you'll never be satisfied. For everybody out there that is like that and knows nothing but negative, kiss my proud white Irish ass. I'm ready Warden, send me home.


Robert Ronald Atworth shot to death a man he met on the side of a road in April of 1995. 

Thomas Carlson, 56, was found shot in the head, torso and groin, and stabbed in the abdomen and chin.  His body had been dumped between two trash dumpsters behind a health club in Richardson, Texas. His wallet was missing and his little finger was severed in order to obtain his ring. 

Atworth was arrested the next day when he was caught burglarizing a home in Garland, Texas.  He was still driving Thomas's car and had in his possession the 9mm gun Thomas was killed with and the pistol that Thomas carried for protection. 

Kris Mosley and Kim Beyer won't trek to Huntsville this week to watch their father's killer be put to death. They say there's no point.  "I have worked so hard to move forward, and going down there would be a detour," said Ms. Mosley, 36. "I don't want to give him my time, my energy, my thoughts." 

Ms. Beyer, 39, added, "Him dying doesn't help me one bit."  Thomas Carlson, a former senior insurance executive living with Ms. Mosley in Plano, was found shot to death between 2 trash bins behind a Richardson health club in 1995.

One of his pinkie fingers had been cut off, and he had knife wounds in his chest, which detectives said suggested torture. 

Robert Ronald Atworth, who told police that his alter ego, "Nino," had killed the 56-year-old man, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday.

Authorities said Atworth spotted his victim at an intersection and posed as an off-duty police officer while tapping at Mr. Carlson's car window. Mr. Carlson was not feeling well and asked Atworth to call his daughter for heart medication, according to court testimony. 

Mr. Carlson had been living with Kris, the youngest of his daughters, in Plano while he looked for a job.  Kris Mosley thinks her father became ill as he drove home and was headed to a hospital when Atworth approached him on Campbell Road just west of North Central Expressway. 

The sisters say they have survived the tragedy with support from family and therapy from a victim's assistance program through the Richardson Police Department.  "Dad would have wanted me to get past this," Ms. Mosley said. "You can survive no matter what tragedy hits your life. There are positives. There are always things to be grateful for." 

Mr. Carlson's family thinks he reached a greater peace in the last year of his life. He was looking inward and re-examining his faith as if "part of him was getting ready for something," Ms. Mosley said. 

Atworth requested in May that all appeals on his behalf be ended so his lethal injection could take place as soon as possible.

The request was granted by an appeals court after 2 psychiatrists found him competent, officials said.  Toby Shook, the prosecutor who tried Atworth, said he thought the inmate was the 1st from Dallas County to make such a request. 

The day after Mr. Carlson was slain, Garland police arrested Atworth while answering a burglary call in a residential back yard.

When officers found Atworth, he was carrying two guns and had Mr. Carlson's wallet and credit cards. Mr. Carlson's car was parked nearby, police said.  He had gone to the Garland address to kill another man because of a drug deal gone bad, police said. 

Mr. Carlson's severed finger was found in Atworth's freezer.  "It was more of souvenir for him," said Richardson Detective Dan White, who was assigned to the murder case and will witness the execution. 

At one point in Atworth's videotaped statement to police, he began speaking as if in a trance and identified himself as "Nino."

Speaking as "Nino," Atworth claimed self-defense as a motive and said he tampered with evidence to get caught.  "He said he had fingers in jars all over the country. He said he had a mentor who trained him how to be killer," Detective White said.  "It was pretty freaky....," he said. "The dual-personality act was unique." 

Wayne Huff, who represented Atworth at trial, said his client was difficult to defend.  "He pretty much sealed his fate before we got appointed," Mr. Huff said.  Atworth's family could not be reached for comment. 

Detective White said he remembers Atworth's leers when he was sentenced to death in 1996.  "He turned around and nodded and winked at me," the officer said. "I thought, 'Well, Bob, you got what you asked for.' "


Robert Atworth, 30, 99-12-14, Texas

A convicted killer was executed Tuesday night for fatally shooting and stabbing a Dallas area man during a robbery, then slicing off the victim's finger and storing it in his freezer.

Robert Atworth, 30, of Dallas had asked that no appeals be made on his behalf and that he be executed for the murder 4 1/2 years ago of Thomas Carlson, 56, of Plano.

Strapped to the gurney, Atworth appeared cocky and chuckled as his mother walked into the death house carrying a stuffed toy, Tweety Bird, and waved it at him.

In his final statement, Atworth expressed love to his family and took responsibility for his execution.

He concluded by adding, "If all you know is hatred, if all you know is blood lust, you'll never be satisfied. ... I'm ready warden, send me home."

Atworth was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal drugs began.

He became the 3rd Texas death row inmate to receive lethal injection within the past 7 days and the 34th this year. Another execution was set for tonight and at least 8 are scheduled for next month.

Atworth declined to be interviewed in the weeks preceding his execution date but told his lawyer at a court hearing earlier this year that he didn't expect to see his 31st birthday.

"He's very different and really quite smart," said Toby Shook, the Dallas County assistant D.A. who prosecuted Atworth. "He's weird but intelligent, and maybe the fact he's a little more intelligent, he realized this is inevitable anyway so he's going to go ahead and get it over with."

Carlson, a former insurance executive, was found shot to death April 2, 1995, between two trash bins behind a health club in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Besides 4 bullet wounds, he also had knife wounds to his abdomen and chin and the little finger of his right hand, where he had worn a ring, had been severed.

Authorities believe Carlson was stopped on a freeway service road intersection when Atworth, impersonating a police officer, diverted him behind a health club where the robbery and shooting occurred.

Atworth was arrested the following day in Garland, another Dallas suburb. Police there answered a burglary call about a man trying to squeeze into a house through a dog door. When police found Atworth, he was carrying a pair of guns and Carlson's wallet, credit cards and jewelry. Carlson's car was parked nearby.

When officers went to Atworth's home, they found Carlson's finger in a plastic bag, the date scribbled on the bag, packed in ice. They also found the license plates to Carlson's car and a bag of bloody clothing.
Ballistics tests showed one of the guns, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, was the murder weapon.

In March, Atworth wrote the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals saying he wanted to waive all appeals. At a May hearing in his trial court, he repeated his request.

Psychiatrists appointed by the court to examine him determined he was competent to waive his appeals.

Atworth served jail time in Florida for violating probation after a 1993 conviction for selling marijuana out of his West Palm Beach condominium. In the mid-1980s, he was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for battery of a police officer when confronted while trying to break into his mother's home.

(source: Houston Chronicle)



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