On the morning of July 9, 1981, Bonham forced
business college teacher Marie Jones McGowen, 62, into the trunk of
her car. After driving around for four hours, Bonham parked on an
isolated stretch of road in southeast Houston, where he raped
McGowen and left her for dead.
His attorney lamented after the trial that jurors
did not consider evidence that Bonham was drunk at the time and
showed remorse for the killing.
Bonham kidnapped, robbed, raped, and killed Marie McGowen on
the morning of July 9, 1981 in Houston, Texas.
On Sept. 28, 1993 Bonham
was pronounced dead at 12:28 a.m., his death sentence carried
out for the slaying of McGowen. The death penalty claimed
another criminal as Bonham was the 69th convict
executed since the law was reinstated in Texas.
McGowen, a 62-year-old
keypunch instructor at Massey Business College, arrived at work
before 7 a.m. as was customary. Bonham, who intended only to
steal her car, hit her over the head with a brick and threw her
in the trunk.
After driving aimlessly
around the city of Houston for several hours, Bonham stopped on
a desolate section of Schurmier Rd. in Southeast Houston.
Bonham then raped McGowen and let her go so she could get help
for herself. When McGowen gave no response, Bonham tried to
scare her by chasing her with the car. Bonham ran over McGowen
three times with the late-model sedan and fled the scene when he
failed to get the vehicle out of a ditch.
Eleven hours after her
abduction, McGowen’ abandoned car was found by Houston police.
They called her husband, John McGowen, to bring the vehicles’
spare keys. He was the one to discover his wife’s mangled body
pinned under the car.
Houston police arrested
Bonham when a set of keys belonging to the homes of Bonham’s
mother, father, and sister were found near the crime scene.
Bonham’s fingerprints also matched those on the car.
Bonham had recently been
paroled from a ten-year sentence for aggravated robbery and had
only been free for five weeks.
Bonham admitted to the
murder in a written confession. He said the detective in charge
promised him a life sentence rather than the death penalty if he
gave a written confession. The defense used this written
confession against the prosecution during the appeal trial. Mike
Charleton, Bonham’s lawyer, fought by claiming that the admitted
evidence of the confession was not voluntary but “the product of
psychological coercion, deceit, fraud, and trickery” violating
Bonham’s fifth, sixth, and 14th amendments.
The appeal was revoked
with the court finding the confession “voluntarily and freely
made without compulsion or coercion, threats of promises…”
Bonham's execution was set for Sept. 28, 1993.
Up until Bonham’s
execution, Charlton was litigating for Bonham’s life. Charlton
argued that jurors never considered Bonham’s young age of 21 or
his drunken state at the time of the crime. “It was really my (intention)
never to harm the lady, but since I had been drinking heavily
prior to this incident, the alcohol somehow took all control of
me,” Bonham told police.
Unlike the executions
preceding and following Bonham’s execution, few activists
protested against Bonham’s death. “I think that Tony’s case did
not have the publicity like the other executions. The lady was
a well-known teacher, but it just did not get a great deal of
attention,” said Attorney Mike Charlton.
On Sept. 28, 1993,
Antonio Nathanial Bonham, age 33, was put to death by lethal
injection. He made no final statement.