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Terry D. CLARK

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 17, 1986
Date of arrest: July 1986
Date of birth: May 17, 1956
Victim profile: Dena Lynn Gore (female, 9)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Chaves County, New Mexico, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in November 6, 2001
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary:

Dena Lynn Gore disappeared on July 17, 1986, while riding a bike near her home to a convenience store.

Her naked, bound body was found 5 days later in a shallow grave on a ranch where Terry Clark was employed. She had been raped and shot 3 times in the back of the head.

At the time, Clark was free on bond pending appeal of his conviction for kidnapping and raping a 6-year-old Roswell girl in 1984.

Clark pled guilty to kidnapping and murder in 1986, but the state Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 1994, saying his constitutional rights had been violated.

In 1996, a second jury decided that Clark should die for the crimes. In 1999, Clark waived his appeals. He is the first New Mexico inmate to be executed in 41 years and the first ever to be executed by means of lethal injection.

 
 

Terry Doug Clark (May 17, 1956 – November 6, 2001) was convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Dena Lynn Gore. He was executed by the State of New Mexico by means of lethal injection. He became the first and (as of November 2007) the only person to be executed in New Mexico since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated.

Crimes

Terry Clark was convicted of kidnapping and raping a six-year-old girl from Roswell in 1984. Pending appeals in that case, he was released on bond.

While out on bond, Clark drove to Artesia on July 17, 1986 and kidnapped Dena Lynn Gore. He then raped her and finally killed her by shooting her in the back of her head three times. A few days later, Clark was taken into custody and, while in jail, he confessed to a minister.

Trial

At his trial later that same year, Clark pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder and was sentenced to death, but the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 1994, saying his constitutional rights had been violated and that he should be re-sentenced. During his re-sentencing in 1996, a second jury again decided that Clark should die for his crimes.

Execution

Clark waived his appeals in 1999 and was executed in 2001. This made him the first New Mexico inmate to be executed in 41 years and the first ever New Mexico inmate to be executed by means of lethal injection.

 
 

New Mexico Department of Corrections

State Executes Clark; First Execution in 41 years

(Santa Fe)- The State of New Mexico executed Terry D. Clark tonight by Lethal Injection for the First Degree Murder of nine-year-old Dena Lynn Gore.

At Seven p.m., Mountain Standard Time Tim Le Master, Warden of the Penitentiary of New Mexico, began the Warrant of Execution upon Clark as ordered by the Ninth Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico.

The Office of the Medical Examiner pronounced Terry D. Clark dead at 7:10p.m. He is the first New Mexico inmate to be executed in 41 years and the first ever to be executed by means of lethal injection.

On July 17, 1986 while free on bond during an appeal for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl in Roswell. Terry Clark drove to Artesia and kidnapped nine-year old Dena Lynn Gore. Taking her to a nearby ranch where he sexually penetrated her then shot her in the head three times.

On July 22, 1986 police went to the ranch and discovered the decomposed body later identified as Dena Lynn Gore. Terry Clark was taken into custody. While in jail, Terry Clark confessed to a family minister that he had kidnapped the girl, had sex with her, and then shot her when she said, “you’re going to pay for this.”

“Tonight, here at the Penitentiary of New Mexico, personnel and machinery of the New Mexico criminal justice system, the criminal and appellate law code, and the New Mexico Corrections Department.

“Have brought “truth” to those words”, by carrying-out without incident, the clinical-lethal injection, of Terry Douglas Clark, his execution was conducted with decency, in a professional, dignified, and compassionate manner,” said New Mexico Corrections Secretary Robert J. Perry. Mr. Clark’s final statement before the lethal drug solution was injected into his arm was, “ 15 minutes. ”

On July 14, 2000, attorneys filed a petition for habeas corpus, challenging Clark’s conviction and sentence. However, Clark personally wrote to the judge and requested that the petition be dismissed.

Judge Bonem held a four-day hearing, at which various mental health experts and others testified concerning Clark’s mental competence.

On August 10, 2001, Judge Bonem held that Clark was mentally competent to waive further review of his case, and dismissed the habeas corpus petition as Clark had requested.

The judge set Clark’s execution for November 6, 2001. An attorney attempted to obtain review of Judge Bonem’s ruling in the New Mexico Supreme Court, but Clark wrote to that court and asked that the petition filed on his behalf be dismissed.

On September 14, 2001, the New Mexico Supreme Court granted Clark’s request and refused to consider the petition filed on his behalf.

Since New Mexico’s last execution in New Mexico in 1960. 7691 people have been murdered in our state according to records from the State Office of Medical Investigator.

 
 

ProDeathPenalty.com

Dena Lynn Gore was kidnapped in 1986 as she rode a bicycle near her home. Dena disappeared July 17, 1986, while riding a bike to an Artesia convenience store.

Her naked, bound body was found 5 days later in a shallow grave on a Chaves County ranch where Terry Clark was employed. She had been raped and shot 3 times in the back of the head.

At the time, Clark was free on bond pending appeal of his conviction for kidnapping and raping a 6-year-old Roswell girl in 1984.

Clark, 43, of Roswell, pled guilty to kidnapping and murder in 1986, hoping that his death sentence would be commuted by outgoing Gov. Toney Anaya, a death penalty opponent who had just emptied death row, commuting all 5 inmates' sentences to life imprisonment as he neared the end of his term. But Clark's sentencing was delayed until after Anaya left office.

Clark was sentenced to death in 1987, but the state Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 1994, saying his constitutional rights had been violated. The court said the jury wasn't accurately told how much prison time Clark faced if he were given a life term, and it ordered him resentenced.

A 2nd jury, this one in Grant County, decided in 1996 that Clark should die for the crimes. The Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal.

Both juries considered Clark's conviction for the 1984 kidnapping and rape of a 6-year-old Roswell girl when they sentenced Clark to die. Clark has always maintained his innocence in that crime, and his lawyers argue that the juries should not have been told about the conviction.

In 1999, Clark waived his appeals, fired his attorneys and wrote letters asking to die. He said he was at peace with his crime and he wanted to be executed. In July, the state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Clark.

Clark resumed his appeals in February 2000 after an execution date was set. "I know we still have a long way to go, especially if he's not going to waive it," said the victim's mother, Colleen Gore, from the Estancia auto repair shop where she works. But she said the state Supreme Court ruling was "great. I think this is the start of showing people you can't hurt our children.

Enough is enough," she said. When Clark resumed his appeals, Colleen Gore said "I think it's a tactic but this is our system and that's the way it works. So it will be a little bit longer, maybe 20 years longer," she said with tears in her eyes.

She said she was excited when she first heard the execution date for Clark, who was in the courtroom, wearing sunglasses and his hair in a ponytail. Clark has again dropped his appeals and requested execution.

UPDATE - A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections announced that Terry Clark was read the warrant for execution at 7 p.m., made a statement, and was given the series of chemicals immediately thereafter.

He was declared dead at 7:12 p.m. Terry Clark never denied killing 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore, who was found shot to death in 1986 on the New Mexico ranch where he worked, but never offered an explanation for it. Against the wishes of his lawyers, who argued he was mentally ill, Clark decided to drop any appeals last March and asked a judge to go ahead with his execution.

In August, District Judge David Bonem found Clark competent to decide on his execution and set the date for Tuesday. "I will not allow myself, my family and the victim's family to be put through any more," Clark wrote to Bonem. "15 years of being at trials and court hearings, I'm not going to miss the day to say, 'Justice for Dena,'" said Patti Jo Grisham, a long-time friend of Dena Lynn's mother, Colleen Gore.

Grisham was among about 2 dozen people who traveled from Artesia to support the Gore family outside the Corrections Department gates Tuesday night.

 
 

Child's killer dies: With two mystery words and gaze locked on warden, Clark succumbs in 8 minutes

By Joline Gutierrez Krueger - The Albuquerque Tribune

SANTA FE - Terry Clark offered no apology, gave no last look, no last emotion, no answers as he clenched his jaws and breathed his last in the state's first execution in 41 years.

It took eight minutes for the convicted child's killer to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening, seconds for him to mutter his last, unexplained words: "15 minutes."

On and off death row since the 1986 kidnapping, rape and murder of 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore of Artesia, the 45-year-old Clark had fought his own attorneys' attempts to appeal his death sentence, winning his chance to die in August when a state district judge found him competent.

The execution - the first in the state by lethal injection - went off without a hitch and without a last-minute reprieve, the red telephone in the Penitentiary of New Mexico death chamber silent and unanswered.

Before the curtains were drawn in the death chamber, witnesses said they heard an emotional conversation.

Warden Tim LeMaster said later Clark had been saying a prayer.

Clad in a white shirt and dark pants concealed by a white sheet tucked neatly under his feet, Clark appeared numb, blank, but began blinking repeatedly as LeMaster read the death warrant.

He never looked at the 24 witnesses gathered in two separate viewing rooms off the death chamber in Unit 4, part of the North Unit that Clark called home for much of the past 15 years.

His head, elevated by a pillow, remained facing right toward LeMaster, who in the last days of the condemned man's life had become something of a confidant.

At 7:02 p.m., a lethal cocktail flowed into the intravenous needles plunged into both of Clark's arms at the elbow crook - sodium thiopental to sedate, pancuronium bromide to collapse the lungs and diaphragm, and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

A minute later, his cheeks puffed and he let out a breath, then a light gasp, a hard grimace as if in pain or in deep concentration. His eyes closed, his face relaxed, the last gush of air released, a gurgle emitted, and he was gone.

LeMaster and Clark's spiritual adviser, an unnamed Christian minister who baptized the convict while in prison, remained at Clark's side throughout the last minutes of his life.

Corrections Secretary Rob Perry said a state Office of the Medical Examiner physician pronounced the time of death as 7:10 p.m. after a heart monitor attached to Clark's fingers slowly thumped into silence.

Aside from the mysterious "15 minutes" comment and a barely audible murmur sounding like the word "burning" two to three minutes into the procedure, Clark said nothing more.

LeMaster told reporters later that he had promised Clark not to divulge the meaning behind the "15 minutes."

"And I want to honor his last request," a weary LeMaster said. "I know what it is. I would read a book. It's called `Dead Man Walking.' And you'll know."

Attorney General Patricia Madrid said it was a reference to Clark's belief that in 15 minutes he would be in heaven.

Others said they imagined his comments referred to his 15 minutes of fame as his execution day neared.

Clark's body was ferried moments after the execution to the OMI in Albuquerque where it will undergo an autopsy. Clark will be interred at the Sunset Mausoleum in Albuquerque, LeMaster said.

The 21 witnesses for the state stood silently shoulder to shoulder in one room, a few sniffles sounding after it was over.

Clark's girlfriend, Jean Ortiz of Roswell, plus a lawyer who handled his appeal and another woman were in a smaller, separate room, said media witness Barry Massey, a reporter for The Associated Press.

"I think it was kind of like I thought it would be," said Holly Lawrence, one of the witnesses chosen by the warden to attend the execution. "I expected him not to express sorrow or remorse, and unfortunately I got what I expected."

Also among the witnesses were the parents of Dena Lynn, the Artesia girl who was kidnapped from an evening bike ride July 17, 1986, and shot in the head three times when she told Clark he would pay for what he did.

Her body, trussed up and decomposing, was found five days later buried in a shallow grave on a remote ranch 60 miles northwest of Artesia.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't suffer from extreme guilt," Clark said in a Feb. 21, 2000, letter to a Tribune reporter. "The shame of it is why I chose to die instead of having to live with that on my mind from day to day."

But Tuesday night, Clark had no words of remorse for Colleen and Jeff Gore. Divorced before their daughter's death, they stood together, Jeff Gore's arm around Colleen's shoulder, in the crowded witness room no larger than an average bedroom.

They did not stand in the front row at the glass, customary for victims' families to do so that their faces are the last ones a killer sees.

"There was just quiet between them, no sobbing, just quiet," said Sylvia Hewett, an Artesia newspaper reporter who served as one of two media representatives in the witness room. "There was a tearful strength."

Witness Paul Steele said Jeff Gore told him that he planned today to visit his daughter's grave in a White Oaks cemetery and tell her that the vow he made to her 15 years before had finally been fulfilled.

"He said he made a vow over her grave the day she was buried: Whoever did this to her would die," said Steele, a University of New Mexico professor.

Gore said he would then drive back to his home near El Paso, walk out to his back yard and scream and yell and cry, Steele said.

"It's over for him," he said.

The Gores were among the few who did not speak to a room filled with reporters after the execution. But others had their say.

"What happened tonight wasn't about Terry Clark; it was about this little girl - Dena Lynn Gore," said Thomas Rutledge, the district attorney who prosecuted the case. "Justice was served tonight 15 years after the heartaches began."

In July 1986, Dena Lynn rode her brother's bicycle to an Allsup's in Artesia to buy a soda. It was the first time she had made the five-block trip alone.

Clark, then 30, was already looking at a 24-year prison sentence for the Oct. 8, 1994, rape and kidnap of a 6-year-old Roswell girl.

Clark has always maintained his innocence in that case.

He had been out on $50,000 bond pending an appeal to the state Supreme Court when Dena Lynn disappeared. Ordered to stay out of Roswell, Clark was living with brother Steve Clark, who managed the Squaw Canyon Ranch, where the girl's body was later found.

Less than five months after his arrest, Clark suddenly pleaded guilty Dec. 4, 1986, to kidnapping and first-degree murder, thinking that he could win a pardon from then-Gov. Toney Anaya, who had spared the lives of all five inmates already on New Mexico's death row before he left office.

The plan failed, and Clark was sentenced to death. In 1994, Clark was pulled off death row when the state Supreme Court overturned his sentence. Two years later, a second jury sentenced him again to death.

That, Clark says, is when he decided it was time to stop fighting and accept his lethal fate.

But attorneys continued to contend that Clark had suffered brain damage from a 1984 head injury and was not competent to make that decision.

Those appeal efforts continued up to several hours before the 7 p.m. execution.

 
 

New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Convicted Child Killers Executed

Two convicted child killers were put to death by lethal injection Tuesday night in Georgia and New Mexico, that state's first execution in nearly 42 years.

Terry Clark never denied killing 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore, who was found shot to death in 1986 on the New Mexico ranch where he worked, but never offered an explanation for it. Against the wishes of his lawyers, who argued he was mentally ill, Clark decided to drop any appeals last March and asked a judge to go ahead with his execution.

Dena Lynn was raped and killed, her body was buried in a shallow grave on a ranch north of the southeastern oil town of Artesia, from which she disappeared during a bike ride to a convenience store. Clark, a ranch hand and convicted child molester, was arrested.

That year, Clark followed his lawyers' advice and pleaded guilty in hopes that then-Gov. Toney Anaya would commute his pending death sentence. Anaya, an opponent of capital punishment, had just emptied death row, commuting all five inmates' sentences to life imprisonment. But Anaya's term ran out before Clark was sentenced.

In August, District Judge David Bonem found Clark competent to decide on his execution and set the date for Tuesday." I will not allow myself, my family and the victim's family to be put through any more," Clark wrote to Bonem.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a challenge from lawyers that questioned Clark's state of mind and competence to accept his death sentence. At the Capitol, several hundred anti-death penalty supporters held a candlelight protest before Clark was to be injected with lethal drugs.

"Fifteen years of being at trials and court hearings - I'm not going to miss the day to say, 'Justice for Dena,'" said Patti Jo Grisham, a long-time friend of Dena Lynn's mother, Colleen Gore. Grisham was among about two dozen people who traveled from Artesia to support the Gore family outside the Corrections Department gates Tuesday night.

The last execution in New Mexico was on Jan. 8, 1960, when David Nelson became the only person to die in the state's gas chamber.

 
 

Two Angry Neighbors Took on a Child Killer and the Law

By Joline Gutierrez Krueger - Alburquerque Tribune Online

The Roswell women can still remember a time before Terry Clark, before parents in their southeast New Mexico community became too afraid to let their children out of their sights. Before Dena Lynn Gore.

But Jayne Willis and Betty Williams Lehrman remember, too, the legacy of Dena, the 9-year-old Artesia girl who became Clark's victim in 1986 and the reason for his execution by lethal injection Tuesday at the Penitentiary of New Mexico near Santa Fe.

Because of Dena, the state's appellate bond law was changed to prevent people convicted of certain felonies, such as rape, from being free on bail while they appeal. Clark had been out on $50,000 bond pending appeal of a 1985 conviction of raping a 6-year-old Roswell girl when he snatched Dena from her bike and raped and killed her.

The change was called the "Dena Lynn Gore law." Willis and Williams Lehrman helped make it a reality two years after Dena's death. "It was Bill 51, I remember, and it was meant to keep some offenders like child molesters behind bars," Willis said in a recent interview from her home in Roswell. "That's what we wanted. Everyone was so upset with the legal system and the way a man like Terry Clark could have been let out of jail. But it was just such a shame that a little girl had to die to get that law changed."

It began as the worst "I told you so" Willis and Williams Lehrman could have imagine that hot July in 1986 when they heard the news about Dena. "I went to our newspaper here in Roswell the day she was found, and I told them, I know who did it," Willis recalled. "And they said how do you know? And I said I just know it's Terry Clark and somebody needs to know about it. I just had that feeling about it."

Editors shooed her off, but on her way home she heard on the radio that the police had just picked up Clark in connection with the little girl's death. "And I thought, oh, my God, it's happened just like we feared," Willis said. "But that wasn't true. It was worse than what we thought." By the time she got home the newspaper editors had already called.

"We had already been mad about how someone like Terry Clark had been allowed to be on the streets," said Williams Lehrman, who also still resides in Roswell. "Now we were really mad." Never ones for taking on advocacy or political roles, the women said they got involved nevertheless because they knew Clark's previous victim, Donita Welch, the 6-year-old girl who Clark had been convicted of kidnapping and raping and leaving for dead out on an isolated road west of Roswell. She had been walking home from school on the afternoon of Oct. 8, 1984, when a man in a white and blue car with a child's car seat in the back drove up behind her and grabbed her.

The little girl lived in their neighborhood and went to school with Willis' daughter. "That's when I started paying attention to child molesters and child kidnappers," Willis said. Although she had never met Clark personally, she soon learned much about the unassuming city carpenter and father of two. And she didn't like what she was learning. There were other girls.

On Sept. 29, 1984, an 18-year-old woman told authorities she was walking along a dark Roswell street when a man forced her into his white and blue car at gunpoint. She escaped.

On Oct. 7, 1984, Cynthia Lee Fernandez told authorities a man in a white car parked in front of her Roswell home and stared through her window at her young daughter. Fernandez said she stood next to her daughter and engaged in a "stare down" until the man drove away. Three days before Dena went missing, an 11-year-old girl said she was followed by a man in a white and blue vehicle. She escaped.

All three females identified the man as Clark. Only the 18-year-old's story resulted in criminal charges. Those were later dropped. "I never believed for a moment that this little girl (Donita) was the first one," Willis said. "I don't think he woke up one morning and he became a child molester. I just think this was the first time he got caught."

Willis said she began attending Clark's hearing and reading news articles on the case. She also enlisted the help of Williams Lehrman, a co-worker at a Roswell concrete company, to write letters demanding that Clark's bond be rescinded and he be put back behind bars. "We wrote everyone we could think of, even the president of the United States," Willis said. "We were ignored totally," Williams Lehrman said.

Then Dena disappeared. That's when the women stopped being ignored. When Dena's bound and decomposing body was unearthed from a shallow grave on a remote ranch northwest of Artesia where Clark had been staying with his brother, the women say their resolve got even stronger.

On the day of Dena's funeral, they staged a rally in front of the courthouse in Roswell to call for a change in the appellate bond law that had allowed Clark loose. Hundreds of people attended. "Things just rolled," Williams Lehrman said. "Suddenly, all over the state people were getting involved with us."

Some 20,000 people from across the state and beyond signed the petition that before Dena's death had only garnered a couple of thousand. Dena's mother, Colleen Gore, eventually joined in the cause, traveling with the women often to Santa Fe to lobby legislators for a change to the law. Another woman joined as well.

Her name was Jean Ortiz, a newly divorced mother of two who had moved to Roswell from New York to live with her mother. "She was the first person to walk in and ask if she could help," Willis said. "She asked if she could help get petitions signed. She wanted to do anything she could - stuff letters, whatever." Ortiz went with them to Santa Fe, sometimes sharing the same hotel room with Colleen Gore, the women said.

Years later, the women said they learned from a newspaper article that Ortiz, who had fought alongside them, was now Clark's fianc‚e. "Jean is a traitor in the worst way," Willis said. "She stabbed Colleen Gore and her family in the back." Ortiz has said she wrote Clark a letter in prison asking him "why he wasn't dead yet" and received a letter back that warmed her heart and changed her mind about him. Their relationship began after that.

On Tuesday, Ortiz was one of the witnesses invited by Clark to watch his execution. Willis and Williams Lehrman said that these days when they see Ortiz they keep on walking. Ortiz was not the only one to incur the women's ire. After Dena's death, they said they continued to publicly castigate state District Judge Paul Snead for allowing Clark to post $50,000 bond in the first place. Snead, they said, had been lenient on Clark because he knew his family.

"He broke every rule," Williams Lehrman said. "If Judge Snead hadn't let him out, Dena would be alive today." Shortly after Dena's death, Snead retired and suffered a heart attack, the women said. "Our publicity hurt him a lot," Williams Lehrman said. "Finally, his daughter asked us to lay off because he was getting so sick." Snead could not be reached for comment.

A woman who answered two phone calls to a Roswell listing for a Paul Snead hung up abruptly. It has been 17 years since both women began their quest to see a change in the legal system, 15 years since Dena's death, 13 years since the Dena Lynn Gore law. Both women still say they are recognized on the streets of Roswell as the women who took on Terry Clark and the law.

Williams Lehrman said she still goes to bed every night remembering the faces of Donita and Dena and the other children damaged for a lifetime by a moment of evil. "It is sad this whole thing took a child," Willis said. "I will never forget it myself. I never got to meet Dena, and that is sad for me. That is sad for everyone."

 
 

Statement of Governor Gary Johnson Regarding the Execution of Terry Clark

For Immediate Release - Tuesday November 6, 2001

SANTA FE – “At approximately 7 p.m. today, Terry Clark was executed by lethal injection.

I am satisfied that justice was done, and that the state carried out its obligation to its citizens. Mr. Clark deserved the punishment he received for the heinous crimes that he committed, crimes for which he properly paid the ultimate price. I can only hope that his execution will serve as a lesson to all those who would engage in such evil acts.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Dena Lynn Gore, who have suffered so many years from the death of their daughter, and I pray that the events of today will provide them some resolution to the nightmare they have lived for so long. No parent should ever have to face such hardship.

I commend the professional manner in which the New Mexico Corrections Department, Secretary of Corrections Robert Perry, and Warden Tim LeMaster performed their duty to carry out the sentence against Terry Clark.

Now that the sentence against Mr. Clark has been carried out, I ask New Mexicans to put the emotions surrounding this event behind us and move forward.”

 
 


Donita Welch speaks about being attacked by Terry Clark when she was six years old during a press conference held after Clark's execution in the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Behind her is Assistant Attorney General Bill McEven.
(Lewis Jacobs / Daily Lobo)

 

Terry D. Clark

 

Confessed child-killer Terry Clark leaves the courtroom after being given the death penalty by lethal injection in Silver City, N.M., in 1986. The executioner who carried out the death sentence learned how to administer the deadly chemical cocktail as a member of the lethal injection team in Texas.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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