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Robert Dwight FENTON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 23, 1958
Date of birth: June 7, 1934
Victim profile: Mrs. Coward (his employer)
Method of murder: Shooting (J.C. Higgins 22 caliber to. 825 pistol)
Location: Pima County, Arizona, USA
Status: Executed by asphyxiation-gas in Arizona on March 11, 1960

Statement of facts on conviction

2-24-58 Defendant charged with Ist Degree murder, a felony

3-8-58 Defendant arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty

6-17-58 Defendant withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty.6-20-58 Defendant sentenced to death by Honorable Judge Molloy

Circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime

Defendant arrived in Tucson, January 22, 1958, from Springfield, Illinois. He went to John Mahoney who was employed by Keller’s Drug Store, and an acquaintance of his stepfather. He went to Mr. Mahoney on the premise that he could obtain help in getting employment Mr. Mahoney introduced the defendant to Mrs. Coward who was the owner of the drug store. She invited the defendant to move into her house and do odd jobs to earn his keep, since he couldn’t find a permanent employment. Defendant moved into the house 1-31-58

On February 12, 1958, defendant obtained full time employment at the Ryan-Evans Drug store. On the 14th of February he was asked to vacate the guest room of the house to make room for out of town friends. Defendant moved Into YMCA after borrowing $20.00 from Mrs. Coward, to tide him over until he drew a pay check. They also had an understanding about some money he owed her from the time he had moved into her house. He was to repay it by working at the rate of a dollar an hour on his day off doing odd jobs

On Sunday, February 23, 1958 the defendant arrived at the home of Mrs. Coward about three PM. She was alone in the house and was getting ready to go back to work. Defendant changed into into his work clothes and started digging in a flower garden. She left and went back to work. Defendant had asked her to give him $200.00 M she had refused to give him more than $40.00

Following is a statement of the defendant...

"When she came back into the house after work I lay in waiting behind the bedroom door. I had planned to steal everything of value that was in the house because she had refused me the money. I had all the suitcases packed and I was intending to hit her over the head, tie and gag her. I had everything packed in suitcases and was intending to take her car when she got home. I wrote a note telling her that it had rained and instead of working in the rain I was going to call it quits for the day. I further stated that I was going back to the "Y" and would see her again on my next day off. I put the note on the kitchen table. I sat in the bedroom looking out the kitchen window waiting for her to come home. She came home at 6:00 o’clock PM. When I saw her I hid behind the door of the bedroom. When she got into the house she read the note and yet called to me thinking that perhaps I might still be there. She walked into the bedroom with her pocketbook and raincoat over or arm. I stepped from behind the door and struck her with the barrel of the gun I struck her four times and the gun went off. I became panicky. After I accidentally fired the shot and in my panic I fired more shots into her until she quit moving. I went through her pocketbook and took her wallet and what loose change there was. I went out to the car and started to drive away but there was no key in the ignition. I tried to open the back door but it locked behind me. I went to the bedroom window smashed the window to gain entrance again. I turned her pocketbook upside down on the bed and found the keys to the car and went back outside and drove away, in the car"

Defendant took victim’s car which was a 1950 Chevrolet. He also has in his possession at the time of the arrest the gun involved in the case. This was a J.C. Higgins 22 caliber to. 825 pistol.*

There were seven wounds in the victim. 1 in left thigh, I in left arm, 1 in left shoulder, 1 In right rear upper arm, 1 right of nose, 1 right jaw, 1 back of right ear.



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