Mark Arlo Sheppard and Andre Graham
were convicted of the double murders of a Chesterfield County
Richard Rosenbluth, 40, and
Rebecca Rosenbluth, 35, were killed in their home on November 28,
1993. The Rosenbluths had been buying cocaine from Sheppard and
The couple's bodies were found in
the den of their home. Richard had been shot twice in the head; his
wife, Rebecca was shot 4 times in the head and neck from close range.
Sheppard was executed for these
murders in January 1999. Graham received a life sentence + 23 years
in these murders.
He was sentenced to die for the
shotgun murder of Sheryl L. Stack, 20 on 10/8/93. Sheryl was a
waitress at a Steak & Ale and was shot in the parking lot for her
car. She died two days later.
Graham also shot a 23-year-old man,
who survived his injuries but lost an eye and most of the use of one
arm and leg and suffers from brain damage. Graham was convicted of
a maiming charge in this case.
Andre Graham & Mark
On 11/28/93, Mark
Arlo Sheppard and his companion Andre Graham shot and killed Richard
and Rebecca Rosenbluth.
Their bodies were
found two days later. Richard, 40, had been shot twice in the face
and Rebecca, 34, had been shot four times in the head and neck.
Sheppard was 22 at
the time of the murders and had a history of violence reaching back
to when he was nine years old.
to being at the scene of the murders (his fingerprints were found in
61 spots) but says that Graham killed the couple. Sheppard is also
a suspect in about ten other murders.
In December 1994,
Sheppard was sentenced to death.
Sheppard had known each other for some time before the murder.
Sheppard said he had sold cocaine to the victim on numerous
occasions and Rosenbluth owed him a lot of money.
that he and 2 partners, Andre Graham and Benji Vaughan, went to the
Rosenbluth home early in the morning of the murders.
evidence alluded to Sheppard's possession of the gun. A few weeks
prior to the murder, Sheppard had accidentally shot Vaughan with the
gun that was used to kill Rosenbluth and his father had seen it in
his room a few days before the crime. The jury convicted Sheppard
and sentenced him to death.
The appellate court
denied Sheppard's appeal stating that the conflicting testimony on
whether he was the actual perpetrator of the murders presented a
credibility question for the jury to resolve. Obviously, the jury in
weighing the evidence refused to accept defendant's denial of guilt.
While attempting to
prove future dangerousness, the prosecution brought out a maimed
witness from a previous unadjudicated crime of Sheppard's.
convicted of killing Mrs. Rosenbluth and was given a life sentence.
The bodies of the couple were found in the den of their suburban
Chesterfield County home.
40, had been shot twice in the head; his wife, Rebecca Rosenbluth,
35, hit 4 times in the head and neck from close range.
Witnessing will be
Stanley and Phyllis Rosenbluth of Arlington County. "People have
asked me, 'Why do you want to go? Why do you want to witness?'" said
Mr. Rosenbluth, a plump, avuncular man, 72 years old with a white
mustache and a New York accent.
die is not about retribution, he said. "You (take) someone's life,
and you pay the consequences. It's not as if you didn't know what
you were doing. There's no revenge. There's no vengeance," he said.
die is not about forgiveness. His wife, 68, asked, "Why would I
forgive someone who, first of all never asked to be forgiven? At no
time during the trial did I hear anyone ever say that they were
sorry...or asked for forgiveness."
die is not some vain attempt at closure. "Don't use that word with
me. I hate that word. I don't know who made that word up," she said.
"There is no closure. So many people don't seem to understand that:
There is no closure," she said.
asked, "How can there be closure on a life sentence? We're both
serving a life sentence."
Sheppard die is a duty, of sorts, they said. To people who ask why
he wants to watch the execution, "I say, 'I really don't. But when
somebody wrongs your child you're going to do everything to right
that wrong as much as you can do,'" he said.
"I feel this way,
I've done, up to this point, everything that I can humanly do to
right the wrong for my child. The last act is coming up. "What it is,
is my obligation...as a parent to my child," he said. "This is the
last thing I can do for him to right that wrong."
said, "You have to understand, it's not a big thing in my life to go
to this execution. It's just that sometimes you have to stand up for
what you believe in."
Richard and Rebecca
Rosenbluth died in their Chesterfield County home on Nov. 28, 1993,
gunned down by Sheppard and Andre Graham who had been selling them
The 2 killers stole
the couple's vehicles and some personal items before fleeing the
sentenced to death for the crime. Andre Graham got life plus 23
years. Graham is also facing the death penalty for another capital
murder he committed.
The bodies were
discovered several days later by police when Rebecca's employer,
alerted by a concerned Rosenbluth, went to check on the couple at
Richard grew up in
Northern Virginia. He was a bright child. He started college at East
Carolina University and then attended the Berklee College of Music
in Boston. He was a musician, a percussionist, his parents said.
Richard met Rebecca
when he was playing with a band in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and they
married in 1987. "This was the daughter I never had. I can't really
describe it," Mr. Rosenbluth said.
"She was a very
loving girl, and a very beautiful girl. She fit right into the
family." Rebecca's mother, Louise Dillon of Montgomery, W.Va., said
without explanation that she will not be attending the execution.
However, she said,
"I just hope that this goes through on the 20th." Dillon said she
still misses her daughter very much. "She was a beautiful young
lady....She was just a joy to be around. A beautiful smile. She was
just a lovely young lady."
Rebecca went to
high school in West Virginia and was living in Myrtle Beach when she
met Richard, her mother said.
Mr. Rosenbluth said
his son tried his hand at making a living through music, but "he
finally decided that, hey, it's time I have to do something else."
He went into the
coffee service business. He started out working sweeping floors in a
warehouse for The Coffee Butler, moving his way up management and
eventually winding up in Richmond as regional manager.
Rebecca was a
secretary at Air Distribution Sales Inc. "Richard was a very good
young man," Mrs. Rosenbluth said. "He was a very caring person up
until the day he was taken away."
maintained frequent contact, the Rosenbluths lived 100 miles from
their son and his wife. They said they had no hint either had a drug
Finding out about
it and having it aired publicly in the trial was difficult. "It was
horrible. Horrible," Mrs. Rosenbluth said.
According to a
Virginia Supreme Court summary of the trial evidence, "The victims'
personal records showed that, during the several months immediately
preceding their deaths, the couple made substantial cash withdrawals
and credit card charges averaging hundreds of dollars per day,
apparently to support their addiction to the drug."
Stanley said, "There
was no reason for it. They were starting to make it, the typical
American couple. What would make you think? There were no signs,
there were no signs."
She said, "I still
find it hard to believe about the drugs. I'm not disputing it, but I
can't find a reason. Why? They had everything they wanted, except a
said their son and his wife were trying to have a baby. "I think
they would have made great parents," he said.
They last saw
Richard and Rebecca on Thanksgiving. The couple had to return to
Richmond on Friday, and they spoke on the phone.
remembered chatting over the phone with Rebecca that Saturday
morning. It was the last contact they had.
could not get an answer at their son's house on Sunday or Monday, so
on Tuesday morning he called Rebecca's employer.
Then, "It's like a
quarter to one and the doorbell rings. There are 3 Arlington County
police officers and...they came in and they told us," Mr. Rosenbluth
said, "You're in a state of shock... You don't even have the time to
mourn" because there are funeral arrangements to make, police
investigators to meet with and media questions to answer.
When asked what it
was like those first few days, she said, "I try and answer honestly.
Looking back, everything is a blur, it's one big blur. You've got a
big ache in your heart. That's all you can feel."
Mr. Rosenbluth said
that at "The 1st trial, Andre Graham, when he was given life
imprisonment, I flipped. I flipped out, because the jury wasn't told
that life imprisonment meant you were eligible for parole."
"I didn't do
anything then because we had the other trial coming up. Sheppard's
trial. After Sheppard got the death penalty, I said, 'How do we
correct this?...I didn't feel it was right that the jury didn't have
all the information in order to come back with a proper sentence" in
the Graham case.
He contacted then-Virginia
Secretary of Public Safety Jerry W. Kilgore, who suggested he speak
at a town hall meeting scheduled that week on then-Gov. George
Allen's plan for abolishing parole and establishing truth in
"They asked me if
I'd like to go to that meeting" and speak. "I said, 'Yes.'" "After
the meeting, 25 homicide victims (family members) got together, this
was in November '94, to discuss whether there was a need for an
umbrella organization" for several crime victims organizations in
As a result, they
formed Virginians United Against Crime, a victims' advocacy group.
Mr. Rosenbluth, the group's president, said he threw himself in the
organization's work as a form of therapy.
Among other things,
the group supported Allen's parole abolition and truth in sentencing
reforms and supported the crime victim's rights bill. Among the many
reforms the effort led to were true life sentences.
have kept busy as the final act in their son's murder approaches. "The
fact of the matter is, the execution of this animal does not bring
my children back, my son and his wife back," Mrs. Rosenbluth said.
"Nothing will ever
bring them back. "The only thing that I feel that this will do is,
it will stop this animal from ever doing this again to somebody else.
"It's the final deterrent, that's all there is to it." It will not
stop the pain.
Mr. Rosembluth said,
"If you talk to victims, and they're honest with you, they'll tell
you it doesn't matter how many years go by. "You're walking down the
street, you're sitting in a room, you hear a voice. You say, 'My God,
there's (his) voice.' Or you look around, you see somebody looks
like him. This never goes away." This never goes away."
said, "I can't even come to terms with myself that I'm never going
to see Richard again. "Every time the damn phone rings I still think
it might be them calling."
Andre L. Graham
Virginia Supreme Court thoroughly summarized the
evidence as follows:
After finishing their work at the
Steak and Ale Restaurant... in south Richmond on the
night of October 7, 1993, Stack drove her Volvo sedan
and Martin drove his red sports car to another
restaurant in Richmond where they had something to eat.
James Jones, the night auditor of a motel adjacent to
the Steak and Ale Restaurant parking lot, was standing
outside the motel talking to another employee when he
saw Stack and Martin return to the parking lot after
2:00 a.m. on October 8.
Jones noticed Stack and Martin
standing beside one of the two cars talking and kissing
until Jones returned to work inside the motel. Twenty to
twenty-five minutes later, Jones heard two loud noises,
"two or three seconds [apart], maybe up to ten seconds"
and saw a third car being driven from the area.
When Jones looked toward the parking
lot, he noticed that the Volvo's engine was running and
its lights were on, but that the red sports car was
gone. As he walked toward the Volvo, Jones noticed a
body lying on the ground and immediately called the
Harold Giles, a Richmond Police
officer ... got Jones's call ... and ... found Stack and
Martin, both shot in the head, lying face down in a pool
of blood, with their hands touching. Giles testified
that "they were trying to communicate to each other, but
I couldn't make out what they were saying." In addition
to observing that the Volvo's engine was running and its
lights were on, Giles also noticed that the front
passenger door was open....
When Detective Thomas R. Searles
arrived at the scene at "approximately" 6:00 a.m., Stack
and Martin had been taken to the hospital.... One
photograph of the front seat of Stack's car shows that
it had been ransacked, with Stack's personal property
and purse in disarray in the front seat. Searles
found a .45 caliber cartridge case and two .45 caliber
bullets that were approximately one foot apart.
Stack was comatose when she arrived
at the hospital and died some time later without
regaining consciousness. Although Martin had been shot
in the head and suffered extensive brain injuries, he
survived and was able to testify.
Dr. William Broaddus, a neurosurgeon
who treated Martin, testified that the bullet ...
damaged the left side of his brain, resulting in
Martin's loss of his left eye, a partial paralysis on
the right side of his body, and an impairment in his
ability to generate language. However, Dr. Broaddus said
that Martin's comprehension, memory, and intelligence
were perfectly normal....
Martin testified that he and Stack
were seated in her car in the parking lot when a man
Martin later identified from a photographic spread as
Graham approached the car. Graham had a gun and told
them to get out of the car. After Stack and Martin got
out of the car, Graham told Martin to hand over his
wallet and car keys to another man who was with him, but
unarmed. As Graham held "the gun on [Stack and Martin],"
the other man first got in Stack's car and started it,
then got in Martin's car, where ... the other man "saw"
Martin's compact disc recordings (CDs). While the other
man was in Martin's car, Graham told Stack and Martin
that if they would lie down on the parking lot and close
their eyes, he would not hurt them. Even though both did
as they were directed, they were each shot in the head
as they lay on the ground with their eyes closed.2
2 Authorities suspected Mark
Sheppard, a friend of Graham's, to be Graham's
accomplice. Graham, too, asserts that Sheppard was
his accomplice. And, the Commonwealth suggested
during summation at the close of the guilt phase of
trial that Sheppard was the other assailant. Indeed,
the two had a history of violent crime together.
Sheppard was convicted of capital murder and
sentenced to death for the murders of Richard and
Rebecca Rosenbluth. See Sheppard v. Commonwealth,
464 S.E.2d 131 (Va. 1995). Graham also was convicted
of capital murder in the Rosenbluth murders, but he
received a life sentence. See Graham v.
Commonwealth, 464 S.E.2d 128 (Va. 1995). Sheppard,
however, was not charged in connection with the
murder of Sheryl Stack.
Although Martin does not remember how
long it was after he closed his eyes that he was shot,
Graham was the last person Martin saw with a gun before
he closed his eyes. After he was shot, Martin realized
that his "car was being started and the car was coming
at [him] so[he] quickly rolled over to get out of the
way of the car." After they were shot, Stack and Martin
were holding hands and he was trying to talk to her.
Priscilla Booker, who had been living
with Graham ... since early July 1993, testified that on
the morning of Stack's murder, she saw Graham in the
same red car as that shown in a police photograph of
Martin's car. Later that morning, as Booker was watching
the news on a local television station, she mentioned to
Graham the reports of the shooting in the Steak and Ale
parking lot. Graham's response was, "why do [you] worry
about other people."
Graham then asked Booker to stop
looking at the news and, when she continued to do so, he
became upset. When Booker asked Graham why she should
not watch the news, he replied that "he knew who did
it[,] but he didn't."
Two or three days after the Stack
murder, Booker found Martin's box of over 200 CDs in the
trunk of her car. Graham told her that he had bought
these CDs for $10, and Booker put them in storage. The
police recovered Martin's car a few days after the
crimes, but were unable to obtain any useful fingerprint
evidence from it.
On the morning of December 3, 1993,
Graham, who was incarcerated in the Chesterfield County
jail on another charge, made a telephone call to Booker
in the presence of Gary McGregor, a Chesterfield County
deputy sheriff. Graham told Booker several times during
the conversation to "go into the closet, get the bag
with the contents and get rid of it." McGregor
immediately reported this conversation to his superiors.
Shortly thereafter, Detective W.F. Showalter of the
Chesterfield County Police Department went to Booker's
apartment. There he found a .45 caliber pistol in a
plastic bag in a linen closet.
The gun was heavily oiled, and the
police were unable to recover any fingerprints from it.
However, Booker testified that she had seen the
transaction in which Graham had obtained the gun in
September 1993, and that since that time, Graham had
kept it in his constant possession. Booker testified
that Graham even slept with it. After examining the gun,
the bullets, and the cartridge case found at the scene,
Ann Davis Jones, a firearms identification expert,
testified that Graham's gun was the weapon from which
the bullets and the cartridge case found at the scene
had been fired and ejected.
The police found Martin's CDs in a
storage locker rented by Booker's mother. The CDs were
examined by Leland W. Kennedy, a fingerprint expert, who
testified that 31 of the 48 identifiable fingerprints
found on the CDs were those of Graham.
Graham v. Commonwealth,
459 S.E.2d 97, 98-100 (Va. 1995)
Andre Graham, 29, 99-12-09, Virginia
Andre Graham was executed Thursday night
for an October 1993 robbery and slaying outside a Richmond
restaurant, despite claims from 2 other death row inmates that
an accomplice said Graham wasn't the triggerman.
Graham, 29, was put to death by injection at the Greensville
Correctional Center for the slaying of Sheryl Stack. He was
pronounced dead at 9:04 p.m.
Graham shook his head no when asked if he had a final statement.
Outside the rural prison's main gate, about a half dozen death
penalty opponents held candles as the execution hour approached.
Less than an hour before the execution, Gov. Jim Gilmore
rejected Graham's clemency petition, noting that Ms. Stack was
killed execution-style. The U.S. Supreme Court also denied a
stay late in the day.
Ms. Stack's boyfriend, Edward Martin, also was shot but lived
and identified Graham as the gunman who approached the couple
that night, ordered them out of the car and onto the ground, and
promised not to hurt them if they closed their eyes.
Martin's eyes were closed when he was shot, but he testified
that Graham was the last person he saw with a gun. Graham
maintains that his accomplice, Mark Sheppard, shot Ms. Stack and
A death row inmate, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the
Richmond Times-Dispatch he had overheard Sheppard say Graham was
The inmate said he heard Sheppard, whose nickname was "Rock,"
talking to another inmate about Graham, who was known as ``Panama."
The inmate said, "Rock said, 'You know, Panama shouldn't even be
here. Panama didn't even pull the trigger. He was just there.'"
Federal death row inmate James Henry Roane, Jr., who spent time
on Virginia's death row, said Sheppard had told him the same
story one day when they were in the prison yard.
Sheppard was executed in January for an unrelated double slaying.
Graham was charged with the crime after he tried to get a
roommate to get rid of the .45-caliber murder weapon that was
hidden in Graham's apartment.
"Death row inmates have nothing better to do than perpetuate
lies and myths about 3rd-party killers, last-minute evidence and
a host of other smoke screens to try to avoid the death penalty,''
said David Botkins, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General
Mark Earley. "Rather than trying to tie the legal system in
knots at the last minute, they should be seeking forgiveness and
apologizing to the victim's family."
Graham's attorney, Jeff Stredler, said they have a letter from
Sheppard to Graham in which Sheppard concedes that Graham didn't
shoot the couple.
Graham becomes the 14th condemned inmate to be put to death this
year in Virginia, and the 73rd overall since the state resumed
capital punishment in 1982. The 14 executions are the most in
any year in Virginia since the death penalty was re-legalized in
1976. Virginia trails only Texas in the number of condemned
inmates put to death in the USA since 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
(Virginia) Andre L. Graham, black, aged 29
November 30, 1999
Andre Graham is scheduled to be
executed on 9 December 1999 in Virginia. He was
sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder of Sheryl
Stack. If executed, he will be the 14th prisoner to be
put to death in Virginia this year, the highest annual
total since the state resumed executions in 1982.
In the early hours of 8 October
1993, Sheryl Stack and Edward Martin, both white, were
shot in the head in a car park after being approached by
at least two assailants, who then drove off in Martin's
car. Sheryl Stack was killed, but Edward Martin survived.
Edward Martin identified Andre
Graham as one of the assailants in a photo line-up. He
then testified at trial that Graham was the last person
he had seen with a gun, and forensic evidence indicated
that it was Graham's gun which had been used. Martin was
unable to say, however, how much time passed between him
and Sheryl Stack being told to lie face down on the
ground and the shots being fired. He also testified that
another man, Mark Sheppard, had been one of the
assailants. Sheppard was not charged in connection with
this crime; he was sentenced to death for another murder
and executed in January 1999.
Edward Martin had failed to pick
Sheppard out in a photo line-up and instead picked
someone else not involved in the crime. Despite the fact
that this error undermined his credibility as an
eyewitness, it was not disclosed to the defence until it
emerged during the trial in cross-examination of a
police witness. Post-conviction appeals, on the grounds
that the defence lawyers should have immediately called
for a postponement of proceedings, have been
unsuccessful. The defence lawyers also failed to tell
the jury that Andre Graham had a constitutional right
not to testify at the trial, and that his decision not
to testify should not be used against him. This was a
serious oversight given the possibility that a juror
might interpret a defendant's failure to testify as an
admission of guilt.
Graham does not deny being present
at the crime, but has always denied being the gunman.
Before the judge sentenced him to death, he stated there
were ''three of us there'' and denied shooting Stack and
Martin. Under Virginia law, only the person who fires
the gun (the ''triggerman'') can be sentenced to death.
On appeal, Andre Graham's lawyers have argued that
letters sent to him on death row from Sheppard support
his claim that he was not the triggerman. The letters
contain such lines as: ''You didn't smoke [kill] those
people, and I tell everybody that'' and ''Yes, it is
fucked up that you're here for some shit you didn't
do.'' The appeal courts have ruled that this new
evidence does not meet the standard of reliability
required for a successful appeal.
International opposes the death penalty in all cases,
irrespective of issues of guilt or innocence. Every
death sentence is an affront to human dignity; every
execution serves to deepen a culture of violence. The
shooting of Sheryl Stack and Edward Martin was a
shocking crime. An execution is likewise a cold-blooded
killing of a human being who has been captured and
Virginia continues to execute
prisoners at an alarming rate. Since it resumed
executing in 1982, it has put 72 prisoners to death.
Only Texas (195 executions), which has a population
three times as large as Virginia, has executed more.
In an editorial
in the Virginia newspaper, the
on 20 November 1999, the paper asked: ''What has been
gained by these deaths? Perhaps, a measure of solace for
some of those who've lost loved ones in terrible brutal
ways. It is tempting to say their comfort is
justification enough. But punishment meted out by the
state must be more than a substitute for individual
revenge. It is a measure of a society's moral code, of
its regard for justice, mercy, and the rule of law. It
is not from sympathy for the predators who have
committed atrocities that the death penalty should be
abolished, but from a profound aspiration to elevate
society above the killers' baseness and depravity. When
the state kills in the name of justice, it makes
murderers of those on whose behalf it acts.''