On August 19, 1985, Hawkins, armed with a revolver, forced his way
into Linda Thompson's car, as she purchased stamps at a self-service
postal station at a shopping mall near her home.
small daughters, Lori, age four, and Katie, eighteen months old,
were also in the car at the time.
According to Hawkins, his original plan was to kidnap Thompson and
hold her for ransom. Hawkins drove the victims to the home of his
girlfriend, Shirley Pitts, Pitts's 15-year-old nephew, Chris Lovell,
and Hawkins's cousin, Dale Shelton, were staying with the couple at
At the house, Pitts and Lovell watched the children. Hawkins and
Shelton kept Thompson upstairs in the house for several hours.
Later that night, they took Thompson to a barn several hundred yards
away, where they kept her chained in the barn's loft. Her children
remained locked in a bedroom in the house. Shelton and Lovell each
During the night, they did allow Thompson to see her children at the
house. In the morning, after permitting Thompson briefly to say
goodbye to her daughters, Hawkins and Shelton drove Linda Thompson
to a nearby lake, where Hawkins hog-tied and drowned her, while
Shelton stood lookout.
Hawkins and Shelton dragged the body into a
ravine and covered it with brush, then fled the state. Pitts and
Lovell left Thompson's daughters with their babysitter.
After murdering Thompson and fleeing the state, Hawkins abducted and
sexually assaulted two teenage girls; kidnapped and robbed two women;
and murdered an acquaintance in Colorado. He killed that victim by
hanging him, prosecutors said.
Hawkins and Shelton were arrested two months later in Sacramento,
Calif., where Hawkins was caught trying to steal a car battery. Both
Hawkins and Shelton confessed to the murder and kidnapping. Shelton
told police where Thompson’s body was buried.
At his trial, Hawkins testified that he had left Thompson near the
lake and had turned to walk away when, he claimed, he heard the "shriek
of a supernatural creature."
He testified that he returned and
jumped in the water to try to save Thompson. The jury didn't buy it.
Hawkins told his lawyer not to submit any mitigating evidence at
trial. Shelton was tried jointly with Hawkins, convicted, and
sentenced to life without parole.
Hawkins v. State, 891 P.2d 586 (Okla. Crim. App. 1994), cert.
denied, 516 U.S. 977 (1995).
Shelton v. State, 793 P.2d 866, 869 (Okla. Crim. App. 1990).
Stuffed crust combo pizza with extra cheese and a Dr Pepper.
''I've got peace. The state needs vengeance for the crime I've done.
They're going to punish my body, but Jesus has forgiven me... I'm
truly sorry I got everyone into this."
Oklahoma Department of
Inmate: Don Wilson Hawkins, Jr.
Height: 6 ft. 01 in
Weight: 185 pounds
Location: Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Mcalester
Oklahoma Attorney General
News Release - W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney
John Michael Hooker Execution Date Set
02/13/2003 - Hawkins Execution Date Set for April
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals today set
April 8 as the execution date for death row inmate Don Wilson
Hawkins, Jr. Attorney General Drew Edmondson requested the date Jan.
27 after the United States Supreme Court denied the inmate's final
Hawkins, 43, was sentenced to death in Oklahoma
County District Court for the Aug. 20, 1985, murder of Linda Ann
Hawkins and co-defendant Dale Shelton kidnaped
Thompson and her daughters from the Shepherd Mall parking lot.
Thompson was separated from her daughters and later driven to
Sportsman's Lake near Seminole.
According to Hawkins' police
statement, he hog-tied her and held her underwater until she drowned.
Hawkins and Shelton then took Thompson's body to a ravine and
covered it with brush. Thompson's two daughters, ages four years and
18 months, were released in their babysitter's neighborhood.
Hawkins and Shelton were arrested in Sacramento,
Calif., two months later. Both confessed to Thompson's murder and
Shelton directed the Seminole County Sheriff's office to the
location of Thompson's body. Shelton was convicted of his role in
the crime and sentenced to life without parole.
Don Hawkins, Jr. was sentenced to death for the
1985 murder of Linda Thompson.
Hawkins kidnapped Linda Thompson and
her daughters, 18-month-old Katie and 4-year-old Lorie, in 1985
outside an Oklahoma City mall.
Thompson was separated from her
daughters and later driven to Sportsman's Lake near Seminole.
According to Hawkins' police statement, he hog-tied her and held her
underwater until she drowned.
Hawkins and Shelton then took
Thompson's body to a ravine and covered it with brush. Thompson's
two daughters, ages four years and 18 months, were released in their
Hawkins and Shelton were arrested in
Sacramento, Calif., two months later. Both confessed to Thompson's
murder and Shelton directed the Seminole County Sheriff's office to
the location of Thompson's body.
Prosecutors said the motive was to
seek ransom, but calls were never made. Hawkins was convicted in
1986. Shelton, received 5 life sentences to be served consecutively.
He was found guilty on 2 additional felony counts related to a
sexual attack on Thompson in a barn, where she was held in chains
National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty
Don Hawkins, Jr. (OK) - April 8, 2003 - 6:00 PM
CST, 7:00 PM EST.
The state of Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Don
Hawkins, Jr. April 8 for the 1985 murder and extortion of Linda
Thompson. Hawkins, a white man, confessed to having kidnapped
Thompson and her two young daughters from an Oklahoma City shopping
mall in hopes of collecting ransom money.
The plan failed, and
Hawkins allegedly drowned her in Sportsman’s Lake near Seminole for
fear of getting caught.
After the murder, Hawkins and his co-defendant –
Dale Shelton – fled to California, and authorities in Sacramento
arrested them two months later.
Hawkins gave a statement confessing
to the Thompson murder, and encouraged his counsel to essentially
forfeit his trial – most notably by not presenting any mitigating
evidence. On appeal, he argued that he received ineffective
assistance in regard to the sentencing phase, because he did not
understand what mitigating evidence meant, and therefore he did not
knowingly and voluntarily make that choice – which, of course, is a
suicidal choice in Oklahoma.
In his decision to affirm Hawkins’s death
sentence, Judge Carlos Lucero of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
wrote: “[I am] concerned with what I view as a disturbing tendency
on the part of defense counsel in death penalty cases” to fail to
pursue mitigating evidence. However, despite concerns, the federal
courts denied Hawkins’s appeals.
As an inmate on Oklahoma’s death row, Hawkins has
done significant writing on the justice system, life in prison, and
executions. One of his essays, entitled The Long Walk, chronicles
the execution of Chuck Coleman on Sept. 10, 1990, describing nearly
every moment of that painful day. Hawkins is also an artist, and is
a very religious Christian.
Nothing can justify the tragic death Linda
Thompson suffered in 1985. However, that murder does not justify
another murder, and this pending execution will only further the
cycle of violence that has continued to encourage senseless killing.
Please write the state of Oklahoma and request clemency for Don
Oklahoma Executes Man Who Kidnapped, Drowned
Reuters - April 9, 2003
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (Reuters) -- Oklahoma
executed Tuesday a man who kidnapped a woman and her two children
and later drowned the mother in a lake when he realized her family
could not meet ransom demands.
Don Wilson Hawkins, 43, died at 6:07
p.m. CDT (2300 GMT), two minutes after being injected with a lethal
cocktail of chemicals at the state's death chamber in the eastern
Oklahoma city of McAlester, prison officials said. "I've got peace.
The state needs vengeance for the crime I've done," Hawkins said in
his last statement, according to prison spokesman Jerry Massie. "They're
going to punish my body, but Jesus has forgiven me," Hawkins
Hawkins was convicted of the 1985 kidnapping and
murder of Linda Ann Thompson, who was 29. Hawkins and co-defendant
Dale Shelton kidnapped Thompson at a shopping mall parking lot in
Oklahoma City with her two daughters, then aged 18 months and 4
The men stole a few dollars from Thompson and took her bound
in chains into a barn, while her children were kept separate in a
house. The day after the three were abducted, the kidnappers decided
the family could not pay the ransom.
Hawkins and Shelton then
dropped the children off at the home of a baby sitter and took
Thompson to a lake. The men had tied up Thompson, and Hawkins
drowned her because he thought she would be able to identify them in
court, according to court records.
Shelton was sentenced to life in prison for his
role in the crime. Hawkins' last requested meal was a stuffed-crust
pizza and a soft drink. He was the sixth man Oklahoma has executed
this year, and the 61st since the state resumed implementing the
death penalty in 1990.
Man Who Kidnapped, Drowned Mother of Two
By Robert Anthony Phillips
April 8, 2003
McALESTER, Okla. - Donald Hawkins Jr., a violent
killer who drowned a young mother after kidnapping her and later
hanged a man in Colorado, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday
night at the state prison.
Hawkins was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m.,
just two minutes after the lethal injection began. In his last
statement from the death chamber, Hawkins told his lawyer and
investigator to "keep fighting" and his spiritual adviser to "carry
The state needs vengeance for the crimes I've done,"
Hawkins said. "They are going to punish my body, but Jesus has
forgiven me. I'm truly sorry I got everyone into this. I'm ready to
go." Then, expressing his love to his wife - who he had married
while in prison -the lethal injection began.
Hawkins confessed to the August 1985 kidnapping
and murder of Linda Thompson, 29. Thompson and Dale Shelton snatched
Thompson and her two children from a shopping mall. Thompson was
later raped by Shelton and another man, hog-tied and drowned in a
lake by Hawkins. Thompson’s children, 18 months and four years old
at the time, were later released unharmed.
Victim's Daughter: Don't Want To Watch Him Die
In an interview with The Oklahoman earlier this
week, Hawkins, 43, said he was ready to die and "It’s time to move
on." He also told the newspaper that he hoped his death would ease
some of the pain he has caused. One of Thompson's children, Lori
Thompson, wrote a letter to the state Pardon and Parole Board saying
she did not wish to see Hawkins executed for the murder of her
mother. She said she had forgiven Hawkins, but the "Bible that I
follow as the guidebook for my life decrees that this is his due
punishment," the newspaper reported.
Bound With Dog Chain
The kidnapping and murder of Thompson occurred on
August 19, 1985. Prosecutors say Hawkins and Shelton were searching
for a "rich woman" to kidnap and hold for ransom. The first woman
they targeted was saved when a security guard intervened.
Thompson arrived in her car to buy stamps at the post office located
in a shopping mall, Hawkins jumped into her car, handcuffed her and
drove her to a house of his girlfriend, Shirley Pitts. Thompson was
bound with a "dog" chain in a barn and her children confined to a
bedroom in the house. The victim was raped at least three times -
twice by Shelton and also by a nephew of Pitts, Chris Lovell, court
Drowned In Lake
Thompson was later dragged screaming from the
house, her children crying for their mother. Hawkins and Shelton
then drove Thompson to Sportsman’s Lake in Seminole. There, Hawkins
pushed her into the water and held Thompson until she drowned.
Hawkins and Shelton then dragged the body into a ravine and covered
it with brush. Hawkins and Shelton were arrested two months later in
Sacramento, Calif., where Hawkins was caught trying to steal a car
battery. When arrested, he had a shotgun, phony identification and
stolen credit cards. Shelton was arrested at a motel. Police said
both Hawkins and Shelton confessed to the murder and kidnapping.
Shelton told police where Thompson’s body was buried.
Hawkins and Shelton were tried jointly. Shelton
was sentenced to life in prison on murder, kidnapping, rape and
forced oral sodomy counts. The key evidence that sent Hawkins to
death row came from his own mouth. He gave police a videotaped
In addition, Pitts, tesitifed against Hawkins at his
trial. Hawkins’ later claimed that police had beaten him into
confessing. The courts have rejected those claims, saying his
lawyers presented no credible evidence. At his trial, Hawkins
testified that he had left Thompson near the lake and had turned to
walk away when, he claimed, he heard the "shriek of a supernatural
creature." He testified that he returned and jumped in the water to
try to save Thompson. The jury didn't buy it.
Court documents stated that after murdering
Thompson and fleeing the state, Hawkins abducted and sexually
assaulted two teenage girls; kidnapped and robbed two women; and
murdered an acquaintance in Colorado. He killed that victim by
hanging him, prosecutors said. At his trial for the murder of
Thompson, Hawkins told his lawyer not to submit any mitigating
evidence on his behalf that might have saved him from a death
sentence, Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals documents stated.
Man Dies by Lethal Injection in
Drowning Death of Woman
By Bob Doucette - Daily Oklahoman
April 9, 2003
McALESTER - Nearly 18 years after he drowned an Oklahoma City
woman in a Seminole County lake, Don Wilson Hawkins Jr. died by
lethal injection Tuesday night at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Hawkins was sentenced to die for the 1985 drowning death of Linda
Ann Thompson, 29. The U.S. Supreme Court denied his last appeal
Hawkins told his attorneys to "keep fighting" and
mouthed "I love you" to his wife, Joelle, who was there to witness
the execution. "The state needs vengeance for the crimes I've done.
They're going to punish my body," Hawkins said. "Jesus has forgiven
me. "I'm truly sorry I got everybody into this," he said. "I'm ready
to go." Hawkins then looked up and closed his eyes as the lethal mix
of drugs was administered. He was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m., two
minutes after the procedure started.
Hawkins kidnapped Thompson and her two daughters
Aug. 19, 1985, from the Shepherd Mall parking lot in Oklahoma City,
prosecutors said. He took them to a northeast Oklahoma City home
with the intention of holding Thompson for ransom, prosecutors said.
Thompson was chained inside a barn and raped repeatedly by two of
Hawkins' accomplices, Dale Shelton and Chris Lovell, according to
Hawkins and Shelton, his cousin, later took Thompson to
Sportsman's Lake near Seminole and drowned her there, prosecutors
said. Thompson's daughters, Lori, then 4, and Katie, then 2, were
dropped off unharmed in an Oklahoma City neighborhood.
Hawkins also was responsible for the robbery and
hanging death of David Coupez of Denver. He pleaded guilty to that
crime, which occurred just weeks before Thompson's abduction and
murder. Shelton, convicted and sentenced to life without parole for
his part in the killing, eventually told police where Thompson's
body was hidden.
Convicted Murderer Put to Death; Victim's Family
By Doug Russell - McAlester News-Capital
April 9, 2003
He said he was ready to go and he went. But for
the family of the woman he killed almost 18 years ago, "it wasn't an
even swap." "The wheels of justice have finally come all the way
around," Larry Olson said Thursday night. "It wasn't an even swap."
Olson, his sister Jennifer Schneider and three other members of his
family had just witnessed the execution of the sixth Oklahoma inmate
put to death this year.
Don Wilson Hawkins Jr. was pronounced dead at
6:07 p.m., just two minutes after a mixture of lethal drugs began
flowing into his veins.
After a last meal of a stuffed crust pizza
with extra cheese and a Dr. Pepper, he was executed for the August
1985 drowning death of Linda Ann Thompson in Sportsman's Lake, near
As the blinds blocking the state's execution chamber from
view rose at 6:04 p.m., Hawkins raised his head from the gurney to
which he was strapped and smiled. Spotting his wife Joelle, whom he
had married while he was on death row, he said "I love you" then
began to address the others in the witness room.
Addressing his attorney and an investigator,
Hawkins said "You guys keep fighting," then told two spiritual
advisors in the room to "carry the torch." "The state needs
vengeance for the crimes I've done," Hawkins said. "They're going to
punish my body but Jesus has forgiven me. I'm truly sorry I got
everyone into this. ... I'm ready to go." His smile didn't fade
until the drugs began flowing. His eyes closed, then opened part way.
He didn't move again.
"It's important we remember the victims," Olson
said. "There are multiple victims here." Linda Ann Thompson was 29
years old when she and her two daughters, Lori and Katie, aged four
years and 18 months, respectively, were kidnapped from a free-standing
postal station at an Oklahoma City shopping mall.
According to court
documents, Hawkins and co-defendant Dale Shelton had been on the
lookout for someone to kidnap for ransom when Thompson pulled up to
the postal station. Hawkins forced his way into Thompson's car,
taking the car to his girlfriend's house while Shelton followed in
Once at the house, Thompson was separated from her
daughters and chained to the loft of a barn near the house. Over the
next 18 hours, Thompson was sexually assaulted several times by
Shelton and a teen-aged male. Hawkins was never convicted of
sexually assaulting Thompson.
"I know what I did and what I did was terrible,"
Hawkins said in a 2002 interview with the News-Capital & Democrat. "But
at least I don't have that particular crime on my conscience." After
realizing that they would not be able to get a ransom payment for
Thompson, Hawkins and Shelton let her say good-bye to her daughters,
then loaded her into a car and drove east. The daughters were
released in their baby-sitter's neighborhood.
Court documents indicate Hawkins and Shelton had
initially planned to release Thompson in a secluded area while they
got away, but Hawkins drowned her after realizing she would be able
to identify her kidnappers and attackers. Hawkins and Shelton were
arrested two months later in Sacramento, Calif. Shelton is serving a
life sentence for his part in the crime.
Hawkins was later linked to the July 1985 robbery
and murder of David Coupez in Denver, Colo., a crime to which he
pleaded guilty, as well as to several kidnappings and sexual
assaults in California.
"At every family gathering there's an empty chair
that will never be filled," said Schneider, Thompson's mother.
"Linda was - is a wonderful daughter that will live forever in my
heart." "Linda will be forever 29," Olson said. "Her two children
have grown and flourished. We have a wonderful family and we'll be
Canadian Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty
Artist And Writer on On Death Row, Oklahoma
Excerpt From A Letter Written By Don:
"I am an artist and awarded writer...I especially
have something to say to troubled youth and people who are involved
in that work. I may only have 18 - 20 months left and would like to
share some wisdom and reality with all who have an ear of concern. I
wish to have the opportunity of sharing with penpals. Especially
anyone doing a college paper on Capital Punishment. Thank you for
caring." --- Don W. Hawkins
WRITINGS BY DON HAWKINS:
On Death Row, Christmas Just Another Day
The Price Of Revenge
The Long Walk
Its Too Late - A Poem
ART By DON HAWKINS
Don would appreciate recieving your mail ! Please
Mr Don W. Hawkins
# 153687 HSW - 4
PO Box 97
McAlester, OK 74502 USA
THE LONG WALK
September 9-10, 1990
By Don Hawkins,
Oklahoma Death Row Inmate
What are the right words for
expressing one's feelings at a time like this? How can I spell out
the tears that roll down my cheeks, the tightness in my jaws, the
lump in my throat? I'm lying here on my bunk in my cell listening to
the radio and watching a T.V. program called "The Ultimate Debt."
This morning I was awakened
by the sound of shuffling feet outside my cell door. As l remember
them there, I see the wardens, major, captain, and the goon squad
made up of fifteen of the biggest prison guards wearing black
jumpsuits, helmets with face shields and carrying long knight
sticks. Each man is ready to take control of any trouble there may
be. The lead man of the group is holding in front of him a 2' x 4'
plexiglas eleetronic shield. I've heard it is charged with 10,000
volts and if hit with it a person will forget who he is for a while.
They are standing in front
of my friend Chuck Coleman's cell, talking to him. He is dressed in
new prison blues and looks to he ready to go with them. This time
they won't handcuff him to move him outside of his cell. The warden
decided to let him be a man today and not treat him like an animal
when moving him. This is called "letting him keep his dignity."
Chuck has made this same
walk several times before, but this time he just looks different.
There's a sense of nervousness showing on his pale colored face. In
his hand is a fairly large Bible. The door is opening now, and Chuck
steps out with his arms raised. The warden pats him down, being sure
to check every area of his outer body form.
A woman viewing this with a
video camera is ready to get every detail. If there's an incident,
they'll have it on tape as they restrain him with whatever force is
necessary. The warden and Chuck exchange a few words about the
property in his cell and then they move on down the run to the
security gate. I watch them as they move as a group through the
sally port doors and out into the rotunda where they disappear from
my view. I lay my mirror down and feel an anger rise up in me. For a
moment I seemed to he searching for a reasonable thought to give
meaning to this experience.
The pretty black assistant
warden has stayed behind and is standing here in front of my cell by
Chuck's door. After about fifteen minute, one of the other wardens
from the group that led Chuck out comes back and joins her to pack
up Chuck's property. After a minute or two they are joined by the
unit case manager.
I go back into the back of
my cell and lie down. I wonder just what these people must be
feeling as they handle Chuck's personal things,putting them into
boxes. This it the first time these prison heads have had to pack up
a man's property. Finally I drift off to sleep.
It's about noon as I wake
up. It had been a long night Chuck, my good brother Randle, and I
had been talking most of the night about the sovereign will of God.
Several time, I'd have to pull back from the conversation and dry my
eyes. All three of us were having a hard time being strong.
After eating my lunch I go
out on the yard to get out of this building. It is just too quiet
all of a sudden. For once in over twenty years the men were facing a
paper tiger coming alive and putting fear into the air. Other than
an occasional shout of victory from one of the men who has just beat
another handball game, no one seems to be willing to talk on the
yard either. It's a long hour of silent yard time.
Once back inside, I catch
myself wanting to holler over at Chuck to past the time of day, only
to see the empty cell peering at me. Every so often there isa news
special on T.V. giving an update on Chuck's situation. I am hoping
for good news sol can look for the goon squad to be bringing him
back, this time in handcuff's as they had done the previous time he
took the long walk.
Nothing I try to do
throughout this long, quiet day seems to be important enough to calm
my racing thoughts of Chuck's date. Now here it is 10:42 PM., and
there's this special program coming on that is called, "The Ultimate
Debt". The news cameras are set up out in front of the prison here.
The news personality has just said that Chuck's lawyers say they
have given up filing any more pleas for his life. The program ends
It is heartwarming to hear
that Chuck is holding up strongly. He had a hamburger, candy bar,and
two cokes for lunch. He refused a last meal, because he said it
wouldn't be his last. His wife, kids, and grandkids were here to
see him earlier in the day. They said everyone was smiling as he
spoke with the kids about school and the crafts he'd been sending
them. In forty-five minutes they'll move him from his death watch
cell into the death chamber. I'm sure his thinking is going from the
joy of his family visits to what waits forhim in that other room. He
has to be an emotional yo-yo.
The prison staff were shown
on the T.V. with sad, almost hollow, expressions. None wants to see
Chuck die. They have dealt with him personally for twelve years and
have known the man with emotions. No longer is his mind clouded by
drugs, alcohol, and a certain order of life's events. His emotions
surfaced and he now can feel pain and remorse. The Warden wouldn't
even face the camera.
Idon't think l'd want
visitors when it's my date with the executioner. I won't play the
tough guy. I love my family and friends. I'd feel my very heart
being torn out to know I'd be leaving them behind. The reason I can
wake up each new morning on Death Row, thanking God for another day
of life, is because I can feel their love for me. But here l am
thinking shout me while my friend is going to die in about forty
I was talking to him last night, but tonight I can remember all the
things I really wanted to say, and what I could have said but
didn't. I want to thick he's praying with his heart now. No time
for "whatif's?" - time for genuine prayer as honest as he can feel
Thirty-seven minutes now -
about twenty minutes until they move him into the death chamber and
strap him down to the deathbed. There's al ive coverage show on the
radio now. I can hear the people in the back-ground singing songs.
The man says they have candles lit and are wearing T-shirts that say,"Don't
kill for me."
Thirty two minutes now until
midnight. The execution is scheduled for 12:01. If carried out, it
will be Oklahoma's first in over twenty-five years. I can think of
many reprobates who are much more the candidates for execution than
this repented man of God that I know who were given life or less
for the same crime as Chuck's. On paper he's still the man who was
sentenced to die, and that's the man the courts who decide his
It's not easy to keep my
mind on this pen and paper as I hear the mixed feelings of people
being interviewed. Those who know Chuck speak of him as a friend.
Those who only read the papers speak of him as an enemy. Which is
he? Who would know best?
11:38 PM. - In five minutes
he'll be moved into the death chamber.
11:40 PM. I would think they
are telling him to get ready, without really having to say for what
he should be getting ready. These are novel events for all who are
involved, so I'm sure nerves are on pins and needles. Even though
the prison staff has rehearsed the killing of a man several times so
they'll be good at it when the time comes, it's different now that
it is actually happening for real.
l can only imagine what's
going on inside of Chuck's mind. Is there still a feeling of hope
inside this man as he sees everyone doing opposite of what would
support his hope? Does every unannounced sound stir a nervous
response within him as he hears the sound of a clock's tick pounding
inside his head? Can he even relax to thick clearly enough to truly
understand all that is going on around him? I wonder if the new
prison blues he's wearing will witness to the next man what energies
have moved through them? Is the only hope now being kept alive in
the heart of his wife as she stands, feeling her place as the "silent"
prisoner? Does "please" mean anything now as he, we, wait for any
change in events?
11:47 P.M. I feel that by
now he has been moved and strapped down to the deathbed. Fourteen
minutes until the plunger is pushed by the executioner. The twelve
witnesses are sure to he watching his every movement, listening for
whatever sounds a condemned man would make.
Seven minutes now. Time goes
by so fast when it is most precious. What thoughts could he possibly
be exersising to escape from such excruciating torment as so many
work together to see him dead? Of course, "excruciating" comes from
a word relating to the Cross.
There will be three drugs
administered at once. I'm not sure how they work, but one is
supposed to put him to sleep while the others collapse the heart and
lung muscles. It takes about 10- l5 minutes to execute a man from
start to finish. Fifteen minutes is a long time to be feeling the
clutches of death pulling on you.
12:00 Midnight. He must know
it's over for him, because there's a clock for him to see. Time is
in slow motion; yet the clock is moving in fast gear. What can I say?
It wasn't God's will for him to live?
12:01 AM. I'd presume the
executioner has pushed the plunger, and Chuck can now taste the
drugs and feel them burn away at his life. He must be scared and
praying as intelligibly as he can. I know I would be.
12:02; 12:03; 12:04; 12:05;
12:06; 12:07; 12:08; 12:09. They are saying they'll interview the
twelve witnesses after it's over.
12:10. I'll say more as l
The phone just rang in the
media center. False alarm. It was for a media personality.
12:17. The phone rings again. "The execution is running behind
schedule," says Mr. Massey. Something else for Chuck to wonder about
as he watches those people stumble over each other in the process of
taking what God gave him.
A few moments of tears for
12:39 AM. The phone rings
again. Mr. Massey is nodding his head, "Yes." Charles Troy Coleman
was pronounced dead at 12:35 AM. They had trouble getting the needle
in his right arm; so after several attempts they stuck it in his
left arm. It took fourteen seconds to kill him once the drugs were
administered. One witness said Charles' body went limp about 14 to
15 seconds after the warden looked at the executioner and instructed
him to let it begin.
Just shortly sfter midnight.
during the execution process, Chuck asked the warden to read a
Bible text to him. Then he asked the chaplain to do the same reading.
Psalm 23, as he was dying. The warden asked him if he had any final
words. Chuck said, "Just tell everybody I love them, and I have
peace in my heart." During the reading of the Bible text. Chuck
would say, "Thank you, Jesus." Once during the execution he looked
at Mandy Welch, his lawyer. and smiled. He told her that he loved
At 12:28 he took a heavy
breath, and gurgling sounds were coming from him as his chest
stopped moving. One witness said he took two to three breaths, lost
color in his face, and then stopped moving. They all say it was such
a somber peaceful event. He just left the prison for the last time,
and this empty cell is calling for its next body to store away until
the date of "the long walk."
The Death Row guard who
works the Row just came tome with tears in his eyes. Every canteen
day Chuck would buy an insane man some canteen items and put them in
his cell as Chuck went to shower. Sonny would wake up and they'd be
there for him. Sonny just woke up and didn't find anything. He asked
the guard to go check with Chuck and see if he had something for him.
Forgive me if I stop here and cry.
April 26, 2002 - OKLAHOMA - Court denies Seminole
DENVER -- A man convicted of hog-tying and
drowning an Oklahoma City woman he kidnapped lost his appeal
Wednesday to avoid execution. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
in a 54-page decision, ruled 3-0 against Don Wilson Hawkins on
several claims that he did not receive a fair trial.
Hawkins, of Seminole, was sentenced to death for
the 1985 murder of Linda Thompson, 29, the mother of daughters 4
years old and 18 months old. Hawkins, then 26, abducted Thompson
from Shepherd Mall, intending to seek a ransom payment. Instead, he
admitted killing her so she could not be a witness against him,
The judges said they would not consider Hawkins'
claim that his lawyer did not properly represent him by failing to
pursue mitigating evidence that might have caused jurors to set life
in prison without parole as his punishment. The judges said Hawkins
had forfeited his right to raise that issue because he had not
raised it previously in Oklahoma state courts.
Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote in Wednesday's
decision he is "concerned with what I view as a disturbing tendency
on the part of defense counsel (in death penalty cases)" to fail to
pursue mitigating evidence that might convince jurors that a death
sentence is not justified.
DON WILSON HAWKINS, Petitioner-Appellant,
MIKE MULLIN, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary,
May 22, 2002
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
TACHA, Chief Judge.
Petitioner-appellant Don Wilson Hawkins appeals
the denial of habeas relief, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254, from his Oklahoma
first-degree felony murder conviction and death sentence. Among
other claims, Hawkins argues that the State improperly based his
first-degree felony murder conviction on kidnapping for extortion,
which is not a specifically enumerated felony supporting a first-degree
murder conviction under Oklahoma law. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal
Appeals, nevertheless, interpreted Oklahoma's first-degree felony
murder statute to include kidnapping for extortion as an underlying
felony. We hold that the Oklahoma appellate court's interpretation
was not unforeseeable and therefore did not deprive Hawkins of due
process. We therefore affirm the district court's denial of habeas
relief on this claim, as well as on Hawkins's other claims.
On August 19, 1985, Hawkins, armed with a
revolver, forced his way into Linda Thompson's car, as she purchased
stamps at a self-service postal station at a shopping mall near her
home. Thompson's two small daughters, Lori, age four, and Katie,
eighteen months old, were also in the car at the time.
Hawkins, his original plan was to kidnap Thompson and hold her for
ransom. Hawkins drove the victims to the home of Shirley Pitts, with
whom Hawkins had been living for several months. Pitts's fifteen-year-old
nephew, Chris Lovell, and Hawkins's cousin, Dale Shelton, were
staying with the couple at that time.
At the house, Pitts and Lovell watched the
children. Hawkins and Shelton kept Thompson upstairs in the house
for several hours. Later that night, they took Thompson to a barn
several hundred yards away, where they kept her chained in the
barn's loft. Her children remained locked in a bedroom in the house.
Shelton and Lovell each raped Thompson. During
the night, they did allow Thompson to see her children at the house.
In the morning, after permitting Thompson briefly to say goodbye to
her daughters, Hawkins and Shelton drove Linda Thompson to a nearby
lake, where Hawkins hog-tied and drowned her, while Shelton stood
lookout. Hawkins and Shelton hid the body and fled the state. Pitts
and Lovell left Thompson's daughters with their babysitter.
Police arrested Pitts and Lovell later that day.
California police arrested Hawkins and Shelton two months later, in
Sacramento. Following his arrest, Hawkins made a statement to
Oklahoma detectives admitting these crimes, including drowning
Thompson because she otherwise could be a witness against him.
The jury convicted Hawkins of the first-degree
felony murder of Linda Thompson and two counts of kidnapping her
children for extortion. The jury sentenced him to life imprisonment
on the two kidnapping-for-extortion convictions, which Hawkins had
committed after two or more prior felony convictions.
During the capital sentencing proceeding, the
State incorporated its first-stage evidence and presented additional
evidence concerning Hawkins's further violent criminal conduct. That
evidence established that, after Thompson's murder, Hawkins had
kidnapped, raped, and sodomized two teenage girls in San Diego,
The following day, he had kidnapped and robbed two other
women, one of whom his accomplice had raped and sodomized. In
addition, immediately prior to Thompson's murder, Hawkins had killed
a man in Denver, Colorado. Hawkins had also beaten his girlfriend
Pitts and kept her locked in a trailer while the couple briefly
lived in Colorado. Finally, Hawkins had lost his job in Colorado
after he shot at his boss's car.
Hawkins instructed his defense attorney, during
the trial's second stage, not to raise any objections or
cross-examine any State witnesses. Hawkins also directed his
attorney not to put on any evidence in mitigation or present any
opening or closing argument.
Jurors found all four of the charged aggravating
factors: 1) Hawkins had killed Thompson to avoid arrest; 2)
Thompson's murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel; 3)
Hawkins is a continuing threat to society; and 4) Hawkins had
previously been convicted of a violent felony.
The jury then
sentenced Hawkins to death. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
affirmed Hawkins's convictions and sentences on direct appeal, see
Hawkins v. State, 891 P.2d 586 (Okla. Crim. App. 1994), cert. denied,
516 U.S. 977 (1995), and denied post-conviction relief in an
The State also tried Shelton jointly with Hawkins.
The jury convicted Shelton of first-degree felony murder, first-degree
rape and forcible oral sodomy, all involving Linda Thompson, and of
kidnapping Thompson's two children for extortion. Jurors sentenced
Shelton to five consecutive life sentences. See Shelton v. State,
793 P.2d 866, 869 (Okla. Crim. App. 1990).
* * *
In his second claim, Hawkins contends that his
trial attorney was ineffective during the capital sentencing
proceeding because the attorney failed to investigate and present
mitigating evidence. See Appellant's opening br. at 25; see also
Dist. Ct. R. doc. 14 at 22-23 (§ 2254 petition). Hawkins further
asserts that he, himself, could not knowingly and voluntarily waive
presenting mitigating evidence because his defense attorney failed
to explain mitigating evidence adequately to him. See Appellant's
opening br. at 25-26; see also Dist. Ct. R. at 28 (§ 2254 petition).
The State argues, however, that Hawkins never presented these
specific ineffective-assistance arguments to any state court and
that this habeas claim thus remains unexhausted. See 28 U.S.C. §
In order to exhaust his state remedies, a federal
habeas petitioner must have first fairly presented the substance of
his federal habeas claim to state courts. See, e.g., O'Sullivan, 526
U.S. at 844-45 (pre-AEDPA). Although the federal district court here,
"out of an overabundance of caution," Dist. Ct. R. doc. 24 at 17,
addressed this claim's merit, we decline to do so because it remains
unexhausted and Oklahoma courts would now deem it procedurally
barred. See Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 735 n.* (1991). See
generally Medlock v. Ward, 200 F.3d 1314, 1322 (10th Cir. 2000) (denying
habeas relief on procedural-default basis, despite district court's
decision addressing claim's merit).
During his capital sentencing proceeding, Hawkins
instructed his defense attorney not to present any mitigating
evidence or argument, and not to cross-examine the State's witnesses
or raise any objections. On direct appeal, then, Hawkins alleged
that he had been "denied the effective assistance of counsel when
the trial judge, over defense counsel's objection, allowed [Hawkins]
to commit state sanctioned suicide." Appellant's direct-appeal br.
at 22. Hawkins further argued to the state appellate court:
* * *
For these reasons, we AFFIRM the district court's
denying Hawkins habeas relief.
LUCERO, Circuit Judge, concurring:
Because the majority correctly concludes that
Hawkins' claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is procedurally
barred, I join the opinion of the court. If relief from procedural
proscription is to be afforded to this defendant, such relief must
come from higher authority. I write separately to note that the
opinion of the court should not be read as an imprimatur of approval
on the unacceptable practice of trial lawyers forsaking their duties
to investigate potential mitigating evidence, to inform defendants
of their constitutional right to present mitigating evidence, and to
explain the general significance of mitigating evidence to clients
in capital cases.
This is a serious matter, and I am concerned with
what I view as a disturbing tendency on the part of defense counsel
to forego mitigation investigation altogether and to neglect to
explain to defendants the potential value of the specific evidence
that could be offered in order to allow a jury to have a complete
picture in deciding a death sentence issue.
Hawkins v. State,
891 P.2d 586 (Okla. Crim. App. January 10, 1995) (Direct Appeal)
Defendant was convicted in the District Court,
Oklahoma County, Leamon Freeman, J., of first-degree murder and
kidnapping for purpose of extortion and sentenced to death, and he
appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, Lane, J., held that: (1)
defendant was not entitled to change of venue based on media
attention surrounding prosecution and airing by television station
of videotape of his confession; (2) trial court did not err in
denying defendant's request for investigator and investigative funds;
(3) evidence pertaining to victim's role as mother and care for her
children was relevant and admissible; (4) any prejudice from
admission of inadmissible evidence regarding victim was harmless;
(5) photograph and identification cards of victim were relevant and
admissible; (6) trial court did not err in determining that
confession had been voluntarily given; (7) victim's five-year-old
daughter was competent to testify as witness; (8) trial court did
not err in admitting evidence that prior to abduction of victim
defendant had started after another woman who unwittingly escaped;
(9) finding of aggravating circumstances was supported by evidence;
(10) prosecutorial misconduct in attempting to evoke sympathy and
societal alarm during closing argument did not require vacation of
sentence where no objection was made until after jury dismissal and
evidence supporting sentence was overwhelming; and (11) death
sentence was supported by evidence and not based on improper factors.
Affirmed. Lumpkin, P.J., concurred specially and filed opinion in
which Johnson, V.P.J., joined
Don Wilson Hawkins, appellant, was
tried by jury for the crimes of Murder in the First Degree (21
O.S.Supp.1982, § 701.7(B)) , and Kidnapping for the Purpose of
Extortion, two counts (21 O.S.1981, § 745(A)) in Oklahoma County
District Court, Case No. CRF-85-6156. The jury returned a verdict of
guilty on each count. For the kidnapping counts the jury imposed a
sentence of life imprisonment; for the murder the jury set
punishment at death. The trial court sentenced accordingly.
propositions of error are raised on appeal. These will be addressed
according to the chronology in which they arose. This trial is not
without error. However, none of the errors, singly or in concert,
warrant reversal of judgment or modification of sentence. We affirm
judgment and sentence.
On August 19, 1989, Hawkins set into motion his
plan to kidnap a "rich woman" for ransom. He bought a set of
handcuffs and six .38 caliber bullets from the Ace Pawn Shop in
Oklahoma City. In the early evening he drove with Dale Shelton [FN1]
to the free standing postal station at Shepherd Mall and waited.
Shelton served as a lookout. Hawkins let the first woman to stop at
the postal station get away when mall security drove by.
woman, Linda Thompson, stopped, bought stamps, and when she got back
into her 1983 Toyota Tercel, Hawkins forced his way in behind her.
He handcuffed her and drove to the "big house"--his girlfriend's
house at 50th Street and Bryant. Thompson's two daughters, aged
eighteen months and four years, were in the back seat. Shelton drove
Hawkins' car back to the "big house".
FN1. Dale Shelton was tried jointly with Hawkins.
He was found guilty of Murder in the First Degree, two counts of
Kidnapping for the Purpose of Extortion, Rape in the First Degree
and Forcible Oral Sodomy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for
each count, to be served consecutively. Judgment and sentence was
affirmed in Shelton v. State, 793 P.2d 866 (Okl.Cr.1990).
Hawkins took Thompson upstairs and ordered
everyone else to stay downstairs. Shirley Pitts, Hawkins' girlfriend,
took care of the little girls. While upstairs for several hours,
Hawkins and Thompson discussed who might pay a ransom. Thompson
changed from her blue striped sun dress into Hawkins shorts and
Hawkins then chained Thompson by the ankle with a dog chain
and padlock to the loft of a barn on the property. The daughters
were confined to a bedroom in the house. Shelton came to the barn
sometime that night.
He unchained Thompson, raped her, demanded oral
sex from her, then rechained her to the loft. After he left, Chris
Lovell, Pitts' nephew raped Thompson while she was chained. Thompson
asked him to take her girls to their baby sitter.
After Lovell left,
Hawkins brought Thompson to the house to see her daughters, then
rechained her in the loft. Shelton again raped Thompson. Some time
after dawn Hawkins again brought Thompson to the house. She changed
back into her dress, and Hawkins dragged her out of the house as she
cried, "goodbye", to her crying children. Hawkins, drove Shelton and
Thompson in Thompson's car toward Arkansas where, Hawkins said, they
were going to let her go. When they got to Seminole, Oklahoma,
Hawkins drove up to Sportsman's Lake. While Shelton stood look-out,
Hawkins took Thompson to the edge of the lake, hog-tied her, and
started back to the car.
According to his statement to police, after
realizing *592 she was a witness, he pushed her into the water,
watched the terror in her eyes, and held her under until she drowned.
[FN2] Hawkins and Shelton dragged the body into a ravine and covered
it with brush.
FN2. At trial Appellant testified he left
Thompson on the bank, and, as he walked away, he heard the "shriek
of a supernatural creature". He then returned and jumped in the
water to try to save her.
Hawkins then drove them back to Oklahoma City.
Along the way the two men threw out Thompson's shoes. They stopped
to wash the car and wipe it clean of fingerprints. They parked the
car, unlocked and with the key in the ignition, at a housing project
in northeast Oklahoma City. A resident saw this and contacted the
police the next day.
Meanwhile, Pitts and Lovell took the Thompson
girls to the neighborhood of their sitter. Two neighborhood boys
recognized the girls and knew where the sitter lived. Lovell told
the boys to take the girls to the sitter, and then left with Pitts.
The sitter contacted the Oklahoma City police who came and
interviewed the neighborhood boys. The boys told them where Lovell
lived. The police went to the "big house", arrested Pitts and Lovell,
and found Thompson's purse in a crate by the house. Hawkins and
Shelton returned to the "big house" about this time, but saw the
police cars and drove on to California.
Two months later they were
arrested in Sacramento. At the time he was arrested, Hawkins was in
the process of stealing a car battery. He was armed with a sawed-off
shotgun, phony identification, and stolen credit cards. Shelton was
arrested at a nearby motel and also carried phony identification.
Both men were transferred to San Diego to face other criminal
charges there. Each man confessed in San Diego to the murder and
kidnappings which are the subject of this case. By phone Shelton
directed the Seminole County Sheriff to the location of Thompson's
remains. The skeletal remains were still clad in the blue striped
* * * *
As set forth in this opinion, the evidence
supported the jury's finding of four *599 aggravating circumstances.
The appellant put forth no mitigating evidence. We find the sentence
of death is supported by the evidence of this case, and was not
driven by the influence of passion, prejudice, or any other
arbitrary factor. Finding no error warranting reversal or
modification, judgment and sentence is affirmed.
Don Wilson Hawkins Jr.