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Don Wilson HAWKINS Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: August/September 1985
Date of arrest: October 1985
Date of birth: August 29, 1959
Victims profile: Linda Ann Thompson, 29 / David Coupez
Method of murder: Drowning / Hanging
Location: Oklahoma/Colorado, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma on April 8, 2003
 
 

 
 

Summary:

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.

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 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 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.

Citations:

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).

Final Meal:

Stuffed crust combo pizza with extra cheese and a Dr Pepper.

Final Words:

''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."

ClarkProsecutor.org


Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Inmate: Don Wilson Hawkins, Jr.
ODOC# 153687
Birthdate: 08/29/1959
Race: White
Sex: Male
Height: 6 ft. 01 in
Weight: 185 pounds
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Location: Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Mcalester


Oklahoma Attorney General

News Release - W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General

John Michael Hooker Execution Date Set

02/13/2003 - Hawkins Execution Date Set for April 8

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 appeal.

Hawkins, 43, was sentenced to death in Oklahoma County District Court for the Aug. 20, 1985, murder of Linda Ann Thompson, 29.

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.


ProDeathPenalty.com

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 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.

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 overnight.


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 Hawkins, Jr.


Oklahoma Executes Man Who Kidnapped, Drowned Woman

CNN International

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 reportedly said.

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 years.

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 Executed

By Robert Anthony Phillips

TheDeathHouse.com

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 torch."

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.

When 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 documents stated.

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.

'Supernatural Shreik'

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 confession.

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.

Hangs Man

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 Tuesday.

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 prosecutors.

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 Watches

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 Seminole.

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 Hawkins' vehicle.

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 OK."


Canadian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

(Hawkins Homepage)

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 Write:

Mr Don W. Hawkins
# 153687 HSW - 4
PO Box 97
McAlester, OK 74502 USA


THE LONG WALK

10:42 P.M. 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 at 10:50.

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 minutes.

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 to pray.

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 appeal see.

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?

11:35 PM.

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 hear something.

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 me.

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 her.

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.


Abolish Archives

April 26, 2002 - OKLAHOMA - Court denies Seminole man's appeal

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, authorities said.

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,
v.
MIKE MULLIN, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent-Appellee.

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.

I. FACTS

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.

According to 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, California.

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 unpublished opinion.

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).

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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. § 2254(b)(1)(A).

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:

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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

LANE Judge:

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.

Twenty 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.

The next 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 shirt.

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 dress.

* * * *

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.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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