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Juan Ignacio Blanco

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Jerry Walter McFADDEN

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Animal"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 3
Date of murder: May 4, 1986
Date of birth: March 21, 1948
Victims profile: Suzanne Denise Harrison, 18; Gena Turner, 20, and Bryan Boone, 19
Method of murder: Strangulation with panties / Shooting (.38-caliber pistol)
Location: Bell County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on October 14, 1999
 
 

 
 

 

Last Statement:
This offender declined to make a last statement.

 

Texas Executes Cheerleader's Killer

Murder was one of three in Daylong Spree

15 October 1999

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A man who nicknamed himself "Animal" was executed by injection Thursday for the rape and slaying of an 18-year-old high school cheerleader, one of three people killed during a daylong murder spree in 1986.

Jerry McFadden, 51, made no final statement.

The mother of victim Suzanne Denise Harrison burst into tears as she entered the death chamber, crying, "He looked at me." She turned away and said, "He took our children."

The victim's brother, Craig Harrison, got as close to the window as he could to see McFadden gasp and sputter twice. "He's gutless," Harrison said of McFadden.

One of the most notorious criminals

The discovery of the three victims from Hawkins, about 100 miles east of Dallas, and subsequent arrest of McFadden, on parole after three rape convictions, made the former telephone cable installer one of the region's most notorious criminals.

The long-haired, tattoo-covered McFadden enhanced the reputation when he broke out of the Upshur County Jail before his capital murder trial. He took a female jailer hostage and for three days evaded one of the most intense manhunts in Texas history. A dragnet involved some 1,200 officers before McFadden was caught.

The jailer managed to escape unhurt from a railroad boxcar.

McFadden was condemned for raping and beating Harrison, then strangling her with her own underwear. Two friends who accompanied her on May 4, 1986, for a Sunday drive were shot to death.

McFadden never was charged with the other killings.


Jerry Walter McFadden

In 1979, Jerry Walter "Animal" McFadden was convicted of a double rape for which he spent less than five years behind bars. Released on parole, he hastened to rape again. McFadden's second prison stay also lasted less than five years, after which he was again placed on parole.

Within a year, he murdered two teenagers, and raped and then murdered an eighteen-year old girl. 

Jerry "Animal" McFadden - a thrice-convicted sex offender whose 1986 jail escape resulted in the state's largest manhunt - was sentenced to die the murder of a Hawkins High School cheerleader.

McFadden, 39, appeared emotionless when state District Judge F.L. "Tiny" Garrison read the jury's verdict, reached after only 45 minutes of deliberation. The same jury took four hours earlier to find that McFadden, a former oil field worker and construction worker from Ore City, beat, raped and strangled Suzanne Denise Harrison, 18, in May 1986.

Harrison's family members in attendance were pleased with the verdict. "At this point, we're starting to get well," said Glyndia Lane, the girl's aunt, after the court recessed. "We're going to try to put this behind us."

Harrison and two friends - 19-year-old Brian Boone and 20-year-old Gena Turner - disappeared from a Lake Hawkins park May 4, 1986.

Harrison's body was found the next day by maintenance workers at Barnwell Mountain park, 30 miles from the lake.

The decomposed bodies of Brian and Gena, each shot to death, were found six days later near Ore City. Although McFadden was suspected in their deaths, he was not officially charged.

Gena's aunt, Ginny Person, at the courthouse when the sentence was announced about 8 p.m., said the death sentence was necessary.

"It's not revenge," she said. "It's removal." Standing in the court hallway, she wept. "It's not worth the mental torture to go through this again. Even though a part of us is missing, it's over and we need to go on."

Stephen Tokoly, a former assistant district attorney and special prosecutor in the case, said he expected the verdict, calling the evidence overwhelming. But Vernard Soloman, McFadden's appointed defense attorney, said he still believes his client is innocent.

Because of the guilty verdict, however, he said he expected the penalty. "It (the verdict) was 10 minutes later than I thought it would be," he said.

Dorothy McFadden, the condemned man's mother, was absent when the sentence was read aloud but was visibly shaken when told the news, said a courthouse spectator.

McFadden's 17-year-old daughter Rhonda, who begged for his life, declined comment. Arguments and testimony in McFadden's trial took 90 hours over 16 days.

The trial was moved here from Gilmer because of pre-trial publicity. Presentation of evidence in the punishment phase of the trial took only 90 minutes.

The most damning evidence introduced during that part of the trial, say attorneys for both sides, was court records from McFadden's three previous convictions.

The first, in 1973, were two rapes in Denton and Haskell Counties that netted a 15-year prison sentence from which he was paroled in 5 and a half years. 

After being released, he received a cumulative life sentence for aggravated robbery and was paroled under mandatory release in July of 1985. 

The last case involved a three-county spree in 1979 in which McFadden kidnapped, raped and sodomized a Shackelford County secretary.

The crimes resulted in a 15-year sentence, and a half-dozen charges stemming from the same incident went untried.

Less than one year after his release in July of 1985, he killed Suzanne, Gena and Brian. 

McFadden's lawyer called as his only witness Rhonda McFadden, who lives with her mother in Levelland. "I want to ask you not to give him the death penalty," she said to jurors in a breaking voice. "That's murder. No man has a right to commit murder. He's on trial for that. How can you do that?"

The jurors were apparently unmoved, as they were at Solomon's contentions that because of sloppy police work, the real killers went free.

That possibility was based on testimony that a nervous, jumpy hitchhiker covered with scratches was seen near the vicinity when the murders occurred, Solomon said.

He also cited other testimony that showed differing descriptions of the the vehicle McFadden was driving. When arrested in connection with the Lake Hawkins crime spree, the heavy-set McFadden sported a heavy beard, and shoulder-length hair with its ends bleached.

During the trial, he wore conservative clothing. He was clean-shaven, had cut his hair and had lost about 60 pounds.

McFadden made national headlines last summer when he escaped for three days from the Upshur County Jail, taking a woman jailer hostage. She escaped unharmed the day after her abduction, and McFadden surrendered when authorities surrounded the vacant house where he was holed up in nearby Big Sandy.


Jerry McFadden, 51, 99-10-14, Texas

Convicted killer Jerry McFadden was executed Thursday for the rape- slaying of an 18-year-old northeast Texas woman, 1 of 3 people killed during a daylong murder spree in 1986.

McFadden, who nicknamed himself "Animal," made no final statement. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m., 8 minutes after the flow of lethal drugs began.

One of needles in McFadden's right arm was placed just above a large tattoo of satanic face.

The mother of victim Suzanne Denise Harrison burst into tears as she entered the death chamber, crying out, "He looked at me." Then she turned away and said, "He took our children."

The victim's brother, Craig Harrison, got as close to the window as he could to see McFadden gasp and sputter twice. Then he remarked, "He's gutless," and called him an obscenity.

Immediately after McFadden stopped breathing, Harrison said, "It's done. I'm ready to go home."

The discovery of the 3 victims from Hawkins, in Wood County about 100 miles east of Dallas, and subsequent arrest of McFadden, on parole after 3 rape convictions, made the former telephone cable installer one of the region's most notorious criminals.

The burly, long-haired, tattoo-covered McFadden enhanced the reputation when he broke out of the Upshur County Jail before his capital murder trial. He took a female jailer hostage and for 3 days evaded one of the most intense manhunts in Texas history. A dragnet involved some 1,200 officers before McFadden was caught.

"He was a very intimidating presence, a very large man, tattoos, a scary presence," said Stephen Tokoly, a special prosecutor appointed by then-Gov. Bill Clements to handle the murder case.

Tokoly, then in private practice, was a former assistant district attorney in Dallas County, where for 11 years he handled some 50 murder cases, 13 of them capital crimes.

"He was one of the most ... serious individuals I ever prosecuted," Tokoly said. "I'm not happy when a person is or is going to be executed. I don't relish that in any way, form or manner. But I feel this case was so serious that I'm glad it's going to reach a closing."

In his last appeals, McFadden, 51, contended prospective jurors improperly were dismissed from consideration for his trial panel because they opposed the death penalty.

McFadden was condemned for raping and beating Ms. Harrison, a high school cheerleader, then strangling her with her own underwear. 2 friends who accompanied her on May 4, 1986, for a Sunday drive around Lake Hawkins in Wood County were shot to death.

Ms. Harrison's body was discovered the next day on a mountaintop roadside park east of Gilmer in neighboring Upshur County. The decomposing bodies of her friends, Gina Turner, 20, and Bryan Boone, 19, were found 5 days later in a ditch off a farm road near Ore City about 15 miles to the northeast. All were from Hawkins, where Ms. Turner had been her high school class valedictorian and Boone captain of the football team.

McFadden, who failed to get beyond the 7th grade, never was charged with the other killings, although evidence related to their deaths was introduced at his trial for Ms. Harrison's murder. He was arrested in Wood County on May 6 after witnesses told police they saw one of the victims riding in McFadden's truck the evening of the murders.

"They were wonderful kids from wonderful families," said Bell County District Attorney Arthur Eads, who worked with Tokoly on the case.

The trial was moved to Bell County, where a jury deliberated only 35 minutes before returning the death sentence.

"While the evidence was to a large extent circumstantial, when it all was presented, it was overwhelming," Tokoly said.

McFadden, whose upper body prominently featured tattoos of winged creatures and ghoulish figures, was on parole after a third rape conviction and was under arrest for armed robbery when he was charged with Ms. Harrison's murder. Among his tattoos was an inscription over his right breast area: "Death before dishonor for the Lonesome Loser."

Defense attorneys contended McFadden's criminal past made him a likely and unfair target.

In 1972, he pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl in Denton. A year later, he pleaded guilty to raping a junior high school teacher in Haskell, where he grew up. In 1978, he went on a daylong rampage through West Texas, taking an 18-year-old secretary hostage and raping her. In each case he was released or paroled before serving his full term, with the last parole in July 1985.

"That was very bothersome to me at the time," Tokoly said. "The parole system was different than it is now. It was much more lenient."

During his jailbreak, he held a female jailer hostage for 28 hours before she managed to escape unhurt from a railroad boxcar.

He did not testify at his trial and declined requests for interviews while on death row.

McFadden becomes the 27th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year, and the 191st overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.

5 more executions are currently planned in Texas before the end of this year.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


Texas Murder Suspect Recaptured After 2 Days

The New York Times

July 13, 1986

A murder suspect and rapist was recaptured two days after he escaped from jail and a day after the deputy he had taken as a hostage escaped from him.

The prisoner, Jerry Walter McFadden, who is awaiting trial in the May slaying of an 18-year-old high school student, was returned to the Upshur County Jail late Friday after the police found him hiding not far from where his hostage escaped Thursday.

The hostage, Rosalie Williams, 24, an Upshur County sheriff's deputy, said she believed Mr. McFadden ''might kill me at any time.'' Officials said she was not harmed.

Mr. McFadden, who had a .38-caliber pistol that he had taken from the jail, offered no resistance when he was found in a vacant house about 10:30 P.M. Friday. He was charged with capital murder in the death May 5 of Suzanne Harrison, who was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled. He has been previously convicted of rape three times.

Today, Mrs. Williams, who escaped from Mr. McFadden late Thursday after being helf for more than 16 hours, thanked more than 700 well-wishers at a rally in her honor. ''God has heard us all,'' she said.


Deputy Taken in Escape From Texas Jail Is Found

The New York Times

July 11, 1986

A sheriff's deputy taken hostage by an armed prisoner in a jail escape was found unharmed tonight, and hundreds of searchers were reported closing in on the convict.

After the deputy, Rosalie Williams, 24 years old, was found, the Upshur County Sheriff's Department said the escapee, Jerry Walter McFadden, a thrice-convicted rapist who is charged with capital murder, was believed to be on foot in the woods in nearby Big Sandy.

Mr. McFadden, 38, was being taken to the lobby of the jail Wednesday evening to make a telephone call when he attacked a guard, took his gun and forced another deputy into a cell, then forced Mrs. Williams to drive away with him in her car.

Mr. McFadden, who calls himself Animal, faced a July 28 trial on charges of aggravated assault and robbery. He is also charged with capital murder in the slaying in May of Suzanne Harrison, 18, of Hawkins.


166 F.3d 757

Jerry McFADDEN, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Gary L. JOHNSON, Director, Texas Department of Criminal
Justice, Institutional Division, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 98-50485.

United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.

Jan. 29, 1999.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, DUHE and EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judges.

PATRICK E. HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judge:

Jerry McFadden appeals the district court's denial of his petition for federal habeas. McFadden attacks his conviction of capital murder and sentence of death by a Texas jury, contending that the state trial judge applied an incorrect constitutional standard in excluding two prospective jurors in the course of jury selection without insisting on a focus upon the juror's ability to answer the sentencing questions. We are not persuaded the exclusions were error, and we affirm the denial of the petition.

I

* On July 14, 1987, a jury in Bell County, Texas, convicted McFadden of murdering Suzanne Harrison in the course of an aggravated sexual assault. On affirmative answers to the requisite questions asked the jury in the sentencing phase, the state district judge sentenced McFadden to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in an unpublished opinion on May 26, 1993, and denied rehearing on November 3, 1993.

McFadden filed his initial application for habeas relief in the state trial court, which was overruled by operation of law. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief on January 22, 1997, and a week later McFadden filed a second application for habeas relief, which the Texas appellate court dismissed for abuse of the writ on March 12, 1997. On April 11, 1997, McFadden petitioned the federal district court for habeas relief, which was denied in 1998. The district court granted a certificate of appealability and denied motions to amend its judgment on June 15, 1998.

II

This appeal is controlled by the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. AEDPA's compelled deference to decisions of state courts is now familiar. Under 28 U.S.C. 2254(d), a writ of habeas corpus shall not be granted with respect to a claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or

(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

As we will explain, McFadden has failed to demonstrate that the determination by the Texas Courts of his claims of error, sustaining the state's challenges for cause to two members of the venire, Segura and Locklear, were unreasonable in light of the evidence or contrary to clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

III

For some time under the Witherspoon standard,1 we were compelled to engage in a nigh de novo review of the jury selection process in capital cases. The exercise was difficult for our court and insulting to the state systems. Attempting a wholly fresh review from so distant a point of the certainty of view expressed in a voir dire examination of prospective jurors ignored the realities of trial. It looked aside from the limited capture by a transcript of courtroom exchanges, bereft as they are, of inflection, pause, facial expression, and body language. What was clear to all at trial can become clear to none with only the transcript to read. This opaqueness is inherent in the difficulties of probing for the views of a lay person about death and crime in the unfamiliar and tense environment of a courtroom in a capital case. Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 424-26, 105 S.Ct. 844, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985), confronted this difficulty:

This is because determinations of juror bias cannot be reduced to question-and-answer sessions which obtain results in the manner of a catechism. What common sense should have realized experience has proved: many veniremen simply cannot be asked enough questions to reach the point where their bias has been made "unmistakably clear"; these veniremen may not know how they will react when faced with imposing the death sentence, or may be unable to articulate, or may wish to hide their true feelings. Despite this lack of clarity in the printed record, however, there will be situations where the trial judge is left with the definite impression that a prospective juror would be unable to faithfully and impartially apply the law.... [T]his is why deference must be paid to the trial judge who sees and hears the juror.

Justice Rehnquist's opinion for the court also recognized that a trial judge cannot be expected to dictate findings of fact and conclusions of law with each ruling. Hence, under Witt the sustaining of a challenge for cause for bias was held to be an implicit finding of bias enjoying the statutory presumption of correctness. See at 430. The laconic "sustained" or "granted" carries that force.

McFadden urges that despite Witt, the decisions by the state trial judge to sustain the state's challenges for cause to Locklear and Segura, prospective jurors, are not due deference. No deference due because, McFadden contends, the voir dire did not specifically exclude the possibility that the excluded prospects could have answered the questions required by Texas in the sentencing phase despite their expressed views regarding the death penalty. We turn first to the relevant portions of the voir dire.

IV

Locklear quickly responded: To the prosecutor's questions about the death penalty, "I don't believe in it." The questioning continued:

Q: That's fine, if you don't then I need to ask you a few more questions, but let me just be sure I understand and know where you stand on it. If I'm understanding correctly, you simply are opposed to the death penalty, is that correct?

A: Yes sir.

Q: And that is regardless of how serious or vicious the facts of the case might prove to be, under no set of circumstances could you sit on a jury and make decisions that would result in a death verdict, is that correct?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Can I assume that your opposition to the death penalty is based on feelings you have and scruples you have that would just keep you from ever voting death in a case regardless of how vicious the fact situation was?

A: No sir, it's just that the Lord says he will take vengeance in his own hands.

Q: So it's a religious feeling that you have, and it's your religious belief that keeps you, or has you opposed to the death penalty, is that right?

A: Yes sir.

Q: And I presume that nothing would change your mind in that regard, is that correct?

A: Right.

Q: And that under no circumstances, because of your religious belief against the death penalty, that under no circumstances, under no procedure would you ever be a part of a jury that would make decisions that would result in a death sentence, is that correct? (emphasis supplied)

A: Yes sir.

8 Sr 1702-03. The state then challenged Locklear for cause. After objections concerning the procedure for conducting the voir dire in the case, McFadden's counsel asked Locklear several questions, including the following:

Q: Are you telling us that if that judge ordered you in his instructions to the jury to consider fairly and unbiased (sic) the penalty range for an allegation of criminal misconduct that included the death penalty that you would ignore that instruction?

A: Yes, I would.

V

Segura's opening response was:

A: I think if he committed it, for sure, I think he should suffer in jail and be punished for it instead of just terminating his life.

The questioning continued:

Q: Are you a person who because of strong feelings that you have, religious feelings perhaps, conscientious scruples, are you a person who is opposed to the death penalty?

A: In a way. It just depends on what they did. Like if he killed one person I think he should suffer for it, but now if he killed three, four, or five people, then he should die; but for one person I don't think he should die.

Q: Let me be sure that I understand you correctly. He is charged with taking the life one (sic) person, Suzanne Denise Harrison. Do I understand you correctly to say that you would be conscientiously opposed to the death penalty in any case where the defendant only killed one person?

A: Yes.

* * *

Q: ... [A]re you saying that regardless of how aggravated the facts and circumstances of the case, that if we convinced you that a defendant committed capital murder, but only killed one human being, as is charged in this indictment, regardless of how aggravated the facts and the circumstances, that you would never vote the death penalty?

A: Right.

* * *

Q: And these feelings that you have, these conscientious feelings that you have against the death penalty in that kind of situation [where the defendant killed only one person], is it fair to say that you honestly could not set those feelings aside and be a part of a jury in a case in which the result of that process would be the death penalty for a person charged and convicted of killing one person, is that correct? (emphasis supplied)

A: I believe that's correct.

Q: So that in a situation where we convinced you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of capital murder of one person, you would automatically vote against the death penalty, is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Regardless of the facts and circumstances of the case?

A: Yes.

McFadden's counsel did not examine Segura, and the prosecution's challenge for cause was sustained.

VI

Witt set the applicable constitutional rule: "[T]he quest is for jurors who will conscientiously find the facts and apply the law. That is what an 'impartial' jury consists of...." Witt, 469 U.S. at 423, 105 S.Ct. 844. "[T]he proper standard for determining when a prospective juror may be excluded for cause because of his or her views on capital punishment ... is whether the juror's views would 'prevent or substantially impair the performance of his duties as a juror in accordance with his instructions and his oath.' " Id. at 424, 105 S.Ct. 844.

McFadden contends that the state trial judge applied an incorrect standard in sustaining the prosecutor's challenges for cause of both Segura and Locklear. Of course, the trial judge did not recite the standard he was employing, so the contention is that in the absence of a recitation of the measure employed, we should presume that the trial judge followed then applicable state law. The argument continues that Texas law then set the measure as whether the juror could consider the full range of punishment; jurors could be excluded even though they could answer the sentencing questions.

This contention is without merit. First, as the district court pointed out in its thoughtful memorandum, we have rejected the suggestion that Witt requires that veniremen be explicitly asked if they could answer the sentencing questions despite their other reservations. See Fuller v. Johnson, 114 F.3d 491, 500 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 118 S.Ct. 399, 139 L.Ed.2d 312 (1997). In any event, it was reasonable for the trial judge to conclude that Locklear and Segura would not be able to give an affirmative answer to the sentencing questions.

The voir dire developed whether the jurors could be part of a jury in which the result of that process would be the death penalty. There is no uncertainty about the views of Segura and Locklear. Both made plain that they were unable to apply the law to the facts free of bias, a bias rooted in their opposition to the death penalty, and that neither could participate in a process producing a death sentence.

Witt eschewed any insistence that a state trial judge dictate findings of fact or conclusions of law. It held that the simple grant of a challenge for cause is an implied finding of bias, as we have explained. But McFadden urges that the finding is not due deference because Texas law did not then focus upon whether the views of a prospective juror would allow an answer to the death questions in the sentencing phase.

Putting aside that McFadden's contention insists on legal explanations by the trial judge that are not required, we are pointed to no denial of McFadden's constitutional rights. That Texas courts may have after this trial expressed their preference for this emphasis in voir dire upon the prospect's ability to answer the death questions does not suggest that at the time of trial it employed a standard that contravened Witt.

In short, McFadden was free to turn the focus of the inquiry to the death questions, but he points to no rule of constitutional magnitude that compelled the prosecutor to do so. His effort to attach consequences to the absence of explicit findings by the trial judge--to presume a standard he says was contrary to Supreme Court authority (Witt ) and to trigger de novo review--is in the teeth of Witt 's explicit freeing of trial judges from such an impractical burden in presiding over jury selection in capital cases. And the confusing path of McFadden's argument, even if located and followed to its destination of de novo review, is a fruitless journey. It does not face the reality that even under a de novo review the absence of ambiguity permits no conclusion but that the requirements of Witt were met.

We expand on McFadden's contentions only to expose their emptiness. When all is said, McFadden cannot escape by a door Congress has closed. Congress has narrowed our authority in habeas review of state convictions to asking if the adjudication by the state courts was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

We are persuaded that the decisions of the state trial judge to exclude the two prospective jurors were based on a reasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings, and we are pointed to no violation of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court.

McFadden's federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus is without merit.

We affirm.

*****

1

Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968)

 

 

 
 
 
 
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