At 6:48 a.m. on February 10, 1991, Sandra
Bray was awakened by an unexpected phone call from an employee of her
husband Robert's named Joanna Stuart. Stuart, 52, said she would not be
in at work that day because of a sudden illness.
She repeated it several
times to Mrs. Bray, who thought it odd that Stuart was calling out sick
since she had never missed a day of work during her many years working
for Robert. One other apparent problem with this phone call was the fact
that Stuart was not scheduled to work this particular day. Sandra Bray
sensed that Stuart was not sick at all and, after hanging up with Stuart,
woke her husband to tell him about the strange phone call. They decided
to take a drive over to Stuart's residence in Wilmington, DE.
Upon arriving at Stuart's residence, the Brays discovered that Stuart
was not home at all and that her car was missing. They also found it
strange that Stuart's roommate, a 30 year old relative named Hugh
Pennington, appeared to be gone from the house also. His car was still
parked in the driveway. The last place the Brays decided to look in the
house was the cold, damp cellar.
Once they reached the botton stairs of
the cellar, their morning took a bizarre and grisly turn. Lying on his
back and bound by duck tape at the hands and feet was Hugh Pennington.
He was wearing nothing but a pair of underwear. Worst of all, he was
dead. His throat had been slashed ear to ear. So savage was the incision
in his neck that his head had been nearly decapitated from his body. The
concrete floor was drenched in Pennington's blood and all around his
corpse were bloody footprints. The Brays dialed 911.
Sgt. Mark Daniels of the Delaware State Police (who would later take
part in the infamous murder investigation of Tom Capano and Anne Marie
Fahey), arrived on the scene and took charge of the gruesome crime scene.
It was during Daniels' examination of the scene that Stuart's neighbor
came over to see why the police were outside of her friend's home at
such an early hour. Little did Daniels know that the confrontation with
Stuart's neighbor, an attractive thirtysomething female, would give him
the most important element in solving a murder. A suspect.
Daniels questioned the woman and found her to be very helpful. She told
Daniels that her husband Jim Red Dog accompanied Stuart to her house
after the latter had spent an evening watching movies with her. But this
wasn't what ultimately interested Daniels. What did interest him was the
woman's confession that her husband was a convicted murderer.
Jim Red Dog, a full-blooded Sioux Indian and member of the Lakota tribe,
had been in and out of jail his entire 37 years. He had received
separate convictions for both manslaughter and murder. The fact is that
Jim Red Dogg should never have been released from prison after his first
On the night of February 9, 1991, Red Dog had been out drinking and
womanizing at a bowling alley with a buddy. After failing to pick up
several women for the night, Red Dog and his buddy went their separate
ways. Instead of going home, Red Dog drove to Stuart's house for no
apparent reason, probably because he was drunk out of his gord, and
knocked on her door. When Pennington answered the door, Red Dog forced
himself in and ordered the man to surrender all of his money. At some
point, the drunk Indian decided that Pennington's life was worthless and
tied him up with duck tape and stripping him to his underwear and
leaving him in the cold basement. Before he left though to go home, he
his large hunting knife to viciously sliced Pennington's throat, who
died in a pool of his own blood.
After arriving at his house, he told Joanna he had something important
he needed to discuss with her. Joanna, was ready to leave anyway,
allowed Red Dog to accompany her on the ride to her house. It was a
mistake that in the end almost cost her life.
Once the pair were inside her house, Red Dogg forced himself on Stuart
and her down to her bed. He raped her several times before passing out
in her bed. Stuart, too frightened to move, remained lying in the bed
next to him. In the morning, before the arrival of the Brays, Red Dog
raped and sodomized Stuart before forcing her to drive him in her car to
a deserted farm house in Oak Orchard.
Red Dog, his sexual appetite still
not satisified, raped the poor woman once more while in the abandoned
farm house. After he finished, he ordered her to drive to a friend's
house to "pick up something." Red Dog, careless beyond belief,
left Stuart in the car alone while he went in to chat with his friend.
Stuart took this opportunity to escape from the clutches of her
She drove home to find the police still at her house. She went on to
tell her horrifying account of rape and sodomy and named Jim Red Dog as
the perpetrator. The police informed Stuart that Pennington was dead and
that Red Dog had most likely killed him. The police had also found Red
Dog's bloody fingerprints all over the basement. Daniels had heard all
he needed to hear to launch a massive search for Jim Red Dog.
Red Dog was captured the same day while crossing the Winchester Bridge
in Wilmington on foot. A squad matched the description and photos of the
wanted rapist-murderer to the man they saw walking on the bridge. When
pulled him over and asked his name he answered them honestly. "What's
your name?" they asked. "Jim Red Dog," he replied. The
search was over.
Red Dog's 1992 trial was short but eventful often marked by the accused
making obscene comments to Daniels whenever he passed him in the
courtroom. In the end, Red Dog was found guilty. For the brutal sex
crimes committed against Joanna Stuart he received eighty years. For the
first degree murder of Hugh Pennington, he received death by lethal
On March 2, 1993, 39 year old Jim Red Dog was strapped onto the lethal
injection bed. His last words were quoted in the local newspapers the
following day. Red Dog apologized to his family and told them he loved
them. "The rest of you," he concluded, " can kiss my ass."
The New York Times
March 4, 1993
The Delaware prisoner was James Allen Red Dog, 39, a
Sioux Indian of the Lakota tribe who had refused to
appeal his sentence because he contended that doing
so would violate his warrior's code.
Mr. Red Dog, who was visited in
his final hours by a tribal medicine man from
Montana, was executed by injection at the State
Correctional Center in Smyrna, 15 miles north of
Dover. Just before the lethal mixture of drugs was
administered to him, he turned to his weeping wife,
who was among the witnesses, and said, "I'm going
Mr. Red Dog, a confessed three-time
killer, had been relocated to Delaware as a
federally protected witness in investigations of the
militant American Indian Movement and of prison
gangs when, in 1991, he committed the crime for
which he was condemned to death. In a drunken rage,
he killed a 30-year-old acquaintance, Hugh
Pennington, by slitting Mr. Pennington's throat so
severely that the victim was virtually decapitated.
Immediately afterward he kidnapped and raped a woman.
He later pleaded no contest,
saying he had been so drunk at the time that he
could not remember anything about his rampage.
Mr. Red Dog's family supported
his decision not to fight his sentence. Mr. Red
Dog's relatives said in a statement that he was
going to his death with dignity and that he was "proud
that he's giving in return for what he took: a life."
indian gains special rite
The New York Times
February 28, 1993
A Sioux Indian convicted of
murder and kidnapping will be allowed to have a
tribal medicine man perform final rites for him
before he is executed on Wednesday.
A Delaware Superior Court
judge on Friday rejected a motion by lawyers for
the condemned man, James Allen Red Dog, to block
Mr. Red Dog, 39 years old,
grew up on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in
northeast Montana. A confessed three-time killer,
he was living in Delaware, on parole under the
Federal witness protection program, in 1991 when
he committed his latest crimes.
The authorities said Mr. Red
Dog tied up Hugh Pennington, 30, slit his throat
and left the Wilmington man to bleed to death
and then kidnapped and raped a female witness.
The woman eventually escaped and called police.
Mr. Red Dog pleaded no
contest to charges of murder, kidnapping and
rape; he said he was drunk and did not remember
As a result of Mr. Red Dog's
crimes, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the
Delaware Democrat who heads the Senate Judiciary
Committee, has introduced legislation that would
require Federal officials to notify states when
dangerous criminals are placed in their
'Rational' Wish to Die
Mr. Red Dog asked for the
death sentence and has refused to participate in
any appeals. His lawyers, who are public
defenders, filed a motion this week asking the
court to order psychiatric and psychological
tests to determine whether he was mentally
competent or deranged and suicidal in his death
But Judge Norman A. Barron of
Delaware Superior Court said that he found "no
substantial showing that Red Dog is currently
incompetent" and that "the court will respect
the rationally based wishes of the condemned
Mr. Red Dog's death sentence,
handed down last April, was automatically
appealed to the State Supreme Court, which
upheld it in November. Judge Barron later set
March 3 as the date for Mr. Red Dog's death by
As prison officials began to
prepare the execution chamber at the Delaware
Correctional Center in Smyrna, Mr. Red Dog
started preparations of his own. He sent for
John H. Morsette, 52, a tribal medicine man he
says he met almost a decade ago at an Indian
purification ceremony in Montana.
Prison officials had
initially balked at having Mr. Morsette there,
saying that only a prison chaplain would be
allowed inside the chamber, but they approved it
Mr. Morsette, of Poplar,
Mont., has said that he did not remember the
encounter but that he would come here to pray
with Mr. Red Dog to prepare him for the Sioux
Mr. Red Dog will be the
second person executed in Delaware since 1946.
The first was last year.
Allen Red Dog, a notorious murderer, wanted to
be executed even though his legal team fought to
save his life by arguing he was mentally
incompetent. The Supreme Court of Delaware
issued a Rule to Show Cause to have Red Dogís
lawyers explain why they should not be
professionally sanctioned for opposing the wish
of their client. Dan defended one of the Red Dog
defense team arguing that it was simply wrong
for the Supreme Court to sanction lawyers for
trying to save a manís life. The Supreme Court
sanctioned the lawyers but, in an unusual move,
imposed no punishment on them.
Capital punishment debated
By Amy Bugno - UDreview.com
April 11, 2006
Interdisciplinary Ethics Program hosted a debate
on capital punishment Monday evening in Mitchell
Hall. Delaware prosecutor Steven Wood and
Jeffrey Reiman, philosophy professor at American
University, presented cases before more than 100
students, faculty and community members. ?
Program Chairman Fred Adams
said the debate was held to encourage students
to think about the issue. ?
"We want the students to gain
knowledge about social issues," Adams said, "and
to know about what the reasons are people think
capital punishment is or is not the appropriate
punishment and how to weigh these reasons."
The Interdisciplinary Ethics
Program also sponsored a student essay contest
asking students in Delaware colleges to write
about their opinions on this topic, awarding
prizes up to $600. ? Wood led the debate with
the story of James Allen Red Dog, a murderer who
was sentenced to death after committing his
fifth murder. Wood explained Red Dog committed
his third murder while he was in jail and the
fourth and fifth were after he had been on
Wood used this case to prove
his point that murderers placed in jail cannot
be absolutely prevented from killing again,
thereby proving that keeping murderers alive
threatens the safety of the community. ? While
dispelling common myths about the death penalty,
Wood assured audience members the state of
Delaware only sentences murderers to death in
the worst of cases. ? "Certain crimes are so
heinous that the death penalty is the only
appropriate sentence," he said. ?
Reiman presented the anti-capital-punishment
perspective by appealing to the sympathetic side
of the audience. Using studies and polls, he
explained there is currently no evidence
suggesting the death penalty makes America safer
than life sentences without parole. ? While
admitting most people would want to execute
someone like James Allen Red Dog, Reiman said
there is a difference between what we "want to
do" and what we "should do" as moral human
beings. ? "It's not about the murderers," he
said. "It's about us. And what kind of people we
want to be. It's wrong for us to torture people
even if they deserve it." ? Junior Adam Brady
said he attended the event to receive extra
credit points but found the topic interesting.
Brady said he was impressed with both speakers
and that they each presented interesting points.
? "Professor Reiman's point about how not
executing really bad people would set an example
[about the reluctance to kill in our country]
was good," he said. "And Wood was really focused
on the future safety argument, whereas before it
was always about how we're giving them what they
deserve." ? Although she has difficulty choosing
a side on this issue, junior Laura Cheek said
she learned some new perspectives from the
debate. ? "I was unaware of how frequently
juries pick life in prison without parole over
the death penalty if offered to them, she said.
"It does make me think a
little more about our innate feelings in regards
to taking human life. But this is one topic
where I feel both sides have legitimate
arguments, and it is often difficult to be fully
against one side."
RACE: NA TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC
Killed acquaintances in personal disputes.
Condemned on one count, 1992; executed Mar. 3, 1993.