Kenneth “Pat” Bondurant—white, age 31 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Giles County, Tennessee
By: A jury
Date of crime: 10/86
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bondurant beat a man to death with a child’s rocking chair who he thought was cheating at cards. The beating continued for half an hour after the man was dead, and left only a small piece of the rocking chair intact. Then Bondurant and his brother Pete dismembered the body, transported it to their parents’ home, and burned it. Bondurant and his brother Pete were also found guilty in another murder case (for which each received 25-year sentences) that involved rape, torture, multiple bludgeoning wounds, gunshot wounds, and burning the body.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: State v. Bondurant, 1996 WL 275021 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1996) (unpublished); State v. Bondurant, 4 S.W.3d 662 (Tenn. 1999)

Franklin Fitch—black, age 41

Sentenced to death in Shelby County, Tennessee
By: A jury
Date of crime: 2/28/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Fitch’s live-in girlfriend Angela Carroll had ended their relationship and obtained a restraining order against him. He went to her nursing home workplace and opened fire at her with a .40 caliber inside the facility, loosing as many as 10 shots in a crowded area. Carroll died of 5 bullet wounds. Fitch had earlier committed another violent crime by beating an earlier girlfriend in 1991 with a board. Fitch had agreed to a life-without-parole plea, but withdrew it on the eve of trial. The defense argued that Fitch had not been thinking clearly due to anger or intoxication.
Prosecutor(s): Lee Coffee
Defense lawyer(s): Larry Nance
Sources: Commercial Appeal (Memphis) 9/23/04, 9/25/04, 9/26/04

Robert Joe Hood—black, age 33

Sentenced to death in Shelby County, Tennessee
By: A jury
Date of crime: 2/7/01
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hood shot ex-girlfriend Toni Banks in the head in her apartment because she knew too much about his earlier crimes, and to get money to get out of town. He killed her in front of her two children and left them locked in the apartment with her body. The earlier crimes (which were presented in evidence during the penalty phase) were a home invasion burglary/robbery/murder in late 2000. After killing Banks, Hood went to Colorado where he committed another murder during the robbery of a liquor store, and a robbery/kidnapping that did not include a murder. (Hood had been convicted of the crimes in Colorado before he was brought back to Memphis to face the capital charge.) During a portion of the trial Hood had to be shackled because he had threatened one of his lawyers.
Prosecutors: Amy Weirich, Steve Jones
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: Memphis Commercial Appeal 4/11/04, 5/5/04, 5/7/04; Gazette (Colorado Springs) 5/11/04

James Riels—white, age 29

Sentenced to death in Shelby County, Tennessee
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/21/03
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Riels beat acquaintances Mary Jane Cruchon and Fanchion Pollock (age 89) to death with a hammer inside Pollock’s home when he got angry after they would not give him money for drugs. He also killed Cruchon’s toy poodle for barking. Riels pleaded guilty and only the penalty phase was tried to a jury. The defense presented evidence that he was high on crack cocaine and vodka at the time of the murders.
Prosecutor(s): Jerry Harris
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: Commercial Appeal (Memphis) 8/14/04

Michael Rimmer—white, age 31 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Shelby County, Tennessee
Date of crime: 2/8/97
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rimmer was imprisoned in 1989 for seven years for sexually assaulting his girlfriend Ricci Lynn Ellsworth. While in prison he told several other inmates of his plan to kill Ellsworth and dispose of her body so it could not be found, after he was released. After his parole Ellsworth disappeared from her job at the front desk of a motel, with evidence of blood and a struggle at the scene. Her body was never found. Rimmer was later arrested driving her car, which had her blood in the backseat. Other substantial evidence, both circumstantial and via admissions by Rimmer, connected him to the crime, although the defense argued at the guilt phase that the prosecution’s case was weak. Rimmer attempted to escape three times while awaiting trial. He had a substantial criminal record, as well. At his original sentencing proceeding in 1998 he put on no mitigating evidence. After reversal for an ambiguous verdict form, in the second sentencing proceeding the primary defense strategy was to try to undermine the conviction and argue that because of lingering doubt about his guilt, a death sentence would be too harsh.
Prosecutor(s): Thomas Henderson
Defense lawyer(s): Coleman Garrett
Sources: State v. Rimmer, 2001 WL 567960; Commercial-Appeal (Memphis) 1/8/04 (2004 WL 9650581), 1/14/04 (2004 WL 9656 402)

Joel Richard Schmeiderer—white, age 21

Due to a change of venue, sentenced to death in Murray County for a crime that was committed in Wayne County, Tennessee
By: A jury
Date of crime: 6/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Schmeiderer was in prison for life for murder and other crimes. While awaiting trial on that case he had escaped once, and tried to escape another time. As a lifer, he then strangled inmate Tom Harris with a sock. Harris bit Schmeiderer’s finger during the struggle, and Schmeiderer’s blood was found in both the victim’s cell and Schmeiderer’s. Additionally, an eyewitness saw him leaving the victim’s cell. The motive for the slaying was not totally clear, but Schmeiderer had told another inmate that he had to commit another crime to get back into the trial system so as to perhaps have opportunities to escape. Schmeiderer’s co-conspirator Chuck Sanderson was convicted of Harris’s murder, but was spared a death sentence by a separate jury. At the penalty phase the defense presented evidence of Schmeiderer’s rotten childhood, and alleged recent religious conversion.
Prosecutor(s): Doug Dicus, Patrick Butler
Defense lawyer(s): Claudia Jack, Shipp Weems
Sources: State v. Schmeiderer, 2000 WL 1681030 (Tenn. Crim. App.) (unpublished); telephone call with prosecutor Dicus 11/1/04;