Justin Anderson – black, age 19 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)
Sentenced to death in Lafayette County, Arkansas
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 10/12/2000
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Anderson approached 87-year-old Clara Creech while she was gardening in her yard. Anderson shot Creech in the head and then burglarized Creech’s home. During police questioning, Anderson admitted killing Creech, told police there was no particular reason why he choose to kill Creech, and then led police to the gun he used to kill Creech. Anderson was also found guilty of attempted capital murder for shooting Roger Solvey during a robbery that occurred less than a week before killing Creech. Anderson’s first death sentence for killing Creech was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court because the jury did not consider mitigating circumstances. The Arkansas verdict form requires the jury to check one of four options regarding mitigating circumstances. The jury selected the option that no mitigating evidence was presented. However, Anderson had presented evidence that his mother was mentally retarded, he was put into the foster care system, and he was abused. Another option the jury could have selected was that the evidence presented was not convincing.
Prosecutor(s): Brent Haltom, Mike Beebe, Clayton Hodges
Defense lawyer(s): Janice Vaughn
Sources: State v. Anderson, 163 S.W.3d 333 (Ark. 2004); The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) 10/14/2000, 10/20/2000, 4/30/2004 (LEXIS USPAPR file).
Thomas Leo Springs – black, age 43
Sentenced to death in Sebastian County, Arkansas
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 1/21/2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Thomas Springs had stalked, physically abused, and threatened to kill his wife if she left him. Christina Springs, Thomas Springs’ wife, took refuge in a battered women’s shelter with their six children and filed for divorce. A month later, Thomas Springs saw Christina Springs driving through an intersection and rammed his car into hers. He punched out the window of the car and beat her. He then retrieved a hunting knife from his car and stabbed her 24 times through the car window. Christina Springs’ sister and two-year-old niece were in also the car. The prosecution presented testimony from the witnesses who tried to stop the attack, including a witness who used a crowbar to subdue Thomas Springs. The defense argued Thomas Springs was emotionally distraught because he had not seen his children, did not act with premeditation and deliberation, and was guilty of murder but not capital murder. During the penalty phase, the prosecution argued the murder was committed in an especially cruel and depraved manner, put the lives of Christina Springs’ sister and niece in danger, and that Thomas Springs had been previously convicted of felonies including two battery convictions against police officers. The defense argued that Thomas Springs was under extreme emotional or mental disturbance.
Prosecutor(s): Steve Tabor, Dan Shue
Defense lawyer(s): John Joplin, Cash Haaser
Sources: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock) 11/14/2005, 11/15/2005, 11/16/2005, 11/17/2005; AP Alert – Arkansas 11/10/2005 (11/10/05 APALERTAR 10:51:57), 11/16/2005 (11/16/05 APALERT AR 12:26:01), 11/17/2005 (11/17/05 APALERTAR 14:19:06).
Mickey Thomas – black, age 30
Sentenced to death in Sevier County, Arkansas
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 6/14/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Thomas went on a crime spree in Oklahoma and Arkansas which included the murders of Mona Shelton and Donna Cary in Arkansas. Thomas shot Shelton and Cary execution style while robbing a monument store. Thomas then stole a car at gunpoint and was apprehended after a police chase. Thomas was also charged in Oklahoma with the murder of Geraldine Jones, which occurred during a home invasion robbery. Thomas’ criminal history included kidnapping and robbery convictions. Thomas had served nine years in prison and was released from prison a year before murdering Shelton and Cary.
Prosecutor(s): Tom Cooper, Jay Metzger
Defense lawyer(s): Tammy Harris
Sources: AP Alert – AR 6/15/2004 (6/15/04 APALERTAR 03:54:47), 11/23/2004 (11/23/04 APALERTAR 14:19:46), 9/23/2005 (9/23/05 APALERTAR 10:04:30), 9/27/2005 (9/27/05 APALERTAR 02:05:18), 9/29/2005 (9/29/05 APALERTAR 04:14:57).