Executed June 15, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Oklahoma
B / M / 18 - 29 W / M/ 33
47th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
645th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
9th murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2000
28th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
William Clifford Bryson
burned in car
27 year old Marilyn Plantz hired her teenage boyfriend, Clifford Bryson, and his friend Clinton Eugene McKimble to kill her husband for about $300,000 in life insurance. Entering his home after work at the Daily Oklahoman, he was ambushed by Bryson and McKimble and beaten with ball bats while Plantz and kids were asleep in bed. Plantz got up and instructed them to "burn him" to make it look like an accident. They drove him to a deserted location, doused him and his pickup with gasoline and set it on fire. McKimble pled to Life and testified. Plantz and Bryson were tried jointly. Marilyn Plantz will be executed in May 2001.
B / M / 18 - 29
W / M/ 33
Bryson v. State, 876 P.2d 240 (Okl.Cr. 1994) (Direct Appeal).
Bryson v. State, 903 P.2d 333 (Okl.Cr. 1995) (PCR).
Bryson v. Ward, 187 F.3d 1193 (10th Cor. 1999) (Habeas).
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma Attorney General
Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma
William Bryson - Executed June 15, 2000 (Information Compiled and Edited by Robert Peebles)
William Clifford Bryson, 29, was executed by the state of Oklahoma on June 15, 2000. Bryson was pronounced dead at 12:14am. He was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of James Earl Plantz, 33. Thus far this year nine men have been executed in Oklahoma. Six of these men were black. Since Oklahoma reinstate capital punishment in 1977, 28 men have been executed.
Early morning on Friday, August 26, 1988, James Earl Plantz, 33, was found dead in his pickup. Prosecutors alleged that Plantz was beaten with baseball bats at his Midwest City home and then burned in his pickup at a secluded location. The following Monday, police arrested the victim's wife, Marilyn Kay Plantz, 27, on a murder charge. Investigators believed she had paid someone to kill her husband. William Clifford Bryson, 18, was arrested the next day on charges of conspiracy to commit murder in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme.
While in the holding cell awaiting booking, Bryson tried to hang himself with his shoelaces. He was treated at a local hospital and returned to the jail. After he was booked for conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, Bryson was placed in an isolation cell and put under observation. He then tried to drown himself in the toilet, but was uninjured. Clinton Eugene McKimble, 18, was also arrested on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Marilyn Plantz, William Bryson and Clinton McKimble were all charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors announced that they would seek the death penalty. Police stated that collection on two life insurance policies on James Plantz, which were worth $319,000, was the probable reason behind his murder. Prosecutors stated that McKimble and Bryson were hired by Marilyn Plantz to kill her husband.
On October 20, prosecutors agreed to let McKimble plead guilty to murder and be sentenced to life imprisonment. As part of the agreement, he would testify against Plantz and Bryson. At a preliminary hearing for Bryson and Plantz, Roderick Eugene Farris testified that Plantz said the murder would "have to look life an accident." He also stated that a few days earlier Bryson had said his girlfriend, Marilyn Plantz, had called and was crying because her husband had beaten her. In videotaped testimony, Bryson told police how he and an accomplice beat James Plantz. Bryson said, "I didn't have no specific reason why I killed him. All I was thinking while I was beating him was all the times she came up to me with a black eye and crying. I didn't like that." In the videotape, Bryson said that he loves Marilyn Plantz. He also stated that Marilyn said her husband had threatened to kill himself and her if she divorced him. Plantz denied any role in the killing of her husband. She told police they had a perfect marriage.
Defense attorneys argued that Bryson and Plantz should have separate trials, because the defendants had inconsistent, mutually antagonistic, defenses. Oklahoma County District Judge Charles Owens ruled that they would be tried together. At the trial in March 1989, jurors took less than three hours to find Plantz and Bryson guilty of the murder of James Plantz, of conspiracy to murder, of recruiting others to help, and of arson. Neither Plantz nor Bryson testified during the trial. The next day jurors deliberated for five hours before voting in favor of death sentences for both Marilyn Plantz and William Bryson. They were each also sentenced to 100 years for recruiting others to help in the murder, 10 years for conspiracy to murder, and a 15-year sentence for burning the pickup truck.
Clemency Denied on June 6 - In a clemency hearing on June 6, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-0 to deny clemency to William Bryson. This was the 21st time a clemency hearing had been held in Oklahoma since the resumption of capital punishment in 1977. Clemency has been denied in every case. At the hearing, Bryson said he would not "waste" the state Pardon and Parole Board's time by having anyone speak on his behalf since "… persuading the majority of this board to vote to spare my life is impossible." Bryson stated he would not present a case for clemency to the board since " three of the five members of this board are appointed by the governor, which does, in fact, make him them their employer. The governor has made his position crystal clear … regarding capital cases. Therefore your job security demands you respect the governor's wishes." He went on to say that "These proceedings are far from being a process in which actual consideration is given to capital cases, but rather a process that belongs solely to the governor … in which his vote and the votes of those whom he has appointed will forever be one and the same." Three of the four Board members present at the hearing — Flint Breckinridge, Currie Ballard and Stephanie Chappelle — are all appointees of Governor Frank Keating. Chairperson Susan Bussey was also present.
Vigils held across the State Prayer vigils were held in 12 locations around the state.
The execution of convicted killer William Clifford Bryson is slated for June 15. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-0 to deny clemency for Bryson, who was sentenced to death for the Aug. 26, 1988, murder of Jim Plantz, 33. Jim was beaten with 2 baseball bats, and while he was still alive, he was placed in a vehicle and set afire. Jim worked the night shift in the printing plant at The Daily Oklahoman. Jim Plantz returned home from work and was met by Bryson and another man, Clinton Eugene McKimble. The pair severely beat Jim, put him in his pickup truck and drove to a northeast Oklahoma City site and set the truck on fire.
Bryson was romantically involved Jim's wife, Marilyn, who provided the baseball bats used to beat him and who also was present. McKimble, who received a life sentence for testifying against Bryson, said Mrs. Plantz looked at her husband's head injuries from the beating and remarked that it didn't look like an accident. "She told us to burn him," McKimble testified. Jim was loaded into a pickup truck and driven to a remote area, where he and the vehicle were doused with gasoline and set ablaze. She had spoken to Bryson and others about murdering Jim Plantz for insurance policy proceeds. Marilyn Plantz and Bryson received the death penalty for the murder. Marilyn Plantz's case is before the 10th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals in Denver.
The board heard from Bryson's attorney and from Bryson himself. He apologized to the Plantz family for the pain he had caused. Thirteen relatives and friends of Plantz, including his two sisters, father and brother, were at the prison for the execution. After a tour of the penitentiary, Karen Lowery, Plantz's sister, said Bryson's death does not mean a victory for her family. "It's a no-win situation. Nobody is going to win in the end," Lowery said. Sharon Cotton, Plantz's other sister, said before the execution that his death would only provide partial closure for the family. "Marilyn Plantz and Clifford Bryson (have) lived almost 12 years since Jim was murdered; that is 12 years longer than my brother lived." State Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Plantz, 33, "suffered a horrible, cruel, painful death. I hope that his execution will, after these 12 long years, bring a sense of justice to those who loved Jim Plantz," Edmondson said.
"Baseball Bat Killing."
In McAlester, Okla., William Clifford Bryson, 29, was executed by injection early today for his part in the 1988 murder of James Plantz, 33. He became the ninth Oklahoma prisoner put to death this year. Prosecutors said Bryson and Marilyn Plantz planned to collect an insurance policy of about $300,000 for Plantz's accidental death. Mrs. Plantz was the beneficiary. On Aug. 26, 1988, Bryson, then 18, and a friend, Clinton McKimble, surprised Plantz in his house and beat him with baseball bats provided by Plantz's wife, prosecutors said.
McKimble, who received a life sentence for testifying against Bryson, said Mrs. Plantz looked at her husband's head injuries and remarked that it didn't look like an accident. "She told us to burn him," McKimble testified. Plantz was loaded into a pickup truck and driven to a remote area, where he and the vehicle were doused with gasoline and set ablaze. Mrs. Plantz was also sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.
In June of 2000, William Clifford Bryson, 29, was executed by injection for his part in the murder. Thirteen relatives and friends of the victim viewed the execution.
Plantz suffered a horrible, cruel, painful death, which the murderers carried out in order to collect an insurance policy of about $319,000. On Aug. 26, 1988, after Jim Plantz returned home from working the night shift as a pressroom supervisor at The Oklahoman, Bryson, then 18, and friend Clinton McKimble ambushed him and beat him with two baseball bats provided from their son's room by his wife, who also was present. McKimble, who received a life sentence for testifying against Bryson, said they left him on the floor bloody and hurt, then Marilyn looked at her husband's head injuries from the beating and remarked that it didn't look like an accident. "She told us to burn him," McKimble testified. Plantz was still alive when he was loaded into a pickup truck and driven to a remote area, where he and the vehicle were doused with gasoline and set ablaze.
Bryson told police he and Marilyn planned to move out of state and get married. Bryson said Marilyn told him her husband had threatened to kill himself and her if she divorced him. Plantz denied being involved in the killing. Marilyn was a homemaker, a Sunday school teacher and the mother of two children, who were home asleep when their mother murdered their father. Isn't Mother's Day this month - how appropriate that Marilyn Plantz was executed earlier today!
What are your interests? - Speaking to people who care about others, in spite of their faults. A real true friend. I enjoy meeting new people and having intelligent conversations.
What are some of your hobbies? - My hobbies include sports (basketball, football, etc). I also enjoy reading, writing poetry and making greeting cards.
What qualities would you like to find in a pen pal? - I'd like to find a pen pal who is trustworthy; honest; sensitive. Also someone who is willing to listen.
Would you prefer a pen pal who could visit you? - I'd prefer a female pen pal who can come visit. Age/race are unimportant!
Are you already writing to other people? If so, how many? - Yes! One other person/family who lives in England.
Other comments: I've included a poem I've written. It's called " Deprived Heart"
The Tecumseh Countywide News
"Tecumseh Family Looks for Closure in Killer's Execution." (06/20/00)
It took a dozen years, but the family of murdered Tecumseh native James E. Plantz got a measure of justice last night when William Clifford Bryson was executed for his part in the slaying.
Plantz, who was living in Midwest City, was attacked when he came home from work Aug. 26, 1988, by Bryson and Clinton Eugene McKimble. Police said they were armed with baseball bats provided by Plantz' wife, Marilyn, who was reportedly romantically involved with Bryson. Plantz was beaten, put in his pickup and driven to northeast Oklahoma City, where he was placed in the cab and the truck was set on fire. Marilyn Plantz and Bryson were each sentenced to death and McKimble received a life sentence.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set June 15 as the execution date for Bryson after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Bryson's final appeal. Plantz' sister, Karen Lowery of Tecumseh, said last week that she hopes "this will bring some closure" for family members, several of whom were on hand June 6 for Bryson's clemency hearing. "My brother's daughter spoke at the hearing," Lowery said. "There was not a dry eye in the house. Even the clemency board members were passing tissues around." The Plantz children, Trina and Christopher, then 9 and 6, were asleep in a bedroom of the house during the beating, prosecutors said. The children, who were not at the trial in March 1989, returned to Tecumse because his testimony was needed to convict Marilyn Plantz.
While it has taken the process almost 12 years in this case, reforms enacted in a 1995 state law and a 1996 federal law have speeded up the execution process in Oklahoma. As of April 20, the state has 143 death-row inmates, including three women. Nineteen men were executed during the 1990s, and that many more could die by lethal injection this year. Six Oklahoma inmates were executed in 1999, the most of any year since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Executions were scheduled for four straight Thursdays recently — Charles Adrian Foster on May 25, James Glenn Robedeaux on June 1, Roger James Berget on June 8 and Bryson today. Counting Ronald Keith Boyd, executed April 27, that's five in a seven-week period. In the past, Oklahoma has gone months, even years, between executions. Nine more inmates have exhausted their appeals at the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and their cases are either at the U.S. Supreme Court or headed there, according to Attorney General Drew Edmondson. One of those Alvie James Hale, convicted of murdering Tecumseh banker Jeff Perry in October 1983. Since 1976, only six states, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana and South Carolina, have executed more prisoners than Oklahoma, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
"Man Convicted of Killing Lover's Husband Set to Die," by Rochelle Hines."
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- No last-minute appeals stood in the way Wednesday of the execution of a man convicted of killing his lover's husband. William Clifford Bryson, 29, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection after midnight at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the 1988 murder of James Plantz. The U.S. Supreme Court denied two last-minute appeals Tuesday morning and no other appeals were filed, the state Attorney General's Office said. Bryson would become the ninth Oklahoma prisoner to be put to death this year.
Thirteen relatives and friends of Plantz, including his two sisters, father and brother, planned to witness the execution. After a tour of the penitentiary, Karen Lowery, Plantz's sister, said Bryson's death would not mean a victory for her family. "It's a no-win situation. Nobody is going to win in the end," Lowery said. Sharon Cotton, Plantz's other sister, said the execution would only provide partial closure for the family. "Marilyn Plantz and Clifford Bryson (have) lived almost 12 years since Jim was murdered; that is 12 years longer than my brother lived." Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Plantz, 33, "suffered a horrible, cruel, painful death." "I hope that his execution will, after these 12 long years, bring a sense of justice to those who loved Jim Plantz," Edmondson said.
It was the morning of Aug. 26, 1988, that Bryson, then 18, and friend Clinton McKimble beat Plantz with two baseball bats from Plantz's son's room and carried him outside. McKimble, who received a life sentence for testifying against Bryson, said Mrs. Plantz came outside, looked at her husband's head injuries from the beating and remarked that it didn't look like an accident. "She told us to burn him," McKimble testified. They loaded him into his own truck and drove him to a remote area, where he and the vehicle were doused with gasoline and set ablaze. Prosecutors said the killing stemmed from a plot devised by Bryson and Marilyn Plantz to collect an insurance policy of about $300,000 for Plantz's accidental death. Mrs. Plantz was the beneficiary. Mrs. Plantz was sentenced to death, and last week lost her latest appeal before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Bryson requested a last meal of 10 fried shrimp, a salad, a strawberry drink, a slice of German chocolate cake, a pint of ice cream and a hot apple fritter.
There were no outward signs that there was trouble in the Plantzes' 11-year marriage. With him working as a newspaper pressman at The Daily Oklahoman and her being a homemaker and Sunday school teacher, they raised their two children in a quiet, Midwest City neighborhood. Lowery said she was stunned when she received the call that her brother had been the victim of a homicide, and then learned his wife and lover were accused. "It's like when you hear people talk about the perfect marriage -- they never argued, never fought, no cross words," Lowery said Tuesday. Plantz, the third of four children, grew up in the Shawnee and Pink areas of Pottawatomie County. He was remembered as fun-loving, a punctual and dependable employee and a devoted father to Trina, 9, and Christopher, 6. "His kids were his No. 1 priority. He was rarely seen without the two kids," Cotton said this week. She said executing Bryson would provide her family the justice they have sought since the killing. "He didn't think twice about taking my brother's life," she said of Bryson. "He didn't think about the children or my brother's family and how that would affect us for the rest of our lives."
Bryson v. State, 876 P.2d 240 (Okl.Cr. 1994) (Direct Appeal).
Appellant William Clifford Bryson, Jr. was tried by jury and convicted for the crime of Murder in the First Degree (Count I) (21 O.S.Supp.1982, § 701.7) Third Degree Arson (Count II) (21 O.S.1981, § 1403(A)) Solicitation to Commit Murder (Count III) & Conspiracy to Commit Murder (Count IV) (21 O.S.1981, §§ 421, Case No. CRF-86-4781 in the District Court of Oklahoma County. The jury recommended as punishment the death penalty for Count I; fifteen (15) years imprisonment and ten thousand dollar ($10,000) fine in Count II; one hundred (100) years imprisonment for Count III; and ten (10) years imprisonment on Count IV. The trial court sentenced accordingly and it is from this judgment and sentence that Appellant appeals. We affirm.
Appellant and co-defendant Marilyn Plantz were found guilty of the first degree murder of Mrs. Plantz's husband, James Plantz. On August 26, 1988, at approximately 4:00 a.m., Mr. Plantz, a long time employee at the Oklahoma Publishing Company, left his job and headed home. At that time, Mr. Plantz was insured for approximately two hundred ninety-nine thousand dollars ($299,000.00). At approximately 5:15 a.m. that same morning, in the northeast part of Oklahoma City, the decedent's charred body was discovered inside his burned out pickup truck. The drivers side door was open. The decedent's body was slumped behind the steering wheel and his left leg was outside the pickup, resting flat on the ground. Identified by dental records, an autopsy later revealed that the decedent had died from a combination of a blunt force injury to the head and thermal injuries caused by the fire. The ensuing investigation into the homicide lead to the decedent's wife and Appellant. They had an ongoing personal relationship and had previously attempted to have the decedent killed. Mrs. Plantz had indicated to Appellant the decedent was abusive to her and she wanted to get rid of him and collect on his life insurance policy. Mrs. Plantz had approached Appellant and Clinton McKimble (McKimble was also charged with the first degree murder of James Plantz. He pled guilty to the charge in exchange for a life sentence) about killing the decedent and collecting the life insurance proceeds. Mrs. Plantz suggested the two men drive up on the side of his pickup and shoot him, or catch him coming home from work and beat him. McKimble was offered forty-five thousand dollars ($45,000.00) for his part. At that time, McKimble indicated he was not sure he wanted to be a part of the plan. He subsequently changed his mind. With the help of Mrs. Plantz, he and Appellant stole a car and waited for the decedent to get off work. The plan was to drive up behind the decedent, bump his pickup so that the decedent would have to pull over and exit the vehicle, at which time they would kill him with baseball bats provided by Mrs. Plantz. When the men lost the decedent's pickup on the highway, the plan was abandoned. Mrs. Plantz subsequently gave Appellant a gun to shoot the decedent, but he pawned it.
Appellant offered Roderick Farris ($40,000.00) to kill the decedent. Terry Norman overheard Appellant say he had just talked to Mrs. Plantz. She was upset because the decedent had physically assaulted her. When Farris asked why she just did not divorce him, Appellant answered that she wanted to collect some money. Appellant indicated that if he had to kill the decedent by himself, he was going to catch the decedent coming home from work one morning, beat him with a baseball bat and set him on fire in his truck. A week later, Farris again encountered Appellant and Mrs. Plantz at a local grocery store. Appellant offered Farris ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) to kill the decedent. He then introduced Farris to Plantz as "the one I was telling you about that would kill your husband." Plantz told Farris it would have to look like an accident. Later that night Appellant, Farris, and McKimble met at the Plantz home where they ate hamburgers and listened to music while waiting for the decedent to come home from work. When Farris heard someone at the front door, Mrs. Plantz told them if it was the decedent to "take him out now". Appellant picked up a hammer and McKimble a knife, but it was not the decedent. Later that night Farris was arrested and jailed on an unrelated charge.
Two days later, Appellant and McKimble were again with Mrs. Plantz. Appellant picked Mrs. Plantz up from work, where she had just quit her job. Waiting for the decedent to go to work at 6:00 p.m., they drove to a bank where Mrs. Plantz withdrew money she subsequently spent on cocaine and beer. Arriving at the Plantz home later that evening, Mrs. Plantz retired to her bedroom at approximately 10:30 p.m. Appellant and McKimble remained in the living room drinking beer and smoking cocaine until approximately 11:30 p.m., when they fell asleep. Hours later, hearing a key in the front door, they hid on opposite sides of the house. The decedent entered the house whistling, a bag of groceries in his arms. Appellant struck first, hitting the decedent with the baseball bat. The decedent cried out for his wife, but Appellant hit him again, with McKimble soon joining in. The men repeatedly struck the decedent because "he would not stay down". Finally, the decedent crumpled to the floor. As he lay moaning, Appellant and McKimble picked him up and took him outside, setting him beside his pickup truck. Mrs. Plantz emerged from the house, handed the pickup keys to the Appellant and commented that the decedent's "head was busted open" and that it was not going to look much like an accident. She told the men "to burn him." They placed him in the bed of pickup and Appellant drove to a deserted location on the route the decedent would have taken to work. McKimble followed in Mrs. Plantz's car. The decedent was placed in the cab of the pickup, behind the steering wheel. His body slumped over to the side. McKimble placed a rag in the gas tank and lit it. It failed to catch on fire. Appellant then poured gasoline on the decedent and in the cab of the pickup. He lit it and the pickup caught on fire. As the men drove away, they turned around and saw the decedent raise up.
Appellant and McKimble returned to the Plantz home where Mrs. Plantz was cleaning up the blood. She gave the men clothes of the decedent to put on and placed their bloody clothes in a sack. The men left Mrs. Plantz, threw their bloody clothes in the river and went to a convenience store. With money from the decedent's trousers, the men purchased sandwiches and drinks. After their meal, McKimble went home to bath, saying he was smelling the blood. Appellant went to the home of his friend, Michael Kendrick. Appellant told him he had killed the decedent and explained the details. Kendrick noticed that Appellant had spots of blood on the backs of his hands and on his shoes. Appellant phoned Mrs. Plantz, asking if she was all right. Kendrick overheard Appellant to say that they must stay close. McKimble arrived later and Kendrick overheard the two men talking about the killing and laughing at the decedent calling out for Mrs. Plantz. A short time later, Terry Norman saw Appellant on the street and drove him to McKimble's house. Appellant told Norman he had killed the decedent. Two days later, Appellant told Norman they had beaten the decedent with baseball bats. Appellant said he was going to have some money and he and Mrs. Plantz were moving out of town. Appellant also told another friend, Derrick Jones, that he and McKimble had killed the decedent. Appellant was arrested for the murder shortly thereafter. While in the county jail, inmate Ricky Dunn overheard Appellant tell how he had killed a man about 4:00 a.m. by waiting for him to come home from work, that he beat him to death and that he put him in a truck and "took him out."