Robert Otis Coulson

Executed June 25, 2002 by Lethal Injection in Texas


34th murderer executed in U.S. in 2002
783rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
17th murderer executed in Texas in 2002
273rd murderer executed in Texas since 1976


Since 1976
Date of Execution
State
Method
Murderer
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
Birth
Victim(s)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Murder
Method of
Murder
Relationship
to Murderer
Date of
Sentence
783
06-25-02
TX
Lethal Injection
Robert Otis Coulson

W / M / 24 - 34

03-11-68
Mary Coulson
W / M / 54
Otis Coulson
W / F / 66
Sarah Coulson
W / M / 21
Robin Wentworth
W / F / 25
Richard Wentworth
W / M / 27
11-13-92
Smothering
Mother

Father

Sister

Sister

Brother-in-law
06-22-94

Summary:
The 5 victims were discovered by the Houston Fire Department while extinguishing a house fire on Nov. 13, 1992. They were the mother, father, 2 sisters, and the brother in law of Robert Coulson. In a plan to gain an immediate inheritance, Coulson had individually subdued each victim, bound their hands and feet, and secured a plastic bag over their heads. All five victims died of asphyxia due to suffocation. After the victims were dead, Coulson poured gasoline on the bodies and set the house on fire. An accomplice, Jared Althaus, later confessed his involvement in the premeditated plan to murder Coulson's family. Althaus recanted his two previous statements, confessed that he had helped Coulson plan the murders for several months. Coulson has insisted that he is innocent of the slayings and was at a shopping mall when the attack occurred. However, in custody, Coulson said he did not hate his family as most people thought, but that he was having financial difficulties and this was the only way out. During trial, Coulson denied the testimony of eight witnesses, including his cousin and several police officers, and accused them of lying under oath. Coulson also claimed that three other witnesses were mistaken about what they heard. Althaus pled guilty and received a 10 year sentence.

Citations:

Final Meal:
None.

Final Words:
"I'm innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with my family's murder. I want to thank the people who supported me. I hope they will continue the fight. That's all."

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Robert Coulson)

Texas Attorney General Media Advisory

MEDIA ADVISORY - Wednesday, June 24, 2002 - Robert Otis Coulson Scheduled to be Executed.

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Robert Otis Coulson, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, 2002.

On June 22, 1994, Robert Otis Coulson was sentenced to death for the capital murders of his sister and brother-in-law, Robin and Rick Wentworth, which occurred in Houston, Texas, on Nov. 13, 1992. Also killed in the same transaction were his parents, Otis and Mary Coulson, and his sister Sarah Coulson. Coulson was the adopted son of Otis and Mary, and Robin Wentworth's natural brother. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

The victims were discovered by the Houston Fire Department while extinguishing a house fire on Nov. 13, 1992. Coulson had individually subdued each victim, bound their hands and feet, and secured a plastic bag over their heads. All five victims died of asphyxia due to suffocation. After the victims were dead, Coulson poured gasoline on the bodies and set the house on fire.

The morning of Saturday, Nov. 14, 1992, investigators were alerted by a family friend that the remaining family member, Robert Coulson and his roommate, Jared Althaus, were spending the weekend at the Althaus' family farm in Caldwell. Jason Althaus, Jared's older brother, drove to the farm to inform Coulson of the deaths and told him to go immediately to the police station. Coulson and Althaus arrived at the police station around 5:30 p.m. and were interviewed separately. Coulson gave the police a written statement. Coulson said he had last been at his parents' home on Thursday, November 12, however, no one was home. Coulson said he and Althaus had stopped for gas on the way to the farm around 4:15 p.m. that Friday.

Jared Althaus also gave the police a statement in which he said he and Coulson left for the farm around 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Althaus gave the police a receipt for the purchase of gasoline. Coulson consented to a search of the car they were driving, however, nothing was found.

On Sunday, November 15, Coulson contacted his parents' attorney seeking information about the size of the estate. During dinner with the attorney and Coulson's uncle, Coulson became concerned when he learned that he might not be the sole beneficiary. Coulson's sister Sarah had recently had a baby, which was placed for adoption and might be entitled to half the estate. Coulson wanted to know what the child's legal rights were and who had adopted the baby.

Around 10:00 p.m. that Monday, the police confronted a distraught Jared Althaus at a motel in San Marcos. Althaus agreed to meet with the officers back in Houston and gave a second statement to the police in which he recanted his alibi for Coulson. Althaus stated that he dropped Coulson off at his parents' house and picked him up a few hours later; however, he did not know that Coulson had murdered his family at that time. When Althaus learned of the deaths, Coulson allegedly threatened to do the same to Althaus' family and girlfriend if he did not go along with Coulson's alibi.

A police officer, who was conducting surveillance of Coulson and his activities at the funeral, November 17, watched Coulson during the service and noticed that Coulson showed no emotion at the church or grave side service. After the funeral, the officer watched Coulson leave the church to walk a friend to her car. On his way back, Coulson was observed by the officer to smile, snap his fingers and clap his hands, and do what the officer described as a dance step before returning to his previous solemn expression.

That same day, Jared Althaus, who was still in custody, finally confessed his involvement in the premeditated plan to murder Coulson's family. Althaus recanted his two previous statements, confessed that he had helped Coulson plan the killings for several months, and that he had helped Coulson carry out his family's murder but that he was not at the Coulson house when they were killed. Althaus claimed that Coulson enlisted him in a plan to kill Coulson's parents approximately three or four months prior to their deaths.

Approximately three months before the murders, Coulson and Althaus began purchasing supplies, including duct tape, zip cords, and a stun gun for immobilizing the victims. Coulson selected the stun gun and bought it, but Althaus paid for it. Coulson purchased trash compactor bags because they were the strongest. Coulson placed the supplies in Althaus' gray backpack, including Althaus' .9 millimeter gun, and stored it in his parents' garage attic the day before the murders. Althaus bought a gasoline container the night before the murders because Coulson did not want to be seen doing it.

The Wednesday before the murders, Coulson and Althaus chose a dark spot in the neighborhood as the drop-off point. Coulson and Althaus went to San Marcos so that Coulson could talk to his uncle Peter to make sure he would not be coming to town that weekend. Peter verified that Coulson had visited. While Coulson was at his parents' house on Thursday to drop off the backpack, he went through his parents' files and checked their wills to see who the heirs were. Thursday evening, Coulson and Althaus went to the house to drop off the gas and to see how dark the house was at that time of the evening.

Althaus left work at 3:00 p.m. the day of the murders and met Coulson at the apartment complex where Coulson, who was using his girlfriend's black Toyota Celica, was waiting to load the car. Coulson asserted he was dressed in casual attire because there were cameras at the apartment complex and he wanted to be seen wearing casual clothing. However, on the way to the crime scene, Coulson changed into dark jeans, a blue sweatshirt, a baseball hat, sunglasses and white tennis shoes. Althaus dropped Coulson off around 4:15 p.m. and then drove to a gas station to get a receipt to use as an alibi. Althaus drove around for a while before returning to the house around 6:00 p.m. Althaus circled three times until Coulson came running out of the bushes carrying the gas can, backpack and a crowbar.

Coulson told Althaus it had not gone as planned. Althaus drove while Coulson disposed of the evidence out the window of the car. Coulson was familiar with the roads from his former job as a delivery man, so he told Althaus which way to turn. Whenever there was a ditch or culvert, Coulson would throw out an item. Many items were recovered on what would have been the passenger side of the car. As they drove, Coulson vividly described the details of the murder; Coulson was not crying or emotional and he showed no remorse.

According to Althaus' testimony, Coulson called the house that Friday and told his parents that he had news about a business deal and that he needed to talk to them. When he arrived at the house, Coulson told his mother he wanted to talk to her about something, then he took her into the spare bedroom on the left side of the house. Coulson tried to immobilize her with the stun gun but it did not work. Coulson told Althaus that his mother struggled the most and that he had to smother her with a pillow before binding her hands and feet. Coulson told Althaus that his father was a "wimp" and was easily taken care of. Coulson went into Sarah's room next and tried to use the stun gun but it still didn't work. While he bound her, he told her he needed some money and that nothing was going to happen. Coulson said that Sarah did not put up a fight and that he told her he was sorry and he loved her and then hugged her. Sarah allegedly thanked him for waiting until she had her baby, then he put the bag on her head and zip-corded it.

Coulson had called Robin earlier in the week and told her to show up around 5:00 p.m. that he had something to tell them all; however, she and Rick arrived early while Coulson was still in the room with Sarah. By the time Coulson got out of the room, Rick had jimmied the locked screen door and was inside the house. Coulson was unable to separate Rick from Robin, who was six months pregnant. Coulson threatened them with the gun, telling them that Althaus was in another room with their parents and would kill them if they did anything. Coulson hit both of them in the head with a crowbar, striking Rick more than once. He then bound and gagged them and put bags on their heads. Coulson had planned to remove the trash bags and zip cords to make it look as if they died of smoke inhalation, however, while he was pouring gasoline over the bodies, the fumes ignited in the room containing his parents bodies, from what he presumed was the hot water heater. Coulson lit the rest of the bodies with matches.

After Althaus' confession, the police accompanied Althaus to collect evidence that he and Coulson had discarded. The police arranged a meeting between Althaus and Coulson at a local hotel. During the meeting, Coulson was tape-recorded making several incriminating statements, including repeatedly pressuring Althaus to maintain their previously established alibi; telling him the police had nothing on them; and that the police had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Coulson's car that was seen in the neighborhood, and that Coulson and Althaus had done it. Coulson also made statements that later contradicted his testimony at trial. Coulson was arrested as he tried to leave the hotel. He was carrying a notebook at the time; the tape-recorded conversation indicated Coulson attempted write in this notebook rather than talk to Althaus out loud.

While en route to the police station, Coulson made several incriminating statements to the police. The police told Coulson that Althaus had confessed. They showed Coulson pictures of the evidence they collected and read him his Miranda rights. Coulson then said he did not hate his family as most people thought, but that he was having financial difficulties and this was the only way out. He stated that society considers you a failure if you do not succeed financially.

Coulson said he had overcharged credit cards, was in debt from college, and owed everyone, and this was the only way he could make it in life financially. He never denied having killed his family. When asked if he intended that Rick and Robin be at the house on that Friday, he responded by nodding his head up and down. When asked "why," Coulson paused and said that question was too difficult to answer.

In his defense, Coulson presented several witnesses to counter the State's evidence. A neighbor testified that he had not seen Coulson in the neighborhood that day. Also, several friends and neighbors of his parents testified that they had never heard Coulson say derogatory things about his family, and never knew of any problems between them.

Coulson testified in his own defense. He "explained" all the evidence in a more favorable light and denied killing any member of his family. Coulson accused Althaus of being romantically interested in him, and of being obsessed with him. Coulson claimed he was uncomfortable around Althaus and intended to move out, despite the tape-recorded conversation in which Coulson tells Althaus that he loves him, that he will not interfere in Althaus' relationships anymore. (While it does not appear that the two were romantically involved, the tape-recorded conversation contradicts any assertion that Coulson was uncomfortable with Althaus' feelings toward him.)

On cross examination, Coulson denied the testimony of eight witnesses, including his cousin and several police officers, and accused them of lying under oath. Coulson also claimed that three other witnesses were mistaken about what they heard.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Coulson was tried before the 182nd District Court of Harris County, Texas, and found guilty of capital murder on June 16, 1994. After a separate punishment phase, the court sentenced Coulson to death on June 22, 1994. Coulson's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. His conviction became final on Jan. 14, 1997, when the time for filing a petition for writ of certiorari in this Court expired.

Coulson filed an application for post conviction writ of habeas corpus in the state court on Sept. 5, 1997. On Nov. 3, 1998, the 180th District Court of Harris County held an evidentiary hearing on the petition for writ of habeas corpus concerning allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct. The court adopted the State's proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on Jan. 5, 1999, and found that Coulson failed to demonstrate that his conviction was unlawfully obtained. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied state habeas relief on June 9, 1999.

Coulson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court on Aug. 9, 1999, and supplemental briefs in support. The Federal District Court granted the Director's motion for summary judgment on Aug. 31, 2000. Concurrent with this decision, the district court granted Coulson a certificate of appealability as to his false evidence claim, but denied COA as to all others. Coulson filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion to alter or amend judgment on Sept. 9, 2000. The district court granted the motion for reconsideration of judgment, but once again granted the Director's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Coulson's petition with prejudice. The court granted in part Coulson's motion to alter or amend judgment, and extended COA to cover two additional claims.

After hearing oral argument, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's denial of relief. The Supreme Court denied Coulson's petition for writ of certiorari on March 18, 2002.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Coulson had no prior criminal history.

ProDeathPenalty.com

A Houston-area man sentenced to death for killing 5 members of his family is scheduled to be executed on June 25. Robert Coulson was sent to death row for the 1992 slayings of his parents, Mary and Otis Coulson; sister Sarah; and Robin and Richard Wentworth, his birth sister and her husband. Their bodies were found Nov. 13, 1992, inside the parents' smoldering home in the 9700 block of Westview in northwest Houston. The only family survivor is Sarah Coulson's son, who was 1 month old at the time of the November 1992 attack at the Coulson's home in the Houston surburb of Spring Branch and had been adopted shortly after his birth. Robert Coulson, who was adopted, was listed as an heir in his father's will but eventually relinquished his rights to the inheritance during a civil trial. The $600,000 inheritance was placed it in a trust fund for the lone survivor, who is now 10 years old and in the care of an adoptive family. Evidence at Coulson's criminal trial showed that he became bitter after his father refused to finance his windshield repair business and had joked about gaining the inheritance if the family died prematurely. The 5 victims were found Nov. 13, 1992. All had their heads tied in plastic garbage bags, and 1 of the victims had been beaten with a crowbar. An accomplice who said he never entered the house testified that Coulson told of disabling the family with a stun gun, suffocating them and then pouring gasoline on the bodies and setting them on fire. That accomplice, who cooperated with police, received a 20-year prison term. Coulson has insisted that he is innocent of the slayings and was at a shopping mall when the attack occurred.

Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson.

Robert Otis Coulson, 34, was executed by lethal injection on 25 June in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of five family members for money.

On a Friday afternoon in November 1992, while extinguishing a house fire, firefighters found the bodies of two men and three women -- Otis and Mary Coulson, 66 and 54; their daughters, Sarah and Robin, 21 and 25; and Robin's husband, Richard Wentworth, 27. All five family members were bound with plastic zip cords and had plastic trash bags over their heads, taped tightly around their necks. Richard and Robin Wentworth had been beaten on the head and died of asphyxiation before the fire started. (Robin Wentworth was also six months pregnant.) The other three victims suffocated while the fire was burning.

There were two family members who were not killed that day. One was Sarah's newborn baby, who she had given up for adoption. The other was the Coulsons' other child, Robert. The Coulsons had no natural children. They adopted Sarah when she was a baby and Robert and Robin, who were brother and sister, at the ages of 5 and 4, respectively.

Investigators on the scene were advised by neighbors to check out the surviving son, Robert, then 24. "If Bob isn't in there, he did it," one neighbor told Harris County prosecutor Chuck Rosenthal. Investigators took a statement from Robert Coulson, who said that he had gone to a lake house with his roommate, Jared Althaus, earlier that day, well before the murders took place. Althaus gave a statement which not only corroborated Coulson's account, but nearly copied it word for word. Rosenthal suspected that Coulson's and Althaus's statements were rehearsed, and they both became suspects.

Under pressure, Althaus told investigators that Coulson committed the murders, with his help. He said that Coulson stood to gain $600,000 from his adoptive parents' estate. He said that Coulson planned the murders for four months, spinning out various scenarios and figuring out how to pull it off. Eventually, Coulson picked a date -- Friday the 13th -- and a method. He decided he would go to his parents' house at a time when only they would be there. The other family members would arrive at later intervals, which he would set up with them beforehand with phone calls. He would lure each victim into a bedroom, subdue him or her with a stun gun, bind them, and then suffocate them. Coulson offered Althaus a cut of the money. Althaus' role was to buy the stun gun and gasoline can with Coulson's money, drop him off near the house and pick him up afterward, and provide him with an alibi.

When he picked up Coulson afterward, Althaus said he told him that the crime didn't go as planned. For one thing, the stun gun didn't work. His mother struggled the most, and he had to smother her with a pillow before binding her. His father was "a wimp" and was no trouble. Next, he went into Sarah's room and told her he was going to tie her up, but that he wouldn't hurt her. Coulson said that as he was restraining her, she thanked him for waiting until after she had her baby. Richard and Robin Wentworth arrived earlier than he had planned; he told them to arrive at 5:00 p.m., but they came while he was still with Sarah. He threatened them with a gun and hit them both with a crowbar more than once to subdue them. After dousing all of the bodies with gasoline, he had intended to remove the bags and restraints to make it appear as though they had all died in the fire, but the fire started spontaneously, presumably from the pilot light on the water heater igniting the gasoline fumes in his parents' room. Coulson lit the other bodies with a match and escaped. Althaus said that Coulson told him all of this as he was driving around and Coulson was throwing evidence out of the window into ditches and culverts. Althaus later took police to some of the ditches and bayous where Coulson discarded some of the evidence, which was recovered.

Investigators continued to collect evidence against Coulson. They found friends who said that Coulson sometimes joked about how he would be financially set if his parents died. Relatives told police that at the funeral, Coulson's sole concern was to settle the estate as soon as possible. Observers at the funeral noticed that Coulson did not shed any tears, and instead, as he was leaving the service, he smiled, snapped his fingers, clapped his hands, and made "a dance step."

Althaus agreed to wear a hidden recording device to a meeting with Coulson at a Houston motel. Coulson made numerous incriminating statements that were recorded on tape, such as "I'm your alibi; you're my alibi." He did not make any direct reference to the murders. He was arrested as he was leaving the motel.

After his arrest, Coulson changed his alibi. He said that he was at a shopping mall at the time of the murders, waiting for his family to meet him at the cafeteria.

Bob Tucker, a neighbor who knew Coulson for twenty years, told police that when he visited Coulson in jail, he never expressed any sorrow over the death of his adoptive family or his natural sister, but he did become "beside himself" with indignation when he learned that Sarah's baby might stand to get half of the estate because he had not been adopted yet.

Coulson was charged with the murders of Robin and Richard Wentworth. He pleaded not guilty and testified at his own trial. A jury found him guilty in June 1994 and sentenced him to death. He had no prior criminal history. Jared Lee Althaus pled guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His sentence was reduced to 10 years for his cooperation with the prosecution of Coulson. He is scheduled to be released in 2003 and declined requests for an interview.

Coulson maintained his innocence from death row. While he initially claimed that Althaus was the murderer, he later claimed that Althaus conspired with police to frame him with planted evidence and false testimony. He pointed out that there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crime scene. He also claimed that the prosecution manufactured evidence against him. This referred to an envelope containing some notes in Otis Coulson's handwriting, referring to a potential business deal with Robert. After finding the envelope at the scene, a policeman put it on Otis's desk to photograph it. The prosecution later testified that the envelope was on the desk when the murders were committed, proving that Otis expected Robert to come over on the day of the murders. Rosenthal, who is now the District Attorney, admitted that this part of their testimony was inaccurate, but said that it was a harmless error.

Coulson also wrote many letters to anti-death-penalty activists, who put them on a web site at http://www.deathrow.at/freebob.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Coulson's verdict and death sentence in October 1996. In November 1998, the district court held an evidentiary hearing on Coulson's habeas corpus claim of prosecutorial misconduct regarding the envelope. The court determined that the moving of the envelope was irrelevant to Coulson's conviction. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed this decision in June 1999, ending his state appeals. All of Coulson's subsequent appeals, which were in federal court, were also denied. He made three requests to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles -- one for a conditional pardon, another for a commutation of his sentence, and another for a reprieve of execution. The board rejected all three of his requests by a 17-0 vote.

In an interview, Coulson said that he made up the alibi about going to the lake house because Althaus convinced him that, after his family members were murdered, he would be a natural suspect and, therefore, needed an alibi that someone else could corroborate. "It was a flat-out lie, and it was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life," he said. Coulson was never observed expressing any sorrow over the deaths of his parents or other family members.

"I'm innocent. I had absolutely nothing to do with my family's murder," Coulson said in his last statement. As the lethal drugs started to take effect, Coulson spotted a former Houston police officer who was involved in the murder investigation and told him, "You planted that evidence, Dale Atchetee. You know it and I know it." He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m

Deathrow.at

Execution date set: 06/25/2002.

On Friday, November 13, 1992 five (5) members of Bob's family were brutally murdered in Houston, Texas. Murdered were his: father (Otis Coulson); mother (Mary Coulson); older sister (Robin Coulson); brother-in-law (Rick Wentworth); and younger sister (Sarah Coulson). The youngest was Sarah who was 21 years old.

TRIAL TESTIMONY SHOWED THE FOLLOWING....

The murders occurred between 4:00pm and 6.15pm. Bob's family members were found in three (3) different rooms in his parents house. Bob's mother and father were found in a garage bedroom. Sarah was found in a guest bedroom. Robin and Rick were found in his parents master bedroom. Bob's family members were bound and gagged (with duct tape and plastic flex cuffs similar to those used by police) and suffocated with plastic bags. After Bob's family was murdered gas was poured on their bodies and the house was set on fire.

Bob was arrested on Tuesday, November 17, 1992, after his roommate, Jared Althaus, gave police four (4) different statements and then FAILED a polygraph test on his fourth story, the story used against Bob at the trial. In Jared's final story he CLAIMED that: he helped Bob plan the murders; he dropped off Bob in his parents neighborhood prior to the murders; he picked him up in his parents neighborhood after the murders. Jared told police that Bob had committed the murders by himself. Jared agreed to a twenty (20) year plea bargain (that ended up being reduced to ten (10) to testify against Bob.

TRIAL TESTIMONY SHOWED THE FOLLOWING.

When Bob spoke to the police the day after his family was murdered he was wearing shorts and a tank top t-shirt and had NO marks, cuts, scratches, bruises, etc. that you would expect to find on someone if they had been in a fight or struggle the day before. He did not have any burns or singed hair (on his head arms, legs, eyebrows ect) that one would expect someone to have IF they had poured and lit three (3) separate gasoline fires in an enclosed area the day before. There was NO eyewitness testimony placing Bob at the scene of the murders, or even in the neighbourhood. There was NO forensics evidence (fingerprints, blood, hair, fibres, skin ect) linking Bob to the murders. There was NO forensics evidence linking items Jared claimed were used in the murders to the murders themselves, or to Bob. Bob pled NOT-guilty and testified in his own defense for two and a half days. He DENIED killing his family. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Bob has had his appeal denied twice (once since discovering the manufactured evidence) and he is currently in his federal habeas in the Federal District Court. If Bob can get a new trial he feels that he can prove his innocence.

Bob Coulson
# 999115
Polunsky Unit

Houston Chronicle

"Man Who Killed 5 in Family Executed," by Mike Tolson. (June 25, 2002)

HUNTSVILLE -- Almost 10 years after he killed his adoptive parents, two sisters and brother-in-law in a gruesome scheme to claim his inheritance, Robert Coulson was put to death by injection Tuesday night, still insisting he was wrongfully convicted. "I'm innocent," Coulson said in a brief final statement from the gurney. "I had absolutely nothing to do with my family's murder. I want to thank the people who supported me. I hope they will continue the fight. That's all."

As the flow of lethal drugs was about to begin, Coulson noticed former Houston Police Department homicide investigator Dale Atchetee among the witnesses and offered a postscript. "You know you planted that evidence, Dale Atchetee. You know it, and I know it," he said. Coulson then fell silent as the first of the drugs hit him. He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m., nine minutes after the process began. He was the 17th Texas inmate executed this year.

Coulson's final words referred to an envelope that Atchetee discovered at the house during the first night of the investigation. Prosecutors said the envelope, which contained writing on the back by Coulson's father concerning a proposed business deal, was out on a desk in the family's home office, indicating that Coulson was expected to be coming over on the night of the crime. Crime scene photographs later showed that the envelope had not been out on the desk that night. Prosecutors admitted the error during a 1998 hearing. The mistake was inadvertent, they said, but Coulson's appeals attorney argued otherwise. Federal and state appeals courts said the issue was not significant enough to justify overturning the conviction.

"Today brings us no joy, only resolution," Linda Payne, Coulson's cousin and the niece of his mother, said in a prepared statement on behalf of the family of the victims. "Robert Coulson committed a horrible crime; he received a fair trial and was found guilty by a jury of his peers. He must now accept responsibility for his actions."

Coulson and his roommate, Jared Althaus, were arrested Nov. 17, 1992, four days after the bodies of Otis and Mary Coulson, daughters Sarah and Robin, and Robin's husband, Rick Wentworth, were discovered in the charred wreckage of the family's Spring Branch home. Robin was five months pregnant at the time. Each member of the family had been bound with plastic ties and gagged with duct tape. Plastic trash compactor bags were placed over their heads before they were splashed with gasoline. The ensuing blaze burned the bodies beyond recognition.

Althaus confessed immediately. He said Coulson had hatched the scheme because he was jobless and in debt. With everyone out of the way, he stood to claim an estate valued at about $600,000. For his role in implicating Coulson, Althaus received a 10-year sentence.

Canadian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty - Robert Coulson Homepage

Find out about the real Bob Coulson; what he is like and what he likes doing.

My name is Bob Coulson. I am 34 years old (3/11/68), I have been locked up on this case since November 17,1992. I have been here on Texas Death Row since August 31, 1994. I have green eyes and reddish brown hair. I am six feet tall and weigh 180 pounds.

I enjoy: working out (even though it is hard to do in here); music (country and wester, jazz, 70's and 80's rock, 80's top 40, and light rock from the 70's, 80's and 90's); dancing (country and western, top 40, etc.); reading (mysteries, techno thrillers, medical thrillers, court room thrillers, spy/espionage, etc.); meeting new people (and learning new things from each of them); writing letters (even though I never did it before being arrested); reading newspapers and magazines (learning from them and keeping up with the news in general); getting visits (even though it doesn't happen often); receiving pictures (it is like living vicariously through others, I like any that my pen pals send me, be it of themselves, where they live, etc.); and much, much more.

I am looking for pen pals world wide to write too and possibly some people in the Houston area who might be interested in visiting me from time to time. Please simply write me at the address listed below and include a snail mail address where I can write you. I understand some people are not comfortable giving death row inmates their home address and I can respect that, if you really want to write me then I might suggest you looking into getting a P.O. Box, that way we can write through the snail mail but not to your home directly.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good day. Bob Coulson

Manufactured evidence in Bob's capital murder trial!!!

The evidence proving the manufactured evidence was discovered over a period of time so we will present it to you in the same way we discovered it. When we refer to an EXHIBIT please go to the photo nearest to find the exhibit in question. We have included ten (10) different laser prints from the Houston Police Department as exhibits to assist you in seeing the full extent of the manufactured evidence.

During Bob's trial prosecutors argued that an envelope found OUT on his dads desk (in his office at the house) BY ITSELF was placed there by his father the day of the murders because he expected Bob at the house the night of the murders to discuss a business deal that was mentioned on the outside of the envelope. Please see EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 for the envelope in question.

It is the envelope on the right side of the desk by the adding machine. Two (2) of these three (3) photos (We are not sure as to which two) were shown to Bob's jury. Bob's father and he had a meeting about five (5) months before the murders to discuss Bob's father loaning him money to buy a windshield business. Bob's father wrote down notes from this meeting on the outside of this envelope. The business ended up being sold to someone else a few months before the murders so the loan, meeting, etc. were a moot point at the time of the murders.

During Bob's trial prosecutors tried FIVE (5) TIMES to get the envelope entered into evidence before the Judge finally let it in. In their closing arguments prosecutors told the jury that the envelope being out on the desk the night of the murders meant Bob's father was expecting to come by the house, and that this supported his roommates story that he had gotten everyone over to the house the night of the murders saying he wanted to talk about the business deal. The jury obviously fell for this argument because they asked to see the envelope during their deliberations on Bob's guilt or innocence. After being convicted the jury again asked to see the envelope during their deliberations on his punishment. During Bob's first appeal the appellate court said the envelope being out the night of the murders proved Bob's dad was expecting Bob over, and that it corroborated his roommates story. As you can see the prosecution successfully used this envelope to TRY and place Bob at the scene of the crime the night of the murders.

On Bob's second appeal he was appointed his current attorneys and he told them the first time they came to see him that the envelope had to have been planted because the business had been sold a couple months before the murders and there would have been no reason for it to have been out on his dads desk. Bob's attorneys filed an open records request with the Houston Police Department under a new open record act that had just gone into affect. They were able to obtain copies of police reports and police crime scene photographs. Bob's attorneys also filed an open records requests to see the District Attorneys file in his case. Sitting in the District Attorneys file was a copy of EXHIBIT #4.

If you look at EXHIBIT #4 you will see that the envelope is NOT out on the desk as it was in EXHIBIT #1, 2 and 3. Because of the fires in the house soot covered everything on the top of the desk. The desk pad in the middle of the desk used to be white - so did the adding machine. You can see soot on the walls of EXHIBIT #1. If you look at the base of the adding machine in EXHIBIT #3 you can just make out a white line where the soot didn't cover the white desk pad beneath the adding machine. Now, compare that white line to the white line at the base of the adding machine in EXHIBIT #2. You can see the line is now about an inch wide, bigger then it was in EXHIBIT #3. The adding machine had been bumped or intentionally moved back slightly between the time the two photos were taken. In EXHIBITS # 1, 2 and 3 you notice a small smudge mark in the soot on the desk pad just to the left of the envelope. If you compare those EXHIBITS to EXHIBIT #4 you will see that there is NO smudge mark in the soot on EXHIBIT #4. We also noticed that IF the envelope had been out on the desk top as in EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 before the fires started then soot would NOT be on the desk top under the envelope since the envelope would have blocked the soot from hitting the desk top during the fires. There would have been a white outline of the envelope on the desk top where the envelope had been if the prosecutors argument had been correct. If you look at EXHIBIT #4 you will see the soot covers the ENTIRE desk top, there is NO white outline in the soot where prosecutors claimed the envelope was during the fires. This could ONLY have meant that EXHIBIT #4 was actually the way the house looked the NIGHT of the murders when the fires started, and NOT EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3. Therefor the envelope was NOT OUT on the desk BY ITSELF the night of the murders. The night of the murders the police took a crime scene video to preserve the crime scene before anything was moved or collected into evidence. Bob's attorneys took the crime scene video and had a still made of the spot where the video passed over the top of the desk. EXHIBIT #5 is the still photo.

If you look at the adding machine, small book and the lamp for points of reference you can see that the envelope in EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 is NOT present in the crime scene video taken the night of the murders. It was obvious to us that EXHIBITS #4 and 5 were taken the NIGHT of the murders and that the envelope was NOWHERE to be found! Going to the police reports we found that an officer Halling had been the only officer taking still photos the night of the murders. We also found that officer Halling had collected evidence the night of the murders but had NOT listed the envelope as an item she took into custody. In fact, NOWHERE in her report does she mention and envelope being out on the desk the night of the murders. In the police reports we also saw that an officer Verbitsky had taken the crime scene video the night of the murders. He did NOT take any still photos the NIGHT of the murders. He did NOT take any evidence into custody the NIGHT of the murders.

We found a police report from officer Verbitsky that said the day AFTER the murder (Nov. 14) he was called back to the crime scene to collect additional evidence. Verbitsky's report says he photographed the envelope out on the desk and then collected the envelope into evidence. Now knowing there had been two (2) different officers taking still photos of the crime scene on different days we had to determine with certainty who took which photos of the desk. Bob's attorneys requested copies of the contact sheets and a copy of the envelopes they came in. Contact sheets are copies of the negatives. We received one set of negatives in an envelope with officer Hallings name on it dated the NIGHT of the murders, Nov. 13, 1992. In those contact sheet we found the negative to EXHIBIT #4! Officer Halling took the EMPTY desk photo the night of the murders. Just to be absolutely sure we looked at the other four negatives on the negative strip with the empty desk photo. In photos on either side of the empty desk negative there were negatives which contained a body. The bodies were removed from the house the NIGHT of the murders so the empty desk photo (EXHIBIT #4) had to have been take the NIGHT of the murders! Looking through the rest of Hallings negatives from the night of the murder we saw that there were NO photos of the desk showing the envelope out on it as in EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3. This also shows that Halling did NOT take those photos the night of the murders. In the envelope with officer Verbitsky's name on it the date was the day AFTER the murders. (Nov, 14, 1992) In Verbitsky's envelope we found the negatives for EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3.

We also found a couple of negatives of close up shots of the envelope out on the desk. These negatives prove that Verbitsky took the photos of the envelope out on the desk, and that it was the day AFTER the murders! During Bob's trial officer Halling was called to the stand to discuss the photos she had taken the night of the murders. Halling was handed a stack of photos by prosecutor Jeanine Barr (Currently a Judge) and asked if the photos fairly and accurately depicted the crime scene the way she found it the NIGHT of the murders. Two (2) of the exhibits, EXHIBITS # 1, 2 and 3, were in the stack presented to officer Halling. Halling said that YES the photos in the stack represented the way she found the house the NIGHT of the murders. Of course we now know this to have been a LIE since Halling did NOT take those two (2) photos (exhibits #1, 2 or 3) the NIGHT of the murders, that Verbitsky took them the day AFTER the murders. The prosecutor then went on to pull the two (2) photos of the envelope out on the desk from the stack of photos Halling had just identified and asked her if she had looked at the documents on the desk, specifically about the envelope on the desk. Halling claimed that she had not looked at the papers on the desk the night of the murders. Since the prosecutor brought the photo of the envelope out on the desk directly to Halling's attention during the trial it is obvious that Halling identifying those photos as her own was NOT a mistake. Had it been a mistake Halling would have immediately told the prosecutor that those photos of the envelope out on the desk were NOT taken by her the NIGHT of the murders. (Especially since Halling took the photo of the empty desk the NIGHT of the murders, EXHIBIT #4)

Instead of correcting the prosecutors error Halling simply said she did not look at the document. Officer Verbitsky did NOT testify in Bob's trial. The law back during Bob's trial said that defense attorneys did NOT get access to a police officers report until the police officer took the stand. Since Verbitsky did NOT testify Bob's attorneys did NOT have access to Verbitsky's police report. Had Bob's attorneys had access to Verbisky's police report during my trial they would have seen that Verbitsky, NOT Halling, took the photos of the envelope out on the desk. (EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3) Verbitsky took the crime scene video the NIGHT of the murders but instead of calling him to the stand to discuss the video the prosecution called another police officer to identify it. This was again an effort by the prosecution to keep Bob's attorneys from gaining access to the very revealing police reports of officer Verbitsky. It should be noted that the envelope DID have soot on one side of it and none on the other side of it. For this reason we searched all of the negatives to determine if we could find a photo of the envelope out anywhere in the house and we could NOT. It should also be noted that homicide Sergeant Ross and homicide Sergeant Atchetee were in charge of the crime scene the NIGHT of the murders and the day AFTER the murders. In fact according to police reports Ross called officer Verbitsky to the house the day AFTER the murders to photograph and collect the additional evidence, which included the envelope out on the desk. We took all of the information we had gathered to this point and filed Bob's appeal. We asked that the Judge grant us an evidentiary hearing where we would be allowed to get several police officers and both prosecutors on the stand to find out why they had presented false evidence to Bob's jury. The State denied all of our allegations and asked for a hearing as well so they could clear up the matter.

An evidentiary hearing was held on Nov. 3, 1998. In the Evidentiary Hearing Verbitsky testified that he, and NOT Halling, had taken the photos of the envelope out on the desk (EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3) the day AFTER the murders. Verbitsky also said that he took the crime scene video (still photo in EXHIBIT #5) the NIGHT of the murders BEFORE any evidence was collected or moved. Verbitsky also said that Halling was the ONLY officer to take still photos the NIGHT of the murders. Verbitsky said he took still photos the day AFTER the murders when he was called back out to the crime scene. Halling testified that she did NOT take the photos of the envelope OUT on the desk (EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3) as she CLAIMED during Bob's trial. Halling said she did NOT lie, that she had been MISTAKEN! Halling agreed that she took the photo of the EMPTY DESK (EXHIBIT #4) the NIGHT of the murders. Halling admitted that the photos of the envelope OUT on the desk did NOT accurately depict the scene as she had found it the NIGHT of the murders. Halling stated that the photo of the envelope OUT on the desk ACCIDENTLY got put into the stack of photos she incorrectly identified as her own. Of course Halling did NOT correct the prosecutor when this accidental photo (and of course there were two accidental photos. Not just one) were brought directly to her attention by the prosecutor! When Bob's attorney asked Halling: "In any case, whether intentional or unintentional (about her lying), is the testimony that you gave was, in fact, calculated to mislead the jury about the position of the envelope and in fact did mislead the jury ; is that correct???" Halling responded: That's CORRECT." Halling went on to admit that her testimony WASN'T TRUTHFUL. (albeit a mistake she claims, not intentional) ROSS testified that she had been the lead investigator, along with her partner Atchetee, the night of the murders and the following day. Ross claimed her partner Atchetee found the envelope. Ross said she was in the office when Atchetee found the envelope but that she did NOT see him find it. ATCHETEE testified that HE found the envelope!!! Atchetee said it was NOT found OUT on the desk BY ITSELF as the photos show. (EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3) Atchetee said the desk was EMPTY when he first looked at it. (As per EXHIBIT #4) Atchetee said he saw the stack of papers under the turtle paper weight (Left hand corner of the desk in EXHIBITS #1, 2, 3 and 4). Atchetee claims he PICKED up the stack, THUMBED through the papers, FOUND the envelope with my name on it, REMOVED the envelope from the stack, and then PLACED the envelope ON the desk BY ITSELF to be photographed and collected into evidence. Atchetee said the envelope was NOT the top item in the stack. Atchetee also said that he did NOT find any other papers in that stack that he thought had ANY value to this case. Atchetee said he did NOT tell Verbitsky where he really found the envelope, that he just showed it to Verbitsky sitting on the desk and told him to photograph it and to take it into evidence. Atchetee did NOT mention the envelope at all! When asked how the envelope could have soot on one side of it if it had been in the stack of papers on the desk Atchetee had NO idea.

The following exchange occurred between Bob's attorney and Atchetee when Bob's attorney was trying to find out if Atchetee had TOLD either of the prosecutors that he found the envelope in that stack of papers: Q: "I'm referring to later discussions that you may have had with representatives of the District Attorneys office who were preparing the case for trial. Was it (where he really found the envelope) discussed with them at some subsequent time?" A: "I'M SURE IT WAS. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED THAT IT WAS IN THE STACK OF PAPERS. I took it out because I felt it was important." Q: "You would have informed --" A:"YES, SIR, I WOULD. I WOULD HAVE TOLD SOMEBODY THAT'S WHERE I FOUND IT." Q: "When you say you would have told somebody, you would have told one of the prosecuting attorneys?" A: "YEAH. I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE TOLD CHUCK (ROSENTHAL). He was kind of running the show there. He was involved in it. WE NEEDED TO TELL HIM EVERYTHING." Q: "To the best of your recollection, you did?" A: "YES" Q: "To the best of your recollection, you did tell him everything?" A: "YES. I WOULD SAY THAT I DID." BARR testified that Rosenthal was the lead prosecutor in Bob's trial and that she was second chair. Barr said when she presented those two (2) photos (EXHIBITS #1, 2 or 3) to Halling during Bob's trial she did NOT realize that two (2) officers had taken photos of the crime scene. But in the next breath she admits she read the police report of the Verbitsky during her preparation for trial. Of course Verbitsky's report states that he took photos as well. Barr claims that she did NOT realize that there was a photo that showed the desk EMPTY and other photos that showed the envelope out on the desk BY ITSELF. Barr admits she should have seen the discrepancy but did not. ROSENTHAL testified that he was IN the office the night of the murders but did not pay much attention to the desk in question, that he was paying more attention to the other desk in the room that had a computer on it. Rosenthal said the envelope had a date on it of 6-92, five (5) full months BEFORE the murders! Rosenthal said that prior to trial he had at his disposal supplemental police reports from HALLING, VERBITSKY, ATCHETEE and ROSS. Rosenthal also said he had access to ALL of the photos taken the NIGHT of the murder by Halling and ALL of the photos taken the day AFTER the murders by Verbitsky. Rosenthal said he DID notice that some of the photos taken by police showed the envelope OUT on the desk BY ITSELF and another photo did NOT show the envelope out on the desk.

Rosenthal said prior to trial he SEGREGATED OUT the photos he WANTED to show the jury from those he DID NOT want to show them. (Bob's jury NEVER saw the EMPTY desk photo!) Rosenthal said he made NO effort to determine who took which photographs or if the ones he intended to use accurately depicted the crime scene the night of the murders. When asked specifically about whether Atchetee had told him before trial that he found the envelope IN the stack of papers under the turtle as opposed to OUT on the desk by itself the following took place: Q: "You (Rosenthal) discussed the envelope with Atchetee before trial, did you not? A: "Most likely I talked to him about what he was going to testify to." Q: "Did he tell you that that envelope was NOT discovered in the location (OUT on the desk BY ITSELF) depicted in the photograph?" A: " I'M SURE HE DID NOT. I PROBABLY DIDN'T ASK THE QUESTION." Q: "And you don't recall him volunteering it to you?" A: "NO." A few minutes later after several objections by the state the following occurred when Rosenthal was confronted with the fact that Atchetee had just finished testifying that he told Rosenthal where the envelope was found: Q: "If he (Atchetee) testified otherwise, would you say he was mistaken?" OBJECTIONS BY THE STATE.... Q: "Are you certain that Atchetee did NOT inform you that the envelope was discovered in a location other than that depicted in (EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3)?" A:"I GUESS I WOULD HAVE TO SAY I'M NOT CERTAIN THAT HE DID NOT."

Rosenthal said he WAS aware that photographs had been taken the NIGHT of the murders as well as the day AFTER the murders. Rosenthal AGREED that it would have been important for him to know which photos were taken which day. He said he is NOT sure how the photos he picked to show my jury did NOT accurately depict the crime scene the NIGHT of the murders. Rosenthal said it did NOT occur to him that the photographs of the desk with the envelope out by itself were NOT part of the original crime scene photos. Rosenthal claims he did NOT compare the pictures to each other. Rosenthal said he did NOT look at the crime scene video to see which photos of the desk were taken the night of the murders even thought the crime scene video was certainly available to him. Rosenthal admitted that he was In ERROR when he told my jury that the envelope was found OUT on the desk BY ITSELF. Rosenthal said he was MISTAKEN when he presented the false evidence, that he did NOT do it DELIBERATELY. The state was careful to get each witness to say that them presenting false evidence was a MISTAKE (even though they all had access to ALL of the photos, ALL of the police reports, the police crime scene video, and the actual officers who were at the crime scene doing the investigation), they just didn't double check what they presented at trial. The state was also very careful to get each and every witness to say that the envelope was STILL found ON the desk, even though it was NOT found OUT on the desk BY ITSELF as they claimed during Bob's trial. The state argued the envelope was still important even though it was really found IN a stack of papers, since it was still on the desk. The state argued that Bob's father was still expecting him over to the house the night of the murders since the envelope was ON the desk at all. Of course this is a ridiculous legal argument since the envelope (ACCORDING to Atchetee) was NOT the first item in the stack, and that he did NOT find ANY other item in the stack that he though was important to this case. If you look at EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 you can clearly see that there are a number of items in that stack of papers under the turtle paperweight. NO jury or Judge in their right mind would believe that just because something was SUPPOSEDLY found in a stack of otherwise unimportant papers on a desk, that the owner of the desk was expecting someone over to the house the same day simply because that ONE item had something written on it about that person.

This argument was obviously done to try and limit the culpability of the police and prosecutors who presented the manufactured evidence to Bob's jury. It is worth nothing that we did NOT know prior to the hearing what the EXCUSE the state would use for presenting this manufactured evidence would be since they did NOT put it in their brief. This was obviously done to limit our ability to attack their claim as to where they say the envelope was really found. During the actual hearing itself Bob told his attorney that Atchetee had LIED when he said he found the envelope IN that stack of papers. It was obvious to Bob by looking at EXHIBITS #1, 2, 3 and 4 that the stack had NOT been moved at all, NOR had the soot been disturbed. Bob's attorneys agreed but as a comparison of EXHIBITS #1 2, 3 and 4 will show it was not totally clear in the before and after shots of the stack that the stack had not been moved. We went back to the photos we had from the crime scene. Exhibits #6 is a photo of the room in question as the photographer was standing in the hallway looking into the room.

The desk at the bottom left hand side of the photo is the desk in question. If you look at the desk in EXHIBIT #6 you will see part of the stack of papers with the turtle paperweight on top of it, although some of the stack is still out of view. Exhibit #6 was taken the night of the murders just as EXHIBIT #4 was. This was one more photo of the stack that we used to compare to EXHIIBITS #1, 2, 3 and 4. It was still not quite enough proof. Bob had his attorney go back to the crime scene video and have a still made showing the stack in question. EXHIBIT #7 is the still photo he had made of the stack the NIGHT of the murder from the crime scene video.

You can see the turtle and some of the white lines of papers in the stack. It is another photo to compare with EXHIBITS #1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, but is still not absolute proof. Our main problem with proving that Atchetee had LIED about finding the envelope in that stack was that EXHIBIT #4 did not show enough of the stack the NIGHT of the murders to give a really good comparison to EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 which were taken AFTER Atchetee CLAIMES he flipped through the stack and pulled out the envelope. One day Bob was flipping through the negatives he had gotten from the police looking for anything he could use to show Atchetee had LIED during the hearing, Bob came to the negative for EXHIBIT #4. Bob kept thinking that if it just showed more of the stack we could prove Atchetee had LIED. EXHIBIT #8 is a blow up of the negative we had gotten from the police department!

If you will look at EXHIBIT #4 you will see that the desk is CUT OFF at the handles to the drawers on the left hand side of the desk, hence the stack is CUT OFF as well. If you will look at EXHIBIT #8 you will see that the negative shows the corner of the desk out to the edge of the drawers, and shows a lot more of the stack! Bob had his attorney file another open records act requesting the police give us an enlargement of the negative in EXHIBIT #8 that included ALL of the desk and stack in the left hand corner. EXHIBIT #9 is the blow up photo the police sent to us.

At the bottom of the photo you can see the actual teeth from the film where the camera pulled the film through the camera. If you will compare EXHIBIT #4 and EXHIBIT #9 you will clearly see that much more of the desk and stack shows up in EXHIBIT #9 then in EXHIBIT #4. Now, compare the stack of papers under the turtle in EXHIBITS #6, 7 and 9 (ALL taken the NIGHT of the murders) with stack of papers under the turtle in EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3 (ALL taken the day AFTER the murders, AFTER Atchetee says he pulled the envelope out of the stack and put it on the desk). COMPARE not only THE soot on top of the stack but: THE location of the turtle on the stack; THE stack in relationship to the corner of the desk; THE stack in relationship to the black file holder along the wall, THE individual papers in the stack as shown by the white lines at their edges; etc. It is VERY clear: that the soot has NOT been disturbed; that the turtle has NOT moved; that the stack has NOT moved; that the papers in the stack has not moved; etc. It is NOT HUMANLY POSSIBLE to PICK UP that STACK OF PAPERS AND PAPERWEIGHT (with soot on it) FLIP through the stack, PULL out envelope and replace the stack EXACTLY were it was, LOOKING just like it did, WITHOUT moving the turtle, WITHOUT disturbing the soot, etc. We challenge anyone to show us how this occurred. Bob was still trying to find additional evidence that would prove the state had Atchetee LIED during his hearing. Please see EXHIBIT #10.

Bob did not originally have a color copy of this photo, he had a really bad zerox copy of it. One day Bob was flipping through his stuff from the prosecutor file and found this photo again. Bob could barely make out any details but he could see that they were filing cabinets that had been brought out to his parents driveway. Bob also knew that the police had gone into his dads files the day AFTER the murders to get some folders for the family attorney who was in a wheelchair.

When Bob looked at the black and white copy of the EXHIBIT #10 he saw what looked like an envelope laying down at the bottom of the top left drawer, near the front of the drawer. Bob asked his attorney to locate and send him a color copy of this photo. Boy was Bob surprised to find that what he thought was an envelope lying down in the drawer was actually an OUTLINE in the soot of an envelope!!! REMEMBER that we told you before that the envelope had soot on one side of it but not on the other. In Bob's black and white copy of this photo he could not tell that there was soot on the front and insides of the drawer. By looking at EXHIBIT #10 you can see that this drawer had to have been in a room where there was a fire since the front drawer is very discoloured from its original white and since soot was actually forced inside the drawer itself. The other drawer on the ground next to it is lily white with no apparent soot inside it. We believe that Atchetee went to Bob's families house the day AFTER the murders knowing that he had not been found (Bob was out of town for the weekend). We think he went into a number of files that morning to get the files the estate attorney needed. We think he saw that envelope sitting flat down in the drawer in EXHIBIT #10. We think he then removed it and saw that it had Bob's name on it so he took it and placed it on the desk to be photographed (see EXHIBITS #1, 2 and 3) and collected into evidence. We also know that Atchetee went into the files BEFORE Verbitsky was called to the house to photograph the envelope OUT on the desk BY ITSELF. We don't know if he was planning then to use the fake evidence against Bob, or if the decision was made later on, possibly by prosecutors.

We do know that the state of Texas presented FAKE evidence in Bob's trial in an attempt to place him at the scene of his families murders. We also know that officer Atchetee LIED in Bob's hearing, when he said he found the envelope IN that stack!!! We don't know if he was asked to lie by the state but we would find it hard to believe that he would perjure himself without being asked to do so. ALL he had to do was tell where he REALLY found the envelope. (but then they would have to have admitted they were wrong and Bob would have gotten a new trial) Instead they LIED and helped the state to argue FALSELY that the envelope was found ON the desk even through it was IN the stack of papers. The state had access to ALL of the photos and negatives we have shown you here today when they were preparing for the hearing so surely they will not claim it was another MISTAKE!!! One thing is for certain, the photos the police took themselves do NOT lie! What has happened is that the LIES and COVER UP that took place in Bob's trial when the prosecutors presented manufactured evidence to Bob's jury had been substituted for additional LIES and COVER UP in the hearing we had. The state is obviously trying everything it can to keep from having to admit what they did, even if it means a police officer lying on the stand during Bob's appeal. The state is fighting tooth and nail to keep the courts from giving Bob a new trial. We need your HELP to get a new trial so we can prove Bob's innocence. This evidence by itself does not prove his innocents but it proves that BOB DID NOT HAVE A FAIR TRIAL and deserve to have another one. It also goes to show what the state of Texas will do to gain a conviction!

Bob did not commit the murders of his family. Hear Bob's side of the story, THE TRUTH!

Bob and Jared had decided to go out of town for the weekend. Bob had made plans with his family to meet them for dinner before he left to go out of town. When Jared was able to get off early from work on Friday, November 13th, 1992, (the day the murders were committed) he drove across town and dropped Bob off at Town & Country Mall to have dinner with his family, rather then the two of them having to take two cars and meet to go out of town. Bob was at the mall earlier then his family was supposed to be so he walked around the mail for a while. Bob then headed over to the Lubyís Cafeteria out in the parking lot of the mall and waited for his family to arrive. Jared had taken the car and said he would go to a friends house while Bob was eating since he had not been invited to the dinner. Bob waited outside of Lubyís from a little before 5 pm until about 6:30 pm when Jared came back to pick him up. Bobís family never showed up for dinner. Bob figured the message on which restaurant to go to had gotten mixed up and his family had met at one of the other restaurants they met at from time to time. Since Bob figured the family was eating elsewhere he did not stop by his parents house to see if they were there. Bob did not think anything was wrong, he and Jared just went ahead and left for the weekend. Bob did not find out about the murder of his family until the following day when Jaredís brother, Jason, drove to the farm and broke the news to him. Ė When Bob was arrested 4 days after the murders and found out that Jared and lied and pointed the finger at him he felt that Jared must have been involved in the murders some how. Bob felt this way until evidence surfaced showing: Jaredís entire story was a lie; police accused Jared of committing the murders prior to Bobís arrest, probably scaring Jared into lying and pointing the finger at Bob; no marks, cuts, scratches, burns, etc., were found on Jared the day after the murders; the items Jared claimed where used in the murders came back negative for blood, skin, hair, fingerprints, etc., showing they had not been used after all; Jared had the means, motive and drove out of town 3 days after the murders; Jared had the mental age of a 13 year old at the time of the murders; the policeís own investigation showed Jared had lied in his stories; Jared gave 4 different stories and then failed a polygraph test on the 4th story which was used against Bob at trial; evidence from the crime scene did not jive with Jaredís story of events he claimed occurred inside the house; police and prosecutors presented fabricated evidence in Bobís trial, with what was written on this evidence appearing in Jaredís story days after police claimed they found it out at the crime scene; and much more. Bob now believes that Jared was scared by police and coerced into making up a story pointing the finger at Bob. Bob does not think Jared had anything to do with his families murders.

Robert Coulson Homepage

Find out the latest in Bob's case!

- Bob Coulson is dead - Webpage will be updated on June 26.

- June 25, 4:30 pm - Bob was turned down by the Supreme Court.

- Today the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Bob Coulson's requests for a reprieve, a commutation and a conditional pardon. Vote on each was 17-0.

Bob would ask any one who can, to please call the 180th District Court in Houston & talk to Judge Debbie Stricklin (713/755-6344), asking her to reset Bob's date until this allegation can be fully investigated, & if possible, for her to order a full investigation into this claim. Express your outrage that this tampering in Bob's cae may have occurred. If you are an attorney or know an attorney, Bob would also ask that you contact his attorney, Mary Ann Starks at: mastarks@hal-pc.org and see if you can help her file something with this judge to get Bob's date reset. Or if any attorney would be willing to file a friend of the court brief with this judge on Bob's behalf requesting the date be reset due to this new allegation, that would be appreciated as well. It may only take a phone call from an attorney to get this done, but Bob has a feeling a brief would need to be filed.

- Supplemental Application for Conditional Pardon filed

- We were finally able to get an Episcopal priest -Jim Morgan, Rector of St. Stephens, Huntsville, in to see Bob. He celebrated communion with Bob yesterday (June 19) and they had a good 2 hour visit. Jim Morgan and his church will hold a vigil at 5:00 o'clock the evening of the execution, in Bob's honor.

- NEWS CONFERENCE on Wednesday, June 19, at 4:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Livingston, Texas, 120 S. Point Lane, 877.525.3548

- See Robert Anthony Phillips report: What about Bob?

- Bob still has a date for June 25th, 2002. The courts blocked Bob's last appeal without even letting it in to look at it so his appeals are over. This leaves only the conditional pardon request he is filing the first week in June. Some good news is that the biological dad of one of the victims (& Bobs biological dad) has agreed to support bob's request so he can get a new trial because he knows Bob's trial was not fair. Hopefully since he is the father of a victim this will carry some weight with the board & the gov. Please keep up the good work on the pardon petitions & pardon letters!!!!

- Bob has decided to request a ďconditional pardonĒ, rather then a full pardon which would require his immediate release. Bob will be arguing his innocence as well as all of the problems that happened in his trial and appeal as reasons why he should be granted this conditional pardon. What would happen if this pardon is granted is that Bobís current conviction would be gone and Bob would agree (here is the condition) to be retried on these charges. Bob is taking the risk of being convicted again but is willing to constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial and a fair appeal he has never had. Bob would not be immediately released if this pardon is granted, he would be sent back to Houston to await a new trial. Basically Bob would start back as square one like he had just been arrested on these charges. If this pardon is granted, it would be just like if the appeal courts had reversed Bobís conviction and ordered that the State retry him on the charges, only rather then the courts doing it the Governor and Board of Pardons and Paroles would be doing it. Bob would have another trial but this time the state would not be allowed to use the evidence they made up last time. Bob would also be allowed to use all of the evidence the state withheld from him in the first trial, evidence that attacks some of the case against Bob. Bob will also get to use all of the new evidence that has been discovered since his first trial. Since Bob is innocent he would prefer to be released but feels he has a better chance of getting a conditional pardon and will therefor ask for one and try to prove his innocence in a new trial.Ē read more - and how you can help

- The Supreme Court has refused to look at Bob's appeal

- The State of Texas has set Bob an Execution Date for June the 25th, 2002

- A "Writ of Mandamus" was filed on the visiting judge issue on March 17th, 2002

- The Court of Criminal Appeals refused to look at the "Writ of Mandamus" on April 17th, 2002.

- The visiting judge issue will be raised one last time in a "successive petition" sometime during the early part of May, 2002.

- Bob's pardon request has to be filed 21 days before his execution date.

American Civil Liberties Union

June 20, 2002

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas

Dear Governor Perry:

On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, we strongly urge you to stay the execution of Bob Coulson, now scheduled for June 25, 2002. Three compelling reasons underlie this request for clemency: conflicting statements by the Stateís key witness, the lack of forensic evidence linking Mr. Coulson to the crimes, and evidence that the State presented manufactured evidence to the jury. We have grave concerns that a potentially innocent man will be put to death unless the execution is stayed.

First, Mr. Coulsonís conviction rests almost entirely on the confession of Jared Althaus, an alleged accomplice who received a generous plea bargain in exchange for his cooperation with police. Serious questions as to Mr. Althausís credibility existed from the beginning. During interviews with police Mr. Althaus gave several conflicting statements. More troubling is the fact that Mr. Althaus failed a polygraph exam when questioned about the story eventually used against Mr. Coulson at trial. In fact, much of Mr. Althausís testimony at the trial did not match other known facts of the crime. Doubts as to Mr. Althausís credibility continued to mount. The testimony he provided in a later wrongful death action against Mr. Coulson was largely inconsistent with his prior testimony during Mr. Coulsonís criminal trial.

Second, no forensic evidence links Mr. Coulson to the murders. In fact, none of the articles allegedly used to commit the murders could be forensically tied to Mr. Coulson, to the crime, or to any of the victims. When Mr. Coulson spoke with police the day after the murders, officers did not observe any physical markings on him; the type of physical evidence one would expect to find on someone who had committed the crimes for which Mr. Coulson was convicted. No eyewitness, other than Mr. Althaus could place Mr. Coulson at the murder scene or neighborhood that night. Sadly, once Mr. Coulson became the prime suspect, all forensic investigation was geared toward connecting Mr. Coulson, physically, to the crimes. When investigators were unable to do this, they simply stopped looking, thereby preventing the discovery and preservation of physical evidence that could link someone else to these crimes.

Third, the only piece of evidence linking Mr. Coulson to the crime scene is an envelope that contained notations about a prior business deal between Mr. Coulson and his father. At trial the State introduced two photographs showing the envelope lying on top of a desk and apart from any other items. The prosecution stressed that the location of the envelope tended to show that Mr. Coulsonís father expected Mr. Coulson to be at the house to discuss a business deal around the time of the crimes. However, on appeal a federal district court found that the envelope was not on the desk on the night of the crimes, but rather had been placed there by police the following day. Proof that the State manufactured critical evidence calls the fairness of Mr. Coulsonís trial into serious question, yet the courts have been unwilling to grant Mr. Coulson a new trial. Mr. Coulson has exhausted all legal remedies.

The fact that Mr. Coulsonís conviction and sentence were upheld in legal proceedings does not diminish your power or responsibility to consider a grant of clemency. In exercising your power, you should also consider that Mr. Coulson has no prior criminal record, and during sentencing several individuals came forward to confirm Mr. Coulson was of high character and incapable of committing the crimes for which he was convicted. Under Texas law, the death penalty should only be exacted if it is reasonably certain that public safety will be imperiled if the offender is not put to death. Mr. Coulsonís exemplary record of behavior while on death row demonstrates that he is not the continuing threat the jury feared he would be.

This case presents precisely the kind of extreme, exceptional, and unusual miscarriage of justice that only the executive can address or remedy. Texas now has the opportunity, in an act of mercy and grace, to demonstrate that before enforcing this ultimate punishment, it has done everything possible to adequately safeguard the rights of those sentenced to death. We respectfully urge you to grant clemency in this case.

Sincerely,

Diann Rust-Tierney William Harrell
ACLU Capital Punishment Project ACLU of Texas