Mack Oran Hill

Executed August 8, 2001 by Lethal Injection in Texas


43rd murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
726th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
11th murderer executed in Texas in 2001
250th 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
726
08-08-01
TX
Lethal Injection
Mack Oran Hill

W / M / 33 - 47

08-12-53
Donald Franklin Johnson

W / M / 43

03-03-87
Handgun
Ex-Business Partner
08-03-89

Summary:
Mack Hill was convicted of the March 3, 1987 murder of Donald Johnson during a robbery in Bowie, Texas. Johnson knew then 35-year-old Mack Hill and had been partners with Hill in several failed businesses. Johnson was shot in the head once with a .25-caliber pistol and his body was found in a 55-gallon drum, wrapped in plastic and then covered with concrete and dumped in a lake. The barrel was found by a game warden several months later. Hill was later found in possession of Johnson's car and other property. Hill had been paroled in 1985 after serving 4 years of a 12 year sentence for Aggravated Robbery. Accomplice Herbert Wayne Elliot testified at trial and received a 20 year sentence for Robbery.

Citations:

Final / Special Meal:

Last Words:
In his last words he denied the killing and said goodbye to relatives. "I'll be waiting for everybody. I'm fine.''

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Mack Oran Hill)

Texas Attorney General Media Advisory

Wednesday, May 30, 2001 - MEDIA ADVISORY - Mack Oran Hill Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Mack Oran Hill, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2001. Hill was convicted of the capital murder of Donald Johnson on July 7, 1989, in Lubbock, Texas. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the evening of March 2, 1987, Hill and his acquaintance, Herbert Elliot, went to the residence and auto shop of Donald Johnson. Hill and Johnson had been partners in a number of business ventures in Lubbock. Johnson showed Elliot and Hill his newly purchased truck and travel trailer. Elliot testified that he fell asleep while Hill and Johnson were conversing and was awakened by Hill and told that it was time to leave. As Elliot stood, Hill pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Johnson in the face, killing him. Hill dragged Johnson's body to the bathroom, retrieved a knife and a hammer-like tool from the kitchen and returned to the bathroom in order to "bleed" the body. Hill placed a bag over the top half of the body, wrapped it in a carpet and blankets and secured the bundle with neckties. Elliot testified that Hill unwrapped the body to search Johnson's pants pockets for the keys to Johnson's truck and then re-wrapped the body. Hill told Elliot that he took $500 from the body. At Hill's direction, Elliot backed his car to the door and Hill put the body in the trunk. The two left the scene, Elliot driving his car and Hill driving Johnson's truck, and went to a restaurant where Hill laid out his plans to dispose of the body and remove Johnson's belongings from his residence. The next day, Hill put Johnson's body into a 50-gallon barrel which was partially filled with water, added cement and secured the barrel with a lock. Elliot and Hill loaded the barrel onto Johnson's truck and drove to Amon Carter Lake, near Bowie, Texas. They backed the truck up to the water and rolled the barrel into the lake.

Hill returned to Lubbock and hired four other people to assist in the removal of Johnson's belongings from his residence and shop. After moving the belongings to a storage unit, Elliot and Hill left Lubbock, traveled to New Mexico and then to Hill's brother's house in Bowie, towing Johnson's travel trailer. Hill and Elliot lived in the trailer for the next month before returning to Lubbock where the two separated.

In August 1987, Hill stayed for several days in Bowie with his longtime acquaintance, Ronny Anderson. Anderson testified that Hill took him to a secluded part of Amon Carter Lake, showed him a barrel, the top of which was out of the water due to the summertime drop in the lake level, and told him that it contained the body of a man who had been shot in the head. Hill attempted to push the barrel further into the lake and under the water. The barrel was discovered by a fisherman later that month, retrieved from the lake and opened. The body inside was identified as Johnson's.

On August 21, 1987, Hill was arrested by the Texas Rangers in Flower Mound, Texas.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Nov. 5, 1987 - Hill was indicted for the capital murder of Johnson in the course of committing or attempting to commit robbery.

July 7, 1989 - Hill was convicted of capital murder.

Aug. 3, 1989 - Hill was sentenced to death.

May 5, 1993 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence.

June 13, 1994 - A writ of certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dec. 17, 1997 - Hill filed a state habeas petition.

Aug. 5, 1998 - The state habeas court, which was also Hill's trial court, held an evidentiary hearing.

Nov. 12, 1998 - The state court recommended that relief be denied.

Feb. 24, 1999 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief with written order.

March 30, 1999 - Hill filed a petition seeking federal habeas relief.

July 1, 1999 - The district court entered a judgment denying relief.

July 30, 1999 - Hill sought a certificate of appealability from the district court.

April 24, 2000 - The district court denied Certificate of Appealability.

Jan. 7, 2000 - Hill filed a motion for Certificate of Appealability in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

April 20, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit denied Certificate of Appealability.

May 2, 2000 - Hill filed a motion for rehearing.

May 15, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit denied his motion for rehearing.

Aug. 28, 2000 - Hill filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 18, 2001 - Hill filed an application for a stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 21, 2001 - The petition for writ of certiorari was denied.

May 21, 2001 - The application for a stay of execution was denied by Justice Scalia.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At punishment the State introduced evidence of Hill's prior sale of hash, his involvement in two aggravated robberies, his conviction for credit card fraud and his violation of parole.

The State also called Hill's wife, Nancy, who testified in some detail about the murder of her stepfather in 1978. Nancy testified that she was present when Hill shot her stepfather multiple times, resulting in his death, wrapped his body in blankets and transported the body to a family farm where he disposed of the body by dropping it into a dry well. Herbert Elliot, the accomplice to the instant offense, testified that Hill had admitted to him that he had murdered his wife's stepfather. Elliot also testified that Hill had made threats on his life and had implied that the lives of Elliot's family members were also in danger due to Elliot's cooperation with the police in the instant case. Elliot further testified that Hill used drugs including marijuana, amphetamines and cocaine.

Evidence was also presented that Hill had been in possession of various illegal weapons, including a switchblade knife and brass knuckles and that he regularly carried a gun.

Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson.

Mack Oran Hill, 47, was executed by lethal injection on 8 August in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of his former business partner. P>In March 1987, Hill, then 33, visited the residence and auto repair shop belonging to Donald Franklin Johnson, 43. Hill and Johnson had been partners in a number of unsuccessful business ventures. Johnson had just bought a new truck and travel trailer and was showing it to Hill With Hill was his acquaintance, Herbert Elliot, 34.

According to Elliot's trial testimony, after some time at the shop, Hill pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Johnson in the face. He dragged the body to the bathroom and used a knife to bleed the body. He then placed a bag over Johnson's head and torso, removed some car keys and $500 from his pants, and wrapped the body with a carpet and blankets and secured the bundle with neckties. At Hill's direction, Elliot backed his car to the door and Hill put the body in the trunk. They left the scene with Elliot driving his car and Hill driving Johnson's truck.

The next day, Elliot testified, Hill put Johnson's body into a 50-gallon drum, added some water and concrete, and sealed and locked it. The two men put the barrel onto Johnson's truck, hauled it to Amon Carter Lake, and rolled the barrel into the lake. They returned to Lubbock and hired some people to move Johnson's possessions into a storage unit. They moved to another town several hundred miles away, living in Johnson's travel trailer for about a month, then the two separated.

In August 1987, Hill took another friend out to the lake and pointed out the top of a barrel, which was exposed due to the seasonal drop in the lake level. Hill told the friend, Ronny Anderson, that the barrel contained the body of a man who had been shot in the head. Hill used a metal pole to push the barrel into deeper water. Later that month, a fisherman discovered the barrel, which had become exposed again due to a drought. The outside of the barrel read "explosive when wet", so the fisherman alerted authorities. A dive team and bomb specialists were dispatched to the scene. When the barrel was opened, it contained Donald Johnson's body, encased in concrete. At the time of Hill's arrest, he had been in posession of the victim's truck and trailer for several months.

Mack Hill had previously been sentenced to twelve years in prison for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. He served 3 years and was paroled in June 1985. In addition to the testimonies of Herbert Elliot and Ronny Anderson, the trial jury heard the testimony of Hill's wife, Nancy, who testified that Mack Hill killed her stepfather in 1978, wrapped his body in blankets, and dropped it into a dry well. Herbert Elliot testified that Hill had admitted murdering his wife's stepfather and had threatened his own life and the lives of his family members.

In July and August 1989, a jury found Hill guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and death sentence in May 1993. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal courts were denied. He was previously scheduled to be executed on 6 June, but received an eleventh-hour stay, so that the Court of Criminal Appeals could consider a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. That claim was judged to be without merit, and a new execution date was set.

Throughout his trial and his stay on death row, Hill said that he was innocent. He said he was never at the murder scene and that he heard about the crime from Herbert Elliot. "I was across town in bed -- sick," he said, "I wasn't even there." At his execution, he repeated his claims of innocence, and mentioned the Lubbock County District Attorney by name. "I'm innocent. Lubbock County officials obviously believe I'm guilty, but I'm not. Travis Ware ... needs to be stopped or he is going to do it time and time again. The power is invested in you as a public official to do your job." He also expressed love to his family before the lethal dose was administered. He was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m.

Herbert Wayne Elliot was convicted of robbery and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He is now out of prison, on parole until 2009.

ProDeathPenalty.Com

Mack Hill was convicted of the March 3, 1987 murder of Donald Johnson during a robbery in Bowie, Texas. Donald knew then 35-year-old Mack HIll and had been partners with Hill in several failed businesses. Donald was shot in the head once with a .25-caliber pistol and his body was found in a 55-gallon drum, wrapped in plastic and then covered with concrete and dumped in a lake. The barrel was found by a game warden several months later. Hill was seen with Donald's truck and camper trailer after Donald's disappearance, and also had sold stolen items from Donald's paint and body shop at a flea market. Hill had a previous conviction for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and had served less than four years of a twelve year sentence and was on parole when Donald was murdered. Hill's accomplice received a 20 year sentence for robbery. Hill had previously killed Bob Murray, the father of his estranged wife. He was murdered on December 20, 1978. Bob was shot to death, wrapped in a blanket tied with belts and dropped in a well. His body was not found until August 11, 1981.

Lubboch Online

"Appeals court clears way for Hill execution," by Elizabeth Langton. (Avalanche-Journal Thursday, June 28, 2001)

The execution of a Lubbock man who was spared three weeks ago as he ate his last meal can proceed, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednes day. Just two hours before he was to receive lethal injection June 6, Mack Oran Hill was indefinitely spared by the court. A day earlier, his lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus requesting a new trial.

On Wednesday, the court denied the writ and lifted the stay, clearing the way for a new execution date. District Judge Cecil Puryear of Lubbock, who oversaw Hill's 1989 trial, will set the new date.

Hill, 47, received the death sentence for killing and robbing 43-year-old Donald F. Johnson of Lubbock in 1987. Hill shot Johnson, then cemented his body inside a 50-gallon barrel and dumped it in Amon Carter Lake near Bowie.

In their request for a new trial, as well as previous court filings, Hill and his attorneys alleged a pattern of misconduct by former Criminal District Attorney Travis Ware. They accuse Ware of making secret deals with witnesses in exchange for their testimony against Hill. Ware denies giving special consideration to any witnesses. The appeals court did not rule on the merits of Hill's arguments. In its ruling, the court said the writ did not, as legally required, raise new issues or prove that rational jurors could not have found Hill guilty.

Prosecutors say Hill killed Johnson on March 2, 1987, in the course of a robbery, which made the case eligible for the death penalty. Herb Elliot, now 48, testified that Hill shot Johnson inside Johnson's business, Don's Paint and Body Shop. At his trial, Hill took the stand and blamed Johnson's murder on Elliot, a key prosecution witness who admitted to helping dispose of the body.

During the punishment phase of Hill's trial, prosecutors introduced evidence of his involvement in two aggravated robberies, drug sales, credit card fraud and parole violations. Hill was on parole when he was arrested for Johnson's murder.

But attorneys on both sides said the most damaging claim involved the death of Hill's father-in-law. Hill's estranged wife testified that she saw Hill shoot her stepfather, Bob Murray, on Dec. 20, 1978, in his Van Zandt County home. She said Hill wrapped the body in a blanket and dropped it into a dry water well in Montague County, the same county where Johnson's body was dumped.

Authorities recovered Murray's skeleton from the rattlesnake-infested well on Aug. 11, 1981 six years to the day before Johnson's remains were discovered in the lake. The Van Zandt County district attorney never charged Hill with Murray's murder. A fisherman found the barrel containing Johnson's body Aug. 11, 1987. Johnson, his body wrapped in carpet and blankets secured by neckties, was wearing a Don's Paint and Body Shop T-shirt. He was positively identified with dental records. The Texas Rangers arrested Hill in September 1987. Hill was charged with capital murder, and Elliot was charged with murder.

After Hill's 1989 trial, Elliot pleaded guilty to a robbery charge in connection with the case and received a 20-year sentence. He has since been paroled. New Hampshire Coalition Against The Death Penalty

"Texas Executes Ex-Body Shop Worker," by Michael Graczyk. (Associated Press)

Wednesday August 8 7:51 PM ET - HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A former body shop worker went to his death Wednesday proclaiming his innocence in the killing of a business associate 14 years ago. Mack Oran Hill was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal dose began. In his last words he denied the killing and said goodbye to relatives. ``I'll be waiting for everybody,'' he said. ``I'm fine.''

Hill was the 11th condemned murderer executed this year in Texas, where a record 40 executions were carried out last year. He's the first of three set to die over the next eight days and the 250th to be executed in the state since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982. Hill had denied fatally shooting Donald Johnson, 43, taking the victim's money and truck, then stuffing the Lubbock man's body in a 55-gallon drum and dumping it in a lake. Hill and his attorneys contended in their appeals the prosecutor in his case, Travis Ware, the former Lubbock County district attorney, made secret deals with witnesses to help win the conviction. ``There's nothing to this,'' Ware said this week. ``There was no deal."

In August 1987, a fisherman spotted the drum and called authorities. Inside the container, weighted with concrete, was a mummified body wrapped in carpets and blankets and tied with neckties. Johnson, wearing a T-shirt that advertised his paint and body shop, was identified as the victim. Hill was arrested and charged with the slaying. He had been driving Johnson's truck and living in Johnson's travel trailer.

An acquaintance, Herbert Elliot, testified he saw Hill shoot Johnson at the Lubbock body shop where Johnson lived, use a knife and hammer-like kitchen tool to open wounds to drain Johnson's body of its blood, then wrap it in the carpet and blankets. The next day, Elliot said Hill stuffed the body into the drum and he and Hill drove to the lake where they backed Johnson's truck to the water and rolled the drum into the lake. Elliot received a 20-year prison term and is now free. Hill contends Elliot was the killer.

Amnesty International Deutschland

USA (Texas): 250th Texas execution - Mack Oran Hill, white, age 46

Mack Oran Hill was put to death on 8 August in Texas, becoming the 250th prisoner to be executed in the state since it resumed judicial killing in 1982.

In his final statement, Mack Hill proclaimed his innocence of the 1987 murder of Donald Johnson. He was pronounced dead eight minutes after the lethal injection began. According to reports, his relatives sobbed loudly as Mack Hill "gasped and sputtered and turned deep purple" as the drugs took effect.

Mack Hill had come close to execution two months earlier, on 6 June. On that occasion he was already eating what was to have been his final meal when he received a temporary stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Speaking after the new execution date of 8 August had been scheduled, he said: "This second time is a lot rougher. I feel like my head's on a chopping block with a sword hanging over it."

Mack Hill becomes the 11th prisoner to be executed in Texas this year, and the 43rd nationwide. The USA has now executed 726 men and women since resuming executions in 1977.