Executed December 7, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Texas
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W / M / 44
84th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
682nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
40th murderer executed in Texas in 2000
239th murderer executed in Texas since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Claude Howard Jones
In November 1989, Jones entered Zell's liquor store in Point Blank and asked the owner, Allen Hilzendager, to retrieve a bottle for him. As Hilzendager turned to get the bottle, Jones shot him three times with a .357 Magnum revolver. Jones took $900 from the cash register and fled in a getaway vehicle waiting outside. Waiting in the car were Jones' two accomplices, Kerry Daniel Dixon Jr. and Timothy Mark Jordan, in the middle of a multi-state crime pree that ended when Jones was arrested in Florida for bank robbery. Dixon received a 60 year sentence, Jordan a 10 year sentence. Jones had spent much of this adult life in prison following numerous convictions in Texas and Kansas. While in a Kansas prison serving a life sentence for murder, he killed another inmate. He served a total of 8 years on his life sentence.
W / M / 49 - 60
W / M / 44
Jones v. State, 810 S.W.2d 824 (1991).
Jones v. Johnson, 121 S.Ct. 301 (2000).
Jones v. Texas, 116 S.Ct. 150 (1995).
Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Claude Howard Jones)
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Texas Execution Information Center
Claude Jones Claude Jones, 60, was executed by lethal injection on 7 December in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a liquor store owner. In November 1989, Jones entered Zell's liquor store in Point Blank and asked the owner, Allen Hilzendager, to retrieve a bottle for him. As Hilzendager turned to get the bottle, Jones shot him three times with a .357 Magnum revolver. Jones took $900 from the cash register and fled in a getaway vehicle waiting outside. Waiting in the car were Jones' two accomplices, Kerry Daniel Dixon Jr. and Timothy Mark Jordan.
Three days later, the trio robbed a bank in Humble, Texas, obtaining $14,000 in loot. They then went on a weekend trip to Las Vegas. About three weeks after the liquor store robbery, Jones was arrested in Florida for bank robbery.
Jones, who also used the aliases Carl Roy Davis, Butch Jones, and Douglas Ray Starke, had eleven prior convictions in Texas for crimes including murder, armed robbery, assault, and burglary. He served 6 years of a 9-year prison sentence from 1959 to 1963 and three years of a 5-year sentence from 1963 to 1965. In 1976, he was convicted of murder, robbery, and assault in Kansas and received a life sentence. While in Kansas prison, Jones killed another inmate. He was paroled in 1984.
Kerry Dixon also had a lengthy prior record that included murder and two prison terms.
The evidence at Jones' trial was conclusive. A number of witnesses placed Jones at the scene of the crime, including Leon Goodson, who heard the shots and watched Jones leave the liquor store. A strand of Jones' hair was found at the murder scene. Also, Timothy Jordan testified against his partners in crime. Jones was convicted of capital murder and received the death sentence. Dixon was convicted of murder and received a 60-year prison term. Jordan received a 10-year prison term.
Jones' execution was delayed by about a half an hour because prison staff were unable to find suitable veins in his hands and arms. Executions are usually performed with an IV in each arm. In Jones' case, only one IV was used, and it was inserted in his left thigh. In his brief final statement, Jones apologized to the victim's family and expressed love to his own family. He was pronounced dead at 6:42 p.m.
Texas Attorney General
MEDIA ADVISORY - Claude Howard Jones Scheduled To Be Executed
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Claude Howard Jones who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, December 7th.
Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1989 murder of Allen Hilzendager, the owner of a liquor store in Point Blank, Texas.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
On November 14, 1989, Jones and two other men, Kerry Dixon and Mark Jordan, gathered at the home of Jordan's father. Between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon, Jones and Dixon left and drove to Zell's liquor store where Allen Hilzaendager was. Before they left, Jordan gave the men his Taurus .357 magnum revolver, which had been purchased by Jordan's girlfriend, Terry Hardin. Jordan stayed behind at the mobile home.
That same day, Leon Goodson and his 14-year-old daughter Wendy were busy working on their family vehicle at a friend's house located across the highway from Zell's liquor store. While assisting her father, Wendy saw a pickup truck pull into the front of the liquor store. The passenger, who was wearing a light-colored shirt with long sleeves and had a "pot" belly, got out of the truck and greeted Hilzendager. Hilzendager placed his arm around the man and they went into the store. The driver of the truck then turned the truck around on a nearby road, turned his lights off, and pulled up beside the store. Through a window in the front of the store, Wendy could see Hilzendager walk around the side of the counter. Two minutes later, Wendy heard two gun shots in rapid succession, and after a short pause, she heard another. She then asked her father, "Do you think they shot him?" Mr. Goodson, who was on the ground fixing the car at the time, heard the three bangs, but dismissed them thinking that Hilzendager might be banging on some metal doors.
After hearing his daughter's words, however, Mr. Goodson stopped working on the car, stood up, and looked across the street. He and his daughter observed the man walk from the front of the counter to behind the counter, then out from behind the counter again. The door to the store was then pulled open and the man came out walking very briskly. According to Mr. Goodson, the man appeared to be a white male, in his forties, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 200 to 230 pounds in weight, wearing a tight fitting gray jogging shirt and had a "beer belly." The man got into the passenger side of the vehicle, and the vehicle was driven off toward Oakhurst at a high rate of speed.
Several minutes later, after finishing the repairs, the Goodsons drove across the street to check on Hilzendager. After calling for Hilzendager, Goodson stepped up toward the counter and, through the storeroom door, saw the lower part of Hilzendager's torso and legs lying in a pool of blood. Goodson immediately left the store, got into his car, and went back to his neighbor's house to call the ambulance and police. Goodson then returned to the store and checked to see if Hilzendager was breathing. After determining that Hilzendager was not alive, he waited for the authorities to arrive at the scene.
Law enforcement officials found the body of Allen Hilzendager lying on the floor in the doorway of the storeroom. He had received three gunshot wounds. Hilzendager received wounds to his right shoulder area under the collar bone, to his right lower abdomen, and to his back. A crime scene expert believed that the first shot was the one to his upper left back, which resulted in a severed aortic artery and a punctured lung. The second shot, which was fired between 18 to 24 inches from the victim, was made as the victim held up his hands. The third shot struck Hilzendager in the side as he lay on the floor.
Hilzendager's sister, who occasionally worked at the liquor store, estimated that $900 was stolen from the cash register in the store. However, approximately $6,000 was left in the store in a bag pushed up under the counter near the floor. Another $1,000 was left in a bank bag under the cash register. After the murder, Jones told friends of his that he had killed Hilzendager because he was gay.
Fight the Death Penalty USA
Career criminal and convicted murderer Claude Howard Jones was executed Thursday night, the 40th and last Texas inmate to be put to death in a record year for executions in the state.
Jones looked at 5 members of his victim's family and spoke directly to them, saying, "I hope this can bring some closure to y'all. I'm sorry for your loss."
Then he looked toward another window and said "Hey, I love y'all."Jones looked at the warden and said "Let's go." He gasped twice, sputtered, gasped 2 more times and then exhaled. He was pronounced dead at 6:42, 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began taking effect.
"Although the grief will never end, we thank God tonight for this time, that has brought to a close this part of the dreadful deed brought upon our lives, 11 years and 23 days ago, that took the life of our loved one," the victim's family said in a statement.
The execution was delayed by about 30 minutes because of difficulties finding a vein in either arm to insert the drugs. Authorities ended up using a vein in his left leg.
Jones, 60, condemned for the 1989 shooting death of a liquor store owner near Point Blank in San Jacinto County, was the 3rd inmate to receive lethal injection in Texas in as many nights.
The total for 2000 topped the previous state record, set in 1997, by 3 and added to Texas' distinction this year as the most active state for capital punishment in American history.
Jones' appeals were rejected in October by the U.S. Supreme Court but the inmate Thursday filed, and later asked to withdraw, an 11th-hour state court plea seeking DNA testing of evidence. He made no clemency request to Gov. George W. Bush, who had authority to grant him a 1-time 30-day reprieve.
Only once in his nearly 6 years in office has Bush used the power to stop an execution and that inmate eventually was put to death.
Jones, with nearly a dozen convictions and a prison record that stretched over more than 40 years, was condemned for the Nov. 14, 1989 fatal shooting of Allen Hilzendager, 37, at a rural liquor store about 70 miles north of Houston and not far from the prison that now houses death row inmates.
Witnesses and evidence showed Jones walked into the store, asked for a bottle of whiskey and shot Hilzendager while the store owner's back was turned, then shot the man 2 more times, including once while the victim's hands were raised. Then he grabbed $900 from a cash register, unknowingly missing some $7,000 in cash bags nearby, and jumped into a pickup truck to join 2 companions.
"He did not need to kill," Scott Rosekrans, the district attorney in San Jacinto County, said this week. "It was really kind of senseless."
3 days later, Jones held up a suburban Houston bank, getting more than $14,000 while his partners again waited outside. They used the loot for a weekend trip to Las Vegas. Nearly 3 weeks after that, Jones was arrested in Fort Myers, Fla., and charged with robbery and bank robbery there.
A single strand of Jones' hair was found at the murder scene and one of Jones' partners made a plea agreement to testify against him. Another accomplice led authorities to the Trinity River where the murder weapon was recovered. One accomplice, Kerry Dixon Jr., received a 60-year prison term. The other, Timothy Jordan, got 10 years.
"It's my personal belief that if (Jones) ever was paroled, there's a likelihood he would kill again and try to fine tune his robberies so as not to leave any witnesses," said Bill Burnett, who was one of the prosecutors in the case and now teaches criminal justice at Angelina College.
Jones, a Harris County native who refused to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his execution, 1st was convicted of robbery and imprisoned in 1959. Among his other multiple prison sentences was time in Kansas for robbery, murder and assault. While locked up there, he was convicted of killing a fellow inmate by throwing gasoline on him and setting him on fire. By 1984, however, he was out on parole despite a life term, records show.
"One of our arguments was ... he had demonstrated his dangerousness even in the prison environment," Burnett said.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)