Executed December 5, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Texas
W / M / 21 - 32 W / F / 7
80th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
678th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
38th murderer executed in Texas in 2000
237th murderer executed in Texas since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Garry Dean Miller
April Marie Wilson
Miller was sentenced to death for the November 11, 1988 kidnapping, rape and murder of 7-year-old April Marie Wilson of Merkel, Texas. April's mother, Marjorie Howlett, asked her cousin and his girlfriend to babysit that night. Miller also lived with them and joined the rest of the small community in searching for April the following morning when she was reported missing. Her body was found by hunters in a nearby field the same day. During interrogation by police, 21 year old Miller confessed that he had returned home after drinking and found April sleeping on the couch. He woke her up and took her "for a ride". He drove to a remote area where he raped her, choked her and then bludgeoned her to death. Traces of the child's blood were found on the tailgate of his pickup. An insanity defense was unsuccessful at trial.
W / M / 21 - 32
W / F / 7
Miller v. Johnson, 121 S.Ct. 122 (2000).
Miller v. Texas, 115 S.Ct. 588 (1994).
Miller v. Johnson, 200 F.3d 274 (5th Cir. 2000).
Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Garry Dean Miller)
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Texas Attorney General
Tuesday, November 28, 2000 - MEDIA ADVISORY - Gary Dean Miller Scheduled To Be Executed.
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Gary Dean Miller who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, December 5th:
In September 1989, Gary Dean Miller was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1988 rape and murder of seven-year old April Marie Wilson. Miller confessed to the rape and murder of April Marie Wilson. Miller's description of the manner of April's death was consistent with the pathologist's testimony at trial.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
On the morning of November 11, 1988, two men were quail hunting in a pasture in a rural area of Jones County, Texas. As they were walking through the pasture, the men found children's clothing, a blanket, a Raggedy Ann doll, a bottle of Jergen's lotion, and some paper towels. Some of the items appeared to have blood on them. Knowing that a little girl was missing, the men called law enforcement authorities with this information and April's body was subsequently located in the pasture.
In his written confession, Miller stated that, after working and socializing on the evening of November 10, 1988, he returned to his home in Merkel, Texas about 1:30 a.m., knowing that April, a seven-year old child, was spending the night there.
According to Miller, he had been drinking alcohol and did not want to stay home so he woke April to see if she wanted to go "riding around." Eventually, Miller and April stopped riding around, and April hugged him because he "was depressed." Miller claimed that he "did not know what happened," but he started abusing April. He placed April on the tailgate of the truck; even though she was scared, he told her to remove her clothes. April was crying, and Miller told her to be quiet. He then removed his own clothes, raped her and engaged in oral sex. Miller said that he panicked and started choking April and hitting her with something he had picked up from the ground.
Miller stated that April stopped fighting, and he, apparently believing she was dead, used coat hangers to drag her body into some brush. Miller went back to his home to get April's belongings to dump with her body; however, he could not locate the body when he returned to the scene.
Miller said he "passed out" after again returning home. Later that morning, the other individuals who lived with Miller noticed that April was missing. When Miller was asked if he had seen her, Miller stated that he had not, then pretended to assist in the efforts to locate her.
The pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries of the head, neck, and trunk." The fractures to the head were such that the blows had to be delivered with "extreme force," multiple times. Many contusions and abrasions had been inflicted on April's face; her right jaw was fractured, which was consistent with being hit. There were bruises on and thorns in the ball of April's foot, indicating that April had put her foot down, possibly while being dragged. The pathologist described the appearance of trauma and excessive damage to body cavities caused by the sexual assault.
At the guilt-innocence phase of trial, Miller presented an insanity defense. Miller presented testimony from lay witnesses who stated that the offense was out of character for Miller and that he simply must not have known right from wrong at the time of the offense. Miller also presented testimony from psychologist Kevin Karlson, who opined that Miller was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offense, a dissociative episode. The jury ultimately rejected the insanity defense and found Miller guilty of capital murder.
PUNISHMENT PHASE TESTIMONY
A State's medical and psychiatric expert confirmed the pathologist's opinion regarding the extensive mutilation to April's genitalia. This expert also testified that Miller represented a continuing threat to society based upon the extremely brutal murder, a murder "as brutal as he had ever seen in a child." The expert noted that the murder was totally unprovoked and that Miller was meticulous during the killing and in his actions following the killing.
Miller also presented expert psychological evidence at the punishment phase of trial. Again Miller's expert testified that Miller was suffering from a dissociative episode at the time of the offense and could not have consciously, intentionally, or deliberately planned the rape and murder. However, even Miller's expert acknowledged that if Miller were in the same circumstance again, the same or a similar crime could occur.
To date, seven separate courts both state and federal including the United States Supreme Court, have reviewed Miller's case and rejected his appeals.
Texas Execution Information CenterGarry Dean Miller, 33, was executed by lethal injection on 5 November in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction, rape, and murder of a 7-year-old girl.
On 11 November 1988, Marjorie Howlett asked her cousin and his girlfriend to babysit for her daughter, April Marie Wilson. When the girl asked if she could spend the night, her mother agreed, since she was not scheduled to end work until 10:00 p.m. But Garry Miller, then 21, also lived at the house, and he came home that night drunk on tequila. When he saw the girl sleeping on the couch, he awoke her and began talking to her. He told the girl he was depressed and she gave him a hug. Miller then convinced her to go for a ride with him. He drove her to a remote area of Jones County where he raped her on the tailgate of his pickup, choked her, and then bludgeoned her to death.
On the day that Wilson was reported missing, Miller joined with the rest of the small community of Anson in searching for her body. Howlett recalls how Miller hugged her and expressed sympathy for her missing daughter. Wilson's body was found by two hunters the same day. Miller confessed the murder to police while being questioned. Traces of the child's blood were found on the tailgate of his pickup.
When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his case in October, Miller asked his attorney not to pursue any more appeals.
"Maggie, I am sorry," Miller said to Howlett in his last statement. "I always wanted to tell you, but I just didn't know how." He then said a short prayer asking for forgiveness both for himself and for those "actively involved with the taking of my life." He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m.
CNN.ComDecember 5, 2000 7:57 PM EST (0057 GMT)
Garry Dean Miller, 33, was condemned to die for the 1988 slaying of April Marie Wilson, who was raped, choked and beaten to death. Her body was dragged through clumps of cactus, then left in a clump of brush outside Abilene. A blanket and a Raggedy Ann doll were found nearby. "I've got no mercy for this guy," Jones County District Attorney Gary Brown said. "Too bad they can't draw and quarter him. Too bad they can't put him up here on the sand and skin him for a couple of days and let him be tortured like she was." Miller, a former bartender and laborer, confessed and then ordered his lawyers to not pursue appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. He repeatedly refused reporters' requests for interviews.
According to Michael Radelet, chairman of sociology at the University of Florida and the keeper of a database on U.S. executions, Texas' total would be the highest number of executions carried out by a state in American history. No request for clemency was made to Gov. George W. Bush, who had authority to grant a one-time 30-day reprieve. Only once in his nearly six years in office has Bush used that power to stop an execution, and that inmate was eventually put to death.
Since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982, 236 condemned murderers preceded Miller to the death house, 147 of them during Bush's tenure.
ProDeathPenalty.ComGarry Miller was sentenced to die for the November 11, 1988 kidnapping, rape and murder of 7-year-old April Marie Wilson of Merkel, Texas. April was spending the night at a home that Miller shared with another man and a female co-worker of April's mom. Miller told the police that he returned home and found April sleeping on the couch. He woke her up and took her "for a ride". He drove to a remote area where he raped her, choked her and then bludgeoned her to death. Her body was found by two hunters later that day. Miller confessed to April's murder. The pickup truck tailgate where 7-year-old April Marie Wilson was raped and murdered served as a lectern at the trial of her accused killer. An 8-by-10 photograph of her was displayed on the prosecution table. "She was the prettiest little thing," retired Jones County District Attorney Jack Willingham recalled. "I set her picture up on the counsel table as a witness that couldn't be there." Garry Dean Miller was convicted of choking and fatally bludgeoning her. "I don't take any pride in this," said Willingham, who retired four years ago. "But it was just a terrible thing. You just can't imagine a human being can do that to a child." "I don't have too much mercy for these guys," said Gary Brown, who succeeded Willingham as district attorney in Jones County, north of Abilene, and responded to Miller's appeals. "They're dying a better way than their victim. That's my attitude. It's too bad you can't walk in and one day they don't know about and just say: 'OK. Bye!' And just kill them - just like they did their victim. I've got no mercy for this guy. There's no reason for this stuff, for what he did to her." Miller, who worked as a bartender and laborer, was believed to have been drinking heavily when he returned to his girlfriend's house in Merkel, about 15 miles west of Abilene, in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988. April Wilson was the girlfriend's cousin, was staying at her house and was asleep on a couch when Miller arrived. In a confession to authorities, Miller said he woke up the girl and asked if she wanted to go for a ride. In a cotton field to the north in Jones County, he raped her on the pickup tailgate, then choked her and hit her with an object he picked up from the ground. "He said she began to cry and holler," Willingham said. "This little girl ... he held her on the tailgate of his pickup and raped her. I remember him saying: 'I told her it wouldn't hurt long.' I won't ever forget, I used it in my closing argument," Willingham added. Miller said he used coat hangers to drag the girl's body through some prickly pear and left her corpse in some brush. When Miller's girlfriend awoke the next morning and April was gone, police were notified and a search began with Miller among the searchers. Her body was found by quail hunters and Miller was tied to her death. Blood evidence from the tailgate was used against him. "He'd been drinking tequila," Brown said. "God knows what he shoved down his throat that night. Too bad it wasn't a .357 slug." Miller, who declined repeated requests for interviews with reporters, ordered his attorneys to not pursue appeals once the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case.
"38th Inmate Executed, Setting Record For Year," By Richard Stewart (HUNTSVILLE)
After asking for forgiveness from the mother of his 7-year-old victim and saying a short prayer, convicted killer Garry Dean Miller was executed Tuesday, setting a national record for executions in a single year. Miller, 33, was the 38th Texas inmate executed this year, eclipsing the record of 37 set by Texas three years ago.
His death came calmly, almost clinically, 11 years after the jury's sentence. Miller nodded toward his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Stephen Walsh. The Catholic priest held a small crucifix up to the window separating a witness room and the death chamber as Miller was executed. Miller closed his eyes, let out a couple of sighs and was pronounced dead 12 minutes after a lethal dose of three chemicals began flowing into his outstretched arms. A large Bible was on his abdomen under a sheet. Miller's death did not draw the protesters or crowds that other, more high-profile executions this year did.
"Maggie, I am sorry," Miller said in his last statement. "I always wanted to tell you but I just didn't know how. I have been praying for y'all. I hope that y'all find the peace that y'all have been wanting." Then he prayed. "Lord, thank you for all my family, all my friends and all my brothers on the row. Thank you for my spiritual family. Lord, be merciful with those who are actively involved with the taking of my life, forgive them as I am forgiving them. Be merciful to me a sinner." Then Miller turned to Warden Jim Willett and said, "All right warden, I am ready to go home." Marjorie Howlett, the mother of the murdered little girl, stood, crying quietly as Miller died. "I'm glad I came," she said. "After all these years I finally got an apology from him."
Miller later confessed that he'd killed the girl. Traces of her blood were found on the tailgate of his pickup. Miller, a bartender and laborer, had no prior criminal record. He had taken college courses in law enforcement. Miller asked his attorneys not to pursue any more appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his case last month. When his death date was set in August, Miller asked that he not be brought back to the Jones County Courthouse in Anson because he didn't want to embarrass his family, Jones County District Attorney Gary Brown said.
He was the only person sent to death row from the small Northwest Texas town in the modern era of executions, which began in 1976. Brown said Miller's case was particularly cruel. "After what he did to that little girl, I'd like to bring him back here and put him on the courthouse square and skin him alive," Brown said. Howlett said the cruelest part of her daughter's death was that on the day she was reported missing Miller joined in the search like many others in the small town of Merkle. "He came up on my porch, and he gave me a hug and was crying. He told me he was sorry," she said.
Fight the Death Penalty USA
Texas prison officials conducted a record 38th execution Tuesday evening, putting condemned killer Garry Dean Miller to death for the rape-slaying of a 7-year-old West Texas girl. In a last statement, Miller turned to his victim's mother Marjorie Howlett and said, "Maggie I am sorry. I always wanted to tell you, but I just didn't know how. I have been praying for y'all. I hope that y'all find the peace that y'all have been wanting," he said as Howlett sobbed quietly.
Then he prayed, asking God for peace and thanking the Lord for his family, for "my brothers on the row" and for his spiritual family. "Be merciful to me a sinner," he added after asking for mercy for those who were "actively involved with the taking of my life." Then he looked at Warden Jim Willett and said, "All right warden, I am ready to go home." He took a deep breath then gasped slightly and stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead 12 minutes later, at 6:23 p.m. CST.
His execution topped the previous record of 37 set 3 years ago. Miller wasn't likely to hold the record long. 2 more executions were set for the next 2 nights, with a convicted cop killer scheduled to die Wednesday and the convicted murderer of a liquor store owner set for lethal injection Thursday. Their punishments would close out the state's record execution tally at 40, 5 more than last year. At least 7 condemned killers already have execution dates set for 2001, 3 of them in January. According to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, the Texas total is the highest in a state since 1862 when 39 Native Americans were hanged on a single day in Minnesota. Those executions, however, were carried out by the military and not the state, the records indicate.
Miller, 33, a former bartender and laborer, was convicted and sentenced to die for the death of April Marie Wilson, who was raped, choked and fatally bludgeoned on the tailgate of a pickup truck, then had her body dragged by hangers through clumps of prickly pear cactus before it was left in some brush in a cotton field in Jones County, northwest of Abilene. "I've got no mercy for this guy," Jones County District Attorney Gary Brown said. "Too bad they can't draw and quarter him. Too bad they can't put him up here on the sand and skin him for a couple of days and let him be tortured like she was and cut that sucker up and stuff it down his throat and let him choke on it to death. "That's my attitude. It might not be a Christian one, but there's no reason for this stuff, for what he did to her." Miller was believed to have been drinking heavily when he returned to his girlfriend's house in Merkel, about 15 miles west of Abilene, in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1988. April Wilson was the girlfriend's cousin, was staying at her house and was asleep on a couch when Miller arrived.
In a confession to authorities, Miller said he woke up the girl and asked if she wanted to go for a ride. In the Jones County cotton field, he raped her on the pickup tailgate, then choked her and hit her with an object he picked up from the ground. When Miller's girlfriend awoke the next morning and April was gone, police were notified and a search began with Miller among the participants. Quail hunters aware of the missing girl called police after they found blood-spattered items that included children's clothing, a blanket and a Raggedy Ann doll. Her body then was discovered. Miller was tied to her death and blood evidence from the tailgate was used against him. Miller, who declined repeated requests for interviews with reporters, ordered his attorneys to not pursue appeals once the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. No clemency request was made to Gov. George W. Bush, who had authority to grant a one-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 subsequently was put to death. At one time Miller had worked with young people at a Methodist Church-run camp near Merkel. He also had taken community college courses in law enforcement.
"Apparently he had ambition," said Jack Willingham, the now-retired district attorney who prosecuted Miller. "He missed it by a little. Willingham described Miller as a "nice appearing young man" who had no previous criminal record and who cooperated with authorities. "I would think there could be a lot more to him," he said. "I don't know why he kidnapped this little girl... She was the prettiest little thing, just a pretty little girl." Willingham said while testifying at his trial, Miller "started puckering up, tearing up, putting on some emotion. "I walked up and shook my finger at him and told him to dry that up... I said it's time for the needle."
Miller becomes the 150th condemened inmate to be put to death during the tenure of GOvernor George Bush, who assumed office in January 1995. (sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)