Executed July 9, 2003 by Lethal Injection in Arkansas
B / M / 23 - 31
44th murderer executed in U.S. in 2003
864th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Arkansas in 2003
25th murderer executed in Arkansas since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Riley Dobi Noel
B / M / 17
B / M / 10
B / M / 12
Noel, Carroll, Cochran and Calloway were riding around Little Rock in Cochran's car "getting high." They went to the home of Mary Hussian, whose daughter Noel suspected of being involved in the drive-by killing of his brother. Calloway got out of the car and followed Noel and Carroll into the house. Noel told the three children: Marcell Young (17), Malak Hussian (10), and Mustafa Hussian (12) in the residence to get down on the floor. Calloway testified she watched as Noel shot each of the children in the head and killed them. A co-defendant tried to shoot Mary Hussian with a shotgun but it jammed, and she was able to wrestle it away. Noel testified at the trial against his lawyers' advice and denied killing the children. One of Noel's accomplices received a 20 year prison sentence after he testified on behalf of the state. Another was sentenced to life in prison without parole and the third got 132 years in prison for the three killings.
B / M / 23 - 31
Noel v. State, 1997 WL 343641 (Ark.,1997) (Pro se Motion to Stop Appeal).
Noel v. State, 960 S.W.2d 439 (Ark.,1998) (Direct Appeal).
Noel v. State, 26 S.W.3d 123 (Ark.,2000) (PCR).
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, hot rolls, a green garden salad with ranch dressing, Kool-Aid and cookies.
"I want my family to know I love them. I want my kids to know I love Jesus."
Arkansas Department of Corrections
ADC Number: 000942
Name: Noel, Riley D
Hair Color: BLACK
Eye Color: BROWN
Height: 71 inches
Weight: 158 lbs.
Birth Date: 05/22/1972
Initial Receipt Date: 02/26/1990
Conviction Date: 07/18/1996
County of Conviction: Pulaski
Prior Convictions: THEFT BY RECEIVING 02/13/1990 PULASKI (5 yrs); BATTERY-1ST DEGREE 02/13/1990 PULASKI (5 yrs); ROBBERY 02/13/1990 PULASKI (15 yrs); ESCAPE-2ND DEGREE - HABITUAL OFFENDER 09/11/1996 PULASKI (120 mo).
Pine Bluff Commercial
"STATE EXECUTES CONVICTED KILLER AT CUMMINS UNIT," by By Scott Loftis. (July 9, 2003)
VARNER -- Triple murderer Riley Dobi Noel proclaimed his love for his family and for Jesus on Wednesday night. Within minutes, Noel was dead. The 31-year-old Noel was executed just after 9 p.m. Wednesday in the death chamber of the state Department of Correction's Cummins Unit. A lethal injection was administered into Noel's veins at 9:01 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.
Before he was executed, Noel gave a final statement. "I want my family to know I love them," Noel said. "I want my kids to know I love Jesus."
Among the witnesses to the execution was Kyle Jones, whose 17-year-old fiance/, Marcell Young, was among the victims. Young was slain along with her younger brother and sister in a southwest Little Rock home on June 4, 1995. Jones was in the house when the killings occurred but escaped by crawling through a window. "I finally feel that justice has been served," Jones said after the execution. "It's been eight long years, and I finally can put this behind me and move on. "We as individuals make decisions. He made the decision to take their lives. Today the state of Arkansas made the decision to take his life, and I'm glad for that decision."
Kelly Kissel, The Associated Press' Arkansas news editor, was one of three media witnesses to the execution. He said that within 20 seconds of the injection, Noel's chest heaved "fairly violently." Kissel added that Noel's reaction to the injection was probably the most intense of the seven executions he has witnessed. "Within the first 20 seconds, it was clear that something was happening," Kissel said. Kissel said Noel stared at the ceiling without blinking. "(He) died with his eyes open," Kissel said.
The execution proceeded after Gov. Mike Huckabee refused to grant Noel clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to reject his appeal. Noel had asked the court to halt his execution on the basis of an alleged brain abnormality. On Tuesday night, the state Supreme Court denied Noel's appeal for a stay of execution. Huckabee signed Noel's death warrant in May, and the state parole board recommended in June that he not be granted clemency.
Noel's day began at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He met with his spiritual adviser and his attorneys, and was able to speak to family members on the telephone. Noel was served his final meal at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber. He chose fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, hot rolls, a green garden salad with ranch dressing, Kool-Aid and cookies. Department of Correction spokeswoman Dina Tyler said Noel ate well. Noel also was visited by a prison chaplain, who described his spirits as "pretty good," Tyler said. Noel took a shower and dressed in a clean prison uniform and socks before being taken to the death chamber at 8:45 p.m.
Noel became the 25th individual executed at Varner since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1990.
Prosecutors at Noel's murder trial said he was seeking revenge against his victims' sister, whom he mistakenly believed had arranged his brother's gang-related murder. According to prosecutors, Noel lined up the victims -- 10-year-old Malak Hussain, 12-year-old Mustafa Hussain and Young -- on the kitchen floor and shot them in the head. At Noel's trial, a co-defendant who reached a plea bargain with prosecutors said Noel initially intended to kill the entire family to avenge Ganaway's death. Noel testified at the trial against his lawyers' advice and denied killing the children. "I'm sitting here an innocent man for the three innocent kids I had no knowledge of," Noel told the jury.
In his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Noel's attorney argued that medical tests that were not available when he was convicted in 1996 would reveal a brain abnormality that might have been viewed as a mitigating circumstance by the jurors who recommended the death penalty. (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)
In the early morning hours of June 5, 1995, Marcell Young, 17, Malak Hussian, 10, and Mustafa Hussian, 12 -- all siblings -- were shot and killed while their mother, Mary Hussian, wrestled with another gunman in a separate part of the house. In an information filed on July 5, 1995, the prosecutor charged Riley Noel, appellant Carroll, Curtis Lee Cochran, and Tracy Trinette Calloway with the capital murders of the three children and the attempted capital murder of Mary Hussian.
On June 4, 1995, Noel, Carroll, Cochran and Calloway were riding around Little Rock in Cochran's car, "getting high" on drugs. They went to the home of Mary Hussian, where Calloway got out of the car and followed Noel and Carroll to the house. Just before they entered the house, Noel handed her a handgun, and she testified that she returned it immediately. Noel burst into the house, and Calloway followed, stopping just inside the doorway. Noel told three children in the residence to get down on the floor, and Calloway testified that she told them to do what Noel said. She watched Noel shoot each of the children in the head and kill them. According to Curtis Cochran, the murders were in retaliation for the death of Noel's brother. Noel believed that another child of Mary Hussian, a daughter, had been involved in his brother's death.
Following the murders, Calloway testified that she ran from the house with Carroll. According to police records, Noel shot Hussian's 3 children, ages 10, 12 and 17, as they lay on the living room floor. A co-defendant tried to shoot the mother with a shotgun but it jammed, and she was able to wrestle it away, records state. Prosecutors argued that Noel, 24, killed the children to avenge his brother's slaying, which had occurred about a week earlier. Noel apparently believed one of Hussian's daughters had set up his brother's death in a drive-by shooting, police said.
On June 6, 1995, the Little Rock Police Department focused its investigation on a search of Calloway's neighborhood in an effort to locate a suspect named "Tracy," and Calloway surrendered herself to police officers that same day. Calloway gave a full statement indicating that she was with the young men at the time of the murders but stating that she was not aware of an intention to commit the killings. At trial, the prosecutor's theory of the case against Calloway was one of accomplice liability. Calloway's defense was that she did not know what Noel and Carroll intended to do at the Hussian house and that she did not assist them in any way in the commission of the murders. The prosecutor presented testimony from Curtis Cochran, who was driving the vehicle that day. Cochran testified that everyone in the car knew where they were going and what Noel intended to do because Noel announced it in the car. According to Cochran, Noel gave Calloway a .45 caliber handgun while they were in the car, and she still had it when they went to the Hussian house. Jack Thomas, a neighbor of the victim, also testified for the State and stated that he saw Calloway run from the Hussian house and that it appeared as though she was carrying a gun. Kyle Jones testified that he arrived at the Hussian residence with his fiancee, Marcel Young, and saw three people standing in the carport: Noel, Cochran, and Calloway. The threesome asked Marcel and Kyle if Yashica Young was home, and Kyle said that he would check. Kyle and Marcel entered the house, and Kyle went to the back of the home to tell Marcel's mother, Mary Hussian, that they were home.
He heard someone burst in through the front of the house and heard Marcel scream. Kyle and Mary Hussian ran toward the front of the house and were intercepted by Carroll, who was carrying a shotgun. They retreated to the bedroom. Kyle went into the bathroom and closed the door. Mary Hussian hid behind the bed and dialed 911. Kyle testified that he heard three shots come from the front room and that he heard the shotgun blast in the bedroom just before he escaped through the window. Kyle eventually came back to the house and told police officers what he had seen. Mary Hussian told the same story to the jury as Kyle did. She testified that when she hid behind the bed to call 911, Carroll yelled for her to come out from behind the bed. She pleaded with him not to kill her or her children. She eventually rushed Carroll, and they fought for control of the shotgun. The shotgun discharged in the struggle, and the shot went through the roof. Mary Hussian gained control of the gun and chased Carroll back through the house, where she saw her three murdered children lying on the floor.
Carroll left through the front door. Mary Hussian saw three people in the house, but could only identify Carroll and Noel and not Calloway. The State also contended at trial that Calloway's original statement to the Little Rock police officers and her trial testimony were in conflict. She first told police officers that she was in the car and that Cochran and she picked up Carroll and Noel, but at trial she testified that the threesome picked her up to give her a ride home. She also testified at trial that she did not see any guns in the car until the group was about to go into the Hussian house. However, it was established at trial that two weapons were used at the murder scene -- a .45 caliber pistol and a shotgun. Calloway admitted that Carroll was in the back seat of the two-door car with her but maintained that she did not see the shotgun. Calloway was sentenced to a total term in prison of 132 years.
UPDATE: Kyle Jones of Miami, who had been Marcell Young's fiance, was one of the victims' family witnesses who viewed the execution on closed-circuit television. "He chose to make the decision to take their lives," Jones said after the execution. "Today the state of Arkansas chose to take his and I'm happy with it. I can move on knowing I won't have to live with this again."
Kansas City Star
"Killer of Three Children Executed," by Kelly P. Kissel. (AP July 9, 2003)
VARNER, Ark. - A man who killed three children in the mistaken belief that their sister set up his brother for a gang hit was executed Wednesday night after courts and the governor rejected his pleas for mercy. Riley Dobi Noel, 31, was pronounced dead by injection at 9:07 p.m., prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler said.
In his final statement, Noel said: "I want my family to know I love them. I want my kids to know I love Jesus." Noel had wanted one more round of mental examinations to prove that he had a brain disorder that would prevent his execution. The U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Mike Huckabee turned Noel down Wednesday.
Jurors sentenced Noel to die after finding that he killed the three children execution-style on June 4, 1995, forcing them to lie on their kitchen floor before shooting each once in the head. According to prosecutors, Noel and others burst into a southwest Little Rock home looking for Yashica Young, whom Noel believed had set up his brother, Cornelius "Skeeter" Ganaway. When he couldn't find her, he shot Malak Hussain, 10; Mustafa Hussain, 12; and Marcell Young, 17.
Kyle Jones of Miami, who had been Marcell Young's fiance, was selected to be one of the victims' family witnesses to watch the execution on closed-circuit television. "He chose to make the decision to take their lives," Jones said after the execution. "Today the state of Arkansas chose to take his and I'm happy with it. I can move on knowing I won't have to live with this again."
"Arkansas Executes Man Who Killed Three Youths." (July 10, 2003)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 9 (Reuters) - Arkansas on Wednesday executed a man who shot three young people dead in a mistaken attempt to avenge his brother's murder. Riley Dobi Noel, 31, died a few minutes after receiving a lethal injection of chemicals at the state's death chamber in Varner, an Arkansas prison spokesman said. "I want my family to know I love them. I want my kids to know I love Jesus," Noel said in his last statement, according to the prison spokesman.
In June, 1995, Noel and three other assailants burst into a Little Rock home in search of a woman who prosecutors say Noel falsely believed had helped kill his brother in a drive-by shooting a week earlier. When he could not find his quarry, Noel placed the woman's three younger siblings on the floor and shot each of them in the head. The victims were Malak Hussian, 10, Mustafa Hussian, 12, and Marcell Young, 17. According to court testimony Noel believed the older sister of the three victims was involved in his brother's murder.
One of Noel's accomplices received a 20 year prison sentence after he testified on behalf of the state. Another was sentenced to life in prison without parole and the third got 132 years in prison for the three killings. Noel's last meal was fried chicken and mashed potatoes. He was the 25th person executed by Arkansas since 1990, when the state resumed implementing the death penalty.
"Children's Mother Forgives Noel." (AP July 10, 2003)
The mother of three children who were killed by condemned inmate Riley Dobi Noel eight years ago says she has forgiven him. Mary Hussain did not attend his execution Wednesday night.
Hussain says she burns three candles in her front window, one for each child, and has their pictures on her wall. She says she's been on drugs and alcohol since the killings. Hussain—who was in another part of the house when her children were killed—says she is haunted by their screams and sometimes has seizures when she thinks about finding their bodies. But Hussain says thoughts of God and her children calm her anger.
"Man Who Killed Children Executed," By Kelly Kissel. (AP July 10, 2003)
VARNER (AP) — A man who killed three children in the mistaken belief that their sister set up his brother for a gang hit was executed Wednesday night after courts and the governor rejected his pleas for mercy. Riley Dobi Noel, 31, was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection, prison spokeswoman Dinah Tyler said.
In his final statement, Noel said: “I want my family to know I love them. I want my kids to know I love Jesus.” Noel had wanted one more round of mental examinations to prove that he had a brain disorder that would prevent his execution. The U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Mike Huckabee turned Noel down Wednesday.
Jurors sentenced Noel to die after finding that he killed the three children execution-style on June 4, 1995, forcing them to lie on their kitchen floor and then shooting each once in the head. Prosecutors said Noel mistakenly believed their sister had arranged for his brother’s death in a drive-by gang killing.
Attorneys and Noel’s spiritual adviser met with Noel and the inmate talked to his family by telephone for part of the day. Noel learned the fate of his last-day appeals after finishing a last meal of fried chicken, potatoes and salad. According to prosecutors, Noel and others burst into a southwest Little Rock home looking for Yashica Young, whom Noel believed had set up his brother, Cornelius “Skeeter” Ganaway.
When he couldn’t find Young, prosecutors say, Noel lined up Malak Hussain, 10; Mustafa Hussain, 12; and Marcell Young, 17; and shot them. Their mother, Mary Hussain, said she rushed to help the children after hearing shots ring out while she was struggling with one of Noel’s co-defendants. She said that as she ran to her children she slipped and fell among their bloodied bodies. Jurors imposed death sentences for each of the crimes.
In a profile of the victims written after their deaths, Hussain said that Malak had written in her school papers that she hoped for a day when there were no gangs and “it would be wonderful if there would be no guns.” Mustafa Hussain wrote that he had a dream about finding a treasure of gold. Along with the riches were a note that said whoever opens the treasure will die. In his dream, he opened the treasure. Marcell Young had final exams set the day after she was killed and had planned to enter the military.
Kyle Jones of Miami, Fla., former fiancee of Marcell Young, was selected to be one of the victims’ family witnesses to watch the execution on closed-circuit television. “He chose to make the decision to take their lives,” Jones said after the execution. “Today the state of Arkansas chose to take his and I’m happy with it. I can move on knowing I won’t have to live with this again.” The witnesses also included State Rep. Michael Lamoureux of Russellville.
In Noel’s appeals, defense lawyers argued that, despite tests showing an IQ of 80, Noel had a brain disorder and that executing him would have violated a U.S. Supreme Court directive. The lawyers said medical tests not developed by the time of Noel’s 1996 trial might have revealed more about his mental health.
State lawyers argued that Noel’s previous mental evaluations showed no abnormalities that would prevent his execution and that the law does not allow for automatic delays just because new medical procedures are available. In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court said it was unconstitutionally cruel to execute the mentally retarded. It ruled in a case involving an inmate with an IQ of 59. Court records show that Noel’s most recent test placed his score at 80. The generally accepted clinical definition of retardation is having an IQ of about 70 or lower.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling came just after Huckabee rejected Noel’s request for mercy. The governor followed a parole board recommendation against mercy. The Arkansas Supreme Court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis rejected Noel court proceedings Tuesday.
"Victims' Mother against Execution, Lawyer Says," by Caryn Rousseau. (AP June 19, 2003)
TUCKER, Ark. - Family and attorneys of a death row inmate who shot three children pleaded for the man's life Wednesday, arguing that he has brain damage and should be spared because the victims' mother doesn't want him executed.
Riley Dobi Noel, 31, was sentenced to die for the execution-style slayings, which occurred at a southwest Little Rock home in 1995. He is scheduled to die July 9 by injection at the Cummins Unit prison at Varner. Noel's family and lawyers presented a case before the Post-Prison Transfer Board at the Tucker maximum security prison, where he is incarcerated, to commute his sentence to life without parole.
Later Wednesday, Asst. Atty. Gen. Joseph Svoboda argued before the board that Noel suffered no brain damage and should be put to death.
At Tucker, Noel's mother, Valerie Ussery, wrote in a letter to the board: "I ask you to have mercy on him and to see him as my son, an older brother and a child's father."
Noel's lawyer, Craig Lambert, read the letter to the board as Ussery cried in the back of the room. A tear ran down Noel's cheek as Lambert read the letter and Noel's mother sobbed. Noel's wife, Stacy, also was present. Noel's lawyers said medical tests show that Noel has brain damage and they asked the board to recommend to Gov. Mike Huckabee that a comprehensive brain scan be conducted before Noel's scheduled execution. A board decision is expected this morning. "Help show Arkansas isn't a state where brain-damaged inmates are put to death without a second look," defense lawyer Jenniffer Horan said.
But Svoboda pointed to medical tests that he says prove Noel is not brain-damaged or mentally retarded. "There is no real testimony or evidence . . . to say Riley Dobi Noel has brain damage," Svoboda told the board. He said Noel repeatedly scored between 72 and 82 on intelligence tests. Arkansas defines mental retardation as a score of 65 or below.
Noel was convicted of the deaths of Malak Hussain, 10, Mustafa Hussain, 12, and their sister, Marcell Young, 17. The three were shot June 4, 1995, after being forced to lie on the floor in their home. Prosecutors said Noel killed the three in retaliation for the death of his brother, whom he believed was set up for a gang hit by the victims' sister.
Horan argued that the victims' mother, Mary Hussain, no longer wants to see Noel put to death. Deputy prosecutor John Johnson of Pulaski County told the board about the well-kept house where the murders occurred and the nice garden out back. He described how the children were killed - two shot at close range in the back of the head, one at close range in the forehead - and how their blood mixed on the kitchen floor.
If put to death, Noel would be the 25th to die in Arkansas's death chamber since the state resumed executions in 1990.
Noel v. State, 26 S.W.3d 123 (Ark.,2000) (PCR).
Petitioner, whose convictions for capital murder and death sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, 331 Ark. 79, 960 S.W.2d 439, sought postconviction relief. The Pulaski Circuit Court, John W. Langston, J., denied the petition. Petitioner appealed. The Supreme Court, Corbin, J., held that: (1) counsel was not ineffective by refusing to present witnesses who could not provide a genuine alibi for defendant but who were prepared to lie for him; (2) counsel's strategy of eliciting from defendant during direct examination that he was testifying against the advise of counsel did not constitute ineffective assistance; and (3) counsel was not ineffective by not requesting funds to hire an expert witness to challenge the credibility of eyewitness testimony. Affirmed.
DONALD L. CORBIN, Justice.
Appellant Riley Dobi Noel was convicted of three counts of capital murder and one count of attempted capital murder; he was sentenced to death by lethal injection and sixty years' imprisonment, respectively. This court affirmed his convictions and sentences in Noel v. State, 331 Ark. 79, 960 S.W.2d 439 (1998). Noel then filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R.Crim. P. 37. The trial court denied the petition. On appeal, Noel alleges four instances in which his trial counsel was ineffective: (1) failing to present alibi testimony; (2) eliciting from Noel on direct examination that he was testifying against the advice of counsel; (3) failing to call witnesses to testify about Noel's demeanor and activities in the days prior to the murders; and (4) failing to request funds for an expert on eyewitness identification. Our jurisdiction of this appeal is pursuant to Rule 37 and Ark. Sup.Ct. R. 1-2(a)(8). We find no error and affirm.
The trial record shows that on the evening of June 4, 1995, Noel and three other persons went to the home of Mary Hussian in Little Rock. Present in the home that night were Mrs. Hussian, three of her children, and Kyle Jones. The three children (Malak Hussian, age 10; Mustafa Hussian, age 12; and Marcel Young, age 17, were shot by Noel in the head as they lay on the living room floor. Meanwhile, a codefendant, Terry Carroll, attempted to shoot Mrs. Hussian with a shotgun. The shotgun jammed, however, and Mrs. Hussian was eventually able to wrestle it away from Carroll. Jones escaped unharmed through the bathroom window. It was the State's theory that Noel committed the murders in retaliation for the death of his brother, which had occurred approximately one week earlier. Noel apparently believed that his brother had been "set up" in a drive-by shooting by one of Mrs. Hussian's daughters.
Noel v. State, 960 S.W.2d 439 (Ark.,1998) (Direct Appeal).
Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court, Pulaski County, John W. Langston, J., of three counts of capital murder and one count of attempted capital murder, and was sentenced to death on capital murder convictions. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court, Brown, J., held that: (1) affidavits asserting that defendant could not receive fair trial in county due to excessive publicity were not sufficient to require grant of motion for change of venue; (2) prosecutor's closing argument reference to defendant's failure to call alibi witnesses did not require mistrial; (3) victim-impact evidence was not additional aggravating circumstance but rather was relevant evidence of toll that murder had taken on victims' family; (4) victim-impact evidence was not so unduly prejudicial as to render trial fundamentally unfair; and (5) statutory death penalty scheme did not mandate imposition of death penalty and did not limit jury to considering only unanimously found mitigating circumstances. Affirmed. Newbern, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in which Imber and Thornton, JJ., joined.
Appellant Riley Dobi Noel was convicted of three counts of capital murder and one count of attempted capital murder following an eleven-day trial. He was sentenced to death on the capital murder convictions and to sixty years on the attempted capital murder conviction. The killings occurred in Little Rock at the home of the victims' mother, Mary Hussian, on the evening of June 4, 1995. Her three children (Malak Hussian, age 10; Mustafa Hussian, age 12; and Marcel Young, age 17) were shot by Noel in the head as they lay on the floor in the front room of her house. The attempted capital murder was committed against Mary Hussian herself, also in her house. The murders were apparently in retaliation for the assumed involvement of one of Hussian's daughters in the murder of Noel's brother. Noel appeals the judgment on five grounds. We hold that no reversible error occurred at his trial, and we affirm.