Executed January 9, 2001 by Lethal Injection in Oklahoma
B / M / 34 - 48 B / M / 84
2nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
685th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2001
31st murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Eddie Leroy Trice
After drinking most of the day, Trice broke into the home of 84 year old Earnestine Jones and her 63 year old mentally retarded son Emmanuel. Trice parked 1 block away and entered a bedroom window. Trice severely beat the 105 lb. Jones with nunchucks and raped her. She suffered a fracture to one of her eye sockets, fractures to both her lower and upper jaw, neck injuries, a crushed rib cage, internal bruises to her heart and lungs, two broken fingers, extensive bruises and scratches in the genital area. Trice also assaulted Emanuel Jones with a hammer, puncturing his right eye, fracturing his right cheekbone, and fracturing his right forearm. Before leaving the Jones' residence, Trice stole approximately $500 in cash from Emanuel and threatened to kill him if he told anyone what happened.
B / M / 34 - 48
B / M / 84
Trice v. State, 853 P.2d 203 (Okl. Cr. 1993).
Trice v. State, 912 P.2d 349 (Okl. Cr. 1996).
Trice v. Ward, 196 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir. 1999).
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma Attorney General
0/04/2000 - News Release, W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General - Court Sets January Execution Dates For Five
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals today set January execution dates for five death row inmates. On Monday, Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked the court to schedule their executions following denial of their appeals at the U.S. Supreme Court. Scheduled by the court for execution were Robert William Clayton, Tulsa County, Jan. 4; Eddie Leroy Trice, Oklahoma County, Jan. 9; Wanda Jean Allen, Oklahoma County, Jan. 11; Floyd Allen Medlock, Canadian County, Jan. 16; and Dion Athanasius Smallwood, Oklahoma County, Jan. 18.
Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was sentenced to death for the Feb. 14, 1987, murder of 84-year-old Ernestine Jones during a robbery of her Oklahoma City home. Trice entered the home through a bedroom window and severely beat Jones. Jones suffered blows to the head, a fractured jaw, crushed bones in her cheek, fractured ribs, broken fingers and contusions to her heart and lungs. Trice raped Jones and stole about $300. Trice also severely beat Jones' 63-year-old son, Emanuel, who shared the home with his mother.
(The attorney general's office has been unable to locate Jones' family members to notify them of the status of this case. Family members or friends may call Victim Services Coordinator Allyson Carson at 405-522-4397 with information.)
Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma
Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was executed via lethal injection on Tuesday, January 9, at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was pronounced dead at 9:15pm. Trice was sentenced to die for the 1987 murder of Ernestine Jones, 84. He was the first person executed by the state this year and the second in the country. Seven more Oklahoma executions are scheduled between from now through February 1.
This case arises out of an attack that occurred at 1613 NE 24th St, Oklahoma City, on February 13, 1987. A man later identified as Eddie Leroy Trice, who prior to the attack had been ingesting large amounts of intoxicating spirits, broke into the house of Ernestine Jones, 84, and her retarded son, Emanuel Jones, 63, by entering through a window on the northwest side of the house. Trice was alleged to have thereupon raped and beat Ernestine Jones with nunchucks. As a result of this incident, she sustained injuries to her eye sockets, jaw, neck, ribs, fingers, and internal organs. Trice was then alleged to have beaten Emanuel Jones with a hammer. He sustained injuries to his eyes, cheekbones, and arms. Finally, Trice was alleged to have removed $500 from the residence. He then left the domicile and returned to his apartment, where he and roommate Archie Landon proceeded to ingest narcotics bought with the money lifted from the Jones’ residence.
The body of Ernestine Jones, who died as a result of the attack on February 13, was found by her daughter, Geraldine Jones, who had previously dated Trice. Emanuel Jones identified Trice as his assailant. Trice was then arrested and charged with first degree murder, first degree rape, first degree burglary, and assault with a dangerous weapon. Trice was interrogated, the details of which will be fully discussed later, and he confessed to the crime. Testing performed on Trice’s clothes revealed that the blood found thereon was consistent with the blood type of the victim.
Before trial, the State filed notice of its intent to seek the death penalty upon: the previous felony conviction; knowingly creating a grave risk of death to another; heinous, atrocious, and cruel; preventing a lawful prosecution; and future dangerousness factors. Trice was tried before a jury in the District Court of Oklahoma County. The Honorable William Burkett presided at the trial, which started on June 8, 1987, only four months after the commission of the crime. He was convicted on June 11, 1987. At the penalty hearing, which was conducted between June 11 and 12, 1987, jurors found the existence of four of the five aggravating factors noted above, concluding that the crime was not committed to avoid or prevent a lawful prosecution. They also found that the mitigating factors proffered by Trice, including a horrific childhood, low IQ, substance abuse, being the victim of homosexual rape, participation in prison programs, and diminished capacity, were outweighed by the aggravating factors. The jury then directed that he be sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Trice appealed to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. He raised 22 issues in a bid to secure a new trial or sentencing hearing. The first main category of asserted error was the admission of his confession to Oklahoma City Detectives Burke and Mullenix.
Prior to trial, the District Court conducted a Jackson hearing to determine whether the confession had been voluntary. Relying on Miranda, which besides requiring Miranda warnings also established that any statement made at the behest of officers after the invocation of Miranda rights would be per se involuntary, and thus inadmissible under Jackson, Trice claimed that on several occasions he had requested an attorney. Detectives Burke and Mullenix testified to the contrary. Unlike most states, Oklahoma law requires that suspects bear the burden of proof as to the voluntariness of their confessions (see Kreijanovsky v. State, 702 P.2d 541 (1995)). The District Court thus denied the motion to suppress on account of Trice’s failure to establish that he actually requested counsel.
The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld this finding as one of historical fact. However, the state conceded that Trice did in fact request to see a “district attorney.” Trice contended that this request should have been interpreted as the functional equivalent of an invocation of his Miranda rights because he confused the role of the district and defense attorney. Both the District and Criminal Appeals Court rejected this argument because when the district attorney arrived, Trice only spoke to him about drug treatment options at the county jail. Neither court took his limited mental faculties into account when making this determination. Finally, Detective Burke, when asking routine pedigree questions not subject to Miranda warnings, ventured to ask Trice, still without Miranda warnings, the nature of his whereabouts on the night of the crime. The District Court suppressed this statement, as it was in response to a custodial interrogation made without benefit of Miranda warnings. However, the District Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals declined to hold that this invalid section of interrogation tainted the remainder of the interrogation, conducted by Detective Mullenix with benefit of Miranda warnings, under Oregon v. Elstad, 470 US 298 (1985).
The second main category of asserted error were the comments made by Oklahoma County District Attorney Robert Macy, including statements invoking sympathy for the victim, injecting his own personal opinion into the proceedings, and unduly maligning Trice’s character. The Court of Criminal Appeals summarily rejected Trice’s contention that these comments were improper and prejudicial. Furthermore, the Court of Criminal Appeals also held that Macy’s comments concerning the failure of the defendant to corroborate his claim of diminished capacity were proper in light of the circumstances.
The third main category of asserted error was the instructions given by Judge Burkett to the jury in the penalty phase. The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Trice was not entitled to instructions on the State’s burden to prove: that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating circumstances; to the presumption of a life sentence; to the prohibition of a death sentence unless the jury found the existence of no mitigating factors; to the action the court would take if the jury could not agree on a sentence; or to allow the jury to order that the sentences be served consecutively.
The final main category of asserted error was the constitutionality of several of the aggravating factors upon which the jury sentenced Trice to death. He first argued that the grave risk of death to another aggravating factor was overboard and vague, and that even if it was not, it still did not apply to his case. The Court of Criminal Appeals summarily rejected that argument, as it did the argument that the future dangerousness factor is similarly vague. He next argued that it is unconstitutional to offer the same conduct, the rape and assault, as evidence of two aggravating factors, prior conviction and future dangerousness. The Court of Criminal rejected this argument because the District Attorney also offered other evidence in support of the future dangerousness factor. Because the United States Supreme Court in Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 US 356 (1988), struck down the Oklahoma cruel, heinous, and atrocious factor as vague, and because the jury in this case did not receive the limiting instructions which the Court of Criminal Appeals then devised to save the statute, this factor was struck from consideration. However, the Court then went on to declare the inclusion of this invalid factor as harmless error, and affirmed the sentence. As the last component of direct review, the Court conducted a cursory mandatory sentence review.
As a result of this decision, Trice filed an application for post conviction relief with the District Court of Oklahoma County, largely on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. To prevail on a claim on ineffective assistance of counsel, the defendant must demonstrate that counsel’s actions fell outside the wide range of competent representation available. He must further demonstrate that the result of the contested action would have been different but for counsel’s unprofessional conduct (Strickland v. Washington, 466 US 668 (1984)). In this case, Trice asserted that the result of his direct appeal would have been different but for counsel’s unartful presentation. The Court of Criminal Appeals summarily denied this contention as a functional reargument of his substantive issues on direct appeal.
Trice next argued that his trial counsels were ineffective. In support of this contention, he claimed that they failed to obtain any continuances, they failed to properly investigate theories of innocence, they conceded his guilt, and that they did not present an opening statement to the court. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that all of these claims were strategic choices that were not to be disturbed on appeal.
The denial, and subsequent affirmation, of the application for post conviction relief ended Trice’s appeals in Oklahoma’s courts. He next filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. This sort of federal relief for state prisoners was severely restricted by Congress with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1995. Trice started by challenging the application of this Act and its limiting provisions to him, since his case had been in the court system long before the AEDPA was passed. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the AEDPA applied to any action filed after its effective date, not only to actions commenced after its effective date. Therefore, because the act was applicable to him, the federal courts only role was to ensure that the rulings of the Court of Criminal Appeals were a reasonable construction of federal law. They need not be correct so long as they are reasonable. With this in mind, both the U S District Court and the Tenth Circuit found that the Court of Criminal Appeal’s resolution of the issues raised on both direct and collateral appeal were a reasonable construction of federal law. They ruled that Trice had received a fair trial under the federal Constitution and that there was nothing that would prevent the Court of Criminal Appeals from setting a date upon which to carry out the judgment of the Oklahoma County District Court.
The Oklahoma Attorney General, W.A. Drew Edmondson, thereupon filed an application with the Court of Criminal Appeals to cause such a date to be set. The motion was granted and the date was set for January 9, 2000. Barring a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court or the commutation of the sentence by the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has never once granted clemency to a death-sentenced inmate, the judgment will be carried out then.
Clemency Denied on November 2, 2000
On Thursday, November 2, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board held a clemency hearing for Eddie Trice. They voted 4-0 to deny clemency. Attorney Vicki Werneke represented trice at the hearing. Ms Werneke and Dr Ray Hand, an Oklahoma psychologist who had evaluated Trice, gave a compelling presentation on the prisoner’s mental health issues. Five of Trice’s relatives attended the hearing and four of them spoke on his behalf.
Werneke provided the Board with documents that showed Trice had been abused. She also gave them documents showing he had completed several Bible correspondence courses while on death row. Hand stated that Trice had grown up an abused and deprived child who was at risk to break the law. Trice was born to a teenage mother who had been raped. She received little prenatal care during her pregnancy. The delegation as a whole testified that Trice experienced physical and sexual abuse throughout his life. At the age of 15 he was raped while in an adult jail. Trice had a history of learning disabilities, and suffered numerous head injuries. In addition, he had little formal education and was an alcoholic.
According to Hand, Trice learned to read while in prison and had raised his IQ from 79 in 1994 to 92. The score of 79 indicates borderline mental retardation, while 92 is at the low end of the normal range. Responding to a question from board member Susan Bussey, Hand explained that structure – even in a prison – can help a mentally challenged person to do better. He also noted that Trice maintained sobriety in the prison setting and that he had matured. Hand also stated that Trice suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Prayer vigils were held at no less than 12 locations across the state. Thirty-two people took part in the prayer vigil outside the gates of the penitentiary in McAlester.
Summary of Court Decisions
Judgment, District Court, Oklahoma County (William Burkett, J), rendered June 13, 1987, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of Murder in the First Degree, Rape in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and sentencing him, upon the recommendation of the jury, to death, by lethal injection, and concurrently to a term of 2997 years of incarceration, unanimously affirmed, Court of Criminal Appeals (by Chapel, J), rendered April 15, 1993, and certiorari denied, United States Supreme Court, rendered December 11, 1993.
Order, District Court, Oklahoma County (Richard Freeman, J), rendered November 18, 1994, denying defendant’s application for post conviction relief, unanimously affirmed, Court of Criminal Appeals (by Chapel, VPJ), rendered February 29, 1996, and certiorari denied, United States Supreme Court.
Order, United States District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, refusing to award defendant a writ of habeas corpus, unanimously affirmed, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit (before Kelly, PJ, and Briscoe and Lucero, JJ), rendered November 15, 1999, certiorari pending, United States Supreme Court.
On Friday, February 13, 1987, Trice spent most of the day drinking with his roommate, Archie Landon, and Landon's brother Walter. Trice and Archie Landon returned to their apartment between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. Archie fell asleep on the couch and did not see Trice again until early the next morning. At some point later that evening, Trice left the apartment and drove to a house occupied by Ernestine Jones, an 84-year-old woman, and her 63-year-old, mentally retarded son Emanuel. Trice parked one block away, then walked to the Jones' house and entered through a bedroom window on the northwest side of the house. Once inside, Trice severely beat Ernestine Jones with a set of nunchucks (or nunchakus, a martial arts weapon comprised of two pieces of wood attached by a string or chain) and raped her before making off with $500. Ernestine, who was only 5' 1" tall and weighed 105 pounds, suffered a fracture to one of her eye sockets, fractures to both her lower and upper jaw, neck injuries, a crushed rib cage, internal bruises to her heart and lungs, two broken fingers, extensive bruises in the genital area, and scratches in the vaginal canal and cervix area. Although an autopsy suggested Ernestine likely survived for several hours after the attack, she ultimately died of the multiple blunt force injuries to her head, neck, and chest. Ernestine's 63-year-old retarded son, Emanuel Jones, was also severely beaten after attempting to come to his mother's aid, according to police.
Trice's roommate called police after Trice returned home with a lot of money and claimed to have whipped a homosexual with his nunchakus. The roommate said Trice had hidden his bloody clothes in a nearby abandoned house. Trice was arrested 4 days after the murder and later confessed, said Oklahoma City police inspector Eric Mullenix. He was sentenced to death in June 1987. "I have not the words to describe the brutality and savagery of what I observed in the crime scene," Mullenix wrote in October to oppose clemency for Trice. Mullenix said Trice never showed remorse. The state Pardon and Parole Board rejected the clemency request in November. Jurors ruled that the death penalty was warranted because the crime met 4 of 8 aggravating circumstances. Trice had a previous felony conviction involving the use of threat of violence and knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person during the crime. Jurors also said the killing was a heinous, atrocious or cruel act and deemed Trice a continuing threat to society.
The Lamp of Hope (The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)
January 9, 2001 OKLAHOMA - In McAlester, Okla., Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was executed for fatally beating Ernestine Jones in 1987 after breaking into her home. Trice was arrested 4 days after the slaying and police said he later confessed. Authorities said Trice entered Jones' home just after midnight through a bedroom window and beat Jones with a martial arts weapon, called nunchakus, before making off with $500. Jones received blows to the head, fractured jaw and cheek bones, broken ribs and fingers and contusions to the heart and lungs. She was also raped. Jones 63-year-old retarded son, Emanuel Jones, was also severely beaten after attempting to come to his mother's aid, according to police.
Trice's roommate called police after Trice returned home with a lot of money and claimed to have whipped a homosexual with his nunchakus. The roommate said Trice had hidden his bloody clothes in a nearby abandoned house. Trice was arrested 4 days after the murder and later confessed, said Oklahoma City police inspector Eric Mullenix. He was sentenced to death in June 1987. "I have not the words to describe the brutality and savagery of what I observed in the crime scene," Mullenix wrote in October to oppose clemency for Trice. Mullenix said Trice never showed remorse. The state Pardon and Parole Board rejected the clemency request in November.
Jurors ruled that the death penalty was warranted because the crime met 4 of 8 aggravating circumstances. Trice had a previous felony conviction involving the use of threat of violence and knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person during the crime. Jurors also said the killing was a heinous, atrocious or cruel act and deemed Trice a continuing threat to society.
Trice becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 31st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Trice also becomes the 2nd condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in the USA and the 685th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
Dec. 29, 2000 - By Robert Anthony Phillips.
Name: Eddie Trice
Scheduled Execution: Jan. 9, 2001
Years on Death Row: 13
Trice raped and murdered an 84-year-old woman, using a martial arts weapon to smash her head and body. He was also convicted of first-degree rape, burglary and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Prosecutors said that on Feb. 13, 1987, Trice spent most of the day drinking and using the drug PCP with two other men. Later, he left and drove to the Oklahoma City home of Earnestine Jones, an 84-year-old woman with a retarded son, Emanuel. Trice told investigators that he once dated a daughter of Jones. Prosecutors say that Trice broke into the home through a bedroom window. Trice claimed in his confession that Emanuel Jones slapped him while they were talking and Earnestine Jones then beat him with a stick. Prosecutors said Trice broke his weapon beating the woman and attacked the retarded man with a hammer, threatening to kill him if he told anyone what had happened. Trice admitted raping Earnestine Jones. Afterward, Trice said he and some friends used the stolen money to go on a cocaine and wine binge.
Trice, 48, claims that he was abused by relatives and a priest, and had suffered head injuries and was exposed to toxic chemicals as a child. He had served time in prisons in Oklahoma and Kansas. His only defense at trial was that he was under the influence of alcohol and PCP and had not intended to kill Jones.
Oklahoma Department of Correction (The Oklahoman)
"State Executes Inmate for 1987 Beating Death," By Danny M. Boyd, Associated Press Writer
McAlester, Oklahoma -- A man convicted of beating an Oklahoma City woman to death during a $500 robbery was executed by injection Tuesday night, the first of eight state executions planned for the next four weeks. Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He thanked his family and apologized to the victim's family. Trice received the death sentence for the Feb. 14, 1987, slaying of Ernestine Jones, 84, in her northeast Oklahoma City home. He also severely beat Jones' 63-year-old mentally retarded son, Emanuel, who attempted to come to his mother's aid. The victim's son, Elmer Jones, and daughter, Velma Harris, thanked the media and state officials for helping their family.
"Man to Die for 1987 Slaying of Elderly Woman," by Danny M. Boyd. (January 10, 2001)
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- A man convicted of raping and killing an elderly Oklahoma City woman in a $500 robbery was scheduled to be executed Tuesday evening. Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was the first of eight inmates to face the executioner in 25 days at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Trice was to receive a lethal does of drugs at 9 p.m. in the penitentiary's death row, called the H Unit.
He was convicted of the Feb. 14, 1987, murder of Ernestine Jones in her northeast Oklahoma City home. He also severely beat Jones' 63-year-old mentally retarded son, Emanuel, who attempted to come to his mother's aid. Authorities said Trice entered Jones' home just after midnight through a bedroom window and beat Jones to death with a martial arts weapon, called nunchakus, and stole about $500. Jones' jaw, cheekbones, ribs and fingers were broken, and she received blows to the head and suffered bruises to the heart and lungs. Trice's roommate alerted police after Trice came home with a lot of money and claimed to have beaten a homosexual with his nunchakus. Trice later told police he had been drinking wine and taking PCP that night. Trice was arrested four days later, and police said he later confessed. He was convicted and sentenced to death in June 1987.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson said just before the execution that no appeals were pending on Trice's behalf. "Everything at this point in time is green and the execution is expected to go forward," he said. Four of Jones' family members were expected to witness the execution, Edmondson said, including daughter Velma Harris, son Elmer Jones, grandson Charles Jones and great-grandson Ronald Harris. The family issued a statement thanking the police, the courts and media for their help. Emanuel Jones has since died and is buried next to his mother, the family said. "Ernestine was a hard worker who stuck with us," the family said. "She was a mother of 11 who always kept a home."
Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said two of Trice's brothers, a sister-in-law, an attorney, an investigator and two spiritual advisers were to witness on his behalf. Just before the execution, death penalty opponents gathered outside the prison gates to pray for Jones', her family and for Trice. Members of the Homicide Survivors Support Group set up displays of victims near the prayer vigil.
Trice would be the 31st inmate executed in Oklahoma since Oklahoma restarted the death penalty and executed the first man by lethal injection in 1990. He would be the 114th man executed in the state. Wanda Jean Allen, convicted in the 1988 shooting death of Gloria Leathers, was scheduled to face the executioner on Thursday. She would be the first woman executed in Oklahoma since statehood.
Jurors ruled that Trice's crime warranted the death penalty because it met four of eight aggravating circumstances. Trice had a previous felony conviction involving the use of threat of violence and knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person during the crime.
NCADP Execution Alerts by Stefan Wellgraf
Eddie Trice (Oklahoma) - January 9, 2001
“He is without human feelings...if ever a man needed to die, he is sitting right here.” said the prosecuting attorney during the sentencing phase of the trial in order to urge the jury to impose a death sentence on Eddie Trice. The responsible District Attorney for this case was Robert Macy. Macy claims that he has sent more people to death row than any other prosecuting attorney in the US. The Chicago Tribune investigated his cases and found a long record of prosecutorial misconduct. Over 50 defendants prosecuted by Macy’s office were sent to death row. Eddie Trice is one of them. He was convicted for a murder comitted in 1987.
Trice has a long history of family abuse and brain damage which due to lack of funding was not adequately investigated at the time of his trial. Viola Gross, Trice’s mother, was 14 years-old when she was raped by Walter Trice. She did not understand what happened to her and what sexual intercourse was at that time. She became pregnant and nine months later Eddie Trice was born. Viola then had seven more children with four different men. At least one of her later husbands abused Eddie Trice severely. Once he was beaten to unconsciousness with no mediacal treatment to follow. At another occasion the stepfather would force the child’s head in a hot oven in an attempt to kill him. He also deprived the family of food.
Trice later had trouble in school, he could not read, write or understand the teacher. He had severe cramps and was diagnose with athritis. Trice is a functional illiterate and has an IQ of 79, which is in the range of mental retardation. A number serious head injuries, including a car accident in which his head hit the windshield, led to chronic brain damage. During his childhood Trice was raped by a number of different people including a neighbor, an uncle and a catholic priest. Trice started to drink at the age of nine. By the time he was twelve years-old he would consume one gallon of whiskey every three days and by the time he was fifteen he would virtually drink the whole day.
In 1964 Trice tried to commit suicide and at the age of sixteen he would find himself in a county jail. There he was raped again. When Trice was charged with murder, his defense counsel did not have not enough funds to obtain a psychological examination prior to trial. That is why the jury never heard that Trice suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoid psychosis caused by a childhood of abuse and neglect.