John Leslie Wheat

Executed June 13, 2001 6:19 p.m. by Lethal Injection in Texas

35th murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
718th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
8th murderer executed in Texas in 2001
247th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Lethal Injection
John Leslie Wheat

W / M / 51 - 57

Lacey Anderson
Ashley Ochoa
Edwardo Ochoa

Angela Anderson lived in an apartment with her 3 children: Edwardo Ochoa (8), Ashley Ochoa (6), and Lacey Anderson (19 months). Wheat was a church maintenance man and lived in the same apartment complex, often babysitting for Angela while she was at work. On July 30, 1995, Angela delivered a note to Wheat, indicating that she was going to call the police because Ashley had told her that she was molested by Wheat. Wheat became enraged, went to the apartment and shot Angela, then shot and killed each of the children. Angela survived with brain damage. Three others, including a security guard and a police officer, were also shot and wounded by Wheat during the rampage.

Wheat v. Texas, 120 S.Ct. 376 (1999) (cert. denied)
Wheat v. Johnson, 238 F.3d 357 (5th Cir. 2001) (Habeas)
Wheat v. Johnson, 121 S.Ct. 2226 (2001) (cert. denied)

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (John L. Wheat)

Texas Attorney General

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on John Wheat, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, 2001:

On February 24, 1997, John Wheat was convicted of the July 30, 1995, murder of 19-month-old Lacey Anderson in Fort Worth, Texas. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows. Angela Anderson lived in an apartment with her three children, seven-year-old Eddie, six-year-old Ashley, and 19-month-old Lacey. Wheat lived in the same apartment complex. On the evening of July 29, 1995, Wheat babysat Eddie and Ashley while Anderson was at work. Another neighbor took care of Lacey. The next morning, Ashley told her mother that the night before Wheat had kissed her on the lips and touched her in the genital area. Angela Anderson wrote a note, which Eddie delivered to Wheat, repeating Ashley's allegation and indicating that she was going to report it to the police.

Immediately after receiving the note, Wheat left his apartment with a loaded .22 pistol, a loaded .45 semiautomatic and extra clips, and went to Angela's apartment. He started firing the .45 at Angela as she fled upstairs; he also shot security guard Jesse Cranfield, who lived in the apartment above Angela's. Angela fled to another apartment at the far end of the complex. She had already been shot at least twice by that time, and was trying to hide. Wheat chased her into the apartment and tried to shoot another resident who was blocking the door, but the .45 was out of ammunition. Wheat entered the apartment and found Angela in the closet of a back bedroom, and shot her twice in the head with the .22 pistol. (Angela sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest, and thigh. At the time of Wheat's trial, she still had bullet fragments lodged within her brain tissue because it would have been too risky to attempt to remove them.)

Wheat left that apartment, reloading his .45 as he went, and walked back to the apartment where Angela's three children remained. He found them in a back bedroom and shot each of them in the head. Wheat then returned to his apartment, retrieved a .30 caliber rifle, and started taking potshots at people standing in the common areas of the apartment complex. He shot a police officer who responded to the police dispatch, causing a life-threatening injury. Shortly after the police arrived, Wheat surrendered his weapons and asked them not to hurt him. The children's bodies were discovered after a neighbor told to police officers at the scene that they were still in the apartment. Eddie was found kneeling next to a bed, his head lying on the bed in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the head. Police found Ashley in a corner of the same bedroom, curled up and shot in the head. Lacey, the baby, was found on the floor in a back room of the apartment, also shot in the head. Lacey was still breathing when she was found, but subsequently died after efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. Autopsies revealed that all three children died as a result of gunshot wounds to the forehead.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY - Wheat was indicted on October 29, 1995, in Tarrant County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Lacey Anderson, a child less than six years of age, on or about July 30, 1995. Wheat was tried before a jury following his plea of not guilty, and on February 24, 1997, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. On February 26, 1997, after a jury finding in a separate punishment hearing, Wheat received the death penalty.

Wheat's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the trial court's decision on April 21, 1999. The United States Supreme Court denied hearing the case. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Wheat's initial state application for writ of habeas corpus on May 26, 1999, and dismissed his supplemental application as an abuse of the writ on June 23, 1999.

On March 21, 2000, after conducting an evidentiary hearing, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, entered judgment denying Wheat's federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. On January 5, 2001, after hearing oral arguments of the parties, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Wheat's request for a certificate of appealability to allow the appeal to proceed. The United State's Supreme Court denied Wheat's petition for writ of certiorari and application for stay of execution on June 4, 2001.

There was no evidence of prior criminal history presented by the State at the punishment phase of trial.


On July 30, 1995, Lacey Anderson, not quite two years old, was murdered during a shooting rampage in Fort Worth by John Wheat, then a 51-year-old church maintenance man. Also killed were Lacey's 6-year-old sister Ashley Ochoa and her 8-year-old brother Edwardo Ochoa. Wheat was enraged because the mother of the children had written a note to Wheat that indicated that she was going to call the police because Ashley had told her mother that Wheat had put his hand in her pants. Wheat argued with the mother and then shot at her as she went upstairs to call the police. He chased her into an apartment and then shot her three times as she hid in a bedroom closet. He then went to her apartment and killed each of her children. Wheat then got a carbine rifle from his apartment and fired directly into the apartment of the complex's security guard, wounding him in the back and the leg. Another person living in the complex was wounded by shots fired at random by Wheat. When the police arrived, Wheat fired on them, wounding a female officer before laying down his weapons and surrendering. The children's mother survived her wounds but suffered brain damage. The jury took only 17 minutes to find Wheat guilty and 2 hours to sentence him to death. Prosecutors had rejected a plea bargain for life offered by his attorneys.

Amarillo Globe-News

Man Executed For Rampage That Killed 3 Children (Associated Press Huntsville) - A former church custodian was executed Wednesday evening for a shooting rampage six years ago in Fort Worth where three children were killed and four other people wounded.

John Wheat was convicted of killing 20-month-old Lacey Anderson in a spree that also claimed the lives of her two older siblings, Eddie Ochoa, 8, and Ashley Ochoa, 6. The three, all shot in the head, were found in their mother's apartment after Wheat surrendered to police closing in on him. Angie Anderson, their mother, was injured. Wheat was pronounced at 6:19 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal dose of drugs began.

"I deeply regret what happened," he said. "I did not intentionally or knowingly harm anyone. I did not do anything deliberately. That's it." Then Wheat uttered a word in Vietnamese, "didimau," which prison officials translated as meaning, "Let's get out of here." He coughed twice, sputtered and gasped before he stopped moving.

Angie Anderson's aunt, Cynthia Bolin, said her niece still had nightmares about the shootings and that Wheat had taken "the only thing that mattered to her." "Mr. Wheat has taken the only joy of her life and left her with severe brain damage for the rest of her life," she said in a written statement. "The execution will not bring closure to Angie, but it may comfort her to know that he is dead and will not kill or harm anyone else." Anderson was not in Huntsville Wednesday night for the execution.
"She will never again be as functional as she once was before the tragedy," Bolin said. "She will remain a victim ... with only partial memories of her three children, all caused by the cruel actions of John L. Wheat."

Five friends and relatives of Wheat watched him die and one remarked in the chamber following his death that the three children now had someone to care for them in heaven. "I think he'll never have a chance to see them in hell," added Angela Jay, the police officer who was shot three times in the spree and was among victim witnesses also in the chamber Wednesday. Asked if she accepted his explanation that the killings were unintentional, Bolin replied: "That's a bunch of bull."

Wheat was the eighth convicted killer executed this year in Texas, where a record 40 executions were carried out last year. The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review his case and Wheat's attorneys made no moves seeking clemency. He declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his punishment.

"It's probably the most horrendous offense I've ever dealt with," said Lisa Mullen, who prosecuted Wheat at his capital murder trial, recalled this week.

Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson.

John L. Wheat, 57, was executed by lethal injection on 13 June in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of three children during a shooting rampage. In July 1995, Angela Anderson asked John Wheat, then 51, who lived in the same apartment complex, to babysit her children while she was at work. She left her 7-year-old son, Edwardo Ochoa, and her 6-year-old daughter, Ashley Ochoa, with Wheat, and her 19-month-old daughter, Lacey Anderson, with another neighbor. The next morning, Ashley told her mother that Wheat had kissed her on the lips and put his hand down her shorts. Anderson wrote a message to Wheat and gave it to Edwardo to deliver to him. In the note, Anderson wrote what Ashley had told her and that she was going to report him to the police.

Immediately after reading the note, Wheat left his apartment with a loaded .22-caliber pistol, a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, and extra clips for the .45, and went to Anderson's apartment. As Anderson fled upstairs to call the police, Wheat shot at her multiple times with the .45, hitting her at least twice. He also shot security guard Jesse Cranfield, 33, wounding him in the back and leg. Wheat chased Anderson into an apartment and shot again at least twice with the .22, as she tried to hide in a bedroom closet. He then went into Anderson's apartment, reloading the .45 on the way, and shot each of her children -- Edwardo, Ashley, and Lacey -- in a rear bedroom. After shooting the children, Wheat retrieved a .30-caliber rifle and started firing at random into the apartment complex, wounding tenant Juan Ramirez, 19.

Fort Worth police officer Angela Jay was shot several times in the chest and stomach as she entered the complex. As other officers converged on Wheat, he put down his weapons and surrendered. Edwardo and Ashley were found dead. Lacey died at the scene. Angela Anderson sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest, and thigh. She also sustained permanent brain damage. John Wheat had no prior criminal history. At his trial, his lawyer claimed that he suffered brain damage weeks earlier from inhaling glue fumes while installing insulation. He also claimed that his actions were influenced by his service in Vietnam, although no record of that service was produced.

Wheat was convicted of the murder of Lacey Anderson. Under Texas law, murder of a child less than six year old is a capital offense. A jury sentenced Wheat to death in February 1997, and he was not tried for the other murders. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court's verdict in April 1999. His other appeals to state and federal court were denied. Wheat did not seek clemency and declined to speak with reporters prior to his execution.

At his execution, Wheat said, "I deeply regret what happened. I did not intentionally or knowingly harm anyone. I did not do anything deliberately." He then uttered a Vietnamese word that prison officials said means, "let's get out of here." He was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m.