2005-02-18 22:01:45 UTC
February 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of four members of
Dennis Bagwell and his girlfriend, Victoria Wolford, lived in Wilson
county in a small travel trailer on property owned by Bagwell's
mother, Leona McBee, and her common-law husband, Ronald Boone. Boone
and McBee also lived on the property in a mobile home, which they
shared with Boone's granddaughter, Tassy Boone; McBee's niece, Libby
Best; and Best's daughter, Reba Best.
In September 1995, McBee asked Bagwell and Wolford to move. They
moved in with some friends in San Antonio. The travel trailer they
had been living in remained on Boone and McBee's property.
About two weeks later, on 20 September, Bagwell and Wolford drove to
his mother's home to borrow money. At Bagwell's trial, Wolford
testified that she had a headache and went into the travel trailer to
rest. A short time later, Bagwell walked over and told her that his
mother would only give him $20.
According to Wolford, Bagwell then went back to the mobile home, while
she stood outside the travel trailer. Through the window, Wolford saw
Bagwell strike his mother, then she heard screams and two popping
noises. She heard Tassy Boone yell, "No, no," and heard Reba Best
scream. Everything was quiet for a while, then Wolford heard McBee
yell at the dogs and gasp for air. Then, through the window, she saw
Bagwell hit McBee with a long-handled gun.
Later, Wolford testified, Bagwell took some towels, wetted them with a
water hose, and wiped off a hammer. He also told Wolford that he was
going to go inside to wipe off fingerprints he might have left in the
house. He said that he wanted to make the crime look like a robbery
and a rape of Tassy Boone.
The bodies were discovered by Ronald Boone, when he came home from
work. Leona McBee, 47, had been beaten and strangled, and her neck
was broken. Libby Best, 24, had been shot twice in the head. Tassy
Boone, 14, had been beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted. Her
neck was also broken. Reba Best, 4, had been beaten, and her skull
Bagwell had a prior conviction for attempted capital murder, for
robbing and slitting the throat of an illegal immigrant. He began
serving an 18-year sentence in October 1982. He was paroled in October
1989. In September 1992, he was returned to prison on a parole
violation. He was paroled again in January 1993. (At the time, the
state of Texas was forced to meet strict prison population caps
imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) Bagwell was
still on parole when he murdered his mother and relatives.
In addition to Wolford's testimony, Bagwell was linked to the crime by
a bloody shoeprint found underneath Tassy Boone's body. Bagwell
denied any involvement in the crime. His lawyers implicated Tassy's
mother as the killer, but she established that she was in California
at the time of the crime.
At Bagwell's punishment hearing, the state also presented evidence of
his involvement in another murder that took place two weeks before the
capital murders. Bagwell kicked George Barry, 63, to death in a bar
where Barry worked as a janitor. A sheriff's deputy also testified
that Bagwell made numerous threats against law enforcement personnel
prior to his trial. Bagwell was also addicted to cocaine.
A jury convicted Bagwell of capital murder in November 1996 and
sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed
the conviction and sentence in March 1999. All of his subsequent
appeals in state and federal court were denied.
In 1997, Bagwell was convicted of killing George Barry.
"They're fixin' to execute an innocent man," Bagwell said in an
interview the day before his execution. He said that he never went to
his mother's home and doesn't know who committed the murders. He said
that Victoria Wolford was coerced into testifying against him.
Despite his claim of innocence, Bagwell said that he hoped that his
execution would "hurry up and go through."
"If they offered me a life sentence, I wouldn't take it. I'm not
walking through these hallways as an 80- or 90-year-old for something
I didn't do," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'm tired of living in a
cage like an animal.
At his execution, Bagwell expressed love to his friends. He was
pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m.
(Sources: Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of
Criminal Justice, Associated Press, Huntsville Item, San Antonio
Texas Execution Information
Texas Execution Information