Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, June 1, 1999

MEDIA ADVISORY

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on William Hamilton Little who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 1, 1999.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the morning of December 3, 1983, Michael John Rammel found the body of Marilyn Peter in her home. He and Pat Faulkner arrived to install her clothes dryer. After installing the dryer, Rammel went to the front door where he found blood on the doorjamb. Rammel knocked on the door and entered after he heard a baby crying. He found Peter's small son crying on top of the kitchen counter. There was blood all over the kitchen and living room areas. The body of Marilyn Peter was lying in the living room, with numerous stab wounds on virtually all areas of her body. Robert Dunn, the police investigator also described the scene of the murder in like manner, although in greater detail.

[Little] was arrested at his place of residence on another, unrelated charge during the early morning hours of December 6, 1983. During interrogation at the police station following his arrest, [Little] gave a written statement which later was introduced at his trial. The State introduced an edited version of the confession, and [Little] introduced the balance under the rule of completeness. In the statement [Little] admitted he went to the home of Marilyn Peter on the night of her murder, that he had sexual intercourse with her, and that he killed Peter with a butcher knife which was in her apartment. [Little] claimed in the portion of the statement he introduced that the sexual intercourse with Peter was consensual. He further claimed that he killed her only after she attacked him with the knife, which he took away from her, and after she repeatedly attacked him while he kept her away by stabbing her.

Glenn Wesley Harwell testified as to the events which took place in the company of [Little] on the night of December 2, 1983, hours before the murder of Peter. He was in the company of [Little] while at "The Game Room," a recreation facility located in the Old Snake River Subdivision in which both [Little] and Peter lived. During this night at "The Game Room," [Little] consumed beer and marihuana, and Harwell was of the opinion that [Little] became intoxicated over the course of the evening. Harwell related that [Little] was "talking crazy" during the evening, and that [Little] had claimed to have scalped people and cut them up when he lived in New York. According to Harwell, [Little] was carrying a knife that night, and had tried to start fights with both strangers and friends.

In the part of the statement offered by [Little] he stated that he had gone to the deceased's home on the night or morning of the date of the alleged offense; that she had invited him into the house and offered to smoke a joint of marijuana with him, that they had engaged in sexual intercourse with her consent; that later they argued about the deceased's refusal to "turn me onto some weed;" that the deceased came at him with a butcher knife; and that he took the knife away from her and used it to repel her repeated attacks upon him. On the way home he threw the knife off a bridge into the water.

There was evidence offered as to the condition of the deceased's house which clearly indicated quite a struggle took place. There was blood all over the living room and kitchen and on a space heater and on a high chair which was broken. Other evidence indicated this was not the condition of the house an hour or so before the alleged offense. Dr. Espinola, who conducted the autopsy on the deceased, testified she died from five stab wounds in the chest, that she had been choked, that there were other lacerations, wounds, and bruises, and that a mark on the deceased's neck could have been from contact with the high chair.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In February 1984, Little was indicted in the 253rd Judicial District Court of Liberty County, Texas, for the instant capital murder. Little was tried before a jury upon a plea of not guilty, and on April 3, 1985, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. On April 5, 1985, following a separate punishment hearing, the jury answered affirmatively the three special sentencing issues.

Little appealed his conviction and sentence to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed on March 23, 1988, and denied rehearing on April 27, 1988. The United States Supreme Court denied Little's petition for writ of certiorari on October 31, 1988. Little then filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus. On May 24, 1989, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief. Little promptly proceeded into federal court by filing a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division. The federal district court denied relief on February 19, 1998. On December 10, 1998, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Little's request for a certificate of probable cause to appeal. Little then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court which was denied on May 17, 1999.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State introduced evidence of Little's prior convictions for involuntary manslaughter and assault. Little's probation officer testified that Little violated the terms of probation imposed in connection with the involuntary manslaughter conviction and absconded rather than comply with the probation condition of residence at a halfway house for drug rehabilitation. Katherine Singletary testified that Little assaulted her as she worked as a desk clerk at the Driftwood Motel in Galveston, Texas; Little grabbed her, threw her to the floor, began dragging her toward stairs leading to his room, and choked her saying, "I like to watch people die."

Little was also connected to three unadjudicated burglaries. Leo Keys, who was Little's neighbor in Baytown, Texas, for twelve years, described Little's attempted burglary of his home. Little was also observed furtively entering and then leaving the house of his cousin, Opal Allen, on the day the house was burglarized, at a time when no one was home. When Allen questioned him about the burglary, Little brandished a knife and asked if she thought he did it. O.C. Jones, a resident of the Old Snake River Subdivision, testified that his home was burglarized and identified three macrame owls as property taken during the burglary. Law enforcement officials recovered the owls from Little's residence. Nine witnesses testified that Little's reputation for being a peaceful and law-abiding citizen was bad.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

There was evidence of alcohol and drug use in connection with the offense.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

06/17/99 Joseph Stanley Faulder (Angelina County)
07/01/99 Emanuel Kemp (Tarrant County)
07/01/99 Charles Daniel Tuttle (Smith County)
07/13/99 Spencer Corey Goodman (Fort Bend County)
07/14/99 Michael Nawee Blair (Collin County)
07/21/99 Reginald Lenard Reeves (Red River County)
08/05/99 Charles Anthony Boyd (Dallas County)
08/17/99 Larry Keith Robison (Tarrant County)
08/18/99 Joe Mario Trevino (Tarrant County)
09/01/99 Raymond James Jones (Jefferson County)
09/14/99 William Prince Davis (Harris County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 177th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 13th since General Cornyn took office.

The federal court litigation in this case has been handled by Assistant Attorney General Gena Bunn, of the Capital Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General.