Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Friday, August 13, 1999

Media Advisory: Larry Keith Robison is scheduled to be executed

AUSTIN - Texas Atorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Larry Keith Robison who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, August 17th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

At 4:30 p.m. on August 10, 1982, Junett Bryant arrived at the home of her adult son, Ricky Lee Bryant, in Fort Worth, Texas. When he did not answer the door, Ms. Bryant entered the house and discovered her son lying on the floor -- his head severed from his body. Ms. Bryant summoned the police. The chief medical examiner testified that the naked, decapitated body of Ricky Lee Bryant was on the bedroom floor with his head lying near his right arm. Bryant's penis and scrotum had been severed; the penis and scrotal sac were found in the double sinks in the kitchen, but the testicles were missing. Bryant had suffered two gunshot wounds to the head, eight cut wounds, and forty-nine stab wounds.

Four more homicide victims were located in the house next door to Bryant's. The fully-clothed bodies of Earline Barker and Bruce Gardner were lying in the living room. Barker had multiple gunshot and stab wounds, including one very deep cut wound to the neck. Gardner had several gunshot wounds and a cut wound to his neck. In a bedroom was the body of a child, Scott Willard Reed, lying on his stomach and clad only in white underpants. He had been shot once, suffered a contusion of the head due to blunt trauma, and had been cut and stabbed multiple times. Finally, the nude body of Georgia Reed was located in another bedroom. She had been shot twice, stabbed multiple times, and had a deep cut wound to the neck severing the jugular veins and carotid arteries.

Shortly after 4:00 a.m. on August 11, 1982, a police officer in Wichita, Kansas, noticed a suspicious looking vehicle backed up to a local church. The officer approached the vehicle and asked Robison, the sole occupant of the vehicle, to get out of the car and for identification. Robison claimed not to have any identification and told the officer that his name was Jeffrey K. Kennedy and that the car belonged to his brother, George. Further investigation revealed that the car's registration had expired in 1980, although the license plate bore a 1983 sticker. Thereafter, Robison volunteered that he had a checkbook in the car that would serve as identification. The checkbook was in Robison's given name. A search of Robison's pockets revealed a woman's wedding ring, some bullets, and three wallets containing the driver licenses of Robison, Bruce Gardner, and Ricky Lee Bryant. Robison was handcuffed and placed in the police car.

The vehicle identification number on Robison's car revealed that the car was registered to Bruce Gardner. In the car, officers found a loaded .22 caliber handgun under the driver's seat. Additionally, four rings, more bullets, and two watches were found in a suitcase in the car.

A pawn shop manager sold Robison a .22 caliber handgun one week before the murders, and identified the handgun found in Robison's possession in Kansas as the one he had sold Robison. An assistant hardware manager at a Winn Dixie store sold Robison three boxes of .22 caliber ammunition on the day of the murders.

All of the shell casings recovered from the murder scene were fired from Robison's handgun. Three knives recovered at the crime scene tested positive for blood, and the blood type on two of the knives matched three of the victims. A pair of shorts and a matchbook recovered from the suitcase in Kansas tested positive for blood.

The rings and two of the watches recovered from Robison were identified as belonging to Ms. Reed and Ms. Barker. Another watch taken from Robison at the time of his arrest was identified as belonged to Gardner.

Thomas Ozmer, a close friend of Ricky Bryant's testified that he had known both Robison and Bryant since 1976, and had introduced Bryant to Robison in June 1982. About a month before the murders, Robison moved in with Bryant. Ozmer stated that he had stored an old, inoperable 1966 Chevy Belaire at Bryant's home. The license plate found on Gardner's car in Kansas was from Ozmer's car.

The primary defense at trial was that Robison was insane at the time of the murders. The defense presented testimony that several members of Robison's father's family had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that Robison had exhibited behavior consistent with schizophrenia. Robison had also been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia. A defense expert opined that Robison is a chronic paranoid schizophrenic, and was delusional and legally insane at the time of the offense. During an interview, Robison had told the defense expert that he had eaten Bryant's testicles.

The State presented competing evidence that Robison was faking a mental disorder, and had a long history of drug abuse, including marijuana, methamphetamines, amphetamines, tranquilizers, LSD, and PCP. The State's expert opined that Robison's past behavior was attributable to a drug psychosis, which has similar symptoms to schizophrenia. There was no evidence that Robison was under the influence of drugs at the time he committed the instant murders.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In November 1982, Robison was indicted in Tarrant County, Texas, in cause number 196465, for the intentional murder of Bruce Gardner while in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offense of robbery of Earline Barker, a capital offense. In 1983, Robison was convicted of the capital offense and sentenced to death. However, in 1986, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Robison's conviction and sentence due to an error during jury selection.

The State retried Robison before a jury upon his plea of not guilty. Rejecting Robison's defense of insanity, on November 13, 1987, the jury found Robison guilty of capital murder. After a separate trial on punishment, the jury answered the two special punishment issues affirmatively. The trial court, the 297th District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, sentenced Robison to death.

On June 29, 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Robison's conviction and sentence. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on June 26, 1995.

Robison filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus on April 22, 1996, and a supplemental application on July 19, 1996. On August 8, 1996, the trial court recommended that the application be denied and the supplemental application be dismissed as untimely filed. On October 9, 1996, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and denied habeas relief.

On December 12, 1996, Robison filed a federal habeas petition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. On February 9, 1997, the district court entered an order denying habeas corpus relief. On April 1, 1997, the district court denied Robison's request for a certificate of appealability. On August 13, 1998, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief. The Fifth Circuit denied a motion for rehearing on September 21, 1998, and the Supreme Court denied certiorari review on May 3, 1999. A clemency petition is pending before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State presented evidence that Robison had received a three-year probated sentence for a felony theft conviction. Robison had violated one of the terms of his probation, but his probation was never revoked.

Judy Smith, a friend of both Robison and Ricky Lee Bryant, testified that Robison had called her several times from the Tarrant County Jail. With regard to Bryant's murder, Robison told her that "he went into the bathroom and shot him like a kamikaze. . . . He said that after he had killed Ricky Bryant, he could not find the car keys, and that's why he went next door." He also told her, "If I could have found the car keys, I could have gotten away with it." Concerning the other murders, Smith testified that Robison expressed puzzlement about "why Mrs. Barker didn't do something because Georgia Reed was screaming and begging him for her life." He killed Scott Reed, the young boy, because he "couldn't leave any witnesses." With regard to his arrest in Kansas, Robison told Smith that "the lady police officer was very lucky that he didn't shoot her, too," but Robison realized that if he shot a police officer, "they'd never leave him alone." Smith also testified that she had seen Robison shoot up amphetamines and knew he used LSD. Susan Wood testified that, in early 1982, she bought drugs from Robison, and they both used the drugs at her house, including speed, crystal, and marijuana.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use connected with the instant offense.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS
08/18/99 Joe Mario Trevino (Tarrant County)
09/01/99 Raymond James Jones (Jefferson County)
09/10/99 Willis J. Barnes (Harris County)
09/14/99 William Prince Davis (Harris County)
09/21/99 Rickie Wayne Smith (Harris County)
10/12/99 Alvin Wayne Crane (Ochiltree County)
10/21/99 Pedro Sosa (Atascosa County)
11/17/99 John Michael Lamb (Hunt County)
01/13/00 Johnny Paul Penry (Polk County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 185th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 21st since General Cornyn took office.

This case has been handled by Assistant Attorney General Tomee Crocker of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Division.

- 30 -


Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Andrea Horton at (512) 463-2050