Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Monday, October 11, 1999

MEDIA ADVISORY
ALVIN WAYNE CRANE SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Alvin Wayne Crane who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, October 12th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

At about 7:30 a.m., on March 28, 1987, Thelma Moncayo, a nurse and housekeeper for Mrs. Spicer, received a call from Alvin Crane telling her to have his wife, Linda Crane, call when she arrived at the Spicer residence. Mrs. Spicer, a ninety-one year old woman, lived at the residence in Perryton, Texas and had various people assist her with her daily activities. Linda Crane was employed by Mrs. Spicer as a practical nurse. After Linda arrived and called Crane, Crane came by the Spicer residence, and he and Linda went out to Linda's car. The two had an argument, and Crane went into the garage, got a shovel, and began breaking out the windows of his wife's car. At about 9:15 a.m., two Perryton police officers responded to a "domestic call" at the Spicer residence. After Linda told one of the officers that Crane had broken out the windows on her car, the officers began looking for Crane.

Shortly after noon, Yvonne Rogers received a phone call from Crane. Crane wanted to speak with Mrs. Rogers' husband, Gayle Rogers. Mr. Rogers was the business manager for Mrs. Spicer. When Mrs. Rogers told Crane that her husband was outside, Crane responded, "Well, you tell Gayle that I'm coming out to get Linda's check and that he better have that check ready when I get there." Mr. Rogers called the police dispatcher and Melvin Drum, who was the chief deputy sheriff for Ochiltree County.

At about 1:00 p.m., Mr. Rogers again called the Drum residence because one of Mrs. Spicer's employees had called him and told him that Crane had come by Mrs. Spicer's home, had forced Linda to go with him, and was coming to Rogers' house. At this time, the off-duty Melvin Drum got his badge and gun, put his badge on his shirt pocket in a holder (so that the badge was visible outside the shirt), and left his house. At about 1:15 p.m., Melvin Drum received a radio call that Crane had just called the Spicer residence and threatened Crane's wife and that his wife believed that Crane was still in town. Drum radioed that he would be checking out the Spicer residence.

At approximately 1:25 p.m., a neighbor who lived across the street from the Spicer residence heard the short beep of a siren. She went to her window and saw Crane's car stopped at a stoplight with Melvin Drum's car right behind it. Crane's car pulled into the Spicer driveway, and Drum pulled in near the residence as well. As Linda Crane came out of the Spicer residence and approached Drum's car, Crane

exited his car with a shotgun, approached Drum's car, and pointed the shotgun at Drum. Linda Crane went to her husband, shook him for five to ten seconds and said, "No," and returned to the Spicer residence. Crane then shot Drum.

Ms. Moncayo, who was inside the Spicer residence, heard the shot. She ran to a window and saw a flashing red light on Drum's car. She saw Linda running and screaming, "Call the ambulance. Call the police. Alvin Wayne's just shot Melvin Drum." Ms. Moncayo then noticed Crane back out of the driveway and leave. Ms. Moncayo walked out to Drum's car, where Drum appeared to be dead. She noticed that Drum did not have his gun out, the red light of his car was still on, and his badge was in his left shirt pocket.

Another neighbor recalled that at the time of the shooting, he was in his appliance repair shop across the street from the Spicer residence. He heard the shot, looked out the front door, and saw a car headed toward him at a high rate of speed, coming from the Spicer residence. When the car got close to him, he locked the door and fell to the floor. This witness identified Crane as the driver of the car.

When Deputy Sheriff Evans arrived on the scene, he observed Drum's car parked in the street outside the Spicer residence and also noticed skid marks in the street. He also found a shotgun shell in the driveway of the residence.

Bill Cassingham, Sheriff of Beaver County, Oklahoma, received a call at approximately 1:45 p.m. to be on the lookout for Crane. The Sheriff set up roadblocks and dispatched units to Crane's house in Beaver County. At about 4:00 p.m., the Sheriff was notified that Crane had been spotted in his car. A short time later, the Sheriff spotted Crane's car and pursued it a short distance at high speed before he lost sight of it. Shortly thereafter, he spotted the car again and identified Crane as the driver. As Crane drove by, the Sheriff fired at the car. He chased the car for another mile until Crane stopped due to a flat tire. Crane then exited the car holding a shotgun. The Sheriff approached Crane and began talking to him. After a few minutes, Crane threw down the gun and surrendered. In securing the scene, the Sheriff discovered that the shotgun was loaded, and he also discovered two other shotguns, a rifle, and a knife in the car.

Gary Davis, an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, was at the scene of Crane's arrest. Agent Davis recovered from the scene 12-gauge shells with number 8 shot from the floorboard, two 16-gauge shells with number 8 shot, and from the front seat, a spent 16-gauge, number 8 shot shell.

A forensic pathologist determined that Drum had been shot in the face with a shotgun from between three and six feet away, that Drum had been shot with number 8 shot, and that the cause of death was a shotgun wound to the head.

Robert Goetzinger, a district attorney from Oklahoma, revealed that Crane was on probation at the time of the murder, and had been warned in January, 1987, that any future violations of the terms of his probation would lead to revocation of his probation.

Sheriff Cassingham testified for the defense that while Crane was in jail in Oklahoma, he was allowed to make phone calls and these phone calls were taped and transcribed. The defense attempted to offer those transcripts into evidence; however, the trial court ruled them inadmissible as hearsay. The defense also offered Crane's medical records into evidence. These records indicated that Crane was involved in a motorcycle accident on July 9, 1981, resulting in a head injury and various physical problems.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In September 1987, an Ochiltree County grand jury indicted Crane for the March 28, 1987, intentional murder of Melvin Drum, a peace officer acting in the discharge of his lawful duties, a capital offense. After venue was transferred from Ochiltree County to Denton County, Crane was tried before a jury upon a plea of not guilty. On November 13, 1987, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. A separate punishment hearing ensued. At the conclusion of this hearing, the jury answered affirmatively the two special issues and in accordance with state law, the trial court (the 211th Judicial District Court of Denton County, Texas) sentenced Crane to death.

Crane's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on January 31, 1990. A motion for rehearing was denied March 28, 1990. Crane did not seek further review to the United States Supreme Court.

On November 28, 1990, Crane filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus in the convicting court. The trial court entered factual findings and legal conclusions recommending denial of the application. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief on March 11, 1992. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on January 11, 1993.

Crane filed a second application for state writ of habeas corpus on December 15, 1992. The trial court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that Crane's application be denied. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief on April 19, 1994. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on October 31, 1994.

Crane then proceeded into federal court by filing a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus in the United State District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on February 28, 1995. Crane filed an amended petition on May 9, 1995. After an evidentiary hearing, a magistrate judge recommended that relief be denied. The district court agreed and entered final judgement against Crane on August 20, 1997. The district court denied Crane permission to appeal on February 25, 1998. After briefing and oral argument by the parties. the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied Crane permission to appeal on June 8, 1999. Crane then sought review to the United States Supreme Court. The matter is pending before the Court.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, Detective Mark Chumbley of the Woodward, Oklahoma, Police Department related that he bought marijuana from Crane at Crane's house in front of his wife and three kids on August 20, 1984. Detective Chumbley had information before entering Crane's house that Crane had a machine gun and other weapons. Chumbley arrested Crane for possession with intent to deliver marijuana and seized an illegal machine gun, an illegal sawed-off shotgun, and approximately seven pounds of marijuana.

Vance Woodbury, a bus driver for Crane's children's school, testified that on January 22, 1987, he hit the Cranes' dog while driving his bus. Woodbury drove on to school, but he returned with one of Crane's daughters to remove the dog from the road. Crane and his wife approached and Crane's wife became abusive. Woodbury attempted to leave the scene, but Crane reached in his window, grabbed him, and punched him twice. Woodbury left, but Crane pursued him at speeds of 80 to 100 miles per hour. When Woodbury got to the school, Crane chased him inside.

The principal at the school where Woodbury worked testified that when Crane arrived at the school he charged at Woodbury and told the principal, "I'm going to kill that son of a bitch. Get out of the way." The principal, however, succeeded in calming Crane down. Crane was charged and convicted of assault for the incident.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

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

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

    10/14/1999 Jerry Walter McFadden (Upshur County)
    10/21/1999 Pedro Sosa (Atascosa County)
    10/28/1999 Domingo Cantu, Jr. (Dallas County)
    11/17/1999 John Michael Lamb (Hunt County)
    12/08/1999 David Martin Long (Dallas County)
    12/14/1999 Robert Ronald Atworth (Dallas County)
    01/12/2000 Earl Carl Heiselbetz, Jr. (Sabine County)
    01/13/2000 Johnny Paul Penry (Polk County)
    01/25/2000 Glen Charles McGinnis (Montgomery County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 190th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 26th since General Cornyn took office.

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

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050