Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Media Advisory:

JOHN MICHAEL LAMB SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on John Michael Lamb who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 17th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On November 6, 1982, at approximately 11:30 a.m., Jerry Harrison Chafin was found shot to death in a motel room in Greenville, Texas. Police were immediately summoned. The victim's personal items, including a college identification card, several credit card receipts, and clothing, were strewn across the bed. A bullet cartridge was found approximately eight inches from the victim's head. No identifiable fingerprints were discovered. An autopsy revealed that the victim had been shot three times in the chest and once in the hand at a distance of at least three to four feet. The cause of death was the gunshot wounds to the chest. Three .25 caliber bullets were recovered from the body.

Lamb was arrested by a Florida state trooper on November 11, 1982, after an extended chase. Lamb was driving the victim's car. Recovered from Lamb's possession were the victim's billfold, driver's license, and credit cards. On November 13, 1982, two Texas law enforcement officers traveled to Florida to meet with Lamb. Lamb subsequently gave the Texas officers a written confession to the murder and robbery of the victim. Lamb's confession, in its entirety, reads as follows:

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Lamb was indicted in February 1983 in the 196th District Court of Hunt County Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Jerry Harrison Chafin in the course of committing or attempting to commit the offense of robbery, which occurred on or about November 6, 1982. Lamb was tried before a jury following his plea of not guilty, and on March 22, 1983, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. The next day, after a separate punishment hearing, the jury answered affirmatively to special issues and in accordance with state law, the trial court assessed Lamb's punishment at death.

Lamb appealed his conviction and sentence to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed on June 13, 1984. The United States Supreme Court denied Lamb's petition for writ of certiorari on February 25, 1985.

Lamb then filed applications for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court on March 25, 1985, and September 27, 1985. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court recommended that relief be denied. On January 8, 1986, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and denied relief on the basis of the trial court's findings. With an execution date pending, Lamb filed another application for state writ of habeas corpus on February 25, 1986. The trial court recommended that relief be denied, and the Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief and a stay of execution on February 27, 1986.

Lamb then filed a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The district court granted a stay of execution, and subsequently held an evidentiary hearing. Thereafter, the district court dismissed Lamb's federal petition in order for Lamb to present additional claims to the state courts before proceeding further in federal court. Lamb returned to state court by filing another application for state writ of habeas corpus in the convicting court. After another hearing, the trial court recommended that relief be denied. On April 22, 1997, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and denied relief on the basis of the trial court's findings.

On April 23, 1997, Lamb returned to federal court by filing a petition for federal writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The district court denied relief on July 10, 1998, and denied Lamb permission to appeal on September 9, 1998. On June 23, 1999, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied Lamb permission to appeal. Lamb then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which is presently pending before that court.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State presented evidence of four felony convictions. On November 5, 1982, the day before the instant offense, Lamb was convicted in White County, Arkansas, of theft by receiving and of attempted burglary. Lamb received a suspended five-year sentence with credit for the ninety days served and was released. On December 6, 1982, Lamb was convicted in Madison, Florida, of armed robbery with a firearm and attempted murder with a firearm. The Florida convictions were based on acts which took place on November 11, 1982, five days following the instant capital murder. The victim of the Florida offenses testified that Lamb robbed the gas station and convenience store where she worked. During the offense, Lamb stole two cases of beer and shot the victim twice, once in the hand and once in the back. Upon his arrest in Florida, Lamb said "glad you SOB's finally caught me before I killed someone else."

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

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

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

11/18/1999 Jose Angel Gutierrez (Brazos County)
12/08/1999 David Martin Long (Dallas County)
12/09/1999 James Lee Beathard (Trinity County)
12/14/1999 Robert Ronald Atworth (Dallas County)
12/15/1999 Sammie Felder (Harris County)
01/12/2000 Earl Carl Heiselbetz, Jr. (Sabine County)
01/13/2000 Johnny Paul Penry (Polk County)
01/18/2000 Spencer Corey Goodman (Fort Bend County)
01/20/2000 David Hicks (Freestone County)
01/25/2000 Glen Charles McGinnis (Montgomery County)
01/26/2000 Anzel Jones (Lamar County)
01/27/2000 James Walter Moreland (Henderson County)
02/24/2000 Toronto M. Patterson (Dallas County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, and if Desmond Jennings is executed on November 16, 1999, it will be the 194th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 30th since General Cornyn took office.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Erik Cary of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Division.

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