Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Friday, January 14, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

SPENCER COREY GOODMAN SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Spencer Corey Goodman who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, January 18th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Cecile Ham left her Houston residence at approximately 1:20 p.m., July 2, 1991. A friend at the residence expected her to return, but she did not return, and she was reported missing the next day. At the time of her disappearance, Ham was 48 years old, approximately five feet three inches in height, and approximately 130 pounds in weight. She owned a red 1991 Cadillac automobile.

On August 7, 1991, a deputy sheriff in Eagle County, Colorado, arrested Spencer Corey Goodman after a high-speed automobile chase through the Colorado mountains. Goodman surrendered to the deputy only after driving Ham's Cadillac over a low cliff and wrecking it. Shortly thereafter, Goodman gave a written statement, which read in relevant part:

On July 1, 1991, I was released from the old Bexar County Jail where I was being held [at a ] Wackenhut Parole Violators Facility. I was given a bus ride back to Houston, Texas by Wackenhut and dropped off on the east side of town at 9:30 a.m. I was given my papers to report to Texas House at 5:30 p.m. that night. Instead of going to the halfway house I started walking west. I walked most of the night. . . . .

I laid down for a while along the side of the railroad tracks but I kept getting eat up by mosquitos so I could not sleep. During the day on Tuesday, July 2, 1991, I started walking out Memorial Drive. During the mid-afternoon it started raining. I walked up into a Walgreens parking lot maybe about 4:00 p.m. and just hung around the parking lot for about 20 to 30 minutes. I saw a white female drive up in a 1991 red Cadillac. She pulled up in the firelane along the blind side of the parking lot and then went into the Walgreens store. At that time I was not really watching her, but I don't think that she stayed inside the drug store very long.

When the lady came out of the store she opened the driver's door and started getting into the car. I decided at that point that I wanted to take her car from her. I had been walking for a long time and my feet hurt and I wanted some transportation. I ran up behind her while the driver's door was still open. She was sitting behind the wheel, and I shoved her over with one hand and punched her just under the left ear, to knock her out. She fell over to the passenger's side and was knocked unconscious. I got into the driver's seat. I think that I may have hit her in the back of the neck to make sure that she was unconscious.

I think that the keys to the car were in her hand because they fell to the floor. I picked them up and started the car and then looked around to see if anyone had seen what happened. It was raining, and there was nobody around the parking lot. I first pulled out of the parking lot and turned right on Memorial going west, but there was a subdivision down that way, so I turned around and went to the Dairy Ashford for a ways and then turned off towards the west. I know that I was near a high school off of Dairy Ashford. I pulled off the main road and parked on a side road off behind this little building. I then used martial arts and broke the lady's neck. I don't know why I did it, but I know that I was lost. I then put her in the trunk of the car. I did not have on a shirt because my shirt was wet from the rain. I was also wearing jogging pants. After I put her in the trunk, I drove down this road. I was right by this high school when I saw this guy in a truck. I then asked him how to get to I-10. . . .

I followed the guy's direction. As I was driving I went through the lady's purse and got out her wallet. I found about $20.00 and some change in her purse and some credit cards. I saw an Exxon gas station at HWY 6 and Westheimer so I stopped and filled up with gas. I used the Exxon gas card and signed the name on the card. I then got on I-10 and headed west. . . .

. . . I knew that she was dead when I put her in the trunk because I felt on her pulse. . . .

On August 8, 1991, Goodman, after being returned to Texas, led law enforcement officials to the remains of his victim's body, which he had dumped in an open field near Uvalde. An autopsy of the remains confirmed that they were those of Ham and revealed that the cause of her death had been "blunt trauma to [her] head and neck."

On August 9, 1991, at a Houston police station, Goodman gave a videotaped statement, which was consistent with his earlier written statement. The videotape showed that Goodman was an adult male approximately twenty years of age, apparently healthy and strong, and approximately six feet in height and 200 pounds in weight.

Goodman testified in his defense and admitted that, while in the Walgreens parking lot in Houston on July 2, 1991, he struck Ham in the head and neck with his fist in order to steal her car, but he denied breaking her neck or intending to cause her death.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 13, 1992, Goodman was indicted in Fort Bend County, Texas, with the capital offense of the intentional murder of Cecile Ham in the course of robbery or kidnapping. A jury found Goodman guilty of the capital offense on May 26, 1992. A separate punishment hearing ensued, and, on June 1, 1992, the jury answered affirmatively the two special issues submitted to them and in accordance with state law, the trial court assessed punishment at death.

Appeal was automatic to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the conviction and sentence on April 10, 1996, and denied a motion for rehearing on May 15, 1996. Goodman did not seek certiorari review to the United States Supreme Court. Goodman next filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court on April 24, 1997. The trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that habeas relief be denied, and these findings were adopted by the Court of Criminal Appeals on October 8, 1997. Goodman did not seek certiorari review to the Supreme Court.

Goodman next filed a federal habeas petition in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, on November 4, 1997, and an amended petition on April 27, 1998. However, on May 29, 1998, prior to the State filing a response to the petition, Goodman unilaterally dismissed his federal action. Several days later, on June 1, 1998, Goodman filed a second application for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court. The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the second application as an abuse of the writ under statutory provisions on July 1, 1998. Goodman did not seek certiorari review to the Supreme Court. On July 13, 1998, returned to the federal district court by filing a second federal habeas petition. Goodman filed an amended petition on October 5, 1998. The State responded to the merits of the claims raised in the petition and also argued that the second petition was not timely filed under the controlling federal habeas statute. On February 22, 1999, the district court entered an order dismissing the petition as time barred and denying Goodman permission to appeal. On March 23, 1999, and April 7, 1999, the district court entered orders denying several post-judgment motions filed by Goodman. On September 16, 1999, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied Goodman permission to appeal. Goodman then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which is pending before the Court.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State presented evidence of Goodman's significant criminal record. On January 10, 1989, in Harris County, Goodman was convicted of the felony offense of burglary of a building and sentenced to imprisonment for two years. On March 6, 1989, in Runnels County, Goodman received seven years deferred-adjudication probation on a felony charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. On August 27, 1990, Goodman's deferred-adjudication probation was revoked and he was convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and sentenced to imprisonment for five years. He was paroled in December 1990, but he soon violated the conditions of his parole and was sent to the Wackenhut Parole Violators Facility in Bexar County. He was paroled from Wackenhut on July 1, 1991, but he immediately violated the conditions of his parole again by not reporting to the Texas House, a "halfway house," in Houston. The very next day, he murdered Cecile Ham.

Several prosecution witnesses also testified regarding Goodman's character. Houston Police Department Sergeant J.W. Belk testified that, based on his experience in more than 100 homicide investigations, he believed Goodman had the "psychological profile" of a "cold-blooded murderer." Sociologist James W. Marquart testified that an individual with appellant's background would pose "a risk" of future acts of criminal violence. Gregory Eric Holmes testified that Goodman once told him that he (i.e., Goodman) had been a gang member while in prison and had engaged in gang violence. Finally, David William Carleton testified that Goodman had threatened his life during an encounter they had several days after Goodman committed the instant offense.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

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

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

01/20/2000 David Hicks (Freestone County)
01/21/2000 Larry Keith Robison (Tarrant County)
01/24/2000 Billy George Hughes (Austin County)
01/25/2000 Glen Charles McGinnis (Montgomery County)
01/27/2000 James Walter Moreland (Henderson County)
02/23/2000 Cornelius Goss (Dallas County)
03/01/2000 Odell Barnes, Jr. (Wichita County)
03/15/2000 Timothy Lane Gribble (Galveston County)
03/22/2000 Dennis Bagwell (Atascosa County)
04/12/2000 Orien Cecil Joiner (Lubbock County)
04/26/2000 Robert Earl Carter (Bastrop County)
05/03/2000 Caruthers Alexander (Bexar County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 201st execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 37th since General Cornyn took office.

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

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050