Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Wednesday, January 19, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY

David Hicks scheduled to be executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on David Hicks who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, January 20th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

At her home outside of Teague, Texas, eighty-eight year old Ocolor Hegger was found dead, lying in a pool of blood, in her kitchen at approximately 9:15 a.m., on April 26, 1988, by a neighbor. Her head had been hit by repeated blows with a blunt instrument, and she had been sexually assaulted.

The night before the body was found, David Hicks, who was Mrs. Hegger's grandson, was visiting Mrs. Hegger in her home with his cousin, Lester Busby. Before entering Mrs. Hegger's house, Hicks talked with Eddie Branch, another grandson, who was leaving after his daily visit with Mrs. Hegger. Shortly thereafter, Hicks and Busby went inside Mrs. Hegger's house, talked with her, and then left ten to fifteen minutes later at approximately 7:15 p.m. When they left, Mrs. Hegger was watching television. Hicks and Busby went directly to the Porter home, one and one-half blocks away from Mrs. Hegger's house, and visited with Ethel and Robert Porter, and Jessie Gibson. Shortly after arriving at the Porters' home, Hicks left to go eat at his father's house. When Hicks returned, Hicks, Busby, and Gibson went to buy beer. After purchasing the beer, the men returned to the Porters' house and visited for a little while longer. Eventually, Hicks and Busby left. They went to Busby's house, located next door to Mrs. Hegger's home, where they continued to drink beer and talk. At approximately 9:30 p.m., Hicks left Busby's house and told Busby that he was going home. Busby went inside his house and did not watch Hicks leave.

After Mrs. Hegger's body was found the next morning, the police conducted a thorough search of the area and gathered evidence. A hammer, which family members knew hung on the inside door of Mrs. Hegger's kitchen cabinet, was missing. Two weeks later, on May 8, 1988, Busby found the missing hammer in his yard. He was certain that it had not been there at the time of the police search. Hugh Whitaker, a Deputy Sheriff for Freestone County, also testified that he had searched Busby's yard the day after the murder and that the hammer had not been there. Subsequent forensic tests on the hammer revealed blood, although the blood could not be typed as either human or animal.

An autopsy of the victim revealed massive blunt force injuries to her head and neck. At least eight blows were indicated. In addition, there was a superficial stab wound to the neck, numerous abrasions and contusions to the body, and evidence of a sexual assault. Death was caused by the blows to the head and neck. The sexual assault occurred at or near the time of death, which was placed at approximately 8:00 p.m. to midnight on April 25, 1988. The doctor who performed the autopsy testified that, from the condition of the body and an examination of the crime photographs, it was possible that Mrs. Hegger was initially attacked in her bedroom and left unconscious for a couple of hours. At that time, the attacker could have returned and delivered the fatal blows.

Presumptive testing revealed blood on clothes taken from Hicks's car. DNA testing excluded all suspects except Hicks. Three inmates who were in the Freestone County Jail while Hicks was awaiting trial testified for the State. Two of them, Patrick Comalander and Roger Dale Johnson, testified that Hicks had asked them if they knew how to get blood out of clothes and how many times clothes had to be washed in order to get all traces of blood out. Another inmate, Carter Kirven, testified that he had asked Hicks if he had killed his grandmother. Hicks told Kirven that he had but threatened to hurt Kirven if he told anyone. Kirven also testified that Hicks told him that he had used a knife during the murder, a fact not commonly known at that time.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Hicks was indicted in the 87th Judicial District Court of Freestone County, Texas, for the murder of Ocolor Hegger, his grandmother, while in the course of committing and attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault, a capital offense. Hicks pleaded not guilty to a jury, but was convicted on January 30, 1989. On February 1, 1989, the trial court sentenced Hicks to death.

Because he was sentenced to death, appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was automatic. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in a published opinion on March 31, 1993. Hicks's petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court on June 20, 1994.

After his first federal application for writ of habeas corpus was dismissed for failure to exhaust state remedies, Hicks filed his state habeas petition. Prior to the trial court entering any findings of fact and conclusions of law, however, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied Hicks's request for state habeas relief on March 26, 1997.

Hicks filed his second application for federal habeas relief on September 2, 1997. The district court, at the request of Hicks, ordered additional DNA testing of the remaining available evidentiary samples.

On January 11, 1999, the district court denied the writ, and then denied permission to appeal on February 12, 1999. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit likewise denied permission to appeal. Hicks then filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which is pending before the Supreme Court.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Hicks's criminal record includes felony convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 1979, false imprisonment with substantial risk of serious bodily injury in 1984, burglary of a vehicle in 1986, and burglary of a habitation in 1986. There was also evidence of several unadjudicated offenses, including numerous assaults, both in and out of the penitentiary, resisting arrest, two escapes, fleeing from a peace officer, evading arrest, and misdemeanor thefts.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

There was evidence of possible alcohol use connected with the instant offense.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

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, and if Spencer Corey Goodman is executed on January 18, it will be the 202nd execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 38th since General Cornyn took office. This case has been handled by Assistant Attorney General Edward Marshall of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Divsion.

- 30 -


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