Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Monday, January 24, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

GLEN CHARLES MCGINNIS SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Glen Charles McGinnis who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, January 25th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the afternoon of August 1, 1990, Homer Burson walked into Wilkins Dry Cleaners in Conroe, Texas, to pick up some cleaning. He waited at the counter, but no one approached to wait on him. He left, then reentered with another customer. Finally, noticing that the cash register was open, Burson walked around the corner of the counter toward the back room of the store where he discovered Leta Wilkerson lying face up on the floor, her eyes open and her body covered with blood. Burson immediately notified the police and called for an ambulance. Wilkerson, who was employed at the cleaners as a clerk, was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. She had been shot once in the face and three times in the back.

Upon arriving at the scene, investigating officers found spent .25-caliber bullets and bullet casings lying on the floor near where the body was found. Officers also discovered blood on the front counter next to a pile of jeans with the name "McGinnis" written in the pockets. The telephone on the front counter had been left off the hook, objects were in disarray and about $140 was missing from the cash register. Additionally, police were informed that the 1985 silver-gray GMC minivan the victim had driven to work that day was missing. Two individuals picked Glen Charles McGinnis out of a photographic lineup, identifying him as the man they had seen at or near Wilkins Dry Cleaners around the time of the offense.

Late that evening, police found Wilkerson's minivan abandoned in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. Between the two front seats of the van, they discovered Wilkerson's wallet, from which investigators lifted McGinnis's fingerprint. The following morning, three employees of various businesses in the shopping center where the van was found picked McGinnis out of a photographic lineup as the man they had seen the afternoon before requesting assistance because his van was broken down.

Early on the morning of August 2, 1990, police were dispatched to Williams Square Apartments, just two blocks from Wilkins Dry Cleaners, where McGinnis was thought to be residing with his aunt, Annette McGinnis. Police arrested McGinnis for the capital murder of Leta Wilkerson and transported him to the police station, where they discovered $105 in his possession. Later that morning, police returned to Annette McGinnis's apartment to search for a .25-caliber weapon. Annette McGinnis told police that her nephew had been living with her in the apartment since July 27, 1990. She also told police that she owned a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol; however, when she discovered that the gun was not where she had left it, she agreed to let police search the apartment. Police found a .25-caliber Raven semi-automatic pistol in a laundry hamper in the hall closet. Annette McGinnis identified the gun as her own, but stated that she did not know how it had gotten in the laundry hamper. Firearms examiner Russell Johnson testified at trial that shell casings recovered from the scene and bullets recovered from both the victim's body and the scene had been fired from Annette McGinnis's gun.

Almost two months after the offense, Annette McGinnis contacted police to inform them she had found a set of keys in her apartment. The keys were later identified as the keys of Leta Wilkerson. In addition, when asked at trial about the jeans found at the cleaners, Annette McGinnis identified them as hers, but testified that she had not taken the jeans to the cleaners. Rather, the jeans had previously been stored away in a closet in her apartment because she did not wear them anymore.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 8, 1990, McGinnis was indicted in Montgomery County, Texas, for the capital murder of Leta Wilkerson while in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offense of robbery, which occurred on August 1, 1990. McGinnis was tried before a jury upon a plea of not guilty, and on July 23, 1992, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. On July 30, 1992, in accordance with state law, the trial court assessed McGinnis's punishment at death.

McGinnis appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, which affirmed on December 14, 1994, and denied rehearing on March 1, 1995. McGinnis then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to United States Supreme Court, which was denied on October 2, 1995. McGinnis next filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the convicting court on May 7, 1996. On July 12, 1996, the trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief based on the trial court's findings and conclusions in an order dated August 28, 1996.

On January 3, 1997, McGinnis filed in federal district court a petition for writ of habeas corpus. On February 2, 1998, the federal district court issued a memorandum opinion and entered final judgment denying relief. After denying a post-judgment motion on April 7, 1998, the federal district court granted McGinnis permission to appeal one issue. On July 20, 1999, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, after full briefing and oral argument from the parties, affirmed the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief. The court of appeals denied McGinnis's petition for rehearing on August 25, 1999, and the Supreme Court denied certiorari review on January 18, 2000. Also on January 18, 2000, the Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed a second application for state writ of habeas corpus filed by McGinnis as an abuse of the writ. 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 of McGinnis's prior criminal history. On July 30, 1986, after several minor offenses culminating in criminal trespass, McGinnis, then 13 years old, was adjudicated delinquent and placed on juvenile probation by the 314th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. The court entered an order modifying the conditions of his probation on April 16, 1987, based on a finding that McGinnis had violated his probation by leaving court-ordered placement. Then on September 3, 1987, the court revoked McGinnis's probation and committed him to the institutional division of the Texas Youth Commission after McGinnis was found guilty of burglary of a vehicle. McGinnis was sent to Gainesville State School. He was paroled on January 22, 1988.

At about 12:30 a.m. on August 28, 1988, Carole Speight left a club in Houston, got in her minivan, and pulled out into the street. After going about a block, Speight heard a voice from the rear of the van say "This is a stick up." Speight turned around in the car, saw a man in the back seat of her van, and started screaming. The man shot at her, shattering the front driver's side window. Finally, Speight was able to slow down, jump out of the moving vehicle, and run away. The man drove away in her van. Speight was unable to positively identify McGinnis as the gunman who stole her van. However, McGinnis was seen driving the van on September 4, 1988, when he was involved in a minor traffic collision. At the scene of the accident, McGinnis offered as identification a credit card with the name Carole Speight, claiming that it was his mother's credit card. When police eventually recovered the van in Missouri City, Texas, on September 7, 1988, McGinnis was driving. When the arresting officer asked McGinnis for identification, he presented three credit cards with Carole Speight's name on them, claiming they were his mother's credit cards. On September 28, 1988, McGinnis was charged with felony theft and misdemeanor assault. He was classified as a "repeat offender," his parole was revoked, and he was sent back to Gainesville State School. McGinnis was paroled again on March 28, 1989.

On April 15, 1989, McGinnis was apprehended driving a stolen vehicle in Houston. The steering column of the vehicle had been broken, and a pair of needle-nosed pliers found in the front floorboard of the car had apparently been used to start and turn off the vehicle as there were no keys to the vehicle. McGinnis was charged with the felony offense of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and on April 26, 1989, his parole was revoked. He was reclassified as a "chronic serious offender" and was sent to Crockett State School. McGinnis was released from Crockett State School in February of 1990.

On the afternoon of May 3, 1990, Tara Applegate left her car unlocked and took her keys with her into a five-and-dime store in Conroe, Texas, near Wilkins Dry Cleaners. Minutes later, she left the store, got into her car, and started the ignition. She turned around and saw McGinnis crouched down in the floorboard of the back seat of her car. Applegate tried to open the door and get out of her car but she got tangled in the seat belt. Finally, she was able to untangle herself and get out of the car. McGinnis then put the car in reverse with the door still open. He started backing up with Applegate running along beside the car, caught in the open door. Applegate fell underneath the car, and McGinnis ran over her foot and drove away. McGinnis pled guilty and received deferred adjudication for the theft of Applegate's vehicle. McGinnis was released on adult probation on July 27, 1990, and was directed to report immediately to the Montgomery County Probation Department. He never reported. Five days after his release, McGinnis murdered Leta Wilkerson.

Martin Rocha, McGinnis's juvenile parole officer, testified that McGinnis repeatedly failed to fulfill his parole obligations. Rocha contacted McGinnis's father at one point to see whether it would be possible for McGinnis to live with him after he was released. McGinnis's father told Rocha that McGinnis could come live with him if he was willing to comply with certain rules. Rocha contacted McGinnis and relayed that information to him. Rocha testified that McGinnis never made a serious attempt to change his behavior while under his supervision regardless of the opportunities Rocha and others afforded him. Rocha further testified that, in his opinion, McGinnis is a threat to society.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

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

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

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 Billy Hughes is executed on January 24th, it will be the 205th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 41st since General Cornyn took office. The federal court litigation in this case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Gena Bunn, Chief of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Division .

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