Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Tuesday, February 22, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

CORNELIUS GOSS SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Cornelius Goss who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23.rd

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On May 20, 1987, 66-year-old Carl Leevy, a sporting goods representative for Converse, headed home between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. after having played in a golf tournament in Carrollton, Texas. That night, Leevy's wife returned to their home in Dallas, Texas from her bridge game at approximately 12:15 a.m. When she arrived, she saw that her husband's car was parked in the garage where it was supposed to be, but his Converse duffle bags were in disarray. She called out for her husband, but received no reply. According to witness statements, Leevy typically ate dinner in the evening, then retired to his easy chair in the den to watch television. As Mrs. Leevy continued her approach, she did not hear the television, which was usually playing loudly due to her husband's hearing problem. She stopped at the entrance to the kitchen and saw that his easy chair was empty. She called out a second time but received no response. She continued and found her dead husband on the floor in the den. Mrs. Leevy then ran to her neighbor's house and called the police.

When paramedics and police arrived, they found Leevy laying face down on the floor next to his chair. There was blood coming from his ears, mouth, and nose due to an obvious head injury. A butcher knife and a dirty 2x4 length of wood were laying next to him. Wood chips were found in the area of the victim's body, both behind the chair and in front of the desk; consistent with Leevy being struck with the 2x4. The medical examiner later testified at trial that Leevy had sustained four distinct external injuries to his head. Additionally, an internal examination of the brain revealed a "depressed skull fracture," or "denting in" of the skull. The medical examiner found "extensive" fracturing of the skull, including the forehead, the left side of the skull, the right side of the skull above the ear, the back of the skull, the base of the skull, the top of the eye sockets, and the temple and ridge bone on the right side of the skull. There was no evidence of defensive injuries to Leevy.

At the scene, police found in the backyard a pair of bloody gloves, consistent with a pair missing from a master bedroom night stand. Strewn along the back fence were billfold items, pictures, and a checkbook. A shirt was found laying beside a pile of wood containing 2x4 boards between the carport and the back fence. In the den, the desk behind Leevy's body appeared to have been gone through and a file cabinet had bloody glove prints on it. Money was missing from the desk. Although the entire house was processed for latent fingerprints, comparable prints were only obtained from the window, window screen, and window sill, all at the point of entry into the master bedroom. Also discovered missing after the murder were various pieces of jewelry Leevy possessed. These included a necklace that had a $10 goldpiece hanging from it, a Rolex watch, and two rings -- one a distinctive Converse ring. Leevy's reading glasses were found on a silver plate on top of the television. The glasses appeared to have blood and a speck of wood on the right earpiece.

On May 21, 1987, just 12 hours after the murder, a man by the name of Gerald Shed picked up Goss hitchhiking in Dallas. Goss was carrying a gym bag and was wearing a Rolex watch that he wanted to sell. After purchasing beer and liquor, the men drove to a pawn shop where Shed attempted to pawn the Rolex watch. A pawn shop employee offered Shed $150 for the watch but refused to complete the transaction when Shed was unable to produce a driver's license. Shed then exited the store. Shortly thereafter, William Bryant arrived at the same pawn shop to sell some of his own property. Before he entered the store, however, Shed approached him, said he did not have his identification with him, and asked whether Bryant would be willing to pawn a Rolex watch for him. Bryant agreed and completed the transaction. After leaving the pawnshop, Shed dropped Goss off at a residence "off Winfield."

The pawn shop later ran the Rolex transaction through a law enforcement computer database and discovered that it was stolen. The serial number from the pawn shop ticket matched the serial number that the family had found on an earlier repair bill for Leevy's watch. Shed's identity was discovered and, after his arrest, he implicated a person who he knew only as "Goss" as the man who gave him the Rolex watch to pawn. Shed also led police to the house where he had dropped Goss off on May 21st. Through a neighbor, police confirmed that Goss lived at the house and Shed later identified Goss in a photo lineup. When police learned that Goss' fingerprints matched those recovered from the point of entry of the Leevy home, a warrant was obtained for the arrest of Goss. Police arrested Goss at a residence in South Oak Cliff. Inside this residence, officers found an athletic bag in the living room similar to one missing from Leevy's house. Later searches of this residence revealed new and worn Converse clothing, a Converse bag, a lock blade knife, a ladies gold bracelet and a large blue garment bag which contained a pair of Converse miniature display shoes.

When police confronted Goss with the fact that he was under arrest for capital murder, that they had his fingerprints at the murder scene, and that they had discovered the victim's property in his house, Goss broke down and orally confessed that he committed the capital murder. In relevant part, Goss's confession reads as follows:

In a separate confession, Goss described what he did with the property that he stole:

After speaking to Ford, police recovered the victim's Converse ring.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In May 1988, Goss was indicted in Dallas County, Texas, for the murder of Carl Leevy while in the course of committing and attempting to commit burglary of a habitation, a capital offense. He pleaded not guilty and was tried by a jury. On July 23, 1988, the jury found him guilty of capital murder. After a separate hearing on punishment, the jury returned affirmative answers to the punishment issues submitted pursuant to state law. In accordance with state law, the trial court assessed punishment at 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 on March 4, 1992. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on June 28, 1993. Goss then filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court. The trial court recommended that relief be denied and, on June 28, 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed. Goss then proceeded into federal court, filing a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, on July 18, 1995. The district court denied federal habeas relief on Jan. 30, 1998, and thereafter denied Goss permission to appeal. On Oct. 20, 1999, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted Goss permission to appeal but affirmed the district court's denial of relief. Goss' motion for rehearing was denied by the court of appeals on Nov. 15, 1999.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State presented evidence of Goss' prior criminal history. On Oct. 4, 1978, Goss, then 17 years old, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, 23 rolled marijuana cigarettes, just two blocks away from Oak Cliff High School. On March 5, 1979, Goss was convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and sentenced to six months probation.

On March 25, 1979, Winston Dones held a birthday celebration for his 14-year-old daughter. That evening, Goss came to the party. Dones asked Goss to leave because he was several years older than the other children. Goss, however, would not listen and kept "hanging around." After giving up that Goss would leave, Dones invited Goss to go out to eat, but Goss refused. Dones locked up the house and then left with the children. When they returned an hour-and-a-half later, the house was ransacked and property stolen. On June 22, 1979, Goss received a probated five year sentence for burglary of a habitation. After failing to report to his probation officer and receiving another conviction, Goss' probation was revoked.

On Dec. 9, 1979, Goss was involved in a high speed chase after stealing an automobile. Ultimately, Goss lost control of the vehicle, ran through someone's yard, and crashed into a telephone pole. Goss was convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a felony, and was sentenced to five years incarceration. During his subsequent prison stay, Goss was involved in a fight on March 10, 1981.

On June 28, 1986, William Akins met police at his convenience store after his alarm company notified him of a break in, Goss was found hiding in the attic of the store. Akins found five 55-gallon trash bags full of grocery items lined up behind the counter. On Oct. 7, 1986, Goss was convicted of burglary of a building and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. According to Goss' parole officer, Goss was paroled on April 27, 1987.

On May 9, 1987, police arrested Goss and Vivian Ward while attempting to steal a chainsaw from Sears, Roebuck, and Company in Mesquite, Texas. On the driver's side of the floorboard inside Goss's vehicle police found an illegal long-blade knife, drugs, and drug paraphernalia. Ward also testified about other illegal activity that Goss was involved in - days after he was released from prison. According to Ward, she and Goss used cocaine and heroin, and Goss had a big drug deal going on the first day he was released from prison. Ward testified that they were stealing from various places, including an earlier theft of a blower from the same Sears location where they were caught with the chainsaw. Based on the events of May 9th, Goss pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense of unlawfully carrying of a weapon on May 19, 1987, and was sentenced to one day in jail.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

According to Goss's confession, he had consumed approximately one six-pack of beer on the evening of the instant offense.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

02/23/2000 Cornelius Goss (Dallas County)
02/24/2000 Betty Lou Beets (Henderson County)
03/01/2000 Odell Barnes, Jr. (Wichita County)
03/14/2000 Ponchai Wilkerson (Harris County)
03/15/2000 Timothy Lane Gribble (Galveston County)
03/22/2000 Dennis Bagwell (Atascosa County)
04/12/2000 Orien Cecil Joiner (Lubbock County)
04/18/2000 Victor Hugo Saldano (Collin County)
04/26/2000 Robert Earl Carter (Bastrop County)
04/27/2000 Robert J. Neville, Jr. (Tarrant County)
04/27/2000 Ricky Nolen McGinn (Brown County)
05/03/2000 Caruthers Alexander (Bexar County)
05/09/2000 William Joseph Kitchens (Taylor County)
06/12/2000 Thomas Wayne Mason (Smith County)
06/28/2000 Joe Lee Guy (Hale County)
07/19/2000 Oliver David Cruz (Bexar County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 207th execution since executions resumed in Texas in Dec. 1982 and the 43rd since General Cornyn took office. The federal court litigation in this case has been handled by Assistant Attorney General Erik Cary of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Division.

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