Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Friday, March 10, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

TIMOTHY LANE GRIBBLE SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Timothy Lane Gribble who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 15th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Elizabeth Jones lived alone in a house in Clear Lake Shores, Texas, near the IBM facility where she worked as a manager on the NASA shuttle project. At about 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, 1987, Jones called her boyfriend Terry Hahn and told him that she was not feeling well and that she planned to go to bed early. Jones was in the midst of remodeling her home, and she told Hahn that a roofer was still there hammering on the roof over her bedroom. After Jones did not appear for work the next day, some friends went to her house in the evening to check on her. They found the doors locked, Jones's car parked in the driveway, but no one at home. Jones's friends entered the house, but found no evidence of forced entry or bloodshed. Jones had apparently left without taking any of her clothing or jewelry. Only her purse and bathrobe were missing. They reported Jones's disappearance to the Clear Lake Shores police. Police investigators also searched the house, discovering numerous cigarette butts and ashes in different locations about the house and an almost empty bottle of wine in the trash can, although neither Jones nor her boyfriend smoked and Jones did not drink.

Police learned from Jones's construction contractor that Timothy Gribble was the man who had been working on Jones's roof the evening of Sept. 8, 1987. Realizing that Gribble may have been the last person to see Jones alive, police contacted him to ask him some questions; however, Gribble was not considered a suspect at that time. Gribble told police that after completing the day's work, he had knocked on Jones's door and told her he would have to return the next day to complete the job. He claimed that Jones allowed him to enter her house so that he could wash his hands, and then he left.

Despite continued search efforts during the next couple of weeks, friends and authorities were unable to locate Jones. Several days after her disappearance, Jones's ex-husband hired a private detective agency to assist in the investigation. Private investigators and police questioned Gribble again on Sept. 21 and 22, 1987. At this point, Gribble admitted to be the source of the cigarette butts and wine bottle found in Jones's home, but he still disclaimed any involvement in her disappearance. Several days after that interview, Gribble fled the state and traveled to Tennessee, where he stayed with relatives.

On Sept. 30, 1987, 22 days after Jones's disappearance, Tennessee law enforcement officers took Gribble into custody. A Texas Ranger and an officer from the Galveston County Sheriff's Department traveled to Tennessee to speak with Gribble. On Oct. 3, 1987, Gribble was transported to the Harris County Sheriff 's Department in Houston where, after being advised of his rights, he confessed to the sexual assault, kidnaping, and murder by strangulation of Jones.

Gribble stated that he did leave after washing his hands in Jones's house, but that he returned later in the evening claiming that he had dropped his wallet. On this pretense, Jones allowed him to enter her home. Gribble stated that, once inside, he took Jones to the bedroom and had sexual intercourse with her. He claimed that Jones was afraid at first but then enjoyed it. Later, Gribble said he asked Jones not to tell anyone about the incident. When Jones told him she would have to report the incident to the police, he took her from her home, wearing only her bathrobe, and drove her around various county roads until they finally arrived at a dark and desolate area near League City. There, Gribble claimed he told Jones he wanted to spend some time with his wife and stepchildren before he was arrested for what he had done. He told Jones he was going to tie her naked to a tree in the dark woods. According to Gribble, Jones began to cry out and scream. He tried to cover her mouth and she bit him. He then took the sash of Jones's bathrobe, tied it around her throat, and strangled her until she was dead. Gribble dragged Jones's body a short distance and left her lying, clothed only in her robe, under a tree with a tree branch on top of her. He then drove to a nearby park and disposed of Jones's purse.

While giving his confession, Gribble drew a map showing the location of Jones's body. Thereafter, he led officers to the lake where he had thrown Jones's purse, which was recovered by police divers. Gribble then led officers to Jones's body. There, 26 days after her disappearance, officers found Jones's body in an advanced state of decomposition, the robe sash still wrapped around her neck.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Gribble was indicted on Oct. 14, 1987, in the 122nd Judicial District Court of Galveston County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Elizabeth Jones in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offense of kidnaping, which occurred on or about Sept. 9, 1987. On Nov. 14, 1990, after Gribble had been found guilty of capital murder by a jury and sentenced to death, Gribble's conviction and sentence were reversed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and a new trial was ordered. The United States Supreme Court denied the State's petition for writ of certiorari on June 24, 1991. On retrial, Gribble was tried before a different jury upon a plea of not guilty, and on April 23, 1992, this jury too found him guilty of the capital offense. On April 29, 1992, in accordance with state law, the trial court assessed Gribble's punishment at death.

Gribble appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed on Feb. 1, 1995. The United States Supreme Court denied Gribble's petition for writ of certiorari on Oct. 2, 1995. On April 28, 1997, Gribble filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court. The trial court recommended that relief be denied, and the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed on Oct. 29, 1997. On Jan. 6, 1998, Gribble filed a pro se motion to file an out-of-time application for state writ of habeas corpus, which was dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeals as an abuse of the writ on Feb. 2, 1998.

On Jan. 20, 1998, while his second application for state writ of habeas corpus was pending, Gribble filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division, a motion for appointment of counsel to assist him in filing a federal habeas petition. After counsel was appointed, Gribble filed a federal habeas petition on April 3, 1998. On June 25, 1998, the district court entered final judgment denying Gribble's federal habeas petition. The district court subsequently denied permission to appeal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied permission to appeal on Sept. 20, 1999, and denied rehearing on Oct. 26, 1999. Gribble thereafter 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, Gribble admitted to arrests for possession of marijuana, possession of a prohibited weapon, and public intoxication. He also admitted to committing the following offenses: (1) on Jan. 11, 1981, burglarizing a motor home owned by his father; (2) in the early morning hours of April 10, 1981, using false pretenses to gain entry into the home of a 54-year-old woman, whose 15-year-old daughter he knew, where he then sexually assaulted the mother; (3) on Oct. 24, 1981, possessing a controlled substance; (4) on Aug. 12, 1983, forcing and threatening a 15-year-old girl, who he knew from the community and had offered a ride home, to engage in oral sex and sexual intercourse over a period of several hours; (5) in early Sept. 1987, purchasing a pick up truck, knowing it was stolen; and (6) on Sept. 17, 1987, nine days after committing the instant capital offense, using false pretenses to gain entry into the apartment of his ex-wife where he subsequently choked her into submission then threatened and forced her to engage in oral sex and sexual intercourse. Gribble was initially sentenced to 10 years probation for the April 1981 offense. When he subsequently plead guilty to the Aug. 1983 offense and received a five-year prison sentence, his probation was revoked and he received a 5-year prison sentence for the April 1981 offense.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

According to Gribble's testimony at the punishment phase of trial, the majority of his life of crime was related to alcohol, marijuana, and illegally-obtained prescription drug abuse, and his sexual assault offenses were attributable to what he termed a sex problem.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS
04/26/2000 Robert Earl Carter (Bastrop County)
04/27/2000 Ricky Nolen McGinn (Brown County)
05/03/2000 Caruthers Alexander (Bexar County)
05/09/2000 William Joseph Kitchens (Taylor County)
05/23/2000 James Davis Richardson (Navarro County)
06/12/2000 Thomas Wayne Mason (Smith County)
06/15/2000 Paul Nuncio (Hale County)
06/28/2000 Joe Lee Guy (Hale County)
07/19/2000 Oliver David Cruz (Bexar County)
08/16/2000 John Satterwhite (Bexar County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out it will be the 211th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 47th since General Cornyn took office.

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