Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Wednesday, May 10, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

Michael Lee McBride scheduled to be executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Michael Lee McBride, who is scheduled to be executed, after 6 p.m., Thursday, May 11th.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

McBride was convicted of the shooting deaths of Christian Fisher and James Holzer, both eighteen years old. On October 18, 1985, Holzer, Cody Minnick, and Karen Tidwell, went to Lubbock to visit Fisher who was attending Texas Tech University. McBride, whom Fisher had been dating for about eleven months and with whom she had a "very stormy" relationship, was angry that Holzer and Minnick were staying in Fisher's apartment for the weekend. On Saturday, October 19, 1985, McBride entered Fisher's apartment with a key and attacked Holzer as he lay sleeping on the couch. Minnick testified McBride was screaming, "You are sleeping with my girlfriend." Minnick intervened, and while he and Holzer wrestled with McBride, a glass bookcase was broken in Fisher's apartment. After being subdued, McBride yelled at Fisher "to bend down and pick up" his keys, and then McBride picked up someone's sunglasses, crushed them, and threw them on the floor. McBride then grabbed his own sunglasses and left.

The foursome (Fisher, Tidwell, Minnick, and Holzer) did not hear from McBride again until Monday evening, October 21st, when he phoned Fisher. McBride and Fisher were apparently ending their relationship, and Fisher wanted some money McBride owed her. McBride told Fisher to come to his house "alone" and he would give her a painting worth the amount he owed her. Before concluding the phone call, McBride also told Fisher, "If I can't have you, nobody will."

Fisher's friends expressed concern for her safety if she were to go to McBride's house alone, so the foursome proceeded to McBride's in two cars. Fisher and Holzer parked in front of McBride's house, while Minnick and Tidwell parked several car lengths behind them. McBride's house was very dark and no one answered when Fisher knocked at the front door. As Fisher was walking back towards the street, Minnick noticed a figure behind his car and heard a gun cock, and then McBride pointed a .30 caliber M-1 carbine rifle, with a 30 round clip, at him. McBride demanded Minnick and Tidwell exit the car or else he would kill them, and he proceeded to smash out Minnick's driver's side window with the rifle butt. McBride also fired two shots into the air, which Minnick described as "warning shots." McBride then turned his attention toward Fisher and Holzer, and at that time Minnick escaped to a neighbor's home for help.

A neighbor of McBride's, Patrick Potter, and Tidwell both witnessed the double homicide. Potter lived in an apartment behind a house which was across the street from McBride's. While sitting in his apartment, he saw a male matching McBride's description run past his open front door. As his dogs took chase, Potter followed and saw McBride bash out Minnick's window. Potter returned home to tell his wife to call the police, and then went back to the scene, where he heard McBride load his weapon. Tidwell witnessed McBride and Fisher struggling with the rifle in the middle of the street immediately before McBride shot Fisher. Fisher yelled at McBride, "You won't do it." Fisher sustained ten gunshot wounds to her face, chest, abdomen, and thigh. McBride continued to shoot Fisher at close range even after she had fallen to the ground.

After McBride murdered Fisher, he fired several shots through the windshield of her car, repeatedly striking Holzer who was now in the driver's seat. McBride then "hopped around" to the driver's side of the car, smashed out that window, and fired again at Holzer, at one point actually placing the rifle against his head. Holzer sustained nine gunshot wounds, one of which destroyed his heart and was fatal. McBride then shot himself under the chin, the bullet traveling through his mouth and exiting his forehead. Police officers and EMS personnel arriving at the scene found McBride on his hands and knees on the ground apparently trying to crawl to his weapon, which several witnesses kicked away from him. He was violent and aggressive with the EMS personnel, resisting their efforts, making threatening remarks, and using profanity. He admitted shooting Fisher and Holzer "because it was time for them to go." At the hospital, McBride was more cooperative, and even commented to a male nurse that "if you ever need any pointers or information on how to handle your women, just let me know."

Prior to the murders, McBride had moved to Lubbock to be with Fisher while she attended Texas Tech. He was employed as a bartender at a Lubbock country club, but Fisher helped him financially "all the time." She was apparently unhappy in Lubbock and was preparing to move home to Fort Worth in the near future. Her friends encouraged the move as McBride's behavior was "unpredictable." Fisher's mother did not like her dating McBride, and felt that her daughter saw him "too frequently." Tidwell described McBride as having a "very explosive, short tempered" personality, and stated Fisher reacted to him with fear but tried to help him.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

McBride was indicted in the 99th District Court of Lubbock County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering James Holzer and Christian Fisher during the same criminal transaction. The case was tried by a jury upon McBride's plea of not guilty, and the jury found him guilty of the capital offense on February 11, 1988. After a separate punishment hearing, the jury answered in the affirmative the special issues submitted, and in accordance with state law, McBride was sentenced to death.

McBride's conviction and sentence was automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed on June 16, 1993. McBride's petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court on June 27, 1994.

McBride then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court on April 5, 1995. The district court denied habeas relief on February 16, 1996, but granted McBride permission to appeal on June 4, 1996. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of habeas relief on July 29, 1997. McBride's petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court on January 20, 1998.

McBride then returned to state court and filed an application for writ of habeas corpus, which was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals on February 16, 2000.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

In the spring of 1985, at a Fort Worth bar, McBride twice punched in the face a man who had borrowed a cigarette from Fisher then ignored McBride's directive to leave their table. In another incident, McBride jumped an "island" in a parking lot and drove "pretty fast" toward Tidwell (who had parked in the middle of the parking lot) and tried to run over her. McBride apparently was angry because a few days prior Tidwell did not admit to him that she and Fisher had gone to a bar. Tidwell stated that outbursts of anger were typical behavior for McBride. She stated that in the ten months she had known McBride (prior to this offense) she had seen him lose his temper many times. Tidwell also related that, in January or February of 1985, McBride stormed into a bar where she, a friend, and Fisher were playing pool. McBride forced Fisher to leave and "pulled her out the door." Fisher's mother described an occasion during that summer when McBride became belligerent with a sheriff's deputy who did not issue a ticket to a young woman who had rear-ended Fisher's car.

Two Lubbock police officers testified they answered an aggravated assault call at Fisher's apartment at 4:23 a.m. just sixteen days prior to this offense. Leslie Holder, a mutual friend of the victims and McBride, testified that she tried to get into Fisher's apartment during the assault as Fisher was yelling for help. After McBride fled, she and Fisher found a teddy bear with its head ripped off and a threatening, profanity-laced note from McBride stuffed inside. Earlier that same day, McBride and Holder went for a drive in McBride's truck so that he could talk to her about his problems with Fisher. It was only a short drive as McBride was "roaring up behind cars and then slamming on his brakes" which scared Holder.

Holder also described an incident in Fort Worth in which McBride broke the windows in his apartment with a chair because he was angry that Fisher and Holder had gone out one evening. In 1985, McBride also became enraged and threatened a Fort Worth police officer, who also worked as a security guard at the apartment complex where McBride lived, when the officer answered a disturbance call. In profane and explicit terms, McBride threatened violence against the officer, who had already identified himself as a peace officer. A former manager of that same apartment complex testified that McBride tried, more than once, to destroy his third floor apartment. When the manager approached him about a broken window in the apartment, McBride first reacted calmly, then violently, and threatened her. McBride later admitted that he broke the window when he lost his temper and tried to throw someone through the window. Subsequently the manager inspected the apartment in McBride's absence and discovered fist sized holes in almost every wall of the apartment, "a lot of guns," and a set of weights. McBride owed $520 in damages upon moving out. Another witness testified that, in 1979, McBride drove his car through her backyard and into her garage, "knocking everything into a bedroom." He emerged from the car swearing at her and threatened to sue her after she pushed him because she was so upset by "his language and his attitude."

The State also presented testimony from persons who had been associated with McBride while he was in jail awaiting trial. Numerous incidents were detailed where McBride lost his temper, used offensive language, and/or attacked someone with little or no provocation. The evidence also showed McBride wanted to borrow an empty shampoo squeeze bottle to fill with jalapeno peppers and squirt the juice in the eyes of people who were annoying him. Further, the State presented three witnesses from Fort Worth, who attended Texas Tech, who testified that McBride's reputation for being peaceable and law-abiding was bad. Finally, a psychiatrist testified that, in his opinion, McBride would continue to be a threat to society.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

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

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

05/23/2000 James Davis Richardson (Navarro County)
05/24/2000 Richard Foster (Parker County)
05/25/2000 James Edward Clayton (Taylor County)
05/31/2000 Robert Earl Carter (Burleson County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 214th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 50th since General Cornyn took office.

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