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Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, July 27, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY:

John T. Satterwhite Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on John T. Satterwhite who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday August 16th.

John T. Satterwhite was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 1979 murder of 54 year-old Mary Francis Davis. On the morning of March 12, 1979, San Antonio Police were dispatched to a local convenience store. When they arrived they found Davis in a bathroom stall, leaning against a wall, with gunshot wounds on either side of her head at the temple.

A pack of cigarettes and an open soda container were found on the store's counter. A set of keys, a purse, and a roll of pennies were found on the floor behind the cash register. More than $600 was missing from the cash register and the last entry on the cash register tape reflected a 79 cent purchase.

The day after Davis' murder, police stopped Satterwhite for speeding. At the time of the arrest, Sharon Bell was a passenger in Satterwhite's car. Bell claimed that a gun police found in the car was hers. She was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. A few days later, Bell was arrested again. During an interview with police, she said that she had been involved in the robbery and murder of Mary Francis Davis, but said that Satterwhite was the person who shot and killed Davis.

EVIDENCE

  • Sharon Bell told police that although she was involved in the robbery and murder of Mary Francis Davis, Satterwhite was the person who shot and killed Davis.
  • Bell testified at Satterwhite's trial about how the two of them went to the convenience store. Bell testified that after they entered the store, Satterwhite, pulled a gun and demanded money from Davis. Bell said Davis fully cooperated and told Satterwhite there was more money in the safe in the back room. Bell testified that she and Satterwhite then escorted Davis to the back and got money from the vault. Bell said that as she was heading for the door, she saw Satterwhite put the gun to Davis' temple and heard Davis ask Satterwhite not to shoot her. Bell said shortly thereafter she heard two or three gunshots. As Bell and Satterwhite drove away from the store, Bell asked Satterwhite why he had shot the clerk. Satterwhite told Bell that he did not want to leave any witnesses.
  • The gun recovered from Satterwhite's car the day after the murder had been sold to Satterwhite's mother and was determined to have fired the bullets that killed Mary Francis Davis.
  • Two witnesses identified Satterwhite as the person they saw in the convenience store the morning of the murder. One of the witnesses also identified Bell as being with Satterwhite. This witness saw Satterwhite and Bell make the 79 cent purchase that was the last entry found on the cash register tape.

APPEALS TIME-LINE

  • March 10, 1993 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Satterwhite's conviction and denied rehearing on June 9, 1993.
  • Nov. 8, 1993 - U.S. Supreme Court denied Satterwhite's petition for writ of certiorari.
  • June 26, 1996 - The trial court recommended denying Satterwhite's claims filed Feb. 22, 1994. On the basis of the trial court's recommendation, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief.
  • Dec. 13, 1996 - Satterwhite filed his second federal petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.
  • Sept. 25, 1998 - District Court entered final judgement denying federal habeas relief and also denied Satterwhite permission to appeal.
  • Jan. 7, 2000 - United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Satterwhite permission to appeal.
  • Feb. 3, 2000 - The Court of Appeals denied motion for rehearing and a motion for stay of proceedings on Feb. 7, 2000.
  • June 29, 2000 - U.S. Supreme Court denied Satterwhite's petition for writ of certiorari.
  • Satterwhite has filed a petition for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

  • Eight law enforcement officers testified at the punishment phase of Satterwhite's trial, that Satterwhite had a bad reputation and was known for not being a law-abiding citizen.
  • A state prison guard testified at the punishment phase of Satterwhite's trial, about an incident where Satterwhite had started a fire in his cell. When the guard told Satterwhite to put out the fire, Satterwhite threw hot water on him, causing second-degree burns to the guard's face, neck and chest.
  • A deputy sheriff testified at Satterwhite's punishment phase that at a court proceeding in January 1987, Satterwhite threatened to kill the trial judge and Assistant District Attorney.
  • A county jailer who testified at Satterwhite's punishment phase said that one day when Satterwhite was angry for not receiving a newspaper, he threatened to beat up the officer and said "someone should kill deputies who don't do their jobs."
  • Satterwhite's step-father testified at the punishment phase that in June 1978, he had locked Satterwhite out of the house. In response, Satterwhite shot his step-father twice through the door, hitting him in the chest. Satterwhite's step-father was seriously wounded.
  • Evidence was presented that Satterwhite had a conviction for burglary and a 1970 conviction for robbery with a firearm. Satterwhite also had his parole revoked in May 1974.
  • Evidence was presented that Satterwhite was involved in an attempted armed robbery of a liquor store, three days after murdering Mary Francis Davis.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

08/22/2000 Richard Wayne Jones (Tarrant County)
08/23/2000 David Earl Gibbs (Montgomery County)
08/30/2000 Jeffery Caldwell (Dallas County)
09/13/2000 Miguel A. Richardson (Bexar County)
10/04/2000 Stacey Lamont Lawton (Smith County)
11/01/2000 Jeffrey Dillingham (Tarrant County)
11/08/2000 Gary Wayne Etheridge (Brazoria County)
11/09/2000 Miguel Angel Flores (Hutchinson County)
11/15/2000 Tony Chambers (Smith County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 228th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 64th since Attorney General Cornyn took office.

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