Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

MEDIA ADVISORY

Gary Dean Miller Scheduled To Be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Gary Dean Miller who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, December 5th.

In September 1989, Gary Dean Miller was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1988 rape and murder of seven-year old April Marie Wilson.

Miller confessed to the rape and murder of April Marie Wilson. Miller's description of the manner of April's death was consistent with the pathologist's testimony at trial.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the morning of November 11, 1988, two men were quail hunting in a pasture in a rural area of Jones County, Texas. As they were walking through the pasture, the men found children's clothing, a blanket, a Raggedy Ann doll, a bottle of Jergen's lotion, and some paper towels. Some of the items appeared to have blood on them. Knowing that a little girl was missing, the men called law enforcement authorities with this information and April's body was subsequently located in the pasture.

In his written confession, Miller stated that, after working and socializing on the evening of November 10, 1988, he returned to his home in Merkel, Texas about 1:30 a.m., knowing that April, a seven-year old child, was spending the night there.

According to Miller, he had been drinking alcohol and did not want to stay home so he woke April to see if she wanted to go "riding around." Eventually, Miller and April stopped riding around, and April hugged him because he "was depressed." Miller claimed that he "did not know what happened," but he started abusing April. He placed April on the tailgate of the truck; even though she was scared, he told her to remove her clothes. April was crying, and Miller told her to be quiet. He then removed his own clothes, raped her and engaged in oral sex. Miller said that he panicked and started choking April and hitting her with something he had picked up from the ground.

Miller stated that April stopped fighting, and he, apparently believing she was dead, used coat hangers to drag her body into some brush. Miller went back to his home to get April's belongings to dump with her body; however, he could not locate the body when he returned to the scene.

Miller said he "passed out" after again returning home. Later that morning, the other individuals who lived with Miller noticed that April was missing. When Miller was asked if he had seen her, Miller stated that he had not, then pretended to assist in the efforts to locate her.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries of the head, neck, and trunk." The fractures to the head were such that the blows had to be delivered with "extreme force," multiple times. Many contusions and abrasions had been inflicted on April's face; her right jaw was fractured, which was consistent with being hit. There were bruises on and thorns in the ball of April's foot, indicating that April had put her foot down, possibly while being dragged. The pathologist described the appearance of trauma and excessive damage to body cavities caused by the sexual assault.

At the guilt-innocence phase of trial, Miller presented an insanity defense. Miller presented testimony from lay witnesses who stated that the offense was out of character for Miller and that he simply must not have known right from wrong at the time of the offense. Miller also presented testimony from psychologist Kevin Karlson, who opined that Miller was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offense, a dissociative episode. The jury ultimately rejected the insanity defense and found Miller guilty of capital murder.

PUNISHMENT PHASE TESTIMONY

A State's medical and psychiatric expert confirmed the pathologist's opinion regarding the extensive mutilation to April's genitalia. This expert also testified that Miller represented a continuing threat to society based upon the extremely brutal murder, a murder "as brutal as he had ever seen in a child." The expert noted that the murder was totally unprovoked and that Miller was meticulous during the killing and in his actions following the killing.

Miller also presented expert psychological evidence at the punishment phase of trial. Again Miller's expert testified that Miller was suffering from a dissociative episode at the time of the offense and could not have consciously, intentionally, or deliberately planned the rape and murder. However, even Miller's expert acknowledged that if Miller were in the same circumstance again, the same or a similar crime could occur.

APPEALS

To date, seven separate courts both state and federal including the United States Supreme Court, have reviewed Miller's case and rejected his appeals.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

12/06/2000 Daniel Joe Hittle (Dallas County)
12/07/2000 Claude Howard Jones (San Jacinto County)
01/09/2001 Jack Wade Clark (Lubbock County)
01/18/2001 Alvin Goodwin (Montgomery County)
01/22/2001 Steven Anthony Butler (Harris County)
02/08/2001 Adolph Gil Hernandez (Lubbock County)
04/03/2001 Jason Eric Massey (Ellis County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 237th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 73rd 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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