Office of the Attorney General News Release ArchiveWednesday, November 29, 2000
Claude Howard Jones Scheduled To Be Executed
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Claude Howard Jones who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, December 7th.
Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1989 murder of Allen Hilzendager, the owner of a liquor store in Point Blank, Texas.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
On November 14, 1989, Jones and two other men, Kerry Dixon and Mark Jordan, gathered at the home of Jordan's father. Between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon, Jones and Dixon left and drove to Zell's liquor store where Allen Hilzaendager was. Before they left, Jordan gave the men his Taurus .357 magnum revolver, which had been purchased by Jordan's girlfriend, Terry Hardin. Jordan stayed behind at the mobile home.
That same day, Leon Goodson and his 14-year-old daughter Wendy were busy working on their family vehicle at a friend's house located across the highway from Zell's liquor store. While assisting her father, Wendy saw a pickup truck pull into the front of the liquor store. The passenger, who was wearing a light-colored shirt with long sleeves and had a "pot" belly, got out of the truck and greeted Hilzendager. Hilzendager placed his arm around the man and they went into the store. The driver of the truck then turned the truck around on a nearby road, turned his lights off, and pulled up beside the store. Through a window in the front of the store, Wendy could see Hilzendager walk around the side of the counter. Two minutes later, Wendy heard two gun shots in rapid succession, and after a short pause, she heard another. She then asked her father, "Do you think they shot him?" Mr. Goodson, who was on the ground fixing the car at the time, heard the three bangs, but dismissed them thinking that Hilzendager might be banging on some metal doors.
After hearing his daughter's words, however, Mr. Goodson stopped working on the car, stood up, and looked across the street. He and his daughter observed the man walk from the front of the counter to behind the counter, then out from behind the counter again. The door to the store was then pulled open and the man came out walking very briskly. According to Mr. Goodson, the man appeared to be a white male, in his forties, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 200 to 230 pounds in weight, wearing a tight fitting gray jogging shirt and had a "beer belly." The man got into the passenger side of the vehicle, and the vehicle was driven off toward Oakhurst at a high rate of speed.
Several minutes later, after finishing the repairs, the Goodsons drove across the street to check on Hilzendager. After calling for Hilzendager, Goodson stepped up toward the counter and, through the storeroom door, saw the lower part of Hilzendager's torso and legs lying in a pool of blood. Goodson immediately left the store, got into his car, and went back to his neighbor's house to call the ambulance and police. Goodson then returned to the store and checked to see if Hilzendager was breathing. After determining that Hilzendager was not alive, he waited for the authorities to arrive at the scene.
Law enforcement officials found the body of Allen Hilzendager lying on the floor in the doorway of the storeroom. He had received three gunshot wounds. Hilzendager received wounds to his right shoulder area under the collar bone, to his right lower abdomen, and to his back. A crime scene expert believed that the first shot was the one to his upper left back, which resulted in a severed aortic artery and a punctured lung. The second shot, which was fired between 18 to 24 inches from the victim, was made as the victim held up his hands. The third shot struck Hilzendager in the side as he lay on the floor.
Hilzendager's sister, who occasionally worked at the liquor store, estimated that $900 was stolen from the cash register in the store. However, approximately $6,000 was left in the store in a bag pushed up under the counter near the floor. Another $1,000 was left in a bank bag under the cash register.
After the murder, Jones told friends of his that he had killed Hilzendager because he was gay.
Magee contacted the parole board and the Walker County Sheriff's Department and discovered that the suspect's full name was Kerry Daniel Dixon. Magee went to Dixon's last known residence in Conroe and saw a brown truck with a white "guard rail" resembling that described by William Johnson. Photos were then taken of the truck. Magee immediately contacted Texas Ranger Tommy Walker and Sergeant Linda Hunter, with the San Jacinto Sheriff's Office, and relayed this information.
PUNISHMENT PHASE TESTIMONY
At the punishment phase of Jones' trial, Mark Jordan testified that on November 13, 1989, Jordan, Dixon, and Jones all traveled to Oklahoma City. On Friday, November 17, 1989, the men then traveled to Humble, Texas. Jones was going to show Jordan "how to make fast money" by robbing a bank. Dixon pulled into the parking lot in his white Nissan truck, and Jones got out of the truck, taking the weapon used to kill Hilzendager and a white plastic bag with him. Once inside, Jones walked up to one of the tellers, handed her the plastic bag, and told her to fill up the bag and to remain quiet and calm or he would kill her. She began filling up the bag, but at some point hesitated. Jones then showed her the butt of the gun and again told her to put it all in the bag or he would kill her. The teller then put the rest of the money into the bag. Jones exited the bank and returned to the truck. Dixon then drove the men back to his mobile home in Conroe and the three men divided up between $14,000 and $16,000 in three ways. Some of the money was used to purchase airline tickets to Las Vegas that weekend. While in Las Vegas, Jones admitted to Jordan that he "killed that queer son-of-a-b---- in that liquor store."
To date, Jones' case has been reviewed by seven courts, state and federal. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously granted Jones a stay of execution. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Jones' in October.
01/09/2001 Jack Wade Clark (Lubbock County)
If this execution is carried out it will be the 240th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the74th since General Cornyn took office.
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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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