Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Thursday, August 9, 2001

MEDIA ADVISORY

Napoleon Beazley scheduled to be executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Napoleon Beazley, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2001.

MEDIA NOTE: In two related cases, Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815, 108 S. Ct. 2687 (1988) and Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361, 109 S. Ct. 2969 (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Eighth and 14th Amendments prohibited the execution of a defendant convicted of first-degree murder when he was 15-years old, but a defendant's constitutional rights were not violated when the sentence was imposed on a defendant who was at least 16-years old at the time of the capital offense. Most states cite Stanford as justification for imposing capital sentences on 16- or 17-year olds.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On March 17, 1995, Napolean Beazley was sentenced for the capital offense of murdering John Luttig during a carjacking in Tyler, Texas, on April 19, 1994. At the time of the crime, Beazley, now 25, was approximately three and a half months short of his 18th birthday.

A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

On April 18, 1994, Beazley and his friend, Cedric Coleman, drove from their homes in Grapeland to Corsicana. Cedric had plans to meet some girls at a Corsicana college. Previously, Beazley had repeatedly expressed a desire to steal a car, and friends had seen him carry a gun. On the way to Corsicana, Beazley told Cedric that he wanted to "jack a car." Beazley carried a .45 caliber pistol on the trip.

When reaching the college campus, Beazley looked around at cars and asked Cedric when the students would return to their dorms. Later in the evening, Beazley stated that he wanted to go to Dallas to steal a car. However, Cedric managed to talk Beazley into waiting another day, and the two returned home.

On April 19, 1994, Beazley told a friend that he might soon be driving a Mercedes to school. That evening, Beazley borrowed his mother's car and drove with Cedric and Cedric's younger brother, Donald, to Corsicana. Beazley brought his .45 caliber pistol, as well as a sawed-off shotgun.

After driving to Corsicana, they decided to drive to Tyler, and on the way, Beazley spotted a Lexus and told Cedric to follow it. They followed the Lexus to Tyler, but eventually lost sight of it, which angered Beazley.

Later, when heading to a local restaurant, Beazley saw a Mercedes in the restaurant's parking lot. As the driver of the Mercedes exited his vehicle, Beazley jumped out of his car armed with the .45-caliber pistol. However, the driver entered the restaurant before Beazley could reach him, apparently without noticing Beazley.

Cedric yelled at Beazley to get back into the car, and without stopping to eat, Cedric began driving the group back home. However, Beazley ordered Cedric to turn around and return to Tyler, commenting, "You know, I guess I'm going to have to shoot my driver." Cedric then pulled the car over and told Beazley that, under the circumstances, he would have to do his own driving. Beazley took the wheel and stated again that he wanted to steal a car. When Cedric asked why, Beazley explained that he wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody.

As the group approached Tyler for the second time, Beazley spotted a 1987 Mercedes driven by John Luttig. He and his wife, Bobbie Luttig, were on their way home from Dallas. Beazley followed the Luttigs to their home and stopped at the end of the driveway. Beazley got out of the car and stripped off his shirt. Armed with the .45 caliber pistol, Beazley ran toward the garage. Donald followed shortly after carrying Beazley's sawed-off shotgun. Beazley fired one round from his pistol, hitting Mr. Luttig in the side of the head, leaving him alive, but stunned and in a seated position. Beazley next ran around the car where Mrs. Luttig was getting out of the vehicle and fired at her at very close range. Although he missed her, she fell to the ground. Beazley then returned to Mr. Luttig, raised his gun, took careful aim, and fired point blank into Mr. Luttig's head. Standing in his victim's blood, Beazley then rifled Mr. Luttig's pockets looking for the keys to the Mercedes.

As he searched for the keys, Beazley asked Donald if Mrs. Luttig was dead. When Donald said she was still moving, Beazley shouted for him to shoot her, but Donald refused. Beazley then moved to shoot her, but Donald quickly recanted his previous statement and said that she was dead. [Mrs. Luttig survived the incident and later testified at Beazley's trial.] Once Beazley found the keys to the Mercedes, he jumped into the car and ordered Donald to get in. He then backed the car out of the garage. However, he ran into a retaining wall, damaging the vehicle, causing him eventually to abandon it a short distance away. He then rejoined the group who had followed him from the crime scene in his mother's car. Beazley stated that he would get rid of anyone who said anything about the incident. Beazley and his cohorts returned to Grapeland.

A few days after the crime, Beazley confided to a friend that he and the Coleman brothers had attempted to steal a car, and he had shot a man three times in the head and had attempted to kill a woman. When arrested, Beazley's father asked if he had done the crime of which he was accused, and Beazley replied he had.

Beazley later commented, in describing his experience of the carjacking and murder, that it "was a trip."

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

July 7, 1994 - Beazley was charged by an indictment returned in Smith County, Texas, with the capital offense of intentionally murdering John Luttig during a robbery.

March 17, 1995 - A jury found Beazley guilty of capital murder on March 13, 1995, and following a separate punishment hearing, assessed the death penalty.

Feb. 26, 1997 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence. Beazley did not seek certiorari review of this proceeding from the U.S. Supreme Court.

June 3, 1997 - Beazley filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the state trial court of conviction.

Sept. 5, 1997 - An evidentiary hearing was held by the trial court.

Oct. 31, 1997 - The trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law denying habeas relief.

Jan. 21, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief based on the trial court's findings and conclusions and on the court's own review.

Oct. 1, 1998 - Beazley petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

Sept. 30, 1999 - The district court denied relief.

Oct. 26, 1999 - The district court denied reconsideration.

Dec. 28, 1999 - The district court granted permission for Beazley to appeal one issue regarding the appropriate federal habeas standard for review of state court judgments.

June 1, 2000 - Beazley filed his brief on appeal addressing the one issue approved by the district court and requested the Fifth Circuit to expand the appeal to cover nine additional issues.

Feb. 9, 2001 - The Fifth Circuit issued a published opinion affirming the denial of habeas relief and denied Beazley's requests to expand the issues on appeal.

March 15, 2001 - Beazley's petition for rehearing was denied.

March 30, 2001 - The 114th Judicial District Court of Smith County, Texas, scheduled Beazley's execution for Aug. 15, 2001.

June 13, 2001 - Beazley petitioned for certiorari review of the federal habeas proceeding.

June 28, 2001 - Beazley applied for a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court. Both matters are currently pending in that court.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

No evidence of prior criminal convictions was presented to the jury at the punishment phase of trial. However, the jury heard evidence that Beazley had been selling drugs since age 13.

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