Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Wednesday, March 6, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Gerald Wayne Tigner Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Gerald Wayne Tigner, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, 2002.

On March 5, 1997, Gerald Wayne Tigner was sentenced to death for the capital murders of Michael Watkins and James Williams in Waco, Texas, on Aug. 31, 1993. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Aug. 31, 1993, while out on bail for a separate murder indictment, Gerald Wayne Tigner shot and killed two men on a suburban street in Waco, Texas. The facts indicate that at about 5:00 p.m., Tigner was driving with his friend Guan Scott and Guan's brother, Timothy Scott. They came upon a car being driven by Michael Watkins and James Williams. Tigner signaled them to make a loop around the block, and when they did, Tigner and Guan got out of the vehicle and approached Watkins and Williams.

When the conversation turned for the worse, Tigner started yelling at them and then began firing a gun into the car. As the car rolled away, Tigner walked alongside and continued to fire his gun at Watkins and Williams. Having run out of ammunition, Tigner then went back to the truck, retrieved another gun and returned to the car. On the way back to the car, Tigner stopped by Watkins, who had fallen out of the car and was attempting to crawl away. Tigner straddled him and shot him in the head.

Both Watkins and Williams died from the gunshot wounds. Watkins suffered 10 gunshot wounds, including two to the head, and Williams received seven gunshot wounds, including four to the head. After the shooting, Tigner returned to the truck and drove away.

Tigner was arrested the next day. Two days after his arrest, Sept. 3, 1993, Tigner signed a five-page written statement regarding the double murder. On Sept. 8, 1993, while still in custody, Tigner gave a tape recorded statement. At trial, in addition to Tigner's confessions, the State presented two eyewitnesses, Roy Darden and Timothy Scott, who identified Tigner as being the person who shot William and Watkins.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Tigner was twice convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 murders of Michael Watkins and James Williams. On Sept. 29, 1993, Tigner was indicted for the offense of capital murder. Tigner's 1994 trial resulted in a conviction for capital murder and a sentence of death, but was overturned on direct appeal on a procedural violation--the State failed to provide the defense a copy of Tigner's audio-taped confession at least 20 days before trial. On retrial in 1997, Tigner was again found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Tigner's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which upheld the judgment and sentence in an unpublished opinion dated April 28, 1999. Tigner did not file a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

Tigner filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus on Aug. 24, 1999. The state habeas court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied. After determining that the findings were supported by the record, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief on Sept. 29, 1999.

Tigner initiated habeas corpus proceedings in federal district court on Feb. 9, 2000. The district court entered final judgment denying habeas relief on Feb. 28, 2001. Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit followed. On Aug. 28, 2001, the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court's judgment denying Tigner habeas relief. Tigner's subsequent motion for rehearing was denied on Sept. 28, 2001.

On Dec. 20, 2001, Tigner filed a petition for certiorari review in the Supreme Court challenging the Fifth Circuit's denial of relief, which was denied on Feb. 25, 2002.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

Tigner's criminal history is documented with crimes of increasing severity ranging from a 1989 burglary when he was 16 years of age; to convictions for criminal mischief, terroristic threats and evading the police at age 18; to committing murder at age 19, and ultimately committing capital murder at age 20.

  • In January 1990, Tigner was granted probation in a juvenile hearing for a burglary offense that occurred in August 1989, when Tigner was 16 years old.
  • In January 1992, Tigner was convicted on a charge of criminal mischief and given a suspended sentence plus probation.
  • Tigner's record also reflects a January 1992 conviction for making a terroristic threat, which resulted in a suspended sentence and probation.
  • Another January 1992 conviction for evading detention resulted in a suspended sentence and probation.
  • On Dec. 5, 1992, Tigner confessed to the murder of Bobby Harris. Tigner shot Harris three times on the front lawn of Tigner's house.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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