Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, May 13, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Henry Earl Dunn, Jr. Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Henry Earl Dunn, Jr., who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2002.

On Sept. 7, 1995, Henry Earl Dunn, Jr., was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Nicolas West, which occurred 10 miles outside of Tyler, Texas, on Nov. 30, 1993. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the evening of Nov. 30, 1993, Nicolas West borrowed a red Nissan truck from his roommate, Lara Heidelburg but never returned home. Henry Earl Dunn, Jr., Donald Aldrich and David McMillan kidnapped West from a Montgomery Ward parking lot in Tyler, Texas, and then drove to a clay pit where they fatally shot him.

Dunn later confessed that he, Aldrich and McMillan decided to find and assault homosexuals at Bergfield park in Tyler. Aldrich, McMillan and Dunn went to the park, which was known as a local meeting place for homosexuals. Upon arrival, Aldrich spotted a red Nissan truck that he recognized from a previous visit to the park. Aldrich approached the red truck, occupied by West, and posed as a homosexual in order to gain West's attention. West invited Aldrich to join him and the two drove together to a nearby Montgomery Ward parking lot. Dunn and McMillan followed in another car.

Once in the parking lot, Dunn, Aldrich and McMillan brandished weapons and forced West into the passenger seat of their car. While Aldrich drove the red Nissan truck, Dunn held a gun on West, and McMillan drove the car to a clay pit approximately 10 miles outside of Tyler. Once they arrived, Dunn, Aldrich and McMillan led West at gunpoint away from the road and into the clay pit. At this point, West soiled his pants; Dunn forced him to remove his shoes and pants before they continued. As West removed his pants, a $10 bill fell from his pocket. Dunn struck West in the head, knocking him to the ground. Aldrich, Dunn and McMillan then began to push and taunt West as they continued toward the clay pit.

When they reached the clearing where the clay pit was located, Dunn fired his pistol into the air. According to Dunn's videotaped confession, this act triggered a fusillade of gunfire from Aldrich and McMillan, and West was knocked face down into the mud. Dunn then walked toward West's body and fired at least four and as many as six shots into West. Dunn admitted that one of his shots probably struck West in the head. West was shot as many as 15 times. As West writhed on the ground and begged for the shooting to stop, Aldrich, McMillan and Dunn ran back to the road where the vehicles were parked. Aldrich drove West's truck and McMillan and Dunn fled in the car. Two days later, on December 2, dirt-bikers Eddie Craft and Charles Hall found West's body lying face-down in the clay pit.

Dunn was arrested in possession of the red Nissan pickup. He gave a videotaped confession on December 3. Aldrich was convicted and sentenced to death for the same capital murder. McMillan received a life sentence for aggravated robbery and kidnaping.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

December 16, 1993 - A grand jury indicted Dunn in the 241st Judicial District Court of Smith County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Nicolas West while in the course of committing kidnapping and robbery.

August 28, 1995 - A jury found Dunn guilty of capital murder.

September 7, 1995 - Following a separate punishment hearing, the court assessed a sentence of death.

September 17, 1997 - Dunn's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in a published opinion.

May 26, 1998 - Dunn filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court.

September 15, 1999 - The Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief in an unpublished order.

January 27, 2000 - Dunn filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

June 28, 2001 - The federal district court denied habeas relief.

August 6, 2001 - Dunn filed a notice for appeal eight days past the 30-day deadline provided for by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

September 5, 2001 - Dunn requested permission to file his notice of appeal late, but missed the 60-day deadline provided for by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

September 18, 2001 - Dunn dismissed his federal habeas attorneys and requested new counsel.

September 24, 2001 - The district court denied permission to file a late notice of appeal, but appointed Dunn a new attorney.

November 20, 2001 - The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed Dunn's appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

January 3, 2002 - Dunn asked the district court to vacate and reenter its earlier judgment so that he would receive a new 30-day period for filing a notice of appeal.

February 12, 2002 - The district court declined to vacate and reenter its judgment.

February 22, 2002 - Dunn filed a timely request for permission to appeal, which is currently pending before the Fifth Circuit.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Dunn previously assaulted a girl as they both exited a school bus. Dunn choked her and repeatedly struck her in the throat before the bus driver stopped the attack. Dunn then smashed the windows out of the bus door and attempted to follow the girl back onto the bus before the driver subdued him. Dunn also participated in the aggravated robberies of Jesus Godines and Kem Bishop on two other occasions. In each of these incidents, Dunn and others stole the victims' vehicles at gunpoint. Dunn was arrested but charges were dropped.

MISCELLANEOUS

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

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