Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Gary Wayne Etheridge Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Gary Wayne Etheridge, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002.

On Nov. 8, 1990, Gary Wayne Etheridge was sentenced to die for the capital murder of Christie Chauviere during the course of committing or attempting to commit robbery, aggravated sexual assault, and/or kidnapping in Brazoria County, Texas, on Feb. 2, 1990. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Gail Chauviere was a project manager at a townhouse-condominium complex in San Luis Pass. Gary Wayne Etheridge started working at the complex in late January 1990.

On the night of Feb. 2, 1990, Gail arrived home from work around 5:40 p.m. At the end of the day, Gail regularly brought home a bag of cash from the apartment complex. A dark car sat in Gail's driveway.

According to Gail's testimony at trial, Etheridge, who was already inside the house, ordered Gail to come into the house with him. Christie, Gail's daughter, was sitting on the arm of a love seat. Etheridge asked Gail if she was expecting any visitors, to which she replied that her father was coming over. He then asked, "Gail, where is the money? I know you bring it home." She told him the money was in the bank bag. Etheridge asked, "The money is in there?" Gail responded, "Yes. Take it; take the money and go. Just take it. I won't tell anybody. Just please don't harm Christie."

As she said this to Etheridge, she reached for her daughter, who was moving off the love seat toward her mother. Etheridge jerked Christie to him by her hair. Christie screamed and Etheridge told her to shut up and threatened to slit her throat. He then pulled a knife from behind his back and began stabbing Gail. He stabbed Gail two or three times on her left side, then he started striking her head. One blow was so severe that Gail thought she heard an explosion within her head. She blacked out by the fireplace in the den.

At trial, Gail had only intermittent memories of what happened after the explosive stab to her head. She remembered being stabbed in the back and in the lower abdomen. She remembered trying to push away from Etheridge and begging him, "No, no. Please don't do this!" She never heard any other intruders in her house and never heard Etheridge speak to anyone other than her and Christie. Etheridge said nothing to indicate that anyone else was there. Gail did not see Etheridge stab Christie.

After his own car would not start, Etheridge took Gail's car and fled. He picked up his wife, Theresa, and their baby daughter, Brittany, and two children that Theresa was babysitting. They stopped at a bar where the mother of the two children worked and left them with their mother. At the bar, Etheridge told the woman that he had killed a man in a knife fight.

Etheridge then drove with Theresa and Brittany to the home of Charles and Glenda Roenker. Glenda, Theresa's cousin, remembered Etheridge being covered in blood. Etheridge told the Roenkers that he had just stabbed a man and that he thought the man was dead. Etheridge cleaned up in their bathroom, dressed a cut on his finger, and left with Theresa and Brittany. About a half-hour later, they returned, asking the Roenkers to take care of Brittany. Etheridge and Theresa then left again.

Etheridge later abandoned his wife in Mobile, Alabama, and, after wrecking Gail's car in Alabama, he hitchhiked back to Texas. On Feb. 7, 1990, an off-duty Houston police officer spotted Etheridge walking along Highway 288 and arrested him. When the officer asked Etheridge if he knew why he was under arrest, Etheridge responded, "Yes, I know I'm under arrest for killing that 15-year-old girl. I'm sorry for what I did, and I was going back to Brazoria County to turn myself in."

The officer took Etheridge to the Brazoria County Courthouse. A Justice of the Peace read Etheridge his rights and had him sign a document confirming that he had received the warning. Though told that he had a right to have a lawyer present during questioning, Etheridge did not request one. Etheridge then spent four hours answering questions from officers and drafting a written statement. Etheridge signed each page of the statement.

The next day, the officers conducted another interview with Etheridge, which they tape recorded. Etheridge denied raping Christie and said he could not remember stabbing either woman. He did say unequivocally, "I killed a girl." He also said that no one came with him to the Chauviere's house, that he went there alone, and that he could prove it because someone across the street saw him arrive and leave.

After the taped interview, the officers allowed Etheridge to speak to his father on the telephone. Etheridge knew the officers were recording the call. He denied raping Christie and told his father to tell anyone that harassed his family that he killed Christie, not the family. Etheridge declared that he wanted to talk to the press so that he could tell them that he killed the girl.

John Rhyne, a Richwood police officer, first discovered Christie, nude from the waist down, lying in the entrance way. Her hands were tied in front of her with a telephone cord, and she had been gagged with a towel. He saw the remnants of a tear rolling down her cheek. He then saw Gail, moaning for help, lying in an adjacent room. A doctor testified that Gail arrived at the hospital with multiple penetrating wounds to her neck, face, chest, upper abdomen, and arms. She had a severe wound to her right eye and a gaping slash wound to her neck.

Christie suffered four fatal stab wounds and was dead at the scene. Christie's attacker also stabbed her in the face between her nose and right eye. She also had several defensive wounds on her forearms. Christie's attacker did not confine his assault to Christie's upper body. The pathologist who performed Christie's autopsy found no semen in Christie's genitals; however, he testified that the injuries to her genitals were consistent with knife wounds.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In April 1990, Etheridge was indicted in Brazoria County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Christie Chauviere in the course of a robbery of Gail Chauviere and in the course of a robbery, aggravated sexual assault, and kidnaping of Christie Chauviere. He entered a plea of not guilty. On Nov. 6, 1990, the jury found Etheridge guilty of capital murder. Following a separate punishment hearing, the trial court sentenced Etheridge to death.

Etheridge's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed on June 22, 1994, and denied rehearing on May 10, 1995. The United States Supreme Court denied Etheridge's petition for writ of certiorari on Oct. 10, 1995.

Etheridge filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in state court on April 23, 1997, and an amended writ on June 18, 1997. The trial court conducted a hearing via affidavits and entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending the denial of relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief on April 1, 1998.

Etheridge next filed a petition for federal habeas corpus on Nov. 13, 1998, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. On May 19, 1999, the district court denied relief and denied Etheridge permission to appeal. On Feb. 2, 2000, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied permission to appeal, thereby affirming the district court's denial of relief. Etheridge then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on Oct. 16, 2000.

On Nov. 1, 2001, Etheridge filed a subsequent state habeas writ and a motion for a stay of execution. The Court of Criminal Appeals granted the stay on Nov. 6, 2001. Subsequently, on April 17, 2002, the Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Etheridge's subsequent state habeas writ and vacated his stay of execution. Consequently, a new execution date was set for June 27, 2002.

On June 20, 2002, Etheridge filed a writ of mandamus and another motion for a stay of execution in the Court of Criminal Appeals. Etheridge argued that the trial judge who set the June 27, 2002, execution date had no authority to do so. The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and granted Etheridge a stay of execution on June 24, 2002. A new judge was appointed to Etheridge's case and the Court of Criminal Appeals lifted the stay. On July 10, 2002, the newly appointed judge set the current Aug. 20, 2002, execution date.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State introduced evidence of several previous offenses committed by Etheridge. Kyle Teat, a field supervisor for the Brazoria County Juvenile Probation Department, discussed the juvenile offense of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and burglary of a building committed by Gary Wayne Etheridge and his subsequent breach of probation by breaking into a car and committing theft. He identified an adjudication order against Etheridge for the juvenile offense, an order of probation, a petition for hearing to modify disposition or revoke probation due to Etheridge's violation of probation through the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and a final order modifying disposition for commitment to the Texas Youth Council.

Bonnie Barker, deputy custodian of the Brazoria County's Sheriff's Department, testified to adult offenses Etheridge was convicted of, including driving with a suspended license, driving while intoxicated, burglary of a building, and aggravated assault. Jackie Moff, deputy district clerk and custodian of the records of the Brazoria County district clerk's office, further explained the conviction for the aggravated assault which occurred on Nov. 19, 1984, while Etheridge was in the Texas Department of Corrections, citing indictments for attempted murder and aggravated assault (habitual). While Etheridge was only convicted of aggravated assault, the victim, Geoffrey Mack, confirmed that Etheridge had stabbed Mack in prison while he slept and then threatened to kill him when he awoke. Mack claimed that he and Etheridge had argued over prison barter.

Charles Wagner, former chief of investigation for the city of Freeport, testified to Etheridge's bad reputation as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen in the community of Freeport. Larry Bullard, Wagner's successor, also testified to Etheridge's bad reputation as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen in Freeport and to a sting operation where he caught Etheridge selling cocaine. Etheridge was never convicted of this charge

Payton Taylor, a refrigerator technician, testified that he worked as a police informant who bought cocaine in a sting operation against Etheridge. Etheridge later started a fight with Taylor in the Brazoria County Jail for betraying him. Taylor also testified as to Etheridge's bad reputation as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen.

John Devens, a Brazoria county jail captain, testified to Etheridge's bad reputation in jail as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen since his incarceration for the instant offense.

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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