Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Tony Lee Walker Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Tony Lee Walker, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2002.

On Nov. 17, 1993, Tony Lee Walker was sentenced to die for the capital murder of 66-year-old Virginia Simmons in Daingerfield, Texas, on May 23, 1992. Walker also murdered Simmons' 81-year-old husband Willie "Bo" Simmons. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On May 23, 1992, at 12:30 a.m., James Cornelius and Tony Walker were riding in Cornelius' car. The two were in possession of rock cocaine, which they both smoked. Cornelius let Walker out of the car and he started walking toward his house. Walker, who was an acquaintance of the Simmons, wanted beer and money for more drugs. He decided to go over to the Simmons' house, which was nearby. On the way, Walker picked up a big stick on a railroad track. When he got to the house, Walker knocked on the door and heard Mr. Simmons ask, "Who is it?" Walker identified himself, and Mr. Simmons opened the door and let him in. Once inside, Walker told Mr. Simmons he wanted a beer. Mr. Simmons went to the kitchen, got a beer, and brought it back to Walker. Walker gave him 50 cents for the beer and then left.

Walker walked in the woods and drank the beer. He found another stick and went back to the Simmons' house. Walker put the stick behind him and knocked on the door. Mr. Simmons asked who was there, and Walker told him "Roger." Eventually, Virginia Simmons let Walker into the house. Mr. Simmons was standing by the kitchen door with his back turned. When Mr. Simmons turned around, Walker hit him in the back of the head with the stick, which broke. He hit Mr. Simmons in the head again and the stick broke again. Walker then grabbed a walking cane and hit Mr. Simmons a third time. The cane also broke. Mrs. Simmons yelled, "Hey, you want to get shot?" Walker opened the front door and got another stick he had left on the porch. He hit Mrs. Simmons with it and she fell on her bed.

Mr. Simmons was still standing up when Walker grabbed him by the hand, pulled him into the bedroom, and told him to lay down on the floor by the bed. Walker then grabbed Mrs. Simmons and told her to pull her gown up. He tied Mr. Simmons' hands and feet with an electric cord, a belt, and a foam shoulder sling. Walker asked the Simmons if they would tell the police about this, and Mr. Simmons responded that he would not because they had been robbed before. Walker then raped Mrs. Simmons. He noticed that Mrs. Simmons' head was bleeding at the time.

After raping Mrs. Simmons, Walker laid her on the floor by her husband's feet. She was nude and curled up. Walker started thinking that if he did not kill them, they would call the police. After looking at them for about 10 minutes, Walker hit them both in the head repeatedly. Blood was coming out of their mouths and, as Walker watched, they both gasped for air. Walker then went to the kitchen, got a beer, sat down and drank it. Afterward, he dragged Mrs. Simmons into the living room to attempt to sexually assault her again, even though she was dead. Then, he got another beer from the kitchen and drank it.

Next, Walker found Mr. Simmons' wallet in Mr. Simmons' back pocket, took the money out, and counted it. There was about $95 in the wallet, which Walker put in his pocket. Walker then began looking for items that he might be able to sell for money, but went to the kitchen and drank another beer. After that, he untied Mr. Simmons and began to collect the belts, the electric cord, the sticks, the cane, and the beer cans. He put the items in a pillow case, and then tried to wipe his fingerprints off of anything he thought he touched. Walker was naked and his clothes were covered with blood, so he found a pair of Mr. Simmons' pants and a t-shirt and put them on. Walker went to the front door, opened it, and noticed that the Simmons' neighbors were awake. Consequently, he closed the front door, locked it, and walked out the back door.

The following day, the police found Walker's blood-soaked clothes in a hole behind his house. After the police confronted him, Walker agreed to go to the Morris County courthouse to answer questions. While at the courthouse, Walker confessed to the crime. Walker's confession was supported by forensic evidence presented at trial demonstrating that the blood on his clothes was of the same type as the victims. The evidence also revealed that Walker's sperm was found on Mrs. Simmons.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 30, 1992, Walker was indicted in the 276th Judicial District Court of Morris County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Virginia Simmons while in the course of committing and attempting to commit aggravated sexual assault. After Walker pleaded not guilty, a jury found him guilty of the capital offense on Nov. 15, 1993. On Nov. 17, 1993, after a separate punishment hearing, the court assessed Walker's punishment at death.

Walker's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed in an unpublished opinion on Oct. 30, 1996. Walker petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for writ of certiorari, but the Court denied the writ on Oct. 6, 1997.

Walker filed a state application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court on Aug. 4, 1997. The trial court subsequently entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that Walker's application be denied. With the exception of three of the court's findings, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the findings and conclusions of the trial court and denied the application in an unpublished order on Sept. 30, 1998.

Walker then filed a federal habeas petition in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division, on March 22, 1999. The federal district court denied habeas relief on Dec. 8, 2000. However, on Feb. 9, 2001, the district court granted Walker permission to appeal with regard to one claim: whether Walker's counsel was ineffective in making an incorrect argument concerning the law of "reasonable doubt." Thereafter, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected that claim and affirmed the district court's judgment on Aug. 7, 2001. Walker subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari review. The Court denied the petition on May 20, 2002.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

During trial, the State proved that Walker had been convicted of first degree murder on March 21, 1978, in Criminal District Court No. 2, of Dallas County, Texas. Walker received a five-year sentence for the crime, and was discharged on early release on May, 8, 1980.

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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