THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Media Advisory: Melvin White Scheduled For Execution

AUSTIN Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott offers the following information about Melvin White, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. Thursday, November 3, 2005.

White was sentenced to death for the 1997 capital murder of 9-year-old Jennifer Lee Gravell in Crockett County. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On August 5, 1997, Melvin White abducted 9-year-old neighbor Jennifer Lee Gravell from a neighborhood barbeque, bound her hands with electrical tape, drove her to a deserted area north of Ozona, took her behind a water tank, sexually assaulted her, then killed her by striking her six to seven times on the head with a tire tool. The blows crushed Jennifer’s skull.

Witnesses observed White driving a truck with a young girl in the passenger seat shortly before midnight the evening of the barbecue, and returning home after 1 a.m. the following day. White was arrested, and he confessed to the crime. White told police where they could find Jennifer’s body.

Shoe prints found at the crime scene matched the shoes White had been wearing at the barbecue. The shoes were found in White’s home. Blood on the shoes matched Jennifer’s DNA. Blood on the right rear quarter panel of White’s pickup truck also matched Jennifer’s DNA. Tire tracks at the crime scene were similar to those of White’s pickup truck. Police recovered Jennifer’s underpants and sandals in a trash container inside White’s house, along with a ball of electrical tape with numerous blonde hairs that a trace evidence expert said could have belonged to Jennifer.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

August 15, 1997 White was indicted for capital murder.
June 10, 1999 White was convicted of capital murder.
June 14, 1999 White was sentenced to death.

Direct Appeal

January 31, 2001 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed White’s conviction and sentence.

Habeas Proceedings

September 4, 2000 White filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the state trial court.
August 23, 2001 The state trial court recommended that habeas relief be denied.
October 31, 2001 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas corpus relief.
October 28, 2002 White filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a U.S. district court.
April 22, 2004 The federal district court denied habeas corpus relief.
July 19, 2004 White filed a motion for a certificate of appealability (COA) in a U.S. district court.
August 2, 2004 The federal district court denied White’s request for a COA.
September 20, 2004 White filed a motion for a COA in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
March 24, 2005 The 5th Circuit Court denied White’s request for a COA.
April 4, 2005 -- White filed a petition for rehearing by the full 5th Circuit Court.
April 15, 2005 The 5th Circuit Court denied White’s petition for rehearing
July 7, 2005 White filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oct. 11, 2005 The U.S. Supreme denied White’s petition.
Oct. 21, 2005 White filed a 1983 claim in U.S. federal court.
Oct. 25, 2005 The federal district court dismissed White’s complaint with prejudice.
November 3, 2005 White’s scheduled execution date

CRIMINAL HISTORY

At trial, the jury learned that prior to the capital murder, White had assaulted his underaged daughter, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her. White also offered his daughter $50 per week if she would provide him with sexual favors on demand. White had also fondled the genitals of a four-year-old female cousin and grabbed the breast of an unrelated teenaged girl visiting his home. In addition, White had beaten his ex-wife on at least two occasions and taken a swing at a male friend of his teenaged son.

MISCELLANEOUS

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