Reginald W. Perkins (1 Viewer)

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Banned
Reginald W. Perkins



Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Parricide - Convicted rapist
Number of victims: 3 - 6
Date of murders: 1980 - 2000
Date of arrest: December 5, 2000
Date of birth: April 29, 1955
Victim profile: Gertie Mae Perkins, 64 (step-mother) / Paula Nelson, 21 / Jenny Morman, 43 / Terry Thomas / Hattie Wilson, 79 / Shirley Douglas, 44
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Ohio/Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on January 22, 2009




Summary:

Perkins stepmother Gertie went missing from her home on December 4, 2000. Police found a small bloodstain on the carpet of her home and observed the line cord from the bedroom telephone was missing. On the day Gertie disappeared, her stepson used his drivers license to sell her wedding ring at a pawn shop for $150. Two checks from the family business were also cashed - one for $600 and one for $700.

Later that day, the police arrested Reginald. Reginald called his father, who said, "I sure hope you've got good news for me." Reginald answered, "I'm afraid not; she's dead." Perkins then directed his father and police to a parking garage, where they found Gertie's car parked. Her body was in the trunk. She had bruises on her head and mouth and had also been strangled with something thin and smooth.

In 1980 in Ohio, Perkins pled guilty to the rape of a 12-year old girl, was sentenced to Life, but was paroled in 1986. Through trial, Perkins continued to announce his innocence of "ever hurting anybody."

Since his conviction and sentence of death for the murder of Gertie Perkins, Perkins has been connected by DNA evidence to at least two other murders, and is suspected in a third.

Victims:

Gertie Mae Perkins, 64
Paula Nelson, 21
Jenny Morman, 43
Terry Thomas
Hattie Wilson, 79
Shirley Douglas, 44

Citations:

Perkins v. State, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2004 WL 3093239 (Tex.Crim.App. 2004) (Direct Appeal).
Perkins v. Quarterman, 254 Fed.Appx. 366 (5th Cir. 2007) (Habeas).

Final/Special Meal:


Final Words:

When the warden asked him if he wanted to make a statement, Perkins replied: "I already made my statement. Appreciate it. Love y'all. I can feel it going in." He then looked at Gertie's sister and told her he loved her, then he lost consciousness.

ClarkProsecutor.org


Name TDCJ Number Date of Birth
Reginald Perkins 999407 04/29/1955
Date Received Age (when Received) Education Level
03/22/2002 46 7
Date of Offense Age (at the Offense) County
12/04/2000 45 Tarrant
Race Gender Hair Color
black male black
Height Weight Eye Color
6 ft 2 in 190 brown
Native County Native State Prior Occupation
Woodruff Arkansas truck driver, plumber, laborer
Prior Prison Record


Ohio Department of Corrections on a life sentence for one count of rape; released on parole in 1986; returned from parole in 1994, released on parole on 02/08/2000.

Summary of incident


On 12/04/2000 in Fort Worth, Perkins strangled his 64 year old black female step-mother, resulting in her death.

Her body was found in the trunk of her vehicle in a parking garage.

Co-defendants
None.
Race and Gender of Victim
black female





Texas Attorney General

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Media Advisory: Reginald Perkins Scheduled For Execution

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott offers the following information about Reginald Perkins, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 22, 2009. Perkins was sentenced to death for the December 2000 robbery and murder of his stepmother in Fort Worth.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

The body of 64-year-old Gertie Perkins was found in the trunk of a car in a parking garage.

An autopsy revealed that Gertie had bruises on her head and mouth and that she had been strangled. The medical examiner indicated that the woman was killed with a thin, fairly smooth object like a phone cord. The police also discovered that the phone cord from the telephone in the bedroom had been disconnected.

Perkins’ father, Willie, learned that his wife was missing sometime during the afternoon of December 4th. Willie was contacted because Gertie had not picked up their grandson from school. Willie called his children who attempted to find Gertie. When they could not locate her, they called the police who found a small blood stain on the edge of the carpet in the Perkins’ home.

On the same day, police arrested Reginald Perkins. Perkins asked to speak with his father. Willie Perkins told his son, “I sure hope you’ve got good news for me,” to which Reginald Perkins replied, “I’m afraid not; she’s dead.” Perkins directed his father and the police to a parking garage where they found Gertie’s car parked. Willie Perkins asked the police if he could get out of the car, but Reginald Perkins said, “Daddy, no, don’t get out. Don’t go.” The police found Gertie’s body in the trunk of the car.

On Friday, December 1, 2000, Reginald Perkins told his stepbrother’s wife that he was having money problems, that he needed $1,000.00 by Monday, and that he was planning to rob a lady who worked in a store by herself in order to get the money. On December 3, 2000, Perkins also told his sister that he was having money problems.

On the day Gertie disappeared, Reginald Perkins sold Gertie’s wedding ring at a pawn shop for $150.00. Then, Perkins paid, a known crack user, $200.00 to cash two checks for Perkins. The two checks were from the Perkins’ trucking business account and were written for $600.00 and $700.00.

While in jail awaiting trial for the murder, Perkins confessed to a fellow inmate “that they only had a body and a phone cord and no witnesses and they couldn’t get fingerprints off a phone cord. Perkins also told the inmate that he had beaten the victim to death. He also told the prisoner something about a phone cord; the prisoner could not remember if Perkins said he strangled the victim with it or if he tied her up with it. Perkins said his motive was robbery, and that he took some money and checks, but that another man cashed the checks..

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Perkins was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2002. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Perkins’ conviction on direct appeal on June 30, 2004. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review of this decision on February 22, 2005.

Perkins’ state petition for writ of habeas corpus was denied September 13, 2006, after the state court held an evidentiary hearing.

The federal district court denied Perkins’ federal petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 1, 2007, and denied his request for a certificate of appealability (COA) on April 2, 2007. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also denied Perkins’ request for COA on November 15, 2007. Finally, the Supreme Court denied certiorari review of the Fifth Circuit Court's decision on May 27, 2008.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

In 1982, Perkins was convicted of, rape of a minor, attempted rape of a minor, and gross sexual imposition. He was sentenced to life in prison for the rape, to a term of four to fifteen years for the attempted rape, and to a term of two to ten years for the gross sexual imposition. The sentences were served concurrently. Perkins was incarcerated in 1981, released on parole in 1990, returned to prison in 1994, and paroled again in 2000. In 1999, an Ohio court found by clear and convincing evidence that Perkins was a sexual predator.

The victims of these convictions were two twelve-year-old girls. One victim testified at the punishment phase of trial that Perkins raped her on December 19, 1980. Perkins lived across the street from that girl. During the attack, Perkins struck her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The girl’s mother found out about the rape and bammed Perkins from entering her apartment again, although she did not immediately report the rape to the police.

On January 23, 1981, LaShelle found her mother’s body sitting in a chair near the basement stairs at their home. The woman had been strangled with a cord from a hair dryer.

Perkins had fresh scratches on his face after the murder, but convinced several women to lie and say that they had scratched him. Perkins was arrested as a suspect in Jeri’s murder, but was never tried.

Perkins was also connected to another murder in Ohio. Ramola Washington testified that Perkins killed her sister Paula on October 23, 1980. Paula had been strangled with a soft-type object, like a scarf. Perkins was never tried for Paula’s murder.

Since his conviction and sentence of death for the murder of Gertie Perkins, Perkins has been connected by DNA evidence to at least two other murders, and is suspected in a third.

Man convicted of strangling stepmother executed

By Michael Graczyk - The Houston Chronicle

Jan. 22, 2009

HUNTSVILLE — A convicted rapist and suspected serial killer was executed Thursday evening for strangling and robbing his stepmother in Fort Worth more than eight years ago.

Asked by the warden if he would like to make a statement, Reginald Perkins responded, “I already made my statement. Appreciate it. Love y’all.”

About an hour before he was executed, Perkins had summoned a prison official to his cell and gave him a statement professing his innocence.

“They didn’t link me to nothing. I did not kill my stepmom,” he said. “I loved her. Texas is going to kill an innocent man.”

On the other deaths, Perkins said, “There’s other suspects they questioned besides me. They let them go. I don’t know what they’re talking about. I can’t tell you who killed them. I ain’t killed nobody. I’ve never killed.”

As the drugs were being administered, he said, “I can feel it going in.” Just before the drugs took effect, he looked at the sister of his victim and told her he loved her.

He was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

“I think he waited a little bit too late to tell me that he loved me,” Barbara Ward, the victim’s sister, said. She also said if Perkins insisted he was innocent, “He should have told who did it.”

“All the evidence did lead to him,” Delores Hill, another sister, said.

In a prepared statement, the family said they were grateful for the execution.

“God will deal with him now,” they said. “What a great state to live in to know justice was served.”

Perkins was the second convicted killer executed in as many days and the third this year in the nation’s most active death penalty state. Another three inmates are scheduled to die next week.

His appeals had been exhausted, said Perkins’ lawyer, William Harris. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday unanimously rejected a clemency request that sought to have his sentence commuted to life in prison.

Perkins was condemned for the 2000 slaying of 64-year-old Gertie Perkins, whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of her Cadillac. He led his father and police to his stepmother’s body. Like his statement Thursday, he denied last week from death row any involvement in her killing and five other murders authorities believe he committed in Fort Worth and Cleveland, Ohio, during the relatively brief times over a 20-year period when he wasn’t in prison.

“He’s a consummate liar and a con artist,” Kevin Rousseau, the Tarrant County district attorney, who prosecuted Perkins, said. “I wouldn’t believe anything he said. He’s a serial killer. People look for more complicated rationale. But the bottom line is, he’s a killer. He goes through quite a bit of trouble to kill folks.”

Perkins pleaded guilty to the 1980 rape and attempted rape of two 12-year-old girls in Ohio and was sentenced to life in prison. Authorities suspected but couldn’t get enough evidence to charge him with the 1980 strangling of Paula Nelson at her Cleveland home. Perkins was living with the victim’s twin sister and later married her. He was suspected of the 1981 strangling of Jenny Morman, 43, at her Cleveland apartment, and the strangling three weeks later of Jerry Thomas, whose daughter he was convicted of trying to rape.

In 1988, he was paroled and moved to Fort Worth. A DNA database tied Perkins last year to the 1991 stranglings in Fort Worth of Shirley Douglas, 44, and her aunt, Hattie Wilson, 79. Police said Perkins had dated Wilson’s granddaughter.

A parole violation returned him to Ohio in 1993 and remained in prison until 2000, when he was paroled again and returned again to Fort Worth. His stepmother’s slaying occurred 10 months later.

Evidence at his trial showed Perkins pawned her wedding ring and wrote fraudulent checks from the account of the family trucking business in Fort Worth. He became a suspect after detectives learned of his previous convictions in Ohio for rape and attempted rape and that he had been a suspect in the Cleveland slayings. A Tarrant County jury in 2002 deliberated 30 minutes before deciding he should die.

From death row last week, he denied pawning his stepmother’s ring, saying although his driver’s license was used to verify the transaction, the license had been lost and he wasn’t the person using it. He said he was framed, that the rape victims in the Ohio cases lied and that he pleaded guilty to the rape charges because of bad advice from a lawyer.

“Lies and false testimony,” he insisted. “I ain’t never hurt a person in my life.”

Wednesday night, condemned inmate Frank Moore, 47, received lethal injection for the fatal shootings of Samuel Boyd, 23, and Patrick Clark, 15, outside a bar in San Antonio 15 years ago.

Next week, Larry Swearingen, 37, is set to die Tuesday — the first of three executions on consecutive evenings in Huntsville — for the 1998 abduction and slaying of Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old college student from Montgomery County near Houston.

Man executed for strangling stepmother

By Kristin Edwards - ItemOnline.com

January 22, 2009

A convicted rapist who was found guilty of killing his stepmother by strangling her with a phone cord was executed Thursday at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Walls Unit. Reginald Perkins, 53, was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2002 for the December 2000 murder of 64-year-old Gertie Perkins. His execution is the third to be carried out in Texas since Jan. 14, and three more executions are scheduled before the end of the month.

During his official last statement, Perkins chose to speak briefly to the witnesses present on his behalf. However, during the hour before his execution, Perkins made a statement to Jason Clark, TDCJ public information officer. “I am innocent and I did not do this,” Perkins said. “They didn’t link me to nothing. I did not kill my stepmom. I loved her, and Texas is going to kill an innocent man.”

Perkins was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., approximately eight minutes after he was administered a lethal injection.

According to information released by the Texas Attorney General’s office, Reginald Perkins has been connected by DNA evidence to at least two other murders since his conviction and sentence to death for the murder of Gertie Perkins, and he is suspected in a third. On the subject of other murders he has been connected to, Perkins insisted he was also innocent of those crimes. “There’s other suspects they questioned besides me, and they let them go,” he said. “I can’t tell you who killed them — I ain’t killed nobody.”

According to information released by the Texas Attorney General’s office, Perkins’ father, Willie Perkins, learned his wife was missing when she failed to pick up their grandson from school on Dec. 4, 2000. After failed attempts to locate her, the police were notified when Willie Perkins found a small blood stain on his carpet. On the same day, police arrested Reginald Perkins after learning of his previous criminal record.

When he was arrested, Reginald Perkins asked to speak with his father, who asked his son if he had any good news concerning the location of Gertie Perkins. “I’m afraid not,” Reginald Perkins told his father while in police custody. “She’s dead.” Reginald Perkins directed his father and the police to a parking garage where they found Gertie Perkins’ car parked. When Willie Perkins asked if he could get out of the car, Reginald Perkins told him not to go, after which the police found the woman’s body in the trunk of the car.

An autopsy conducted on the body showed that the woman had bruises on her head and mouth, and the medical examiner indicated that she was strangled with a thin, smooth object like a phone cord. During their initial investigations, local police discovered that the woman’s bedroom telephone cord had been disconnected.

On the day Gertie Perkins disappeared, Reginald Perkins sold her wedding ring at a pawn shop for $150. He also paid a known crack user $200 to cash two checks — valued at a total of $1,300 — which had been written from the Perkins’ trucking business account.

While in jail awaiting his trial, Reginald Perkins told a fellow inmate that “they only had a body and a phone cord, [but] no witnesses.” Perkins also told the inmate that he had beaten the victim to death and that his motive was robbery.

In 1982, Reginald Perkins was convicted of rape of a minor, attempted rape and gross sexual imposition — the victims of these convictions were two 12-year-old girls. In 1999, an Ohio court found that Perkins was a sexual predator.

Fort Worth man who killed stepmother in 2000 scheduled to die Thursday

By Debra Dennis / The Dallas Morning News

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reginald Perkins embarked on a series of heinous crimes years before he brutally killed his stepmother and robbed her of her wedding ring in 2000, the crime for which he's sentenced to die today.

The 53-year-old Fort Worth man was in prison for five years, sitting on Texas' death row, when science linked him to the 1991 slayings of Hattie Wilson, 79, and her niece Shirley Douglas, 44. The women were found strangled inside their East Fort Worth apartment.

"He is very smart and very scary," said Fort Worth police Detective Manny Reyes, who visited Perkins on death row in October to obtain the DNA connecting the convicted murderer to the deaths of Wilson and Douglas.

Gertie Perkins, 64, was also strangled. Prosecutors say she was much more than a stepmother to the man convicted in her murder.

"He called her Mom," said Kevin Rousseau, an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County, who prosecuted Perkins. "He was her stepson, but she raised him. He spent a good part of his life growing up with her."

Convicted rapist

Perkins, who lived in Texas and Ohio, was a convicted rapist on parole from Cleveland when he killed his stepmother.

He moved to Fort Worth in February 2000 after Ohio officials paroled him.

Gertie Perkins helped set up her stepson in the family's trucking business.

"They provided him a dump truck," Rousseau said. "They had done just about everything you can for your child."

In the winter of 2000, Reginald Perkins was having financial problems. On Dec. 1, he cashed two checks from the family's trucking business and pawned his stepmother's wedding ring for $150.

Three days later, Gertie Perkins was reported missing. Inside her southeast Fort Worth home, police found bloodstains, carpet removed and a phone cord disconnected.

On Dec. 5, 2000, Perkins led officers to her body in a hospital parking garage near downtown Fort Worth. She had been strangled and placed in the trunk of her own car.

'No remorse'

Perkins, police and prosecutors say, has a long history of violence.

In November, he was linked to the 17-year-old slayings of Wilson and Douglas, who was also raped in the attack at their apartment in East Fort Worth. There were no signs that someone had broken in. Perkins had dated a family member of one of the women, police said.

Reyes, the Fort Worth detective, said that when he visited death row in October, Perkins was convinced that "everybody was out to get him."

"There was no remorse," said Reyes of the department's cold-case division. "He accused us of planting the DNA."

Unsuccessful appeal

Perkins' attorneys argued unsuccessfully that he is mentally retarded and ineligible for a death sentence.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Perkins' case, setting the stage for his execution.

Today, he is expected to become the second Fort Worth man executed in Texas this year.

Last week, Curtis Moore, 40, was put to death for brutally killing three people.

When Perkins was convicted in 2002, evidence from two Ohio homicide cases was used in the sentencing phase of his trial.

"He's a serial killer," Rousseau said. "His crimes are particularly heinous."

In 1982, Perkins was convicted in Ohio of raping two 12-year-old girls, and he remains a suspect in the two slayings there, officials said.

"He's killed women in Ohio and raped two 12-year-old girls and came here and killed two more women and his stepmother," Rousseau said. "Those are the ones we know about."

Texas killer linked to Cleveland murders

By Mark Puente - The Plain Dealer

November 18, 2008

A man set for execution in January in Texas for killing one woman very likely blazed a 28-year trail of murder from Cleveland to Fort Worth, strangling at least six women, detectives in the two states have concluded.

All of the victims have ties to death row prisoner Reginald Perkins, who lived in Cleveland in 1980 when three women were strangled three months apart, all in homes just a half-mile west of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Two other strangulations were in 1991 in Texas. The last came 10 years later, also in Texas.

Detectives see no mystery in the long time lapses between the sets of killings because they know exactly where Perkins was during those times: prison.

Upon his release, strangulations soon followed

Kevin Rousseau is the chief prosecutor in Tarrant County, Texas, and lead the prosecution in the case that put Perkins on death row. He has no doubts about who killed all six women.

"I think he is a serial killer," Rousseau said. "He has been killing for more than 25 years."

The strangulations begin in Cleveland in 1980

Perkins was born in Arkansas and raised in Texas. His mother moved to Cleveland, and in the late 1970s, he moved here too. He made ends meet as a truck driver, plumber and laborer.

Ramola Nelson Washington met Perkins in 1979. They dated for a year before she moved out of her sister's home to live with Perkins.

Washington later told a Texas jury that in October 1980, she asked Perkins to return a set of house keys to her sister, Paulette Nelson. Five days later, Washington testified, she overheard Perkins telling his brother that something happened to her sister.

She walked with Perkins to Nelson's home on Sowinski Avenue. They let themselves in and found Nelson, 21, dead in her bed. Nelson's infant daughter lay in bed next to her, unharmed.

Jennie Morman knew Perkins too. Her daughter Thelma had a child with Perkins in 1980.

Morman, 43, had bad kidneys. She was the matriarch of a large family, but her husband's job and children's work and schooling made it difficult for provide her regular care.

She moved into an apartment on East 93rd Street with her mother, who could provide Morman with around-the-clock care.

On a Sunday evening in January 1981, Morman's family gathered to play cards. They tried calling Morman on the telephone. She didn't answer. The family became worried and headed to the apartment complex.

They found Morman dead in the bedroom with two pillows over her face. She had been strangled with a scarf. Money and prescription medication were missing.

Not far away, Perkins was living on East 79th Street, a few doors down from Jerry Dean Thomas and her 12-year-old daughter Lashelle.

Lashelle crossed paths with Perkins a two weeks before Christmas, when he lured the girl into a vacant home. Once inside, Perkins beat her and tried raping her.

The girl kicked, screamed and clawed to get free. A friend heard the commotion and stopped the attack. But Perkins left Lashelle with a warning: If she told anybody about the attack, he would kill her and anybody she told.

The friend did tell Lashelle's mother, Jerry Dean Thomas, about the attack. When Lashelle confirmed that Perkins attacked her, Jerry Dean Thomas, 32, confronted Perkins.

A few days later, on a January afternoon in 1981, Lashelle and a girlfriend sprinted home from school to score a cigarette before Lashelle's mother returned. The door to the East 79th Street house was jammed. The girls crawled through a basement window and went upstairs. Lamps were overturned. Tables were flipped. A pair of scissors was stuck in the jammed door.

Lashelle ran upstairs, found her mom's black purse inside a dresser drawer. Downstairs, a puppy, Queenie blocked a door, whimpering. Lashelle's friend Karen tried scooting the puppy with her foot. The dog wouldn't budge.

Karen looked behind the door and screamed. Lashelle ran downstairs and hollered.

Lashelle's mother sat upright in a chair, mouth agape, eyes open and unblinking. She had been strangled with the cord from a hair dryer.

Detectives quickly see Perkins as suspect

Cleveland police arrested Perkins and questioned him about the killings. They also wanted to know about a series of sexual assaults on children along St. Clair and Superior avenues.

Detectives knew Perkins knew the three strangled women, but beyond that they could not link him to the crimes. They did, however, have enough evidence to put him away for attacking Lashelle Thomas and for raping another 12-year-old girl inside an abandoned house.

In November 1981, a judge sentenced Perkins to life in prison for the assaults on the two 12-year-old girls. The judge tacked on additional sentences of six to 25 years beyond his life sentence.

Rousseau, the Texas prosecutor, believes local prosecutors probably made the best deal they could with Perkins.

While they didn't charge him with the three murders, much less get convictions, they probably were satisfied knowing that he got a sentence that ensured he would never get out of prison, Rousseau said.

"Sometimes prosecutors have to take the sure thing," he said.

But for reasons that remain unclear, the sure thing was elusive.

In 1987, six years after getting sentenced to life in prison, a parole board released Perkins.

Perkins' parole record doesn't indicate why he was released. The records are on microfilm. The comments are hand-written and difficult to read.

In the 1980s, the Ohio Parole Board tended to free people after serving the minimum sentence, said Cindy Mausser, the board chairwoman, but that has since changed.

Prison officials had no other explanation of why he was released.

Perkins returned to Texas to live with his father and stepmother, prison records show. Once again, he found a girlfriend. Once again, one of the relatives turned up strangled.

On May 6, 1991, Shirley Douglas, 44, and her aunt Hatie Wilson, 79, were strangled inside their home. Perkins had been dating Wilson's granddaughter.

It would take 17 years for police to pin those killings on Perkins.

Two years after Douglas and Wilson were strangled, Perkins did not show up for sex offender classes required as part of his Ohio parole. Texas authorities arrested him and shipped him back to Ohio.

Nine years later, the parole board once again released Perkins, and once again, he returned to Texas. His stepmother, Gertie Mae Perkins, hired him as a truck driver at the family business and gave him a mobile home in Fort Worth.

His family had no clue that Perkins had been a suspect in the three Cleveland killings, said Shirley Brooks, his half-sister.

"If we would have known, my Mom would not have stood for that," Brooks, 51, said in a telephone interview from Texas. "We didn't have a clue."

Ten months after giving Perkins a job and a home, Gertie Mae Perkins vanished.

The day she disappeared, Reginald Perkins pawned her wedding ring. In her home, sheets were missing. The phone was disconnected. Carpet had been removed from the floor.

Police questioned Perkins after learning of his past in Ohio, and he led them and his father to the his stepmother's body, which he had stashed in the trunk of a car.

Perkins was indicted and went to trial. A jury convicted him of murder.

As part of his efforts to convince the jury that Perkins should be executed rather sentenced to life in prison, Rousseau asked Cleveland homicide detective Gary Garisek to testify about the three unsolved cases in Cleveland.

Garisek is retired, but believes Perkins got away with murder in Cleveland.

"He deserves to die," Garisek said. "He did it. He is a monster."

Rousseau also brought in another witness from Cleveland for Perkins' sentencing: Ramola Nelson Washington, the sister of strangulation victim Paulette Nelson. Washington had married Perkins before he went to prison for the sexual assaults of girls.

Washington told the Texas jurors that Perkins called her from jail and admitted to killing her sister, according to a story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He begged for forgiveness, according to the story.

Washington could not be reached for this story.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors last week requested DNA tests to see if any evidence could be linked to Perkins. Rousseau, the Texas prosecutor, already had the tests done in 2001 and found nothing to implicate Perkins.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Rick Bell is optimistic new technology will allow for a more detailed test.

Perkins, now 53, did not respond to a letter from The Plain Dealer.

Earlier this year, he sent a letter to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in which he denied killing his stepmother and blamed his conviction on a jailhouse snitch. He complained Texas prosecutors sought the death penalty based on the Cleveland cases, for which he was never convicted, let alone charged.

"The State of Texas is about to put to death an innocent man who did not do the crime," Perkins wrote. "I am a totally innocent man and I don't deserve to die for something I didn't do."

Relatives fear the truth will never be certain

For those left behind, the decades since their loved ones were killed have been difficult. Perkins' looming execution has stirred up old feelings.

They want to know once and for all if he killed their loved ones and worry Perkins will take his secrets to the grave.

James Morman had been married to Jennie for 25 years when she died. He would like to face Perkins before he is executed.

"If he did do it, he needs to say so before he dies," Morman said. "Why? We want to know. It's been a long time."

Thelma Morman has had no contact with Perkins since he was jailed in 1981, a year after they had a child together. She doesn't believe Perkins killed her mother or the other women.

"Reginald wasn't that type of person to do that," she said.

Lashelle Thomas, now 39, recently sat in her living room and recalled finding her mother in the chair. Her body was still warm, and Thomas jumped on her lap, hoping to revive her.

"She was a beautiful lady," Lashelle Thomas said, fighting back tears. "She didn't deserve to die. She was sweetheart."

Thomas said she and her three siblings were robbed of doing the things that mothers and children do together. She is looking forward to the day Perkins is executed.

"He won't be able to hurt anyone anymore," Thomas said. "He took somebody away that I was just beginning to know."

*****

A trail of killings

April 1955: Reginald Perkins was born in Arkansas; he grew up in Texas.

Late 1970s: Perkins moved to Cleveland to be near his mother.

April 4, 1980: Perkins raped a 12-year-old friend of his younger sister in an abandoned house on the East Side.

Oct. 23, 1980: Paulette Nelson, 21, was found strangled in bed next to her infant son. When Nelson was killed, Perkins was living with her twin sister, Ramola Nelson Washington.

Dec. 13, 1980: Perkins tried raping 12-year-old Lashelle Thomas but was stopped. Perkins warned her that he would kill anyone she told about the assault.

Jan. 4, 1981: Jennie Morman was found strangled in her apartment on East 93rd Street. Perkins had been dating her daughter and they later had a child together.

Jan. 23, 1981: Jerry Dean Thomas, the mother of Lashelle Thomas, was found strangled in a chair in her basement. Perkins lived across the street. Jerry Dean Thomas had learned about Perkins' attack on her daughter days before her death.

Nov. 12, 1981: Perkins was convicted for the attacks on both 12-year-old girls. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Feb. 12, 1990: Perkins was paroled from prison. State officials cannot explain why. He moved to Texas.

May 6, 1991: Shirley Douglas, 44, and her aunt, Hatie Wilson, 79, were found strangled inside their Texas home. Perkins had been dating Wilson's granddaughter.

Dec. 28, 1993: Perkins was sent back to an Ohio prison for not attending sex-offender classes.

Feb. 21, 2000: Perkins was paroled again and returned to Texas. He was hired as a truck driver at his father and stepmother's company.

Dec. 4, 2000: Perkins' stepmother, Gertie Mae Perkins, was reported missing after she failed to pick up her grandson at school.

Dec. 5, 2000: Perkins was arrested for not registering as a sex offender. After questioning, Perkins led police to his stepmother's car, where the woman was found stuffed in the trunk.

March 18, 2002: Perkins, after being convicted for his stepmother's murder, was sentenced to death.

May 27, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his appeal.

Oct. 31, 2008: Forth Worth, Texas, police confirmed that DNA tests linked Perkins to the 1991 strangulations of Hatie Wilson and Shirley Douglas.

Jan. 22, 2009: Perkins' scheduled execution.

SOURCES: Prison, coroner and court records; Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Perkins' relatives.

Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson

Txexecutions.org

Reginald W. Perkins, 53, was executed by lethal injection on 22 January 2009 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of his stepmother.

On Monday, 4 December 2000, Willie Perkins was informed by phone that his wife, Gertie, had not picked up their grandson from school. Willie called his children, who attempted to find Gertie. When they were unable to locate her, they called the police, who found a small bloodstain on the edge of the carpet in the Perkins' home in Fort Worth. They also observed that the line cord from the bedroom telephone was missing.

On the day Gertie disappeared, the couple's son, Reginald, then 45, sold her wedding ring at a pawn shop for $150. Two checks from the couple's family business were also cashed - one for $600 and one for $700.

Later that day, the police arrested Reginald. When Reginald called his father, Willie said, "I sure hope you've got good news for me." Reginald answered, "I'm afraid not; she's dead." Perkins then directed his father and police to a parking garage, where they found Gertie's car parked. Her body was in the trunk. She had bruises on her head and mouth and had also been strangled with something thin and smooth.

Testimony at Perkins' trial showed that on 1 December, he told his stepbrother's wife that he needed $1000 by Monday, and that he planned to rob a woman who worked in a store by herself. Perkins' sister also testified that he told her on 3 December that he was having money problems.

An inmate at the Tarrant County Jail testified that while Perkins was awaiting trial for murder, he confessed to the murder. He stated that he had beaten the victim to death and robbed her. The inmate remembered something about a telephone cord but could not remember whether Perkins said he strangled her or tied her up with it. Perkins told him that he paid another man $200 to cash the checks.

In December 1980 in Ohio, Perkins raped a 12-year old girl. She testified at the punishment hearing phase of his capital murder trial. She said that during the attack, Perkins struck her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The girl did not report the rape to the police, but her mother found out and banned Perkins from their apartment. About a month after the rape, the girl found her mother, Jenny Morman, 43, strangled to death with an electrical cord. Perkins pleaded guilty of raping the girl and was sentenced to life in prison. He was arrested for the mother's murder, but was never tried. Perkins was also suspected, but not charged, in the strangling death of the girl's father, Jerry Thomas, 3 weeks after Morman's killing.

Also at Perkins' punishment hearing, Ramola Washington testified that he killed her sister, Paula Nelson, on 23 October 1980 by strangling her with a soft object, like a scarf. Perkins was never tried for that murder.

In addition to the life sentence for rape of a minor, Perkins also had convictions in Ohio for attempted rape of a minor and gross sexual imposition. He served the sentences for those convictions concurrently with the life sentence. In 1990, however, he was released on parole. He was returned to prison on a parole violation in 1994, then was paroled again in February 2000.

A jury convicted Perkins of capital murder in March 2002 and sentenced him to death. After the verdict was announced, Perkins's lawyer read a written statement composed by Perkins, in which he expressed sympathy for his family's pain, but also proclaimed his innocence. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in June 2004. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.

According to the Texas Attorney General's office, since he was sentenced to death for Gertie Perkins' murder, Reginald Perkins was connected by DNA evidence to the 1991 stranglings of Shirley Douglas, 44, and her aunt, Hattie Wilson, 79, in Fort Worth. Police said Perkins had dated Wilson's granddaughter. "I loved my stepmother," Perkins said in an interview from death row a few days before his execution. "I didn't have nothing to do with none of those killings. I have never taken an individual's life. They're just trying to pin them on me."

Perkins also denied pawning his stepmother's ring. Even though his driver's license was used to verify the transaction, Perkins said he had lost his license and someone else used it. He said that the rape victims in the Ohio cases lied and that he pleaded guilty because of bad advice from a lawyer. "Lies and false testimony," he said of those cases. "I ain't never hurt a person in my life." Perkins also denied that he ever confessed to his stepmother's death while in jail.

Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County district attorney who prosecuted Perkins, scoffed at his claims of innocence. "He's a consummate liar and a con artist," Rousseau said. "I wouldn't believe anything he said. He's a serial killer. People look for more complicated rationale. But the bottom line is, he's a killer. He goes through quite a bit of trouble to kill folks."

About an hour before his execution, Perkins summoned a prison official to his cell outside the death chamber and gave him a statement professing his innocence. "They didn't link me to nothing," Perkins said. "I did not kill my stepmom. I loved her. Texas is going to kill an innocent man." Of the other killings he was suspected of, Perkins said, "There's other suspects they questioned besides me. They let them go. I don't know what they're talking about. I can't tell you who killed them. I ain't killed nobody. I've never killed."

When the hour came and Perkins was strapped to the execution gurney, the warden asked him if he wanted to make a statement. "I already made my statement," he replied. "Appreciate it. Love y'all." The lethal injection was then started. "I can feel it going in," he said. He looked at Gertie's sister and told her he loved her, then he lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m.

Reginald Perkins

ProDeathPenalty.com

Reginald Perkins was sent to death row for the slaying of his stepmother, Gertie Mae Perkins in Fort Worth on December 4, 2000. Gertie had been married to Perkins's father for 45 years. The 64-year-old woman's body was found in the trunk of her car in a parking garage. A Tarrant County jury took just 30 minutes in 2002 to decide Reginald Perkins should be put to death. Shortly after the jury's verdict was read in court, Perkins proclaimed his innocence in a written letter read by his lawyer.

In November 2007, a federal appeals court rejected claims he was mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty, that his legal help earlier had been ineffective, that the Texas sentencing statute was unconstitutional and that he was innocent of the murder. In May of 2008, the US Supreme Court refused to review that appeal.

Evidence at his trial showed he pawned his stepmother's wedding ring and wrote fraudulent checks from the account of the family trucking business in Fort Worth. When Gertie Perkins showed up missing, police summoned to her home found a carpet removed, a phone cord disconnected and sheets missing from a bed. He became a suspect after detectives learned of his previous convictions in Ohio for rape and attempted rape and that he had been a suspect in two killings in Cleveland in the 1980s. When arrested, he directed his father and police to Gertie's body. Perkins also acknowledged the slaying to a fellow inmate while awaiting trial and said his motive was robbery.

At the punishment phase of his trial, jurors heard testimony that he pleaded guilty in 1982 to the 1980 rape and attempted rape of two 12-year-old girls and that he had been implicated in the strangulation of three women. One of them, Terry Thomas, was the mother of the girl he raped. She was strangled and left for her daughter, the rape victim, to find. Perkins had threatened to kill both of them if the girl talked about the attack. Three weeks before Terry's murder, Jenny Morman, 43, was strangled in her apartment, and Perkins is believed to have committed that murder as well. The other was Paula Nelson, the twin sister of a woman he was living with and later married. She was strangled and left in bed with her small son. There was not enough evidence to charge him in Paula's murder. In 1986, he had been paroled from Ohio after receiving a life prison term for the rape conviction. He was returned from parole eight years later but released again in February 2000. His stepmother's murder occurred 10 months later.

Perkins had been on death row in Texas for five years when DNA linked him to the 1991 slayings of Hattie Wilson, 79, and her niece Shirley Douglas, 44. Both women were found strangled in their East Fort Worth apartment. Shirley had also been raped in the attack. Perkins knew the women because he had dated Hattie's granddaughter.

Perkins v. State, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2004 WL 3093239 (Tex.Crim.App. 2004) (Direct Appeal).

Background: Defendant was convicted in the trial court, Tarrant County, of capital murder and was sentenced to death. Defendant appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Criminal Appeals, Holcomb, J., held that: (1) death penalty scheme's failure to place on state the burden of disproving the mitigation special issue beyond a reasonable doubt did not violate due process; (2) witness's improper statement that defendant had previously been to prison did not warrant a mistrial; (3) defendant's challenge to his statements to detective as the fruit of an illegal arrest did not comport with his objections at trial and thus was not preserved for appellate review; (4) defendant's statement to his wife that he had killed her sister was inadmissible under the marital communications privilege, but defendant forfeited any claim to the privilege by failing to raise it at trial; (5) defense counsel was not ineffective; and (6) state did not impermissibly bind venireperson to specific facts by presenting hypotheticals illustrating the range of facts that might give rise to capital murder. Affirmed.

HOLCOMB, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Appellant was convicted in March 2002 of capital murder. Tex. Pen.Code § 19.03(a). Pursuant to the jury's answers to the special issues set forth in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 37.071, §§ 2(b) and 2(e), the trial judge sentenced appellant to death. Art. 37.071 § 2(g). Direct appeal to this Court is automatic. Art. 37.071 § 2(h). Appellant raises eleven points of error. We affirm.

In points of error one, two, and three, appellant claims the Texas death penalty scheme violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to place on the State the burden of disproving the mitigation special issue beyond a reasonable doubt. Appellant relies on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556 (2002). Appellant's motion to set aside his indictment and his objections to the jury charge on these grounds were overruled.

In Resendiz v. State, 112 S.W.3d 541, 550 (Tex.Crim.App.2003), we rejected the defendant's claim that Apprendi requires the State to bear the burden of disproving beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigation issue should be answered in the negative. Ring does not support appellant's argument, either. In Ring, the Supreme Court applied Apprendi to require a jury finding beyond a reasonable doubt on aggravating factors under the Arizona death penalty statute. Ring is not at odds with the Texas death penalty statute, which requires a jury finding on the applicable special issues beyond a reasonable doubt. Ring does not compel imposition of such a finding in the context of the mitigation special issue. Both Apprendi and Ring are concerned with fact-findings that have the result of increasing the penalty over the statutory maximum. Under the Texas statute, the maximum penalty for a capital offense is death. The mitigation issue does not increase the statutory maximum. To the contrary, the mitigation issue is designed to allow for the imposition of less than the statutory maximum, a life sentence. The Texas death penalty scheme does not violate Apprendi or Ring for its failure to place the burden on the State to disprove the mitigation special issue. Points of error one, two, and three are overruled.

In his fourth and fifth points of error, appellant claims the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the definition of “beyond a reasonable doubt” at guilt/innocence and at punishment, in violation of Paulson v. State, 28 S.W.3d 570 (Tex.Crim.App.2000). Appellant's complaint is directed at statements in the jury instructions that the State was not required to prove guilt, the first special issue, or the extraneous offenses “beyond all possible doubt,” but that the State's proof on these matters must exclude “all reasonable doubt.” Appellant objected to the charge on these grounds at trial.

In Geesa v. State, 820 S.W.2d 154 (Tex.Crim.App.1991), we adopted an instruction on the meaning of “beyond a reasonable doubt” that was thereafter required to be included in the jury charge in all criminal cases. About ten years later, the Geesa instruction was set aside in Paulson, 28 S.W.3d at 573, in which we concluded that “the better practice is to give no definition of reasonable doubt at all to the jury.” We found particularly problematic three separate paragraphs of the instruction that attempted to define reasonable doubt. Id. at 572.

The instruction appellant complains of is virtually identical to one of the paragraphs of Geesa's six-paragraph instruction, but it is not one of the three definitional paragraphs specifically criticized in Paulson. While we continue to adhere to our position that the better practice is to leave wholly to the jury the task of assigning meaning to the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the instruction given here does not encroach upon that task .FN1 The trial court did not abuse its discretion by including the statements in the jury charges. Points of error four and five are overruled.

FN1. As the State points out, submission to the jury of an instruction like that at issue in this case has been dealt with by the various courts of appeals in other cases. Most of the courts of appeals have viewed this instruction as not definitional and thus not violating Paulson. Jackson v. State, 105 S.W.3d 321, 325-26 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, no pet.); Hanks v. State, 104 S.W.3d 695, 701-02 (Tex.App.-El Paso 2003, no pet.); Fluellen v. State, 104 S.W.3d 152, 163-64 (Tex.App.-Texarkana 2003, no pet .); Minor v. State, 91 S.W.3d 824, 827-29 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2002, pet. ref'd); Carriere v. State, 84 S.W.3d 753, 758-60 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, pet. ref'd). Two of the courts of appeals have held such an instruction to be erroneous in light of Paulson, but harmless in view of the facts of the particular case. Rodriguez v. State, 96 S.W.3d 398, 399-405 (Tex.App.-Austin 2002, pet. ref'd); Phillips v. State, 72 S.W.3d 719, 721 (Tex.App.-Waco 2002, no pet.).

In point of error six, appellant claims the trial court abused its discretion in failing to grant a mistrial when a State's witness stated during the guilt/innocence phase that appellant had previously been to prison. The trial court granted appellant's pretrial motion in limine prohibiting the State from presenting any evidence of appellant's prior criminal record without obtaining a ruling outside the presence of the jury. At trial, during the direct examination of appellant's father, who was also the victim's husband, the following exchange occurred: [Prosecutor]. Now, was there a time-did [appellant], though-eventually did he come back to live with the family? [Witness]. Yes. He came back like- Q. Just as best-just as best as you can. Sometime in the last ten years? A. Yeah. I think he was in prison-Appellant immediately objected that such a statement was in violation of the previously granted motion in limine. The trial court sustained the objection, overruled the motion for mistrial, and instructed the jury to disregard the witness's statement:

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to pay real close attention. I'm going to read a statement to you. I'm going to ask the jury to hold an answer to the question. Then I'm going to go through each one of you individually and call your name, okay, and ask you some questions.

You have heard testimony from [the witness] that, open quotes, “Yeah, I think he was in prison,” close quotes. The Court makes no comment as to the truthfulness of this testimony. You are, however, ordered to disregard such testimony, whether true or not, and strike it from your mind. You're ordered not to consider this testimony for any purpose whatsoever during your deliberations, as such would be a violation of this Court's instructions as well as a violation of your oath to follow the law as given to you by this Court.

When individually polled, each juror agreed that he could obey the court's instruction to disregard. Appellant claims the instruction could not remedy the harm arising from such a prejudicial statement.

Ordinarily, a prompt instruction to disregard cures any error associated with an improper question and answer. Martinez v. State, 17 S.W.3d 677, 689 (Tex.Crim.App.2000). A mistrial is required only when improper evidence is admitted which was “clearly calculated to inflame the minds of the jury and is of such a character as to suggest the impossibility of withdrawing the impression produced on the minds of the jury.” Hinojosa v. State, 4 S.W.3d 240, 253 (Tex.Crim.App.1999). Otherwise, the jury is presumed to follow the trial court's instructions to disregard the improperly admitted evidence. Id. Whether an erroneous admission of evidence requires a mistrial is determined by looking at the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Id.

Here, the erroneously admitted statement was brief and isolated, was not mentioned again by the prosecutor, the jurors were thoroughly instructed by the court, and every juror indicated the ability to disregard the statement. The statement was not of such a nature that it could not be put aside by the jurors. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling appellant's motion for a mistrial. Id.; see also Kemp v. State, 846 S.W.2d 289, 308 (Tex.Crim.App.1992), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 918, 113 S.Ct. 2361, 124 L.Ed.2d 268 (1993). Point of error six is overruled.

In point of error seven, appellant claims the trial court erred in admitting the testimony of Detective Scott Campbell concerning oral statements made by appellant that he alleges were the fruit of an illegal arrest. Appellant argues that his arrest was made without probable cause and, therefore, statements made to Campbell should have been suppressed.

Several months before trial, a suppression hearing was held regarding the admission of appellant's various oral statements and written statement. The statements made to Fort Worth Detective Scott Campbell that are the subject of this point of error were not addressed at that pretrial hearing. Appellant objected during the pretrial hearing to the admission of his written statement and certain oral statements on the grounds that he had not been properly Mirandized,FN2 the oral statements did not comply with the requirements of Article 38.22, and the admission of the statements violated Texas Rule of Evidence 403. At the end of the pretrial hearing, appellant presented the argument that his detention and arrest were illegal. FN2. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

The admissibility of the statements made to Campbell which are at issue in this point of error were addressed in a hearing outside the presence of the jury. At that hearing, Campbell testified that appellant was one of the offenders he was charged with overseeing during his assignment to the sex-crimes division. On the evening appellant was brought into the police station for questioning in connection with the victim's disappearance, Campbell was called back to work for the purpose of determining whether there was probable cause for issuing a warrant for appellant's arrest based on a failure to comply with the sex-offender registration requirements. Campbell was at his desk typing the warrant for appellant's arrest when he saw appellant being brought into the station by three other officers. Campbell told the officers to remove appellant's handcuffs, at which time appellant said to Campbell, “Hey, Mr. Campbell, I'm not good for this,” and “I was just up in your office today to see you.” Campbell told appellant he could not talk with him at that point, but offered him a cigarette and a drink, and asked him if he needed to use the restroom. As appellant was escorted around the corner to an interview room a few moments later, he said again to Campbell, “Hey, I was here to see you just today. I even signed the logbook.” FN3 Campbell then retrieved the logbook and located appellant's name. The logbook revealed that appellant had in fact signed in that day, but the indicated sign-in time of 9:00 a.m. was out of sequence with the times indicated next to the names of persons who signed in before appellant.FN4

FN3. Campbell testified that appellant was referring to the sex-offender registration logbook. FN4. Appellant's entry was preceded by entries reflecting sign-in times of 12:45, 11:30, 10:55, 10:40, and so on, all sequentially, back to 7:30 a.m.

Appellant ultimately decided not to object to the first statement, “I'm not good for this.” His objections were lodged only against the statements which led to the logbook. Appellant objected to those statements as being in violation of Article 38.22 and Rule of Evidence 403. After a recess but still outside the presence of the jury, the following exchange occurred between appellant and the court:

[Defense attorney]: In further support of our request to exclude the oral statements that Detective Campbell is going to testify to, we would offer the pretrial motions and hearing, the testimony that was given regarding the Miranda issue. All of that is in the record already, we would reoffer that testimony in support of- THE COURT: Is there something there you want to point out to me? [Defense attorney]: No, Judge. Just in an abundance of caution. THE COURT: Okay. [Defense attorney]: Because we've already plowed this ground once. We would offer that in support of our motion. THE COURT: Okay. I'm just saying if there's something to shed any light on my ruling-okay. You're just covering yourself. [Defense attorney]: Yeah. We're just offering that additional testimony.

Appellant now argues that the statements made to Campbell should have been suppressed as the fruit of an illegal arrest made without probable cause. However, no such objection was made at trial in connection with Campbell's statements. Appellant argued only that the statements to Campbell were inadmissible under Article 38.22 and Rule 403. Although he also stated that in support of his argument, he was offering “the pretrial motions and hearing, the testimony that was given regarding the Miranda issue,” this reference is not clear and specific enough to inform the trial court that he intended to re-assert the theory of illegal arrest based on probable cause, and there is no indication that the trial court understood him to do so. Appellant's statement might just as likely have been interpreted by the trial court as only re-asserting the Miranda claim from the first hearing. Thus, appellant's trial objection does not comport with his complaint on appeal. Chambers v. State, 903 S.W.2d 21, 32 (Tex.Crim.App.1995); Little v. State, 758 S.W.2d 551, 564-65 (Tex.Crim.App.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 934, 109 S.Ct. 328, 102 L.Ed.2d 346 (1988). Point of error seven is overruled.

In his eighth point of error, appellant claims the trial court erred in admitting into evidence certain statements he made while in the State of Ohio on the ground that the statements were inadmissible under Ohio law. At the punishment phase of the trial, Ramola Washington testified that she and appellant were involved romantically in 1980 and were living together in Ohio. Washington had previously shared an apartment with her sister Paula. She gave appellant the keys to Paula's apartment, with instructions to return them to Paula. Five days later, appellant told Washington that something had happened to Paula. The two went to Paula's apartment, where Washington found that Paula had been strangled to death. While appellant was in jail sometime later in connection with other offenses, he and Washington were married. During a telephone call from the jail after their marriage, appellant told Washington that he had killed Paula.

When the State called Washington to the stand, the trial court granted appellant's request for a hearing outside the presence of the jury. The three issues at the hearing were Washington's ability to identify appellant, the existence of a spousal privilege, and the witness's competence to testify. Regarding the spousal privilege issue, defense counsel initially contended that there might be a privilege but further research was required to be sure. The State responded that Washington's testimony would be admissible under Texas Rule of Evidence 504 because the spousal privilege does not apply to acts that occurred before the marriage. Appellant then suggested that a privilege might exist under Ohio law. Relying upon a prior conflict of laws case from this Court, the State replied that the evidence would be admissible under the law of the forum, which was Texas.

The trial court turned to the factual question of whether appellant and the witness were married when the statement was made. Washington testified that appellant's statement that he killed her sister was made after the marriage. The State then said that appellant had the burden to prove the marriage. The facts were clouded because, when the witness wanted to marry another man years later, “legal aid” told her she was not married to appellant. After addressing other issues, the judge recessed the trial for the rest of the day to permit the lawyers to research the law and facts on the issue of privilege.

The next morning, appellant offered documents, which the State had provided, that included the Ohio court's grant of permission for appellant to be married in jail, the application for marriage license, and the marriage license. Relying upon Gonzalez v. State, 45 S.W.3d 101 (Tex.Crim.App.2001), defense counsel asserted that the application of a privilege is determined by the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the evidence in question. He discussed the facts in Gonzalez, in which a confession to a priest in California was found to be admissible because, although the confession to the priest would have been privileged under Texas law, it was not privileged under California law, and California was the state with the most significant relationship to the confession. Defense counsel argued that the same rule should be applied to hold inadmissible evidence that was privileged under the law of Ohio, the state with the most significant relationship to the communication in the present case.

Defense counsel then asserted, with agreement from the State, that appellant's statement to Washington would be admissible under Texas law but inadmissible under Ohio law. Although the prosecutor agreed that Texas law favored admission while Ohio law did not, he differed with defense counsel's interpretation of Gonzalez concerning the choice of law standard. The prosecutor argued that the evidence was admissible if either the state with the most significant relationship or the forum state permitted its admission unless, in the latter case, there was a special reason why the forum policy of admissibility should not be given effect. Defense counsel then pointed out that the rule favoring admissibility was not automatic but a strong preference, and he argued that there was a special reason for not giving effect to the forum policy of admissibility: doing so would violate the legitimate expectations of the married couple, especially since all relevant contacts were in Ohio (the extraneous offense occurred there and appellant's statement was made there) and had occurred twenty years in the past. According to defense counsel, these expectations were especially salient in the case at bar because appellant expressly relied upon the spousal privilege in deciding to reveal to his wife his participation in the Ohio murder. The trial court then asked how the law would be affected if a defendant decided to marry someone for the purpose of being able to talk about a previously committed crime. The State opined that the communication would fall within the crime-fraud exception to the Texas privilege. The defense responded that the trial court's scenario would be relevant to whether a privilege existed within a certain jurisdiction but would not be relevant to a choice-of-law analysis. The prosecutor countered that the fact scenario would be relevant to whether a special reason existed to override forum law. Defense counsel then argued that no evidence showed that appellant married the witness solely for the purpose of informing her of the crime under the cloak of privilege.

Other than their agreement that Ohio law would bar the testimony and Texas law would permit it, neither party laid out, discussed, or argued the underlying privilege law of the respective forums, or indeed ever stated which privilege they were discussing-testimonial or confidential communications. Ultimately, both parties agreed at trial that the crux of the admissibility question was whether there were good reasons for not giving effect to Texas's policy favoring admissibility in the face of a privilege recognized in Ohio.

The problem with this agreement is that it was based on at least one false premise: that the testimony was admissible under Texas law. It was not. Rule 504 shields from disclosure confidential communications made during marriage, with certain exceptions. See Tex.R. Evid. 504(a). Appellant's statement to the witness was a confidential communication made during the marriage and no exception is applicable.

However, to preserve error on appeal, a party must, among other things, state the ground for objection “with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint, unless the specific grounds were apparent from the context.” Tex.R.App. P. 33.1(a)(1)(A). Obviously, no Texas Rule 504 claim was articulated, or apparent from the context, because appellant affirmatively represented that he had no basis to object under Texas privilege rules. As a result, appellant forfeited any claim based on the Texas marital communications privilege.

Analysis of appellant's claim of error under Ohio law becomes problematic, due to appellant's presentation of the issue at trial as a choice of law claim, in which the trial judge must decide whether the interests underlying the Ohio privilege are weighty enough to outweigh the interests underlying a Texas rule favoring admission. The State had correctly framed the choice of law rule in such a situation: if evidence is privileged under the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the communication, but is not privileged under the law of the forum, it should be admitted “unless there is some special reason why the forum policy favoring admission should not be given effect.” Gonzalez, 45 S.W.2d at 103 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 139 (1971)). The reason for this rule is that “the forum's interest in reaching correct results in its domestic litigation strongly favors disclosure of all evidence that is not privileged under its own laws.” Id. (quoting Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 139 cmt. d (Supp.1988)). It makes little sense, however, to determine whether there are good reasons not to effectuate a forum policy of admissibility when such a forum policy does not actually exist.FN5 But the parties' erroneous representations placed the trial court in the position of analyzing the issue as if Texas did have such a policy.

FN5. Whether the communication is in fact privileged in Ohio is at least open to question, because Ohio's marital communications privilege is narrower than its Texas counterpart-containing a “coverture” requirement. See Ohio Rev.Code § 2945.42. Given our disposition, we do not address whether the statement in question was in fact privileged under Ohio law.

We have recently held that a party can forfeit error by failing to correct a trial court's mistaken belief about facts underlying his claim. Loredo v. State, 2004 Tex.Crim.App. LEXIS 635 (April 7, 2004). In Loredo, the defendant failed to correct the trial court's mistaken belief that a prospective juror had been rehabilitated on whether she could consider probation. Id. at *5. In failing to correct that mistaken belief, Loredo failed to comply with Rule 33.1's requirement that the trial court be informed of his complaint because he failed to show that his challenge for cause should have been granted. Id. at *8-*9.

Similar considerations may be involved when a party misinforms the trial court regarding a proposition of law. It is true that the parties cannot by agreement bind the trial court to an erroneous view of the law. See Ex parte Fierro, 79 S.W.3d 54, 56-57 (court's opinion), 57-58 (Holcomb J., dissenting)(Tex.Crim.App.2002)(parties erroneous belief juror was disqualified did not create manifest necessity for a mistrial). But where the party making the complaint has the burden to preserve error, that party's misrepresentation of the law is relevant to whether he has sufficiently informed the trial court of his complaint.

That brings us to another problem with the manner in which appellant presented his claim at trial: he failed to inform the trial court regarding the exact nature of Ohio's spousal privilege. In essence, appellant was seeking to have the trial court take judicial notice of Ohio law. When a party asks the trial court to take judicial notice of the law of another state, the burden is on that party to supply sufficient information to enable the trial court to comply with the request:

A court upon its own motion may, or upon the motion of a party shall, take judicial notice of the constitutions, public statutes, rules, regulations, ordinances, court decisions, and common law of every other state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States. A party requesting judicial notice be taken of such matter shall furnish the court sufficient information to enable it to properly comply with the request.... Tex.R. Evid. 202 (emphasis added).

If admissibility of the evidence involving the communication had turned solely upon the existence of a privilege in the state with the most significant relationship to the communication, then informing the trial court that the most-significant-relationship state's privilege covered the communication would have been sufficient. But, as discussed above, that was not the case. The trial court was not asked to decide whether the evidence was admissible under Ohio law; rather the trial court was asked to decide whether Ohio's interests in protecting the privilege were so weighty that they constituted a special reason for not giving effect to a forum (Texas) policy of admission. But engaging in such a balancing process is impossible without the text of the Ohio privilege, or caselaw interpreting that privilege, to show what kinds of interests actually underlie Ohio's spousal privilege law. The bare fact of a spousal privilege of some sort is not by itself sufficient information from which to conduct this type of analysis.

Appellant's complaint was not sufficiently specific to make the trial court aware of his entitlement to relief. Consequently, error was procedurally defaulted under Rule 33.1. Point of error eight is overruled.

In point of error nine, appellant claims the trial court violated his right to effective assistance of counsel by refusing his request to retroactively exercise peremptory challenges against two jurors. Several weeks into voir dire, the State informed appellant and the trial court about a newly discovered witness to whom appellant had allegedly made incriminating statements when they were cellmates. Appellant says that the anticipated nature of the newly found witness' testimony caused him to change his trial strategy, which in turn affected his approach during voir dire. Appellant requested two additional peremptory challenges for use on two previously accepted jurors, Susan Margarette Duvall and Pamela Bauerle Page. This request was denied. Appellant then attempted to use two of his remaining peremptory challenges on Duvall and Page. He claimed these two jurors had been “selected for their strength in circumstantial evidence cases,” but the nature of the case had now changed in light of the anticipated testimony. Appellant argues that due to the trial court's ruling, his trial counsel was rendered ineffective because he did not make an intelligent and informed decision when he accepted Page and Duvall as jurors.

In order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, appellant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (1) that counsel's performance was deficient and (2) that, but for counsel's deficient performance, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). We have repeatedly stated that “f counsel's reasons for his conduct do not appear in the record and there is at least the possibility that the conduct could have been legitimate trial strategy, we will defer to counsel's decisions and deny relief on an ineffective assistance claim on direct appeal.” Ortiz v. State, 93 S.W.3d 79, 88 (Tex.Crim.App.2002).

Appellant claims his counsel's performance was deficient because he was uninformed and the fact that he was uninformed should have been corrected by the trial court. But, at the time counsel accepted Duvall and Page, he was adequately informed, and appellant does not allege that his decision to accept the venirepersons at that point was not based on reasonable trial strategy. The fact that counsel later received information that allegedly would have changed his decision about the prospective jurors did not render counsel ineffective. To the contrary, counsel attempted to utilize peremptory strikes against them upon receiving the information. Appellant does not show at what point counsel's performance was or became ineffective. The fact that the trial court did not allow counsel to use a retroactive peremptory strike did not render counsel's performance ineffective. Point of error nine is overruled.

In point of error ten, appellant claims the trial court erred by relying on venireperson Marion King Lewis' race as the reason for overruling his challenge for cause against Lewis. Appellant challenged Lewis for cause on the grounds that she could not follow the law regarding the burden of proof on the first special issue. In overruling appellant's challenge, the trial court stated:

The Court does think she vacillated back and forth, but I do think she was having a hard time understanding it, as many jurors do. But she brought up on her own, without prompting, early on in the voir dire process, that her personal feelings would not get in the way of what the law was and I came back and asked her about that later. I do not-and I think she is-I've got to get a feel for the whole juror and I don't think we've had anybody that we've had up here yet that would try to be fairer on a case than this lady. She hasn't got any axe to grind. I think she will answer these questions. Sure, they're tough, but they're tough-most attorneys have a hard time with this.

And I also want the record to reflect that she's African-American. And having looked ahead at those left, the composition of the jury, I think she'd make a good juror. The objection is overruled.

Based upon the emphasized comments, appellant now claims the trial court's ruling was racially motivated. Appellant did not object at trial to the court's comments or otherwise claim the court's ruling was racially motivated. By failing to object and assert his claim at trial, appellant has failed to preserve error for review on appeal. Tex.R.App. P. 33.1. Point of error ten is overruled.

In point of error eleven, appellant claims the trial court erred by allowing the State to bind a venireperson to specific facts while trying to rehabilitate her on issues for which she was challengeable for cause. After appellant's voir dire questioning of venireperson Linda Croft Warren, appellant challenged her for cause in part on the ground that she would answer the first special issue “yes” once she found a defendant guilty of intentional murder. Warren's statements to this effect were contrary to the position she had expressed when questioned initially by the State. [Prosecutor]: Okay, Ms. Warren. First off, I want to talk to you about Special Issue Number One and I think the defense had asked you a question if you had found someone guilty of the offense of capital murder without legal justification or excuse, would you answer this Special Issue Number One yes. And I think you said yes and I also remember you making some comments that you would want to look at the things I put up earlier that you couldn't remember. [Warren]: Right. Q. Now, do you understand that in answering this special issue, you could be faced with many, many different fact situations with a capital murder. It could be as-it could be as heinous as a career criminal who goes into a store- [appellant's objection overruled] Q. I mean, you could be dealing with facts of a career criminal who walks into a convenience store with the intent to kill the clerk. He kills the clerk. Makes a statement, if I get a chance, I'm going to rob another convenience store and kill the clerk. Or it could be a fact situation where you've got a 17-year-old kid who- [appellant's objection overruled and granted running objection] Q. Or it could be a 17-year-old kid who walks in to rob a convenience store, panics in the middle, closes his eyes, points that gun and shoots with the intent to kill the clerk, and that person is remorseful for their actions. So there are a lot of situations-and I'm not trying to bind you, but I remember when I asked you this question when I had you on voir dire. I asked you would you let the evidence guide you in answering this question. And would you do that? A. Yes, sir.

Appellant argues that the State bound Warren to the notion that she could fairly answer the future dangerousness issue “no” under a particular set of facts. At a minimum, appellant maintains, the questions set “hypothetical parameters” that Warren would apply in making her decision under the special issue.

Standefer articulated a two-part test for determining whether a voir dire question seeks an improper commitment: (1) Is the question a commitment question; and (2) Does the question include only those facts that would lead to a challenge for cause? 59 S.W.3d at 182. A commitment question “commit a prospective juror to resolve, or to refrain from resolving, an issue a certain way after learning a particular fact.” Id. at 179.

By describing various hypotheticals, the State was simply illustrating the range of facts that might give rise to a capital murder. No questions were asked of Warren in light of these examples. She was not asked whether she would resolve or refrain from resolving the future dangerousness issue after being informed of a particular set of facts. Rather, she was informed that there were many fact scenarios that might give rise to a capital murder conviction and was given two examples of the range of such facts. The examples were given by way of explaining the law and the only question asked was whether she would be guided by the evidence in answering the special issue. Because Warren was not asked to commit to any particular set of facts, the State's question was not an improper attempt to bind her under Standefer. Point of error eleven is overruled.

The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Perkins v. Quarterman, 254 Fed.Appx. 366 (5th Cir. 2007) (Habeas).

Background: Following affirmance on direct appeal of petitioner's state court conviction for capital murder and his death sentence, 2004 WL 3093239, he filed petition for writ of habeas corpus. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, McBryde, J., 2007 WL 631294, denied petition. Petitioner sought certificate of appealability (COA).

Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that: (1) petitioner was not mentally retarded; (2) petitioner was not deprived of effective assistance of counsel; and (3) actual innocence was not independently cognizable in habeas petition. COA denied.

Reginald Perkins was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the December 4, 2000, strangulation death of his stepmother, Gertie Perkins. A full account of the underlying facts can be found in the district court's opinion, Perkins v. Quarterman, No. 4:06-CV-687-A, 2007 WL 631294 (N.D.Tex. Mar. 1, 2007). We have included the facts relevant to each of Perkins's claims on appeal in our discussion below. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Perkins's conviction and sentence on direct appeal, Perkins v. State, No. 74,318, 2004 WL 3093239 (Tex.Crim.App. June 30, 2004) (unpublished), and the Supreme Court denied certiorari, Perkins v. Texas, 543 U.S. 1164, 125 S.Ct. 1330, 161 L.Ed.2d 136 (2005). Perkins also filed a state petition for habeas corpus. The state trial court held lengthy evidentiary hearings (generating six volumes of transcript and one volume of exhibits), adopted findings of fact and conclusions of law, and recommended that the petition be denied. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court's findings and denied relief. Ex parte Perkins, No. WR-64,354-01, 2006 WL 2615535 (Tex.Crim.App. Sept. 13, 2006). Perkins next filed a federal habeas petition in the Northern District of Texas, alleging seven grounds for relief. The district court denied all relief, and denied a certificate of appealability (COA) on all claims. Perkins now requests a COA for an Atkins claim, two ineffective assistance of counsel claims, a constitutional challenge to the Texas sentencing statute, and an actual innocence claim.

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E. Actual Innocence

Finally, Perkins argues that he is actually innocent of the capital murder for which he was convicted, and offers his own affidavit in support. He also speculates that a jailhouse snitch who testified against him might have had his charges reduced in exchange for testimony. The district court denied relief on this claim.

Since Perkins has not asserted actual innocence as a “gateway” to obtain review of an otherwise barred claim, see Dowthitt v. Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 741 (5th Cir.2000), the only question is whether a stand-alone claim of actual innocence is cognizable in a federal habeas petition. In Herrera v. Collins, the Supreme Court assumed, for the sake of argument, that “in a capital case a truly persuasive demonstration of ‘actual innocence’ made after trial would render the execution of a defendant unconstitutional, and warrant federal habeas relief if there were no state avenue open to process such a claim.” 506 U.S. 390, 417, 113 S.Ct. 853, 122 L.Ed.2d 203 (1993). Whether such stand-alone claims of actual innocence claims are in fact possible is a question the Supreme Court has “decline[d] to resolve,” House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 126 S.Ct. 2064, 2087, 165 L.Ed.2d 1 (2006), but this circuit has not read Herrera as allowing such claims. See Foster v. Quarterman, 466 F.3d 359, 367-68 (5th Cir.2006); Dowthitt, 230 F.3d at 741-42. The district court's denial of this claim is therefore not debatable, and we deny a COA on this issue.

IV. CONCLUSION

Perkins's request for a COA is DENIED.



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