On the afternoon of 18 August 1986, Richard, then 26, was in front of
the Hockley home of Marguerite Dixon, 53. Richard approached Dixon's
son, Albert, and asked if the van parked in the driveway was for sale.
When Albert Dixon told him the van belonged to his brother who was out
of town, Richard left.
A few minutes later, Richard saw Albert and his sister, Paula, leave
the property. Richard then entered Mrs. Dixon's home. He forced her
into a bedroom, where he raped her. The then shot her in the head with
a .25-caliber pistol. He then stole two televisions and the van.
Mrs. Dixon's children returned home that evening. They found the
sliding-glass door open and all the lights turned off. After calling a
neighbor for assistance, they entered the house and discovered their
mother dead in her bedroom.
Richard hotwired the van and drove it to Houston. He traded the murder
weapon to a friend for cocaine and attempted to sell the televisions.
He then drove the van to another home, where it broke down. He told
the homeowner, a friend of his, that he would return for the van, but
he never did. The homeowner called a wrecker the next morning to take
the van away. When it was discovered that the van had been hotwired
and stripped, the police were called. After interviewing the homeowner
and the man to whom Richard had tried to sell the televisions, the
police obtained an arrest warrant for Richard. He was arrested at his
mother's home the next evening.
Richard admitted being involved in Dixon's death and helped police
track down the murder weapon. His fingerprints were also found on the
sliding-glass door to the victim's home. He claimed that the gun
Richard had previous served parts of two prison sentences for home
burglary. In March 1978, he was sent to prison on a 6-year sentence.
He was paroled in May 1981. In January 1985, he was returned to prison
on a 5-year sentence. He was paroled in June 1986, about two months
before Dixon's murder.
A jury convicted Richard of capital murder in September 1987 and
sentenced him to death. In September 1992, the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals overturned his conviction because the jury was not instructed
to consider his history as an abused child as a possible mitigating
factor when determining his punishment. In a new trial in June 1995, a
jury again convicted Richard of capital murder and sentenced him to
death. The TCCA affirmed this conviction and sentence in June 1997.
All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
At Richard's first trial, his attorneys told the jury that he scored
62 on an IQ test. Richard's IQ and possible mental retardation were
not mentioned in his second trial. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
in June 2002 that executing mentally retarded prisoners is
unconstitutional, a hearing was held on Richard's mental retardation
claim. A psychologist for the state, George Denkowski, reviewed
Richard's IQ tests and determined him to be retarded. However, Harris
Country officials succeeded in obtaining a new hearing in December
2006. Prosecutor Lynn Hardaway supplied evidence showing that
Richard's activities in prison - including writing letters and playing
chess - showed that he was not retarded, and that he had never been
diagnosed as retarded during his childhood. Denkowski then changed his
evaluation, stating that a low IQ test was not conclusive by itself.
The courts ruled that Richard's claim of mental retardation was not
proven, and rejected his appeals.
Richard later denied any involvement in the killing. "I was a thief -
I ain't gonna lie to you," he told an interviewer on death row the
week before his execution, "because that's what I was taught by my
father. But I've been trying to tell everybody I didn't break in that
house or kill that woman." He said that a detective tricked him into
signing a document he could not read.
Lee Coffee, the prosecutor in Richard's first trial, and who is now a
judge in Memphis, Tennessee, said that Richard never denied the
killing during his trial. Coffee also said that, at the Dixon family's
request, he offered Richard a life sentence, but Richard rejected the
Richard said that he accepted the plea offer, but Coffee reneged on
As for his mental retardation claim, Richard said that he state's
evidence against him was misleading. He said that he had others write
letters for him, then he copied them in his own handwriting, and that
he merely imitated behavior he saw others doing. "There's a lot of
things I can't do, but if I sit and watch you, I can learn to do a
little," he said.
On the day Richard was executed, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear
a Kentucky case challenging the constitutionality of execution by
lethal injection. Richard's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to grant a
stay in his case until the Kentucky case is decided, but their request
was denied a few minutes before 8:00 p.m.
At his execution, Richard expressed love to his family in a brief last
statement. After the lethal injection was started, he said, "I guess
this is it." He was pronounced dead at 8:23 p.m.
(Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney
General's Office, Houston Chronicle.)
Texas Execution Information
Sitting back, my hands folded, waiting for the obligatory "Kramer"
"You got Schadenfreude on my Weltanschauung!"
"You got Weltanschauung in my Schadenfreude!"
>David Carson filted:
>>Michael Wayne Richard, 49, was executed by lethal injection on 25
>>September 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape, robbery, and murder
>>of a woman in her home.
>Sitting back, my hands folded, waiting for the obligatory "Kramer"
Some official records even list him as Michael Richards:
(Also, his DOB is sometimes given as a year earlier. If you read my
report closely, you'll notice the ages don't add up, because I was
looking at different records at different times. For consistency's
sake, I should have written that he was 48 yesterday.)
So the lethal jab was his birthday present from the great state of Texas?
GO RED SOX
> Sitting back, my hands folded, waiting for the obligatory "Kramer"
How about, "Was Michael Richards hung upside down with a fork in his