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Death Chamber Part 3

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In this episode of Bloody Angola:A Podcast by Woody Overton and Jim Chapman, We wrap up the Death chamber covering the stories of those inmates eventually executed at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, from the crimes to their final walk.

#Louisianastateprison #AngolaPrison #BloodyAngola #TrueCrime #Podcast #WoodyOverton #Podcasts #Deathchamberpart3 #deathchamber #Execution #Convict

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DEATH CHAMBER PART 3 FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jim: Hey, everyone. And welcome back to Bloody-

Woody: -Angola.

Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison.

Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.

Woody: And I'm Woody Overton. I got something to say before we get started.

Jim: Yes.

Woody: We are nominated under the People's Choice Podcast Awards for 2023 under the History section.

Jim: Love it.

Woody: We're nominated as one of the best in the world. We need y'all to, please, go and vote. It's podcastawards.com. And they'll have you enter in your email and a password, and that's to stop people from cheating the bots. But you can enter as many times as you want to from different emails, and then they'll send you a confirmation email. But right underneath that, when you fill it in, they ask you, "Would you be a final judge?" So, what happens is this process, when it closes at the end of this month, they're going to take the top 10 in each category that make the finals and then like 20,000 of the people that vote it, they're going to randomly select them to be final judges. And so, if you would check that you'll be a final judge. You don't have to judge in every category, and you don't have to vote in every category, but you do that and you go under it.

And I've been nominated and Kelly Jennings has been nominated for Unspeakable, our Dear Friend for the Adam Curry's People's Choice Podcast Year Award. I've been nominated for best male host in the world for Real Life Real Crime. Both Kelly and I have been nominated under Best True Crime. Real Life Real Crime and Real Life Real Crime Daily, and original Real Life Real Crime nominated under drama and storytelling. And you can also fill out the most influential podcaster, you could do that also. Oh, and Bloody Angola is nominated under the-- we found out last night that Bloody Angola is also nominated under the The Adam Curry's People's Choice, which is the biggest one, y'all, of the year award. So, thank you so much and we love y'all. Voting is going to close in the next--

Jim: 31st.

Woody: Yeah, 31st. Huge honor for Bloody. Bloody deserves it. And it's a history podcast

basically. I mean, we're telling you the history of America's bloodiest prison. Jim: That's right.

Woody: And so, thank you so much. It's such an honor and I know it's a pain in the ass to take the time to go do that, but it really validates what we're doing and gives us a shot in the arm and-

Jim: Helps us to bring you more.

Woody: -help us to keep going and bring more content to you. And speaking of that, our Patreon members, thank you so much. We appreciate you. You rock. Couldn't do the show without you. And, y'all, look, how old are we now?

Jim: You know, Woody, that's a good question.

Woody: It seems like it's been forever but in a good way.

Jim: Yeah. I think we're coming up on our year.

Woody: Yeah, it's got to be close to the year. I mean, like real close. Jim: I have to look that up next episode, I'll tell y'all.

Woody: Very sweet to be nominated for both at The Adam Curry's People's Choice Award and then under the History section. It's just a real, real testament to what we're doing and that y'all love the show. So, thank you so much.

Jim: 100%, and History, both Woody and I are big history buffs and so that's a cool category for us to be nominated in. It's different. Both of us have been nominated for other podcasts that we did in the past. But this is kind of a cool one because we both just love history, and we know all y'all do too.

Woody: This is our first one that we've done it together. Jim: Yeah.

Woody: So, it means a lot to me too.

Jim: Absolutely. Me as well. And so, we're going to get into-- we brought you a couple of episodes with Death Chamber talking about these guys telling a little bit about their crimes and their executions and all that. And this is a continuance of that. This will be the final Death Chamber that we cover. I want to say this before we start for our patron members, we're going to do a bonus episode with the true final Death Chamber, which is the last few that we're not going to cover right now here. But after we're done with this, keep in mind, we've pretty much covered all the people since 1980 that have been executed via Gruesome Gertie or lethal injection at Angola.

So, we're going to go ahead and start it up and we're going to tell you first about Alvin Moore. He was executed by electrocution in 1987. I'm going to tell you a little bit about his case. And it starts with Aron Wilson. So, Aron Wilson and his wife Jo Ann and their four-month-old daughter, Regina, lived in Bossier City, Louisiana. Alvin Moore was a former neighbor and coworker of Aron's at the Veterans Administration Hospital there. On July 9th of 1980, Moore picked up Arthur Lee Stewart, Jr, and Dennis Sloan in his automobile. So, they're riding around, and at some point, Moore goes to the Wilsons' house, and he decides he wants to get some money. They apparently supposedly owed him some money. So according to Sloan, who was with him, Moore knocked on the door and Jo Ann Wilson answered it. She and Moore talked briefly, and Moore entered the house. Five minutes later, Sloan followed Moore to the door of the house. The door was slightly ajar, and Sloan saw Moore and Jo Ann making sex, as he would call it, on the floor of the living room.

Woody: Really?

Jim: Sloan returned to Moore's automobile, and he was going to tell Stewart about it, what was going on, of course. "Man, they're in there doing it on the floor." Stewart and Sloan then

entered the house. Moore and a crying Ms. Wilson had gone into the bedroom. She's crying. Yeah. Where baby Regina was also crying. Moore was going crazy, ransacking the house. Jo Ann Wilson was described as panicky and scared. She also appeared to be frightened of Moore. So, Sloan, in testimony, said that Jo Ann Wilson said, "Take whatever you want. Just get out of my house." Sloan also testified that Ms. Wilson asked Moore not to hurt her or her child. After being threatened, Ms. Wilson gave Moore a box of Kennedy half dollars. Sloan took a white bucket with $18.80 in pennies. And Stewart took some stereo components. This is back in the days when they had the--

Woody: Yeah, when [crosstalk] had the Hi-Fi.

Jim: Exactly. Sloan and Stewart left the house and heard Jo Ann Wilson screaming behind them. Moore runs out of the house five minutes later, he's carrying a knife in his hand. Stewart testified that this was the same knife that Moore had on the backseat of his car when the group drove up to the house. Moore told Stewart and Sloan, "I'm fixing to trip y'all out. I stabbed that bitch nine times." The three then drove to Church's Fried Chicken and McDonald's. Jo Ann Wilson--

Woody: Paid in pennies, probably.

Jim: Yeah. Jo Ann Wilson managed to call 911. The call was received by the Bossier City Police Department. A unit got dispatched and a patrolman arrives at the house two minutes later. He knocked on the front door, but Jo Ann Wilson said she was unable to open it. He kicked the door in and found blood, of course, all over the living room. Officer Fields found Ms. Wilson lying in the bedroom and both rooms were in disarray. The victim was nude from the waist down, was bleeding from her vagina, chest and arms. She was having difficulty breathing and told Officer Fields she was dying. He asked her who stabbed her, and she responded, Alvin. Fields asked her that was the patrolman if she knew Alvin. And she replied he was a black guy that used to live down the street. It was obvious to Fields that Ms. Wilson was dying and she died about ten minutes later. So, they go, they arrest Moore at 01:00 AM the next morning. Of course, they find those stereo components we told you about, the white bucket and pennies were found in the trunk of his car.

So, they had all the evidence there. He goes through trials, he's found guilty, and he was executed in 1987. Moore made no final statement to the public. His attorney said his last words were to him, in which he said, "They can kill my body, but they can't kill my soul."

Woody: You better hope your soul was right.

Jim: Yeah, your soul might be headed somewhere you don't want to be. Woody: You were playing God when you killed your victim.

Jim: That's right.

Woody: You raped her and stabbed her and all that. It's crazy. These stories, y'all, are disturbing. But you know what? These are death penalty cases. And there's a reason we have the death penalty. Some people don't deserve to breathe.

I'm going to tell you about Benjamin Berry. On January 30th, 1978, Benjamin Berry and David Pennington drove from Baton Rouge to Metairie, which is about a 40, 45-minute drive, Metairie being on the outskirts in New Orleans, y'all, with the intention of robbing the Metairie Bank and Trust Company. Berry entered the bank and drew a 9mm automatic pistol, and there was an exchange of gunfire between Berry and Cochran. Now, Cochran was a

Jefferson Parish deputy sheriff working as a guard in the bank. Y'all, that's a common thing. They work extra duty is what it's called, their side jobs.

When they started shooting, Berry fired three shots, and Cochran fired one shot. Cochran's shot struck Berry in the lower left chest. Then, two of Berry's shots struck Cochran in the shoulder and the neck, causing Cochran to die. Berry and Pennington fled the scene and hauled ass back to Baton Rouge, where they were both arrested. Now, Berry was indicted for first degree murder. So goes through, and naturally, he gets found guilty. I don't know what type of surveillance cameras they had in '78, January 30--

Jim: Probably not too great.

Woody: But you got a lot of eyewitnesses, and I'm sure they did whatever, because death penalty cases, they have to have a lot of shit. But he was indicted for murder, found guilty, and Benjamin Berry was executed on June 7th, 1987. So, what, nine years after. And Berry was convicted in the fatal shooting of Robert Cochran, JPSO deputy I told y'all about. And guess what, Jim? He made no final statement, but I'm going to read y'all an article from the New York Times, dated June 8th, 1987. It says, "A high school dropout condemned for murder in a guard and a bank robbery was put to death early today in Louisiana's electric chair."

Jim: Oh, Gruesome Gertie.

Woody: Gruesome Gertie. "'Benjamin Berry, 31 years old, was executed shortly after midnight,' said C. Paul Phelps, Secretary of Department of Corrections in Baton Rouge. He was the 76th prisoner executed in the United States and the 8th in Louisiana since the United States Supreme Court allowed states to restore the death penalty in 1976. Mr. Berry's appeals ran out late Friday when the Supreme Court refused to stop the execution." And old buddy of mine and dear friend of my dad, good, bad, and different, and my mom served on the parole board underneath him, Governor Edwin W. Edwards refused to pardon him and he wouldn't step in. Apparently, Mr. Berry had already accepted that his sentence would not be stayed. And on Thursday, he asked the warden of state prison in Angola to move him off the death row to the isolation cell down the hall from the electric chair so he could be alone."

"Mr. Berry was convicted in 1978 of killing Robert Cochran, a bank guard in a bank robbery in Metairie on January 30th, 1978. This was his 8th execution date. The others had been canceled by appeals. He spent Saturday visiting members of his family. The prison warden, Hilton Butler, said about 30 people held a candlelight vigil in front of the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge to protest the execution, and roughly a dozen people gathered for similar protests in New Orleans. Several death penalty supporters gathered outside the prison's front gate. They wore shirts lettered with the message "Justice for All, Even the Victims." The execution was the first of five scheduled in Louisiana and the next two weeks, and the first in the state since January 4th, 1985."

Jim: Wow.

Woody: Governor Edwards didn't play. He's like, "You want a what? Ride the lightning,

bitch."

Jim: And I heard you say Hilton Butler--[crosstalk]

Woody: We talked about Ms. Ann before and everything, and my mama knows them all. Well, they grew up in St. Francisville wherever they live-- I think they still live there-- When I was in school, they were still living there.

Jim: I believe they still do. As a matter of fact, the son of Hilton Butler is a listener of Bloody Angola.

Woody: Shoutout.

Jim: Who was also lifelong Angola employed correctional officer and has reached out to us

a few times, mainly fact checking. [laughter]

Woody: That's cool because the history doesn't mean-- everything that comes out of books isn't always right. It's definitely not as valid as the people who lived it.

Jim: That's right. We'd love to have him on the show, I know you're listening.

Woody: Absolutely. Shoutout to you. Hey, shoutout to all you correctional officers at Bloody

Angola in the past, current, and the wardens and everybody else.

Jim: Yeah. A lot of them listen to us and they do reach out and let us know.

The next guy we're going to tell you about is David Dene Martin. And he was a killer of four, minimum here. He killed these four people in Terrebonne Parish.

Woody: Terrebonne down south.

Jim: Down south. And he was executed by electrocution in 1985 as well. So, a lot of 85s in

there. And we're going to give you the facts of the case.

In 1977, David Martin's wife, Gloria, began to work in a restaurant lounge owned by Bobby Todd, who was a victim. The next day, she had sexual relations with Todd. That's not good. The following day, she informed her husband of this fact. She refused Martin's request that she quit working for Todd. So basically, she goes home, says, "I'm sleeping with my boss." And he says, "Well, you got to quit." And she says, "Nah. I'm not going to quit."

Woody: Keep my benefits.

Jim: Yeah. That night, Martin goes and he steals a friend's Colt Python .357 Mag.

Woody: That's a bad pistol. Yeah, second largest-- It used to be the second largest caliber in the world.

Jim: So to make matters worse, the firearm was loaded with hollow point bullets, and Martin later purchased an additional box of shells for it. On August 13--

Woody: Shit, it's a revolver, how many bullets do you need? Jim: Yeah. Mike said he's going to kill him good.

Woody: Kill him good.

Jim: That’s what Mike would say. On August 13th, Martin visited his next-door neighbor, Raymond Rushing, and Martin told Rushing he was going to shoot Todd. He explained that he was jealous of his wife's relationship with Todd. On August 14th of that year, Martin told another friend, Chester Golden, that his wife was working at the restaurant and would not quit. He indicated that he had a bone to pick with Todd and had waited for the last two nights

outside Todd's restaurant for an opportunity to get Todd. So, he's telling everybody about this. Martin showed Golden the stolen pistol. He told Golden that because he stole the gun from a felon, its theft would not be reported.

Woody: True.

Jim: Golden told Martin that he looked pretty drug out and had lost weight. Martin replied that he had been up for two nights and had not been eating. That evening, according to accounts he later gave, Martin drove to the vicinity of the trailer in which Todd lived. He parked down the road from the trailer so he could approach it in the guise of a hitchhiker on foot. So, he's pretending like he's hitchhiking. He entered the trailer, and he confronted Todd who offered him a roll of bills. "Here, let me give you some money."

Woody: [crosstalk] -makes up for banging your wife?

Jim: Yeah. Martin, he ignored that. He basically said, "I just want you to know my name."

Then, he shoots Todd twice in the chest.

Woody: Wow.

Jim: He proceeded to shoot three other people in the trailer. Woody: Wow.

Jim: Todd's bodyguard, he had a bodyguard, and two nude females. Woody: What?

Jim: They must have been doing something in there. [crosstalk] Come in, yeah. So, Martin inflicted multiple bullet wounds on each of those four. One of the women was first wounded in the abdomen. She told Martin she was in pain, begging him to finish her. He shot her in the head and killed her.

Woody: Wow.

Jim: Martin then took the roll of money to make it look like a robbery and left. Around 08:00 PM, he returns to Golden's home. He was excited. He asked Golden, he says, "Take a ride with me." During the ride, he tells Golden, "I killed four people at the restaurant." Martin said he had not touched anything, and although the authorities might suspect him, they had no proof that he committed those, although the fact that he told 1500 people. Martin confessed to four more people that night. He had told one of them, Pamela Wilson, that he had thrown the gun in the bayou. Martin was arrested a short time later. The sheriff who made the arrest told reporters that Martin appeared strung out on dope at the time, probably was. Martin's brother retained a Texas attorney with 10 years' criminal experience and some experience with capital cases. The attorney associated a Louisiana lawyer with limited criminal experience and no experience in capital offenses.

Woody: Most of the times, big shot attorneys come out of state, because they're not licensed to practice under Napoleonic code of law, they have to get local representation, and then they can take over the case and act under that guy's license.

Jim: Yeah. There you go. And that is definitely what happened here. And using the words, "Walk me or fry me," Martin told counsel in the first meeting to either seek a full acquittal or the death penalty. So, how do you like that? "Walk me or fry me." He didn't want to spend time in jail, in other words.

Woody: I got kind of respect for that, actually.

Jim: So, they decided to fry him. And David Martin was executed on January 4th, 1985. He was convicted, obviously, of all four of those murders. That's quadruple murder, y'all. All of them, of course, being shot to death. And that mobile home, in case you're curious, that was near a town called Homa, which is way down south.

Woody: [crosstalk] -down south actually, I drive through it every couple of weeks to go fishing.

Jim: Yeah. And he was for sure a drug addict, that came out during his trial. He made no final statement during his execution but a pardon board clemency hearing the afternoon before his death, Martin said, "To take someone's life is out of character for me. It's not David Martin. I am devastated of what I'm done, but I can't remember it. My life has been dedicated to saving lives, helping people, not destroying people. I know I wouldn't willingly take another person's life. Something bad went down, but it's not me. It wasn't right. I don't know. That's all." That's what he said.

Woody: Hey, idiot, you didn't just take one, you took four. That's a really, really interesting point. One of the mitigating circumstances in any death penalty case in the series I'm starting next week, I'm not going to give the name up yet. It's death penalty cases. And I don't get this, and I don’t understand and maybe they changed the law or something, but if you're high and you commit a death penalty infraction, if you will, then they can use that in a death penalty phase to get you off. I don't get that. I believe you chose to get fucking high, and whatever you did after that, you're still responsible for it.

Jim: Yeah. And another thing with that case is, and I notice this with a lot of cases, when you have a crime of passion of some sort, and even though this wasn't against-- was because of his wife, it wasn't against his wife. But it seems like these killings are more overboard. They're overkill, if you will.

Woody: He can't say he didn't plan it out because he bought bullets and he stole the gun. He told everybody.

Jim: Told everybody.

Woody: And I don't care how high you were, you weren't high for that long. But certainly raises some questions when-- not victim shaming or blaming, but homie had two bodyguards-- and two bodyguards?

Jim: Well, he had a bodyguard, two new females with him.

Woody: It must have been a titty bar or some-- I don't know. Shame that happened. He

didn't give any final last words, just to the pardon board.

Jim: Yeah, just to the pardon board. Nothing at the actual execution itself.

Woody: Yeah, well, very interesting. I did not know about the case. I may have to look into it some more one day. I have some good friends down there. And anytime you have something, especially from-- and Homa is not that small now, but an older crime like this, scenario like that, you can go to that town and find somebody that's of that age range and they'd be like, "Holy shit, I can tell you everything."

Jim: Oh, yeah. [crosstalk]

Woody: All right, let me take it to the next one. Ernest Knighton. Ernest Knighton, y'all, he was from Bossier Parish-- or the crime occurred in Bossier Parish, and Jim talked on the first one at Bossier Parish and Shreveport, they're just right across the river from each other, y'all. Literally, the river separates the two. And it's in the far northwestern corner of the state of Louisiana. Literally, when you leave Shreveport, I think it's like 15, 20 miles to the Texas line. But let me tell you about Ernest Knighton. And the facts are taken from the testimony of Mrs. Shell, who was the victim's wife, and are as follows.

Mr. and Mrs. Shell were working at the Fina Station on Benton and Shed Road in Bossier City between 8:00 and 8:30 PM. The defendant and another man, Anthony White, entered the station. White asked for a package of cigarettes and gave Mrs. Shell a dollar bill. This tells you how long ago, y'all, this was-- it was murder, it was on March 17th, 1981, I was 11. I don’t know if I was smoking yet, but I was probably getting really close. Dollar a pack, saying about right on the price. Anyway, he gave Mrs. Shell the dollar bill. When she returned his change, so they were even cheaper than a dollar, he walked around the service counter and told her, "This is a stick-up." Holding a gun, the defendant also went behind the counter and asked Mr. Shell where the money was kept. Ms. Shell, who had been talking on the telephone, went into the small room in the back of the station to retrieve the money and gave it to the defendant who had followed him into the room. Mrs. Shell heard a shot, Mr. Shell was wounded.

From her location, Mrs. Shell could not actually see her husband but said that he offered no resistance and said nothing to provoke defendant into shooting him. The defendant then ran out and told White to bring Mrs. Shell along with him. Anthony White grabbed Mrs. Shell who broke loose at the doorway, and retreated back inside the station and locked the door which then separated her from the two thieves. Mr. Shell died as a result of shock from blood loss from a single gunshot wound through the arm, abdomen, and chest. That's a hell of a shot.

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: Arm, abdomen, and chest. Maybe he was standing above him-- Jim: Somebody's-- like the John F. Kennedy [crosstalk] went into-- Woody: The magic bullet.

Jim: The governor--

Woody: He had to be above him or something, maybe he's getting out of the safe. That's the only way you can get that angle. That's crazy. Additional testimony by Wanda Smith, a woman who had driven with defendant, Anthony White and another man, Wayne Harris, to the Fina station, revealed that the defendant and White ran from the service station, jumped into the car, and had Wanda Smith drive to a motel and get a room. There, an argument over the money began. And waving the gun he used to shoot Mr. Shell, Earnest Knighton stated in Wanda's presence that, "The man's hand looked like it was fixing to move, so I had to shoot him." Y'all, that all comes from the trial, and naturally, he was found guilty.

Ernest Earnest Knighton, Jr. was executed on October 30th, 1984. Knighton was convicted of the shooting of death of Ralph Shell, a Bossier City service station proprietor, during an attempted robbery on March 17th, 1981. I want you to notice how fast these executions were. This is three years. And the longest one we did today was nine years. Now, they don't execute them anymore. We've covered the people have been on death row 28 years plus years like that. Fuck that, they just need to kill them.

So, they get Knighton into Gruesome Gertie, strap him down, and we told y'all about the tie-down teams and all that, and basically drug them in, strapped them down and they say, "Hey, dude--" they didn’t say dude, they read the death warrant.

Jim: No, they might have. [chuckles]

Woody: Yeah, right. They read the death warrant. "You've been sentenced to death by the State of Louisiana, da, da, da. Do you have any final words?" And this is what he said. He said, "I am sorry. More sorry than I can say Mr. Shell is dead and that I am responsible. I feel sorry for Mrs. Shell and all of Mr. Shell's family and friends. I feel sorry for my mother, my family, and everyone else who will grieve for me. I have asked God to forgive me. I have to say that what you are doing is wrong. If I thought my death would bring back Mr. Shell or save someone else from a murder, I would volunteer. But I know it won't work. You don't teach respect for life by killing. I urge you not to kill anyone else. I ask God to forgive you for killing me. And I now ask God in the name of Jesus to receive my spirit."

Jim: He had me on the first part, lost me on the second. Woody: I know, right?

Jim: I'm glad he took responsibility and admitted.

Woody: And when he started in on the "I forgive you for killing me," they're doing their job, dude. They didn't make you go into that bank and rob them and all that. I don't know, but at least he tried to say something. But let's talk about the death penalty for a minute. When I was in college and studying criminal justice, they talked about criminal deterrence. How do you stop crime? The ultimate one being the death penalty. But the studies have proven, for a crime deterrent to be effective, it has to be swift and certain. Meaning that if you leave here today and you go and Lori Johnson, best banging chick in the world, Hancock Whitney, right down the street, that's where I do all my shit. But if you go in that bank and you kill someone, you're on camera, you're going to get convicted, etc. But nowadays, you're going to go sit for 28 years and appeals on death row and all that, it's not effective as a deterrent.

Now, let's take it we don't live in this world, let's put you in Woody's world. If you walked in the bank and you did it, and they caught your ass and they put you to the nearest tree and strung you the fuck up, that's going to stop the normal person. A lock keeps an honest man honest. That would certainly deter people more than what you do now because even like the Manson murderers, dude got out of prison yesterday, or the chick got out of prison yesterday. But it has to be swift and certain. The problem with our justice system is it is nothing if not slow.

Jim: Yeah. The wheels of justice turn slow, as they say, and I agree 100%. And they have a lot of technology now that they didn't have then. Look, we have another series that we do every now and then that talks about exonerations, and certainly those happen. Certainly, you never want to think about people being sentenced to death that did not commit a crime, but it's happened.

Woody: I'm sure it's happened. Well, they probably committed some crime. It's not that one.

Jim: Right. So, it certainly does happen. But the good thing about technology these days is it's almost impossible to get away with something very long like it used to be. And I think about serial killers in particular because DNA has come so far. You almost can't breathe on somebody without being able to figure out who it was.

Woody: And when I started, we couldn't even get DNA done, but I'll take it a step further and it trips me out, because I think about it every day, everywhere I go, because of what you told me. And that is that you're on camera up to--

Jim: It's like 46 times per day on average.

Woody: On average. So, everywhere you go, you're on camera. But now, that's 46 average. If you go somewhere and you're showing your ass, look how many videos are going viral. Everybody wants to shoot a video and post shit. Not only advances in technology and DNA and forensics, and the familial DNA, and just everything. The computers they use to reenact crime scenes, and trace the bullets and everything else, all this technology as it gets better, but you also have all these cameras and people are more aware. And you have social media now which, shit, you didn't have back in 80s. The internet wasn't invented.

Jim: Yeah. When you're looking for a suspect, the sheriff's office can just post that on social media and automatically thousands and thousands of people see it. Back in the day, when Woody was doing cases, you had to go door to door sometimes.

Woody: You had to go to door every time, and you waited and you had to haul ass. I can tell you so many cases that I had to haul ass to Channel 2, Channel 33, and Channel 9 to get them the press release before they went on air at 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock, or whatever, just before Fox was even in Baton Rouge. That was it. That’s all you had. And you only have a small percentage of the population that watches the fucking news, the local news.

Jim: Yeah. Great point.

Woody: And I agree with you, certainly we don't want anybody to be wrongfully executed. And we've talked about and given shoutouts on the stories that people who have been exonerated. But as the technology advances, as the DNA advances, so do the crimes, and the defenses for the crimes, meaning that there's no more respect for life. Everybody just thinks you pull the trigger and there's no consequence. They have never worked a homicide scene. They've never had to sit with a crying family and all that. But more importantly, the defense, because all these trials and all these cases have come in years before, these lawyers are learning about it in law school. And if you choose to do the criminal path, you're going to know about it. And all these cases have been cited. So, you have volumes and volumes and volumes of more information, just like the DNA is so far advanced now and all these other crime fighting techniques, the defense has so many more techniques to use against prosecution. And that's why we got people, like one guy who's the second longest living on death row, and damn it, I can't remember his name, he and his lover murdered that little boy and raped him right here-- [crosstalk]

Jim: Yeah. You did a--

Woody: -on the river. And I did a story on that, but he's been on death row like 29 years now. The other dude, his accomplice was on death row, fuck, he died of natural causes. This dude's like 80 years old now, something like that. So, it is what it is. And we want to bring y'all this series. And Jim's got one more, and then the [unintelligible 00:38:50] series will be locked up for patron members.

Jim: Patron members. So, we're going to tell you about Elmo Sonnier. Woody: [crosstalk]

Jim: Yeah. And many of you, it may click, and we'll tell you after we do this particular segment and why it did click for you. And Elmo Sonnier was executed in 1984 by electrocution, Gruesome Gertie. Give you the facts of the case.

On the evening of November 4, 1977, David LeBlanc, who was 16, and Loretta, and Bourque, who was 18, attended a high school football game. Later that evening, the couple, they go park in a remote area in St. Martin Parish. Look, back in those days, that was parking. You take your girlfriend, and you go somewhere and you make out a little bit.

Woody: [crosstalk] LSU lakes and call it the submarine races.

Jim: [laughs]

Woody: "What are you doing here, son?" "Watching submarine races."

Jim: Watching submarine races, yeah. So, they go parking, I guess you could say. That area of St. Martin Parish, it was kind of like a lover's lane. That's kind of where everybody-- it was pretty little lake and the girls would feel romantic. I think it was romantic or whatnot. Later that night, approximately 01:00 AM, Elmo Patrick and Eddie James Sonnier were rabbit hunting together, and they come across a couple's car. Rabbit hunting at night, huh, Woody?

Woody: Yeah, right. That’s not legal.

Jim: Yeah. [laughs] Using a badge one of the brothers had obtained while working as a security guard and both armed with .22 caliber rifles, the two approach and enter LeBlanc's car. The victims were informed they were trespassing and that they would have to be brought to the landowner to determine if that landowner wanted to press charges. This is young kids. So, they believe that. They also confiscate each teen's driver's license to kind of further their act of, "We are the cops." Ms. Bourque and Mr. LeBlanc were then handcuffed and placed in the back seat of their own car.

Woody: And they brought handcuffs too.

Jim: Brought handcuffed, which tells you, [crosstalk] this wasn't their first rodeo. Leaving their own car behind, the Sonnier brothers take the teens' car and they basically drive the couple 21 miles to a remote oilfield located in Iberia Parish. And Iberia Parish, this is oilfield country. Everybody just about in Iberia Parish works in the oilfields.

Woody: Except for Tabasco.

Jim: Yeah, except for Tabasco. That's right. The other famous Iberia employer. Now, this is an area that was well known to the defendants. Once at the oilfield, both victims were removed from the car. David LeBlanc was taken into the woods, and they handcuffed him to a tree. Loretta Bourque was taken a short distance away, and she was raped by Elmo Sonnier. She then reluctantly agreed to have intercourse with Eddie Sonnier on the condition that they will release her and Mr. LeBlanc afterwards. Upon completion of the rapes, Patrick Sonnier removed the handcuffs and brought them back to the road where they were parked. At that point, Patrick Sonnier told his brother, he starts freaking out, and he says, "I'm going to be sent back to Angola," that’s the exact quote, he had done some time in Angola, should the victims notify police. So, David LeBlanc, Loretta Bourque, were then forced to lie side by side, face down, and each were shot three times at close range in the back of the head. So, execution style, pretty much.

The Sonniers then drove LeBlanc's vehicle back to the original site where the couple was first accosted in order to pick up their own vehicle. Remember, they left that at the scene.

They get there and the car has a flat tire. The brothers use a jack from the LeBlanc's vehicle, and this is important. They use that jack to apply a spare tire. And that jack was later seized by police from the trunk of Sonnier's car. So, there's your evidence. These two rocket scientists use a jack.

Woody: And then, put it in the--[crosstalk]

Jim: In their own car, yeah. Dumbass. The brothers then destroyed the victim's driver's license. And the following day, the rifles, they dispose of those, they actually buried them in remote areas. Investigations also revealed that between $30 and $40 were stolen from the victims prior to the arrest. They noticed this money missing, and of course, they tied that back to them. The Sonniers were arrested on December 5th 1977, following a tip from a local man who reported seeing the blue Dodge Dart parked in a remote area during the early morning hours of November 5th. They were advised of their rights, taken to the sheriff's office in New Iberia. And there, Patrick Sonnier, he starts singing like a canary, signs, verbal and written confessions, and was transferred to the parish prison. While en route, he starts making other statements to the officer. So, he's singing. The following day, he even agrees to let him videotape a confession. And all three statements indicated that Patrick had participated in the abduction and had personally shot them.

The police, after the basic directions from Patrick Sonnier, recovered the two rifles that he buried. Ballistic test indicated that the bullets taken from the victim's head and brass casings were from that actual rifle. So, they've got everything they need. The defendant and his brother, they get indicted on two accounts of first-degree murder. And in 1978, they basically go to court. Of course, they plead not guilty because they have nothing to lose, but they do get convicted, and they get executed. I'm going to read you just a Times-Picayune, which Times-Picayune is the--

Woody: Major newspaper from New Orleans. Jim: Right. Huge, huge newspaper there. Woody: New Orleans and Mississippi area.

Jim: And in 1984, they got executed. Sonnier gets executed for that double murder. And this is Elmo Sonnier. He was convicted of the slayings of Loretta Bourque and her fiancé, David LeBlanc. He was the third person executed in Louisiana in four months at that time. Robert Wayne Williams was executed December 14th for killing a Baton Rouge supermarket guard. And he was the first person executed since 1961. So, there was a big delay between '61 and--

Woody: Yeah, they put the moratorium on it.

Jim: Yeah. So basically, when they got out of that moratorium, they started executing

everybody. We got some people waiting in line. Woody: Tired of feeding you.

Jim: That's right. And at that time, Woody and listeners, Ross Maggio was the warden at Angola. And he said that Sonnier spent his last day with Sister Helen Prejean, a New Orleans nun who served as a spiritual advisor and a female friend who was a lawyer but not involved in his case. The condemned man ate a steak dinner and was kept up to date as the five courts turned down his 11th hour pleas of stay. So, when you get executed, you basically, that last 24 hours of spent by your attorneys trying to get everyone to stay your execution. So, he didn't have any of that and they went on with it.

As he was led to the execution chamber, he looked at LeBlancs, and Mr. LeBlanc, the father basically of LeBlanc that was shot and killed. He says, "I can understand the way you feel. I have no hatred in my heart as I leave this world and I ask God to forgive what I have done." He then asked LeBlanc for forgiveness. Immediately after, Godfrey Bourque, the father of the other victim, who also witnessed, said, "He didn't ask me," which is-- he obviously and rightfully felt offended for that.

Both fathers sat expressionless with their arms crossed as the execution was carried out. They declined to talk to reporters afterwards. Sonnier last words were addressed to Prejean. He said, "I love you," and she replies, "I love you too." Sonnier, wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt, was then strapped to the death chair. Witnesses said he appeared to be smiling. At 12:07, his body was jolted with 2000 volts-

Woody: Light it up.

Jim: -of electricity, followed by 500 volts for 10 seconds. The 2000 volts was for 20. The sequence was repeated, and there was no movement after the second jolt. So, as Woody has told us in the past on this show, they don't just lift that lever and jolt you one time. They leave it up, pull it down, leave it up, pull it down.

Woody: And 20 seconds is a long time.

Jim: It's a long time, man. But his victims didn't even get that last 20 seconds. Sick.

Woody: Can you imagine laying side by side and you pretty much know they're going to kill you, but then you hear three shots from one rifle and whoever the boy or the girl got shot first, what was the other one thinking? I mean, you know you're dead.

Jim: Yeah. You went to your death scared to death. And that's just horrible. And so, you may have obviously, recognized Helen Prejean if you've listened to our show. These brothers, the Sonnier brothers, as well as Robert Wayne Williams, that was the character for Dead Man Walking, basically, where they based that character was really off of two separate people. In the opening scenes of Dead Man Walking, that's where it shows that lover's lane murder that we just told you about. And so, it was a real deal, Sister Helen Prejean, real person, she's still alive to this day. And regardless of where you sit on the death penalty, her heart's in the right place. I don't fault her. We may not see eye to eye on certain things, but I think she's a wonderful human being and still alive to this day.

Woody: Yeah, she is. We'd love to have you on the show.

Jim: Yeah. If you happen to be listening, Sister Prejean, we'd love to have you on and share

your views.

Woody: If one of y'all listeners know her, yeah, that would be a great show.

Jim: Yeah, it really would. So, if you know her out there and get word to her that we love-- we come to her if she needs us to, no problem. And so, that is a wrap on that series. For you patron members, just a few that we're going to do just for you guys. The final, I think it's four or five that we have left to feature on that series just for you guys. And we saved some good ones for you patron members.

Woody: And if you want to become a patron, go to Patreon and type in Bloody Angola. Jim: Yup.

Woody: Right.

Jim: That's all you got to do, it'll pull it up. We have several different tiers, of course. I know a lot of y'all like those transcriptions. We do transcribe all those episodes just for patron members. And we put them in PDF format so you can download those. You can actually print them out and you can read them like a book. Some people like to read.

Woody: Yeah, I still like to read too. I think that's a pretty genius idea.

Jim: Absolutely. And don't forget, as we mentioned at the beginning, vote, vote, vote.

Woody: Hey, mom. I know you're listening to this because you love Bloody Angola, and I know you read every single night. My mom likes it--

Jim: Love it.

Woody: She's in her early-- well, I won't tell her age, but she works out every day still. But

she listens to us when she works out.

Jim: Ms. Overton, we appreciate you. Thank you. Woody: But she likes to read more.

Jim: Yeah, she's a sharp lady.

Woody: Mom, you can get the PDF of transcripts. Jim: That's right.

Woody: We love all y'all. Thank you so much. We appreciate you. You rock. Thank you again for getting us nominated for Best History Podcast, and then, the overall best in the world, Adam Curry's People's Choice. Go to podcastawards.com and vote for us if you would, please. We only got, I think, less than two weeks left.

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: Hey, just to be nominated is fire. To make the finals would be sweet. To win it all--

Jim: Blessing. Total blessing. And we love you, appreciate you all, y'all very much. Until next time, I'm Jim Chapman.

Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.

Jim: Your host of Bloody-

Woody: -Angola.

Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: The complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim and Woody: Peace.


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In this episode of Bloody Angola:A Podcast by Woody Overton and Jim Chapman, We wrap up the Death chamber covering the stories of those inmates eventually executed at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, from the crimes to their final walk.

#Louisianastateprison #AngolaPrison #BloodyAngola #TrueCrime #Podcast #WoodyOverton #Podcasts #Deathchamberpart3 #deathchamber #Execution #Convict

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DEATH CHAMBER PART 3 FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jim: Hey, everyone. And welcome back to Bloody-

Woody: -Angola.

Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison.

Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.

Woody: And I'm Woody Overton. I got something to say before we get started.

Jim: Yes.

Woody: We are nominated under the People's Choice Podcast Awards for 2023 under the History section.

Jim: Love it.

Woody: We're nominated as one of the best in the world. We need y'all to, please, go and vote. It's podcastawards.com. And they'll have you enter in your email and a password, and that's to stop people from cheating the bots. But you can enter as many times as you want to from different emails, and then they'll send you a confirmation email. But right underneath that, when you fill it in, they ask you, "Would you be a final judge?" So, what happens is this process, when it closes at the end of this month, they're going to take the top 10 in each category that make the finals and then like 20,000 of the people that vote it, they're going to randomly select them to be final judges. And so, if you would check that you'll be a final judge. You don't have to judge in every category, and you don't have to vote in every category, but you do that and you go under it.

And I've been nominated and Kelly Jennings has been nominated for Unspeakable, our Dear Friend for the Adam Curry's People's Choice Podcast Year Award. I've been nominated for best male host in the world for Real Life Real Crime. Both Kelly and I have been nominated under Best True Crime. Real Life Real Crime and Real Life Real Crime Daily, and original Real Life Real Crime nominated under drama and storytelling. And you can also fill out the most influential podcaster, you could do that also. Oh, and Bloody Angola is nominated under the-- we found out last night that Bloody Angola is also nominated under the The Adam Curry's People's Choice, which is the biggest one, y'all, of the year award. So, thank you so much and we love y'all. Voting is going to close in the next--

Jim: 31st.

Woody: Yeah, 31st. Huge honor for Bloody. Bloody deserves it. And it's a history podcast

basically. I mean, we're telling you the history of America's bloodiest prison. Jim: That's right.

Woody: And so, thank you so much. It's such an honor and I know it's a pain in the ass to take the time to go do that, but it really validates what we're doing and gives us a shot in the arm and-

Jim: Helps us to bring you more.

Woody: -help us to keep going and bring more content to you. And speaking of that, our Patreon members, thank you so much. We appreciate you. You rock. Couldn't do the show without you. And, y'all, look, how old are we now?

Jim: You know, Woody, that's a good question.

Woody: It seems like it's been forever but in a good way.

Jim: Yeah. I think we're coming up on our year.

Woody: Yeah, it's got to be close to the year. I mean, like real close. Jim: I have to look that up next episode, I'll tell y'all.

Woody: Very sweet to be nominated for both at The Adam Curry's People's Choice Award and then under the History section. It's just a real, real testament to what we're doing and that y'all love the show. So, thank you so much.

Jim: 100%, and History, both Woody and I are big history buffs and so that's a cool category for us to be nominated in. It's different. Both of us have been nominated for other podcasts that we did in the past. But this is kind of a cool one because we both just love history, and we know all y'all do too.

Woody: This is our first one that we've done it together. Jim: Yeah.

Woody: So, it means a lot to me too.

Jim: Absolutely. Me as well. And so, we're going to get into-- we brought you a couple of episodes with Death Chamber talking about these guys telling a little bit about their crimes and their executions and all that. And this is a continuance of that. This will be the final Death Chamber that we cover. I want to say this before we start for our patron members, we're going to do a bonus episode with the true final Death Chamber, which is the last few that we're not going to cover right now here. But after we're done with this, keep in mind, we've pretty much covered all the people since 1980 that have been executed via Gruesome Gertie or lethal injection at Angola.

So, we're going to go ahead and start it up and we're going to tell you first about Alvin Moore. He was executed by electrocution in 1987. I'm going to tell you a little bit about his case. And it starts with Aron Wilson. So, Aron Wilson and his wife Jo Ann and their four-month-old daughter, Regina, lived in Bossier City, Louisiana. Alvin Moore was a former neighbor and coworker of Aron's at the Veterans Administration Hospital there. On July 9th of 1980, Moore picked up Arthur Lee Stewart, Jr, and Dennis Sloan in his automobile. So, they're riding around, and at some point, Moore goes to the Wilsons' house, and he decides he wants to get some money. They apparently supposedly owed him some money. So according to Sloan, who was with him, Moore knocked on the door and Jo Ann Wilson answered it. She and Moore talked briefly, and Moore entered the house. Five minutes later, Sloan followed Moore to the door of the house. The door was slightly ajar, and Sloan saw Moore and Jo Ann making sex, as he would call it, on the floor of the living room.

Woody: Really?

Jim: Sloan returned to Moore's automobile, and he was going to tell Stewart about it, what was going on, of course. "Man, they're in there doing it on the floor." Stewart and Sloan then

entered the house. Moore and a crying Ms. Wilson had gone into the bedroom. She's crying. Yeah. Where baby Regina was also crying. Moore was going crazy, ransacking the house. Jo Ann Wilson was described as panicky and scared. She also appeared to be frightened of Moore. So, Sloan, in testimony, said that Jo Ann Wilson said, "Take whatever you want. Just get out of my house." Sloan also testified that Ms. Wilson asked Moore not to hurt her or her child. After being threatened, Ms. Wilson gave Moore a box of Kennedy half dollars. Sloan took a white bucket with $18.80 in pennies. And Stewart took some stereo components. This is back in the days when they had the--

Woody: Yeah, when [crosstalk] had the Hi-Fi.

Jim: Exactly. Sloan and Stewart left the house and heard Jo Ann Wilson screaming behind them. Moore runs out of the house five minutes later, he's carrying a knife in his hand. Stewart testified that this was the same knife that Moore had on the backseat of his car when the group drove up to the house. Moore told Stewart and Sloan, "I'm fixing to trip y'all out. I stabbed that bitch nine times." The three then drove to Church's Fried Chicken and McDonald's. Jo Ann Wilson--

Woody: Paid in pennies, probably.

Jim: Yeah. Jo Ann Wilson managed to call 911. The call was received by the Bossier City Police Department. A unit got dispatched and a patrolman arrives at the house two minutes later. He knocked on the front door, but Jo Ann Wilson said she was unable to open it. He kicked the door in and found blood, of course, all over the living room. Officer Fields found Ms. Wilson lying in the bedroom and both rooms were in disarray. The victim was nude from the waist down, was bleeding from her vagina, chest and arms. She was having difficulty breathing and told Officer Fields she was dying. He asked her who stabbed her, and she responded, Alvin. Fields asked her that was the patrolman if she knew Alvin. And she replied he was a black guy that used to live down the street. It was obvious to Fields that Ms. Wilson was dying and she died about ten minutes later. So, they go, they arrest Moore at 01:00 AM the next morning. Of course, they find those stereo components we told you about, the white bucket and pennies were found in the trunk of his car.

So, they had all the evidence there. He goes through trials, he's found guilty, and he was executed in 1987. Moore made no final statement to the public. His attorney said his last words were to him, in which he said, "They can kill my body, but they can't kill my soul."

Woody: You better hope your soul was right.

Jim: Yeah, your soul might be headed somewhere you don't want to be. Woody: You were playing God when you killed your victim.

Jim: That's right.

Woody: You raped her and stabbed her and all that. It's crazy. These stories, y'all, are disturbing. But you know what? These are death penalty cases. And there's a reason we have the death penalty. Some people don't deserve to breathe.

I'm going to tell you about Benjamin Berry. On January 30th, 1978, Benjamin Berry and David Pennington drove from Baton Rouge to Metairie, which is about a 40, 45-minute drive, Metairie being on the outskirts in New Orleans, y'all, with the intention of robbing the Metairie Bank and Trust Company. Berry entered the bank and drew a 9mm automatic pistol, and there was an exchange of gunfire between Berry and Cochran. Now, Cochran was a

Jefferson Parish deputy sheriff working as a guard in the bank. Y'all, that's a common thing. They work extra duty is what it's called, their side jobs.

When they started shooting, Berry fired three shots, and Cochran fired one shot. Cochran's shot struck Berry in the lower left chest. Then, two of Berry's shots struck Cochran in the shoulder and the neck, causing Cochran to die. Berry and Pennington fled the scene and hauled ass back to Baton Rouge, where they were both arrested. Now, Berry was indicted for first degree murder. So goes through, and naturally, he gets found guilty. I don't know what type of surveillance cameras they had in '78, January 30--

Jim: Probably not too great.

Woody: But you got a lot of eyewitnesses, and I'm sure they did whatever, because death penalty cases, they have to have a lot of shit. But he was indicted for murder, found guilty, and Benjamin Berry was executed on June 7th, 1987. So, what, nine years after. And Berry was convicted in the fatal shooting of Robert Cochran, JPSO deputy I told y'all about. And guess what, Jim? He made no final statement, but I'm going to read y'all an article from the New York Times, dated June 8th, 1987. It says, "A high school dropout condemned for murder in a guard and a bank robbery was put to death early today in Louisiana's electric chair."

Jim: Oh, Gruesome Gertie.

Woody: Gruesome Gertie. "'Benjamin Berry, 31 years old, was executed shortly after midnight,' said C. Paul Phelps, Secretary of Department of Corrections in Baton Rouge. He was the 76th prisoner executed in the United States and the 8th in Louisiana since the United States Supreme Court allowed states to restore the death penalty in 1976. Mr. Berry's appeals ran out late Friday when the Supreme Court refused to stop the execution." And old buddy of mine and dear friend of my dad, good, bad, and different, and my mom served on the parole board underneath him, Governor Edwin W. Edwards refused to pardon him and he wouldn't step in. Apparently, Mr. Berry had already accepted that his sentence would not be stayed. And on Thursday, he asked the warden of state prison in Angola to move him off the death row to the isolation cell down the hall from the electric chair so he could be alone."

"Mr. Berry was convicted in 1978 of killing Robert Cochran, a bank guard in a bank robbery in Metairie on January 30th, 1978. This was his 8th execution date. The others had been canceled by appeals. He spent Saturday visiting members of his family. The prison warden, Hilton Butler, said about 30 people held a candlelight vigil in front of the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge to protest the execution, and roughly a dozen people gathered for similar protests in New Orleans. Several death penalty supporters gathered outside the prison's front gate. They wore shirts lettered with the message "Justice for All, Even the Victims." The execution was the first of five scheduled in Louisiana and the next two weeks, and the first in the state since January 4th, 1985."

Jim: Wow.

Woody: Governor Edwards didn't play. He's like, "You want a what? Ride the lightning,

bitch."

Jim: And I heard you say Hilton Butler--[crosstalk]

Woody: We talked about Ms. Ann before and everything, and my mama knows them all. Well, they grew up in St. Francisville wherever they live-- I think they still live there-- When I was in school, they were still living there.

Jim: I believe they still do. As a matter of fact, the son of Hilton Butler is a listener of Bloody Angola.

Woody: Shoutout.

Jim: Who was also lifelong Angola employed correctional officer and has reached out to us

a few times, mainly fact checking. [laughter]

Woody: That's cool because the history doesn't mean-- everything that comes out of books isn't always right. It's definitely not as valid as the people who lived it.

Jim: That's right. We'd love to have him on the show, I know you're listening.

Woody: Absolutely. Shoutout to you. Hey, shoutout to all you correctional officers at Bloody

Angola in the past, current, and the wardens and everybody else.

Jim: Yeah. A lot of them listen to us and they do reach out and let us know.

The next guy we're going to tell you about is David Dene Martin. And he was a killer of four, minimum here. He killed these four people in Terrebonne Parish.

Woody: Terrebonne down south.

Jim: Down south. And he was executed by electrocution in 1985 as well. So, a lot of 85s in

there. And we're going to give you the facts of the case.

In 1977, David Martin's wife, Gloria, began to work in a restaurant lounge owned by Bobby Todd, who was a victim. The next day, she had sexual relations with Todd. That's not good. The following day, she informed her husband of this fact. She refused Martin's request that she quit working for Todd. So basically, she goes home, says, "I'm sleeping with my boss." And he says, "Well, you got to quit." And she says, "Nah. I'm not going to quit."

Woody: Keep my benefits.

Jim: Yeah. That night, Martin goes and he steals a friend's Colt Python .357 Mag.

Woody: That's a bad pistol. Yeah, second largest-- It used to be the second largest caliber in the world.

Jim: So to make matters worse, the firearm was loaded with hollow point bullets, and Martin later purchased an additional box of shells for it. On August 13--

Woody: Shit, it's a revolver, how many bullets do you need? Jim: Yeah. Mike said he's going to kill him good.

Woody: Kill him good.

Jim: That’s what Mike would say. On August 13th, Martin visited his next-door neighbor, Raymond Rushing, and Martin told Rushing he was going to shoot Todd. He explained that he was jealous of his wife's relationship with Todd. On August 14th of that year, Martin told another friend, Chester Golden, that his wife was working at the restaurant and would not quit. He indicated that he had a bone to pick with Todd and had waited for the last two nights

outside Todd's restaurant for an opportunity to get Todd. So, he's telling everybody about this. Martin showed Golden the stolen pistol. He told Golden that because he stole the gun from a felon, its theft would not be reported.

Woody: True.

Jim: Golden told Martin that he looked pretty drug out and had lost weight. Martin replied that he had been up for two nights and had not been eating. That evening, according to accounts he later gave, Martin drove to the vicinity of the trailer in which Todd lived. He parked down the road from the trailer so he could approach it in the guise of a hitchhiker on foot. So, he's pretending like he's hitchhiking. He entered the trailer, and he confronted Todd who offered him a roll of bills. "Here, let me give you some money."

Woody: [crosstalk] -makes up for banging your wife?

Jim: Yeah. Martin, he ignored that. He basically said, "I just want you to know my name."

Then, he shoots Todd twice in the chest.

Woody: Wow.

Jim: He proceeded to shoot three other people in the trailer. Woody: Wow.

Jim: Todd's bodyguard, he had a bodyguard, and two nude females. Woody: What?

Jim: They must have been doing something in there. [crosstalk] Come in, yeah. So, Martin inflicted multiple bullet wounds on each of those four. One of the women was first wounded in the abdomen. She told Martin she was in pain, begging him to finish her. He shot her in the head and killed her.

Woody: Wow.

Jim: Martin then took the roll of money to make it look like a robbery and left. Around 08:00 PM, he returns to Golden's home. He was excited. He asked Golden, he says, "Take a ride with me." During the ride, he tells Golden, "I killed four people at the restaurant." Martin said he had not touched anything, and although the authorities might suspect him, they had no proof that he committed those, although the fact that he told 1500 people. Martin confessed to four more people that night. He had told one of them, Pamela Wilson, that he had thrown the gun in the bayou. Martin was arrested a short time later. The sheriff who made the arrest told reporters that Martin appeared strung out on dope at the time, probably was. Martin's brother retained a Texas attorney with 10 years' criminal experience and some experience with capital cases. The attorney associated a Louisiana lawyer with limited criminal experience and no experience in capital offenses.

Woody: Most of the times, big shot attorneys come out of state, because they're not licensed to practice under Napoleonic code of law, they have to get local representation, and then they can take over the case and act under that guy's license.

Jim: Yeah. There you go. And that is definitely what happened here. And using the words, "Walk me or fry me," Martin told counsel in the first meeting to either seek a full acquittal or the death penalty. So, how do you like that? "Walk me or fry me." He didn't want to spend time in jail, in other words.

Woody: I got kind of respect for that, actually.

Jim: So, they decided to fry him. And David Martin was executed on January 4th, 1985. He was convicted, obviously, of all four of those murders. That's quadruple murder, y'all. All of them, of course, being shot to death. And that mobile home, in case you're curious, that was near a town called Homa, which is way down south.

Woody: [crosstalk] -down south actually, I drive through it every couple of weeks to go fishing.

Jim: Yeah. And he was for sure a drug addict, that came out during his trial. He made no final statement during his execution but a pardon board clemency hearing the afternoon before his death, Martin said, "To take someone's life is out of character for me. It's not David Martin. I am devastated of what I'm done, but I can't remember it. My life has been dedicated to saving lives, helping people, not destroying people. I know I wouldn't willingly take another person's life. Something bad went down, but it's not me. It wasn't right. I don't know. That's all." That's what he said.

Woody: Hey, idiot, you didn't just take one, you took four. That's a really, really interesting point. One of the mitigating circumstances in any death penalty case in the series I'm starting next week, I'm not going to give the name up yet. It's death penalty cases. And I don't get this, and I don’t understand and maybe they changed the law or something, but if you're high and you commit a death penalty infraction, if you will, then they can use that in a death penalty phase to get you off. I don't get that. I believe you chose to get fucking high, and whatever you did after that, you're still responsible for it.

Jim: Yeah. And another thing with that case is, and I notice this with a lot of cases, when you have a crime of passion of some sort, and even though this wasn't against-- was because of his wife, it wasn't against his wife. But it seems like these killings are more overboard. They're overkill, if you will.

Woody: He can't say he didn't plan it out because he bought bullets and he stole the gun. He told everybody.

Jim: Told everybody.

Woody: And I don't care how high you were, you weren't high for that long. But certainly raises some questions when-- not victim shaming or blaming, but homie had two bodyguards-- and two bodyguards?

Jim: Well, he had a bodyguard, two new females with him.

Woody: It must have been a titty bar or some-- I don't know. Shame that happened. He

didn't give any final last words, just to the pardon board.

Jim: Yeah, just to the pardon board. Nothing at the actual execution itself.

Woody: Yeah, well, very interesting. I did not know about the case. I may have to look into it some more one day. I have some good friends down there. And anytime you have something, especially from-- and Homa is not that small now, but an older crime like this, scenario like that, you can go to that town and find somebody that's of that age range and they'd be like, "Holy shit, I can tell you everything."

Jim: Oh, yeah. [crosstalk]

Woody: All right, let me take it to the next one. Ernest Knighton. Ernest Knighton, y'all, he was from Bossier Parish-- or the crime occurred in Bossier Parish, and Jim talked on the first one at Bossier Parish and Shreveport, they're just right across the river from each other, y'all. Literally, the river separates the two. And it's in the far northwestern corner of the state of Louisiana. Literally, when you leave Shreveport, I think it's like 15, 20 miles to the Texas line. But let me tell you about Ernest Knighton. And the facts are taken from the testimony of Mrs. Shell, who was the victim's wife, and are as follows.

Mr. and Mrs. Shell were working at the Fina Station on Benton and Shed Road in Bossier City between 8:00 and 8:30 PM. The defendant and another man, Anthony White, entered the station. White asked for a package of cigarettes and gave Mrs. Shell a dollar bill. This tells you how long ago, y'all, this was-- it was murder, it was on March 17th, 1981, I was 11. I don’t know if I was smoking yet, but I was probably getting really close. Dollar a pack, saying about right on the price. Anyway, he gave Mrs. Shell the dollar bill. When she returned his change, so they were even cheaper than a dollar, he walked around the service counter and told her, "This is a stick-up." Holding a gun, the defendant also went behind the counter and asked Mr. Shell where the money was kept. Ms. Shell, who had been talking on the telephone, went into the small room in the back of the station to retrieve the money and gave it to the defendant who had followed him into the room. Mrs. Shell heard a shot, Mr. Shell was wounded.

From her location, Mrs. Shell could not actually see her husband but said that he offered no resistance and said nothing to provoke defendant into shooting him. The defendant then ran out and told White to bring Mrs. Shell along with him. Anthony White grabbed Mrs. Shell who broke loose at the doorway, and retreated back inside the station and locked the door which then separated her from the two thieves. Mr. Shell died as a result of shock from blood loss from a single gunshot wound through the arm, abdomen, and chest. That's a hell of a shot.

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: Arm, abdomen, and chest. Maybe he was standing above him-- Jim: Somebody's-- like the John F. Kennedy [crosstalk] went into-- Woody: The magic bullet.

Jim: The governor--

Woody: He had to be above him or something, maybe he's getting out of the safe. That's the only way you can get that angle. That's crazy. Additional testimony by Wanda Smith, a woman who had driven with defendant, Anthony White and another man, Wayne Harris, to the Fina station, revealed that the defendant and White ran from the service station, jumped into the car, and had Wanda Smith drive to a motel and get a room. There, an argument over the money began. And waving the gun he used to shoot Mr. Shell, Earnest Knighton stated in Wanda's presence that, "The man's hand looked like it was fixing to move, so I had to shoot him." Y'all, that all comes from the trial, and naturally, he was found guilty.

Ernest Earnest Knighton, Jr. was executed on October 30th, 1984. Knighton was convicted of the shooting of death of Ralph Shell, a Bossier City service station proprietor, during an attempted robbery on March 17th, 1981. I want you to notice how fast these executions were. This is three years. And the longest one we did today was nine years. Now, they don't execute them anymore. We've covered the people have been on death row 28 years plus years like that. Fuck that, they just need to kill them.

So, they get Knighton into Gruesome Gertie, strap him down, and we told y'all about the tie-down teams and all that, and basically drug them in, strapped them down and they say, "Hey, dude--" they didn’t say dude, they read the death warrant.

Jim: No, they might have. [chuckles]

Woody: Yeah, right. They read the death warrant. "You've been sentenced to death by the State of Louisiana, da, da, da. Do you have any final words?" And this is what he said. He said, "I am sorry. More sorry than I can say Mr. Shell is dead and that I am responsible. I feel sorry for Mrs. Shell and all of Mr. Shell's family and friends. I feel sorry for my mother, my family, and everyone else who will grieve for me. I have asked God to forgive me. I have to say that what you are doing is wrong. If I thought my death would bring back Mr. Shell or save someone else from a murder, I would volunteer. But I know it won't work. You don't teach respect for life by killing. I urge you not to kill anyone else. I ask God to forgive you for killing me. And I now ask God in the name of Jesus to receive my spirit."

Jim: He had me on the first part, lost me on the second. Woody: I know, right?

Jim: I'm glad he took responsibility and admitted.

Woody: And when he started in on the "I forgive you for killing me," they're doing their job, dude. They didn't make you go into that bank and rob them and all that. I don't know, but at least he tried to say something. But let's talk about the death penalty for a minute. When I was in college and studying criminal justice, they talked about criminal deterrence. How do you stop crime? The ultimate one being the death penalty. But the studies have proven, for a crime deterrent to be effective, it has to be swift and certain. Meaning that if you leave here today and you go and Lori Johnson, best banging chick in the world, Hancock Whitney, right down the street, that's where I do all my shit. But if you go in that bank and you kill someone, you're on camera, you're going to get convicted, etc. But nowadays, you're going to go sit for 28 years and appeals on death row and all that, it's not effective as a deterrent.

Now, let's take it we don't live in this world, let's put you in Woody's world. If you walked in the bank and you did it, and they caught your ass and they put you to the nearest tree and strung you the fuck up, that's going to stop the normal person. A lock keeps an honest man honest. That would certainly deter people more than what you do now because even like the Manson murderers, dude got out of prison yesterday, or the chick got out of prison yesterday. But it has to be swift and certain. The problem with our justice system is it is nothing if not slow.

Jim: Yeah. The wheels of justice turn slow, as they say, and I agree 100%. And they have a lot of technology now that they didn't have then. Look, we have another series that we do every now and then that talks about exonerations, and certainly those happen. Certainly, you never want to think about people being sentenced to death that did not commit a crime, but it's happened.

Woody: I'm sure it's happened. Well, they probably committed some crime. It's not that one.

Jim: Right. So, it certainly does happen. But the good thing about technology these days is it's almost impossible to get away with something very long like it used to be. And I think about serial killers in particular because DNA has come so far. You almost can't breathe on somebody without being able to figure out who it was.

Woody: And when I started, we couldn't even get DNA done, but I'll take it a step further and it trips me out, because I think about it every day, everywhere I go, because of what you told me. And that is that you're on camera up to--

Jim: It's like 46 times per day on average.

Woody: On average. So, everywhere you go, you're on camera. But now, that's 46 average. If you go somewhere and you're showing your ass, look how many videos are going viral. Everybody wants to shoot a video and post shit. Not only advances in technology and DNA and forensics, and the familial DNA, and just everything. The computers they use to reenact crime scenes, and trace the bullets and everything else, all this technology as it gets better, but you also have all these cameras and people are more aware. And you have social media now which, shit, you didn't have back in 80s. The internet wasn't invented.

Jim: Yeah. When you're looking for a suspect, the sheriff's office can just post that on social media and automatically thousands and thousands of people see it. Back in the day, when Woody was doing cases, you had to go door to door sometimes.

Woody: You had to go to door every time, and you waited and you had to haul ass. I can tell you so many cases that I had to haul ass to Channel 2, Channel 33, and Channel 9 to get them the press release before they went on air at 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock, or whatever, just before Fox was even in Baton Rouge. That was it. That’s all you had. And you only have a small percentage of the population that watches the fucking news, the local news.

Jim: Yeah. Great point.

Woody: And I agree with you, certainly we don't want anybody to be wrongfully executed. And we've talked about and given shoutouts on the stories that people who have been exonerated. But as the technology advances, as the DNA advances, so do the crimes, and the defenses for the crimes, meaning that there's no more respect for life. Everybody just thinks you pull the trigger and there's no consequence. They have never worked a homicide scene. They've never had to sit with a crying family and all that. But more importantly, the defense, because all these trials and all these cases have come in years before, these lawyers are learning about it in law school. And if you choose to do the criminal path, you're going to know about it. And all these cases have been cited. So, you have volumes and volumes and volumes of more information, just like the DNA is so far advanced now and all these other crime fighting techniques, the defense has so many more techniques to use against prosecution. And that's why we got people, like one guy who's the second longest living on death row, and damn it, I can't remember his name, he and his lover murdered that little boy and raped him right here-- [crosstalk]

Jim: Yeah. You did a--

Woody: -on the river. And I did a story on that, but he's been on death row like 29 years now. The other dude, his accomplice was on death row, fuck, he died of natural causes. This dude's like 80 years old now, something like that. So, it is what it is. And we want to bring y'all this series. And Jim's got one more, and then the [unintelligible 00:38:50] series will be locked up for patron members.

Jim: Patron members. So, we're going to tell you about Elmo Sonnier. Woody: [crosstalk]

Jim: Yeah. And many of you, it may click, and we'll tell you after we do this particular segment and why it did click for you. And Elmo Sonnier was executed in 1984 by electrocution, Gruesome Gertie. Give you the facts of the case.

On the evening of November 4, 1977, David LeBlanc, who was 16, and Loretta, and Bourque, who was 18, attended a high school football game. Later that evening, the couple, they go park in a remote area in St. Martin Parish. Look, back in those days, that was parking. You take your girlfriend, and you go somewhere and you make out a little bit.

Woody: [crosstalk] LSU lakes and call it the submarine races.

Jim: [laughs]

Woody: "What are you doing here, son?" "Watching submarine races."

Jim: Watching submarine races, yeah. So, they go parking, I guess you could say. That area of St. Martin Parish, it was kind of like a lover's lane. That's kind of where everybody-- it was pretty little lake and the girls would feel romantic. I think it was romantic or whatnot. Later that night, approximately 01:00 AM, Elmo Patrick and Eddie James Sonnier were rabbit hunting together, and they come across a couple's car. Rabbit hunting at night, huh, Woody?

Woody: Yeah, right. That’s not legal.

Jim: Yeah. [laughs] Using a badge one of the brothers had obtained while working as a security guard and both armed with .22 caliber rifles, the two approach and enter LeBlanc's car. The victims were informed they were trespassing and that they would have to be brought to the landowner to determine if that landowner wanted to press charges. This is young kids. So, they believe that. They also confiscate each teen's driver's license to kind of further their act of, "We are the cops." Ms. Bourque and Mr. LeBlanc were then handcuffed and placed in the back seat of their own car.

Woody: And they brought handcuffs too.

Jim: Brought handcuffed, which tells you, [crosstalk] this wasn't their first rodeo. Leaving their own car behind, the Sonnier brothers take the teens' car and they basically drive the couple 21 miles to a remote oilfield located in Iberia Parish. And Iberia Parish, this is oilfield country. Everybody just about in Iberia Parish works in the oilfields.

Woody: Except for Tabasco.

Jim: Yeah, except for Tabasco. That's right. The other famous Iberia employer. Now, this is an area that was well known to the defendants. Once at the oilfield, both victims were removed from the car. David LeBlanc was taken into the woods, and they handcuffed him to a tree. Loretta Bourque was taken a short distance away, and she was raped by Elmo Sonnier. She then reluctantly agreed to have intercourse with Eddie Sonnier on the condition that they will release her and Mr. LeBlanc afterwards. Upon completion of the rapes, Patrick Sonnier removed the handcuffs and brought them back to the road where they were parked. At that point, Patrick Sonnier told his brother, he starts freaking out, and he says, "I'm going to be sent back to Angola," that’s the exact quote, he had done some time in Angola, should the victims notify police. So, David LeBlanc, Loretta Bourque, were then forced to lie side by side, face down, and each were shot three times at close range in the back of the head. So, execution style, pretty much.

The Sonniers then drove LeBlanc's vehicle back to the original site where the couple was first accosted in order to pick up their own vehicle. Remember, they left that at the scene.

They get there and the car has a flat tire. The brothers use a jack from the LeBlanc's vehicle, and this is important. They use that jack to apply a spare tire. And that jack was later seized by police from the trunk of Sonnier's car. So, there's your evidence. These two rocket scientists use a jack.

Woody: And then, put it in the--[crosstalk]

Jim: In their own car, yeah. Dumbass. The brothers then destroyed the victim's driver's license. And the following day, the rifles, they dispose of those, they actually buried them in remote areas. Investigations also revealed that between $30 and $40 were stolen from the victims prior to the arrest. They noticed this money missing, and of course, they tied that back to them. The Sonniers were arrested on December 5th 1977, following a tip from a local man who reported seeing the blue Dodge Dart parked in a remote area during the early morning hours of November 5th. They were advised of their rights, taken to the sheriff's office in New Iberia. And there, Patrick Sonnier, he starts singing like a canary, signs, verbal and written confessions, and was transferred to the parish prison. While en route, he starts making other statements to the officer. So, he's singing. The following day, he even agrees to let him videotape a confession. And all three statements indicated that Patrick had participated in the abduction and had personally shot them.

The police, after the basic directions from Patrick Sonnier, recovered the two rifles that he buried. Ballistic test indicated that the bullets taken from the victim's head and brass casings were from that actual rifle. So, they've got everything they need. The defendant and his brother, they get indicted on two accounts of first-degree murder. And in 1978, they basically go to court. Of course, they plead not guilty because they have nothing to lose, but they do get convicted, and they get executed. I'm going to read you just a Times-Picayune, which Times-Picayune is the--

Woody: Major newspaper from New Orleans. Jim: Right. Huge, huge newspaper there. Woody: New Orleans and Mississippi area.

Jim: And in 1984, they got executed. Sonnier gets executed for that double murder. And this is Elmo Sonnier. He was convicted of the slayings of Loretta Bourque and her fiancé, David LeBlanc. He was the third person executed in Louisiana in four months at that time. Robert Wayne Williams was executed December 14th for killing a Baton Rouge supermarket guard. And he was the first person executed since 1961. So, there was a big delay between '61 and--

Woody: Yeah, they put the moratorium on it.

Jim: Yeah. So basically, when they got out of that moratorium, they started executing

everybody. We got some people waiting in line. Woody: Tired of feeding you.

Jim: That's right. And at that time, Woody and listeners, Ross Maggio was the warden at Angola. And he said that Sonnier spent his last day with Sister Helen Prejean, a New Orleans nun who served as a spiritual advisor and a female friend who was a lawyer but not involved in his case. The condemned man ate a steak dinner and was kept up to date as the five courts turned down his 11th hour pleas of stay. So, when you get executed, you basically, that last 24 hours of spent by your attorneys trying to get everyone to stay your execution. So, he didn't have any of that and they went on with it.

As he was led to the execution chamber, he looked at LeBlancs, and Mr. LeBlanc, the father basically of LeBlanc that was shot and killed. He says, "I can understand the way you feel. I have no hatred in my heart as I leave this world and I ask God to forgive what I have done." He then asked LeBlanc for forgiveness. Immediately after, Godfrey Bourque, the father of the other victim, who also witnessed, said, "He didn't ask me," which is-- he obviously and rightfully felt offended for that.

Both fathers sat expressionless with their arms crossed as the execution was carried out. They declined to talk to reporters afterwards. Sonnier last words were addressed to Prejean. He said, "I love you," and she replies, "I love you too." Sonnier, wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt, was then strapped to the death chair. Witnesses said he appeared to be smiling. At 12:07, his body was jolted with 2000 volts-

Woody: Light it up.

Jim: -of electricity, followed by 500 volts for 10 seconds. The 2000 volts was for 20. The sequence was repeated, and there was no movement after the second jolt. So, as Woody has told us in the past on this show, they don't just lift that lever and jolt you one time. They leave it up, pull it down, leave it up, pull it down.

Woody: And 20 seconds is a long time.

Jim: It's a long time, man. But his victims didn't even get that last 20 seconds. Sick.

Woody: Can you imagine laying side by side and you pretty much know they're going to kill you, but then you hear three shots from one rifle and whoever the boy or the girl got shot first, what was the other one thinking? I mean, you know you're dead.

Jim: Yeah. You went to your death scared to death. And that's just horrible. And so, you may have obviously, recognized Helen Prejean if you've listened to our show. These brothers, the Sonnier brothers, as well as Robert Wayne Williams, that was the character for Dead Man Walking, basically, where they based that character was really off of two separate people. In the opening scenes of Dead Man Walking, that's where it shows that lover's lane murder that we just told you about. And so, it was a real deal, Sister Helen Prejean, real person, she's still alive to this day. And regardless of where you sit on the death penalty, her heart's in the right place. I don't fault her. We may not see eye to eye on certain things, but I think she's a wonderful human being and still alive to this day.

Woody: Yeah, she is. We'd love to have you on the show.

Jim: Yeah. If you happen to be listening, Sister Prejean, we'd love to have you on and share

your views.

Woody: If one of y'all listeners know her, yeah, that would be a great show.

Jim: Yeah, it really would. So, if you know her out there and get word to her that we love-- we come to her if she needs us to, no problem. And so, that is a wrap on that series. For you patron members, just a few that we're going to do just for you guys. The final, I think it's four or five that we have left to feature on that series just for you guys. And we saved some good ones for you patron members.

Woody: And if you want to become a patron, go to Patreon and type in Bloody Angola. Jim: Yup.

Woody: Right.

Jim: That's all you got to do, it'll pull it up. We have several different tiers, of course. I know a lot of y'all like those transcriptions. We do transcribe all those episodes just for patron members. And we put them in PDF format so you can download those. You can actually print them out and you can read them like a book. Some people like to read.

Woody: Yeah, I still like to read too. I think that's a pretty genius idea.

Jim: Absolutely. And don't forget, as we mentioned at the beginning, vote, vote, vote.

Woody: Hey, mom. I know you're listening to this because you love Bloody Angola, and I know you read every single night. My mom likes it--

Jim: Love it.

Woody: She's in her early-- well, I won't tell her age, but she works out every day still. But

she listens to us when she works out.

Jim: Ms. Overton, we appreciate you. Thank you. Woody: But she likes to read more.

Jim: Yeah, she's a sharp lady.

Woody: Mom, you can get the PDF of transcripts. Jim: That's right.

Woody: We love all y'all. Thank you so much. We appreciate you. You rock. Thank you again for getting us nominated for Best History Podcast, and then, the overall best in the world, Adam Curry's People's Choice. Go to podcastawards.com and vote for us if you would, please. We only got, I think, less than two weeks left.

Jim: Yeah.

Woody: Hey, just to be nominated is fire. To make the finals would be sweet. To win it all--

Jim: Blessing. Total blessing. And we love you, appreciate you all, y'all very much. Until next time, I'm Jim Chapman.

Woody: And I'm Woody Overton.

Jim: Your host of Bloody-

Woody: -Angola.

Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: The complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim and Woody: Peace.


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