Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, October 13, 1999



AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Jerry Walter McFadden who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, October 14th.


The crime spree at issue covered two counties in northeast Texas. Specifically, it involved an area between Ore City and Lake Hawkins. Lake Hawkins and the city of Hawkins are approximately 42 miles to the southwest of Ore City. Barnwell Mountain Park and Gilmer fall between the two. Barnwell Mountain Park is about 16 miles southwest of Ore City while Gilmer is another 4 miles in the same direction.

Around 6 p.m. on May 4, 1986, Suzanne Harrison left her house with Gina Turner and Brian Boone to have dinner at Allen's restaurant in Hawkins. After dinner, she returned home at approximately 7 p.m. and told her mother that she was going to "ride around" with her friends and that she wouldn't be gone long. She was wearing a pair of red shorts and a red sweater. Boone's pickup was found abandoned on May 5, 1986, at 1:20 a.m. in a parking area on Lake Hawkins. Harrison's and Turner's purses were discovered in the vehicle. The next day, Harrison's bruised and strangled body was found in Upshur County by a cleanup crew at Barnwell Mountain Park. Her shorts were found close to her body along with a black and white pair that Turner was wearing the last time she was seen. Meanwhile, the bodies of Brian Boone and Gina Turner were not discovered until May 10, 1986, in a ditch approximately one mile from Ore City. Boone had been shot twice and Turner once.

Clifton and Denise Phillips, who previously knew McFadden, testified that he approached them at Lake Hawkins on the evening of May 4, 1986. At around 6:30 p.m., McFadden stuck a blue steel revolver into the passenger compartment of the Phillips' vehicle and demanded money. They recalled that it was a blue steel, .357 or .38 caliber revolver with shiny, brass colored bullets. McFadden then told the Phillips' that he was intent on harassing someone, and it was either them or another group of individuals at the lake. The Phillips' stated that they could see the license plate on McFadden's blue and white truck. Although partially obstructed by dirt, they could tell it read 784-BW___. This was shown to match the first five digits of McFadden's license plate.

David Lee Marsh testified that he was pulling weeds between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. in his front yard. He lives by Lake Hawkins. During this time frame, he saw McFadden drive by his house in a blue and white Bronco. He also testified that he saw the vehicle pass by in the opposite direction approximately one hour later. Marsh subsequently identified McFadden from a photo line-up as the sole person in the Bronco.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., McFadden was seen by Gregory Boykin and Levida Pace. They testified that he drove past Pace's house on the northeast side of Lake Hawkins while they were sitting on the porch. They saw the truck again the same night around 8:00 p.m. at an area of the lake known as Small Beach. Brian Boone was in the front seat, staring straight ahead. Although he knew Greg Boykin from school, he failed to acknowledge Boykin's hand wave. The couple believed they saw two or three other individuals in the vehicle but could not identify them.

Tim Emerson testified that he returned home from a party at around 3 a.m. on May 5, 1986. He lives approximately one mile from Ore City and seven-tenths of a mile from where Boone's and Turner's bodies were found. About 15 minutes after arriving at his house, he heard two gunshots: two in succession, then a third shortly thereafter. His father, Maynard Emerson, confirmed hearing the same shots. Maynard also testified that he heard a vehicle pass by at a high rate of speed four or five minutes after hearing the shots. The badly decomposed bodies of Boone and Turner were discovered on May 10, 1986, less than one mile from the Emerson household. Boone had been shot twice while Turner only once.

McFadden was arrested on May 6, 1986, while driving a white over blue Ford Bronco with the same license plate description as that given by the Phillips'. Fingerprints and fiber samples recovered from the Bronco were sent to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas for analysis. Hairs found on McFadden's clothing along with a red cotton ramie fiber recovered from under McFadden's fingernail were also sent.

Timothy Fallon of the Institute for Forensic Sciences performed the analysis on the items submitted to the Institute. He testified that one of the hairs recovered from McFadden's clothing matched Suzanne Harrison's head hair in all physical and observable characteristics. Furthermore, a color spectrograph analysis revealed that the red dye in the fiber found under McFadden's fingernail was the same type applied to the fiber found in the sweater Suzanne Harrison was wearing on the day of her death. Additionally, the fiber was the same in appearance and type as the sweater fiber.

Three semen stains were recovered from Harrison's clothing. Dr. Moses Schanfield, a forensic geneticist and expert in human blood typing, conducted blood type comparisons on semen samples recovered on her clothing and blood samples and semen samples recovered from her body. He did the same with blood and semen samples recovered from McFadden and Brian Boone. Based on his analysis, Dr. Schanfield concluded that the panty stain A and the stain on the shorts came from one ejaculation while panty stain B came from a separate ejaculation. He also concluded that the phenotypes in panty stain A and the stain on the shorts were consistent with semen donated from McFadden and Brian Boone, while the possibility of a third, unrelated person being the donor was only 4.2% of the male population. Additionally, Schanfield testified that the phenotypes on panty stain B were consistent with McFadden but not consistent with Brian Boone. He added that the possibility of a third, unrelated person causing panty stain B was 23% of the white male population.

Bullets recovered from Brian Boone's body were .38 caliber. None were recovered from Turner, however a pathologist stated that the entry wound was consistent with a .38 caliber firearm. The condition of her body prevented a determination of whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Investigator Tim Phillips of the Upshur County Sheriff's Department testified that he and an investigator named Henderson later fired shots into the ditch where the bodies were found. He said that one could easily hear the gunshots from the Emerson household.

Debbie West testified that she had been romantically involved with McFadden up until his arrest. She stated that she kept a .38 caliber RG 31 revolver in her car and the revolver was missing one day after Suzanne Harrison's murder. McFadden knew West had the handgun. Additionally, he had been in her car three days prior to the murder. She further testified that the gun was loaded with copper-tipped military ball bullets. She provided some spent ammunition from the gun to the police. A firearms examiner from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences testified they were the same type and from the same manufacturer as those removed from Brian Boone's body. He also determined that the bullets were all fired from a .38 caliber handgun with eight lands and grooves with a right hand twist. These characteristics were consistent with a RG 31 revolver. A metal analysis expert with the FBI testified that the bullets recovered from Boone and the ones provided by Debbie West came from the same batch made by the manufacturer.

Evidence was also presented reflecting McFadden's post-arrest behavior. First, McFadden escaped from the Upshur County jail and fled through the East Texas woods. Additionally, an inmate who was in prison with McFadden testified that while they were in prison he asked McFadden if they had found the murder weapon used in connection with the crimes. McFadden, holding up his hands, replied "They can't get these." McFadden then added, "No witnesses, no evidence."


In December 1986, an Upshur County grand jury indicted McFadden for the intentional murder of Suzanne Denise Harrison while in the course of committing an aggravated sexual assault, a capital offense. After venue was transferred from Upshur County to Bell County, McFadden was tried before a jury upon a plea of not guilty. On July 14, 1987, the jury found him guilty of the capital offense. Following a separate punishment hearing, the same jury on the same day answered affirmatively the two special issues submitted and in accordance with Texas law, the trial court (the 27th Judicial District Court of Bell County, Texas) imposed a sentence of death.

McFadden's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on May 26, 1993. A motion for rehearing was denied November 3, 1993. McFadden did not seek further review to the United States Supreme Court.

The trial court subsequently scheduled McFadden's execution for December 15, 1995. On December 6, 1995, McFadden filed an application for stay of execution and motion for appointment of counsel in order to file an application for state habeas relief. Both requests were granted on December 12, 1995, and, on October 21, 1996, McFadden filed an application for state habeas relief in the trial court, raising three claims for relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied the application on January 22, 1997. McFadden did not seek further review to the United States Supreme Court.

On January 29, 1997, McFadden filed a successive application for state habeas relief in the trial court. The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the application as an abuse of the writ on March 12, 1997. McFadden did not seek further review to the United States Supreme Court.

On March 18, 1997, McFadden filed a motion for appointment of counsel in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. On April 21, 1997, the district court granted the State's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. McFadden then filed a federal habeas petition in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. On March 6, 1998, the district court denied McFadden's request for federal habeas relief.

After full briefing by the parties, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief in a published opinion delivered on January 29, 1999. Rehearing was denied on June 11, 1999. McFadden then sought review to the United States Supreme Court. The matter is pending before the Court.


At the punishment phase of trial, the State introduced evidence of McFadden's prior convictions. These included two separate convictions for rapes in 1973, in which McFadden plead guilty, and another for aggravated sexual abuse in 1981, to which he also plead guilty. 30 SR 20-21. Regarding this last conviction, McFadden stipulated that he abducted and raped the victim under threats of death.


There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use connected with the instant offense.


10/21/1999 Pedro Sosa (Atascosa County)
10/28/1999 Domingo Cantu, Jr. (Dallas County)
11/17/1999 John Michael Lamb (Hunt County)
12/08/1999 David Martin Long (Dallas County)
12/14/1999 Robert Ronald Atworth (Dallas County)
01/12/2000 Earl Carl Heiselbetz, Jr. (Sabine County)
01/13/2000 Johnny Paul Penry (Polk County)
01/25/2000 Glen Charles McGinnis (Montgomery County)


If this execution is carried out, and if Alvin Wayne Crane is executed on October 12, 1999, it will be the 191st execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 27th since General Cornyn took office.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Kristy Bates of the Attorney General's Capital Litigation Division.

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050