Monday, November 13, 2000
Johnny Paul Penry Is Scheduled To Be Executed
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on
Johnny Paul Penry who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, November 16th.
Penry was convicted and sentenced to death for the October 1979 rape and murder of 22-year
old Pamela Carpenter, in Livingston, Texas.
At the time of Pamela Carpenter's rape and murder, Penry had been on parole less than three
months for another rape he committed in 1977.
Penry first saw Carpenter when he went to her home in early October with another man to
help install new appliances Carpenter and her husband had purchased. In his confession to
police, Penry admitted to being attracted to Carpenter when he saw her and that he thought of
her often after seeing her in early October. Penry also admitted to noticing that Carpenter
kept money in her purse, which would later be another motive he stated for going to
On the morning of October 25, 1979, Penry went to Carpenter's house after seeing a woman
that reminded him of Carpenter. According to his confession, before Penry got to the door of
the home, he opened his pocket knife and placed it in his back pocket. He then knocked on
the door. When Carpenter answered, Penry asked her if her husband was home. When
Carpenter replied no, Penry asked if he could come in and look at the new stove he had
helped install. When Carpenter refused and told Penry to leave, he forced himself into her
home, held his pocket knife at her side, and pushed her into the kitchen.
Carpenter began to scream and knocked the knife out of Penry's hand. Penry and Carpenter
then struggled with each other. In the process, Penry told Carpenter to stop screaming or he
would cut her throat. Carpenter was able to grab a pair of scissors and stab Penry in the back.
The struggle continued as Penry dragged Carpenter into her bedroom. When Carpenter tried
to get away, Penry tripped her. Penry then ordered Carpenter to take off her clothes. When
she refused, he kicked her two or three times in the side. Carpenter then took off her clothes
and Penry raped her. After the rape, Penry grabbed the scissors Carpenter had stabbed him
with. He told her that he was going to kill her because, as Penry said in his confession, he
thought "she would squeal on me." Penry then stabbed Carpenter in the chest. He then ran
out of Carpenter's home.
Pamela Carpenter managed to call a friend to say that she had been raped and stabbed.
Before Carpenter died at the hospital, she told doctors that she had been stabbed with scissors
and she gave a description of her attacker that matched Penry.
Later in the day, police found Penry with two fresh puncture wounds on his back that
appeared to be consistent with being stabbed by scissors, the murder weapon Carpenter told
doctors Penry had used to stab her. After first lying to police, saying he got the wounds by
falling off his bike, Penry told police, "I want to get it off my conscience, I done it."
- Penry signed two statements confessing to the rape and murder of Pamela Carpenter.
- Puncture wounds found on Penry's back were consistent with being stabbed by
scissors, the murder weapon Pamela Carpenter told doctors Penry stabbed her with.
- Carpenter sustained numerous injuries including a deep puncture wound to the chest,
ruptured kidney, and numerous cuts and bruises, all of which were consistent with
Penry's account of the violent sexual assault.
- The issue of Penry's mental capacity has been presented to four separate juries
and each jury found Penry to be legally competent to stand trial and/or rejected
defenses based upon Penry's alleged mental retardation.
- Penry's mother testified at the first competency trial for the defense. The basis of her
testimony centered around the fact that Penry had a troubled childhood and described
incidents where Penry abused his siblings. There was little if any discussion by Penry's
mother about his mental capacity.
- Dr. Kenneth Vogstberger, a board certified psychiatrist affiliated with Deep East
Texas Regional Mental Health/Mental Retardation services, testified at the first
competency trial that Penry was competent to stand trial and possessed no serious
mental disease or defect. Dr. Vogstberger also stated that Penry had a good
understanding of the nature of the charges against him and the trial proceedings. Dr.
Vogtsberger also testified that Penry knew the difference between right and wrong.
- Defense expert Dr. Randall Price testified under cross-examination at Penry's second
trial that there had never been any objective medical evidence that Penry suffers from
any brain damage or impairment. Price also stated that Penry knows the difference
between right and wrong and would be a dangerous person in the free world.
- Dr. Stanton Samenow, a psychologist who testified during the punishment phase of
Penry's second trial, stated that Penry is aggressive, violent and dangerous. He also
testified that Penry's history of anti-social criminal behavior showed that he
possessed an ability to scheme, plan, and be purposefully deceptive.
- March 1980 - Penry found legally competent to stand trial.
- April 1980 - Penry is convicted and sentenced to death.
- January 1985 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Penry's conviction and sentence.
- January 1986 - U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review.
- May 1986 - Court of Criminal Appeals denied state habeas relief.
- April 1987 - United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
denied federal habeas relief.
- November 1987 - Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's
decision to deny habeas relief.
- June 1989 - U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Fifth Circuit's decision and
ordered a new trial so that a jury could consider Penry's mitigation evidence during
deliberations on punishment.
- May 1990 - Penry found legally competent to stand trial. (Second time)
- July 1990 - Penry retried in Walker County and found guilty.
- February 22, 1995 - Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the July 1990 conviction.
- November 13, 1995 - U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review.
- December 3, 1997 - Court of Criminal Appeals denied Penry's application for
state habeas relief.
- March 30, 1999 - Federal district court denied relief and denied permission to
appeal based on Penry's petition for federal habeas relief.
- June 20, 2000 - Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied permission to appeal.
- July 25, 2000 - Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied rehearing.
- Penry's writ of certiorari is pending with the U.S. Supreme Court. His clemency
petition is also pending before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
- In February 1977, Penry raped Diana Koch in Livingston, Texas. Koch testified that
as she was getting out of her car to enter a department store in downtown Livingston,
Penry forced his way into her car. Penry told Koch that his brother had been in an
accident and asked her to take him to the accident scene down the road.
Koch, although hesitant, began to drive down the road. As they drove, Koch became
worried and reached down to use the CB radio in her car. When she did so, she saw
that the wires had been cut. Penry then put a knife to Koch's ribs, pulled her head
back by her hair and told her to keep driving. Penry then forced Koch to drive off the
road in a remote area and forced her to take off her clothes at knife point. Penry then
After raping her, Penry tried to drive off, but the car got stuck on a dirt road,
forcing Penry and Koch to walk. As they walked, Penry kept the knife at Koch's side.
A pickup approached them and Penry told the driver "my wife and I need a
ride." Penry and Koch then climbed into the back of the truck.
When the driver of the truck stopped at a small store, Koch began screaming for help.
Penry tried to persuade people looking, that his "wife" was "throwing a tantrum."
Koch kept screaming, which led two men to hold a gun on Penry until sheriffs arrived
at the scene. Penry later pled guilty to raping Koch. He received a five year prison
sentence, of which he served about half before being released on parole in August
of 1979. He was on parole for less than three months before he raped and killed
- At Penry's second trial, several prison guards at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville testified
about incidents where Penry beat up and threatened other inmates and guards with
various homemade prison weapons. They also testified about Penry having an
aggressive and violent reputation among inmates and guards.
- After the jury returned its verdict in Penry's first trial, Penry had to be restrained
when he attempted to physically attack the prosecutor.
12/05/2000 Garry Dean Miller (Jones County)
12/06/2000 Daniel Joe Hittle (Dallas County)
12/07/2000 Claude Howard Jones (San Jacinto County)
01/09/2001 Jack Wade Clark (Lubbock County)
01/18/2001 Alvin Goodwin (Montgomery County)
01/22/2001 Steven Anthony Butler (Harris County)
04/03/2001 Jason Eric Massey (Ellis County)
If this execution is carried out, it will be the 237th execution since executions resumed in
Texas in December 1982 and the 73rd since Attorney General Cornyn took office.
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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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