Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Friday, March 30, 2001
Jason Eric Massey Scheduled To Be Executed
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Jason Eric Massey who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3rd.
On Oct. 6, 1994, Massey was found guilty of the capital offense of murdering Brian King and Christina Benjamin, that occurred in Ellis County, Texas, on July 27, 1993. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
In the early morning hours of July 27, 1993, James King was awakened by the sound of a car pulling up to his house, beeping its horn twice and driving away. When the car passed by again, he looked out his window and observed a tan car turn off its headlights and park in front of his house. King got out of bed and went to the front door. Looking outside, he saw his 14-year old son, Brian, approach the car on foot and talk to the people in the car. At this point, King went to the restroom. When he returned, both Brian and the car were gone.
King waited for about an hour for his son to return before going back to bed. When he got up the next morning, King found that Brian and his 13-year old stepdaughter, Christina, were not in the house. King woke his common-law wife, Donna Benjamin, and although worried, they decided to wait to see if they would return home. When the children did not appear, James and Donna searched for them and subsequently filed a missing persons report.
Approximately 10 days earlier, Christopher Nowlin had been riding in a car with Jason Massey, who was 20 years old and lived in Canton, Texas. Nowlin convinced Massey to drive over to see Christina, a friend of Nowlin's. Massey flirted with Christina, and she told him that she would like to "sneak out" sometime. Massey agreed, and told Christina that he would drive by her house around midnight some night and honk his horn and that she was to go to the old Fina station on I-45 and wait. When Massey and Nowlin left Christina's house, Massey told Nowlin in sexually explicit language what he wanted to do to Christina, including killing her and cutting her up. Nowlin testified that he didn't pay much attention to what Massey said, because it was weird and Massey talked about killing girls all the time.
On July 29, 1993, law enforcement authorities found two bodies in a field near Telico, in Ellis County. The first body discovered was that of a nude female whose head and hands were missing. She had been shot in the back and parts of her body mutilated. When the authorities began searching for the victim's missing body parts they discovered the body of a young boy, identified as Brian King. Two small caliber bullets were later removed from his brain and the cause of death was determined to be multiple gunshot wounds to the head. No other wounds were discovered on his body.
It was more difficult to identify Christina. A deep wound transected her torso like an autopsy incision, exposing her internal organs. Due to the extensive nature of her injuries and several days of decomposition in the intense summer heat, initial identification was impossible. Eventually, the body was confirmed to be Christina's based on recent hospital records.
Based on samples of fly larvae from both bodies, it was estimated that Brian and Christina had been killed between the late evening of July 26, 1993, and the morning of July 27, 1993. Bullet fragments recovered from both bodies appeared to be .22 caliber in size.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Massey's cousin owned a .22 caliber pistol that he stored at his grandmother's house before leaving on a trip. Massey took the gun unbeknownst to his cousin. Several witnesses testified to seeing the gun on Massey's person. The Walmart sales clerk, who sold bullets for a .22 caliber gun, two knives, and handcuffs to Massey, picked him out of a line-up after his arrest.
Late in July, the owner of a local car wash observed Massey pull in about 11:30 p.m. in a tan-colored Subaru. Massey dumped items in the trash bin and started to back out, but stopped when he saw the owner watching him. He pulled his car back into a bay and started vacuuming. Shortly after this incident, the owner recognized Massey's picture in the paper as someone who might be involved with the murders. A search of the car wash trash bin and vacuum containers resulted in discovery of a red bandana with blond hair on it, broken car glass, and a payroll receipt from Kentucky Fried Chicken with Massey's name on it.
Police searched Massey's house and found two newspaper articles about the murders, handcuffs and a knife box. After a search of Massey's car, the console, steering wheel, step to the car, and spots in the passenger seat tested positive for blood, as did a knife in the glove box and items in the trunk, including duct tape, tissue paper, electrical tape, a wrench, a screwdriver, a denim shirt, the head of a hammer, and a jacket. DNA testing revealed a genetic match between Christina's blood and the blood found on the car seat, duct tape and hammer.
A subsequent comparison of blond hairs found in the car, hairs on the red bandana recovered from the car wash and hairs found near Christina at the crime scene revealed a microscopic match. Carpet fibers from Massey's car matched a fiber found on one of Brian's shoes. In addition, hair found on Brian's pant leg was microscopically matched with Massey's. An arrest warrant was issued; when placed under arrest, Massey smiled. He was indicted for the capital offense of murder of two persons. He pled not guilty, but was convicted by a jury on Oct. 6, 1994.
PUNISHMENT EVIDENCE/PRIOR HISTORY
A State witness testified that while on a walk in the woods, he had come across a cooler containing animal skulls and jaw bones and journals encased in plastic labeled "Slayer's Book of Death," volumes 1-4. The journals were labeled, "the thoughts of Jason Massey."
A former friend testified that Massey had spoken many times about killing dogs, cats, and cows, and remarked that Massey had a fascination with setting fires. This witness relayed that Massey had told him that he killed because of the "adrenaline rush, a high, a turn on, a love to mutilate." He also described Massey's subsequent armed robbery of a fast food restaurant and the detailed journals that Massey kept.
A State psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth Dekleva, described his June 1991 examination of Massey. Massey's mother had brought him in for evaluation after discovering two of his journals and becoming very disturbed by their content. Dekleva's review of the journals revealed Massey's desire to begin a "sacred journey" as a serial killer. In the journals, Massey listed the names of several girls he wanted to kill and stated that he wanted to engrave his name on society. He also wrote about his desire to lash out at society and to reap immense sorrow and suffering. Massey described his very violent and sadistic fantasies and expressed a desire to read about criminal and police procedures to eliminate the possibility of getting caught for his intended crimes.
Dekleva testified that the most alarming thing from Massey's journal entries was the apparent shift from fantasy to more deliberate planning, including the purchasing of weapons. After his evaluation, Dekleva concluded that Massey was suffering from anti-social personality disorder and that he represented an imminent threat to others. Dekleva, therefore, had Massey committed to the Dallas Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. Dekleva testified that there were no successful treatments for someone like Massey, that such individuals pose a lasting threat to society and are at an extraordinarily high risk of killing again and again.
Massey's ninth-grade teacher and a former seventh-grade classmate testified to Massey's extremely disturbing behavior, both stating that his comments often centered around killing. His teacher testified that Massey idolized Charles Manson, and his classmate described the threatening phone calls and letters she received from him describing dreams of killing her. The classmate's dog had been killed and mutilated and the blood smeared on her car. In subsequent testimony it was noted that Massey had written about this incident in his journal.
The State showed that in the late spring of 1993, Massey was stopped by Ennis police. Marijuana, a Persian cat with a rope around its neck, a three-prong knife and diary that listed names with check marks next to them were found in his car.
An investigator for the Ellis County sheriff's department read to the jury portions of letters that Massey had written while he was in prison. Massey had written that he liked to read about guns, war, and police investigations.
In one journal, also read to the jury, Massey stated that he was about to start his career as a serial killer and mass murderer. Massey wrote that he wanted "to grab society by the throat and shake 'em with terror until they're awake and realize what's up so they will remember who I am, when and why I came their way." Massey also wrote that he anticipated that he would become a "murder machine." His journals became increasingly violent and set goals for vast numbers of killings.
The State also proffered testimony from Dr. Clay Griffith, a forensic psychiatrist, who having read portions of Massey's journals, letters, the recorded observations of Dr. Dekleva and the autopsy reports for the present victims, concluded that Massey would be a future danger to society and that he could not be rehabilitated. Griffith also testified that while anti-personality disorder can abate with some individuals over time and with age, it would not in a case as severe as Massey's. FBI agent Allen Brantley, who also reviewed the case file, testified similarly.
March 17, 1994 - The State indicted Massey for the capital offense of murder of two persons in the same criminal transaction to which Massey later entered a plea of "not guilty."
October 6, 1994 - A jury found Massey "guilty" of the capital offense.
October 12, 1994 - Following a punishment hearing, the jury answered the special issues submitted pursuant to article 37.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; an affirmative answer was given to the first special issue and a negative answer was given to the second special issue. In accordance with Texas law, the trial court assessed Massey's punishment as death.
October 23, 1996 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence in a published opinion.
June 23, 1997 - Massey filed an application for state habeas corpus relief pursuant to article 11.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. (At a later date, the state habeas court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied. Thereafter, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law and ordered that Massey's request for state habeas relief be denied.)
March 6, 1998 - Massey filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in federal district court.
January 10, 2000 - The U.S. Magistrate recommended relief be denied.
February 24, 2000 - The recommendations were signed and judgment was rendered against Massey.
March 23, 2000 - Massey filed a motion for certificate of appealability (COA) in federal district court.
March 27, 2000 - The district court denied the motion.
March 23, 2000 - Massey filed a notice of appeal and the case was subsequently docketed in the Fifth Circuit.
May 26, 2000 - Massey filed a motion for COA in the Fifth Circuit.
September 13, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit denied COA.
October 2, 2000 - Massey filed a motion for rehearing in the Fifth Circuit.
October 17, 2000 - The motion for rehearing was denied.
January 16, 2001 - Massey filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.
March 19, 2001 - The petition for writ of certiorari was denied.
For additional information and statistics, please log on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.
- 30 -
Contact: Mark Heckmann, Tom Kelley or Jane Dees Shepperd at (512) 463-2050.
Go to Top