Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, May 30, 2001


Mack Oran Hill Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Mack Oran Hill, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2001.

Hill was convicted of the capital murder of Donald Johnson on July 7, 1989, in Lubbock, Texas. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.


On the evening of March 2, 1987, Hill and his acquaintance, Herbert Elliot, went to the residence and auto shop of Donald Johnson. Hill and Johnson had been partners in a number of business ventures in Lubbock. Johnson showed Elliot and Hill his newly purchased truck and travel trailer. Elliot testified that he fell asleep while Hill and Johnson were conversing and was awakened by Hill and told that it was time to leave. As Elliot stood, Hill pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Johnson in the face, killing him. Hill dragged Johnson's body to the bathroom, retrieved a knife and a hammer-like tool from the kitchen and returned to the bathroom in order to "bleed" the body. Hill placed a bag over the top half of the body, wrapped it in a carpet and blankets and secured the bundle with neckties. Elliot testified that Hill unwrapped the body to search Johnson's pants pockets for the keys to Johnson's truck and then re-wrapped the body. Hill told Elliot that he took $500 from the body. At Hill's direction, Elliot backed his car to the door and Hill put the body in the trunk. The two left the scene, Elliot driving his car and Hill driving Johnson's truck, and went to a restaurant where Hill laid out his plans to dispose of the body and remove Johnson's belongings from his residence. The next day, Hill put Johnson's body into a 50-gallon barrel which was partially filled with water, added cement and secured the barrel with a lock. Elliot and Hill loaded the barrel onto Johnson's truck and drove to Amon Carter Lake, near Bowie, Texas. They backed the truck up to the water and rolled the barrel into the lake.

Hill returned to Lubbock and hired four other people to assist in the removal of Johnson's belongings from his residence and shop. After moving the belongings to a storage unit, Elliot and Hill left Lubbock, traveled to New Mexico and then to Hill's brother's house in Bowie, towing Johnson's travel trailer. Hill and Elliot lived in the trailer for the next month before returning to Lubbock where the two separated.

In August 1987, Hill stayed for several days in Bowie with his longtime acquaintance, Ronny Anderson. Anderson testified that Hill took him to a secluded part of Amon Carter Lake, showed him a barrel, the top of which was out of the water due to the summertime drop in the lake level, and told him that it contained the body of a man who had been shot in the head. Hill attempted to push the barrel further into the lake and under the water. The barrel was discovered by a fisherman later that month, retrieved from the lake and opened. The body inside was identified as Johnson's.

On August 21, 1987, Hill was arrested by the Texas Rangers in Flower Mound, Texas.


Nov. 5, 1987 - Hill was indicted for the capital murder of Johnson in the course of committing or attempting to commit robbery.

July 7, 1989 - Hill was convicted of capital murder.

Aug. 3, 1989 - Hill was sentenced to death.

May 5, 1993 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence.

June 13, 1994 - A writ of certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dec. 17, 1997 - Hill filed a state habeas petition.

Aug. 5, 1998 - The state habeas court, which was also Hill's trial court, held an evidentiary hearing.

Nov. 12, 1998 - The state court recommended that relief be denied.

Feb. 24, 1999 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief with written order.

March 30, 1999 - Hill filed a petition seeking federal habeas relief.

July 1, 1999 - The district court entered a judgment denying relief.

July 30, 1999 - Hill sought a certificate of appealability from the district court.

April 24, 2000 - The district court denied Certificate of Appealability.

Jan. 7, 2000 - Hill filed a motion for Certificate of Appealability in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

April 20, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit denied Certificate of Appealability.

May 2, 2000 - Hill filed a motion for rehearing.

May 15, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit denied his motion for rehearing.

Aug. 28, 2000 - Hill filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 18, 2001 - Hill filed an application for a stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 21, 2001 - The petition for writ of certiorari was denied.

May 21, 2001 - The application for a stay of execution was denied by Justice Scalia.


At punishment the State introduced evidence of Hill's prior sale of hash, his involvement in two aggravated robberies, his conviction for credit card fraud and his violation of parole.

The State also called Hill's wife, Nancy, who testified in some detail about the murder of her stepfather in 1978. Nancy testified that she was present when Hill shot her stepfather multiple times, resulting in his death, wrapped his body in blankets and transported the body to a family farm where he disposed of the body by dropping it into a dry well.

Herbert Elliot, the accomplice to the instant offense, testified that Hill had admitted to him that he had murdered his wife's stepfather. Elliot also testified that Hill had made threats on his life and had implied that the lives of Elliot's family members were also in danger due to Elliot's cooperation with the police in the instant case. Elliot further testified that Hill used drugs including marijuana, amphetamines and cocaine.

Evidence was also presented that Hill had been in possession of various illegal weapons, including a switchblade knife and brass knuckles and that he regularly carried a gun.


For additional information and statistics, please log onto the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Web site,

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