Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Reginald Lenard Reeves Scheduled to be Executed
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Reginald Lenard Reeves, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, 2002.
On Oct. 5, 1994, Reginald Lenard Reeves was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Jenny Lynn Weeks in Clarksville, Texas, on Sept. 9, 1993. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
On the evening of Sept. 9, 1993, Charlene Cathcart observed two figures carrying what appeared to be a roll of carpet into an abandoned and partially burned house across the street. Ms. Cathcart returned to her home and telephoned the police.
Clarksville police investigators responded to the call and arrived at the abandoned home around midnight. The officers surveyed the abandoned dwelling. In a hallway closet they found the body of a young female, 14-year-old Jenny Lynn Weeks.
The chief medical examiner for Dallas County noticed numerous injuries consisting of bruising and abrasions to Jenny's face, neck, chest, knees, legs, ankles, buttocks, and back; fingernail marks on the neck, consistent with an attempt to free herself from a stranglehold; and broken or cracked fingernails on both hands, also consistent with defensive injuries. The medical examiner noted that the back of Jenny's shorts and underwear were "blood-soaked" with a "significant amount of blood." Hairs were recovered from her right buttock, pubic area, leg, and clothing. Toxicology reports indicated that she had an ethanol level of .05 percent, which is one-half the level of legal intoxication.
An internal examination revealed multiple hemorrhaging of Jenny's skull and neck. The neck injuries were indicative of "significant" pressure having been applied, and the medical examiner concluded that the cause of death was strangulation. Based on the totality of his examination and his own past evaluations, the medical examiner believed that the sexual activity was more consistent with "forced" sexual activity than with consensual activity.
On the evening of Sept. 10, Reeves, accompanied by his mother, turned himself into the police. The following day, the other potential suspect, Ralph Brown, also turned himself into the police.
Reeves' apartment was subsequently searched. The apartment was neat and orderly, as if it had just been cleaned. A pair of shorts, a bed sheet and a pillowcase were found in a laundry basket inside a closet and taken into custody. A gym bag was also found in the closet and seized. Inside the gym bag was a purse containing a diary and other items bearing Jenny's name. Hairs were collected from the bedroom floor, the bed sheet and the pillowcase.
Saliva, blood, pubic hair, head hair, and teeth impressions were taken from Reeves and Brown. Forensic analysis revealed that the head hair recovered from Jenny's leg and a pubic hair recovered from her buttocks were consistent with Reeves' hair samples. None of the hairs recovered were consistent with having come from Brown. The bite mark on Jenny was consistent with having been made by Reeves, to the exclusion of Brown. Blood found on Jenny's T-shirt was consistent with Reeves' type, also to the exclusion of Brown.
Evidence also revealed that Jenny had known Reeves for less than a week at the time of her death. Sharon Forte, 17 years old at the time of trial, related that she was living in a group foster home in Paris, Texas, in September 1993, where she met Jenny. On September 5, Forte and Jenny agreed to run away from the foster home and travel to Forte's home in Clarksville. As planned, the two left the foster home on the evening of September 5 and walked to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they met Forte's boyfriend, Raymond Jackson. Jackson drove the two to his mother's house in Clarksville. During the next day or two, Reeves, a friend and cousin of Jackson's, came to Jackson's house where he met Jenny. Reeves offered for Jenny to stay at his apartment and Jenny agreed.
On the night of the offense, Jackson went to Reeves' apartment on two occasions. On the first occasion, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Jackson stayed for about five minutes. At that time, Reeves and Jenny were sitting at home, listening to music. Jackson returned to Reeves' apartment at approximately 9:30 p.m., this time accompanied by Forte, and stayed for about 15 minutes. At that time, Brown was also present at the apartment and all were drinking beer. Jackson took Reeves aside and asked him about the situation with Jenny. During this conversation, Reeves denied a sexual relationship, saying Jenny was like a sister to him, and stated that he planned to take her to Dallas so she could visit a boyfriend.
On the night of the offense, Stratrice Carreathers, 20 years old at the time of trial, was visiting with friends near a school building located approximately one-half mile from Reeves' apartment. Shortly after midnight, Reeves approached the group as they were discussing a man's possible suicide at a vacant house in the area. Reeves said he had not heard about it. As the group prepared to go their separate ways, Reeves told Carreathers that "it wasn't an old man that had committed suicide . . . it was a girl." When asked how he knew, Reeves said because "he had done it" and identified the victim as a "fourteen-year-old girl." Reeves said he had choked, strangled and punched the girl. Although Reeves had a few scratches on his arms, Carreathers did not believe Reeves and told Reeves that he was lying and had probably just been drinking. Carreathers did not, however, smell alcohol on Reeves or notice any signs of intoxication.
Arlene Chilton, 16 years old at the time of trial, was Jenny's best friend. Chilton identified the diary recovered from Reeves' apartment as one she had given to Jenny. Chilton identified the handwriting in the diary as Jenny's. On Sept. 4, 1993, Jenny wrote that she met a girl named Sharon, who was planning on running away the next day and who told Jenny that she would help her get to Dallas. On Sept. 6, 1993, Jenny wrote that she had run away the night before and was hoping to "get to Dallas soon." On Sept. 7, 1993, Jenny wrote that she was "at another place," was "kinda lonely but very happy," and was not afraid. On Sept. 9, 1993, the victim wrote that she was "very happy," "lonely for everyone back home," "listening to oldies music," and that she would "be in Dallas soon."
On July 21, 1994, the trial court granted a change of venue from Red River County to Bowie County, where Reeves pleaded not guilty. On Oct. 4, 1994, the jury convicted Reeves of capital murder. After a subsequent hearing on punishment, and based on the jury's answers to the special punishment issues, the trial assessed punishment at death by lethal injection.
Upon automatic review of Reeves' conviction and death sentence, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the judgment and sentence in an unpublished opinion dated Oct. 23, 1996. On Dec. 9, 1996, the Court of Criminal Appeals refused Reeves' motion for rehearing as untimely. Reeves did not file a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
Reeves filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus on Aug. 18, 1997. The state habeas court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied. After determining that the findings were supported by the record, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief on Feb. 18, 1998.
Reeves next filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Aug. 24, 1998. The district court, on Reeves's own motion, dismissed the case on Oct. 2, 1998. Reeves then returned to state court, where he filed a second application for state habeas relief. The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the application as an abuse of the writ on Feb. 3, 1999.
Reeves filed a second petition for habeas relief in federal district court. The district court entered final judgment denying federal habeas relief on Nov. 16, 2000. Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit followed. On Jan. 4, 2002, the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court's judgment denying Reeves federal habeas relief. Reeves did not file a motion for rehearing in the Fifth Circuit.
On April 4, 2002, Reeves filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court challenging the Fifth Circuit's denial of relief. The petition is still pending before the Court.
On May 6, 2002, Reeves filed a motion for stay of execution with the Supreme Court.
Reeves had a brief criminal history prior to the murder of Jenny Lynn Weeks. In July 1985, Reeves, who was 11 years old at the time, assaulted two boys, ages seven and five. Reeves forced the boys to pull down their pants, when the boys complied with this demand, Reeves stuck a sharp stick into their rectums. As a result of these offenses, Reeves was placed on informal probation with juvenile authorities.
In November 1990, Reeves was again placed on informal probation with juvenile authorities. Leading up to this probation, Reeves' mother had contacted police and juvenile authorities on several occasions and asked them to speak with Reeves about his "unruly" behavior. The informal probation agreement was eventually imposed when Reeves assaulted his mother and followed with an assault on another individual.
For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.
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