Executions Overview

Executed But Did Not Directly Kill Victim

Everyone who has been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 participated in a crime in which at least one victim died. In most cases, the person executed directly killed the victim. In a small minority of cases, the person executed ordered or contracted with another person to carry out the murder. In another group of cases, the person executed participated in a felony during which a victim died at the hands of another participant in the felony. The defendant in such cases was typically found guilty of “felony murder” or under the “law of parties,” and in some states can receive the death penalty, despite not having killed or directed the killing of the victim. The US Supreme Court has restricted the use of the death penalty in such cases. See Enmund v. Florida and Tison v. Arizona.

We list below the cases that we are aware of in which the defendant was found guilty of felony murder. We separately list the cases in which the person executed contracted to have the victim killed, though these cases do not fit under the class of felony murder and are not meant to imply less culpability. We welcome any additions or corrections to these lists. Neither list is exhaustive.

See also DPIC’s page Kennedy v. Louisiana regarding the Supreme Court decision striking down statutes that allowed the death penalty for non-homicide crimes against individuals.


Felony Murders

 NameStateRace of DefendantExecution DateDescription of Crime
1.Doyle SkillernTXWhite1/16/1985Accomplice in the murder of an undercover narcotics agent. He was waiting in a car nearby when the murder happened. The shooter is serving a life sentence, but eligible for parole. (“Killers’ Fates Diverged; Accomplice Is Executed; Triggerman Faces Parole,” Washington Post, January 16, 1985)
2.Beauford WhiteFLBlack8/28/1987Stood guard while two men went into a house looking for drugs and then killed six of the house’s occupants. The two shooters were executed as well. (“Florida Prisoner Executed after 10-year Fight for Life,” St. Petersburg Times, August 29, 1987)
3.Ignacio CuevasTXLatino5/23/1991Cuevas was serving a 45-year sentence for murder when he took part in an attempted prison escape. During the course of the attempt, a prison librarian and teacher were shot to death by another prisoner involved in the escape. Cuevas was sentenced to death as an accomplice, under Texas’ “law of parties.” (Associated Press, Participant in Prison Siege Is Executed in Texas, The New York Times, May 23, 1991.)
4.G.W. GreenTXWhite11/12/1991Participated in a robbery, where one of his accomplices shot the probation officer who owned the home. The shooter was executed on 9/10/87 and another accomplice is serving a life sentence. (“15 Years After Crime, Texas Inmate Is Executed,” New York Times, November 13, 1991)
5.William AndrewsUTBlack7/30/1992Participated in a robbery and torture, but his accomplice murdered the victims after he left. The shooter was executed as well. (“Utah Execution Hinges on Issue of Racial Bias,” New York Times, July 19, 1992)
6.Carlos SantanaTXLatino3/23/1993Participated in a robbery. During the robbery his accomplice murdered a security guard. His accomplice was executed on December 8, 1998. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
7.Jessie GutierrezTXLatino9/17/1994Participated in a robbery with his brother, Jose Gutierrez, who killed the victim. Jessie was apparently present during the murder and even brandished a gun while continuing with the robbery. Jose was also executed (in 1999). (Texas Attorney General press release, Nov. 17, 1999)
8.Gregory ResnoverINBlack12/8/1994A police officer was killed when trying to arrest Resnover and Tommie J. Smith. Smith and Resnover both fired shots at the police, but Smith was convicted as the one who fired the fatal shot. Smith was executed on 7/18/1996. (“Capital Punishment in Indiana,” Indy Star, June 15, 2007)
9.Steven HatchOKWhite8/9/1996Steven Hatch with his co-defendant Glenn Ake participated in a home invasion. After abusing the family for several hours, Hatch went out to the car while Ake killed the parents. Ake is serving a life sentence. (“Oklahoma Justice: Should Crime Partner Get Death Penalty,” Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 1996)
10.Dale BishopMSWhite7/23/2008Bishop and one other individual were tried for a 1998 bludgeoning death. Bishop acknowledged his participation in the attack, but his codefendant, Jessie Johnson, admitted to striking the lethal blow. Johnson was tried separately and received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. (Staff Report, Mississippi executed condemned inmate Bishop, Picayune Item, July, 24, 2008.)
11.Michael Anthony RodriguezTXLatino8/14/2008Rodriguez was one of the “Texas 7,” a group of men who escaped from a maximum-security Texas prison on December 13, 2000. After escaping, the men robbed a sporting goods store, they were confronted by police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Hawkins was killed in a shootout, but Rodriguez was not responsible for shooting Hawkins. Rodriguez’s father left a truck at a local store for the men to use. (Michael Graczyk, ‘I’ve done horrible things’: 1st ‘Texas 7’ escapee executed, Associated Press, August 14, 2008.)
12.Dennis SkillicornMOWhite5/20/2009Skillicorn and co-defendants Allen Nicklasson and Tim DeGraffenreid kidnapped Richard Drummond, who had stopped to help the three with their broken down car. While Skillicorn and Graffenreid waited in the car, Nicklasson led Drummond a 1/4 mile away and shot the victim. (“Missouri is about to execute Dennis Skillicorn. The state’s death penalty may not outlive him very long.,” Kansas City Pitch, May 12, 2009)
13.Robert ThompsonTXBlack11/19/2009Thompson and co-defendant Sammy Butler entered a Seven Evenings convenience store in Houston with intent to rob. Thompson shot one clerk who survived the attack. On the way out, another clerk came out firing shots at the vehicle. Butler shot and killed that clerk. Butler was given a life sentence. The Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles recommended clemency for Thompson, which Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected. (“Killer executed after Perry rejects panel’s advice,” Houston Chronicle, November 20, 2009)
14.Steven WoodsTXWhite9/13/2011Woods was sentenced and executed for the 2001 murder of two individuals in Denton County. Woods maintained his innocence, claiming that despite being present at the crime scene, he did not pull the trigger or kill the victims. (Michael Graczyk, Death Row Inmate Maintains Innocence During Execution, NBCDFW, September 14, 2011.)
15.Cleve FosterTXWhite9/25/2012Foster was convicted under the Texas “law of parties” for his participation in the 2002 murder of Nyaneur Pal in Fort Worth, Texas. Foster alleged that his codefendant, who confessed to the murder and died in prison of cancer, killed the victim after he passed out. (Corrie MacLaggan and Terry Baynes, Texas puts to death man who received three stays if execution, Reuters, September 25, 2012.)
16.William Van PoyckFLWhite6/12/2013Van Poyck and Frank Valdes were convicted and sentenced to death for the 1987 shooting death of a correctional officer during an escape attempt. Valdes was beaten to death by correctional officers in 1999. After his death, his wife came forward with information implicating Valdes as the shooter, not Van Poyck. Van Poyck maintained he did not shoot the victim. (Crimesider Staff, William Van Pocyk Execution: Florida man due to be executed Wednesday for murder of prison guard, CBS News, June, 11, 2013.)
17.Michael Lee WilsonOKBlack1/9/2014Wilson was convicted for planning and taking part in the 1995 murder of a coworker, along with three codefendants. Video evidence showed that while Wilson’s codefendants beat the victim, he was behind the counter serving customers who entered the store and trying to remove the safe from under the counter. (Heide Brandes, Oklahoma executes man who killed store manager in robbery, Reuters, January 9, 2014.)
18.Ray JasperTXBlack3/19/2014Jasper and a codefendant participated in the 2000 murder and robbery of a San Antonio, Texas recording studio owner. Jasper admitted he slashed the victim’s throat, but alleged his codefendant delivered the fatal stab wounds. (KENS 5 Staff, Ray Jasper executed for 1998 murder of San Antonio business owner, KENS5, March 19, 2014.)
19.Donald NewburyTXWhite2/4/2015Newbury was one of the “Texas 7,” a group of men who escaped from a maximum-security Texas prison on December 13, 2000. After escaping, the men robbed a sporting goods store, they were confronted by police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Hawkins was killed in a shootout and Newbury, who claimed he did not shoot at Hawkins, was convicted, and sentenced to death under the Texas “law of parties.” (Associated Press, Donald Newbury of infamous ‘Texas 7’ gang faces execution Wednesday, The Guardian, February 4, 2025; Jason Whitely, ‘Texas 7’ fugitive killer Donald Newbury put to death, USA Today, February 5, 2025.)
20.Joseph GarciaTXLatino12/4/2018Garcia was one of the “Texas 7,” a group of men who escaped from a maximum-security Texas prison on December 13, 2000. After escaping, the men robbed a sporting goods store, where some of the men were confronted by police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Hawkins was killed in a shootout and Garcia, who was not involved in the shootout, was convicted and sentenced to death under the Texas “law of parties.” (David Martin Davies, Texas Matters: ‘Texas 7’ Escapee Set For Execution, Texas Public Radio, November 30, 2018; Keri Blakinger, ‘Texas 7’ escapee fights death sentence as Dec. 4 execution nears, Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2018)
21.Nathaniel WoodsALBlack3/5/2020Woods was with the murder of three Birmingham police officers who were attempting to execute a warrant for his arrest on a misdemeanor charge. Woods did not have a weapon on him, and his accomplice, Kerry Spencer, confessed to shooting and killing all three officers. (Dan Barry and Abby Ellin, He Never Touched the Murder Weapon. Alabama Sentenced Him to Die, The New York Times, December 5, 2021.)
22.Brandon BernardFederalBlack12/10/2020Bernard was one of five individuals convicted of the 1999 killing of two youth ministers. Bernard was not the gunman. Christopher Vialva, convicted of being the shooter, was executed two months earlier. (Christina Carrega, Brandon Bernard executed after Supreme Court denies request for a delay, CNN, December 11, 2020.)


Contract Killings

 NameStateRace of
Execution DateDescription of Crime
1.Anthony AntoneFLWhite1/26/1984Planned the Murder of a former Police Detective. The shooter committed suicide while in jail. (“Contract Murderer Dies in Florida,” New York Times, January 27, 1984)
2.Mark HopkinsonWYWhite1/22/1992Convicted of ordering the bombing deaths of a family. The bomber died before he could be questioned. Hopkinson was executed proclaiming his innocence. (“Executed in Wyoming,” The Washington Times, January 23, 1992)
3.Larry HeathALWhite3/20/1992Contracted for the murder of his wife. The shooter was given a life sentence. (HEATH v. ALABAMA, 474 U.S. 82 (1985))
4.Robert Black Jr.TXWhite5/22/1992John Wayne Hearn placed an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine offering his skills as a mercenary. Black contacted him and paid him to murder his wife. Hearn is serving a life sentence in Florida. (“Killer Tells of Requests for His Help in Crimes,” New York Times, February 21, 1988)
5.Markham Duff-SmithTXWhite6/29/1993Contracted for the murder of his adoptive mother. Of the co-defendants, one was given a 30-year sentence and another was paroled after serving three years in prison. The shooter was executed on 7/24/2003. (“Murderers Are Put to Death in Texas and Georgia,” New York Times, June 30, 1993)
6.David FisherVAWhite3/23/1999Contracted for murder to collect a life insurance policy. The shooter received a life sentence. (“Virginia Executes Man Who Arranged Murder for Hire.” The Washington Post, March 23, 1999)
7.Marilyn PlantzOKWhite5/1/2001Conspired with two men to have her husband killed, allegedly to collect insurance money that they would share in. One of the killers (her lover), William Bryson, was also executed. (“Oklahoma Executes Second Female Priosoner,” Washington Post, May 2, 2001)
8.Clarence Ray AllenCANative American1/19/2006While in prison, Allen contracted Billy Ray Hamilton to murder witnesses who had testified against him. Hamilton also received a death sentence, but died of cancer while on death row. (“Death Row Inmate, 58, Dies of Cancer,” The Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2007)
9.Gregory Lynn SummersTXWhite10/25/2006Contracted for the murder of three family members. The shooter was given a death sentence as well. (Texas Department of Corrections: Texas Offender Information)
10.Teresa LewisVAWhite9/23/2010Contracted for the murder of husband and adult stepson. The two shooters received life without parole sentences. (“Virginia executes Teresa Lewis for role in slayings of husband, stepson in 2002,” Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2010)
11.Kelly GissendanerGAWhite9/30/2015Arranged to have her boyfried kill her husband. The boyfriend received a life sentence after a plea bargain. (“Georgia Executes Woman on Death Row Despite Clemency Bid and Pope’s Plea,” N.Y. Times, Sept. 30, 2015)
12.Dustin HiggsFederalBlack1/16/2021Higgs was convicted in October 2000 of ordering the 1996 murder of three Maryland women after arguing with one of them in his apartment. The triggerman, Willis Mark Haynes, was convicted in May 2000 and sentenced to life plus 45 years in prison. Higgs’s case was the third death penalty prosecution in Maryland since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, but marked the first time a jury imposed the death penalty. (Washington Post, 10/27/00). The prosecution witness who testified that Higgs ordered him to commit the killings later recanted his testimony and Higgs insisted up until the moment of the execution that he was innocent of the murders.
13.Robert FrattaTXWhite1/10/2023Fratta, a former Missouri City public safety officer, was convicted and sentenced to death for hiring two people to kill his estranged wife in 1994. (Juan Lozano, Texas executes ex-officer who hired 2 people to kill wife, Associated Press, January 10, 2023.)

Source: Pre-2000 cases were identified in “Death Row USA,” Further research on these and subsequent cases is from DPIC.