Texas Execution Information Center

Potential new murder confession delays Texas serial killer's execution

The execution of Houston serial killer Anthony Shore was rescheduled hours away from his pending death after officials began to worry he would confess to another murder.

Shore, 55, was set for execution after 6 p.m. Wednesday, but the district attorney from Montgomery County sent a plea to Gov. Greg Abbott and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, asking for more time to look into rumors that Shore would confess to a murder in which another death row inmate was convicted.

"This office is in possession of evidence suggesting that Shore has conspired with death row inmate Larry Ray Swearingen and intends to falsely claim responsibility for the capital murder of Melissa Trotter - the crime for which Swearingen is currently scheduled to be executed on November 16, 2017," Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon said in his letter to Abbott.

Ogg filed a motion to withdraw Shore's execution date after receiving Ligon's request. It has been reset for Jan. 18. She said in a statement that Shore's execution is still "inevitable."

"It is always the first responsibility of prosecutors to see that justice is done," she said.

In his letter, Ligon explained that a folder containing items on the Trotter murder were found in Shore's cell this July. When his office discovered this in September, he called Shore's lawyer, Knox Nunnally, who said Shore would answer questions from the Harris County District Attorney's Office regarding other murders on the condition that his written responses would only be revealed by his lawyer after his execution.

A Montgomery County investigator also interviewed a death row visitor, who said Shore told her he murdered Trotter and would not let Swearingen be executed for it, Ligon wrote.

"We remain absolutely certain of Swearingen's guilt of Melissa Trotter's murder, but permitting Shore to claim responsibility for that crime after his execution would leave a cloud over the judicial proceedings in Swearingen's case," he wrote.

Shore was known in Houston as the "Tourniquet Killer." In 2003, he confessed to four murders of young women and girls in the 1980s and 1990s, strangling them with rope or cord and leaving their unclothed bodies behind buildings or in a field.

Swearingen was convicted in the death of 19-year-old Trotter, after her decomposing body was found in a forest nearly a month after she was last seen with Swearingen, according to court documents. He has insisted on his innocence in the murder.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/18/harris-county-resets-execution-date-serial-killer/.

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