David Martin Long, 46, was executed by lethal injection on 8 December 1999 in Huntsville, Texas, for murdering three housemates.
On 19 September 1986, Donna Sue Jester, 38, stopped on the road to pick up a hitchhiker. When David Long, then 33, told Jester that he had "no place to go," Jester allowed him to stay in her home in the Dallas area in exchange for house repairs. Also living in the home were Jester's mother, Dalpha Lorene Jester, 64;1 and Laura Lee Owens, 20, another drifter who Donna Jester had invited in. Long and Owens soon developed a romantic relationship.
On 26 September, Long stayed at home, making repairs, while Donna Jester and Laura Owens were at their jobs. When Jester and Owens came home, they went into the back bedroom to talk with Dalpha Jester, who was blind and could not walk without the aid of a walker. While they were all in the back, Long picked up a hatchet. When Owens returned to the living room, Long asked her to go outside so they could talk. As she walked out into the front yard, Long attacked her from behind with the hatchet. He then went back into the house and killed Donna and Dalpha Jester with the hatchet. He then returned to the front yard and hacked at Owens again until she was dead.
Long then rinsed the hatchet in the bathroom sink, wrapped it in a towel, and left it there. He stole a purse and money from the residence and fled in Jester's car. He was arrested that night for driving while intoxicated, but was later released.
By reading Donna Jester's diary, police were able to focus their investigation on David Long. Long was arrested for public intoxication in on 24 October. He gave Austin police an alias, Aaron Sanders, but they established his true identity through fingerprinting. He was returned to Dallas County, where he confessed to the murders. In his confession, he stated "I'm a cold-hearted son of a bitch and I killed them because they threatened my relationship with Laura Lee. I killed Dalpha Jester because she knew my name and I felt like she was living dead anyway."
At his trial, Long testified that the women's home was filthy and smelled of dog hair and feces from several dogs that roamed freely through the home. He claimed that he was adversely affected by the filth and smell in the house, and he began to fear that Donna Jester had dead bodies, possibly of other hitchhikers, buried in her backyard. When she and Owens went into the back bedroom to talk with Dalpha Jester, Long thought they were conspiring against him.
Long had a lenghty history of alcohol and drug abuse and had been committed both voluntarily and involuntarily to several hospitals and institutions. He had been previously diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia.
Long's lawyers presented an insanity defense. A defense psycholgist, Dr. William Hester, testified that Long had an "extreme antisocial personality disorder." He testified that there was a reasonable probability that Long committed the murders during a psychotic episode and that he did not know it was wrong. Long testified that he believed he was demon-possessed at the time of the killings. Dr. James Grigson, a psychiatrist called by the state, testified that Long had a "severe sociopathic personality disorder." He testified that this was not a disease and had no organic origin. According to Grigson, Long was not insane and understood the difference between right and wrong.
Long had no prior criminal convictions other than DWI, but in his confession after his arrest, he confessed to two other murders that had been unsolved. He said that in 1978 in California, he beat a gas station attendant to death with a tire iron because he overcharged him for a tire repair. Long also confessed to killing a former boss in 1983 "because I hated the son of a bitch." Both murders were corroborated by local authorities, and Long's accounts matched the facts they had gathered in their investigations. 1The Associated Press incorrectly referred to Daphne as Donna's cousin.
Continued on Page 2