Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Richard Kutzner

Richard Kutzner
Richard Kutzner
Executed on 7 August 2002

Richard William Kutzner, 59, was executed by lethal injection on 7 August in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of two women.

On 5 January, 1996, Rita Sheron Van Huss was found strangled to death in her living quarters, which were adjacent to a self-storage business she managed in Houston. Her wrists, ankles, and neck were bound tightly with plastic tie wraps. Her purse and the petty cash from the office were missing.

On 22 January, Kathryn Harrison was found strangled to death in her real estate office in the Woodlands, north of Houston. Her wrists were bound with red plastic-coated wire. Her ankles and neck were bound with plastic tie wraps. Her purse had been emptied and a computer keyboard and videocassette recorder were missing.

Investigators learned that Richard William Kutzner, then 53, had cashed a $300 money order taken from Van Huss's purse. The money order bore the name Roy Landry, but Kutzner endorsed it. The clerk who cashed the money order also recognized Kutzner as a repeat customer.

Both Landry and Kutzner, who were acquaintances, were initially investigated as suspects. As evidence was collected, Kutzner became the prime suspect. By 22 February, Kutnzer's truck had been repossessed and the personal items from the truck had been placed in storage. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the items, which included some plastic tie wraps, red plastic-coated wire, and tin snips. A $10 money order belonging to Van Huss also bore Kutzner's fingerprint, and a lease agreement from Van Huss's office was also found.

When Kutzner was arrested, some plastic tie wraps and red wire were seized from his garage. The wire had the same manufacturer's markings as both the wire that was wrapped around Harrison's wrists and the wire that was recovered from Kutzner's truck. The tie wraps also all had the same manufacturer's name. The keyboard and VCR were later found in Landry's possession.

Kutzner was first tried for Harrison's murder. Roy Landry testified that four or five months prior to the murder, Kutzner had spoken of robbing an elderly woman in her office. He also testified that Kutzner gave him the keyboard and VCR. Another witness testified that Kutnzer had repeatedly mentioned to him that plastic tie wraps had no serial numbers on them, and "if you ever wanted to kill anybody, this would be a good thing to use." A forensic tool identification specialist testified that all of the tie wraps used to bind Harrison were cut with the snips recovered from Kutzner's truck. Kutzner's name was also found on some papers in Harrison's office, implying that he had once posed as a prospective client.

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