Gary Wayne Etheridge, 38, was executed by lethal injection on 20 August in Huntsville, Texas for killing a 15-year-old girl in the course of a robbery.
In February 1990, Etheridge, then 26, went to the home of Gail Chauviere, looking for money to buy drugs. Chauviere managed a condominium complex where Etheridge once worked doing maintenance. He knew that Chauviere brought the money from the apartment complex home with her, and he knew where she lived because she let him follow her home from work one day, so she could give him a stray dog.
Chauviere came home from work one evening to find Etheridge's car in her driveway. She entered her house and found Etheridge sitting on the couch with her 15-year-old daughter, Christie. Etheridge asked for the apartment money. Chauviere told him she would give him the money and pleaded with him not to hurt Christie. Christie then started moving off of the couch toward her mother. When Etheridge grabbed her by her hair and pulled her back to him, she screamed. Etheridge then pulled out a knife and stabbed Gail more than thirty times until she was unconscious. She suffered multiple stab wounds to her neck, face, chest, abdomen, and arms. Etheridge then pulled off Christie's clothes below her waist, tied her hands with a telephone cord, and gagged her with a towel. He stabbed her four times and sexually assaulted her with the knife. The mother survived the attack, but her daughter did not.
Etheridge couldn't start his car, so he fled the scene in Gail's car. He picked up his wife, Theresa, their baby daughter, Brittany, and two children that Theresa was babysitting. He then drove to the bar where the children's mother worked and left them there. After that, he drove with Theresa and Brittany to the home of Charles and Glenda Roenker. Gary cleaned up in their bathroom. Gary and Theresa asked the Roenkers to take care of Brittany and left her with them.
Etheridge later abandoned his wife in Mobile, Alabama. He also wrecked Chauviere's car in Mobile and hitchhiked back to Texas. He was arrested five days after the murder, less than fifty miles from the crime scene. When he was arrested, he told the officer, "Yes, I know I'm under arrest for killing that fifteen-year-old girl. I'm sorry for what I did, and I was going back to Brazoria County to turn myself in." He also made a written confession and a tape-recorded confession after his arrest. In the tape-recorded confession, he denied raping Christie and did not admit to stabbing either woman, but he did state, "I killed a girl." He said that he was alone the whole time and that someone across the street saw him arrive and leave.
At his trial, Gail Chauviere identified Etheridge as the attacker and testified that he was alone. A neighbor who lived across the street testified that he saw Etheridge driving Chauviere's car out of the driveway. He also testified that Etheridge was alone in the car. The woman whose children Theresa was babysitting testified that Gary told her he had killed a man in a knife fight. Glenda Roenker testified that, while at her house, Gary told her that he had stabbed a man. Etheridge was also placed at the scene by blood evidence.
Etheridge had an extensive juvenile criminal history. He joined the adult criminal ranks within a few months of his seventeenth birthday and remained there until the day he died. His first conviction was for burglary in May 1981, for which he received a sentence of five years' probation. Over the next five years, he was convicted of theft, aggravated assault, three more burglaries, DWI, and driving with a suspended license. In all, he was sent to prison four times, with sentences totaling thirty years. Each time, he was paroled less than two years into his sentence. The last time he walked out of prison was in December 1989, ten months after returning on a parole violation. (At this time, early release was common in Texas because of strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) Six weeks later, Etheridge attacked Gail and Christie Chauviere.
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