Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: James Collier

James Collier
James Collier
Executed on 11 December 2002

James Paul Collier, 55, was executed by lethal injection on 11 December 2002 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of two people.

In March 1995, Collier's 13-year-old daughter, Tina, was spending spring break with her former stepfather, Philip Hoepfner. Hoepfner lived in Witchita Falls in a house with Tim Reed, 32. On 14 March, Collier, then 48, went to the home armed with a rifle. He shot Reed's mother, Gwendolyn Joy Reed, 51, three times through a glass door, killing her. He then entered the home and chased down Tim Reed. After the first shot, Tim yelled, "It's Jimmy!" Collier shot him three times, killing him. Hoepfner fled and escaped harm. Reports did not indicate whether Tina was present.

Collier was apprehended nine days later in New Mexico, after he was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. He was taken back to Texas, where he confessed. In his confession, he admitted shooting the Reeds. He stated that he went to the home because he was angry at his daughter and ex-wife because they refused to have contact with him. He said that he believed Hoepfner had sexually abused his daughter. There was no evidence of this, however. Collier did not know the Reeds.

At his trial, authorities claimed that Collier went to the home to kidnap Tina.

When Collier asked for permission to represent himself, his court-appointed lawyer, John Curry, tried to dissuade him, as did prosecutors and the judge. Nevertheless, Collier insisted, and after he was deemed mentally competent, his request was granted.

"It was horrible," Curry recalled in an interview. "He couldn't have done anything more to get himself on death row than he did, short of threatening the judge and jury." For example, Curry said that the jury watched Collier's daughter, Tina, recoil in the witness chair as he approached her to question her.

A psychologist testified that Collier's IQ was somewhere in the range of 78 to 91. The threshold for mental retardation is generally considered to be 70.

Collier had a previous conviction for robbery, two assault convictions, and two convictions for selling narcotics. He received a 5-year sentence for the robbery conviction and served 2 years in prison from October 1971 to March 1974. In January 1995, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, and the arresting officer found an illegal sawed-off shotgun in his vehicle.

One of Collier's prior assault victims testified that when he was a teenager working at a Sonic restaurant, Collier beat him violently when he found out there was no salt in his bag. According to the district attorney, Collier's own mother took out a restraining order against him in 1987.

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