John William "Jackie" Elliott, 42, was executed by lethal injection on 4 February 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman.
On 13 June 1986, police were called to a crime scene in east Austin. The body of Joyce Munguia, 19, was found under an overpass. An autopsy showed that she had been beaten 16 times on the head and eight times on the face. Fragments of metal were recovered from her head. There were also signs of recent sexual intercourse.
The person who called the police was Danny Hanson, age unknown. According to Hanson, he and three other men -- John Elliott, then 26; Pete Ramirez, 26; and Ricky Elizondo, 20 -- picked up Munguia at a bus stop and invited her to drink with them in Elizondo's house. Over the next few hours, she consumed beer, grain alcohol, and cocaine with the men. She also engaged in sex with Elizondo. Hanson stated that he observed Munguia crying and slurring her speech, and she had difficulty walking. At Munguia's request, he began to walk her home.
While they were walking, Hanson stated, Elliott intercepted them. He took Munguia into a dark, wooded area and raped her. Elizondo and Ramirez followed him and also raped Munguia. This is when Hanson said he left briefly to call the police. He then returned to the scene and observed the gang-rape still in progress. He said that he heard Munguia announce that she was "going straight to the police when y'all get through." Afterward, Elliott beat Munguia to death with a chrome-plated motorcycle chain.
Police officers arrived at Elliott's house early on the morning of 14 June. His shorts and shoes were heavily splattered with blood, which was later matched to the victim.
In addition to Hanson's testimony, Elizondo also testified at Elliott's trial. He testified that he, Elliott, and Ramirez had sex with the victim, but it was consensual. He further testified that Elliott left him alone with Munguia for a moment, then returned with a chrome-plated motorcycle chain, with which he beat the victim to death.
The physical evidence presented at Elliott's trial included the blood on his shorts and shoes. In addition, Elliott's shoes matched shoe prints found at the crime scene.
Like Elizondo, Elliott claimed that the sex he had with the victim was consensual. He denied killing Munguia and stated that the murder weapon - the motorcycle chain - belonged to Elizondo.
Elliott had an earlier murder conviction. In 1982, he was convicted of intentionally killing a man in a bar fight. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison, but served only 4 months before being released due to prison overcrowding. He also had a 1984 conviction for burglary of a habitation, for which he received a sentence of 10 years' probation.
A jury convicted Elliott in January 1987 of capital murder and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in April 1993. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Pete Ramirez had a lengthy prior criminal history including driving while intoxicated, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and aggravated robbery. He received a 15-year sentence for sexual assault for his role in the Munguia case. He entered prison in January 1987 and was paroled in June 1990. He has kept a clean record since then and was discharged from parole in 2001.
Rick Cruz Elizondo's only prior offense was for public intoxication. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault and received a 10-year prison sentence. No information was available on his time served.
On death row, Elliott maintained his innocence. "I didn't kill Joyce Munguia and I didn't rape, her but somehow I knew I was going to get convicted," he said. "I didn't have the money and I didn't have the best lawyers." Elliott acknowledged that his criminal past made it easy for prosecutors to obtain a conviction. "I should have led a different life," he said.
In his appeals, Elliott's lawyers unsuccessfully sought to have DNA testing ordered on blood spatters found on Danny Hanson's shoes. Hanson had said that the blood was his own and that it was from a previous incident in which he was stabbed.
Elliott was born to American parents on a U.S. air base in Great Britain, so he held dual American-British citizenship. His parents returned to the U.S. with him when he was six months old. His execution was opposed by numerous British public officials and was loudly denounced in the British media. During his stay on death row, Elliott corresponded with European anti-death penalty activists. He accommodated British media's requests for interviews, but declined requests from the American media. For his last meal, he had a cup of tea and six chocolate chip cookies.
Elliott made three clemency requests -- one for a pardon, one for a commutation, and one for a reprieve. All were rejected by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on separate 18-0 votes. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court also denied Elliott's last-minute requests for a stay. These requests delayed his execution by nearly an hour.
Elliott did not make a final statement at his execution. He was pronounced dead at 7:02 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 6 February 2003.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's Office, Associated Press, Huntsville Item, London Times, British Broadcasting Corporation News.