Cedric Lamont Ransom, 29, was executed by lethal injection on 23 July 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a gun dealer.
Herbert Primm was an optometrist by trade. He was also a licensed firearms dealer who sold guns out of his home in Arlington. On 7 December 1991, Ransom, then 18, went with three acquaintances to Primm's house to buy guns. Nathan Clark, 17, talked to Primm in his garage while the other three hid. When Primm opened the trunk of his car to show Clark the guns, Clark grabbed two Tec Nine semiautomatic rifles that were inside, and his companions burst from their hiding places, brandishing weapons. Isaac Johnson, 18, ran up and grabbed one of the Tec Nines from Clark. Primm told the robbers, "just take them." Ransom then grabbed Primm by the back of the head and hit him, then he bent Primm over the hood of the car and shot him once in the head with a .44 Magnum. After shooting Primm, Ransom grabbed another Tec Nine out of the trunk, and he, Clark, Johnson, and Brian Williams, 17, ran to their car.
Primm's neighbor, Steven Gervais, came outside when he heard the gunshot. He saw the robbers and yelled at them. Ransom fired at Gervais and missed. Gervais ran inside to retrieve his own gun, but the men had left by the time he returned outside. He asked his brother to call 9-1-1 while he checked on Primm. Gervais said that he could not find Primm's pulse. Police arrived about 5 or 10 minutes later.
Three days later, Fort Worth police were executing an arrest and search warrant at Ransom's residence. Ransom's roommate, Alexis Apples, 20, was being investigated for a murder that had taken place at J.R.'s Food Store on 24 November, about 2½ weeks earlier. During the course of the search, police found numerous weapons, including a Tec Nine rifle and a .44 Magnum. Police took Apples into custody and obtained an arrest warrant for Ransom. Later that day, Ransom's family went to the police station to inquire about Apples, who was dating Ransom's sister. When police learned that Ransom was downstairs waiting in the car, they arrested him.
In addition to the above evidence, the jury also heard testimony that the serial number of the Tec Nine rifle found in Ransom and Apples' residence was found in Primm's log. The book showed that Primm had acquired the rifle, but not yet resold it.
At age 18, Ransom had no prior felony convictions, but the jury heard evidence and testimony of other violent offenses he had been involved in. Ransom made an audiotaped confession of his involvement in the 24 November 1991 murder at J.R.'s Food Store in Fort Worth. He and Alexis Apples robbed the store while Brian Williams waited in the car. Apples shot store clerk Juan Valdez, 18, while Ransom shot store owner Sulieman El-Hamad. Valdez died at the scene. El-Hamad was left completely paralyzed. He died from his wounds eight months later.
Ransom also testified that he and Apples robbed Brian's Food Store in Fort Worth on 27 November. According to Ransom, Apples shot and killed store owner Adam Meflah during the robbery.
During pretrial proceedings on 11 November 1992, Ransom grabbed one of his attorneys, Chris Phillips, by the neck and tried to stab him in the back with a 5½-inch shard of glass. When the bailiff ordered him to release Phillips, Ransom pulled away, then advanced toward Bob Gill, the prosecutor, yelling, "I'm going to kill you! I'm going to kill you!" Gill and Ransom fell to the floor and struggled until the bailiff separated them and disarmed and handcuffed Ransom. Both Phillips and Gill were removed from the case, and Gill later testified against Ransom during his punishment hearing.
A jury convicted Ransom of the capital murder of Herbert Primm in December 1992 and sentenced him to death. (Ransom was also indicted, but not tried, for the murders of Juan Valdez, Sulieman El-Hamad, and Adam Meflah.) In June 1994, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction due to a problem with jury selection. On the state's request for rehearing, the Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated the conviction in February 1996, but did not reinstate the death sentence. The case was remanded to the trial court for a new punishment hearing.
At Ransom's second punishment hearing, the jury heard of other violent acts committed since his first conviction, including an attack on a sheriff's deputy that occurred two days before the hearing began.
A jury resentenced Ransom to death in February 1997. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed this death sentence in February 1999. All of Ransom's subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Isaac Deon Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder in the Primm case and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in less than 18 months. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) In 1993, he was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is still in custody at this writing.
Nathan Clark was apparently not charged in the Primm murder, but in 1993, he was convicted of aggravated robbery and cocaine possession and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He also remains in custody.
Brian Keith Williams is also serving a 25-year sentence for aggravated robbery.
Alexis Alexander Apples was convicted of murder with a deadly weapon in the J.R.'s Food Store case. He was sentenced to life in prison and is in custody at this writing.
While testifying at his 1997 punishment hearing, Ransom denied any involvement in the Primm case, but he did admit to killing El-Hamad. "It was wrong," Ransom told the court. "I had no right to shoot him."
Ransom was caught while attempting to escape from the Ellis Unit near Huntsville in 1997. He and another condemned inmate had cut through a fence with a hacksaw blade.
Ransom declined requests to be interviewed from death row.
At his execution, Ransom thanked his friends for their support and expressed love to them. Without their calming influence at his execution, he said, "Probably I would have put up a good fight." As the lethal drugs began taking effect, he told them "I'll be OK." He did not look at or acknowledge Lori Primm, his victim's wife. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 24 July 2003.
Source: Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, public records, Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Huntsville Item.