Ynobe Katron Matthews, 36, was executed by lethal injection on 6 January 2004 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman.
At 4:50 a.m. on 28 May 2000, the College Station fire department responded to a fire call at an apartment building. Upon arrival, they found smoke escaping from a partially opened window coming from one apartment. The screen on the window had been cut, and the door lock, which was within reach of the hole in the screen, was unlocked. Upon entering the apartment, firefighters found the body of a young woman. She was positioned sitting on the floor, with her back propped against the side of her bed. She was wearing only a t-shirt and socks. A small fire was smoldering on her feet. The inside of her legs, all the way up to her vagina, had been burned. Some paper and other items had been placed between her legs, apparently as combustibles for the fire. There were also feces between her legs.
The victim was identified as Carolyn Casey. She died of manual strangulation. She also had a broken bone in her neck.
Police found a pair of blue panties on Casey's bed. The panties also contained feces, and the waistband had been torn off. A kitchen knife was found under the bed. The contents of Casey's purse had been dumped out, and her keys were missing. Police also observed that the fire alarm was in the sink. In an apartment dumpster, police found Casey's keys, as well as some towels which matched other towels that were in her bathroom.
Casey, 21, was last seen at a party in the apartment complex. Before she went home feeling ill, she had made a trip with another apartment resident, Ynobe Matthews, 24, to purchase some alcohol from a nearby convenience store. When Casey left, Matthews was not at the party. When Matthews returned to the party later, one of the hosts noticed a "real foul smell" coming from him.
A neighbor reported hearing a series of loud thuds coming from Casey's apartment at around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m.
Police interviewed Matthews, who denied any involvement in the murder, and collected blood, hair, and saliva samples from him. They also collected the clothing he claimed he was wearing on the night of the party. The surveillance videotape from the convenience store, however, showed that he was wearing different clothing. When confronted with this, Matthews surrendered the clothing he was wearing in the videotape. Fibers from those clothes were found on Casey's clothing, her body, and under her fingernails. Fibers from Casey's panties were found on Matthews's shirt. Scrapings from under Casey's fingernails also contained Matthews's DNA.
Matthews then told police that he and Casey had been "seeing each other on and off" and that he was in her apartment on the morning of her murder. He said that in the course of consensual sex, he ripped her panties off while they were "messing around." Matthews said that afterwards, he and Casey began arguing. She took a swing at him, and he threw her on the bed and choked her to death. He said that he started the fire between her legs to cover up any evidence of intercourse. He said that he cut the window screen to give the appearance of a burglary.
At Matthews's trial, police testified that no one they interviewed recalled any indication of a romantic relationship between Matthews and Casey. Also, the medical examiner testified that it is very common for people to defecate in their undergarments out of extreme fear or at the time of death.
Matthews had a previous conviction for assault causing bodily injury. The jury also heard testimony connecting him to the rape and murder of 21-year-old Jamie Hart in 1999, as well as in three other rapes and two attempted rapes. One of the rape victims testified that Matthews attempted to strangle her.
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