Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Dennis Bagwell

Dennis Bagwell
Dennis Bagwell
Executed on 17 February 2005

Dennis Wayne Bagwell, 41, was executed by lethal injection on 17 February 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of four members of his family.

Dennis Bagwell and his girlfriend, Victoria Wolford, lived in Wilson county in a small travel trailer on property owned by Bagwell's mother, Leona McBee, and her common-law husband, Ronald Boone. Boone and McBee also lived on the property in a mobile home, which they shared with Boone's granddaughter, Tassy Boone; McBee's niece, Libby Best; and Best's daughter, Reba Best.

In September 1995, McBee asked Bagwell and Wolford to move. They moved in with some friends in San Antonio. The travel trailer they had been living in remained on Boone and McBee's property.

About two weeks later, on 20 September, Bagwell and Wolford drove to his mother's home to borrow money. At Bagwell's trial, Wolford testified that she had a headache and went into the travel trailer to rest. A short time later, Bagwell walked over and told her that his mother would only give him $20.

According to Wolford, Bagwell then went back to the mobile home, while she stood outside the travel trailer. Through the window, Wolford saw Bagwell strike his mother, then she heard screams and two popping noises. She heard Tassy Boone yell, "No, no," and heard Reba Best scream. Everything was quiet for a while, then Wolford heard McBee yell at the dogs and gasp for air. Then, through the window, she saw Bagwell hit McBee with a long-handled gun.

Later, Wolford testified, Bagwell took some towels, wet them with a water hose, and wiped off a hammer. He also told Wolford that he was going to go inside to wipe off fingerprints he might have left in the house. He said that he wanted to make the crime look like a robbery and a rape of Tassy Boone.

The bodies were discovered by Ronald Boone when he came home from work. Leona McBee, 47, had been beaten and strangled, and her neck was broken. Libby Best, 24, had been shot twice in the head. Tassy Boone, 14, had been beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted. Her neck was also broken. Reba Best, 4, had been beaten, and her skull was crushed.

Bagwell had a prior conviction for attempted capital murder, for robbing and slitting the throat of an illegal immigrant. He began serving an 18-year sentence in October 1982. He was paroled in October 1989. In September 1992, he was returned to prison on a parole violation. He was paroled again in January 1993. (At the time, the state of Texas was forced to meet strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) Bagwell was still on parole when he murdered his mother and relatives.

In addition to Wolford's testimony, Bagwell was linked to the crime by a bloody shoeprint found underneath Tassy Boone's body.

Bagwell denied any involvement in the crime. His lawyers implicated Tassy's mother as the killer, but she established that she was in California at the time of the crime.

At Bagwell's punishment hearing, the state also presented evidence of his involvement in another murder that took place two weeks before the capital murders. Bagwell kicked George Barry, 63, to death in a bar where Barry worked as a janitor. A sheriff's deputy also testified that Bagwell made numerous threats against law enforcement personnel prior to his trial. Bagwell was also addicted to cocaine.

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