Bryan Eric Wolfe, 44, was executed by lethal injection on 18 May 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of an 84-year-old woman.
On 15 February 1992, the body of Bertha Lemell was found on the floor of her Beaumont home. She had been stabbed 26 times in the head, trunk, and abdomen. Her coin purse was found on the floor near her body. It was unlatched and empty, save for a single coin. There were no signs of forced entry into the home. There was blood all over the house, including the victim's bedroom, the bathroom, the front door, and the driveway. Some blackeyed peas were scattered on the floor.
Bryan Wolfe, then 31, lived in the same neighborhood as Lemell. According to trial testimony, the victim and Wolfe's wife were close friends, and Lemell babysat the couple's children. Wolfe was seen in the neighborhood shortly before and shortly after the murder. He was arrested two days later. He had deep cuts on his right hand.
In a statement to police, Wolfe said that he had never met the victim and was at a church barbecue all afternoon on the day of the killing. He said that he cut his hand on a broken beer bottle.
Wolfe's DNA was matched to a bloody towel found in the victim's home, as well as to other blood samples taken from the crime scene.
At Wolfe's trial, a friend of the victim testified that she had taken Lemell shopping on the day of the murder. She saw Lemell take $60 in cash out of her coin purse, pay for less than $20 worth of groceries, and put the rest of the money back in her coin purse. Witnesses testified that Lemell kept blackeyed peas in her purse for good luck.
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