Denard Sha Manns, 42, was executed by lethal injection on 13 November 2008 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape, murder, and robbery of a woman in her home.
On 19 November 1998, Michelle Robson, 26, was found dead in her bathtub in her Killeen apartment. She had been shot five times in the head and chest with a .22-caliber gun. She had also been sexually assaulted. She was found wearing a black bra, which had semen stains on it. Her credit cards, jewelry, some cash, and her vehicle had been stolen.
Eric Williams and Bamberg Manns lived two doors down from the victim. Williams owned a .22-caliber pistol. On 18 November 1998 between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., Williams discovered a bullet on the floor in front of his dresser. He called Bamberg, who had no explanation for it. A short time later, Denard Manns, then 32, arrived. Denard, who was Bamberg's half-brother and Williams' cousin, had once lived with them. He told Williams he had been at the residence earlier that day.
On the day Robson's body was found, when Williams learned she was killed with a .22-caliber weapon, he went to the police and turned his gun over to them. A firearms expert determined that at least one of the bullets from the victim's body was fired from Williams' gun. Fingerprint testing revealed fingerprints from Williams and Denard Manns were on the gun. Bamberg's fingerprints were not found on the gun.
There were no signs of forced entry in the victim's apartment. Investigators believed this meant Robson knew or at least recognized her killer. Clay Wellenstein, the victim's husband, who was out of state visiting his family at the time of the killing, later said that he knew Manns only enough to say "hello" if they passed each other.
Evidence presented at Manns' trial showed that the DNA from the semen stain on the victim's bra matched his DNA. In addition, Manns' friend, Barbara Feazell, testified that on the day after the murder, Manns came to her residence. While he was there, several rings fell out of his pants pocket. He also left a jacket behind. A witness testified that the jacket belonged to Robson, and a department store receipt showed that she had purchased one of the rings.
Manns denied committing the murder. He blamed the killing on his half brother, Bamberg. He said he got the jacket and gun from friends and the rings from a drug dealer. The defense proposed that the half brothers would have similar DNA. Witnesses for the prosecution, however, testified that the DNA was a positive match to Denard, and not Bamberg.
Manns had a lengthy criminal history in New York, with convictions ranging from disorderly conduct to larceny to armed robbery. He was known as a subway robber in New York City - robbing people who rode the subways alone. In 1992, he was indicted on 15 counts of armed robbery, and pleaded guilty to two of them. He served two prison terms. He had been most recently released in April 1998.
While Manns was in the Bell County jail, he took a swing at a jailer and threatened to kill him. A razor-sharp metal object was also found in his cell.
Manns sometimes refused to go to court during the jury selection portion of his trial. He also refused to attend his punishment hearing.
Continued on Page 2