Reginald W. Perkins, 53, was executed by lethal injection on 22 January 2009 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of his stepmother.
On Monday, 4 December 2000, Willie Perkins was informed by phone that his wife, Gertie, had not picked up their grandson from school. Willie called his children, who attempted to find Gertie. When they were unable to locate her, they called the police, who found a small bloodstain on the edge of the carpet in the Perkins' home in Fort Worth. They also observed that the line cord from the bedroom telephone was missing.
On the day Gertie disappeared, the couple's son, Reginald, then 45, sold her wedding ring at a pawn shop for $150. Two checks from the couple's family business were also cashed - one for $600 and one for $700.
Later that day, the police arrested Reginald. When Reginald called his father, Willie said, "I sure hope you've got good news for me." Reginald answered, "I'm afraid not; she's dead." Perkins then directed his father and police to a parking garage, where they found Gertie's car parked. Her body was in the trunk. She had bruises on her head and mouth and had also been strangled with something thin and smooth.
Testimony at Perkins' trial showed that on 1 December, he told his stepbrother's wife that he needed $1000 by Monday, and that he planned to rob a woman who worked in a store by herself. Perkins' sister also testified that he told her on 3 December that he was having money problems.
An inmate at the Tarrant County Jail testified that while Perkins was awaiting trial for murder, he confessed to the murder. He stated that he had beaten the victim to death and robbed her. The inmate remembered something about a telephone cord but could not remember whether Perkins said he strangled her or tied her up with it. Perkins told him that he paid another man $200 to cash the checks.
In December 1980 in Ohio, Perkins raped a 12-year old girl. She testified at the punishment hearing phase of his capital murder trial. She said that during the attack, Perkins struck her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The girl did not report the rape to the police, but her mother found out and banned Perkins from their apartment. About a month after the rape, the girl found her mother, Jenny Morman, 43, strangled to death with an electrical cord. Perkins pleaded guilty of raping the girl and was sentenced to life in prison. He was arrested for the mother's murder, but was never tried. Perkins was also suspected, but not charged, in the strangling death of the girl's father, Jerry Thomas, 3 weeks after Morman's killing.
Also at Perkins' punishment hearing, Ramola Washington testified that he killed her sister, Paula Nelson, on 23 October 1980 by strangling her with a soft object, like a scarf. Perkins was never tried for that murder.
In addition to the life sentence for rape of a minor, Perkins also had convictions in Ohio for attempted rape of a minor and gross sexual imposition. He served the sentences for those convictions concurrently with the life sentence. In 1990, however, he was released on parole. He was returned to prison on a parole violation in 1994, then was paroled again in February 2000.
A jury convicted Perkins of capital murder in March 2002 and sentenced him to death. After the verdict was announced, Perkins's lawyer read a written statement composed by Perkins, in which he expressed sympathy for his family's pain, but also proclaimed his innocence.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in June 2004. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
According to the Texas Attorney General's office, since he was sentenced to death for Gertie Perkins' murder, Reginald Perkins was connected by DNA evidence to the 1991 stranglings of Shirley Douglas, 44, and her aunt, Hattie Wilson, 79, in Fort Worth. Police said Perkins had dated Wilson's granddaughter.
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