Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Cary Kerr

Cary Kerr
Cary Kerr
Executed on 3 May 2011

Cary Kerr, 47, was executed by lethal injection on 3 May 2011 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape and murder of a 34-year-old woman.

On 11 July 2001, Kerr, then 36, was socializing with Pamela Horton and her friend Jennifer York at a Fort Worth nightclub. York danced briefly with Kerr, but as she walked away, he grabbed her arm, so she punched him. York told Horton that she didn't like Kerr, but Horton defended him as being "a nice guy." Horton had been seen socializing with Kerr, who lived in the same trailer park as she, in Fort Worth bars for about a month.

Later, Horton, who was intoxicated, told York she was ready to go and needed a ride home, but York was not yet ready to leave. Kerr took Horton outside, then returned briefly and whispered to Cathy Dawson, "I'm taking this drunk bitch home and I'll be right back."

Kerr then took Horton to his home, where he raped and strangled her with his hands. He then put her body in his car. After driving around a little, he pushed her body out of the car.

At 2 a.m., a taxi driver spotted Horton's body lying in the street. The driver located an ambulance. The paramedics went to the scene and found the body. She was wearing only a pair of shorts, with no underwear. Only the top button of the shorts's button fly was fastened. There was "fuzz" on the victim's feet, indicating she had recently worn socks.

After the paramedics wrapped the body, Kerr approached them. He asked them to pull back the sheet because he believed he could identify the body. The paramedics responded that they would not uncover the body, but asked him to tell them who he thought it was. Kerr said he was the one who found the body and had called them. The paramedics responded that no one called them; they had been approached by a taxi driver. Kerr then said that he saw the body while driving by. He saw a black sedan parked nearby with two males sitting in it and thought the body might be a robbery decoy, so he didn't stop, but he flagged down the taxi. Kerr said he thought he recognized the woman as a regular at some of the local bars.

Next, police officers arrived at the scene and talked to Kerr. They saw a purse in his car and asked whose it was. Referring to the victim, he answered, "If that's the girl I picked up, maybe it's hers." He retrieved the purse from his car and gave it to the officers. In it, they found a plastic hair clip, of which 8 of the 14 teeth were broken off, and the hinge was damaged. The officers also noticed a long strand of blonde hair on Kerr's face. Horton had long blonde hair, but Kerr had brown hair. The officers then arrested him.

A search of Kerr's home yielded a torn bra, panties, and a plastic tooth that matched the broken hair clip.

An autopsy indicated that the victim had a fractured hyoid bone and that the cause of death was manual strangulation. The victim also suffered bruises on her head, on and around her eyes, on her chest, and arms. In addition, she had abrasions in various places. The medical examiner testified that the abrasions were inflicted after her death and were consistent with a body being thrown onto the street from a moving vehicle. The victim also had semen in her mouth. The blood alcohol concentration at the time of the autopsy was 0.465.

DNA testing showed that the semen in the victim's mouth matched Kerr's DNA. The bra and panties found in Kerr's apartment contained DNA matching the victim.

At Kerr's trial, the defense argued that the state could not prove that the victim was raped. Without rape as an aggravating factor, the crime would not qualify as capital murder, and thus would not be eligible for the death penalty.

Kerr had a prior conviction for assault causing bodily injury. In August 1999, he invited a woman who lived next door to a house where he was house sitting to come over for a swim. She did, and as she was attempting to go home, Kerr pushed her back into the pool. He grabbed her, asked her to show him her breasts, and held her hands behind her back. When she threatened to scream, he told her he would kill her and dump her body into a lake. Kerr then held the woman's head under water until she started choking. He then ripped open her shirt and bra and forced her to give him oral sex. The next day, the woman contacted police. Kerr pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail. The woman testified against Kerr at his punishment hearing.

Additionally, two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend testified that Kerr was often violent. Michelle Landdreth, his wife from 1987 to 1991, testified that he beat her - resulting in black eyes, busted lips, and bruises - and choked her, but she did not seek medical attention or press charges because she was afraid of him. Diana Forgeson, his wife from 1993 to 1996, also testified that Kerr hit her. Cindy Huffman, his girlfriend from 1989 to 1996, testified that he often hit her and threatened her with a gun. Huffman reported Kerr to the police and obtained several restraining orders against him.

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