Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Steven Woods

Steven Woods
Steven Woods
Executed on 13 September 2011

Steven Michael Woods Jr., 31, was executed by lethal injection on 13 September 2011 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of two people.

Early in the morning of 2 May 2001, two golfers driving on a golf course road in The Colony - a suburb on the north side of Dallas - discovered two victims lying beside a car. Ron Whitehead, 21, had been shot in the head six times and his neck was cut four times. Bethena Brosz, 19, was shot twice in the head, once in the knee, and her throat was also cut. Whitehead was dead. Brosz was alive and given medical treatment, but died the next day.

The police received several anonymous tips that Woods, then 21, and Marcus Rhodes, 23, were involved in the killings. Detectives interviewed Woods, who admitted being with the victims at Insomnia, a coffee shop in Dallas's Deep Ellum entertainment district, the night before their bodies were found. Woods said that he and Rhodes had agreed to lead Whitehead and Brosz to a house in The Colony, but that their two vehicles became separated during the trip, so he and Rhodes returned to Deep Ellum. Woods was not arrested as a result of this interview.

Detectives then interviewed Rhodes.After a search of his car revealed car keys, a cell phone, backpacks, and other personal items belonging to Whitehead and Brosz, he was arrested. The .380-caliber and .45-caliber handguns used in the killings were found at his parents' home. His fingerprints were on both weapons.

Woods, who had left Dallas and traveled to New Orleans and Idaho after being questioned, was arrested months later in northern California. He and Rhodes were both charged with capital murder, even though the physical evidence pointed to Rhodes as the only gunman. (Under Texas law, a defendant can be found guilty as a party to capital murder even without proof that he personally inflicted a mortal injury.)

Whitehead was a known LSD dealer in West Ellum. Woods was also a drug dealer, and prosecutors described Rhodes as one of Woods' customers. At Woods' trial, witnesses testified that he lured Whitehead to the isolated area on the pretense of a deal. Police speculated that Woods and Rhodes killed him because his sales were cutting into Woods' own drug business. According to prosecutors, Brosz happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed because she was a witness to Whitehead's murder.

David Samuelson testified that he spoke with Rhodes at Insomnia on 1 May, the evening of the killings. Samuelson said Rhodes stated that "he had a job to do" for Woods that night, and he did not want to do it.

Staci Schwartz testified that she spoke with Rhodes at Insomnia on 2 May. Rhodes told her that he and Woods used Brosz's credit cart to make an online purchase of tickets to an anime festival. Rhodes told Schwartz they bought the tickets in Samuelson's name and had them sent to his house in an attempt to make him appear responsible for the murders. Samuelson then testified that his credit card account had a denied charge in Brosz's name for anime festival tickets.

Woods was connected to another murder involving Rhodes that took place about two months earlier. Beau Sanders, the manager of Insomnia, disappeared in March 2001. His body was eventually discovered in the desert southwest of Las Vegas. He was murdered with a .380-caliber handgun.

In an interview with a detective from the San Bernardino County (California) Sheriff's Department, Woods stated that Sanders wanted to go to California and that he, Rhodes, Jeremy Stark, and Matthew Potts agreed to give him a ride. Woods said he knew that Rhodes and Stark planned to kill Sanders. Woods said his girlfriend convinced him not to go on the trip, but he lent the others his car instead. Rhodes provided the guns and was present when Stark and Potts shot Sanders. When they returned, they divided up Sanders' clothing, compact discs, and other personal items among themselves.

Woods denied that he ordered a "hit" on Sanders. He said Sanders was his friend and he felt bad about what happened to him. He said did not do anything to prevent the murder and did not go to the police because he was afraid of Rhodes and Stark.

Other witnesses testified that Woods was more involved in Sanders' killing than he admitted. Michael Cavin testified Woods told him he was taking Sanders out to California to kill him, and that he would kill Cavin if he told anyone. Cavin was at Insomnia with the group on the night they left for California in Woods' car, while Woods stayed behind. A day or two later, Woods woke Cavin up at 3 a.m., pointed a 12-gague shotgun in his face, and asked him if he was going to tell anyone.

Finally, Stephen Price testified that he encountered Woods in California, where he was hiding out after the murders of Whitehead and Brosz. Price said Woods told him he murdered Whitehead because he "was a threat to go to the police" about Sanders' murder.

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