Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson
Executed on 12 January 2010

Gary James Johnson, 49, was executed by lethal injection on 12 January 2010 in Huntsville, Texas for killing two men while burglarizing a ranch.

On 30 April 1986, Johnson, then 35, and his brother, Terry, 38 went to the Triple Creek Ranch west of Huntsville to burglarize it. Gary Johnson had once been employed there as a ranchhand. While the brothers were looking for items to steal, ranch foreman James Hazelton, 28, and his brother-in-law, Peter Sparagana, 23, arrived. They confronted Terry, but did not see Gary. While Terry distracted them, Gary surprised them and opened fire on Sparagana. Hazelton tried to run, but Gary caught him. The assailants then brought Hazelton back to the barn, made him kneel, and tied his hands behind his back. While Hazelton pleaded for mercy, Gary shoved the gun in his mouth and fired. Both victims died from wounds from a .44-caliber pistol at close range.

At Johnson's trial, Bill and Shannon Ferguson testified that they were in their pasture on the evening of the murder when they saw a truck pull over near a gate of the Triple Creek Ranch, which was adjacent to their property. They noticed someone get out of the truck, heard a chain rattle on the gate, and observed someone from the truck go through the gate and onto the property. The truck's headlights had been turned off. Concerned that there was a burglary in progress, Mrs. Ferguson ran to her house to call the ranch managers, the Hazeltons.

Fifteen minutes later, the Fergusons observed Jim Hazelton's truck appear at the same gate. Unable to enter through that gate, Hazelton entered the rance from another location. The Fergusons subsequently heard a gunshot, prompting Mrs. Ferguson to rush to her house and phone the police.

Mr. Ferguson remained in the pasture, watching to see if anyone exited the gate. Several minutes after the first gunshot, several more shots were fired in rapid succession. After a brief silence, Mr. Ferguson heard someone plead for his life. The pleas were silenced by two more shots.

Johnson's brothers - Tracey, Randy, and Ricky - all testified that in the fall of 1986, Gary visted them in Missouri. Each of them testified that Gary confessed to the murder and described it to them. In addition, Tracey testified that Gary gave him the .44-caliber pistol used in the double murder and asked him to destroy it.

Johnson had no prior criminal convictions.

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