Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, June 10, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Willie Mac Moddon Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Willie Mac Moddon, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, 2002.

On Aug. 6, 1992, Willie Mac Moddon, was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Deborah Davenport, which occurred in Lufkin, Texas, on July 29, 1984. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Jan. 31, 1985, Willie Mac Moddon was convicted of murdering 27-year-old Deborah Davenport, a mother of three children, in the course of robbing a convenience store.

During the early morning hours of July 29, 1984, Willie Mac Moddon, Leroy McGrew and Moddon's uncle, Wilton Young, drove to a Fina gas station in Lufkin, Texas. While McGrew and Young waited in the car, Moddon entered the convenience store, robbed it, stabbed the store's lone clerk, Deborah Davenport, 17 times and fled the store. The murder occurred between 1:55 a.m., when a customer last saw Davenport alive, and 2 a.m., when a different customer discovered Davenport lying in a pool of blood behind the store counter. Davenport was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive the attack.

Though Moddon denied having any information about Davenport's murder when investigators questioned him on July 29, 1984, a "Crimestoppers" tip in October 1984 focused the investigation on Moddon. According to a statement from Linda McGrew, Leroy McGrew's wife, Moddon confided to her that he "had to kill a woman a little while ago"; that he "had stabbed [her]"; and that though she begged him not to kill her because she had three children, he killed her anyway because he "didn't want to leave any witnesses." On Oct. 8, 1984, Young also gave investigators a statement that implicated Moddon in Davenport's murder.

Moddon was arrested on Oct. 11, 1984. He confessed to robbing the Fina gas station, but not to murdering Davenport. In addition to the testimony from Linda McGrew and Wilton Young, the jury heard testimony from a friend of Moddon's that saw Moddon, Young and Leroy McGrew the morning of July 29, 1984, and that Moddon had a scratch on his head that was still bleeding. Moddon's explanation at the time was that he had stabbed a lady "fifteen times" because his uncle told him not to leave any witnesses. Despite Davenport's plea that he not kill her "because she had three kids," Moddon confessed to his friend that he "had to kill the bitch so she wouldn't tell on me." At trial, Moddon told the jury that killing Davenport was his own idea, and that neither McGrew nor Young encouraged him to kill her.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On Oct. 13, 1984, in the 217th Judicial District Court of Angelina County, Texas, the State of Texas indicted Moddon for the capital murder of Deborah Davenport during the course of committing and attempting to commit robbery. The State tried Moddon twice for the crime; Moddon pled "not guilty" each time and the jury returned a "guilty" verdict both times.

The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the first conviction and death sentence on Dec. 17, 1986. On Feb. 12, 1992, however, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and remanded the first conviction and death sentence based on Moddon's state writ allegation that the jury was unable to consider his alleged mental retardation as a circumstance that mitigated against the death penalty.

Trial on the merits for Moddon's second trial began on Aug. 3, 1992, and on Aug. 6, 1992, following a separate punishment hearing, the same jury answered "yes" to the deliberateness and future dangerousness special issue questions. Consequently, the trial court again assessed punishment at death.

On April 23, 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Moddon's second conviction and death sentence on direct appeal and denied rehearing. On June 19, 1995, the U. S. Supreme Court denied Moddon's petition for a writ of certiorari. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Moddon's application for state habeas relief on June 4, 1998. Moddon's federal habeas relief was denied on Sept. 30, 1998, by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

On March 23, 2001, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Moddon's request to appeal the federal district court's decision. On March 8, 2002, the trial court set Moddon's execution date for June 11, 2002. Moddon has not appealed the Fifth Circuit's decision to the U. S. Supreme Court.

On June 5, 2002, Moddon filed a successive state writ that the Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed as an abuse of the writ.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the time of his second capital murder trial, Moddon had three felony convictions that included theft, burglary, and a robbery in which Moddon used a gun. Moddon also previously attempted to escape from the Angelina County Jail, hid razor blades from prison personnel, threw urine on a prison guard, started a fire outside his cell, and assaulted a fellow inmate with a weapon that Moddon crafted from razor blades.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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