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Execution Date Set For Man Convicted In Glynn County Murder

PRESS ADVISORY

Execution Date Set For Man Convicted In Glynn County Murder

February 25, 2009

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers the following information in the case against Robert L. Newland, who is currently scheduled to be executed on March 10, 2009 at 7:00pm.

Scheduled Execution

On February 25, 2009, the SuperiorCourtofGlynnCounty filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Robert L. Newland may occur to begin at noon, March 10, 2009, and ending seven days later at noon on March 17, 2009.  The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, acting pursuant to state law, then set the date and time of the execution as March 10, 2009 at 7:00pm.  Newland has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

 

Newland’s Crimes

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals summarized the facts of the case as follows:

Petitioner and Margaret Beggs, his girlfriend of four years, moved to Glynn County, Georgia in February 1984. Petitioner was self-employed as a drywall construction contractor and Beggs was employed as a social worker in a local mental health clinic. They lived in a house at 230 Broadway Street on St. Simon’s Island, across the street from Carol Sanders Beatty, who lived in a duplex at 231 Broadway Street. Over the two years that they were neighbors, Beggs and Beatty increasingly socialized with each other. Petitioner had infrequent social contact with Beatty, although they were on friendly terms.

On May 30, 1986, at approximately 4:30 p.m., petitioner and Beggs went to a local bar, the Sandpiper, where petitioner had several glasses of beer. They left the bar at around 5:15 p.m., and after purchasing Chinese take-out at Ping’s Restaurant and a bottle of vodka at a local store, they went home for dinner. After dining and consuming several Bloody Marys, they went across the street to visit Beatty. They arrived at around 8:30 p.m., carrying the bottle of vodka and some Bloody Mary mix with them. While Beatty and Beggs talked -- mostly about the problems Beatty was having with her husband locked up in a Florida prison for dealing drugs -- petitioner and Beggs had several rounds of Bloody Marys, consuming most of the vodka in the process.

Petitioner left Beatty’s residence around 9:30-10:00 p.m., announcing that he was going home to bed because he had to get up early the next morning to bid a construction job. Beggs stayed and continued the conversation with Beatty. Petitioner went home, but did not retire for the night. Instead, he packed some clothes and other household items in his pick-up truck and drove to a pier on St. Simon’s Island, where he struck a parked vehicle and immediately fled the scene. He abandoned his pick-up truck on Forest Park Drive, several blocks from his Broadway Street residence, and headed on foot to Beatty’s residence. The owner of the vehicle petitioner had struck, Donald Sanders, had witnessed the collision and called the police. While these events were unfolding, Beggs remained at Beatty’s. She left at around 11:00 p.m. After she got home, she discovered that petitioner was not there. Neither was his truck.

Beatty was in her front yard when she and Beggs parted company. Bonnie Smith, who lived in the other half of the duplex at 231 Broadway Street, was there too. Beatty and Smith visited for a few minutes; both then retired for the night. It was approximately 11:15 p.m.

Shortly after the two women returned to their residences, petitioner entered Beatty’s backyard. Petitioner described what happened next in his confession to the police on May 31, after he had been taken into custody. He called to Beatty, asking her to come outside. Beatty came out and petitioner attempted to kiss her. She refused, and told him to go home or she would tell Beggs. Petitioner again attempted to kiss her, and she scratched and slapped him. According to his post-arrest confession to the police, he then "grabbed her and I threw her down and somehow the knife came in my hand and started stabbing her, I don’t know, I just lost [sic] out of control . . . I was drunk, I don’t know why I did it. I had no reason for it." Petitioner stabbed Beatty in the throat and the abdomen, using a pocket knife that he regularly carried. During the assault, Beatty screamed and called for help. When she collapsed, he ran home, discarding the knife as he ran, washed himself off with a hose in his backyard, put on a new pair of jeans, and entered his house.

At 11:22 p.m., Glynn County Police Department Detectives Barry Moore and James Brundage received a report of a woman screaming in the Broadway Street neighborhood. While they were responding to the call, they received a call from Bonnie Smith, who told them that a woman was screaming in her backyard, behind her residence at 231 Broadway Street. They drove to that address, heard someone run through the backyard, and gave chase. In the course of their pursuit, Brundage discovered petitioner’s pick-up truck parked nearby on Forest Drive. The truck matched the description of the vehicle involved in the hit and run Sanders had reported.

Unable to find the person they were chasing, the detectives returned to Beatty’s residence. Brundage found Beatty in the backyard, laying in the garden, and still alive. Paramedics were summoned and transported Beatty to Glynn-Brunswick Memorial Hospital. According to Dr. Irwin Berman, one of her treating surgeons, Beatty had a slash wound [in] her neck, which had exposed the entire cross section of her windpipe . . . In addition to that, she had multiple wounds of her great vessels of neck . . . There were smaller wounds of the flank . . . and a stab wound of the abdomen through which . . . some of the organs of the, of the abdomen were protruding.

After Beatty had been taken to the hospital, petitioner, dressed in jeans but without a shirt or shoes, entered his house through the backyard. Beggs was awake. She noticed scratches on his face and chest. When she asked about them, petitioner told her that he fell in some bushes on the way back from Beatty’s. Beggs then observed the flashing lights of police cars across the street, at Beatty’s, and went over to find out what had happened. She learned that Beatty had been attacked and taken to the hospital.

Beggs returned home and told petitioner that "something terrible had happened to Carol." Petitioner told her "he didn’t do it." He asked Beggs to find his truck, because he could not remember where he had left it, and attempted to crawl into a small attic space, telling Beggs he was going to hide. Beggs, increasingly distraught at petitioner’s bizarre behavior, left the house in an attempt to find the truck. She also wanted to get away from petitioner, to collect her thoughts.

Beggs drove by Beatty’s duplex for a minute or two, searched the neighborhood for petitioner’s vehicle and, failing to find it, drove to a local convenience store to purchase cigarettes. After that, she drove to the same pier petitioner had headed for earlier, to have a smoke and collect her thoughts before returning home.

At around 12:15 a.m., Dr. Berman noticed that Beatty was mouthing words, apparently in an attempt to communicate. He notified Detective Greg McMichael, who was standing by, and McMichael came to her bedside. The Georgia Supreme Court, in Newland v. State, related what followed:

McMichael . . . asked the victim who had attacked her and read her lips to say the name, ‘Bob.’ He then sounded out the name, ‘Bob’ and asked the victim if this was correct. She nodded her head affirmatively. When asked the last name of her assailant, the victim mouthed a word McMichael could not understand. He then asked the victim if the name began with an ‘A.’ She shook her head negatively. McMichael proceeded in this manner through the alphabet until he asked about the letter ‘N.’ The victim ‘nodded her head vigorously’ and squeezed his hand. By this procedure McMichael was able to elicit affirmative shakes of the head from the victim to the letters, ‘N E W L A.’ McMichael then asked the victim if the last name was ‘Newland.’ The victim ‘nodded her head again very vigorously,’ and squeezed McMichael’s hand. 258 Ga. 172, 366 S.E.2d 689, 692-93 (Ga. 1988).

In like manner, Beatty was able to give McMichael petitioner’s phone number and the name of the street where he lived. Relying on this information, the Glynn County Police Department dispatched several officers, including Detectives Bill Williams and Dennis Krauss, to petitioner’s residence. They arrived at 1:10 a.m. and found petitioner sitting up in his bed and pulling on a pair of jeans, as if he had just awakened. They placed petitioner under arrest for aggravated assault and transported him to the police department headquarters in nearby Brunswick.

Beggs came home shortly after the police left with petitioner. Several officers were still there, and they asked her, and she agreed, to accompany them to the headquarters. She was not under arrest.

Newland v. Hall, 527 F.3d 1162, 1166-1169 (2008). (footnotes omitted).

 

The Trial (1986-1987)

Newland was indicted in the Superior Court of Glynn County, Georgia on June 11, 1986, for the murder and aggravated assault with the intent to rape of Carol Sanders Beatty.  On August 14, 1987, a jury found Newland guilty of murder and aggravated assault with intent to rape.  The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on August 15, 1987. 

 

The Direct Appeal (1988)

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Newland’s convictions and death sentence on April 14, 1988.  Newland v. State, 258 Ga. 172, 366 S.E.2d 689 (1988).  Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on November 28, 1988.  Newland v. Georgia, 488 U.S. 975, 109 S.Ct. 514 (1988).

 

State Habeas Corpus Petition (1991-2003)

Newland, represented by attorneys from the GeorgiaResourceCenter and Dykema Gossett, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on January 2, 1991.  Newland filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus on November 12, 1997.  An evidentiary hearing was held on March 3-4, 1998.  On December 20, 2001, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Newland state habeas relief.  Newland’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on October 1, 2002.  Newland then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on May 5, 2003.  Newland v. Turpin, 538 U.S. 1015 (2003). 

 

Federal Habeas Corpus Petition (2003-2005)

Newland, represented by attorneys from the GeorgiaResourceCenter and Dykema Gossett, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Brunswick Division, on September 19, 2003.  Newland filed an amendment to his petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 11, 2004.  On January 27, 2005, the United States Magistrate Judge entered his Report and Recommendation recommending that Petitioner’s habeas corpus petition be denied.  On June 15, 2005, the United States District Judge adopted the Report and Recommendation and denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.  The district court denied a motion to alter and amend judgment on August 31, 2005.  The district court denied Newland a certificate of appealability on November 2, 2005.

 

11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2005-2008)

The Eleventh Circuit granted Newland’s application for certificate of appealability on November 29, 2005.  The case was orally argued before the Eleventh Circuit on June 8, 2006.  On May 14, 2008, the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion which denied relief.  Newland v. Hall, 527 F.3d 1162 (11th Cir. 2008).  Newland filed a petition for panel rehearing, which was denied on July 9, 2008.

 

United States Supreme Court (2008-2009)

Newland filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on December 5, 2008, which was denied February 23, 2009.  Newland v. Hall, 2009 LEXIS 1348 (Case No. 08-7672).