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Execution Date Set for Tommy Lee Waldrip, Convicted of Committing Malice Murder in Dawson County

PRESS ADVISORY

Execution Date Set for Tommy Lee Waldrip, Convicted of Committing Malice Murder in Dawson County

June 24, 2014

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens offers the following information in the case against Tommy Lee Waldrip, who is currently scheduled to be executed on July 10, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. for the murder of Keith Evans.

Scheduled Execution

On June 23, 2014, the Superior Court of Dawson County filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Tommy Lee Waldrip may occur to begin at noon, July 10, 2014, and ending seven days later at noon on July 17, 2014. Waldrip has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

Waldrip’s Crime (April 13, 1991)

The Georgia Supreme Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:

The jury was authorized to find that appellant [Tommy Lee Waldrip] murdered Keith Evans to prevent Evans from testifying against his son, John Mark Waldrip, at his armed robbery retrial in Forsyth County. Evans, who worked as a clerk in the store at the time of the robbery, testified as the State’s sole eyewitness at John Mark’s first trial in 1990. Although John Mark was convicted in the 1990 trial, the trial court granted his motion for new trial, and he was released on bond pending the retrial.  At the time of his death, Evans was scheduled to testify at the retrial.

On Saturday afternoon, two days before the retrial was scheduled to begin, the appellant and his co-indictees, John Mark and appellant’s brother-in-law Howard Livingston, drove to Cleveland, Georgia and bought a used station wagon for $150, which they returned a half hour later because it was overheating. That evening, John Mark called Robert Garner, who was also scheduled to testify against him at the retrial, and threatened to harm Garner if he testified. At approximately 9:30 p.m. appellant and John Mark left appellant’s apartment in appellant’s wife’s Ford Tempo. Sometime between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, the co-indictees met Evans at a highway crossing in Dawson County. After running Evans’ truck off the road, they shot at him through the windshield. He was hit with birdshot from a shotgun in the face and neck. Since Evans was still alive, the co-indictees drove his truck, with Evans in the passenger seat, to Hugh Stowers Road in Dawson County, where they beat him to death with a blackjack. They buried Evans’ body in a shallow grave in Gilmer County and set his truck on fire.

The fire was reported at approximately 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning. A current insurance card for the Ford Tempo, belonging to appellant’s wife, Linda Waldrip, was found near the burned truck. Appellant was interviewed on Sunday afternoon and denied any involvement in Evans’ disappearance. During the interview, Linda Waldrip was asked for her insurance card for the Ford Tempo, and she produced an expired card.

John Mark’s retrial for armed robbery did not take place. On Monday morning, Keith Evans was missing and Garner refused to testify against John Mark. Garner subsequently informed the district attorney of the threats made against him, and John Mark was arrested and charged with influencing a witness.

Appellant was arrested on Tuesday, and on Thursday, confessed to shooting and beating the victim and burning his truck. He then led authorities to the victim’s body, and later, to the shotgun used in the crimes. The following day, appellant gave a conflicting statement, in which he contended that John Mark and Livingston murdered the victim and burned his truck, and that he was merely a bystander. Appellant gave a third statement in which he related that all three of the co-indictees participated in the crimes.

Waldrip v. State, 267 Ga. at 740-741 (1997).

The Trial (1991-1995)

Waldrip was indicted in the Superior Court of Dawson County, Georgia during the February 1991 Term for malice murder, two counts of felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated battery, five counts of aggravated assault, theft by taking motor vehicle, arson in the first degree, arson in the second degree, influencing a witness, concealing a death, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. On September 16, 1994, a jury found Waldrip mentally competent to stand trial. On October 26, 1994, a jury found Waldrip guilty of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated battery, five counts of aggravated assault, theft by taking motor vehicle, arson in the second degree, influencing a witness, concealing a death, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on October 28, 1994. Thereafter, Waldrip filed a motion for new trial, which was denied on November 28, 1995.  

The Direct Appeal (1997)

The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Waldrip’s convictions and sentences on March 10, 1997.  Waldrip v. State, 267 Ga. 739 (1997).  The United States Supreme Court denied Waldrip’s request to appeal on October 14, 1997.  Waldrip v. Georgia, 522 U.S. 917 (1997). 

State Habeas Corpus Proceedings (1998-2006)

Waldrip, represented by attorneys from Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on March 17, 1998.  An evidentiary hearing was held on April 29, 2002.  On June 8, 2004, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Waldrip state habeas relief.  The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the state habeas court’s denial of relief on October 12, 2005.  Waldrip v. Head, 279 Ga. 826 (2005).  On March 20, 2006, the United States Supreme Court denied Waldrip’s request to appeal as untimely.  Waldrip v. Terry, 547 U.S. 1016 (2006).

Federal Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2006-2011)

Waldrip, represented by attorneys from Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP and the Federal Defender Program, Inc., filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on May 1, 2006.  On March 30, 2011, the district court denied Waldrip federal habeas corpus relief. 

11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2011-2013)

Waldrip’s case was appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011. The case was orally argued before the Eleventh Circuit on February 12, 2013.  On August 21, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit denied relief.  Waldrip v. Humphrey, 532 Fed. Appx. 878 (11th Cir. 2013).

United States Supreme Court (2014)

Waldrip requested to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which was denied May 27, 2014.  Waldrip v. Humphrey, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 3781 (2014).

 

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Lauren Kane
Office of the Attorney General
Georgia Department of Law
(404) 463-7540
 
Twitter: @Georgia_AG
Facebook: facebook.com/GeorgiaAttorneyGeneral