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Execution Date Set For White Supremacist Convicted For 1994 Oconee County Murder

PRESS ADVISORY

Execution Date Set For White Supremacist Convicted For 1994 Oconee County Murder

April 13, 2009

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers the following information in the case of William Mark Mize, who is currently scheduled to be executed on April 28, 2009 at 7:00pm.

Scheduled Execution

On April 13, 2009, the Superior CourtofOconeeCounty filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the execution of William Mark Mize may occur to begin at noon, April 28, 2009, and ending seven days later at noon on May 5, 2009.  The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections set the specific date and time for the execution as 7:00pm on April 28, 2009.  Mize has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

 

Mize’s Crimes

On direct appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court found the evidence at trial established the following:

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence adduced at trial showed that Mize was the leader of a small group, similar to the Ku Klux Klan, called the National Vastilian Aryan Party (NVAP). Witnesses testified that Mize made all the decisions for the NVAP. Several witnesses also testified that Mize displayed a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun at an NVAP meeting and told the members that the shotgun was the kind of weapon that the group would use because it could not be traced. Several of Mize’s friends and co-workers were members of the NVAP, or in the initiation process. Eddie Tucker, the victim, had filled out an application form but was not a full member.

On Saturday, October 15, 1994, several NVAP members and applicants gathered at Mize’s home after Mize got off from work. Those present were Mize, Mark Allen, Chris Hattrup, Brian Dove, Samantha Doster (Mize’s girlfriend), and Tucker. Mize told Doster that the group was going camping that night and they all got in Mize’s car. When they were driving, Mize told the group that there was a crack house in Athens that he wanted "gotten rid of." Mize stated that he wanted Hattrup and Tucker to set the house on fire, and they stopped at a convenience store and bought a can of lighter fluid. Hattrup and Tucker were dropped off near the house but their attempt to set it on fire was unsuccessful. When they rejoined the group, Hattrup told Mize that he needed to talk with him. Hattrup also said, referring to Tucker, that they "didn’t need anybody around that couldn’t follow orders."

After spending an hour at a bar, Mize drove the group to a wooded area in OconeeCounty. Dove and Doster were given camping gear to carry and the group set out into the woods. No one had a flashlight even though it was night. Tucker was in the lead, followed by Mize, Allen, Doster, Dove and Hattrup. After they had gone only a short distance, Hattrup passed Dove and Doster and moved up the trail to talk with Allen and Mize. Mize told Allen to stop Dove and Doster from continuing into the woods. At this point, Tucker, Hattrup and Mize were out of sight in the woods ahead of Allen, Dove and Doster. There was a shot, and Tucker exclaimed, "My God, what did you do that for?" There was a second shot. Doster heard Hattrup ask Mize if he had the gun and Mize replied, "No, man. I thought you had it." Hattrup stated, "No. He took it away from me," and Mize said, "If you can’t finish it I can." Allen left Dove and Doster and moved up the trail. Dove and Doster heard a discussion among Mize, Allen, and Hattrup about muscle spasms and how Tucker was still moving. There was a third shot.

Dove and Doster ran back to Mize’s car. Mize emerged from the woods holding a shotgun and trying to break it down. Once in the car, Mize asked everyone if they knew why it was done. Everyone nodded in agreement. Mize told the group that the same thing could happen to them if they ran their mouth. Mize also told the group that, if asked about Tucker, they should say that they had dropped him off at a convenience store. While they were driving, Allen and Hattrup noticed that the barrel of the shotgun had shattered so they stopped at a bridge and threw the gun in a river. Later, Mize confided to Doster that he had finished Tucker off by shooting him in the head.

The police discovered Tucker’s body several days later. He had been shot in the back, chest and head with a shotgun. The medical examiner testified that the back and chest wounds were inflicted by a shotgun fired at close range. The victim’s head exhibited widely scattered pellet wounds that failed to penetrate the skull; the head wounds were consistent with a close-range shotgun blast that had shattered the barrel. The medical examiner further testified that the shots to the back and chest tore through the victim’s right lung, but that none of the wounds were immediately fatal. The victim’s death was due to blood loss, and it could have taken him several minutes to die. A fragment of the shotgun barrel was discovered about two feet from the body’s location; the gun was not recovered.

After the body was discovered but before anyone was arrested, Chris Hattrup showed his roommate, Paul McDonald, the newspaper article about Tucker’s death and told him what had happened. When the crack house failed to burn, Mize asked how Tucker had done and Hattrup responded that Tucker "didn’t do what he was supposed to do." Mize then said, "you know what we have to do." Hattrup admitted to McDonald that he shot Tucker in the back and chest, but that Tucker was still alive. He was out of ammunition, though, so he asked Mize for another shotgun shell and Mize gave it to him. Hattrup then shot Tucker in the head. Hattrup also boasted to McDonald that he was now a "hit man for the Klan."

Brian Dove told the police what he had seen and heard that night, and he later testified at Mize’s trial. The other four NVAP members involved in Tucker’s death were arrested. After spending a year in jail, Doster agreed to testify against the others and her charges were dropped.

Mize v. State, 269 Ga. 646-648, 501 S.E.2d 219 (1998).

 

The Trial (1995)

Mize was indicted in the Superior Court of Oconee County, Georgia on January 11, 1995, for the malice murder of Eddie Tucker.   On December 12, 1995, a jury found Mize guilty of malice murder.  The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on December 13, 1995. 

 

The Direct Appeal (1998-1999)

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Mize’s conviction and death sentence on June 15, 1998.   Mize v.  State, 269 Ga. 646, 501 S.E.2d 219 (1998).  Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on January 11, 1999.  Mize v.  Georgia, 525 U.S. 1078, 119 S.Ct. 817 (1999).

 

State Habeas Corpus Petition (1999-2001)

Mize, represented by John Matteson, filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on March 3, 1999.   Mize subsequently discharged Mr. Matteson, and he filed, acting pro se, a second petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 19, 1999.  In filing his second state habeas petition, Mize repeatedly made it clear that he was not represented by Mr. Matteson and that any pleadings filed by Mr. Matteson were to be withdrawn immediately.  On April 7, 1999, Mr. Matteson filed a notice to dismiss the petition for habeas corpus previously filed by him on Mize’s behalf.

Mize then informed the state habeas corpus court that he wanted Bruce Harvey to represent him.   As such, Mr. Harvey entered an appearance as counsel for Mize on April 9, 1999.  Mize subsequently informed the court that he no longer wanted to be represented by Mr. Harvey.  On October 8, 1999, the state habeas corpus court allowed Mr. Harvey to withdraw as counsel from Mize’s case.  Thereafter, Mize informed the state habeas corpus court that he wanted to dismiss his state habeas corpus petition.  On October 27, 1999, the state habeas corpus court entered an order dismissing Mize’s state habeas corpus petition without prejudice.

Mize, acting pro se, filed a third petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on December 28, 1999.   Again, Mize continually asserted his pro se status; however, Thomas H. Dunn of the GeorgiaResourceCenter assisted Mize with his petition and provided Mize with evidence and investigative services. 

In July of 2000, during the pendency of his state habeas corpus petition, Mize filed an extraordinary motion for new trial in the Superior CourtofOconeeCounty wherein he alleged prosecutorial misconduct in that the prosecutor in his criminal trial suborned perjury from Samantha Doster.  On January 26, 2000, the Honorable Lawton Stephens granted Mize a hearing on his extraordinary motion for new trial. 

Prior to the commencement of an extraordinary motion for new trial hearing, an evidentiary hearing was held on Mize’s third state habeas corpus petition on February 1, 2001 with Mize acting pro se.   At the close of the evidence, the state habeas corpus court entered an order closing the evidence and held that it would reserve ruling on his state habeas petition until the trial court ruled on Mize’s extraordinary motion for new trial.

Subsequently, Mize, with the advice of counsel, withdrew his extraordinary motion for new trial on July 2, 2001.   Thereafter, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying relief on January 10, 2002.  Mize’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on July 15, 2002. 

 

Federal Habeas Corpus Petition (2002-2007)

Mize, acting pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Athens Division, on October 31, 2002.  Counsel was subsequently appointed by the court, and he filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus on July 21, 2003. 

On November 17, 2006, the district court denied Mize federal habeas corpus relief.  The district court then denied a motion to alter and amend judgment on January 17, 2007.  Thereafter, the district court granted Mize a certificate of appealability on specific issues on March 22, 2007.

 

11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2008)

The case was orally argued before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on February 25, 2008.  On July 2, 2008, the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion which denied relief.  Mizev. Hall, 532 F.3d 1184 (11th Cir. 2008).  Mize filed a petition for panel rehearing, which was denied on August 27, 2008.

 

United States Supreme Court (2009)

Mize filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on January 23, 2009, which was denied March 23, 2009.  Mize v. Hall, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 2140 (Case No. 08-8359).