Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charles H. Rector: His last letter from death row

Charles Henry Rector, 1999 photo

Who will cry for me when I die?

who will cry for me 
when I die?
will my children cry?
my father? my brothers?
my sisters? my friends?
will my mother cry
out from her
own lonely grave?
years ago she wondered:
who will cry
for me when I die? 

a poem for Charles Henry Rector
by dorothy charles banks

Charles Henry Rector 1954-1999 
 (1982 photo)
Lola Mae Edwards Chism
Charles Henry Rector came into the world April 16, 1954; born to Lola Mae Edwards Rector and Charles Daniel Rector. He was the first child for his father and the second for his mother. When he reached puberty, if not before then, Charles’ life took control of him, moving him too fast, pushing him onto the wrong lane of life. He found himself stuck in this dramatic lane until he landed on death row, charged with murder and rape of a White woman. By then it was too late rewrite the script for less  drama on his  life. It was too late to correct all past mistakes, now sitting on his in his lap, keeping him company on death row in Texas

Charles and his mother had a stormy relationship. Nevertheless, he was favorite, even though she had three daughters. However, she loved them all in her own way. None of them were physically abused or neglected.

Charles' father and Lola Mae separated when he was a small child. He had no contact with his father after he left Texas, and relatives on his father's side did not keep contact with him or Lola Mae.

While sitting on death row, starring at the  future he would never have, Charles did not lose faith that a miracle would happen. Transcripts from his trial and court testimony suggested his guilt was questionable. His court appointed lawyer was as useless as Donald Duck pretending to be F.Lee Bailey. He refused to let Charles testify. He wanted to testify and tell his side of the story about the night he was accused of a double crime.

After Charles was executed I decided to go to the Austin County Courthouse to read his court transcripts. I thought they were housed at the Courthouse, but they on file at another location. That's when luck led to me to a clerk who directed me to the correct location. I went to the there, and was allowed to read them. I scanned  copies for over a month, almost nonstop. 

At home I read the transcripts carefully. I  needed no attorney to tell me that something went terribly wrong with the trial. But that's what happens when a defendant is too poor to hire a capable attorney. Red flags hopped off pages of the transcripts like Mexican jumping beans. 

I learned that the victim's boyfriend rearranged pieces of furniture in the living room before calling the police. This puzzled me. There was no explanation in the police report explaining his actions.  Charles supposedly climbed a trellis to gain entrance into the apartment through a window. A trellis is a frame of latticework used as support for climbing plants. It is not strong enough to hold a small child, let alone an adult trying to climb it like a ladder. Unless it was custom made out of steel, a cheap trellis will crumble under a heavy plant. His attorney did not inject this information into the trial.

In addition to the transcripts I also made copies of police reports the night of Charles's arrest. He gave up his right to have an attorney present when the police questioned him. The report stated that Charles said he had not committed a crime, so he saw no reason to have an attorney present.  They fooled him, telling him he had nothing to worry about. That move was a big mistake. Charles sealed his own fate.

After reading the transcripts I contacted an attorney to see if he would look at them. I wanted to see if, perhaps, Texas has executed another innocent man. I had no other course of action in mind. I just wanted to affirm my suspicions. The attorney was reluctant to look at the transcripts, and advised me that Charles had been executed already, and there was nothing I could do. I was willing to pay him to look at the transcripts but he had no interest in looking at them. 

Charles was briefly married to Mabel O. Kekeocha, an African. The marriage took place July 1, 1981.  They got married so that she could get a green card.  The marriage was a charade. They divorced August 31, 1984. They had no children together. 

While on death row Charles became a prolific poet and song writer, mostly rap. He even got interested in art. I got his first and only drawing a few days before his execution. Despite his pending fate, Charles kept alive his dreams of getting his music produced. His dream died with him. Having death lay next to him on his prison bed, Charles did not shrink from what was awaiting him. He never lose faith that a miracle would happen.

In a brief letter dated February 20, 1998, Charles wrote to me: Sorry I’m just now writing you back, but as you know my mother died December 12, and that took a lot out of me because I loved the girl very much. So it’s taken me some time to deal with the fact that she would die before me. But I’m getting my head back together because I know I'll see her on the other side.

This last letter from Charles speaks for itself. Two days later he was executed.

March 23, 1999

Dear Dorothy,

I hope this letter to you find and all the family in the very best of health, and doing good. As you know by now I’m writing what looks like will be the last letter to you, and I wish to let you know that all of you are in my thoughts.

I have an execution date of March 25, 1999, and just about all of my counsel can do is file a motion for clemency, because he has no resources. I should say I have no money so he’s giving up. Even though we now have the evidence that I was in custody of the Austin Police Department at the time of the deceased was being murdered, I can’t get the court to give me a hearing so that I can show the court the evidence. So I just might die. I don’t have the money to pay an attorney to get me a hearing.

I am filing a motion on my own, and just maybe the court will hear my motion. It’s my last appeal. I don’t think the court is going to do the right thing. So they can just kiss my ass. That’s the way I feel about it. I have very little fear of death so I’m really ready for what they push my way. I know that they can’t make an innocent man guilty with a foul execution because they can’t execute the truth. I feel you can feel me and understand what I’m saying.

I have you and Jr. (Ernest Smith) on the list to come and see me off, but you may not get this letter in time. If not, then tell my Dawg Jr. that I love him, because he’s the only brother I know, and I know that he feels the same way about me. I will see him and all the family in another time and space. They are about to come to get me, so I must say Peace Out.

With love to all the family

Charles H. Rector

***Charles Henry Rector, 45, was executed by the State of Texas March 25, 1999, 6 p.m in Huntsville, Texas. He left behind to mourn his sisters Gigi Edwards, Barbara Jean Edwards, and Linda Gray, a host of cousins, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his mother Lola Mae Edwards Chism, his grandmother Imogene Gray, his great-grandmother Leora (Leola) Fowler Sterling, his great-grandfather Mose (Mozell) Fowler, and several cousins. Rest in peace. 

Below are a couple of news reports regarding the rape and murder

Austin American-Statesman
Monday Morning Edition
Oct. 19, 1981

Lake yields body of kidnap victim

By Jerry White
American-Statesman Staff

A nude body pulled from Town Lake Sunday afternoon was that of a 22-year-old woman abducted Saturday after she returned home to find a burglar in her North Austin apartment, authorities said.

Police were considering filing murder charges Sunday against a 27-year-old man arrested on burglary and kidnapping charges three hours after the woman disappeared.

“This is the kind of case that makes me wish I was in a different profession,” said Municipal Judge Steve Russell, who presided at the suspect’s first court appearance. “It’s the kind of thing that could have happened to anybody.”

Authorities said the suspect, Charles Henry Rector, was on a pass from an Austin halfway house for parolees and drug abusers.

The victim, Carolyn Davis, was abducted about 9 p.m. Saturday from the La Paz Apartments, 402 W. 39th St. She had just arrived home from grocery shopping and had carried the first of four bags of groceries into the second-floor apartment when she was confronted by the intruder.

Police arrived at the scene about 9:15 p.m. Saturday after a neighbor reported hearing a scream. Officers found indications that the intruder entered through an open second-story window, but Davis was missing. The apartment had been ransacked and several items, including two guns, were missing.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, a group of people walking dogs found her body floating face down in Town Lake about 100 yards down river from Red Bud Trial near Tom Miller Dam.

Police officers said the body was unmarked. They said the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office would have to determine the cause of death. Police were unsure whether some scattered clothes found in the area belonged to the victim.

Rector was arrested near West 38th Street and Speedway about 11:55 p.m. Saturday.

The suspect, who lived at the Community Cross Road Home, 2935 E. 12th St., was arrested after police saw him rummaging through the trunk of a parked car, Russell said. A spokesman for the home would not say why Rector was living there but said he had been there only “for a very short time.”

“He saw police and jumped in the car and drove off with the trunk of the car still open,” Russell said.

After a short chase, police stopped his car and found articles in the trunk allegedly taken from Davis’ apartment, Russell said. Police also found Davis’ high school class ring in Rector’s pocket, Russell said.

Rector was charged Sunday with burglary with intent to commit theft and kidnapping, Russell said. Rector remained in City Jail Sunday night in lieu of $50,000 bond.

Police Sunday night were contemplating whether they had enough evidence against Rector to charge him with murder.

“The police are compiling all of the information they have right now to see if they can charge him (with murder),” Phil Nelson, assistant district attorney said. “It will be up to them whether or not he will be charged.

A detective said, “We’re trying to get all the information together right now. Everything right now is still under investigation.”

Davis and her boyfriend had lived in the apartment since the first week of September, said her stepfather, Joe Irvin.

“They had just moved in,” Irvin said. “Why would they have been robbed? Why would the burglar pick their apartment?”

Davis’s neighbors were asking themselves the same thing Sunday.

“It had been quiet here all day (Saturday),” Don Hueske, apartment manager said. “We had always felt relatively safe here. There are a lot of people wondering how close it came to being them instead of her.”

Hueske said he was in his apartment when the abduction took place. He said he heard the scream but didn’t think anything of it.

“There are always a lot of people wandering around here, doing their laundry and stuff like that. No one ever thought anything like this could happen."

Austin American-Statesman
Saturday, Morning
August 21, 1982

 Rector given death for Davis murder 

By Steve Sellers
American-Statesman Staff

A district court jury Friday sentenced Charles Rector to death by injection for the murder last October of Carolyn “Katy” Davis.

The seven-man, five-woman panel ruled that Rector was “a continuing threat to society.”
The death sentence was announced after little more than an hour of deliberation.
Rector, 27, was found guilty Thursday of the Oct. 17, 1981, shooting and drowning death of Davis, 22, whose bruised and naked body was found about noon the next day in Town Lake.
The young woman had just returned to her UT-area apartment from a shopping trip when she was abducted and robbed. Rector was wearing the victim’s blue jeans and was carrying her rings and necklaces when he was arrested.
Rector remained impassive when the sentence was announced. When asked later if there was anything he could do now, Rector replied, “Nothing, except for money, and I ain’t got none.”
Rector’s mother, Lola Chism, walked to the defense table and knelt behind her son after the verdict was read. “Peter didn’t cry, and you shouldn’t either,” she said. She was referring to the biblical Peter.
District Judge Tom Blackwell set formal sentencing for 2 p.m. Sept. 2. He said an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals is automatic in capital murder cases.
Prosecutors Phil Nelson and Rosemary Lehmberg said they were pleased with the swiftness of the deliberations. “It was a good jury and they did a good job. I’m not really surprised at all,” Nelson said.
District Attorney Ronald Earle said he hoped the quick verdict and sentence “send a message to criminals in our community.”
“The public is mad and they’re not going to put up with this kind of crime. And this shows the criminals just how mad people are,” he said.
Earle and the prosecutors met privately with jurors after the death sentence was announced. Afterward, several members of the jury said they had decided not to comment on their deliberations.
Nelson said the jurors “didn’t seem to show a great deal of emotion” during the 10-minute meeting. “There was some relief, but there was nothing traumatic,” he said.
Earlier Friday, in an emotional closing comment to jurors during the punishment phase of the trial, Nelson said it was “abundantly clear that when Charles Rector wants something, he kills.
He said Rector’s criminal record--a murder conviction in 1974, two robbery convictions in 1973 and two untried robbery charges in 1981--indicated the defendant should not be given “a second chance.”
Regardless of the jury’s decision, Nelson added, “A death warrant will be issued.” He said the death warrant would either have Rector’s name on it, “or it will be a blank one, and Charles Rector will fill in the name (of another victim).”
Throughout most of the two week-trial, Rector remained calm and showed little emotion. During the final minutes of the trial Friday morning, though, Rector on two occasions interrupted witnesses called to discuss his criminal record.
The first time to he interrupted a witness, lead defense attorney Rip Collins told him to “shut up,” and on the second occasion Collins remarked, “Are you going to handle this or am I?”
Rector soon asked to be excused from the courtroom for the remainder of the trial. Judge Blackwell denied his request.

Austin American-Statesman
January 7, 1984

Parolee is sentenced in church theft 

Anthony Michael Miller, acquitted a year ago in the abduction, rape and murder of Katy Davis, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison for a burglary at the First Baptist Church of Austin.

Miller, 22, was one of three parolees arrested in October 1981 and charged with capital murder in the killing of Davis.

One suspect in the Davis killing, Howard Ray Simon, escaped from jail and was shot to death after a robbery in Louisiana. Another suspect Charles Rector, was convicted in 1982 of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Miller was charged with the Sept. 1 with burglary of the church at 509 Trinity St. 

***Also see September 27, 2011 post on Charles Rector


Freddie h fowler said...

To miss banks my name is Freddie h fowler I came across this story at 2:00 am on Sunday morning and realized very quickly that mr. Charles was a relative of mine his great grandmother miss leora (leola) sterling was my grandmother . I have longed to find my family ,you I'm the cousin from Ohio my father Raymond Edward fowler brought me to live with my grandmother when very young .she raised me in church and gave me so much love ,I remember just about everyone you mentioned. Please help in my search as you do have all my family information thank you..... Freddie h fowler

Margie said...

I first ran across this story Few months ago in an article featuring gigi edwards. I believe this young man was a relative of mine. My father was Charles Rector (no middle name). He was from Bastrop Tx then relocated to Austin. He married my mother they had 7 kids. He lived in Austin till he deceased. We never knew of relatives in Austin only Bastrop, Tx.