Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Homosexual relationship
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1981 / 1989
Date of birth: 1954
Victims profile: Thomas Greer, 81 (country store owner) / Rufus Watson (inmate)
Method of murder: Shooting / Stabbing 31 times with a homemade knife
Location: Wilkes/Rowan Counties, North Carolina, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 10, 1994. Commuted to life in prison without parole on December 15, 1999
clemency petition

Wendell Flowers was sentenced to death for the 1989 slaying of another inmate at Piedmont Correctional Institution near Salisbury. 

At the time of that killing, Flowers was serving a life sentence for a 1981 murder in Wilkes County. 

Flowers was convicted of stabbing inmate Rufus Watson 31 times with a homemade knife at the Piedmont Correction Institute. 2 other inmates were convicted of murder in the prison killing, but only Flowers was sentenced to die. He testified at the others' trials that the slaying was his idea.

In addition to the death sentence, Flowers has two life sentences, plus sentences for armed robbery, assault and kidnapping.

Flowers was convicted of the December 1981 murder of 81-year-old Thomas Greer, who owned a country store in Wilkes County.

After a night of drinking, Flowers and two friends broke into Greer's house by crashing through a bedroom window. They beat Greer to death and severely wounded his 76-year-old wife, Clara Greer. They made off with about $2,000 in cash, a watch, two cases of cigarettes and .22-caliber pistol.

While serving a life sentence for that murder, Flowers stabbed another inmate, Rufus Watson, to death with a homemade shank at the Piedmont Correctional Center in Salisbury.

Flowers said Watson was mistreating an inmate with whom Flowers was having a homosexual relationship.

At trial, Watson was described as a homosexual pimp, drug dealer and loan shark. Flowers said he acted alone, but a witness said Flowers was helped by three other inmates. The three were charged with murder, and two were convicted on murder charges. Neither was sentenced to death. 

12/15/99 - Gov. Jim Hunt commuted the 1st death sentence of his career Wednesday when he ordered that Wendell Flowers be locked up for life for a 1989 prison slaying. 

Flowers, 45, was sentenced to die for his part in the slaying of Rowan County prison inmate Rufus Watson in 1989. At the time, Flowers was serving a life sentence in the death of 81-year-old Wilkes County storekeeper Thomas Greer.  Flowers, who served as a lookout while 3 other inmates attacked Watson, had fired his attorneys and dropped appeals.

He was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 2 a.m. Friday in Central Prison.  "I am convinced from all that I have learned about this case that several inmates were involved in this murder," Hunt said. "From the testimony of the eyewitness, it is not clear exactly what role Flowers actually carried out." 

Flowers hasn't granted interviews, but said in a handwritten statement: "I am thankful for the governor for commuting my death sentence and I thank the many people that went to the governor." 

Opponents of the death penalty said they were surprised, but pleased with the governor's action.  "I think the governor did the right thing," said Ken Rose, director of the North Carolina Center for Death Penalty Litigation. "This is what clemency should be about. It should be about considering the relative culpability of defendants for their crimes, the fairness of the sentences." 

State Appellate Defender Malcolm Hunter, who argued alone on Flowers' behalf before Hunt and his legal counsel Jack Jenkins last week, said the governor's action was courageous.  "I think the governor has taken a lot of hits for not commuting sentence when people thought he should," Hunter said.

'Here's a case where he did and he should get credit for it. There's no way this is something he thinks he's getting political credit for."  Hunter, who had been one of Flowers' lawyers, requested the clemency hearing despite Flowers' decision to stop all appeals on his behalf.  "I think it came down to the facts," Hunter said. 

In a statement, Hunt said "it is clear as a bell that Flowers did not kill Rufus Watson alone. None of the other participants in the crime received the death penalty.  2 of them are in prison for life, and one was never convicted. I believe the right and fair thing to do is to commute Wendell Flowers' sentence to life in prison without parole." 

Hunt added that Flowers remains "a very dangerous criminal.  He should, and will, spend the rest of his natural life in prison with absolutely no possibility of parole."  


Governor Hunt Commutes Wendell Flowers' sentence to life in prison without parole on December 15, 1999.

Execution Date Set for Wendell Flowers

Correction Secretary Theodis Beck has set an execution date for Death Row inmate Wendell Flowers.  The execution date has been set for December 17, 1999.

Flowers was sentenced to death on 10/06/1994 in Rowan County Superior Court for the murder of inmate Rufus Watson at Piedmont Correctional Institution near Salisbury.  At the time of the crime, Flowers   was serving a life sentence for first degree murder.

Stay Issued - August 19, 1998

U.S. District Court Judge Frank Bullock in Greensboro issued a stay this afternoon halting the execution of Wendell Flowers after lawyers presented the judge a petition signed by Flowers indicating he wanted to continue his appeals. Flowers has not exhausted appeals of his death sentence.

For the second time this year, Flowers who had earlier indicated he was dropping all appeals and wanted to proceed with the execution, had his planned execution stopped. In April, Flowers' mother interceded and called for a competency hearing leading the NC Supreme Court to issue a stay hours before the scheduled execution.

Witnesses selected for execution - August 17, 1998

Central Prison Warden James B. French named the six official witnesses and five media witnesses for the August 21 execution of Wendell Flowers.

The official witnesses are District Attorney William D. Kenerly, Captain L.M. Wilhelm, Rick L. Jackson, Special Agent Donald A. Gale, Captain John Lookabill, and Sergeant Terry Agner .

Media witnesses are John Patterson from the Salisbury Post, Beth McLaughlin from the Concord Independent Tribune, Estes Thompson from the Associated Press, Trey Hardison from WXLV-TV, Winston-Salem, and Bob Costner from WSJS Radio, Winston-Salem.

Under Department of Correction policy, the district attorney and sheriff in the county of conviction nominate the official witnesses. The six official witnesses will witness the execution and then sign an affidavit of execution.

The North Carolina Press Association and the Radio Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas each select two media witnesses. The media witnesses will relate their experience to reporters waiting in Central Prison's visitors center.

Flowers selects lethal injection - August 17, 1998

Inmate Flowers selected execution by lethal injection. Flowers has notified Warden James French that he would prefer execution by lethal injection.

The death row inmate must notify the warden of Central Prison in writing at least five days before the execution that he would prefer to die by lethal injection. Otherwise, the execution is carried out with lethal gas.

Lethal gas has been used to execute North Carolina inmates since 1936. Lethal injection was made an option in 1983.

Flowers execution scheduled for August 21, 1998

Death row inmate Wendell Flowers is scheduled for execution Friday, August 21, 1998 at 2 AM at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Flowers, an Alexander County, NC native, was convicted in Rowan County Oct. 6, 1994 of the May 1989 stabbing death of fellow prison inmate Rufus Watson at Piedmont Correctional Institution, a medium security state prison near Salisbury.

Flowers was in prison serving a life sentence for a first degree murder conviction in Iredell County Superior Court for the 1981 beating death of a Wilkesboro man, Thomas Greer.

The courts last granted Flowers a stay April 23, 1998.



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