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David Paul HAMMER





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hammer could not ‘attribute any motive’ to his actions
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 15, 1996
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: October 9, 1958
Victim profile: Andrew Hunt Marti, 27 (his cellmate)
Method of murder: Strangulation with a piece of homemade cord
Location: Union County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 4, 1998

David Paul Hammer (October 9, 1958-) is an American murderer and a prisoner on death row at Terre Haute prison, Indiana. He was sentenced to death in November 4, 1998 for the murder of his cell mate, Andrew Marti. Hammer has achieved media fame for his appeals against his sentence and against the death penalty itself.


Born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, Hammer himself described his childhood as being full of ‘poverty, abuse, and many other of society's ills’. He is the oldest of three children, and attended 21 different schools as a child, and proceeded to drop out of high school. As a child, he suffered verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Aged 13 he ran away from home for several weeks before being returned.

Two years later, Hammer lived on the street, with drug abuse problems, at aged sixteen he married, though was subsequently divorced.

Hammer was first imprisoned at the age of 19. With the exception of two brief escapes during the 1980’s, he served 21 of the first 41 years of his life incarcerated for a multitude of offences, including larceny, shooting with intent to kill, kidnapping and telephoning in a bomb threat. In all, he is serving 1232 years for his 11 convictions.

In April, 1996, in the Special Housing Unit in the U.S. Penitentiary, Allenwood, Hammer strangled his cellmate Andrew Marti (aged 27) to death using a piece of homemade cord. Writing on a website dedicated to his case in 2001, Hammer could not ‘attribute any motive’ to his actions.

Hammer was sentenced to death by lethal injection on November 4th 1998, at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, having pleaded guilty to the murder. His execution date was set at January 14th, 1999 at 10:00 A.M.

Initially, Hammer was resigned to his fate, and encouragement to fight his conviction did not motivate him. He wavered his right to appeal during his trial, then proceeded to appeal three weeks later, and followed by dismissing his own appeal a further three months later.

Hammer cites the nine year old daughter of fellow death row inmate, Brownsville drug boss Juan Raul Garza, as his motivation to fight his conviction. The daughter, Elizabeth Ann Garza, reportedly told Hammer that ‘his life could make a difference for others.’ Elizabeth Ann’s letter to President Bill Clinton appealing against her own father’s sentence was also reported to have motivated Hammer to appeal his own death sentence.

Hammer himself wrote to President Clinton, asking for his sentence to be changed to life imprisonment rather than the death sentence, describing the death penalty to be ‘plagued by systemic bias, disparity and arbitrariness.’

During his incarceration, Hammer has obtained degrees in psychology, criminal justice, and paralegal studies through mail correspondence courses. In light of his own childhood, Hammer collaborated with a Sister Camille D’Arienzo to produce Christmas cards generating over $6000 for organizations helping abused and neglected children.

Attempted suicide

On the night before June 11, the date of the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Hammer attempted to commit suicide. A diabetic, Hammer injected insulin directly into his veins, however the attempt was thwarted and he received hospital treatment. In a daily journal, Hammer mentioned his suicide attempt, and wrote:

"I keep wondering how long until my own date with the executioner will arrive, I wish I were dead right now, but I'm not. Death would be a welcome relief."

At the time, Hammers own date of execution (previously set at November 15, 2000) had been postponed and no further date set, to allow for his appeals. Hammer’s attorney, Ronald Travis, claimed that he had no knowledge of his client’s intent to harm himself, however he did believe that Hammer and McVeigh were ‘close’. Hammer himself reported that he and McVeigh had become friends having met on a flight from Terre Haute, and were in adjacent cells.

Hunger strike

On November 23, 2001, during a visiting period, Hammer became agitated and faced three misconduct charges. Placed under death watch, with constant supervision using cameras, Hammer refused both food and insulin, a great danger due to Hammer’s diabetes.

Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing

Hammer has published two books on the Oklahoma City bombing based on knowledge allegedly gleaned first-hand from Timothy McVeigh on death row prior to his execution: Secrets Worth Dying For: Timothy James McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2004), co-authored with Jeffery William Paul, and Deadly Secrets: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2010). In May 2010, shortly following the publication of the second book, Hammer gave an extended interview on the talk radio show of Alex Jones, detailing his relationship with McVeigh and McVeigh's account of the US government's alleged involvement in his recruitment and perpetration of the bombing.


David Paul Hammer


David Paul Hammer



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