June 12, 2000
I understand that Michael Skains is
supposed to be here somewhere. They did everything but make
sure I got a fair trial to prove I was innocent. I wasn't
the one who had the gun to give to police and all these
altered records from the District Attorney's office and the
Attorney General's office, that's why Michael Sputnick got
fired and ran off when I filed these appeals. Not one of my
sell out lawyers would use this evidence, because they all
work as a conspiracy with the court. No doubt about it. Jack
King did everything he could to keep me from making arms and
showing this evidence. They wait till the hearing was over
and then make the arguments in the court or on paper where
nobody can rebut it or contradict the testimony or arguments.
There's more than 30 altered and falsified records saying I
told so and so this or that, but you go look in their
record, it does not say Thomas Mason called them at all and
told them anything. But that's okay. All this evidence is
being saved, so Jack King can laugh all he wants like he's
the big hero, after this is over with, that's fine. But the
person that had the gun, they know was not Thomas Mason, so
who's getting the last laugh after all? The guy that got
away. But Jack King knows he illegally convicted me of all
these falsified altered records. My sister's got the
document that my lawyer filed, but he didn't file with the
court. It's got the signature on it. He put this all in one
record. So it's going to be saved. It ain't going to be
destroyed just because I'm dead. Everybody's got to go
sooner or later and sooner or later everyone of ya'll will
be along behind me. That's all I got to say.
On October 2, 1991, Mason traveled from his home in Tennessee,
stopped at an East Texas pawn shop, and bought a twelve-gauge
shotgun and three boxes of buckshot ammunition.
On the federal firearms form he listed 113 Robinwood Street,
Whitehouse, Texas, as his address. This was the residence at which
Marsha Brock and Sybil Mares Dennis resided. Brock and Dennis were
the mother and grandmother of Mason's estranged wife.
Mason then went to the home and waited outside
for Marsha Brock to return from her work. Shortly after Brock
arrived, Mason entered the house and shot her once in the head at
Dennis was attempting to call for help when Mason began
shooting her. His first shot into Dennis blew through her right
forearm and entered her chest, knocking her to the ground. He then
closed in on her and fired another round into her side.
A dispatcher with the Whitehouse Police Department, testified that
at 4:22 p.m. she received a 911 hang-up and called the number back,
at which time she heard an elderly woman scream, "Help me. Help me.
Awtry stated she then heard a loud bang or crash and a man say, "Hang
up the phone!" She then heard the phone being dropped and a woman
moaning and whimpering, and the line went dead.
Mason had previously threatened to burn the house down and police
were advised to drive by to check on the residents from time to
time. Shortly after the murders, Mason called several relatives and
admitted that he had committed the murders. Following his arrest,
Mason laughed: "I don't know what the big deal is, over just getting
rid of a mother-in-law."
Evidence was also presented that Mason had
confined Melinda Mason with a gun at an athletic club on September
16, 1991, two weeks prior to the murders of Brock and Dennis. This
led to a five hour armed standoff with police.
Texas Attorney General
THOMAS WAYNE MASON SCHEDULED TO
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn
offers the following information on Thomas Wayne Mason who is
scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Monday, June 12th:
Thomas Wayne Mason was convicted of murdering
Marsha Brock and Sybil Mares Dennis, the mother and grandmother
respectively, of his estranged wife, Melinda Mason. Thomas Wayne
Mason was convicted and sentenced to death for the two murders in
FACTS OF THE CRIME
Evidence presented at trial showed that on Oct.
2, 1991, Mason traveled from his home in Tennessee, stopped at an
East Texas pawn shop, and bought a twelve-gauge shotgun and three
boxes of buckshot ammunition.
On the federal firearms form he listed 113
Robinwood Street, Whitehouse, Texas, as his address. This was the
residence at which Marsha Brock and Sybil Mares Dennis resided.
Mason told the owner of another pawn shop that he needed a shotgun
to hunt with, and that he was only going to use the gun one time.
That afternoon, Mason watched Robinwood Street
from a "Chicken and Burgers" restaurant a block or two away from
Brock's and Dennis' residence, waiting for Brock to come home from
work. Rebecca Foshee, who was working at "Chicken and Burgers" that
day, testified that at some point she saw Mason leave hurriedly,
drive over a grassy area, run a stop sign, and drive down Robinwood
Shortly after Brock arrived at her home, Mason
entered the house and shot her once in the head at close range.
Evidence showed that Brock's skull was blown apart. Skull fragments
and brain matter were recovered from several parts of the house.
Mason then moved on to his next victim. Dennis
was attempting to call for help when Mason began shooting her. His
first shot into Dennis blew through her right forearm and entered
her chest, knocking her to the ground. He then closed in on her and
fired another round into her side.
Taresa Awtry, a dispatcher with the Whitehouse
Police Department, testified that at 4:22 p.m. she received a 911
hang-up and called the number back, at which time she heard an
elderly woman scream, "Help me. Help me. Help me."
Awtry stated she
then heard a loud bang or crash and a man say, "Hang up the phone!"
She then heard the phone being dropped and a woman moaning and
whimpering, and the line went dead. Awtry dispatched officer Jim
Gill to the Robinwood residence, where he discovered the bodies of
Brock and Dennis.
Gill testified that as he approached the
residence, he recalled that a "Check-in-Passing" (CIP) had been
issued on the residence which instructed officers on patrol to
routinely drive by and check the house. The CIP was issued on Aug.
14, 1991, after Brock reported that Mason had threatened to burn
down the house.
Shortly after the murders, Mason called his
nephew, Eddie Mason, and admitted killing Melinda's mother and
The following day, Oct. 3rd, Mason returned to
Tennessee, called his daughter Tabitha, and admitted killing Brock
and Dennis. He explained to Tabitha that he had used a twelve-gauge
shotgun to murder her step-grandmother and step-great-grandmother.
He also told her during this conversation that he wanted to kill
Gary Brock, Susan Brock, and Mares Dennis, relatives of Melinda's
with whom she had lived for a short time after her separation from
Later, on Oct. 3rd, Buck Mason called Steve
Bartlett, another cousin of Mason's, who was a Memphis, Tennessee
police officer. Buck explained that Mason was at his house and that
Mason wanted to turn himself in to the police for the murders.
Bartlett was instructed to come over immediately and come alone.
Bartlett was informed that Mason had murdered two
persons in Texas with a shotgun and was believed to still be in
possession of the shotgun. Also he was informed that the homicide
division of the Memphis Police Department was looking for Mason.
Bartlett was directed by Buck to meet him in the pasture behind his
Bartlett testified that as he approached Buck's
property, it was very dark, so he drove toward the pasture with his
brights on. He made a U-turn and saw Buck emerge from the pasture.
Bartlett testified that he was nervous about meeting Buck in the
pasture and walking through the darkness toward the house.
As Buck and Bartlett approached the front door of
the house, Thomas Wayne Mason came outside with Eric Mason, Buck's
oldest son, to whom he had also admitted the murders. Bartlett took
Thomas Wayne Mason back to Memphis. While paperwork was being
completed on his arrest, Mason commented, "I don't know what the big
deal is, over just getting rid of a mother-in-law" and laughed.
The shotgun was retrieved from the pasture, along
with a bag of clothing belonging to Mason. Blood scrapings
subsequently taken from the shotgun matched the blood types of both
Marsha Brock and Sybil Mares Dennis.
Ballistics tests run on the
spent shotgun casings found near the victims, two near Dennis' body
and one near Brock's body, showed that the casings were fired from
the shotgun purchased at the East Texas pawn shop on Oct. 2, 1991.
In addition to this evidence, testimony was heard
from Mason's daughter Tabitha, that five days prior to the murders
Mason told her that he wanted to kill Brock, and then said, "No, I
really don't want to kill her. I just want to cripple her, because I
want her to remember me for the rest of her life--the rest of my
life." Tabitha testified that later, while in jail, Mason said, "I'm
glad they're gone."
Evidence was also presented that Mason was
involved in an armed standoff with police on Sept. 16, 1991, two
weeks prior to the murders of Brock and Dennis.
Eleanor Leggett, an instructor at the Mansfield
Business School where Melinda Mason attended classes, testified that
on Sept. 16th she observed police officers and a SWAT team in the
parking lot in front of the Lake June Athletic Club, next to the
business school from about 8:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. She
testified that she saw police officers escort Thomas Wayne Mason out
of the building, and that she saw Melinda crying, very upset, and
Kathy Gravely, a student at the Mansfield
Business School, then testified that she was sitting with Melinda
Mason on the steps "to the spa, which is right next door to the
school." Gravely heard Melinda scream. Gravely turned and saw Thomas
Wayne Mason beside them with a gun. Gravely testified that, after
Mason confronted Melinda with a gun, Melinda fled into the spa with
Mason in pursuit.
Todd Stewart, a police officer who was dispatched
to the athletic club, testified that Mason was holding Melinda in a
room in the athletic club and would not release her. He testified
that reports were that Mason was armed, and that when he spoke with
Mason at the door in an attempt to get Mason to come out, Mason
stated that everybody had to leave or someone was going to get hurt.
Stewart also testified that he heard female screams from inside the
room in which Mason was holding Melinda.
Finally, police officer David Johnson testified
at length about the stand-off. He stated that evidence seized from
Mason included a Colt .380 semi-automatic handgun, 55 rounds of
ammunition, three loaded clips, and other loose ammunition. He
described the scene in which 20 police units, a SWAT team, and media
personnel were involved.
Mason was charged by indictment in Smith County,
Texas, with the capital murder of murdering more than one individual
during the same criminal transaction. Mason was tried before a jury
upon a plea of not guilty. The jury found him guilty on June 26,
1992. Following a separate punishment hearing, the jury sentenced
Mason to death.
Mason appealed his conviction and sentence to the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, which affirmed the
conviction and sentence on June 14, 1995.
The United States Supreme
Court denied Mason's petition for writ of certiorari on Nov.13,
1995. Mason then filed an application for a state writ of habeas
corpus with the convicting court on July 24, 1997.
After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the
convicting court recommended that relief be denied. On Feb. 21,
1998, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court's
findings and denied relief. In April 1998, Mason filed a federal
petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division.
The district court denied relief on Feb. 16,
1999, and later denied Mason permission to appeal. The United States
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied Mason
permission to appeal on Dec. 3, 1999, and denied Mason's motion for
rehearing on Feb. 2, 2000.
Mason then filed a petition for writ of
certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, but it was rejected
by the court clerk because it was missing an attachment. Mason's
attorney was directed to re-file the petition with the attachment
but has not done so yet.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
At the punishment phase of trial, the State
introduced additional evidence regarding the hostage situation two
weeks before the murders. Melinda Mason testified that Mason held a
gun to her face and told her he was going to kill her, then himself,
but he wanted to make love to her first.
Over the five-and-a-half hours in which Mason
held her hostage, Mason forced her into sex acts with him. During
the ordeal, Mason repeatedly told her he would kill her. Melinda
Mason eventually convinced him to let her go by promising to
reconcile with him. During their marriage, Thomas Wayne Mason beat
her and threatened to kill her, and prevented Melinda Mason from
seeing her family.
Mason's first wife, Billie Jones, described
experiences similar to that suffered by Melinda Mason. Jones
testified that Mason beat her throughout their marriage, even when
she was pregnant. Mason also prevented Jones from seeing her family.
At some point in 1973, Jones took the couple's daughter, Tabitha,
and moved in with her parents. Mason attempted to reconcile with
Jones and, when she refused his offer, Mason pulled a gun and took
Tabitha. Mason returned, with Tabitha, about two weeks later.
Jones would not go out to see him, Mason left and returned, without
Tabitha, a couple hours later. Mason kicked in the back door to the
home and pulled a phone out of the wall.
Mason opened fire in the
house, but was shot by Jones' uncle. Jones saw Mason and Tabitha a
few months later, and again refused to return to the marriage. She
did not see her daughter again for 14 years.
A judge has set a June 12 execution date for
death-row inmate Thomas Wayne Mason, convicted of the shotgun
slayings of his estranged wife's mother and grandmother. Mason said
after his sentencing Thursday that "everybody is going to die
someday. It ain't no big deal. It's being lied on that matters."
Mason, 47, contends the case against him was
fabricated. He was found guilty in 1992 of shooting to death Marsha
Yvonne Brock and Sybil Mares Dennis on Oct. 2, 1991.
wife, who left him shortly before he shot her mother and grandmother,
told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that she plans to watch his
execution. "He's getting off so easy," Melinda Mason said. "He shot
2 people in cold blood." She said the killings were in revenge for
He bought the 12-gauge shotgun used to kill Brock,
55, and Dennis, 80, from a Tyler pawn shop, prosecutors said.
Whitehouse police responded to the women's home after a dispatcher
received a 911 hang-up call. When the dispatcher called the number
back, she heard a woman screaming, "Help me, help me, help me." Then
she heard a loud bang, a male voice and a woman whimpering before
the phone went dead.
Police found the body of Dennis in a back bedroom
of the home, her right arm nearly severed and a broken telephone at
her feet. Three times the frantic voice on the telephone screamed at
the 911 operator: "Help me!" The dispatcher at the Whitehouse Police
Department then heard a loud noise and a man's voice yelling, "Hang
up the phone." The woman moaned and whimpered. The line went dead.
Responding to the call, police found the bodies of 2 women.
Mason, a former Dallas construction worker,
refused to stand for the judge during his sentencing Thursday and
shouted an objection during the hearing. Joseph Bailey, Mason's
appeals attorney, said he is requesting that the U.S. 5th Circuit
Court of Appeals reconsider its March denial of his petition for a
Bailey said he wants a psychologist to examine
Mason, who has mailed him three boxes of "incoherent" letters full
of scribbles and underlines. District Judge Cynthia Kent denied his
request. The judge has had Mason examined several times and said she
believes he is competent.
The man convicted of their shooting deaths 8.5
years ago, Thomas Wayne Mason, 48, is set to die by lethal injection.
"He was upset with his ex-wife and decided to take it out on her
mother and grandmother," said Jack Skeen, the district attorney who
Mason, the estranged husband of Brock's daughter,
Melinda Mason, was arrested the day after the Oct. 2, 1991, slayings.
A shotgun was recovered in a pasture and blood scrapings on the
weapon matched the blood of the victims.
2 weeks before the shootings, Mason took his
estranged wife hostage and held her for 5.5 hours at gunpoint,
according to testimony at his trial. In a recent death row interview,
the former drywall installer denied any role in the slayings. "It
didn't happen. I never shot at nobody," he said. "The government is
conspiring to murder me."
Texas Execution Information
Thomas Wayne Mason, 48, was executed by lethal
injection on 12 June in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of his
mother-in-law and her mother.
Prosecutors believe that Mason was upset about
his separation from his wife when he showed up at the home of Marsha
Yvonne Brock, 55, with a 12-gague shotgun in October 1991.
Brock called 911 and screamed "Help me!" three times before Mason shot her
and Sybil Mares Dennis, 80, in the head at close range. Mason was
arrested the next day in Tennessee after telling a nephew and a
daughter about the shootings. "I don't know what the big deal is,
over just getting rid of a mother-in-law," he told officers.
Two months earlier, police had placed Brock's
home under surveillance after she reported that Mason had threatened
to burn it down. At his trial, Mason testified that two weeks before
the shooting, he took his estranged wife, Melinda Mason, hostage and
held her for 5½ hours at gunpoint.
Later, Mason denied killing the two women and
denied having talked about their murders to anyone. In a bitter last
statement, he blamed Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen for
his conviction and the failure of his appeals. "He did everything
but make sure I got a fair trial to prove I was innocent."
his trial defense lawyer a "sellout" and accused him of conspiring
with Skeen. "Jack Skeen can laugh all he wants, like he's the big
hero after this is over with," Mason said. "Who's getting the last
laugh? The guy who got away."
As the drugs began taking effect, Mason blurted
out, "This stuff has a bad taste to it." He was pronounced dead at
Convicted Killer of Former Mother-in-law and
Grandmother-in-law is Executed
By Michael Graczyk -
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An East Texas man who
blamed a government conspiracy for framing him in the shotgun
slayings of his estranged wife's mother and grandmother was executed
Monday evening. Thomas Wayne Mason, 48, received a lethal injection
for the killings 81/2 years ago of Marsha Brock, 55, and her 80-year-old
mother, Sybil Dennis.
In a bitter last statement, Mason blamed Smith
County prosecutors for orchestrating his conviction and for the
failure of his appeals. “They did everything but make sure I got a
fair trial to prove I was innocent,”
Mason, staring straight at the
death chamber ceiling, said. He complained that his trial record was
altered and that his “sellout lawyer” worked with the district
attorney, Jack Skeen, to conspire against him in the courts. “Jack
Skeen can laugh all he wants like he's the big hero after this is
over with,” Mason said. “Who's getting the last laugh? The guy who
got away.” Mason was the 20th Texas inmate executed this year and
the first of three set to die this week.
As the drugs began taking effect, he blurted out:
“This stuff has a bad taste to it.” Then he gasped twice and
sputtered, then slipped into unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead
seven minutes later at 6:24 p.m. CDT.
His estranged wife, Melinda
Mason, and Skeen were among the witnesses who watched through a
window a few feet away. He never turned toward the witnesses and
never acknowledged their presence.
“He's had the same comments for the last eight
years,” Skeen said later. “State judges and federal judges have
heard them and found them totally groundless.” “It's been the
longest 81/2 years, I'm so glad he's had justice served to him,”
Melinda Mason said, her voice cracking. “My mom ... my grandmother
can rest in peace. I don't have to face the fear of this man hurting
me any more.” Mason met with friends and relatives earlier Monday
but made no last meal request. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down
his final appeal Monday afternoon.
“I think of a cold-blooded, vicious, premeditated
killer who got mad at his ex-wife, came to Tyler and bought a
shotgun at a pawn shop, went down to Whitehouse south of Tyler to a
little restaurant, sat there and had lunch and waited for his ex-wife's
mother to drive by, then followed her home,” said Skeen.
According to court documents, Dennis called 911
to report the impending carnage, screaming “Help me!” three times.
The dispatcher at the Whitehouse Police Department then heard a bang
or crash, and a man's voice ordering: “Hang up the phone.”
moaned and whimpered as the line went dead. “We know from the
physical evidence at the scene, he chased (Brock) into the house,”
Skeen said. “By the time he got to the living room, he blew the back
of her head out with a shotgun.” Then he approached Dennis, on the
phone, Skeen said. “Mason shot her and almost blew her arm off,”
Skeen said. “She fell on the floor and he walked up and executed her
with a shotgun blast to her side.”
The telephone call generated an address on the
dispatcher's screen but by the time officers arrived, Mason was gone,
en route to Tennessee, where he was arrested the next day after
telling a nephew and a daughter about the shootings.
The shotgun was
recovered in a pasture and blood scrapings on the weapon matched the
blood of the victims. Shell casings found at the scene also matched
the weapon. “I don't know what the big deal is, over just getting
rid of a mother-in-law,” Mason told officers.
In a recent death row interview, however, the
drywall installer denied any role in the slayings and denied telling
anyone about his involvement. “It didn't happen,” he insisted. “I
never shot at nobody. “There are no documents of any of this stuff
because it didn't happen.
The government is conspiring to murder
me.” Two weeks before the shootings, Mason took his estranged wife
hostage and held her for 51/2 hours at gunpoint and forced her to
perform sex acts, testimony at his trial showed.
His first wife also testified that he beat her,
pulled a gun once and opened fire in the house, then was wounded in
an exchange of gunfire with another relative. Another convicted
killer, John Burks, was set to die Wednesday for the fatal shooting
of a Waco tortilla store owner during a 1989 robbery.
On Thursday, convicted murderer Paul Nuncio was
set to follow him to the death chamber for the 1995 rape and
strangling of a 61-year-old Plainview woman during a burglary of her