On the night of April 12, 1982, Terry Michael Mincey, along with two
accomplices, robbed a convenience store in Macon, Georgia.
Mincey entered the store and pulled a pistol from under his coat and
ordered the store's cashier, Paulette Riggs, to empty the cash
register into a bag. Mincey then saw two teenagers and ordered them
into his car.
Outside the store Russell Peterman, a Bibb County Firefighter,
pulled up to the store and began pumping gas. Meanwhile, Mincey
escorted Riggs from the store and headed towards Peterman.
ordered Peterman to come with him and when Peterman didn't respond
immediately, Mincey shot him in the chest. While Peterman lay there,
still conscious, Mincey fired point-blank at his head.
As the second shot rang out, the two teenagers fled into a nearby
field. Mincey believed that the second shot had killed Peterman and
headed for the car.
As he did, Griggs attempted to run away and
Mincey shot her and she fell near a dumpster behind the store.
Mincey then ran to where she was lying and shot her in the head.
As they drove away, Mincey was asked by one of the accomplices if
both people were dead and Mincey said yes they're dead, I know
they're dead, I shot both of them.
Riggs died as result of her wounds, but Peterman survived with
serious injuries. The two accomplices received life sentences.
Georgia Department of
Commissioner Sets Execution Date for Bibb
Murderer Terry Michael Mincey
Atlanta, Georgia -- The Bibb County Superior
Court has ordered the execution of convicted murderer Terry Michael
Mincey, 42. The Court ordered the Department of Corrections to carry
out the execution between the days of October 25, 2001, and November
Corrections Commissioner Jim Wetherington has set the
execution, which will take place at the Georgia Diagnostic and
Classification Prison located in Jackson, Georgia, for 7:00 pm on
Thursday, October 25, 2001.
On April 12, 1982, sometime after 10:00 pm.,
Terry Michael Mincey, along with two accomplices, robbed a
convenience store at the corner of Houston Avenue and Hartley Bridge
Road in Macon, Georgia.
Mincey entered the store and pulled a pistol from
under his coat and ordered the store's cashier, Paulette Riggs, to
empty the cash register into a bag. Mincey then saw two teenagers
and ordered them into his car.
Outside the store Russell Peterman, a Bibb County
Firefighter, pulled up to the store and began pumping gas. Meanwhile,
Mincey escorted Riggs from the store and headed towards Peterman.
Mincey ordered Peterman to come with me and when Peterman didn't
respond immediately, Mincey shot him in the chest. While Peterman
lay there, still conscious, Mincey fired point-blank at his head. As
the second shot rang out, the two teenagers fled into a nearby field.
Mincey believed that the second shot had killed
Peterman and headed for the car. As he did, Griggs attempted to run
away and Mincey shot her and she fell near a dumpster behind the
Mincey then ran to where she was lying and shot her in the
head. As they drove away, Mincey was asked by one of the accomplices
if both people were dead and Mincey said yes they're dead, I know
they're dead, I shot both of them.
Riggs died as result of her wounds, but Peterman
survived. The two accomplices received life sentences and Mincy was
convicted of Murder, Armed Robbery, and Aggravated Battery. He was
sentenced to death in August of 1982.
If executed, Mincey will be the first Georgia
inmate put to death by lethal injection. Since the U.S. Supreme
Court upheld the constitutionality of Georgia's death penalty in
1977, twenty-three inmates have been executed. All were put to death
in Georgia's electric chair. The last inmate executed was David
Loomis Cargill in June of 1998.
Media interested in a picture of Mincey and a
listing of his crimes can go to the Department of Corrections web
page (www.dcor.state.ga.us). On the main menu, look to the left and
click on inmate query.
An acknowledgment of the disclaimer that
follows will allow access to the offender query page. To retrieve
the Mincey photo and information, enter his name or state inmate
number, which is 160842.
Robert Jones, Timothy Jenkins and Terry Mincey
met in the evening of April 12, 1982, and discussed committing a
Each was armed, Jones with a .12 gauge shotgun,
Jenkins with a .38 caliber pistol and Mincey with a .380 caliber
semi-automatic Llama pistol. After several possibilities were
discussed and rejected, the trio drove by a Mini Food Store in Bibb
County. They circled back to the store and parked.
Mincey entered the store briefly and returned to
the car. He told the others that there were only a female clerk and
two teenagers inside and it looked like a good place to rob. He
informed the others that he did not plan on leaving any witnesses.
When Jenkins protested, Mincey told him, "If you're talking about
not wasting nobody, you're in the wrong . . . car."
They waited, hoping the kids would leave. When,
after a few minutes, they did not, Mincey reentered the store.
Jenkins positioned himself outside, between the ice machine and the
Jones, the driver, stayed in the car. A fourteen-year-old
girl and her 15-year-old brother were inside the store, visiting the
cashier, Mrs. Riggs.
When Mincey entered the store, they recognized
him as the same young white male who had entered the store 10 or 15
minutes previously. He told Mrs. Riggs to "put the money in the bag"
and told the kids to go to the car.
Jenkins, standing outside, saw
two teenagers walk out of the store just as a pick-up truck pulled
up to the gas pumps. The driver, Russell Peterman, got out and began
to fill his tank.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Riggs, followed by Mincey, exited
the store. When Mincey saw Peterman at the gas pumps, he turned Mrs.
Riggs over to Jenkins and walked toward the pumps.
Peterman testified that as he was pumping gas, he
was confronted by a young white man with a pistol in his hand, who
said, "come go with me." Peterman was so surprised that he failed to
respond. The man said, "You think I'm joking, don't you?" Then he
shot Peterman in the chest.
Peterman fell to the ground, and the man walked
over and shot him in the face. When this happened, Jenkins proceeded
toward the getaway car and the teenagers ran.
Jones, sitting in the
car, saw Mrs. Riggs run after them, but she ran too late. Mincey
came back across the parking lot and fired at her. Jones saw Mrs.
Riggs grab her neck and fall behind the dumpster. Mincey walked
behind the dumpster and bent down. Jones heard a second shot.
Mincey ran to the car, got in, and they left.
They counted the money taken from the store -- about $40. Jones
asked if the victims were dead. Mincey answered, "Yes, they are dead.
I know they are dead, I shot both of them."
Then Mincey asked where the kids were. When he
found out they had escaped, he said, "Well, I just got a death
sentence." Jones' car was a multi-colored Mustang with mag wheels,
no hood, one working headlight and a loud muffler.
When police arrived at the scene a few minutes
after the robbery, witnesses were able to describe the car and
identify its owner. Jones was soon located and placed under arrest.
After he named Mincey as a participant, officers went to Mincey's
residence and placed him under arrest. Mincey thereafter admitted to
law enforcement officers that he had shot Peterman and Mrs. Riggs.
Mrs. Riggs died.
An autopsy revealed that she had been shot twice.
One bullet entered her left ear, went through her head, and lodged
in her right cheek. This bullet was recovered.
The other entered the
right side of her head through the temporal bone (driving bone
fragments into her brain), deflected, and exited on the right side
of her neck. This bullet, which inflicted the fatal wound, was not
Peterman lived. One bullet entered his chest and
lodged in a muscle close to his spine, where it remains. The other
bullet entered the left side of his head and traveled across his
Two weeks after he was shot, his condition had
stabilized sufficiently that this wound could be operated on. The
bullet was removed from under his right eyebrow. His left optic
nerve was damaged by the passage of the bullet and he is now totally
blind in his left eye.
His right eye suffered severe retinal damage
and has a drooping upper lid, which may or may not eventually
elevate on its own. With the lid lifted out of the way, his right
eye has approximately 40% of its original vision.
A .380 Llama pistol was recovered from Mincey's trailer. Ballistics examination
showed it to be the pistol which had fired the bullets recovered
from Peterman and Mrs. Riggs.
Georgia Attorney General
Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers
the following information on the execution of Terry Michael Mincey:
On October 11, 2001, the Superior Court of Bibb
County filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the
execution of Terry Michael Mincey could occur to begin at 12:00pm on
October 25, 2001 and end seven days later at 12:00pm on November 1,
The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections set the
specific date and time for the execution as 7:00p.m. on October 25,
2001, pursuant to the discretion given the Commissioner under state
law. Mincey had previously concluded his direct appeal, as well as
state and federal habeas corpus proceedings. The scheduled execution
of Mincey was carried out at approximately 8:06pm on Thursday,
October 25, 2001.
On April 12, 1982, sometime after 10:00 p.m.,
Terry Mincey, Robert Jones and Timothy Jenkins, decided to rob a
Mini Food Store at the corner of Houston Avenue and Hartley Bridge
Road in Macon, Georgia.
Mincey and Jenkins got out of the car and
Jones remained behind the wheel, leaving the motor running. While
Jenkins positioned himself besides an ice machine outside the store
where he could see the store’s counter area through the storefront
Mincey entered the store and pulled his pistol
from under his coat. Two teenagers saw Mincey in the store and
Mincey told them to get into the car parked outside and ordered the
store’s cashier, Paulette Riggs, to empty the cash register into the
bag that Mincey was carrying. When the teenagers left the store,
Jenkins, told them to stay put.
At this point, Russell Peterman, a Bibb County
firefighter, pulled up to the gas pumps and began pumping gas.
Meanwhile, Mincey escorted Riggs from the store at gunpoint, told
her to stand next to Jenkins and headed toward Peterman.
Peterman, “come go with me.” Peterman did not respond and Mincey,
exhibiting a flash of anger, said, “You think I’m joking, don’t you.”
Mincey then fired once, hitting Peterman in the chest. While
Peterman lay there, still conscious, Mincey fired point-blank at
Peterman’s head. As the second shot rang out, the two teenagers fled
to a nearby field.
Mincey believed that the second shot had killed
Peterman and headed for the car. When Riggs started to run away,
Mincey shot at her and she fell near a dumpster behind the store.
Mincey walked to where Riggs was lying, shot her in the head and ran
to the Mustang. As they were driving away, Jones asked Mincey if
both people were dead and Mincey said, “yes, they are dead, I know
they are dead, I shot both of them.” When Mincey realized that the
two teenagers had escaped, he said, “well, I just got a death
sentence . . .a murder rap for $40.” Mincey made several
The Bibb County Grand Jury indicted Mincey, Jones,
and Jenkins for the murder of Paulette Riggs, the aggravated battery
of Russell Peterman, and the armed robbery of the Mini Food Store. (Jones
and Jenkins pled guilty. Jones was sentenced to life for murder and
ten years for armed robbery and Jenkins was sentenced to life for
Mincey was found guilty as charged by a jury in
the Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia on August 23, 1982. On
August 26, 1982, Mincey was sentenced to death for the murder and
received a life sentence for armed robbery and a consecutive twenty-year
sentence for aggravated battery.
The Direct Appeal - The Supreme Court of Georgia
affirmed Mincey’s convictions and sentences in Mincey v. State, 251
Ga. 255 (1983). A petition for a writ of certiorari was denied on
November 7, 1983. Mincey v. Georgia, 464 U.S. 977 (1983), rehearing
denied, 464 U.S. 1064 (1984).
First State Habeas Corpus Petition - Mincey,
represented by Michael Hauptman, filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia, which
was denied, following an evidentiary hearing, on February 7, 1988.
The Supreme Court of Georgia subsequently denied a application for a
certificate of probable cause to appeal and then the Supreme Court
denied certiorari in Mincey v. Georgia, 488 U.S. 871 (1988),
rehearing denied, 488 U.S. 977 (1988).
First Federal Habeas Corpus Petition - Mincey
filed petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, which was
dismissed without prejudice.
Second State Habeas Corpus Petition - Mincey
filed a second state habeas corpus petition which was dismissed on
March 3, 1984.
Second Federal Habeas Corpus Petition - Mincey’s
second federal habeas corpus petition was filed in the Middle
District of Georgia and the District Court denied relief on May 7,
1997. Mincey’s motion to alter or amend judgment was denied on
August 26, 1997.
Appeal to the Eleventh Circuit - Following the
filing of briefs and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed
the denial of federal habeas corpus relief to Mincey on March 16,
2000 in Mincey v. Head, 206 F. 3d. 1106 (11th Cir. 2000) and
rehearing en banc was denied on August 10, 2000. Mincey’s petition
for certiorari was denied on March 19, 2001 and rehearing was denied
on May 14, 2001.
Third State Habeas Corpus Petition - Following
the entering of the abovementioned execution order, Mincey filed his
third petition for a writ of habeas corpus on October 19, 2001.
Mincey amended his third state habeas corpus petition on October 22,
On October 23, 2001, the state habeas corpus court denied
Mincey’s petition and motion for a stay of execution and granted the
Respondent’s (Warden Fredrick Head, represented by the Attorney
General’s Office) motion to dismiss the petition.
On October 24, 2001, Mincey filed a motion for
stay of execution in the Supreme Court of Georgia and an application
for a certificate of probable cause to appeal from the denial and
dismissal of Mincey’s third state habeas corpus petition, which were
denied on October 25, 2001.
New Hampshire Coalition Against
the Death Penalty
Georgia Conducts Its First Execution by Injection
JACKSON, Ga. (Reuters) - Georgia conducted its
first execution by lethal injection on Thursday, putting to death a
man convicted of killing a convenience store clerk during a 1982
Terry Mincey, 40, whom defense attorneys depicted as an
innocent man as well as a ``guinea pig'' for lethal injection in
Georgia, was executed after last-ditch pleas for clemency were
rejected. Mincey had been scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. EDT,
but the execution was delayed for almost an hour while final appeals
were considered. He was pronounced dead at 8:06 p.m.
Georgia Department of Corrections spokesman Scott
Stallings said Mincey refused a prayer but thanked his family and
friends before an injection of lethal chemicals in the death chamber
at the state prison in Jackson, about 50 miles (80 km) south of
The execution, the first in Georgia since 1998, came less
than three weeks after the state Supreme Court ruled the use of the
electric chair to execute inmates was unconstitutional because it
inflicted needless suffering.
The court ordered the state to switch its method
to lethal injection. Mincey's lawyers had argued that the execution
should not proceed since they had not had enough time to investigate
whether lethal injection was unconstitutional.
The Georgia Board of
Pardons and Paroles rejected Mincey's request for clemency following
a hearing on Wednesday. Mincey was convicted of shooting Paulette
Riggs and stealing $141.19 from a cash register at a convenience
store in Macon, Georgia, 75 miles south of Atlanta. His lawyers had
argued that one of Mincey's co-defendants killed Riggs. There are
now 127 prisoners on Georgia's death row.
Execution State's First By Injection
Son Killed Woman During Robbery
By Elliott Minor - Online Athens
October 26, 2001
JACKSON, Ga. (AP) - A Methodist minister's son
convicted of killing a woman during a 1982 convenience store robbery
on Thursday became the first Georgia inmate to die by lethal
Terry Michael Mincey, 41, was pronounced dead at
8:06 p.m., prison officials said. Mincey had been set to die in the
electric chair until Oct. 5, when the state's high court ruled that
the chair violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment. That
shifted all the state's executions to injection, which had already
been adopted for crimes committed after May 2000.
Mincey was convicted of killing Paulette Riggs in
an April 1982 robbery at a convenience store in south Bibb County,
near Macon. The Georgia Supreme Court denied Mincey's motion for a
stay of execution Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Supreme Court, acting
on two petitions from Mincey's attorneys, refused to block the
execution about an hour before it was to take place. The court later
rejected a third request for a stay.
''At this point, I'd just like to thank the
people who stood by me,'' Mincey told the 19 witnesses. There were
seven state witnesses, five media witnesses and seven witnesses for
Mincey was lying on a gurney that was angled in the death
chamber so he could see the witnesses. State prison warden Fred Head
read the execution order and the prison chaplain squeezed Mincey's
He stared at a couple who were among his witnesses and nodded
his head slightly. When the two executioners in a back room started
the injections, Mincey looked at the ceiling and closed his eyes. He
swallowed and uttered several words witnesses could not understand.
At one point, Mincey seemed to breathe heavily.
The breathing became weaker and less frequent until it stopped. Two
doctors came and checked for vital signs, and both shook their heads.
Head pronounced the court-ordered execution of Mincey carried out at
The execution was delayed while Mincey's last
appeals played out, said Mike Light, executive assistant to the
state corrections commissioner. Light said prison officials began
strapping Mincey onto the gurney at 7:35 p.m.
Mincey appeared in the chamber with black hair
and a black mustache, instead of the shaved head he would have had
for the electric chair. Mincey was covered from the waist down with
a sheet, and witnesses could see his white prison shirt above the
sheet. He was strapped to the armrest, and his fingertips were taped
to the armrest.
There were two plastic tubes running from openings
at the rear of the death chamber, and there were wires running from
his chest to an EKG machine that monitored his heart.
correctional officers stood in the chamber, along with a medical
technician, who was dressed in a bright, flowery jacket similar to
what a nurse would wear in a doctor's office.
three drugs -- sodium pentothal, a sedative; pavulon, to paralyze
the lungs; and potassium chloride, which causes the heart to stop.
Mincey's death was the first execution in Georgia since June 1998,
when David Loomis Cargill was electrocuted for murdering a Columbus
couple in 1985. The state currently has 127 men and one woman on
Georgia had used the electric chair since 1924,
when it replaced hanging. A total of 441 people have been put to
death in Georgia's chair. Alabama and Nebraska are the only states
left that use the electric chair as the sole means of execution.
Mincey, a career criminal found guilty of several convenience store
robberies, received a physical and a shower Thursday afternoon,
followed by his final meal. He had asked prison officials to serve
him fried shrimp, a baked potato, a pint of chocolate ice cream and
two cans of soda.
USA (Georgia) - Terry Mincey, white, aged 40
Terry Mincey is scheduled to be executed in
Georgia on 25 October. He has spent more than 19 years - almost half
his life - on death row. He was sentenced to death for the murder of
Paulette Riggs, who was shot dead on 12 April 1982 during a robbery
of the store in Macon where she worked.
A second person, Russell
Peterman, was also shot during the crime. He survived, blinded in
one eye. Terry Mincey was sentenced to death in August 1982.
Two years earlier, Terry Mincey had had a near
fatal motorcycle accident. At the trial, although family members
testified that he had undergone a drastic personality change after
the accident, with severe mood swings and an impaired memory, the
defence presented no expert mental health evidence about the head
injury and its possible effects.
Thus the jury never heard the type
of expert opinion that was provided in a 1993 affidavit by a
psychologist, who stated that the injury would have impaired
Mincey's judgement and impulse control: "Mincey's head injury was a
significant factor in the case - a factor which when considered
establishes that Mr Mincey's actions on the night of the offense
were the irrational impulsive actions of a brain damaged individual
and not the actions of a cold, calculated, and premeditated murderer".
Eight years after the trial, Terry Mincey's
appeal lawyers discovered notes that the prosecutor had taken during
a pretrial meeting with the state's psychiatrist, who was a member
of the state forensic team which had evaluated Mincey in May 1982.
The prosecutor's notes included the following about Terry Mincey: "Brain
damage in auto accident. Reflexes more active on 1 side. This
indicates motor muscle power differential. It is possible he might
now be more susceptible to irrational behavior".
The notes also indicated that Mincey had a
history of drug abuse, and had been under the influence of LSD or
quaaludes at the time of the crime. In Brady v Maryland (1963), the
US Supreme Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of
evidence favorable to an accused... violates due process where the
evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective
of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution".
However, the appeal courts have dismissed
Mincey's claim that the withheld evidence amounted to an
unconstitutional Brady violation, saying that the claim should have
been raised earlier, and that even if the notes had been disclosed
to the defence at the time of the trial, it would not have led to a
Arguing for death at the 1982 trial, the
prosecutor had argued that Mincey would pose a future risk of
violence, in prison or outside, if allowed to live. In almost two
decades on death row, Terry Mincey has reportedly had one
disciplinary write-up, for a minor non-violent breach of prison
rules. He has continued to educate himself over the years, including,
for example, by learning Japanese.
A journalist who covered the original trial for a
local newspaper subsequently developed a friendship with Terry
Mincey. He has recently written of Mincey: "his actions as well as
his words demonstrate his remorse for his crime and for the
destruction he has caused... He has spent nearly twenty years
reflecting upon his life and his actions, and he appears to me to
have matured and changed. Terry is not the reckless, chaotic young
man of April 1982...".
Mincey Lethal Injection Opens Door to More
Bill Rankin and Rhonda Cook - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 28, 2001
Idle for three years before last week, Georgia's
death chamber may now see more executions in a month than in any
year since 1987.
On Thursday, Terry Mincey became the first Georgia
prisoner to be put to death by lethal injection. The execution
occurred a mere 20 days after the Georgia Supreme Court declared the
electric chair unconstitutional, clearing the way for lethal
injection to replace it.
With two more executions planned over the
next two weeks, Georgia's death penalty is now being carried out
aggressively compared to years past. Prosecutors say the time has
been long overdue, while death penalty opponents fear a rush to
executions will lead to errors in the lethal injection process and
the potential that wrongly convicted inmates will be put to death.
If all three executions are carried out, the state will have
executed more people this year than any year since 1987, when five
people were put to death in the electric chair. Since the U.S.
Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Georgia has
carried out 24 executions. "It's just a matter of the cases being
held by the courts as they were considering the question of whether
or not electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment," said
Attorney General Thurbert Baker. "A number of cases were sitting
there waiting for that resolution and once that was resolved, a
number came forward."
The long delays have been frustrating for some
prosecutors. Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head called the
protracted delays between the exhaustion of appeals and execution
intolerable. "If we're going to have a death penalty in Georgia,
then it's got to be carried out," Head said. "Otherwise, we're not
only causing tremendous problems for the victims, but for the
accused as well."
Only days before Mincey was executed, Head
obtained a judge's order that Fred Marion Gilreath be put to death
on Nov. 13. Gilreath, 63, was convicted for the 1979 murders of his
wife and father-in-law. Jose High is scheduled to be executed Nov. 6
for the 1976 murder of an 11-year-old boy in Taliaferro County.
Atlanta lawyer Mike Mears, who represents
indigent defendants charged with capital crimes, said he believes
the state quickly set the executions to avoid having the courts hear
evidence as to whether lethal injection, like the electric chair, is
cruel and unusual punishment. "I think they're dead set on getting
it down pat before we get a chance to challenge it," Mears said. "If
they're so satisfied that it's not cruel and unusual punishment, why
not let a judge hear the evidence and decide it? There's no reason
for this rush headlong into this many executions."
Mears, who is launching challenges against lethal
injection, said the issue will get its first hearing on Nov. 21 in
Fulton County in the pending capital case against Timothy Dawson.
Dawson, accused of killing three men who were in town for an Atlanta
Falcons game in 1998, has yet to stand trial.
"In the meantime,"
Mears said, "we could have a lot of people being experimented on by
people at the Department of Corrections who have had no serious
training whatsoever in the process they're going to be using to take
these guys' lives." Mears said he will present evidence of numerous
botched lethal injection executions across the country. Mincey's
execution, however, went smoothly. "The execution went entirely
according to protocol," said Department of Corrections spokesman
Mike Light. "We're confident that the procedure met all Georgia laws
and constitutional standards."
And with the electric chair no longer a target
for legal attack, death penalty opponents may find it much more
difficult to halt future executions, legal experts say. "By making
the death penalty a little more sanitized and avoiding the specter
of one of those botched electric chair executions, the switch to
lethal injection may help secure the future of the death penalty in
Georgia," Mercer University law professor Jim Fleissner said. "Obviously
the defense bar is fighting the death penalty on every front,
including a full-court press against lethal injection," said
Fleissner, a former prosecutor. "But lethal injection looks like a
medical procedure, with no mutilation of the person. I think it's
going to be very hard to attack that as a means of execution."
Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter agreed.
"I suspect that legal challenges to lethal injection will get fairly
short shrift," he said. "Ironically, I think, the end result of the
electric chair being declared unconstitutional is that it's going to
make it much more difficult for death penalty opponents to challenge
the method of lethal injection and the death penalty itself."
time most condemned prisoners' executions are scheduled, they have
already exhausted numerous rounds of appeals. These include the
direct appeal and state and federal lawsuits --- called writs of
habeas corpus --- that attack the constitutionality of their
convictions and sentences.
Because it is so difficult to get courts to
consider further appeals after those claims have been exhausted, the
most likely way to launch a serious attack against lethal injection
would be to raise the issue before trial, as Mears and other defense
attorneys are raising in several pending capital cases. But in its
ruling banning the electric chair, the Georgia Supreme Court
appeared to tacitly endorse lethal injection, taking note that the
Legislature had already switched to allow executions by lethal
injection for murders committed after May 1, 2000. "The
Legislature's adoption of lethal injection . . . reflects societal
consensus that the 'science of the present day' has provided a less
painful, less barbarous means for taking the life of condemned
prisoners," Justice Carol Hunstein wrote for the court's majority.
Still, death penalty opponents say the state is making a mistake by
setting the three executions so soon after the Georgia Supreme
"Why the rush?" asked Richard Dieter of the
Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center. "I don't
think the necessary issues have been adequately aired to set
executions so quickly." Dieter suggested that state attorneys, stung
by losing the legal battle against the electric chair, are mounting
a campaign to reassert the imposition of the death penalty in
Georgia. "It too often gets to be a pitched battle, and sometimes
that leads to mistakes," he said. "Where emotions and politics are
intertwined, it's better to be careful and deliberate than to turn
this into a cause for winning and losing."
EXECUTIONS IN GEORGIA
Since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S.
Supreme Court in 1976, the state of Georgia has carried out 24
executions. All told, Georgia has carried out 442 executions, the
first in 1924. There were no executions from 1976 until 1983.
Here is the year-by-year total since then:
1983....1; 1984....2; 1985....3; 1986....1;
1987....5; 1988....1; 1989....1; 1990....0; 1991....1; 1992....0; 1993....2; 1994....1; 1995....2; 1996....2; 1997....0; 1998....1; 1999....0; 2000....0; 2001....1.
TOPS IN DEATH - States with the most executions
Delaware, Indiana, Virginia....2
Source: Georgia Department of Corrections and
Death Penalty Information Center
State Kills Terry Mincey
Georgians for Alternatives to
the Death Penalty
October 25, 2001
Terry Mincey was executed in Georgia on the
evening of 25 October for the murder of Paulette Riggs in 1982. The
state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected clemency on 24 October.
Terry Mincey becomes the first person to be executed by lethal
injection in Georgia.
Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court
ruled that Georgia's use of the electric chair was unconstitutional.
It was the first execution in the state since June 1998 and the 24th
since executions resumed in the USA in 1977. This was the 56th
execution in the USA this year and the 739th since 1977.
Vigils on took place on the evening of Thursday,
Oct 25 at the prison in Jackson, the state capitol in Atlanta,
Americus, Athens, and Savannah. Terry's execution was scheduled at
7pm, but halted by the Supreme Court minutes before 7pm. An hour and
six minutes later he was pronounced dead after the state killed him.
Mincey Quietly Executed
Georgia Uses Injection
for First Time
By Rhonda Cook and Bill Osinski -
Atlanta Journal Constitution
October 26, 2001
Jackson - Terry Mincey became the first person in
Georgia to die by lethal injection Thursday. His death came at 8:06
p.m., 10 minutes after he received the first of a series of three
drugs --- a sedative, a paralyzing agent and then one that brought
on a heart attack --- and 19 years after he killed a 38-year-old
Bibb County convenience store clerk named Paulette Riggs, the mother
of three, during a $140 robbery. Riggs' death was violent and noisy,
from gunshots. Mincey's death was sterile, efficient, emotionless.
Until Thursday, Georgia had not executed anyone
in three years. But the unofficial moratorium on capital punishment
in Georgia was broken Oct. 5, when the state Supreme Court ruled
With electrocutions, witnesses hear
the sound of the generator that produces the electricity as it moves
through its cycles and see the condemned person's hands move and the
color of his flesh turn red. Thursday night's execution was like
watching somebody go to sleep.
A day of frantic appeals by Mincey's lawyers to
various courts wound down to nearly an hour's delay in the execution.
In the end, all courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, turned
down his appeals. His defenders questioned, among other things,
whether Mincey was the main triggerman among the three men involved
in the crime. The other two did not get the death penalty.
Mincey, 41, appeared calm as witnesses filed into
the brightly lit room on the other side of the glass window of the
death chamber at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison.
He was strapped onto a gurney, his arms reaching out to the walls on
each side of him. His last words were to his friends: "I just want
to say to all the people who stood by me, I appreciate it. That's it."
Warden Fredrick Head read the death warrant that condemned "Terry
Michael Mincey," and left him on the gurney in the small cinderblock
room, tubes running into both arms. A chaplain squeezed Mincey's
left hand before going into another room from which he and the
executioners could watch the procedure through a one-way glass.
Mincey, who was called Mitchell Terry Mincey on
appeals documents, could see the official witnesses, including two
of his friends, through regular glass. He appeared calm throughout
He looked around the room at the guard in the corner
and then at some of the witnesses, nodding to those sitting to his
right. He closed his eyes for a moment and then struggled to open
His lips moved, and then he closed his eyes for the last time.
His chest moved for a while longer and then stopped. The room was
quiet. The only sounds were reporters taking notes with pencils,
while a guard sighed and a woman coughed.
Witnesses knew it was over only when the warden
and two doctors came into the death chamber. First, one listened to
Mincey's heart with a stethoscope and shook his head "no,"
indicating no heartbeat.
Then a second listened for a heartbeat,
looked at the warden and also shook his head that there was none.
The warden turned to the witnesses and said, "The court-ordered
execution of Terry Michael Mincey was carried out at 8:06 p.m." In
the hours before his death, Mincey visited with friends and
relatives, as he did on Wednesday. At 4:45 p.m., he had his final
meal of fried shrimp, baked potato, two soft drinks and chocolate
ice cream. Vigils were held at the state Capitol and at the prison.
Mincey was subdued and submissive on his last day, said prison
spokesman Mike Light. The GBI will take his body to Tyler Funeral
Home in Decatur. His witnesses were three lawyers and two friends.
One of those friends, Tracey Bilow, recalled him
as a man who was a steady worker and had a good sense of humor. "He
wasn't the type to go out and start whoopin' on anybody," said Bilow,
who knew him from the Bibb County community of Lizella.
had remained in contact with Mincey, said the public shouldn't be
quick to judge him. "I feel sorry for the victim and her family, but
I also feel sorry for the man being strapped to the table," she said
as she prepared to witness the execution of her friend. "I feel like
God should be the one to do the punishment." She was accompanied by
Skip Hulett, a former Macon newspaper reporter who covered Mincey's
trial and later became his friend. "Terry has changed," Hulett said.
"He's a lot different from the reckless, directionless young man he
was." Hulett said he had some doubts about Mincey's guilt during the
trial "and those questions have never been answered."
Mincey also had unanswered questions in his own
mind, Hulett said before the execution. "He still doesn't know how
it could have happened, how he could have gotten involved with that
kind of violence."
After the execution, Hulett and Bilow left the
prison area holding each other for support. "Terry died with dignity,"
Hulett said, adding that the procedure seemed very mechanical. "We've
made a routine out of something that's as brutal and horrible as
what Terry took part in."
An acquaintance of Mincey's came to the prison to
support the execution. Tommy Goss of Macon ran an amusement arcade
called the Wreck House in Bibb County at the time of the killing,
and Mincey hung out there. "He was a typical teenager," Goss said.
However, the woman Mincey killed was also just a typical working
woman, trying to help support her family, he said. To Goss, her
death was the justifying argument for Mincey's execution. "There are
certain things people do that make them forfeit their right to live
on this Earth," Goss said. Goss was the lone pro-execution
demonstrator. Approximately 40 people came to protest.
David Courtenay-Quirk, of the Atlanta group
Campaign to End the Death Penalty, said people who commit the same
crime receive varying sentences based on their race or social
standing or on the zealousness of the prosecutor. "The death penalty
is basically a crapshoot," he said. Mincey's execution came after a
flurry of attempts to stop it, including an attack on the
credibility of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles just minutes
before the five people on the clemency board were asked to commute
Mincey's sentence to life.
The recurring claims in the challenges were that
one of Mincey's co-defendants actually fired the fatal shot, that
Georgia was not prepared to carry out lethal injection humanely and
that two board members accused of unethical behavior would want to
reject Mincey's appeals to please the Attorney General's Office,
which is investigating the pair. Mincey's co-defendants, Timothy
Jenkins and Robert Jones, pleaded guilty and cooperated with
authorities. Jones is serving a life sentence on a murder plea.
Jenkins, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery, was released from
prison in 1992.
Efforts Mount to Stop Execution
Contends Procedure Rushed
By Rhonda Cook - Atlanta Journal Constitution
October 21, 2001
Those who loved Paulette Riggs will remember
Terry Michael Mincey because he was convicted of snuffing out her
life for $141.19 from a convenience store cash register. But outside
that circle of people, Mincey will most likely be known as the first
person in Georgia to die by lethal injection --- if his execution is
carried out Thursday as planned.
For three years, Georgia has not
executed anyone though there are 127 men and a woman under a death
sentence. But since the Georgia Supreme Court ruled electrocution
was unconstitutional two weeks ago, two have been put in line to die
at the hands of the state --- Mincey first, for shooting Riggs at a
Macon convenience store in 1982, to be followed on Nov. 6 by Jose
High, sentenced to die for the 1976 murder of an 11-year-old boy in
"I think it would be a travesty if we can't stop
this execution," said Amy Donnella, Mincey's attorney. "But that is
my fear." Late Friday, Mincey's lawyer filed an appeal with the
court in Butts County, the home of death row. Donnella argued that
her experts had not had time to review Department of Corrections
protocols for lethal injection. She also argued that someone else
committed the murder. No hearing has been scheduled.
Anti-death penalty forces are shocked that the
executions were scheduled so soon after a gurney replaced the chair
in the death chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification
Prison near Jackson.
They also worry that the executions could be
carried out before the Georgia Supreme Court can review yet-to-be
presented evidence that lethal injection also is cruel and unusual
punishment. "How can you execute someone in good conscience knowing
that the legality of the method of execution has not been tested by
the Georgia Supreme Court?" said attorney Tom West, who represents
defendants in four pending death penalty cases but is not associated
with Mincey's or High's cases.
Yet officials with the state claim that the state
Supreme Court already approved lethal injection in its Oct. 5
decision throwing out electrocution by noting that the change in
method "reflects societal consensus that the 'science of the present
day' has provided a less painful, less barbarous means of taking the
life of condemned prisoners."
Some legal scholars don't expect the state's
justices, at this time, to strike down lethal injection, which has
been upheld by other courts. "There have been a string of challenges,"
said Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno. "It's just they
have never succeeded . . . Every state and federal court has upheld.
It's never been knocked down. But it has come close to being
Anti-death penalty forces in Georgia argue,
however, that they are prepared to present evidence that lethal
injection, like electrocution, represents "cruel and unusual
punishment," specifically at a Nov. 19 hearing in a death penalty
case pending in Fulton County.
If the judge in that case finds
lethal injection unconstitutional, that would be their avenue to get
the issue before the Georgia Supreme Court in an effort to stop
other executions, including Mincey's and High's if they are stayed.
"Why are they [the state's attorneys] so anxious
to kill someone?" said attorney Mike Mears, who has filed a similar
motion in two other pending capital cases. "These people have been
on death row a long time. What's another month going to matter?"
their chagrin, Mincey's attorney did not receive documents detailing
the dosages of the three drugs that will be used until late Thursday.
She said the information provided is unclear and her experts have
not had time to review them. Donnella is especially worried that the
level of sedatives would not be enough. If Mincey should wake during
the procedure, she said, no one would know that he was suffering
because another drug used would have paralyzed him.
Denno, the execution expert, said the paralyzing
agent was used, primarily, because officials did not know how the
condemned might respond to the lethal drugs. "It doesn't look so
great to have somebody jerking around on a gurney so they admit it's
to paralyze them," Denno said.
Donnella thinks the procedure to be
used in Georgia has not been well thought out and that suggests the
Department of Corrections is not prepared to carry out a lethal
injection. Not true, said Warden Fredrick Head.
"We're ready," Head said. "We have the equipment.
We have the drugs. And the staff has been trained. Since the General
Assembly passed that law [in 2000], we have been getting ready for
Unlike electrocution, witnesses will not see much
of the procedure. According to Head, Mincey will be strapped to a
gurney and two emergency medical technicians will establish two IVs
--- a primary one and a backup --- before opening a curtain on the
window separating the death chamber from the witness room. The
gurney will be tilted so witnesses can see Mincey's face. Head said
a deputy warden, certified to measure and mix the drugs, will
prepare seven syringes. Three prison employees will administer the
injections, one at a time. Head explained the procedure:
First there are two injections of a sedative,
each one gram of sodium pentothal mixed in 50 CCs of water. The next
step is to administer 50 CCs of Pavulon, which causes the lungs to
collapse and paralyzes the condemned.
Then, 60 CCs of potassium
chloride are injected to stop the heart. A doctor watching a heart
monitor attached to the inmate will signal when his heart stops.
Then two other doctors, using stethoscopes, will confirm that he is
Thirty-five other states use lethal injection,
including 14 in which the inmate or the state can choose between
lethal injection or another method --- either firing squad, gas
chamber, electrocution or hanging, depending on the state. "If
they're going to kill people, they need to come up with a procedure
that people can agree . . . is the best possible way to do it," West
said. "You can tell reading these things [the protocols] it's
hastily thrown together.
The person responsible for the maintenance and
production and preparation of the three chemicals is the assistant
warden for security. What does the assistant warden for security
know about handling, preparation, care and management of drugs?
Probably not very much but that's what we're dealing with here," he
Condemned Killer's Guilt is Disputed
Lawyer Files Challenge
By Bill Rankin - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 20, 2001
With Georgia's first lethal injection execution
scheduled next week, a lawyer for condemned killer Terry Mincey is
contending her client did not fire the fatal shot that killed a
Macon convenience store cashier in 1982.
Although Mincey was prosecuted as the gunman who
killed Paulette Riggs, the Bibb County district attorney's office
had evidence suggesting otherwise and never disclosed it, said a
legal motion filed Friday by Mincey's lawyer.
The challenge, which
seeks a new trial, was filed in Superior Court in Butts County, home
of Georgia's death row. "There can be no doubt that confidence in
the outcome of Mr. Mincey's trial and capital sentencing proceeding
is undermined," said the court petition. It also challenges lethal
injection as a method of execution and contends the Georgia Supreme
Court has failed to determine whether capital sentences are
proportionate to penalties imposed in similar cases.
The legal challenge contends that Mincey's co-defendant,
Timothy Jenkins, fired the shot that killed Riggs. The motion cites
statements recently made by Jenkins' ex-wife, two eyewitnesses to
the armed robbery and a retired GBI ballistics examiner who says "the
available evidence" indicates Riggs was killed by Jenkins' gun.
Jenkins, who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and robbery,
testified for the state at Mincey's trial, saying that Mincey killed
Riggs. Jenkins pleaded guilty to armed robbery and aggravated
battery and was released from prison in August 1992.
Graham Thorpe, a Bibb County assistant district
attorney who prosecuted the case, said he finds Mincey's new
contentions unbelievable. "If it were true that Jenkins shot
Paulette Riggs and Terry Mincey did not, then why has Terry Mincey
sat on death row for 19 years without bothering to tell anybody that?"
he asked. At trial, Bibb prosecutors described Mincey as a
calculating killer who led two other armed men during a murderous
On the evening of April 12, 1982, Mincey, Jenkins
and Robert Jones got together and planned a hold-up. After driving
by a Mini Food Store, they circled back and parked. According to
court testimony, Mincey entered the store and then returned to the
car, telling the others there were only a female clerk and two
Mincey then informed Jones and Jenkins he did not
plan to leave any witnesses. After the robbery of about $140, Mincey
shot and killed Riggs and shot and seriously wounded an off-duty
fireman who was pumping gas, according to testimony. The two
teenagers escaped unharmed.
According to court records, Jenkins served as the
lookout and Jones drove the car. Jones is serving a life sentence
for felony murder.
Mincey's new court petition says that a brother
and sister who were in the store at the time of the robbery have
signed affidavits saying they saw Jenkins holding a gun on Riggs and
that they heard shots fired and Riggs scream after they fled the
And Jenkins' ex-wife, Julie Chavies, said in a sworn
affidavit that Jenkins talked about the crime after he returned home
that night. "He was very nervous, pacing around and mumbling to
himself. I got up and saw he was in the bathroom scrubbing his hands
with Ajax. After scrubbing his hands, he cleaned his gun," she said
in the affidavit.
At one point, Jenkins told her, "I did a terrible
thing --- we were getting high and riding around and we killed them,"
according to Chavies' affidavit. She also said that she told this
information to Bibb District Attorney Will Sparks. Sparks committed
suicide in 1993, shooting himself in the head at the county
Amy Donnella, Mincey's attorney, said Friday that
she was grateful the witnesses came forward. "I think they
recognized that the truth had to come out," she said. Kelly Fite,
who was once the GBI's chief ballistics examiner, said in a sworn
affidavit that he was troubled by his review of the case. "It is my
expert opinion that an insufficient investigation was conducted
concerning the ballistics evidence in this case and that improper
evidence handling techniques resulted in the loss of crucial
evidence," he said.
He also said that Jenkins' behavior on the night
of the killing, as described by Chavies, is consistent with someone
who had just fired a handgun and who was trying to destroy the
Fite noted that the ballistics evidence supports the
prosecution's argument that Mincey shot Riggs but he said that Riggs
was shot twice, once in the back and once in the head. The bullet
recovered from Riggs' back was fired from the Llama handgun found at
Mincey's home, according to court testimony. But the fatal bullet
fired into Riggs' skull was never recovered, Fite said.
Fite also said that only one spent cartridge
shell was found near Riggs' body, when there should have been two if
two shots had been fired from the Llama, which ejects shells after
being fired. Fite noted that Jenkins' gun, a .38-caliber revolver,
did not eject shells when fired. "If Jenkins had fired the fourth
shot . . . that would explain the absence of a fourth cartridge at
the scene," Fite said.