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Robert Brice MORROW

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 3, 1996
Date of arrest: June 19, 1996
Date of birth: June 3, 1957
Victim profile: Lisa Allison (female, 21)
Method of murder: Beating - Stabbing with knife
Location: Liberty County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on November 4, 2004
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary:

Morrow abducted and murdered a 21 year old Lisa Allison, who was a college student home on spring break.

She left her parents’ home at approximately 8:30 p.m. to wash her father’s car at a nearby car wash. The young woman had planned to drive the car to Houston the following day for a date.

Her body was found floating in the Trinity River the day after her disappearance. She had been severely beaten and her throat slashed.

Hair and blood samples taken from Morrow matched those taken from the car Allison drove. Testimony showed that Morrow had previously talked of committing a kidnapping, rape, and murder from the car wash.

A jury took just 13 minutes to sentence Morrow to death following his capital murder conviction.

Days before his execution, Morrow admitted that he lied during the trial when he claimed an alibi. Instead he admitted beating and slashing Lisa to death, and claimed that Lisa had gone with him willingly from the car wash to smoke crack cocaine.

Of course, if this version were true, there was no underlying felony of kidnapping to support a death sentence. Neither the appeals courts nor the victim's family were conviced.

Citations:

Morrow v. Dretke, 99 Fed.Appx. 505 (5th Cir. 2004). (Habeas)

Final Meal:

10 pieces of crispy fried chicken, two cheeseburgers, three fried pork chops, chef salad with chopped ham and Thousand Island dressing, French fries and onions, five buttermilk biscuits with butter, four jalapeno peppers, a pint of Rocky Road ice cream, one bowl of peach cobbler or apple pie and two Sprites and two Cokes.

Final Words:

Morrow addressed the parents of his victim by name and told them, "I would like to tell you that I am responsible, and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused." He expressed love to his friends and said he had been blessed that they stood by him. Morrow urged them to stay strong. "Set me free, warden. Father, accept me." As he waited for the lethal drugs to take effect, he turned again, looking through a window at his victim's relatives and added, "I do hope my death brings you all some closure." Then he blurted out, "I feel it" and gasped slightly three times.

ClarkProsecutor.org

 
 

Texas Attorney General

Media Advisory

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Robert Brice Morrow Scheduled For Execution

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott offers the following information about Robert Brice Morrow, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. November 4, 2004. In November 1997, a Liberty County jury found Morrow guilty of capital murder in the kidnaping and killing of 21-year-old Lisa Allison of Liberty. The evidence presented at trial showed the following:

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Lisa Allison, a college student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was at home in Liberty, Texas, for spring break.

During the early evening hours of April 3, 1996, Allison left her parents’ home to take her father’s car to a car wash. She did not return. After a failed attempt to locate their daughter, the Allisons filed a missing person’s report with police.

Bryan McNeill testified that he saw Lisa Allison at the car wash on April 3rd as he was cleaning his truck. After he finished vacuuming, he pulled his truck to a pump at the gas station next to the car wash.

At this point, McNeill noticed that a car on the side of the road let out a man who proceeded to cross the street towards the car wash. Although he did not get a full-face view of the man and never positively identified Robert Brice Morrow, McNeill’s description was consistent with Morrow’s appearance at that time.

A short time later, while pumping gas, McNeill heard a “short, startling scream” come from the area of the car wash. He looked over at the car wash and saw the man who had crossed the street laying on top of Lisa Allison in the passenger side of her car.

Because Allison did not seem to be struggling, McNeill decided that the two must be boyfriend and girlfriend and dismissed the scream as being nothing more than someone being surprised. He then watched as the man got up and Allison slide behind the steering wheel.

The man sat down in the passenger seat and the two drove away in the direction of the Trinity River. McNeill noted that he could not see the man’s hands at anytime during this incident.

At about 10:30 the next morning, authorities informed the Allison family that Lisa’s body had been found floating in the nearby Trinity River. Her throat had been cut and she had been beaten severely. She had forty-two separate injuries.

Authorities discovered the victim’s car abandoned within two miles of Morrow’s home. Numerous blood stains and types of evidence were found in the vehicle and at a well site near where the body was discovered. Hair and blood samples taken from both places matched those of the victim.

Other blood samples taken from the car matched Morrow. One stain was found to be consistent with a mixture of Morrow’s and Lisa Allison’s blood, and the statistical probability of the blood coming from a different pair was 1 in 20.9 million.

Testimony showed that Morrow had previously talked of committing a crime like the one at the car wash. Prior to the offense, Morrow told a fellow oil worker that it would be easy to abduct a woman from a service station with a knife, take her money and jewelry, and go sell the items for drugs.

Morrow also said that he could have sex with the woman and that he would “take care of her.” Further, Dane Schisler, a friend of Morrow, stated that he had dropped Morrow off across the street from the car wash shortly before the Allison kidnaping took place.

Brad Keaton, another Morrow acquaintance, testified that he saw Morrow the night of the offense walking down the road in front of Keaton’s house around midnight. He stated that Morrow had scratches on his arms and a considerable amount of blood on his clothes. Morrow told Keaton that he was bloody because he had been in a car wreck.

In testimony at the trial, Morrow denied kidnaping and murdering Allison. The evidence, including the testimony from Lisa’s parents and Morrow, showed that Lisa Allison was a random victim. She did not know Morrow.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 14, 1996, a Liberty County grand jury indicted Morrow for the capital murder of Lisa Allison. A jury found Morrow guilty of capital murder on November 13, 1997.

On November 17, 1997, after a separate punishment hearing, the court sentenced Morrow to death.

Morrow filed a state application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court on September 8, 1999. The trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that Morrow be denied relief.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court’s findings and conclusions and denied relief on June 21, 2000. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Morrow’s conviction and sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Morrow’s petition for writ of certiorari on October 2, 2000.

Morrow filed a federal habeas petition in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, on October 2, 2001. On July 21, 2003, the district court entered an order and judgment granting the state’s motion for summary judgment and denying Morrow habeas corpus relief. Morrow filed a notice of appeal, but on September 18, 2003, the district court denied Morrow permission to appeal.

Morrow then sought permission to appeal from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court denied Morrow’s request on May 11, 2004. Morrow then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, and that petition was denied by the court on October 18, 2004.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of Morrow’s trial, the State presented substantial evidence of Morrow’s future dangerousness, which included several prior convictions. Morrow’s record includes a felony conviction in South Carolina for two counts of breaking and entering and grand larceny (sentence not to exceed six years), convictions in New Orleans, Louisiana, for carrying a concealed weapon (three-year sentence) and burglary (four-year sentence, concurrent with the three-year sentence), and a conviction for forgery in Liberty, Texas (five years probation).

With respect to the latter conviction, Morrow violated his probation and was sentenced to thirty months in the Texas Department of Corrections.

The State also introduced a tape of an interview an officer had with Morrow after he killed Lisa Allison. On this tape, Morrow admitted to killing other people in gang-related activity. For instance, he stated that he killed some Cubans in a drug deal that went bad.

James Lindsey, a supervisor with the Liberty County Jail, testified that Morrow threatened to escape and indicated he could easily break out due to the small size of the jail.

Other officers from the jail testified that Morrow had threatened them. Specifically, one officer, Kenneth Nunn, testified that he learned that Morrow had threatened to kill him with a high-powered rifle.

 
 

ProDeathPenalty.com

November 4th has been set as the execution date for convicted murderer Robert Brice Morrow of Liberty. Morrow was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1996 abduction and murder of 21-year-old Lisa Allison.

Lisa had been beaten and slashed with a knife when her body was found near the Trinity River bridge the day after her disappearance. The car was later found abandoned near a church several miles away in Ames.

Morrow doesn't deny that traces of his blood were recovered from Lisa's car. He contends he was given a ride in the vehicle by the man who killed her and took the car, and claims he was bleeding after he and a drug-smoking acquaintance from Houston got into a "powerful conflict" and fought over drug paraphernalia.

Morrow told police in at least one of his statements more than two months after the murder that he was drinking beer all day and was out of town when the woman was killed. However, he gave the alibi before asking what day the murder took place.

A longtime friend of Morrow's testified that Morrow had mused about how easy it would be to rob women at a local car wash for dope money.

The conversations, he said, took place as the pair gazed at the car wash from a gas station across the street, where they bought beer and cigarettes after smoking $50 to $100 worth of crack cocaine following a day in the oil fields.

Smith said that when he learned of the slaying of Myra Elisabeth Allison, a 21-year-old Liberty college student who was abducted from the car wash, he was incarcerated at a state prison drug rehabilitation unit in Huntsville.

He told his counselor about his conversations with Morrow. "It seemed too coincidental to what me and Robert Morrow talked about," Smith told jurors. Their friendship carried no weight in his decision to tip police, he said. As he put it, "I feel there's a big difference between smoking dope and capital murder."

Under cross-examination, Smith insisted he was not seeking any of the $30,000 reward money that has been offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of Allison's killer. He also said he has not been promised leniency from the judicial system and expects to soon be returned to a state drug rehab unit. Smith has previous convictions for delivery of marijuana and possession of cocaine. He is on probation for a driving-while-intoxicated conviction.

Despite his past, Smith said Morrow's suggestions that women at the car wash could easily be overpowered with a knife surprised him. "It kinda startled me," he testified. Morrow also suggested the pair could have sex with any of the women they robbed and that the victims could easily be "taken care of," Smith said. "He said if I said anything, he could take care of me, too," he testified.

Police used information from Smith to obtain a search warrant against Morrow, a 38-year-old ex-convict, who was forced to surrender hair and blood samples to investigators.

When police questioned Morrow on June 19, 1996, about 2½ months after Allison's slaying, he told them he had been drinking all day at the Lazy H Bar in Liberty, where he took up with a Chambers County man who was celebrating his birthday with friends, according to police testimony on Wednesday.

Morrow said the birthday party then moved to a bar called Smitty's in Crosby, where he remained until midnight. Police couldn't confirm any parts of Morrow's story, leading them to intensify their investigation. When Morrow agreed to give a written statement, he changed parts of his story, saying he had gone to Channelview instead of Crosby and omitting the name of the Chambers County man he said was celebrating his birthday. Police still could not confirm any parts of the story.

Allison, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas student who was home on spring break, was reported missing April 3, 1996, after taking her family's 1988 Oldsmobile to a car wash at U.S. 90 and FM 563. Her bludgeoned and slashed body was found the next day in the Trinity River by a fisherman checking his trot lines.

Morrow was arrested on the most unremarkable of charges: illegally walking in the street. After Morrow was picked up July 29, 1996, near a crack house in Houston's Fourth Ward and taken to the City Jail, computer records showed police he was wanted for Lisa's slaying. But Morrow was willing to fill in the blanks left by the computer. "He said, `Ya'll got a big one. This is a high-profile case where I come from,' " Houston Officer Charles Vazquez testified at Morrow's trial. "He said, `I'm on America's Most Wanted (TV show). He seemed kind of boastful about it."

A friend of Morrow's testified that Morrow asked him to lie about his whereabouts on April 3, 1996, the night Lisa was murdered. More importantly, the witness told jurors he had let Morrow out of his car near a car wash where the University of Nevada-Las Vegas student was abducted.

A 21-year-old Cleveland man who was brought from the Jefferson County Jail to testify said he had overheard Morrow talk about the murder to another inmate at the Liberty County Jail in October 1996.

The man quoted Morrow as saying a friend of his had struck the woman with a tire tool and that the pair left her near the Trinity River. The men then smoked some crack but returned later to find the woman still alive, he quoted Morrow as saying.

They then beat her to death and threw her body in the river, he said. "Whose idea was it to go back and make sure Lisa Allison was dead?" Assistant District Attorney Steve Greene asked. "Robert Morrow," the witness said.

Another jail inmate testified that he had seen Morrow about 1 a.m. on April 4, 1996, with blood on his arms and legs. "I asked him what happened and he told me he got in a car wreck," the witness said.

Lisa's mother said that she never wanted to go to the car wash alone. But when the young Nevada college student -- home in Liberty for spring break -- beseeched her mother, father and sister to accompany her, each begged off.

Then the curly-haired, freckled-faced Allison, known to her friends and family as Lisa, equipped herself with a couple of old towels, cranked up the family's midnight blue Oldsmobile Cutlass and headed off to handle the chore herself. Her family expected her to return in less than an hour. But they never saw her alive again. Allison's slashed and battered body was found the next morning, bobbing in the muddy Trinity River a short distance from town. "She was going to the car wash in `little Liberty Texas'.

What's the big deal?" District Attorney Mike Little asked jurors as testimony began Thursday in the capital murder trial of Robert Morrow, the student's accused killer. "But when she closed that door and left, it closed her to her family forever." Lisa was the elder daughter of former Liberty City Councilman Mike Allison and his schoolteacher wife, Susan.

As the first prosecution witness to testify, Mrs. Allison detailed for jurors the growing panic her family felt as Lisa failed to return on the evening of April 3, 1996. Mrs. Allison said her daughter had asked her to go to the car wash with her, but she felt obligated to stay home and wash clothes.

The student's father, now a certified public accountant, also declined, opting to relax in front of the television. Her younger sister was deep in homework. Mrs. Allison testified that Lisa changed into blue jean shorts, T-shirt and denim shirt, then grabbed a couple of old towels and left.

"We expected her back within an hour," the mother said. "She and her sister were going to work on homework. Lisa was helping her study for a vocabulary test. She was very much the big sister." Lisa Allison left the family home about 8:30 p.m.

Shortly afterward, her mother fell asleep while folding laundry and watching television. Waking about 90 minutes later, she was surprised to see lights in the front part of the house still burning. "I asked if Lisa was back," Mrs. Allison recalled. "She wasn't." She said the family became concerned about 10:30 p.m. "We tried calling her on the car phone, but there never was an answer. We called and we called. We thought maybe there was something wrong with the connection."

At one point, Mike Allison searched the town for his missing daughter. "He was gone about 45 minutes," Mrs. Allison said. "He looked everywhere, but he didn't see her. After that we just sat there for a period." About 2 a.m., Mrs. Allison could stand the suspense no more. "I got into the car and started looking myself. It was midweek and most of Lisa's friends weren't in Liberty yet. "But I went up all the streets. I even took a country road and circled back through Hardin. I thought maybe she had lost control and ended up in a ditch. I looked everywhere and I thought everything." The search was futile.

District Attorney Little told jurors that Lisa Allison was abducted from the car wash. "We can't tell you what happened minute-by-minute," he said. "We can't even tell you what happened blow-by-blow. But after the abduction, she entered a time period of pure terror, horror, torture and ultimately death. "They threw her in the river like someone throws a bag of trash in the water." Mrs. Allison said that at about 5 a.m. the family telephoned a friend who had been married to a police officer.

That woman's advice led them to Liberty police headquarters where they filed a missing-person report. At 10:30 a.m., they received word that Lisa's body had been found in the river near the U.S. 90 bridge. Said Little: "The worst thing in their mind came true in brutal detail."

Also testifying Thursday was Gustavo DeLeon, a forensic expert with the Bexar County Forensic Science Center in San Antonio. He testified that autopsy tests revealed Allison had blood -- but not semen -- in her mouth and rectum.

DeLeon used the trial's most dramatic prop, the passenger compartment and trunk of the Allison family auto, to show jurors where human blood had been identified in the passenger compartment. A jury took just 13 minutes to sentence Morrow to death following his capital murder conviction.

UPDATE: With his execution imminent, Robert Morrow fidgeted in his chair and was testy as he spoke on a telephone through a Plexiglas window on death row. He then began to spin a new story that substantially changed his long-held account of his part in the kidnapping and slaying of a Liberty councilman's daughter eight years ago. "I don't care who ... believes me," the 47-year-old man said in a thick Cajun accent laced with profanity at the Polunsky prison unit.

He then confessed to being the one who beat and slashed the throat of 21-year-old Lisa Allison while she was home on spring break, contradicting his trial testimony and media statements in which he had named another man as the killer. But he also contended that the college student had willingly gone with him to smoke crack cocaine, denying that he had abducted her at knifepoint from a car wash.

Without committing another crime along with the slaying on April 3, 1996, Morrow reasoned, his case should not qualify under state law for the death penalty. He is slated for execution at the Walls Unit in Huntsville on Thursday. If Morrow thought his admission might help redeem him, it has had the opposite effect on Allison's parents and the Liberty County district attorney.

They say Morrow's latest statements are another attempt to manipulate the system and cruelly smear the family's memory of their daughter by falsely implying she willingly accompanied him and used drugs. "There are monsters out there who are wearing people suits. I want to see this monster stand in front of God Almighty and try to lie his way out," said Allison's father, Mike, a certified public accountant.

The emotional stress of her death also caused Mike Allison to resign from the Liberty City Council seat that he had held six years in the usually tranquil community northeast of Houston. His daughter had already faced death once when she had won a battle with thyroid cancer three months before her murder, her family said. "We are battle-weary," said Lisa Allison's mother, Susan, a teacher. "You don't realize the physical pain you feel when something like this happens. It's like having open-heart surgery without the anesthetic." The Allisons and their daughter, Ashley, who was seven years younger than Lisa, say they are constantly reminded of their loss. "We cannot enjoy simple things like going out to eat. They don't make a table for three. There is always an empty chair," said Susan Allison.

But Morrow said he had no choice but to kill Allison. After driving down an isolated road to the Trinity River to smoke crack, Morrow said, he and Allison got into a physical confrontation over a flat tire on the car that she had taken to the car wash. She was upset with him for not quickly changing it and bit him and stabbed him in the leg with a screwdriver, he said. "I'm high on cocaine, and it blew my fuse. So I knotted up and slapped her and beat the (expletive) out of her," he said.

At one point, he said, he chased her down the road and dragged her back to the car, throwing her in the trunk so he could "change the tire." "When I opened the trunk again, she came at me like a raving ... maniac. So I had to whop her upside the head with a jack handle," he said. He also cut her throat. "I knew who her family was. I was a convicted felon that had been to the pen three times. I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell. I did what I had to do."

The background of Morrow and Allison couldn't be more different. In addition to serving on the council, Allison's father founded the town's only funeral home in 1947. Lisa Allison also had a cousin who was a constable and another who was a deputy sheriff and bailiff. Morrow had grown up one of five children in a home with an abusive, alcoholic father, said his 75-year-old mother, Mary Morrow. He ran away to join a carnival at age 9 and returned a few years later. He dropped out in the 10th grade.

Although Morrow never admitted the killing to his mother, Mary Morrow remembers him coming home that night with blood on his clothing and saying that he'd been in a fight. "I'm sorry he (did) it. I guess he's being punished now," said Mary Morrow, who is rail thin from arthritis and diabetes. "I can't attend the execution because I can't walk without holding onto something. I know he's going to die and I don't want to see it."

District Attorney Mike Little said the only truth in Morrow's latest admission is that "he brutally killed a young woman who fought for her virtue and her life." Little said any insinuations that she willingly accompanied Morrow on a drug binge are "totally preposterous" because tests at the time of her death found no trace of any drugs in her system.

In addition, Little said a friend of Morrow's testified at the trial that he once mused about how easy it would be to kidnap, rob, sexually assault and kill a woman from that very car wash before it happened. "Those who knew Lisa would never consider for a moment that she would have anything to do with this human piece of garbage unless he had a knife to her throat," Little said.

Allison had been attending the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where she was a year away from a degree in hotel management, her family said. In high school, she had been an honor student and won a state competition in prose. She was always involved as a class officer, student council member and drill team dancer, her family said. "She was electric. When she walked in a room, you could feel the energy," said Susan Allison.

Morrow, meanwhile, said he is ready to die. He has had plenty of time to think about his death while isolated in his dank cell with no air conditioning and only a radio for company. "I'd have to be retarded or stupid to want to live on death row," he said.

Mike and Susan Allison and three other family members plan to make the trip to Livingston to witness Morrow receive the lethal injection. Morrow said none of his family members will attend. He said he has a 20-year-old son, Clyde, who cannot come because he is in prison for cocaine possession.

However, Morrow said a Catholic priest from Boston and some friends from Switzerland will attend. "I want you to tell the Allison family that I have arranged for a friend to get my ashes and scatter them over their daughter's grave," he said with a loud laugh. But then he said he was really sending his ashes to members of his father's family in Ireland. He said he has made his atonement and has no fear of dying: "I'll go in myself and help with it (the execution). They're doing me a big favor. I'm getting set free."

 
 

Texas Execution Information Center by David Carson

Txexecutions.org

Robert Brice Morrow, 47, was executed by lethal injection on 4 November 2004 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction and murder of a 21-year-old woman.

On 3 April 1996, Lisa Allison left her parents' home in Liberty to take her father's car to a car wash. She did not return. A fisherman found her body was found the next morning, floating in the Trinity River. Her throat had been cut, and she had been severely beaten. The autopsy indicated that she died from a combination of several skull fractures and a severed jugular vein. Allison's car was also found. Hair and blood samples taken from the car matched Morrow, who lived about two miles from where the car was found. Allison's blood was also found in the car.

Morrow was arrested on 29 July. At his trial, a friend of his, Dane Schisler, testified that he dropped Morrow off across the street from the car wash shortly before Allison disappeared. Brad Keaton, another acquaintance, testified that he saw Morrow walking down the road that night. Keaton testified that Morrow had scratches on his arms and a considerable amount of blood on his clothing. Morrow told Keaton that he had been in a car wreck.

Bryan McNeill testified that he was cleaning his truck at the car wash on 3 April, and he saw Lisa Allison there. After he finished vacuuming, he pulled his truck to a pump at the gas station next to the car wash. He then saw a car across the street let out a man on the side of the road, and the man proceeded to walk toward the car wash.

A short time later, McNeill heard a short scream come from the car wash. He saw the man laying on top of Lisa Allison in the passenger side of her car. He then watched as the man got up and Allison slid behind the steering wheel.

The man sat down in the passenger seat, and the two drove off in the direction of the Trinity River. McNeill testified Allison did not appear to be struggling, so he reasoned that she and the man were girlfriend and boyfriend, and the short scream he heard was unimportant.

McNeill testified that he did not get a good look at the man's face, nor did he see his hands at any time, but McNeill's physical description of the man did match Morrow.

A co-worker of Morrow's testified that Morrow had told him prior to the murder that it would be easy to abduct a woman from a service station and take her money and jewelry. Morrow added that he would also have sex with her, and then "take care of her." Morrow testified that he had nothing to do with the crime.

Morrow had a previous conviction for forgery and was sentenced to five years' probation. After violating the terms of his probation, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He served 20 months of that sentence from 1981 to 1983 before being released. Morrow also had served time in Louisiana and South Carolina for burglary, grand larceny, and carrying a weapon illegally. He also had misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession, marijuana delivery, and failure to identify a fugitive. A

jury convicted Morrow of capital murder in November 1997 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in June 2000. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.

Four days before his scheduled execution, Morrow told a reporter that Allison went willingly with him from the car wash to smoke crack cocaine. As they were driving down an isolated road near the Trinity River, Allison's car got a flat tire. She became upset with him for not changing the tire quickly enough, he said, and she stabbed him in the leg with a screwdriver. "I'm high on cocaine, and it blew my fuse," Morrow said. "So, I knotted up and slapped her and beat the (expletive) out of her." She then ran from him, so he chased her and dragged her back to the car, throwing her in the trunk so he could change the tire. "When I opened the trunk again, she came at my like a raving ... maniac. So, I had to whop her upside the head with a jack handle."

Lisa Allison's father was a Liberty city councilman, and she had relatives in local law enforcement, including a cousin who was a deputy sheriff. "I knew who her family was," Morrow said. "I was a convicted felon that had been to the pen three times. I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell. I did what I had to do." He then cut Allison's throat. "I wish it didn't happen, but I can't change it," he said. "When you do drugs, there's no telling what can happen. I did that night, and it got out of hand." Morrow said that he should not be executed for Allison's murder because he did not kidnap her. By law, only murder cases that include an aggravating factor, such as kidnapping, are eligible for the death penalty.

Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little called Morrow's account "totally preposterous." He said that tests found no trace of any drugs in the victim's system at the time of her death. He said that Morrow was attempting to manipulate the system by smearing the family's memory of Lisa. Morrow told a Houston Chronicle reporter that he had arranged for his ashes to be sent to family members in Ireland, but "I want you to tell the Allison family that I have arranged for a friend to get my ashes and scatter them over their daughter's grave," he said with a loud laugh.

Morrow said that he was ready to die. "I'd have to be retarded or stupid to want to live on death row," he said. "They're doing me a big favor. I'm getting set free." Morrow's execution was delayed briefly as prison workers had difficulty finding suitable veins to use for the lethal injection.

At his execution, Morrow addressed Lisa's parents by name and said, "I would like to tell you that I am responsible and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused." He also expressed love to his friends. He then said, "Set me free, warden. Father, accept me." As the lethal injection began flowing, Morrow turned again to the Allisons and said, "I do hope my death brings you all some closure." He then blurted out, "I feel it," and gasped slightly three times. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m.

 
 

Morrow executed in student's slaying

Killer expressed remorse for the abduction, death of 21-year-old

By Michael Graczyk - Houston Chronicle

Associated Press - Nov. 5, 2004

HUNTSVILLE - Apologetic killer Robert Brice Morrow was executed Thursday for the fatal beating and slashing of a 21-year-old Nevada college student who was abducted while home in Texas on spring break.

In a last statement, Morrow addressed the parents of his victim by name and told them, "I would like to tell you that I am responsible, and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused." He expressed love to his friends and said he had been blessed that they stood by him. Morrow urged them to stay strong. "Set me free, warden," he said. "Father, accept me." As he waited for the lethal drugs to take effect, he turned again, looking through a window at his victim's relatives and added, "I do hope my death brings you all some closure." Then he blurted out, "I feel it" and gasped slightly three times. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. CST, eight minutes after the drugs began flowing.

The execution was delayed briefly as prison officials had difficulty finding suitable veins in the former drug user's arms. Instead they selected veins at the top of each hand for the needles.

Morrow, 47, a former oilfield roughneck with a criminal record in at least three states, was condemned for the 1996 slaying of Lisa Allison, who was taken from a carwash near her home in Liberty, about 45 miles east of Houston. Her body was found the next day in the Trinity River. Authorities determined she had suffered 42 injuries. Morrow was the 20th Texas inmate executed this year and the second this week. No last-day appeals were filed to try to block the punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago refused to review his case.

The woman's father, Michael Allison, said earlier he'd like to tell Morrow: "We're glad you're going to be off this Earth. We think the world will be a better and safer place with you gone." His daughter had cheated death once, getting a clean bill of health months earlier after surviving thyroid cancer. She was looking forward to a hotel-management career after graduation from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

A witness told authorities he saw a man fitting Morrow's description lying on top of Allison in the passenger side of a car at the carwash. She didn't appear to be struggling, and he dismissed the activity as nothing more than boyfriend and girlfriend, then saw them drive toward the river. The car later was found abandoned. Morrow, who had previous convictions for burglary, weapons possession and larceny in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas, was arrested nearly four months later walking near a crack house in Houston. A computer check revealed he was wanted for the slaying.

 
 

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Robert Morrow - Texas - November 4, 2004

The state of Texas is scheduled to execute Robert Brice Morrow Nov. 4 for the April 3, 1996 murder of Lisa Allison, a 21 year-old white college student in Liberty County.

According to the prosecution, Allison took her car to a local carwash where an eyewitness watched a man fitting Morrow’s description approach her and pin her down in the front seat of her car. The witness believed it appeared Allison and the man knew each other and so he was not alarmed. Later Allison was found dead and there were samples of both Allison and Morrow’s blood in the car.

Morrow first maintained this blood was the result of a drug-related fight he was in, in which the person he says is the killer picked him up in Allison’s car after the crime took place. Morrow’s supporters had also claimed there was another blood sample found in the car which has not been tested to determine whether it matches the man Morrow contends is the killer. However, recently Morrow has confessed to killing Allison.

Other problems with Morrow’s case have arisen including possible ineffective assistance of counsel. Morrow’s trial attorney failed to object to numerous improper remarks at several key moments of the trial. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The attorney who wrote his 1998 state habeas petition failed to include any actual habeas claims in the brief, leading one to seriously question the quality of legal representation he has received.

Please take a moment to write Gov. Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles requesting clemency for Robert Morrow.

 
 

Texas Performs 20th Execution This Year

Reuters News

Thu Nov 4, 2004

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - A former oilfield worker who abducted a woman from a car wash and then murdered her was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday in the 20th execution this year in Texas. Robert Morrow, 47, was the second person executed this week and the 333rd since 1982 in the nation's most active death penalty state.

Morrow was condemned for the April 3, 1996 death of Lisa Allison, a 21-year-old college student who was visiting her parents in Liberty, Texas, on spring break. Morrow confessed to abducting her from a car wash while she cleaned her car, then beating her and slashing her throat. Her body was found floating in the Trinity River near Liberty, east of Houston.

In a final statement while strapped to a gurney in the Texas death chamber, Morrow apologized to his victim's parents, who witnessed his execution. "Mike and Mrs. (Susan) Allison I would like to tell you that I am responsible and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused you all," he said. "Set me free, warden. Father, accept me."

For his last meal, Morrow requested 10 pieces of crispy fried chicken, two cheeseburgers, three fried pork chops, chef salad with chopped ham and Thousand Island dressing, French fries and onions, five buttermilk biscuits with butter, four jalapeno peppers, a pint of Rocky Road ice cream, one bowl of peach cobbler or apple pie and two Sprites and two Cokes.

Texas has five more executions scheduled this year.

 
 

Inmate executed for 1996 slaying

By Brian Lacy - The Huntsville Item

November 4, 2004

Robert Brice Morrow apologized to the family of his victim Thursday night in his final statement before being executed inside the Huntsville "Walls" Unit. Morrow, 47, was sentenced to death for the 1996 abduction and murder of 21-year-old Lisa Allison of Liberty.

"I would like to tell you that I am responsible and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused you," Morrow said, straining his neck to look at Lisa's parents Mike and Susan Allison. Morrow then expressed his love for his ex-wife, Earline Banting, who witnessed the execution, and his many friends and supporters. "Set me free warden," he said. "Father, accept me."

As the lethal solution began to flow, Morrow looked again toward the Allison family and said, "I do hope my death brings y'all some closure." Moments later he uttered, "I can feel it," before sputtering several times. Seven minutes later, at 6:35 p.m., Morrow was pronounced dead.

Mike Allison did not answer questions after the execution, but did give a statement. "I still can't believe that there are people that walk the earth like this man," he said. "He paid a price tonight, a price I wanted him to pay, that he's just beginning to pay. And he'll be paying it for eternity. "I hope now some of the anger can come out of my body so I can reflect back on the memories, the sweet memories of Lisa, and enjoy the life and accomplishments of my other daughter."

The execution was delayed for several minutes as prison officials struggled to find a usable vein in Morrow's arm. The lethal solution was eventually injected through a vein in his hand. Morrow was the 20th inmate executed in Texas this year and the second this week. Two more executions are schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

Lisa Allison, who months before her death had overcome a battle with thyroid cancer, was home on Spring Break from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas where she was working toward a degree in hotel management. She was taken from a car wash near her home in Liberty, about 45 miles east of Houston. Her body was found the next day in the Trinity River. Authorities determined she had suffered 42 injuries.

A witness told authorities he saw a man fitting Morrow's description lying on top of Allison in the passenger side of a car at the car wash. She didn't appear to be struggling and he dismissed the activity as nothing more than boyfriend and girlfriend, then saw them drive away in the direction of the river.

The car later was found abandoned. Morrow, who had previous convictions for burglary, weapons possession and larceny in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas, was arrested nearly four months later walking near a crack house in Houston. A computer check revealed he was wanted for the slaying.

At his trial and in interviews with reporters, the 10th-grade dropout gave multiple stories about his case, including acknowledging involvement in her death, claiming a relationship with her and blaming someone else. Prosecutors called Allison the victim of a random crime and disputed some of Morrow's comments. "I caught him in several lies," said Mike Little, the Liberty County district attorney who prosecuted Morrow. "I think the jury saw through what he was saying very quickly."

After a 10-week trial, the jury took 13 minutes to decide he should be put to death.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 
 

Morrow apologetic before execution

KHOU.com

Friday, November 5, 2004

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Apologetic killer Robert Brice Morrow was executed Thursday for the fatal beating and slashing of a 21-year-old Nevada college student who was abducted while home in Texas on spring break.

In a last statement, Morrow addressed the parents of his victim by name and told them, "I would like to tell you that I am responsible and I am sorry for what I did and the pain I caused." He expressed love to his friends and said he had been blessed that they stood by him. Morrow urged them to stay strong. "Set me free warden," he said. "Father, accept me." As he waited for the lethal drugs to take effect, he turned again, looking through a window at his victim's relatives and added, "I do hope my death brings you all some closure." Then he blurted out, "I feel it" and gasped slightly three times. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. CST, eight minutes after the drugs began flowing.

The execution was delayed briefly as prison officials had difficulty finding suitable veins in the former drug user's arms. Instead they selected veins at the top of each hand for the needles.

Morrow, 47, a former oilfield roughneck with a criminal record in at least three states, was condemned for the 1996 slaying of Lisa Allison, who was taken from a car wash near her home in Liberty, about 45 miles east of Houston. Her body was found the next day in the Trinity River. Authorities determined she had suffered 42 injuries. Morrow was the 20th Texas inmate executed this year and the second this week.

No last-day appeals were filed to try to block the punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago refused to review his case.

"I still can't believe that there are people that walk the earth like this man," Mike Allison, the victim's father, said after watching Morrow die. "He paid a price tonight, a price I wanted him to pay, that he's just beginning to pay. and he'll be paying it for eternity. "I hope now some of the anger can come out of my body so I can reflect back on the memories, the sweet memories of Lisa, and enjoy the life and accomplishments of my other daughter." Lisa Allison had cheated death once, getting a clean bill of health months earlier after surviving thyroid cancer. She was looking forward to a hotel management career after graduation from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

A witness told authorities he saw a man fitting Morrow's description lying on top of Allison in the passenger side of a car at the car wash. She didn't appear to be struggling and he dismissed the activity as nothing more than boyfriend and girlfriend, then saw them drive away in the direction of the river. The car later was found abandoned. Morrow, who had previous convictions for burglary, weapons possession and larceny in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas, was arrested nearly four months later walking near a crack house in Houston. A computer check revealed he was wanted for the slaying.

At his trial and in interviews with reporters, the 10th-grade dropout gave multiple stories about his case, including acknowledging involvement in her death, claiming a relationship with her and blaming someone else. Prosecutors called Allison the victim of a random crime and disputed some of Morrow's comments. "I caught him in several lies," said Mike Little, the Liberty County district attorney who prosecuted Morrow. "I think the jury saw through what he was saying very quickly."

After a 10-week trial, the jury took 13 minutes to decide he should be put to death.

"I wish it didn't happen, but I can't change it," Morrow said recently from death row. "When you do drugs, there's no telling what can happen. I did that night and it got out of hand."

Blood samples from the car matched Morrow's blood and the victim's. Witnesses testified he previously had talked of how easy it would be to abduct a woman from the car wash, rob her and use the money to buy drugs. Witnesses also said he had bloody clothing and scratches on his arms when they saw him the night of Allison's disappearance.

 
 

Morrow v. Dretke, 99 Fed.Appx. 505 (5th Cir. 2004). (Habeas)

Background: Following affirmance of his conviction for capital murder, and denial of habeas relief in state court, petitioner sought federal habeas relief. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted state's motion for summary judgment and refused to grant certificate of appealability (COA).

Holding: On petitioner's application for COA, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to make substantial showing that his constitutional right to counsel was violated. Denied.

Robert Brice Morrow was convicted of capital murder by a Texas jury and sentenced to death. After exhausting his state remedies, Morrow filed a § 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court in which he alleged, inter alia, that his trial counsel had been constitutionally ineffective. The district court granted the State's motion for summary judgment and refused to grant a certificate of appealability ("COA") on any of Morrow's claims. Morrow now seeks a COA from this court for his claims that his trial attorneys rendered ineffective assistance by failing to make multiple objections during the prosecutor's cross examination of him. For the following reasons, we DENY Morrow's request for a COA.

I. BACKGROUND

On the evening of April 3, 1996, Lisa Allison took her father's car to a local carwash but never returned home. At Morrow's trial for capital murder, Bryan McNeil testified that he saw Allison at the carwash that night as he was cleaning his truck. McNeil noticed a man crossing the street toward the carwash; although McNeil never positively identified Morrow, Morrow matched the physical description that McNeil provided.

Subsequently, while McNeil was filling his truck with gasoline, he heard a short, startling scream and observed that the man who had crossed the street was laying on top of Allison in the front seat of her car. Although McNeil could not see the man's hands at any time during this incident, he hypothesized that the two individuals were boyfriend and girlfriend because Allison did not appear to be struggling.

A few moments later, the man shifted his position, Allison slid over to the driver's seat, and the man moved into the passenger seat of the car. Allison then drove the car, with the man inside, in the direction of the Trinity River.

Testimony and evidence presented at Morrow's trial indicated that the authorities discovered Allison's body in the Trinity River the next morning. An autopsy revealed that she had been beaten before death and had sustained numerous injuries. The autopsy also suggested that her death was caused by a combination of several skull fractures and a large cutting wound to her neck that severed her jugular vein.

Later that day, the authorities found Allison's father's car abandoned within a few miles of Morrow's house. A number of hair and blood samples from inside the car matched the victim, Allison, while other blood stains matched Morrow's DNA profile. In particular, the DNA extracted from a blood stain on the rear seat was consistent with a mixture of Allison's and Morrow's DNA.

In addition, Cecil Smith, one of Morrow's acquaintances, testified that Morrow told him--prior to Allison's death--that it would be relatively easy to abduct a woman from this particular carwash at knife point, rob her, and sell her possessions for drug money. Morrow's friend, Dane *508 Schisler, also testified that he had dropped Morrow off at the store across the street from the gas station and carwash on April 3, 1996, at approximately the same time that McNeil observed the man who fit Morrow's description approach the carwash.

Moreover, Brad Keaton, another of Morrow's acquaintances, testified that he saw Morrow walking down the road toward his house at around midnight on April 3, 1996. According to Keaton, Morrow had scratches on his arm and a good deal of blood on his arms and legs. Keaton's description of the clothes worn by Morrow was consistent with McNeil's description of the clothing worn by the man who approached Allison at the carwash earlier that night. Keaton stated that Morrow claimed he had received his injuries in a car wreck.

Morrow exercised his right to testify in his own defense, and, during his direct examination, Morrow claimed that he did not commit the crime. Nevertheless, the jury found Morrow guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and the United States Supreme Court denied his petition for certiorari.

Morrow then filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the state trial court in which he claimed, inter alia, that his trial attorneys had been constitutionally ineffective when they failed to object to numerous questions and comments made by the prosecutor during Morrow's cross examination.

The state court rejected the application. In an unpublished opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the state habeas court's findings of fact and conclusions of law and denied Morrow's request for relief. Morrow then filed a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2000) in federal district court, reasserting his contention that his trial counsel's conduct during his cross examination was constitutionally deficient. The district court granted the State's motion for summary judgment and denied Morrow's request for a COA. Thereafter, Morrow filed an application for a COA with this court.

* * * *

For the foregoing reasons, we DENY Morrow's application for a COA.