March 31, 1998, Daniel Remeta -- convicted of
killing five people in a tri-state crime spree -- took a seat on Old
Sparky. Twelve minutes later, he was pronounced dead Remeta had no last
statement. He was calm and expressionless when strapped into the chair.
Before the hood was lowered, he nodded to someone on the other side of a
More of a rampage killer than a mass murderer, Daniel
collected five dead over six days in February 1985. His first victim was
the convenience store clerk, 60-year-old Mehrle Reeder. Within six days,
he had gunned down Linda Marvin and Larry McFarland in Arkansas, and
Glenn Moore and John R. Schroeder in Kansas. Three more were wounded.
The violence ended in a gun battle with police in an unoccupied
farmhouse in Atwood, Kansas. Remeta was sentenced to life for the Kansas
murders and to death in both Arkansas and Florida.
Remeta once said he wanted to be extradited to Florida
because it imposes capital punishment. "I want them to pull the
switch," he said. "I'm not afraid. Death is only as ugly as
you make it.''
Daniel Remeta, 40, was put to death for the slaying of
a convenience store clerk. He was pronounced dead at 7:12 a.m. EST.
Remeta's 1st victim during his February 1985 rampage
was the convenience store clerk, 60-year-old Mehrle Reeder. Within 6
days, he had gunned down 4 other people -- Linda Marvin in Arkansas and
Larry McFarland, Glenn Moore and John R. Schroeder in Kansas. 3 more
The violence ended in a gun battle with police in an
unoccupied farmhouse in Atwood, Kan. Remeta was sentenced to life for
the Kansas murders and to death in both Arkansas and Florida.
Remeta once said he wanted to be extradited to Florida
because it imposes capital punishment.
"I want them to pull the switch," he said.
"I'm not afraid. Death is only as ugly as you make it."
A year ago, Florida executions were put on hold after
flame erupted from the headpiece during the electrocution of Pedro
Medina. The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 last fall that death in the
75-year-old electric chair was neither cruel nor unusual.
No fire appeared during the executions last week of
Gerald Stano or Leo Jones -- nor during Monday's electrocution of Ms.
Remeta led James Hunter and Lisa Dunn on a crime spree in 1985 in
Kansas, Arkansas and Florida that left five people dead. Three more were
executed for killing Mehrle "Chet" Reeder, a convenience store
clerk in Ocala who was shot four times during a 1985 robbery that netted
after killing Reeder, Remeta and an accomplice entered a convenience
store in Wascom, Texas, bent on robbery. A clerk was shot five times but
lived and later testified at Remetas trial in the Florida killing.
native of Traverse City, Mich., was also convicted of 3 murders in
Kansas, where he faced 5 life sentences.
In Kansas, Larry McFarland, a restaurant operator in Grainfield -- was
killed before Remeta and his accomplices moved on to Levant. Remeta was
convicted in that case. Glenn Moore, 55, and John "Rick"
Schroeder, 28, were kidnapped from a grain elevator in Levant and
shot to death execution-style on a dirt road northwest of Colby. Kansas
did not have the death penalty at the time of Remeta's convictions. He
received two life sentences in this state.
Remeta was under a death sentence for the murder of Linda Marvin,
who worked at a convenience store in Mulberry in 1985. The violence
ended in a gun battle with police in an unoccupied farmhouse in Atwood,
said he wanted to be extradited to Florida because it imposes capital
punishment. "I want them to pull the switch," he said. "I'm not afraid.
Death is only as ugly as you make it." Hunter was convicted but later
acquitted after claiming he was forced to participate in the crimes. He
died of a heart attack four days after his acquittal. Dunn, too, was
acquitted in a retrial. She successfully used the "battered-woman
syndrome" defense, saying that because she was abused by Remeta she was
not responsible for her actions. She now lives in Michigan.
Florida executes man convicted of 3-state killing
March 31, 1998
STARKE, Florida (CNN) -- A man who killed five people
in a three-state spree 13 years ago was executed in Florida's electric
chair Tuesday. It was the state's fourth execution in nine days.
Daniel Remeta, 40, who once urged authorities to "pull
the switch," was put to death for the slaying of a convenience store
clerk. He was pronounced dead at 7:12 a.m. EST.
Remeta's first victim during his February 1985
rampage was convenience store clerk Mehrle "Chet" Reeder, who was shot
four times and robbed of $50. Within six days, Remeta had gunned down
four other people -- Linda Marvin in Arkansas and Larry McFarland, Glenn
Moore and John R. Schroeder in Kansas. Three more were wounded.
The violence ended in a gun battle with police in an
unoccupied farmhouse in Atwood, Kansas. Remeta was sentenced to life for
the Kansas murders and to death in both Arkansas and Florida.
Remeta once said he wanted to be extradited to
Florida because it imposes capital punishment.
"I want them to pull the switch," he said. "I'm not
afraid. Death is only as ugly as you make it."
Florida resumed executions last week
following a one-year hiatus while the courts considered arguments that
the 75-year-old electric chair constituted cruel and unusual punishment
after flames leaped from the head of an inmate during an execution in
Trail of terror
Shooting spree leaves six dead before group nabbed in
By Tim Hrenchir - The Capital-Journal
Ben Albright expected to die.
The Thomas County undersheriff lay on the
seat of his patrol car and watched as the man who already had
pumped two bullets into his body pointed the gun at him again.
It was shortly after 4 p.m. Feb. 13, 1985,
and Albright had been taken by surprise.
Twenty minutes earlier, the 27-year-old
undersheriff was patrolling Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas
when he heard over police radio someone had been shot and killed
at Grainfield, about 45 miles to the southeast.
A red and blue car might have been involved,
Albright learned. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper had seen a car
matching that description go west on I-70. But the trooper was
low on fuel, so he asked Albright to look for it.
Before long, Albright saw the car. He stopped
it at I-70's Levant interchange, about 10 miles west of Colby.
Albright turned on his loudspeaker and ordered the four people
in the car to stay inside and put their hands on the ceiling.
The passenger's side door opened. A man
started to get out. Albright repeated his command.
The door closed partway, then opened again. A
man got out, pointed a handgun at Albright and pulled the
The man fired four times as he went to the
driver's side door of Albright's vehicle. Two bullets missed,
but others slammed into Albright's right arm and chest.
Albright leaned over to take cover. He tried
to put his car in reverse, but it was no use.
Lying wounded on his front seat, Albright
looked out the driver's side window and saw the man point the
gun at him.
"I just closed my eyes and waited for another
shot," he said later.
Albright had stopped a car that already had
been involved in three random murders.
One occupant, 27-year-old Daniel Remeta, had
served prison time for burglary in Michigan. Court testimony
indicated both of Remeta's parents were impoverished alcoholics
who neglected their five children. As a young teen, he was
arrested for crimes that included stealing bicycles, breaking
windows and shoplifting. Remeta was sent to reform school, but
Remeta was with his 18-year-old girlfriend,
Lisa Dunn. Both were from Traverse City, Mich., but Remeta made
Dunn feel guilty about the privileged upbringing she had enjoyed
compared to the poverty he'd endured. Dunn's high school
counselor would describe her as a gifted student who became
rebellious in her junior and senior years, yet still kept a
grade-point average well above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Remeta and
Dunn had met at a party in December 1984. Within a week, they
were living together. Soon afterward, Remeta was jailed and
accused of breaking car windows during a drunken rampage in
which he beat Dunn. He told Dunn he wanted to leave because
authorities in Traverse City would never give him a break.
Dunn and their friend, Mark Walter, 18, of
Suttons Bay, Mich., bailed Remeta out of jail. Acquaintances
would describe Walter as an average achiever who graduated from
Suttons Bay High School, worked for Frigid Food Products and was
well-liked. Remeta, however, would say Walter was "no angel."
The three left northwest Michigan in late
January 1985, bound for Florida on a trip that would involve
drugs, alcohol and murder. Dunn brought a gun she'd stolen from
her father. She later testified she thought she needed the .357
Magnum because two men had raped her the previous year.
When Dunn gave the gun to her boyfriend to
look at, Remeta kept it. He even gave the gun a name: "Susie."
Remeta used the gun to commit the trip's
first crime -- a service station robbery -- on Jan. 27, 1985, at
Copemish in northwest Michigan.
The three then went to Florida, and visited
Walt Disney World.
The first murder came on Feb. 8, 1985, at a
convenience store in Ocala, Fla.
Mehrle "Chet" Reeder, a 60-year-old clerk,
was shot four times and robbed of $52.
On Feb. 10, in Waskom, Texas, 18-year-old
convenience store cashier Camellia Carroll survived after being
abducted at gunpoint, taken to a nearby wooded area and shot
five times. She survived, making her way to a road and flagging
down a passing car.
On Feb. 11, in Mulberry, Ark., 42-year-old
grocery store clerk Linda Marvin was shot 10 times and robbed of
$556. She was dead at the scene.
On to Kansas
On Feb. 12, a car carrying Walter, Dunn and
Remeta bumped a curb as it pulled into a Wichita restaurant. A
police officer eating at the restaurant asked Dunn if the driver
was drunk. She responded that the driver was tired. Another
officer wrote down the car's license tag number, but neither
checked out the car or its occupants.
Remeta and his friends were outside Wichita
en route to Colorado on Feb. 13 when they picked up a hitchhiker
-- James C. Hunter Jr., a former roofer who owned his own home
at Amoret, Mo., about 60 miles south of Kansas City, Mo.
Hunter, 33, had been in some minor scrapes
with the law. In January 1985, he hitchhiked to Texas to visit
his brother and look for work, then left the following month to
That afternoon, Remeta gunned down 27-year-old
Larry D. McFarland. McFarland was shot several times during a
robbery at the Stuckey's Restaurant just off I-70 at Grainfield
in northwest Kansas.
The crime was discovered at about 3:45 p.m.
Authorities were given a description of a red and blue car that
might have been involved. Soon afterward, Thomas County
Undersheriff Ben Albright pulled the car over.
After a man got out of the car and shot
Albright twice, the undersheriff lay on his front seat expecting
But the gunman returned to the car. Albright
peeked over his dashboard and saw the car was using the off-ramp
to leave I-70 and go east on US-24 highway. He used his police
radio to tell his dispatcher where the car was going. Albright
would survive, though his wounds would end his law enforcement
Albright later testified it was Hunter who
shot him. But Hunter and Dunn said Remeta shot Albright and was
returning to the car when Hunter grabbed a gun, tried to shoot
Remeta and accidentally shot Dunn, inflicting a minor wound.
Remeta struck Hunter with his handgun and took Hunter's gun away.
"I wasn't sure if he accidentally shot her or
if he was trying to shoot me in the back," Remeta testified. He
said he would have shot Hunter, but Remeta's gun was out of
Remeta had something else to worry about --
he needed a different vehicle. At about 4:15 p.m., the car he
was in pulled into the yard of a grain elevator at Levant, a
nearby community of from 80 to 100 people.
Grain elevator manager Maurice Christie
looked outside his office and saw a man with a gun force two men
to get in the back of the truck. Those abducted were grain
elevator employee Rick Schroeder, 29, of Levant, and Glenn
Moore, 55, of Colby. owner of a construction company that was
doing work at the elevator.
Christie warned his assistant manager, Fred
Sager. Christie pulled down the shades of his office, locked the
door and started to call the sheriff's office.
Outside, Hunter kicked in a window while
Remeta smashed open a different window and shot Christie in the
back., near the right shoulder. The force of the bullet whirled
Christie around so he faced Remeta.
"I thought he was going to shoot again, but I
fell or jumped behind my desk," he later testified.
Remeta peered into the building from outdoors,
looking for someone else to shoot. He failed to see Sager, who
hid behind a counter.
Sager later recalled Remeta said "No one else
is in there," and walked away.
Christie stayed down for a time, then looked
out a window and saw the pickup leaving. Moore and Schroeder
were riding in back with two other men.
That exit also was witnessed by Moore's son,
Wesley Moore, who didn't realize he was seeing his father alive
for the last time.
Wesley Moore later testified Glenn Moore was
"huddled over in the corner ... out of fear, I think."
The pickup went east for four miles, then
north for two before Remeta ordered the driver to stop.
"I don't need no hostages and I don't need no
witnesses," he said.
Remeta made Moore and Schroeder get out and
lie in the road. He shot Moore and Schroeder execution-style in
the back of the head, killing them. Moore also was shot in the
Remeta later said he shot the men "more or
less to show the cops behind us that the people they were
chasing weren't just playing."
The bodies were left lying face-down in the
road, parallel to each other, with their hands at their heads.
The pickup went to K-25 highway, started
north, then turned around after reaching a police roadblock
outside Atwood, 29 miles north of Colby.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Conboy
followed the truck south. Two Colby Police Department cars
It was dusk, about 5 p.m., when the pickup
left the road 17 miles north of Colby and careened into an
abandoned farm yard covered with new-fallen snow.
End of the line
The truck stopped near a metal farm shed.
Walter got out and ran to the front. Conboy stopped his patrol
car at the end of a driveway.
Walter fired at Conboy, who had one foot out
the door when the bullet slammed into his windshield. Colby
Police Officer Mark Eibert parked next to Conboy. Walter fired
shots that hit both cars.
Conboy and Eibert took cover and returned
fire., with Conboy shooting 12 times in about a minute.
Walter, Remeta and Dunn stayed behind the
pickup on its passenger's side as Hunter ran away, to some trees
near the shed.
Sgt. Dennis Brown and Reserve Officer Kenneth
Dible had been following in the other Colby police car. They
stopped at a place where they could clearly see Walter.
As Walter fired at Eibert and Conboy, Dible
drew a bead on Walter with his assault rifle.
Walter turned and pointed his gun at Dible
Dible shot Walter in the forehead.
Before long, Remeta had been wounded in the
buttocks and Dunn had been struck in an arm by a shotgun blast.
Dunn knelt in the snow holding her wounded
arm as the lawmen approached the truck, finding Walter and
Remeta lying face down in the snow.
Dunn screamed to the lawmen that they had
killed an innocent man. She called out "I love you" to Remeta,
who responded "I love you, too."
Hunter, who was still armed, was captured. He
told officers he was innocent, "just a hitchhiker."
'Liked to kill'
The six-day shooting spree had left six
people dead and five wounded.
Hunter, Dunn and Remeta were booked into the
Thomas County Jail at Colby, a community of about 5,500.
Anonymous phone calls from people threatening vigilante justice
caused Sheriff Tom Jones to move them to another, undisclosed
Hunter, Dunn and Remeta asked that their
trials be held elsewhere because of pretrial publicity and the
prevailing mood of the county. Area residents felt anger, grief,
fear and shock. Jones noted it had been at least 30 years since
anyone was tried for murder in Thomas County.
But Remeta never would go to trial. In May
1985, he pleaded guilty to three murders, two kidnappings and
two other shootings. In exchange for his guilty plea in the
Albright slaying, Remeta got a promise that Dunn wouldn't be
charged in that case. In July 1985, Remeta was sentenced to five
life prison terms.
Remeta said in jailhouse interviews that he
wanted to get the Kansas cases taken care of so he could be
extradited to Florida and executed.
"I want them to pull the switch," he said. "I'm
not afraid. Death is only as ugly as you make it."
Remeta said in interviews that "Dungeons and
Dragons," a fantasy board game he enjoyed, had a lot to do with
When reporters asked why he went on the crime
spree, Remeta suggested that he had a bad attitude and a lot of
hostility. He just didn't care, he said, and perhaps he "just
liked to kill people."
Trial by jury
In May 1985, a judge denied a request from
Hunter and Dunn that their trial be moved. They went on trial
the following month on seven felony charges each.
Prosecution witnesses testified about the
roles they'd seen Hunter and Dunn play during the crime spree.
Hunter and Dunn insisted Remeta committed the
crimes and forced them to tag along, leaving them unable to get
away without being shot.
Dunn said Remeta initially treated her well
but began abusing her after Dunn, Remeta and Walter left
Michigan for Florida.
She contended Remeta raped and sodomized her,
punched her, burned her with cigarettes, placed a loaded gun in
her mouth and threatened to kill her and members of her family
if she tried to leave. Remeta had complained that people always
Dunn insisted she told Remeta she loved him
after their capture because she continued to be afraid of him,
and thought he would still have access to her.
Hunter, who had cut his long hair and shaved
off his beard, testified Remeta had refused to let him out of
the car. He said Remeta had bragged about having killed 12
people, including a hitchhiker, and made it clear he didn't
Hunter, Dunn and Remeta agreed Hunter had
tried to shoot Remeta and accidentally wounded Dunn after Remeta
shot Albright. Remeta said he took the gun from Hunter then, but
gave it back at the scene of the shoot-out.
"I thought he would cover me while I was
reloading, but he didn't," and instead ran from the pickup,
Remeta testified he planned to kill Walter
and Hunter in Colorado, but hadn't decided what he would do with
Dunn. He said he used threats against Dunn and her family to
ensure she had "no choice" as to whether to leave him.
Still, after nearly 12 1/2 hours of
deliberation, jurors found Hunter and Dunn guilty on all counts.
Both were given four life prison terms.
Meanwhile, Remeta had been extradited to
Florida. He was convicted of Reeder's murder and sentenced to
death in June 1986. Kansas Gov. John Carlin, who opposed the
death penalty, asked Florida to return Remeta to serve his life
sentences in Kansas. Florida refused, and Carlin chose not to
press the issue.
Remeta was later extradited to Arkansas,
convicted of Linda Marvin's murder, sentenced to death, then
returned to Florida.
Back in Kansas, attorneys for Hunter and Dunn
would win them new trials.
In July 1987, the Kansas Supreme Court
unanimously threw out the verdict against Hunter, saying the
trial judge was wrong when he refused to allow jury members to
consider whether Hunter was acting under "compulsion."
Compulsion is a principle of common law that
says people are not responsible for crimes -- short of murder or
voluntary manslaughter -- when someone compels them to commit
them under threat of death or great bodily harm.
Hunter was tried again in January 1988 at
Hays. A jury acquitted him on all seven charges.
Hunter credited his acquittal in large part
to being tried in a neutral county. He said winning the case
made him very happy and was "kind of like being born again."
Four days later, Hunter, 36, died of an
apparent heart attack. Hunter's father said he felt the stress
of the case was largely responsible for his son's death.
In 1992, a federal court of appeals ordered
Dunn receive a new trial because her defense team didn't receive
money to hire expert witnesses to develop a defense based on the
battered woman syndrome.
Dunn's new trial took place in Topeka. She
contended Remeta psychologically and physically abused her so
badly that she was incapable of escaping from him or preventing
his crimes. In September 1992, a jury found her "not guilty" on
all seven counts.
Still, Dunn faced an Arkansas capital murder
charge in Marvin's slaying. In December 1993, that charge was
dropped when she pleaded guilty to one count of hindering
apprehension or prosecution. Dunn was sentenced to 20 years in
prison, but received credit for eight years served in Kansas.
The rest of the sentence was suspended, with a warning that she
could be returned to serve the remaining years if convicted of
No other states filed charges against her.
Dunn returned home to Traverse City, Mich.,
worked at a center for abused women, and got a job as an office
manager and bookkeeper for a local therapist.
But gambling and alcohol problems left her in
debt. Between February 1996 and January 1997 she stole more than
$8,000 from her employer. Dunn and her boyfriend fled to
Florida. Within a few weeks, she returned to face prosecution,
saying they had married and she was pregnant.
In 1998, Dunn, by then the mother of an
infant daughter, pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement. A judge
sentenced her to one year in jail and placed her on probation
for five years, noting she had already paid back all the stolen
money. The state of Arkansas did not ask for her return.
Date with Sparky
Before being sentenced to death in 1986,
Remeta said he welcomed execution. But he changed his mind
afterward and fought for his life, urging his attorneys to
pursue appeals and stays of execution. In 1992, he married a
Jacksonville, Fla., woman.
Remeta got good news when Florida executions
were put on hold in March 1997 after flames shot from the head
of a condemned man in the state's electric chair, nicknamed "Old
But the state Supreme Court ruled that fall
that the 75-year-old chair didn't amount to cruel or unusual
punishment. Executions resumed in March 1998.
Remeta died in that chair on March 31, 1998.
He was 40. Remeta was calm and expressionless as he was strapped
in and a hood placed over his head. The power was turned on at
7:07 a.m., and Remeta was pronounced dead five minutes later.
His spiritual adviser read a statement
afterward from Remeta that encouraged the public to tell his
story so young people wouldn't waste their lives like he did.
"I would give a thousand lifetimes to undo
past deeds," it said. "If this death brings comfort to the
friends and families of those harmed and initiates real healing,
justice is truly served."
In Colby, Police Chief Randall Jones was
"I could care less what Daniel Remeta says 13
years later," Jones said. "What lasts with me was how he was the
day he took lives here in Kansas."
Daniel Remeta: On the Road to
By Mark Gribben - TrueTV.com
America's Sewer Pipe
For the communities along Interstate
70 a 2,100-mile artery of asphalt and concrete moving
the lifeblood of American commerce from Maryland to Utah
-- the highway is many times more trouble than it's
worth. Although the road provides a direct link between
some of the American heartland's major cities
- Baltimore, Wheeling, Columbus, Indianapolis, St.
Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, and Denver, as well as
countless small, anonymous communities the economic
benefits of being located along a major thoroughfare are
offset by the predators who also use I-70 for their own
One of the
worst of these predators, Douglas Belt, was a truck
driver known as the "I-70 Rapist." He began attacking
women in 1989 in the Kansas communities that dot the
interstate, stopping in 1996 when he was arrested for
burglary. He racked up a series of convictions for other
violent crimes, but was paroled in 2001 and continued
his violent ways. In 2002, Belt raped and decapitated a
43-year-old Wichita woman. For his crimes, Belt received
the death penalty.
there was the "I-70 Killer," a maniac who police say
targeted women working alone in stores located near the
highway. That killer is thought to have slain seven
women between 1992 and 1994. An eighth murder victim, a
Terre Haute, Ind., man who wore a ponytail and an
earring, may have been mistaken for a woman. One woman
survived the attempt on her life.
The same .22-caliber
pistol was used in six of the nine shootings during the
early-'90s spree. Police say this pistol was also the
murder weapon in the deaths of five women in Missouri,
Indiana and Kansas and the Terre Haute man.
authorities have identified a "person of interest" in
those cases, the killings formally remain open and
communities touched by the havoc wreaked by desperate
criminals on the run or sociopaths out hunting for human
prey have their own name for I-70. They call it
America's Sewer Pipe. After Daniel Remeta killed his way
through rural Kansas in 1985, a gas station owner at the
intersection of Kansas 25 and I-70 summed up the
feelings of the people who lived near the highway for
reporters: "You just don't know what's coming down the
sewer pipe next."
his companions some call them hostages, while others
say they were accomplices cut a swath of carnage
across the south and then descended on the 400-person
hamlet of Grainfield, Kansas, like the Four Horsemen of
the Apocalypse, leaving death, pain and misery in their
Daniel and Lisa
Remeta and Lisa Dunn met at a party in Traverse City,
Michigan in December 1984. They moved in together
shortly after their fateful meeting, although at first
glance, they were an unlikely pair. Remeta was the
product of alcoholic parents and had been maltreated
much of his life, while Dunn was until shortly before
they met a well-cared-for child of an apparently
loving middle-class home who excelled in classes and
seemed to be on her way to graduating high school,
attending college and building a successful life for
Remeta was first adjudicated as a
delinquent when he was 13 years old, although there had
been numerous run-ins with the law and authority figures
before his first appearance in a courtroom. He was of
below-average intelligence, had a violent temper and
reportedly had only two goals in life: to kill a cop and
to become a hit man. Whether it was heredity,
environment or dumb luck, Danny Remeta was just plain
bad. His first adult conviction came for felony breaking
and entering, earning him a 4-year stretch in a Michigan
prison. Slightly built, he was, pound for pound, a tough
character who managed to earn enough tickets in prison
to spend a majority of his first sentence in the hole at
Marquette, Michigan's maximum-security facility.
she met Danny Remeta, Lisa Dunn was uncomfortable with
the role life assigned her as a college-bound honor
student. Her grades slipped, she experimented with drugs
and alcohol, and she ran away from home to Florida. Dunn
managed to hold it together long enough to graduate from
high school and was taking some college courses when she
and Remeta hooked up.
He was 27 and
she was 18.
quickly established control over Dunn. In prison, Remeta
managed to become a leader of several prisoner protests,
which attests to his apparently magnetic personality. In
a profile of Remeta, the Detroit News likened him to
Charles Manson, crediting him with the "ability to
control vulnerable people."
gets them in trouble, then he blackmails them to get
them in further," the News quoted one of Remeta's former
the "vulnerable people" who fell under Remeta's control
in the cold winter of 1984-1985 was Mark Anthony Walter,
the 18-year-old son of a northern Michigan farmer who
had recently moved out on his own. Walter, a former
altar boy, was well-liked by those who knew him and had
never been in any serious trouble. He was a hard-working
young man with a full-time job, and a friend of Lisa
Dunn's from school.
three of them set out in late January 1984 for a Florida
vacation, it is unlikely that even in their darkest
nightmares did Dunn or Walter envision how the trip
Odyssey of Mayhem
conflicting stories about how the .357 handgun belonging
to Lisa Dunn's father ended up in Danny Remeta's
possession. One account states that Dunn, who had been
sexually assaulted when she ran away to Florida as a 17-year-old,
took the gun for protection. Another version has Remeta
convincing Dunn to steal the weapon. Regardless, the
trio probably wasn't long on the road when Mark Walter
and Lisa Dunn realized that Remeta wasn't simply
planning a casual trip to Walt Disney World.
quickly put the gun to use in a convenience-store holdup
in Copemish, Michigan. They had pooled some of their
resources to bail Remeta out of jail, where he had been
taken after smashing a car window in a drunken rage.
Somewhere along I-75, Dunn and Walter learned the true
extent of Remeta's psychopathy. Around the same time,
Remeta began physically and sexually assaulting Dunn.
She would later testify about how he forced them to play
Russian roulette with the pistol and how he picked out
her clothes and pawned her belongings for money. When
Dunn told him she wanted to return to Michigan, Remeta
threatened her life and the lives of her family.
later testify that Remeta, who never left her alone with
Walter, told her that if she tried to leave him in a
public place, he would "kill everyone around them."
Walter and Dunn, fearing for their lives, agreed that
one of them would remain awake at all times.
Inexplicably, during the time she spent on the road with
Remeta, Dunn sent letters and postcards home telling
everyone how much fun she was having.
8, 1985, Remeta, armed with the stolen .357 Magnum,
robbed a Tenneco gas station in Ocala. After the clerk
handed over the $52 in the register, Remeta opened fire,
shooting Merhle "Chet" Reeder twice in the head and
twice in the stomach. Reeder, a 60-year-old loner with
no known family or close friends, died instantly.
Date with Death
From Ocala, the trio headed west,
surfacing again in Waskom, Texas, an oil town of less
than 2,000 people on Interstate 20 just across the state
line from Louisiana. Two days after Chet Reeder was
slain, Remeta, Walter and Dunn entered a Waskom gas
station, where 18-year-old Camilla Carroll was
finishing up her Sunday evening shift. When he finished
emptying the store's cash register, Remeta ordered
Carroll outside and took her, Dunn and Walter into a
wooded area about 300 yards from the gas station. Remeta
then ordered the terrified teenager to walk away from
the group. Taking aim with the pistol, Remeta yelled for
Carroll to begin running, which she did. As the girl
ran, he opened fire, striking her once in each leg.
crashed to the ground, her legs collapsing from the
force of the slugs. Remeta walked up to her as she lay
writhing on the ground and proceeded to empty the
remaining shots into her stomach. Leaving Carroll to die
in the woods, Remeta, Walter and Dunn got back into
their car and drove away with approximately $400.
hadn't counted on Carroll's determination to live. With
five slugs in her body, she managed to crawl a quarter-mile
down the road and stop a passing car. She was taken to a
hospital in Shreveport, while the desperate trio headed
north to Arkansas and another date with murder.
Just south of I-40 in northwest
Arkansas is the small town of
Mulberry, which, in 1985 was a quiet
community of around 1,500 people. Remeta, Walter and
Dunn chauffeured Death into town at about 8 p.m. on
February 11, while 42-year-old Linda Marvin was working
at Bob's Grocery on U.S. 64.
was near an off-ramp for I-40, and several witnesses saw
two men exit a car that was later identified as
belonging to Mark Walter. The two men entered the store.
Inside, the gunman bought some items, and when Linda
opened the register to give him change, he opened fire
and shot her ten times with a .22-caliber pistol. She
was dead at the scene. Remeta would later testify that
he purchased the second firearm and enlisted the help of
a "wino" to buy the bullets. The killer and his
accomplice cleaned out the register and fled the store,
leaving behind the change Linda had placed on the
counter. The haul was about $500.
didn't know it, as Remeta, Dunn and Walter drove
northwest away from Crawford County, Arkansas, fate was
directing their course. The group had already left a
trail of death during their odyssey of mayhem through
the south, but what was behind them would pale in
comparison to what lay ahead in Kansas.
before Valentine's Day 1985, the killers crossed into
Kansas, apparently on their way to Colorado, where
Remeta had relatives. On I-135 north of Wichita, the
group picked up a hitchhiker, James C. Hunter Jr., a
Missouri roofer who was looking for a ride back to his
home in Amoret, Missouri, after a trip to Texas. Walter
was driving at the time, Dunn was seated in the middle
of the front seat and Remeta was seated next to her.
With Hunter in the backseat, the group
continued north. Somewhere along the 250-mile trip from
Wichita to the tiny off-ramp community of Grainfield in
central Kansas, Remeta showed Hunter the pair of
handguns he was carrying. Testimony later revealed that
the .22 had apparently jammed and was inoperable, and
Remeta gave it to the hitchhiker to repair which
Hunter did. James Hunter told authorities later that he
asked to be dropped off at the Intersection of I-135 and
I-70, which was consistent with his claim that he was
attempting to hitch home to Missouri.
Remeta refused to let him leave and began talking about
a previous hitchhiker the group had picked up and how
much he regretted not taking advantage of the
opportunity to kill that rider. As if to punctuate his
statement, Remeta fired three rounds from the .22 pistol
out the window as Walter drove through the Kansas fields.
intimidate Hunter, as they pulled into Salina, Remeta
pulled some .357 shells from his pocket and asked Hunter
if he thought the shells would be powerful enough to
kill him if he shot Hunter with the Magnum.
2 p.m., the group pulled off I-70 at the Grainfield exit
and drove into the gravel parking lot of the Stuckey's
Restaurant. A popular spot for students on their way
home from the nearby high school, the restaurant was
empty except for manager Larry McFarland.
Remeta and at
least one other person entered Stuckey's, and when
McFarland handed over the $170 in the till, Remeta shot
him to death.
fled the scene, but not before someone noticed the red-and-blue
car with Michigan plates leaving the restaurant. That
witness, a high-school student stopping off for a snack
before heading home, discovered McFarland's body and
Place of Reckoning
Highway Patrol officer reported that a blue-and-red car
was heading west on I-70, and Thomas County Undersheriff
Ben Albright heard the call. A typical rural Kansas
community, Thomas County was, at the time, home to
around 8,600 people, most of whom lived near the county
seat, Colby. It is fertile, flat prairie country, and
generally doesn't receive a second glance from the
people who zoom by on I-70. If they notice Thomas
County at all, it's because at the county line where
Thomas and Sherman counties meet, they have to adjust
their clocks between Central and Mountain Time.
Remeta, Lisa Dunn, Mark Walter, and James Hunter, Thomas
County would be their place of reckoning. In a little
under an hour, the group would do more to change Thomas
County than anyone had ever done in the county's 100-year
history. Their cold-blooded acts of violence would drive
home, once and for all, the notion of I-70 as a sewer
pipe, an unwelcome intrusion into the peaceful way of
life in Colby and the other communities of Thomas County.
In a matter of minutes, they would change how people
there felt about outsiders and tempt Good Samaritans to
become vigilantes. Fate had decided the time had come
for Danny Remeta to show the people of Thomas County
just how malevolent a man can be.
Albright spotted a red-and-blue car
matching the description the highway patrol had
broadcast near the Levant, Kansas, interchange, which is
about 45 miles from the Colorado line. He stopped the
vehicle, but before he could take any action, Remeta
jumped out of the passenger's side of the car and fired
the .357 through the deputy's car. Remeta pulled off
four shots, hitting Albright twice: once in the right
arm and in the chest. As Albright slumped to the side,
lying on the front seat of the cruiser, he recalled
later that he expected to die.
closed my eyes and waited for another shot," he told the
Topeka Capital-Journal several years later.
Remeta, thinking the shots had done the job, got back
into the car and sped off.
lost consciousness, Albright watched the car leave I-70
for U.S. 24. He radioed for help and told the dispatcher
what had happened.
didn't know everything that occurred, and in his semi-conscious
state, the officer, who would later testify that he was
shot by Hunter, possibly saw Hunter raise the .22 pistol
and fire except that by all accounts, Hunter was
trying to shoot Remeta. Believing that he had just one
chance to escape, Hunter tried to shoot Remeta as he
returned to the vehicle. Instead, the hitchhiker managed
to shoot Dunn in the leg.
he had to ditch the car and find new transportation.
About 10 minutes after he shot Albright, he directed
Walter to drive to a grain elevator nearby.
three men working that day at the grain elevator.
Maurice Christie was inside the shack that served as an
office and 29-year-old Rick Schroeder, a friendly, well-respected
father of two toddlers, and Glenn Moore, 55, were
outside near Moore's pickup truck when the outlaws
bailed out of Walter's car with guns drawn, forcing
Schroeder and Moore into the bed of the truck. Remeta
saw Maurice Christie watching through the window of the
office, and when Hunter kicked in one of the office
windows and Christie turned, Remeta shot him in the back
and left him for dead.
Randy Jones, Chief of Police for Colby, reflected on why
Remeta took the two men. At the time of the spree, Jones
was a Colby patrolman.
things were happening very fast, and they took them not
knowing how they were going to utilize them," Jones said.
again driving, the wounded Dunn and the panic-stricken
Hunter in the cab, the gang fled the grain elevator and
drove for several minutes before Remeta ordered Walter
told Schroeder and Moore that he didn't want or need any
hostages, and ordered them out of the truck. He told the
men to lie down in the road and proceeded to shoot each
of them in the back of the head.
The law enforcement officers pursuing
Remeta and his gang came upon Schroeder and Moore just
moments after the killers left the scene. At first, they
stopped some distance away from where the two men lay,
wondering if it wasn't some kind of trap.
them really cautiously because at the time, from a
distance, it just looked too perfect the way they were
lying there," Jones said. "I was really concerned
somebody was going to roll over and take a shot at me,
until I got closer and could see the blood."
became all too clear that the men were dead. Jones
called for support and the hunt for the killers
intensified. Across northern Kansas, every law
enforcement agency within 50 miles of Grainfield was
alert and looking for Remeta and his crew. Closer to the
scene of the latest crimes, authorities set up
roadblocks, intent on putting a stop to Remeta's brutal
approached one of the roadblocks, stopped, and turned
around. Then what had been a dragnet around some of the
most barbarous killers Kansas had seen in 100 years
became a chase.
ended at a farm about 17 miles north of Colby, in
Rawlins County. The bandits stopped at the farm and
jumped from the truck. Remeta and Walter were both armed
and firing at police as they ran for cover, witnesses
said. When Walter stood up and took a couple of shots at
a state trooper, he was shot in the forehead by a
reserve officer from Colby's police force.
dead and Dunn wounded, Danny Remeta had managed to take
out almost everyone except himself. He continued to fire
at police, stopping only when he was shot in the
buttocks. Only James Hunter emerged unharmed.
cradling her arm, nicked by a shotgun blast and wounded
by Hunter's earlier shot, screamed at police that they
had killed an innocent man, possibly referring to the
notion that Walter had been an unwilling participant in
the ordeal. Then, she turned to Remeta.
"I love you,
Danny," she shouted as the pair were being restrained.
"I love you,
too," Remeta called back.
In the Courts
from the multi-state killing spree was swift. Law
enforcement agencies quickly linked Remeta, Dunn and
Walter to the killings in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas.
Prosecutors in the different jurisdictions conferred and
came up with a procedure to try the killers in the
various states. Danny Remeta had his own ideas. He
wanted to die, and soon. That meant he had to get out of
Kansas, which had no death penalty at the time.
surviving criminals were taken back to Colby after the
shootout and Mark Walter's body was shipped home to his
grief-stricken and baffled family in Michigan. The
preliminary investigation yielded no answers for his
family, and early indicators portrayed Walter as a
willing participant in the spree. Remeta claimed Walter
murdered Linda Marvin in Arkansas. At the time there was
no evidence to dispute his statements.
didn't stay in jail in Colby for long. The bloodbath to
which they subjected the small community had sparked a
backlash of anger that was unprecedented in recent
memory, and for their safety, Sheriff Tom Jones moved
Dunn, Hunter and Remeta several counties away to prevent
vigilantes from subjecting them to their own brand of
1985, Remeta opted to put Kansas behind him and pleaded
guilty to the three murders committed in that state. He
subsequently waived extradition to Florida, which wanted
a shot at him for the slaying of Chet Reeder.
"I want them
to pull the switch," the killer said at the time.
connected to the mayhem concurred with Remeta's idea.
"They had a
total disregard for life," said Colby Police Chief Mark
Spray. "Money can't be neglected as some of the
motive, but the shootings and killings why, that's a
totally different motive when you get to abduction and
in Kansas turned their attention to convicting Lisa Dunn
and James Hunter. Dunn's family secured defense counsel
for her, but with their limited resources, there was
little they could do. The same month the judge accepted
Remeta's guilty pleas, he rejected motions from Dunn and
Hunter to have their trials moved out of the small
community surrounding Levant. The judge also refused to
provide funds Dunn sought for a psychologist to examine
her and testify as an expert witness about hostage
syndrome and the compulsion to commit crimes. This type
of defense was used by Patty Hearst to explain why she
started out as a victim and ended up as a participant.
A month later, the pair went on trial for murder.
Both defendants presented significant
evidence that they had been forced to participate in the
spree by Daniel Remeta. Dunn described physical and
verbal abuse, sexual assaults and threats that left her
unable to make rational choices and spot opportunities
to escape from his control.
trial, Remeta, who was serving four consecutive life
sentences in Kansas and awaiting extradition to
Arkansas, Texas and Florida, took full responsibility
for the spree and said that Dunn and Walter and later
Hunter were tricked into participating. He said he had
planned to kill everyone but Dunn, about whom he hadn't
made up his mind. The entire trip, he implied, was a
long, drawn-out suicide attempt.
jury, however, didn't buy Remeta's story, Dunn's claims
that she was a hostage, or Hunter's plea that he
happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After 13 hours of deliberation, they returned guilty
verdicts against the pair for the murders of Schroeder
When the jury announced its verdicts,
Dunn's head dropped to the table and she began to sob. Hunter, who spent
a grand total of six hours in Daniel Remeta's company, from the time he
was picked up as a hitchhiker until the time he was arrested, simply
Compelled to Kill
Lisa Dunn and James Hunter were each
sentenced to two life terms for the felony-murder
convictions, two life terms for the aggravated
kidnapping convictions, 15 years to life for aggravated
battery of a law enforcement officer, 15 years to life
for aggravated robbery, and 5 to 20 years for aggravated
battery, and quickly disappeared into the Kansas
correctional system. There was a brief scuffle between
Kansas and Arkansas over Dunn's extradition, because
Kansas's governor adamantly opposed the death penalty
and wouldn't send her to face a capital murder charge,
but most of the attention for the next several years was
focused on the appeals she and Hunter launched shortly
after their convictions.
that the trial court erred when it refused to give the
jury specific instructions about how compulsion can
mitigate a person's guilt. Most laws that provide for a
defense of compulsion stem from the age-old legal belief
that a person, when faced with a choice between
suffering death or serious bodily harm and committing
some lesser crime, should not be punished for committing
the lesser offense.
law, the coercion or duress "must be present, imminent,
and impending, and of such a nature as to induce a well-grounded
apprehension of death or serious bodily injury if the
act is not done. The doctrine of coercion or duress
cannot be invoked as an excuse by one who had a
reasonable opportunity to avoid doing the act without
undue exposure to death or serious bodily harm. In
addition, the compulsion must be continuous and there
must be no reasonable opportunity to escape the
compulsion without committing the crime."
the common law does not allow a compulsion defense when
a person is accused of murder, because, in the words of
one legal treatise, "When confronted by a choice between
two evils of equal magnitude, the individual ought to
sacrifice his own life rather than escape by the murder
of an innocent."
was charged with a felony murder that is, a killing
that occurred during the course of the commission of a
felony argued that he was entitled to use a compulsion
defense to excuse his conduct because he was forced to
choose between his own death and the kidnappping not
the killing of Moore and Schroeder. The judge in his
trial disagreed, and did not include instructions to the
jury about compulsion.
In July 1987, the Kansas Supreme Court
handed down its decision on Hunter's appeal, overturning
his convictions and ordering a new trial, at which time
he would be allowed to offer the compulsion defense. The
court reasoned that if compulsion is available as a
defense to the underlying felony, it must also be
available as a defense to the murder committed by
someone else that accompanied the felony.
prosecutors quickly moved to retry James Hunter, but
after the defense presented the evidence of Remeta's
abuse and the judge delivered the required instructions
about compulsion, the jurors returned a not-guilty
little time to enjoy his newfound freedom, however. Four
days after his acquittal, he suffered a fatal heart
attack brought on, his father told the press, by the
stress of the retrial.
appeals to the Kansas judicial system were less
successful, and her convictions withstood all of her
challenges at the state level. To the appellate judges
in Kansas, the fact that Dunn had ample opportunity
during the spree to leave Remeta, and that his threats
were not continuous, indicated that she was not like
Hunter compelled to commit the crimes.
held Dunn's own words against her.
"He still did
treat me nice at times, but he'd always make sure that
threat was known to me, that he'd be nice you know, he
could be nice to me if I was behaving," she testified.
"But if I didn't behave, you know, he wasn't going to be
because, you know, like if I'd smart-mouth him real bad
or something, I might get a slap or whatever he felt
like at the time. It depends on his mood. He's real
court also rejected Dunn's arguments that had she been
able to bring in an expert to talk about the hostage
syndrome, the outcome of the trial might have been
different. Successfully presenting a hostage syndrome
defense requires that the defendant demonstrate the
necessary elements, including prolonged captivity,
isolation of and a lack of privacy for the captive,
and, most importantly, a breakdown of the captive's
personality and establishment of a new psyche in its
In a strongly
worded rejection of Dunn's argument, the court held that
"the facts do not support Dunn's claim that she was a
captive. She was not kidnapped; she went with Remeta
voluntarily after stealing a gun for him. She was not
guarded round-the-clock. In fact, there were many times
when she was alone, or awake while Remeta was asleep.
She was not isolated, but stayed with friends in
Florida, went to Disney World, and stayed in a number of
motels and hotels during the crime spree. She was not
subject to brainwashing. It is apparent that Dunn's
romantic attachment to Remeta was voluntary. If she was
a victim, she was a victim of her own poor judgment."
But in a
stunning turn of events, in 1991, a federal district
court judge overturned Dunn's conviction and ordered a
new trial. Because she was charged with aiding and
abetting Daniel Remeta, her mental state was a key
component to her defense, the court ruled, and the trial
court erred by not providing Dunn with an expert
witness. The State of Kansas quickly appealed to the
10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower
federal court ruling. The 10th Circuit's ruling on
compulsion and the "battered-woman defense"
significantly reshaped how courts look at battered women
who commit crimes.
decision "extends the use of the battered woman syndrome
beyond situations in which a defendant uses testimony
about the syndrome to justify her actions and relieve
her of culpability," wrote Kimberly Kuhn in the
Toledo Law Review. "(Now a) defendant may use
testimony on the battered woman syndrome to prove her
innocence when charged with a specific intent crime."
In 1992, Lisa
Dunn went on trial a second time. Like James Hunter,
this time Dunn was able to present a formidable defense
of compulsion, complete with expert testimony about why
a battered woman with ample opportunity to flee a
hostile environment "chooses" to stay with her batterer.
Like Hunter, this time Lisa Dunn was acquitted of all
disappointed, and somewhat surprised about it," said
Kansas Assistant Attorney General John Bork, who
prosecuted Dunn the second time. "I never felt the
defendant in this case was ever a victim."
behind bars, facing an Arkansas capital murder charge in
Linda Marvin's killing. In December 1993, she pleaded
guilty to one count of hindering apprehension or
prosecution and was sentenced to 20 years in prison,
receiving credit for the time she served in Kansas. By
plea agreement, the rest of the sentence was suspended.
home to Traverse City and took a job at a center for
abused women. Dunn later got work in a psychologist's
office. Still emotionally troubled, alcohol and gambling
problems followed her. In 1996, she stole more than
$8,000 from her employer. In an eerie repeat of earlier
events, Dunn and her boyfriend fled to Florida. This
time she willingly returned to face prosecution,
announcing that they had married and she was pregnant.
In 1998, she pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement.
Noting that she was undergoing treatment for her
addictions and had paid back the money in full, the
judge sentenced her to a year in jail and placed her on
probation for five years.
The state of
Arkansas did not ask for her return.
The execution of Daniel Remeta
time Lisa Dunn and James Hunter were appealing their
convictions, Daniel Remeta was busy with trials of his
own. In 1986, he was extradited from Kansas to Florida
and tried for Chet Reeder's murder. He didn't put up
much of a fight at the time and was quickly convicted
and sentenced to die in "Old Sparky," Florida's balky
The next year, Florida
sent him to Arkansas, where he was tried
and convicted of murder there, again
receiving the death penalty.
Early on in his incarceration, Remeta
made it clear that he didn't want to
grow old in prison. In one letter, he
wrote, "If I don't try for the death
penalty I'll die in some prison, this is
why I'm trying to get extradited." In
another letter, he stated, "I'm gonna
try for the death penalty if I can."
Regardless of the inmate's wishes, the
capital punishment process moves slowly.
Even so-called "volunteers" who opt not
to pursue every possible avenue of
appeal do not go from trial to
punishment quickly, and most states with
death-penalty statutes have certain
mandatory appellate reviews built into
the system. More often than not, brash
murderers like Daniel Remeta who
actively seek execution begin to get
cold feet as appellate deadlines pass
and the inevitable long walk to the
death chamber grows nearer. Although the
federal Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act has somewhat
streamlined the appeals process and
limited the number of times a case can
be reviewed, there is little to stop a
condemned convict with second thoughts
from filing an 11th-hour appeal.
Such was the case for Daniel Remeta
after Florida Governor Lawton Chiles set
a March 31, 1998 execution date. Remeta
probably had many reasons to fight his
execution. He had met and married a
sympathetic woman, rediscovered his
Native American roots, and was a
prolific poet, writing about the cruelty
of imprisonment and the unfairness of
the death penalty. The fact that the
last man executed in Florida's electric
chair the year before had flames
shooting from his head probably
motivated him as well.
As March 31 grew closer, Remeta and his
attorneys pulled out all the stops. In a
death row interview, he told a reporter
he only pleaded guilty to the killings
to save Dunn from execution. "I'm a
thief and all that, but I'm not a
killer," he said.
Because the Florida prosecutors used his
pleas in Kansas and Arkansas as a basis
to seek the death penalty there, he
tried to recant his guilty pleas, to no
avail. In court papers, he claimed it
was all Dunn's doing: "Dunn dominated
and directed Mr. Remeta during the crime
spree," the brief said.
On March 30, 1998, 40-year-old Daniel
Remeta downed his last meal, which
consisted of two 44-ounce Icees. He met
with his family, attorneys, friends and
his spiritual advisor and awaited the 7
He showed no emotion as officials
strapped him into the chair and placed
the headgear and electrodes on top of
his head. Remeta declined to make a
final statement, and then the hood was
pulled down over his face. In an
adjacent room, a black-hooded
executioner received the go-ahead from
the prison warden and pulled the switch
that sent thousands of volts coursing
through the killer's body.
His muscles tightened, straining against
the straps that held him down. In just
over 30 seconds, it was over. He was
declared dead at 7:12 a.m.
Outside the prison in Raiford, Daniel
Remeta's spiritual advisor shared his
final statement with the crowd.
"For past actions and events there is
genuine remorse and even greater sorrow
that none of it can be undone," the man
said, reading from a statement Remeta
composed two hours before the execution.
"I would give 1,000 lifetimes to undo
past deeds . . . If this death brings
comfort to the friends and family of
those harmed and initiates a real
healing process then justice is truly
served for them."
Although the statement doesn't reflect
it, Remeta reportedly admitted to almost
all of the killings that occurred during
the spree. He was unable to speak about
one that occurred during a drug-and-alcohol-induced
In Kansas, not far from where trucks rush
by on Interstate 70, reaction to his statement was, for
the most part, unforgiving.
"I could care
less what Daniel Remeta says 13 years later," said Colby
Police Chief Randall Jones. "What lasts with me was how
he was the day he took lives here in Kansas."
Schroeder's father, John, summed up the paradoxical
closure that survivors of crime victims feel when the
ultimate punishment is carried out.
"It takes so
long to get something over with," he told reporters. "It
doesn't sound like he felt sorry for anyone. It sounded
like he didn't have any remorse. But when you kill
someone, it's not a happy day."
DANIEL EUGENE REMETA, Appellant, v. STATE OF
Statement of the Case and Facts
In its opinion affirming Remeta's conviction and
sentence on direct appeal, this Court stated the facts as follows:
Remeta had been involved in a series of murders and
robberies throughout three states during a two week period in early
1985. On February 8, 1985, the clerk of an Ocala, Florida, convenience
store was murdered during a robbery. An autopsy of the victim revealed
four gunshot wounds: one to the stomach, one to the upper chest, and two
to the head, all made by a .357 Magnum gun. The appellant, Daniel
Remeta, was later extradited to Florida in response to an indictment
charging him with the murder.
Two days after the Ocala murder, on February 10,
1985, Remeta and one companion entered a convenience store in Waskom,
Texas, where they robbed the cashier, Camillia Carroll, at gunpoint,
abducted her to a location two to three hundred feet from the store and
shot her five times with the .357 Magnum used in the Ocala shooting.
Miraculously, Carroll lived and testified to the events of that day at
Remeta's trial in Florida. At the time of the Florida trial, Remeta had
not been convicted of the crimes against Carroll.
On February 13, 1985, the manager of a Stuckey's gas
station located along Interstate Highway 70 in Kansas was shot and
killed with the same .357 Magnum gun used in the Ocala murder. Shortly
thereafter, a Kansas sheriff following Remeta's car on the highway
noticed suspicious activity and signaled for him to pull over. When he
approached, one of Remeta's companions exited the passenger side of the
car and shot the sheriff twice.
Remeta and his companions fled the scene and went to
a grain elevator, where they abducted two men and took their truck.
Shortly thereafter, the men were made to lie face down in the roadway
and each was shot in the back of the head and killed with the same .357
magnum gun. The truck was later chased into a farmyard by Kansas
authorities and a shootout occurred, in which one of Remeta's companions
was killed and the other injured. Remeta pled guilty to charges of
homicide and aggravated robbery against the Stuckey's store clerk and
received two consecutive life sentences. Remeta also pled guilty to the
killings of the grain elevator employees and received two consecutive
life sentences with no eligibility for parole for eighty-five years.
The Florida trial commenced in May, 1986. Defense
counsel, after consulting with Remeta in a holding cell outside the
courtroom, waived Remeta's presence during preliminary questioning of
the jury venire. Before trial, the state filed a notice of intent to
offer evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts pursuant to section
90.404(2), Florida Statutes (1985). At trial, the state was allowed to
introduce the testimony of Camillia Carroll over Remeta's objection.
Carroll testified that on February 10, 1985, after
Remeta and his friend had robbed the convenience store where she was
working, they kidnaped her and drove her to a location two to three
hundred feet away and shot her five times. Remeta objected to the
testimony on the basis that it was not relevant to any material fact in
issue, that the evidence was relevant solely to prove bad character or
propensity, that the evidence was not necessary to the state's case, and
that the evidence was not sufficiently similar to modus operandi and
identity. The state presented a stipulation of fact that one of the
bullets recovered from Carroll's body was fired by the gun which had
killed the Ocala convenience store clerk two days earlier and which was
found three days later in close proximity to Remeta.
In its case-in-chief, the state also presented
several statements made by Remeta which the trial court found to have
been freely and voluntarily made. A Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent
had interviewed Remeta at Remeta's request and related that Remeta
admitted involvement in both of the convenience store clerks' shootings,
but implicated his deceased companion as the triggerman in both
incidents. Remeta was also interviewed at his request by a newspaper
reporter. Remeta told the reporter that he and his friends had robbed
the Ocala convenience store because they needed money, and that he was
the only one who had planned the robbery.
Remeta also admitted sole possession of the .357
magnum revolver at the time of the Ocala murder. Remeta offered several
alternative explanations for killing the victim, including that he "just
liked to kill people" and that he "just didn't care." In a different
interview with a television reporter, Remeta made a general comment on
his intent to eliminate witnesses by stating, "[L]ike Florida, they
ain't got no witnesses. Anytime I seen a witness, I took him out, or at
least shot him."
In an interview with a member of the state attorney's
office, Remeta first stated that he had committed the Ocala murder, but,
at a later point, changed his story to implicate his companion as the
triggerman. There was also presented videotaped portions of Remeta's
testimony in other court proceedings, in which he stated he had
possession of the gun used in the Ocala murder while in Kansas. Carroll
had testified it was Remeta who had the gun at the Texas convenience
Remeta, as part of his theory of defense, attempted
to establish that it was his accomplice who had possession of the murder
weapon and was the triggerman in the Ocala murder. Remeta was found
guilty by the jury of first-degree murder for the Ocala robbery.
During the penalty phase of the trial, Remeta
introduced testimony of his mother, an expert clinical psychologist, and
several social workers who had known Remeta since his childhood.
The state presented evidence of appellant's prior
convictions, including his pleas of guilty to the Kansas crimes of first-degree
murder and aggravated robbery. It also presented portions of a
videotaped interview which the appellant had with a reporter containing
his admission of executing two hostages so that they would not cause
The jury recommended imposition of the death sentence
and the trial judge imposed the death penalty, finding that the four
statutory aggravating factors clearly outweighed the four mitigating
Remeta v. State, 522 So.2d 825, 826-827 (Fla.
Remeta was extradited to Florida, where he was tried,
convicted, and sentenced to death for the Ocala murder. On direct review,
his conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court.
Remeta v. State, 522 So. 2d 825 (Fla. 1988). The United States
Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. Remeta v.
Florida, 488 U.S. 871, 109 S. Ct. 182, 102 L. Ed. 2d 151 (1988).
Remeta next filed both a motion for state post-conviction relief with
the state circuit court pursuant to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure
3.850 and a state habeas petition with the Florida Supreme Court.
Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the Rule 3.850
The Florida Supreme Court consolidated the Rule 3.850
appeal and the habeas petition, affirmed the trial court's denial of the
motion for post-conviction relief, and denied the habeas petition.
Remeta v. Dugger, 622 So. 2d 452 (Fla. 1993). Remeta then petitioned
the federal district court for the Middle District of Florida for habeas
corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In 1994, the district court
denied the petition after finding that Remeta was either procedurally
barred or not entitled to relief on the claims raised therein. The
district court also granted Remeta's motion for a certificate of
probable cause to appeal.
Remeta v. Singletary, 85 F.3d 513, 515-516 (11th
The federal appellate court upheld the district court's
order denying Remeta any relief. Id. at 519. The United
States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on March 24, 1997.
Remeta v. Singletary, 117 S. Ct. 1320 (1997).
On February 18, 1998, Remeta's CCRC attorney filed a
motion to withdraw from representation of the defendant. The Marion
County Circuit Court denied that motion and Remeta appealed. On March 6,
1998, this Honorable Court affirmed the trial court's denial of the
motion to withdraw. Remeta v. State, No. 92,411, slip op. at 2 (Fla.
March 11, 1998). On March 18, 1998, Remeta filed a Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court for the District of
Kansas. Therein, he sought to challenge the seven (7) Thomas County,
Kansas convictions and sought a stay of the Florida execution scheduled
for March 31, 1998. The State of Florida, on behalf of Respondent
Singletary, filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction in regard
to the requested stay of execution. A telephonic hearing was held on
March 24, 1998. The following day, the federal district judge issued an
order which purported to stay the Florida execution. On March 25, 1998,
an Emergency Application was filed in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals,
seeking vacation of the lower court's order. The Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals ordered Remeta to file a response to the Emergency Application
by 1 o'clock on March 26, 1998, and he did so. Shortly, thereafter, the
appellate court issued an order vacating the purported stay of the
On March 24, 1998, Remeta filed an Emergency Motion
to Vacate Judgment and Sentence and Request for Evidentiary Hearing and
Stay of Execution in the Marion County Circuit Court. The State of
Florida filed a Response to that Motion on March 25, 1998. A Huff
hearing was held that same afternoon, and an order from the Honorable
Judge Carven D. Angel was entered on March 27, 1998, denying Remeta's
requested relief. Notice of Appeal was given, and this appeal follows.
85 F.3d 513
Daniel Eugene REMETA, Petitioner-Appellant,
Harry K. SINGLETARY, Jr., Secretary, Florida Department of
United States Court of Appeals,
May 31, 1996.
Appeal from the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Before TJOFLAT, Chief Judge, and
BIRCH and DUBINA, Circuit Judges.
BIRCH, Circuit Judge:
Daniel Eugene Remeta appeals the
district court's order denying his petition for habeas corpus relief
filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Remeta raises numerous issues on
appeal with respect to both his conviction and sentence. We conclude
that Remeta's claim regarding the state's alleged violation of the
Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD"), Fla.Stat. § 941.45, is an
issue of first impression in this circuit and therefore warrants
discussion. We find all remaining claims to be without merit and
affirm the district court's denial of his habeas petition for the
reasons set forth in its opinion.
The facts relevant to this appeal
are summarized briefly:
Remeta committed a series of
murders, attempted murders, and robberies in three different states
during a two-week crime spree in 1985.
On February 8, Remeta murdered
Mehrle W. Reeder while robbing a gas station in Ocala, Florida. Two
days after the Florida murder, Remeta and a companion shot Camillia
Carroll, a cashier at a convenience store in Texas, after robbing
her at gunpoint; Carroll survived the incident and testified against
Remeta at his Florida trial.
On February 13, Remeta shot and
killed the manager of a highway gas station in Kansas. Shortly
thereafter, the car in which Remeta and several other individuals
were driving was pulled over by a Kansas sheriff; one of the
passengers in the car shot the sheriff twice. Remeta and his
companions subsequently fled to a grain elevator, where they
abducted two men after stealing their truck, made them lie face down
in the road, and killed them with gunshots to the back of the head.
Remeta pleaded guilty to each of
the three Kansas homicides, receiving two consecutive life sentences
for killing the gas station manager and two consecutive life
sentences for killing the grain elevator employees.
Remeta was extradited to Florida,
where he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the Ocala
murder. On direct review, his conviction and sentence were affirmed
by the Florida Supreme Court. Remeta v. State, 522 So.2d 825 (Fla.1988).
The United States Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of
certiorari. Remeta v. Florida, 488 U.S. 871, 109 S.Ct. 182, 102 L.Ed.2d
Remeta next filed both a motion
for state post-conviction relief with the state circuit court
pursuant to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.850 and a state
habeas petition with the Florida Supreme Court. Following an
evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the Rule 3.850 motion.
The Florida Supreme Court consolidated the Rule 3.850 appeal and the
habeas petition, affirmed the trial court's denial of the motion for
post-conviction relief, and denied the habeas petition. Remeta v.
Dugger, 622 So.2d 452 (Fla.1993).
Remeta then petitioned the federal
district court for the Middle District of Florida for habeas corpus
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In 1994, the district court
denied the petition after finding that Remeta was either
procedurally barred or not entitled to relief on the claims raised
therein. The district court also granted Remeta's motion for a
certificate of probable cause to appeal. This appeal followed.
In reviewing a petition filed
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, we presume that the factual findings made by
a state court of competent jurisdiction following a hearing on the
merits are correct if evidenced by reliable and adequate indicia.
Hamilton v. Ford, 969 F.2d 1006, 1010 (11th Cir.1992), cert. denied,
507 U.S. 1000, 113 S.Ct. 1625, 123 L.Ed.2d 183 (1993). We review
factual conclusions made by the district court under a clearly
erroneous standard. Id. We review mixed questions of law and fact de
novo. Id. at 1034.
A. Procedural Default
We note at the outset that the
appellee raises the issue of procedural default, stating that Remeta
failed to present his IAD claim either at trial or on direct appeal.
See Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 97 S.Ct. 2497, 53 L.Ed.2d 594
(1977). In its ruling on Remeta's consolidated petition for state
habeas relief and motion for Rule 3.850 post-conviction relief, the
state court expressly found nine claims set forth by Remeta to be
procedurally barred; the court went on to conclude that Remeta's IAD
claim "[p]resent[ed] a novel argument regarding extradition; however,
we find that claim to be without merit and to be inappropriately
raised in a 3.850 motion." Remeta v. Dugger, 622 So.2d at 454.
As noted, Remeta raised the
challenge to his conviction based on Florida's alleged violation of
the IAD in both his state habeas petition and his Rule 3.850 motion;
these separate challenges were consolidated for purposes of
appellate review by the Florida Supreme Court. While we acknowledge
that the state supreme court's ruling in this case is not a model of
clarity, we disagree with the state's contention that the court
found Remeta's claim to be procedurally defaulted or, in the
alternative, lacking in merit.
Rather, we resolve that the state
court's decision constituted a ruling on the merits with respect to
Remeta's state habeas petition and a finding of possible procedural
default with respect to his motion for post-conviction relief.
Because the Sykes procedural default rule does not preclude federal
habeas review of a petitioner's constitutional claim if the state
court adjudicates the federal claim on the merits, Hardin v. Black,
845 F.2d 953, 958 (11th Cir.1988), we therefore proceed to address
the underlying merits of Remeta's challenge.
B. IAD Claim
While imprisoned in Kansas State
Penitentiary in 1985, Remeta signed a document entitled "Request for
Disposition of Indictments[,] Informations or Complaints," in which
I hereby agree that this request
will operate as a request for final disposition of all untried
indictments, informations or complaints on the basis of which
detainers or other criminal charges have been lodged against me from
your state. I also agree that this request shall be deemed to be my
waiver of extradition with respect to any charge or proceeding
contemplated hereby or included herein, and a waiver of extradition
to your state to serve any sentence there imposed upon me, after
completion of my term of imprisonment in this state. I also agree
that this request shall constitute a consent by me to the production
of my body in any court where my presence may be required in order
to effectuate the purpose of the Agreement on Detainers and a
further consent voluntarily to be returned to the institution in
which I am now confined.
R41-4627. Florida Assistant State
Attorney John Futch subsequently filed the following request for
temporary custody of Remeta, pursuant to the terms of the IAD, with
Herb Mashner, director of the Kansas penitentiary at which Remeta
I hereby agree that immediately
after trial is completed in this jurisdiction I will return the
prisoner directly to you or allow any jurisdiction you have
designated to take temporary custody.
R41-4639. On the same day this
request was sent, Futch informed Mashner that he would be sending "under
separate cover ... an Executive Agreement stating that if Remeta
should receive the death penalty for the offense here in Florida
that he will not be returned to Kansas."
The record reveals that in 1988,
three years after Kansas relinquished temporary custody of Remeta to
Florida, a Kansas Department of Corrections' ("DOC") official
forwarded a letter to the Florida DOC asking that a detainer be
lodged against Remeta in favor of the Kansas State Penitentiary.
R41-4615. This letter explicitly reminded the Florida DOC that
Kansas' release of Remeta "was under the term[s] of the Interstate
Agreement on Detainers. Under this Agreement, [Florida] is obligated
to return Remeta upon completion of all litigation." Id. Remeta
remains incarcerated, and on death row, in Florida.
In this habeas corpus proceeding,
Remeta contends that (1) his waiver of extradition was not knowing,
intelligent and voluntary, and (2) Florida's failure to abide by the
terms of the IAD--by trying him without a valid extradition waiver
and by failing to return him to Kansas--either effectively divested
Florida of jurisdiction to try him or rendered his conviction
invalid. Remeta seeks to have his conviction set aside on this
basis. Whether violation of the provisions of the IAD concerning
extradition and return to a "sending state" following trial can
constitute reversible error meriting habeas relief is an issue of
first impression in this circuit.
The IAD is a compact entered into
by forty-eight states and the United States for the purpose of
disposing efficiently of outstanding criminal charges brought
against prisoners incarcerated in other jurisdictions. Hunter v.
Samples, 15 F.3d 1011, 1012 (11th Cir.1994). The central provisions
of the IAD are Articles III and IV. Article III provides a procedure
by which a prisoner against whom a detainer
has been filed can demand a speedy disposition of the charges giving
rise to the detainer. United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340, 351, 98
S.Ct. 1834, 1842, 56 L.Ed.2d 329 (1978).
If the prisoner does make such a
request, the jurisdiction that filed the detainer must bring him to
trial within 180 days. Id., 436 U.S. at 351-53, 98 S.Ct. at 1843.
The prisoner's request operates as a request for the final
disposition of all untried charges underlying detainers filed
against him by that state, and is deemed to be a waiver of
extradition. Id. Under Article IV, a signatory jurisdiction that has
filed a detainer may receive temporary custody of a prisoner
incarcerated in another jurisdiction, and then prosecute that
prisoner for outstanding charges. Hunter, 15 F.3d at 1012.
The district court found that
Remeta actively sought the death penalty in Florida, and therefore
not only knew the consequences of his waiver of extradition, but
also possessed all the necessary information to object to
extradition at the time Florida sought his presence for trial.
Remeta argues that the district
court's findings in this regard are clearly erroneous and that the
fact that Remeta requested his Kansas trial attorney as counsel in
the Florida proceedings demonstrates that he did not understand the
import of the extradition waiver. Remeta asks, at the minimum, that
we remand the case for an evidentiary hearing on this question.
As an initial matter, although the
district court provided no record citation to support its finding
that Remeta was aware that he might receive the death penalty in
Florida, our independent review of the record reveals that this
determination was not clearly erroneous. The record contains letters
from Remeta written while incarcerated in Kansas that sustain the
district court's conclusion that Remeta understood the possible
consequences of being extradited.
In one letter, Remeta wrote, "If I
don't try for the death penalty I'll die in some prison, [t]his is
why I'm trying to get extradited." R39-4357. In another letter, he
stated, "I'm gonna try for the death penalty if I can." Id. at 4359.
A psychiatrist who authored a clinical evaluation of Remeta for the
Kansas DOC also remarked that Remeta "hopes that he can be
transferred to one of the states where he is being sought and he can
get the death penalty." R40-4594. We conclude that the district
court did not err in finding that Remeta was informed of the
possible consequences of being extradited and tried for murder in
another state prior to signing an extradition waiver.
We need not decide, however,
whether the district court properly concluded that Remeta's
extradition waiver was knowing and intelligent. Even assuming that
the waiver was not knowing and intelligent, the denial of Remeta's
statutory right to a pre-extradition hearing would not entitle him
to habeas relief. Remeta suggests that Florida's flagrant violation
of the IAD effectively deprived that state of jurisdiction to try
him for murder.
He fails, however, to point us to
any decisional or statutory law establishing that the IAD has a
jurisdictional element, nor does he provide any legal authority for
the proposition that a due process violation of the sort claimed
here renders a jury's verdict void on jurisdictional grounds.
The IAD does dictate that a
state's failure to try a prisoner within the statutory time period,
prior to being returned to the "sending" state, must result in
dismissal of any untried portion of the outstanding indictment. See
Fla.Stat. § 941.45(e). However, there is no provision in the IAD
dictating that failure either to obtain a knowing and intelligent
waiver of extradition or to provide a prisoner with a pre-transfer
hearing deprives the "receiving" state of jurisdiction. To the
contrary, the Supreme Court has held:
[D]ue process of law is satisfied
when one present in court is convicted of a crime after having been
fairly apprised of the charges against him and after a fair trial in
accordance with constitutional procedural safeguards. There is
nothing in the Constitution that requires a court to permit a guilty
person rightfully convicted to escape justice because he was brought
to trial against his will.
Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519,
522, 72 S.Ct. 509, 511, 96 L.Ed. 541 (1952); see also Shack v.
Attorney General of State of Pa., 776 F.2d 1170, 1172 (3rd
Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1030, 106 S.Ct. 1234, 89 L.Ed.2d
342 (1986) (where petitioner was not given pre-transfer hearing,
court held that "the existence of a procedural defect in [petitioner's]
extradition proceedings did not impair [the state's] power to try
him and ... his confinement does not violate due process.")
We conclude that Kansas's alleged
failure to obtain from Remeta a knowing and voluntary waiver of
extradition coupled with its concomitant denial of a pre-transfer
hearing, even if assumed to be true, did not deprive Florida of
jurisdiction to try him for murder.
As stated earlier, the record is
ambiguous as to whether Florida entered into a separate agreement
with Kansas stipulating that Remeta would not be returned if he
received the death penalty and whether such an agreement released
Florida of its obligations under the IAD. We also do not know
whether Kansas is currently seeking Remeta's return to serve the
remainder of his sentence. Even if we were to assume that Florida
has failed to honor its statutory commitment to Kansas under the
IAD, however, this appears to be a matter exclusively between
Florida and Kansas. The resolution of an IAD dispute between these
two states (if such a dispute exists) may necessitate that Kansas
seek an injunction to force Florida to abide by its agreement,
return Remeta, and allow him to serve out his Kansas sentence. This
is not a matter for federal habeas corpus review.
More importantly, we previously
have held that IAD violations are not cognizable in habeas
proceedings absent a showing that the violation prejudiced the
rights of the accused by affecting or impugning the integrity of the
fact-finding process. Hunter, 15 F.3d at 1012; see also Seymore v.
State of Ala., 846 F.2d 1355, 1359 (11th Cir.1988) (holding that "violations
of the IAD are nonfundamental defects and--absent a showing of some
sort of prejudice--are uncognizable in a federal habeas proceeding."),
cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1018, 109 S.Ct. 816, 102 L.Ed.2d 806 (1989).
As discussed earlier, Remeta has
neither alleged nor shown that the two IAD violations at issue in
this appeal, viewed in tandem, have affected or undermined the
integrity of the trial. Assuming that Remeta did not voluntarily
waive extradition, the alleged failure of Kansas to provide Remeta
with a pre-transfer hearing did not divest Florida of jurisdiction
to try him for murder.
By the same token, Florida's
failure to return Remeta to Kansas to serve the remainder of his
Kansas sentence in accordance with the terms of the IAD is a matter
between Kansas and Florida, and is not reviewable by this court in a
habeas corpus proceeding. In the absence of any showing of prejudice
to Remeta caused by these alleged violations of the IAD, we are
compelled to affirm the district court's decision to deny habeas
Remeta asks that we set aside his
conviction due to Florida's alleged breach of its commitments under
the IAD. Remeta urges us to strip the Florida court of jurisdiction
to try him for murder based on that state's allegedly flagrant and
egregious violations of the statute; yet, Remeta is unable to point
to either statutory or decisional law supporting such a directive.
Moreover, even assuming, arguendo,
that Florida did fail to abide by its obligations under the IAD,
there is no indication from either the records or briefs that the
integrity of the trial itself was undermined. The district court's
order denying habeas corpus relief is AFFIRMED.