|Dennis "Pete" Wayne Bagwell|
December 27, 1963|
|Died||February 17, 2005(aged 41)|
Cause of death
|Execution by lethal injection|
Span of killings
Dennis "Pete" Wayne Bagwell (December 27, 1963 – February 17, 2005) was a convicted murderer executed by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Bagwell was found guilty of the 1995 murder of Libby Best, 24, Reba Best, 4, Tassy Boone, 14, and Leona McBee, 47. Bagwell, who was 31-years old when he committed the capital crime, was sentenced to death on November 7, 1996. He is related to Pete Walker.
On September 20, 1995, Ronald Boone returned from work to his rural Wilson County, Texas home to find the bodies of his wife Leona McBee, his daughter Libby Best and his granddaughters Reba Best and Tassy Boone. McBee and Tassy had been beaten and strangled such that their necks were broken, and Tassy had been sexually assaulted. Libby had been shot twice in the head, and Reba’s skull had been crushed with a hammer and a metal exercise bar.
McBee’s son, Bagwell, and his girlfriend Victoria Wolford, had been living in a small travel trailer on her property. Earlier in the month McBee had asked Bagwell and Wolford to leave her trailer and on the 20th they were living some 35 miles away in a San Antonio apartment.
On the 20th Wolford testified that she and Bagwell drove to his mother’s house to borrow money. When they arrived Wolford retired to the trailer because she had a headache. A short time later Bagwell walked over to the trailer and told Wolford that his mother would only give him $20. Bagwell then went back into his mother’s house, while Wolford stood outside the trailer. Through the window Wolford saw Bagwell strike McBee, then heard screams and two popping noises. She heard Tassy yell, “No, no,” and heard Reba scream. Everything was quiet for a while when she heard McBee yell at the dogs and gasp for air. Through the window she saw Bagwell hit his mother with a long-handled gun. Later Bagwell took some towels and wetted them with a water hose. He wiped off a hammer and told Wolford he was going to go inside and wipe off fingerprints he might have left in the house, adding that he was trying to make the crime look like a robbery and rape of Tassy.
Wolford led police to various locations along the getaway route where Bagwell had discarded incriminating evidence, and police officers recovered numerous items taken from the Boone residence including a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of shorts. An expert witness testified that one of the tennis shoes matched a bloody shoe print found at the crime scene under the body of Tassy and other witnesses testified that those tennis shoes belonged to Bagwell. A firearms expert testified that the bullet fragments removed from Libby's cranium matched the shattered rifle the law enforcement officers recovered.
On November 21 Bagwell was indicted by a Wilson County grand jury for capital murder. Transferred to Atascosa County because of a change in venue, it took a jury three hours of deliberation to return a guilty verdict and another four hours to sentence Bagwell to death. On March 31, 1999, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence.
On September 5, 1995, in Seguin, 40 miles east of San Antonio, a delivery person found the body of 63-year-old George Barry in the supply room of a local bar, Jim's Place, where Barry had worked as a night stocker. Police arrived on the scene shortly after the discovery, took photographs of the body and the supply store, and dusted for fingerprints. As the investigation progressed Bagwell became a suspect, and Wolford, after being promised immunity from prosecution by the state, once again testified against Bagwell.
Wolford testified that on the evening of September 4 she and Bagwell met Donnie Halm, the owner of Jim's Place, at a rest stop on Highway 123. There, Bagwell sold Halm a television, stereo, and VCR, all of which belonged to a local rent-to-own store. Halm paid $200 for the equipment and Bagwell and Wolford took the money from this sale and went to the home of Anthony Jackson where they bought some rock cocaine for $150. The pair took the cocaine to the trailer they shared where they smoked it, and Wolford prepared for bed. Wolford further testified that Bagwell then wanted to return to Jim’s Place for more drugs, this time, marijuana. Wolford dressed and they drove to Jim's Place. Bagwell drove around the bar a couple of times telling Wolford he was looking for an employee, Robin Whitman, who Bagwell thought would sell him some marijuana.
Bagwell had been to Jim's Place several times, had sold or tried to sell items to employees there, and knew all the employees by name. When Bagwell didn't see Whitman he stopped the car and went into the bar. He came back shortly and asked Wolford for a quarter as he had not found Whitman and wanted to call him at his home. At that point he told Wolford he planned to rob and kill Barry, who was in the restaurant, stocking beer for the next day. It was also Barry's job to make the night deposit for the bar. Bagwell returned to the restaurant and Wolford remained in the car.
According to Wolford, while Bagwell was in the bar, she could hear pounding and thumping noises after which Bagwell returned 20 to 25-minutes later with three moneybags and an injured finger. Bagwell and Wolford then left Seguin stopping to move the money from the bags to Bagwell's pockets. They went to Jackson's where they purchased more rock cocaine, and on the drive from Jackson's to their trailer, Bagwell told Wolford that he had killed Barry by smashing his throat in with his foot. Wolford testified that Bagwell was wearing black, heavy boots the night of the murder. The next morning Bagwell and Wolford left Seguin for San Antonio.
Already sentenced to death for the murder of his mother and three other people, Bagwell was tried in Guadalupe County for the Barry murder. In the November 1997 trial a fingerprints expert testified that one of Bagwell's fingerprints and one of his palm prints were found on the file cabinet near Barry's body where the deposit money was kept. A "pattern injuries" expert testified that he could not rule out the possibility that Bagwell's shoes had caused the injuries to Barry's face and neck, and a San Antonio police officer testified to finding one cloth bank bag with the words "First Commercial" on it in the room Wolford and Bagwell shared in San Antonio. Bar employees testified that this bag was "similar" to those used by Jim's Place.
Finally, several witnesses testified that Bagwell had given inconsistent stories about how he had hurt his hand, saying at times that he had hit a black man, that he had hit a black man and robbed him, or that he had smashed his hand down on the roof of an automobile. The defense presented no witnesses, and the jury sentenced Bagwell to life imprisonment in a case where the State waived the death penalty.
On February 17, 2005, Bagwell was executed by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. Purportedly, Bagwell's last meal consisted of medium rare steak with A-1 steak sauce, fried chicken breasts and thighs, barbecue ribs, french fries, onion rings, bacon, scrambled eggs with onions, fried potatoes with onions, sliced tomatoes, salad with ranch dressing, two hamburgers, peach pie, milk, coffee, and iced tea.
- Dennis Wayne Bagwell. The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- Offender Information. Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- Michelangelo Delfino and Mary E. Day, Death Penalty USA 2005 -2006, (2008), 33-37.
- Bagwell v. Dretke (2004) 372 F.3d 74 Bagwell's relatives. ate (1997) 956 S.W.2d 709.
- Bagwell's relatives.