State of Missouri v. Tomas G. Ervin

835 S.W.2d 905 (Mo.banc 1992)

Tomas G. Ervin was executed at 12:04 a.m., March 28, 2001.

Case Facts
: On the afternoon of December 15, 1988, Thomas Ervin and an accomplice, Bert L. Hunter, went to the home of Richard Hodges in Jefferson City because they believed Hodges kept large amounts of cash in a file cabinet in his home. With a pistol in his pocket, Hunter knocked on the Hodges’ door and Mr. Hodges’ mother, Mildred Hodges answered. Hunter pulled a stocking mask down over his face and displayed a pistol. He entered the house and grabbed Mrs. Hodges by the hand. Mrs. Hodges became excited and cried out for her son. Mr. Hodges came into the room where they were standing and requested that the two assailants leave his mother alone because she was in frail health.

As Mr. Hodges attempted to calm his mother, Hunter told Mr. Hodges to bind her hands and feet with duct tape. Mrs. Hodges who had been taken to a bedroom was left sitting on a bed. Ervin took Mr. Hodges to the living room and made him lie on the floor. Ervin and Hunter began taping Mr. Hodges’ hands. Hunter then searched the house for money and other valuables. Meanwhile, Hunter heard a noise from the bedroom and found Mrs. Hodges standing in front of her dresser. Hunter bound her with duct tape and left her lying in the hallway floor near the bedroom. Hunter returned to the living room where Ervin was taping Mr. Hodges hands, feet and mouth. When Mr. Hodges complained that he could not breath, Ervin responded, “That’s the general idea.”

Plastic bags were placed over the heads of both victims. Hunter admitted that after the plastic bags were placed on the victims’ heads, he held Mr. Hodges’ nose to suffocate him. Ervin reined and told Hunter that he thought Mrs. Hodges was dead. Hunter checked Mrs. Hodges and determined that she had no pulse. The two then finished looking through the house and left. They removed Mr. Hodges’ body and disposed of it in Jefferson City. The police found the body and then went to the Hodges’ home where they found Mrs. Hodges’ body.

Following the crime the two men separated and traveled between Florida and Jefferson City, at one point staying in Paducah, Kentucky one night where they left the Hodges’ car. About a month later Ervin was arrested for the murders. Hunter later confessed to the crimes and implicated Ervin.

Legal Chronology:

12/15 -Tomas Ervin and Bert Hunter rob and kill Mildred and Richard Hodges at their home in Jefferson City, Missouri.

3/28 -Ervin is charged by indictment with two counts of first degree murder and one count of first degree robbery.
5/26 -On a motion of a change of venue the case is transferred from Cole to Callaway County.

1/17 -Ervin’s trial begins in Callaway County.
1/19 -The jury finds Ervin guilty of two counts of murder first degree and robbery first degree. The jury assesses punishment at death for the two murders.
3/5 -Ervin is sentenced to death on each count of murder and to a consecutive term of life for the robbery conviction.
3/12 -Ervin files a notice of appeal.
7/11 -Ervin files a motion for post conviction relief in the Callaway County Circuit Court.

4/29 -The Circuit Court denies post conviction relief.

7/21 -The Missouri Supreme Curt confirms Ervin’s convictions and sentences and the denial of post conviction relief.

2/22 -The U.S. Supreme court denies certiorari review.
3/12 -Ervin files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

10/30 -The U. S. District Court denies the petition for writ of habeas corpus. 

10/18 -The U. S. Eighth Court of Appeals affirms the denial of relief.

6/26 -The U. S. Supreme Court declines certiorari review.
9/20 -The State requests an execution date from the Missouri Supreme Court.

2/27 -The Missouri Supreme Court sets March 28, 2001 as Ervin’s execution date.