The Ice Pick Killer: Who was Danny Paul Bible and why did he ask for death by firing squad instead of lethal injection?
Danny Bible was given death sentence for the murder of Inez Deaton in 1979 and he was executed on June 27 at the age of 66
Almost 40 years ago, the body of 20-year-old Inez Deaton was found in an empty field close to a deserted car wash in Harris County, Texas. Her body had been battered to an unrecognizable state. The young woman had been found to be raped and incessantly stabbed with an ice pick back in May 1979.
For almost 20 years after her body was discovered, the case went unsolved and no one knew who had committed the horrific crime. All of a sudden, in 1998, a man by the name of Danny Bible was arrested in the state of Louisiana in a separate rape case. According to court records, during the interrogations by the police relating to that crime, he came clean about the murder of Deaton. He was then given the name "the ice pick killer".
Bible was executed on June 27 at the age of 66, Newsweek reported. The serial killer and rapist had to use a wheelchair after he suffered a prison transport accident. He was only the second man to have been executed under Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who is a Democrat elected in 2016. Ogg has made sure to reduce the number of death penalties in the county which has been responsible for sending the highest number of prisoners to their deaths than any state.
After Bible's execution date was set in March, Ogg said in a statement: "Some criminals’ actions are so heinous, they earn the label ‘worst of the worst'. The jury who listened to the facts and saw the evidence of the crimes Danny Bible committed clearly reached that conclusion and sentenced him to death.” His attorneys fought hard against the execution order by claiming that he was too sick to be executed by lethal injection. They said that his veins were too weak and that he would probably choke if he lay on his back on the gurney.
Bible suffered from multiple heart and lung issues when he was alive. The attorneys suggested to the court that, since the judicial body allows inmates who have been put to death to propose an alternative way to be killed if they are challenging the lethal injection order, the state of Texas should consider giving him death by firing squad or nitrogen gas as the alternatives.
Jeremy Schepers, one of Bible's attorney's, wrote in the appeal to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on June 22: “Because of his poor health, Mr Bible has severely compromised peripheral veins, meaning it will be difficult, if not impossible, to establish two functioning IVs in his veins, creating a substantial risk of either a botched execution or an aborted execution attempt."
The appeal spoke of other execution attempts that were carried out on sick inmates and how they did not work because the death chamber officials could not find a vein on the arm. In February 2018, the state of Alabama called off the execution of an inmate with cancer, Doyle Hamm, because they failed to find a vein after hours of trying to insert a needle.
In November of last year, officials in Ohio had to call off an execution for Alva Campbell, another inmate who suffered from cancer who had used a colostomy bag, because he could not breathe when he was lying down. Ohio's worst case of a failed execution happened in 2009 when Romell Broom was in such agonising pain that he cried and screamed before he died.
When the state released a counter argument for Bible's plea on June 25, they said that the man was first and foremost a serial rapist and a murderer. They also added that all his claims of an execution being inhumane and painful was just speculation. The state's attorneys also shot down the other methods of execution that was proposed by Bible's lawyers.
Texas Assistant Attorney General Stephen Hoffman wrote in a statement: “The pain inherent in Bible’s hypothetical probing or hypothetical failed vein pales in comparison to the congruent possibility of mishaps occurring with Bible’s proposed alternatives — for instance, a lingering death from a misplaced gunshot wound or an incomplete suffocation causing brain damage from oxygen deprivation." The federal appellate court rejected Bible's appeal either way on June 26 because he did not show enough evidence that there would be a problem finding a vein on his arm. There was also not enough evidence to show that repeatedly looking for the vein on a person's body is a cruel and unusual punishment.
After the prison van accident left the serial rapist disabled, he argued in court that he should be given a new trial to decide the punishment where the jurors in the court will decide on the issues that lead to a death sentence or life behind bars after the suspect is found guilty of capital murder.
Court documents have stated that Bible was involved in an accident when he was being transferred from the county jail to death row after he was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003. A prison van that was carrying the serial killer met with a head-on collision. The drivers in both the vehicles involved in the accident were killed and Bible was injured to such an extent that he was not able to walk without help from someone else.
He argued in court that it was because of this accident that the jurors in the trial would probably have not thought he was a future danger to society in spite of his long criminal background. Jurors in the state of Texas have to come to a unanimous agreement for the capital punishment sentence if they find the suspect guilty of capital murder is a threat to society in the future.
The court in Texas rejected Bible's appeals for clemency on June 22. Bible had fiercely fought the death sentence and his lawyer told the court during his trial that he had accepted full responsibility for Deaton's murder. His state appellate lawyer, Margaret Schmucker, said that he had already been serving a life sentence in the state of Louisiana and would, therefore, never be released regardless of the death sentence.
Bible told investigators in his confession in 1998 that Deaton had walked into his uncle's house in 1979, where he was staying at the time, and that he had proceeded to rape her. Court documents state that he told the detectives that he then stabbed her to death using an ice pick, put her body into a garbage bag, and unceremoniously dumped her in a field. Deaton was a friend of his cousin and had been the mother of a toddler at the time.
According to the state's filing, Bible had fled the state of Texas when the 20-year-old's body was discovered just after she was murdered. His brutal crimes, however, had not stopped. Bible finally confessed in Louisiana to the 1998 rape that was the one which led to his arrest for Deaton's brutal slaying, and the murders of his former sister-in-law, her baby and her roommate in 1983. He was released on parole even after the horrifying confession.
Bible pleaded guilty and and was subsequently sentenced to life behind bars without a chance of parole for the aggravated rape charges that were slapped on him. He got the death penalty for Deaton's murder.