By Michelle Guffey
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON During 2006, the criminal courts system in Bell County is set to be inundated with nine back-to-back capital murder trials involving the deaths of 10 individuals.
Each slaying involved victims who lived in different parts of the county. For some, their only connection is that their accused killers were all male and were under the age of 30.
The earliest of these killings took place as early as 2003. Two Killeen women were last seen Oct. 28, 2003, at their workplace, Sams Dollhouse on Elms Road.
Natasha Deeds, 20, and Tanya Barnes, 19, were reported missing in February 2004 by Killeen police.
On May 19, their skeletal remains were found in separate graves about one-quarter mile north of where another set of bodies were found first.
The other bodies identified as Gary Ridley, 35, and Sheria Lunde, 33, of Belton were discovered May 13, 2004. The couple was reported missing April 29, 2004 by friends and co-workers.
Two men were arrested in connection with the deaths Kyle Wade Green, 19, and Koran Small, 21.
Green was tried and found guilty in Oct. 2005 for murdering the Belton couple. He is currently at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice serving a life sentence.
Small will stand trial Jan. 30, 2006, for capital murder.
We havent declared which case (Small will be tried on), First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said. Most likely the case involving (Deeds and Barnes).
Green will stand trial for the deaths of the two women after Small has had his day in court.
In a written statement given May 21, 2004, and read by the state during the trial in Judge Joe Carrolls 27th District Court, Greene said Roosevelt Daymon, an acquaintance who testified against Greene, brought up the idea of robbing the couple.
Thought it was supposed to be a simple robbery, Greene said in the statement.
The statement goes on to say that Greene knew Small had brought a gun a Czechoslovakian pistol Greene had bought from Ridley about a week before.
Greene rode in the truck with Ridley and Lunde out to the field. Ridley got out and Small shot him in the head. Lunde then got out of the truck and while looking at her, Small shot her in the face, the statement said.
Bledsoe said the state has not decided whether to seek the death penalty for Small.
For Green, it was not an option. He was 17 years old when the killings took place, granting him automatic exemption from lethal injection.
Small, however, was 19 at the time. He is currently in the Bell County Jail.
The next set of murders took place later that same year over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Four individuals with connections to Teazers Gentlemens Club in Killeen were shot multiple times by two Killeen men.
Richard Lee Tabler, 26, is charged in the Nov. 26, 2004, deaths of Haitham Zayed, 28, and Mohamid-Amine Rahmouni, 25; and in the Nov. 28, 2004, slayings of Tiffany Lorraine Dotson, 18, and Amanda Benefield, 16.
He is set to go to trial Feb. 6, 2006.
Timothy Doan Payne, 19, is also charged in the deaths of the two men.
Payne will go sometime after Tabler is disposed of, Assistant District Attorney Paul McWilliams said.
Zayed and Rahmouni were found outside Killeen city limits near West Fort Hood. They died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.
In an arrest affidavit, Tabler and Payne said they killed the two men. However, the two later recanted their statements.
Tabler said he met Zayed and Rahmouni on the pretense of buying stolen items. Tabler admitted that he shot the two men while Payne videotaped the incident. Both men said they searched Zayed and Rahmounis bodies searching for money.
In a separate affidavit, Tabler said he lured the two dancers to a remote area of Simmons Road on the promise of crack cocaine. Tabler said he shot Benefield because she made comments about the earlier shootings of Zayed and Rahmouni.
Police believe that Dotson was killed because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Both men told investigators that the murders were part of a revenge-based plot to kill at least 12 people who worked at the gentlemens club, people Tabler believed had wronged him. Eight people were left on the list, and the plan was to kill them by the end of the week, an investigator said.
McWilliams stated that the district attorneys office is seeking the death penalty for Tabler. A decision has not been made yet on Payne.
This past summer, on what should have been a joyful day for a Fort Hood captain and his family, tragedy struck in the form of the four men and a burglary gone wrong.
Capt. Jason Luz Gonazalez was preparing his new house at 1806 Iron Jacket Trail in Harker Heights for his familys arrival from San Antonio the next day.
The 28-year-old Apache helicopter pilot was the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood. He was scheduled to leave for Iraq later this year.
Pfc. Russell J. Alligood, 23, of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood; Erik Leonard Siperko, 17; Matthew Allen Harris, 21; and Brandon Lee Hammock, 16, all of Harker Heights, each were indicted on a June 3 charge of capital murder.
All are scheduled to stand trial March 27, 2006.
Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry said in an earlier interview that the offense was one of opportunity and random in nature. There is no evidence that the defendants knew Gonzalez.
In the arrest affidavit, the four defendants admitted to breaking into the house, shooting and killing Gonzalez and stealing several items, including the victims truck.
Hammock was certified to stand trial as an adult, First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe said, but the state cannot legally seek the death penalty on him or Siperko.
The only punishment available in a capital murder case for the 15- and 17-year-olds is life in prison, he said.
On Jan. 30, 2006, Michael Paul Boyd of Copperas Cove will stand trial for the May 22 death of Kenneth Ray Haney of Killeen.
The 50-year-old part-time apartment manager, was shot multiple times in The Village West Apartments office.
Bledsoe said that an hour after the shots were heard, the 29-year-old defendant was arrested at another apartment in the same complex where he stayed with friends.
No shell casings or weapon were found at the scene.
On June 8, Boyd was charged and indicted on the murder charge.
He is being held in the Bell County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.
Contact Michelle Guffey at email@example.com
FBI statistics murder reported
rate per 100,000 inhabitants = 5.7
Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan area:
rate per 100,000 inhabitants = 2.6