Donald Cabana, then warden of Parchman, pleaded with the Governor to commute Connie Ray’s sentence to life. The Governor refused. Cabana had to oversee his execution.
Victim: Arun Pahwa (28) 4/9/1981
Codefendant: Alfonso Artis – Turned state’s evidence and testified against Evans. In exchange he was allowed
Connie Ray Evans was strapped into the chair in the gas chamber and asked if he had any last words. He replied that he did, but only for Warden Cabana. Cabana stepped back into the chamber and Evans said to him: "From one Christian to another, I love you. You can bet I'm going to tell the Man how good you are."
The epitome of the nuptial execution comes with the killing of Connie Ray Evans, condemned in 1981 for the murder of a convenience store worker during a robbery. "I'm killing a friend of mine tonight," Cabana reflects as Evans is strapped into the gas chamber.
The third and last execution he supervised was the toughest, he recalled, because he had "violated my cardinal rule never to get close to your clients," allowing himself to befriend the condemned inmate, Connie Ray Evans.
Cabana said Evans, a convicted killer, had come into prison an embittered 19-year-old drug addict and had changed greatly in the eight years before Cabana was required to execute Evans in 1987.
Cabana said some of his perspective on crime and punishment was colored by his childhood. His birth mother had been a prostitute, drug addict and "convicted felon who did time," he said, and several siblings had suffered greatly as a result.
"I could have turned out very differently," he said, reflecting on the "hundreds of times" he looked into prison cells and realized that, without some luck, the tables could have been turned.
"There's a very, very thin line between the keeper and the kept."
FROM COURT DOCS
Evans pleaded guilty to capital murder and his case proceeded directly to the penalty phase of Mississippi's bifurcated scheme. The jury recommended the death penalty, finding that the state had proved four statutory aggravating circumstances that outweighed any mitigating circumstances.
The murder in this case occurred during an armed robbery of a neighborhood grocery store in Jackson, Mississippi. Evans acted as a lookout while his accomplice, Alfonso Artis, entered the grocery store with a .38 caliber revolver. The accomplice made the store clerk, Arun Pahwa, get on his knees behind the counter. Evans then entered the store, received the handgun from Artis and stood over Pahwa with the cocked revolver pointed at Pahwa's head.
When Artis could not get the cash register drawer open, he ordered Pahwa to get up and and open the cash register; Pahwa was then forced back into a kneeling position. Evans and Artis collected approximately $140 from the cash register and Pahwa's pockets. As Artis turned to leave, Evans shot the kneeling Pahwa in the back of his head from a distance of approximately three or four feet. Evans and Artis fled the scene of the crime.
Artis was apprehended by police the next day and Evans turned himself in to the police seventeen days later. Evans confessed that he shot the victim because "the man knew me and I did not want him to identify me."
OF INTEREST RE: ALFONSO ARTIS
On September 28, 1981, Alfonso Artis pled guilty to the crimes of armed robbery and manslaughter. He was sentenced to twenty five (25) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with twenty (20) years suspended and five (5) years to serve for the armed robbery conviction (No. T-354) and twenty (20) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with fifteen (15) years suspended and five (5) years to serve for the manslaughter conviction (No. S-991), sentences to run concurrently. The trial court did not subject any of the suspended portion of the sentences to a period of probation; in fact, the court expressly ruled that there would be no probation.
On July 19, 1988, Artis was found guilty in the Coahoma County Circuit Court of attempting to obtain a controlled substance by misrepresentation. Based on that conviction, a warrant was issued for Artis' arrest and, on October 24, 1988, a motion was filed to revoke his suspended sentence for the armed robbery conviction.
On March 28, 1989, Artis filed a Motion To Dismiss Revocation Proceedings, claiming that it would violate his right to due process to revoke his suspended sentence for the violation of terms and conditions which were never established at his sentencing hearing or by court order.
He was successful.
Though the court noted that it was difficult to have sympathy for a defendant who claims that the revocation of his suspended sentence is improper because he did not know that the commission of a felony would be considered a violation of his suspended sentence, they nevertheless found that due process requires that the trial judge at least orally inform the defendant of the terms and conditions upon which his suspended sentence is contingent before it may be properly revoked for the violation of those terms and conditions.
Course, while this man just keeps tugging up loophole after loophole? Connie Ray had already been executed.