In an ongoing feature, Crime Library will shed a light on the women spending the rest of their lives on death row in prisons across America.
In the state of Alabama, there are a total of 197 inmates on death row, the vast majority of them men. These are the stories of the four women, all of whom are awaiting execution at the Julia Tutwiler maximum security prison in Wetumpka, Ala.
Tierra Capri Gobble | Age 29 | On Death Row Since Dec. 2005 | Tierra Capri Gobble was convicted of beating to death her four-month-old son, Phoenix Cody Parrish. According to a coroner’s report, the infant suffered extensive bruising, a fractured skull, broken ribs and broken wrists. The cause of death was determined to be head trauma consistent with child abuse. Tierra’s three children, Phoenix included, had been removed from her care after child welfare workers in Florida saw signs of neglect and abuse. Phoenix was placed in the care of Tierra’s great-uncle, under the conditions that he not leave Florida or allow Tierra any contact with the boy. The man moved to Alabama and let Tierra move in with him. When he wouldn’t stop crying, Tierra, who the defense said had had an abusive childhood herself, admitted to hitting him.
She was sentenced to death by a judge in Houston County on December 1, 2005. Her inmate number is 00Z719.
Christie Michelle Scott | Age 33 | On Death Row Since Aug. 2005 | In August 2008, a blaze broke out at the Russellville, Ala., home of Christie Michelle Scott. The fire killed Christie’s six-year-old son, Mason. Immediately, suspicion fell on Christie, who had purchased a $100,000 life insurance policy on her son just 12 hours before his death. In all, she was accused of trying to collect $175, 000 in insurance money. Throughout trial proceedings, Christie maintained her innocence. On August 5, 2008, a judge sentenced Christie to death.
Christie’s most recent appeal was denied in October, 2005. Her husband, Jeremy, started a now-defunct website called Christie Scott is Innocent in which he alleged prosecutorial and juror misconduct. Christie’s inmate number is 00Z761.
Patricia Blackmon | Age 43 | On Death Row Since June, 2002 | When Patricia Blackmon was 29, she killed her two-year-old adopted daughter, Dominiqua Bryant. According to an autopsy report, the young child suffered a fractured skull, several broken bones, and bruises which included a shoe print on her chest. Shortly after the beating, Patricia called 911 and told operators that Dominiqua was not breathing. Paramedics tried to revive the girl, but she died at the hospital. At Patricia’s trial, the chief medical examiner for Alabama testified that the sandals Patricia was wearing matched the shoe imprinted on Dominiqua’s chest. Prosecutors told the jury that blood found on a pool cue and throughout Patricia’s Dothan home matched Dominiqua’s. Witnesses for the defense testified that Patricia and Dominiqua appeared to have a good relationship.
After her death sentence on June 7, 2002, Patricia appealed, arguing that Dominiqua was knocked unconscious prior to the beating, therefore it was not heinous or cruel. The appeal was denied. Patricia’s inmate number is 00Z685.
Shonda Johnson | Age 43 | On Death Row Since Jan. 2000 | Unlike the three other women on Alabama’s death row, who were all convicted of killing their children, Shonda Johnson’s crimes are strikingly different. A country girl who dropped out of school and couldn’t hold down a job, Shonda had a way with men. She made up stories about being a cheerleader and homecoming queen, and later told family she was working as a paramedic. Though she wasn’t a beauty, Shonda could make almost any man marry her, and this, in the end, is what landed her on death row. By 1997, Shonda had three husbands: Randy McCullar, William McIntyre, and Tim Richards. Randy was in the middle of filing for divorce, seeking custody of their child, and testifying before a grand jury in a bigamy case against Shonda. According to court records, Shonda got her newest husband, Tim, to slash Randy’s tires while he was at a bar. Then, Tim and Shonda followed Randy to a church parking lot, where Shonda handed Tim a deer rifle with which he fatally shot Randy. Tim testified against Shonda at her trial.
Two weeks before Shonda was sentenced to death, William McIntyre died of AIDS. In all, Shonda tore her way through five husbands, including the dead Randy McCullar, and left behind four children, all boys and all fathered by different men. Her inmate number is 00Z666.