Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?
The trial for the murder of the victim known only as Orange Socks took place in March in San Angelo, Texas. District Attorney Ed Walsh was the chief prosecutor, while Don Higginbotham and Parker McCollough defended Lucas. The case was to be heard before Judge John Carter, who had recently presided over the trial of nurse Genene Jones for the murder of a child.
The trial began with reports of how the victim had been murdered, including Lucas's edited confession. In a written statement and on tape, he had described how he'd picked her up as a hitchhiker, had sex with her, killed her, had sex again, and dumped her in the culvert, skinning his knee on a guard rail. A videotape showed Lucas directing police officers to where he had dropped the victim's body.
However, the defense attorneys proved that the unedited tape revealed that Lucas sometimes contradicted himself and suffered from key lapses in memory. The sheriff even had had to refresh his memory at times during the interview, which suggested that Lucas simply "read" the sheriff's desire for information and gave him what he wanted. The defense also used work records to show the Lucas had been in Florida on October 31 and had cashed a check on November 1, and they tied it all up with psychiatric testimony to show that Lucas was insane. Psychologist Tom Kubiszyn said that Lucas had an IQ of 84, a desire to feel important, a feeling of inferiority, and a belief that he could not direct his own actions. He also had schizophrenia. Lucas cried in court when he heard all this, forcing a recess.
The prosecution hit back with evidence that suggested that Lucas's boss might have recorded his presence at work when he was not there. They also supplied psychiatric testimony that Lucas was not insane. In addition, on one of the tapes, Lucas claimed 360 murders: "We killed 'em most every way there is except poison," detailing exactly what he meant.
Despite the defense's best efforts, not the least of which was a client who had proved most helpful to the other side, the jury convicted Lucas and sentenced him to die. Afterward, he seemed unfazed, even happy. It was if he'd finally become someone of importance. Yet not everyone who had been at the trial agreed with the verdict. It seemed that Lucas only knew key facts about the crime after the sheriff had "refreshed" his memory. "It was the worst confession," said Hugh Aynesworth, a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald, who decided to do some more digging.