Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?

Lucas in Court

The Lucas Grand Jury
The Lucas Grand Jury

Lucas was arraigned for the Orange Socks murder on August 2, 1983, but in a surprise turnaround on August 12 claimed that he was not guilty of Becky Powell's murder, despite his initial statements. At the end of September, he waived his right to a trial for the murder of Kate Rich and pled guilty, receiving a sentence of 75 years. The following month, his attorney asked the judge to consider throwing out Lucas's written and videotaped statements about his murder of Becky Powell. On the tape, Lucas was shown calmly describing how he'd killed and dismembered her, and had sexual contact with the corpse, so the judge decided the material would be admissible. In addition, the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity was denied. That left Lucas's defender with few options, but it was Lucas himself who proved to be his own defender's greatest hurdle.

Lucas not only went to trial that November but also testified on his own behalf, and seemed to hope to be convicted. His attorney was Tom Whitlock, who argued that Lucas had not intended to kill Becky. On the stand, a tearful Lucas admitted to Becky's murder but said he didn't know quite how it had happened and he was full of remorse over it. Then after he was convicted and received a life sentence, he congratulated the prosecutor with, "You did a good job." Lucas then issued a statement to the effect that he had not tried to win because he didn't want to. (Previously he had bragged to police that he was smart and could get out of anything if he wanted to.) His next trial would be for Orange Socks, but this time it would be a capital crime, where the death penalty was a possibility.

Before that occurred, Lucas got back in touch with an old friend and traveling partner, Ottis Toole. If not for Ottis, he'd never have met Becky.


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