Additional cases pending against convicted capital murderer Elroy Chester apparently will remain on the shelf until all his appeals in the 1998 shooting death of Port Arthur firefighter Willie Ryman III are exhausted.
Court procedure had dictated that a hearing be set this week, but because the appeals still are active, the hearing was canceled. The 42-year-old death row inmate is being represented in his appeals by the Alaska law firm of Feldman, Orlansky and Sanders.
According to the firm’s website, Chester has a history of having been diagnosed by Texas schools and prisons as mentally retarded. Attorneys are trying to establish that his death sentence is unconstitutional because the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of mentally retarded offenders.
Chester’s two murder and capital murder charges stem from the Sept. 20, 1997 shooting death of John Henry Sepeda, 78; the Nov. 15, 1997 slaying of Etta Mae Stallings, 87; the Nov. 20, 1997 death of Cheryl DeLeon, 40; and the Dec. 21, 1997 death of Albert Bolden Jr., Chester’s brother-in-law.
Chester admitted killing the four. In the Ryman case, after Chester pleaded guilty, it only took a Jefferson County jury 12 minutes to sentence Chester to death.
Ryman was killed on Feb. 6, 1998 in his sister’s Port Arthur home while trying to stop Chester from sexually assaulting his teenage nieces. Chester then took jewelry from the home and fled, according to the prosecution case.
Chester testified in his trial against the advice of his defense attorneys, Doug Barlow and Layne Walker, according to Enterprise reports from the time.
Chester said on the stand that his sexual assault victims were “lucky they ain’t dead” and that he had “a whole lot of fun” committing crimes.
He told jurors if they gave him the death penalty he would order his “homeboys” to kill a Port Arthur police officer. If he received a life sentence, he said he would kill a guard in prison.
I say give him the death penalty just for those 2 last statements.
The courts have already ruled that he is not retarded.
February 28, 2007
Thompson said that nothing in Chester’s background tests indicated mental retardation.
“By the findings presented in court, it was obvious by his adaptive behavior that he was not mentally retarded. You have to look at more than IQ scores, but at his behavior indicators. He functions normally and was never diagnosed as mentally retarded, but only that he was learning disabled, which is not the same thing at all,” Thompson said.
One of Chester’s IQ tests when he was a student in Port Arthur public schools did show that he was mildly mentally retarded, but another test also showed him with an IQ above 70, considered the threshold for retardation. When he was 18 and in prison for three burglary convictions, a Texas Department of Corrections test put his IQ at 69.
While finding evidence of “subaverage intellectual functioning persuasive,” the appeals court noted Chester did not show any deficits in his adaptive behavior, which the judges acknowledged while “inherently subjective (in) nature, is consistently the most problematic issue for factfinders to resolve when dealing with these types of claims,” according to an Associated Press story on the hearing.
“The Supreme Court really never gave solid guidelines (on determining mental retardation), and the court of Criminal Appeals has been struggling with that,” Thompson said.
The court specifically pointed to Chester’s actions when he offered to lead Port Arthur police to the gun used in his crimes. When police, acting on his directions, couldn’t find a gun he insisted was unloaded and hidden in a hole in a ceiling, he took his handcuffed and shackled hands in an opposite direction in the hole and attempted to pull out a gun officers found was fully loaded.
He is not mentally deficient, he is a predator and a jackass.
Even before Chester’s arrest, Port Arthur police had recognized that the series of recent burglaries, assaults, rapes and murders in the Port Arthur area shared a similar modus operandi. For instance, at many of the burglarized homes, Chester would cut the telephone lines, unscrew outdoor security lights, and wear a mask to conceal his identity.
The evidence later presented in trial suggested that Chester used the .380 pistol in the shooting deaths of Willie Ryman, John Sepeda, Cheryl DeLeon, Etta Stallings, and Albert Bolden. Shell casings found at the crime scenes and bullets removed from the victims bodies matched characteristics of the pistol found in Chester’s home.
Chester had also attempted to use some object to alter the physical characteristics of the barrel and had filed off the serial number.
The Port Arthur police arrested him. While in custody, and after being asked to provide a blood sample, Chester told investigator Timothy Smith that he would take him to where the gun that was used in the crime was located. Chester knew Smith and seemed to trust him more than he did the other officers. Smith, two other investigators from the District Attorney’s office, and two local detectives then accompanied Chester to his father’s house. He was wearing a jail jumpsuit, as well as leg restraints attached by a chain to another chain around his waist, which in turn connected to a pair of handcuffs, thereby shackling his wrists to his waist, such that his mobility was extremely limited.
Upon reaching his father’s house, Chester attempted to move ahead of the others. Smith had admonished him that he would not be allowed to handle or touch the gun himself, but Chester insisted that he would have to locate the gun personally because it was in a place that was difficult to reach. He assured the detective that the gun was unloaded, and that he himself was the only one who would be able to reach it.
Chester led the others to his bedroom and, despite efforts to prevent him from moving ahead too quickly, walked over near his bed and dragged a small nightstand to a position directly underneath a hole in the ceiling. He began to climb on top of the nightstand, but was quickly told to stop. One of the investigators, Reginald Rose, climbed on top of the nightstand to look in the hole, and Chester directed him to look in a specific direction for the gun. Rose looked and reached around inside the hole as directed by Chester, but could not find the gun. Chester then climbed atop the same nightstand where Rose was standing and, while continuing to direct Rose to look in the same direction he had previously indicated, attempted to reach with his shackled hands in the opposite direction from where he had told Rose to look.
Smith had been watching him the entire time and, when he saw Chester reach with his hands in the other direction, drew his gun and ordered him to stop moving. He was taken down from the nightstand and escorted to sit on a nearby couch. Smith then climbed atop the nightstand himself and looked in the direction where the applicant had attempted to reach. He immediately saw the gun and retrieved it. The gun was fully loaded.
After being sentenced to death, the lawyer’s for Chester sought relief from the sentence on the ground that he was mentally retarded and it would be cruel and unusual punishment to put him to death. The court in which he was convicted found the evidence insufficient to support the claim.
The trial court also found that Chester was capable of hiding facts and lying to protect his own interests, as demonstrated by the episode in which he told the investigators that he would take them to where he had hidden his gun, all the while apparently planning to get to the gun himself before the investigators could. Finally, the court found that the specifics of the various crimes to which he confessed, including the use of masks and gloves, his practice of cutting exterior phone lines before entering homes to burglarize, and his deliberate targeting of victims like Cheryl DeLeon and his brother-in-law Albert Bolden, showed persuasively that he was capable of forethought, planning, and complex execution of purpose.
More info about the crimes and the killer.
It is disturbing that a ‘man’ like this can claim to be retarded yet manipulate the justice system the ways that he has.
An Article from 2004 when another judge ruled Chester was not retarded. It also quotes family members of his victims.
Walter Bell’s family is celebrating today’s decision, but the family of Elroy Chester told KFDM News it isn’t ready to talk about Judge Charles Carver’s ruling.
Judge Carver decided Chester is not mentally retarded based on guidelines for the State of Texas.
Chester confessed to killing five people during a five month killing spree.
He was sentenced to death for killing Port Arthur firefighter Willie Ryman III.
Camille Eaton spoke with Ryman’s family about today’s decision.
Willie Ryman, Jr./Victim’s Father:
“He didn’t care who he killed. He killed and raped anybody.”
Just in case you wondered, he has found Christ, how special. He is also looking for pen pals!
My name is Elroy Chester. I’m an african American man who has been on Texas Death Row since 1998. I’n of light complexion with dark brown eyes. I’m 5’11” and 190 pounds. I’m from Port Arthur TX and i was born June 14th 1969. During my years of incarceration I’ve turned my life over to Christ. Some of my interests include music from the 80′s (Rap and R&B) Movies (Drama, Action and Horror), Basketball, Checkers and Dominoes. I’m looking for a friend. Someone who is willing to communicate openly and who is caring and has the time to dedicate to writing in order to build a friendship.
Having a real friend on the outside can be a big support for one in a position like mine. I also want to be able to be supportive of yo while we share our good and bad times. But I’d prefer those close to my age range (38/44) Race is not a factor. I look forward to exchanging many letters. Hope to hear from you soon. I prefer to write to a woman (note from me; aka future victim)in (38/44) and I would like to ask you if you could write in print please. (Note from me Hahahaha!!) I would love to write to a person from Switzerland or France
If you actually want to write this monster you will have to find the address and link yourself. Sorry. I am going to give the link.