Thursday, September 22, 2011

Betty Lou Beets, Texas Double Black Widow – 1985

Husband #1 –Robert Franklin Branson; marry Jul. 18, 1952; divorce 1969

Husband #2 – Billy York Lane, marry Jul. 28, 1970; divorce 1970
Husband #3 – Billy York Lane, remarried; shoots him Jan. 18, 1970; divorce 1970
Husband #4 – Ronnie C. Threlkold; marry Feb. 16, 1978; in 1978 tries to run him over with car; divorce 1979
Husband #5 – Doyle Wayne Barker; marries Oct. 3, 1979; (separated 7 weeks later); divorce Jul. 22, 1980; murdered by gunshot; body found buried under a graage.
Husband #6 – Jimmy Don Beets; married Aug. 19, 1982; murdered by gunshot (convicted).


Wikipedia: Betty Lou Beets (March 12, 1937 – February 24, 2000) was a murderer executed in the U.S. state of Texas. She was convicted of shooting her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets, on August 6, 1983.

~ Early life

Born Betty Lou Dunevant to Margaret Louise (née Smithwick) and James Garland Dunevant, Beets was hearing-impaired since her childhood and claimed she was sexually abused by her father. All of her marriages were also plagued with sexual abuse and domestic violence. Beets' claims of domestic violence and sexual abuse occurred well after her conviction and sentence of death.

Beets had a criminal history prior to her arrest for murder, including public lewdness, and shooting a former husband in the side of the stomach. Married five times, Beets shot her second husband twice in the back of the head and tried to run over her third husband with her car. Both men survived and testified at her trial.

~ Crime

On August 6, 1983, Beets reported that her husband was missing from their home near Cedar Creek Lake in Henderson County, Texas. Her son, Robert Branson, would later testify that Beets had said that she intended to kill her husband and told her son to leave the house. On returning to the house two hours later, he found Jimmy Don Beets dead with two gunshot wounds. He helped his mother conceal the body in the front yard of the house, after which Beets telephoned the police.

According to her son, Beets put some of Jimmy Don's heart medication in his fishing boat the next day. Branson and Beets then left the boat in the lake. It was found on August 12, 1983, washed ashore near the Redwood Beach Marina, after three weeks of unsuccessful searching by law enforcement officials.

In 1985, information was received by the Henderson County Sheriff that led to enough evidence to arrest Beets for the murder on June 8. A search warrant was issued and a search of Beets' home found the remains of Jimmy Don. Also found buried in a garage were the remains of Doyle Wayne Barker, another former husband of Beets. Both had been shot with a .38 caliber pistol. She was never tried for Barker's murder. Jimmy Don Beets was her fifth husband. She was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

~ Trial and procedural history

Her trial for the murder for remuneration and the promise of remuneration of Jimmy Don Beets began on July 11, 1985 in the 173rd District Court of Henderson County. She pleaded not guilty and claimed that two of her children had committed the murders. She was found guilty on October 11. The evidence of abuse was never presented to the court. During the separate penalty phase three days later, she was sentenced to death. Beets was Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Death Row # 810. She was received by the Texas Department of Corrections on October 14, 1985. She was incarcerated in the Mountain View Unit.

An automatic appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals first overturned the conviction, saying that insurance and pension benefits were not the same as remuneration. The State requested a rehearing on September 21, 1988 and this time the Court ruled the conviction and sentence should stand. Ten years of appeals followed. The Supreme Court of the United States denied a writ of certiorari on June 26, 1989, and an execution date was set for November 8. On November 1, she received a stay from the trial court after she filed a state habeas petition. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied this request on June 27, 1990, leading to a second execution date of December 6.

A federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed three days before her scheduled execution and the federal district court granted a stay of execution on December 4. Throughout the first half of 1991, evidentiary hearings were held and on May 9 the court granted relief on one of Beets's claims, but denied all others. The United States Court of Appeals upheld the decision on March 18, 1993, but also overturned the one claim that had been granted relief. The case was sent to a federal district court and on September 2, 1998, it denied her habeas corpus relief. After her appeals were denied throughout 1999, an execution date was set for February 24, 2000.

~ Execution

She was executed by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m. CST on February 24th, 2000 in the Huntsville Unit. She did not request a final meal, nor did she make a final statement. She was the second woman executed in the state after the reintroduction of the death penalty. At the time of the execution, she was 62 years old, and had five children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


FULL TEXT: Huntsville, Texas — A 62-year-old woman was executed by injection Thursday after Gov. George W. Bush rejected her claim that she killed her fifth husband in self-defense and deserved a reprieve.

Betty Lou Beets became the fourth woman to be executed in the United States since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed the death penalty to resume. She was the second woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. She gave no final statement as she lay strapped lo the death chamber gurney. She made no eye contact with the victim's family, but smiled at relatives watching through a window al her side. She continued smiling as she slipped into unconsciousness.

Death penalty opponents and domestic violence organizations had urged Bush to grant Beets a 30-day delay, arguing it would be consistent with his description of himself as a "compassionate conservative" in his presidential campaign.

The delay was Bush's only option, since the slate parole board did not recommend that her sentence be commuted to life in prison.

During his 5 1/2 years as governor, 120 convicted killers have been executed in Texas. He has spared one condemned inmate.

"After careful review of the evidence of the case, I concur with the jury that Betty Lou Beets is guilty of this murder," Bush said in a written statement after returning to Texas from California, where he was campaigning for the Republican nomination.

"I'm confident that the courts, both state and federal, have thoroughly reviewed all the issues raised by the defendant"

Beets and her lawyers insisted the former bartender-waitress, convicted of fatally shooting fifth husband Jimmy Don Beets nearly 17 years ago and burying his body under a flower garden, was the victim of years of domestic abuse and should be allowed to live.

On Thursday the 5th US. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected an appeal that accused the state of not following its own rules in reviewing Beets' case. The arguments were dismissed

Wednesday by a federal judge in Austin as a delay tactic Beets' lawyers also took the
matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected it without comment.

According to the governor's office, Bush had received 2,108 phone calls and letters opposing Beets' execution by Thursday afternoon, and 57 calls and letters favoring it

"A decision to stay the execution of Ms. Beets would demonstrate your compassionate conservatism and that you are willing to do what is right even in the face of potential criticism from your constituents," the Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote Bush on Thursday.

Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty implored to Bush grant a reprieve "so evidence of her being battered ... may be fully evaluated.

"Far from receiving careful consideration the role of domestic abuse in Betty's crime has been continually swept under the rug, by the Texas court system, Hawkins said.

Before Beets, the last woman executed in Texas was Karla Faye Tucker, on Feb. 3, 1998. Tucker hacked two people to death with a pickax but said she had a religious conversion in prison and appealed for mercy. Bush was criticized for mocking Tucker in a magazine interview last year. 

Beets was the ninth convicted killer and the second in as many days to be executed in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.

She spent Thursday morning meeting with relatives. She declined to request a final meal.

Although Beets insisted she was innocent, a jury convicted her of killing Jimmy Don Beets, a Dallas Fire Department captain, to collect his life insurance" and pension.

Her claims of domestic abuse surfaced only recently and were not a factor in her 1985 trial, although one of her daughters, Faye Lane, in a tearful plea for her mother's life, said this week her mother, was acting in self-defense after years of abuse.

"I know that if the jury heard the truth about my momma, she only could have done something like this if she'd been very scared or threatened," Lane said.

[“Texas woman executed for killing her husband,” syndicated (AP), Logansport Pharos Tribune (In.), Feb. 25, 2000, p. A-12]



More: Champion Black Widow Serial Killers



For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


1 comment:

  1. She had a history of shooting men or doing something to them. She tried to blame her own children. I think she was the abuser. Though I do believe women tend to pick men that are comfortable to them, even when it's negative, and they were abused as children, I don't find her credible.