Gary Sterling Execution
Navarro County, Texas


Law and Order Index || Corsicana Daily Sun


Gary Sterling, shown here being led to a January 2005 hearing, was executed Wednesday for the 1988 slaying of John Wesley Carty. He apologized repeatedly to the Carty family in his last moments.
Daily Sun file photo/SCOTT HONEA



8/7/2005 Sterling to be executed Wednesday

Daily Sun Staff

A 16-year trek through the U.S. legal system, beginning in Navarro County district court in 1989 and ending in the Supreme Court last month, ends Wednesday.
Barring an 11th-hour intervention, Gary Sterling, 38, will die by lethal injection in the death chamber at Huntsville’s notorious Walls Unit.

Sterling was convicted of the 1988 robbery and murder of 72-year-old John Wesley Carty, according to legal records.

He was first apprehended in connection with the murders of two elderly brothers in Hill County, three days after the Carty murder. Sterling admitted that Leroy and William M. Porter, 70 and 72 years old, had been repeatedly struck with “a wrecking bar.”

A Frost resident reported seeing Sterling and his brother, Randy Sterling, in possession of a silver Chevrolet Caprice matching the description of one stolen from the Porter brothers.

Randy Sterling was later apprehended, and Gary Sterling fled from the scene, as the pair were removing the motor from the vehicle.

Sterling would then admit to the slaying of Carty, directing Hill and Navarro county law enforcement officers to the body in an area near the Brushie Prairie community. It was later determined that Carty had been beaten to death with an automotive bumper jack.

Also found at the scene was the remains of Deloris June Smith. Both were reportedly abducted from Carty’s home.

Sterling has been incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections since his 1989 Navarro County conviction. He has went through a myriad of appeals, has had death dates set three times and had them stayed by the Supreme Court twice.
Moments after the second date was set in 2001, Sterling spoke with the Daily Sun for a few minutes.

The condemned man said he had come to terms with what he agreed was an inevitable outcome.

“You ain’t given any choice in that matter, so I’m pretty much OK with it,” Sterling said in a Oct. 30, 2001 Daily Sun article, moments after District Judge John Jackson signed the death warrant. “The life I’m living is rough, so I probably won’t pursue any appeals.”

Sterling said during the 2001 interview he really couldn’t explain how he feels having lived under the knowledge that someday the state would take his life, adding that “it would probably take 15 or 20 minutes of thinking about it before I could answer that ... (and) I’m not sure how I feel about it.”

Set for a Dec. 4, 2001 execution, it left him with about five weeks of life remaining.
Or so he thought.

Although Sterling had asserted he would pursue no more appeals, another round through the courts yielded his second, and last, stay of execution.

In mid November 2004, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted a reprieve.

Former Navarro County District Attorney Pat Batchelor, in a Nov. 24, 2001 Daily Sun article, had said it is not necessarily the condemned man that files an appeal.

“There are certain lawyers, certain groups ... that are so opposed to the death penalty that they would be opposed to the death penalty for Osama bin Laden or Hitler,” Batchelor said in 2001. “So they’re going to fight (a death sentence) all they can ... no matter what.

“And (Sterling’s lawyer) gets paid pretty good, makes a pretty good living doing it.”

But in January this year, a third death date was set — for May 25. Although Sterling would get a reprieve of sorts, no official reprieve with more appeals will likely come.
After the May 25 date was set, it was decided since Judge Jackson — who picked the time — had once testified briefly in a 1989 hearing concerning Sterling, it could be deemed a conflict of interest for Jackson to be involved in the process.
Jackson was once first assistant district attorney under Batchelor’s watch.

A visiting judge would set what appears to be the final date for Sterling ... Aug. 10.
Next Wednesday. Sterling declined a chance to talk with the Daily Sun this time.
Former Navarro County Sheriff’s Office Chief Don Barron had several years of off and on contact with Sterling.

“I had known Gary since he was a kid, since he was about 14 years old,” said Barron in 2001. “He had been a pretty good kid until he got mixed up in drugs.”
Batchelor expressed a different impression and opinion of Sterling.

“I tried this case in ’89, Gary Sterling had at that time been convicted of two murders — this was the third — and was the major suspect in a fourth,” Batchelor said, also in 2001. “He’s as cold-blooded a killer as you’re ever going to see in this county ...

“This guy was as scary a guy that we’ve ever had in a courtroom in Navarro County — bar none.”


Loyd Cook may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]
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8/11/2005 Convicted killer executed for 1988 slaying of 72-year-old

Gary Sterling, shown here being led to a January 2005 hearing, was executed Wednesday for the 1988 slaying of John Wesley Carty. He apologized repeatedly to the Carty family in his last moments.
Daily Sun file photo/SCOTT HONEA

Daily Sun Staff

HUNTSVILLE — Jovial and matter-of-fact, 38-year-old Gary Lynn Sterling made his apologies to the children of the man he beat to death 17 years ago, then asked the prison chaplain to say a brief prayer before he was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday.

Sterling was convicted in 1989 by a Navarro County jury for the 1988 slaying of 72-year-old John Wesley Carty and sentenced to death, and pleaded guilty to murder in two Hill County cases in exchange for life sentences. There was one other killing with which he was connected with but never tried.

“I wished I could do something to replace your father, your loved one, but I can’t,” said Sterling to the five Carty family members in attendance. “I know this was a heinous crime. I just wish I could get him back.”

The two daughters and three sons of Carty were silent as the lethal drugs began flowing at 6:09 p.m. into Sterling’s arm. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. by the attending physician.

The U.S. Supreme Court had denied last-ditch appeals about an hour before, removing the last obstacle to the execution.

Carty’s family members told victim assistance officials they did not wish to speak to the press or issue a statement after the execution.
The lack of comment is in character with comments about the victims’ families made by Pat Batchelor, the Navarro County district attorney at the time of Sterling’s prosecution.

“They’re hard working people, they’re not going to cause a stir,” Batchelor said of the families in a Daily Sun article published Wednesday. “They didn’t demand justice or try to twist your arm. When you come in contact with that kind of people, you just want to make the system work for them.”

Sterling smiled throughout the last handful of minutes in his life, remarking “I can only say I’m sorry” before asking prison chaplain Larry Hart to say a brief prayer for him and for the victim’s family members.

The condemned man kept the smile on his face throughout the words offered by Hart, as he lay on the gurney he was strapped to, eyes closed.

As the drugs began their three-minute dosage, Sterling said, “I’ll put in a good word for everybody.”

A few, muted sputterings came from his lips as his last breaths left his body.

Sterling was apprehended in May 1988, located after a tip led police to a Blooming Grove residence where he was found hiding in the attic. Law enforcement at that time was looking for him in connection with the Hill County double-murders of Leroy and William M. Porter, both in their early 70s.

Three days later, he took Navarro and Hill county officers to an area in the northwestern portion Navarro County where Carty’s remains were found. The body of a fourth victim who lived with Carty, Deloris June Smith, 52, was found a day later.

Legal records indicate Sterling took Carty’s car, a TV, a shotgun and lantern. A purse and some glasses belonging to Smith were found at Sterling’s home.

He was never tried in connection with Smith’s killing.

According to a report by The Associated Press, police believed Sterling wanted Carty’s car to sell in order to buy crack cocaine.

“He was looking for enough to just buy some rocks,” Hill County Sheriff Brent Button told The Associated Press this week.

Navarro County law enforcement officials said, in private conversations with the Daily Sun this week, they remembered Sterling as having a habit in the $200- to $300-a-day range.

Wednesday’s execution marks the end of a 17-year march through the Texas and national judicial system. It also marks the end of a man some thought was one of the most frightening produced in Navarro County.

“He was just one of those people who come along ... it really wasn’t a serial killing because they were too close together,” Batchelor said in the Daily Sun’s article Wednesday. “But it was the closest thing we’ve had here. He was just so bad.”

Originally published in the Corsicana Daily Sun
May 13, 2005

Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun || Articles Index

All rights to this story reserved. Copyright Corsicana Daily Sun and Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc,. Content  may not be archived, retransmitted, saved in a database, or used for any commercial purpose without the express written permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun and CNHI.

A former farm worker from central Texas was executed this evening for using a car bumper jack to fatally beat and rob a man during a violent spree 17 years ago that authorities said left three other people dead. Gary Sterling, 38, was condemned for the beating death of John Carty, 72, killed in May 1988 at his home in Navarro County near Corsicana. Prosecutors also had evidence tying him to the slaying of Delores Smith, 52, a friend of Carty's whose purse and glasses were found at Sterling's home, although he was not tried for the woman's death. Sterling led police to their bodies after he was arrested for the slayings of William Porter, 72, and Porter's brother, Leroy, 71, at their home in Hill County, about 35 miles northeast of Waco. He pleaded guilty to their slayings and received two life prison terms. Authorities said Sterling knew the four victims, who all were fatally beaten. Evidence showed Sterling, who was 20 at the time, took Carty's car, a TV, shotgun and a lantern. Police said he sold the car for cash he needed to buy crack cocaine. "He was looking for enough to just buy some rocks," Hill County Sheriff Brent Button said. Sterling's lawyers were in the courts in the hours before his scheduled execution trying to block the punishment, arguing in appeals that Navarro County jurors were given flawed instructions when they decided in 1989 Sterling should be put to death. Sterling had managed to elude police the night the Porter brothers were killed when they spotted him stripping Leroy Porter's car. Acting on a tip, he was arrested the following day as he hid in the attic of his home in Blooming Grove, a town of about 800 some 15 miles west of Corsicana. While in jail in Hillsboro, Button said Sterling gained notoriety for trashing his cell, tearing up steel jail fixtures officials had been told were indestructible. Sterling, who declined to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his scheduled lethal injection, also was remembered for a physical training regimen where he would do push-ups for hours. "I've prosecuted a number of capital case, but this guy really scared me," Pat Batchelor, the former Navarro County district attorney who prosecuted Sterling's capital murder case, said. In earlier appeals, he argued unsuccessfully his intent to kill Carty wasn't clear because he didn't bring a deadly weapon with him and that he only struck Carty once. State lawyers responded that if Sterling only wanted to rob Carty, there wasn't any need to bash in the man's head with the jack. Another previous appeal focused on comments from a juror at his trial who was portrayed as racist for using an epithet to describe black people. The juror was white. Sterling is black. At a later hearing, the juror said use of the racially insensitive term didn't make him a racist and he didn't consider himself a racist. Federal appeals courts agreed and denied the appeal.


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