STARKE, Fla. (AP) — As the execution drugs were being administered, inmate Eric Scott Branch let out a blood-curdling scream. Then he yelled “murderers! murderers! murderers!” as he thrashed on a gurney as he was being put to death for the 1993 rape and slaying of a college student.
The drugs included a powerful sedative Thursday evening and the 47-year-old inmate turned silent after one guttural groan. Minutes earlier, he had just been addressing corrections officers, saying it should fall to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his attorney general to carry out the death sentence — not to those workers present.
“Let them come down here and do it,” Branch said. “I’ve learned that you’re good people and this is not what you should be doing.”
Branch was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. Thursday after receiving the injection at Florida State Prison in Starke. The governor’s office made the announcement.
Asked later whether Branch’s scream could have been caused by the execution drugs, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said “there was no indication” that the inmate’s last actions were a result of the injection procedure. She said that conclusion had been confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Branch was convicted of raping and fatally beating University of West Florida student Susan Morris, 21. Her naked body was found buried in a shallow grave — a crime whose brutality was noted by the Florida Supreme Court in denying one of Branch’s appeals.
“She had been beaten, stomped, sexually assaulted and strangled. She bore numerous bruises and lacerations, both eyes were swollen shut,” the justices wrote.
Evidence in the case shows Branch approached Morris after she left a night class on Jan. 11, 1993, so he could steal her red Toyota and return to his home state of Indiana. He was arrested while traveling there.
Branch also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Indiana and of another sexual assault in the Florida Panhandle that took place just 10 days before Morris was killed, court records show.
The jury in his murder case recommended the death penalty by a 10-2 vote under Florida’s old capital punishment system, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. The high court said juries must reach a unanimous recommendation for death and judges cannot overrule that. Florida legislators subsequently changed the system to comply.
One of Branch’s final and unsuccessful appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court involved whether he deserved a new sentencing hearing because of that jury’s 10-2 vote in his 1994 trial. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the new system of sentencing did not apply to inmates sentenced to death before 2002.
Elsewhere, Texas’ governor spared a convicted killer’s life shortly before the inmate was to have been executed Thursday for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother. Gov. Greg Abbott accepted the state parole board’s rare clemency recommendation and commuted the sentence of Thomas “Bart” Whitaker to life without parole. Whitaker’s father also was shot in the 2003 plot at the family’s suburban Houston home but survived. He led an effort to save his son from execution.
And in Alabama, Doyle Lee Hamm was sentenced to die Thursday evening for the 1987 death of a motel clerk during a robbery. Hamm fought his death sentence, arguing there was a risk of a botched execution because of damage to his veins from lymphoma and other illnesses. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday evening temporarily delayed the lethal injection procedure.
In Florida, relatives of victim Susan Morris said they remain profoundly grieved by her violent death. Though Morris was 21 when she was killed, more time has passed than the number of years she lived, the family statement said. Still, the pain remains.
“Twenty-five years ago, Susan’s life was suddenly and brutally extinguished. We have grieved for her longer that she was with us. Yet because of who she was … she will never be forgotten by those who love her,” said the statement, read out by her sister Wendy Morris Hill shortly after Branch was put to death.
Explosion in Austin, $100,000 reward for suspect(s)
Two men have suffered serious injuries Sunday night after an explosion was reported in Southwestern Austin, Texas, according to emergency workers.
Officials have not confirmed whether the explosion was a result of a packaged bomb but three heard blast over the past month in Austin have killed two people and critically wounded at least two women.
Tonight’s explosion occurred on Dawn Song Drive, according to Austin-Travis County EMS Twitter account. “At this incident and are prepping those patients for transport.”
Two men who are believed to be in their 20’s were injured, according to investigators adding that the injuries were not expected to be life-threatening.
Austin police said the reward for information leading to an arrest in the deadly explosions has risen by $50,000 to a new total of $100,000. More than 500 officers, including federal agents, have conducted 236 interviews following up 435 leads.
BUSTED!!! It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame, Keep It Southern Construction owner accused of scam
A dirty, low-down construction company owner is being investigated by law enforcement after he was accused of scamming over 100 people over a number of years.
YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. DIRTY AND LOW-DOWN!
Dennis Ray Rose, 39, currently of Marshallberg, NC, this according to new “business” paperwork, has allegedly had many fake unlicensed businesses, but two of them allowed for an extremely lavish life, until NOW!
Many customers of “Always A Rose Construction”, previously based out of Onslow County, which has been renamed “Keep It Southern Construction”, and is now based in Marshallberg, NC, told News In Onslow that they would pay Rose for work that he never completed. He would make excuses as to why he was unable to complete the job and when asked for a refund, he would threaten the customer with legal action claiming that the customer was in breach of contract because they failed to allow him to “perform his services” in a time frame he deemed acceptable.
After investigating this scam, News In Onslow learned that Rose would go to the “Camp Lejeune Online yard Sales!” Facebook group and advertise his business suggesting that his company offered “the lowest prices around”. This was part of his scam that was used to lure customers in and convince them that the work they needed was not as expensive as they thought. He would also advertise jobs with his company claiming that he was in need of workers that were “dependable and have knowledge of all construction.”
Once Rose found his next unsuspecting victim, he would allegedly meet with them and show them “fake papers that he was licensed” knowing full well that he was not. Customers were required to pay a 50% deposit up front for the total cost of the job, Rose would start the work but it was never finished.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Rose currently have 4 complaints filed against him, in which one complaint states: “I have a contract with this business to paint and do repairs on my house. They did bad work, never finished the job and they were paid $1,650 I have a contract with this company to paint and do repairs on my house, they did bad work and never did all repairs. I have tried several times to get them to finish their work. I keep being told they will come out and they never show up. A guy they sent to work on my house was smoking weed in my backyard. I paid them $1650 in cash and they have not been back to finish. I will have to hire another contractor to redo everything they have done. I want my $1,650 returned.”
Another complainant, according to the Better Business Bureau said that Rose company “took payment for work never completed. Took 1400 to disassemble move be reassemble a pool and install electrical line to pool equipment. Dissembles and moved pool. Has never come back. Disconnected his phone service. Won’t respond to my communication.”
You can read the other complaints at https://www.bbb.org/raleigh-durham/business-reviews/home-improvement/always-a-rose-construction-in-morehead-city-nc-90291474
News In Onslow reached out to both Rose and his girlfriend, Tammy, for a statement and they adamantly denied the allegations.
Local authorities have confirmed with News In Onslow that Rose has had numerous complaints made against him and that the case is currently in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office.
BUSTED! Local Veteran Thrift Store of America doors close following owner’s exposure of multiple SCANDALS
A man that many thought they could trust is now going down BIG TIME!
The owner of both the Veteran Thrift Store of America, located at 709 New Bridge Street in Downtown Jacksonville and the Pink Ribbon Caffe, located at 411 N Main Street, in Downtown Tarboro, Myron McCutcheon, is under fire for fraud, embezzlement, drug allegations, unpaid employees, rejected 501(c) 3 and possible tax evasion.
McCutcheon told many in the Onslow and Edgecombe communities that he had been medically discharged from the United States Marine Corps, but citizens later found out that he is dishonest and he was actually dishonorably discharged as a (Private) following drug charges.
After his dishonorable discharge, McCutcheon purported to be a Veteran of varying ranks, which ranged from Private to Gunnery Sergeant. It appeared that his rank was actually “Stolen Valor”, and according to “The Stolen Valor Act” of 2013, “it is a federal crime to fraudulently claim to be a recipient of certain military decorations or medals in order to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits”. While it appeared to be beneficial to the community, nothing was free.
McCutcheon’s aid to the community came at the cost of inflated Facebook reviews to boost his reputation. According to the former CEO of the Veteran Thrift Store of America, this was the only circumstance in which McCutcheon would assist community members. He claimed that he wanted to create a way to give back to the veterans who served and even those that continued to serve as first responders.
The thrift store opened in March of 2017 and sources say that McCutcheon used the title of “Veteran” to obtain donations and scam people to help support his illegitimate charity. News In Onslow spoke to the landlord of 709 New Bridge Street on Friday afternoon who confirmed that McCutcheon will be served with an eviction notice in the coming weeks but what will happen to the donations remains unknown.
In April of 2017, McCutcheon registered “American Heroes of Valor Corporation” as a 501 (C) 3 with the State of North Carolina and was approved but the IRS rejected his application. During that time, he attempted to attach “Veteran Thrift Store of America” to the “American Heroes of Valor Corporation” and began accepting donations for veterans knowing that it was illegal.
After “Veteran Thrift Store of America” closed, McCutcheon took his scam to Tarboro where he launched the “Pink Ribbon Caffe”, for which he says he came up with the idea of opening because he wanted to help cancer victims who were struggling with to pay their bills. Sources tell News In Onslow, that all proceeds are not going to anyone other than McCutcheon to fund his, alleged, drug and alcohol use.
In a recently published article by the Tar River Times, they mention that the employees of the Pink Ribbon Cafe“started catching onto McCutcheon’s antics, and the multiple lies that began to surface that McCutcheon had been caught in.” Supporters of McCutcheon were astonished when they found out that he lied about the Pink Ribbon Cafe being registered as a non-profit 501(C) 3.
Sometime later, after the Pink Ribbon Cafe official launch February 23, 2017, Tarboro Police discovered that McCutcheon had a three-year-old warrant for failure to appear on a driving while license revoked charge in Onslow County. He claims that it was his attorney’s fault for not doing his job which was to take care of the charges on his behalf. After further investigation, officials stated that he was not represented by an attorney in that case.
Days later, McCutcheon was arrested again by Tarboro Police after Detective Sgt. Brandon Richardson launched an investigation and concluded that McCutcheon refused to pay his employees. He has been charged with three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.
Two of McCutcheon’s former employees resigned from his companies last week in light of these new allegations and charges.
READ RESIGNATIONS BELOW:
To FOLLOW all the latest on McCutcheon, here is the Veteran Thrift Store of America Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VeteranThriftStoreofAmerica/
McCutcheon is scheduled to appear in Edgecombe County Court on the three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses March 21, 2018.