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Man Gets Death Penalty for Killing 4 in Ala. Video Store

June 13, 2003|From Associated Press

ANNISTON, Ala. — A man who allegedly said he got a thrill out of killing was sentenced to death Thursday for the gunshot slayings of four men during a holdup at a video store last year.

The shootings by Donald Ray Wheat, 49, capped a two-state robbery spree that also left a Georgia man dead and two Alabama women injured, authorities said.

Wheat pleaded guilty in the May 2002 slayings at a Blockbuster store. He went on trial anyway because Alabama law requires the presentation of evidence in capital cases. Wheat testified that he killed only one of the four men and that his former girlfriend, Tina Hooper Duke, was responsible for the other three slayings.

While not charged in the Anniston case, Duke, 43, is accused of taking part in two other holdups committed during the crime spree. A pistol left at the Blockbuster was traced to her, authorities said.

Duke testified that Wheat told her he got a thrill after killing Travis Richardson during the robbery of his store in Bowdon, Ga., the week before the Anniston slayings.

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