April 25, 1990 |
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a condemned killer can gain his wish and be put to death without having his case appealed. But this 7-2 ruling has only minimal impact, since Arkansas is the only state which does not require that a death sentence automatically be reviewed by its highest state court. On Dec. 28, 1987, Ronald Gene Simmons went on a rampage in Russellville, Ark., randomly shooting and killing two persons and wounding three others.
January 3, 1988
Mourners of the 14 relatives police say were killed by R. Gene Simmons attended a memorial service in Russellville, Ark., for victims of America's worst family mass murder. The Rev. Royce Savage told 300 people gathered at the First Assembly of God Church that the killings left many fundamental questions unanswered. "Everybody wants to know why this, why them, why here and why that many," he said.
March 26, 1998 |
It was all so sudden, so random and unexpected. And yet it seemed to follow a familiar pattern, seemed to obey the rules of a strange new ritual emerging here in the rural South. For the third time in five months, it happened this way: First, students were inexplicably gunned down at the one place thought to be a sanctuary within the community, the local school. Then, frantic parents made a mad dash for the schoolyard, a frantic media horde hot on their heels.
June 12, 1999 |
The state of Arkansas will be able to keep the two Jonesboro school snipers in custody past their 18th birthdays after buying a former county prison, officials said. By taking over the former juvenile facility in southeast Arkansas, the state will be able to fulfill its legal requirement to keep the boys separate from younger offenders when they turn 18, but not send them to an adult prison.
March 27, 1998
The first thing they did Thursday at Westside Middle School was disconnect the fire alarm--the same one that lured four students and one teacher to their death in a barrage of gunfire. No lessons were taught, and all outdoor activities were canceled. Students made cards for the 11 people who were wounded. Also Thursday, police released eight minutes of frantic 911 calls made from the school after the shooting in which callers said gunfire was coming "from everywhere" and pleaded for help.
August 12, 1998 |
A few hours after celebrating his 14th birthday with a cake and family all around him, Mitchell Johnson stood before 170 people in a jam-packed courtroom here Tuesday afternoon and apologized for the murder of five people. "If I could go back and change what happened I'd do it in a minute," the boy said in a warbly voice, publicly admitting for the first time his role in the March 24 shooting spree at Westside Middle School that left four girls and a teacher dead, 10 others wounded.