Last Meals, Part Nine

This is the Ninth part of the  Last Meals series on Historydojo. Please find Part Eight here, or start reading the Last Meals Series at the beginning by reading Part One here.

Gerald MitchellGerald Mitchell

“Gerald Mitchell, 33, was executed by lethal injection on 22 October in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a man who tried to buy marijuana from him.”1

This doesn’t make sense at first. A simple marijuana buy shouldn’t end in a murder. Mitchell was young, and his victims were older. Mitchell was a drug dealer, most likely accustomed to having some authority in his neighborhood. As a petty drug dealer, he was important in a small and local way, and important only to a few people who wanted to buy from him.

download“In June 1985, Charles Marino, 20, and his brother-in-law, Kenneth Fleming, 15, went to a Houston park to buy marijuana. They met Mitchell, then 17, who offered to sell to them.”2

Nothing too crazy at this point. Mitchell is just a kid, not even old enough to be out of high school. He was selling drugs in a park; something that he had probably done before to any anonymous clients.

Why else sell in the park, unless you were looking for anonymity.

“Mitchell and an unidentified accomplice got in Marino’s car. Mitchell then pulled a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun on the men and forced them to drive to a vacant house. After Mitchell took $25 and Marino’s car keys, the accomplice told Mitchell to leave them there.”

At this point the sale has become something much more sinister. The shotgun drawn, this is now a robbery and a kidnapping. As Mitchell took his victims to the vacant house he must have been motivated by something else. This couldn’t have been routine. He was a drug dealer, and until this moment was not known as someone who would prey upon pot heads for kicks.

Indeed the theft of the $25 and the car keys seems to have been the real goal. Maybe there was something about his poor victims that made him want to rob them.

What he does next is when this odd robbery becomes a perverse murder.

“When Mitchell asked the accomplice to get some rope, the accomplice left and did not return. Mitchell then forced Marino and Fleming to sit on the floor.”

The plan has broken down now. Mitchell has two victims and no way to detain them his friend has fled, not liking this crazy robbery anymore. Mitchell is now stuck with two eyewitnesses and no way to tie them up. Not fun at all.

It seems as if he lost patience at this moment.

“He shot Marino in the chest from a distance of ten feet. Fleming rolled into a ball and then Mitchell shot him. Marino was killed, but Fleming survived.”

Killing Marino and not killing Fleming reflects a lack of thoroughness on Mitchell’s part. If he was determined to get away and wanted to make sure his victims would not follow, he erred seriously by not making sure Fleming was dead.

It seems as if he was acting impulsively and without the careful intent that a murderer would need to make sure he could avoid getting caught. He wants to get back to his life, and this situation is a drag. The fun is gone. The situation needed to end.

He was just seventeen. He probably wanted to go do something more exciting. At this point the fun of the robbery was over and the responsibility represented by his victims was a serious drag on his fun. Like a child, he took the easiest route to get back to his fun. Sadly it meant murdering his victims.

“Donald Newsome was walking in the vicinity of the vacant house, heard shots, and saw Mitchell coming out of the back of the house with a shotgun over his shoulders. Mitchell told him he was “just shooting some birds,” and drove off in Marino’s 1980 Pontiac TransAm.”

This conversation with Newsome supports the  idea that Mitchell was just a kid, looking for fun, acting tough and lying whenever it suited his purposes. Walking out of the house with the shotgun in full view is idiotic in retrospect. It would seem obvious that anyone would hide the weapon from view. Mitchell was brash, young and seventeen. He didn’t want to hide anything. He just lied to avoid any repercussion. “Just shooting at birds”, he said.

“The same day he killed Marino, Mitchell shot and killed another man, Hector Manguia, 18, when he refused to give Mitchell a necklace he demanded.”

Maybe after leaving his two victims for dead, he realized that Newsome was not convinced he was “‘just shooting birds.” Maybe he knew his mistakes were quickly going to catch up with him. Why not continue the tough guy act? Why not take something else. The damage was done. Might as well ride out the act until the end.

Maybe he started to realize why he shouldn’t just run to the next fun thing. Maybe he realized how dumb killing was, and reality began to dawn on him.

“Mitchell was arrested in Corpus Christi seven days later, driving Marino’s car. He gave police a written confession where he admitted shooting Marino and Fleming, but he claimed it was an accident.”

Being caught driving the car of his victim, after being seen leaving the scene of the crime, carrying the murder weapon, makes this a slam dunk case for any prosecutor. It also shows just unintelligent Mitchell really was at seventeen years old.

Still technically a minor, he quickly confessed to the crime. Confessing to accidentally killing Marino would seem to fit his lies earlier, lies that hoped to avoid any responsibility.

As a child, was it possible for him to know what he was doing? The state of Texas tried him as an adult.

“In April 1986, a jury convicted Mitchell of the capital murder of Charles Marino and sentenced him to death. All of his appeals in state and federal courts were denied. Mitchell was also convicted of attempted capital murder in the Fleming shooting and given a 60-year sentence. He was also given a 60-year sentence for the murder of Hector Manguia.”

His life was lived for fun. Drugs, excitement, living for the moment defines and sums up the wasted life of Gerald Mitchell.

His final meal was insignificant, just as his life had been. his final meal was lots of sweet candy. All sweetness and no substance.

Executed October 22, 2001 “One bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers.”

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Texas Execution Information Center

Author: historydojo

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher with nearly twenty years of experience teaching high school history. I blog about teaching, history, current events, the law and social justice.

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