Thursday, March 29, 2007

Convicted strip club killer threatened to kill jailer's family

More revealtions about convicted killer Richard Lee Tabler's sordid record emerged during the penalty phase of his trial this week in Bell County Texas District Court. Jurors will decide whether Tabler will receive the death penalty.
Tabler, 27, was convicted last week of capital murder in connection with two of the four people he was charged with killing in November 2004. All four were connected to Teazers, a Killeen, Texas, strip club.
The other man charged with the murders, 2004 East Newton High School graduate Timothy Doan Payne, is scheduled to stand trial May 21. Payne will not face the death penalty.
During the first portion of the trial, Bell County prosecutors were limited to the details surrounding the murders. In the penalty phase, they provided witnesses who related his past indiscretions:

Three Bell County Jail employees testified as to the most recent incidents credited to Tabler, the first of whom was Officer James Herry, who has served as a jailer for the past three years.

Herry said that at just after 3 a.m. on May 11, 2005, while making his standard patrol rounds, he heard Tabler talking to another inmate through the cells and threaten shift supervisor Cpl. Judy Clark.

"He said he knew her (Clark) and her family, and if he ever escaped, he said he would definitely hurt her and kill her," Herry said. "If he were ever let out, I would fear for my life, and I would fear for the life of Judy Clark."

Clark, who still deals with Tabler during her shifts at the jail to this day, recounted several incidents with Tabler, but one still resonates.

Clark said that Tabler had been telling other inmates that he would kill her family. She said Tabler told her that he would kill her children, then force her to watch as he tortured her husband, because "I would be next." When he made this threat, she said he described her house and referred to her husband and children by name.

"For the month of September, I kept my children away from my home," Clark said. "I had them stay at neighbor's or friend's houses."

Even more chilling were Tabler's own words as he recounted in a written statement read to the court how he killed two of the victims, young women:

I heard that Zoey (Amanda Benefield) was running her mouth off ... and I talked the girls into following me," the statement read. "I took Zoey's phone so she couldn't call anyone. I chambered my gun and tucked it in my waist. Then I told Tiffany (Dotson) I shot Amine."

He continued, saying that Dotson then threatened to go to the police. He then described how he took them out to Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir and stopped the car on the dark, vacant road. He said Tim Payne, also charged in the slayings, sat in the car watching while he carried out the final act.

"I asked her (Dotson) if she was scared, and she said no," the statement read. "Tiffany was talking ... and I shot her in the face. Then I turned and shot Zoey in the head five or six times."

Kim Geray, who testified last week about the content of a video showing Tabler killing Zayed and Rahmouni, said she returned to her house that night to find Tabler, who took her into the bathroom.

"He told me he killed Zoey and Tiffany," she said. "I asked him why and he said they were going around telling people that he had killed the other two and they were going to tell, so he had to take care of them ... I didn't know what to say."

Bell County investigator Tim Steglich was present during Tabler's confession. He said that Tabler admitted to having a list of about 10 other people who he planned on killing in the coming days, people who had wronged him.

The defense was scheduled to begin presenting its case today.

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