- Venue: Prince William County.
- Status: Executed by electric chair on March 18, 2010.
Summary of crime:
From Powell v. Commonwealth [emphasis mine throughout]:
[Paul Warner] Powell was acquainted with Stacey Lynn Reed (Stacey) for two and a half years prior to the commission of the crimes in question. Kristie Erin Reed (Kristie), Stacey’s younger sister, described her sister and Powell as “[f]riends.” Powell, who was 20 years old at the time of the murder, had wanted to date Stacey, who was 16 years old, but recognized that she was underage and he “could go to jail for that.”
Powell, a self-avowed “racist and white supremacist,” was aware that Stacey, who was white, was dating Sean Wilkerson, who is black. Wilkerson had recently moved to another locality, but he and Stacey remained in contact. Stacey was a member of her high school’s Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and planned to attend a military ball with Wilkerson.
Just before noon on January 29, 1999, Stacey arrived home from school early, having completed her examinations that were being given that day. Powell was waiting for her at her home when she arrived. When Powell learned that Robert Culver, a friend of the girls’ mother, would be home shortly for lunch, Powell left and returned at about 12:45 p.m., after Culver had left. When Powell returned, he was armed with a “survival” knife, a “butterfly” knife, a box cutter, and a 9-millimeter pistol.
Stacey was talking to Wilkerson on the telephone. After Stacey ended the telephone conversation, Powell confronted her about her relationship with Wilkerson. He demanded that Stacey end her relationship with Wilkerson. According to Powell, he and Stacey argued, and the argument grew into a struggle. Powell drew the survival knife from his belt and Stacey “got stuck.” Powell denied stabbing Stacey deliberately. The struggle continued briefly until Stacey collapsed on the floor in her sister’s bedroom.
Although Powell did not know whether Stacey was still alive, he made no effort to determine her condition or call for medical assistance. Powell “wandered around the house, got some iced tea, had a cigarette.” Kristie arrived home from school shortly after 3 p.m. and was met at the door of the home by Powell. Powell told her that Stacey was in her room, but moments later Kristie discovered her sister’s body in Kristie’s bedroom. She dropped her schoolbooks and began to cry.
Powell ordered Kristie to go to the basement. Kristie, who knew that Powell was usually armed, complied because she “didn’t want to die.” In the basement, Powell ordered Kristie to remove her clothes and to lie on the floor. Powell then raped Kristie, and she “begg[ed] him not to kill her.” Powell later admitted that he knew that Kristie, who was 14 years old at the time of the rape, had been a virgin.
While Powell and Kristie were in the basement, Mark Lewis, a friend of Kristie, came to the house and knocked on the door. When Powell heard the knock, he tied Kristie’s legs together and tied her hands behind her back with shoelaces he cut from her athletic shoes. Powell then dressed and went upstairs.
While Powell was upstairs, Kristie managed to loosen the bonds on her hands and attempted to “scoot across the floor to hide” under the basement steps. Hearing Powell coming back to the basement, she returned to the position on the floor where he had left her. Powell then strangled Kristie with a shoelace and she lost consciousness. While she was unconscious, Powell stabbed Kristie in the abdomen and slit her wrists and throat.
Powell returned upstairs, searching for “anything worth taking.” He fixed another glass of iced tea, which he took with him when he left the home a short time later. Powell went to a friend’s house and then drove with the friend to the District of Columbia to buy crack cocaine.
Kristie regained consciousness sometime after Powell had left her home. About 4:10 p.m., she heard Culver return home, and she called out his name. Culver discovered Kristie in the basement, called the 911 emergency response telephone number, and began rendering first aid to her. He later discovered Stacey’s body upstairs. Shortly thereafter, paramedics arrived. In response to a question from one of them, Kristie identified Powell as her attacker. Powell was arrested later that day at the home of his friend’s girlfriend, where he and the friend had gone after buying drugs.
Kristie was transported by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital where she received treatment for her injuries. It was ultimately determined that the wounds to her throat and abdomen each came within one centimeter of severing a major artery which likely would have caused her death.
An autopsy revealed that Stacey had died from a knife wound to the heart. The medical examiner testified that there was a single entrance wound and two exit wounds indicating that the knife had been withdrawn, at least partially, and then reinserted into the heart. One wound path pierced the left ventricle and the other went through both the left and right ventricles, exiting the heart at the back of the right ventricle.
Stacey’s body also exhibited a number of bruises on the head, chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs, abrasions on the face, a stab wound to the back, and a cut and scrapes on the left forearm. The autopsy further revealed that Stacey had been struck on the head with sufficient force to cause bleeding inside her scalp and in the membranes surrounding her brain prior to death. These injuries were not consistent with Stacey merely having fallen during a struggle.
The DNA profile obtained from the blood found on Powell’s survival knife was consistent with the DNA profile of Stacey’s blood. The DNA profile obtained from sperm fractions from swabs taken from Kristie’s vagina and perianal area was the same profile as that obtained from Powell’s drawn blood sample.
While in jail, Powell wrote letters to friends in which he admitted having committed the murder, rape, and attempted murder because of Stacey’s relationship with a black man. He further claimed that he had planned to kill Stacey’s family and steal the family’s truck. Powell also wrote to a female friend and asked her to “get one of [her] guy friends . . . to go to a pay phone and call Kristie and tell her [that] she better tell the cops she lied to them and tell her [that] she better not testify against me or she’s gonna die.”
Powell told another inmate that he had become angry with Stacey when she refused to have sex with him after talking to Wilkerson. Powell told the inmate that he stabbed Stacey twice and that when he attempted to cut Kristie’s throat, his knife was too dull, “[s]o he started stepping on her throat trying to stomp her throat.” To another inmate, Powell described Stacey’s killing as a “human sacrifice” and expressed satisfaction in having raped a virgin.
From Powell v. Warden of the Sussex I State Prison [emphasis mine throughout]:
The following facts were presented to the jury that found Powell guilty of capital murder and fixed his punishment at death. In January 1999, Robert Culver and his fiancée, Lorraine Reed, lived together in Manassas, Virginia, with Reed’s two daughters, Stacey Lynn Reed and Kristie Erin Reed. On January 28, 1999, Powell went to the Reeds’ home. Stacey, then 16 years old, left home to go to work, and Powell remained there alone with Kristie, who was 14.
That afternoon, Kristie called her mother by telephone and informed her that Powell refused to leave the home. Kristie’s mother told Kristie to order Powell to leave.
Kristie was concerned because Powell “kept walking back and forth down the hallway looking in the rooms.”
On the afternoon of January 29, 1999, Kristie arrived home from school and was startled to find Powell in her house. She asked Powell “where Stacey was.” He replied, “she was in her room.” Kristie walked to Stacey’s room, but Stacey was not there. Then, Kristie turned to enter her own room and saw Stacey’s body lying on the floor.
Powell, who had followed Kristie to the bedroom, ordered Kristie to go downstairs to the basement. Kristie knew that Powell customarily armed himself with a knife. She had previously observed Powell with a butterfly knife and “another long knife that was in a brown pouch type thing.”
Powell forced Kristie to accompany him to the basement, where he ordered her to remove her clothes. She took her clothes off because she “didn’t want to die.” Powell told Kristie to lay on the floor, and then he raped her.
After Powell raped Kristie, he dressed himself, and he used shoelaces taken from Kristie’s shoes to tie her feet together. He also used shoelaces to tie her arms behind her back. Someone knocked on the door to the house, and Powell went upstairs, leaving Kristie naked and bound on the basement floor.
While Powell was upstairs, Kristie was able to free her hands, and she tried to “scoot” across the floor and hide beneath the basement steps. Powell returned to the basement, removed Kristie’s eyeglasses, and strangled her until she was unconscious. Powell stabbed Kristie in the stomach, and the knife stopped within a centimeter of her aorta. He slashed her in her neck numerous times, and the repair of the knife wounds required 61 sutures. She had multiple stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. She also had wounds on her wrists.
Robert Culver arrived at the home at 4:15 p.m. on January 29, 1999. He could not locate Kristie or Stacey. He went to the girls’ bedrooms and saw that Stacey’s room was in disarray. He entered Kristie’s room, turned on the lights, and found Stacey’s body on the floor. He observed blood on her body and saw that she was not breathing.
When Culver went to the basement in search of a telephone, he discovered Kristie lying naked and bound on the floor, bleeding from her neck and stomach. He saw that she had been stabbed in the stomach and her “throat was slit pretty severely, many times.” Culver found a telephone, dialed 911, and spoke to emergency response personnel. Although Kristie was experiencing life-threatening injuries, she was able to tell police officers and paramedics that Paul Powell was her assailant.
Stacey’s death was caused by a stab wound to her chest. The wound pattern indicated that the blade of the knife pierced her heart and was twisted upon withdrawal. The blade of Powell’s knife was consistent with the stab wounds.
There were numerous bruises on Stacey’s head, neck, chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs. She suffered stab wounds in her back and arm. She also had abrasions on her left hand and wrist that were characterized as defensive wounds. Stacey’s body contained bruises on her lower neck that were consistent with someone stepping or stomping on her face and neck.
Police officers arrested Powell on January 30, 1999 at the home of a friend. The police officers also located a blue sports bag that belonged to Powell. A nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol with a full magazine containing 10 Winchester nine-millimeter cartridges was in the bag. The bag also contained a survival knife with a five and one-half inch blade inside a black sheath and a butterfly knife with a five-inch blade. The survival knife sheath contained a dark reddish-brown stain. The DNA profile obtained from the stain on the sheath was consistent with the DNA profile of Stacey Reed and different from the DNA profile of Kristie Reed and Paul Powell. The probability of selecting an unrelated individual with a matching DNA profile at the Powerplex loci as contained on the sheath is approximately one in 1.1 billion in the Caucasian population.
After his arrest, Powell consented to several interviews with police officers. During one interview, he stated that he had been at the Reeds’ home on January 29, 1999 and that Stacey was dead because “she was stupid.” Powell told the police officers that he and Stacey had an argument because she had a black boyfriend, and Powell “didn’t agree with interracial dating.” Powell claimed that during the argument, Stacey attacked him and scratched his face, and then he pushed her to the floor. He claimed that Stacey attacked him again, and that she “got stuck” on his knife. Powell also initially denied raping Kristie.
In a second statement to police officers, Powell admitted that he raped Kristie. The detective who interviewed Powell testified that Powell stated that he had to kill Kristie because “she was the only witness and he would have to go to jail.”
The jury was also informed that after this Court’s decision in Powell’s first appeal, Powell wrote two letters to the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Prince William County, Paul Ebert. Below is the content of a letter that Powell wrote, dated October 21, 2001.
“Since I have already been indicted on first degree murder and the Va. Supreme Court said that I can’t be charged with capital murder again, I figured I would tell you the rest of what happened on Jan. 29, 1999, to show you how stupid all of y’all mother fuckers are.
“Y’all should have known that there is more to the story than what I told by what I said. You had it in writing that I planned to kill the whole family. Since I planned to kill the whole family, why would I have fought with Stacie before killing her? She had no idea I was planning to kill everybody and talked and carried on like usual, so I could’ve stabbed her up at any time because she was unsuspecting.
“I had other plans for her before she died. You know I came back to the house after Bobby’s lunch break was over and he had went back to work. When I got back, she was on the phone so I went inside and I laid down on the couch. When the cab came to bring me my pager, I ran out of the house and she jumped and got off the phone and came off the porch to see why I ran out of the house like I did.
“When the cab left we went in the house. I laid on the couch again and she went to her room and got her clothes and went downstairs to do her laundry. When she went downstairs, I got up and shut and locked the back door and went downstairs. We talked while she put her clothes in the wash. We continued talking when she had everything in the wash and I reached over and touched her tit and asked if she wanted to fuck. She said no, because she had a boyfriend.
“I started arguing with her because she had never turned anybody down because of having a boyfriend.
“We started walking upstairs, arguing the whole time. When we got upstairs we went to her room and she turned the radio off. After she turned the radio off I pushed her onto her bed and grabbed her wrists and pinned her hands down by her head and sat on top of her. I told her that all I wanted to do was fuck her and then I would leave and that we could do it the easy way or the hard way.
“She said she would fuck me so I got up. After I got up, she got up and started fighting with me and clawed me face. We wrestled around a little and then I slammed her to the floor. When she hit the floor I sat on top of her and pinned her hands down again. She said she would fuck me and I told her that if she tried fighting with me again, I would kill her.
“When I got up she stood up and kept asking me why I was doing this and all I kept saying is take your clothes off. Finally she undid her pants and pulled them down to her ankles. She was getting ready to take them the rest of the way off and the phone rang. When she heard the phone she pulled her pants back up and said she had to answer the phone. I pushed her back and said no. She said that she wouldn’t say anything about me being there and I told her no and to take her clothes off.
“She tried to get out of the room again and I pushed her back and pulled out my knife. I guess she thought I was just trying to scare her and that I wouldn’t really stab her because she tried to leave again.
“When she got to me and tried to squeeze between me and the door jam I stabbed her. When I stabbed her, she fell back against the door jam and just looked at me with a shocked look on her face.
“When I pulled the knife out she stumbled a couple steps and fell in her sister’s room. I walked over and looked at her. I saw that she was still breathing so I stepped over her body and into the bedroom. Then I put my foot on her throat and stepped up so she couldn’t breath. Then I stepped down and started stomping on her throat. Then I stepped back onto her throat and moved up and down putting more pressure to make it harder to breathe.
“When I didn’t see her breathing anymore, I left the room and got some iced tea and sat on the couch and smoked a cigarette. You know the rest of what happened after that point.
“I would like to thank you for saving my life. I know you’re probably wondering how you saved my life, so I’ll tell you.
“You saved my life by fucking up. There were 2 main fuck-ups you made that saved me. The first was the way you worded my capital murder indictment. The second was the comment you made in your closing argument when you said we won’t know because he won’t tell us.
“One more time, thank you! Now y’all know everything that happened in that house at 8023 McLean St. on Jan. 29, 1999.
“I guess I forgot to mention these events when I was being questioned. Ha Ha! Sike!
“I knew what y’all would be able to prove in court, so I told you what you already knew. Stacey was dead and no one else was in the house so I knew ya’ll would never know everything she went through unless she came back to life.
“Since the Supreme Court said I can’t be charged with capital murder again, I can tell you what I just told you because I no longer have to worry about the death penalty. And y’all are supposed to be so goddamn smart. I can’t believe that y’all thought I told you everything.
“Well, it’s too late now. Nothing you can do about it now so fuck you you fat, cocksucking, cumguzzling, gutter slut. I guess I’ll see your bitch ass on Dec. 18 at trial because I’m not pleading to shit. Tell the family to be ready to testify and relive it all again because if I have to suffer for the next 50 or 60 years or however long then they can suffer the torment of reliving what happened for a couple of days.
“I’m gone. Fuck you and anyone like you or that associates with people like you. I almost forgot, fuck your god, too. Jesus knows how to suck a dick real good. Did you teach him?
“Well, die a slow, painful, miserable death. See ya punk.
“Do you just hate yourself for being so stupid and for fuckin’ up and saving me?
In a statement to a police officer on November 2, 2001, Powell gave the following description of Stacey’s murder:
“She walked over to and uh I pushed her back. And then she walked over to me again I think and then I pulled my knife out and you know, and she looked at me you know. I guess she thought I wouldn’t stab her or whatever. So she tried to leave and go to answer the phone. That’s that.
. . . .
“[After she got stabbed,] [s]he just looked at me for a minute you know and then you know, she . . .she was surprised and them um, I pulled the knife out, you know she stumbled a few steps, fell down in Christy’s doorway. I just walked over and looked at her. And I stepped over top of her and stepped on her throat and then stood on her throat and then stomped on her throat . . . then I stood on her throat until I didn’t see her breathing no more.
. . . .
“What I’m saying I was stepping on her. I’m saying I put all my weight on her. I’m saying that I put my foot there you know and then I lifted myself up to where I was standing on top of her. Started stomping on her throat. And then man, I just stood on her throat again until I didn’t see her breathe no more.”
Before he raped Kristie, Powell knew that he intended to kill her. In response to a police officer’s question: “Before you raped [Kristie], you knew you were going to kill her; didn’t you?”, Powell responded: “I really didn’t have a choice; did I?”
While incarcerated in jail awaiting his capital murder trial, Powell sent a letter to Lorraine Reed, the mother of Stacey and Kristie. Powell enclosed a photograph of a partially nude woman. Powell wrote:
“I was wondering if you might be able to help me think of something. I found this picture in a magazine and it kinda looks like someone I know or used to know, but I can’t think of the persons name.I think you know the person too, so I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the person this picture resembles so I can quit racking my brain trying to think of it? I would appreciate it. If you don’t know the person I’m talking about, ask Kristie or Kelly Welch because I know they know who I’m thinking of. If you talk to the person I’m talking about, please give her my address and tell her to write me.”
The partially nude woman shown in the photograph resembled Lorraine Reed’s daughter, Stacey. Powell wrote a letter to a friend while he was incarcerated. He stated:
“About when you asked me why I wouldn’t do to you what I did to Stacie, I couldn’t ever hurt you because you mean to much to me. See Stacie didn’t mean anything to me. She was a nigger lover and some of her wannabe skin head friends were supposed to kill me. That’s part of the reason why she died. Almost everything that happened in that house was planned. The only thing that wasn’t planned was trying to fuck Kristie. What was supposed to happen was, Stacie was supposed to die, and did, Kristie was supposed to die and then I was going to wait for their mom and stepdad to get home and I was going to kill them and then I was going to take their mom struck and then I was gonna go to North Carolina and knock this dude off that stole all of my clothes and everything else I owned. I had been thinking about doing it for along time but I could never bring myself to do it. I don’t know what happened to make me finally do it. I feel bad for doing it. Stacie was a good kid.”
Powell wrote, in another letter:
“Hey babe, what’s happening? Not too much here. I writing you to see if you could get one of your guy friends to do me a favor. You know that Kristie is telling the cops things and that she is going to testify against me in court. I was wondering if you could get somebody to go to a payphone and call Kristie and tell her she better tell the cops that she lied to them and tell her she better not testify against me or she’s gonna die.”
Powell sent the following letter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Prince William County:
“What’s up you fat head fucker? I’m just writing to tell you, since you want to kill me so Goddamn bad for killing your nigger loving whore, set up a court date closer than Oct. 25 so I can go ahead and get this bullshit over with and plead guilty so you can kill me and get it over with, unless you want to let me out so I can kill the rest of the nigger lovers and all the niggers, Jews, Spics and everybody else in this fucked up country that’s not white. That includes you because you area nigger loving Jewish fucking faggot. I will see you in hell bitch.
“P.S. Watch your back!”
The jury viewed writings and drawings taken from Powell’s jail cell that demonstrated his hatred of people who were not Caucasian. Additionally, the jury heard evidence that Powell told police officers that he was a racist and described his violent racial views. He stated, “[e]verybody that ain’t white shouldn’t – he needs to die.” Powell had told a police officer that he wanted to purchase a gun to “[k]ill somebody. Kill a lot of somebodies . . . [j]ust for something to do.” The jury was aware of Powell’s criminal record, including three convictions for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two larceny convictions, and three felony convictions for abduction, rape, and attempted capital murder of Kristie.
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 552 S.E.2d 344 (2001). [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 518, 552 S.E.2d 344, 347 (2001). [↩] [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 267 Va. 107, 116, 590 S.E.2d 537, 543 (2004), cert. denied, Powell v. Virginia, 543 U.S. 892, 125 S. Ct. 86, 160 L. Ed. 2d 157 (2004). [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 520, 552 S.E.2d 344, 348 (2001). [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 520-521, 552 S.E.2d 344, 348 (2001). [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 521, 552 S.E.2d 344, 348 (2001). [↩]
- Frank Green. “Powell executed for teen’s 1999 murder.” Richmond Times-Dispatch 18 Mar. 2010. <http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/EXEC18GAT_20100318-213001/331381/>. [↩]
- Powell v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 512, 518-520, 552 S.E.2d 344, 346-348 (2001). [↩]
- Powell v. Warden of the Sussex I State Prison, 272 Va. 217, 221-229, 634 S.E.2d 289, 290-294 (2006), cert. denied by Powell v. Kelly, 551 U.S. 1118, 127 S. Ct. 2942, 168 L. Ed. 2d 269 (2007). [↩]