George Anderson Hopper

George Anderson Hopper, a 49-year-old white male, was executed by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas on March 8, 2005. Hopper was found guilty of the 1983 murder of Rozanne Gailiunas, a 33-year-old white female. Hopper, who was 27-years-old when he committed the capital crime, was sentenced to death on March 16, 1992.

On October 4, 1983, 4-year-old Peter Gailiunas Jr. found his mother, Rozanne Gailiunas, naked and unconscious in her Richardson, Texas bedroom. The boy’s mother had been brutally assaulted and shot twice in the head. She never regained consciousness and died at the hospital two days later after which Peter Gailiunas put up a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest for his wife's murder. At the time of her death Rozanne had been having an affair with Larry Aylor.

Several years later, Carol Garland, in pursuit of the reward, told police that her sister, Joy Davis Aylor, a 34-year-old white female, had arranged to have Rozanne murdered. Police confirmed that Joy, Larry’s wife, had paid $5000 to Carol’s husband, William Westley Garland, to have Rozanne killed, and they were able to trace the money as it then passed to Brian Lee Kreafle who in turn hired Hopper. Each individual had skimmed a little of the money and passed the remainder along. Hopper apparently received $1500 of the original $5000. Police began looking for Hopper in the summer of 1988 to discuss Rozanne's murder. At that time police did not know whether Hopper was Rozanne's killer—all police knew then was that Hopper was the most recent person to receive the money. On December 20, 1988, Hopper was arrested and arraigned the following day even though counsel was not appointed and Hopper made no request for counsel at that arraignment. On December 22 and despite his lack of counsel Hopper contacted Detective McGowan offering to cooperate. Hopper admitted that he had received the money to kill Rozanne and that he had passed $1000 of that money on to a drug dealer named "Chip." Hopper also gave McGowan a description of Chip as well as information regarding Chip's usual haunts. Hopper was not appointed counsel until December 27, six days after his arraignment and five days after he first willingly spoke with McGowan and gave the detective the "Chip story." Jan Hemphill, the court appointed counsel, met with Hopper several times over the next few weeks as well as with the prosecution. The prosecution informed Hemphill of its intent to seek the death penalty for Joy Aylor as well as the shooter. The prosecution also told Hemphill that it was willing to work with all of the middlemen in the chain to get those two death penalty convictions. Hemphill repeatedly advised Hopper of the prosecution's plans and discussed with him the risks of cooperation. She also advised Hopper that her advice was based on the information that Hopper had given her. On February 21, 1989, Hopper again contacted McGowan and informed the detective of his intent to cooperate. He told McGowan that he had spoken with Hemphill and that Hemphill had given Hopper permission to contact police. McGowan then called the prosecution who verified with Hemphill that Hopper had her permission to talk with police. The prosecution also secured Hemphill's consent to give Hopper a polygraph examination, and a blanket consent to talk to Hopper in the future without having to contact her first. The following day Hopper met with McGowan. Hopper was read his Miranda rights, and after waiving those rights, completed a six page written statement detailing and supplementing the story he had previously given to McGowan that inculpated the drug dealer Chip. After this interview Hopper was told that the story would be verified by a polygraph examination to be scheduled in the upcoming few days. On Februrary 27 Hopper was given a polygraph examination. Prior to this examination he was again read his Miranda rights. After being told that the polygraph examination indicated falsity and after receiving a fresh Miranda recitation Hopper was questioned by McGowan who asked Hopper to tell his story once again, starting at the beginning. After Hopper recounted the "Chip story," McGowan told Hopper that McGowan believed Hopper was not telling police the entire story. McGowan then showed Hopper a picture of Chip and told Hopper that the police were close to locating Chip. The detective asked Hopper what would happen if police questioned Chip and Chip passed a polygraph. Hopper said that the investigation would "lead back to me [Hopper] " and asked "Can I go back and think about it?" The detective responded, "Andy, I want the truth now." After a brief pause Hopper admitted that he killed Rozanne and gave a factually detailed confession that was both audio and videotaped.

Hopper’s confession and the gun used to shoot Rozanne were admitted into evidence at his trial. Also admitted into evidence was testimony regarding an independent confession Hopper made to a jailhouse informant, and an admission of guilt in a letter Hopper wrote to a close friend. The testimony of the jailhouse informant closely tracked the confession that Hopper gave to police. The letter admission of guilt was not detailed, but in that letter Hopper wrote: "I am the one who killed this person."

Joy Aylor was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. She was arrested in September 1988 and released on $140,000 bail the night before her 1990 murder trial was to begin, Aylor emptied her bank accounts and fled to Canada with her attorney, who was also reportedly her lover. After the lawyer was arrested in Canada on a drug charge, Aylor fled to Mexico and then Europe. She settled around Nice, France living under the alias Elizabeth Sharp. Her identity was exposed after she became involved in a minor traffic accident while driving a rental car. She was arrested in March 1991 but the French government refused to extradite her because of its opposition to capital punishment. In December 1993 Aylor was returned to Texas after the State pledged that she would not face the death penalty. Garland and Kreafle were each sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.

References

* Michelangelo Delfino and Mary E. Day, "Death Penalty USA 2005 -2006", (2008), 42-46.
* "Hopper v. Dretke" (5th Cir. 2004) No. 02-11337.

See also

* Capital punishment in Texas
* Capital punishment in the United States


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