View Full Version : Mario Centobie - AL - 28 April 2005 - Executed

03-18-2005, 06:52 AM
Execution date set for escapee

An execution date has been set for Mario Centobie, the Mississippi prison escapee convicted and sentenced to death in the slaying of a Moody police officer during a 1998 crime spree.

Centobie will be executed on April 28, officials said.

Attorney General Troy King asked the Alabama Supreme Court on July 12, 2004, to set an execution date. A jury convicted Centobie in 1999 for the 1998 murder of Moody police officer Keith Turner. Turner stopped Centobie and another inmate of Mississippi's Parchman Prison in a stolen car on June 27, 1998, after they escaped from officers who were escorting them to a court hearing two days earlier. Centobie shot the officer three times, including once in the hip and in the back of his head. Authorities captured Centobie on July 5, 1998 near Biloxi, Miss. The Supreme Court declined to accept Centobie's appeal for review in 2003. He was also sentenced to three life prison terms in the wounding of Tuscaloosa police Capt. Cecil Lancaster during his crime spree across Alabama.

03-19-2005, 05:36 AM
Centobie set to die by lethal injection April 28

Chris Norwood

If nothing else changes, on April 28, Mario Centobie will die by lethal injection, ending a violent criminal career that began about eight years ago.

St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor helped prosecute Centobie in the capital case that will most likely lead him to the lethal injection chamber. "He still has the right to file a last minute appeal in federal court," Minor said, "but if the execution date goes forward, this will be the culmination of a series of tragic events for everyone involved. Centobie will be getting the just punishment that he deserves."

Former District Attorney Van Davis agreed. "Executing him wonít deter anybody but him, but in the 18 years I served as St. Clair County DA, I canít think of anyone who is more deserving of execution. He is an extremely dangerous person."

Davis added, "Iíve been told that he has withdrawn all of his appeals. Iíll just be glad when this is over. It will give us all a sense of closure."

Both Minor and Davis have petitioned the state Department of Corrections to attend Centobieís execution.

In the summer of 1998, Centobie was serving 40 years at Parchman Farm in Mississippi for burglary, kidnapping and aggravated assault against his estranged wife. Prior to that incident, he had been a decorated firefighter.
On June 25, 1998, while Centobie and 19-year-old Jeremy Granberry were being transported to a court appearance, they overpowered two deputies and stole a gun and the patrol car.

They were pulled over in Tuscaloosa, where Centobie shot a police officer, but not fatally. They then stole another car, and ended up in Moody, where they shot and killed Officer Keith Turner.

Granberry was captured the next day, and is serving life in prison without possibility of parole. Centobie, however, eluded capture in spite of one of the largest manhunts in the history of Alabama. He eventually made his move on July 4, abducting a motorist. He was captured the following day in Biloxi, Miss.

Moody Police Chief John Kile was the shift supervisor the night Turner was murdered. Officer Chris Long, now a St. Clair County Sheriffís deputy, was the first officer on the scene that night. Kile was the second. "Itís been seven years now, and itís time for him to pay for what heís done," Kile said. "Iím glad to have a date, although right now a date is all it is."
Kile added that he is probably the only person in the Moody Police Department who knew Turner. "In the last seven years, just about everybody has changed over, either retired or gone elsewhere. The officers we have here today, Turner is just a name on the wall, a memorial. They never had a chance to know the man."

Centobie was eventually moved from the St. Clair County Jail to a more secure facility in Gadsden, where he was nonetheless able to escape a second time, this time heading into Georgia. He was again recaptured, and admitted during his capital murder trial that he had killed Turner. The jury recommended death over life without parole by a vote of 10 to two.

While being tried for attempted murder in Tuscaloosa County, Centobie attempted a third escape, but was thwarted when deputies there discovered a key he had hidden on his person.

04-25-2005, 07:06 AM
Execution scheduled Thursday for cop killer Centobie

Sunday, April 24, 2005 CAROL ROBINSON
News staff writer
One of the Birmingham area's most sensational escape artists, a man who defied police for days as he embarked on a cop-killing spree across Alabama, will likely die quietly this week.

Mario Centobie, the crafty and some say charismatic killer, is to be executed Thursday for the killing of Moody Police Officer Keith Turner.

Now 39, Centobie has waived his rights to all appeals, and is scheduled to die by lethal injection at Holman Prison at 6 p.m.

It is in some ways an odd and anticlimactic end.

"I hate he decided not to fight it, but that's his decision," said his Pell City attorney, Stan Brown. "He just didn't want to waste any more time. He wanted to get it over with."

Retired Tuscaloosa police Capt. Cecil Lancaster, too, wants to get it over with.

Lancaster, who was shot by Centobie, will be among those on hand to witness his death. He said he is going at the request of the slain officer's family, including Turner's widow, Brandy.

"I think life is the most precious gift God gives you, and to take a human life goes against my Christian upbringing," Lancaster said. "But I know if Mario Centobie were to ever get back out on the street, and if anybody were to get in his way, he would kill without hesitation. This is a fair and just punishment."

In 1998, Centobie, a decorated former Mississippi firefighter, was serving a 40-year sentence at Parchman Prison for kidnapping his estranged wife, Cheryl, and 6-year-old son, Dominic.

That June, Centobie escaped with fellow inmate Jeremy Granberry. The two overpowered lawmen taking them to a court appearance in Laurel, Miss.

Jones County, Miss., Sheriff Maurice Hooks and retired Deputy Ray Butler were found the next day unharmed and shackled to posts at a dilapidated barn. Centobie and Granberry fled in their patrol car.

Several hours later, Lancaster, then a 49-year-old administrative officer who was headed home from work in his patrol car on Interstate 359, became suspicious of the Mississippi sheriff's vehicle because the rear bumper was missing. He pulled it over, not knowing a search was on for the fugitives.

As he walked to the vehicle, Centobie, the passenger, turned and fired before anyone spoke. The first shot struck Lancaster's midsection, but a bullet clip on his belt stopped the round. A second bullet went through his side, shattered two ribs, and exited his back.

Killed Moody officer:

Two days later, Centobie shot and killed Turner when he pulled the fugitives over on a traffic stop in Moody. Centobie later testified in court that he shot Turner as the officer began to pull out his own weapon. Centobie said he yelled for Turner to stop, and then shot him in the kidney area, knocking Turner to one knee. Centobie said the officer's blue lights were flashing and he just wanted to get away. He fired twice more, including an execution-style shot to the back of Turner's head.

Granberry was caught the next day, but for a week, Centobie eluded a massive police search that brought hundreds of lawmen to Moody and kept the St. Clair County town on edge.

Centobie, however, slipped through the dragnet and carjacked a Moody man, forcing him to drive him to Mississippi. The man escaped from Centobie at a Mississippi rest area and Centobie hitched a ride in a van of tourists. Police caught him later that day - two interstate exits away from his ex-wife's home.

Centobie had a Mississippi sheriff's engraved pistol tucked in his waistband when caught. He thought about resisting, his lawyer later said, but opted not to because the family was nice enough to give him a ride and he didn't want them shot in crossfire.

Three months later, Centobie escaped again when he walked out of Etowah County's maximum-security jail. Investigators say Centobie charmed guard Donna Hawkins, convincing her he loved her. He was captured in Atlanta almost two weeks later, traced there through the syrupy love letters he wrote to Hawkins.

Hawkins was convicted in the escape, and spent 18 months in prison.

Charmed women:

After his second capture, women sent cards, letters and pictures to him in jail. His lawyer once asked him how he charmed women. "He said, `I'm nice to them and I tell'em what they want to hear,'" Brown said.

Shortly before his trial, Centobie went on a hunger strike to protest harsh conditions in prison, which included one of his female lawyers being strip-searched before she could see him. He was also caught with a makeshift plastic handcuff key in his mouth during a court appearance in Tuscaloosa.

Brown said it's been over a month since he's had contact with Centobie, who was on Death Row at Donaldson Correctional Facility until recently being moved to Holman Prison in Atmore for the execution.

"His attitude has changed a lot," Brown said. "He's more pessimistic than he used to be."

Lancaster said he's made his peace with Centobie. "I realize how close I came to death and I'm trying to make the most of the second chance God has given me," he said. "Mario Centobie shot the uniform; he didn't shoot me personally. And that's what he did to Keith Turner."

"I hope Mario has made peace with God and is ready to walk into eternity," Lancaster said. "I hold no ill will toward him and wish him the best he can possibly have."

04-27-2005, 09:32 AM
Federal judge rejects motion to stop Centobie execution

The Associated Press
April 27, 2005

<LI>Alabama Corrections officials are preparing for tomorrow's scheduled execution of convicted murderer Mario Centobie.

On Tuesday, Mobile Federal Judge David Proctor refused to block the execution set for 6 p.m. at Holman Prison near Atmore. The motion was filed Friday by a Mobile lawyer without Centobie's permission. He previously waive his rights to all appeals.

The 39-year-old Centobie was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the slaying of Moody police officer Keith Turner in June 1998. Turner had stopped Centobie and another inmate who fled a Mississippi Prison in a stolen car.

Centobie was also sentenced to three life prison terms in the wounding of a Tuscaloosa police captain during his crime spree across Alabama.

04-27-2005, 07:46 PM
I Visited My Husband This Past Friday. Centobie Was Out On The Visiting Yard With Many Friends/ Heart Went Out To His Family You Could Really See The Stress And Tiredness On Their Face As Im Sure This Has Definately Been An Emotional Battle For Prayers Go Out For Mario Centobie And Evry One Involved In This Situation...may God Be With Them.

04-28-2005, 08:12 AM
i'm so sick of the state killing people. its like every time i turn on the t.v. there it is again...its like people are just becoming num to the whole thing...

04-28-2005, 08:13 AM
:cry: Death row inmate wants no appeal

By Garry Mitchell
The Associated Press


MOBILE -- A former police chief said he will wear an officer's cap and police in uniform also will be in Alabama's death chamber to witness Mario Centobie's scheduled execution today for killing a policeman in Moody.

Centobie, 39, of Biloxi, Miss., was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Moody police officer Keith Turner in 1998 while a fugitive from Mississippi. His execution by lethal injection is set for 6 p.m. today at Holman Prison near Atmore.

On death row since Jan. 8, 1999, he has filed no appeal. A motion to block the execution filed by a federal defender in Montgomery without Centobie's permission was denied by U.S. District Judge David Proctor.

"He has planned for his death, and expressed his desire not to spend the rest of his life in prison," the judge said in turning back the motion filed by Montgomery lawyer Katherine Puzone.

Puzone claimed Centobie is mentally incompetent and unable to make his own decisions and that the state's lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. She did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday for comment.

Puzone appealed Proctor's ruling Wednesday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw responded by saying that Puzone does not represent Centobie.

In an affidavit taken by Crenshaw on a visit with Centobie, the inmate said he met Puzone within the last six months while held at Donaldson Prison.

"I told her that I did not want her to represent me. I have told my family not to talk to Ms. Puzone because I don't want her to represent me," Centobie said.

Centobie said Puzone claims in her petition that he's mentally ill.

"The only kind of mental condition that I may be suffering from is depression" as a result of being on death row, Centobie said in the affidavit.

Centobie's last lawyer, Stan Brown of Pell City, said Centobie had asked him not to appeal his case. "He didn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison if we were to prevail on it," Brown said. "He hasn't requested that I see him again."

In a telephone interview Wednesday, former Moody Police Chief Bobby Clements described Centobie as "arrogant, cold, calculating and self-serving." Now a city council member, Clements said he will join Moody police officers who plan to witness the execution -- and hopes Centobie's last view will be of his police cap and officers in uniform.

Centobie was on the run from Mississippi law officers when Turner was shot to death on a street near Moody City Hall. Turner had stopped to investigate a suspicious vehicle on a dead-end driveway about 10:30 p.m. on June 27, 1998, when he was shot three times, the last to the back of his head. A huge manhunt was launched in response before Centobie was caught July 5, 1998, near Biloxi.

Centobie was also sentenced to three life sentences for wounding a Tuscaloosa police officer during his fugitive crime spree before reaching Moody.

Retired Tuscaloosa police Capt. Cecil Lancaster, who was shot by Centobie, said he also planned to witness the execution at the request of the slain officer's family, including Turner's widow, Brandy Phillips of Ragland.

Centobie, who had been a firefighter at Pearl, Miss., and Harrison County, Miss., began serving a 40-year sentence in 1996 for kidnapping his estranged wife and 6-year-old son. He escaped in June 1998 with fellow inmate Jeremy Granberry after overpowering two law officers taking them to a court appearance in Laurel, Miss.

The two officers were found the next day unharmed and shackled to posts at a dilapidated barn. Centobie and Granberry had fled in their patrol car.

About three months after Centobie's capture near Biloxi, he walked out of the Etowah County jail, having charmed a female guard into helping him escape. He made it to Atlanta, but was located through love letters sent to the guard, Donna Hawkins, who later was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for her help in the escape.

Former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis, who prosecuted Centobie, recalled Centobie saying at an extradition hearing in Laurel, Miss., that he was willing to be "first in line" for lethal injection.

"He was obsessed with freedom," Davis said.

"He testified at his trial," Davis said. "He got on the witness stand and admitted shooting the officer."

Davis said anybody who got in Centobie's way of freedom could be killed "without second thought."

Davis' successor, St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor, planned to witness the execution. Besides closure for the victims, he said the execution will be a reminder to law enforcement families that "we're there for them, God forbid it happen again, and will ensure anyone who kills a police officer in the line of duty receives the ultimate penalty, which is the death penalty." Granberry, then 19, also was captured and was convicted in 1999 of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.

04-28-2005, 12:56 PM
This is so depressing.

04-29-2005, 08:13 AM
Convicted cop killer Centobie executed; makes no apology

Friday, April 29, 2005 CAROL ROBINSON
News staff writer
ATMORE - Mario Giovanni Centobie, a killer and escape artist, smiled slightly and gave a thumbs-up before he was executed Thursday night for the 1998 murder of Moody police Officer Keith Turner.

Centobie, strapped to a gurney, stared at the ceiling, fidgeted nervously, repeatedly broke into a grin and sometimes nodded his head. He said nothing.

He didn't acknowledge his mother or brother sitting in a witness room to his right, or the relatives and co-workers of Turner in a separate witness room straight ahead.

Divorced for 10 years, Centobie wore his wedding ring.

He was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m.

Centobie's mother, Tracy Centobie, clutched a handkerchief and shook visibly throughout the 20 minutes it took to watch her son die. As she cried quietly, a son draped his arm around her shoulder.

Among those witnessing Centobie's death were the slain officer's widow, Brandy Phillips, and Dorothy Merkl, Turner's mother. Phillips showed no emotion during the execution and declined comment.

"At the point his chest stopped moving, I felt relieved," said the officer's brother, Patrick Turner, another witness.

Those who came expecting and hoping for an apology didn't get it. "I never saw any remorse," Patrick Turner said. "He did not even apologize to his own mama for what he put her through. He didn't care."

Another more painful:

Moody Police Chief Johnny Kile said the execution was painful to watch but was easier than Turner's death during a 1998 two-state crime spree that followed Centobie's escape from a prison in his native Mississippi.

"He wasn't left on the side of the road with a bullet in the back of his head," Kile said.

Retired Tuscaloosa Police Capt. Cecil Lancaster, who was shot by Centobie and survived, said he long ago forgave his attacker and felt sorrow for his family. But, he said, Centobie's fate should serve as a reminder that life is about choices. "Mario Centobie chose the path he went down. Nobody ever made him make one of these decisions."

In the hours before he was put to death, Centobie visited with his mother, two brothers, a sister and members of the prison ministry group Kairos.

Centobie was upbeat and in good spirits throughout the day though he was said to become agitated when there was talk of appeals filed against his wishes by a federal defender. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution.

An extended last meal:

Centobie left his only possessions, a television and a radio, to fellow Death Row inmates. He had no money left in his account.

He did not make a request for a last meal, but prison officials say he ate heartily: Chili and rice, okra and corn tomato soup, cornbread, gingerbread cake and fruit punch for lunch. Pizza, poor boy and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and three sodas from prison vending machines for a snack. Barbecue chicken, egg noodles with butter, turnip greens, candied sweet potatoes and a strawberry soda for dinner at 3 p.m.

At 4:10 p.m. he was served communion by Rev. Raymond McDonough, a Catholic priest from Birmingham.

Centobie, 39, was on Alabama's Death Row for almost six years. He was convicted in 1999 and rejected all appeals after he was sentenced to death for killing Turner.