Thanos Chronology

May 17, 1994

The following is a chronology of events that led to John F. Thanos' execution.

APRIL 15, 1990: Serving a seven-year sentence for a 1986 Harford County convenience store robbery, John F. Thanos is mistakenly released from prison 18 months before he should have been freed.

AUG. 29, 1990: Thanos quits his job as a chicken processor in Salisbury and buys a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle for $159 at a sporting goods store.

AUG. 29, 1990: Thanos robs and abducts Salisbury cab driver Milton Marsey, forcing Mr. Marsey into the trunk of his cab.

AUG. 31, 1990: Gregory Taylor, an 18-year-old welder from Hebron, picks up Thanos, who is hitchhiking on U.S. 50. At gunpoint, Thanos forces Mr. Taylor to drive into a wooded area and fatally shoots him in the head.

SEPT. 1, 1990: Thanos trades his father's gold watch for $20 and gas at a Middle River convenience store and filling station.

SEPT. 2, 1990: Thanos robs Salisbury convenience store clerk Daniel Willey, 48, of $96, then shoots the man in the head. The bullet grazes Mr. Willey's head and lodges in the wall behind him. He survives.

SEPT. 3, 1990: Thanos returns to the Middle River gas station, demands money and shoots clerk Billy Winebrenner, 16, and his girlfriend Melody Pistorio, 14, in the head. Both die.

SEPT. 4, 1990: Thanos is captured in New Smyrna, Del., after two gunbattles with police.

SEPT. 5, 1990: Thanos confesses to killing the three teen-agers. He tells detectives he wants to spare the state the expense of a trial, plead guilty and be executed. He refuses to speak to public defender Burton Anderson.

SEPT. 11, 1990: Thanos agrees to let Mr. Anderson represent him. "I convinced him that the state would not execute him unless he had a lawyer," Mr. Anderson wrote in an affidavit. "Mr. Thanos agreed to allow me to represent him provided his case was expedited."

MARCH 26, 1991: A Wicomico County jury takes just 20 minutes to convict Thanos in the shooting of Mr. Willey, the Salisbury convenience store clerk. Judge Alfred T. Truitt sentences him to 50 years in prison for armed robbery and assault with intent to murder.

JULY 29, 1991: Wicomico County jury convicts Thanos of the abduction and robbery of the Salisbury cab driver. Judge Alfred T. Truitt Jr. sentences Thanos to 50 years.

JAN. 24, 1992: Thanos is convicted of murdering Billy Winebrenner and Melody Pistorio during the 1990 holdup.

MARCH 17, 1992: Thanos is convicted of murdering Gregory Taylor. Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz sentences him to death.

APRIL 21, 1992: Thanos writes a letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, stating he wants no appeals after his two mandatory ** appeals to the state Court of Appeals.

JUNE 3, 1992: Thanos is sentenced to death for the murders of the Middle River teen-agers. He tells Garrett County Judge Fred A. Thayer, "If I could bring those brats back right now from their graves, I would do so, so that I could murder them again before their eyes as they cringe in fear and horror."

APRIL 5, 1993: Maryland Court of Appeals upholds Thanos' conviction and death sentence for the murder of Gregory Taylor.

JUNE 7, 1993: Maryland Court of Appeals upholds Thanos' conviction and death sentence for the murders of Billy Winebrenner and Melody Pistorio.

SEPT. 27, 1993: Judge Thayer rules Thanos is competent, can fire his state public defenders and waive rights to future appeals. The public defenders appeal.

NOV. 10, 1993: The Court of Appeals rules that Thanos is competent and can fire his attorneys. However, they rule that he cannot waive a mandatory 240-day stay of execution in the Middle River killings.

MARCH 1, 1994: Two days before the 240-day stay runs out, Thanos' mother and sister file a state post-conviction appeal on his behalf as "next friends."

MARCH 29, 1994: Judge Kaminetz signs a new death warrant, calling for Thanos to be executed by lethal injection -- to comply with a new Maryland law -- in the Taylor murder. He sets the execution for the week of May 16.

APRIL 11, 1994: Thanos writes to Judge Audrey E. Melbourne, complaining about the appeal filed by his mother and sister without his permission: "The realities are (1) I murdered three people, (2) I was sentenced to death for each one and (3) I accept those realities."

APRIL 15, 1994: Judge Melbourne dismisses the appeal by Thanos' family.

MAY 3, 1994: American Civil Liberties Union files suit to overturn Maryland's new lethal injection statute.

MAY 9, 1994: Maryland Court of Appeals rejects appeal by Thanos' family.

MAY 11, 1994: Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph McCurdy Jr. refuses to issue injunction based on ACLU suit to stop Thanos' execution.

MAY 13, 1994: Maryland Court of Appeals also refuses ACLU injunction. This ends all formal appeals on Thanos' behalf.

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