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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Residents had reason to fear escapee

The district attorney who prosecuted Gary Scott called him "the most callous, cold-blooded individual" of the 50 murder cases he has handled  

Just before the last of six Alabama prison escapee was recaptured Thursday afternoon, residents of rural Bucksnort, Tennessee, were locking their doors in fear.

The prosecutor who put Gary Scott in prison thought the reaction was warranted. Scott was convicted of murder in 1990 for stabbing and killing a man who gave him a ride in his car.

Scott is considered an extremely dangerous person by the district attorney who prosecuted and convicted him of murder in 1990.

Len Brooks, the Cullman County district attorney since 1981, inherited the Scott case. The murder had occurred in 1986.

Brooks says he has tried about 50 murder cases, but calls Scott "the most callous, cold-blooded individual in the bunch."

The details of Scott's crime stand out in his mind, he said, and he offered CNN excerpts from the transcript of Scott's confession:

Scott was walking down a highway in Cullman County, a rural county of about 80,000 located about halfway between Birmingham and Huntsville, and Gene Thompson, a young mentally challenged man going to a vocational college nearby, saw him and apparently felt sorry for him and turned around and asked him if he needed a ride. Scott told the investigators that he befriended the victim, climbed in the car and instructed him to drive over to a farm of a friend of his.

They got out, looked around and Scott said he decided at that point that he "wanted to kill him." Scott had had a juvenile history, but since those records are sealed I couldn't get any details, but it was not a violent history.

Scott was 17 at the time, and he said in his confession that "I just picked up the knife and stabbed him with it approximately three or four times. The knife was on the dash of the car, and Gene was hollering and groaning, and I thought he was dying ... I took the knife into the house to get the gun and a flashlight and went back outside to see Gene."

But Gene was not dead. He "pulled up his shirt and showed me the wounds," Scott said. "I grabbed Gene and told him to get in the trunk of the car.

"After I put him in the trunk I had a smoke. After this I decided I had better kill Gene because I could get away with it. I was afraid Gene would turn me in to the police. Since I have a record it would look bad on me."

Scott told investigators he drove away from the farmhouse and stopped again. "I had another smoke. I decided again I would kill Gene and I could get away with it."

Scott couldn't get the trunk open, so he handed a screwdriver to the victim through the back seat and told him to open the trunk from inside and get out.

"I told him to get out slow and easy. We walked approximately eight feet into the woods. I told Gene to turn around and face me. I thought about just leaving him because he wouldn't remember where we had been, then I decided, 'Hell, no, I'll just kill him.' We were standing about four feet apart. He was looking at me. I pulled the gun up and Gene started begging for me not to kill him. His pleading and begging did not bother me because I had already made up my mind. I shot him one time with a .41-caliber Blackhawk revolver.

"When I shot Gene the blood splattered into my face and hair. Gene stood there ... and just fell back. I stood there and wiped the blood from my face."

Then he said he decided to burn the body "to cover up any fabric or hairs on the body."

Scott said he drove a short distance to a store, where he bought chewing gum, a soft drink, and gas, which he put in a jug. Then, he said, "I drove back to the scene of the crime, got out of the car, located the body, got the gallon of gas and poured some of the gas on the body. "I didn't pour it all because I realized Gene's car was almost out of gas. Then I took my lighter and lit his body."

Investigators say Scott also took $130 from the victim, which was the basis for a robbery/murder/kidnapping charge.

At the time of the murder Scott was 17, which meant he would be prosecuted as a juvenile. But prosecutor Brooks petitioned to have Scott tried as an adult because he felt the crime was so heinous. Four years later, after Scott's lawyers had appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, it was ruled that Scott could be tried as an adult.

Various mental exams and psychological evaluations concluded that he could stand trial. He knew right from wrong, and was capable of standing trial.

Brooks said he didn't try to get the death penalty for Scott because the Supreme Court had previously ruled that a 16-year-old could not be put to death. Brooks sought a sentence of life without parole, and at trial Scott entered a guilty plea.

Asked why this case stood out, Brooks said, "Looking back now, I remember the sound of his voice on this tape. He was just so cold and callous. It was obvious that he had no remorse.

"Gary Scott seemed almost proud of what he'd done," Brooks said.

Manhunt under way for 6 escapees from Alabama prison
January 31, 2001
Texas fugitives criticize prisons, then surrender
January 24, 2001
Four Texas escapees face court appearance as authorities track 2 fugitives
January 22, 2001

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center

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