Timothy Baldwin

Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
Date of Crime: April 4, 1978
Executed September 10, 1984

Timothy George Baldwin was convicted of the murder of Mary James Peters, an 85-year-old West Monroe woman.  Peters was a former neighbor of Baldwin and also godmother to his youngest child.  Peters was severely beaten in her home on April 4, 1978, apparently in the late evening hours.  She was found at noontime the next day by a Meals on Wheels worker who went to her home to serve her lunch.  Although the assault left Peters with some brain damage, she remained conscious following her discovery.  Even though she knew Baldwin well, she did not identify him as her assailant.  Peters died the day after she was found.

On the day of the assault, Baldwin and his girlfriend, Marilyn Hampton, visited Baldwin's children who were staying in West Monroe at the apartment of his oldest daughter, Michelle.  Baldwin had most recently lived in Ohio, but at the time, he and Hampton were living an itinerant existence. The two left Michelle's apartment at 8 p.m.  Baldwin admitted that he and Hampton visited Peters that evening, but said he did not assault or murder her.

Following the discovery of the assault, Baldwin and Hampton were located in El Dorado, Arkansas.  Baldwin signed consents for the search of their motel room and his van.  Police initially found no evidence against the pair.  However, they later found a couple bank bags in his van, two days after they took possession of it.  One of the bags was empty, but the other contained $27,000 worth of savings bonds and certificates of deposit payable to Peters.  Baldwin claimed this evidence was planted.

The main witness against Baldwin was Hampton, who received a life sentence rather than a death sentence for testifying against him. She allegedly waited outside in Baldwin's van while he bludgeoned Peters.  Baldwin's step-daughter, Michelle, also testified against him.  Michelle's testimony was questionable because she was highly intoxicated on the night of the murder and threatened by police to make a statement.  She testified Baldwin said he was facing the electric chair prior to his visit with Peters and that he told her three days later, “She didn't suffer, it was fast.”  A traveling companion of Baldwin and Hampton who did not accompany them to West Monroe also said Baldwin made an incriminating statements to him before going to West Monroe and also the day after going there.

Testimony of Peters' neighbors placed a van at Peters' home around the time of her assault, but their description of the van did not match Baldwin's, though both were dark in color.  They also picked out another man in a police lineup.  Two witnesses, Paul Thomas Rice and Robert Grisham, gave testimony that the assailant appeared to be leaving Peters' home at 10:25 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. because they heard him say, “We'll see you later, Mrs. Peters,” but they did not see the van pull away.  Another neighbor, Mrs. J.C. Hawkins, said she saw the van in front of Peters' home at 11:10 p.m.

Following Baldwin's conviction, his lawyers were able to locate a receipt that indicated he checked into White Sands Motel in El Dorado, Arkansas, on the same day as the assault on Peters.  The receipt specified only the date of the check-in, indicating Baldwin checked in prior to midnight.

According to Google Maps, the normal driving time between West Monroe, LA and El Dorado, AR is 97 minutes.  If Baldwin had left Peters' home at 10:30 p.m., it would have been possible for him to reach the motel by midnight if he encountered less than normal road traffic and perhaps was speeding.  However, since the prosecution presented evidence that the apparent murderer's van was in front of Peters' home at 11:10 p.m., this evidence can be used in Baldwin's favor as the burden to prove guilt rests on the prosecution.  It is not plausible that Baldwin could have left Peters' home after 11:10 p.m. and arrived at the motel before midnight.  Some have argued that the Arkansas motel had simply failed to change the date on its receipt register at midnight on the night when Baldwin checked in.

The prosecution claimed that Baldwin had checked into the motel earlier in the day in order to establish an alibi.  However, such behavior by Baldwin, appears unlikely.  Evidence indicated Baldwin stayed at a cabin at Holmes County State Park in Mississippi the previous night and that he arrived in West Monroe at 2 p.m.  Stopping in El Dorado prior to 2 p.m. would have required three additional hours of driving on Baldwin's part.  Baldwin was executed in the electric chair on Sept. 10, 1984.

In an interview with a British newspaper, The Observer, Howard Marsellus, the chairman of the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole, was troubled that he may have allowed an innocent man to be put to death.  The governor had appointed Marsellus and Marsellus felt he had to go along with the governor wishes that there be no recommendation for clemency in any capital case.  The governor visited Hampton in prison before signing Baldwin’s death warrant.  Marsellus believed the purpose of the visit was to induce Hampton to maintain her original testimony.  Two months later the Board of Pardons and Paroles received Hampton's file marked “Expedite.”  Seven years into a life sentence for first-degree murder Hampton was freed. 


References:  Appeals, WC: IPOMOJ, Justice: Denied

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Louisiana Cases, Defendants Executed After 1976