Paul Devoe was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for five murders. According to court documents Paul Devoe would murder ex-girlfriend Paula Griffith, 46; her boyfriend, 48-year-old Jay Feltner; her 15-year-old daughter, Haylie Marie Faulkner; and 17-year-old Danielle Hensley. Paul Devoe would then travel to Pennsylvania where he would murder Betty Jane Dehart, 81, during an attempt to steal her car. Paul Devoe would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Paul Devoe 2021 Information
|Devoe, Paul Gilbert
|Date of Birth
|Age (when Received)
|Education Level (Highest Grade Completed)
|10th Grade, GED
|Date of Offense
|Age (at the time of Offense)
|Height (in Feet and Inches)
|Weight (in Pounds)
Paul Devoe More News
The evidence presented at guilt revealed that, in late August 2007, Appellant stole a silver Jennings .380–caliber handgun (“the gun”), two ammunition magazines, and fifteen Winchester bullets from his friend, Bill Brinlee. Brinlee considered Appellant to be “family,” as Appellant had previously lived with the Brinlees. Appellant had access to the house, knew that the Brinlees would be out of town for a wedding during the weekend of August 24, and was aware that the gun was kept in the master bedroom.
On August 24, 2007, Appellant was residing at the Llano home of Sharon Wilson in exchange for work he had agreed to do around her home. At about 3:00 p.m., Wilson came home to find Appellant outside with the gun. Wilson had previously informed Appellant that she did not allow firearms in her home, and she asked that he not bring it in the house. She assumed that Appellant complied with her request.
A short while later, Wilson found Appellant looking in her purse. He claimed to be looking for a cigarette. Appellant then went to take a nap. At this point, Wilson decided that it was time to ask Appellant to vacate her home. She called some friends to be with her when she told him because she was afraid of how Appellant might react to the request. While waiting for her friends, she discovered that Appellant had emptied the gas can that she had filled for her lawn mower. Angered, Wilson felt she could wait no longer, so she went to confront Appellant.
Upon finding Appellant asleep in her bedroom, Wilson woke him and told him that he needed to leave. Appellant got up and went directly to the living room couch where he retrieved the gun from a hiding place behind the cushions, and he pointed it at Wilson’s head and mid-section. Wilson knocked Appellant’s arm so that the gun pointed away from her. Appellant then fired the gun multiple times into the couch and walls. Appellant spoke of killing himself. He told Wilson that he had only two bullets left and that he was going to his trailer, which was parked nearby, to get more. Appellant advised Wilson not to go near her pickup truck, but he told her she could go outside to smoke a cigarette. When Appellant walked out the door, Wilson grabbed her dog and ran from her home. She hid in heavy vegetation and cactus in the adjoining field. She heard Appellant start a truck, and he drove it towards Wilson. He stopped and revved the engine several times before backing up. Wilson saw Appellant drive away in her blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck. The license plate number was 21X–ZJ5. Wilson later found that her money and credit cards were missing from her purse. Investigators recovered .380–caliber bullets and shell casings from her home, and Wilson turned over Appellant’s day planner, which contained a photocopy of Paula Griffith’s driver’s license.
Later that evening, Glenda Purcell was at her usual hangout, O’Neill’s Sports Tavern in Marble Falls. Purcell had recently broken up with Appellant after a tumultuous six-month romantic relationship that ended when she asked him to move out of her home. Following the break-up, Purcell obtained a protective order against Appellant, of which Appellant had notice. Michael Allred was on duty as a bartender that night.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., Appellant entered O’Neill’s Sports Tavern. He was dressed in what Purcell described as his “motorcycle attire”: a black leather vest, chaps, a cap, and a jacket. Purcell immediately called out for someone to call the police because she had a protective order against Appellant. Appellant then walked over to Purcell, put his hand over her eyes, and held the gun to her head. He pulled the trigger several times, but the gun jammed. Purcell then ran back towards the men’s room where Allred was repairing something. She yelled, “Mike, Mike, [Appellant’s] here, he’s got a gun.” Allred stepped between Purcell and Appellant. Allred tried to persuade Appellant to calm down and to give him the gun, but Appellant then shot Allred in the chest with a .380–caliber bullet, severing his aorta and killing him. Purcell ran out of the back door to the police station next door. Witnesses saw Appellant flee the bar in a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck with the license plate 21X–ZJ5. Appellant was headed in the direction of Jonestown.
Paula Griffith lived in a house in Jonestown with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Haylie Faulkner. Griffith previously dated Appellant, but they had not had a romantic relationship in some time. By all accounts, the break-up seemed amicable, and Appellant kept in touch with Faulkner, even paying her entry fee into some beauty pageants.
On the evening of August 24, Griffith, Faulkner, Faulkner’s friend (Danielle Hensley), and Griffith’s boyfriend (Jay Feltner) were at Griffith’s home preparing for a trip to Fiesta Texas, an amusement park in San Antonio. Griffith had obtained tickets to celebrate the last weekend before the start of school. The group planned to travel to San Antonio on Friday night, spend the day at Fiesta Texas on Saturday, and return to Jonestown late Saturday night. Hensley was to return to her family’s home in Leander on Sunday.
On that Friday evening, August 24, Hensley’s mother and step-father began to worry when they did not receive a phone call from her because Hensley normally called to say good night. On Saturday, her parents were still unable to reach Hensley, Griffith, or Faulkner. They called the Jonestown police, but the police were unable to assist because the parents did not know the physical address of Griffith’s house. When searching the internet for news of any auto accidents or other events that might explain Hensley’s failure to make contact, Hensley’s step-father learned about the murder in Marble Falls and that the police were looking for a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck with the license plate number 21X–ZJ5.
On Sunday morning, August 26, Hensley’s parents drove to Griffith’s home in Jonestown. As they approached the driveway, Hensley’s step-father saw a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck parked near the house. He recognized the license plate number from his internet search the day before, and he knew that something was wrong. He parked a block away and called the police.
After securing the area, the police entered Griffith’s home to check on the welfare of the people possibly inside and discovered the four bodies. Feltner had been shot in the head from close range while sitting at the kitchen table. Griffith had been shot in the back of her head, apparently while she was running from the living room. Faulkner had fallen to the living room floor with a gunshot wound to the head. Hensley, who was lying on the living room couch, had four gunshot wounds including a fatal wound to the head. The group had apparently been preparing dinner as raw meat sat out on the counter and the barbecue grill outside was open.
It appeared to the investigators that each of the females’ purses had been searched and the contents dumped onto a couch. Feltner’s duffle bag had also been searched, and his cell phone was discovered to be missing. A carton of Skydancer cigarettes was on the same couch, and a cigarette butt was found on the floor. No identifiable fingerprints were found at the scene.
Police confirmed that the blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck parked at Griffith’s home was the same one that had been used to flee the murder in Marble Falls. Investigators collected three Natural Light beer cans, one empty Sport cigarette package, cigarette butts from the ashtray, and a set of General Motor keys from the pickup. They also discovered that Griffith’s white 2001 Saturn station wagon was missing.
Meanwhile, beginning Friday night, August 24, Appellant began calling his friend, Brinlee. During his first phone call, Appellant told Brinlee that he had “shot at” six people and “maybe killed two” people. He stated that he “was on the run.” During the second call, Brinlee noticed that Appellant was not calling from his cell phone; he was now calling from a new number. It was later determined that Appellant was using Feltner’s cell phone. This second call was placed at 11:44 p.m. in the vicinity of a cell tower in Belton, Texas.
During his second or third phone call to Brinlee, Appellant said that “he was going after [Purcell] and her father and mother.” He told Brinlee that he had gone to the bar to kill Purcell, but the bartender got in the way. Appellant said that he took a couple of shots at Purcell, but the gun jammed and that was why Purcell was not dead.
Records for Wilson’s credit card showed that someone attempted to use it at a Round Rock gas station on August 24. Call records for Feltner’s phone showed points along the route that Appellant took as he fled Texas. In addition to the call from the Belton area, Appellant used the phone while he was near the following locations: Mount Sylvan, Texas (Saturday, August 25 at 3:17 a.m.); Okalona, Arkansas (Saturday, August 25 at 9:12 a.m.); Bakerville, Tennessee (Saturday, August 25 at 3:30 p.m.); Shippensburg, Pennsylvania (Sunday, August 26 at 2:40 p.m.); and Siperstein Plaza, New Jersey (Sunday, August 26 at 6:46 p.m.). Appellant was traveling to his mother’s home in Shirley, New York.
On Sunday, August 26, while Appellant was driving through Pennsylvania, Griffith’s Saturn station wagon began stalling and “riding rough.” Appellant decided that he needed a different car, so he left Interstate 81 in the town of Greencastle. Appellant spotted a “nice car” in a driveway. Armed with the gun, he entered the home of Betty DeHart and found the keys to her blue 2006 Hyundai Elantra. He transferred his items from Griffith’s car into the Hyundai, including a Walmart bag containing ammunition, Skydancer cigarettes, sunglasses, and a road map. Appellant then continued driving to New York. An expended .380–caliber bullet and shell casing were recovered from DeHart’s home. In Griffith’s Saturn station wagon, investigators found an identification badge for Griffith, a certificate of Faulkner’s participation in a beauty pageant, a paper towel holder, a peanut can, and Powerade, Dr. Pepper, and Coca–Cola bottles.
Around noon on Monday, August 27, Appellant was located at the home of his friend and former employer, Gerald Baldoni, in the Long Island town of Shirley, New York. Baldoni invited the initial officer into his home and told him that Paul was there. The officer called for back-up, and when the officers subsequently entered the home, Appellant came out into the hallway from a bedroom with the gun pointed to his head. Appellant asked the officers to call his mother. He also stated that he did not want to go to jail for what he did because he knew that he was going to spend a long time there. After a short stand-off, Appellant threw down his weapon and surrendered.
Investigators recovered the gun, which had a bullet in the chamber and a loaded magazine. They also recovered Appellant’s black cowboy boots, leather vest, cap, and other clothing, and inside the vest’s pocket, they discovered Wilson’s credit card, a loaded magazine, loose shells, a Bic lighter, a pocket knife, a business card, and a piece of paper with a cell phone number written on it. DeHart’s Hyundai was found parked at Baldoni’s home; the keys were found in the house. Inside the Hyundai, they recovered Feltner’s cell phone and the Walmart bag, which contained a box of 100 Winchester .380–caliber bullets, an open carton of Skydancer cigarettes, a pair of sunglasses, a road atlas with the area around DeHart’s home circled in ink.
Pending his extradition to Texas, Appellant was held in custody by the Suffolk County, New York Police Department. Appellant made the following unsolicited statements in the presence of an officer: “They’re going to extradite me back to Texas, then probably Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, then probably back here. I bet they found me when I turned my damn cell phone on. I had that bitch turned off the whole time and they didn’t have a clue where I was”; “I had a good fucking thing going on in Texas, too. Business, house, vehicles. If it wasn’t for my stupid fucking girlfriend. One mistake ruined my whole fucking life”; “Do you know how many bodies they found? Five, six in Texas. Maybe 12 bodies.” Appellant also spoke with a detective of the Suffolk County Police Department. He described many of the events surrounding the instant offenses, but he did not speak specifically about the acts of shooting or killing.
After his return to Texas, Appellant told a cellmate in the Travis County Jail, “I’ll be here for a long time ․ I killed six people.” Also while in jail, during a recorded conversation with an acquaintance, Tiffany Waldrop, Appellant told Waldrop that he thought that he would be in jail for “[l]ife. I’m getting the death penalty.” When Waldrop asked Appellant if he had spoken with Brinlee, Appellant responded, “I’ve talked to [Brinlee], oh, they don’t want him basically him [sic] talking to me right now․ Because it was [Brinlee]’s gun that I used.” Appellant also told Waldrop, “I just wish I had never had that gun.”
DNA analysis identified Feltner’s and Allred’s blood on Appellant’s boots. Appellant’s DNA was on a cigarette butt found at the Jonestown crime scene and on Dr. Pepper and Coca–Cola bottles left in Griffith’s Saturn station wagon. A DNA profile consistent with a mixture of Appellant’s and Faulkner’s DNA was found on a Gatorade bottle also left in the station wagon. Ballistics analysis determined that the bullets recovered from the Llano, Marble Falls, Jonestown, and Pennsylvania crime scenes were all fired from Brinlee’s .380–caliber pistol.
The evidence presented at punishment revealed that Appellant shot and killed 81–year–old Betty DeHart when he stole her blue Hyundai in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. DeHart was found lying on her bed with a close-range gunshot wound to the head. Appellant claimed to have chased her into her home and that he shot her because “she wouldn’t stop screaming.”
Appellant possessed a lengthy criminal history. He was incarcerated in Burnet County, Texas, for various misdemeanors. Before that, he was jailed in Suffolk County, New York, over twenty times between 1980 and 2004, including an incarceration in the Gowanda state prison from 1997 to 2002. Appellant’s convictions in Suffolk County, New York, included aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, aggravated harassment, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, endangering the welfare of a child, two convictions for harassment, three for assault, and four for felony driving while intoxicated. Appellant’s 1989 assault conviction was for shooting another young man with a 12–gauge shotgun following an altercation that Appellant incited; that man testified about that incident and his resulting wounds.
Appellant also had a lengthy history of abusing women. Appellant told a former neighbor that he “liked to slap the girls around.” Purcell, the woman Appellant attempted to kill in Marble Falls, testified about earlier abuse by Appellant. On one occasion, he punched her in the face and broke her nose. On another occasion occurring June 15, 2007, while driving, she and Appellant were run off the road. Appellant chased down the offending truck, forced it to stop, and pulled the driver—a young woman—out of the truck. He threatened to beat up the young woman, but Purcell persuaded him not to do so. Later that same night, Purcell complained that Appellant had been living in her home for four months without paying any bills or helping out. Appellant became angry, and he cut Purcell’s clothes off with a knife, punched her several times, and held a knife to her throat. He also hit Purcell with the finial from a bed post, breaking two of her ribs, and he threatened to shoot her. Purcell subsequently kicked Appellant out of her home and obtained a protective order.
Jody Pagel, a woman whom Appellant had dated in the early 1980s while living in New York, testified regarding three incidents involving Appellant. During the first incident, Appellant drank too much and attempted to choke her to death. Pagel testified that the second incident occurred in the house, but she could not recall the facts clearly. During the third incident, they were at a bar when Appellant choked Pagel so hard that he lifted her up off the floor; he then threw her to the ground. Following the assault, Appellant sat at the bar with another woman as if nothing had happened. After Pagel broke up with Appellant, Appellant made harassing phone calls in which he threatened to kill Pagel and her new boyfriend. Pagel reported the calls, and she obtained a protective order.
On December 20, 2006, Appellant went to the emergency room at South Austin Medical Center. When a female physician told him that it would not be a good idea for him to leave the hospital, Appellant spoke aggressively and abusively to someone on the phone and then threatened to physically harm the female doctor.
Mary McNellage testified that Appellant lived in her Spicewood, Texas, home for 89 days. She wanted him to leave due to his lies, drinking, and uncontrolled behavior. McNellage did not want to ask Appellant directly to leave because Appellant had previously physically threatened her. Consequently, she left him a car and a suitcase along with a note that asked him to leave her things alone and “just go.” She had also washed and folded his clothes and had packed them and his other belongings in the suitcase and car. McNellage then stayed at a friend’s house for 13 days because she was afraid of Appellant’s reaction to the note. Appellant refused to leave, but eventually he was forced to go. After McNellage finally returned home, Appellant showed up around 3:00 a.m. saying that he wanted to have sex with her. When she rebuffed his advances, Appellant held a hunting knife to her throat. She managed to fight Appellant off and call 9–1–1. Charges were filed against Appellant, and the case was pending at the time of the capital murders.
Appellant’s family confirmed that, when Appellant was in his twenties, he once attempted to strangle his mother with a telephone cord. Following that incident, Appellant’s mother obtained a protective order against him.
The jury also received ample evidence from numerous witnesses that Appellant abused alcohol and drugs and that he tended to become more violent when he did so. Appellant’s mother testified, via deposition, that Appellant became “very violent” when he was drinking—he “would take things apart, tear up the house, and break down doors. He would act like that no matter whose house he was at.”
Appellant’s substance abuse was also the subject of expert testimony. Defense psychiatrist Dr. Robert Cantu interviewed Appellant. His understanding from Appellant was that Appellant had smoked a half to one ounce of methamphetamine in the 12 hours preceding the instant offense, in addition to drinking what Appellant reported as a liter of rum that day. Cantu testified that Appellant would be a danger to others in prison if he had access to large quantities of drugs or alcohol, if he had the opportunity to harm weaker people there, and if he were in an unstructured environment that allowed him to go places without direct supervision. Cantu stated, “I think if those three things ․ were present, that he would be a future danger, yes, sir.” Cantu also believed that Appellant did “know what he was doing” during the time of the instant offense.
A.P. Merillat, a senior criminal investigator for the Texas Special Prosecution Unit, testified that inmates in Texas prisons have access to drugs, alcohol, and weapons. He further testified that many violent crimes occur inside Texas prisons.
Dr. Richard Coons, a psychiatrist, testified for the State without objection. After interviewing Appellant and reviewing his records, Coons agreed with Cantu’s assessment that Appellant would be a continuing threat to society. In Coons’s opinion, Appellant was “drug dependent and ․ I think if he were given the opportunity, [Appellant] would certainly try to get them, try to use them” in prison. During Coons’s interview with him, Appellant described the instant offenses in detail. Appellant told him that he was angry when he shot the gun in Wilson’s home, but he said that the shooting of Allred “was an accidental shooting.” He claimed that he went to Griffith’s home to get money and that he shot Feltner because Feltner came at him (despite the physical evidence that Feltner was seated at the kitchen table). He shot Griffith and the kids because they were screaming. He also stated that he shot DeHart because she was screaming.
Coons concluded that Appellant was not operating under any type of psychosis during the instant offense. He found that Appellant planned his behavior and was “actively responsive to what he [felt] he need[ed] to do.” Coons agreed with Appellant’s previous diagnoses of psychotic disorder not-otherwise-specified, antisocial behavior, and personality problems, and that Appellant is polysubstance dependent.
In reaching a determination that Appellant would be a future danger, Coons evaluated the following factors: (1) Appellant’s long history of violence; (2) the awful set of facts related to the instant offense; (3) Appellant’s attitude toward violence, which is impulsive with a lack of empathy; (4) Appellant’s antisocial personality behaviors; (5) Appellant’s lack of any remorse; and (6) the prison society that Appellant would be in.
The defense’s expert, psychologist Dr. Ollie Seay, evaluated Appellant for mental retardation and concluded that Appellant did not fit the criteria for that diagnosis. Seay did testify, however, that he believed that Appellant may have “possible mental limitations.” Neuropsychologist Dr. Leslie Rosenstein surmised that Appellant has deficits and weaknesses in his neurocognitive functioning, but she agreed that Appellant was not legally mentally retarded.
Appellant’s aunt, Laura Nelson, and sister, Elizabeth Petrie, testified on his behalf. Nelson stated that she did not think Appellant was treated well by his step-father and that he seemed to be punished a lot. Her memories of Appellant are of a caring, loving, and sharing person. However, Nelson admitted that she had not seen Appellant in several years. She knew that he had relationships with numerous women, that he would live off of them, and that the relationships ended because of fighting.
Petrie testified that Appellant was a typical brother, but he did “smack” her and physically push her while they were growing up. She noted that Appellant did not do well in school and that he started drinking when he was fifteen. She was aware that her brother could be “very violent” and that his relationships with women frequently involved violence. Appellant called Petrie while he was “on the run” in the instant offense, and he told her that he had shot people and did not know if they were alive or dead. Petrie told Appellant to turn himself in and not to hurt anyone else; he responded, “I gotta do what I gotta do.” Appellant also presented evidence that he did not have a record of disciplinary problems during his many incarcerations.