At approximately 11:45 PM On September 18, 1980, Laura Webster left the Green Dolphin bar with three men she did not know (as victim of a ruse). The next morning, her body was found in a dry bed in the Santa Cruz River underneath the 22nd street bridge. She was naked except for being wrapped in a bloody sheet, having been raped, strangled, beaten, and stabbed to death. After death, she sustained a broken neck (apparently from being thrown from the 22nd street bridge). A purse containing Webster's identification was found in a nearby Circle K dumpster and turned over to TPD by Doug Noyce, a Tucson electrical contractor. Nearly a year later, Clabourne's ex-girlfriend Shirley Martin informed police that Clabourne may have implicated himself in a homicide. Clabourne was interviewed by detectives, and provided a full confession to the rape and murder. According to the confession, Clabourne and his two companions (Larry Langston & Edward Carrico) promised Webster that they would take her to a cocaine party; instead, they beat her and took her to a house near 22nd st. and Park Avenue where she was stripped naked and made to serve the men drinks. For approximately six hours she was raped and beaten. After Webster plead for help, Clabourne strangled her with a bandanna and stabbed her in the heart, killing her.
Clabourne's co-defendants in the case were also sentenced after taking plea offers; one received a life sentence (Langston) and the other received probation (Carrico).
Prosecutor: Geoffrey Cheadle, Jr. and Lynn Gallagher
Defense Attorney: Lamar Couser
Trial commenced on November 16, 1982. On November 23, 1982, after less than an hour of deliberations, the jury found Clabourne guilty of one count of First Degree Murder, one count of Kidnapping, and 3 counts of Sexual Assault. On January 24, 1983, Clabourne was sentenced to death for the murder charge and 14 years for each of the kidnapping and sexual assault charges.
In 1984, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence. On September 8, 1995, the 9th Circuit affirmed the District Court's ruling that Clabourne received ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of the trial, and he was resentenced August 14, 1997 to the same sentence. On June 18, 1999, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the sentence of death, but vacated the consecutive terms of 14 years for the other 4 counts and ordered that they run concurrently.