- Inmate # 155617
- Gender: Male
- Ethnicity: Caucasian
- Date of Birth: June 14, 1973
- Family Information: Unknown
- A.K.A. Unknown
- Age at time of offense: 24 years 8 months
- Pima County Superior Court Case #CR61846
- Date of Offense February 19, 1998
- Victim(s): Farrah Armstrong, age 22 female; Frank Williams, age 25 male
Criminal History Before OffenseEdit
- 2 felony burglary charges; one charge of writing bad checks
- Shad Armstrong and his sister, Farrah Armstrong, committed a home burglary in 1996. By January 1998, Shad was suspicious that Farrah was intending to turn herself in for the burglary, and he conspired with David Doogan to murder Farrah and her fiance, Frank Williams.
- On February 19, 1998, Shad and Doogan invited Farrah and Williams to their house in Tucson, AZ, under the guise of returning borrowed money. When Farrah and Williams arrived, Shad retrieved a shotgun and shot Farrah and Williams in the midsection and head. Shad and Doogan had prepared for the murders by hanging plastic sheets around the room and digging a grave in the backyard. After stripping the bodies of valuables and burying the bodies in the shallow grave, Shad left with his girlfriend, Rusty Medina, to Texas, where they were eventually apprehended and extradited to Arizona.
- Judge: Howard Hantman
- Prosecutor: Susan Eazer
- Defense Attorney: Harley Kurlander and David Basham
- Trial commenced on January 24, 2000. On March 10, 2000, after one day of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts to 2 charges of First Degree Murder and one charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder. Trial length was 47 days. On December 7, 2000, Armstrong was sentenced to death on both of the First Degree Murder charges, and 25-to-life on the Conspiracy charge.
- The facts related to the murders, which are described in more detail in Armstrong I, 208 Ariz. at 347-50 ¶¶ 2-22, 93 P.3d at 1063-66, are as follows. In 1996, Armstrong lived in Oklahoma with his girlfriend Russette Medina and his sister Farrah. Armstrong and Farrah burglarized a home in Texas. After Armstrong learned that Oklahoma authorities were looking for him, he fled to Tucson with Medina, Medina's daughter, and Farrah.
¶ 6 In Tucson, Farrah met Williams. They became romantically involved and moved into an apartment together. Armstrong and Medina could not afford rent, so they moved in with Williams and Farrah. Tensions grew in the apartment. Medina and Armstrong frequently clashed, and Farrah was upset with Armstrong because of an unpaid cable bill. In early 1998, Armstrong left the apartment and moved in with his friend David Doogan. They lived in a trailer in Three Points, Arizona, belonging to Doogan's father. Later, Medina, her daughter, and another child fathered by Armstrong also moved to the trailer in Three Points.
¶ 7 Meanwhile, Farrah and Williams visited Farrah's parents in Oklahoma. They shared their plans to move there and get married. Farrah discussed with her parents her need to resolve her outstanding legal problems. After returning to Tucson in early February, Farrah told Medina about her plans to return to Oklahoma and turn herself over to authorities. She also told Medina that in order to get favorable treatment, she planned to tell the Oklahoma authorities where Armstrong was located.
¶ 8 Medina told Armstrong about his sister's plans. He became angry and worried that he would go to prison and that he and Medina would lose custody of their children. Shortly after, Armstrong discussed Farrah's plans with Doogan and the pair started plotting to kill Farrah and Williams.
¶ 9 Several days before the murders, Armstrong and Doogan dug a grave near the trailer. On the afternoon of February 19, 1998, Armstrong asked Farrah to come to Three Points because he had money for the unpaid cable bill. He also asked her to bring Williams because they needed his help with Doogan's car. Armstrong had Medina and the children go to a different trailer so the children would not see Farrah arrive. To further prepare for the murders, Doogan and Armstrong hung sheets on the walls and gathered plastic bags and a blanket to cover the bodies. Armstrong also loaded a shotgun with deer slugs.
¶ 10 Near dusk, Farrah and Williams drove up to the property, Doogan opened the front door, and Armstrong hid with the shotgun. As Farrah and Williams approached the trailer, Doogan waved Armstrong off. Armstrong put down the gun and greeted Farrah and Williams. Eventually everyone was in the living room. Farrah sat on a couch, Williams sat on a recliner, and Doogan sat on a chair opposite Williams. As Doogan talked with Farrah and Williams, Armstrong retrieved the shotgun. He returned to the living room and shot Williams in the chest. Armstrong shot Farrah twice, first in the chest and then in the head. He then shot Williams in the head.
¶ 11 Doogan and Armstrong disposed of the bodies. They placed a plastic bag over Williams' head and wrapped the blanket around both bodies. They could not easily carry the bodies, so they dragged them outside and used a truck to pull the blanket to the open grave. They pushed the bodies into the hole and partially filled it with dirt. They then moved the bloody couch and recliner into the truck bed. Armstrong gathered some of the bloody sheets, put them in the hole with the bodies, and finished filling the grave. By that time, Medina had returned to the main trailer and soon they all got in the truck and left Three Points. They dumped the furniture in the desert and headed to Williams and Farrah's apartment, where they took some electronic items and Farrah's jewelry.
¶ 12 On the Sunday after the killings, Doogan's neighbor called and asked Doogan if he knew where Armstrong was. Doogan, following Armstrong's directions, said that Armstrong had left for Michigan. Armstrong immediately prepared to leave town. Armstrong, Medina, and the children spent several months in Los Angeles before relocating to Odessa, Texas. Despite these evasive maneuvers, an investigation was already in progress. A friend of Williams and Farrah called the police about their disappearance, and authorities discovered the blood-stained furniture in the desert. Doogan's father also contacted the police. The police obtained a search warrant for the Three Points property, discovered the bodies, and began searching for Armstrong and Medina. Nearly a year after the killings, authorities arrested them in Texas.
Post Conviction InformationEdit
- The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Armstrong's conviction on July 16, 2004, but overturned and remanded the sentence of death on the same date. On November 15, 2006, a separate jury sentenced Armstrong to death for the two First Degree Murder charges.
- FACTS (Long Version)
¶ 2 In late August 1996, Armstrong lived in Oklahoma with his girlfriend, Rusty Medina. During that month, Armstrong, his sister Farrah, and a friend, Tommy Taylor, burglarized the home of Rob Fisher in Caddo, Texas. Sometime during the next four months, Armstrong learned that Taylor had implicated him in the burglary. He left Oklahoma in January 1997 in order to avoid arrest. He, along with Medina, Medina's child K.M., and Farrah relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where they moved into an apartment together.
¶ 3 Soon after arriving in Tucson, Farrah met Frank Williams and almost immediately began a romantic relationship with him. Shortly thereafter, Williams moved into the apartment where Armstrong, Medina, K.M., and Farrah were living. Ultimately, Farrah and Williams got engaged, and in July 1997 moved into their own apartment. By December, however, Armstrong, Medina, K.M., and a child born to Medina and Armstrong in May 1997 had left their apartment and moved in with Farrah and Williams.
¶ 4 In January 1998, Armstrong and Medina began to quarrel, so Armstrong moved to Three Points, Arizona with his friend David Doogan and his father, Tim Doogan, into the Doogans' trailer. Medina and the children remained at the apartment a few more weeks until early February, when they moved out and joined Armstrong in Three Points.
¶ 5 Meanwhile, in late January 1998, Farrah and Williams visited Farrah's parents in Oklahoma. During this trip, Farrah indicated to her parents that she planned to marry Williams and she wanted to resolve her legal problems in Oklahoma so that she could move back to the state. Farrah asked her parents to ascertain whom she should contact, but before obtaining the information, Farrah and Williams left Oklahoma to return to Arizona. Farrah's mother called the apartment in Arizona and left the Oklahoma district attorney's phone number with Armstrong. Upon arriving home, Farrah shared with Medina her plans to turn herself in. Farrah told Medina that the only way she could achieve a fresh start was by going back to Oklahoma, turning herself in, and telling the authorities of Armstrong's whereabouts. Medina called Armstrong and told him of Farrah's plan to “turn him in for his warrants[,] to clean her slate, to get everything off her back.” Armstrong told Medina that he was “going to have to do something about it” because he did not want either of them to go to prison or lose their kids. Against this background, Armstrong began to lay plans to kill Farrah and Williams.
¶ 6 In early February 1998, Armstrong told David Doogan that Farrah had talked to him about turning herself in because she had been told that she would receive a break on the charges she was facing if she disclosed Armstrong's location. Armstrong told Doogan he felt Williams was influencing Farrah to turn herself in and that he intended to kill Williams in order to exert control over Farrah. Armstrong and Doogan then contrived a scheme to invite Williams over to work on Doogan's car and then shoot him while driving down the road. This plan was never pursued.
¶ 7 Armstrong and Doogan also had a number of conversations about how they would murder both Farrah and Williams. They decided to dig a grave on Doogan's property, believing that nobody would think to look for the bodies there. They dug the grave about one week before the murders.
¶ 8 Armstrong later came up with a different plan to kill Farrah and Williams. He planned to lure Farrah to the Doogan property under the pretext of getting her a puppy from his friend who lived nearby. Once she got there, he would invite her to go with him to look at a snake in a small trailer on the property. Outside the trailer, he would shoot her from behind with a gun hidden behind the back door. After shooting Farrah, Armstrong planned to lure Williams to the Doogan property under the pretext of having him work on Doogan's car. Armstrong would then shoot him, too.
¶ 9 Armstrong came closer to carrying out his second scheme. He called Farrah and she came to the trailer. They went outside to look at the snake, but as Armstrong reached for the shotgun, Farrah turned around and asked him what the gun was for. He told her he was bringing the gun just in case they needed it for the snake. She said if he needed the gun, she did not want to see the snake, and they went back in the trailer.
¶ 10 On February 18, 1998, Armstrong and Doogan made a third plan to kill Farrah and Williams. In the early afternoon of February 19, Armstrong and Doogan began to prepare. This time, Armstrong called Farrah between 4 and 5 p.m. and asked her to come to the Doogan property to collect money he owed her. He told Farrah to have Williams come as well to help work on Doogan's car.
¶ 11 Armstrong and Doogan next prepared the scene for Farrah and Williams' arrival by hanging sheets on the walls to capture any blood spatter, placing a blanket in the living room, sliding the coffee table out of the way, and gathering plastic bags that they planned to use to cover the victims' upper bodies after the shooting. Armstrong then removed ammunition from a cabinet in the kitchen and loaded the shotgun. The two men then waited for Farrah and Williams for an hour or two.
¶ 12 Farrah and Williams arrived at the Doogan property some time around dusk. As they approached the trailer, Doogan opened the front door and stood in the doorway while Armstrong hid behind the front door with the shotgun. Although the original plan had been that Armstrong would immediately shoot Farrah and Williams, Doogan waved Armstrong off as the couple walked up the front steps. Armstrong stepped away from the door and walked down the hallway and placed the gun in a room. Eventually, the four congregated in the living room, with Williams seated on the recliner, Farrah on the couch, and Doogan in a chair opposite the recliner. Armstrong remained standing, moving around much of the time. After a few moments, Armstrong headed down the hallway. He returned momentarily carrying the shotgun and stopped about two and a half feet in front of Williams. Williams cursed at Armstrong and started to get up, but Armstrong shot him in the midsection before he could stand. Farrah screamed and also started to get up, but Armstrong turned and shot her once in the midsection, followed by another shot to the head. Armstrong then turned back to Williams and shot him in the head.
¶ 13 After the shooting, Armstrong and Doogan spread the blanket on the floor and moved the victims' bodies onto it. They put plastic bags over their upper bodies to keep any smell from rising out of the gravesite. Armstrong removed some of Farrah's jewelry and went through Williams' pockets. They tied knots in each end of the blanket and dragged the bodies out the back door onto the back porch, leaving a bloody streak on the kitchen floor. They hooked one end of the blanket to the back of Farrah's truck and pulled the bodies to the gravesite. After pushing the bodies into the grave, Armstrong and Doogan partially filled the hole with dirt. They returned to the trailer and took the bloody couch and recliner and loaded them into the truck. Armstrong then gathered the sheets and rags used to clean up the bloody mess, disposed of them in the partially filled grave, and filled the remainder of the hole with dirt.
¶ 14 Meanwhile, Medina, with her children, had been in a travel trailer also located on the Doogan's property while the murders were taking place. Shortly after Armstrong returned from filling the grave, Medina left the children in the travel trailer and entered the main trailer through the back door. She saw Doogan washing his hands in the kitchen sink. As she walked back toward the bathroom, she saw the blood trail through the kitchen, as well as the blood stains and pieces of flesh in the living room. Medina found Armstrong in the bathroom, washing off bloody jewelry and money. Armstrong said, “I did it,” and explained that he had shot the victims in the head and chest. Armstrong then spent much of that night and the next day covering up the murders by cleaning the trailer of the remaining blood and carnage, as well as disposing of the bloody furniture in the desert.
¶ 15 Soon after the murders, Farrah's and Williams' disappearance began to be the subject of an investigation by law enforcement. As a result, Armstrong took Medina and the children and fled Arizona in an effort to evade questioning by the authorities. Armstrong took his family to Los Angeles where they stayed for seven to eight months. It was there that Armstrong first expressed emotion to Medina over the loss of his sister and Williams and proceeded to explain to her in detail what had happened. He also told her that if they were ever caught, she should tell the police that Doogan and Farrah had been having a “fling,” that Doogan did not like Williams because Williams had gotten him fired from a job, and that Doogan was the one who shot the victims.
¶ 16 Meanwhile, back in Arizona the investigation into the disappearance continued. As a result of the investigation, the police found the bloody furniture from Doogan's trailer that Armstrong and Doogan had dumped in the desert. Also, in June 1998, Doogan gave a statement in which he confessed to limited participation in the two murders. Doogan claimed that when he came home on February 19, Armstrong had already murdered the victims and buried them behind the house. Doogan went with police to the Doogan property, showed them the location of the gravesite, and had a conversation with them about the location of the blood stains in the living room. Detective Downing and the homicide detail searched the home and property pursuant to a warrant. After four to five hours of excavation, the police located the victims' bodies, along with sheets, rags, and a pair of Armstrong's blue jeans. A warrant for the arrest of Armstrong and Medina issued on June 16, 1998.
¶ 17 In early December 1998, Armstrong, Medina, and the children left Los Angeles and moved to Odessa, Texas, where they lived together on and off. During this time, Medina worked as an exotic dancer and Armstrong stayed home with the children. While watching television on January 9, 1999, Armstrong saw the story of Farrah's and Williams' murders on “America's Most Wanted.” Armstrong called Medina and described the contents of the show to her, including a re-enactment of his actions and involvement. Armstrong wanted to leave Odessa; Medina refused to go.
¶ 18 Approximately one week later, on January 16, Medina again left Armstrong after an argument about her job as a stripper. Medina took the children to the home of a friend, where that evening she was arrested. She told police where she had last seen Armstrong, went with them in the patrol car to the location, and then was taken to jail.
¶ 19 At 3 a.m. on January 18, 1999, the police arrested Armstrong, finding him sleeping on the laundry room floor of an Odessa apartment complex. While being transported in the patrol car, Armstrong volunteered that he had planned to leave Odessa for Dallas, but once he learned of Medina's arrest he had decided to turn himself in the following day.
¶ 20 On January 20, 1999, Armstrong initiated a conversation with Officer Michael McCleery after signing a waiver of extradition to Arizona. Armstrong told McCleery that he and Medina had argued about turning themselves in; he claimed they had separated because he wanted to surrender, but she did not. He also told the officer that he did not want Medina “to take the rap for something that he had done” and that he knew he would get the death penalty for what he had done.
¶ 21 Armstrong, Medina, and Doogan were charged with two counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. On March 8, 1999, the State filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty. On August 27, 1999, Doogan announced he would accept the State's plea offer of two counts of second degree murder in exchange for his testimony at trial. On October 14, 1999, the State sought to sever Armstrong's and Medina's trials because the prosecutor hoped to use Medina's statements against Armstrong. The trial judge granted the State's motion.
¶ 22 On January 5, 2000, the State announced Medina would accept a plea bargain in exchange for her testimony at trial. The trial court seated the jury on January 11, 2000, and then postponed the first day of trial until January 24, 2000. Following a thirty-three day trial, Armstrong was convicted on all charges. The court imposed the death penalty for each of the two murders and twenty-five years to life for the conspiracy conviction. This appeal followed.