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David Martin Long (July 15, 1953 – December 8, 1999) was an American murderer.

While on death row, Long confessed to setting a fire that killed two women in 1986.

Two days before Long was scheduled to be executed, he took an overdose of prescription drugs and was hospitalized in Galveston, Texas. Officials in Texas refused to delay the execution. Initially placed on a ventilator, Long improved significantly by the next day. He was placed on a medically supervised flight back to Huntsville on the day of his scheduled execution so that he could be executed as scheduled.

Early life

Long's siblings said that his behavior became problematic after the death of their mother when Long was ten years old.

Triple murder and arrest

In 1986, after being expelled from an alcohol rehabilitation program in Little Rock, Arkansas, Long was hitchhiking when 37-year-old Donna Sue Jester gave him a ride and allowed him to stay at her home in Lancaster, Texas. They lived with Jester's 64-year-old blind cousin named Dalpha Lorene Jester, and with a third woman, 20-year-old Laura Lee Owens. The women were killed with a hatchet. [2] Not long after the murders, Long was arrested for drunken driving, and he told jailers about killing the three women in Lancaster. The women's bodies had not been discovered at that point, Long's story was not taken seriously, and he was released from jail. [3]

When police discovered the bodies in Lancaster, they found the weapon, which had been wiped off and wrapped in a towel.

While he was in police custody, Long also confessed to two unsolved murders.


At his trial in the Jester case, Long's defense was that he had psychiatric problems, including schizophrenia. He said that he had sustained multiple head injuries, and he believed that some of his actions were related to being possessed by Satan. [1] Long told a psychiatrist that Donna Jester's home had a foul smell and that he became agitated around foul odors because he associated them with his mother's death. Long suspected that dead bodies were buried behind Jester's home. He said that he retrieved the hatchet on the day of the murders because he thought the three women in the Jester home were conspiring against him. [1]

Psychologist William Hester testified for the defense, opining that Long was likely psychotic at the time of the crime, but the prosecution pointed out a statement in one of Hester's notes that he had found no evidence of insanity. Testifying for the state, psychiatrist James Grigson said that Long had antisocial personality disorder, which he said was not considered a mental disease or defect. Grigson said that Long "understood the difference between right and wrong" at the time of the crime. [1]

At one point during the trial, Long stood up and yelled to the jury that he was guilty, saying that he had never wanted to advance the insanity defense in the first place.

Time on death row

Three years after Long arrived on death row, he gave a three-hour confession in which he admitted to starting a 1986 house fire that killed two women in the West Texas town of Iraan. Ernest Willis had been found guilty of that crime, and he had been sentenced to the death penalty in 1987. The prosecutor in the case had described the evidence against Willis as circumstantial. Long refused to testify before an appeals court in the Willis case. The videotape of Long's confession could be admissible in court, but it would only be effective if evidence could be located to corroborate Long's story.

Long's confession helped the Willis case to attract more attention from attorneys.

In 2004, Willis was released from prison because new fire investigators looked at the case and determined that the fire was more likely caused by an electrical problem than by arson.

In Long's own death penalty case, he lost a 1991 appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for writ of certiorari, and his execution was scheduled for September 1992. He received a stay of execution and his appeals continued for several years. [1]


Long exhausted his appeals and was scheduled for execution on December 8, 1999.

State officials asked intensive care physician Alexander Duarte to sign an affidavit saying it would be safe to transport Long to Huntsville. Duarte refused, saying that under normal circumstances Long would have stayed in intensive care for another day or two and warning that Long still required continual medical care. State officials arranged a medically supervised transport from Galveston to Huntsville via airplane. [8]


Long's attorneys appealed to Texas governor George W. Bush for a 30-day stay of execution given Long's hospitalization. Bush was out of state campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, so Lt. Governor Rick Perry was left with the decision. Perry refused to grant a stay, and a spokesperson for Bush said that the governor agreed with Perry's decision. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Long's final appeal, and he was taken to the execution chamber. He was executed, as originally scheduled, on December 8, 1999. [8]

Long gave a last statement, stating:


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