Stephen Anderson Executed For Elizabeth Lyman Murder

Stephen Anderson was executed by the State of California for the murder of Elizabeth Lyman

According to court documents Stephen Anderson would break into the home of eighty one year old Elizabeth Lyman. When the woman would wake up and see him Anderson would fatally shot her in the head. Following the murder Anderson would cook himself some food and was watching TV inside of Elizabeth home when police showed up and arrested him

Stephen Anderson would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

Stephen Anderson is suspected in at least seven other murders

Stephen Anderson would be executed by lethal injection on January 29 2002

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When Was Stephen Anderson Executed

Stephen Anderson was executed on January 29 2002

Stephen Anderson Case

Stephen Wayne Anderson was put to death at San Quentin State Prison early this morning, 22 years after he fatally shot an 81-year-old San Bernardino County woman during a burglary and then fixed himself some noodles in her kitchen.

Anderson, 48, who became a writer and poet while on Death Row, was led into the prison’s apple-green death chamber and strapped onto a padded gurney. As he lay with his arms and legs secured, a lethal chemical mix was pumped into his veins, rendering him unconscious, stopping his breathing and, finally, paralyzing his heart. Anderson was the 10th man to be put to death in California since executions resumed in 1992 following a 25-year hiatus.

The inmate spent his final hours alone, while his attorneys made a desperate attempt to save his life, arguing that the condemned man had no chance for clemency because Gov. Gray Davis was predisposed to deny any plea for mercy. But each court ruled against him, and the execution remained on course. He lost his final appeal last night before the U.S. Supreme Court. The only witnesses he asked to be at the execution were his two attorneys and the psychologist who testified for him during his trial. Earlier in the day, his federal public defender, Margo Rocconi, described him as calm. “He’s not holding out hope, so it will be easier for him,” she said.


About 230 demonstrators gathered outside the prison, protesting the execution. After he was pronounced dead, his two lawyers, Rocconi and Robert Horwitz, released a statement calling him “the poet laureate of the condemned.” “He still had so much more to contribute to the world,” they said. “We will miss him greatly.” The condemned man had few friends or relatives, living virtually a solitary life behind bars. But he left an unusual legacy, having written thousands of poems and short stories and several novels during his 20 years on death row. He won national prison writing awards for his work and had a play performed off-Broadway, drawing praise for his compassion and his grasp of the human condition. In the days leading up to his death, he completed a short story called “Laughing Water.”

But prosecutors say he will be remembered as a cold-blooded killer who committed a heinous crime on a helpless victim. On May 26, 1980, shortly after 1 a.m., Anderson, who had escaped from Utah State Prison, broke into the home of Elizabeth Lyman, an 81-year-old retired piano teacher who lived in Bloomington (San Bernardino County). He ransacked the home and found $112. When he entered the bedroom, Lyman abruptly sat up in bed and screamed. He fired a shot at close range, striking her in the face. After covering her with a sheet, he went to the kitchen, made himself a bowl of noodles and sat down to watch some television.


Prosecutors say Lyman’s murder was the latest homicide by a brutal killer. During his trial, Anderson admitted stabbing to death a fellow inmate in the prison kitchen while at Utah State Prison. He also admitted to investigators that after his escape from prison he had been paid $1,000 to shoot to death a man suspected of being a drug informant, using the same .45-caliber revolver that was used to kill Lyman. He later recanted the confession. In 1981, he was sentenced to die after a jury found him guilty of burglary and murdering Lyman.

In an attempt to save his life, his defense lawyers focused on his trial attorney, S. Donald Ames. The lawyer, who died in 1999, never talked to Anderson outside of court, contacted only one relative and put on virtually no case during the penalty phase in which Anderson ultimately was sentenced to die. Two of Ames’ other clients had death sentences overturned because of the lawyer’s ineffective representation. But each court denied Anderson’s appeal. His attorneys also made an unsuccessful attempt to disqualify Gov. Davis from deciding Anderson’s clemency request because they said Davis is biased, having rejected all three previous clemency requests from condemned inmates.


The inmate’s friends and defenders had argued that after a childhood of abuse and neglect, the hardened criminal had changed within the controlled confines of prison, finding a poetic voice and remorse for his crimes. Anderson received support from Lyman’s daughters — as well as the slain Utah inmate’s mother — who said they did not want him executed. But Davis on Saturday denied Anderson’s request for clemency.

Stephen Anderson was moved at 6 p.m. to a “death watch” cell, just a few feet from the death chamber where he had his last meal. The inmate asked for two grilled cheese sandwiches, a pint of plain cottage cheese, and a mix of hominy and corn, topped off by a piece of peach pie, a pint of chocolate chip ice cream, and radishes. The condemned man did not ask for a spiritual adviser to be with him during his final hours, San Quentin Prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon said.

After his death, his attorneys released part of one of his poems, titled “Unchained Visions, #9:” If no other misses you, I will: I will sense the emptiness where once you breathed.

Stephen Wayne Anderson, 48, was the 10th person to die in the San Quentin death chamber since executions resumed in 1992. The others: — April 21, 1992: Robert Alton Harris, 39. — Aug. 24, 1993: David Edwin Mason, 36. — Feb. 23, 1996: William George Bonin, 49. — May 3, 1996: Keith Daniel Williams, 48. — July 14, 1998: Thomas Martin Thompson, 43. — Feb. 9, 1999: Jaturun “Jay” Siripongs, 43. — May 4, 1999: Manuel Babbitt, 50. — March 15, 2000: Darrell “Young Elk” Rich, 45. — March 27, 2001: Robert Lee Massie, 59.

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