Mark Anthony Duke

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Mark Anthony Duke (born c. 1980) is a murderer currently serving a life sentence at the Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore. His original death sentence was reduced to life without parole after the United States Supreme Court decision against execution of juvenile offenders in Roper v. Simmons (2005). Duke's case figured prominently in arguments before the court.

Duke, then 16, was living with his father, Randy, at 2327 Chandawood Drive in Pelham. His father's girlfriend, Dedra Hunt, and her two daughters, Chelsea (7) and Chelisa (6) also shared the house. Mark often argued with his father. On one occasion on March 22, 1997, he was so angered by his father's refusal to loan him his pick-up truck, that he planned to murder the entire household. He enlisted the cooperation of three friends, Michael Brandon Samra (19), Michael Lafayette Ellison (16) and David Layne Collums (17). They armed themselves before returning to the house. Mark told his partners that Hunt and her daughters would have to be killed so that they couldn't testify against him. Duke and Samra entered the house, where Duke emptied the clip of his .45 into his father's head and also stabbed and punched him. Samra shot Hunt and chased her upstairs. Duke helped him kick in the door of the master bathroom and shot her in the forehead. He then slit Chelisa's throat with a knife from the kitchen. They soon found Chelsea hiding under a bed. Duke held her down as Samra cut her throat.

After fleeing the house, Duke disposed of the knives in a storm drain and met Collums and Ellison on a nearby street. They washed up and hid their handguns, then bought tickets to watch "Scream" at a nearby multiplex. They left the theater shortly afterwards and ate before going to a pool hall. They disposed of their bloody clothes and Randy Duke's wallet in a dumpster near Ellison's house.

The next morning the four convened at the Duke residence to ransack it, staging a robbery scene. They rehearsed their alibi before Duke reported the robbery and murder to police. Once questioned, however, the four were immediately suspected and charged with murder. All four were convicted in 1999. Duke and Samra were sentenced to death for their active roles in the four murders. Ellison and Collums received 16-year sentences.

References

  • "Convicted murderer receives reprieve from Supreme Court." (March 9, 2005) Shelby County Reporter