Robert Melson, Alabama
June 8, 2017
Robert Bryant Melson was executed by the state of Alabama on Thursday, June 8, 2017. He was pronounced dead at 10:27 pm local time, inside the execution chamber at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. Appeals delayed his execution by several hours. Robert was 45 years of age. He was executed for murdering 18-year-old Tamika Collins, 17-year-old James Nathaniel Baker, and 23-year-old Darryl Collier on April 16, 1994, in Gadsden, Alabama. Robert spent the last 23 years of his life on Alabama’s death row.
Around midnight on April 16, 1994, four employees – 18-year-old Tamika Collins, 17-year-old James Nathaniel Baker, 23-year-old Darryl Collier, and 17-year-old Bryant Archer – were closing at Popeye’s, the restaurant where they worked. Bryant and James were taking out the trash, while Darryl waited to unlock the door and let them back in. Upon opening the door, a black man and a Hispanic man entered the restaurant. The four employees, were ordered at gunpoint to enter the office and open the safe. After taking all the money from the safe, the robbers demanded the employees get inside the restaurant’s freezer, where they were locked in.
A short time later, the black man opened the door to the freezer and began shooting. Tamika, James, and Darryl all received fatal, close-range gunshot wounds to the head. Bryant was shot four times but managed to crawl from the freezer to the office, where he called the police. Bryant survived his injures. He was able to identify the Hispanic male as Cuhuatemoc Peraita, a former employee. He did not recognize the black male. Bryant also told police that it was the black male that locked the employees in the freezer and shot them. Although Bryant did not see the car the two men were driving, he told police the type of car Peraita drove – an older model black Monte Carlo.
Police put out a notice that evening and Police Officer Terry Graham recognized the car and the description of the two men. Officer Graham apprehend Peraita and Robert Melson, a black man who was with Peraita and matched the description of the second suspect. During police questioning, both men initially claimed that they were together, driving around and smoking marijuana that night. They admitted to driving by Popeye’s but claimed they never went inside. A few days later, Melson gave another statement, alleging that Peraita committed the crime alone.
Police found clothing at Peraita’s house matching the description of the clothing worn by the robbers. Police also found money in a bag, and shell casings in the front yard that matched the murder weapon. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also compared shoe prints found at the scene and determined they matched the shoes Melson was wearing when he was arrested.
Melson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Peraita was also convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is currently on death row for murdering another inmate while in prison.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Tamika Collins, James Nathaniel Baker, and Darryl Collier. Please pray for Bryant Archer. Pray for strength for the family of Robert Melson.
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