For seven days, Robert Gleason Jr. begged correctional officers and counselors at Wallens Ridge State Pri*son to move his new cellmate. The constant singing, scre*aming and obnoxious behavior were too much, and Gleason knew he was ready to snap.
On the eighth day – May 8, 2009 – correctional officers found 63-year-old Harvey Gray Watson Jr. bound, gagged, beaten and strangled. His de*ath went unnoticed for 15 hours because correctional officers had falsified inmate counts at the high-security pri*son in southwestern Virginia.
Now, Gleason says he’ll k*ill again if he isn’t put to dea*th for ki*lling Watson, who had a history of mental illness. And he says his next victim won’t be an inmate.
“I murd*ered that man cold-bloodedly. I planned it, and I’m gonna do it again,” the 40-year-old Gleason told The Associated Press. “Someone needs to stop it. The only way to stop me is put me on de*ath row.”
Gleason already is serving a life sentence for k*illing another man. He fired his lawyers last month – they were trying to work out a deal to keep him from getting the de*ath penalty – so he could plead guilty to capital mur*der. He’s vowed not to appeal his sentence if the judge sentences him to d*eath Aug. 31.
“I did this. I deserve it,” he said. “That man, he didn’t deserve to die.”
Watson was serving a 100-year sentence for ki*lling a man and wounding two others in 1983 when he shot into his neighbor’s house in Lynchburg with a 10-gauge shotgun. According to p*rison records, Watson suffered from “mild” mental impairment and was frequently cited for his disruptive and combative behavior.
Watson was sent to Wallens Ridge on April 23, 2009, a day after he set fire to his cell at Sussex II State P*rison. Gleason and Watson became cellmates on May 1, 2009.
In the days the two spent locked in an 8-by-10-foot cell, Watson would talk about how he had “drowned” two television sets because they “had voodoo in them,” Gleason said.
He would also belt out “I wish I was in the land of cotton” from the song “Dixie” and other songs at all hours, scream profanities and masturbate. In the chow hall and in the recreation yard, Watson would get inmates to give him cigarettes for drinking his urine and clabbered milk.
Gleason said his requests to separate the two were met with mockery and indifference by correctional officers and p*rison counselors. He said he knew what he’d do once officials refused to put Watson in protective custody.
“That day I knew I was going to k*ill him,” he said. “Wallens Ridge forced my hand.”
It was after midnight when Gleason used slivers of bed sheets to tie Watson’s hands and arms to his body and fashioned a gag out of two socks. He later removed the gag and gave Watson a cigarette, telling him it would be his last. Gleason said Watson spit in his face when he went to take the cigarette out of Watson’s mouth, so he jumped on his cellmate’s back and beat and strangled the man.
He then covered Watson’s body with a bed sheet to make it look like he was sleeping.
Gleason kept Watson’s dea*th a secret through two mandatory standing counts and two meals. Officers only discovered the body when Watson’s psychiatrist came to see him at 4:40 p.m. and found him dead, according to court documents.