Malibu Grand Prix killer to die today

Oct. 28, 1997

The Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE -- Even one of the men convicted of participating in one of Houston's worst single mass murders refers to the killing scene as grisly.

'I know that people hate me,' Kenneth Ray Ransom says. 'I understand that. I've had to deal with that for the past 14 years. There's nothing I can do about it.'

Ransom is set to die tonight for what became known as the Malibu Grand Prix killings. An accomplice, Richard Wilkerson, was executed four years ago. A third participant, James Randall, is serving a life prison sentence.

Ransom, now 34, was a 20-year-old parolee the night of July 1, 1983 when he, Wilkerson and Randall walked into the Malibu Grand Prix amusement center in southwest Houston just before closing.

They robbed the place of approximately $1,300 and killed four young men who worked there, stabbing each victim repeatedly.

'Every time I drive by that location, I think about what that scene looked like,'' J.C. Mosier, a former Houston homicide detective who worked the case, said Monday. 'In that rest room, there was at least two inches of blood on that floor. It was like they had a water leak. I'll never forget that. It's the most blood I'd ever seen at one location. It was awful.'

Medical examiners had difficulty determining if the victims also had been shot because the bodies had been stabbed so many times and there was so much blood.

The victims were Anil Varughese, 18, night manager of the business and a college pre-med student, and three employees: Roddy Harris, 22, and brothers Arnold Pequeno, 19, and Joerene Pequeno, 18. Varughese's body was found in an office. The three others were in the rest room.

'I laid awake that next night thinking about those people,' Mosier said.

'They put them in the stalls in the rest room and took one out each time and killed them. I kept thinking about the people inside waiting their turn and what horror it must have been. I'm not going to lie and say I don't want to live,' Ransom, in his first comments about the case, said last week from inside a cage at the Texas death row visiting area.

'Life and freedom go hand in hand. So if I have to die, I'm accepting it. I'm not afraid of dying. The one thing I say is that I'm afraid of what's beyond death. I don't know if I'm going to a better place or if I'm going to be banished to hell.'

Ransom, who had previous prison terms for burglary and auto theft, described himself as a ``video freak'' who accompanied Wilkerson and Randall to the arcade so Wilkerson, who had been fired two weeks earlier, could pick up his final paycheck.

'I didn't have any idea they were going to kill,' Ransom said.

'Everything is just -- I want to say `surreal.'

'I'm definitely sorry. I'm not sorry just for myself. I'm sorry

for Richard Wilkerson and James Randall and their families and I'm

definitely sorry for the victims and their families.''

Testimony at his trial, however, showed Randall and Ransom took

a butcher knife from a dish drainer at Ransom's girlfriend's house.

The knife, broken in two, was found later near the murder scene.

The girlfriend also described how the three split up the money and

how Ransom was wearing a class ring and watch that police

determined belonged to Arnold Pequeno.

Ransom said he didn't even count the money he got, but bought a

new pair of shoes and some jeans to replace jeans that had been

bloodied in the massacre. He didn't find out his share was just

over $300 until his trial.

``Three hundred dollars for four lives,'' he said. ``That

doesn't even come out to $100 for each victim. That's what hurts.

``It's pretty evident I'm going to die,'' Ransom added. ``But I

told my lawyer from day one I wasn't guilty of capital murder.

Maybe accessory or aiding and abetting but not capital murder.''

While insisting he did not do the stabbings, Ransom blamed

Wilkerson for forcing him to participate.

``Fear makes you do some stupid things,'' he said. ``I know I

held one (victim) down while Richard threatened my life.

``I was offered a life sentence from the first day to testify. I

won't accept it and I didn't accept it. I might be wrong but I feel

I'm right. You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for

anything. I stood my ground. I lost.''

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