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Ronald Clark O’Bryan Murder Trial (1975)


Sound | 1975

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  •  A KPRC reporter recounts the testimony given by witness Jim Bates, who was with the defendant, Ronald Clark O’Bryan, on the night of the murder. O’Bryan gave cyanide-laced Pixy Stix to his own two children as well as to Bates’ two children after the group went trick-or-treating on Halloween 1974.  
  •  Pixy Stix 
  •  A priest honors the hard work of correctional officers 
  •  O’Bryan, wearing a gray suit, departs the courtroom 
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This footage from Houston’s KPRC-TV follows the trial of Ronald Clark O’Bryan for the murder of his eight-year-old son, Timothy. On Halloween night 1974, O’Bryan took his two children trick or treating in Pasadena. Family friend Jim Bates and his two children joined the group. During the course of the evening, O’Bryan lingered outside a darkened house before catching up with the others carrying 21-inch Pixy Stix, giving one to each of the four children and another trick-or-treater. Back home in Deer Park, Timothy requested a treat before bed. O’Bryan recommended the Pixy Stix, helping pour the candy into his son’s mouth. Almost immediately, Timothy became violently ill. He was pronounced dead within hours. Investigators determined that O’Bryan had replaced the top two inches of each Pixy Stix with granules of potassium cyanide, a powerful poison. His motive: greed. O’Bryan had taken out $30,000 in life-insurance policies for both of his children. Prosecutors believed that he intended to kill both his kids as well as the Bates children in an attempt to make the crime appear random. That no one else died was mere chance. One of the Bates children began to open the candy before his mother told him he could eat it tomorrow. O’Bryan’s arrest shocked his neighborhood and church community, with the trial for the “Man Who Killed Halloween” receiving national attention. On June 3, 1975, a Harris County jury convicted O’Bryan of murder and sentenced him to death. He was executed on March 31, 1984.