WARNING: The following crime summaries contain graphic descriptions of one or more murders and may not be suitable for all audiences or ages.
Date Received: 04/13/1979
Location: San Quentin State Prison
County of Trial: Merced
Sentence Date: 04/13/1979
County of Residence: Unknown
County of Offense: Merced
Offense Date: 11/20/1978
Court Action: Affirmed
Court Date: 03/24/1988
Case #: NA
Victims: MIGUEL VARGAS, SALVADOR VARGAS, LOURDES MEZA
Co-Defendant: Robert Leslie Tyson, CDC# C01796
Victims, Miguel and Salvador Vargas, were found lying face down on the floor in their rural Merced residence on October 9, 1978. Both had been shot in the back of the head. Five days later, Lourdes Meza’s body was discovered in a field some distance from the residence. She had been raped and shot four times.
The investigation revealed that two days earlier, the three victims had gone to a rummage sale at the home of the co-defendant, Robert Leslie Tyson and his wife, Karon Tyson. The defendant, Keith Daniel Williams, was also present. At the sale, Williams offered to buy Miguel Vargas’s car for $1,500. Williams wrote out a personnel check and agreed to wait for the pink slip until the check had cleared the bank.
According to the co-defendant’s wife, Karen Tyson, once the victims had left, Williams began saying that he should have killed them. Mrs. Tyson also stated that Williams continued to talk about the “Mexicans” the next day, stating he was going to “blow them away and take back the check.” He also said that he would need her husband for cover. Mrs. Tyson said that Williams and her husband left for the victim’s home in Merced around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 8.
Mr. Leon Macias, the uncle of the two male victims, was at the Vargas home when the defendant and co-defendant arrived some time before 9:00 p.m. Mr. Macias stated that he, his nephews, Lourdes Meza, his daughter and her girlfriend, and the defendant and co-defendant sat around the dining room table discussing the sale of the car. After some time, his daughter and her friend left and Salvador went upstairs to bed. Mr. Macias stayed until 9:30 p.m., translating for Miguel, then left, telling Miguel that he would return in the morning and go with him to cash the check.
When Macias returned the next morning at 9:00 a.m., there was no answer at the door. He did not investigate. Later, after learning that Miguel had not shown up for work the previous night, Macias returned to the Vargas home and found his nephews murdered. Lourdes Meza was not in the home. Investigators later determined that Lourdes was kidnapped and that she was raped repeatedly before being shot.
Co-defendant, Robert Leslie Tyson, received three concurrent 25-year-to-life sentences for his part in the crimes.
(Information for this summary was compiled from the Probation Officer’s Report and/or other court documents from the defendant’s file.)
Inmate Williams was executed May 3, 1996 in the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison.
Williams was the second California inmate to be executed by lethal injection. Witnesses were escorted into the witness area just after 11:45 p.m. Thursday, May 2. They observed the insertion of IVs into Williams’ arms. At 12:03 p.m., May 3, Warden Arthur Calderon gave the order to begin the execution. Williams was pronounced dead at 12:08 a.m.
Williams spent his last day visiting with his attorneys and spiritual advisor. His last meal included fried pork chops, a baked potato with real butter, asparagus, salad with bleu cheese dressing, apple pie, and whole milk.
Williams had no last words.
- Date: 1977-’78: P207-KIDNAP, P245-ASLT W/ DEADLY WEAP, P211-ROBRY, ESCAPE FED PRISON
- Date: 11/1976: P466-POSS BURG. TOOLS, V10851-VEHICAL THEFT
- Date: 1971-’75: FORG., AUTO THEFT, V23102A, VIO. PAROLE, P245-AWD, AG. ASSAULT
- Date: 10/67: THIRD DEGREE RAPE
- Date: 1963-’66: EXTENSIVE HISTORY OF JUVENILE ARRESTS