Convicted Killer Died in Prison - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/24/06 - East Texas

Convicted Killer Died in Prison

by Ramonica R. Jones

Prison officials in Amarillo were conducting a routine cell search when they noticed Willie Mack Modden was not breathing. He was taken to the infirmary, but could not be revived. The 57-year-old died from an undisclosed illness.

Modden killed 27-year-old Deborah Davenport back in 1983. She was working at a Lufkin gas station on Frank Street the day he stabbed her to death. The convenience store is no longer there, but Davenport's brother said his pain and anger will never go away.

"Angry can get you in a lot of trouble," said Larry Fontenot. "I lost my wife and lost my kids and all that because of anger, but I advise anybody, just let nature run its course. God will prevail."

Modden was convicted of murder twice and sentenced to death each time. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison after the Supreme Court ruled executing the mentally ill unconstitutional. Fontenot is not ashamed to say he wanted to watch his sister's killer die. Now, he'll never get that chance.

"I was pretty angry about it. We've been waiting all these years to see a man put to death. We finally got our justice done, but I would have rather seen him being executed. In the long run, this is what he deserved."

It's been more than 20 years since the murder, but Fontenot still misses his big sister and has never forgiven Modden for taking her life.

A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Modden had a long history of health problems and died of natural causes.

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