HUNTER: Death row damsel Christa Pike wants sentence commuted

Pike was 18 in 1996 when she stabbed Colleen Slemmer nearly 200 times

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Christa Pike was going to the electric chair.

That’s what the young killer wanted. No more appeals. No more reports from shrinks.

The date was set for Aug. 19, 2002, at the death house in the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution outside Nashville, Tenn.

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I interviewed Pike in the spring of that year and it is something I’ve never forgotten. She terrified me and the glass between us couldn’t change that.

At the time, she was the youngest woman on death row in America.

Now, Pike’s lawyers are fighting to have her sentence commuted to life in prison. Her mouthpieces argued that the now 45-year-old Pike suffers from “severe mental illness and brain damage from childhood abuse”.

Murder victim Colleen Slemmer.
Murder victim Colleen Slemmer. Photo by HANDOUT /KNOXVILLE POLICE

They say a mental health expert still needs to meet with her. This hasn’t happened in the 25 years she’s been caged?

When I met Pike on death row, she sent shivers down my spine. Her eyes were dead. The eyes of a killer.

In 1996, Pike stabbed love rival Colleen Slemmer nearly 200 times with an X-Acto knife in Knoxville.


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At the time, Pike was 18-years-old when a judge sentenced her to death.

May Martinez wants Pike iced. The sooner the better.

She was Slemmer’s mother and for her, the agonizing process has dragged on far too long.

“Honestly, my heart breaks every single day because I keep reliving it and reliving it,” Martinez told WBIR.

And the details are sickening.

Killers Christa Pike, Tadaryl Shipp, and their friend, Shadolla Peterson.
Killers Christa Pike, Tadaryl Shipp, and their friend, Shadolla Peterson. Photo by HANDOUT /KNOXVILLE POLICE

Pike, her boyfriend, Tadaryl Shipp, and their friend, Shadolla Peterson, lured Slemmer to a nearby woods with the promise of smoking marijuana.

The raven-haired killer and Shipp then tortured and beat Slemmer for 45 harrowing minutes and then cut a pentagram in her chest.

For good measure Pike bashed Slemmer’s skull with a chunk of asphalt.

And Pike kept a piece of the dead girl’s skull as a souvenir. Cops say the devastated mom will not get it back until Pike is executed.


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Because Shipp was a minor at the time of the torture killing, he was given a life sentence.

When I interviewed, Pike outlined an extremely brutal childhood complete with physical, sexual and emotional abuse. She was unloved in a way few children are.

That turned her ice cold and capable of the heinous crime she was convicted of.

“She recognizes her childhood trauma and mental illness do not excuse her actions as an 18-year-old girl,” Pike’s lawyers said in a statement.

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“But she asks that her sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, a commutation that reflects the punishment imposed on other young people who, like Christa, committed crimes while they lacked the maturity and reasoning of adults.”

The Supreme Court refused to review the case in June 2020. Last October the Tennessee Attorney General asked the state’s Supreme Court to set an execution date.

During her long incarceration, Pike tried to murder a fellow jailbird and plotted to escape her cage.

“I just want Christa down so I can end it,” Martinez said.

“I want this to happen before I die. Otherwise, nobody will see justice.”

Tennessee is a southern state and there is very little hesitation in applying the death penalty. The electric chair awaits.

Pike’s shot at a normal, healthy life was unlikely from the minute she took her first breath. May Martinez doesn’t care.

She just wants to see the killer breathe her last.
On Twitter: @HunterTOSun


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