Supreme Court Ruling Moves Central Texas Inmates Closer To Execution
The U.S. Supreme Court decision this week upholding lethal injection sent
shudders through death rows across the country and moved several convicted
Central Texas killers 1 step closer to a date with the executioner.
In Texas, judges set execution dates that must be scheduled at least a
month in advance, which means no executions can take place before mid-May
at the earliest.
Prosecutors and governors in states around the country including Texas
said they will move forward with carrying out death sentences as quickly
as the courts can set execution dates.
Kevin Watts, who has exhausted his appeals as he awaits execution for the
slayings of 3 people during a San Antonio restaurant robbery 5 years ago,
says that when executions resume in Texas, "It's going to be real crazy."
The courts 7-2 ruling ended what amounted to a 7-month moratorium on
executions in the U.S.
In the case from Kentucky, death penalty foes argued unsuccessfully that
the widely used 3-drug cocktail could cause excruciating pain in violation
of a ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Texas has 357 inmates on death row and 5 of them were convicted of
killings in Central Texas.
Richard Tabler, 29, was sentenced to death in April 2007 in Bell County
after he was convicted of 2 counts of capital murder in what investigators
said was a plot that claimed 4 lives and could have been even deadlier.
Tabler was sentenced to death for the Nov. 26 2004 murders of Teazers
Gentlemen's Club owner Mohamed-Amine Rahmouni, 25, and his friend Haitham
Zayed, 28, whose bodies were found just outside of Killeen. An accomplice
used a video camera to record tape of Tabler shooting Rahmouni and Zayed,
witnesses said, but the tape was later destroyed. The shootings were part
of what Bell County authorities described as a bizarre plot. The list of
intended victims included 8 or 9 more people, investigators said.
Joe Carroll Parr, 30, was sentenced to death in May 2004 in McLennan
County for the January 2003 murders Joel Dominguez, 18. Prosecutors said
Parr and another man approached Dominguez and Mario Chavez, 18, outside a
Waco grocery store, pointed guns at them, and ordered them to get out of
their car. They forced the victims to the side of the building where they
demanded money. The 2 victims handed over their wallets, but when Parr
asked if either had any more money, Dominguez said no. Parr then shot him
to death, police said. Chavez was injured, but survived.
Ronnie Threadgill, 35, was sentenced to death in 2002 in Navarro County
for the April 2001 murder of a teenager. The 17-year-old victim was shot
once in the upper body during an incident in which prosecutors said
Threadgill stole a vehicle.
Denard Manns, 42, was sentenced to death in 2002 in Bell County for the
1998 murder of Army Spc. Michelle Robson, who was sexually assaulted and
shot in the head and chest. Prosecutors said Mann took credit cards and
cash from the victim's residence in Killeen and fled in her car. He was
arrested after the murder on an unrelated weapons charge, but was charged
in the killing after forensic tests linked the firearm to the murder.
Ramiro Ibarra, 53, was sentenced to death in 1997 in McLennan County for
the 1987 slaying of Maria Zuniga, 16. Prosecutors said Zuniga was caring
for her two young nephews in Waco when Ibarra, who was a family
acquaintance, beat and raped her and then strangled her with an electrical
cord. He was originally charged in 1987, but the complaint was dropped
after a judge suppressed some evidence in the case. He was charged again
in 1996 after changes in the law allowed prosecutors to pursue the case.
He was also convicted in 1997 of sexual assault in an incident involving a
young nephew in Bell County, based on testimony from his capital murder
trial in Waco.
Appeal rejected for man nearly executed in 2003
A man who came within 2 hours of execution 5 years ago has lost an appeal
in federal court, likely making him eligible for a new death date.
Kenneth Wayne Morris' lethal injection was blocked in 2003 after his
lawyers argued he was mentally retarded and ineligible for the death
penalty under U.S. Supreme Court guidelines. In a brief ruling with no
explanation late Thursday, a 3-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision that Morris
was eligible for execution.
Morris, 37, was identified as the gunman in a three-man gang who in 1991
broke into the Houston home of 63-year-old James Moody Adams because they
thought he had a gun collection. Adams, who actually had no weapons, was
shot four times after he surrendered the money in his wallet.
Executions had been on hold in Texas the nation's leading death penalty
state and the rest of the country before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
this week that lethal injection is not unconstitutionally cruel.
Morris' execution could be scheduled as soon as 30 days from the day
prosecutors go to court to request a death date.
The ruling was 1 of 3 Texas death row cases considered by the court
Thursday. David Lee Powell, a former University of Texas honors student
sent to death row 3 times for the fatal shooting of an Austin police
officer, won permission to appeal his case again. And Jose Villegas,
condemned for the slayings of a 24-year-old Corpus Christi woman, her
young son and her mother, lost his appeal.
Powell, 57, most recently was convicted and condemned in 1999 for the 1978
slaying of Ralph Albanedo, who had pulled over Powell's girlfriend for a
traffic stop. Powell was a passenger in the car.
Powell claimed his rights to due process were violated because prosecutors
didn't timely disclose documents that showed his girlfriend may have fired
the shots and tossed a hand grenade at other officers. He also claimed his
constitutional rights were violated when an emergency room doctor didn't
provide Miranda warnings when he examined Powell following his arrest. The
doctor testified for the prosecution at Powell's trial.
Villegas, 33, had argued his defense lawyers were ineffective at his trial
where he was convicted of capital murder for the slayings of Erida Perez
Salazar, his ex-girlfriend; her son, Jacob, 3; and her mother Alma Perez,
All were fatally stabbed. Salazar was stabbed 32 times, her son 19 times
and mother 35 times. A television and car also were taken from the home.
(source: Associated Press)