death penalty news—-TEXAS

May 7

TEXAS—-new execution date//volunteer

Aug. 14 execution for Texas 7 member

One of the infamous "Texas 7" convicts who escaped from a state prison
more than 7 years ago and killed a Dallas-area police officer while on the
lam now has an execution date.

Michael Rodriguez has been set for lethal injection Aug. 14, Kim Schaefer,
a Dallas County assistant district attorney who handles capital cases,
said Wednesday.

Rodriguez, 45, ordered his appeals dropped and had been asking the courts
for nearly 2 years to give him a death date.

A federal judge signed off on Rodriguez's request Sept. 27, 2 days after
the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a Kentucky challenge to lethal
injection as a means of capital punishment. That case stalled executions
around the nation. But in a decision last month, the high court ruled
lethal injection was not unconstitutionally cruel, clearing the way for
capital punishment to resume.

An inmate in Georgia on Tuesday became the 1st to die since Texas executed
convicted killer Michael Richard on Sept. 25. The 1st Texas inmate set to
die now is Derrick Sonnier, scheduled for injection in Huntsville on June
3 for a double slaying in suburban Houston.

Rodriguez told a psychologist who interviewed him in preparation for a
competency hearing that he "had to accept his death sentence and submit to
it as payment in order to be forgiven and obtain salvation."

Rodriguez and six other inmates overpowered workers at the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice Connally Unit near Kenedy in South Texas on
Dec. 13, 2000, took the workers' clothes, then grabbed 16 guns from the
prison armory and fled in a stolen truck.

On Christmas Eve, while robbing a suburban Dallas sporting goods store,
they shot Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins 11 times, killing him. The
gang, subject of a nationwide manhunt, finally was caught a month later in

Rodriguez's capital murder trial was moved to Franklin County, 100 miles
northeast of Dallas, because of publicity. A jury there deliberated less
than 90 minutes before sending Rodriguez to death row in May 2002 for his
part in Hawkins' slaying. Rodriguez admitted pulling the officer from his
patrol car. After they shot Hawkins, 29, the Texas 7 ran over him in their
getaway car.

5 of Rodriguez's companions also were given death sentences. The 7th
fugitive killed himself before he could be recaptured with his comrades in
Colorado. Rodriguez would be the 1st of the group to be executed.

At the time of his escape, he was serving a life term for hiring a hit man
to kill his wife, Theresa, 29, to collect her $250,000 life insurance. She
was gunned down in 1992 getting out of her car outside their San Antonio
home. The triggerman, Rolando Ruiz, also is on death row.

Rodriguez, who received his date Tuesday, is 1 of 2 condemned murderers
from Dallas County to get execution dates this week, Shaefer said.

On Wednesday, Carlton Turner, who acknowledged fatally shooting his
parents at their suburban Dallas home in 1998, was set to die July 10.

On Sept. 27, the same day a federal judge signed off on Rodriguez's
execution request, Turner's attorneys raised constitutional claims about
Texas lethal injection procedures and won a reprieve from the Supreme
Court as Turner waited in a small cell just a few feet from the death

The reprieve came some 4 hours after he was scheduled to die and 2 hours
before the death warrant would have expired.

The high court's ruling in the Kentucky case lifted his stay of execution.

Turner was 19 when authorities said he shot his father, Carlton Turner
Sr., 43, and his mother, Tonya Turner, 40, several times in the head. He
then bought new clothes and jewelry and continued living in the family's
home in Irving. Prosecutors said Turner had dragged the bodies through the
house before dumping them in the garage, then cleaned up the blood and had
friends over for a party.

A foul smell led police to the bodies in the garage 3 days after the

The 2 newly scheduled injections bring to at least 8 the number of
condemned inmates in Texas with execution dates in the coming weeks. Last
year, Texas put 26 prisoners to death, the most in the nation.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)