death penalty news—-TEXAS

June 6


Man convicted in 2007 slaying of Dallas police officer

Wesley Lynn Ruiz is a cop killer, a Dallas County jury decided Thursday
when it took about 3 hours to find him guilty of the 2007 capital murder
of Dallas police Senior Cpl. Mark Nix.

The same jury that convicted Mr. Ruiz, 28, will consider whether he should
be sentenced to death or life in prison without the opportunity for
parole. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to start on June 24.

Cpl. Nix, 33, was gunned down a year ago after a chase. Mr. Ruiz testified
during his trial that he believed officers fired at him first and that he
was simply firing back in self-defense. But the jury rejected that notion.

Cpl. Nix's mother and sister smiled, hugged each another and wiped away
tears after the verdict. They exchanged hugs with the officers who have
surrounded them throughout the nearly two-week trial. Most of the
spectators that filled the courtroom to overflowing were officers, many of
whom were wearing their uniforms.

Across the courtroom aisle, sorrow slowly bubbled from Mr. Ruiz's family.
As others filed past them out of the courtroom, one woman sobbed as she
hugged Mr. Ruiz's grandmother.

Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys commented on the jury's
decision, citing the upcoming sentencing hearing as the reason.

A few miles away at Dallas police headquarters, Dallas Police Interim 1st
Assistant Chief of Police Charles Cato said joyful text messages and
e-mails came from the courtroom after the decision was announced about 3

"It was a sense of relief," Chief Cato said. "It means the jury looked at
the evidence and decided to uphold the community standards that law
enforcement officers will be defended and protected when they are
assaulted by the criminal element."

In March 2007, Mr. Ruiz led Cpl. Nix and other Dallas officers on a short
car chase through West Dallas. After Mr. Ruiz spun out and crashed in
front of a house, Cpl. Nix got out of his police car and tried to beat the
front passenger window of the car Mr. Ruiz was driving.

Mr. Ruiz shot Cpl. Nix in the chest as he used two hands to swing his
baton at the window.

Video footage from two police car dash cameras were played in court that
showed the chase, shooting, and Cpl. Nix falling to the ground grabbing
his face and neck after being shot.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys disagreed about whether that video
showed gunshots being fired at the car window before or after Cpl. Nix was

Prosecutor Kevin Brooks told the jury during closing argument that people
can be mistaken when recalling events, but it's difficult to argue with
the evidence of video and audio recordings.

The jury watched the recording of the shooting again during their

"Human beings are fallible. We perceive things differently. Sometimes
those perceptions are wrong," Mr. Brooks said. "Science has led us to know
that certain things are infallible," like the recordings that were
evidence in the trial. he said.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Paul Brauchle pointed to the
spent shells from the barrage of gunfire that Dallas police officers fired
at the car Mr. Ruiz was hiding in. Then he picked up the one bullet that
killed Cpl. Nix.

"They shot all of this in self-defense, until the foreseeable danger went
away," Mr. Brauchle said. "Mr. Ruiz fired one shot in self-defense."

Andrea Handley, another prosecutor who shared closing arguments told the
jury that they should not trust Mr. Ruiz's story because he did everything
he could to escape police the day of the shooting. In the courtroom, he
was doing the same in an effort to stay out of prison, she said.

"While this defendant is presumed innocent," Ms. Handley said, "he is not
presumed truthful."

(source: Dallas Morning News)