death penalty news—–TEXAS

June 16


Execution date set for Wood

After losing a U.S. Supreme Court appeal earlier this year, a Kerrville
man has been scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Jeffery Lee Wood is expected to enter Texas' Death Chamber on Aug. 21,
according to Lucy Wilke, assistant district attorney for the 216th
Judicial District.

In January, Supreme Court justices refused to hear the case of Wood, who
was convicted of killing convenience store clerk Kriss Keeran, 31, during
a 1996 robbery in Kerrville.

Wood's roommate, Daniel Reneau, also was convicted in Keerans death and
was executed in 2002.

Evidence showed that Reneau entered the store at Texas 16 and Interstate
10 just before dawn on Jan. 2, 1996, and shot Keeran.

Records show Wood was waiting outside the store and came in after Keeran
was shot.

Wood and Reneau then robbed the store of a video recorder with a tape
showing the incident, a safe and more than $11,000 in cash and checks,
according to reports.

Keeran's body was found lying behind the counter with a single shot in the
face from a .22-caliber pistol.

Kerrville police linked the 2 men to the murder, and both were arrested
within 24 hours.

During his trial, Wood refused to allow any evidence on his behalf at the
punishment phase. During his appeal, Wood claimed his trial attorneys were
incompetent and that the trial judge violated his rights by not letting
him represent himself.

The appellate court upheld his conviction and sentencing in 2000, and in
2007, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

The setting of Wood's execution date was delayed when all executions were
put on hold last September as the U.S. Supreme Court considered challenges
to the lethal injection method. In April, the high court cleared the way
for lethal injections to continue.

(source: Kerrville Daily Times)


Inmate facing lethal injection for double slaying

Condemned inmate Charles Dean Hood doesn't dispute he drove from Texas to
his native Indiana in a $70,000 car that belonged to the man he's
convicted of killing.

But Hood, a former topless bar bouncer set to die Tuesday for fatally
shooting Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace almost 19 years ago in
suburban Dallas, insists he had Williamson's permission to use the
Cadillac for the 800-mile trip.

Hood also insists he didn't kill the couple, and that his fingerprints
throughout the Plano home where they were shot in 1989 can easily be
explained because Hood was living there and doing odd jobs for Williamson.

"He took care of me for almost two months," Hood said from Texas' death
row, where a Collin County jury sent him in 1990.

Wallace, 26, had danced at the bar where Williamson, 46, was a customer.
Hood said he had also worked at the club.

Hood, 38, would be the 2nd Texas inmate executed this year in Huntsville
and the 2nd in as many weeks. Executions around the country and in the
nation's busiest capital punishment state – where 26 executions occurred
last year – were on hold from September until mid-April. That's when the
U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for resumption of executions by
rejecting an appeal from 2 Kentucky death row prisoners who argued lethal
injection was unconstitutionally cruel. Lawyers for Hood were in state
courts trying to void his conviction and death sentence, accusing a
prosecutor from his trial and the trial judge of having a years-long
romantic relationship that included the time of Hood's trial. Such an
undisclosed relationship would be improper and legally unethical.

Other appeals in federal courts questioned whether instructions given to
jurors who decided he should be executed failed to take into consideration
what his lawyers argued were physical and mental problems and an abusive
childhood, and whether the state should have provided him a lawyer to
prepare a clemency request.

Hood said he wasn't responsible for the murders.

"I did not kill those people," he told The Associated Press. "There was no
evidence saying I killed those folks."

Hood's prints, however, were found on plastic bags taped to Wallace's
body. Other evidence showed he used Williamson's credit card to order
flowers for a woman in Indiana and that he told people at the flower shop
he was Williamson, showing off a gold watch that belonged to the victim.
He also had pawned a diamond ring belonging to Williamson and tried
cashing checks from Williamson's business by forging the victim's
signature on the checks.

A jury deliberated less than 2 1/2 hours before convicting him of capital

When Williamson came home for lunch Nov. 1, 1989, he called Plano police
to report a burglary. 4 minutes later, an officer responding to the call
got no answer at the door, looked in a window and spotted Williamson's
body on the floor. Then Wallace's body, partially wrapped in plastic
garbage bags, was found stuffed in a water heater closet.

"I forgive his soul but I'll never forgive what he did," said Julie
Wallace, whose youngest sister, known as Sissy, was killed. "It's
important for me to forgive to have peace. And that's the only reason."

She planned to travel from her home in Michigan to watch Hood die.

"It's a sad situation for all involved – his family as well as ours," she
said. "Sissy has been gone for almost 20 years now. She is no longer with
us. Even though his life hasn't been the greatest, he's still able to
breathe and feel and see the sunrise and sunset, all which my sister will
never be able to do."

Prosecutors said Hood, a seventh-grade dropout who was 20 at the time,
shot the couple and stole money, jewelry and Williamson's Cadillac, then
drove to Vincennes, Ind., hoping to impress a woman he considered his

When he called the woman from the car, she called police. Officers were
waiting for him when he showed up at the business where she worked.

"I had permission to drive all the vehicles he had," Hood said from

During the punishment phase of the trial, prosecution witnesses told of
Hood's previous instances of violence, including the rape of a 15-year-old
girl, and that he had a juvenile and adult criminal record that included a
2-year prison term in Indiana for passing bad checks.

"I've done a lot of stupid stuff in my life," Hood said. "But I have never
killed nobody."

Hood came within two days of execution three years ago. The Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals, however, gave him a reprieve so his claims of mental
retardation could be examined.

He's among at least 13 Texas death row inmates with executions dates in
the coming months. 4 are set for July, beginning with Carlton Turner,
scheduled for injection July 10 for killing his parents 10 years ago at
their suburban Dallas home.

(source: Associated Press)


Texas death row inmate from Dallas wins at Supreme Court

The longest-serving prisoner on Texas' death row won a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling Monday that his case must go back to his trial court in Dallas.

Ronald Chambers, 53, has been on death row for more than 32 years, sent
there in 1976 for the abduction and fatal shooting of 22-year-old Mike
McMahan, a Texas Tech University student from Washington state.

Without comment, the high court Monday declined to review a federal
appeals court's decision to send back Chambers' case because questions
used by jurors to decide his death sentence were improper.

The Texas attorney general's office had appealed a ruling from the 5th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was based on a Supreme Court decision
last year involving jury instructions given to three other condemned Texas

"The 5th Circuit had reversed his death sentence," Jordan Steiker, one of
Chambers' lawyers, said Monday. "The state appealed and the state lost.
Now it goes back for resentencing.

"This is very good for him."

Dallas County prosecutors will have to decide whether to seek the death
penalty at a new punishment trial.

In April 2007, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that jurors in 3 Texas cases
were not allowed to give sufficient weight to factors that might cause
them to impose a life sentence rather than death.

In those cases, condemned prisoner LaRoyce Lathair Smith, convicted of the
1991 torture-slaying of a fast-food worker in Dallas, won a punishment
reversal from the high court. In a similar ruling, the justices also
overturned the death sentences of Brent Ray Brewer, convicted of fatally
stabbing an Amarillo man during a robbery in 1990, and Jalil Abdul-Kabir,
convicted in 1988 of strangling a San Angelo man during a robbery.

The same questions — no longer used — were part of jury instructions
used by a Dallas County jury in 1992 that decided Chambers should die.

That trial was Chambers' 3rd for the abduction and fatal shooting of
McMahan. Each trial resulted in a death sentence.

His 1st conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
because a state-appointed psychiatrist who questioned him failed to warn
Chambers his responses would be used against him.

He was retried in 1985 and convicted again. The Supreme Court threw out
that conviction 4 years later, ruling prosecutors improperly excluded
three black people from his jury. Chambers is black.

In January 2007, Chambers was set to die for the punishment reached at his
third trial. The lethal injection, however, was stopped until the justices
ruled on the cases of the three other inmates who were challenging the
jury instructions.

Chambers, from Dallas, arrived on death row Jan. 8, 1976, three days
before his 21st birthday.

He and a friend, Clarence Ray Williams, confronted McMahan on April 11,
1975, as McMahan and his date, Deia Sutton, were leaving a Dallas club.

At gunpoint, the couple was driven to a levee on the Trinity River south
of downtown Dallas, where their captors pushed them down an embankment.
Testimony showed Chambers fired five shots at them, then pounded McMahan
in the back of the head 10 to 20 times with a shotgun as Williams choked
Sutton and tried to drown her in the muddy water. Chambers also struck
Sutton three times with the shotgun before both attackers left.

Sutton, however, survived and within days both Chambers and Williams were
under arrest. Williams, from Dallas, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery
and murder, accepted 2 life sentences and remains in prison. Sutton has
testified at each of Chambers' trials.

(source: Associated Press)