death penalty news—-TEXAS

June 24


Suspects say Garland killings netted them 'just $2'

'I feel regretful. I feel for the family, or whatever,' said Demarius
Cummings, 19, of Dallas, about the slayings of Matthew Butler and Stephen
Swan. That's how much Demarius Cummings said he found in the pockets of
two Christian-music producers whom his cousin James Broadnax, speaking in
a separate jailhouse interview, admitted gunning down early Thursday in

The 19-year-old suspects gave interviews Monday at the Dallas County Jail,
where each is being held on $1 million bail.

Both are charged with capital murder.

"I murdered both of them," said Mr. Broadnax, of Texarkana, Ark.,
referring to Matthew Butler, 28, and Stephen Swan, 26. "No hesitation or

Mr. Cummings, of Dallas, said he would not be surprised to get the death

"If that's what it is, justice has to be served," he said. "It wasn't the
plan to kill them; it was just to rob them.

"I feel regretful. I feel for the family, or whatever."

The motive, both men said, was money.

On Wednesday evening, the cousins took a train from Dallas to downtown
Garland looking for people to rob, they said.

"Let's just say, I was in a bind," Mr. Broadnax said. "I needed money. I
needed a car.

"They were in the wrong spot at the wrong [expletive] time," he said of
the victims. "They should have had their [expletive] at home."

After watching Mr. Broadnax speak on the TV news Monday evening, David
Colunga, stepfather of Mr. Butler's wife, said he was "at a loss for

"2 dollars. It's heartbreaking," Mr. Colunga said. "All I can say is that
hopefully Mr. Broadnax realizes he took a father away from his kids.
Hopefully, he can find some kind of peace within himself."

Mr. Butler left a 2-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. Mr. Swan was
single and had no children.

A bicyclist found their bodies just after 1 a.m. Thursday outside Mr.
Butler's studio in the 800 block of State Street in downtown Garland.

The day after the slayings, the 2 suspects visited the Dallas apartment of
Mr. Cummings' aunt, who overheard them bragging about "hitting a lick," or
committing a robbery.

She wrote down the license plate of Mr. Swan's 1995 Crown Victoria, which
they were driving.

She also picked up Mr. Swan's driver's license, which the men tossed as
they were leaving her apartment.

A few hours later, police in Texarkana, Texas, pulled over the Crown
Victoria for a traffic offense.

When they ran the car's tags, police realized that it belonged to a murder

Mr. Cummings has prior arrests on charges of vehicle and home burglary.
Public records show no criminal history for Mr. Broadnax.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Broadnax and Mr. Cummings were about to abandon
their hunt for someone to rob when they struck up a conversation with Mr.
Butler, owner of Zion Gate Records, and Mr. Swan, his sound engineer,
outside the studio.

The 2 victims talked for a half-hour or more about their studio and the
fact that they were Christians.

Finally, the cousins made their move. Mr. Broadnax said he asked one of
the men for a cigarette, then pulled out a gun.

Initially during Monday's interview, Mr. Broadnax said he "blanked out"
when he began shooting.

Later, he described the shootings in profanity-laced detail, recalling how
he fired multiple times to make "sure they were dead."

After driving off in Mr. Swan's car, Mr. Cummings said, he and his cousin
were disappointed in the small amount of money they had gotten.

"Like, 'Man, just $2!' " Mr. Cummings recalled Mr. Broadnax saying. "I
said the same thing: '2 dollars!'"

Mr. Cummings said they hoped to fetch more by taking the car to a chop
shop in Texarkana.

Mr. Broadnax said he began the night expecting to take a life.

"Somebody was going to get hit any way it went," he said.

He scoffed when asked if he was sorry. "Do it look like I got remorse?" he

Elizabeth Colunga, Mr. Butler's mother-in-law, said she had no opinion on
whether the 2 suspects should face the death penalty.

"I'm hurting right now," she said. "My daughter is hurting right now. My
grandbabies are hurting. They cry every night for Daddy.

"I cannot take one ounce of energy in my body and waste it on thoughts on
these 2 men."

(source: TXCN News)


Jurors Hear From Convicted Killer's Family

The softer side of a convicted killer was detailed for a Bexar County jury
during the punishment phase of his trail Monday afternoon.

The sister of Jonathan Depue, convicted Friday in the death of 57-year-old
Alita Rose, said her brother were verbally abused by their father, but
that her brother tried to stay lighthearted with his siblings.

"If he decided to play video games, that's what we used to do all the
time," Margarita Depue said. "Just like a kid, that's all we did is be
like kids."

Depue is facing the death penalty as a maximum punishment for his role in
the September 2006 shooting death of Rose.

Jurors heard another side of Depue, including his criminal past, earlier
Monday. Closing arguments for the punishment phase are set for Tuesday.

(source:KSAT News)


Appeal refused for condemned San Antonio man

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review the capital murder
conviction of a San Antonio man sent to death row for fatally stabbing a
woman after crawling through a window into her home.

The decision from the high court moves Luis Cervantes Salazar closer to
execution for the slaying more than a decade ago of Martha Denise Sanchez
at her northwest San Antonio home. He does not yet have a death date.

The woman's 10-year-old son was wounded in the attack, but survived to
identify Salazar in court as the killer.

Sanchez was stabbed 6 times, including once in the throat, in what
prosecutors said was an intended sexual attack. 2 other children were
asleep with her in bed at the time, a 6-month-old boy and 2-year-old girl,
but were not hurt. The victim's husband was at work.

The 10-year-old, who was awakened by his mother's screams, testified how
his mother called out Salazar's first name, asking him why he was
attacking her. The boy also testified he was stabbed in the chest as he
tried to fend off the attack on his mother and showed a jury at Salazar's
1998 trial the scar from his injuries.

The wounded child ran to a neighbor's house so police could be called.
Salazar fled but later called police and turned himself in.

Defense lawyers had urged a Bexar County jury to be compassionate with
Salazar and give him a life sentence because he had an abusive childhood.
The jury deliberated more than nine hours before deciding on the death

Salazar testified he had been drinking and using drugs when he entered the
home, believing it was his, and thought Sanchez and her children were the
intruders. So he picked up a knife and stabbed her, he said.

Besides acknowledging he stabbed her to death, he testified "that he found
her attractive, he desired to have intercourse with her and he had
recently propositioned her," according to a December 2007 appeals court
ruling upholding his conviction.

"Salazar also admitted that he told his wife before the murder that
violence made him feel good and that he had dreams about killing people,"
the court documents said.

He had lived in the house next door for about three years until a month
before the slaying and testified he was too drunk to make it to his new
place. Salazar was known to his victim and her family. Court records
showed her husband had helped him get a job at a K mart store where he

Prosecutors, under cross examination, tried to discount Salazar's version
of the killing by saying police found the phone lines cut at the woman's
home. He denied cutting the wires.

In earlier appeals, Salazar argued unsuccessfully his trial lawyers were

(source: Associated Press)


Father of slain children charged with capital murder

A man who led police to the charred remains of his 2 children was charged
with capital murder on Monday.

Randy Sylvester Sr., of Pasadena, has been held in the Harris County jail
without bond since he was arrested June 17 for assaulting the mother of
the children. On Monday, District Attorney Ken Magidson charged him with
killing the children.

No decision has been made on whether to pursue the death penalty, Magidson

No motive was discussed. Sylvester told the Houston Chronicle in a
jailhouse interview Sunday that he didn't kill the children but said they
were killed because he owed someone money.

"I told Quanell (X), I told the police, I told everybody that it was about
the money," he told the newspaper. "They (alleged killers) used it to get
to my kids."

A call to Sylvester's attorney, Jimmy Ortiz, was not immediately returned
Monday afternoon.

Police found the remains of 7-year-old Randy Sylvester Jr. and his
3-year-old sister Denim Sylvester packed in a wooden chest and a suitcase
and left in a wooded area in Houston early Saturday morning. Their mother
had reported them missing last week.

Sylvester, 27, led searchers to the remains late Friday after a week of
misleading statements about where the children were located, Pasadena
police spokesperson Vance Mitchell said.

Police found the children's remains after community activist Quanell X
interceded with the father at the request of the children's mother,
Mitchell said.

The discovery of the bodies ended a week of turbulent emotions for police,
searchers and the children's family and friends.

"It's been very, very, very rough. I mean, we've had a lot of people;
we've dedicated a lot of officers and resources to this case," Mitchell
said. "It's been very emotional for a lot of people since we're dealing
with two young children."

Authorities said Quanell X and Sylvester led authorities to the site after
Sylvester talked with him for about an hour near a pond in Pasadena.
Police said Sylvester's previous statements had directed their search to
the pond, which was drained in the hope of finding the children, but the
remains were located 6 miles away, Mitchell said.

Tim Miller's volunteer search organization, Texas Equusearch, provided
more than 500 volunteers to the search effort.

The search was as grim an undertaking as the Dickinson-based mounted
search and recovery organization has ever undertaken, Miller said
Saturday. "I believe that when they were found, it was a huge relief to
all of us," he said.

(source: Associated Press)


Jury hears clashing images of killer

2 starkly different pictures of Jonathan Depue emerged in the punishment
phase of his capital murder trial Monday for the 2006 shooting death of
retired Edison High School teacher Aleta Rhodes.

One was that of a mentally slow, playful, affectionate child who hugged
and kissed his grandmother and who later teased his future wife in high
school by throwing water at her and was manipulated by his older brother
and younger cousin.

The other was of a cold-blooded man who allegedly raped a woman with the
barrel of a pistol and who put a bullet in Rhodes' head during a burglary
of her home Sept. 29, 2006.

Jurors on Thursday convicted Depue of killing Rhodes, 57. He now faces
either life in prison or the death penalty.

In the portrayal of the hardened criminal, Depue's older brother Eric
Depue, who also is charged in the slaying, testified that a cousin, Ruben
Daniel Montoya, told him about another burglary in which Jonathan Depue
allegedly sexually assaulted a woman.

Montoya, who is also charged with capital murder in Rhodes' death, did not

The alleged rape victim took the stand to tell what had happened that
night in the fall of 2006 when she heard her door kicked in, and rose to
face the barrel of a gun.

She couldn't identify her attacker because he wore a bandana over his
face. Jonathan Depue has never been charged with the crime.

The woman, who is not being identified because she is a sex assault
victim, thought of her 5-year-old daughter.

"At that point I was pleading that they not make any noise and wake up my
daughter in the other room," she said.

She could hear someone else walking across the wood floor. Her attacker
made her undress and lie down. She cried, her hands over her face. She
felt something cold inside her.

Jonathan Depue's wife, Martha Depue, who took the witness stand in his
defense Monday, said he was never violent with her. His grandmother, Linda
Depue, called Jonathan Depue a "loving child." He would shower her with
hugs and kisses and say, "Grandma, I love you."

The defendant's sister, Margarita Depue, testified he was the target of
hatred by their stepfather. She also described him as playful.

"He's like a little kid," she said in tears, "that's all we did, was be
like kids."

The trial continues today in Judge Philip Kazen's 227th District Court.

(source: San Antonio Express-News)