death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 10

TEXAS—-impending execution

Man who killed parents set to die Thursday

Condemned inmate Calrton Turner's hopes to avoid the Texas death chamber
for a 2nd time for killing his parents a decade ago rested again with the
U.S. Supreme Court.

Turner, whose lethal injection was set for Thursday evening, has
acknowledged fatally shooting his adoptive parents at their suburban
Dallas home 10 years ago.

The Supreme Court in September stopped his then scheduled execution some
four hours after he could have been put to death. The reprieve came
following the justices' decision to review whether lethal injection
procedures were unconstitutionally cruel. When the court upheld the method
in April, lifting a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the
nation, Turner's execution was rescheduled for this week.

"The only thing that matters is I did what I did," Turner, who turned 29
last week, told The Associated Press from death row. "This is the
byproduct of something stupid that I did."

His execution would be the second in the nation's most active death
penalty state since punishments resumed. At least another dozen are
scheduled over the next several months in Texas, including two more this

Turner admitted killing his father, Carlton Turner Sr., 43, and mother,
Tonya, 40, by shooting each of them several times in the head at the
family home in Irving in August 1998.

Turner, who was adopted as an infant, said he shot his father in
self-defense after repeated instances of abuse.

"I felt my mother couldn't live without my father," he said, explaining
why he killed his mother. "It didn't make any sense for her to live
without him."

His lawyers had a petition before the Supreme Court that sought a halt to
his punishment, saying he should be entitled to a federally appointed and
paid attorney to pursue clemency. Another appeal argued that Texas lethal
injection procedures needed to be more thoroughly reviewed.

On Wednesday, a state district judge in Dallas refused to withdraw the
execution date. Turner's attorneys filed an appeal contending his trial
was unfair because of racial discrimination in jury selection. Turner, who
is black, was tried before an all-white jury and his lawyers argued only
one minority person may have been among the 80 potential jurors questioned
individually during selection.

"I am disappointed that there's no one stepping up to the plate to do what
it takes to permit the discrimination claim to be fully explored," Maurie
Levin, a University of Texas law professor representing Turner, said after
her request for a reprieve failed before the trial court.

Earlier this week, his clemency petition was rejected by the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles.

Turner was 19 when he killed his parents. He'd been a disciplinary problem
as a juvenile and at age 14 sexually assaulted an 8-year-old boy. Turner's
parents were retired from the Air Force and moved to the Dallas area about
a year earlier. His father worked in sales. His mother worked at a
department store.

Evidence showed after the slayings he bought new clothes and jewelry and
continued living in the family's home. Prosecutors said he dragged the
bodies through the house, dumped them in the garage, then cleaned up the
blood and had friends over that weekend for a party.

Neighbors called police after they hadn't seen the couple in several days
and saw Turner acting strangely and driving his parents' cars, which they

He was arrested at home on warrants for outstanding traffic violations.
Police also found him carrying marijuana. He said he also was on probation
for aggravated robbery. Later that day at least 3 days after the
shootings a foul smell led police to the bodies in the garage.

Tom D'Amore, one of the prosecutors at Turner's trial, said Turner in
testimony tried to badly portray his parents, particularly his father, but
under cross-examination described them as good people who had tried to
discipline him.

"He told the jury they could give him life or death," D'Amore said. "He
didn't care."

Jurors gave him death.

Scheduled to die next in Texas is Derrick Sonnier, set for execution July
23 for the 1991 slayings of Melody Flowers, 27, and her 2-year-old son,
Patrick, at their apartment in the Houston suburb of Humble.

(source: Associated Press)


Man convicted in parents deaths faces execution

Pending the outcome of 2 U.S. Supreme Court appeals, the 1st of 4 Texas
executions scheduled to take place this month will be carried out tonight
at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Walls Unit.

According to a representative from the Texas attorney general's office, 2
appeals filed by attorneys representing 28-year-old Carlton Akee Turner
were still pending before the Supreme Court as of Wednesday afternoon.

Turner, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1999 for the capital
murders of his adoptive parents, will face execution by lethal injection
after 6 p.m. if the appeals are dismissed.

Turner was convicted of capital murder after a jury found him guilty of
shooting his adoptive parents, Carlton and Tonya Turner, in the head at
the age of 19.

According to information released by the Texas attorney general's office,
Turner hid the bodies of his parents in their garage and then went
shopping with his parents' cash and credit cards.

Following the discovery of the bodies, Turner made pre-trial statements
indicating that he had nothing to do with the murders. He then testified
at trial that he shot his father in self-defense, while offering no
explanation for killing his mother.

During the trial, Turner also said he felt nothing when he killed his

Since 2001, Turner has filed numerous appeals with the Supreme Court and
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

On Sept. 27, 2007, Turner was granted a stay of execution by the Supreme
Court pending the filing of a writ of certiorari.

The stay was terminated on April 21, 2008, after which Turner was given a
new execution date.

Prior to his capital murder conviction, Turner had a prior out-of-state
conviction for stealing a car and a prior conviction for aggravated

Turner also had a juvenile incident for sexually assaulting a young male.

(source: Huntsville Item)


Cop killer's family pleads for mercy

The mother and grandparents of a convicted cop killer testified Wednesday
during his sentencing trial that he is a loving father and had a rough

Wesley Lynn Ruiz, 28, was convicted last month of capital murder in the
shooting death of Dallas Police Senior Cpl. Mark Nix in March 2007 after a
short car chase. The same jury has two sentencing options: life without
parole or the death penalty.

In court Wednesday, Mr. Ruiz's grandmother Sue Ann Ziegenhain told the
jury that her grandson had made some mistakes but asked the members to be

"I never in my worst nightmares thought I'd have to stand up for his
character," Mrs. Ziegenhain said, crying from the witness stand. "That
fatal day, he honestly believed his life was in danger."

During the trial last month, Mr. Ruiz testified that he thought police
were shooting at the car in which he was hiding. So he fired one shot and
hit Cpl. Nix in the chest, killing him.

"I'm terribly sorry that Officer Mark Nix is not here," Mrs. Ziegenhain
said. "But Wes is part of me, just like Mark Nix was part of you."

Prosecutors asked Mr. Ruiz's family whether he was the same loving,
nonviolent man they described when he shot the 33-year-old officer.

Mr. Ruiz's mother, Barbara Ruiz, partially blamed her son's upbringing for
the shooting, including her history of abusing drugs and alcohol. For a
long stretch of her son's life, she said, she was not there.

"I have a lot of guilt about that," Ms. Ruiz said. "He won't say it, but I
will. He wasn't given what he needed for his upbringing. This is what can

(source: Dallas Morning News)


Capital charge downgraded to murder in Fort Bend

Capital charge downgraded to murder in Fort Bend—-Prosecutors agree to
deal amid concerns about a teenager's confession when he was told about
the possibility of the death penalty

A capital murder charge was downgraded to murder in a plea arrangement
because of Fort Bend County prosecutors' concerns that the defendant's
confession would be thrown out of court.

Alberto Ramos, 19, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday in the
May 2006 death of Arnulfo Aguilar, 43.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Yack said that during the police
interview with the defendant a Fort Bend County sheriff's investigator
mentioned the possibility of the death penalty.

But Ramos was 17 at the time of the slaying and was too young to face
capital punishment. The only sentence he could have received if found
guilty of capital murder was life in prison.

Yack said the confession was a key part of the state's case and if it had
been suppressed, the prosecution's evidence would have been seriously

"We just didn't have a lot more to go forward on and (I) got the most that
I could out of it with an agreement with the defense," Yack said.

A hearing on the suppression motion was under way in the courtroom of
state District Judge Thomas R. Culver III when the plea was reached.

Aguilar was beaten to death in May 2006 in his home in the 10200 block of
Kent Towne Lane.

Aguilar had met Ramos and 2 other men at a bar in Houston and invited them
back to his house.

"Their intent was to steal from him," Yack said.

Once at the house, the trio attacked him and robbed him. Aguilar's car,
stereo, television and other items were stolen.

Another suspect, Luis C. Rodriguez, 30, awaits trial and the third suspect
remains at large.

Ramos will have to serve half his sentence before he is eligible to be
considered for parole.

(source: Houston Chronicle)