death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 23


Texas inmate dies for slaying mom, child, mom

Convicted killer Derrick Sonnier was executed Wednesday for the slayings
of a woman and her young child at their suburban Houston apartment almost
2 decades ago.

Sonnier shook his head negatively when asked if he had any final
statements. He was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., eight minutes after the
lethal dose began.

Sonnier, 40, made a similar trip to the death house 7 weeks ago but was
spared when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped his scheduled
punishment after lawyers raised questions about the legality of the lethal
injection procedures.

That appeal subsequently was rejected, Sonnier's death date was reset for
Wednesday evening and his legal avenues to avoid execution were exhausted.

Tameka Traylor, who was 8 when her mother was killed, witnessed Sonnier's

"I felt a lot of anger at the present time because I didn't see any
remorse for what he'd done," said Traylor. "I feel insulted by whoever
decided to say that the needle injection was cruel and unusual punishment
to the inmates. I feel like that was a slap in the face of everybody's
family that had to go through something we had to endure. They never think
what we have to go through.

"If they think that was cruel, just imagine being stabbed and beaten …
and stomped or strangled, or worst of all, losing your child."

Executions were on hold around the country for more than 7 months until
the U.S. Supreme Court in April rejected an appeal from 2 Kentucky
prisoners who argued lethal injection was unconstitutionally cruel.

Sonnier had maintained his innocence, but a Harris County jury was
convinced evidence showed he was responsible for the 1991 murders of
Melody Flowers, 27, and her 2-year-old son, Patrick. Flowers was raped,
stabbed, strangled and beaten with a hammer until its handle broke. Her
child was stabbed 8 times. Her body was dumped into a bathtub filled with
water and the child's body was tossed on top of her.

Sonnier lived 2 doors away in the same apartment complex in Humble, just
northeast of Houston.

Neighbors called police after another of Flowers' children, a 1-year-old
girl with blood on her clothes, was crying at the door of the apartment.
When neighbors looked through an open patio door, they saw a pool of blood
on a bed.

Police knocking on doors in the area found Sonnier with his hand wrapped
in a bloody towel.

"I didn't hurt her," he told officers.

But inside his place they found other bloodstained towels and a blouse
identified as belonging to Flowers. DNA evidence also tied him to the

Testimony showed the Sulphur, La., native grew up in Houston, had been
obsessed with Flowers and had stalked her. Witnesses testified how they
repeatedly chased him away from her place and that he was known to peek
through her windows and even hide inside her apartment.

"You're not going to get much other than the fact I remember representing
him," Wilford Anderson, one of Sonnier's lawyers at his 1993 trial, said
this week. "As for the facts of the case, it's been a very long time.
There's so many cases we end up handling, there's nothing that stands out
in my mind."

Sonnier initially was scheduled to die in February. That execution date,
however, was withdrawn by prosecutors pending the outcome of the Kentucky
case before the Supreme Court. Then on June 3, he got within about 90
minutes of punishment before Texas' highest criminal appeals court saved

Sonnier declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his
execution. He was among at least 16 condemned prisoners with execution
dates including 6 in August in the nation's most active death penalty

Next week, condemned inmate Larry Davis, 40, is set to die for the gang
initiation robbery-slaying of Michael Barrow, 26, at Barrow's home in
Amarillo 13 years ago.

On the Net: Derrick Sonnier

Texas Department of Criminal Justice execution schedule

Sonnier becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 408th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Sonnier becomes the 169th condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became Governor of Texas in 2001.

Sonnier becomes the 14th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1113th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)