death penalty news—-TEXAS

Aug. 18


Confessed killer of 5 loses death sentence appeal

A Tarrant County man who confessed to killing five relatives has lost a
federal court appeal of his conviction for fatally shooting his 2
stepchildren while they slept.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholds the conviction of
Terry Lee Hankins and moves him a step closer to execution for the 2001
slayings of Kevin Galley, 12, and Ashley Mason, 11. Their bodies, and the
body of their mother, 34-year-old Tammy Hankins, were found in their
mobile home in Mansfield, about 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth.

After Hankins was arrested in August 2001, he told police where to find
the decomposing bodies of his father and half-sister, with whom he had a
child and was expecting another. He said he fatally shot Earnie Hankins,
55, and bludgeoned Pearl "Sissy" Sevenstar, 20, in the fall of 2000.

According to court documents, he lied about his sister's whereabouts,
saying he had sent her to a home for pregnant mentally-challenged women.
However, he had stored her body in a plastic ice chest, then hid it in a
car at his father's auto shop.

Court documents also said he told people his father had moved out of state
"when in fact his father's mummified remains were in his trailer
surrounded by air fresheners."

"The gruesome facts adduced in this case will not be recounted here in
full," the 5th Circuit opinion, posted late Friday, said. "Suffice it to
say, the state produced overwhelming evidence at the guilt phase of the
trial establishing that (Hankins) killed his wife … and her two
children. … There was also evidence that (Hankins) engaged in sexual
activity with and around the dead bodies."

In his appeal, Hankins, 33, who worked as an auto mechanic in Arlington,
argued he should be allowed to pursue appeals that his legal help at his
trial was deficient for failing to adequately show the jury of his abusive
childhood. His appeal also sought what's known as a certificate of
appealability to raise questions about jury instructions, trial procedures
related to mitigating evidence and the legality of the state's lethal
injection process.

The New Orleans-based court rejected all the claims.

In a diary police found after Hankins' arrest, he wrote that he had become
a "non-caring monster" and rambled about his troubled childhood with a
divorced inattentive father and 2 stepmothers who molested him and taught
him sex acts.

He was tried only on the deaths of his 2 stepchildren, who were shot in
the head while they slept. A Tarrant County jury deliberated less than 30
minutes before convicting him then deliberated less than 50 minutes before
deciding on the death penalty.

At his trial, defense attorneys had argued for a life sentence although
they acknowledged afterward the evidence made the death penalty a foregone

In its ruling, the 5th Circuit said sufficient mitigating evidence
detailing Hankins' abusive childhood was presented at his trial and "that
additional evidence on these issues would not have made a difference."

The court also said if his lawyers had called on Hankins to testify "it
would have opened him up to damaging cross examination about his numerous,
revolting violent criminal acts."

Hankins was arrested a day after the bodies of his wife and stepchildren
were found. He had held off police for 4 hours in a standoff at his
girlfriend's apartment in Arlington. After his arrest, he told authorities
about his stepsister, who had been killed 10 months earlier.

Hankins does not have an execution date.

(source: Associated Press)


Possible Death Penalty for Aryan Brotherhood Member

The US Attorney's office is seeking the death penalty for a member of the
Aryan Brotherhood.

Donald Taylor is accused of shooting and killing an elderly rancher in
Roosevelt county on 4th of July back in 2005. Taylor is charged with the
murder of Jimmy Bo Chunn of Causay.

Taylor is one of 19 Aryan Brotherhood members charged last year in 3
separate indictments. He's the only one facing the federal death penalty.

(source: KFDA News)


New Punishment Trial For Central Texas Man Once On Death Row Rescheduled

The new punishment trial of a Mclennan County man once on death row for
killing his wife's parents and brother has been delayed.

The new sentencing trial for Billy Wayne Coble was scheduled to begin
Tuesday. But court officials pushed back the date to next Monday because
only 11 jurors have been selected so far. Coble was sentenced to die in
1990 for fatally shooting his wife's parents and her brother.

A Waco police sergeant at their homes in Axtell. A Federal Appeals Court
last year threw out Coble's death sentence saying it was unconstitutional
because the law had changed since his conviction.

(source: KCEN TV news)