death penalty news—-TEXAS

Oct. 14

TEXAS—-impending execution

Texas death row inmate set to die Tuesday for child's slaying

Alvin Kelly doesn't deny he committed a murder and deserves a prison cell.

But Kelly, 57, insisted he had no involvement in another murder spree
where 3 people, including a 22-month-old child, were gunned down 24 years
ago in East Texas that put him on death row.

The former Tyler truck repair shop owner is to be executed Tuesday evening
in Huntsville.

He'd be the 10th Texas prisoner executed this year, the 1st of 2 set to
die this week and the 1st of 12 scheduled for lethal injection in the next
six weeks in the nation's busiest death penalty state.

"As I stand before God, I'm innocent of this case," Kelly said last week
from a small visiting cage outside Texas death row. "I'm not responsible
for this case. I'm not saying this to save my life. My life is for God.
And I'm at peace with what's fixing to happen to me."

Kelly's lawyer, Scott Smith, was not optimistic but said he hoped the U.S.
Supreme Court would stop the punishment while it considered another case
from Tennessee about whether poor death row inmates seeking mercy from
state officials have a right to lawyers paid by federal taxpayers.

Recent appeal attempts by other condemned inmates citing that case have
not been successful.

"I doubt they're going to issue a stay on this one," Smith said. "But
that's what we're working on."

Kelly was convicted of killing Devin Morgan, the 22-month-old son of Jerry
and Brenda Morgan. Relatives discovered the bodies of the child and his
parents at their Gregg County home in 1984. All had been shot. Several
items were missing from the home, including a car, at least 5 guns and
some television and stereo gear.

The slayings went unsolved for 6 years until a man told authorities that
his former wife, who also had been married to Kelly, had information about
the crime.

At the time, Kelly already had confessed to an unrelated murder and was
serving a 30-year prison term. The new information led to a capital murder
indictment against Kelly, who was convicted and sentenced to death.

Prosecutors said his ex-wife never felt she could come forward because she
feared Kelly.

Testimony at his trial indicated he was involved in drug dealing.
Prosecutors presented evidence that showed Jerry and Brenda Morgan had
been city marshal reserve officers, and Kelly's motive was that they were
providing information about him to authorities.

Kelly acknowledged from death row that in 1984, "I was doing drugs, I was
buying drugs, I was selling drugs, I was making drugs."

But he and his defense lawyers at his trial argued the family was killed
by someone else.

"I didn't even know the victims," Kelly said. "I never heard of them. …
If I was guilty, I would plead guilty. But I can't stand before God on a

He said with his previous murder confession, plus convictions for
burglary, weapons possession, controlled substance delivery and possession
and aggravated sexual assault, "I didn't stand a chance."

"I'm an ex-drug dealer scumbag," he said. "That's what they believe, that
they're getting justice."

Rebecca Simpson, one of the prosecutors in the case, said the details
remained vivid even nearly 2 decades after the trial.

"Who shoots a baby in the forehead twice? It's just horrible. I would
never forget any aspect of that case.I have no doubt the evidence is
overwhelming as to his guilt," she said.

Betty McGrede, whose daughter, son-in-law and grandson were killed, told
the Longview News-Journal: "Nothing's ever going to bring my kids back,
but (Kelly) lived longer than he really deserved to live,"

Kelly said the pressures of running his business prompted him to turn to
drugs, which he said first were offered to him by a cross-country truck

"I wound up getting addicted," he said. "The meth monster just took

At a federal evidentiary hearing, Kelly testified the night of the
slayings he was out changing the engine in a truck. He also contended 3
witnesses, including his ex-wife, lied at his trial. A judge disagreed.

"I don't like what they did," Kelly said. "But I don't hold any animosity.
I've diligently served the Lord here. It's time for me to go home."

He said he found the prospect of dying "exciting."

"No disrespect to this place, but this is not life," he said of death row.
"This is not an execution. This is graduation, to go home to God. That's
what this is all about."

2 days after Kelly's punishment, Kevin Watts, 27, was set to die for the
execution-style shootings of 3 people during a robbery at a San Antonio
restaurant in 2002.

(source: Associated Press)