death penalty news—-TEXAS

Jan. 21


Confessed killer of 5 loses at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to review the case of a
Tarrant County man who confessed to fatally shooting 5 relatives and was
condemned for the deaths of 2 of them, his stepchildren gunned down while
they slept.

The high court's refusal moves Terry Lee Hankins 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.

Last August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction
and death sentence and lawyers took his appeal to the Supreme Court.

After Hankins was arrested in 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, nearly a year earlier.

Before his arrest, he lied about his sister's whereabouts, saying he had
sent her to a home for pregnant mentally-challenged women, according to
court documents. 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
although the man's mummified remains were in his trailer "surrounded by
air fresheners."

Terry Lee Hankins, 34, who worked as an auto mechanic in Arlington, argued
in earlier appeals that his trial lawyers were deficient for failing to
adequately show the jury of his abusive childhood.

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

He was tried only for the deaths of his two 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.

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.

(source: Associated Press)

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