death penalty news—-TEXAS

April 14

TEXAS—-impending execution

Lubbock grandmother's killer set to die Wednesday

At a tight-knit apartment complex community in Lubbock, 67-year-old Mary
Felder "Miss Mary" to the residents was everybody's grandmother, known
for candy and cookies and other goodies available to the neighborhood

"She was such a wonderful woman," said Ken Hawk, a former Lubbock district

That made it all the more shocking nearly a dozen years ago when her
grandson, who routinely would check on Felder at her place at the Four
Seasons Apartments, found her viciously beaten and stabbed to death.

Michael Rosales, who had been staying with friends in an apartment next
door, was convicted of her death and was set for lethal injection
Wednesday evening.

Rosales, 35, would be the 13th inmate executed this year in the nation's
busiest capital punishment state.

Attorneys from the Texas Defender Service, a legal group involved in death
penalty issues, lost a bid Tuesday in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals to halt the punishment. Their appeal argued Rosales was entitled
to a qualified lawyer who should have at least six months to draw up a
state clemency petition and further pursue claims Rosales may be mentally
retarded and ineligible for execution.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in a Tennessee case,
said the government should pay for federally appointed lawyers to work on
state clemency requests for condemned inmates.

The Texas Attorney General's Office had opposed Rosales' appeal, arguing
he'd already missed a state deadline for filing a clemency petition and
allowing him to do so now would circumvent state procedures and open the
door for every condemned inmate to file a last-minute clemency request
after the deadline had passed. They also pointed out Rosales' mental
retardation claims previously were rejected by the courts.

The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, acting on claims Rosales was mentally
retarded, stopped Rosales' scheduled execution in 2004 just hours before
he could have been taken to the death chamber.

Rosales, who refused to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to
this week's punishment, had been on probation for nearly four years for a
drug conviction in Lubbock but had a history of violating probation.

In 1994, he fled from a Latham County, Colo., jail after being arrested on
charges that included resisting arrest and battery. When he was arrested
for Felder's June 4, 1997, slaying, evidence showed he had removed an
electronic monitor he was supposed to be wearing.

Rosales was taken into custody after police discovered he had an
outstanding traffic warrant. The following day, confronted with photos of
his bloody clothes recovered by officers, Rosales told detectives he was
high on cocaine and broke into Felder's apartment to get money.

He said when the woman discovered him and threatened to call police, he
pulled her into the kitchen and grabbed a knife from a table, then dragged
her into a bedroom and began stabbing her.

"I told her that I was sorry and asked her to die, but she kept
breathing," he told police in a written statement that was read at his

Felder had more than 100 wounds and injuries from a steak knife, a
two-pronged kitchen fork and a pair of needle-nose pliers.

"That guy really, really did a number on her," said Hawk, who was the lead
prosecutor at Rosales' trials and is now a federal defender in Tyler. "He
bent a fork off in her. I'll never forget those images."

Rosales led police to a trash container where he tossed the weapons used
in the attack. Detectives found Felder's blood on his clothes and on a
door at the apartment where Rosales was staying. Prints from his shoes
matched bloody footprints in Felder's bedroom.

"There wasn't anything to work with," David Hazlewood, one of Rosales'
trial lawyers, said this week. "It was open-shut. He had confessed to it.
There was a single-spaced confession where he detailed everything that

Another Texas inmate is set to die later this month. Derrick Johnson faces
execution April 30 for the 1999 rape-slaying of 25-year-old LaTausha
Curry, who was beaten with a board and then suffocated with a shirt and
sweater after she was abducted from a Dallas pay phone.

(source: Associated Press)