Louisiana man on Texas death row loses appeal
A Louisiana man condemned for fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend at
her East Texas trailer home after she refused his demand for money lost an
appeal Wednesday before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Donnie Lee Roberts, 38, from Baton Rouge, La., was convicted of the 2003
slaying of 44-year-old Vicki Bowen at her home near Lake Livingston in
East Texas. She died of bullet wounds to the head.
Roberts had raised eight claims challenging the validity of his conviction
and death sentence, delivered by a Polk County jury in 2004. His mandatory
appeal following conviction was turned down 2 years ago.
He does not have an execution date.
Roberts was arrested after fleeing the home in the vehicle belonging to
He had no previous Texas prison record, but court records show he was
given a 7-year term in his native Louisiana for an armed robbery
Roberts was described in court documents as unemployed, a frequent drinker
and cocaine user. He confessed to the slaying of Bowen. A friend
discovered her body after Bowen failed to show up for work as a dental
assistant and became worried about her.
Her television and her son's truck were missing. Police arrested Roberts
after tracking down the truck. Evidence showed he also took jewelry, a
rifle and pistol and Houston Texans football tickets, which he sold for
$100. He traded the pistol for some cocaine.
In his confession, he said he would go to bars, get drunk and then look
for drugs. He said the shooting came after Bowen refused to give him some
money. At his trial, however, he testified he grabbed a .22-caliber rifle
because it was out of place near a door, that the woman had what he
thought was a pistol in her pocket and when she moved to reach for it, she
was shot with the rifle.
On a Web site that seeks pen pals for death row inmates, Roberts described
himself as a "lonely white male on TX death row from Baton Rouge
He still could raise appeals in the federal courts.
Also Wednesday, in another East Texas case, condemned inmate Tracy Lane
Beatty was given an Aug. 13 execution date for the strangling of his
mother in Smith County. Beatty was condemned in 2004 for the death of
Carolyn Click, 62, 2 days before Thanksgiving in 2003. The murder charges
were elevated to capital murder because prosecutors said Beatty broke into
her home, killed her and took her car and her ATM card.
Click's body was found buried behind her trailer home about a month after
she was reported missing. Beatty, who recently had been paroled to his
mother's house, was in jail at the time of his arrest on charges of
unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and possession of a weapon by a felon.
He had a previous record for injury to a child in Dallas County, where he
got a 4-year prison term, then returned to prison with a 15-year term for
theft, also from Dallas County.
He is among at least 7 Texas inmates with execution dates in the coming
months, including Michael Lynn Riley, 51, set to die next week for the
fatal stabbing of Wynona Lynn Harris, 23, during a store robbery more than
23 years ago in Quitman in Wood County, about 75 miles east of Dallas.
(source: Associated Press)