death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 24


Death penalty sought in man's retrial for 1994 slaying

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in a sentencing-phase retrial of a
man convicted in 1994 of bludgeoning, stabbing and strangling a former
foster parent to death in Galveston, District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said

Sistrunk had to decide whether to seek life imprisonment or the death
penalty for Gaylon George Walbey Jr., 35, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals in January ordered the penalty phase be retried.

"In the review process it became clear why we sought the death penalty in
the original trial," Sistrunk said. "With all the same evidence
essentially available to us, along with witnesses, it was the only
decision to be had."

Galveston County District Judge Lonnie Cox will appoint an attorney for
Walbey if it's determined during a hearing next week that he is unable to
hire one.

A 3-judge appeals court panel said a new punishment trial was necessary
because Walbey's defense attorney failed to properly investigate Walbey's
troubled childhood. The court said the jury might have spared him the
death penalty if members had known how his father had snatched him from
his mother and severely abused him for 5 years.

Walbey was convicted of killing Marionette Beyah, 46, an office technology
instructor at Galveston College, in 1993 after she surprised him in the
act of burglarizing her home.

Beyah had been a foster parent for Walbey when he was 14, but she returned
him to state custody. Walbey said in a taped confession that he panicked
when Beyah began screaming.

The prosecution said Walbey, then 18, strangled Beyah with an electrical
cord, stabbed her with several knives, fractured her skull with a fire
extinguisher and left a long barbecue fork protruding from her back.

The jury took 40 minutes to find Walbey guilty of capital murder, but
deliberated for 5 1/2 hours during the penalty phase before sentencing him
to death.

(source: Houston Chronicle)