death penalty news—-TEXAS

Sept. 16

TEXAS—-impending execution

Condemned man says he deserves to die—-Stephen Moody faces execution for
killing drug dealer in '91.

After more than 15 years on Texas death row, Stephen Moody has had enough.

He's ready to die.

"I understand the consequence of my crime," Moody, 52, said recently from
a tiny visiting cage outside death row. "I made the decision to put myself
here. … I don't blame my situation on anybody but myself."

Moody was scheduled to receive a lethal injection this evening for the
October 1991 shooting death of Joseph Hall, 28, during a robbery at Hall's
home in Houston. Hall was described at Moody's trial as a drug dealer
doing business out of his home when he was gunned down.

Moody would be the 17th prisoner executed this year in the nation's
busiest capital punishment state and the 1st of 4 set to die during the
next 2 weeks.

"I don't want life without parole," he said. "That ain't no walk in the

"I'd rather be dead."

At Moody's insistence, no late appeals were filed to try to block the

"It is his wishes, and we have to honor them," said his lawyer, Philip

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Moody's case last year after a
federal appeals court rejected questions raised about jury selection
procedures at his 1993 trial.

The former oil field worker from Houston had at least 4 previous
convictions when he was convicted of capital murder and condemned in 1993.
His 1st conviction for burglary came in 1978 and earned him an 8-year
prison term. He was paroled less than 3 years later.

"I lived day-to-day in the '70s," he said. "It was drugs, a wild life. I
can't sit here and justify it. It isn't right."

11 months after his parole, he was locked up with a 6-year term for auto
theft but served only 1/2 the sentence before he was released. Less than 6
months later, in April 1984, he received 14 years for burglary and was
paroled after less than 4 years. In 1992, he got 40 years for robbing a
Houston bank and was just starting that sentence when he was also charged
with Hall's slaying.

"I see everything now clearly," Moody said. "It's hard to explain, but it
was a lifestyle. And once I got into this system, I just seemed to fall
into that lifestyle."

Evidence at Moody's trial characterized Hall as a marijuana and ecstasy
dealer who was known to carry cash. On the evening of Oct. 10, 1991, he
and his girlfriend were walking to his Houston home and saw 2 men walking
away from the place. The woman went inside to use the bathroom, then heard
voices and saw Hall speaking to the men, one of whom had a sawed-off
shotgun. She crawled out the window, ran next door to call 911, heard a
shot and returned to find Hall dead on the living room floor.

"He started fighting," Moody said. "He wouldn't listen to me. He wouldn't
lay down. This guy was bigger than me.

"It was just supposed to be a robbery. But when you go into a place with a
loaded gun, you put yourself in that situation."

(source: Associated Press)