death penalty news—-TEXAS

Dec. 4


Convicted serial killer David Leonard Wood settles in at El Paso County

Convicted serial killer David Leonard Wood has settled in at the El Paso
County Jail while he waits for the Dec. 14 court hearing on his appeal
that stayed his execution in August.

During his stay at the jail, extra guards are provided whenever he is
moved from one place to another. During that time, all other inmate
movements come to a stop, said Chris Acosta, spokeswoman for the El Paso
County Sheriff's Office.

Wood, 52, arrived in El Paso late Tuesday from the state prison in
Livingston, Texas.

He is appealing his death sentence for the 1987 murders of 6 girls and
young women in Northeast El Paso. He was to have been put to death by
lethal injection on Aug. 20, but it was stayed to determine whether he is
mentally retarded.

Acosta said Wood is in a cell by himself, and except for his lawyers, he
is not allowed any visitors at this time.

He appears to be comfortable and is eating all his meals, Acosta said. He
can watch television but does not have access to the gym at the jail.

Wood was found guilty in 1992 of the murders of Desiree Wheatley, Karen
Baker, Rosa "Janet" Maria Casio, Dawn Smith, Ivy Susanna Williams and
Angelica Frausto.

Prosectors said Wood buried their bodies in shallow graves near each
other. Wood, who was imprisoned for sexual assaults before the murders,
has denied killing anyone.

Wood, known as the "Desert Killer," was also a police suspect in the 1987
disappearances of 3 other young women: Marjorie Knox, Melissa Alaniz and
Cheryl Vasquez-Dismukes. They are still missing.

Erika Dismukes, ex-mother-in-law of Cheryl Vasquez-Dismukes, one of Wood's
advocates, said he might have tried to call her this week.

"I didn't know he was in El Paso. We had a collect call from someone in
the jail named David, but I declined the charge," Dismukes said. "I would
have accepted the call if I had known it was him. David didn't kill those
girls. Someone else did. I would put my hands in the fire for David."

The death row inmate's return to El Paso is going to evoke strong emotions
from the relatives of his victims, said Denise Frausto, Angelica's sister.

"I can't believe he's in El Paso," Frausto said. "I testified at his 1992
trial. I was asked to identify a photograph of my sister in the courtroom,
and when I came near Wood, he picked up his chair and turned it around so
that he had his back to the judge. I wanted him to look at me, but he
couldn't look me in the eye."

Alicia Alaniz, Melissa Alaniz's mother, said she would like to know what
became of her daughter.

"I think about it all the time. Someone out there knows something. I wish
they would come forward with the information," she said.

Judge Peter Peca will preside over the proceeding in the 171 District
Court. He was unavailable this week to discuss the steps involved in the
hearing to determine whether Wood is mentally retarded and should be
spared the death penalty.

Lawyers for the Texas Attorney General's Office and for Wood also were
unavailable for comment.

(source: El Paso Times)

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