death penalty news—-TEXAS

Dec. 17


Death row inmate's appeals are rejected

A Texas death row inmate whose threatening calls to a state senator a year
ago prompted a lockdown of state prisons and crackdown on contraband
throughout the nation's 2nd-largest corrections system lost an appeal of
his conviction and death sentence for the slayings of 2 men in 2004.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday rejected 6 claims from
Richard Lee Tabler that he was improperly convicted and sentenced to die
for gunning down Mohammed-Amine Rahmouni, 28, and Haitham Zayed, 25, at a
remote area in Killeen on Thanksgiving weekend 5 years ago.

Evidence showed Rahmouni was a manager of a strip club and had banned
Tabler from his place. Zayed was a friend of Rahmouni.

Tabler, 40, also has acknowledged killing 2 dancers from the club.

In his mandatory appeal to the state's highest criminal appeals court,
Tabler raised 6 claims from his April 2007 trial in Killeen. The
challenges, all rejected by the court, included claims that his death
sentence was unconstitutional because he is mentally ill, that the
prosecutor's closing arguments at the trial's punishment phase were
improper, that his lawyer was deficient in not objecting to those
arguments and that the trial judge mistakenly refused to allow the jury to
consider whether the shootings were in self-defense.

In October 2008, Tabler was caught in his cell using a smuggled phone.
Records showed he and 9 other inmates used the phone to make 2,800 calls
over 30 days. Among the calls from Tabler were some to state Sen. John
Whitmire, telling him he knew the names and ages of Whitmire's daughters
and where they lived. Whitmire leads the Senate criminal justice panel.

The subsequent lockdown of the state's 111 prisons and search of the cells
of 155,000 prisoners turned up dozens of contraband phones, tobacco
products, weapons and money.

(source: Associated Press)