State of Texas executes Billie Wayne Coble

Last night, February 28, 2019, the State of Texas executed Billie Wayne Coble. At 70 years of age, he was the oldest person put to death here since Texas resumed executions in 1982. He spent nearly 30 years on death row.

Coble was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his in-laws, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son, police Sergeant Bobby Vicha, in 1989 at the family’s home in Axtell, 14 miles northeast of Waco (McLennan County).

According to the Texas Tribune, “during the execution, Coble’s son began pounding on the glass of the death chamber and, after an interaction with officers in the room, he and his son were removed from the viewing room and taken to the Walker County jail, arrested on charges of resisting arrest.”

Coble was the second person put to death in Texas in 2019 and the third nationwide this year. There are currently five executions scheduled to take place in Texas through September. 

Read our original post below.
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… if Coble’s execution goes forward, he will be killed not for who he is or for what he’s been convicted of, but because of the testimonies of so-called ‘experts’ whose testimony can be summed up in two words: unreliable junk.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/capital-punishment/texas-planning-execution-based-fraudulent-testimony

So writes ACLU attorney Brian Stull in a powerful blog post about the case of Billie Wayne Coble, who is scheduled to be put to death tonight, February 28, 2019. He was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his in-laws, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son, police Sergeant Bobby Vicha, in 1989 at the family’s home in Axtell, 14 miles northeast of Waco (McLennan County). According to the Texas Tribune, Coble is one of nearly 30 inmates who have lived on Texas’ death row for more than 25 years. If he is put to death this evening, he will be the oldest person executed by the State of Texas since 1982.

Coble’s 2007 appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals resulted in the dismissal of his death sentence.  After a new punishment hearing in 2008, a jury re-sentenced him to death. 

Coble’s defense team argued that the expert witness called to testify regarding future dangerousness in his 1990 trial and 2008 re-trial could not account for his methodology, “nor could he cite even one authority or article that supported it,” according to the Houston Chronicle

Coble’s current attorney has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the Justices’ 2018 ruling in McCoy v. Louisiana should apply to this case. That decision “overturned a Louisiana inmate’s death sentence because the inmate’s lawyer – hoping to save his client’s life – had told the jury that the inmate was guilty, even though the inmate had expressly objected to that strategy,” according to SCOTUSblog. Coble similarly objected to his trial attorneys’ strategy.

Read more about this latest filing and Coble’s case in the Texas Tribune.

If his execution proceeds, Coble will be the second person put to death in the State of Texas in 2019 and the third nationwide.