Alfred Dewayne Brown—black, age 21

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/3/03
Prosecution case/defense response: Brown, Elijah Joubert, and Dashan Glaspie were robbing a check cashing store when the clerk, Alfredia Jones, pulled the police alarm.  Jones was shot to death.  During the police response, Officer Charles Clark’s gun jammed and he was shot twice, once execution-style.  Brown insisted that he was not involved in the robbery and had an alibi.  Glaspie testified against both Brown and Joubert in return for a 30-year sentence.  Joubert was sentenced to death earlier in a separate proceeding.  The defense counsel claimed their efforts were impeded by Brown’s low IQ, but the jury rejected his claim of mental retardation.
Prosecutor(s): Tommy LaFon
Defense counsel: Loretta Muldrow, Robert Morrow
Sources: Houston Chronicle 10/25/05, 10/26/05, 11/4/05 Lexis News Library, USPAPR file

Edward Lee Busby, Jr.—black, age 32

Sentenced to death in Tarrant County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/30/04
Prosecution case/defense response: Busby and his cohort Kathleen “Kitty” Latimer, kidnapped 77-year-old retired professor Laura Lee Crane in her vehicle as she pulled into a grocery store parking lot.  They robbed her and put her in the trunk.  Busby eventually bound her, and wrapped her head in 37 feet of duct tape.  Crane suffocated.  The culprits then dumped her body off the interstate, and were caught later driving her car.  The defense tried to shift more of the blame toward Latimer by claiming she had instructed Busby to use the duct tape.  They claimed Busby had never intended for Crane to die.  In aggravation the prosecution presented evidence of Busby’s long criminal record, other acts of violence, including in jail while awaiting trial, and that he had written gang graffiti on the wall of his holding cell during the trial.  The defense offered evidence that he had been a good brother, had an alcoholic father and absent mother, and had learning disabilities.  In early 2006, Latimer accepted a plea deal that gives her a chance for parole in 30 years.
Prosecutor(s): Joe Shannon, Greg Miller
Defense counsel: Jack Strickland, Steve Gordon
Sources: Fort Worth Star-Telegram 11/12/05 (2005 WLNR 18291258), 11/15/05 (2005 WLNR 18424075), 11/16/05 (2005 WLNR 18493758), 11/17/05 (2005 WLNR 18566869), 11/18/05 (2005 WLNR 18641394), 2/7/06 (2006 WLNR 2116507)

Juan Castillo – Latino, age 21

Sentenced to death in Bexar County, Texas
By:  A jury
Date of Crime:  12/3/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Castillo and his cohorts planned the robbery of Tommy Garcia, Jr.  Castillo’s girlfriend lured Garcia to an alley to have sex and do drugs.  Castillo and his cohorts surprised Garcia in the alley where Castillo shot Garcia in the face.  Castillo shot Garcia six more times as Garcia tried to run away.  During the penalty phase, Castillo fired his attorneys and represented himself.
Prosecutor(s):  David Lunan
Defense lawyer(s):  Bill Harris, Denny Callahan
Sources:  San Antonio Express – News 5/4/2005, 8/26/2005, 8/31/2005, 9/2/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).

Noah Espada – Latino, age 20

Sentenced to death in Bexar County, Texas
By:  A jury
Date of Crime:  2/29/2004 & 3/2/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Espada was angry after being fired from his nightclub job and planned to kill his former boss, Luke Scott.  Espada attempted to break into Scott’s apartment, but broke into the wrong apartment and suffocated Sandra Ramos.  Three days later, Espada broke into Scott’s apartment and waited for Scott to come home.  After Scott walked into the apartment, Espada shot him multiple times.
Prosecutor(s):  Kevin O’Connel
Defense lawyer(s):  Jeff Scott, Richard Langlois
Sources:  San Antonio Express-News 8/4/2005, 8/18/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file); Austin American Statesman 8/19/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).

Humberto “Gallo” Garza – Latino, age 28

Sentenced to death in Hidalgo County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/5/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Garza was one of 13 charged in the slayings of six men who died from gunshot wounds and whose bodies were found in and around two homes. Garzo did not participate in the shootings, but after cooperating with officials, the prosecution had enough evidence to link him to approving and setting up the crime. Police testified that Garzo said he was a captain in a gang, and at least two of the victims were identified as members of a rival gang. Defense attorneys argued that Garza knew only of a plan to steal marijuana and had not planned on killing anyone. Garza drove a stolen vehicle to the crime scene, but remained in the vehicle. During sentencing, defense attorneys argued Garza had given his life to God while in prison and was changed and also emphasized his cooperation with the police after his arrest; the prosecution argued that Garza was a continued threat to society.
Prosecutor(s): Murray Moore, Joseph Orendain Defense Lawyer(s): Keno Vasquez, Ralph Martinez
Sources: The Monitor (McAllen, TX) 3/19/05, 2/24/05, 5/10/05

Justen Hall – white, age 20

Sentenced to death in El Paso County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 10/28/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hall strangled Melanie Billhartz, 29, with an electrical cord and left her body in a desert. Prosecutors argued that Hall killed Billhartz to keep her from telling authorities about a meth laboraratory. Chase Hale, a mutual acquaintance of Hall and Billhartz, led police to the body and testified that Hall admitted  that he killed Billhartz. Prosecutors argued that several people said Hall killed Billhartz, including Hall himself through a voluntary statement to police. The defense attorneys argued that Hale was the real killer and that the police carried out a poor investigation. Billhartz was killed while Hall was out on bond on another unrelated murder charge.
Prosecutor(s): Bill Hicks Defense Lawyer(s): Francisco Macias, Charles McDonald
Sources: El Paso Times 1/24/05, 1/25/05, 2/9/05, 2/19/05

Jimmie Lucero – Latino, age 45

Sentenced to death in Potter County, Texas
By: Unknown
Date of crime: 9/6/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Lucero killed three members of a neighboring family, Fabiana, Pedro and Maria Robledo, severely wounded another daughter, and tried to kill another family member. Pedro Robledo was shot on the street in front of his house and Lucero then broke into the home to kill the two women. Lucero had several other serious assaults that were proven by the prosecution. For the defense in mitigation family members testified to aspects of Lucero’s good character.
Prosecutor(s): Randall Sims
Defense lawyer(s): Joe Marr Wilson, Max Peck
Sources: AP Alert – Texas 5/28/2005 (5/28/05 APALERTTX 10:50:50); Amarillo Globe-News 5/24/2005, 5/25/2005, 5/26/2005, 5/27/2005 (

Rodolfo Medrano—Latino, age 23

Sentenced to death in Hidalgo County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 1/5/03
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Medrano was one of several persons charged with the drug-related robberies at two homes in which six victims were killed by gunshots—some of them so bullet-riddled that they were scarcely recognizable.  Medrano provided assault weapons used by fellow members of the Tri-City Bombers gang in the slayings (also sentenced to death arising was Humberto Garza—see 1st quarter).  Medrano was also indicted in the slaying of four women in September, 2002.  The slayings were allegedly ordered by the gang’s leader from prison to retaliate against a witness who had helped put him there—but it turned out that gang members attacked a carload of six women—killing four and wounding two—that did not contain the witness against whom the hit had been ordered.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: APALERTTN 09:46:17 12/16/03, San Antonio Express-News 12/22/03 (2003 WLNR 16737519), AP Alert TX-21:26:14 11/26/08

Moises Mendoza – Latino, age 20

Sentenced to death in Collin County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Mendoza kidnapped, sexually assaulted and strangled to death Rachel Tolleson. He then burned the body. In aggravation the prosecution proved an escalating pattern of violence by Mendoza that included several rapes and robberies. In mitigation the defense presented family members who described Mendoza as a caring person who began to act differently in his late teenage years as he manifested symptoms of deep depression.
Prosecutor(s): Greg Davis
Defense lawyer(s): Angela Ivory
Sources: Dallas Morning News 6/24/2005, 6/30/2005 (LEXIS, USPAPR file).

Taichin Preyor – black, age 33

Sentenced to death in Bexar County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 2/26/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Preyor slashed 24-year-old Jami Tackett’s throat and stabbed her multiple times when he broke into her apartment during an attempted robbery. She also suffered multiple defensive wounds. Tackett bled to death. Tackett’s boyfriend, Jason Garza, 20, was also stabbed during the incident, but he survived. Preyor told authorities that he was going to Tackett’s apartment to buy drugs from her. He claimed that when he entered her apartment, Tackett and another man began beating him and he drew his knife in self defense and “poked” her with it. Prosecutors said Preyor was not trying to defend himself because it was clear the door had been knocked down before the murder and a gun had also been found on the bumper of his vehicle. The defense argued it was Garza who broke down the door as he was leaving the apartment.
Prosecutor(s): Melisa Skinner Defense Lawyer(s): John Economidy
Sources: San Antonio Express-News 3/15/05, 3/11/05, 3/10/05, 3/8/05, 2/27/04

Chelsea Richardson – white, age 19

Sentenced to death in Tarrant County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 12/11/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Richardson suggested to her boyfriend the idea of killing his parents for insurance money. Two months later she helped him fatally shoot and stab the victims, Rick and Susanna Wamsley, in their home. Richardson rejected a plea deal that would have taken the death penalty off the table.
Prosecutor(s): Mike Parrish
Defense lawyer(s): Warren St. John, Terry Barlow
Sources: Fort Worth Star-Telegram 5/25/2005 (2005 WLNR 8253652), 5/26/2005 (2005 WLNR 8325465).

Travis Runnels—black, age 26

Sentenced to death in Potter County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/29/03
Prosecution case/defense response: Runnels was serving a 70 year prison term for aggravated robbery, and also had two prior burglary convictions.  He slashed the throat of prison shoe factory supervisor Stanley A. Wiley, apparently because of some past disagreements.  The defense argued that Runnels’ act was aberrational, and that he would not constitute a further threat in prison.
Prosecutor(s): Jim Yontz, Randall Sims
Defense counsel: Jim Dunham
Sources: Amarillo Globe-News 1/29/03, 1/30/03, 5/1/04, 10/27/05, 10/29/05, available at

Christopher Swift – white, age 28

Sentenced to death in Denton County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/30/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Swift stabbed and strangled his 27-year-old pregnant wife, Amy Sabeh-Swift, and then traveled to another county where he strangled his mother-in-law, Sandra Sabeh, 61. He had his 5-year-old son with him during the killings. After killing the women, Swift and his son checked into a hotel where Swift abandoned the child after he fell asleep. Testimony indicated Swift killed his wife after they had a dispute because he quit his job. The defense argued Swift was insane at the time of the slayings.
Prosecutor(s): Lee Ann Breading
Defense lawyer(s): Derek Adams
Sources: Fort Worth Star-Telegram 3/8/2005 (2005 WLNR 4819429), 4/7/05 (2005 WLNR 5427661), 4/8/2005 (2005 WLNR 5496333).

Andre Thomas – black, age 20

Sentenced to death in Grayson County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 3/2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Thomas was convicted of one charge of capital murder for killing his estranged wife’s one-year-old daughter, Leyha. He also admitted to killing his estranged wife, Laura Boren Thomas and their son, Andre Boren. The three had been stabbed to death and the victims’ hearts had been cut out. Two of the hearts were found at Thomas’s house. While being held in the county jail, Thomas ripped his own eye out of its socket.
Prosecutor(s): Kerye Ashmore, Joe Brown Defense Lawyer(s): R.J. Hagood, Bobbie Peterson
Sources: Fort Worth Star Telegram 3/13/05, 3/8/05; Charlotte Observer 4/7/04; Herald Democrat ( 5/24/05, 6/14/05

Charles Victor Thompson—white, age 28 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 4/30/98
Prosecution case/defense response:  Thompson kicked in the door of ex-girlfriend Dennise Hayslip’s apartment and shot her in the face, a wound from which she later died.  He also shot and killed another person in the apartment, Darren Keith Cain.  After his arrest, he tried to plot two murder-for-hire schemes from jail to kill witnesses against him.  An audiotape of one of these plots was played in his first trial, which caused a reversal when an appellate court ruled that the audiotape had been made in violation of Thompson’s right to counsel.  At the re-sentencing the defense offered evidence of a bad home life and drug usage, even though Thompson’s family was affluent.  The defense also tried to attribute Hayslip’s death to bad medical care at the emergency room.  Thompson made national news shortly after his re-sentence to death when he escaped from the Harris County jail by slipping into street clothes and flashing a fake ID.  He was re-captured not long thereafter.
Prosecutor(s): Vic Wisner
Defense counsel: Terry Gaiser
Sources: Houston Chronicle 10/29/05, 11/4/05, 11/5/05, 11/22/05, 1/5/06 Lexis News Library, USPAPR file