Teddrick Batiste – Black, age 21

Sentenced in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: April 2009
Victim: Horace Holiday
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Batiste shot Holiday while driving down the highway.  Injured, Holiday pulled off at a convenience store and started crawling toward the building at which point Batiste shot him several more times.  Batiste fled the scene leading officers on a high-speed chase.  Batiste admitted to planning to steal Holiday’s spinning rims from his car.  The defense argued that social factors including an absent father, early exposure to drugs, a dangerous neighborhood, gang influence, and substance abuse influenced his behavior.  The prosecution also introduced Batiste’s confession regarding killing another man earlier that month.
Sources: Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/14/11 B2 (2011 WLNR 11872137), Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/23/11 (Pg. Unavail. Online) (2011 WLNR 12559138).

Brian Davis – White, age 22 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: August 10, 1991
Victim: Michael Foster, 31
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Davis, angered over the victim’s inability to pay promised gas money, inflicted ten fatal wounds in the victim’s neck, chest, and back, and inscribed on him a swastika and white supremacist logo.  The defense argued that Davis’ low IQ indicated he was mentally retarded and was mentally on the level of an eight or nine year old.  The defense also noted Davis’ broken home growing up, constant teasing for his inability to read, and early drop out age.  The prosecution argued Davis’ knowledge and ability to hide his fingerprints elevated him above a child, and his violent criminal history showed a long standing pattern.
Sources: Hous. Chron. B8 6/9/92 (1992 WLNR 4706333), Hous. Chron. A20 6/17/92 (1992 WLNR 4713496)

Areli Escobar – Latino, age 30

Sentenced in Travis County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: May 2009
Victim: Bianca Maldonado, 17
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Escobar entered the victim’s apartment, beat her, sexually assaulted her with an object, and stabbed her 46 times.  The prosecution linked Escobar via DNA and fingerprint evidence and a phone call from his girlfriend that connected during the attack.  The defense called no witnesses but argued that the murder was a targeted killing rather than a killing during a sexual assault and therefore was not eligible for the death penalty.
Sources: Statesman (TX) 5/15/11 (http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/escobar-guilty-of-capital-murder-in-lbj-students-1/nRZ2n/)

John Hummel – White, age 33

Sentenced in Tarrant County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: December 2009
Victim: Joy Hummel, 34, Clyde Bedford, 57, Jodi Hummel, 5
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Hummel beat and stabbed his pregnant wife to death, clubbed his father-in-law and daughter to death with a baseball bat, then burned their house to the ground.  Hummel confessed to the murders days later and stated that he deserved the death penalty.  Prosecutors argued that he wanted to remove his family so that he could date another woman.  The defense called a prison expert to testify that Hummel would die in prison regardless of the death penalty and that his record showed that he was entirely unremarkable as a prisoner.  The prosecution countered that he could still be a danger to other inmates.
Sources: Dallas Morning News (TX) 6/29/11 (Pg. Unavil. Online) (2011WLNR 12932846), 6/29/11 AP Alert – TX 00:45:31, Star Telegram (TX) 6/27/11 (http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/06/27/3182435/jurors-hear-how-prison-life-could.html#ixzz1QVKc9QPV)

Joseph Jean – Black, age 37

Sentenced in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: April 2010
Victim: Chelsey Lang, 17, Ashley Johnson, 16
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Jean entered the home of his ex-girlfriend, beat to death the girls he found there, and set the house on fire.  The prosecution brought evidence that he had spent the evening fighting with his ex-girlfriend over the phone.  The defense brought character witnesses testifying to his childhood in a dysfunctional family and his model behavior as a former prisoner.  The prosecution countered with the aggravating factor of his long criminal history including stalking his ex-girlfriend for several years before the killings.
Sources: Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/1/11 B2 (2011 WLNR 10959128), Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/14/11 B2 (2011 WLNR 11872192).

Travis Mullis – White, age 21

Sentenced in Galveston County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: January 29, 2008
Victim: Alijah Mullis, 3 months old
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  After attempting to sexually assault his eight year old niece, Mullis fled with his three month old son.  He crushed his son’s skull to quiet his crying after molesting him and fled the state.  The defense argued a long history of physical and sexual abuse of Mullis stemming back all the way to prenatal care and a family culture wherein pedophilia was rampant.  The prosecution noted a “hit list” Mullis made in his cell as a sign of future danger to others, but the defense countered that Mullis’ attempt to appropriate multiple gangs’ signs was actually a suicide attempt since gangs tend to kill nonmembers who use their signs.
Sources: Hous. Chron. B1 3/15/11 (2011 WLNR 5125694), Hous. Chron. B1 3/16/11 (2011 WLNR 5205645), Hous. Chron. B3 3/18/11 (2011 WLNR 5390158)

Cortné Robinson – Black, age 18

Sentenced in Harrison County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: September 20, 2009
Victim: Frank Zabokrtsky, 82
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Robinson with two others shot the victim while attempting to burglarize his home.  The prosecution noted his history of burglary and home invasion leading up to the robbery and murder of the victim and aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, and attempted murder of the victim’s wife.  The prosecution argued that these crimes were extremely brutal, excessively violent, and done with callous disregard for the innocence of life including rapping about the crime while in custody in a patrol car.  The defense argued that Robinson was so immature and juvenile in his planning and execution to indicate that he was no hardened criminal but merely a kid caught up in activities he didn’t understand.  The defense also noted Robinson’s low self-esteem stemming from a broken home and convicted father.
Sources: Marshall News Messenger 3/15/2011 (http://www.marshallnewsmessenger.com/news/article_622569b0-4f05-11e0-b918-001cc4c002e0.html)

Albert Turner – Black, age 45

Sentenced in Fort Bend County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: December 2009
Victim: Keitha Turner, Betty Jo Frank
Prosecution’s case/defense response:  Turner cut the throats of his wife and mother-in-law.  The prosecution brought evidence and witnesses describing Turner’s long history of domestic abuse and violence.  The defense tried to portray Turner’s murder as a crime of passion and her mother’s death as an accident.  Character witnesses for the defense described Turner as protective, responsible, and generous, but that his experience in the Gulf War had darkened his personality.  The prosecution countered with the perpetual violent behavior as a danger to society in the future.
Sources: Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/1/11 B2 (2011 WLNR 10959912), Houston Chronicle (TX) 6/8/11 B2 (2011 WLNR 11447145).