Juan Balderas—Latino, age 19

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Balderas was a gang member who investigators said was involved in as many as 10 murders in Houston. He was sentenced to death for shooting Eduardo Hernandez to death during a burglary.
Sources: Houston Chronicle 1/14/14, 3/15/14

George Curry—black, age 42

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 5/1/09
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Curry shot Edward Virappen, the manager of a fast food restaurant, to death during a robbery after ordering the victim into the walk-in cooler.
Sources: Houston Chronicle 2/21/14, KTRK News 2/21/14

Brandon Daniel—Asian, age 24

Sentenced to death in Travis County, Texas
By: a jury
Date: 4/2012
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Daniel, a computer programmer, was causing a disturbance at Walmart, and an employee called the police. Officer Jaime Padron responded and a struggle ensued. While the two were grappling on the floor, Daniel pulled a gun and shot and killed Padron. The defense presented mitigating evidence that Daniel had longstanding mental health and substance abuse problems, and was over-medicated on Xanax at the time of the murder.
Sources: Austin-American Statesman 2/25/14, 2/27/14, 3/1/14

Harlem Lewis III—age 21, black

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 12/24/12
Prosecution case/defense response: During a routine traffic stop on December 24, 2012, Harlem Louis fled, leading Corporal Jimmie Norman on a high-speed chase through the residential streets in Bellaire. When Lewis stopped, Corporal Norman tried to remove Lewis from the vehicle when Lewis shot Corporal Norman in the head. And as Terry Taylor, a bystander, attempted to assist Norman, Taylor was fatally shot in the neck. Jurors evaluated copious amounts of evidence looking for a reason to spare Lewis; in the end, they found none. Lewis seemed to remain remorseless. Lewis represented “the worst of the worst,” according to prosecutors. “To kill a police officer, there’s no more of an affront to law and order than that.”
Sources: Houston Chronicle, July 30, 2014

Us Petetan—black, age 36

Sentenced to death in McLennan County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 9/23/12
Prosecution case/defense response: Petetan forced his way into his estranged wife Kimberley’s apartment and shot her to death, then kidnapped her 9 year-old daughter (who was rescued unharmed from his car the next day at the time of his arrest).
Sources: KWTX-TV website, KWKT-TV website

Jeffrey Prevost—black, age 51

Sentenced to death in Harris County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 5/21/11
Prosecution case/defense response: Angry at Sherri White for breaking up with him, Prevost killed her and her son Kyle Lavergne in her apartment. Prevost had a long criminal record, including an aggravated assault in 1988. The defense pointed out that Prevost was remorseful for the slayings.
Sources: Houston Chronicle 3/24/14, 3/25/14

Cedric Ricks—black, age 38

Sentenced to death in Tarrant County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 5/1/13
Prosecution case/defense response: Ricks stabbed to death his estranged girlfriend Roxann Sanchez along with her 8 year-old son Anthony Figueroa in her apartment. Ricks also attacked another of her sons, but he survived.
Sources: Dallas Morning News 5/16/14

Brian Suniga—Latino, age 31

Sentenced to death in Lubbock County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 12/26/11
Prosecution case/defense response: Suniga, who was gang-affiliated, and a cohort shot David Rowser to death during a robbery at the restaurant. Suniga had a significant criminal history, but not including violent felonies. The prosecution also presented evidence that he had not been a well-behaved inmate while in jail awaiting trial. The defense presented mitigating evidence that Suniga had experienced a terrible childhood.
Sources: Lubbock Avalanche 5/15/14, 5/16/14, 5/19/14, 5/20/14

Kenneth Thomas—black—age 24 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Dallas County, Texas
By: A jury
Date of crime: 3/86
Prosecution case/defense response: In 1987, jurors convicted Kenneth Thomas of the brutal murder of lawyer and civil rights activist, Fred Finch and his wife, Mildred Finch. An issue stemming from an unqualified juror lead to a reversal and retrial of the case. In July of 2014, jurors deliberated for only an hour before convicting Thomas and sentencing him to death. Defense attorneys argued Thomas should be spared because he was mentally ill. For Assistant D.A. George West, Thomas was “Dallas’ Jason of Friday The 13th, and it’s good society can be rid of him.” Thomas brutally stabbed Mildred over 80 times and stabbed Fred over 25 times as well as sodomizing him. Thomas’ violent past represented a person who presented a continued threat to society.
Sources: 837 S.W. 2d 106, Dallas Morning News 7/24/14, Dallas News, July 10, 2014

Steven Thomas – white, age 22

Sentenced to death in Williamson County, Texas
By:  a jury
Date of crime:  11/04/1980
Prosecution case/defense response:  Steven Thomas killed Mildred McKinney after she hired him as a bug exterminator.  Thomas then came back to the house to beat her to the point where her teeth came through her cheek, strangle her, rob her, and rape her.  Thomas’ semen was discovered on a ribbon tied to McKinney’s finger.  The DNA evidence along with a fingerprint on the bedroom clock convinced the jury of his guilt.  Dallas and Austin police interviewed him about the murder in the 80’s, but he denied knowing McKinney.  Henry Lee Lucas, accused of killing hundreds in the 60’s and 70’s, previously confessed to the crime, which was proven false through DNA and fingerprint tests.  In June 2012, Thomas was linked to the murder after he was required to provide a DNA sample on a federal drug charge. Thomas had a history of crime and violence; stealing pills, threatening family and friends, domestic violence, dealing drugs, and weapons charges.  Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that DNA evidence is not an exact science, that he was a good peaceful inmate leading up to the trial and deserved to live, family and friends provided examples of the good in his life, other charges in the past were thrown out due to lack of evidence, and attempting to appeal to jury members consciences and sympathies.  The jury deliberated just over eight hours.
Sources:  Austin American-Statesman (Texas) 11/01/2014; 2014 WLNR 30626549

Fidencio Valdez—Latino, age 31

Sentenced to death in El Paso County, Texas
By: a jury
Date of crime: 12/10/10
Prosecution case/defense response: Valdez, a member of the Barrio Azteca gang, shot a man to death execution-style with two close-range shots to the head during a drug deal, and fired and missed at two of the decedent’s companions. Valdez’s motive was to steal the decedent’s drugs. Valdez was also awaiting trial for another murder during a robbery attempt.
Sources: El Paso Times 5/30/14, 6/10/14

Eric Williams – white, age 46

Sentenced to death in Kaufman County, Texas (trial venue moved to Rockwall County)
By:  a jury
Date of crime:  01/31/2013 and Easter weekend 2013
Prosecution case/defense response:  Eric Lyle Williams was a former justice of the peace who was tried and convicted by District Attorney Mike McLelland, 63, and Assistant Prosecutor Mark Hasse, 57, for stealing three county computer monitors.  Due to the burglary and theft convictions, Williams lost his justice of the peace position, his law license, and his lifestyle.  In revenge, Williams and his now-estranged wife, Kim Williams, 47, plotted and executed the shooting of Hasse as he was blocks for the courthouse, and two-months later on Easter weekend Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, 65, at their home. Williams’ wife testified in chilling detail about the murders and said they were “joyous” and “happy” afterwards, celebrating the death of the McLellands with steaks.  She served as the driver on both occasions.  The couple also planned to kill another district attorney and judge, but they were arrested before those plans came into fruition. Kim Williams did not have a deal with prosecutors for her testimony, but sought leniency.  To avoid sentences of death or life without parole, prosecutors would have to allow her to plead guilty to a lesser crime such as murder, punishable by five years to life in prison with the opportunity for parole.  The defense was able to move the trial to Rockwall County after arguing that Williams would not receive a fair trial in Kaufman.  The jury deliberated for three hours over two days.
Sources:  Dallas Morning News 12/18/14, 12/21/14; 2014 WLNR 35806718, 2014 WLNR 36134100