April 9


Texas executes man for 1990 fatal shooting, rape

A Texas convict with a lengthy criminal history was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a man and raping the slain man's fiancee during a home break-in more than 22 years ago.

Rickey Lynn Lewis already had been in and out of prison 5 times in less than 7 years when he was arrested 3 days after the killing of 45-year-old George Newman and attack on Newman's fiancee in 1990 at their home in a rural area of Smith County, about 90 miles east of Dallas.

Lewis, 50, acknowledged the rape, but not the killing.

"If I hadn't raped you, you wouldn't have lived," he told Newman's fiancee, Connie Hilton, in the moments before the single lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered. "I didn't kill Mr. Newman and I didn't rob your house.

"I was just there. ... I'm sorry for what you've gone through. It wasn't me that harmed and stole all of your stuff," he said to Hilton, who stood behind a glass window a few feet away. The Associated Press normally does not name rape victims, but Hilton, 63, agreed to be identified.

Lewis said the 2 people responsible for Newman's killing are still alive. He didn't identify them.

He told Hilton he watched her flee the house to get help. "When I saw you in the truck driving away, I could have killed you, but I didn't," he said. "I'm not a killer."

Lewis thanked his friends who watched through a nearby window "for the love you gave me."

"I thank the Lord for the man I am today. I have done all I can to better myself, to learn to read and write," he said, appearing to choke back tears. "Take me to my king."

As the drug began taking effect, he said he could feel it "burning my arm."

"I feel it in my throat. I'm getting dizzy," Lewis said before he started to snore and, seconds later, lost consciousness.

He was pronounced dead 14 minutes after the lethal dose began.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review Lewis' case and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted against a clemency request.

No last-day appeals were filed by his attorneys to try to halt the execution, the 2nd this year in Texas.

Earlier appeals focused on whether Lewis, a 9th-grade dropout who worked as a laborer, was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty under Supreme Court rulings. The claims included a suggestion from Lewis' attorneys that the court reconsider a denial it made in his case in 2005. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused that recommendation on Monday.

Hilton declined to speak with reporters after the execution. In a first-person account she wrote of the attack, she said she got out of bed the night of Sept. 17, 1990, after her barking dog woke her and saw a man in the hallway with a shotgun.

She screamed, and Newman responded and was shot in the face. A dog in the home was also killed.

Hilton tried hiding in a bathroom, was struck at least twice in the head and then assaulted for over an hour by Lewis while the other 2 people Lewis claims were there stole items from the house.

She testified she was ordered to "quit whimpering," felt a gun barrel on her and was told someone would find her in the morning.

According to court documents, she was left in the kitchen with her hands and feet bound. As Lewis and his partners fled in her truck, she managed to free herself, crawled to Newman to find him dead and then climbed out a window to seek help.

Lewis was arrested 3 days later after he was seen with some of the items stolen from the house. DNA evidence linked him to the attack.

"There's still a lot of fear in the back of my mind because the other 2 men never were caught," Hilton told the AP last week. "You never know if there's going to be retaliation.

"He's never told anyone and as far as I'm aware of, nobody knows. On the other hand, if he were to tell who was with him, that would confirm his guilt, and he's not going to do that."

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1996 upheld Lewis' conviction but reversed his death sentence, finding jurors had faulty instructions when considering his sentence. At a new punishment trial the following year, Lewis again was sentenced to die.

Lewis' mother, who has since died, testified a 10-year-old Lewis shot his father to protect her. Testimony indicated Lewis' father had abused him as a child.

Records showed Lewis first went to prison in 1983 for burglary, was paroled and returned to prison as a parole violator. He continued to be a repeat offender and parole violator. His arrest on capital murder charges for Newman's slaying came 6 months after his most recent release.

Evidence showed 2 months before the Newman shooting he stole a truck and led police on a chase. Then 4 days before the attack, Lewis used a sawed-off shotgun during a store robbery in Tyler.

At least 11 other Texas inmates have executions scheduled through July, including three more this month.

Lewis becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 494th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.

Lewis becomes the 255th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas since Rick Perry became Governor in 2001.

Lewis becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1326th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


Executions under Rick Perry, 2001-present-----255 Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982-present----494 Perry #--------scheduled execution date-----name---------Tx. #

256-------------April 16------------------Ronnie Threadgill----495

257-------------April 24------------------Elroy Chester--------496

258-------------April 25----------------Richard Cobb-----------497

259------------May 7--------------------Carroll Parr---------498

260-------------May 15-------------------Jeffrey Williams-----499

261-------------May 21-------------------Robert Pruett-------500 *****

262------------June 26-------------------Kimberly McCarthy----501

263--------------July 10------------------Rigoberto Avila, Jr.----502

264-------------July 16-----------------John Quintanilla Jr.---503

265-------------July 18------------------Vaughn Ross----------504

266-------------July 31-------------------Douglas Feldman-----505

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)


Bill Would Change DNA Testing Procedures in Death Penalty Cases

A bill from Sen. Rodney Ellis would require the state to pay for DNA testing before capital punishment cases go to trial.

Texas lawmakers are weighing a bill that would require DNA testing of evidence in cases involving the death penalty.

In the state, local crime labs handle DNA testing at the discretion of local law enforcement. State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), wants to change that.

Working with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Sen. Ellis has authored a bill that would require the state to pay for DNA testing before death penalty trials begin.

Kristin Houle of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty told KUT focusing on DNA testing is not enough.

"DNA evidence is not available in all cases and so we cannot mistake this as some sort of solution for all that ails our criminal justice system," Houle said. "There still will be many flaws and failures in the criminal justice system."

Sen. Ellis says lawmakers can address other evidence in the future.

"But right now this is a big step on that long road to giving us justice in America," he said.

According to the Texas Innocence Project, the state leads the nation in the number of wrongful convictions exposed by modern DNA testing.

This bill is intended to clear the innocent before they can be wrongly convicted.

The Senate Criminal Justice committee could vote on the measure as soon as tonight.

(source: KUT News)


Death penalty trial to begin for man accused of killing College Park teens; Prosecutors say Jeremy Moody raped girl after robbery attempt

A man facing the death penalty for allegedly killing teen cousins will get to defend himself in court beginning on Wednesday.

Jeremy Moody, 35, is accused of stabbing Delarlonva "Del" Mattox, 15, and Chrisondra Kimble, 13, to death in April 2007. Moody is also alleged to have raped Kimble.

On April 5 of that year, the teens left Mattox's Fulton County home, where Kimble was staying during spring break, to walk to a neighborhood store, police said.

Parents led a search through the night for the two, and found the teens' unclothed bodies the next day in a wooded area behind Bethune Elementary School in College Park, prosecutors said. Each had been stabbed multiple times in the head and chest.

Moody was arrested the next day while waiting for a bus out of town at the Greyhound station, authorities said.

In addition to rape and 2 counts of murder, Moody, who was 29 at the time of his arrest, was charged with felony murder - that is committing a felony that results in someone's death - aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Investigators believe Moody initially attacked Kimble and Mattox intending to simply rob them, police said.

In the 6 years that he has been in the Fulton County jail, Moody has found himself frequently in the news.

In January 2010, jail officials reported that he set himself on fire. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment, but his brother didn't believe the report.

"Setting himself on fire would just not be something that he would do," Moody's brother, Jason Moody Jr., told Channel 2 Action News.

In June 2011, Moody was reportedly seen on a dating web site describing himself as "the man of your dreams" to prospective women callers.

And a retired jailer reportedly claimed that Moody was among inmates who was intimidating jailers.

Over the year prior to his 2007 arrest, Moody had several run-ins with police, based upon Fulton County jail records.

In June 2006, he was arrested on a false imprisonment charge and released roughly 2 weeks later after posting a $30,000 bond, jail records show.

A month later, according to jail records, Moody was arrested for simple battery and obstruction charges and released in two weeks without bond.

In October 2006, Moody was arrested on criminal solicitation and marijuana possession with intent to distribute, jail records showed. He was sent to Gwinnett County jail for a hold there, and eventually released.

In February 2007, Moody was arrested for allegedly making harassing phone calls. He was released nearly a month before the death of the teens, according to jail records.

Jury selection has begun in Moody's murder trial and is expected to be completed by Wednesday, when prosecutors and defense attorneys are scheduled to make their opening statements at 9:30 a.m.

(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


Miss. set to add terrorism to death penalty law

Mississippi is set to add terrorism to the list of crimes that could lead to the death penalty, if a victim is killed.

"The governor intends to sign this public safety measure," Gov. Phil Bryant's spokesman, Mick Bullock, told The Associated Press.

Mississippi prosecutors already can pursue the death penalty if a victim is killed while certain other felonies are committed - crimes such as rape or armed robbery. The new law will add terrorism as one of the other, aggravating crimes.

Senate Bill 2223, which will become law July 1, defines terrorism as an act committed to influence government by intimidation, coercion, mass destruction or assassination, or to intimidate or coerce civilians.

It specifies that such intimidation or coercion would not include "peaceful picketing, boycotts or other nonviolent action."

The bill's sponsor Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, said the definition of terrorism in the state law will mirror the definition in federal law.

"Lord forbid, if there were a federal prosecution and a severe enough penalty were not imposed, we'd probably want to bring our own case," McDaniel said Monday in a phone interview from his law office.

McDaniel said he has tried to get this change enacted into law for several years. He said he considers terrorism "a very real threat."

Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College School of Law, said Tuesday that he doesn't foresee many instances for a state law to be used.

"Significant acts of terrorism are typically prosecuted as federal offenses," Steffey said.

Steffey also said the state law could be challenged on grounds of being too vague and "may be applied in a way that is not sufficiently predictable."

Mississippi's history includes the June 1963 assassination of state NAACP leader Medgar Evers in Jackson and the June 1964 slayings of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman in Neshoba County. Could acts such as those be considered "terrorism" under the new law?

Steffey said the law could not apply retroactively in old civil rights-era slayings. However, Steffey said if he were writing a law that could cover a renewal of Ku Klux Klan-style killings in the future, "I'd want to make sure it covers the notable instances of terrorism in Mississippi's history in a way that is certain to be enforceable."

McDaniel said he'd have no problem with prosecutors using the updated law to pursue the death penalty if there are new cases of racially motivated killings that could be considered a form of terrorism.

"Terrorism, no matter its intent, is still terrorism and should not be condoned in a civilized society," McDaniel said.

The House and Senate both passed the final version of the bill April 3. The House vote was 113-1, and the Senate vote was 52-0.

Online: Senate Bill 2223: http://bit.ly/10QXcm1

(source: Associated Press)

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