May 2014 Executions
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Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 13, 2014 Texas Alexandra Rendon, 20   Robert Campbell stayed 
Alexandra Rendon, murder victimOn January 3, 1991, Alexandra Rendon left her job at Bank One between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. She was wearing a white leather skirt, a cream-colored dress coat with snake skin patches on the shoulders, a high school graduation ring, an engagement ring, and a watch. At 10:53 p.m. Alexandra purchased gasoline at a Chevron station located near her place of employment. The next day, Alexandra's mother realized that her daughter was missing, and on January 5, she contacted the police about her daughter's disappearance. On January 14, 1991, the police picked up Lawrence Thomas, Campbell's friend of three years, for questioning. Thomas told the police that Campbell had told him that he and his friend Lewis had gotten a car from a lady at a gas station, driven her to a field, and shot and killed her. On January 15, Thomas led the police to the field where Campbell had told him that Alexandra's body was located. On January 16, the police arrested Campbell for Alexandra's murder. At trial, the State presented several witnesses whose testimony tied Campbell to the commission of Alexandra's murder. Campbell's friends Thomas, Carey Pennamon, and Jesse Criff all testified that Campbell told them that he had shot and killed a woman whose car he'd taken at a gas station. Campbell also mentioned to two friends watching a news story about Alexandra's murder, Otha Norton and Sheila Robeson, that Alexandra looked like the woman he'd shot and killed. Additionally, Campbell told Thomas, Criff, and Pennamon that he'd shot at Alexandra twice, hitting her the second time. He told Pennamon that he told her to "run, bitch run" before shooting at her and told Thomas that he'd told her to walk away from the car before shooting at her. He showed Thomas the field where he'd left Alexandra's body, and described the location to Criff. That field was where the police later recovered Alexandra's body. The police also recovered many of Alexandra's belongings from Campbell's friends and family. They recovered the coat Alexandra had been wearing from Campbell's mother Wilda, the class ring and watch she had been wearing from Campbell's girlfriend Demetrius Brown, and the gun used to kill Alexandra from Campbell's friend Pennamon. Pennamon testified that Campbell had asked him to hold onto the gun. Campbell offered Alexandra's white leather skirt, which Thomas had seen earlier in the car Campbell was driving, to his friends Robeson and Norton. Robeson declined the skirt because it was dirty and Norton later threw it away. Campbell told Pennamon that he had taken the personal belongings of the woman he had killed. Campbell also drove numerous friends, including Thomas, Norton, and Robeson around in a car identical to Alexandra's. The police recovered semen of two men from Alexandra's body. Campbell told Criff that he had sex with his victim and told Thomas that Leroy Lewis, who was with Campbell that night, had also had sex with her. DNA testing further determined that 85.3% of African-American males could be excluded from contributing the semen attributed to Campbell, and only four percent of African-American males could have contributed the semen attributed to Lewis. Alexandra's family recently discussed their loss in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. Her cousin Israel Santana, who is a criminal defense attorney, says, "This is still a battle within me. I'm told to forgive, but, I'm sorry, he deserves what's coming to him." He said that Campbell is an "evil monster" who deserves to be executed. "He showed no mercy...no remorse. He's an animal." About Alexandra, Santana said, ""If you were to ask me about Alexandra as her cousin, something inside me - my heart - falls, my words are all choked ... Nobody deserves the hell she was put through."  Santana and his cousin Alexandra grew up in the same neighborhood. "I never remember her not smiling," he said. "She was the most beautiful, spirited, happy girl you would ever meet."  Alexandra Rendon was planning to marry in four months, and the family had been busy making preparations. "She always said she couldn't wait to get us the invitations," Santana said. Alexandra Rendon was buried in her wedding gown in one of the first funerals arranged by the Santana family's funeral home.  
 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 21, 2014 Texas Ray Yarborough
Daniel James Nagle, 37  
Robert Pruett stayed 
Daniel James Nagle, murder victimRobert Lynn Pruett was serving a life sentence for a 1995 murder when he was charged with the December 17, 1999, murder of correctional officer Daniel Nagle, which occurred in the McConnell prison unit in Beeville, Texas. The then 20-year-old inmate was serving a life sentence for a murder in which he had been involved with his father and older brother at a trailer park in Houston. He was almost 16 when, on Aug. 9, 1995, he and his brother helped to hold down their neighbor, Ray Yarborough, while their father stabbed the man to death. Ray Yarborough was stabbed five to seven times. All three of them were sentenced to life in prison. Detective Allen Beall of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, who had investigated the 1995 Yarborough murder, testified that his investigation showed that Pruett punched, kicked, and held Yarborough down during the assault that killed him. He also testified that no guns were found at Yarborough’s residence or in his truck. He testified that he was in the courtroom when Pruett was sentenced for the Yarborough murder and that he heard Pruett say that everyone was to stay away from him or he would kill “all of y’all,” referring to everyone in court. Robert Pruett began serving his life sentence in October 1995, only weeks after the murder. He had just turned 16. At the time, TDCJ officials were saying he was considered the youngest inmate in Texas’ adult prison system. Pruett was assigned to minimum custody. Officer Nagle was assigned to work the control desk of Pruett's building. The incident occurred in the building's multipurpose room. A lieutenant provided Offender Pruett a sack meal from the food service department to be consumed in the offender's living area. Pruett attempted to take his sandwich to the recreation yard. Officer Nagle told Pruett that he could not take the sandwich to the recreation yard, and communicated to him that a disciplinary report would be written. Pruett was allowed to attend outside recreation. He later argued with Officer Nagle about the disciplinary report. State's witness Anthony Casey, an inmate who was housed in the same unit as Pruett at the time of the offense, testified that on the day of the murder he heard Pruett talking to an inmate named Flash about a weapon. Pruett also told Casey that "something was going to happen." Casey later saw that Pruett was inside the locked multi-purpose room that was connected to Nagle's office. Pruett told Casey not to come into the multipurpose room. Casey went outside to the "rec yard" and through a glass window he saw Pruett standing near Nagle's desk. He then saw Pruett walking towards the "C-Pod" area of the prison. He later saw Pruett in a hallway. While in the hallway, Pruett took off his clothes, pushed them through a "gas port" onto the rec yard, and changed into another set of clothes provided by an inmate. Casey picked up Pruett's discarded clothes and placed them in a box in the rec yard. Casey observed blood on Pruett's discarded clothes. Officer Nagle was found lying on the floor in a pool of blood near the entrance of the multi-purpose room about 3:45 p.m. An 8 or 9-inch shank was found nearby. He had suffered numerous stab wounds to the head, neck, arms and upper body. Officer Nagle had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for three years. He was survived by his wife Crystal and three young children - two sons, Jonathan and Michael and a daughter Rebecca. 
 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 21, 2014 Missouri Michael H Sanders, 27   Russell Bucklew stayed 
Michael Sanders, murder victimRussell Bucklew apparently did not want to live apart from 21-year-old Stephanie Ray. The two had lived together in Cape Girardeau County until Ray decided to break up with Bucklew on Valentine's Day, 1996. Bucklew left their mobile home and went to live with his parents. On March 6, Bucklew returned to the trailer he had shared with Stephanie, found Michael Sanders there, concluded that Sanders and Ray were romantically involved, put a knife to Sanders's throat, and threatened to kill Sanders if Sanders ever came back to Ray's trailer. Later that same evening, Bucklew returned to the trailer, found Stephanie alone, threatened her with a knife, cut her jaw, and punched her in the face before leaving. Stephanie reported all this to the police. Bucklew called Stephanie at work the following day, March 7. He threatened her again and promised to kill her, Michael Sanders, and her children if he saw her with Michael again. Stephanie moved in with Michael, fearing to return to her own home. Sometime during the night of March 20-21, Bucklew stole his nephew's car, two of his brother's pistols, two sets of his brother's handcuffs, and a roll of duct tape. He left a note asking his family not to report his theft to the police. By the afternoon of March 21, Bucklew began surreptitiously following Stephanie as she left work and ran errands, ultimately discovering where she lived by following her to Michael Sanders's trailer in the Hickory Hollow Trailer Court. Bucklew waited for some period of time before he knocked on Michael's trailer door. One of Michael's children opened the door. Michael saw Bucklew through a window, escorted the children, his own boys Zach and John Michael, ages 6 and 4, and Stephanie's 2 and 3-year-old daughters Christin and Charley, to a back bedroom and grabbed a shotgun. Bucklew entered the trailer with a pistol in each hand. Michael came into the hallway carrying the shotgun. Bucklew yelled “get down” and without further warning began shooting at Michael. Michael fell, struck by two bullets, one of which entered his chest and tore through his lung. Michael dropped the shotgun. It went off and blew a hole in the trailer wall. Bucklew aimed the gun at Michael's head, but when he saw Michael's six-year-old son Zach, Bucklew fired at the boy instead. The shot missed. Stephanie stepped between Bucklew and Michael, who was holding his chest as he slumped against the wall. Bucklew invited Stephanie to drop to her knees. When she delayed, he struck her face with a pistol. He produced handcuffs, handcuffed her hands behind her back and dragged her to the car. The two drove away. During the journey that followed, Bucklew demanded sex. When all of the acts he demanded were not performed, Bucklew raped Stephanie in the back seat of the car. Resuming the journey, Bucklew drove north on Interstate 55. By this time law enforcement authorities had broadcast a description of the Bucklew car, a Honda. Trooper James Hedrich had stationed himself in the median just south of St. Louis where he could see the cars going by. Within five minutes, he saw the car as it few past him, called for assistance, and began following Bucklew. Bucklew noticed he was being followed and told Stephanie to sit next to him so she would appear to be his girlfriend. Several additional patrol cars began joining the chase behind Bucklew and speeds reached as high as 80 miles per hour. Bucklew began talking to his victim about one of his favorite Bon Jovi songs. The lyrics spoke of going down in a "Blaze of Glory" in a gunfight. He told her he could not go back to jail and would shoot it out with the police, taking as many of them with him as he could. As police cars from the Highway Patrol and various St. Louis jurisdictions pursued him, Bucklew would point the gun at his hostage’s head, then point it at the officers. Eventually, the Highway Patrol conducted a "rolling roadblock," where they drove a car on each side of him, plus in front and in back, forcing him to slow his speed and eventually stop. At first they stopped him near the Butler Road exit, but a civilian's van also stopped, thinking the red lights were meant for him. When the van’s driver realized that the police wanted him to move, he drove off, leaving an opening for Bucklew, who slipped away. Once again, the pursuit continued. They went from I-55 to I-270 and headed west on 270. At one point, Trooper James Gau was driving exactly parallel to Bucklew's car. Bucklew pointed the gun directly at Gau's face, and Gau swerved away to avoid being shot. This gave Bucklew a chance to veer onto the exit ramp from 270 toward Highway 40. At that point, Trooper Hedrick pulled his car in front of Bucklew and finally forced him to a stop on the exit ramp. Bucklew's car came to rest with Hedrick's patrol car right in front of him and other patrol cars behind him. Gau's squad car was off to the right. Bucklew was trapped. He tried to ram Hedrick's patrol car, but his Honda was too small to budge it. Bucklew sat behind the steering wheel of the Honda, brandishing a gun in each hand. He held one gun to Stephanie's head, and pointed the other gun at the troopers. He pointed it at Trooper Gau. He pointed it at Trooper Hedrick. Trooper Hedrick got out of his car, and aimed his handgun at Bucklew. From a distance of about eight feet he saw Bucklew aiming at him. Hedrick and Bucklew exchanged fire. Hedrick fired three shots in his first burst, and moved to the right and fired four more shots, keeping them low and to the left to avoid hitting the hostage. Bucklew fired at Hedrick, hitting the rear of Hedrick's car, only inches from where the Trooper stood. Two of Hedrick's shots hit Russell Earl Bucklew. As Bucklew was struck, the gun he was pointing at his hostage dropped from her head to her leg and discharged, shooting her through her left thigh. As Hedrick was firing into the car, Trooper James Gau used his shotgun to smash out the front passenger window of Bucklew's car. He pulled the wounded hostage through it to safety. Cpl. R.S. Johnson of the Highway Patrol pulled Bucklew from the car. He saw the guns fall from Bucklew's hands onto the front seat of the car. The troopers gave Bucklew first aid. In spite of being hit in the head and chest, he lived. In fact, he was released from the hospital just six days later. At the scene of the car stop, Sgt. W. J. Finnigan removed the metal handcuffs from the hostage’s wrists. Another pair of metal handcuffs was found under the seat of the car. Both of Bucklew's guns were recovered from the front seat. One was a .40 caliber semi-automatic. The other was a .22 caliber revolver. Two knifes were recovered from the car: a buck knife in a sheath and a flip knife. Rubber gloves, duct tape, holsters for the guns, and an extra ammunition clip for the semi-automatic were also recovered from the car. Stephanie was taken to St. John's Hospital in St. Louis, where she was treated and released the next day. In addition to her gunshot wound to the leg, she suffered a black eye, a fractured cheek bone, and a cut to her eye that required stitches. Michael Sanders bled to death from his wounds. He had been shot four times. One shot went into Michael's chest, through a rib, through a lung, and exited the middle of his back, near his spine. Another shot went into his left buttock and came out near his tailbone. It went from left to right. Another shot went through his arm at his left elbow. Another shot went through the calf of his right leg. On March 22, shortly after the Missouri highway patrol wounded Bucklew in the gunfight he precipitated, and while he remained in the hospital receiving treatment, Al Riehl of the Missouri highway patrol, approached Bucklew, read him his rights, and asked if Bucklew wished to give a statement about the events of March 21. Bucklew told Riehl that he did not wish to make any comment. Riehl immediately ceased questioning and left the hospital. March 26, after five days of treatment, the hospital released Bucklew. The Cape Girardeau County sheriff transported him to the sheriff's office. When Bucklew arrived, Riehl approached Bucklew again, read him his Miranda warnings and asked him if he would like to give a statement. Bucklew responded, “yes, but it would take a long time.” After executing a standardized written “Notification and Waiver of Rights” form, Bucklew gave a lengthy videotaped statement about the events of March 21, 1996. Bucklew was articulate and alert throughout the taping. During the entire videotaped statement - which runs nearly two hours - Bucklew spoke clearly, without confusion or uncertainty. He provided details from fights with Stephanie Ray, beatings he inflicted upon her and threats he made to her and others. Bucklew was rational and he offered his reasons for his motivation for giving the statement: Riehl: I think we'll just let you rest now, Rusty, unless you want to talk some more. I'll be glad to sit here and listen to you. Bucklew: I would like to talk some more. It feels good to get this sh_ off my chest if you don't mind. Riehl: Sure. Stephanie Ray actually witnessed and testified to every element of first degree murder. She described in detail how Bucklew entered Michael Sander's trailer with a pistol in each hand, walked down the hall and shot Michael. She told the jury that no fight or argument preceded Bucklew shooting Michael. Stephanie testified that Bucklew then pistol-whipped her, breaking her jaw, and knocking her to the kitchen floor in a semi-coherent condition. She told how Bucklew handcuffed her and took her from the trailer as her children cried. She testified that Bucklew found it funny that he had killed Michael and that he knew he was dead because he had used hollow point bullets and that it was "so far out in the country that they'd rip through him and it would kill him before anybody had a chance to help him.” Stephanie told the jury that Bucklew demanded oral sex from her as they drove. Bucklew took her to a secluded spot and put a gun to her head and raped her while her hands were taped in front of her body. Three months after the murder, while Russell Earl Bucklew was in the Cape Girardeau County facing these charges, he got access to a telephone and called Barbara Pruitt, the mother of his hostage. He asked her the whereabouts of her daughter, and told the Stephanie’s mother that the girl should not have cheated on him. Barbara told him, "You don't kill for any reason." He said, "I do. I did. And I will." Barbara Pruitt told him that she wanted to watch him "fry." He answered that he wanted to watch her fry, too. Shortly after making that telephone call, after being in custody for three months, Russell Earl Bucklew escaped from the county jail by hiding in a trash bag in a trash barrel carried outside by a trustee at the jail. He escaped on June 17, 1996. After escaping, he stole a truck from a nearby driveway. As police combed the area looking for him, Stephanie Ray once again went into hiding from him. Her mother Barbara moved to a motel, afraid to stay in her own home. Many people in law enforcement thought that Bucklew would leave the area and try to get away completely. Stephanie and Barbara knew better. He would be coming after them. On June 19, 1996, Barbara returned briefly to her home, intending to simply pick up a few things to take to the motel. Russell Earl Bucklew was still not yet in custody, and she was afraid to stay at her home. She had a policeman walk through the house before she entered. Barbara and her fiance', Ed Frenzel who was a stroke victim, had been at home about 45 minutes when she walked past the linen closet. As she went by, the door flew open and Russell Earl Bucklew lunged out and hit her on the head with a hammer. She screamed. Ed came running. Bucklew wielded a knife in one hand and a hammer in the other. He hit Ed four times on the head with the hammer. Eventually, both Barbara and her boyfriend managed to escape through the back door and run to a neighbor's house. Bucklew ran off, got into his stolen truck, and took off. Deputy Richard Walker of the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department spotted the stolen truck about thirty minutes later and pulled him over. Bucklew jumped out of the truck. He appeared to be getting ready to run. Walker pointed a shotgun at him, pumped it, and told him to put up his hands and get down, or he would shoot him. Bucklew, apparently having changed his mind about going down in a "Blaze of Glory," gave up without further incident. Tragically, Stephanie Lynn Ray Pruitt was murdered by her estranged husband John Shuffit in June of 2009. Her daughters who had witnessed the previous murder also saw their mother's death. John Shuffit killed himself after leaving the scene.
Detailed news accounts here. 
http://www.semissourian.com/bucklew
YouTube documentary on this case. 1.
The Murder  2. The Abduction  3. The Escape  4. Present Day
Accompanying detailed articles: 1.
The Murder  2. The Abduction  3. The Escape  4. Present Day
Trial transcripts: 1.
Opening Statements  2. Murder  3. Abduction  4. Escape  5. Closing Arguments
(Case history from appellate records and
http://www.capecounty.us/MajorCaseSqaud/MCS24.aspx
)
 
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 28, 2014 Ohio Sander Leach, 70   Arthur Tyler commuted 
Sander Leach sold produce from a van at East 66th Street and Zoeter Avenue in Cleveland, near the East 66th Meat Market. On March 12, 1983, he was shot to death in his van. On the day Leach was killed, Leroy Head, Anthony Gillis, and Arthur Tyler, were taking drugs in Scott Hill's apartment in Cleveland. Gillis suggested that they attempt to cash Hill's $30 welfare check and split the money. According to Head, Tyler "said he knew another way that we could get some money." Tyler suggested that they rob Leach. Gillis said that he had a gun, but n o bullets. Tyler took the gun and went with Head to borrow ammunition. They went to see a man named Judge Parker, who gave Tyler six brass - jacketed .38 caliber bullets. Tyler loaded the gun. Next Tyler and Head went to Ferrell's, a store on East 66th Street and Wade Park. Annie Travick, a clerk at Ferrell's, testified that Tyler borrowed five cents from a customer and bought a brown paper bag. According to Head, Tyler concealed the gun in this bag. Leaving Ferrell's, Tyler and Head went to Leach's van, which was parked nearby. Head knocked on the side and asked Leach if he had any lemons. Leach came out, went to the back of the van, opened it, and climbed in. Tyler followed him into the van while Head stayed outside to act as a lookout. Head heard two shots. He looked inside the van and saw Tyler with a gun in his right hand going through Leach's pockets. Head said, "Come on, let's go." He then ran through the parking lot, through a field, and across Wade Park. Two witnesses, Fazendo Cerafinjos and Susie Amerson, saw a thin black man run toward Wade Park. Cerafinjos testified that she heard shots just before she saw the running man. Amerson testified that, five or six minutes after seeing a tall, thin man run to ward Wade Park, she saw a shorter, heavier man come around from the rear of the van and run up Zoeter Avenue. Head went back to Hill's apartment, where Gillis was waiting. According to Gillis, Tyler arrived with Head and said, "I had to burn him, the old man was silly, I had to burn him." Then Tyler left. Two women named Sandra and Peg came to the apartment; a few minutes later, Tyler returned. Tyler asked Head and Gillis to join him in the bathroom. He told them that "if he heard anything else about this somebody else was going to come up dead." According to Head, it was then that Tyler confessed "that he killed the man." An autopsy showed that Leach had been shot twice and bled to death. The deputy coroner concluded that the manner of death was homicide. Cleveland police arrested Gillis and Head on March 14. These arrests produced the first of several statements by Gillis and Head that were inconsistent with their later trial testimony. On March 14, Head told police that Tyler suggested robbing Leach and that Tyler planned to hold Leach at gunpoint while Head searched him for money. Head said that while he was searching, Leach pulled a gun. Head grabbed the gun, which went off. Leach continued to struggle; during the struggle, the gun went off again. Head claimed that he left the gun lying on Leach's chest, jumped out of the van, and ran. On March 24, Head made a second statement, in Tyler's presence, to Tyler's investigator, Arthur Provenzano. This time, he said that he and Tyler went out intending to cash Hill's check. He and Tyler went into a store together. When the store personnel refused to cash the check, Head went out, leaving Tyler in the store. Head adhered to his story that he had shot Leach in a struggle over Leach's gun; however, Head now claimed that Tyler was in the store during the entire crime. On May 27, Head made a third statement essentially conforming to his trial testimony. One of Tyler's attorneys spoke to Head at an unspecified time in the Cuyahoga County Jail. During this conversation, Head said "that Tony Gillis did it." At trial, Head claimed that he had "just said what I figured would make [the attorney] leave me alone." Gillis also made a statement on March 14. He said that Tyler asked Head whether Head wanted to make some money. Head said yes, and they left. Twenty - five or thirty minutes later they returned, breathing hard. Tyler "kept saying the old man was silly, the old man was silly. Then I asked -- what happened and Leroy said we had to burn somebody." Gillis quoted Head further as saying: "I had to kill him, because he was reaching for his pistol." Gillis' second statement, on May 18, was consistent with his March 14 statement. Tyler testified that he was in the East 66th Meat Market unsuccessfully trying to cash Hill's welfare check. He testified that, as he was leaving, he heard two shots and began to run toward Zoeter Avenue. However, the store owner did not recognize Tyler, nor did he remember seeing Tyler in his store trying to cash a check on the day in question. The Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Tyler and Head on one count of aggravated murder, with a felony - murder specification, and a firearm specification, and one count of aggravated robbery. Head pled guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, and the death penalty specification was dismissed. Tyler was convicted and sentenced to death, but the court of appeals reversed his conviction. Tyler was retried, convicted of all charges and specifications, and again sentenced to death. The court of appeals affirmed. UPDATE: Governor John Kasich announced that he has commuted the death sentence of Arthur Tyler to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Tyler was convicted in Cuyahoga County in 1986 for the murder of Sander Leach, 74, a produce vendor. Kasich issued the following statement: "After carefully reviewing the case record with my legal counsel and studying the recommendations of the Parole Board, I've decided to commute Arthur Tyler's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The questions that continue around this case are fundamental and the irregularities in the court proceedings are troubling. Arthur Tyler's crime against Sander Leach and his family was heinous and this commutation in no way diminishes that and I pray that Mr. Leach's family can find peace and healing."  
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
May 29, 2014 Texas Juan Jose Lugo, 35
Esmeralda Alvarado, 15
Carlos M. Yanez, 15
Laura Ayala, 13
Maria Teresa Moreno Rangel, 38
Roxana Aracelie Capulin, 24     
Edgardo Cubas stayed 
Laura Ayala, missing, presumed murderedOn January 22, 2002, an individual found the partially nude body of fifteen-year-old Esmeralda Alvarado in a secluded area of Harris County. Four days earlier, Esmerelda, a Lamar High School sophomore, disappeared after leaving her boyfriend’s house to use a pay phone. Police investigation showed that Esmerelda died from a single gunshot to the head. Her body bore signs of sexual trauma. Several months passed without any leads. Finally, Cubas’ co-defendant Walter Sorto incriminated him in the duo’s nine-month crime spree, of which Esmerelda’s murder was only one incident. On August 21, 2002, the police arrested Cubas. Cubas gave the police five videotaped statements over a two-day period. Cubas’ statements chronicle several robberies, rapes, and murders he committed with Sorto. With regard to Esmerelda’s murder, Cubas explained that he and Sorto were driving around when they saw her talking on a pay phone. Intending to rob her, Sorto forced Esmerelda into the vehicle. After unsuccessfully searching her for money, Cubas began raping Esmerelda. The two men drove to various locations and took turns sexually assaulting her. Finally after traveling to a secluded area, Sorto told Cubas that they would have to kill Esmerelda so that she could not identify them. Cubas originally told the police that Sorto fired the killing shot. In Cubas’ final statement given to Houston Police Department Officer Xavier Avila, he admitted that he shot Esmerelda Alvarado. Esmerelda Alvarado got good grades, participated in the ROTC in her school, was a ballet dancer and wanted to become a lawyer. Her mother said in a victim impact statement that Esmerelda loved horseback riding and basketball. "Our lives will never be the same. I will never see her graduate and get married and have children." Houston police detective Jesus Sosa testified at trial that Cubas talked about participating in the killing of Juan Jose Lugo on Dec. 8, 2001, in the  parking lot of a bar at 2200 Telephone Road in Houston.

Maria Rangel and Roxana Capulin were working at El Mirador restaurant on Canal Street in Houston on the evening of May 31, 2002.   Ms. Capulin's husband testified that Roxana called him at about 10:00 p.m. to tell him that she was closing the restaurant and would be coming home soon.   The cook, Gabriel Mello, testified that he left at about 10:15 p.m., and that Ms. Rangel and Ms. Capulin stayed behind to close the restaurant.

Ruben Limon testified that he drove by the restaurant at around 11:15 p.m. and saw two men and two women outside.   One woman was putting a chain around the door, and the other woman was standing nearby talking to one of the men.   The second man, whom Limon identified at trial as appellant, was talking on a pay phone.   Limon further testified that he observed a “red truck” parked outside the restaurant.

Roxana's husband became worried when she did not arrive home by 10:30 p.m., so he called the restaurant.   When no one answered the phone, he drove to the restaurant to look for her.   As soon as he arrived, he saw that Roxana's maroon Dodge Durango 9 was gone, the restaurant lights were off, and the restaurant door was chained but unlocked.   Maria Rangel's husband later arrived, and they entered the restaurant and found no one inside.

Roxana's car was found on the morning of June 1, 2002.   Emil Havelka testified that he saw a Dodge Durango parked in the middle of Joyner Street, near his office, at 7:00 a.m. When he saw two bodies inside the car and a large pool of blood on the ground by the back passenger door, he called the police.

The police arrived and found the bodies of Roxana Capulin and Maria Rangel inside the car.   The car doors were unlocked and the keys were in the ignition.   The Durango had three rows of seats;  Ms. Rangel's body was in the middle row, and Ms. Capulin's body was in the back row.   Ms. Rangel was wearing an El Mirador apron, and she had duct tape on her hands and wrists and over her eyes and mouth.   Ms. Capulin also had duct tape over her eyes and mouth.   The medical examiner testified that Ms. Rangel's death was caused by two gunshot wounds to her head, and that Ms. Capulin died from a single gunshot wound to her head.

Police recovered a bullet and three cartridge casings from inside the car.   The medical examiner also recovered bullet fragments from Ms. Capulin's head during her autopsy.   The firearms expert who examined the ballistics evidence testified that all three bullets could have been fired from the same 9-millimeter firearm.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Gonzalez testified that, over two months later, on August 20, 2002, he was contacted by a confidential informant with information about the murders.   Deputy Gonzalez and Detective Alejandro Ortiz met with the informant and appellant at a Marriott hotel room at about 7:30 p.m. that evening.10  Deputy Gonzalez testified that appellant said he had information regarding the women who were abducted from El Mirador restaurant, and that he needed the $5,000 Crimestoppers reward money because his wife was pregnant.   Appellant stated that Edgardo Cubas and Eduardo Navarro, a juvenile, had abducted and murdered the victims.11  He said that Cubas and Navarro had invited him to go along with them that night, but he declined their invitation and followed them instead.   He parked his car in a parking lot across the street from the restaurant and saw Cubas and Navarro abduct the women.   He then followed them to a remote location and parked nearby, but he left the scene after he heard gunshots.

At this point, Det. Ortiz thought appellant was a witness to the double murder, so he asked appellant and the informant if they would continue the interview at the Harris County Sheriff's homicide division office.   They agreed to do so, and appellant drove himself and the informant to the office.   When they arrived at around 9:45 p.m., Det. Ortiz and a Detective Brown conducted a videotaped interview with appellant.   Appellant again stated that he witnessed the abduction from across the street.   He said that Navarro stayed in Cubas's Honda Accord while Cubas talked to the women outside the restaurant;  then Cubas got into a Dodge Durango with the women, and Navarro followed them as they drove away.   Appellant followed both cars to a second location and parked about one hundred twenty feet away.   Cubas and the women remained parked in the Durango for about thirty minutes.   One of the women got out of the car and tried to run away, but Cubas caught her and put her back inside the vehicle.   Appellant saw that Cubas had a pistol and a large roll of tape in his hands, and he watched as Cubas fired three shots into the Durango.   Appellant then left, and Navarro saw him as he was driving away.   Appellant later saw Cubas and Navarro in a bar, and Cubas threatened to kill him and his family if he told anyone what he had seen.

During the interview, Det. Ortiz asked appellant if he would agree to give a saliva sample.   After appellant consented to give a saliva sample, he added that he, Cubas, and Navarro left the club and returned to the scene, where Cubas forced him to have sex with Ms. Rangel's body.

Det. Ortiz testified that he took appellant into custody after he learned of an outstanding warrant for appellant's arrest at approximately 1:10 a.m. Appellant then agreed to show the detective where Cubas and Navarro lived.   They left the homicide division office at 2:05 a.m. and returned at 3:10 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., appellant was taken before a magistrate, who gave him his statutory warnings.

Appellant was then taken to the Houston Police Department homicide division office, where he was interviewed by Officers Jesus Sosa and Heraclio Chavez.   In this videotaped statement, appellant told a very different version of the events.   He said that Cubas picked him up in his Honda Accord at about 8:30 p.m., and they then picked up fourteen-year-old Navarro.   Appellant and Cubas went to a few bars while Navarro waited in the car;  then they went looking for a bar that would admit Navarro.   Cubas, who was in possession of a 9-millimeter Beretta pistol, said that he wanted to commit a robbery because he needed money to pay rent.   They were driving on Canal Street when they saw two women coming out of a restaurant.   Cubas parked in a nearby parking lot, got out of the car, and approached the women from behind as they were walking toward the Durango.   Cubas motioned for appellant to come over to them, and Cubas made Roxana Capulin give appellant the keys.   Ms. Capulin sat in the back seat with Cubas, Maria Rangel sat in the middle seat, and appellant drove the vehicle.   As appellant drove to an area near “Dixie and Wayside,” Cubas placed tape over the eyes and mouths of the women and bound Ms. Rangel's hands with tape.   Cubas wanted to sexually assault Roxana Capulin, so he told Ms. Rangel “to get down from the truck” when they stopped.   Ms. Rangel fell out of the car onto the ground.   Appellant also got out of the car, and Cubas stayed inside with Roxana Capulin.   When Ms. Rangel later got too close to the car, Cubas pointed the gun at her and told her to take her clothes off.   He told appellant “to fuck her by force,” and appellant “gave her like 3 thrusts” and ejaculated.   Appellant then “fixed ․ her pants” and put her back inside the Durango, where Cubas was forcing Ms. Capulin to perform oral sex on him.   Appellant told Cubas to let the women go.   He drove the car a short distance, then turned it off, left the key in the ignition, got out, and started walking away.   As he was walking to the Accord where Navarro was waiting, he heard three shots coming from the direction of the Durango.   Cubas then came running toward him, and they got into the Accord with Navarro and left.   When appellant asked Cubas what happened to the women, he said, “I killed them whores.”   Cubas said he had taken money and jewelry from the women, and he showed appellant a chain that belonged to one of them.   Cubas dropped appellant and Navarro off at the apartment complex where they both lived at about 12:05 a.m.

Appellant's videotaped statements were not the only evidence of his participation in the double murder.   DNA evidence also tied appellant to the offense.   Appellant's DNA profile was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found on Rangel's clothing and in her vagina.   Cubas's DNA profile was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found on Capulin's panty hose and in her mouth.

The State also presented evidence of appellant's involvement in the extraneous murder of fifteen-year-old Esmeralda Alvarado on January 18, 2002, four months before the charged murders.   Ms. Alvarado's boyfriend, Osiel Blanco, testified that she came over to his house to watch television that evening, and that she went outside to use a nearby pay phone at about 9:30 p.m. When Blanco went outside to look for her about ten minutes later, she was gone.   Her body was found four days later.   The medical examiner testified that she died from a gunshot wound to the head.   Appellant was included as a possible contributor of the DNA obtained from sperm found in Ms. Alvarado's anus.   Cubas's DNA was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found in Ms. Alvarado's vagina.

Appellant admitted his involvement in Esmeralda Alvarado's murder in a videotaped interview with Detectives Chavez and Ortiz.   Appellant stated that one night in January 2002, he and Cubas were driving around in a truck belonging to Cubas's father.   They passed by a young girl talking on a pay phone, and Cubas said that he wanted to have sex with her, so he turned the truck around and went back to where she was standing.   Cubas forced her at gunpoint to get into the back seat of the truck, and appellant got into the back seat with her.   Cubas tied a rag over the girl's eyes and drove them to a deserted area.   Appellant stayed in the truck while Cubas took the girl outside and raped her.   When they returned to the truck, appellant made her get into the back seat with him, and he raped her. They initially planned to leave her at the scene, but as they were leaving she yelled, “Hey, don't leave me here.”   They let her back into the truck, and she asked them to drop her off near her home.   Cubas started to drive away, but then decided to take her back to where they had raped her.   They got out of the truck and Cubas made her perform oral sex on him.   Cubas then shot her in the head, and he and appellant got into the truck and drove away.

- See more at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-criminal-appeals/1297531.html#sthash.XuhyCVBW.dpuf
Juan was shot several times in the head and died while another victim, his friend Juan Catares, 30, was critically injured. On May 20, 2002 Cubas got into a shootout with Carlos M. Yanez, 15, during an attempted robbery, police said. Carlos was in the parking lot of a bar in the 7600 block of Pecan Villas when was killed, police said, but Cubas claimed self-defense. Maria Rangel and Roxana Capulin were working at El Mirador restaurant on Canal Street in Houston on the evening of May 31, 2002. Roxana's husband testified that Roxana called him at about 10:00 p.m. to tell him that she was closing the restaurant and would be coming home soon. The cook, Gabriel Mello, testified that he left at about 10:15 p.m., and that Maria and Roxana stayed behind to close the restaurant. Ruben Limon testified that he drove by the restaurant at around 11:15 p.m. and saw two men and two women outside. One woman was putting a chain around the door, and the other woman was standing nearby talking to one of the men. The second man, whom Limon identified at trial as Walter Sorto, was talking on a pay phone. Limon further testified that he observed a “red truck” parked outside the restaurant. Roxana's husband became worried when she did not arrive home by 10:30 p.m., so he called the restaurant. When no one answered the phone, he drove to the restaurant to look for her. As soon as he arrived, he saw that Roxana's maroon Dodge Durango was gone, the restaurant lights were off, and the restaurant door was chained but unlocked. Maria Rangel's husband later arrived, and they entered the restaurant and found no one inside. Roxana's car was found on the morning of June 1, 2002. Emil Havelka testified that he saw a Dodge Durango parked in the middle of Joyner Street, near his office, at 7:00 a.m. When he saw two bodies inside the car and a large pool of blood on the ground by the back passenger door, he called the police. The police arrived and found the bodies of Roxana Capulin and Maria Rangel inside the car. The car doors were unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. The Durango had three rows of seats; Maria's body was in the middle row, and Roxana's body was in the back row. Maria was wearing an El Mirador apron, and she had duct tape on her hands and wrists and over her eyes and mouth. Roxana also had duct tape over her eyes and mouth. The medical examiner testified that Maria's death was caused by two gunshot wounds to her head, and that Roxana died from a single gunshot wound to her head. Police recovered a bullet and three cartridge casings from inside the car. The medical examiner also recovered bullet fragments from Roxana's head during her autopsy. The firearms expert who examined the ballistics evidence testified that all three bullets could have been fired from the same 9-millimeter firearm. Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Gonzalez testified that, over two months later, on August 20, 2002, he was contacted by a confidential informant with information about the murders. Deputy Gonzalez and Detective Alejandro Ortiz met with the informant and Sorto at a Marriott hotel room at about 7:30 p.m. that evening where Deputy Gonzalez was working a second job as a security officer. Deputy Gonzalez testified that Sorto said he had information regarding the women who were abducted from El Mirador restaurant, and that he needed the $5,000 Crimestoppers reward money because his wife was pregnant. Sorto stated that Edgardo Cubas and Eduardo "Lalo" Navarro, a juvenile, had abducted and murdered the victims. He said that Cubas and Navarro had invited him to go along with them that night, but he declined their invitation and followed them instead. He parked his car in a parking lot across the street from the restaurant and saw Cubas and Navarro abduct the women. He then followed them to a remote location and parked nearby, but he left the scene after he heard gunshots. At this point, Det. Ortiz thought Sorto was a witness to the double murder, so he asked Sorto and the informant if they would continue the interview at the Harris County Sheriff's homicide division office. They agreed to do so, and Sorto drove himself and the informant to the office. When they arrived at around 9:45 p.m., Det. Ortiz and a Detective Brown conducted a videotaped interview with Sorto. Sorto again stated that he witnessed the abduction from across the street. He said that Navarro stayed in Cubas's Honda Accord while Cubas talked to the women outside the restaurant; then Cubas got into a Dodge Durango with the women, and Navarro followed them as they drove away. Sorto followed both cars to a second location and parked about one hundred twenty feet away. Cubas and the women remained parked in the Durango for about thirty minutes. One of the women got out of the car and tried to run away, but Cubas caught her and put her back inside the vehicle. Sorto saw that Cubas had a pistol and a large roll of tape in his hands, and he watched as Cubas fired three shots into the Durango. Sorto then left, and Navarro saw him as he was driving away. Sorto later saw Cubas and Navarro in a bar, and Cubas threatened to kill him and his family if he told anyone what he had seen. During the interview, Det. Ortiz asked Sorto if he would agree to give a saliva sample. After Sorto consented to give a saliva sample, he added that he, Cubas, and Navarro left the club and returned to the scene, where Cubas forced him to have sex with Maria Rangel's body. Det. Ortiz testified that he took Sorto into custody after he learned of an outstanding warrant for Sorto's arrest at approximately 1:10 a.m. Sorto then agreed to show the detective where Cubas and Navarro lived. They left the homicide division office at 2:05 a.m. and returned at 3:10 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., Sorto was taken before a magistrate, who gave him his statutory warnings. Sorto was then taken to the Houston Police Department homicide division office, where he was interviewed by Officers Jesus Sosa and Heraclio Chavez. In this videotaped statement, Sorto told a very different version of the events. He said that Cubas picked him up in his Honda Accord at about 8:30 p.m., and they then picked up fourteen-year-old Navarro. Sorto and Cubas went to a few bars while Navarro waited in the car; then they went looking for a bar that would admit Navarro. Cubas, who was in possession of a 9-millimeter Beretta pistol, said that he wanted to commit a robbery because he needed money to pay rent. They were driving on Canal Street when they saw two women coming out of a restaurant. Cubas parked in a nearby parking lot, got out of the car, and approached the women from behind as they were walking toward the Durango. Cubas motioned for Sorto to come over to them, and Cubas made Roxana Capulin give Sorto the keys. Roxana sat in the back seat with Cubas, Maria Rangel sat in the middle seat, and Sorto drove the vehicle. As Sorto drove to an area near “Dixie and Wayside,” Cubas placed tape over the eyes and mouths of the women and bound Maria Rangel's hands with tape. Cubas wanted to sexually assault Roxana Capulin, so he told Maria “to get down from the truck” when they stopped. Maria fell out of the car onto the ground. Sorto also got out of the car, and Cubas stayed inside with Roxana Capulin. When Maria later got too close to the car, Cubas pointed the gun at her and told her to take her clothes off. He told Sorto “to f*** her by force,” and Sorto “gave her like 3 thrusts” and ejaculated. Sorto then “fixed her pants” and put her back inside the Durango, where Cubas was forcing Roxana to perform oral sex on him. Sorto told Cubas to let the women go. He drove the car a short distance, then turned it off, left the key in the ignition, got out, and started walking away. As he was walking to the Accord where Navarro was waiting, he heard three shots coming from the direction of the Durango. Cubas then came running toward him, and they got into the Accord with Navarro and left. When Sorto asked Cubas what happened to the women, he said, “I killed them whores.” Cubas said he had taken money and jewelry from the women, and he showed Sorto a chain that belonged to one of them. Cubas dropped Sorto and Navarro off at the apartment complex where they both lived at about 12:05 a.m. Sorto's videotaped statements were not the only evidence of his participation in the double murder. DNA evidence also tied him to the offense. Sorto's DNA profile was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found on Maria Rangel's clothing and in her vagina. Cubas's DNA profile was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found on Roxana Capulin's panty hose and in her mouth. The State also presented evidence of Sorto's involvement in the extraneous murder of fifteen-year-old Esmeralda Alvarado on January 18, 2002, four months before the charged murders. Esmerelda's boyfriend, Osiel Blanco, testified that she came over to his house to watch television that evening, and that she went outside to use a nearby pay phone at about 9:30 p.m. When Blanco went outside to look for her about ten minutes later, she was gone. Her body was found four days later. The medical examiner testified that she died from a gunshot wound to the head. Sorto was included as a possible contributor of the DNA obtained from sperm found in Esmerelda Alvarado's anus. Cubas's DNA was consistent with the DNA profile of sperm found in her vagina. Sorto admitted his involvement in Esmeralda Alvarado's murder in a videotaped interview with Detectives Chavez and Ortiz. Sorto stated that one night in January 2002, he and Cubas were driving around in a truck belonging to Cubas's father. They passed by a young girl talking on a pay phone, and Cubas said that he wanted to have sex with her, so he turned the truck around and went back to where she was standing. Cubas forced her at gunpoint to get into the back seat of the truck, and Sorto got into the back seat with her. Cubas tied a rag over the girl's eyes and drove them to a deserted area. Sorto stayed in the truck while Cubas took the girl outside and raped her. When they returned to the truck, Sorto made her get into the back seat with him, and he raped her. They initially planned to leave her at the scene, but as they were leaving she yelled, “Hey, don't leave me here.” They let her back into the truck, and she asked them to drop her off near her home. Cubas started to drive away, but then decided to take her back to where they had raped her. They got out of the truck and Cubas made her perform oral sex on him. Cubas then shot her in the head, and he and Sorto got into the truck and drove away. In February of 2003, Houston police got their first break in the case of 13-year-old Laura Ayala, who had been missing since the previous March. Houston police said that DNA evidence links Ayala to three suspects in a series of rapes and murders known as the East End murders. Walter Alexander Sorto, 25, and Edgardo Rafael Cubas, 23, and a juvenile were charged with three counts of capital murder in the murder spree. While investigating the East End murders, detectives found blood, which turned out to be DNA of an unknown female. Investigators then asked the Ayala family for samples of Laura's DNA. Two days ago, Ayala's samples were matched to the scene. Detectives said, "We're still trying to find Laura Ayala. She's still missing. It's very depressing news. I should caution you -- it's devastating news to the family. We're still going to keep looking until we recover her." Police said that Laura was abducted some time after 10:15 p.m. Sunday, March 10, behind her family's apartment, located at 7939 Sarita in southeast Houston. She disappeared after she walked behind her apartment complex to the Broadway Convenience store at Conoco, less than 100 feet behind her residence, to buy a newspaper for a school project. Laura's mother later found her daughter's shoes along with the newspaper on the street near the gas station. The clerk at the station remembered selling her a newspaper. Volunteers searched on foot and horseback in various locations around the Houston area after her disappearance, but did not found any clues. Police described Laura Ayala as a Hispanic female, 4 feet tall, and weighing about 90 pounds. She has black, medium-length straight hair with brown highlights. She was last seen wearing a blue-checkered dress. Walter Sorto was also sentenced to death. Eduardo Navarro was sentenced to prison for aggravated robbery in the Rangel-Capulin case after being certified to stand trial as an adult and has been eligible for parole since 2009.  His sentence will be complete in August of 2015. There are a total of six homicides the trio of murderers was linked to, but they were only charged in three. The suspects also admitted their roles in an attempted abduction of a woman waiting for her friends outside a nightclub at 200 North Ennis on July 20, 2002.

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