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Next Execution: Halloween

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

Next Execution: Halloween

Donnie Lee Roberts was addicted to both alcohol and crack cocaine and was under the influence of a cocktail of both the night he killed his girlfriend Vicki Bowen, with whom he was living back in October 2003. He begged her to give him money for a fix, he later told police, and when she refused he shot her three times with a .22 rifle. He then stole jewelry, a TV, the rifle and a .22 pistol, a money order, and Bowen's son's pickup truck.

By the time he was tried in East Texas' Polk County, Roberts changed his story. He had the rifle only because he was putting it away, and he shot Bowen because he thought she was carrying a .22 pistol and was going to shoot him, he testified. In the end, the story changes didn't help, and Roberts was sentenced to death.

He's set for execution on Oct. 31 and would become the 488th person killed by the state of Texas since the reinstatement of the death penalty.

On appeal, Roberts argued that the court erred by not allowing an expert to testify during the sentencing phase of his trial that Roberts committed murder because he was intoxicated on alcohol and crack, which could have mitigated his culpability for the crime. At Roberts' trial, the court had restricted the expert's testimony to scientific evidence that addiction to both substances is linked to violence and that the relationship is greater when the two are ingested together. In May, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Roberts' appeal.

In other death row news, less than three hours before he was slated to die, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Oct. 18 execution of Anthony Cardell Haynes, convicted of killing off-duty Houston Police Sgt. Kent Kin­caid in 1998. The execution will remain on hold until the Supremes decide whether to grant a full review of the case. At issue in Haynes' case, as it has been in several other capital cases the high court stayed this year, is whether Haynes' trial counsel failed to present any mitigating evidence that might have spared Haynes' life.

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