HOUSTON (AP) – A death row inmate who was part of the “Texas 7” gang of escaped prisoners has received an execution date of Feb. 4.
The date will allow time for Donald Newbury to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court if he decides to do so, said Lisa Smith, an assistant district attorney in Dallas, in a motion to state District Judge Rick Magnis. The Dallas-based judge signed an order last week scheduling Newbury’s lethal injection, acting on a request from Dallas County prosecutors.
The high court sent his case back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a year ago to review arguments from Newbury contending he had deficient legal help in early stages of his appeals. The 5th Circuit rejected the appeal earlier this month.
Newbury previously was set to die in February 2012, but he was spared by a Supreme Court reprieve.
Newbury was among seven convicts who participated in the biggest prison escape in Texas history when they broke out of the Connally Unit, about 60 miles south of San Antonio, in December 2000. They overpowered workers, stole their clothes, broke into the prison armory for weapons and drove away in a prison truck.
While on the loose, they supported themselves by committing robberies, including the Christmas Eve holdup of a sporting goods store in the Dallas suburb of Irving where they killed a police officer, 29-year-old Aubrey Hawkins.
When the gang was captured a month later in Colorado after a six-week national manhunt, one of them, 37-year-old Larry Harper, killed himself as police closed in. The six others were tried separately for Hawkins’ slaying and received death sentences.
Two have been executed. George Rivas, 41, who assembled the team of inmates, died by lethal injection in February 2012. George Rodriguez, 45, was put to death in 2008 after ordering all his appeals dropped.
Newbury, who has an extensive criminal record, was serving 99 years for aggravated robbery at the time of the escape.
The three others condemned for the officer’s murder are Patrick Murphy Jr., 52; Joseph Garcia, 42; and Randy Halprin, 36. None has an execution date.
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