HOUSTON – A Texas inmate faces execution Thursday for the drug-related murders of four people more than 30 years ago.
Arthur Brown Jr. was convicted in June 1992 of the deaths at a Houston home during a drug robbery. Authorities said Brown was part of a gang that smuggled drugs from Texas to Alabama and bought the drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife, Rachel.
Killed during a drug robbery was 32-year-old Jose Tovar; his wife’s 17-year-old son, Frank Farias; Jessica Quinones, 19, the pregnant girlfriend of another of Rachel Tovar’s sons; and 21-year-old neighbor Audrey Brown. All four were tied and shot in the head. Rachel Tovar and another person were also shot but survived.
“I don’t understand how someone can kill a pregnant woman and then cause her so much pain. It is beyond words,” said Marisela Quinones, Jessica Quinones’ older sister. Jessica Quinones was 9 months pregnant and named her unborn daughter Alyssa.
Marion Dudley, one of Brown’s associates in the shootout, was killed in 2006. The third accomplice was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Brown, 52, who is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has committed the murders to another man over a long period of time.
His lawyers have asked the US Supreme Court to halt the execution, which was scheduled for Thursday evening at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas. They argue that Brown is intellectually disabled.
The High Court has stayed the death penalty for the intellectually disabled.
“Mr. Brown’s intellectual limitations were known to his friends and family. … Persons who knew Mr. Brown during his life have consistently described him as ‘slow,'” his attorneys wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court. Was.
Brown’s attorneys have previously filed other appeals that have been rejected by lower courts. They have argued that he is innocent and that a witness actually implicated the other suspect. They also claim that Brown’s conviction was tainted by racial bias, alleging that one of the jurors decided that he was guilty because of his race. Brown is a black man.
A judge in Houston on Tuesday denied a request by Brown’s attorneys for DNA testing of evidence they said could exonerate their client.
Josh Reiss, chief of the post-conviction rights division of the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Houston, called Brown’s last-minute appeal a delaying tactic.
Rees said that school records submitted at Brown’s trial showed that the inmate was initially thought to be possibly intellectually disabled in third grade, until ninth grade which was no longer the case. The prosecutor also said that Brown’s claims of innocence were problematic because the other suspect alleged to be the killer was not found by investigators in Houston at the time.
“This was an absolutely brutal mass murder. … These families deserve justice,” Rees said.
Marisela Quinones, 52, said her sister was an innocent victim who had no idea Tovar was dealing drugs from home. He said that his mother also blames the Tovar family for what happened.
“My mother has never been the same since my sister passed away,” said Marisela Quinones.
Marisela Quinones described her sister as a “very loving, caring person” who had hoped to become a mother. She said that her family would probably never have closure.
“We lost two persons. Alyssa never got a chance in life,” she said.
Brown is one of two executed in Texas this week. Another inmate, Gary Green, was sentenced to death on Tuesday for stabbing his estranged wife to death and drowning their 6-year-old daughter in a bathtub. Brown will be the fifth inmate in Texas and the ninth in the US to be executed this year.
Brown is one of six Texas death row inmates who are part of a lawsuit to stop the state’s prison system from using expired and unsafe execution drugs. Four inmates have been executed this year, despite a civil court judge in Austin initially agreeing with the claims.