Friday, July 27, 2012

The Impending Execution of Marvin Lee Wilson

Marvin Wilson sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Texas on 7 August 2012. Because his IQ is reported to be 61, I expect additional challenges to the execution date.

I summarize his case by extracting from the adverse appellate decision Marvin Lee Wilson v. State (1999). I have replaced each instance of the word appellant with Wilson's name.
In a trial beginning in January 1998, Wilson was convicted of capital murder for the kidnapping and murder of Jerry Williams. ... 
The evidence showed the following: On November 4, 1992, Officer Robert Roberts and other police officers entered Wilson's apartment pursuant to a search warrant. Jerry Williams was the confidential informant whose information enabled Roberts to obtain the warrant. Williams entered and left the apartment minutes before the police went in. Wilson, Vincent Webb, and a juvenile female were present in the apartment. Over 24 grams of cocaine were found, and Wilson and Webb were arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Wilson was subsequently released on bond, but Webb remained in jail. Sometime after the incident, Wilson told Terry Lewis that someone had "snitched" on Wilson, that the "snitch" was never going to have the chance to "to have someone else busted," and that Wilson "was going to get him." 
On November 9, 1992, several observers saw an incident take place in the parking lot in front of Mike's Grocery. Vanessa Zeno and Denise Ware were together in the parking lot. Caroline Robinson and her daughter Coretta Robinson were inside the store. Julius Lavergne was outside the store, but came in at some point to relay information to Caroline. The doors to Mike's Grocery were made of clear glass, and Coretta stood by the door and watched. Zeno, Ware, Coretta, and Lavergne watched the events unfold while Caroline called the police. These witnesses testified consistently although some witnesses noticed details not noticed by others. 
In the parking lot, Wilson stood over Williams and beat him. Wilson asked Williams, "What do you want to be a snitch for? Do you know what we do to a snitch? Do you want to die right here?" In response, Williams begged for his life. Andrew Lewis, Terry's husband, was pumping gasoline in his car at the time. Williams ran away from Wilson and across the street to a field. 
Wilson pursued Williams and caught him. Andrew drove the car to the field. While Williams struggled against them, Wilson and Andrew forced Williams into the car. At some point during this incident, either in front of Mike's Grocery, across the street, or at both places, Andrew participated in hitting Williams and Wilson asked Andrew: "Where's the gun?" Wilson told Andrew to get the gun and said that he (Wilson) wanted to kill Williams.They drove toward a Mobil refinery. Zeno and Ware drove back to their apartments, which were close by, and when they arrived, they heard what sounded like gunshots from the direction of the Mobil plant. 
Sometime after the incident, Wilson told his wife, in the presence of Terry Lewis and her husband, "Baby, you remember the nigger I told you I was going to get? I did it. I don't know if he dead or what, but I left him there to die." When Terry looked back at her husband, Wilson stated, "Don't be mad at Andrew because Andrew did not do it. I did it." 
On November 10, 1992, a bus driver noticed Williams' dead body on the side of a road.The autopsy report concluded that Williams died from close range gunshot wounds to the head and neck. 
Having known Wilson for 16 years, Zeno identified Wilson. Lavergne and Coretta recognized Williams but did not know Wilson or Andrew. Lavergne subsequently identified Andrew in a photo line-up. At that time, Lavergne told law enforcement authorities that the man he identified in the photo was the "helper," rather than the primary actor. The other man, who Lavergne described as having a "gerry curl," made the threats and conducted most of the beating of Williams. Under defense cross-examination at trial, Lavergne testified that the man in the photo (i.e. Andrew Lewis) was the man with the gerry curl and hence, the primary actor. But, upon redirect examination, Lavergne testified that his earlier testimony was in error, and that the man in the photo was not the one with the gerry curl. 
This contradiction led to questioning that explored an incident involving Lavergne, defense counsel, and Wilson. At one time, defense counsel and Wilson interviewed Lavergne together, while Lavergne was in jail for an offense unrelated to the present case. No representatives of the district attorney's office were present. Wilson asked Lavergne for his father's name, and Wilson asked if Lavergne had a new baby. These questions made Lavergne feel scared and intimidated, and he wondered how Wilson could have known about Lavergne's new baby. ... 
Our review of the record shows ample evidence to support the conviction. Williams was the informant who caused Wilson to be arrested for cocaine. Wilson could have inferred from Williams' presence at his apartment immediately before the police arrived that Williams had indeed "snitched" on Wilson. That sequence of events established a motive for the murder. Wilson's statements to Terry Lewis and his later statements to Williams show that Wilson intended to act upon that motive and kill Williams. Wilson assaulted and kidnapped Williams in front of several eyewitnesses, and later, Wilson bragged that he had left the "snitch" to die. The latter statement could have been reasonably interpreted as an admission that Wilson had in fact fulfilled his earlier threats to kill the victim. The short time frame in which these events occurred—a matter of several days—also supports the inference that these events were connected. And Wilson's references to Lavergne's father and new baby reasonably could have been interpreted as a veiled attempt to influence Lavergne's testimony. Such an attempt to tamper with a witness is evidence of "consciousness of guilt." ...
I oppose the execution of any person who may be innocent of the crime for which he are about to die. With respect to all other executions, I stand mute. I neither support them nor oppose them. In the case of Marvin Lee Wilson, I stand mute.

ADDENDUM (8 August 2012)
Marvin Wilson was executed by the people of Texas on 7 August 2012.

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