Texas man to die for killing wife, her boyfriend
Man set for execution in the Houston-area slaying of his estranged wife, her boyfriend in 2001
Published On: Mar 07 2012 02:34:21 PM CST
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A man convicted of fatally shooting his estranged wife and her boyfriend near Houston a decade ago hoped the Supreme Court would grant him a last-minute reprieve ahead of his scheduled execution Wednesday.
Attorneys for Keith Thurmond, 52, argued that lawyers representing him in earlier appeals were "grossly deficient" and that his execution should be postponed until justices have decided on a similar case in Arizona.
Thurmond's execution by lethal injection would be the third in Texas this year.
The killings occurred after sheriff's deputies showed up at Thurmond's mobile home on Sept. 25, 2001, with a court order removing his 8-year-old son and putting the boy in the care of his mother.
Thurmond became irate and stormed down the road to the mobile home where his 32-year-old wife, Susan, was living with her new boyfriend, Guy Fernandez, 35, near Magnolia in Montgomery County.
Thurmond's brother, Tom, who was at Thurmond's home, heard gunshots and looked out the door. He saw Keith Thurmond standing over his wife with a gun in his hand.
At the 2002 capital murder trial, Keith and Sharon Thurmond's son testified that he saw his father shoot his mother repeatedly in the yard behind Fernandez's mobile home.
Thurmond surrendered to police after a two-hour standoff.
Evidence showed Sharon Thurmond had been shot seven times with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun that was later found in Thurmond's home. The same gun was used to shoot Fernandez twice in the head. The guns' firing pin was missing and pieces of it were near the Fernandez' body. The boyfriend had been beaten in the head with the weapon.
During the punishment phase of his trial, a former girlfriend testified that Thurmond stalked and raped her after she ended their relationship. She told jurors that he cut her stuffed animal's head off and that she feared he would do the same to her.
A second woman testified that she faced similar abuse and harassment until she obtained a court order against him. Sharon Thurmond also had two court orders against him.
Prosecutors said these incidents proved Thurmond was a threat to society, an element Texas jurors must consider when deciding on the death penalty. John MacDonald, Thurmond's lead trial attorney, said that background on Thurmond's character very much hurt his defense.
"It probably wouldn't have been a death penalty case without that evidence," MacDonald recalled.
In an appeal petition, Thurmond's attorneys said the sentence is too harsh. They said his former appellate lawyers failed to track down any of his relatives who could have testified that he had been abused as a child and that this could have accounted for his behavior.
State lawyers opposed the petition, arguing that unlike the Arizona case, Thurmond's earlier attorneys didn't abandon him and that any information now from the prisoner's relatives likely would not have altered the outcome of the trial.
MacDonald disputed he did little to investigate Thurmond's family background before the trial.
"He was just sort of out there and really didn't have anybody," MacDonald said. "We couldn't get family members to stand up."
Prosecutors said Thurmond threatened a female officer while in jail awaiting trial.
"I can snap her neck," he warned. "What are they going to do, kill me twice?"
TIC TOC TIC TOC TIC TOC TIC TOC...Hey Keith, tonight you will go to Hell...