Tuesday, November 29, 2005

November 15, 2005

..,Rowell earned his GED and associate's degree in prison...

Last Meal: Rowell has no final meal request.

The skinny: Rowell, 50. a habitual drug user, was executed for the slayings of two people at a Houston crack house 12 years ago.

More skinny: Rowell went to the Houston home of one of the victims before dawn complaining about paying too much for some crack cocaine and looking for dope and money. The second victim and her husband were also living in the home, variously described as a "crack house" at trial. Holding a gun, Rowell told the couple he would shoot them if they tried to leave. After Rowell went into the owner’s room, and the two heard a thumping sound followed by owner screaming for Rowell to stop hitting him.

After about three minutes, the owner and Rowell went to the couple’s bedroom. The owner was staggering, covered in blood. Rowell ordered the trio to get into the bathtub; he then shot all three. The woman died from a gunshot wound, and the man was bleeding from wounds to the the back of his head inflicted with a claw hammer. The husband was seriously wounded but survived to testify against Rowell. Rowell then proceeded to take a shower and clean himself up.

Police arrested Rowell where he worked, finding a .22 caliber revolver with six spent cartridge casings in the chamber, the gun case, and one of the victim’s bank bag in his work area.

Priors...lotsa priors: In 1974, Rowell was convicted and sentenced for robbery and paroled. In 1980, he was convicted and sentenced for a string of armed robberies, exchanging gunfire with an off-duty policeman in one case, and received a 30 year sentence. While in prison he was convicted of manslaughter for stabbing to death another inmate and sentenced to 8 years. He was freed under mandatory parole in 1991, two years before the capital murders.

No Love: Unlike many of his fellow inmates on death row, Robert Dale Rowell never got much television airtime or received much newspaper ink. The 50-year-old walked into Texas' death chamber tonight a virtual unknown, the 18th inmate to be put to death this year.

No public campaign was been waged on his behalf. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty issued a routine alert on Rowell's execution that does little more than lay out the facts of his case. A last-minute reprieve was unlikely. His lawyers did not claim he was mentally retarded or that his trial attorney fell asleep in court. His appeals were exhausted last month when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review his case or his claim that the trial judge should have given the jury better instructions.

Last words and such: “I would like to apologize to the victims' family and all the grief I have caused them,” Robert Dale Rowell said in a brief final statement as the mother, sister and brother of one of his victims watched through a window. “I would like to say I love the girls next to them,” he said, referring to six women he selected to watch him die. Several of them sobbed. Then he said, “Praise the Lord. Let's go warden. That's it.” Rowell, 50, snorted twice as the drugs began taking effect. He was pronounced dead nine minutes later.

Factoids: Rowell was the...

51st murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
995th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
18th murderer executed in Texas in 2005
354th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

One other execution is scheduled in Texas for December. If carried out, the 20 lethal injections would be three less than a year ago. A record 40 were carried out in 2000.

Rowell earned his GED and associate's degree in prison.