Texas Executes First Death Row Inmate of 2019
Robert Mitchell Jennings became Texas' first execution of 2019 when he was put to death in Huntsville Wednesday night, 30 years after killing a vice cop.
In July of 1988, Jennings was on parole from his second aggravated robbery conviction and hanging out with a friend when the two decided to go to strip club. Turned away from the club for not having any identification, the two escalated their plans and decided to rob a nearby adult book store. What the pair didn't know was that vice officer Elston Howard was already in the store, processing the arrest of the store's owner for showing pornographic movies without a permit. Jennings ran into the store, saw officer Howard, and opened fire, hitting Howard in the neck. While Howard was on the ground, Jennings shot him two more times.
According to Jennings' accomplice, David Lee Harvell. Jennings ran back to the car with the gun and the money, saying he just shot a security guard. Harvell drove down the street and tried to get Jennings' out of the car, but Jennings refused. Harvell then shot Jennings in the hand, and Jennings climbed out of the car window and fled. Jennings sought medical help at a hospital, where he was ultimately arrested and offered a written confession.
Having already had a stay of execution once, Jennings was reportedly ready to die rather than continue to fight the sentencing and wait indefinitely on death row. In previous appeals, Jennings said he received poor representation in his initial trials, with his first lawyer handling two other major capital murder cases at the time of his. Jennings also appealed his sentencing claiming that the jury didn't consider factors such as his low IQ (reportedly 65) and his remorse after being arrested and in the 30 years since.
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, Jennings addressed the witnesses to his execution,
To my friends and family, it was a nice journey. To the family of the police officer, I hope this finds you peace, and be well and stay safe. Enjoy life's moments because we never get them back.
His final words were to his partner of four years, Evelyn Staus,
Lifemate, see you at the crossroads.