Man Convicted of Irving Gas Station Shooting Loses Bid for Stay of Execution

Robert Wayne Harris looks set to be the eighth man to be executed in Texas this year after the Court of Criminal Appeals denied the death row inmate a stay of execution.

The judges decided against stopping the execution, despite some disturbing evidence about the adequacy of the original defense case more than a decade ago.

Harris was convicted in 2000 of a double homicide during a shooting spree at the Mi-T-Fine Car Wash in Irving, the Austin Chronicle reported.

Unless the federal courts step in on Sept. 20, 2012 he’s set to become the eighth man to be executed in Texas this year.

Harris’ crime has made him one of the most notorious murderers on the state’s death row.

“Harris, who had been fired from the car wash three days prior to the shooting, opened fire on his former colleagues shortly after the car wash opened, killing five of six employees. He was sentenced to death for the murders of cashier Rhoda Wheeler and assistant manager Augustin Villasenor,” the Austin Chronicle reported.

After Harris confessed to the crime, his defense attorney did not offer any witnesses at the trial. Harris is black but an all white jury convicted him after deliberating for just 15 minutes.

The Austin Chronicle reported Harris’ defense attorney did not hire an investigator to find any mitigating evidence that may have spared his life.

When a judge makes a decision on whether to impose a life sentence as opposed to a death sentence, school or psychological records are normally considered. But in this case no records were available. The judge imposed a death sentence dafter a three day hearing.

In his recent appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Harris claimed the state had violated his due process rights by striking out qualified black jurors. The appeal was denied.

On August 27, Harris’ attorney tried the same argument again pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in the case of Thomas Miller-El in which the justices referred to the “disparity,” that was created.

Harris’ defense team also claimed Texas Attor¬ney General Greg Abbott’s office has thwarted attempts to set up a reconciliation meeting between the death row inmate and a family member of one of his victims.

With the Court of Criminal Appeals decision, time appears to be running out for Harris, despite the procedural red flags that are inherent in this case.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.