Dallas Death Row Inmate Loses Supreme Court Appeal

By MICHAEL GRACZYK
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 2:46 PM CDT
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Dallas Death Row Inmate Loses Supreme Court Appeal

AP

Execution gurney in death chamber at Huntsville, Texas.

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The U.S. Supreme Court refused an appeal Monday from a suburban Dallas man set to die next week for gunning down his 28-year-old estranged wife.

John Alba, 54, faces lethal injection May 25 for killing his wife, Wendy, at an apartment in Allen in Collin County in 1991.

The high court without comment rejected arguments that Alba's rights were violated because his death sentence was the result of his race, his wife's race or some combination of the two. Like his slain wife, Alba is Hispanic.

In 2000, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Alba's death sentence after then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn said a review of the case showed a psychologist improperly testified at his capital murder trial that jurors should consider race in deciding punishment.

Alba had a second punishment trial in 2001 and a Collin County jury decided again he should die.

"We are really concerned about the race claim," Anthony Haughton, Alba's lawyer, said Monday. "We're trying to figure out a way to see if it's possible to revive it.

"We're going to keep fighting for him."

State appeals courts rejected the claims because they hadn't been raised early enough. Then a federal district judge rejected the appeal on procedural grounds because Alba's lawyers couldn't adequately explain why they hadn't raised them earlier.

Last year, the 5th Circuit refused Alba's appeal. Besides rejecting the race issue, the New Orleans-based court also rebuffed a claim that Alba had murdered his wife outside the apartment -- meaning he did not commit the crime during a burglary and it was not a capital crime.

The shooting occurred after Alba posted bond freeing him from jail on a charge of indecency with a child. At his trial, a woman who gave birth to a child he fathered said Alba had been drinking all day when he shot and killed his wife.

Other testimony indicated he repeatedly had abused his wife, that she was terrified of him and that he bought the murder weapon, a .22-caliber pistol, from a pawn shop the day of the August 1991 shooting.

The apartment where the shooting occurred belonged to a neighbor who was shot in the head but survived. The woman said she saw Alba strike his wife with the pistol and shoot her three times.

At his second punishment trial, Alba testified the slaying was not a bad decision but a "bad reaction."

Alba was arrested the day of the shooting after a two-hour standoff with police at a Plano shopping center.
 

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