Kevin Cokely, NBCDFW.com
Family and friends gather for a candlelight vigil the day before one of the two men convicted in her torture-slaying is scheduled to be executed.
When shots from a pellet gun and arrows fired from a crossbow didn't kill their intended victim and provide the adrenaline rush they desired, Michael Wayne Hall and Robert Neville switched to a .22-caliber rifle.
"Target practice," they bragged to reporters after they were arrested two weeks later for the torture-slaying of Amy Robinson, a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman they knew.
Hall, 31, was set to be executed Tuesday exactly 13 years to the day since Robinson was abducted as she rode her bike to work at an Arlington supermarket. He would be the first convicted killer executed this year in Texas.
Neville was put to death five years ago.
On Monday, family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil at Robinson's gravesite at Shady Grove Cemetery in Grand Prairie.
"Here I feel close to Amy," said her mother, Tina Robinson. "I feel like Amy is with me all the time. I really do."
She said she is still haunted by her daughter's abduction and slaying.
"Valentine's Day used to be good, but it's not anymore," she said. "It's just a reminder of everything that's happened.
Robinson attended Neville's execution and said she will also attend Hall's.
"They need to go ahead and get justice; do what they need to do," she said. "Don't let it carry on any longer. It's been too long."
Lawyers for Hall argued that he was mentally impaired and ineligible for lethal injection under a U.S. Supreme Court mandate barring capital punishment for those with an IQ under 70, but courts rejected the appeals. Attorneys had a new appeal, focusing again on what they said was Hall's mental impairment, before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday. Last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency request.
Hall was 18 when the slaying occurred and a ninth-grade dropout. Neville, 23, had been on parole for about eight months after serving two years of a 10-year sentence for burglary. Both had been fired from jobs at the Kroger store where Amy Robinson worked.
Evidence at their trials showed they decided to kill someone and targeted Robinson. She had the genetic disorder Turner's syndrome, a rare chromosome condition found only in women and characterized by short stature and lack of sexual development at puberty.
"She was suffering anyway," Hall told investigators. "So I guess we just gave her a back door."
Prosecutors described Robinson as mentally challenged, sweet natured, trusting and "easy prey," which is how Neville and Hall characterized their victim. They told reporters following their arrests how they laughed as Robinson pleaded for her life.
Hall declined interview requests as his scheduled execution neared.
Two weeks after their arrests, Neville told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he and Hall wanted to become serial killers whose victims were racial minorities.
"We had a bet going to see who could shoot and kill the most people between the two of us," Neville said. "No matter if it was blacks or Mexicans... Anybody as long as they weren't our color."
Robinson was part Native American. The day she was killed, the pair went to the Kroger store, learned Robinson was due in shortly, then went to find her along the bike route they knew she always took from home. Offered a ride the rest of the way to work, she went with them.
Instead, the evidence showed that they drove her about 12 miles to a remote area of Tarrant County where Neville shot at her repeatedly with a crossbow but missed, Hall shot her in the leg with the pellet gun and Neville shot her in the chest with the rifle. Hall added several more pellet gun shots to her chest before Neville shot her in the head because Hall worried someone would hear the loud noises their victim was making.
"Michael Hall, he had a . . . pellet gun and he started popping pellets into her chest and face and stuff like that," Neville told a Texas Ranger. "My first two shots rang out -- one hit her in the chest and the other hit her in the head. Then he -- Michael -- picked up his rifle and fired another set of shots into her.
"We just busted out laughing," Neville said.
Hall said they returned to her body a few days later when he removed her keys and $4 or $5 from her pocket and he and Neville shot her several more times.
By then, Robinson was reported missing. Hall and Neville were arrested at a customs checkpoint near Eagle Pass as they tried to cross into Mexico. They told authorities where to find Robinson's body.
At Hall's trial, prosecutors played the TV video of him describing the slaying.
"He talked about the killing of this young woman the way a kid might talk about having the toughest football team, kind of braggadocio and matter-of-fact," Bill Harris, one of Hall's trial lawyers recalled. "I watched the jury . . . You could just see the door slamming shut. From the standpoint of a human being, I can understand."
Harris, however, said he was convinced Hall was mentally impaired, looked up to Neville and went along with a scheme Harris believed was concocted by Neville.
Asked by reporters what should happen to them, Neville said he preferred to be put against a wall and shot. Hall said he preferred death row, which is where a Tarrant County jury sent him.
At his execution in February 2006, Neville apologized profusely to Robinson's relatives and to his parents.
NBC DFW's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.