4 Texas Death Row Inmates Lose Appeals, Another Favorable at US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the appeals of four condemned inmates in Texas, including a woman on death row for the 2010 slaying of her developmentally disabled baby sitter.

Kimberly Cargill, of Whitehouse in East Texas, is one of six women on death row in Texas, which is the most active capital-punishment state in the U.S. and has executed six prisoners so far this year. Cargill, 50, was convicted in 2012 in Smith County.

The high court also refused to review the appeals of Raul Cortez, 36, sentenced to die for a 2004 quadruple fatal shooting in the Dallas suburb of McKinney; Rosendo Rodriguez III, 37, convicted of the 2005 slaying of a pregnant Lubbock woman; and Damon Matthews, 32, on death row for the 2003 Houston killing of a friend whose car was stolen during the crime.

The court did not comment on its reasons for refusing the appeals. None of the four prisoners has an execution date.

Cargill was convicted and put on death row for causing the asphyxiation of 39-year-old Cherry Walker in June 2010. Court records show her lawyers have until late April 2018 to file a more extensive appeal in a federal district court and that state attorneys will have three months to respond to that appeal.

At her trial, prosecutors said Cargill was facing a child abuse investigation and that she had already lost custody of one of her two children. They argued she killed Walker to keep her from testifying at a custody hearing. Walker's body, found on the side of a road in Smith County, had been doused with lighter fluid and set on fire. An autopsy determined she was asphyxiated.

Cargill testified that Walker had suffered a seizure and stopped breathing while she was driving Walker home, and that she panicked and didn't seek medical help.

Rodriguez was convicted of the 2005 beating and choking death of 29-year-old Summer Baldwin, who was five weeks pregnant. Her body was stuffed inside a piece of luggage found at the city landfill in Lubbock, where she lived and where Rodriguez was training as a Marine reservist.

Court records show Rodriguez was linked to at least five other sexual assaults and to the disappearance of 16-year-old Joanna Rogers, who had been missing more than a year. He confessed to killing the teenager, whose body was also found in a suitcase in the Lubbock landfill.

Cortez was convicted of the killings of four people during a botched robbery attempt at a McKinney home in 2004. Authorities have called it Collin County's worst mass slaying. It went unsolved for three years until an accomplice acknowledged his involvement and implicated Cortez. The victims were Rosa Barbosa, 46, the manager of a check-cashing business; her nephew, Mark Barbosa, 25; and his friends, Matthew Self, 17, and Austin York, 18.

Matthews was put on death row for shooting a friend, 20-year-old Esphandiar Gonzalez, seven times in the head and stealing his car in 2003 in Houston. Matthews was arrested hours later as he was cleaning blood from inside the car.

Supreme Court Seems Favorable to Texas Death Row Inmate

The Supreme Court appears likely to rule for an inmate on Texas' death row who was denied money to investigate his history of mental illness and other claims that could spare him from being executed.

The case the justices heard Monday involves an immigrant from Honduras who was sentenced to death for strangling a woman in her home in Houston.

The immigrant's lawyers for his appeals in the federal court system determined that his trial and state appellate lawyers did not do enough to look into the man's past in search of mitigating evidence that might persuade a jury not to impose a death sentence.

But federal courts refused a request for money to investigate, despite a federal law aimed at improving legal representation in capital cases.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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