The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to review the case of a Tarrant County man who confessed to fatally shooting five relatives and was condemned for the deaths of two of them, his stepchildren gunned down while they slept.
The high court's refusal moves Terry Lee Hankins closer to execution for the 2001 slayings of Kevin Galley, 12, and Ashley Mason, 11. Their bodies and the body of their mother, 34-year-old Tammy Hankins, were found in their mobile home in Mansfield.
Last August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and death sentence and lawyers took his appeal to the Supreme Court.
After Hankins was arrested in 2001, he told police where to find the decomposing bodies of his father and half-sister, with whom he had a child and was expecting another. He said he fatally shot Earnie Hankins, 55, and bludgeoned Pearl "Sissy" Sevenstar, 20, nearly a year earlier.
Before his arrest, he lied about his sister's whereabouts, saying he had sent her to a home for pregnant mentally challenged women, according to court documents. However, he had stored her body in a plastic ice chest, then hid it in a car at his father's auto shop.
Court documents also said he told people his father had moved out of state, although the man's mummified remains were in his trailer "surrounded by air fresheners."
Terry Lee Hankins, 34, who worked as an auto mechanic in Arlington, argued in earlier appeals that his trial lawyers were deficient for failing to adequately show the jury of his abusive childhood.
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In a diary police found after his arrest, Hankins wrote he had become a "non-caring monster" and rambled about his troubled childhood with a divorced inattentive father and two stepmothers who molested him and taught him sex acts.
He was tried only for the deaths of his two stepchildren, who were shot in the head while they slept. A Tarrant County jury deliberated less than 30 minutes before convicting him then deliberated less than 50 minutes before deciding on the death penalty.
Hankins was arrested a day after the bodies of his wife and stepchildren were found. He had held off police for four hours in a standoff at his girlfriend's apartment in Arlington.