Even a defense lawyer for convicted murderer Curtis Moore acknowledged the horrific nature of the three slayings that convinced a jury to send Moore to death row.
"Facts-wise, it was difficult because of the nature of how the killings happened and the fact the bodies were burned," George Gallagher recalled. "You have an uphill battle."
Moore, 40, was set for lethal injection Wednesday evening. His execution, the first of the year in the United States, would be the first of six scheduled for this month in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.
Moore's appeals in the courts were exhausted. On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency request that cited his possible mental retardation as reason to spare him.
Moore already made one trip to the Huntsville death house. In 2002, less than three hours before he was to receive lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped his scheduled execution so claims from his attorneys that he was mentally retarded and ineligible for execution could be reviewed. In October, the high court refused his appeal, clearing the way for Wednesday's execution date to be set.
Moore was condemned for a pair of shootings in November 1995 in Fort Worth.
Roderick Moore, 24, who was not related to him, and LaTanya Boone, 21, both of Fort Worth, were found shot to death in a roadside ditch across from an elementary school.
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The same night, firefighters summoned to put out a car fire found Darrel Hoyle, 21, of Fort Worth, and Henry Truevillian Jr., 20, of Forest Hill, shot and burned. Truevillian was dead but Hoyle survived and helped lead police to the arrest of Moore and his nephew, Anthony Moore, then 17.
The three men were abducted after agreeing to meet Curtis Moore and his nephew at a stable where Roderick Moore boarded and trained horses. Then Boone was abducted from the apartment she shared with Roderick Moore, her boyfriend.
Testimony at Curtis Moore's trial showed the shootings culminated a drug ripoff, that he doused Hoyle and Truevillian with gasoline and ignited them as they were bound and in the trunk of a car parked in a deserted lot outside a Fort Worth bar.
Hoyle regained consciousness six days after he was attacked and gave information that led authorities to Anthony Moore, known on the streets in Fort Worth as "Kojak," and that Curtis Moore drove a pink truck.
Curtis Moore was arrested about two weeks later, his hands and arms still showing burns suffered when authorities said he tried to keep Hoyle from fleeing the flames.
"Curtis was trying to push him back in the trunk," said Joetta Keene, who prosecuted Moore.
"Everybody got burned, including Curtis," Gallagher said. "That was hard to get around."
At the punishment phase, prosecutors were able to show jurors Moore's violent past.
"He had a huge criminal history," Keene said. "He kept giving us more evidence. He stabbed a guy in jail."
Moore's record showed convictions for theft, robbery, and weapon and drug possession. The record also showed he repeatedly was paroled, then returned to prison with parole violations.
Moore blamed his nephew for the slayings and said he tried to rescue the victims from the burning car. But he acknowledged holding them at gunpoint, ordering them hogtied and stuffed into the trunk of the car.
Anthony Moore pleaded guilty to two counts of murder under a plea agreement and is serving two life prison sentences.