Update: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 8:16 pm EDT
Robert James Campbell's execution was schedule for Tuesday, May 13, 2014, at 6 pm CDT, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Forty-one-year-old Robert has been granted a stay of execution by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Robert is convicted of killing Alexandra Rendon on January 3, 1991, in Houston, Texas. Robert has spent the last 21 years on Texas' death row.
On Thursday, May 9, 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-4 against a request for an appeal by Robert. Robert was requesting that his execution be stayed due to inadequate legal representation. They also alleged that Robert is intellectually disabled and thereby ineligible for execution. Both claims were rejected.
District Judge Kenneth Ellison also rejected an appeal by Robert. Robert and his attorneys were requesting that his execution be stayed because Texas refuses to release the source of the execution drugs in order to protect the compounding pharmacy from harassments and threats. In the appeal, Robert and his attorneys cited the recent and controversial fulfillment of the execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett. Judge Ellison rejected this appeal due to a previous ruling by a higher court. In his opinion, Judge Ellison urged the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider their ruling shielding drug makers. Robert appealed Judge Ellison's decision to the 5th Circuit, which also denied the stay.
On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, hours before Robert was scheduled to be executed, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of execution for Robert. Robert and his attorneys allege that Robert is intellectually disabled and evidence of his intellectually disability was purposefully hidden by prosecutors and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The 5th Circuit wrote, "Campbell and his attorneys have not had a fair opportunity to develop Campbell's claim of ineligibility ... Campbell must be given such an opportunity." There is no word yet on whether the Texas Attorney General plans to appeal this ruling.
Robert completed his education through 10th grade before dropping out of school. Robert's mother claimed that Robert was a good child who did not often get into trouble. During his childhood, Robert did yard work with his friends, played baseball and basketball, and went to church, where he sang in the choir. Robert claims that he was abused as a child and that his original trial attorneys did not investigate his childhood. Prior to his arrest, Robert worked as a laborer. In April of 1990, Robert received a 5-year sentence for robbery. He was paroled in August of 1990. Around the time of Alexandra's murder, Robert also participated in two other car jackings. In both cases, Robert approached the people as they were getting into their cars, abducted them, and took them to remote locations. In one case, Robert shot at the person twice but missed both times. In the other case, Robert's accomplice talked him out of his plan to shoot the female victim and drown her son.
Alexandra Rendon left Bank One, where she worked, during the late morning of January 3, 1991. She stopped at a Chevron station to get gas. The next day, January 4, Alexandra's mother realized that she was missing and called the police.
Ten days later, on January 14, police brought Lawrence Thomas to the police station for questioning. Lawrence told police that his friend of three years, Robert Campbell, had told him that he and another man had kidnapped a woman in her car. They drove her to a field, where they shot and killed her. On January 15, Lawrence took police to the field where Campbell told him he had shot the woman. Police found Alexandra's body and arrested Campbell on January 16, 1991.
Several items that Alexandra was known to have been wearing were found with Campbell's friends and family. Additionally, the gun used to shoot Alexandra was given to one of Campbell's friends to hold on to. Campbell had also confessed to his friends that after driving her to the field, he told her to "run [expletive] run." He then shot at her twice, missing her the first time.
From Alexandra's body, investigators were able to determine that she had been raped by Campbell and his accomplice, Leroy Lewis.
Following the execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, this reporter reached out to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to determine what, if any, impact it would have on Robert's executions. In an e-mailed statement from Robert Hurst, Public Information Officer, this reporter was informed that the "TDCJ does not have plans to change its execution protocol based upon the Oklahoma incident. The Oklahoma incident does not appear to be related to the choice of drugs." Additionally, Texas uses different drugs for its executions, relying on pentobarbital, as opposed to Oklahoma's 3-drug protocol.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Alexandra Rendon. Please pray for strength for the family of Robert. Please pray that Robert may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.