Patrick Murphy, Texas

Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the stay of Texas 7 member Patrick Murphy, Jr.  Patrick had previously been granted a stay based on concerns that his religious rights are being violated in the lead up to the execution.  The appeal is similar to a one filed earlier this year that resulted in all spiritual advisors being banned from the execution chamber.  Now the dispute is concerned with the availability of spiritual advisors in the lead up to the execution.  Texas could appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Updated: Monday, November 11, 2019

Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., was scheduled to be executed on 6 pm CDT, on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.  His execution has been stayed. Fifty-eight-year-old Patrick has been convicted in the murder 29-year-old Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins on December 24, 2000, in Irving, Texas. Patrick has spent the last 15 years on death row in Texas.

Patrick had a very difficult childhood. His mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol and would frequently abandoned Patrick with relatives without warning. He lacked a stable male role model in his life growing up, and was physically abused by his mother, beginning around the age of four. For a large part of his early life, Patrick lacked basic hygiene and manners. Patrick dropped out of school after the 9th grade, however, while in prison, he earned his GED and has completed several hours of college credits. Prior to his arrest, Patrick served in the military and worked as a carpenter, laborer, and maintenance worker. As an adult, Patrick was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and given a 50 year prison sentence.

In December of 2000, Patrick was serving his time at the John B. Connally Unit, a maximum security state prison near Kenedy, Texas. With approximately one a half years until his release on mandatory parole, Patrick conspired with six other inmates - 38-year-old Donald Newbury, 23-year-old Randy Ethan Halprin, 37-year-old Larry James Harper, 39-year-old Joseph C. Garcia, 30-year-old George Rivas, and 38-year-old Michael Anthony Rodriguez - to break out of the prison. The group, led by George Rivas, became known as the “Texas 7.”  All were serving sentences of 30 years or longer, most with potential life sentences.


On December 13, 2000, around 11:20 am, the seven inmates used a variety of ploys to overpower and restrain nine civilian maintenance supervisors, four correctional officers, and three uninvolved inmates. They had planned the escape for the slowest part of the day and in areas with low surveillance. They stole a white prison truck to assist in their escape, eventually dumping it in a Wal-Mart parking lot.


After their escape, the group of seven fled to San Antonio, Texas. On December 14, they robbed a Radio Shack in Pearland to obtain money. On December 19, four of the seven checked into an Econo Lodge motel in Farmers Branch. They decided, once again needing money, to rob Oshman’s Sporting Goods store in Irving, a nearby town. For several days they cased the store and created their plans.


On December 24, 2000, they held up to store, stealing 44 guns and over $70,000 in cash, with Murphy outside acting as lookout and getaway driver. A customer outside the store saw the hold up and called police. Murphy heard the report through his police scanner and warned the others that the police were coming, and when they arrived. Murphy was waiting in a vehicle out front, while the police officer drove around back. Shortly thereafter, one of the men told Murphy to leave and meet the group at the agreed upon location. When Murphy met up with the other men, they informed him that they had shot a police officer.


Officer Aubrey Hawkins was the police officer that responded to the call. He was immediately ambushed, suffering 11 gunshot wounds from at least five different weapons. His body was dragged out of his vehicle and run over by the group as they fled the scene.


The Texas 7 were eventually arrested on January 22, 2001, with the help of the television show America’s Most Wanted, which featured their story on January 20, 2001. Six of seven were captured. The seventh, Larry Harper, killed himself before he could be arrested. All six surviving members were charged, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Hawkins. As it was unclear who actually shot Officer Hawkins, they were convicted under the Law of Parties, which allows for a person to be criminally held responsible for another’s actions if that person acts with “the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense and solicits, encourages, directs aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense… If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirator are guilty of the felony actually committed.”


The ringleader, George Rivas was executed on February 29, 2012. Michael Anthony Rodriguez was executed on August 14, 2008, after asking that his appeals be stopped. Donald Newbury was executed on February 4, 2015. Joseph Garcia was executed on December 4, 2018.


Patrick Murphy was scheduled to be executed on Thursday, March 28, 2019. Patrick’s execution was stayed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Patrick is a practicing Buddhist and requested to have his Buddhist spiritual advisor in the execution chamber with him during his execution. Texas denied the request, however they do allow Christian and Muslim spiritual advisors. The Supreme Court of the United States agreed with Patrick, that his rights had ben violated and granted a stay of execution. Since his stay, Texas no longer allows any spiritual advisors of any faith to be with the inmates in the execution chamber.  


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected a request to halt the Patrick's execution.  Patrick was arguing that he should not be considered eligible for execution because he was the getaway driver and not a major participant in the shooting of Officer Aubrey Hawkins.  Patrick also argued that the judge at his trial was bias against him.


A federal judge for the Southern District of Texas, U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks has granted Patrick a stay of execution.  Judge Hanks granted the stay on grounds of religious discrimination.  Patrick argued that his religious rights are again being discriminated against because he cannot have a Buddhist spiritual advisor with him in the lead up to the execution.  Patrick stated that he felt pressured by the clergy provided by the prison to convert to Christianity before his execution.  The clergy allowed to be with the inmates prior to the execution are employed by the prison, whereas the Buddhist spiritual advisor is not.  Texas argues that non prison employees are not allowed into the death chamber due to security reasons.  Judge Hanks agreed with Patrick that only inmates of certain faiths were being provided spiritual support prior to their executions.  In his ruling, Judge Hanks proposed ending “denominational discrimination” by “ending all contact with all clergy at the same hour for all inmates or [by] allowing all inmates equal access to their chosen spiritual advisors before they enter the death chamber.”  Texas is appealing the ruling.


Please pray for peace for the families of Aubrey Hawkins and Miguel Luna. Please pray for strength for the family of Patrick Murphy. Please pray that if Patrick is innocent, lacks the competence to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Patrick may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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