The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

July 19, 2006

Gang member executed for slaying

Killer of 5-year-old Amarillo girl to die tonight

Tori Brock

Mauriceo Brown gave an apology Tuesday night before his execution, but it wasn’t to express remorse for the killing for which he was convicted.

“To the victim’s family, I am sorry you lost a brother, loved one and friend,” he said. “To my family, I love you all. Keep your heads up and know I will be in a better place.”

Brown’s mother, Cynthia Luckey, watched through a window in the death chamber as her son spoke.

“Jesus,” she said. “I love you. Don’t do this.”

As Brown completed his statement, he began to gasp, drawing his final breath.

“God loves you, God loves you, God loves you,” Luckey said.

Realizing her son had drawn his final breath, Luckey collapsed against the death chamber window separating she and Brown. Falling to the floor, she began to sob.

“Why didn’t they give him another chance,” she wailed, as two of her children comforted her. “He was not guilty.”

Luckey’s daughter, Tameka Luckey, comforted her mother and helped her to her feet.

“He’s just resting,” Tameka said. “He’s just sleeping.”

Brown’s mother replied, “Look at his eyes. They’re not closed.”

Continuing to cry, Luckey and her family were escorted out of the death chamber early.

Brown was pronounced dead at 6:47 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal dose began. He was convicted in the 1996 slaying of Michael LaHood Jr. in San Antonio.

LaHood was standing near his vehicle when approached by Brown and three accomplices. Brown pulled a pistol and demanded LaHood’s money and car keys. When he refused, Brown shot LaHood in the face. Brown was a known member of the Crips gang when he was arrested.

After Tuesday’s execution, Nico LaHood, Michael’s brother, gave a press conference.

“It was just,” LaHood said. “I didn’t regret coming up here or think it shouldn’t have happened.

“I don’t think a parent ever gets over losing a child,” he said. “I’m thinking of it in relation to our suffering. It wasn’t (his family’s) doing.”

Continuing to express remorse for Brown’s family, LaHood spoke about the pending execution of Kenneth Foster, a co-defendant in the case. When asked if he was looking forward to Foster’s execution, LaHood replied, “I don’t know if you look forward to something like this. I’m going to feel for his family, too.”

Brown, 31, confessed to the 1996 slaying of LaHood, 25, when he and three companions, high on marijuana and alcohol, were arrested about an hour after the shooting. The two others accomplices, including one who testified against Brown, received long prison terms.

The early morning attack capped a spree by the street gang members who called themselves the Hoover 94 Crips. At least four other people were robbed that night.

“They were out pretty much on a rampage, stoned to the bone, victimizing people,” said Jack McGinnis, one of the prosecutors in the cases against Brown and Foster. The two were tried together.

Brown was the 15th Texas prisoner executed this year in the nation’s busiest capital punishment state. His execution was the first of two scheduled for consecutive evenings this week in Huntsville.

Brown had been recanting his confession, saying his accomplices threatened his family if he didn’t take the fall for the slaying.

“That claim is preposterous,” said Mike Ramos, who was a Bexar County assistant district attorney in 1997 and also prosecuted Brown and Foster. “He has absolutely no credibility. Any court could see he has zip.”

In court before and during his trial, Brown also changed the circumstances of his confession, describing LaHood’s death as self-defense and also an accident. He also blamed one of the other men in the car with him for the shooting.

Brown, in a recent interview on death row, called his trial “a mockery based on a lie that I made a statement and everybody else made a statement that I was the shooter.”

“Even if his new story is true, that doesn’t say he’s not guilty of capital murder and deserving of the death penalty,” McGinnis said. “His new story doesn’t get him out of the woods. It gets him to where Foster is right now. They’re both equally dangerous.”

LaHood, however, commended Brown for making an apology.

“He made the effort,” he said. “Only God knows if he was sincere or not.”

Foster, Brown, Dwayne Dillard and Julius Steen were cruising San Antonio and robbing people when they spotted LaHood and his girlfriend driving and began following them, winding up at LaHood’s driveway about 2 a.m.

According to testimony, Brown jumped out, walked up to LaHood, demanded his car keys, then opened fire when LaHood couldn’t produce the keys. LaHood, shot through the eye, died instantly.

Less than an hour later, Foster was pulled over for speeding and driving erratically. All of them were on probation for earlier felonies and were arrested for LaHood’s death.

Brown blamed the shooting on Dillard, now serving life for killing a taxi driver across the street from the Alamo two weeks before LaHood was killed. Steen testified at Brown’s trial and received a life sentence in a plea bargain.

Brown testified the shooting was in self-defense, that he believed LaHood had a gun and that he heard it click. Authorities, however, never found another weapon near LaHood’s body.

Tonight, Robert Anderson, 40, faces execution for the 1993 slaying of a 5-year-old Amarillo girl who was abducted, sexually assaulted, beaten, choked and strangled before her body was stuffed into a cooler and thrown into a garbage container. Anderson has asked that no appeals be filed to stop his punishment.

The Associated Press contribute to this story.