The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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October 31, 2012

Louisiana man dies for 2003 murder

HUNTSVILLE — A Louisiana ex-con who fatally shot his girlfriend and took items from her home in Polk County to support his drug habit eight years ago, was executed Wednesday night.

Donnie Lee Roberts was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Vicki Bowen in 2003. Before he lethal injection Wednesday, he told her family he was sorry and hoped that he met Bowen in the afterlife so he could tell her the same.

He was pronounced dead at 6:39 p.m., 23 minutes after the lethal dose began. Roberts was the 12th inmate to be executed in Texas this year.

“I am truly sorry. I never meant to cause y’all so much pain,” Roberts said. “Not one day as passed that I wish I could take it back. After today, I hope you can go on. I hope this brings you closure. God knows I didn’t want to do what I did, I loved your daughter. I hope to God he lets me see her in heaven so I can apologize to her.”

The United States Supreme Court refused to review Robert’s case earlier this week and no other appeals were filed to halt the execution Wednesday.

At the time of his arrest for the October 2003 killing, Roberts had violated his probation for a robbery conviction in Louisiana by fleeing to Texas after dropping out of a drug treatment program.

Authorities said he apparently met Bowen, a dental assistant, at a bar and moved in with her at her home on Lake Livingston. Their relationship soured because Roberts wasn’t working and was abusing drugs and alcohol, investigators said, and he shot Bowen after she refused his demand for money.

Roberts was arrested at a suspected crack house in Livingston when a truck missing from Bowen’s home was spotted there the same day Bowen’s body was discovered.

“He was cooperative and confessed several times,” District Attorney Lee Hon said. “He was saying he wanted the death penalty.”

Roberts told authorities he made several trips from the house where Bowen was shot, collecting property that he took into town to sell and trade for crack.

He also surprised detectives by confessing to the shotgun death of a man that happened a decade earlier in Natchitoches Parish, La. Louisiana authorities initially believed the victim, Al Crow, had died of asphyxiation in a fire at the camper trailer where he was living but reopened the case following Roberts’ disclosure, found shotgun pellets and determined it was a homicide.

Roberts was charged with murder but not tried for Crow’s death.

Bowen didn’t show up for work on Oct. 16, 2003, and a co-worker who went to check on her found her body wrapped in a blanket and lying in a pool of blood. A medical examiner determined Bowen was killed with two gunshots to her head.

Roberts took the witness stand and tried to blame Bowen for the gunfire, saying he was acting in self-defense by grabbing a .22-caliber rifle after seeing her reach down inside a couch to locate a pistol that was kept there.

Evidence at trial showed Roberts had a record for battery while being held in jail in Fulton County, Ga., that he’d threatened his wife to give him money for drugs, and that he warned there would be another killing if he didn’t get a single-person cell in Polk County when he was jailed for Bowen’s murder.

His robbery conviction in Louisiana was for a Mother’s Day 2001 convenience store holdup in Baton Rouge, La., where the knife-wielding Roberts threatened to slice the throat of the female clerk.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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