By Michael Graczyk
Timothy Wayne Adams never denied fatally shooting his 19-month-old namesake son, leaving a Houston jury the task of considering only his punishment.
Jurors rejected his lawyers' arguments eight years ago for a life prison term and decided Adams, 42, should die.
The lethal injection, which would be the second in Texas this year, was set for Tuesday evening.
Adams' attorneys planned on filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday after last week both the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a request to recommend Gov. Rick Perry commute his sentence to life in prison and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed a request to review his case. The board also turned down a request for a four-month execution delay.
His lawyers have argued that Adams' sentence was unconstitutional and that the instructions to his trial jury were flawed. They also contend that his clean prison record belied the jurors' finding that Adams would be a future threat, one of the questions Texas jurors must decide when deliberating a death sentence.
Evidence showed Adams shot his son, Timothy Jr., twice at close range. Prosecutors said the slaying nine years ago this week was intended as retaliation against his wife because she was leaving him. Defense attorneys argued the killing was an aberration in an otherwise law-abiding life and that Adams also had intended to kill himself before friends and police talked him out of it.
Jane Waters, one of the Harris County prosecutors at the trial, said Adams told investigators that when the first shot didn't kill the child, he fired again.
"It was awful," she recalled. "He said he fired a second time because he didn't want his son to think he had a bad daddy.
"And I think that's where the jury said: 'OK. We can kill this guy.'"
Robert Loper, one of Adams' trial lawyers, said Adams pleaded guilty to show he was taking responsibility for his actions and hoped jurors would give him life in prison because he had no previous criminal record and wouldn't be a future danger.
"Absolutely what he did was horrible," Loper said. "That was his son. ... I'll argue for the rest of my life the jury made the wrong decision."
In earlier court appeals, Adams contended his trial lawyers had been deficient and failed to adequately address prosecution evidence and testimony that he said unfairly labeled him a baby killer and abusive spouse.
He was arrested Feb. 20, 2002, after a SWAT standoff at the family's southwest Houston apartment. Police had been called there repeatedly in the past but Adams never was arrested.
Testimony showed his wife had moved out after discovering he was keeping a gun in the apartment. She wanted to remove some of her belongings and Adams agreed not to be present when she showed up. Her 15-year-old son arrived first but Adams was there, confronted him with the gun, accused him of stealing a video game and complained about the boy's mother.
When his wife arrived, carrying 19-month-old Timothy Jr., he confronted her as she put down her child to help her older son.
The little boy ran to his father.
Adams' wife grabbed a phone and called 911. He pointed the gun at her and fired, missed her, then tried firing again but the weapon jammed. She and her older son ran outside without the baby. Police eventually convinced Adams to surrender. During an hours-long standoff, he held the child through a window to show he was OK but officers entering the apartment found the toddler dead with two bullet wounds to the chest. When police recovered the note he'd written earlier, the slain child's blood was on it.
A medical examiner testified the gun either had been close or against the baby's skin when the shots were fired. Both bullets went completely through his body.
"My wife was hurtin' me," he told detectives in a taped confession. "She was keeping him away from me. ... My parents couldn't even see my son.
"I was gonna take me and my son out."
In the clemency petition, Adams' relatives and supporters said he accepted responsibility for "an unspeakable act."