After four quiet months, the state of Texas is prepared to execute 11 inmates over the next four months.
Dexter Johnson is the next set to die, with an execution date set for Thursday at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. Johnson, a brain-damaged Houston man linked to five slayings during a month-long spree, was initially scheduled to die in May, but that was canceled by a federal judge after he was assigned a new attorney.”
Following the stay, prosecutors asking for another execution date, though Harris County Judge Greg Glass initially refused in light of a pending hearing in federal court that could have further drawn out the death row inmate’s appeals. The execution date would be set once again when a federal judge canceled that hearing.
Johnson, 30, was sentenced to death after the 2006 deaths of Maria Aparece and Huy Ngo in Houston. At 18, Johnson and four other teens carjacked and robbed the couple before taking them to a secluded area. According to court records, Johnson then raped Aparece before he and another teen shot them both.
State records claim that the deaths were part of a “25-day crime spree” by Johnson and others in which five people were murdered during robberies. Three co-defendants Alvie Butler, Keithron Fields and Ashley Ervin each received life sentences for the crime spree, while Timothy Randle was given a 25 year term.
According to prosecutors, Johnson shot Ngo in the head before murdering Aparece. It took investigators five days to figure out what happened, but by the time trial rolled around, the state had linked Johnson to a slew of robberies and killings, including the slaying of a man standing at a pay phone and the murder of man sitting inside his car.
Trial records show that Johnson’s defense team argued that it was someone else who took Ngo and Aparece into the woods and killed them — and Johnson has repeatedly maintained his innocence in the slayings.
Johnson’s longtime attorney Patrick McCann claimed his client had a low IQ and enough brain damage that he lacked the brain functioning to be held to the same standard of culpability as other adults.
“Mr. Johnson has significant brain damage that is at the root of this tragedy, and that same damage has made him unable to help his defense throughout this process,” McCann told the Houston Chronicle. “He has an actual hole in his brain where functional brain matter ought to exist.”