Erick Davila

Erick Davila

Death row inmate scheduled for execution files appeal claiming he was high at time of slaying

With weeks to go before his scheduled execution, defense lawyers for Erick Davila are arguing that he should be spared death because he was high at the time of the slaying and didn’t intend to kill more than one person.

The Fort Worth man was convicted of killing a rival gang member’s mother and a 5-year-old girl at a children’s birthday party in 2008. He was sentenced to death in 2009 and is slated for execution on April 25. But his lawyers have long argued that Annette and Queshawn Stevenson were not his intended victims, according to court filings.

Instead, lawyers say in a Tarrant County court filing, he was aiming for rival gang member Jerry Stevenson. When he opened fire on a children’s birthday party, he missed his mark – in part due to bad vision, lawyers say – and killed a grandmother and young child instead.

He was sent to death row for killing more than one person – but his attorney, Seth Kretzer, says he only meant to kill the one. And killing just one person is not necessarily a death-eligible crime.

“The jury never learned that at the time of the shooting Davila was heavily intoxicated, likely to the degree that it would have rendered him temporarily insane,” Kretzer wrote in a court filing.

In February, lawyers questioning Davila’s codefendent learned that the convicted triggerman was on a cocktail of PCP, weed, and ecstasy the day of the crime.

“The fact that Davila was high on such powerful chemicals at the time of the shooting would have been the perfect compliment to Davila’s defense that he did not intend to harm any women or children,” Kretzer wrote.

But, he argued, due to bad jury instructions, the jury didn’t realize that they needed to find Davila intended to kill two people to find him guilty of capital murder in the case presented. Defense lawyers at the time failed to raise the issue.

Now, in a petition filed last week requesting a stay, Kretzer raises claims from bad lawyering to withheld evidence to bad jury instruction and targets Texas’s capital sentencing scheme as unconstitutional.

 

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