Texas Killer Could Be Nation’s First To Be Executed in 2017

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Illustration by Donkeyhotey via Flickr

A man convicted in a 2005 double murder over fake drugs is set to be executed tonight, the first person this year in Texas and the U.S., reports the Texas Tribune. Christopher Wilkins, now 48, shot and killed Willie Freeman and Mike Silva in Fort Worth because Freeman had sold him gravel, claiming it was cocaine, and laughed at him for it. After continuing to do drugs with Freeman for a few weeks afterward, Silva was driving the men to pick up guns when Wilkins shot them both from the backseat, then stole the car. “I’ve been in the game long enough. We rob each other all the time. That’s what we do,” Wilkins said in his trial. “But he didn’t have to go ahead and sit there and laugh at me.”

He was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2008 after claiming he was “undecided” on whether the jury should put him to the needle or in prison for life. “You tell the judge, get a rope or not,” he told jurors. His attorneys are seeking to stop the execution and have courts further review his case, partially because his previous appellate lawyer accepted a job with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office while still representing him. “The real issue in the case is that he was represented in a critical stage of the process by an attorney who failed to investigate the case and who had agreed to go to work for the District Attorney’s office, the same office who put Mr. Wilkins on death row,” said Hilary Sheard, Wilkins’ current lawyer.

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