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Inmate Convicted of Killing 4 in Drug Robbery Executed in Texas

Texas has executed an inmate convicted more than 30 years ago of the drug-related murders of four people, including a woman who was nine months pregnant.

Arthur Brown Jr., 52, insisted he was innocent before receiving a lethal injection Thursday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He pleaded guilty to the June 1992 murder, which occurred during a drug robbery at a Houston home.

Authorities say Brown was part of a ring that made drug stops from Texas to Alabama and bought drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife, Rachel Tovar.

32-year-old Jose Tovar was killed during the drug robbery; his wife’s 17-year-old son Frank Farias; 19-year-old Jessica Quinones, the pregnant girlfriend of Rachel Tovar’s other son; and 21-year-old neighbor Audrey Brown. All four were tied up and shot in the head. Rachel Tovar and another were shot but survived.

“I don’t see how someone could kill a pregnant woman and then cause her so much pain. It’s just beyond words,” Quiones’ older sister, Maricela Quiones, said before the execution.

Brown was the fifth inmate executed in Texas this year and the ninth in the U.S. His execution was the second in Texas this week. another prisoner, Gary GreenHe was executed on Tuesday for the murders of his estranged wife and his young daughter.


FILE – This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Arthur Brown Jr.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP

Brown was defiant in his final statement.

“What’s happening here tonight is not justice,” he said. “It’s the killing of another innocent man.”

He said he had proven his innocence “but the court blocked me.”

“The state hid the evidence so long and so well that my own attorneys couldn’t find it,” he said aloud, staring up at the ceiling of the death chamber while strapped to a gurney and not making eye contact with one half. -Dozens of relatives of his victims who watched from windows a few feet from him.

As the lethal dose of sedative pentobarbital took effect, he took two deep breaths, gasped and then began snoring. After six snorts all movement ceases. He was pronounced dead 17 minutes later, at 6:37

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who was among the witnesses at the execution, disputed Brown’s innocence claim.

“He has been the beneficiary of a justice system that has backfired at the local, state and federal levels, all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction and sentence,” he said.

Three members of Jessica Quinone’s family, including her mother, were among the witnesses and released a statement saying the day was not one of joy or celebration but of “deep relief and gratitude.”

“After 30 years of pain and uncertainty, we can finally rest assured that the monster that has destroyed so many lives will never again torment the body or soul of another,” they said.

On Thursday, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Brown’s attorneys to stay the execution. They argued that Brown was exempt from the death penalty because he was intellectually disabled, a claim disputed by prosecutors. High Court bans death penalty for mentally challenged.

“Mr. Brown’s intellectual limitations were known to his friends and family. … People who knew Mr. Brown during his lifetime consistently described him as ‘slow,'” his attorneys wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.

One of Brown’s accomplices in the shooting, Marion Dudley, was executed in 2006. A third accomplice was sentenced to life in prison.

Brown, who is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has long maintained that someone else committed the murder.

Brown’s attorneys had previously filed other appeals rejected by lower courts. They argued that he was innocent and that a witness actually implicated another suspect. They also claim that Brown’s conviction was racially biased, alleging that one of the jurors decided he was guilty because he was black.

A Houston judge on Tuesday denied a request by Brown’s attorneys for DNA testing that they said could exonerate their client.

Josh Reiss, chief of the Post-Conviction Writs Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston, called Brown’s last-minute appeal a delaying tactic.

Reiss said school records submitted at Brown’s trial showed the inmate was initially considered intellectually disabled in third grade, which was no longer the case in ninth grade. The prosecutor also said Brown’s claims of innocence were problematic because investigators found the other suspected killer was not in Houston at the time.

“This was an absolutely brutal massacre,” Reyes said, adding, “These families deserve justice.”

Marisela Quinones said her sister was an innocent victim who didn’t know the Tovars were dealing drugs out of the home. He said his mother blamed the Tovars for what happened.

“My mother hasn’t been the same since my sister died,” she said.

She described her sister as a “very loving, caring person” who was looking forward to being a mother.

He said his family will likely never have closure.

“We lost both of us. Alyssa never had a chance at life,” she said, referring to her sister’s unborn child.

Brown was one of six Texas death row inmates who joined a lawsuit seeking to stop the state’s prison system from using expired and unsafe execution drugs. Five of the inmates have been executed this year, despite an Austin civil court judge initially agreeing to the demand.

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