Second-to-last 'Texas 7' escapee gets March execution date
The second-to-last surviving 'Texas 7' escapee now has a date with death.
Patrick Murphy, who was convicted under the controversial law of parties after playing lookout during a deadly store robbery, is scheduled for execution March 28, according to Texas prison spokesman Jeremy Desel.
News of the grim date comes less than a week after the Lone Star State put to death Joseph Garcia, another member of the break-out crew.
After months of planning, on Dec. 13, 2000, the seven men banded together to pull off the biggest prison escape in Texas history.
George Rivas, a charismatic thief already serving 17 life sentences, was the ringleader who plotted the break-out from the unit just 60 miles south of San Antonio.
Together, they overpowered a maintenance supervisor and tied up civilian workers as hostages. Two of the gang dressed up as prison workers to sneak into the armory where they took down another employee and seized control of the guard tower.
Then, they loaded up with weapons and supplies and drove out the gate of the Connally Unit in a stolen prison truck.
After orchestrating two robberies in Houston, they headed up to the Dallas area.
There, on Christmas Eve, the men held up an Oshman's sporting goods store in Irving and made off with $70,000 and 44 guns. But before they left, they ran into a cop.
In a chaotic scene, five of the men started firing. When it was over, Officer Aubrey Hawkins lay dead in the Oshman's parking lot, shot 11 times and dragged 10 feet by an SUV as the panicked prisoners fled.
Rivas later admitted to shooting the officer. But Murphy was on the other side of the building as the lookout and, while he warned the others when Hawkins arrived, there was no indication he ever fired a shot.
After a six-figure reward and a spot on "America's Most Wanted," the wanted men were finally captured in Colorado more than a month later, living in a trailer park and posing as Christian pilgrims.
One of the escapees - Larry Harper - killed himself before police could get him. The rest were sent to death row, where four have since been executed.
Only Randy Halprin is still alive on death row with Murphy, who was serving a 50-year-sentence for aggravated sexual assault at the time of the break-out.
In the years since his conviction, Murphy has lobbed appeals raising claims of sub-par lawyering and challenging his conviction under the law of parties, which can hold non-shooters as responsible as the triggerman.
The Lone Star State has executed 12 men this year, and one more - Alvin Braziel - is scheduled to die Tuesday. Including Murphy's death date, there are six executions scheduled so far for 2019.