Pursuant to a court order by the 297th District Court of Tarrant County, Christopher Chubasco Wilkins is scheduled for execution after 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
In March 2008, a Tarrant County jury found Wilkins guilty of the murders of Mike Silva and Willie Freeman. Below is a summary of the evidence presented at trial.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adequately summarized the facts of the offense in its opinion on direct appeal:
[Wilkins] gave statements to authorities that described his murders of Willie Freeman and Mike Silva. Freeman was a homeless man who lived in Fort Worth. Silva lived outside of Fort Worth, but traveled into the city to purchase drugs. Freeman would show Silva where to buy drugs, and Silva would share his purchases with Freeman.
In October 2005, [Wilkins] left a halfway house in Houston, stole a truck, and drove to Fort Worth. [Wilkins] happened upon Freeman, who offered to sell him some drugs. But Freeman and his supplier tricked [Wilkins] into buying a piece of gravel instead of a rock of cocaine. The men took $20 from [Wilkins] and laughed at him. So [Wilkins] decided to kill Freeman.
Over the next few weeks, Freeman and [Wilkins] used drugs together. Freeman apologized for stealing from [Wilkins] and gave him some drugs to make up for it.
On October 27, 2005, [Wilkins] told Freeman that he had some guns and drugs stashed on the west side of Fort Worth. Silva agreed to drive Freeman and [Wilkins] in Silva’s vehicle. From the back seat, [Wilkins] directed Silva to an area on the west side of Fort Worth. When they arrived at a deserted stretch of road, [Wilkins] shot Freeman in the back of the head. Silva stopped the vehicle and tried to escape, but he got caught in his seatbelt. [Wilkins] shot him once in the neck and twice in the head. [Wilkins] then climbed into the driver’s seat and began driving with Silva’s body hanging outside the vehicle, still entangled in his seatbelt. [Wilkins] finally cut the seatbelt to remove Silva, and dumped the victims’ bodies in a ditch at the side of the road.
About a week later, after two high-speed police chases, Silva’s vehicle was recovered, and [Wilkins] was apprehended.
Wilkins v. State, No. 75,878, 2010 WL 4117677, at *1 (Tex. Crim. App. October 20, 2010).
On February 7, 2006, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Wilkins for the capital murders of Mike Silva and Willie Freeman.
On February 27, 2008, a Tarrant County jury convicted Wilkins of capital murder. After a separate punishment proceeding, Wilkins was sentenced to death on March 11, 2008.
On October 20, 2010, Wilkins’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on direct appeal.
Wilkins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on January 4, 2011. The Supreme Court denied review of his direct appeal proceeding on May 23, 2011.
On June 8, 2010, Wilkins filed an application for state habeas corpus relief, which was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals on February 2, 2011.
On May 22, 2012, Wilkins filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.
On January 29, 2013, the district court denied Wilkins’s request for federal habeas relief.
On July 29, 2013, Wilkins appealed the district court’s decision to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After oral argument was heard on March 11, 2014, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and denied Wilkins’s request for a certificate of appealability (COA) in an unpublished opinion dated March 25, 2014.
Wilkins filed a second petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on September 8, 2014. The Supreme Court denied review on February 23, 2015.
On July 6, 2015, the state trial court issued an order setting Wilkins’s execution date for October 28, 2015.
On September 2, 2015, Wilkins returned to federal district court and simultaneously filed a motion to stay the execution date and a motion for funding to help develop a clemency petition. Both motions were denied by the district court on September 18, 2015.
On September 21, 2015, the state trial court withdrew Wilkins’s execution date at the request of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
Despite the withdrawal of his execution date, Wilkins appealed the district court’s denial of clemency funding to the Fifth Circuit on December 14, 2015. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of funding in a published opinion dated August 10, 2016.
On September 21, 2016, the state trial court issued an order resetting Wilkins’s execution date for January 11, 2017.
On October 25, 2016, Wilkins filed a motion to stay the mandate in the Fifth Circuit. This motion was denied on November 2, 2016.
Wilkins filed his third petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on December 1, 2016.
On January 11, 2017, the Supreme Court denied Wilkins's motion for stay of execution and petition for writ of habeas corpus.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
In addition to the cold-blooded nature of the murders, the jury heard evidence from over twenty witnesses at the punishment phase of trial concerning Wilkins’s past criminal behavior and proclivity for violence. The State first linked Wilkins to the murder of Gilbert Vallejo, as well as numerous aggravated assaults, committed just prior to his arrest for the instant offense. He was also linked to—among other things—several robberies, a kidnapping, a high-speed chase, resisting arrest, and forgery. Wilkins was also less than a model prisoner while incarcerated, having made various shanks and handcuff keys, and having been involved in a prison fight that put another man in the hospital. In short, the evidence presented by the State demonstrating that Wilkins was a danger to society was simply overwhelming. This was only confirmed by Wilkins own testimony at punishment wherein he admitted to the three murders mentioned above, described them to the jury, and then admitted to trying to kill another man for allegedly stealing his sunglasses. Wilkins told the jury that his personal history and drug abuse had nothing to do with the crimes he committed, and admitted that he was raised by a good, decent family. He also claimed that his tattoos indicate that he is a Satan worshiper and a Nazi, and confessed that he will always be trying to escape from prison, even on death row.
For additional information and statistics, please access the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.