Pursuant to a court order by the 184th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Derrick Dewayne Charles is scheduled for execution after 6:00 p.m. on May 12, 2015.
In 2003, Charles pled guilty to murdering fifteen-year-old Myeshia Bennett, her mother, Brenda Bennett, and Brenda’s father, seventy-seven-year-old Obie Bennett during the same criminal transaction.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit of the United States described the facts surrounding Charles’ murder of Myeshia and Brenda Bennett and Brenda’s father Obie Bennett as follows:
Derrick Charles pled guilty to the murders of fifteen-year-old Myeshia Bennett, her mother, Brenda Bennett, and Brenda’s father, seventy-seven-year-old Obie Bennett. The facts are as follows: Brenda had last been seen on the evening of July 2, 2002, when she attended Bible study with Myeshia. The Reverend Charles Taylor, Brenda’s next-door neighbor, saw her car in the driveway around 9:30 on the evening of July 2nd, but it was gone the next day.
On the morning of July 6th––after Mae Bennett Hall, Brenda’s sister had not been able to reach Brenda for three days––Mae drove over to Brenda’s house. As Mae approached the house, she noticed three newspapers––“two discolored, one that was just delivered”––laying in the yard, and she “noticed the smell.” No one answered the door, and she could not see that anyone was home. Mae also noticed that Brenda’s car was not in the driveway. After leaving and discussing the matter with her brother, Mae returned to the house, and again, no one answered when she knocked. Mae then went to her oldest daughter’s home, and the two went back to Brenda’s house together. By this time, the police had been called.
Once officers gained entrance to the home, Brenda’s body was found first. She had been bound and gagged; her pants and underwear had been cut off, and her mouth had been taped shut. A cord was wrapped around her neck. Myeshia’s body was discovered in one of the bedrooms. Her hands had been tied behind her back, and officers also believed she had been gagged at one point because a gag with duct tape on it was found in the room. Obie was found in the kitchen; an electrical cord was wrapped around his neck.
After initially denying any involvement, Charles was told that his bloody clothes had been found at his parents’ home, and he then gave a detailed confession. Everything in his statement was corroborated by the physical evidence.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
The federal district court summarized Charles’s prior criminal behavior:
While a juvenile, the police arrested Charles several times. His prior crimes included trespass of an apartment, assault, fighting with police officers, several incidents of burglary, theft, and threatening teachers. While in Texas Youth Commission (TYC) custody his numerous rule violations resulted [in] more than one hundred write-ups and confinement in lock-down twenty-two times. At TYC he bragged about selling dope, threatened staff, fought with other students, and received a “chronic serious offender” classification. Upon his release, he failed to attend weekly parole appointments. After serving time in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for burglary of a habitation, Charles met with his parole officer only once.
On March 11, 2003, a Harris County jury indicted Charles for the capital murders of fifteen-year-old Myeshia Bennett, her mother, Brenda Bennett, and Brenda’s father, seventy-seven-year-old Obie Bennett.
On May 14, 2003 having pled guilty to charges of capital murder, Charles was sentenced to death.
On February 2, 2005, Charles’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on direct appeal.
Charles’s application for state habeas relief was denied on February 27, 2008, by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Charles filed petition for federal habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The federal district court denied Charles’s petition on October 24, 2011. The Fifth Circuit rejected Charles’s appeal on November 18, 2013, and affirmed the district court’s denial of habeas relief. A petition for certiorari review filed in the United States Supreme Court was denied on October 6, 2014.
On November 10, 2014, the 184th Judicial District Court of Harris County scheduled Charles’s execution for May 12, 2015.
On March 10, 2015, Pruett filed a petition for a writ of certiorari. The petition remains pending.
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.