Pursuant to a court order by the 203rd District Court of Dallas County, Licho Escamilla is scheduled for execution on October 14, 2015 after 6:00 p.m.
On November 25, 2001, Licho Escamilla shot and killed Dallas Police Officer Christopher James, an on-duty peace officer. On October 31, 2002, the 351st District Court of Dallas County, Texas entered a judgment of conviction against Escamilla for capital murder and sentenced him to death. Pursuant to a district court order, Escamilla is scheduled for execution after 6:00 p.m. on October 14, 2015.
FACTS OF THE CRIME
In the early hours of November 25, 2001, Escamilla attempted to steal a vehicle from the valet stand at DMX, a local nightclub. Dallas Police Officers Christopher James and Clarence Lockett interrupted the theft. Before either uniformed officer could draw a weapon, Escamilla shot Officer Lockett in the forearm and Officer James in the hand, bringing them both to the ground. Before Escamilla fled the scene, he stood over the prostrate Officer James and, at arm’s length, shot him three times in the head killing him instantly. He committed this brutal murder in front of multiple witnesses. Officers Mark King and Lance Crawford, also working as club security that night, pursued Escamilla as he fled the scene, and the three exchanged gunfire. The officers wounded Escamilla once and captured him after he attempted to commandeer a passing vehicle. Escamilla made several incriminating and vulgar statements in the ambulance and hospital in front of multiple witnesses.
On October 31, 2002, Escamilla was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the 351st District Court of Dallas County, Texas. The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) affirmed the conviction and sentence on direct appeal in a published opinion on June 30, 2004. The Supreme Court denied his petition for certiorari on March 28, 2005. Escamilla then filed a state application for writ of habeas corpus alleging ten grounds for relief, including a claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present sufficient mitigating evidence during the punishment phase of trial (the IATC claim). Based on the district court’s extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, the CCA denied relief on October 10, 2007.
Escamilla pursued relief in federal habeas court. He filed a petition asserting, among other grounds for relief, the IATC claim. On March 26, 2012, the federal district court denied his claims, dismissed his federal habeas petition, and denied him a Certificate of Appealability (COA). The Fifth Circuit, however, issued a COA in a published opinion only for the IATC claim. After further briefing and oral arguments, the circuit court affirmed the district court’s denial of that claim and the dismissal of the federal petition on February 18, 2015.
On May 14, 2015, Escamilla filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court asserting only the IATC claim. We filed our brief in opposition on July 17th. The Court requested the records from the lower courts and set the case for conference on September 28th. This petition is still pending.
On June 18, 2015, the 203rd District Court of Dallas County entered an Execution Order and issued a Death Warrant setting Escamilla’s execution for October 14, 2015 after 6:00 p.m.