Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, May 4, 1999

MEDIA ADVISORY:

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on

Jose De La Cruz who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 4, 1999.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Jose De La Cruz was convicted for the capital offense of the intentional murder of Domingo Rosas in the course of committing robbery. The murder occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas on or about June 1, 1987.

On federal habeas review, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit summarized the facts surrounding the offense as follows:

[Ten] years ago, Jose De La Cruz stabbed Domingo Rosas to death. [A pathologist testified that Rosas had been stabbed six times and, after he was dead, his neck had been broken]. The Friday night before the murder De La Cruz was a guest in Rosas' home and played a drinking game called "quarters" with Rosas until early Saturday morning. After leaving Rosas' home, De La Cruz returned and killed Rosas in order to steal Rosas' television, VCR and stereo, a theft which yielded him approximately $80.

De La Cruz was observed Saturday morning driving around with a television in his car. Later that day, De La Cruz and his friend Michael Rios tried to sell a television to Michael's uncle, Joe Rios. Joe Rios declined but directed the pair to Ray and Irma Flores, who paid De La Cruz $80 for Rosas' belongings.

Later that night, De La Cruz was arrested for public intoxication. The arresting officer found De La Cruz staggering in the road, near a borrowed car that De La Cruz had run into a ditch. De La Cruz smelled like paint and seemed intoxicated. The officer placed De La Cruz in the patrol car. Inside the ditched car, the officer discovered a large blood-stained knife and a bottle of medicine prescribed to Rosas. When the officer returned to the patrol car, De La Cruz volunteered that the knife was his and repeatedly asked whether it would be returned. De La Cruz then announced at his booking that he was Domingo Rosas, the victim.

De La Cruz was released from jail, only to be arrested again a few days later. This time, De La Cruz entered Rosas' bank and attempted to withdraw money using Rosas' bank identification card. The bank, knowing that Rosas was dead, notified the police, and De La Cruz was arrested on suspicion of murder.

After his arrest for Rosas' murder, De La Cruz told his trial counsel that he did not commit the murder, but had delivered the stolen property to a "fence." Counsel explained that the state might be willing to arrange a plea agreement if De La Cruz could recover the stolen property. Counsel also explained that any deal with the state would be unenforceable unless De La Cruz was being truthful about his role. Thereafter, and without finalizing any plea agreement, De La Cruz led police to some of the stolen property, which was recovered with De La Cruz' fingerprints. In addition to the stolen television, the state produced overwhelming evidence of De La Cruz' guilt at trial. For example, De La Cruz' clothing and the knife recovered from the ditched car were both stained with type-A blood, the same blood type as Rosas. Moreover, blood spatters on De La Cruz' pants indicated that the wearer had forcefully stabbed a seated victim. . . .

De La Cruz' victim, Rosas, was disabled at the time he was murdered. Rosas had been pierced through the face and into the brain with a television antennae at the age of three. As a result, Rosas was partially paralyzed on his right side and was unable to walk well without a leg brace. Rosas was required to take daily medication to control spasms in his right side and suffered a mental impairment, having the mental and emotional constitution of a teenager. Finally, although Rosas was able to perform occasional work in his mother's restaurant, he collected social security benefits and required a significant amount of daily care from his sister and mother in order to survive. . . .

Additionally, after he had been convicted and sentenced to death, De La Cruz told reporters in a videotaped interview that he had committed the offense and that, if it were up to him, he would be executed immediately.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

De La Cruz was charged in Nueces County, Texas, with the capital offense of murder in the course of robbery. Following a jury trial on the merits, De La Cruz was found guilty as charged on June 6, 1988. After hearing additional evidence relating to punishment in a separate hearing, the jury affirmatively answered the two special issues presented. and in accordance with Texas law, a death sentence was imposed.

De La Cruz appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed his conviction and sentence on March 11, 1992. The United States Supreme Court denied De La Cruz' petition for writ of certiorari on October 5, 1992.

De La Cruz filed his first application for habeas relief in state court on December 28, 1993. On February 2, 1995, the trial court entered a memorandum order finding the application to be without merit. On March 1, 1995, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied De La Cruz' application for writ of habeas corpus relief, stating that it had reviewed the record and determined that it supported the findings and conclusions entered by the trial court.

De La Cruz then filed a petition for federal habeas relief on February 29, 1996. After an evidentiary hearing held on March 19, 1997, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, denied relief on March 25, 1997. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief on January 22, 1998. The United States Supreme Court denied De La Cruz' petition for writ of certiorari on June 22, 1998.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the state reintroduced all of the evidence presented at the guilt or innocence phase of trial and presented additional evidence that De La Cruz had a prior conviction for burglary.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL

There was evidence of alcohol or drug use prior to and after the commission of the offense.

SCHEDULED EXECUTIONS

05/05/99 Clydell Coleman (McClennan County)

06/01/99 William Hamilton Little (Liberty County)

06/09/99 Billy Wayne Coble (McLennan County)

06/17/99 Joseph Stanley Faulder (Angelina County)

07/01/99 Emanuel Kemp (Tarrant County)

07/01/99 Charles Daniel Tuttle (Smith County)

07/13/99 Spencer Corey Goodman (Fort Bend County)

08/05/99 Charles Anthony Boyd (Dallas County)

08/18/99 Joe Mario Trevino (Tarrant County)

09/14/99 William Prince Davis (Harris County)

MISCELLANEOUS

If this execution is carried out, it will be the 175th execution since executions resumed in Texas in December 1982 and the 11th since General Cornyn took office.

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050