Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Wednesday, February 7, 2001

MEDIA ADVISORY

Adolph Gil Hernandez Scheduled To Be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Adolph Gil Hernandez who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 8th.

On January 31, 1990, Hernandez was convicted of murdering Elizabeth Alvarado in Slaton, Texas, during the course of a robbery. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On the evening of September 30, 1988, Hernandez and his friend Mike Martinez went to the home of Margarita Davila in Slaton, Texas, with an eight-pack of beer. The three drank the beer, and Hernandez played baseball with Davila's young son. At about 7:30 p.m., Hernandez and Martinez left Davila's home to buy more beer. As he was leaving, Hernandez picked up the baseball bat. Davila told him not to take the bat, but he did so anyway. Davila and Martinez both testified that when Hernandez left Davila's home, he was not drunk.

Hernandez purchased a six-pack of beer, and he and Martinez went to the home of Kenneth Hodges, where they shared the six-pack with Hodges and another individual. Eventually, Hernandez and Martinez left Hodges' home. Hernandez and Martinez walked together for a short time, then split up. Martinez testified that when the two parted company Hernandez was not drunk.

At about 9 p.m., Hernandez arrived at the home of a young boy who lived with his grandmother near Elizabeth Alvarado's residence. Upon hearing a knock at the front door, the boy looked out the window to see who was there. Unable to see who it was, the boy opened the door. He then recognized Hernandez and asked him what he wanted. Hernandez swung the baseball bat at the boy, who was able to deflect the blow by closing the screen door. Hernandez ran off in the general direction of the home of Elizabeth Alvarado, the victim. On cross-examination, the boy stated that he did not smell alcohol on Hernandez at the time of this attack.

Josie Vargas, Alvarado's adult daughter, arrived at Alvarado's home shortly thereafter. Vargas was accompanied by her nephew. As they drove into the driveway, Vargas and her nephew saw Hernandez emerge from the kitchen door with Alvarado's purse and a baseball bat. Vargas immediately recognized Hernandez as she had known him almost her entire life. Hernandez ran back inside the house and came out the front door, approaching Vargas asking if she was alone. (Vargas had exited her car while her nephew remained in the car.) Hernandez then raised the bloody bat over his head as if he intended to hit her. Vargas grabbed the bat, and they struggled over control of it. Vargas wrestled the bat away from Hernandez, and Hernandez ran off with Alvarado's purse. Vargas hit Hernandez three times with the bat as he fled. The bat that Vargas recovered from Hernandez was identified by Davila's son as his.

Vargas and her nephew entered Alvarado's house where they found her beaten beyond recognition. Alvarado may have been still alive at this point because both Vargas and her nephew testified that Alvarado was making gurgling noises as they waited for the emergency medical personnel to arrive. Although medical technicians attempted to initiate life support procedures, Alvarado was declared dead upon arrival at Lubbock General Hospital.

An autopsy revealed that Alvarado was killed by being hit about the head with a blunt object. Alvarado had lacerations on her head and a broken nose, as well as a depressed skull fracture. Alvarado sustained eight blows to the head and suffered a massive subdural hemorrhage. Additionally, both bones in Alvarado's right wrist were broken by impact from a blunt instrument. The pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that injuries as intense as those sustained by Alvarado must have been inflicted by blunt force and were consistent with use of a baseball bat. Alvarado was 69 years old at the time of her murder.

Not more than an hour after Alvarado was found beaten to death, authorities found Hernandez and apprehended him. Hernandez did not have the black baseball cap he had been seen wearing earlier in the evening as well as during his encounter with Vargas, nor did he have the victim's purse. While attempting to retrace Hernandez' movements from the murder scene, Slaton police officers discovered a black baseball cap and Alvarado's blood-spattered purse, wallet, and money discarded at a location near her home. Tennis shoes worn by Hernandez at the time of arrest were consistent with a shoe print where these articles were discovered.

At trial, Hernandez did not contest being guilty of murder. Rather, Hernandez' counsel argued that it was a "drunken murder" not a capital murder. Hernandez' counsel made the following remarks during closing argument:

    " . . . the issue here is not one of innocence. . . . The question is not murder - or innocence. The question is, is it murder or is it capital murder. . . . The question of murder versus capital murder. The question of robbery versus theft. Those are the things that you have to look at because innocence is not an issue here. . . .This was a drunken murder. . . .We want a true verdict. And based on the evidence and not on the number of witnesses . . . that verdict is guilty of murder. And we would ask you . . . to return a true verdict in this case of murder."

During subsequent appeals, including up through the conclusion of his U.S. Supreme Court proceeding on Oct. 30, 2000, Hernandez argued that because he remembered nothing about the offense he was in an "alcoholic blackout" at the time of the murder, and therefore, he was actually innocent of capital murder because he could not have intentionally committed the murder. In a motion filed this week, Hernandez claimed he now remembers what happened. According to Hernandez' latest version, he was simply a bystander and a "black male" whose name he does not know actually committed the offense. Hernandez has offered no explanation regarding his encounter with Vargas as he was leaving her mother's house with the baseball bat and her mother's blood-spattered purse.

PROCEDURAL TIME-LINE

November 10, 1988 - Hernandez was indicted with the offense of murdering Elizabeth Alvarado in the course of committing a robbery.

January 31, 1990 - A jury found Hernandez guilty of the capital offense. A separate punishment hearing ensued.

February 5, 1990 - The jury returned a verdict on the special issues, resulting in the trial court (the 140th District Court of Lubbock County) assessing punishment as death. Appeal was automatic to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

June 29, 1994 - The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence.

April 24, 1995 - The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari.

November 7, 1995 - Hernandez filed a petition for federal habeas relief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division.

January 16, 1996 - The federal district court dismissed the petition so that Hernandez could pursue relief in state court.

April 2, 1997 - Hernandez filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the state court of conviction. Thereafter, the state court recommended that relief be denied.

November 18, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court's findings and denied habeas relief.

December 21, 1998 - Hernandez filed a petition for federal habeas relief in the federal district court in Lubbock.

March 18, 1999 - The federal district court denied relief.

April 23, 1999 - The federal district court denied Hernandez permission to appeal.

May 30, 2000 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Hernandez permission to appeal.

October 30, 2000 - The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hernandez' petition for writ of certiorari.

February 2, 2001- Hernandez filed a request for stay of execution in order to pursue further testing of evidence in the state court of conviction.

February 6, 2001- The state trial court declined to modify the execution date and forwarded the matter to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the state presented evidence that Hernandez had been convicted and sentenced to prison for five prior felony convictions: three convictions for burglary and two convictions for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Many witnesses testified to acts of violence, or threats of violence, committed by Hernandez in and out of prison, including while waiting trial for the instant capital murder. Hernandez' parole officer and several officers of various local law enforcement agencies testified that Hernandez did not have a reputation in the community for being a peaceful and law-abiding citizen.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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Contact: Mark Heckmann, Tom Kelley or Jane Dees at (512) 463-2050.
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