Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Monday, June 25, 2001

MEDIA ADVISORY

Miguel Richardson Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Miguel Richardson, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2001.

On September 16, 1981, Miguel Richardson was convicted of the murder of John Ebbert in San Antonio, Texas, during the course of a robbery. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

In March 1979, John Ebbert and Howard Powers were security guards at a Holiday Inn in San Antonio, Texas. Ebbert and Powers were dispatched early in the morning of March 31, 1979, to investigate a complaint from a guest that someone was trying to break into her room. The room was occupied by women from Mexico City. Shortly after the front desk clerk had sent the guards to investigate the complaint, the guest called again and stated she thought she had heard gunshots. Less than one hour later, the bodies of the two security guards were found in a first floor stairwell. Both had been shot at close range with a .38 caliber pistol. The empty wallet of one of the guards was found nearby.

At the time of the offense, Richardson was traveling with three young women and the four of them occupied the room across the hall from the Mexico City guest who had called security originally. The three young women, aged 17, 17 and 16, were working as prostitutes in the various cities the group visited. All three women testified at the trial.

On the evening before the offense, Richardson had mentioned that one of the women from Mexico City was wearing what he considered to be expensive jewelry. According to one prostitute's testimony, Richardson awakened her on the morning of the offense and told her he had disguised himself and, armed with a .38 caliber pistol he had acquired several days earlier, attempted to gain entry to the room occupied by the women from Mexico City. He was interrupted while trying to break in by the two security guards. The guards were escorting Richardson down the stairs to the front desk to establish his identity when Richardson's pistol, which was in his waistband, fell to the floor. Richardson grabbed the gun, handcuffed one of the guards, took their money, shot and killed both of them, and returned to his room. At Richardson's request, the woman went to the scene of the murders and wiped the area with a towel to remove any fingerprints. The victims had not yet been discovered, and she saw their lifeless bodies in the stairwell. She returned to the room and, at Richardson's request, disposed of the bullets and spent shells by flushing them down the toilet.

Richardson later told another of the prostitutes about the murders. Richardson boasted to two of the women that he killed the guards after they had given him their money and begged for their lives. Within days of the shooting, Richardson and two of the underage prostitutes fled the State of Texas and reached Denver, Colorado, where they were apprehended. While in Colorado and fighting extradition to Texas (Richardson fought extradition for more than two years), Richardson also confessed to these murders to Mark Stanley Seiver, another inmate.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In May 1981, Richardson was charged by an indictment returned in Bexar County, Texas, with the capital offense of intentional murder of John Ebbert during a robbery. A jury found Richardson guilty of the capital offense on September 16, 1981, rejecting a lesser-offense instruction on murder. A separate punishment hearing ensued, and, on September 18, 1981, the jury answered affirmatively the two special issues submitted pursuant to former Article 37.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. In accordance with state law, the trial court assessed punishment at death.

Appeal was automatic to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the conviction and sentence on October 28, 1987. On July 3, 1989, the United States Supreme Court, however, granted Richardson's petition for writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the action for further consideration. On remand, the Court of Criminal Appeals again affirmed the conviction and sentence, then denied Richardson's motion for rehearing on September 18, 1991. On June 28, 1993, the Supreme Court again, however, granted Richardson's petition for writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the action for further consideration. On remand, the Court of Criminal Appeals again affirmed the conviction and sentence, then denied Richardson's motion for rehearing on September 21, 1994. This time, on June 26, 1995, the Supreme Court denied certiorari review.

Richardson filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus with the state trial court of conviction in December 1996. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that habeas relief be denied. The trial court's findings were adopted by the Court of Criminal Appeals on June 10, 1998. Richardson again filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court denied on November 30, 1998.

Richardson proceeded into federal court by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, on October 8, 1998. By orders entered on March 28, 2000, the district court denied habeas relief and permission to appeal. On April 16, 2000, the district court denied post-judgment relief sought by Richardson and again denied permission to appeal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit similarly denied Richardson permission to appeal on January 23, 2001. Richardson again filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court denied on June 11, 2001.

On June 5, 2001, Richardson filed a request for clemency and a reprieve with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Board voted on June 22, 2001, to deny clemency and a reprieve.

On June 7, 2001, Richardson filed a motion with the state trial court of conviction claiming that he is incompetent to be executed or was forcibly medicated for the purpose of rendering him competent to be executed. On June 19, 2001, the trial court rejected these claims.

On June 14, 2001, Richardson filed a successive application for state writ of habeas corpus raising the competency claims and also claiming that newly discovered evidence demonstrates that he suffers from bipolar disorder and that he might have been under its effects at the time of the offense. The trial court denied his application for state writ of habeas corpus on June 20, 2001. Richardson appealed that decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which dismissed it as an abuse of the writ on June 21, 2001. The following day, Richardson filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also on June 21st, Richardson filed two petitions for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, raising his competency claims. The district court dismissed those petitions on June 21st and June 22nd, respectively. On June 22nd, Richardson filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is pending.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, June 25, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had not yet ruled on the writ of certiorari and the appeal respectively.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the state presented the following evidence. In 1973, Richardson was convicted of possession of stolen mail, a federal offense. The parole officer assigned to Richardson's case testified that he was regularly asked to predict future behavior and that he considered Richardson to be a high risk and dangerous.

On April, 20, 1980, Richardson attacked the shift commander at the Denver County Jail where he was being held pending his extradition to Texas. Richardson became violent and agitated in the shift commander's office after being informed that he would be placed in isolation, and he attempted to strike the officer with a fire extinguisher.

On June 19, 1980, Richardson attempted to escape from Denver authorities after being taken to the hospital. This time, after his handcuffs were removed, Richardson stabbed Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Hall in the neck with a homemade shank that had been concealed in his pants. The shank penetrated the right side of Hall's neck to his spine.

Richardson attempted to escape from custody again. In the early morning hours of May 6, 1997, Richardson and several other inmates (including two other death row inmates) were being returned to state prison in Huntsville from the Bexar County jail. The guard driving the transport vehicle stopped for a restroom break near Houston. As the driver went to ascertain whether the restroom was secure to permit the inmates to use it, the other guard opened the van's side door. Suddenly, Richardson and the two other death row inmates pushed their way through, knocking the guard to the ground. As the inmates beat the fallen guard and attempted to wrest the gun from the guard's holster, the first guard returned to the van and, using his baton, knocked them away from the fallen guard. One guard was able to draw his weapon and convince Richardson and the other two death row inmates to get back inside the van.

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