Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Leonard Uresti Rojas Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Leonard Uresti Rojas, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002.

On May 31, 1996, Leonard Uresti Rojas was sentenced to death for the capital murder of David Rojas, which occurred in Alvarado, Texas, on Dec. 27, 1994. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

During the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 1994, following a late night of playing dominoes and using drugs, Leonard Uresti Rojas fatally shot his common-law wife/girlfriend, Jo Ann Reed, and his brother, David Rojas, inside the double-wide trailer they all occupied. Rojas was suspicious that Reed and his brother had slept together the night before.

Rojas was in the kitchen making coffee when he saw Reed emerge from his brother's bedroom. After denying Rojas' accusation, Reed and Rojas went to the master bedroom where she disrobed and had a sexual encounter with Rojas. Rojas then shot Reed between the eyes with a .32-caliber gun. Moments later, Rojas called his brother out of the bathroom and shot him three times, leaving him to die on the bathroom floor. Upon returning to his bedroom where he had shot Reed, Rojas noticed that she was still breathing, so he tightly tied a plastic bag over her head and covered her with pillows and blankets.

Rojas then went to the kitchen and drank a cup of coffee. During this time, a friend of Reed's called twice and a co-worker called once. Rojas told both of them that Reed was ill and could not talk on the phone. Next, unable to find his car keys, Rojas left his house and hitchhiked to the bus station in Fort Worth, where he bought a ticket to Atlanta, Georgia. Rojas traveled only so far as Dallas, where he confessed to security guards at the bus station. Rojas surrendered to authorities that same day and confessed to his crime, providing authorities with three substantially consistent confessions, including a detailed videotaped walk-through of the crime scene.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Jan. 27, 1995 - Rojas was indicted in the 18th Judicial District Court of Johnson County, Texas, for the capital offense of murder of David Rojas, while in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offense of murder of Jo Ann Reed.

May 22, 1996 - Rojas was found guilty on his plea of not guilty in the 249th District Court of Johnson County, Texas.

May 31, 1996 - The punishment phase concluded with a sentence of death.

Sept. 23, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Rojas' conviction and sentence on direct appeal.

Dec. 9, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals denied state application for writ of habeas corpus, which was filed during the pendency of his direct appeal on June 22, 1998.

Feb. 2, 1999 - Rojas' conviction became final (90 days following the Court of Criminal Appeals' denial of a rehearing) and the one-year federal filing time frame began.

Feb. 2, 2000 - The federal filing deadline expired.

April 5, 2000 - Rojas filed a motion for appointment of federal habeas counsel in federal district court.

March 23, 2001 - Rojas filed an untimely federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Sept. 6, 2001 - The federal district court entered summary judgment denying the petition.

July 7, 2002 - The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied certificate of appealability.

July 12, 2002 - The 18th District Court of Johnson County entered order setting the date of execution for Dec. 4, 2002.

Nov. 18, 2002 - The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

Records indicate that Rojas served prison sentences in Germany (while serving in the U.S. Army), California and Nevada for drug offenses.

May 24, 1976 - Rojas was committed in California as a narcotic drug addict following an arrest and conviction for the sale of heroin.

April 16, 1990 - Rojas was convicted and sentenced to serve five years in Nevada State Prison for the possession and sale of cocaine.

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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