Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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Media Advisory: Douglas Alan Feldman scheduled for execution

AUSTIN – Pursuant to a court order by the Criminal District Court No. 3 of Dallas County, Texas, Douglas Alan Feldman is scheduled for execution after 6 p.m. on July 31, 2013.

In August 1999, a Dallas County jury found Feldman guilty of capital murder for the killings of Robert Everett and Nick Velasquez.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit described the facts of the crime as follows:

Feldman was riding his motorcycle on the night of August 24, 1998 when Robert Everett, driving an eighteen-wheeler, suddenly passed Feldman and pulled into his lane, missing Feldman’s left hand by inches. Enraged, Feldman took out his firearm and fired several shots into the back of Mr. Everett’s trailer. Feldman then reloaded his weapon and pulled up alongside the cab of Mr. Everett’s truck. He fired several shots directly at Mr. Everett, killing him.

After returning to the scene of the crime to verify that Mr. Everett was dead, Feldman headed home. Approximately 45 minutes after Feldman shot and killed Mr. Everett, and about eleven miles from the scene of the original shooting, Feldman passed an Exxon service station where Nicolas Velasquez, an Exxon tanker truck driver, was refilling the station’s gas supply. Feldman drove into the station and shot Mr. Velasquez twice in the back, killing him. Feldman then returned home.

Over a week later, Feldman shot Antonio Vega while Mr. Vega was standing outside of a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant. Mr. Vega was seriously injured but survived. A bystander noted Feldman’s license plate number and relayed the information to police. When the police apprehended Feldman, they recovered two firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Testing on one of the weapons and the shell casings found at the scene of the shootings of Messrs. Everett, Velasquez, and Vega confirmed that the weapon had been used at all three locations.

After his arrest but prior to trial, Feldman admitted committing the shootings to a police investigator, stating that they were the consequence of his traffic altercation with Mr. Everett. Feldman also testified to the shootings at his trial, noting that he had not forgiven Mr. Everett for his trespasses. Feldman explained that he had shot Mr. Velasquez because the man was standing beside an eighteen-wheeler, which caused Feldman to “explode[ ] again in anger.”

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial – which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment.

During the punishment phase of trial, the State introduced Feldman’s juvenile court record into evidence. The record showed that on May 31, 1974, Feldman was found delinquent because of credit card abuse and drug possession offenses. Feldman’s Texas Youth Commission (TYC) records were also admitted into evidence. These records show that less than one day after Feldman was released from TYC custody, he was found in possession of marijuana. The State also introduced penitentiary packs reflecting Feldman’s 1978 convictions for aggravated robbery and narcotics possession.

In addition to the above documentary evidence, the State also presented testimony concerning Feldman’s extraneous offenses. Robbie Harris testified regarding Feldman’s credit card abuse. On January 2, 1974, Harris went to a Shell gas station where Feldman was employed as a cashier. Harris gave Feldman a credit card to pay for a purchase. Later, Harris discovered Feldman had used his credit account to make an unauthorized charge for a substantial amount of money. Given Feldman’s youth at the time, Harris offered to accept repayment to settle the matter. But Feldman acted as if he had done nothing wrong and refused Harris’s offer.

Jadean Jourden testified concerning Feldman’s aggravated robbery conviction. On January 16, 1978, she met a man whom she would later learn was Feldman. That day, Feldman came into the Willow Creek Pharmacy where Jourden was employed and asked if she sold a specific tape. When Jourden turned to get the tape, she heard Feldman open the counter gate. He came up to her and hit her in the head with something that felt like a gun and then ordered her to get face-down on the floor, threatening to kill her. After Jourden got down on the floor, she heard Feldman threaten the store pharmacist, Robert Scarbrough. Scarbrough also identified Feldman as the armed robber who came into his pharmacy that day. During the robbery, Feldman screamed profanities and threatened to shoot Scarbrough and Jourden. Then Feldman grabbed Scarbrough, held a gun to Scarbrough’s head, and ordered Scarbrough to get specific drugs for him, including dilaudid, morphine, percodan, and seconal. Scarbrough filled a bag with the drugs, and Feldman fled with it. Brad Runnels was working as an automotive mechanic at an Exxon gas station situated next to the Willow Creek Pharmacy on the day Feldman committed the armed robbery. Runnels saw Feldman as he fled the pharmacy. When Feldman tried to drive out of the parking lot, his car was trapped by an incoming vehicle. Runnels watched as Feldman got out of his car and pointed a gun at the driver’s window, forcing the other driver to back his vehicle out of Feldman’s path.

Chad Phipps also testified that on May 31, 1996, he noticed Feldman loading a car in a motel parking lot. Phipps told Feldman he was hitting Phipps’s girlfriend’s car. Feldman then slammed his car door into Phipps’s girlfriend’s car, and said, “No. That’s hitting her car door.” Phipps reported the incident and Feldman’s license plate number to the police. During Phipps’s testimony and in the presence of the jury, Feldman called Phipps “a […] liar.”

James Brantley testified about a violent encounter with Feldman that occurred on Dec. 6, 1996. n that date, Brantley was driving his restored 1984 Firebird. As Feldman was driving his Land Rover out of a parking lot, he collided with Brantley’s Firebird but did not stop. When Brantley tried to catch up with Feldman, Feldman repeatedly slammed on his brakes, attempting to cause a collision with Brantley. Eventually, Feldman stopped his car and exited the vehicle holding a ball-peen hammer. Feldman got onto the hood of the Firebird and smashed it with the hammer. After beating the windshield and door with the hammer, Feldman reached into the driver’s side and hit Brantley at least three times with the hammer. Feldman told Brantley to leave him alone or he would kill him. Then Feldman went back to his car and drove it in reverse onto the hood of the Firebird. During the incident, Brantley feared for his life.

After Feldman drove away, Brantley reported the incident to the police and gave them Feldman’s license plate number. Two days later, Brantley was hospitalized with an acute scalp contusion. Feldman paid Brantley $6,500 to settle the ensuing lawsuit.

Donna McElroy testified that Feldman assaulted her on May 1, 1998. The assault occurred at Keller’s Hamburgers, where she worked as a carhop. That day, Feldman rode into Keller’s, and McElroy took his food order. When she brought the food to his car and told him the cost, Feldman said he did not have his wallet with him. McElroy told him that he could not have the food without paying for it. Feldman […] told her he was not going to pay for the food. When Feldman reached for something in his car, McElroy backed away, afraid that he was going to shoot her. Instead Feldman drove his car toward her, knocked her down, and ran over her. McElroy was thrown 20 feet, lost consciousness from the impact and had to be taken to the hospital. As a consequence of the attack, McElroy lost teeth and has a burning sensation in her legs.

Antonio Vega testified about the Sept. 5, 1998, Jack-in-the-Box shooting. He recalled that when the incident occurred, he was dialing the phone outside the restaurant. He heard gunfire and then felt a burn in his chest. When Vega turned to run, he saw someone behind him pointing a gun at him. Vega felt a burning feeling in his leg and fell. Vega was shot three times and thought he was going to die.

Will Prince testified about a shooting incident that happened the day before the Everett murder occurred. On Aug. 23, 1998, Prince received a call near midnight regarding Central Volkswagen, the dealership where Prince was employed. Someone from the alarm company that monitors the dealership asked that he go there to meet the police. Prince arrived at the dealership to find large panes of glass shattered by bullets. The shooter had also fired bullets into several vehicles on the lot and inside the showroom. Overall, the shooter caused $8,000 in damage. Business records showed that Central Volkswagen had worked on Feldman’s vehicle twice in 1986, more than 10 years prior. Lannie Emanuel, a firearms examiner, compared the shell casings and fragments collected from the dealership with the firearm seized from Feldman at the time of his arrest. He concluded that the nine-millimeter cartridge casings were fired by Feldman’s firearm.

Nneka Olan, a Dallas County Sheriff’s Office Clerk, testified that when Feldman was processed into jail after his arrest for the instant offense, money found in his possession was seized for examination. Secret Service Special Agent, T.M. Hiles, testified that he examined the money and found three counterfeit bills.

Elizabeth Garcia testified that she dated and lived with Feldman for six or seven years in the 1980s. They had little contact after their relationship ended; however, while Feldman was held in custody awaiting his capital murder trial, Feldman renewed his contact with Garcia through phone calls and letters. Garcia told an investigator for the district attorney’s office about the 81 letters Feldman had written her from jail and gave the investigator permission to review them.

At the conclusion of the State’s case on punishment, portions of these letters were published to the jury. Feldman wrote that he enjoyed killing Everett and Velasquez, and he wanted to see more people get shot. Feldman described fantasizing about walking through Dallas-area stores and shooting at shopkeepers who had angered him in the past. Feldman also fantasized about killing police officers over a prior traffic citation and stated that he had previously been armed at a truck stop and came very close to killing more truck drivers. Feldman explained that he wanted to kill people who disturbed his quiet and then desecrate their corpses. The prosecution closed its case with a letter in which Feldman stated that murder should not be illegal and compared killing humans to hunting game animals.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On Sept. 8, 1998, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Feldman for the offense of capital murder for the killings of Everett and Velasquez.

On Aug. 25, 1999, a jury convicted Feldman of capital murder. On Aug. 31, 1999, after the jury recommended capital punishment, the trial court sentenced Feldman to death by lethal injection.

On Feb. 20, 2002, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Feldman’s sentence.

On May 29, 2001, Feldman filed an application for a state writ of habeas corpus. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Feldman’s application on April 18, 2007.

Feldman then appealed his conviction and sentence in federal district court. The Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, denied his petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus on May 3, 2011.

On Sept. 14, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s denial of relief.

On Dec. 11, 2012, Feldman filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied certiorari review on March 18, 2013.

On Oct. 18, 2012, the Criminal District Court No. 3 of Dallas County scheduled Feldman’s execution to take place on July 31, 2013.

On March 7, 2013, Feldman filed a pro se pleading with the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. On April 22, 2013, the district court dismissed certain claims in the pleading and transferred others either to the Fifth Circuit or the Eastern District of Texas, Lufkin Division.

On July 11, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Feldman's subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus.

On July 17, 2013, Feldman filed a motion to reconsider in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

On July 18, 2013, Feldman filed a pro se motion to reconsider in a U.S. District Court, which transferred the motion to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and denied Feldman a certificate of appealability.

On July 22, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to reconsider its decision to dismiss Feldman's subsequent writ application.

On July 29, 2013, a U.S. district court dismissed Feldman's prisoner civil rights lawsuit.

On July 29, 2013, the Board of Pardons and Paroles met and did not recommend clemency for Feldman.

On July 30, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order disposing of Feldman’s most recent successive petition. The court also denied a stay of execution.

On July 31, 2013, Feldman filed a motion for a stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court.

MISCELLANEOUS

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