Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals accurately set forth the facts of the crime as follows:
The evidence in this case reveals that between approximately 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. on November 13, 1991, an engaged couple returned to their apartment complex from a brief shopping trip. They went upstairs to their apartment and the decedent unlocked the door, leaving the keys in the lock until they could get the groceries inside. As he turned to remove the keys from the door, the decedent encountered [McCoskey] standing in the doorway. [McCoskey] unzipped his jacket to reveal a hunting knife in a scabbard in the waist of his pants. When asked what he wanted, [McCoskey] responded that he wanted a ride and they were going to take him where he needed to go. The decedent stated that he did not have any gas in the car or any money with which to put some in, but [McCoskey] told him that did not matter. The decedent eventually agreed to take [McCoskey] where he wanted to go on the condition that his fiance be allowed to stay behind, but [McCoskey] insisted that she come along.
The three originally got into the car with the couple in the front seat and [McCoskey] in the back. [McCoskey] instructed the man to go to a gas station and put gas in the car, which he did. Two or three blocks away from the station, [McCoskey] decided that he wanted to ride up front in the passenger seat so he could get out quickly in case a police officer pulled them over. After [McCoskey] and the woman changed positions, [McCoskey] instructed the driver to get onto the highway I-10 eastbound. While they were on the highway, [McCoskey] apparently made several contradictory statements, including: (1) he was going to kill the couple; (2) he just needed a ride and he knew no one would volunteer; (3) he knew how to kill people using martial arts techniques; and (4) he was doing this for someone else who wanted him to steal the car.
Eventually [McCoskey] instructed the driver to exit I-10 and directed him (somewhat indirectly) to an embankment in the middle of an empty field. Apparently [McCoskey] was looking for an isolated place. After the car was stopped, [McCoskey] took the keys and proceeded to a Suburban parked nearby to tell its occupants that the land was private property and they needed to leave. After a brief conversation with [McCoskey], the occupants of the Suburban left. [McCoskey] returned kind of . . . jumpy, grabbed the decedent around the neck, pulled him down, and put the knife to his throat. [McCoskey] then ordered the woman to handcuff the decedent’s hands behind him. [McCoskey] then moved the coats that were in the trunk to the back seat and placed the man in the trunk. [McCoskey] then got into the driver’s seat and figured out how to drive the car. He ordered the woman to take off her shorts because he did not want her to jump out of the car and run.
[McCoskey] left the embankment, but could not find his way out of the surrounding neighborhood. After asking some construction workers for directions, [McCoskey] got back onto the highway. During the ensuing period, [McCoskey] started fondling the woman. When she started crying, he turned up the radio so she would not get embarrassed and so her boyfriend could not hear. [McCoskey] then unzipped his pants and tried to force the woman to engage in oral sex with him by pushing her head down, but when she started gagging, he discontinued the assault. As [McCoskey] drove in the direction of the couple’s apartment, the decedent attempted to tell him that the woman was pregnant and asked him not to hurt her. [McCoskey’s] response was that he better shut up and not make him mad.
[McCoskey] then told them that he was going to leave the decedent with some friends and then drop the woman off at the apartment, and after leaving the apartment he would call his friends to release the man; this way he could ensure that the two would be too scared to call the police. However, as they neared the apartments, [McCoskey] turned away and eventually came to an empty house close to the freeway. [McCoskey] took the woman into the house at knifepoint and proceeded to sexually assault her. He then returned her to the car and took the man into the house. The next sound the woman heard was something like if somebody hit you in the stomach and you get the breath knocked out of you and recognized the sound was coming from her fianc.
The woman then jumped from the car and fled across a gravel road and through a field to a nearby home. The occupant of the house would not allow her to enter, but then [McCoskey] appeared with a knife in hand, shaking his head. The occupant let the woman in and locked the door, whereupon she then called 911. [McCoskey] fled in the couple’s vehicle. When the police arrived on the scene, they found the man’s body inside the empty house; he had been stabbed approximately two dozen times.
The police eventually located [McCoskey]. Upon his arrest, they noticed knife scabbards strapped to both his belt and his right leg. The knife used in the stabbing was located a few feet away from him on the floor.
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 offered evidence of McCoskey’s prior bad acts and convictions, which were accurately summarized by the Court of Criminal Appeals as follows:
a 1981 juvenile commitment to the custody of the Texas Youth Council for an unnamed, but apparently serious, offense;
a 1983 conviction for kidnapping for which [McCoskey] received shock probation. The probation was revoked later that year after [McCoskey] committed an assault;
while in the penitentiary, [McCoskey] committed several rules violations, including five fights and four incidents of striking or threatening an officer;
1987 convictions for misdemeanor assault and possession of marijuana; [and]
a 1992 incident of striking another inmate in the Harris County jail with a chisel, cracking his skull.
Evidence was also presented that after [McCoskey] had been found guilty, but prior to the punishment stage, when the jury was out of the courtroom, [McCoskey] picked up a chair and threw it at the prosecutors, accusing them of lying at trial.
On Jan. 24, 1992, a Harris County grand jury indicted McCoskey for the offense of capital murder for the killing of Dwyer.
On Nov. 12, 1992, a jury convicted McCoskey of capital murder. After the jury recommended capital punishment, the trial court sentenced McCoskey on Nov. 16, 1992, to death by lethal injection.
On May 22, 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed McCoskey’s sentence.
On Jan. 6, 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of McCoskey’s petition for certiorari.
On May 17, 1997, McCoskey filed an application for a state writ of habeas corpus. While that application was still pending, McCoskey filed a subsequent application on June 17, 2003. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied McCoskey’s second application on June 6, 2007, and denied the first application on March 11, 2009.
McCoskey then appealed his conviction and sentence in federal district court. The Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, denied his petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus on May 31, 2011.
On May 29, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s denial of relief.
On Jan. 7, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of McCoskey’s petition for certiorari.
On June 27, 2013, the 185th Judicial District Court of Harris County scheduled McCoskey’s execution to take place on Nov. 12, 2013. The order was amended on July 18, 2013.
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.