John Albert Burks, 44, was executed by lethal injection on 14 June in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a store owner.
On a Friday in January 1989, a man walked into Jesse Contreras' tortilla factory wearing a dark ski mask and brandishing a .25-caliber pistol. Contreras, determined not to give up his money without a fight, threw trash cans and other items at the gunman before being shot four times. When his wife and daughter made it to the store, Contreras was walking around and talking. He told them that the gunman "didn't get one red cent." He died of his wounds at a local hospital about a month later.
Also charged in the murder were Burks' half-brother, Mark McConnell, and his cousin, Aaron Bilton Jr. Witnesses saw Burks leaving the scene and identified McConnell's green Chevrolet Impala as the getaway car. According to the prosecutor, witnesses also heard Burks talking about getting a gun and planning to rob Jesse Contreras on a Friday. Bilton, who was granted total immunity for his testimony, testified that he went inside the store to check it out before Burks went in with the gun. McConnell rejected the immunity deal and is serving a 40-year prison term for robbery and burglary.
Burks had two prior convictions for burglary. He served five months in prison in 1978 then and served the remainder of his 3-year sentence on parole. In 1987, he was paroled after serving 6½ months of an 8-year sentence. He was also the prime suspect in a 1982 fatal stabbing, but prosecutors had to drop the charges for lack of evidence.
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