Richard Wayne Jones, 40, was executed by lethal injection on 22 August in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a 27-year-old woman.
On 19 February 1986, Tammy Livingston was abducted from a parking lot in the Fort Worth area. A few hours later, her body was discovered by firefighters called to a grass fire. She had been stabbed more than a dozen times, one wound slashing her carotid artery. The day after the murder, Yelena Comalander was arrested trying to pass one of Livingston's checks at a Fort Worth grocery store. She told police that her boyfriend, Richard Jones, had given her the checks. At the time, Comalander, 18, was pregnant with Jones' child.
Jones, then 26, was arrested at his home the following day. Police confiscated the clothes he had been wearing the day of the killing. They found two small spots of blood on the left leg of his jeans, which matched Livingston. Jones' fingerprint was found inside the victim's car, and he confessed to the killing to police.
Jones had been previously convicted of burglary of a habitation and three counts of larceny. He began serving concurrent 5-year and 7-year sentences in February 1979. He was paroled in August 1981. In September 1983, he was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and received another 7-year sentence. He was paroled again in October 1985. (During this time frame, the Texas prison system was under the supervision of U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, whose strict prison population caps forced the state to release offenders early.) Jones had been on parole for about 4½ months when Livingston was killed.
At his trial, Jones said he had nothing to do with Livingston's murder. He said that the checks had come from Walter Sellers, a friend of his sister, Brenda. He claimed that his confession to police was coerced -- that they told him his girlfriend would be executed and their child would be taken by the state unless he confessed. A police officer acknowledged telling Jones this, but the next day, he recanted this testimony, saying that he wasn't paying attention to the question. Jones could not explain the blood on his jeans, and an eyewitness identified him as the person who abducted Livingston from the parking lot. This, plus the fingerprint and his confession, persuaded the jury to return a guilty verdict.
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