Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Keith Clay

Keith Clay
Keith Clay
Executed on 20 March 2003

Keith Bernard Clay, 35, was executed by lethal injection on 20 March 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a convenience store clerk.

On 4 January 1994, Melathethil Varughese was murdered during a robbery of the store where he was working. His body was found lying on the floor behind the cashier's booth. His hands were bound with a string of Christmas lights. Eight 9mm shell casings were found scattered around the store. He had been shot six times. Some of the gunshots were from a 9mm pistol, and some were from a revolver which was kept in the store, under the cash register. He also had a fractured skull resulting from being beaten with a blunt object. He also had multiple lacerations on his face and forehead. The money from the cash register had been stolen, along with another box containing money.

Two men -- Keith Clay, then 25, and Shannon Thomas, 22 -- were arrested on suspicion of a triple homicide in Baytown which occurred two weeks earlier. Further investigation connected them to the Varughese murder. A third man, Ernest King, testified that he, Clay, and Thomas drove to the convenience store on 4 January so he could buy some cigarettes. King testified that as he left the store, Clay entered. King heard gunshots, looked inside, and saw Clay holding a gun. After more gunshots, Clay came out of the store carrying a box and the three left in their car.

The 9mm pistol used in the robbery belonged to Clay. He had bought it from King a month earlier.

Clay had a prior conviction for possession of cocaine. He received a two-year prison sentence in August 1990. (Information on time served was not available for this report.) Clay also confessed in writing to being involved in the December 1993 murder of Roberto Rios and his two daughters in their home. He was charged, but not tried, in that case.

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