Kenneth Eugene Bruce, 32, was executed by lethal injection on 14 January 2004 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and home robbery of a 54-year-old woman.
On 10 December 1990, Richard Ayers, 58, answered the front door of his rural home. Kenneth Bruce, then 19, and his cousin, Anthony Bruce, 15, told Ayers that they were having car trouble and asked him for some jumper cables. Ayers first attempted to find some jumper cables in the garage. Unable to locate them, he invited the men into his home to keep warm while he called his son to see if he knew where the jumper cables were.
Before Ayers could make the phone call, he was surrounded by four men. Sam Andrews, 19, came in through front door, and Eric Moore, 23, came in through the back. Both were holding guns. Moore took Ayers's billfold and ordered him to call his wife into the room with her purse. In the meantime, Kenneth and Anthony Bruce were in the master bedroom, looking for valuables. They also pulled a mattress onto the floor. Moore and Andrews then ordered the Ayers into the bedroom and made them lay face down on the mattress. The Ayers were then shot, and the assailants left the bedroom.
Richard Ayers was shot in the back. He was paralyzed from the waist down. Helen Ayers was shot in the leg. Both victims remained conscious and spoke to each other, thinking that the assailants had left the house. Mr. Ayers then heard voices in the back of the house, and the men returned to the bedroom. Ayers heard someone say, "Shoot them again and make sure they are dead." Helen Ayers was then shot in the head and killed instantly. Richard Ayers was shot in the shoulder. The attackers then left. Ayers remained conscious, but paralyzed, on the mattress for about three hours, until his son came home from work.
Eric Moore and Sam Andrews turned themselves in to police afterward. The Bruce cousins were arrested four days later. Kenneth Bruce confessed to being present at the shootings and led police to a field where most of the victims' property had been discarded. The police later found some of the Ayers' property in Bruce's car. In a subsequent confession, Bruce admitted shooting Helen Ayers during the second round of shooting. He claimed that he was aiming for her leg or the lower part of her body.
The medical examiner testified that Helen Ayers was shot three times. The first two shots were in her thigh. The shot to her head occurred later. He testified that she could have survived the thigh wounds with proper treatment. Mr. Ayers, wheelchair bound, testified at all four trials.
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