Robert Dale Rowell, 50, was executed by lethal injection on 15 November 2005 in Huntsville, Texas for killing two men in a crack house robbery.
At about 4:00 a.m. on 10 May 1993, Rowell, then 38, arrived at the north Houston home of Irvin Wright, 52. Raymond Mata, 38 and Mata's wife, Angie Perez, were also living in Wright's home. Perez opened the door for Rowell. Rowell then pulled out a gun and said that he was there to get drugs and money from Wright. He told Mata and Perez he would shoot them if they tried to flee.
Rowell then went into Wright's room and began hitting him with a claw hammer. From the other room, Perez heard a thumping sound, followed by Wright screaming for Rowell to stop hitting him. After about three minutes, Rowell came into Mata and Perez's bedroom, bringing Wright with him, staggering and covered in blood. Rowell ordered the three of them to get into the bathtub. He then shot them, killing Mata and wounding Perez and Wright. He then beat Mata on the head with the hammer. Rowell then took a shower, stole some money, and drove away. Wright later died in a Houston hospital. Perez survived to testify against Rowell.
Police arrested Rowell at the mechanic's shop where he worked. Officers found a .22-caliber revolver with six spent cartridge casings in the chamber. They also found a bank bag belonging to Wright.
At the trial, the state presented evidence that Rowell beat Mata on the head with a claw hammer after shooting him.
Prosecutors said that Rowell went to Wright's home intending to rob him because he thought he had been overcharged for crack cocaine. The defense claimed that there was no robbery and that Rowell only fired after Wright and Mata lunged for his gun.
Rowell had a history of robbery and violence. In 1974, at age 18, after a string of robberies, he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He served 4½ years of that sentence and was paroled in 1978. While still on parole, he went on another robbery spree. He was caught after shooting at a Houston police officer while robbing a restaurant. He was convicted in 1980 on three counts of armed robbery and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 1982, while in prison, Rowell fatally stabbed another inmate between 10 and 15 times in the chest with a homemade knife. He was convicted of manslaughter and given another concurrent 8-year sentence. He was paroled again in 1991. (At the time, the state of Texas was under strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) According to court records, Rowell was using $500 worth of cocaine a day at the time of the killings.
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