Roy Lee Pippin, 52, was executed by lethal injection on 29 March 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of two men in a drug-dealing operation.
Pippin owned and operated an air conditioning business in Houston. In December 1993, Pippin became involved in a money laundering scheme, using air conditioners and gas tanks to smuggle the proceeds from Columbian cocaine sales in the U.S. into Mexico. In April 1994, he notified his boss, "Alfredo," that approximately $2 million was missing. Following Alfredo's instructions, Pippin rented a van and some motel rooms. Then on 27 April, Abraham Pacheco, at Pippin's request, abducted Elmer Buitrago and his cousin, Fabian. The Buitragos were taken to the motel, where they were held captive and questioned about the missing money for several days. According to court records, three of Pippin's employees, working in shifts, stayed with the Buitragos, while Pippin would occasionally visit the motel to check in on the kidnapping and to bring food, beer, and drugs to the captors.
On the morning of 4 May, Pippin, then 39, and Pacheco put the Buitragos in the rented white van and took them to Pippin's warehouse. Using a pillow to muffle the sound, both Buitragos were shot approximately four times. Pippin and Pacheco then left the warehouse to dispose of the murder weapon.
After the men left, Elmer Buitrago, though fatally wounded, made it outside to a nearby apartment complex, where he began breaking windows to draw attention. Responding to the call, Houston police officer Eddie Parodi found Buitrago crying out in English and Spanish for help. While they waited for an ambulance to arrive, Buitrago told Officer Parodi that Pippin shot him. He also gave Parodi a physical description of Pippin. He also said that he managed to hit Pippin on the head with a pipe. Buitrago was then taken to a hospital, where he died later that day.
The body of Fabio Buitrago was discovered in the warehouse. Police also found eight fired 9mm cartridges and some bullet holes and bullets lodged in one wall of the warehouse.
According to some reports, two other men were kidnapped along with the Buitragos. Javier Riasco was also shot and killed in the warehouse, and Jair Salas was beaten, but not killed. The trial and court records, however, only dealt with the Buitragos' murders.
At his trial, Pippin admitted to participating in the Buitragos' kidnappings, but he denied being involved with their killings, and also denied being present when they were killed.
Houston police firearms examiner Charles Anderson testified that two guns were used to killed the Buitragos. On cross-examination by the defense, Anderson testified that the ballistics report he prepared before the trial and made available to the defense and prosecution did not make it clear that two guns were used. This testimony became an issue in Pippin's appeals.
Warren Garza, a security guard from the apartment complex, testified that he assisted Officer Parodi in finding the source of the commotion. He testified that before Parodi arrived, he noticed two men fitting the physical descriptions of Pippin and Pacheco driving around the apartment complex in a white van. He also testified that he heard Elmer Buitrago say "Pippin shot me," and he also heard him say the name Roy.
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