Ryan Heath Dickson, 30, was executed by lethal injection on 26 April 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a couple while robbing a store.
In the afternoon of 27 November 1994, four young men went to a small Amarillo grocery store. Freddie Medina and Jeremy Brown waited outside while Dickson, then 18, and his brother, Dane, 14, went inside. Dane Dickson stood guard near the door. Ryan was attempting to steal some beer from the store when the owner, Carmelo Surace, 61, confronted him. Dickson then pulled out a sawn-off .22-caliber rifle from underneath his coat and shot Surace once in the chest. Surace's wife, Marie, 60, placed all of the money from the store cash register on the counter for him to take. Dickson then shot her as well. He and his friends left the store with $52 in cash and some beer. A customer found the victims and called the police. Marie Surace was dead when the police arrived. Carmelo died later.
Local residents described to the police four young men they had seen in the vicinity of the grocery store. Using these descriptions, police took the group in for questioning. Ryan Dickson confessed to shooting both victims.
Dickson was tried first for Carmelo's murder. He acknowledged killing Mr. Surace, but denied that he did so intentionally. He argued that Surace was killed during a struggle. Freddie Medina, however, testified that before entering the store, Dickson showed him a gun and told him that he was going to shoot the store owners with it. Jeremy Brown also testified that Dickson stated his intention of killing the store owners. Prosecutors said Dickson told authorities he hoped the killing would earn him a teardrop tattoo to impress his colleagues in a gang known as the Varrio 16 Locos.
At only 18 years of age, Dickson had an extensive juvenile record that included burglary and aggravated assault.
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