Charles Edward Smith, 41, was executed by lethal injection on 16 May 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for murdering a sheriff's deputy while fleeing from a theft.
On 14 August 1988, Smith, then 22, and his cousin, Carroll Smith, 31, escaped from a Kansas correctional facility. They stole a pickup truck and drove to Houston, where Carroll had once lived. While in Houston, they burglarized several homes and stole credit cards, jewelry, license plates, and a .357 magnum pistol. They abandoned the stolen truck, stole a van, and began driving west on Interstate 10.
On 19 August, the pair stopped at a gas station in Bakersfield, about 35 miles east of Fort Stockton. They put $22.50 worth of gasoline into the van, then drove off. The gas station operator called the Pecos County Sheriff's Department. Deputy Tim Hudson, 61, found the men driving on I-10 west of Fort Stockton and turned his flashing lights on, but the van didn't stop. Hudson then pulled alongside the van to look inside it. Charles Smith then fired a .357 Magnum three times into his patrol car. One of the shots struck Hudson in the side, killing him.
The suspects then abandoned the van in Coyanosa, about 20 miles north of I-10, and stole a truck tractor from a residence. With the aid of a U.S. Customs helicopter, they were found north of Coyanosa. When they got to a roadblock, they made a U-turn, and a chase ensued. The cousins were captured after a running gun battle. Carroll Smith was wounded in the left arm during the chase.
Charles Smith confessed to the crime upon his arrest. Evidence presented at his trial showed that Deputy Hudson's sidearm was holstered and latched and his window was rolled up.
Mark Yates, who was incarcerated in a cell adjoining Charles Smith's in the Pecos County Jail, testified at Smith's punishment hearing that Smith told him that by killing a police officer, he had fulfilled one of the goals of his life. Jail personnel testified that Smith set a fire in his cell, tore up light fixtures and a television set and threw the pieces at the deputies, fought with another inmate, and assaulted a jailer, grabbing him through the bars of his cell. At least two jail personnel testified that they heard Smith singing "I shot the sheriff, but in my case it was the deputy," a variation on a hit song recorded by Eric Clapton.
Charles Smith had prior convictions in Kansas for burglary, theft, and aiding a felon. He and a companion, Jeff Miers, broke into a house and stole a rife. Miers then used the stolen gun to kill Martin Esquivel after Esquivel confronted Miers and Smith for stalking and harassing his sister. Testimony showed that Smith urged Miers to kill Esquivel. He was sentenced in August 1987 to one to five years in prison. If he had not escaped, he would have been eligible for parole after serving another month.
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