Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez
Michael Rodriguez
Executed on 14 August 2008

Michael Anthony Rodriguez, 45, was executed by lethal injection on 14 August 2008 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a police officer while on escape from prison.

On 13 December 2000, Rodriguez, then 38, escaped from the maximum-security Connally Prison Unit in south Texas, where he was serving a life sentence for hiring a hitman to murder his wife. Rodriguez made the escape with six other prisoners - Patrick Murphy, 39; Donald Newbury, 38; George Rivas, 30; Joseph Garcia, 29; Randy Halprin, 23; and Larry Harper. They overpowered prison workers, stole guns from the armory, and escaped in a prison pickup that had been modified with a false bottom. They then drove to a nearby store, where Rodriguez's father had left another truck for them.

The leader of the escapees, George Rivas, had a plan to rob a sporting goods store by posing as employees of its security service. After that, the group intended to go to Nevada to rob a casino. Six days later, they were in the Houston area, where they robbed a Radio Shack and an Auto Zone. They also obtained uniforms from a used clothing store.

Eleven days after the escape, on 24 December, the escapees robbed an Oshman's sporting goods store in Irving. Patrick Murphy remained outside as lookout while the others went inside to tie up the employees and gather guns. A woman outside noticed what was going on, and called the police. After stealing one of the employees' Ford Explorer, Murphy drove it to the loading dock and alerted the others via radio that a policeman was coming. Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins arrived as the robbers were leaving and pulled in behind the Explorer. The men shot him eleven times and ran over him with their getaway truck.

The robbers left with guns, camping equipment and about $70,000 in cash. Rivas purchased a recreational vehicle with the money and, posing as a lawman, bought body armor from a police supply store. The group fled to Colorado and stayed together, living in an RV park near Colorado Springs for about three weeks before they were tracked down. On 22 January 2001, a SWAT team surrounded the gang in the trailer park. When capture was imminent, escapee Larry Harper killed himself. Rivas, Rodriguez, Garcia, and Halprin were captured alive. Murphy and Newbury evaded capture, but surrendered two days later.

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