Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Milton Mathis

Milton Mathis
Milton Mathis
Executed on 21 June 2011

Milton Wuzael Mathis, 32, was executed by lethal injection on 21 June 2011 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of two men.

On 15 December 1998, six people were in a house together. Chris Lentsch, the owner, rented rooms to Travis Brown and Daniel Hibbard, 31. All three occupants were home, as were three visitors - Esmerelda Lester, Lester's 15-year-old daughter, Melanie Almaguer, and Mathis, then 19. Brown and Mathis were together in Brown's room, while the others were in Lentsch's room.

At about 8:30 a.m., multiple shots were fired in Brown's room. Mathis then walked out and saw Lentsch in the kitchen. According to Lentsch's trial testimony, Mathis claimed that Brown had just shot himself. Lentsch told Mathis to put the gun down, but instead, Mathis ordered Lentsch back into his room with the others. According to Lentsch, he then "calmly" walked up to Almaguer and shot her in the head. Next, he shot Hibbard in the head. Next, he pointed the gun at Lester and pulled the trigger, but the gun was out of bullets. Mathis then rummaged through the house, set fire to Brown's room, threatened Lester and Lentsch, and left in Brown's car. Almaguer survived the shooting, but was permanently paralyzed from the neck down. Brown and Hibbard died.

Lentsch's house was reputedly a well-known drug house.

At his trial, Mathis initially testified that he was not at the house on the morning of the shootings. The defense then motioned for a recess. After the recess, Mathis testified that he had lied in his previous testimony. He admitted being at the house, shooting all three victims, and taking Brown's car. He claimed that he shot Brown in self-defense after Brown had threatened to shoot him. He testified that after he shot Brown, everyone in the house began "hollering and screaming," and he panicked. "I never aimed the gun," he stated. "I just walked in there and heard them all screaming, and I was just pointing the gun and pulled the trigger. So I never aimed ... I didn't mean to hurt nobody, sir. I'm not a killer."

The defense argued that Mathis' reckless mental state justified a manslaughter conviction, instead of murder. The surviving eyewitnesses, however, testified that Mathis was calm when he shot Almaguer and Hibbard.

At the time of the killings, Mathis was on probation for an aggravated robbery conviction. At age 19, he had no prior prison record, but he had an extensive juvenile criminal record.

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