Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Robert Harris

Robert Harris
Robert Harris
Executed on 20 September 2012

Robert Wayne Harris, 40, was executed by lethal injection on 20 September 2012 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of five people at his former place of employment.

On 15 March 2000, while working at a car wash in Irving, Harris masturbated in front of a female customer. The customer reported the incident, the police were called, and Harris, then 28, was arrested and fired from the job he held for about ten months.

On Sunday, 19 March, Harris borrowed a car from his friend, Junior Herrera. He then went to the home of his friend, Billy Brooks. Brooks contacted his stepson, Deon Bell, to lend Harris a pistol.

The next morning, before the car wash opened, Harris drove there in the borrowed car. He forced manager Dennis Lee, assistant manager Augustin Villasenor, and cashier Rhoda Wheeler into the office. He instructed Wheeler to open the safe. She complied and gave him the cash. Harris then forced all three victims to the floor and shot each of them in the back of the head at close range. He also slit Lee's throat.*

Before Harris could leave, three other employees arrived for work. Harris forced them to kneel on the floor of the lobby and shot each of them in the back of the head at close range. Benjamin Villasenor, 32, and Roberto Jimenez, 15, died. The third victim survived but was left permanently disabled.

A seventh employee, Jason Shields, arrived. He saw the three victims in the lobby and saw Harris standing near the cash register. Harris told Shields he just discovered the crime scene. When Shields saw Harris pull a knife from a nearby bookshelf, he said he needed to step outside for some fresh air. He ran to a nearby doughnut shop and called 9-1-1. Harris followed Shields to the doughnut shop. He spoke to the 9-1-1 operator briefly and then fled the scene.

Harris returned the vehicle to Herrera and told him he discovered some bodies at the car wash. He took a taxi to Brooks's house. There, he separated the money from other objects he was carrying, and disposed of some metal lock boxes, a knife, a crowbar, and pieces of a cell phone in a wooded area. Harris then purchased some new clothing, checked into a motel, and sent Brooks to purchase a gold cross necklace for him.

Harris was arrested at the home of another friend the next morning.

Prosecutors stated that Harris made about $4,000 in the robbery. They noted that as a former employee of the car wash, he knew that an armored car picked up cash receipts from the business every day but Sunday, and therefore that there would be cash in the safe on Monday morning. He also knew that the cash register would contain $200 to $300 for making change.

The defense characterized the murders as an immediate reaction to provocation, after one of his former co-workers called him a "pervert".

After his arrest, Harris also confessed to the November 1999 murder of Sandra Scott, because he believed she had taken $200 from his wallet. Harris described how he abducted and killed her, and led police to her remains. He was charged with her capital murder, but was not tried.

Harris had three previous convictions for burglary of a building. He was sentenced to five years in prison on two counts in May 1991 and eight years on a third count in June 1991. He was paroled in May 1999 and discharged in June. Harris also had a history of assault and battery and drug dealing.

Testimony at Harris's punishment hearing indicated that on the day he was arrested for the car wash murders, he was planning to drive to Florida to kill an old girlfriend.


*Court documents and other official records stated that Lee's throat was slit, but the Associated Press report stated that the victim whose throat was slit was Augustin Villasenor, the assistant manager who fired Harris.

Continued on Page 2

Privacy PolicyContactAdvertising