Rickey Lynn Lewis, 50, was executed by lethal injection on 9 April 2013 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a man and the robbery and rape of his common-law wife in their home.
In the early morning of 17 September 1990, northwest of Tyler in Smith County, Connie Hilton got out of bed, having been awakened by her barking dog. She screamed when she saw a man in the hallway with a shotgun. George Newman, 45, awoke and was shot in the face. The dog was also killed.
Hilton tried hiding in the bathroom, but one of the men found her. Aiming a gun at her, he said, "Shut up ... or I'll shoot you, too." Hilton struggled with him at first, but she was struck on the head at least twice, and finally submitted. She was lifted by two people, who told her to cover her eyes. They took her into the living room, where she was raped. Next, she was taken to the kitchen, where her hands and feet were tied. From the kitchen, she could hear that the house was being ransacked. The same man who found her in the bathroom, raped her, and tied her up then placed a gun between her legs and said, "Quit whimpering ... Somebody will find you in the morning."
The men left in Hilton's vehicle, which was recovered the next morning. Hilton freed herself and, finding Newman dead, left the house to seek help.
Lewis, then 28, was arrested three days after the killing when investigators learned he had been seen with some of Newman's possessions. A forensic analysis found his DNA in blood found in the victim's house and car and in semen recovered from the victim.
Under Texas law, a defendant can be found guilty of capital murder if he was a party to a killing and could have anticipated that a life would be taken. The state does not have to prove that the defendant personally killed the victim. Although the evidence and testimony indicated that there were two other perpetrators in this case, Lewis was the only suspect identified or arrested.
Lewis had been sent to prison five times since 1983. He received a 3-year sentence for burglary of a building, but was paroled in April 1984 after six months. He was returned twice over the next two years for parole violations. Then, in January 1986, he was arrested after assaulting an 18-year-old woman who had thwarted his attempt to burglarize her family's vehicles. Lewis received a new 5-year sentence for burglary of a vehicle. He was released after ten months. In June 1988, he was once again sent to prison for burglary of a building, this time with a 25-year sentence. He was paroled less than two years later. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.)
Testimony at Lewis's sentencing hearing indicated that four days before Newman's killing, Lewis robbed a store with a sawed-off shotgun and abducted the store's manager. The manager testified that Lewis led her to a relatively secluded area and told her to turn her back to him as he raised the gun. She testified that at the moment she though Lewis was going to shoot her, a car drove past, and Lewis fled into a nearby field.
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