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After the state presented its evidence for the punishment phase of the trial, Yowell's attorney announced that the defense would not offer any mitigating evidence, because Yowell had instructed him not to. The attorney told the court that Yowell told him "he doesn't want us to take any action that would result in the possibility of a life sentence. He wants a death sentence."
The judge advised Yowell to allow his lawyers to defend him, but Yowell said he disagreed with his attorney's plan to play his recorded confession again. The judge decided to allow the attorney to present his defense. The attorney then played Yowell's confession and asked the jury to impose a 40-year sentence in prison in light of the "genuine remorse" Yowell expressed in the recording.
A jury found Yowell guilty of capital murder in October 1999 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in February 2002.
In August 2010, a federal district court vacated Yowell's death sentence based on his claim that his attorney's performance during the punishment phase of his trial was ineffective. While the attorney did present evidence giving a sympathetic depiction of Yowell during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, that evidence was not presented again during the punishment phase. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this decision in September 2011, however. The appeals court found that all of the evidence Yowell had wanted the attorney to present was presented during the guilt/innocence phase, and it was not necessary to present it again during the punishment phase.
All of Yowell's other appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Yowell expressed love to his family at his execution. He then told the warden, "Punch the button." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 7:11 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 10 October 2013.
Sources: Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, public records, Associated Press, UPI.