Michael John Yowell, 43, was executed by lethal injection on 9 October 2013 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of his parents and grandmother in their home.
On 19 May 1998, Yowell, then 28, was in his parents' house in Lubbock. Yowell's father, Johnny, 55, caught him trying to steal money from his wallet. Yowell then fatally shot his father. He then beat his mother, Carol, 53, and strangled her with an electrical cord. He then opened a natural gas line in the kitchen and fled. Yowell's 89-year-old grandmother, Viola Davis, who was living in the home at the time, was disabled and was unable to get out of the home. She was injured when the house exploded. She died from her injuries several days later.
Yowell confessed to the crime two days later. He said he was stealing from his father to support his $200-a-day drug habit. He admitted killing his parents and opening the gas jet. The gun was found in the crawl space of his friend's house.
At trial, the defense argued that Yowell was insane at the time of the offense and was unaware that killing his parents was wrong. His lawyers put a psychologist, Philip Davis, on the witness stand to read Yowell's extensive history of psychological treatment and his treatment for drug addiction. Yowell's attorneys did not allow Davis to personally examine Yowell, for that would have invited the state to conduct an examination with one of their own expert witnesses.
Yowell had previous convictions for burglary of a building and possession of a controlled substance for separate 1988 offenses. He was first sentenced to 10 years' probation on the burglary conviction. He was subsequently sentenced to 8 years in prison on the drug conviction. He served 4 months of that sentence in 1989, then was released on parole. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.)
Yowell had also stolen from his mother by forging checks and illegally using her credit cards. He purchased firearms from stores using falsified information and his mother's credit cards and then pawned them for cash.
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