Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Arthur Brown Jr.

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A jury found Brown guilty of capital murder in June 1994 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in December 1996.

Marion Butler Dudley was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. In an interview from Death Row, he acknowledged that he dealt drugs, but he denied being at the Tovar home when the murders occurred. He was executed in 2006. He declined to make a last statement.

Antonia Lamone Dunson was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. He remains in custody as of this writing. He becomes eligible for parole in 2027.

Brown had a previous execution date in 2013. Prosecutors allowed it to be removed from the calendar so that additional forensics testing could be done on the purported murder weapons. Following the tests, Brown's lawyers presented testimony from two firearms examiners who disagreed with the state's witness, Charlie Anderson. One of them eliminated the Charter Arms revolver as a murder weapon and was inconclusive about the Smith & Wesson, while the other was inconclusive about both. State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis recommended that Brown's murder conviction be abated and he be retried. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, however, on the basis that under Texas law, a person can be found guilty as a party to capital murder even if he or she did not personally inflict a fatal wound. The court found there to be ample evidence to place Brown at the crime scene and meet the conditions of being a party to capital murder even if Anderson was incorrect and his testimony were eliminated from the record. All of Brown's subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.

In May 2022, Harris County prosecutors asked Judge Natalia Cornelio to sign Brown's death warrant. She declined to do so, citing that Brown was in the process of getting a new attorney. Her decision provoked outrage from Assistant District Attorney Josh Reiss, who repeatedly raised his voice and tried to talk over her. The district attorney's office had previously advised Cornelio that the law does not entitle defendants to delays for the appointment of new counsel. Some relatives of Brown's victims reportedly cursed Cornelio, "stormed" out of her courtroom, and sobbed in the hallway. Reiss subsequently apologized to Cornelio for raising his voice.

"After thirty years of this case, I think it's very sad we can't get justice," said Rachel Tovar. "Everybody here is hurt. Everybody here is confused about why this judge isn't doing what she needs to do."

Jessica Quinones's sister, Marciella Quinones, was also outspoken about the delays. She said Jessica was an innocent victim who wasn't aware that the Tovars were dealing drugs from the home. She said her mother blames the Tovars for what happened.

In June, the Court of Criminal Appeals, without making a ruling, stated that judges have a ministerial duty to sign death warrants once certain events were complete. Regarding Brown's case, "those events are complete and have been for years," the court wrote.

The district attorney's office then returned to Cornelio in July and asked her to set an execution date for November. Cornelio responded by asking prosecutors to find a date in late February or early March 2023. Prosecutors answered that the death warrant must be signed before they would make a calendar request with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "A scheduling order before you sign the execution order is useless," prosecutor Joseph Sanchez said. Nevertheless, Cornelio declined to sign the warrant at that time.

On 17 August, prosecutors returned, requesting an execution date of 9 March. Cornelio signed.

Afterward, Cornelio became an obstacle to Brown's lawyers, denying their requests to delay his execution over questions about witness testimony, claims of intellectual disability, and requests for DNA testing on a 30-year-old sample to compare with a man who was killed in 1993. Reiss argued that all of the evidence and findings Brown's team presented has been known or could have been investigated any time during the past thiry years. Brown's lawyers filed a salvo of last-ditch appeals at all levels of courts, all of which were denied.

Brown's spiritual advisor stood in the death chamber with him. No other witnesses attended his execution on his behalf.

"What is occurring here tonight is not justice," Brown said on the execution gurney. "It's murder of an innocent man for a murder that occurred in 1992. For the last thirty years, I've proven my innocence to the courts, but the courts blocked me and then refused me access to the ballistics for twenty years."

"Tonight, Texas will kill a second innocent man for a murder that occurred in 1992," he said. "I have no further words." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.

Following the execution, a TDCJ spokesman read a statement from the Quinones family saying that after thirty years of anguish and uncertainty, they will finally be able to rest. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, "This should be a stark reminder to the criminal element out there that your actions will be addressed and you will be held accountable regardless of how long it takes."

Rachel Tovar, who witnessed Brown's execution, said, "I just want to thank everybody. This took so long. Justice came to me today."


By David Carson. Posted on 10 March 2023.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Dallas Morning News, Texas Tribune.

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