Four Texas Death Row Inmates Lose Appeals

(June 30, 2014) Two Texas death row inmates lost appeals Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court rejected the appeals of two others.

The Supreme Court refused Monday to review an appeal from Manuel Garza, Jr., 33, who was sent to death row for the shooting death of a San Antonio police officer in 2001.

Evidence showed Officer John Riojas was trying to arrest Garza on several outstanding warrants when Garza tried to flee.

The officer was shot with his own gun as he struggled with Garza.

The Supreme Court also rejected the appeal of a Nicaraguan man sent to death row for shooting a customer to death during a robbery at a Houston-area dry cleaning store.

Bernardo Tercero, 36, contended he was younger than 18 at the time of the slaying, making him ineligible for the death penalty.

Prison records show Tercero gunned down Robert Berger during a struggle more than 17 years ago while Berger's 3-year-old daughter stood nearby.

Tercero and a companion then fled with two cash registers.

Tercero wound up in Nicaragua and was returned to Texas to face trial.

Tercero has conflicting birth certificates and insisted the accurate one showed he was younger than 18 at the time of the shooting.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from Juan Martin Garcia, 34, who was sentenced to death for the shooting death of a 36-year-old Houston-area man during a robbery nearly 16 years ago that authorities said netted him $8.

His attorneys contend that he's mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.

Hugo Solano was shot three times in the head while he was in his van at his Harris County apartment complex.

When Garcia was pulled over in a traffic stop 11 days later, a gun fell to his car's floorboard as he got out that matched the weapon used in Solano's murder.

The 5th Court also rejected the appeal of Randall Wayne Mays, 54, who was sentenced to death for a shootout that left two Henderson County sheriff's deputies dead seven years ago.

The former welder and oilfield worker argued he had deficient legal help at his 2008 trial.

The court also rejected contentions that sentencing Mays to death was unconstitutionally cruel because he's mentally ill.

Mays was convicted in the death of sheriff's Deputy Tony Ogburn.

The shooting left a second officer, Paul Habelt, dead and a third deputy wounded.

The shootings occurred after Mays barricaded himself in his house in Payne Springs, about 55 miles southeast of Dallas.