Appeals Court Halts Execution Of Former Local College Student

The state

Marcus Druery (File)

AUSTIN (July 27, 2012)—The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Friday stayed the execution of former Texas State Technical College Student Marcus Druery, 32, to review claims that Druery isn’t competent to be executed.

Druery was scheduled for execution just after 6 p.m. next Wednesday.

His lawyers say he has a psychotic disorder and argue that executing him would violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Defense attorneys filed the appeal after Brazos County State District Judge J.D. Langley rejected defense requests to postpone the execution to allow for a competency hearing, saying that the legal threshold for a hearing wasn’t reached.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled prisoners can't be executed unless they're aware of the punishment and know why they're being punished.

In December 2003, Druery was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to die for the Halloween 2002 murder of classmate Skyyler Browne, 20.

According to court records, Druery went to Browne's campus apartment on Oct. 30, 2002, and asked him to accompany him to Bryan.

Browne took his cell phone, some marijuana, his gun, and $300 to $400 in cash.

That was the last time anyone at the school saw, him, court documents say.

Druery and Browne went to Bryan and met up with two other people to party, authorities said.

They ended up at property belonging to Druery's family in rural Brazos County.

Prosecutors say Druery shot Browne three times at close range with the victim's gun, and then burned the body, which he later dumped in a stock pond.

Browne's burned body two weeks after he was reported missing from his TSTC- area apartment.

Prosecutors said Druery killed Browne and stole his money, marijuana and cell phone, but Druery told authorities he shot Browne in self-defense.

Joquisha Pitts, Druery's ex-girlfriend, and a younger friend, Marcus Harris, told investigators a different story, however.

They said they accompanied the two TSTC students to a nightclub.

Early on Oct. 31, 2002, the four left the club and went to the rural property owned by Druery's family.

They drove through a gate, onto the rural property and up to a stock pond where the four took turns using Browne's gun to shoot at bottles they had thrown in the water, court documents say.

At some point, Druery called Pitts over to the car and told her he was going to kill Browne because he wanted his "stuff."

She told investigators she thought he was "just playing," but later saw Druery wiping bullets clean as he reloaded the gun.

Druery then told Harris he planned to shoot Browne, but Harris said he thought Druery was "tripping" on embalming fluid that he had earlier put on a cigarette and smoked.

Druery ordered Pitts and Harris to sit in the car and then approached Browne, who was trying to light a marijuana-filled pipe or cigar, and shot him in the head at point-blank range, the documents show.

As Browne fell, Druery fired a second shot into his neck and then a third shot into his body as it lay on the ground.

Pitts and Harris told investigators they both began to cry and scream and said Druery offered each $40 in an attempt to calm them.

Later, the documents say, Druery poured gasoline on Browne's body and set it on fire.

The three then left, but the next day, Druery returned to the pond with Pitts and two others, burned the body again, and then threw it into a pond, documents said.

Harris later assisted Druery in disposing of Browne's gun.

Pitts eventually reported the killing.

Harris told investigators he thought he would be killed because he thought Druery didn't want to leave any witnesses to the murder alive.

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