Convicted Central Texas triple killer loses Supreme Court appeal

Billie Wayne Coble in court. (File photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a Waco man sentenced to death in 1990 for killing his mother-, father- and brother-in-law, putting his execution back on track.

Billie Wayne Coble, 70, was sent to death row in 1990 after a 54th District Court jury found him guilty of capital murder in the 1989 shooting deaths of his wife’s parents, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and her brother, Waco police Sgt. Bobby Vicha, at the family’s home in Axtell.

The denial marked Coble’s last opportunity to appeal the death sentence.

Trial testimony in 1990 showed Coble was upset over his failing marriage.

Coble has a list of appeals, the only one successful filed in 2007 with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that resulted in the dismissal of the death sentence and an order for re-trial on punishment after the court’s opinion stated Coble’s jury faced two questions that were unconstitutional.

The punishment re-trial ended with the same result, death.

Former McLennan County Assistant District Attorney J.R. Vicha was only 11-years-old at the time his family was murdered.

He, in fact, was inside the family home when Coble burst in and started shooting.

The boy, along with two of his cousins, were tied up inside the home while the killings took place.

Coble had kidnapped his estranged wife, then threatened to sexually assault and murder her, trial testimony showed.

During the 2008 punishment re-trial trial, prosecuted by retired Assistant District Attorney Crawford Long, Long told the jury that Coble “has a heart filled with scorpions.”

The case will be remanded to the 54th District Court where Judge Matt Johnson will set a new execution date.