October 26, 2012 http://www.timesrecordnews.com
A federal magistrate judge for the Northern District of Texas, Paul D. Stickney, is trying to decide what will happen with the death penalty case of convicted serial killer Faryion Wardrip in the appeals process.
Wardrip was sentenced to death in 1999 after being convicted of the murder of 20-year-old Terry Sims. He received life sentences for three other murders — Toni Gibbs, Ellen Blau and Debra Taylor.
Wardrip murdered at least four women in the North Texas area in the mid-1980s. The cases were unsolved for years.
Wichita Falls District Attorney Maureen Shelton was in Dallas on Wednesday to hear the appellate hearing.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed the death penalty decision.
“Once that happens, it switches over, and they can file a federal writ,” Shelton said. “The federal writ was filed Dec. 31, 2002.”
A district judge, Joe Fish, passes the case to Stickney, who makes a ruling on the case. Fish then decides whether to adopt the decision.
In July, 2008 Stickney ruled that he would allow a new punishment hearing because the defense attorney wasn’t effective, Shelton said. Fish approved the ruling April 19, 2010.
“Once that happened, the state of Texas is represented by the attorney general’s office in federal court.
The attorney general’s office appealed that decision to the Fifth Circuit, which is controlling over our area in New Orleans. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the state of Texas and vacated the district judge’s order,” Shelton said.
On June 10, 2011 Stickney and Fish were instructed by the Fifth Circuit to rework the case. Wednesday’s hearing is the result of the previous decisions.
“Once the magistrate issues his next ruling, and if the district judge adopts that, then the losing party, odds are, will appeal it,” Shelton said.
If the Fifth Circuit affirms the original decision for the death penalty, Wardrip’s attorneys can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court does not have to hear the case.
No matter the outcome of the appeal, Wardrip still has three consecutive life sentences to serve for the deaths of Gibbs, Blau and Taylor.
Shelton said the murders were the most horrific she has ever known about in Texas.
“It’s the worst serial murder we’ve had in, certainly, our history, and I’d say even nationally this is a horrific serial murderer,” Shelton said. “I don’t know how you don’t seek the death penalty for somebody like that.”
When the case comes back to the state court, an execution date can be set.
Wardrip was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the death of Tina Kimbrew in 1986, and under old parole laws, was paroled after serving 11 years in prison.
According to a previous Times Record News story:
The time he spent in prison for Kimbrew’s death is at the heart of the appellate issue going through the federal system.
Wardrip’s request for relief on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial included the assertion that his attorney — then-public defender John Curry, who has since died — should have presented evidence from his time in prison. Wardrip claimed the evidence should have shown he took classes, wrote for a prison newspaper and took part in a fundraiser for a young man with medical needs.