dna

Pampa : DNA hearing set in case of Texas death row inmate – Hank Skinner


february 3, 2014 (AP)

PAMPA, TX — A hearing is set regarding recent DNA testing in the case of a Texas death row inmate convicted of a triple slaying in the Panhandle.

Attorneys for the state and Hank Skinner’s attorneys will present testimony during the two-day hearing set to begin Monday in Pampa.

Skinner’s attorneys hope to show he didn’t kill a woman and her two sons in 1993. The 52-year-old was convicted of capital murder in 1995.

Court documents filed by the state say results of DNA testing done at a law enforcement lab “further confirm” Skinner’s guilt. Skinner’s attorneys say more sophisticated test results from an independent lab make doubts about his guilt “too weighty” to allow his execution.

Each side will submit written arguments after the hearing. The judge will later release his findings.

Defense lawyers: Skinner won’t appear in Pampa


31.01.2014

Hank Skinner, the Texas death-row inmate convicted of murdering his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her sons, Randy and Elwin “Scooter” Caler, will not be attending an evidentiary hearing scheduled in Pampa Monday and Tuesday.

An employee who works for Skinner’s defense attorneys, Douglas Robinson and Robert Owen, told The Pampa News that both the state and defense attorneys will offer witnesses and other evidence, such as laboratory reports, to show what results were produced by the DNA testing that has been performed in Skinner’s case over the past 18 months. The attorneys will try to argue about what inferences can be drawn from those test results, she said.

A series of tests on DNA taken from the crime scene have been performed since June 2012, two by a Texas Department of Safety crime lab in Lubbock and one by an independent laboratory in Virginia.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office, who is presenting the state’s case to the court, claims the DNA tests overwhelmingly show that evidence collected at the crime scene consistently shows that Skinner is guilty of strangling and bludgeoning Busby in the living room of her home on New Year’s Eve 1993.

The defense attorneys claim the DNA tests performed at the Virginia lab point to Robert Donnell, Twila Busby’s deceased uncle, as the real killer in the triple homicide. The attorneys say it is well known that Donnell was making unwelcome advances to Busby on the night she was killed.

Judge Steven R. Emmert of the 31st District will not issue a definitive ruling at the conclusion of the hearing, the employee said.

Instead, the parties will have an opportunity to submit written arguments in late February, and the judge will issue a definitive ruling after considering those arguments.

A ruling in Skinner’s favor in this proceeding would not automatically reverse his conviction.

(Source: The Pampa News) #deathpenalty #hankskinner

Wrongly imprisoned Tulsa man declared innocent, eligible to seek compensation from state


A man who spent some 16 years behind bars on now-nullified burglary and robbery convictions has made a sufficient showing of “actual innocence” that he can seek to recover financially from the state of Oklahoma, a Tulsa County judge determined Tuesday.

Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough found that Sedrick Courtney “has made a prima facie showing of actual innocence for the purpose of initiating a claim pursuant to the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claim Act.”

The most Courtney could recover through the state’s compensation process for wrongfully convicted people is $175,000, lawyers say.

Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that Kellough had erred previously in denying Courtney a “threshold determination of actual innocence” in a post-conviction relief proceeding.


CLEARED
Sedrick Courtney: He served 16 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.

Kellough also erred in ruling that Courtney did not present “clear and convincing evidence of his actual innocence in the face of the exonerating scientific evidence that supported the vacation of the criminal conviction,” according to the high court’s order.

Courtney, now 41, had been found guilty in a 1995 case in which two masked intruders robbed a woman at her Tulsa apartment. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

The victim identified Courtney – who denied being one of the intruders, denied any involvement and had alibi witnesses.

Results from DNA testing available at the time were inconclusive, but more recent DNA tests of numerous hairs found in ski masks excluded Courtney as a possible donor of the hairs, court filings show.

The Innocence Project, an organization that uses DNA evidence in an effort to get wrongfully convicted people exonerated, took on the case while Courtney was in prison.

Courtney, now 41, was released from prison on parole in 2011.

In July 2012, Kellough granted post-conviction relief based on the newly discovered evidence – the new DNA testing results. The judge vacated Courtney’s convictions for robbery and burglary, with the agreement of District Attorney Tim Harris.

Kellough declined then to make any finding of actual innocence and indicated that Courtney did not establish by “clear and convincing” evidence that he did not commit the crime.

In September, Kellough ordered the dismissal of the robbery-burglary charges.

An appeal challenging Kellough’s ruling on the actual innocence issue was initiated in the state Supreme Court in October.

According to the Supreme Court, a finding of actual innocence is necessary under Oklahoma law for Courtney to recover money damages based on a wrongful conviction.

Individuals who are convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit can apply for as much as $175,000 in compensation from the state under legislation that was signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2003.

A year earlier, Arvin McGee was exonerated by DNA evidence in an unrelated Tulsa County kidnapping and rape case.

A Tulsa federal jury awarded McGee $14 million from the city of Tulsa in 2006 – $1 million for each year he served in prison – but a settlement was reached after the verdict for the city to pay a total of $12.5 million.

Courtney’s compensation could be resolved through the state’s risk-management claims process, but it could be taken to trial, one of Courtney’s attorneys, Richard O’Carroll, has said previously.

Judge fires 34-year court veteran for helping man wrongfully convicted of rape


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man freed from prison three decades after being wrongfully convicted of rape considers Sharon Snyder his “angel” for giving him a public document that showed him how to properly seek DNA tests. A Jackson County Circuit judge considers the 34-year court employee an insubordinate for offering legal advice and being too chatty about courthouse matters.

Sharon Snyder, a 70-year-old great-grandmother who was fired nine months before she was scheduled to retire, sees herself somewhere in the middle and insists she would provide the same help if she had a chance to do it again.

Robert Nelson, 49, was convicted in 1984 of a Kansas City rape that he insisted he didn’t commit and sentenced to 50 years for forcible rape, five years for forcible sodomy and 15 years for first-degree robbery. The judge ordered the sentence to start after he finished serving time for robbery convictions in two unrelated cases prior to the rape conviction.

Those sentences ended in 2006.

In August 2009, Nelson filed a motion seeking DNA testing that had not been available at his trial 25 years earlier, but Jackson County Circuit Judge David Byrn denied the request. Two years later Nelson asked the judge to reconsider, but again Byrn rejected the motion because it fell short of what was required under the statute Nelson had cited.

After the second motion failed in late October 2011, Snyder gave Nelson’s sister, Sea Dunnell, a copy of a motion filed in a different case in which the judge sustained a DNA request.

Nelson used that motion — a public document Dunnell could have gotten if she had known its significance and where to find it — as a guide for a motion he filed Feb. 22, 2012, again seeking DNA testing. That August, Byrn sustained the motion, found Nelson to be indigent and appointed Laura O’Sullivan, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, to represent him.

The Kansas City Police Department’s crime lab concluded last month that DNA tests excluded Nelson as the source of evidence recovered from the 1983 rape scene and he was freed June 12.

“She gave me a lot of hope,” Nelson said of Snyder. “She and my sister gave me strength to go on and keep trying. I call her my angel. She says she’s not, but she truly is.”

Five days after Nelson was released, Court Administrator Jeffrey Eisenbeis took Snyder into Byrn’s office near closing time and told her the prosecutor and defense attorney “had a problem” with her involvement in the case. She was suspended without pay, ordered to stay out of the courthouse unless she had permission to be there and scheduled to meet with a human resources investigator June 20.

“At first I didn’t know if my pension was going to be intact, and all I could do was curl up in a fetal position and cry,” said Snyder, who had been planning to retire in March. She later found out her pension would be just fine.

Byrn fired her June 27, telling her she had violated several court rules by providing assistance to Nelson and talking about aspects of the case, even while under seal, to attorneys not involved in the matter.

The judge’s dismissal letter cites numerous recorded phone conversations between Dunnell and Nelson in which they discussed Snyder’s efforts, including the document she provided that Nelson used in his successful DNA motion.

“The document you chose was, in effect, your recommendation for a Motion for DNA testing that would likely be successful in this Division,” Byrn wrote. “But it was clearly improper and a violation of Canon Seven … which warns against the risk of offering an opinion or suggested course of action.”

Court spokeswoman Valerie Hartman said Byrn and other court officials wouldn’t comment on the story for a number of legal and ethical reasons, in addition to it being a personnel matter. Nelson’s attorney, O’Sullivan, also declined to comment.

“I lent an ear to his sister, and maybe I did wrong,” Snyder said. “But if it was my brother, I would go to every resource I could possibly find.

“I think I might have been the answer to his prayers.”

Man freed by Innocence Project victimized by system


MADISON — A man who was freed this month from prison, where he was serving a 102-year sentence for a 1991 rape he didn’t commit, is living in a Madison homeless shelter and doesn’t have enough money to buy the medication he takes for several serious health problems.

Joseph Frey, 54, was convicted in 1994 of raping a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student. He was freed this month after new DNA evidence testing linked the attack to a now deceased man who was convicted of sexually assaulting two sisters in Fond du Lac after the attack on the student. At the time he was convicted, Frey was serving a lengthy prison term for an earlier Brown County sexual assault to which he had pleaded no contest.

When he was released July 12, Frey had less than a week’s supply of the dozen or so drugs he needs for a degenerative bone disease, blood clots and other health problems. He can’t afford more or the required follow-up visits to the doctor.

“I’m transient,” said Frey, who is staying at the homeless shelter at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison. “I have no health coverage. Nothing.”

Wisconsin Innocence Project attorney Tricia Bushnell, who helped get Frey exonerated, said the state doesn’t provide social services like they would for someone released on a mandatory release date.

“In those cases, they get a social worker, they help provide them transitional housing, they look into helping them look for jobs or education,” she told the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/1b4WvQY ).

Frey is now relying on the Innocence Project for help in putting his life back together.

Had he been released in 2005 — after completing his confinement for the Brown County assault — Frey would have gotten some help transitioning beyond prison life, Bushnell said.

Bushnell gave credit to Winnebago County Assistant District Attorney Adam Levin for agreeing to the DNA testing sought by the Innocence Project. It implicated a now-deceased rapist who, his mother told Oshkosh police in April, spent the final months of his life agonizing over an Oshkosh sexual assault he committed that was pinned on another man.

“There’s three victims here, the way I see it,” Frey said. “The victim was victimized repeatedly in this situation. The public was victimized by their representatives of law enforcement in Winnebago County, and I was victimized. And so far, there’s been very little accountability for that.”

If he’s lucky, Frey will qualify for the maximum $25,000 that the state can award to the wrongfully convicted, or $5,000 a year for a maximum of five years. Past efforts to boost that amount and to provide health care, housing and other services for exonerated prisoners have been unsuccessful.

“That’s not even minimum wage for one year,” Frey said. “I mean, look, it’s nothing. Is the injustice that shallow it could be wiped away like that, so nonchalantly? I don’t think so. I just hope that it changes. Because it’s not right.”

Frey insisted he is not bitter about the extra eight years he spent in prison. Self-taught in criminal law, Frey said he hopes for a time when he can “pay it forward” and help other inmates get justice.

http://www.postcrescent.com

Death row inmate Willie Manning granted DNA testing


 

Jul. 25, 2013

 

The Mississippi Supreme Court has given death row inmate Willie Jerome Manning the chance to argue before a judge for DNA and fingerprint testing that he alleges will show him innocent in the deaths of two college students.

The high court on Thursday gave Manning 60 days to file a brief in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, where he was convicted, to support his motion for DNA testing and fingerprint analysis.

The order reversed an earlier decision in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Manning’s request for DNA testing.

Manning argues that technological strides in the past two decades in DNA testing could lead to proof that he is innocent of killing two Mississippi State University students in 1992.

The Supreme Court had stopped Manning’s execution on May 7 so it could further review his arguments.

The bodies of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller were found in rural Oktibbeha County in December 1992. Manning, now 44, was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to death. Prosecutors said Manning was arrested after he tried to sell some items belonging to the victims.

Manning’s efforts to stop his execution were supported by the U.S. Justice Department. The department had said there were errors in FBI agents’ testimony about ballistics tests and hair analysis in the case.

The FBI said its microscopic analysis of evidence, particularly of hair samples found in the car of one of the victims, contained erroneous statements. The FBI also said there was incorrect testimony related to tests on bullets in the case.

The FBI has offered to conduct the DNA testing.

Manning’s lawyers said in filings with the Mississippi Supreme Court that the execution should be blocked based on the Justice Department’s disclosures and until further testing could be done.

The Mississippi attorney general’s office rebutted that testing wouldn’t exonerate Manning because the evidence is so overwhelming.

Also Thursday, the state Supreme Court denied Manning’s request for a hearing on the Justice Department’s filings on the reliability of expert testimony. It also denied Manning’s request to have his convictions set aside.

Man gets death penalty in 1992 killing of 6-year-old- Obel Cruz-Garcia


July 19, 2013 http://www.chron.com

It took more than two decades for Angelo Garcia‘s mother to see her 6-year-old son’s killer sent to death row.

On Friday, she said it was worth it.

It’s the greatest news, and it took 21 years,” the woman said after jurors sent Obel Cruz-Garcia to death row for the 1992 slaying. “It was good when they got the DNA, but this is better.”

Cruz-Garcia marks the first defendant from Harris County this year to receive the death penalty.

Over the past two weeks, jurors heard a brutal story about a home invasion that turned into a rape that turned into a kidnapping and murder. They also learned it was the sexual assault that ultimately led police to identify the 45-year-old.

Cruz-Garcia was serving time for kidnapping in Puerto Rico in 2007 when DNA from the 15-year-old rape kit tied him to the 1992 case.

Cruz-Garcia and another man were wearing ski masks when they broke in to the family’s south Houston apartment around midnight on Sept. 30, 1992.

The child’s mother and stepfather testified they were part of the defendant’s cocaine-trafficking operation. They said they were tied up while the duo ransacked the home.

The men then fled with Angelo in a car driven by a third man, who testified that Cruz-Garcia and the other suspect took the child to a Baytown lake, where he was stabbed. His remains were found in the lake about a month later.

On Monday, jurors convicted Cruz-Garcia of capital murder after deliberating about four hours. After days of more testimony, they sentenced him to die Friday.

Thinking about the time between crime and punishment left the victim’s family weeping after the verdict.

‘Waited all these years’

“We just waited all these years, all this time, and it finally happened,” said Angelo’s brother, James Garcia, with tears in his eyes.

Cruz-Garcia, who jumped bail on a felony drug case to flee the country two days after the abduction, was brought back to Houston in 2008 for trial.

Prosecutors praised the verdict after jurors deliberated about seven hours over two days.

“It’s an important decision, and sometimes it takes some people a little bit longer to get there,” said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Natalie Tise. “All in all, they weren’t deliberating all that long.”

Defense lawyers for Cruz-Garcia said they were disappointed and that the defendant is focused on his appeal.

Cruz-Garcia did not react to the verdict when read by state District Judge Renee Magee.

“He was pretty even-keeled through the entire trial,” said defense attorney Mario Madrid. “He didn’t show a lot of emotion during the trial or after trial.”

Cruz-Garcia has denied any involvement in the home invasion, the abduction or the child’s death.

Texas death row inmate awaits final judgement – Hank Skinner


June 23, 2013 http://www.france24.com

Hank Skinner escaped execution in 2010 by only 20 minutes after a dramatic 11th-hour reprieve. He now regards this as a miracle.

The 51-year-old, who was convicted in 1995 of the brutal triple murder of his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons, has protested his innocence for years, despite DNA evidence against him.

Haunted by the possibility of execution, the wait has taken a mental toll, says Skinner, who admits that in one sense, death may come as a relief.

“Living under the sentence of death is never off, it’s always on your mind. It’s always sitting on your chest, it’s always on your shoulders and they’re killing people about once a week. It’s so heavy because there’s a pall of death over this place,” he told AFP in an interview.

He tries to paint a picture for outsiders: “If someone kidnaps you and takes you down to the basement and they have jail cells there, six of them. There are six people here and every morning they come down with a gun with six bullets. They point it at you and you hear somebody die right next to you”.

“The first 10 times it happens, you think you’d be glad it’s not you, but after so many times, watching it happen to somebody else, you’d be praying the gun would go off on you.”

Texas prosecutors argue that recently re-examined DNA evidence taken from the crime scene proves Skinner’s guilt.

They point to a knife found caked with his blood, and blood spattering on the walls of a room where two of the killings took place.

Skinner’s legal team counter by insisting the DNA evidence paints only a partial picture of the scene, that Skinner was injured and that questions remain about the disappearance of a bloody jacket worn by Busby’s late uncle.

Skinner points out that the first round of tests showed the presence of a third person’s DNA at the scene whose name has not been determined.

As things stand, barring another twist to his case, Prisoner Number 999-143 is still on death row, at the Polunsky Unit jail in Texas.

But Skinner said he has not given up hope of a final reprieve.

And while he insists he is innocent, he is adamant that even the guilty among his fellow death-row inmates deserve pity.

“I’ve been here 20 years now and they have killed 400 people since I’ve been here,” he says into a telephone sitting behind a reinforced glass divide. The 500th execution is scheduled for Wednesday in nearby Huntsville.

“People don’t realize, they say ‘Oh these guys are monsters’ or whatever. They’re not, they’re just regular people just like me”.

“You walk in the normal world you’d find the same people you find here, they’re just people who made terrible awful mistakes but they can’t be judged by the single worst thing they’ve done in their life.”

During his incarceration, Skinner has married a French wife, the militant anti-death penalty activist Sandrine Ageorges, who regularly visits him.

Skinner longs for a day when he can taste freedom and take Ageorges in his arms.

“The girlfriend that was killed she was the woman of my dreams,” says Skinner. “I have the same thing for Sandrine. You’ve seen love at the first sight, that’s pretty much what it was.

“I definitely see her as my second chance, we think so much alike, it’s amazing. We got married by proxy … when I get out of here we’re gonna have another marriage ceremony where I can be there and I can really kiss her.”

Despite the looming veil of execution, Skinner says he retains a lust for life. “I am a big party person, I like to make love, I like to have a good time, I like to laugh, to tell jokes,” he says.

He regards his 2010 reprieve, when the US Supreme Court stayed his execution in order to consider the question of whether DNA tests not requested by his trial lawyer could be carried out, as a “miracle.”

He vividly recalls his last meal, the journey to the execution chamber, and the realization that he had been spared.

“When they took me over there to kill me … they brought my last meal.

“I ate it all, the whole time I could look right up in bars through this door and there’s the gurney and the microphone hanging there and the witness window. Literally looking at death”.

“Getting in a bus to go to a place you’ve never been, like a different planet. The unknown, I’ve never died before. I don’t know what it’s like. But I know it’s permanent,” he laughs.

“My head was buzzing, and I dropped the phone. I couldn’t hear anything, I thought I was floating. I couldn’t believe it,” he said of the moment when he realized he had escaped execution by a matter of minutes.

Although he holds out hope of winning his freedom, Skinner has revealed the last words he then had thought of: “Before this body is even cold, I will walk again.”

Texas AG: New tests don’t clear death row inmate – HANK SKINNER


November 14, 2012

New DNA testing in the case of a Texas Panhandle man on death row for a New Year’s Eve triple-slaying doesn’t support an alternate theory of the crime, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

Hank Skinner once came within an hour of execution for the 1993 killings of girlfriend Twila Busby and her two grown sons in Pampa, about 50 miles northeast of Amarillo. Now 50, Skinner’s execution has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Both his attorney and prosecutors agreed in June to new DNA testing of evidence.

The attorney general’s office filed a court advisory Wednesday that says new testing “does not support Skinner’s claim that an alternative suspect is the real killer.”

Skinner has argued he wasn’t the killer because he was passed out on a couch from a mix of vodka and codeine. The AG’s advisory says traces of Skinner’s DNA were located in blood in the bedroom where one of Busby’s sons, Randy Busby, was found stabbed to death. Prosecutors said his DNA also was matched to blood stains throughout the house.

Skinner attorney Rob Owen objected to Wednesday’s advisory, calling its findings premature. In a statement, Owen said it was “troubling” that the AG’s office submitted a report while testing was still ongoing. The AG’s office says both sides are discussing whether to conduct more tests.

We will remain unable to draw any strong conclusions about whether the DNA testing has resolved the stubborn questions about Hank Skinner’s guilt or innocence until additional DNA testing has been completed, and the data underlying that DNA testing has been made available to our experts for a detailed review,” Owen said in the statement.

While Skinner’s DNA was found on the handle of a bloody knife on Twila Busby’s front porch, Owen said the handle also had genetic material from two other people: Busby’s other slain son, Elwin Caler, and a third person other than Skinner or the victims. Owen said an unknown person’s DNA also was found on the carpet of the sons’ bedroom.

Skinner has acknowledged he argued with Busby on the night she was killed and that he was inside the house where the victim’s bodies were found. He was found about three hours after the bodies were discovered, hiding in a closet at the home of a woman he knew. Blood from at least two of the victims was found on him.

The attorney general’s office had argued against DNA testing, which Skinner’s trial attorneys did not request, but changed course. The state agreed to allow testing of a list of 40 items, though not a windbreaker jacket Skinner’s advocates consider crucial to establishing an alternate suspect’s guilt.

TEXAS – EXECUTION – Ramon Hernandez, November 14, 2012 EXECUTED 6.38 p.m


Ramon Torres Hernandez, 39, was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m., 26 minutes after the lethal dose was administered. His lawyers had filed an appeal earlier Wednesday, but it was denied, paving the way for his execution for the murder of Rosia Maria Rosado in 2001.

Hernandez turned his head and addressed his brother, Daniel Hernandez, after the warden asked him if he had a final statement.
“Did I ever tell you, you have Dad’s eyes? I have noticed that in the last couple of days,” Ramon Hernandez said. “I’m sorry for putting you through all of this. Tell everyone I love them. It was good seeing the kids. I love them all, tell mom, everybody. I am very sorry for all the pain.”
 His brother, standing close to the glass and crying said: “I love you.”
Because Texas no longer allows inmates to order special last meals, Hernandez ate the same food as everyone else in his unitBecause Texas no longer allows inmates to order special last meals, Hernandez ate the same food as everyone else in his unit

Final confession sought from death row murderer

since then, prosecutors have also tied Ramón Hernandez, 39, to the murders of two young girls and say he could be responsible for even more killings.

But Rico Valdez, who serves as the appellate division chief for the Bexar County District Attorneys Office, fears Hernandez may take the answers to those unsolved murders to the grave since prosecutors are nearly out of time. It is the eleventh hour for Bexar County prosecutors seeking a confession on at least two more murders from Hernandez and they are doing everything they can in the next 24-hours to get him to talk.

“We’re still hopeful in the hours that we have left that we’ll have that opportunity, but there are no guarantees,” explained Valdez.

Valdez has been working to get a confession from Hernandez on two unsolved murders ever since the DA’s office first learned about the cases.

According to Valdez, “Jennifer Taylor and Laura Gamez, they disappeared or they were last seen in November 9, 1994 and their bodies were discovered April 15, 1995 the next year.”

The young girls’ bodies were discovered on a ranch belonging to Hernandez’ uncle in Bandera County one year after they were killed.

“Unfortunately, because the bodies had been exposed to the elements we weren’t able to obtain any DNA linking Hernandez directly to the crime.”

But he added Hernandez’ style of killings from the murder and rape of Rosado from 2001 and two young cousins: Sarah Gonzales and Priscilla Almarez in 1994 matches the murders of Taylor and Gamez.

The DA’s office was able to obtain indictments for Hernandez in the killings of those two cousins dating back to 1994. The deaths of Taylor and Gamez are still considered unsolved.

The DA’s office has once again reached out to Hernandez through his attorney in recent days to get answers in those unsolved cases. He has declined speaking to them again. However, prosecutors remain optimistic that he will change his mind.

November 13, 2012 http://www.mysanantonio.com

Ramon Hernandez stands as jurors enter the courtroom for his trial in the death of Rosa Maria Rosado on  October 1, 2002. Photo: ROBERT MCLEROY, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Ramon Hernandez is set to be executed Wednesday for the 2001 abduction, rape and killing of Rosa Maria Rosado.Rosa Maria Rosado, 37 was found dead in a shallow grave near UTSA Boulevard and Loop 1604. / SA

But the man prosecutors have called a serial rapist and murderer is known to have other victims.

Rosado, whose body was found in a shallow grave near Loop 1604 and UTSA Boulevard, was the first of five victims authorities connected to Hernandez or named him as suspect. It was his only conviction.

The single mom, 37, was snatched from a bus stop near Highway 90 and Military Drive. She was bound with tape, had her head covered and was driven to a Culebra Road motel, where she was killed.

By the time Hernandez was linked to Rosado’s homicide, the families of Sarah Gonzales, 13, and Priscilla Almares, 12, had been searching seven years for answers in the young cousins’ killings.

This is a composite image of Sarah Beth Gonzales (left) and her cousin Priscilla Almares (right) before they were murdered in 1994. Gonzales was 13 and Almares was 12 at the time of the murders. The man responsible for the murders, Ramon Hernandez, is scheduled to be executed on November 14, 2012. Hernandez, however, is being executed for murdering and raping another woman, Rosa Maria Rosado, 37, in 1994. This image was provided by Sarah Beth Gonzales' father, John Gonzales. Photo: JOHN DAVENPORT, San Antonio Express-News / © San Antonio Express-News

“I can’t explain the feeling; I can’t explain the hurt,” said John Gonzales, father of Sarah and uncle to Priscilla. “Unless you walk in my shoes, you just can’t imagine it. You’re kind of numb. There’s disbelief it happened.”

For Gonzales, there also was disbelief that police had found his daughter’s killer. But after they told him about DNA evidence that linked Hernandez to the crime, he finally could stop searching.

Hernandez also is the main suspect in a 1995 Bandera County case involving two teens reported missing about a month before Sarah and Priscilla.

At the time of all of the homicides, Hernandez was on parole for breaking into a house and allegedly raping a woman.

While Hernandez wasn’t convicted in the killings of Sarah and Priscilla, Gonzales said justice was done because authorities announced they closed the case using DNA.

Gonzalez said no one from their family planned to witness the execution.

Hernandez, 41, declined to comment. His attorney, Robin Norris, requested a commutation of Hernandez’s sentence to life without parole, arguing that his client was a party to the crime but didn’t rape or kill Rosado.

Norris pointed to Hernandez’s co-defendant, Santos Minjarez, as the main culprit.

Minjarez also was sentenced to death in a separate trial. He died of natural causes in Jan. 2012 before his execution was set.

Hernandez was afraid of Minjarez and he also was withdrawing from addictive medication prescribed as part of his parole, Norris said.

The medication was to treat anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders that developed after Hernandez watched his father get shot in front of him, he added. That made Hernandez more susceptible to Minjarez’s suggestions, Norris said.

“Clearly he’s responsible in some measure for this,” Norris said. “But in the past, the governor has commuted a sentence if the person didn’t commit the offense by his own person.”

The status of the commutation request wasn’t available. Both Hernandez and Minjarez pointed to each other as the murderer in their separate trials, according to previous stories. Prosecutors pointed to Sarah and Priscilla’s cases to show a pattern.

“They were like sisters,” Gonzales said. “They disappeared together. They found them together and we buried them together.”

The two girls last were seen on Timbercreek Drive the evening of Dec. 16, 1994. They were expected at their church for caroling, Gonzales said. Their bodies were discovered in Rodriguez Park the next day.

At least the girls were found quickly, Gonzales said.

That wasn’t the case with Laura Gamez and Jennifer Taylor, both 15 when reported missing two days apart in November 1994, previous reports state. Their bodies weren’t found until April, 1995, according to previous stories.

After San Antonio police linked Hernandez to Rosado, Sarah and Priscilla, Bandera County authorities revealed he was the prime suspect in the deaths of Laura and Jennifer.

An autopsy couldn’t determine rape, but they had been strangled, a previous report states.

The Express-News was unable to find the families of either teen.

Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said recently that investigators still hoped to talk to Hernandez about the unsolved cases.

Whether Rosado’s family planned to attend the execution wasn’t known. Rosado’s sister declined to comment. Attempts to reach Rosado’s daughter weren’t successful.

She was 14 when her mom was killed and the first to report her missing after Rosado failed to come home from a night shift at a telemarketing firm April 1, 2001, court documents said.

“Mom, please call and let me know you are OK,” read a sign she posted in her neighborhood, a previous report said. “I miss you, please come home. Love Patricia.”

Hernandez’s girlfriend Asel Abdygapparova led police to Rosado’s body five days after she was abducted.

Then 26 and a University of Texas at San Antonio exchange student from Kazakhstan, Abdygapparova was pregnant with Hernandez’s child, who would be born after her arrest.

She was with Hernandez and Minjarez when Minjarez spotted Rosado as a possible robbery victim, previous stories said.

They grabbed her from the bus stop and took her to the motel, she told police. She left to buy a shovel and bleach while Rosado was raped.

Police first considered Abdygapparova a witness but later arrested her. Prosecutors wanted the death penalty.

She feared Hernandez and was under control, she said during testimony in her defense. Jurors sentenced her to life in prison but an appeals court overturned that decision in 2007. She’s still in Bexar County Jail awaiting a new trial.

Her attorney didn’t return calls for an interview request.

Gonzales takes no comfort in Hernandez’s execution. It took many years of praying to forgive Hernandez and to tame the anger he felt.

“It festers inside of you; it eats you up and can totally destroy you” he said.

He and knows the pain Hernandez’s mother will feel. He does not wish that on anyone, he said.

“I did tell his mom that one day she would walk in my shoes,” Gonzales said. “I said to her when he did go to prison she would have the opportunity to write him or go visit him. Now for me, for my family, when we want to go see (Sarah and Priscilla), we can’t physically see them. We go anyway. … They are just shells now. Their spirits are in Heaven.”