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Fort Worth Gang Member To Die For Killing Girl, Grandmother

Former Fort Worth street gang member Erick Davila is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening


Photo via Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Death row inmate Erick Davila.

Attorneys for a Texas inmate want the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his scheduled execution for the shooting deaths of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother during a birthday party 10 years ago outside a Fort Worth apartment.

Former Fort Worth street gang member Erick Davila is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening.

Lawyers for the 31-year-old Davila argue it’s improper for the elected Tarrant County district attorney to be involved in the case because she was the judge at Davila’s 2009 trial. They also contend evidence that Davila may have been high on drugs at the time of the shooting improperly was withheld from defense attorneys.

State lawyers are contesting the arguments.

Davila was convicted of killing Queshawn Stevenson and her 48-year-old grandmother, Annette Stevenson.

Davila landed on death row eight years ago after the April 2008 murders. He drove to the house of a rival gang member, Jerry Stevenson, and opened fire on the porch before speeding off, according to court filings. Davila didn't hit Stevenson, however; instead, he fatally shot the man's mother and daughter, Annette Stevenson and 5-year-old Queshawn, who were outside during another girl's birthday party.

For a jury to have found Davila guilty of capital murder in this case, they needed to have determined that he intended to kill multiple people. Davila's main defense in trial was that he only intended to kill Jerry Stevenson. Tarrant County prosecutors countered that argument by pointing to Davila’s confession to police: "I was trying to get the guys on the porch, and I was trying to get [Jerry Stevenson]."

As jurors deliberated, they focused on the intent issue, asking the judge if they should decide if Davila intended to kill his two victims or if he intended to kill someone and in the process fatally shot two others.

In his answer, the judge sent the definitions again and instructed jurors that Davila would be responsible for a crime if the only difference between what happened and what he wanted was that a different person was hurt — without affirming to them that Davila must have intended to kill more than one person.

"The judge responded with a misleading instruction, which permitted the jury to convict Davila based only on the intent to kill Jerry Stevenson," Kretzer wrote in Davila's brief to the high court.

Davila's lawyer during his trial objected that the judge should not add that instruction at that time, but he was overruled. It was the right move by the lawyer but one that hurt Davila in the long run, Kretzer claimed.