Posted: Feb 21, 2013 11:07 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2013 11:07 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A man who doused his ex-girlfriend in gasoline and set her on fire looked to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to keep him from execution that evening.
Carl Blue, 48, was set for lethal injection for the September 1994 death of Carmen Richards-Sanders, 38, at her apartment in Bryan, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. Blue also tossed gasoline on a man in the apartment. He was burned severely but recovered to testify against Blue.
Prosecutors said the attack was the result of jealousy. Blue said it was a prank gone wrong or an accident.
Blue's last-day appeal to the Supreme Court came after lower courts refused to halt the execution, which would be the first this year in the nation's most active death penalty state.
Prosecutors said Blue walked seven miles from his home to a convenience store and drank malt liquor and smoked crack behind the store before he bought 50 cents' worth of gasoline he put in a "Big Gulp" cup. Court records said he waited outside Richards-Sanders' apartment, then rushed in when she opened the door, telling her: "I told you I was going to get you." He doused Richards-Sanders and ignited her.
She had been trying to start her life over after the couple broke up months earlier, "and Carl wasn't part of that, and that was a problem for Carl," said Shane Phelps, a prosecutor at Blue's punishment trial.
When Blue discovered another man, Larence Williams, at the apartment, he threw what was left of the gasoline on Williams, setting him on fire.
"He had only one true love in his life ... and here she was with another guy," recalled John Quinn, the lead defense attorney at Blue's 1995 trial.
Hours later, Blue turned himself in to police.
Blue's present appeals attorney, Michael Charlton, argued this week it was a conflict of interest for one of Quinn's co-counsels to represent him in appeals because he likely wouldn't contend his previous work was legally deficient. The conflict "resulted in valuable and worthwhile claims not being presented to any court," Charlton said.
The Texas Attorney General's office said the federal appeals were meritless because Blue had waived his right to a different lawyer, negating the conflict claim.
Five years after Blue's conviction, his death sentence was among about a half-dozen in Texas overturned by a federal judge who ruled it was improper for a former state prison psychologist to testify the black man's race could indicate a propensity for violence.
Blue again was sentenced to die at a second punishment trial in 2001.
At least 11 other prisoners are scheduled for lethal injection in the coming months in Texas, which executed 15 inmates last year.