Friday, August 3, 2012
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, citing the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal’s description of the facts, described the murder of Jerry Williams as follows:
On November 4, 1992, Officer Robert Roberts and other police officers entered [Wilson’s] apartment pursuant to a search warrant. Jerry Williams was the confidential informant whose information enabled Roberts to obtain the warrant. Williams entered and left the apartment minutes before the police went in. [Wilson], Vincent Webb, and a juvenile female were present in the apartment. Over 24 grams of cocaine were found, and appellant and Webb were arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Appellant was subsequently released on bond, but Webb remained in jail. Sometime after the incident, [Wilson] told Terry Lewis that someone had snitched on [Wilson], that the snitch was never going to have the chance to have someone else busted, and that appellant was going to get him.
On November 9, 1992, several observers saw an incident take place in the parking lot in front of Mike’s Grocery. Vanessa Zeno and Denise Ware were together in the parking lot. Caroline Robinson and her daughter Coretta Robinson were inside the store. Julius Lavergne was outside the store, but came in at some point to relay information to Caroline. The doors to Mike’s Grocery were made of clear glass, and Coretta stood by the door and watched. Zeno, Ware, Coretta, and Lavergne watched the events unfold while Caroline called the police. These witnesses testified consistently although some witnesses noticed details not noticed by others.
In the parking lot, [Wilson] stood over Williams and beat him. [Wilson] asked Williams, What do you want to be a snitch for? Do you know what we do to a snitch? Do you want to die right here? In response, Williams begged for his life. Andrew Lewis, Terry’s husband, was pumping gasoline in his car at the time. Williams ran away from [Wilson] and across the street to a field.
[Wilson] pursued Williams and caught him. Andrew drove the car to the field. While Williams struggled against them, [Wilson] and Andrew forced Williams into the car. At some point during this incident, either in front of Mike’s Grocery, across the street, or at both places, Andrew participated in hitting Williams and [Wilson] asked Andrew: Where’s the gun? [Wilson] told Andrew to get the gun and said that he ([Wilson]) wanted to kill Williams. They drove toward the Mobil refinery. Zeno and Ware drove back to their apartments, which were close by, and when they arrived, they heard what sounded like gunshots from the direction of the Mobil plant.
On December 18, 1992, a Jefferson County grand jury indicted Wilson for murdering Jerry Williams.
On April 28, 1994, a Jefferson County jury found Wilson guilty of murdering Jerry Williams. After the jury recommended capital punishment, the court sentenced Wilson to death by lethal injection.
On December 11, 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Wilson’s conviction and remanded for a new trial.
On February 28, 1998, Wilson was again found guilty of murdering Jerry Williams by a Jefferson County jury. After the jury recommended capital punishment, the court sentenced Wilson to death by lethal injection.
On December 8, 1999, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Wilson’s conviction and sentence.
On March 7, 2000, Wilson’s conviction and sentence became final when the time for filing a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court expired.
On December 27, 1999, Wilson sought to challenge his conviction and sentence by seeking an application for a state writ of habeas corpus with the state trial court. The trial court detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that Wilson’s application be denied.
On October 11, 2000, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the trial court’s findings and conclusions and denied habeas relief.
On October 11, 2001, Wilson filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
On July 11, 2002, the district court issued an order dismissing Wilson’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
On September 6, 2002, the district court denied Wilson’s request for a Certificate of Appealability (COA).
On July 17, 2003, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of relief and COA.
On June 19, 2003, Wilson filed a second or successive state writ of habeas corpus raising a claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia.
On November 10, 2003, the Fifth Circuit Court denied Wilson’s motion for authorization to file a second federal writ without prejudice.
In May 2004 the state trial court, Judge Walker, held the first of two evidentiary hearings on Wilson’s Atkins claim. At the conclusion of the hearings, Judge Walker realized he had previously represented Wilson and recused himself voluntarily with the consent of the State and defense.
In July 2004, the state trial court, Judge Gist, took judicial notice of the first hearing and conducted a second evidentiary hearing on the Atkins claim.
On August 31, 2004, the state trial court recommended that relief be denied on Wilson’s second state writ.
On November 10, 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the district courts findings and conclusions and denied habeas relief.
Wilson filed a successive writ in federal district court and, on December 10, 2004, Wilson moved in the Fifth Circuit Court to reinstate his prior request for authorization to file a successive writ.
On December 14, 2004, the Fifth Circuit Court returned Wilson’s motion for reinstatement in light of its prior ruling.
On December 15, 2004, the district court dismissed Wilson’s successive writ for lack of authorization.
On December 22, 2004, Wilson renamed and resubmitted his motion for reinstatement to the Fifth Circuit Court.
On December 13, 2005, the Fifth Circuit Court held that Wilson’s successive petition was untimely.
On January 9, 2006, Wilson petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court for rehearing en banc.
On March 10, 2006, the Fifth Circuit Court withdrew its original opinion and substituted a new one which equitably tolled the statute of limitations and granted Wilson’s motion for authorization.
On July 30, 2006, Wilson timely filed an amended successive federal writ in the district court.
On March 31, 2009, the district court denied Wilson’s successive motion for habeas relief on the merits.
On July 7, 2009, the district court granted Wilson’s application for a COA.
On March 30, 2010, Wilson filed a motion for post-judgment relief in the district court.
On January 4, 2011, the district court denied post-judgment relief.
On November 16, 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court affirmed the findings of the district court denying Wilson habeas relief.
On December 19, 2011, Wilson filed a petition for en banc rehearing in the Fifth Circuit Court.
On February 23, 2012 the Fifth Circuit Court ordered that Wilson’s petition for en banc rehearing was mooted, and denied it as a petition for panel rehearing. It replaced a paragraph in the 11/16/11 order with a supplemented paragraph.
On February 29, 2012 Wilson filed a motion for leave to file a document supplementing his petition.
On April 19, 2012 the Fifth Circuit Court issued the mandate and denied Wilson’s motion for leave in light of the revised opinion.
On April 30, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court granted Wilson’s motion to extend time for the filing of his certiorari petition.
On July 19, 2012 Wilson timely filed his certiorari petition in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment.
During the penalty phase of Wilson’s trial, jurors learned that Wilson had previously been convicted of robbery or aggravated robbery three times. Wilson was convicted of two aggravated robberies in 1981. In one of those aggravated robberies he pointed a shotgun at a clerk of a convenience store. He was convicted of robbery in 1987. Several law enforcement agents who were familiar with Wilson’s reputation and character testified that Wilson’s reputation for being a peaceable and law abiding citizen was bad and that, in their opinion, his character was bad.
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.