Thursday, February 21, 2013
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, described the facts surrounding Carmen Richards-Sanders’s murder as follows:
Blue left his College Station apartment in the early morning hours of August 19, 1994. He walked seven miles to Bryan where the victim, his ex-girlfriend Carmen Richards-Sanders, lived. Blue entered a convenience store across the street from her apartment complex three times: once to purchase a beer, one to pay for fifty cents worth of gasoline, and once to obtain a soda cup.
At the same time, [Carmen] readied herself for work. She was not alone in the apartment; Larence Williams was an eyewitness to the events that would unfold. A few minutes before eight o’clock, [Carmen] prepared to leave. As Mr. Williams wished her goodbye, she unlocked the door [, but before she could open it, Blue threw it open from the outside].
Blue entered the apartment, doused [Carmen] with gasoline, and set her on fire with a lighter. As Mr. Williams stepped out of the kitchen, Blue threw gasoline on him and also lit him on fire. Blue then turned to [Carmen], emptied the last bit of gasoline from his cup, and said I told you I was gonna get you. Blue threw the cup down on the floor and left.
Mr. Williams rolled on the floor, but could not entirely put the flames out. He struggled to the bathroom shower and extinguished the remaining sparks. [Carmen], still burning, stumbled into the bathroom. Mr. Williams helped her into the shower. Because Blue’s assault had also set the room aflame, Mr. Williams and [Carmen] staggered from the apartment. Mr. Williams spent two weeks in the hospital recovering. Blue’s assault caused [third] degree burns over 40% of [Carmen’s] body. She died 19 days later from multi-system organ failure resulting from her burns..
On October 27, 1994, a Brazos County grand jury indicted Blue for the capital murder of Carmen Richards-Sanders.
On April 19, 1995, having been convicted of capital murder, Blue was sentenced to death.
On December 4, 1996, Blue’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on direct appeal.
Blue then filed an application for habeas corpus relief, which was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals on January 13, 1999.
After Blue sought federal habeas relief, he was granted a new punishment trial on the basis of Saldano error by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, on December 4, 2000.
On October 10, 2001, Blue was again sentenced to death.
On October 22, 2003, Blue’s sentence was again affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals. A petition for a writ of certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 4, 2004.
The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Blue’s state habeas application stemming from the second punishment trial on November 10, 2004.
Blue then filed a third state habeas application alleging that he was mentally retarded and therefore ineligible to be executed. After oral argument, the Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed this application pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071, Section 5(a)(3) on March 7, 2007.
Blue filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The federal district court denied Blue’s petition on August 19, 2010.
After oral argument, the Fifth Circuit rejected Blue’s appeal on December 22, 2011, and affirmed the denial of habeas corpus relief by the district court. Blue filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, but the Court denied certiorari review on October 1, 2012.
On November 15, 2012, the 272nd state district court scheduled Blue’s execution for February 21, 2013..
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.
In addition to the brutality of the crime against Richards-Sanders, the prosecution established that Blue had a history of violence, especially toward current and former girlfriends. Specifically, Blue sexually assaulted one girlfriend, threatened to kill her and broke into her house. Blue beat another girlfriend when she was eight months pregnant. He also cocked a gun, put it to her head and threatened to kill her and there were times when Blue would hit her in the face and jaw until she was unable to eat. Finally, Blue was a disciplinary problem while incarcerated in the county jail for the second punishment trial..
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.