Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit described McDonald’s murder as follows:
On April 14, 2001, three young men walked out of a nightclub in Navarro County and got into a car. Kevin Williams sat in the front passenger seat, and Dexter McDonald sat in the right rear passenger seat. Christopher Lane, the car’s owner, got into the driver’s seat but then got back out to talk to someone. Shortly thereafter, Ronnie Threadgill ran up and fired two shots from a handgun. The first shot did not hit anyone. The second shot hit McDonald. The bullet passed through McDonald’s arm and went into his chest. Williams got out of the car. Threadgill got into the driver’s seat and began to drive away, but he then stopped at a nearby stop sign, pulled McDonald out of the car, left him on the ground, and got back in the car and drove away. McDonald was taken to a hospital, where he died from the gunshot wound.
At trial, Williams testified that the first shot was fired from outside the car, and that when the second shot was fired, the shooter was standing outside the car, bent over into the car. Danyel Nellums, who was nearby when the shooting happened, testified that McDonald was intoxicated and was sitting in the back seat with his head leaning against the window frame. Nellums specifically denied defense counsel’s suggestion that McDonald was lying down or stretched out on the seat.
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 punishment phase of the trial, 10 witnesses nine of whom were law enforcement officers or public officials testified that they knew of Threadgill’s reputation in the community for being peaceful and law-abiding and that it was bad or very bad.
The prosecution established that Threadgill had prior misdemeanor convictions for assault, resisting arrest, theft, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and possession of marijuana, as well as prior felony convictions for possession of cocaine and burglary.
Threadgill, who was 29 years old at the time of trial, had been incarcerated for most of the time since he had turned 18. During his incarceration, according to law enforcement officers who testified at sentencing, Threadgill had (1) gotten into a fight with another inmate; (2) been disciplined for threatening other inmates; and (3) been found wearing the wrong color jumpsuit, which could have made it easier for him to escape.
The prosecution also introduced two witnesses’s testimony indicating that Threadgill had committed a previous shooting in Limestone County.
A Navarro County grand jury indicted Threadgill for the offense of capital murder.
On July 18, 2002, a jury convicted Threadgill of capital murder. After the jury recommended capital punishment on July 19, 2002, the trial court sentenced Threadgill to death by lethal injection.
On October 13, 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Threadgill’s sentence.
On May 13, 2004, Threadgill also filed an application for a state writ of habeas corpus with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court denied Threadgill’s application on October 5, 2005.
Threadgill then appealed his conviction and sentence in federal district court. On August 10, 2009, the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, denied his petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus.
On May 12, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s denial of relief.
On October 1, 2011, Threadgill filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review on January 17, 2012.
On August 28, 2012, the 13th District Court of Navarro County scheduled Threadgill’s execution to take place on April 16, 2013.
On April 11, 2013, Threadgill filed in the U.S. Supreme Court a petition for writ of certiorari and an application for stay of execution.
On April 12, 2013, the state filed in the U.S. Supreme Court a brief in opposition to Threadgill's petition for writ of certiorari and a response to his application for stay of execution.
On April 15, 2013, Threadfill filed a reply in the U.S. Supreme Court.
For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.