A 27-year-old man found guilty of raping and fatally shooting a woman while she was in bed with her two elementary school-age children is to be executed in Texas this week.
Kenneth Parr is set to die today. Linda Malek's daughter, who was eight years old when she witnessed her mother's rape and murder, testified at Parr's trial. Her brother was six years old.
The Jan. 21, 1998, slaying -- the only homicide that year in Matagorda County, where Malek lived -- happened four days after Parr turned 18. The US Supreme Court has ruled that people convicted of crimes committed as minors cannot be executed.
In a late bid to save Parr's life, his lawyer John Haughton argued to the US Supreme Court that Parr's execution is improper because Parr was not notified when the date would be set by his trial judge, and neither he nor his lawyer had an opportunity to contest it in court. The appeal also challenged Texas' lethal injection procedure, saying it is unconstitutionally cruel.
Parr's younger half-brother, Michael Jiminez, also was convicted in the case and is serving a life sentence. He was 17 at the time of Malek's death. Court records show that Parr has two other brothers in prison and that his mother served time for forgery.
He would be the 20th condemned prisoner to be put to death in Texas this year and the first of five set to die in a 15 day-period. Five more are scheduled to die next month as Texas enhances its notoriety as the US' most active capital punishment state. Parr would also be the 399th Texas inmate executed since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982.
Parr was in trouble well before he reached adulthood. He had earlier convictions for burglary and assault and was on parole from the Texas Youth Commission at the time of Malek's slaying.
Testimony showed Parr and Jiminez, who were staying with friends at an apartment across the street, pushed open the door to Malek's trailer home, stole a TV set and video recorder, jewelry and other items. Malek, 30, was raped and shot twice in the back of the head with a .22-caliber rifle police found in an air conditioning vent at the apartment of Parr's girlfriend.
After the intruders left, Malek's daughter, Ashley Thompson, called her grandparents.
"I remember hearing two gunfires," she said from the witness stand at Parr's capital murder trial.
Steven Reis, the who prosecuted Parr and Jiminez, said the girl's testimony "was extremely moving because it gave the jury a firsthand understanding of the terrors of that night and the cold, narcissistic attitudes of the killers."
"That was terrifying, to get up in front of somebody who killed your mother," Thompson, now 18, told the Houston Chronicle. "I felt like he needed to know what he took from me. He took away so much."
Records show Parr was removed from his mother's custody because he and his siblings were unsupervised, abused by his mother's boyfriends, had no stable parenting and were exposed to criminal activity and substance abuse.
A witness testified that Jiminez had said he and Parr, who did not testify, shot Malek and had planned to kill her children, but the rusty gun would not fire.
On a Web site devoted to this case, Parr said he is suffering "grave misjustices," including a wrongful conviction.