A Houston man convicted for the 2002 fatal shooting of his 19-month old namesake son after an hours-long standoff with police was executed on Tuesday.
Timothy Wayne Adams received a lethal injection for the death of his son, Timothy Jr., who was shot twice at close range by his father after the standoff at his family’s apartment.
The execution took place about 35 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from Adams.
Adams, 42, declined to make a final statement, shaking his head no when asked if he had any final words.
He let out a series of final gasps as the lethal injection took effect. Ten minutes later, at 6:31 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead.
Adams was the second Texas prisoner put to death this year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state.
Prosecutors said the toddler’s slaying was intended as retaliation by Adams against his wife because she was leaving him.
Defense attorneys argued the killing was an aberration in an otherwise law-abiding life.
Adams’ family had asked that his sentence be commuted to life in prison without parole. His parents, brother and sister witnessed the execution.
Last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a request to recommend that Gov. Rick Perry commute his sentence to life in prison. It also turned down a request for a four-month execution delay.
Adams’ lawyers had argued that his sentence was unconstitutional and that the instructions to his trial jury were flawed. They also contend that his clean prison record belied the jury’s finding that Adams would be a future threat, one of the questions Texas jurors must decide when deliberating a death sentence.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Adams’ attorneys had argued that a 2007 court ruling in Texas, which reduced a death sentence to life in prison for a mother convicted of killing her newborn infant son, should apply to him as well because the cases are similar. They argued that his stress and depression were similar to the mother and that like her he also had no prior criminal record.
Evidence showed Adams shot his son twice at close range.
Harris County prosecutors said Adams shot his son a second time after the first shot didn’t kill the toddler.
“If you’re capable of killing your own infant with a gun, you’re capable of anything,” said Lance Long, one of the prosecutors at trial.
Adams took his toddler son hostage after getting into an argument with his wife and her 15-year-old son, whom Adams had threatened with a gun. His wife and the children were moving out of the family’s southwest Houston apartment after she had discovered Adams was keeping the gun in their home.
After Adams’ wife called 911, he fired at her but missed. His wife and the teen ran from the apartment without the toddler, who had earlier run to his father.
During an hours-long standoff with SWAT officers, Adams held the child through a window to show he was fine. But after officers entered the apartment, they found the toddler dead with two bullet wounds to the chest.
A medical examiner testified the gun either had been close or against the baby’s skin when the shots were fired. Both bullets went completely through his body.
“I was gonna take me and my son out,” Adams told detectives in a taped confession.
Police had been called to the apartment repeatedly in the past but Adams never was arrested.
Robert Loper, one of Adams’ trial lawyers, said Adams pleaded guilty to show he was taking responsibility for his actions.
“Absolutely what he did was horrible,” Loper said. “That was his son. … I’ll argue for the rest of my life the jury made the wrong decision.”
At least three other Texas death row inmates have execution dates scheduled for the coming months.
JUAN A. LOZANO