Just two months after his 40th birthday, Dallas County resident Douglas Feldman, rode his motorcycle up next to the cab of an 18-wheeler and fired a half-dozen rounds into the passenger area, killing 36-year-old driver Robert Everett.
Reportedly, Feldman was riding his Harley-Davidson on Dallas’ Central Expressway in August 1998 when Everett sped up next to him and then abruptly changed lanes in front of Feldman, nearly clipping him. Feldman was enraged, according to court records, pulled out a pistol and fired several rounds into the back of the truck before reloading the weapon and speeding up to parallel with the cab to shoot Everett. Feldman then fled. Less than an hour later, and about 11 miles from the scene of Everett’s murder, Feldman passed an Exxon service station, where 62-year-old Nicolas Velasquez, a tanker driver, was replenishing the station’s gas supply. Feldman rode into the station and fired two rounds into Velasquez’s back, killing him; the sight of the man next to the truck sent him back into a rage, he testified at his 1999 trial. More than a week later Feldman shot Antonio Vega, as Vega stood next to an 18-wheeler outside a Jack in the Box restaurant; again, Feldman said the sight of the truck was what compelled him to shoot. Vega survived. A bystander to the Vega shooting called in Feldman’s license plate number and police were able to match Feldman’s gun to all three shootings. Feldman was arrested and charged with capital murder.
Feldman admitted to police that he was responsible for the shootings, and at trial testified in his own defense, “noting that he had not forgiven Mr. Everett for his trespasses,” reads a Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in the case. “Feldman explained that he had shot Mr. Velasquez because the man was standing beside an [18-wheeler], which caused Feldman to ‘explode again in anger.'” Feldman was convicted and sentenced to die. On July 31, he will become the 503rd inmate put to death in Texas since reinstatement, and the 11th inmate killed by the state this year.
On appeal, Feldman argued that qualified jurors had been improperly excluded from the jury pool, that his attorney failed to present evidence that he suffered from bipolar disorder as possibly mitigating evidence, and that his trial judge erred by not allowing jurors to consider a lesser charge of murder (which would spare Feldman’s life), among other arguments. According to Feldman the murders arose out of a “sudden passion” and thus mitigated his culpability. “Even though sudden passion arising from an adequate cause is not a legally valid defense to capital murder under Texas law, it is definitely a factually valid rational explanation of the causal events leading up to the offense,” Feldman argued in a subsequent, handwritten appeal he filed on his own with the Fifth Circuit. That appeal, too, has been rejected, clearing the way for Feldman’s execution at the end of the month.
Barring a stay of execution, Douglas Feldman is scheduled to die in nine days. His petition for a state writ of habeas corpus based on ineffective assistance of counsel has gone nowhere. He claims his trial attorney failed to investigate the role his alleged bipolar disorder played in the murders. Now he’s running out of road, but Feldman is in no hurry to become the 503rd Texas inmate to meet the end. So, he filed his own petition with a federal district court last week.
It’s handwritten and a little messy, but Feldman is no dummy. His petition is also lucid and articulate. He was, after all, once a financial analyst. Then, in 1998, he was out for a night ride on his Harley when he claimed an 18-wheeler nearly ran him off the road. He gunned his motorcycle alongside the truck and emptied his clip into the cab, killing Robert Everett, the driver.
On his way home, he pulled off at an Exxon fueling station and shot tanker driver Nicholas Velasquez in the back. A week later, he shot Antonio Vega outside of a Jack-in-the-Box because he was standing next to a big rig. A jury sentenced him to die. Last year, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to vacate his death sentence. Earlier this year, he wrote a letter to Gawker, pondering the sociological inequities he’d identified on death row and requesting “LSD Hydrate” to help him cope with some heavy existential anxiety.
Now, he’s taking a run at the federal district court himself and claiming some abhorrent treatment in the Polunsky Unit. Among other things, he says he’s had his head shaved, been subject to round-the-clock searches, been forced to sleep naked on the bare concrete floor and been denied toilet paper. All of this, he claims, without having been “convicted of any disciplinary offense.”
But Unfair Park reached out to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and was just stunned to discover that Feldman isn’t exactly Nelson Mandela. About a month ago, he granted an interview to a reporter. Before it could begin, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark says, the inmate tried to tear a telephone from the wall.
Feldman, Clark says, has a lengthy disciplinary history. He’s been caught with a razor, which officers believed could be used as a weapon. He has filled bottles in his cell with feces and urine. He has “attempted to assault a corrections officer by slipping out of his cuffs.”
Clark couldn’t comment on Feldman’s pending litigation.
September 20, 2012 http://fleetowner.com
READ THE OPINION : http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/11/11-70013-CV0.wpd.pdf
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal to get Douglas Feldman, 54, off death row for the road rage slayings of two truck drivers in 1998 in Texas.
Feldman, a former financial analyst, was convicted in 1999 of murder in the shooting deaths of truckers Nicholas Velasquez, 62, of Irving, TX, and Robert Everett, 36, of Marshfield, MO.
In his 1999 trial, Feldman told jurors he was cruising on his Harley-Davidson on southbound Dallas Central Expressway in August 1998 when a truck “came out of nowhere, just flying.” He said he feared for his life and became angry, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.
Feldman testified that he fired at Everett’s truck “because I felt like I needed to try to stop that man.” When the truck continued on the highway, “I chased Mr. Everett down, and I shot him to death.”
Feldman said he then spotted Velasquez at a gas station and “exploded again in anger” and shot him, even though Velasquez had done nothing to him. He then shot another man in a restaurant parking lot, who survived.
“I felt emotionally compelled,” Feldman told jurors. “I was consumed by anger.”
In his trial, Feldman testified that he carried a 9mm handgun because he thought his life was in danger. His lawyers presented evidence showing that he had been treated earlier for substance abuse and paranoia.
The jury in the trial took only 24 minutes to convict Feldman of capital murder in the case. He was sentenced to death, but an execution date has yet to be set.
In his appeal, Feldman contended that he had deficient legal help at his trial, that the jury received improper instructions and that a prospective juror was improperly dismissed.
Feldman’s lawyer said he plans to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.