Vaughn Ross received lethal injection Thursday evening for the January 2001 fatal shootings of an 18-year-old woman with whom he had been feuding and an associate dean at the university in Lubbock who was with her. He was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m. CT.
Ross, from St. Louis, came to Texas Tech for graduate work in architecture. Ross was found guilty in the January 2001 fatal shootings of an 18-year-old woman with whom he had been feuding an associate dean at the university who was with her at the time. In his appeal to the high court, Ross argued his previous appeals attorneys neglected to note that his trial lawyers didn’t present evidence that may have convinced jurors to sentence him to life in prison.
A bicyclist spotted the bodies of Douglas Birdsall, 53, the associate dean of libraries at Texas Tech University, and Viola Ross McVade in a car in a gully at a Lubbock park. McVade was the sister of Ross’ girlfriend and was not related to the convicted killer.
Court documents said Birdsall had been looking for a prostitute and that a friend of McVade introduced him to her that evening. Prosecutors contend McVade was the intended target, and that Birdsall was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Both victims were shot multiple times. Detectives said they linked Ross to the deaths after finding his and Birdsall’s DNA on part of a latex glove in the car. DNA tests on Ross’ sweatshirt also detected blood from both victims.
Ross, from St. Louis, came to Texas Tech for graduate work in architecture. When questioned by detectives, he acknowledged arguing and threatening McVade. He also acknowledged wearing latex gloves but said they were to protect his hands while he was doing some cleaning with bleach.
While in jail, Ross phoned his mother, who asked if he had any involvement in the slayings. He replied he “might have,” according to the tape-recorded call.
“I’ve always said a guy could never lie to his mama,” Matt Powell, the Lubbock County district attorney who prosecuted the case, said last week. “It was the closest thing we had to a confession.”
Authorities believed Bridsall and McVade were ambushed in an alley behind Ross’ apartment after Ross had ordered McVade’s sister to leave. Birdsall’s blood and glass from shattered windows of his car were found in the alley, as well as a shell casing matching casings inside Birdsall’s car.
Prosecutors believed the latex glove was torn when Ross moved Birdsall’s body from the front to the back seat so he could drive the car to the gully.
At least six other Texas prisoners have execution dates set for the coming months, including one later this month.
Source: AP, June 18, 2013