Lora and Douglas White were married for 10 days when the couple decided on Sept. 21, 1993 to take a walk around Eastfield College in Mesquite. It was the last thing the newlyweds would do together. The night tragically ended in a murder and rape that eventually landed Alvin Avon Braziel Jr. on death row.
Texas is scheduled to execute 43-year-old Braziel on Tuesday night, 25 years after he attempted to rob the young couple during their campus stroll. Instead, Braziel fatally shot 27-year-old Douglas and raped 23-year-old Lora at gunpoint in nearby bushes. Braziel, who was 18 at the time, eventually escaped into the night. The crime was unsolved until 2001.
By that time, Braziel was serving a five-year sentence for a 1996 conviction of sexual assault against a 15-year-old. In February 2001, blood samples from Braziel were tested against samples taken from Lora’s rape kit from the night her husband was killed. The two samples were a match, and Lora also identified Braziel in a photo lineup.
Braziel was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death on July 26, 2001 in a Dallas district court. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision in October 2003 and again upheld the decision in 2009, when it denied Braziel’s application for a writ of habeas corpus.
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With a week before the scheduled execution, Braziel’s attorneys filed for the state’s highest criminal court to reconsider the original writ on Dec. 3, but then withdrew the suggestion the following day, according to General Counsel Sian Schilhab.
Braziel’s lawyers declined to comment on the case, though they have challenged the district court’s decision in several filings throughout the years, arguing that Braziel’s original trial attorney compromised a fair sentencing by failing to present mitigating evidence of Braziel’s head injuries, exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero, a family history of mental illness and physical abuse, homelessness and struggles in school.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously decided Friday not to recommend a 120-day reprieve and commutation for Braziel. As of Monday evening, Braziel’s attorneys had not filed for a stay of execution.
Braziel is scheduled to be the 13th and final inmate put to death by Texas in 2018 — on the heels of Joseph Garcia’s execution last Tuesday — and the nation’s 24th. There are currently four executions scheduled for 2019 in Texas.