Roberts Executed by Lethal Injection, HUNTSVILLE, November 1, 2012 - Donnie Lee Roberts, age 41, of Livingston, was executed by lethal injection at approximately 6:00 p.m. in Huntsville today (October 31, 2012) by officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Roberts' execution was the twelfth execution carried out in Texas in 2012. Roberts was convicted by a Polk County jury and sentenced to death for October 15, 2003 capital murder of Vicki Bowen of Livingston. At trial, prosecutors established that Roberts had shot Bowen twice in the head with a .22 rifle in her Lake Livingston area home after she had refused his demands for money. During the punishment phase of the trial, it was also shown that Roberts had previously been convicted of the armed robbery of a Baton Rouge, Louisiana convenience store and had absconded from Louisiana parole authorities following his release from prison for that offense. During the investigation of the Bowen murder, Roberts also confessed to the unsolved murder of a Natchitoches, Louisiana man in 1992.
"Donnie Roberts lead a life that was replete with instances of violent criminal behavior and left a whole string of victims in his wake," stated Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon. "Unfortunately, Roberts' violent lifestyle and bad decisions lead to the senseless and tragic killing of Vicki Bowen-whose only mistake was trusting someone like Roberts and allowing him into her life," Hon stated. "Although I know that their loss can never be fully replaced, I do hope the fact that the jury's death sentence against Donnie Roberts was carried out can give the Bowen and Bivens families some degree of closure and perhaps a little peace of mind," Hon concluded.
Original Story Below
Donnie Lee Roberts, 41, of Livingston is scheduled to be executed for capital murder.
Convicted Murderer Scheduled for Execution, LIVINGSTON, October 16, 2012 - By order of 411th District Judge Robert H. Trapp, the execution of Donnie Lee Roberts has been scheduled for October 31, 2012. Roberts was convicted by a Polk County jury on October 15, 2004 for the capital murder of Vickie Bowen of Livingston. Following a punishment hearing, the jury returned a sentence of death against Roberts on October 27, 2004.
According to Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon-who prosecuted the case along with former District Attorney John Holleman, evidence presented by the State at trial established that at the time of the murder, Roberts had been living with the victim in a subdivision near Lake Livingston. Witnesses testified that Roberts was unemployed, often drank alcohol, and used cocaine. Bowen worked as a dental assistant for a local dental office in Livingston. On October 15, 2003, she went shopping with co-worker Brenda Bland, but did not show up for work the next day. Bland testified at trial that she became concerned and went to Bowen's house to check on her. When Bland arrived at the home, she found the front door open. After knocking and receiving no answer, Bland entered the home and found Bowen dead. Bland noticed that Bowen was still in the scrubs she had worn at work the previous day. She was covered by a blanket and was lying face down with her head turned to the side in a pool of blood. Blood spatters were present in the living room on the coffee table, the couch, and the walls. According to Hon, the medical examiner would later determine that Bowen died from two gunshot wounds to the head.
Hon stated that it was immediately apparent to Polk County Sheriff's investigators from an examination of the scene that Bowen's television and her son's truck were missing. That same day, Livingston police found Roberts in Livingston after tracking down the stolen truck. It was later determined that Roberts had taken the truck, the television, Texans/Titans football tickets, jewelry, a Western Union money order, a .22 rifle, and a .22 pistol. Roberts had sold the football tickets for one hundred dollars. He had bought cocaine from Edwin Gray on October 15 on three different occasions, the last of which involved trading the .22 caliber pistol. According to Hon, Roberts had apparently abandoned the .22 rifle, later determined to be the murder weapon, a few blocks from where he was found. Hon stated that the Western Union money order was found in the residence at which Roberts had parked his truck, but the television and the jewelry were never recovered.
Roberts was interviewed by then Polk County Sheriff's Captain Dennis Allen and gave a confession. In that confession, he acknowledged that he had "a crack cocaine problem" and that he would go to bars, get drunk, and then look for drugs. With regard to the victim's death, Roberts said, "I pointed the gun at her and I told her just give me some money." Later in the interview, Roberts stated:
"I pointed the gun at her and I said, 'if you'd just give me some money.' And she said 'No.' And then I said, 'Look, it doesn't have to be this way.' That's all I remember saying to her. And the next thing I know, I shot her."
According to Hon, at trial, Roberts testified to a different sequence of events. He claimed that he picked up the .22 rifle because it was out of place, near the door. He also claimed that he saw what looked like a .22 pistol in Bowen's pocket and that she moved her hand to her pocket to reach for it. He then said that he "must have chambered a round into the .22 rifle at that time," but he did not remember if he pulled the safety off. He also claimed that he did not remember his gun firing but that he knows it did. Roberts further testified that he did not intend to rob Bowen at the time he shot her, but he admitted to taking items of her property later.
The jury found Roberts "guilty" of capital murder.
According to Hon, during the punishment phase of the trial it was established that at the time of Bowen's murder, Roberts had absconded from parole authorities in Louisiana after having previously served time in prison in that state for the armed robbery of a convenience store in Baton Rouge. During the investigation of Bowen's murder, Roberts also confessed to Polk County and Louisiana authorities that he had murdered Al Crow in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1992 and had set the body on fire. That murder was unsolved until the time of the Polk County murder investigation, Hon stated.
Roberts' death sentence was affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on April 18, 2007 and the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Robert's effort to obtain federal habeas relief on May 15, 2012. On July 11, 2012, 411th District Court Judge Robert Trapp signed an order scheduling Roberts' execution for October 31st. According to Hon, Roberts' attorneys have filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Hon stated that a decision by the Supreme Court is expected on Roberts' petition on or before October 29th.
If you would like to comment on this story, we'd love to hear from you. Be sure to specify which story. Your name will be published with your comment in Letters to the Editor.