Texas set to execute man for Dallas-area slayings

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 13, 2011 10:23 AM
Texas set to execute man for Dallas-area slayings

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN (Reuters) - Texas on Tuesday evening is scheduled to execute a man for his involvement in the killings of two people in north Texas 10 years ago.

Steven Michael Woods, 31, is set to be put to death by lethal injection after 6 p.m. It would be the 10th execution in Texas this year and the 33rd in the country.

Woods was convicted of capital murder in 2002 after a jury found him guilty in the shooting and slashing of Ronald Whitehead, 21, and Bethena Brosz, 19, in The Colony, Texas, just outside Dallas.

When passersby found their bodies, they had both been shot in the head and their throats cut, according to a report by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

Woods told police that he and a friend were with the victims the night before they were found, hanging out in the Deep Ellum entertainment district in Dallas, and had agreed to take them to a house in the Colony, the report said.

Their cars became separated, and Woods and his friend, Marcus Rhodes, went back to Deep Ellum, Woods told police, according to the report.

The victims' belongings were later discovered in Rhodes' car, and Rhodes was arrested, the report said. Woods fled the area and was later arrested in California. Witnesses told police that Woods had bragged about killing the pair and said before their deaths that he planned to kill them, according to the report.

Rhodes pleaded guilty to killing the two, but Woods has maintained his innocence in online posts and in media interviews.

On a Facebook page maintained by supporters, Woods said he was present for the killings but did not know they were going to happen and fled because he feared Rhodes would kill him, too.

During the penalty phase of the trial, jurors were told that Woods was involved in the homicide of another victim in California before the killings of Brosz and Whitehead, something Woods denies in online postings.

Texas has the country's most active death row, executing more than four times as many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

A second execution is scheduled in Texas for Thursday. Duane Buck was convicted in 1997 for the shooting deaths of two people in Harris County.

(Editing by Greg McCune)