Texas due to execute man who killed truckers

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 31, 2013 6:01 AM
Texas due to execute man who killed truckers

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas was scheduled to execute on Wednesday a man convicted of killing two truck drivers in a fit of road rage after one of the drivers pulled a semi truck in front of his motorcycle on the highway, missing him by inches.

Douglas Feldman, 55, was due to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. local time at a state prison in Huntsville, Texas.

Feldman was convicted of capital murder in 1999 in the August 1998 shooting deaths of Robert Everett and Nick Velasquez, both 18-wheeler truck drivers who encountered Feldman on a highway north of Dallas, according to an account by the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Feldman's appeals included the argument that his trial lawyers were deficient, a juror was improperly dismissed, and the jury was given improper instruction. All those appeals were denied.

Feldman was riding his motorcycle on a highway in Plano, Texas, when Everett's semi truck cut him off, the report said.

An enraged Feldman fired several shots into the back of the trailer before he reloaded, pulled up next to the truck cab and fired into Everett's window, killing him, the report said.

He checked to make sure Everett, 36, was dead before continuing home, but 45 minutes later and 11 miles down the freeway, Feldman saw another 18-wheeler with its driver, 62-year-old Velasquez, fueling up at a gas station.

Feldman pulled into the station, killed Velasquez with two gunshots to the back, and then drove home, the report said.

Authorities said one week later Feldman shot Antonio Vega three times as he was standing outside a fast-food restaurant. Vega survived and a witness turned in Feldman's license plate number. Feldman's gun matched the weapon used in the shootings of all three men, the report said.

At trial, Feldman testified that the shootings were a result of his anger at Everett for cutting him off and said "he had shot Mr. Velasquez because the man was standing beside an eighteen-wheeler, which caused Feldman to 'explode again in anger'," according to the attorney general's report.

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During the punishment phase of his trial, during which several witnesses testified about violent encounters with Feldman, prosecutors presented letters he had written in jail to an ex-girlfriend after his arrest on the capital murder charge.

In the letters, Feldman compared killing people to "hunting game animals," the report said, adding that he also described fantasies about walking through Dallas-area stores and shooting shopkeepers who had angered him, or taking deadly revenge on police for a traffic citation.

"He wanted to kill people who disturbed his quiet and then desecrate their corpses," the report said.

Feldman would be the 21st person executed in the United States so far this year and the 11th in Texas, which has put to death more people than any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune and Prudence Crowther)