Man who killed 4 during Houston drug robbery faces execution
A Texas inmate is facing execution for the drug-related murders of four people more than 30 years ago
JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
March 9, 2023, 1:05 a.m. ET
• 4 min reading
HOUSTON — A Texas inmate faces execution Thursday for the drug-related murders of four people more than 30 years ago.
Arthur Brown Jr. was convicted of the June 1992 death at a Houston home during a drug bust. Authorities said Brown was part of a ring that transported drugs from Texas to Alabama and bought drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife Rachel.
Killed during the drug robbery are 32-year-old Jose Tovar; his wife’s 17-year-old son, Frank Farias; 19-year-old Jessica Quiñones, the pregnant girlfriend of another son of Rachel Tovar; and 21-year-old neighbor Audrey Brown. All four were tied up and shot in the head. Rachel Tovar and another person were also shot but survived.
“I don’t understand how someone could have killed a pregnant woman and then made her suffer so much. It’s beyond words,” said Maricella Quiñones, Jessica Quiñones’ older sister. Jessica Quiñones was 9 months pregnant and had named her unborn daughter Alyssa.
One of Brown’s accomplices in the shooting, Marion Dudley, was executed in 2006. A third partner was sentenced to life in prison.
Brown, 52, who is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has long held another person responsible for the murders.
His lawyers have asked the US Supreme Court to halt the execution, which was scheduled for Thursday evening at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas. They argue that Brown is intellectually disabled.
The Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities.
“Mr. Brown’s intellectual limitations were known to his friends and family. … Individuals who knew Mr. Brown during his lifetime have consistently described him as ‘retarded,'” his attorneys wrote in their filing. addressed to the Supreme Court.
Brown’s lawyers have previously filed other appeals that have been rejected by lower courts. They have argued that he is innocent and that a witness actually implicated another suspect. They also contend that Brown’s conviction was tainted by racial bias, alleging that one of the jurors decided he was guilty because of his race. Brown is a black man.
A Houston judge on Tuesday denied a request by Brown’s attorneys for DNA testing of evidence they said could exonerate their client.
Josh Reiss, chief of the Post-Conviction Division with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston, called Brown’s last-minute appeals a delaying tactic.
Reiss said school records submitted at Brown’s trial showed the inmate was initially thought to be intellectually disabled in the third grade, but by the ninth grade that was no longer the case. The prosecutor also said Brown’s claims of innocence are problematic since the other suspect alleged to be the killer was found by investigators not to have been in Houston at the time.
“It was an absolutely brutal mass murder. … These families deserve justice,” Reiss said.
Maricella Quiñones, 52, said her sister was an innocent victim who was unaware the Tovars were dealing drugs from the home. She said her mother also blames the Tovars for what happened.
“My mother is not the same since my sister died,” said Maricella Quiñones.
Maricella Quiñones described her sister as a “very loving, caring person” who was looking forward to becoming a mother. She said her family would never have closure.
“We lost two people. Alyssa never had a chance at life,” she said.
Brown’s execution is the second of two in Texas this week. Another inmate, Gary Green, was executed Tuesday after stabbing his estranged wife and drowning her 6-year-old daughter in a bathtub. Brown will be the fifth inmate in Texas and the ninth in the US to be put to death this year.
Brown is one of six Texas death row inmates who are part of a lawsuit seeking to stop the state’s prison system from using what they claim are expired and unsafe execution drugs. Despite a civil court judge in Austin initially agreeing to the pleas, four of the inmates have been executed this year. ___ Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70.