Texas Execution Information Center

Lionell Rodriguez

Lionell Gonzales Rodriguez, 36, was executed by lethal injection on 20 June 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of a 22-year-old woman at a traffic intersection.

On 5 September 1990, Rodriguez, then 19, and his cousin, James Gonzales, 18, were driving in Houston with a shotgun and .30-caliber rifle in their car. They pulled up next to another car that was stopped for a red light at an intersection. Rodriguez, who was in the passenger's seat, aimed the rifle across Gonzales while he leaned back in the driver's seat. Rodriguez then fired once at the driver of the other car. The bullet passed through the other car's passenger window and hit the driver, Tracy Gee, 22, in the right temple, killing her. Rodriguez then got out of his car, pushed Gee's body out onto the pavement, and drove away in her car, with Gonzales following.

Soon afterward, police officer Theron Runnels pulled Gonzales over for driving with no taillights. Gonzales exited his car and initially approached Officer Runnels, but then he ran. After a chase, a second officer, Randy West, arrested him. In the meantime, Runnels found the M-1 carbine rifle and the shotgun in his car. When West brought Gonzales back to the car, Gonzales blurted out, "I did not kill that girl. It was my cousin." Rodriguez was arrested four hours later in Fort Bend County while driving Gee's car. His pants and the interior of the car were soaked with blood, and he had bone and brain matter clotted in his hair.

Rodriguez gave a full confession. He said that earlier that night, he had a fight with his mother and sister. He then stole the rifle and shotgun from his stepfather. He and Gonzales then drove around Houston, looking for a place to rob. They contemplated robbing a gas station, but the station was too busy, and they lost their nerve. Rodriguez then became angry at another driver and fired several shots at him in a residential neighborhood. When he noticed a young woman sitting alone in her car, he decided to rob her. He said that he was aiming for the victim's shoulder, but shot her in the temple.

In addition to the above evidence and confession, police found gunpowder residue in Gonzales' car.

Rodriguez had prior convictions for burglary and cocaine possession. He served 3 months of a 4-year sentence before receiving parole. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) He had been on parole for about three weeks when he killed Tracy Gee.

Other witnesses testified to Rodriguez's violent temper at his punishment hearing. The other driver who Rodriguez fired shots at on the night of the murder also testified against him, as did another witness who testified that Rodriguez once assaulted him and hit his car with a baseball bat. Deputies at the Harris County Jail testified that Rodriguez was classified as an escape threat and as "aggressive towards staff," and was always put in leg irons and handcuffs when being moved.

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