Texas Execution Information Center

John Alba

John Avalos Alba, 54, was executed by lethal injection on 25 May 2010 in Huntsville, Texas for killing his estranged wife after invading her home.

In June 1991, Alba was accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl who was at his apartment for a slumber party. A warrant was issued for his arrest on the charge of indecency with a child. As officers were taking him to jail in handcuffs, Alba told his wife, "Wendy, you better come get me out of jail, or I'll kill you."

While Alba was in jail, he wrote numerous threatening letters to his wife. She, meanwhile, moved in with friends Robert Donoho and Gail Webb in their apartment in Allen, north of Dallas. She was also trying to find residence in a women's shelter.

Alba was released from jail on 4 August 1991. The next day, he purchased a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a box of ammunition from a pawn shop in Plano and tracked down his wife. At about 10 p.m., he began attempting to force his way into the apartment. While Donoho called 9-1-1, Wendy, 28, and Webb leaned against the door. Alba, 36, overpowered the two women and forced the door open. He then entered the apartment, grabbed Wendy by the hair, and dragged her to the doorway, where he pistol-whipped her before shooting her to death. He left he body lying across the threshold, then went back inside. He kicked Webb repeatedly and shot her seven times, including once in the temple. She survived. Donoho, who was still on the phone, then came out. Alba shot at him, but missed. Alba then left the apartment. He saw the manager running to call for help and shot at him, but missed.

While he was fleeing, Alba encountered a police officer. He told the officer he was getting out of the area because a crazy man was shooting a gun. The officer, unaware that Alba was the shooter, let him go. Alba then drove in his own car to a bowling alley in Plano. There, he carjacked a 16-year-old, forcing him to drive him to a nearby neighborhood. He spent the night with the mother of one of his children.

The next morning, Alba returned to the apartment complex where he killed his wife. Seeing a police officer, he ran to a shopping mall and set up a 2-hour standoff with police, during which he held a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself. A SWAT team used a stun grenade and tear gas to subdue him.

In order for a murder to qualify as capital murder, one or more aggravating factors must exist. In Alba's case, the aggravating factor was the burglary he committed when he broke into apartment. The defense did not deny that Alba broke into the apartment, killed Wendy at the doorway, and went back inside to shoot Webb. They argued, though, that he was standing outside the apartment doorway when he committed the murder, and therefore he was not committing burglary at that moment.

At the punishment hearing, Allen police officers testified that they responded to a domestic violence call in the spring of 1991. Wendy had two black eyes, red marks on her neck and body, and a shoe imprint on her back. Alba told one of the officers who arrested him that he knew where the officer lived and was going to kill his wife and children. Other officers testified that they had responded to similar domestic violence calls from Wendy. Neighbors and friends testified that they frequently heard yelling and screaming, saw Wendy with bruises and black eyes, and saw Alba abuse and threaten her. Alba's ex-wife also testified that he was violent towards her during their marriage.

He had no prior felony convictions.

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