Christopher Anthony Young, 34, was executed by lethal injection on 17 July 2018 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a store owner during a robbery.
At approximately 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, 21 November 2004, Daphne Edwards drove to a San Antonio mini-mart/dry cleaners owned by Hasmukhbhai Patel, 55, to buy some cigarettes. The store was about a block away from her apartment, and she was gone for less than five minutes. Upon returning, she parked in front of the apartment and returned inside, where her three girls, ages 7 and under, were eating breakfast.
Almost immediately, Edwards heard a knock on the door. Thinking it was her sister, she opened the door. A black man pointed a silver revolver at her head, pushed his way inside, and asked her, "Where's the [expletive] money?" She gave him the $28 she had in her purse, but he said that was not enough, and she had to give him something else. He told Edwards to tell her girls to go to the other room, but it was an efficiency apartment, so there was no other room. He then had her undress. At one point, he fired a shot at her feet because she was taking too long to disrobe. He had her perform oral sex on him. They then moved to the bathroom in an attempt to keep the girls from seeing what was happening, and he had her perform oral sex on him again.
Next, the man forced Edwards to put something "sexy" on, without any underwear, because they were going to leave. When she protested that she would not leave her children, he said, "You did it before. I saw you." The man then went to the children, kissed each of them on the cheek, and told them their mommy would be back.
The man had Edwards get into the driver's seat of her red Mazda Protege. He got in the passenger's seat and had her drive to the front of the apartment complex, at which point he decided he wanted to drive. As he was getting out of the car, he told Edwards not to drive off, or he would go back and kill her children. He had her move to the passenger's seat, then circled around to the driver's side. The passenger-side door was still open, and Edwards saw some people in the parking lot. As the man was getting into the driver's seat, Edwards hopped out of the car and ran screaming to her cousin's apartment at the front of the complex. The man drove away in her car. Edwards and her cousin called the police and went to get her children.
At around 9:30 a.m., Hattie Helton purchased some scratch-off lottery tickets at Patel's store, where she was a regular customer. She then went to her car and sat in the parking lot to check her tickets.
The store's video surveillance system shows that at 9:37 a.m., a black man wearing a black shirt and light-colored shorts entered the store. He approached Patel, who was working in the rear of the store, and ordered him to give him "the money." Patel went to the cash register. The man kept a gun pointed at him and repeated his commands to give him money. He fired one shot in the direction of Patel, who was out of the camera's frame at the time. He then yelled at the victim and fired a second shot. The store's alarm system then went off, as Patel had apparently pushed the panic button.
The video evidence shows that Patel attempted to flee. The robber kept his gun pointed at him. He could be heard over the alarm shouting, "I said give up the money, right." He went toward the cash register, went out of frame, then appeared in front of the camera again, concealing his weapon as he left the store.
When the alarm went off, Helton, who was still in her car in the parking lot, looked up. She saw a black man exit the store and get into a red car. When he left, she called to Patel inside the store. When he did not answer, she called the police from a pay phone outside the store.
Raul Vasquez Jr., another regular customer, pulled into the parking lot during the robbery. He was still in his truck when he heard gunshots. He looked up to see a black man leaning over the counter, firing a gun at Patel. The gunman exited, got in a small red car, and drove away. Vasquez attempted to follow him, without success. He called the police, described the assailant's clothing as a black shirt and light-colored shorts, and partially identified his car's license plate number.
Patel died from a gunshot wound to his chest.
A police officer spotted the red Mazda with the partial license plate match parked at a crack house several miles away at approximately 11:00 a.m. The driver was a black male wearing a black shirt and light-colored shorts. The officer arrested the driver, Christopher Young, then 21. He was with a prostitute.
Young's hands, shirt, and the steering wheel of the car all tested positive for gunshot residue. Patel's blood was found on one of Young's socks. Both Helton and Vasquez identified Young as the killer at his trial. The murder weapon was never recovered.
At Young's trial, his lawyers did not deny that he was the man seen shooting Patel in the store's surveillance video, but they argued that the short video, where some of the events occurred out of frame and some of the words spoken were difficult to understand, did not prove Young robbed or attempted to rob Patel. Without the aggravated factor of robbery or attempted robbery, the defense claimed, the killing was not eligible for the death penalty.
Chala Riley testified that she was Young's girlfriend and that in September 2004, when she was eight months' pregnant, he beat her. He beat her again the night before Patel's killing, after she informed him that she was ending their relationship. The state also presented evidence that Young assaulted and injured his mother twice when he was a juvenile.
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