A Texas inmate says false testimony helped land him on death row and now he is set to be executed for the fatal stabbing and robbery of a man three decades ago.
Brent Ray Brewer, 53, was convicted for the 1990 murder of Robert Laminack, 66, who was attacked when he was giving Brewer and his girlfriend a ride to a Salvation Army location in Amarillo, Texas.
Brewer stabbed the victim in neck during the ride. He and his then-girlfriend, Krystie Lynn Nystrom, took Laminack’s wallet with $140 and fled the scene, prosecutors said.
Brewer was originally convicted and sentenced to death in 1991. His case was later overturned and sent for retrial. In 2009, he was again sentenced to death.
On Thursday, Brewer is set to be executed at a state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
Brent Ray Brewer, 53, who claimed his sentence was based on false testimony is set to be executed Thursday evening
Brewer stabbed the victim in neck during the ride. He and his then-girlfriend, Krystie Lynn Nystrom, took Laminack’s wallet with $140 and fled the scene, prosecutors said
Brewer was convicted of capital murder and originally sentenced to death in 1991. but the ruling was overturned in 2007, as the U.S. Supreme Court determined the juries in his case did not have proper instructions
Prosecutors said Brewer, in the passenger seat behind Laminack, had reached forward, grabbed Laminack, and fatally stabbed him with a butterfly knife
The pair went to a friend’s apartment to change their bloody clothes shortly after the murder, and then went to Red Oak, Texas, after where they were arrested on May 8, 1990
Brewer´s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution, arguing the prosecutors relied on false testimony from an expert during the 2009 resentencing trial.
In the trial, Texas forensic psychiatrist Richard Coons claimed Brewer would be a future danger, a legal finding needed to impose a death sentence.
Brewer´s lawyers allege Coons lied and declared, without any scientific basis, that Brewer had no conscience and would be a future danger, even though Brewer did not have a history of violence while in prison.
The inmate, who was 19 at the time of Laminack´s killing, said he has been a model prisoner with good behavioral record and has never received write-ups for violent record.
‘The 53-year-old guy you’re looking at now is not the 19-year-old I was in April of 90 – I don’t even know that kid,’ Brewer said in his bid for clemency.
‘I sobered up in the county jail and realized I had done something that I can’t undo,’ he said. ‘And I had to live with that everyday.’
Prosecutors said the pair went to a friend’s apartment to change clothes, then went to Red Oak, Texas, where they were arrested on May 8, 1990
‘The 53-year-old guy you’re looking at now is not the 19-year-old I was in April of 90 – I don’t even know that kid,’ he said in his bid for clemency. Pictured: Brewer as a child
He said he has tried to become a better person by participating in a faith-based program for death row inmates in September 2022.
He has acquired multiple certificates for completing the program courses after attending classes and doing assignments.
The inmate has also expressed remorse for the killing and a desire to apologize to Laminack’s family.
‘Words are kind of small when you have taken someone’s life and when someone is permanently gone like that,’ he said. ‘I don’t even know if they wanna hear that.’
‘But that’s something I’d like to tell them personally. Even if it doesn’t change that outcome, I’d like them to hear it before I go,’ he said in tears.
Brewer wrote in a letter to Laminack´s family: ‘I will never be able to repay or replace the hurt (and) worry (and) pain I caused you. I come to you in true humility and honest heart and ask for your forgiveness.’
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Tuesday dismissed an appeal on this issue without reviewing the merits of the argument, saying the claim should have previously been raised.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday voted 7-0 against commuting Brewer’s death sentence to a lesser penalty. Members also rejected granting a six-month reprieve.
‘We are deeply disturbed that the (appeals court) refuses to address the injustice of allowing Brent Brewer to be executed without an opportunity to challenge Dr. Coon’s false and unscientific testimony,’ said Shawn Nolan, one of Brewer´s attorneys.
The inmate has also expressed remorse for the killing and a desire to apologize to Laminack’s family
He said he has tried to become a better person by participating in a faith-based program for death row inmates in September 2022
He has acquired multiple certificates for completing the program courses after attending classes and doing assignments
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentences Brewer and two other Texas inmates had received after ruling the juries in their cases did not have proper instructions when they decided the men should be executed.
The high court found jurors were not allowed to give sufficient weight to factors that might cause them to impose a life sentence rather than death.
Brewer was abused as a child and suffered from mental illness, factors jurors were not allowed to consider, his lawyers argued.
In a 2010 ruling in the case of another death row inmate, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals called Coon´s testimony about future dangerousness ‘insufficiently reliable’ and that he should not have been allowed to testify.
Randall County District Attorney Robert Love, whose office prosecuted Brewer, denied in court documents that prosecutors presented false testimony and said Coon´s testimony ‘was not material to the jury´s verdict.’
Last week, Michele Douglas, one of the jurors at Brewer’s 2009 resentencing trial, said in an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle that a misleading instruction made her mistakenly vote for execution.
State Rep. Joe Moody, who has tried to pass legislation to fix the misleading instruction cited by Douglas, said it was ‘morally wrong’ for Brewer to be executed under these circumstances.
Brewer would be the seventh inmate in Texas and the 21st in the U.S. put to death this year.