Media Advisory: Robert W. Harris scheduled for execution
DALLAS - Pursuant to a court order by the 282nd District
Court in Dallas County, Robert Wayne Harris is scheduled
for execution after 6 p.m. on September 20, 2012.
In 2000, a Dallas County jury convicted Harris of capital
murder for killing Agustin Villasenor and Rhoda Wheeler
during the same criminal transaction.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, citing the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeal's description of the facts,
described the murder of Agustin Villasenor and Rhoda
Wheeler as follows:
[Harris] worked at Mi-T-Fine Car Wash for ten months prior
to the offense. An armored car picked up cash receipts from
the car wash every day except Sunday. Therefore, [Harris]
knew that on Monday morning, the safe would contain cash
receipts from the weekend and the cash register would
contain $200-$300 for making change. On Wednesday, March
15, 2000, [Harris engaged in sexual misconduct] in front of
a female customer. The customer reported the incident to a
manager, and a cashier called the police. [Harris] was
arrested and fired.
On Sunday, March 19[th], [Harris] spent the day with his
friend, Junior Herrera, who sold cars. Herrera was driving
a demonstrator car from the lot. Although [Harris] owned
his own vehicle, he borrowed Herrera's that evening. He
then went to the home of friend Billy Brooks, who contacted
his step-son, Deon Bell, to lend [Harris] a pistol.
On Monday, March 20[th], [Harris] returned to the car wash
in the borrowed car at 7:15 a.m., before it opened for
business. [Harris] forced the manager, Dennis Lee,
assistant manager, Agustin Villaseñor, and cashier, Rhoda
Wheeler, into the office. He instructed Wheeler to open the
safe, which contained the cash receipts from the weekend.
Wheeler complied and gave him the cash. [Harris] then
forced all three victims to the floor and shot each of them
in the back of the head at close range. He also slit Lee's
Before [Harris] could leave, three other employees arrived
for work unaware of the danger. [Harris] forced them to
kneel on the floor of the lobby area and shot each of them
in the back of the head from close range. One of the
victims survived with permanent disabilities. Shortly
thereafter, a seventh employee, Jason Shields, arrived.
Shields noticed the three bodies in the lobby and saw
[Harris] standing near the cash register. After a brief
exchange in which [Harris] claimed to have discovered the
crime scene, pointed out the bodies of the other victims,
and pulled a knife from a nearby bookshelf, Shields became
nervous and told [Harris] he needed to step outside for
fresh air. Shields hurried to a nearby doughnut shop to
call authorities. [Harris] followed Shields to the doughnut
shop, also spoke to the 911 operator, then fled the
[Harris] returned the vehicle to Herrera and told him that
he had discovered some bodies at the car wash. [Harris]
then took a taxi to Brooks's house. At Brooks's house,
[Harris] separated the money from the other objects and
disposed of the metal lock boxes, a knife, a crowbar, and
pieces of a cell phone in a wooded area. [Harris] purchased
new clothing, checked into a motel, and sent Brooks to
purchase a gold cross necklace for him. Later that
afternoon, [Harris] drove to the home of another friend and
remained there until the following morning, when he was
arrested. Testimony also showed that [Harris] had planned
to drive to Florida on Tuesday and kill an old girlfriend.
On April 10, 2000, a Dallas County grand jury indicted
Harris for murdering Agustin Villasenor and Rhoda
On September 29, 2000, a Dallas County jury found Harris
guilty of murdering Agustin Villasenor and Rhoda Wheeler.
After the jury recommended capital punishment, the court
sentenced Harris to death by lethal injection.
On February 12, 2003, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
affirmed Harris's conviction and sentence.
On October 6, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court denied writ of
On July 1, 2002, Harris sought to appeal his conviction and
sentence by seeking an application for a state writ of
habeas corpus with the state trial court.
On June 3, 2004, the trial court detailed findings of fact
and conclusions of law recommending that Harris's
application be denied.
On September 15, 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
adopted the trial court's findings and conclusions and
denied habeas relief.
On September 14, 2005, Harris filed a federal petition for
a writ of habeas corpus with the District Court for the
Northern District of Texas.
On September 10, 2008, the district court ordered an
evidentiary hearing set for January 5, 2009 on Harris's
mental retardation claim.
On December 3, 2008, Harris asked for a continuance, and
the hearing was reset for March 19, 2009.
On March 5, 2009, Harris asked for another continuance, and
the district court rescheduled the evidentiary hearing for
May 12, 2009.
On May 7, 2009, Harris moved to cancel the evidentiary
hearing and requested permission to instead supplement the
record with documents, which was granted.
On November 13, 2009 the court ordered an independent
evaluation of Harris to be performed by a court-appointed
On February 8, 2010, the court appointed Dr. Paul Andrews
to conduct a psychological evaluation of Harris.
On March 24, 2011, the district court denied Harris's
habeas petition and refused to issue a Certificate of
On April 21, 2011, Harris filed a motion to alter or amend
the judgment in the district court.
On April 25, 2011 the district court denied Harris's
On March 15, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit denied Harris's application for issuance of a
On June 25, 2012, Harris filed a petition for writ of
certiorari and stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court
which is still pending.
On August 27, 2012, Harris filed a successive petition for
writ of habeas corpus in the 282nd District Court.
PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY
Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain
prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during
the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a
defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information
about the defendant's prior criminal conduct during the
second phase of the trial - which is when they determine
the defendant's punishment.
During the penalty phase of Harris's trial, jurors learned
that Harris had previously been convicted of three
burglaries and evading arrest. He had also been charged
with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. A court revoked
his probation for absconding from a residential treatment
program, and he spent the next eight years in prison. In
prison, Harris resided mostly in administrative segregation
due to several violations and aggressive behavior. He
attended the Program for the Aggressive Mentally Ill
Offender, but the incidents continued. The program
ultimately discharged him for non-compliance. Fifteen
prison personnel testified regarding Harris's behavioral
problems during his incarceration, which included setting
fire to his cell, threatening to kill prison personnel,
assaulting prison personnel and other inmates, dealing
drugs, refusing to follow orders, and engaging in sexual
For additional information and statistics, please go to the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at