HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Texas death row inmate set for execution Tuesday evening as the lawyers argued in court that the state parole board improperly refused his request for grace because he is black.
Christopher Young was convicted of fatally shooting a San Antonio convenience store owner during an attempted robbery nearly 14 years ago. Young, 34, has never denied the murder, which was recorded on a store surveillance camera, but insisted that he was drunk and did not intend to kill 53-year-old Hasmukh “Hash” Patel after drinking almost two dozen beer and then doing cocaine that Sunday morning in November 2004.
Young lawyers called the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, after the panel last week rejected a clemency plea in which she argued he was “no longer the young man that he was when he arrived” on death row, that he is “truly remorseful” and that He is the son not want the execution to take place.
In the civil rights suit, his lawyers argued a white Texas inmate, Thomas Whitaker, received a rare commutation earlier this year when his execution was imminent for the killing of his mother and brother. Young is black and the race wrong “seems to be the driving force in this matter,” lawyer David Dow said in the appeal, asked for a postponement of the punishment. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday refused a similar appeal as inappropriate.
Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, said the civil rights lawsuit was a delay tactic, incorrect, speculative, and “legally and factually deficient.”
Young and his lawyers argued that he no longer was a Bloods street gang member, had matured in prison and is hoping to show others “look where you can end up.”
“I didn’t know about death row,” Young said, out of the prison. “It should be talked about. You have a whole new generation. You have to stop this, not only executions, but the crimes. No one talks to these children. I can’t bring Hash back, but I can do something to ensure that there are no more Hashes.”
According to the court documents, Young victims of sexual violence a woman in her apartment, with her three young children present, then forced her to drive him in her car. They managed to escape, and records show he drove a block to the Mini-Supermarket where the owner, Patel, was shot dead during an attempted robbery. He was arrested 90 minutes later after picking up a prostitute and driving to a crack house where the stolen car was parked outside and saw that San Antonio police.
From prison, he denied the sexual assault, although court records said a DNA test confirmed the attack. He said that he shot Patel in the hand and the ball, the in Patel’s chest, killing him. The surveillance camera recorded both video and audio from the recording, and two customers in the parking lot identified Young as the shooter.
Mitesh Patel, whose father was murdered by a Young, said last week during a meeting for Young people in San Antonio that he supported Young’s clemency bid, because “nothing positive comes from his execution” and the execution of the sentence would be the Young three daughters without a father.
Young said the shooting stemmed from a dispute in which he believed involved the mother of one of his three children and Patel. The woman, however, lied to him, he said.
“He was not a bad guy,” Young said. “I was drunk. We knew the victim. The whole confrontation went wrong. I thought he was for the reach of a gun and I’ll shoot.”
Young said he excelled in chess and violin, cello and double bass, but “stopped” and he is a member of the Bloods, when he was approximately 8 after his father was shot during a robbery.
His execution would be the eighth this year in Texas, one more than last year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state. At least seven other Texas prisoners execution dates in the coming months.