UPDATE 8:00 P.M. ET:
A former San Antonio rap musician has been executed for a knife attack and robbery that left a recording studio owner dead.
Ray Jasper was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital Wednesday for the November 1998 stabbing death of 33-year-old David Alejandro.
Jasper had acknowledged he slit Alejandro’s throat to steal equipment from the San Antonio studio. But he insisted a partner was responsible for Alejandro’s fatal stab wounds.
Jasper’s execution was the third in Texas this year. Another is set for next week before the state begins using a new batch of pentobarbital obtained through a different pharmacy.
The injection came after lawyers for Jasper, who was black, argued a black potential juror at Jasper’s San Antonio trial in 2000 was questioned and disqualified improperly because of race.
HUNTSVILLE, TX — San Antonio rap musician Ray Jasper has never disputed his involvement in an attack and robbery more than 15 years ago that left a 33-year-old recording studio owner dead.
But Jasper testified at his capital murder trial that although he cut the throat of David Alejandro, a partner was responsible for the victim’s fatal stab wounds.
A Bexar County jury wasn’t convinced and deliberated only 15 minutes at Jasper’s January 2000 trial before convicting him. The panel then took less than two hours to decide he should be put to death.
Jasper’s lethal injection with a dose of pentobarbital was set for Wednesday evening.
Jasper, 33, would be the third Texas inmate put to death this year and among at least five scheduled to die over the next five weeks in the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.
Lawyers for Jasper, who is black, argued that the punishment should be stopped to examine whether prosecutors had improperly removed a black man from possibly serving on his trial jury. San Antonio-based U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery rejected that appeal on Tuesday.
Jasper was 18 at the time of the November 1998 attack. Records showed he had a criminal past beginning about age 15.
Evidence at his trial showed he’d been expelled from school for marijuana possession, then was expelled from an alternative school. Authorities said he also had attacked an off-duty police officer who tried to stop him during an attempted burglary and led police on a high-speed chase.
Jasper had previous sessions with Alejandro, who was the lead singer of a San Antonio Christian-based music group in addition to running his recording studio. At his trial, Jasper described Alejandro as “one of the nicest people I ever met in my life.”
“I’m not a killer and I didn’t do it,” he testified during the punishment phase of his trial.
He refused interview requests from The Associated Press as his execution date neared, but reiterated his claim of innocence in a letter published on the Gawker website.
Jeff Mulliner, one of the prosecutors at Jasper’s trial, said it was undisputed that Jasper organized and participated in the most premeditated murder he’d seen.
Testimony showed that a week before the attack, Jasper purchased large bags he intended to use to hold stolen studio gear. He recruited two friends, Steven Russell and Doug Williams, brought two vans to the studio and reserved time under the pretense of a rap recording session.
“This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Mulliner said.
As their session was ending, Jasper approached Alejandro from behind and slashed his throat from ear to ear with a kitchen knife he’d hidden in his jacket.
“Anybody on the planet that looks, presently or past, at the photos of David Alejandro’s corpse and saw the gash to his neck, it would be impossible to cut someone that deep and that badly across the entire path of the neck without having specific intent to cause his death,” Mulliner said. “He just didn’t quite get it done.”
Mulliner said Jasper then held Alejandro while Russell stabbed him some two dozen times, leaving the knife buried to its hilt in their victim’s body.
Evidence showed Jasper used a black sheet he brought from home to cover Alejandro, then began loading recording equipment worth as much as $30,000 into the vans.
When an off-duty officer unexpectedly showed up and questioned the activity, Jasper fled on foot. He was arrested a few days later and confessed to planning the crime and recruiting two accomplices. Court documents showed his confession was corroborated by his girlfriend, who testified he’d told her days earlier that he planned to steal the equipment and kill Alejandro.
DNA evidence and fingerprints also tied Jasper to the slaying scene. The gear they’d hoped to sell was left behind.
Williams, now 35, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Russell, 34, also is serving life after taking a plea deal.
Next week, a Dallas-area man, Anthony Doyle, 29, is set for execution for the robbery and beating death of a woman who was delivering food to his home.