Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 1, 1994
Date of birth: November 16, 1975
Victim profile: Michael W. Sanders, 29
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Tarrant County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 21, 1996

The United States Court of Appeals
For the Fifth Circuit

opinion 03-10352

Melendez v. Tex., No. 72,420 slip opinion at 2-3 (Tex. Crim. App. Oct. 7, 1998)

At the guilt/innocence stage of trial, the State presented fifteen witnesses, including testimony from the surviving victim, to establish the circumstances surrounding the robbery/murder of which [Melendez] was convicted. Their testimony, if believed, established the following.

On the evening of September 1, 1994, [Melendez], who was eighteen years old, visited and drank beer with a group of friends in the driveway of a Fort Worth residence. At approximately 11:30 p.m., [Melendez] stated, in a voice loud enough for most to hear, his intention to rob “some mother fucker,” and he walked away alone.

At that same time, in the nearby parking lot of a self-service car wash, the two victims in this case had parked their pick-up truck parallel to a walk-up pay phone. They had been there a number of minutes when one of them, Tommie Joe Seagraves, noticed [Melendez] walking up behind the truck. As Seagraves looked on, he warned the truck’s driver, Michael Sanders, of [Melendez’s] approach. [Melendez] positioned himself about fifteen feet from the driver’s side door.

Without any warning or even a word being spoken, [Melendez] turned and fired one shot into the cab of the vehicle, and it struck Seagraves in the neck. [Melendez] then announced his first demand that Sanders hand over all the money in the truck. As Sanders pleaded with [Melendez] not to shoot him, he was ordered from the vehicle, and then forced to walk toward [Melendez] and hand over the money.

Relieved of his money, Sanders turned and started back toward the truck where Seagraves still sat wounded and unable to move. Before he reached the vehicle, [Melendez] fired again and struck Sanders in the back. In rapid succession, [Melendez] fired three more shots and all struck Sanders in either the back or the arm. Sanders finally toppled forward through the open driver’s side door and came to rest in the floorboard of the truck with his head resting against Seagraves’ leg.

As Sanders lay dying, [Melendez] approached, reached through the cab with the gun in his hand, placed the muzzle next to Seagraves’ forehead, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. The gun was empty, so [Melendez] simply turned and walked back in the direction he had come.

In the end, Seagraves received two bullet wounds; the initial wound when [Melendez] first approached and a second wound received from a bullet that had passed through the decedent and struck Seagraves’ arm. Sanders was shot four times and died within minutes.



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