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Donald Keith NEWBURY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Member of the "Texas Seven" - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 24, 2000
Date of birth: May 18, 1962
Victim profile: Aubrey Hawkins, 29 (Irving police officer)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Dallas County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on January 28, 2002
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name TDCJ Number Date of Birth
Donald Newbury 999403 05/18/1962
Date Received Age (when Received) Education Level
01/28/2002 39 6
Date of Offense Age (at the Offense) County
12/24/2000 38 Dallas
Race Gender Hair Color
white male brown
Height Weight Eye Color
6 ft 0 in 215 brown
Native County Native State Prior Occupation
Bernalillo New Mexico carpenter, electrician, laborer
Prior Prison Record


#326418 on a 10 year sentence from Travis County for one count of aggravated robbery; released on mandatory supervision on 07/23/1985; returned from mandatory supervision on 04/08/1987 with a 15 year sentence from Travis County for one count of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon; released on parole on 03/04/1992; returned from parole on 05/15/1998 with a 99 year sentence from Travis County for one count of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
 

Summary of incident


While on escape from TDCJ, Newbury and 6 co-defendants robbed a sporting goods store at gunpoint.  An Irving police officer was murdered outside the store as Newbury and co-defendants left the scene.
 

Co-defendants

George Rivas (sentenced to death)
Michael Rodriguez (sentenced to death)
Randy Halprin 
Patrick Murphy, Jr.
Joseph Garcia
Larry Harper (committed suicide)
 
Race and Gender of Victim
white male
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Texas 7 was a group of prisoners who escaped from the John Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas on December 13, 2000. They were apprehended January 21-23, 2001 as a direct result of the television show America's Most Wanted.

The group was composed of the following Texas state prisoners:

  • Joseph C. Garcia

  • Randy Ethan Halprin

  • Larry James Harper (deceased by suicide)

  • Donald Keith Newbury

  • Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr.

  • George Rivas (Ringleader)

  • Michael Anthony Rodriguez (executed in 2008)

Escape

On December 13, 2000, the seven carried out an elaborate scheme and escaped from the John B. Connally Unit, a maximum-security state prison near the South Texas city of Kenedy.

At the time of the breakout, the reported ringleader of the Texas Seven, 30-year-old George Rivas, was serving 18 consecutive 15-to-life sentences. Michael Anthony Rodriguez, 38, was serving a 99-to-life term, while Larry James Harper, 37, Joseph Garcia and Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., 39, were all serving 50 year sentences. Donald Keith Newbury, the member with the longest rap sheet of the group, was serving a 99-year sentence, and the youngest member, Randy Halprin, 23, was serving a 30-year sentence for injury to a child.

Using several well-planned ploys, the seven convicts overpowered and restrained nine civilian maintenance supervisors, four correctional officers and three uninvolved inmates at approximately 11:20 a.m. The escape occurred during the slowest period of the day when there would be less surveillance of certain locations like the maintenance area during lunch and at count time. Most of these plans involved one of the offenders calling someone over, while another hit the unsuspecting person on the head from behind. Once the victim was subdued, the offenders would remove some of his clothing, tie him up, gag him and place him in an electrical room behind a locked door.

The attackers stole clothing, credit cards, and identification from their victims. The group also impersonated prison officers on the phone and created false stories to ward off suspicion from authorities.

After that, three of the group made their way to the back gate of the prison, some disguised in stolen civilian clothing. They pretended to be there to install video monitors. One guard at the gatehouse was subdued, and the trio raided the guard tower and stole numerous weapons. Meanwhile, the four offenders who stayed behind made calls to the prison tower guards to distract them. They then stole a prison maintenance pick-up truck, which they drove to the back gate of the prison, picked up their cohorts, and drove away from the prison.

Crime spree

The white prison truck was found in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Kenedy, Texas. The Texas 7 first went into San Antonio right after breaking out of the complex. Realizing that they were running out of funds, they robbed a Radio Shack in Pearland, Texas the next day on December 14 at around 2 AM. In order to bypass the otherwise-competent store security, they entered an adjacent computer software store, wherein they proceeded to knock down the flimsy sheetrock wall to the other side. Once inside and undetected, they tethered the Radio Shack safe to their truck, and literally dragged the large safe outside of the building, causing damage to the parking lot and pavement.

On December 19, four of the members checked into an Econo Lodge motel in Farmers Branch, Texas (under assumed names), where they decided to rob an Oshman's Sporting Goods in nearby Irving, Texas. On December 24, 2000, they held up the store and stole 44 guns. A customer standing outside of the store noticed the commotion inside and called police. Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins responded to the call, arrived on the scene and was almost immediately ambushed; his autopsy would show that he had sustained eleven gunshots and his body had been run over by the fleeing gang.

After Hawkins' murder, a $100,000 reward was offered to whoever could snare the group of criminals. The reward would climb to $500,000 before the group was apprehended.

Capture and Conviction

A friend of Wade Holder, the owner of the Coachlight Motel and R.V. Park in Woodland Park, Colorado, happened to watch the television program America's Most Wanted on January 20, 2001 and told Wade that they were staying in his RV Park. He believed that the Texas 7, who were being compared to Angel Maturino Resendiz, were in his trailer park. When he confirmed this, he reported the suspicious activities to local authorities the next day on January 21.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Department SWAT team found Garcia, Rodriguez, and Rivas in a Jeep Cherokee in the RV Park. Authorities moved in and captured them at a nearby gas station. They then found Halprin and Harper in an RV; Halprin surrendered peacefully, but Harper was found dead after a standoff; he had shot himself in the chest and left temple with a pistol. The surviving four members were taken into police custody.

On January 23, they received information on the whereabouts of the last two. They were hiding out in a Holiday Inn in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A deal brokered between the two, Newbury and Murphy, allowed them to make live TV appearances before they were arrested.

In the early hours of January 24, a local KKTV television anchorman, Eric Singer, was taken into the hotel where on camera he interviewed the two by telephone. Both of them harshly denounced the criminal justice system in Texas, with Newbury adding "the system is as corrupt as we are."

Authorities later found out that a woman named Patsy Gomez conspired with a man named Raul Rodriguez, the father of Michael Rodriguez, to help the Texas 7.

George Rivas was sentenced to death after being extradited to Texas. Since then, the other five surviving members of the Texas 7 have also been put on death row alongside Rivas.

While the other surviving members of the Texas 7 are awaiting final resolution of their appeals, Rodriguez announced that he wished to forgo any further appeal (beyond the appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, mandatory in all death-penalty cases). He underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation in January 2007, which concluded that he was mentally competent to decide to forgo further appeals, and he was executed on August 14, 2008, the first of the surviving members to be executed.

 
 


The Texas 7

 

 

 
 
 
 
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