Texas Death Row Inmate Dies
August 31, 2009
A convicted killer on Texas’
death row for nearly three decades has died in prison, prison
Danny Dean Thomas was found dead
Saturday, a day before his 54th birthday, on death row at the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit near Livingston.
Prison officials said an autopsy would be performed but initially
were attributing his death to natural causes.
Thomas changed his name to
Shozdijiji Shisinday since his conviction for the July 1981
abduction and murder of a Houston woman. Sylvia Elaine Harrison,
19, was fatally shot and her body was dumped in the San Jacinto
River in Harris County.
Court issues rulings in death penalty cases
September 13, 2001
AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Danny Dean
Thomas, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 kidnapping and
murder of a 19-year-old woman.
Thomas and a friend helped Sylvia Elaine
Harrison after she had car trouble, according to evidence. They
later abducted her from her home, and Thomas shot her in the head
as she begged for her life.
Among the 54 points of error that Thomas raised
in his appeal include allegations that Thomas’ written confession
was coerced and that he did not waive his rights before making the
The court wrote there is no court record to
indicate the allegations.
‘‘The sheriff’s detectives who obtained his
confession had actually done a great job and treated him very well,’’
said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Bill Delmore.
Thomas, also known as Shozdijiji Shisinday, was
tried twice for the crime. His first conviction, which was
overturned, was in March 1982. His latest conviction was in
Thomas also alleged in his appeal that the
passage of time since his original trial prevented him from
presenting an effective insanity defense at his new trial. Thomas
contended that since his first trial, his schizophrenia has gone
into remission and as a result, the jury did not have the
opportunity to observe the full effects of the illness.
The court wrote that the delay between trials
did not prevent Thomas from presenting evidence concerning his
mental state at the time of the offense and said it sees no
relevancy between Thomas’ demeanor at the trial to his
presentation of an insanity defense.
Thomas’ attorney could not be reached Wednesday.
The court also affirmed the conviction of
Johnny Ray Conner, who was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing
of Kathyanna Nguyen, a convenience store owner who was shot in the
head during a robbery.