Lubbock man found
guilty in parents' murders
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 5, 1999
LUBBOCK (AP) - It took a
jury less than an hour Monday to convict a 29-year-old man of
killing his parents.
A defense attorney said
Michael Yowell was insane when he shot his father in the head,
strangled his mother with a lamp cord and blew up the family
Jurors didn't believe the
argument. They will decide today whether Yowell should spend
life in prison or receive lethal injection for the May 1998
The charred corpses of
John Yowell, 55, and Carol Yowell, 53, were strewn amid the
rubble of their home after an early morning explosion.
Carol Yowell's mother,
89-year-old Viola Davis, also was in the house when her grandson
opened a gas valve and took off into the night. The elderly
woman died two weeks later of burns and smoke inhalation.
Yowell has been charged
with her murder but that case has not gone to trial.
Prosecutor Matt Powell
said Yowell planned to shoot his parents, but his gun broke
during the confrontation.
Instead, Yowell attacked
his mother with a knife, then wrapped a lamp cord around her
neck and strangled her for at least five minutes, Powell said.
Yowell was an alcoholic
and a junkie desperate for drug money at the time of the
slayings, defense lawyer Jack Stoffregen told the courtroom.
Stoffregen argued that Yowell was incapable of sorting out moral
or ethical questions because of his drug addiction.
For seven years before the
slayings, Yowell bounced between rehabilitation and mental
But the prosecution
labeled him a mass murderer and urged a no-mercy approach.
another lie by Michael Yowell," Powell said. "You think he
didn't know he was doing something wrong?"
found dead after house explosion; police searching for man
Babineck / Associated Press Writer
Sunday, May 10,
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Authorities found a
couple's badly burned remains Saturday after part of their home
was obliterated in a suspicious early-morning explosion. Police
are seeking one man for questioning.
Autopsies will be performed Monday on the
victims, whom neighbors identified as the home's residents,
Johnny and Carol Yowell. But police Sgt. John Gomez declined to
name them because relatives hadn't been notified.
The couple were burned beyond recognition
after a blast that appeared to occur near their bedroom blew out
the walls around 7:45 a.m.
"There's some suspicion surrounding their
cause of death," Gomez said. "Hopefully, the autopsy will
provide more information."
He said authorities are searching for a
relative whom neighbors identified as Michael Yowell. Gomez said
they sought him simply to ask him questions and to inform him of
the explosion if he wasn't aware of it yet.
Gomez did not name Yowell a suspect in the
blast, which also injured his 89-year-old grandmother, Viola
Davis. Ms. Davis was in stable condition Saturday night at
University Medical Center in Lubbock.
The cause of the explosion was under
investigation by city fire marshals, Gomez said.
"It may take several days or weeks before we
find what the cause was," he said. "They will do tests to see if
there was some type of accelerant."
After hearing the explosion, which left other
walls in the house buckled, the roof badly sagging and windows
next door blown in, neighbors Charles McMillan and Greg Songer
raced into the rubble and rescued Ms. Davis.
"Anytime you lose a friend, it doesn't have
to be kinfolk, it hurts," McMillan, a next-door neighbor who
described himself as close to the Yowells, told the Lubbock
Avalanche-Journal. "But they were like kinfolk, they were
neighbors. We saw them all the time."
Michael Yowell going to court
Michael Yowell on death row