Criminal with Brady connection sentenced to death by Dallas jury

Texas prison escapee Donald Newbury was sentenced to death by lethal injection Monday for the slaying of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins in a Christmas Eve 2000 robbery. Newbury, 39, who resided in Brady for a time in the late 1990s, becomes the second of six surviving escapees to be sentenced to death for Officer Hawkins’ killing. The Dallas County jury deliberated a little over an hour before the verdict was read. Newbury showed no emotion as State District Judge Vickers Cunningham pronounced the sentence. When jurors found New-bury guilty of capital murder on Jan. 18, they deliberated less than an hour. The first escapee to be tried, confessed ringleader George Rivas, was convicted and sentenced to death in August. Newbury was one of seven men who broke out of a South Texas prison unit on Dec. 13, 2000. In closing arguments, Newbury’s defense attorney, Doug Parks, asked jurors to give his client life in prison in a 94-square-foot cell. Newbury would be confined for 23 hours each day and fed through a slot in a cell door as part of the prison’s administrative segregation policy for violent inmates. Parks said Newbury, who was in prison for armed robbery at the time of his escape, did have some good qualities. He married a woman who had AIDS and tried to be a good parent, Parks said. Newbury did not testify. Defense attorneys have said Newbury hadn’t planned for anyone to get hurt during the robbery. Prosecutor Toby Shook painted a much different picture of the escapee. “He just waits for that one opportunity, and when he gets it, he will strike,” said Shook. Shook described the 45 seconds it took to ambush Officer Hawkins outside the Oshman’s SuperSports USA as a “firing squad.” “They wanted Aubrey Hawkins dead, and they wanted him dead quickly, ” Shook said. “He acts without mercy, he acts without remorse.” Shook said that when Newbury was arrested, he said in his confession that he thought it was a police officer, and he shot three times. “There’s only one reason you shoot at a police officer, and that’s to kill him,” Shook said. Newbury, a native of Albuquerque, N. Mex., was arrested at his 1305 South High residence in Brady in August 1998 after a publicly aired surveillance video and a Crime-stoppers tip of his holdup of a La Quinta Inn along Interstate 35 South in Austin led to his arrest. At the time of his arrest, Newbury had established a residence in Brady and was living there with his self-declared wife. According to local authorities, since that time, his wife and any other family relatives that may have been living in the area have moved. The wife is reportedly living in the Marble Falls area. Although Newbury confessed to the crime for which he was arrested, he pleaded not guilty at his four-day trial in Travis County. A jury found him guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced him to 99 years in prison. Prior to the La Quinta robbery, he had been in Texas prisons in 1981 and 1987 for aggravated robbery of businesses. Authorities suspected him in about a dozen business robberies in the 1980s in the Austin area. He was paroled on the 1987 charge and appeared to be making efforts to do “his best,” according to authorities. He was serving jail time for those robberies at the Connally prison facility when he and six other inmates made their escape in December 2000 which was followed by a massive manhunt for the Texas Seven. Portions of this story by Terri Langford of the Dallas Morning News.

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