Second man convicted of capital murder in Fort Worth store slayings

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- It took a jury less than 45 minutes to decide that Randy Seibel, the second suspect to be tried for the murders of two men during the robbery of a Valero convenience store, is guilty of capital murder.

Seibel, 38, of Granbury will serve a life prison sentence with no chance for parole, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for both sides agreed that Kwame Rockwell, 37, of Fort Worth, was the person who shot and killed Jerry Burnett, a 70-year-old Mrs. Baird's bread truck driver, and Daniel Rojas-Torres, a 22-year-old store clerk, during the robbery at 4125 Mansfield Highway on March 23, 2010.

Rockwell, one of five people charged in the case, was convicted in January and sentenced to death. The jury decided that Seibel was also responsible for the deaths of the two men, both of whom lived in Fort Worth.

"The defendant is guilty under the law of parties," said Sean Colston, prosecutor. "Why? Because when Randy Seibel went in the store with Kwame Rockwell, it was their intention that no one would leave alive. They spread gasoline all over the store. Burnett was covered in gasoline. They were going to light that store on fire."

The law of parties is designed to treat conspirators equally culpable during the commission of a crime.

Chance Smith, a participant in the robbery who confessed to his role as one of the lookout men, received a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery and agreeing to testify for the state, court records show. Warren St. John, Seibel's attorney, asked the jury why Seibel should receive a harsher sentence.

"The government did not prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt that Randy Seibel was a willing participant in this crime," St. John said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors said Seibel made himself a party to the Valero robbery and all the crimes that were committed as a result.

"We know he put himself in a position where he was going into a store to rob it, where he was going to pour gas all over the store and burn it to the ground with someone who had a 9 mm handgun in his possession," said Kevin Rousseau, the prosecutor.

Marilyn Janice Miller, Burnett's older sister, gave a victim's impact statement on behalf of her family after the sentence was handed down by state District Judge Mike Thomas. Miller said Burnett suffered from arthritis and was not a threat to the robbers.

Two families were left devastated by Seibel's actions, Miller said. Burnett died at John Peter Smith hospital 10 days after the shooting. Rojas-Torres, who prosecutors said was shot execution style even after complying with the robbers' demands, died within minutes of being shot, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

"Jerry was always the center of attention at family gatherings," Miller said. "There would be no big 70th birthday party because on the day of his birthday, he was laying in a coma suffering from your gunshot wound to the head," she told Seibel.

Burnett's wife, Sue, said having the deliberations end so quickly was a relief, but other relatives said relief has eluded them.

"I don't feel like we've won anything," said Dalana Johnson, Burnett's daughter. "It's all over, but nothing's changed for us."

Trial dates have not been set for two cousins -- Timothy Thomas, 24, and Tyrone Thomas, 26 -- who also are facing capital murder charges in the case.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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