Tyler man set to be second execution of year in Texas

Posted Monday, Apr. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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HUNTSVILLE -- A Tyler man convicted of fatally shooting a man and afterward raping his fiancee while accomplices stole items from the couple's house is set for execution tonight.

When he was arrested for the slaying in Smith County, Rickey Lynn Lewis had been in and out of Texas prisons five times in fewer than seven years and had been paroled six months earlier from his third burglary conviction.

On Tuesday, Lewis, 50, of Tyler is scheduled to become the second man executed in Texas this year. Three more are scheduled later this month in the nation's most active death penalty state.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Friday rejected a clemency petition for Lewis, and the U.S. Supreme Court a week ago refused to review Lewis' case.

"I think at this point we're out of options," said Lewis' attorney, Seth Kretzer.

In a recent interview, Connie Hilton recalled that her barking dog woke her the night of Sept. 17, 1990, in the Smith County house she shared with George Newman. She got out of bed and saw a man in the hallway with a shotgun. When Newman, 45, responded to her screams, he was gunned down. The dog was also killed.

The Associated Press normally does not name rape victims, but Hilton, 63, agreed in an interview to be identified. She has written a book that includes her experiences as a crime victim and uses it in her work with a prison ministry organization.

"God's gotten me through this," she said.

Lewis sexually assaulted Hilton for over an hour while two other men, who never were identified, stole items from the house. Hilton was left in the kitchen, hands and feet bound, as Lewis and his partners fled in her truck. She freed herself, crawled to Newman's body and then climbed out a window. She drove to a store for help.

Lewis was arrested three days later after he was seen with some of the items taken from the home. DNA evidence linked him to the attack.

"I'm not looking forward to it," Hilton said of Lewis' lethal injection. She plans to be in Huntsville on Tuesday evening, but was uncertain if she would watch.

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