The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of a Fort Worth man convicted of killing a 61-year-old grandmother at her Johnson County home in 2010.
Appellate lawyers for Mark Anthony Soliz, 32, argued that 18 errors were made at his trial in Cleburne in 2012, including that the imposition of the death penalty is unconstitutional because Soliz has partial fetal-alcohol syndrome and his “cognitive and functional abilities are similar to the abilities of someone suffering from mental retardation.”
Psychologists, social workers and probation officers testified at Soliz’s trial that his was one of the worst cases of childhood neglect and abandonment they had ever seen. All agreed that his mother drank while she was pregnant.
Appeals court Justice Lawrence Meyers, who wrote the opinion, noted that the jury heard the testimony about Soliz’s condition and still recommended a death sentence. “This Court will not second-guess the jury’s determination,” he wrote.
Soliz committed 13 crimes over eight days in June 2010, including carjackings, armed robberies, a holdup, a drive-by shooting and the fatal shooting of Ruben Martinez, a deliveryman who happened to be unloading beer at a north Fort Worth convenience store about 6 a.m. June 29, 2010.
A few hours later, Nancy Weatherly was killed when Soliz and co-defendant Jose Ramos broke into her home in a rural area near Godley in Johnson County intent on robbery and shot her with a gun stolen in an earlier burglary.
Tarrant County prosecutors have not tried Soliz in Martinez’s slaying.
Ramos pleaded guilty in both cases and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
This was Soliz’s first appeal and was automatic as with all death sentences. He can appeal to federal courts. State District Judge William Bosworth has not set his execution date.
This report includes material from The Associated Press and the Star-Telegram archives.