Crime

Inmate to be executed Tuesday evening for June 2010 killing of Godley grandmother

Convicted murderer Mark Anthony Soliz, shown here at his 2012 trial, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday.
Convicted murderer Mark Anthony Soliz, shown here at his 2012 trial, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday. Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall

A North Texas inmate is set to be executed Tuesday evening, nearly a decade after he killed a grandmother in Godley during an eight-day crime spree that included carjackings, armed robberies and one more slaying.

Mark Anthony Soliz, 37, faces death by lethal injection for the June 29, 2010, killing of 61-year-old Nancy Weatherly during a robbery at her Godley home, in Johnson County about 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth, according to the Associated Press. He was also convicted of the fatal shooting of Ruben Martinez, a deliveryman who was unloading beer at a north Fort Worth convenience store around 6 a.m. on that June 29.

Soliz’s attorneys have argued he should be exempt from the death penalty because he suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, a form of brain damage caused by maternal alcohol abuse. But the jurors in his 2012 trial, appeals courts and even the U.S. Supreme Court have rejected the defense.

His attorney, Seth Kretzer, said in the Daily Beast he hopes the courts will rule Soliz is mentally disabled, though he knows they might not prevail.

“It’s simply not right to execute the mentally disabled,” Kretzer said in the Daily Beast. “Hope is a very dangerous thing to have in prison. We’ve used every legal tool we can to fight this and now we just have to wait.”

In 2002, the Supreme Court — while barring the execution of mentally disabled people — allowed states some discretion in how they determine an intellectual disability.

In documents filed earlier this month, the Texas Attorney General’s Office said the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are exempt from capital punishment and Soliz hasn’t presented an expert opinion arguing he’s intellectually disabled, according to the AP.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, along with state and federal appeals courts, have turned down numerous requests by Soliz’s attorneys to stop the execution, according to the AP. The most recent denial came Monday.

Should the execution go on Tuesday evening, Soliz would be the 15th inmate in the U.S. to be put to death in 2019. Five of those happened in Texas, including the execution last week of a man who killed an 89-year-old woman and her 71-year-old daughter in Fort Worth in 2003.

Soliz, a gang member, was found to be responsible for 13 crimes during an eight-day crime frenzy in June 2010 that crossed two counties, including the fatal shootings of Weatherly and Martinez as well as a drive-by shooting. The crime spree left two people wounded.

Soliz’s attorneys argued during his trial his mother drank heavily and used drugs during his pregnancy, and relatives testified he learned what he saw growing up around drugs and crime. A former girlfriend testified they both were high on methamphetamine for most of the week he committed the crimes.

But courts have consistently held he acted knowingly when he killed two people during that week in June 2010.

Soliz had only been out of prison for a few months when he knocked on the door of Weatherly’s Godley home, intent on robbing her, according to Star-Telegram archives. His former girlfriend testified that he told her about shooting the woman in the head despite her begging.

The woman, who wasn’t identified by the Star-Telegram because she feared gang retaliation, said Weatherly “was crying, begging for her life, praying for him not to kill her. He was laughing about it.”

She also testified that Soliz said Weatherly asked him not to take her jewelry box, which was given to her by her late mother. He said he told her to be with her mom, the former girlfriend testified, and shot her.

The former girlfriend also testified Soliz shot Martinez when he said he only had $10.

Soliz was a member of the Tango Blast gang, considered one of the largest and most significant gangs in Texas, according to Star-Telegram archives.

Soliz’s defense of fetal alcohol syndrome has been used before, as there have been cases across the country of defendants seeking to be exempt from the death penalty because of the disease.

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