Defendant seeks halt
to fight against
Lawyers asked to stop
Jan. 3, 2011
Defendants with their lives
at stake rarely
ask their lawyers to stop trying to declare the death penalty
but Travis Mullis has a different view of the world.
Mullis, accused of
attempting to sexually
molest his 3-month-old son Alijah before stomping him to death in 2008,
has asked his attorneys to withdraw 21 motions before a Galveston judge
questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty.
If the motions are not
threatens to sue the judge, his attorneys and the district clerk, file
complaints with various state agencies and notify several television
Interviewed in the
Galveston County Jail
on Monday, Mullis, 24, said the challenges to the death penalty would
up so much media interest that the resulting publicity would prejudice
a jury against him.
"It's more a publicity
stunt than anything
else," Mullis said about his attorneys' death penalty challenges.
the jury is selected they are going to drag all my case and all the
through the media."
But there is reason to
suspect that a Houston
case may have influenced Mullis's decision.
Green case reference
One of Mullis's attorneys,
is also an attorney in a case where his challenge to the death penalty
has received wide media attention.
In that case, Harris County
Kevin Fine declared the death penalty unconstitutional in March based
filings by Loper on behalf of John Edward Green, accused in a 2008
and slaying in Houston.
Fine later rescinded the
decision to gather
Mullis couldn't remember
the name of the
case, but pointed to media attention in a Harris County case as reason
for his decision to oppose his attorneys' attempts to fight the
in his case.
Mullis, who says he was
diagnosed as a
teenager as having bipolar mental illness, filed his handwritten motion
in November asking that the death penalty motions be withdrawn.
He says a civil rights
attorney whose identity
he refuses to reveal has been advising him to reject the advice of
and attorney Gerald Bourque, both experienced death-penalty attorneys.
Mullis says that he has a
right to manage
his own case, but Loper says he is misinformed. The defense attorneys,
not the client, determine legal strategy, he says.
"I don't know what that
civil rights lawyer,
if there is one, thinks he is doing for him, but it's going to be very
little," Loper said.
Jury selection for Mullis's
trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 1.
Jan 6, 2011
DEATH PENALTY ATTORNEY
GETS IT WRONG
Written By: Billy
Robert Loper is a prominent
respected death penalty attorney. He and two fellow attorneys, Richard
Burr and John “Casey” Kerinan, recently drew international attention by
filing for and securing a hearing before Harris County Criminal
Court Judge Kevin Fine challenging the manner in which Texas’ death
is carried out (here). The inmate in that case is named John Green who
was arrested and indicted for capital murder in connection with the
2008 shooting death of a woman during a robbery. Green apparently had
problem with being center stage in the high profile challenge to the
death penalty which featured all the “top stars” in the anti-death
But Travis Mullis views the
differently, and understandably so. He is sitting a Galveston jail
the death penalty after being indicted for attempting to sexually
his three year old son. Loper is also representing Mullis. The
attorney filed 21 motions challenging the constitutionality of the
penalty in Mullis’ case. Unlike John Green, Mullis was not pleased by
high profile defense strategy. The Houston Chronicle reported the
threatened to sue the trial judge, Loper, and the Clerk of Court if the
21 motions are not withdrawn.
The newspaper cited Mullis’
the media interest generated by such pre-trial challenges to the death
penalty. “Its more a publicity stunt than anything else,” the newspaper
quoted the accused child molester as saying. “Before the jury is
they are going to drag all my case and all the accusations through the
Mullis is 100 percent
right. He is facing
possibly the worse charge a man can face in Texas: trying to molest his
own 3-year-old son. The less publicity his case receives, the better.
love the death penalty and hate child molesters. Mullis sits squarely
that double-edged sword. I don’t know what Loper was thinking when he
to use this kind of case to challenge the death penalty— and apparently
the decision was made without the full consultation and blessing of his
client. As a consequence, the attorney may have already irreparably
any potential jury pool against Mullis with such an ill-advised defense
Mullis believes he has a
right to control
the defense strategy to be employed in his case. He is right. And some
unnamed civil rights attorney apparently reinforced this belief to
at the consternation of Loper who was quoted by the Chronicle as saying
the defense attorney, not the client, determines “legal strategy” in a
case. I don’t know what train Loper arrived at the station on, but it’s
about three decades late. A criminal defendant can not only reject a
legal strategy, he can fire his attorney and elect to defend himself,
in a capital case.
The arrogance in Loper’s
a client is at the mercy of whatever legal strategy he decides upon is
stunning. I don’t know Robert Loper personally, but I have been
with a number of what I call “attorney advocates” who too often blur
professional obligations with their personal cause-beliefs. Mullis
a legitimate point when he charges that Loper is perhaps more
in the publicity a death penalty challenge will generate than in the
legal interests. The fact that this question can even be raised is
why a well-informed attorney would not embark upon a controversial
strategy, such as a death penalty challenge, without the complete
of his client.
At a November 1976 clemency
Gilmore told Utah Board of Pardons members what he thought about the
of the ACLU, NAACP, and religious leaders to prevent his January 17,
execution: “They always want to get in on the act. I don’t think they
ever really done anything effective in their lives. I would like them
– including that group of reverends and rabbis from Salt Lake City – to
butt out. This is my life and this is my death. It’s been sanctioned by
the courts that I die and I accept that.”
The higher courts agreed
Every stay sought and secured by the ACLU was overturned including one
issued just hours before his execution.
Robert Loper should perhaps
historical lesson. Every man has the proverbial “right to go to hell in
his own way.” At this moment in his life Travis Mullis is not concerned
about whether Texas’ death penalty procedures are constitutional. He
does not want to take that prison van ride to Huntsville where the
executions are carried out while Loper is sitting in the comfort of his
So I think Loper should
take Gary Gilmore’s
advice and “butt out” of the Mullis case.
Thank you to Jan for sending me this update
Sentences baby-killer dad to death
gets death sentence in 3-month-old son's killing
05:30a.am, Monday, March 21, 2011
GALVESTON - Travis James
Mullis stood alone with his attorneys Monday when the jury verdict was
sentencing him to death for crushing his 3-month old sons head beneath
his foot to make him stop crying. Not a
single relative or friend came to lend support or to hear the verdict,
delivered after three hours of deliberation.
His adoptive mother was in
Florida and let it be know that she wanted nothing to do with the case.
She only wrote
Mullis betrayed no
emotion as the verdict was read. Moments before the jury returned he
whispered something to
him once curing his nearly three years awaiting trial in the Galveston
County Jail, Mullis, 24, said in an earlier jail
interview with the Houston Chronicle. Long lost relatives who came from
North Caroline to plead for his life - a
half brother, half-sister and aunt - had returned home when the jury
delivered its verdict.
his attorney and grinned.
Mullis was given the death penalty for the Jan. 29, 2008, killing of
his son, Alijah. He fled from Galveston Island
roadside where he had flung his sons body and walked into Philadelphia
Police headquarters several days
later. He gave homicide detectives written and video accounts of his
The jury heard five days of testimony last week in the penalty phase of
the trial after convincing Mullis of a capital
on March 11.
"Unable" to feel
"The monster is sitting right here in this courtroom and his name is
Travis Mullis," Assistant County District
Attorney Donna Cameron told jurors. "There is no medication, there is
no treatment for the evil that he is."
Defense attorneys Robert Loper and Gerald Bourque
argues to the seven women and five men on the jury that the
terrible events in Mullis' life, over which he had no control, were
reason enough for his life to be spared. "He's an
emotional mental health quadriplegic,", Bourque argued. "It's not that
he's unwilling, it's that he's unable" to feel
the emotions that others feel.
Bourque was referring to testimony that Mullis' mother's poor health
caused complications in the womb that
developed into psychological problems.
Testimony also showed that he lacked enough human contact at birth to
form the bond necessary to develop
empathy and love and was sexually abused by his adoptive father. "No
one should have to live the live that Travis
Mullis has lived and then die and go to hell for it," Bourque said.
"his life is broken through no fault of his own."
Special prosecutor, Lyn McClellan urged jurors to ignore the defense.
McClellen reminded jurors that Mullis had
attempted to molest two children in Alvin, had molested his 8-year old
cousin in a Baltimore suburb when he was
13 and had bragged about molesting three boys after he was confined to
the Jefferson School for emotionally
"Hit list" requested
The first two questions the jury had to answer was whether Mullis was a
future danger to society. A no answer
automatically would require a sentence of life imprisonment. The jury
answered yes, requiring jurors to decide
whether there are any circumstances that would spare him the death
penalty. Jurors answered no.
Jurors also asked for a photo of the "hit lit" with initials of
allegedly intended victims Mullis wrote on the wall of
his cell in Galveston Country Jail, and a list of exhibits.
Before the closing arguments, state District Judge John Elisor removed
a female juror who the defense accuse
of violating the judges order by discussing the case with other jurors
before deliberations began. A woman
alternate replaced her
After the verdict, Loper asked that each juror be asked if they agreed
with the verdict. All agreed.
An appeal is automatic.
refuses to appeal sentence for slaying son
September 22, 2011
GALVESTON - A death-row inmate's decision not to appeal a capital
murder conviction could put his execution
on a fast track.
If Travis Mullis passes a psychological examination, then the earliest
he could be put to death for the Jan. 29,
2008, stomping death of his 3-month old son, Alijah, would be April,
the inmate said during a Wednesday
interview at the Galveston County Jail.
Mullis described the moment he sexually assaulted his son and stomped
the life from him as a selfish impulse. A
sightseeing couple found Alija's lifeless body on the Galveston seawall
berm near East Beach.
"The way it ended was not intended," Mullis said. "It was just more of
a holy...Look what I just did. How am I going
to clean this up?"
Mullis left Galveston but surrendered on Feb. 1, 2008, and confessed to
Philadelphia police that stomped Alijah
until he felt the infant's skull collapse. It was the only way to stop
Alijah from crying, he said. Evidence in his
punishment hearing reveled Mullis sexually assaulted Alijah before
There was no thought process, Mullis said during the video conference
interview with The Daily News. "Then
flight took over after that," he said.
A jury convicted Mullis of the capital murder in Galveston's 122nd
District Court and affirmed the death penalty
sentence in March. The $168,843. combined fee approved for two defense
lawyers, Robert K. Loper and Gerald
Bourque, was approved, and an appeals attorney was appointed.
"Eye For An Eye"
"I've accepted the consequences the jury gave me," Mullis said. "I've
accepted the verdict ... I don't feel it's
necessary to go through it again.
Mullis doesn't want to drag his relatives or anyone else through
another trial, if it came to that, he said. "I have a
religious and moral belief of an eye for an eye", Mullis said. "I think
the punishment is justified for the crime".
Is Mullis ready to die?
"I won't say I want to, but it is the consequence of my actions, and
I'm accepting that," Mullis said.
Mullis urged anyone with emotional instability to seek help.
"Don't think you can handle it alone, because I couldn't," Mullis said.
"I could have just the sexual assault charges,
and that by itself. It was unnecessary for any of it to happen."
If Mullis won't appeal, the Texas State Of Court of Criminal Appeals
still would review the trial for constitutional
Hearing Set Oct. 11
In court documents, Mullis decided to represent himself on appeal. He
has not filed any briefs in the case, First
Assistant District Attorney Donna Cameron said. Mullis said he doesn't
The court of Judge John Ellisor set a hearing for Mullis for Oct. 11
after a doctor has been able to evaluate Mullis
for his competency.
"When I waive my habeas, they're still going to do the constitutional
review on direct appeal," Mullis said.
"Because I'm not filing anything, my habeas will expire Dec. 23. That's
Anytime after that, Ellisor could affirm his sentence, Mullis said.
Once it's affirmed, the judge sets my date, and I can be executed
roughly no early than 90 days," Mullis said.
"Which, depending on the court, could be as early as April of next
Mullis explained what it's like being on death row.
"Despite what I've heard from other people, my personal take on it is
that it's really not that bad," Mullis said.
"When I first got there, I had people giving me all kinds of stuff."
Mullis told them that he couldn't afford to pay them back.
"They're like, "Hey id doesn't matter," Mullis said. "The next guy that
comes to death row with nothing, make sure
he has something."
In his more than three yeas of jail and stated prison, what does Mullis
miss the most?
"My son," he said.