HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Condemned inmate Kenneth Parr, already with a criminal history as a juvenile, has continued to build on his reputation for violence since arriving on death row barely into adulthood.
Parr, 27, set to die Wednesday evening for the rape-slaying of a southeast Texas woman almost 10 years ago, was barred from interviews with reporters by Texas prison officials who said they were concerned about security if he was taken from his death row cell to a prison visiting area.
"He made threats against our staff and it was determined it was simply too dangerous to allow him out of his cell," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said, explaining the rare step to deny media access. "He's been adamant that he would like to harm staff members before he's executed."
Parr has a long list of disciplinary infractions since arriving on death row in 1999 following his conviction for fatally shooting Linda Malek, 30, during a robbery at her Bay City home. The woman, who was in bed with her 8- and 10-year-old children, was raped, then shot in the head.
"I've never perceived him to be a security threat," John Haughton, Parr's lawyer said. "But our contacts are limited."
The Jan. 21, 1998, slaying was the only homicide that year in Matagorda County, about 100 miles southwest of Houston. The timing — just days after Parr's 18th birthday — is significant because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled those condemned for crimes committed when under 18 may not be executed.
Haughton said he raised the age issue in earlier appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
"If 18, why not four days?" he said.
In a late bid to save Parr's life, Haughton was arguing to the high court that Parr's execution is improper because neither he nor Parr had an opportunity to contest the setting of the execution date. The appeal also challenged the state's lethal injection procedure as unconstitutionally cruel. State lawyers contested the appeal.
Parr's younger half-brother, Michael Jiminez, also was convicted in the case and is serving a life sentence. He was 17 at the time. Court records show Parr has two other brothers in prison and that his mother also served time for forgery.
Parr would be the 20th condemned Texas prisoner put to death this year and the first of five set to die over a 15-day period. Five more are on the schedule for September in the nation's most active capital punishment state.
Parr, who also would be the 399th Texas inmate executed since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982, had juvenile convictions for burglary and assault and was on parole from the Texas Youth Commission at the time of the slaying.
Testimony showed Parr and Jiminez, who were staying with a friend at an apartment across the street, pushed open the door to Malek's trailer home, stole a television, video recorder, jewelry and other items. Malek was shot twice in the back of the head with a .22-caliber rifle police found in an air conditioning vent at the friend's apartment.
After the intruders left, Malek's daughter called her grandparents to report the attack. She later would talk about it from the witness stand at Parr's capital murder trial.
"The testimony of the daughter was extremely moving because it gave the jury a firsthand understanding of the terrors of that night and the cold, narcissistic attitudes of the killers." said Steven Reis, the Matagorda County district attorney who prosecuted both Parr and Jiminez.
Records show Parr was removed from his mother's custody because he and his siblings were unsupervised, abused by his mother's boyfriends, had no stable parenting, and were exposed to criminal activity and substance abuse.
A witness testified Jiminez told her he and Parr, who did not testify, shot Malek and planned to kill her children but the rusty gun wouldn't fire.
On a Web site devoted to this case, he complained of "grave misjustices," including what he said was a mistaken conviction.
Facing execution next week is Johnny Ray Conner, convicted of the shooting death of Houston grocery store owner Kathyanna Nguyen during an attempted holdup in 1998.