Convicted killer Mark Anthony Soliz was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the fatal shooting of a 61-year-old Godley woman during a 2010 crime spree that left another man dead in Fort Worth and 2 others injured. The 6-man, 6-woman jury in state District Judge William Bosworth's court deliberated 1 hour before reaching a decision.
Family and friends of Soliz's victims -- who had wept quietly during closing arguments -- sat quietly in the courtroom as the decision was announced.
Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna had urged jurors to send a message to criminals.
"If this is not a death penalty case, you will never see one," Hanna told jurors during closing arguments Friday. "The evidence is overwhelming. “What happened to Ruben (Martinez) and Nancy (Weatherly) can happen to anyone."
Soliz, 30, a Fort Worth gang member with a criminal history that dates back to his elementary school years, was silent as the decision was announced.
He was convicted earlier this month of capital murder in the slaying of Weatherly, a 61-year-old grandmother from Godley. Testimony during trial said Soliz shot her in the head then laughed later about how she begged for her life. Johnson County prosecutors Martin Strahan and Larry Chambless, assisted by Tarrant County prosecutor Christy Jack, had asked for the death penalty, saying Soliz would continue to be a threat to society, even behind bars.
"Wherever he is, he is going to be a danger," Strahan told jurors. "Whether he goes to ad seg (a tight-security prison unit) or Death Row, he will hurt someone again."
Defense attorneys Mike Heiskell and Greg Westfall urged jurors to choose life in prison, saying Soliz had brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome because of his mother's heavy drinking during pregnancy.
They presented evidence that Soliz's mother, Donna, also sniffed paint almost daily while pregnant and used cocaine and other drugs. She left him to fend for himself from a young age, and sometimes kicked him out of their one bed so she could prostitute herself for drug money. Heiskell urged jurors to consider the "humanity" of their decision.
"Are we doing the right thing when we are confronted with a wretched soul like this?" he asked.
Weatherly's son, Ben Davis, watched the closing arguments Friday from the same front-row seat he has held throughout the four-week trial. He was joined Friday by his wife, Kila, and their 2 sons, Riley and Rhett. The grandsons testified Thursday about how much they missed their "fun-loving" Granny, who would do anything to help her family.
Soliz is also facing a capital murder charge in Tarrant County in the death of beer deliveryman Ruben Martinez, who was fatally shot during a robbery of a Texaco station earlier on the same day Weatherly was killed. Authorities say the 2 fatal shootings capped an 8-day crime spree that stretched across two counties and included at least 13 separate offenses, including several non-fatal shootings, burglary, robbery and car-jackings.
Martinez's widow, Lisa Martinez was among those in the courtroom. Martinez's parents and brothers were also in the courtroom. (source: Fort Worth Star-Teleglram)