Jurors recommend death penalty for former Texas prison escapee in killing of police officer

Tuesday, January 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ A second member of a seven-man gang that escaped from a Texas prison and killed a police officer in 2000 has been sentenced to death.

A jury on Monday recommended the death penalty for Donald Keith Newbury, 39. The other option the jury considered was life in prison.

Newbury is the second defendant sentenced to die for the Christmas Eve 2000 murder of Aubrey Hawkins, 29, after a holdup of a sporting goods store. Hawkins was hit 11 times by bullets from five weapons and run over by his squad car.

A jury convicted Newbury on Friday. Monday's sentencing recommendation requires a judge's approval; however, judges almost always uphold jury recommendations.

Jury foreman Brian Modic declined to discuss the jurors' reasons for their decision.

Newbury displayed no reaction as the verdict was read or when he listened to statements from Hawkins' mother and widow. In Texas courts, victims or their families are entitled to address defendants after sentencing.

``You seemingly had no feeling about what happened to Aubrey or what's happening to you. Do you realize the horror and terror and the pain and sadness you've caused so many people?'' Hawkins' mother, Jayne Hawkins, said.

The officer's widow, Lori, told Newbury she was outraged that he had blamed her husband for his own death. In a statement to police presented to the jury, Newbury blamed Hawkins for approaching seven armed men without backup.

Lori Hawkins said she would watch Newbury die from lethal injection, just as he ``watched Aubrey die.''

Newbury was serving his third jail sentence for armed robbery when he and six other inmates broke out of the Connally Unit prison, near Kenedy, on Dec. 13, 2000. He and five others were caught the next month in Colorado and the seventh killed himself rather than surrender.

Confessed gang ringleader George Rivas was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death last August. Jury selection is set to begin March 1 for Michael Rodriguez. His attorney has asked that his case be moved from Dallas County.