Hitman who shot drive-by shooting witness for a friend is set to die Wednesday in Texas

Wednesday, November 1st 2006, 6:17 am
By: News On 6

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ After telling a grand jury about a drive-by shooting he witnessed, 17-year-old Mario Stubblefield never was able to repeat his testimony in court.

A friend of the gunman in the drive-by case showed up at Stubblefield's home, lured him outside into the front yard and then shot him in the head and neck, killing him.

That gunman, Donell Jackson, 33, was set for lethal injection Wednesday evening.

``Basically, it was a murder for hire, a situation where the defendant admitted a friend paid him to kill,'' said Denise Nassar, a Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Jackson.

Jackson's lawyer asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the punishment, arguing the high court did not have enough time to consider a petition to review Jackson's case and questioning language in instructions the trial court gave to jurors.

``I'm hopeful but realistic,'' lawyer Jani Maselli said.

Jackson, then 20, showed up at Stubblefield's Houston home on Aug. 31, 1993, under the guise of being the friend of a relative and asked to speak with him outside. Authorities said Jackson then pulled out a gun and fatally shot Stubblefield.

Witnesses identified another man waiting outside by a car as David Smith, the gunman in the earlier drive-by shooting that Stubblefield witnessed. Smith later was convicted of paying Jackson $200 to shoot Stubblefield and was sentenced to life in prison.

Jackson, from death row, said he agreed to confront Stubblefield at the request of Smith, his best friend. ``I just chose my friend over him,'' he told the Houston Chronicle.