According to court documents Mark Roberts would fatally shoot his friend Sean Hill before fatally shooting Hill Grandmother Edna Brau and robbing the home
Mark Robertson would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Mark Robertson Photos
Mark Robertson Now
SID Number: 03807763
TDCJ Number: 00000992
Maximum Sentence Date: DEATH ROW
Current Facility: POLUNSKY
Mark Robertson Case
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday stayed the execution of a white Dallas death row prisoner who argued that his trial attorney relied on “racist ideology” to keep black jurors off the panel during his 1991 capital murder trial.
Mark Robertson – who was scheduled for execution Thursday – was originally sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a friend and his 81-year-old grandmother. But earlier this month, defense lawyers asked the court to reconsider an earlier decision, and once again look at whether then-attorney Michael Byck “engaged in purposeful discrimination” based on the belief that black jurors would be less sympathetic to a white defendant.
The late Dallas attorney “brazenly recounted” his strategy and ideology during a 1997 appeals hearing where he said he’d be “more than happy to violate anybody else’s rights” in an effort to defend his client. Ultimately, it was an all-white jury that sentenced Robertson to death, after Byck and prosecutors handling the case agreed to “indulge each other” in their “prejudices,” according to court records.
The three-page ruling on Monday doesn’t offer any insight as to the court’s reason for granting a stay, merely outlining history of the case and noting that the court “has determined that applicant’s execution should be stayed pending further order from this Court.” Robertson’s current attorneys did not immediately offer comment on the decision.
The case started in August of 1989, after Robertson went to his friend’s house to do some crank and smoke some weed. Later that night, the then-21-year-old and his friend, Sean Hill, went fishing in the creek out back.
They caught seven catfish before Robertson shot his friend in the head.
“After I shot him, Sean fell in the water,” Robertson wrote later in a confession. “I then ran in the house through Sean’s bedroom and into the bathroom where I splashed some water over my face. I then walked into the den where (Edna Brau), Sean’s grandmother, was watching TV and I shot her once.”
After the slayings, Robertson swiped his friend’s drugs and the elderly woman’s purse before stealing her car and eventually fleeing to Las Vegas.
When police caught him, he offered a detailed and gory written confession.
During trial two years later, the jury also heard about how he murdered 19-year-old 7-Eleven clerk Jeffrey Saunders a week before the double killing at Brau’s house. That slaying – and Hill’s – netted him two life sentences, while Brau’s killing put him on death row.
In 2003, his then-attorney won him a last-minute stay based on claims of false testimony as to his future dangerousness behind bars. He later won the chance at a new punishment, based on bad jury instructions – but the retrial still ended in a death sentence. Last year, a Dallas County judge again signed off on an execution date.
Now, with Robertson’s death date off the calendar, there are four more prisoners scheduled for death this year in Texas.