(Orange, Texas)

State News

November 11, 2013

Texas inmate set to die for '91 abduction, slaying

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — An abusive childhood led Jamie McCoskey to a juvenile offense record that kept escalating as he reached adulthood.

He had a kidnapping conviction in Austin, assaults while serving time in prison, marijuana possession and a jail term where records show he used a chisel to crack the skull of a fellow Harris County inmate. Then he reached death row for abducting a Houston couple 22 years ago this week, killing a 21-year-old art student and raping the man's pregnant fiance.

On Tuesday evening, McCoskey, 49, was set to become the 15th convicted killer executed this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to review McCoskey's case and his lawyers said they planned no last-minute appeals to try to save his life.

At 6-feet-7 inches tall and square features, McCoskey was known to his acquaintances as "Lurch," the hulking Frankenstein-like butler to the fictional "Addams Family" of 1960s comedy TV fame.

Besides his imposing physical appearance, McCoskey achieved notoriety during his 1992 trial in Houston for walking into the courtroom the day after his capital murder conviction, grabbing a heavy oak chair and heaving it about 10 feet where it hit one prosecutor in the arm and grazed another before crashing into the jury box rail.

"That's for lying in court!" McCoskey shouted at the prosecutors.

Jurors had not yet entered the courtroom and didn't see the outburst. Days later, they decided he should receive the death penalty.

Jim Peacock, his lead trial attorney, recalled last week McCoskey "clearly was mentally ill, not normal."

McCoskey's height, square jaw and the result of being hit in the head with an iron when he was a child contributed in the "Lurch" resemblance, Peacock said.

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