The Orange Leader
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.
He called McCoskey's trial "a classic insanity defense" and the case "a tragedy in so many ways, it was a tragedy for the victims, a very, very horrible brutal horrific crime. It was also a horrific terrible life that he lived leading up to that time."
The rape victim testified how she and her boyfriend, Michael Dwyer, were entering their apartment after shopping the evening of Nov. 13, 1991, when they were confronted by McCoskey. He was armed with a hunting knife, forced them to drive around southeast Houston, had the woman put handcuffs on Dwyer and forced him into the trunk of their car while he molested her.
She testified they stopped at a shabby vacant house where she was raped. She then told of hearing sounds as if "somebody hit you in the stomach and you get the breath knocked out of you" and realized it was Dwyer being stabbed some two dozen times.
She ran to a nearby house and police were called.
Their car was found at an apartment complex where McCoskey once lived. Residents identified McCoskey as the man police were describing. He was on mandatory supervision, a form of probation, at the time.
His mother testified he'd been abused as a child and had been in a number of juvenile facilities to deal with behavioral problems. Prosecutors presented psychologist testimony that McCoskey had an antisocial personality disorder but did know right from wrong.
At least seven other Texas prisoners are set to die in the coming months, including one next month.