HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Convicted killer Bobby Lee Hines was executed Wednesday for strangling and repeatedly stabbing a suburban Dallas woman at her apartment 21 years ago.
Hines, 40, was 19 and on probation for burglary when he stabbed 26-year-old Michelle Wendy Haupt 18 times and strangled her with a cord. Haupt had moved from the Pittsburgh area to Carrollton to work at a computer company in Dallas, and Hines was staying next door with a maintenance man for her apartment complex.
In the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 20, 1991, a neighbor heard screaming and called police, but officers were unable to find the source. When other residents later that morning also told the apartment manager about screams and loud noises that sounded like a bowling ball being dropped repeatedly, they persuaded him to open Haupt's door and found her dead.
Hines was arrested that day. Hines' older brother, a manager at the complex, told police he suspected his brother was involved, according to court records. And witnesses said Hines had bragged at a party about having a passkey that allowed him to enter anyone's apartment.
Police interviewed Hines, noticed he had scratches on his face and neck and got consent from his roommate to search the apartment, where Hines slept on a couch. Detectives found Haupt's blood on Hines' clothing and several things that had belonged to her, including a distinctive gold charm she wore on a necklace.
Hines was tried and convicted in March 1992, five months after the crime.
He initially was scheduled to die in 2003, but his execution was delayed for eight years until the courts resolved claims that he was mentally impaired and, thus, ineligible for capital punishment. He was scheduled to die in May and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case, but the Dallas County district attorney's office again delayed the execution so that new DNA testing could be conducted. When those tests confirmed Hines' guilt, the punishment was reset for Wednesday.
Relatives and friends of Hines filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, top agency officials and prison wardens and "all persons involved" in Hines' execution, contending their rights had been violated because Hines had been on death row more than two decades and that his lawyers had misled him and them. A federal judge in Houston dismissed the suit Wednesday.
Last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected an appeal from Hines, whose lawyer argued Hines' trial attorneys and attorneys early in his appeals failed to investigate and show how Hines had been abused by his father.
"Other death row inmates with substantially similar claims to Bobby's recently have had their executions stayed," appeals lawyer Lydia Brandt said. "Yet, Bobby faces execution because his former attorneys defaulted his rights to review. Bobby's situation reflects the gross injustice of the death penalty as applied in Texas."
"I'll be praying for Bobby," said William Hughey, now a state district judge in East Texas who was one of Hines' trial lawyers. "Even though I guess we get the rap nationally for the number of executions we have, I do believe our judicial system probably affords the broadest appellate base of any of the jurisdictions."
He recalled Hines, who declined to speak with reporters as his punishment neared, as a case "where it was clear his childhood had significant impact as to who he was and how he ended up."
Hines first was arrested at age 12 for auto theft and had other arrests for assault and burglary. He was on 10 years' probation when the slaying occurred.
Hine's execution was the 11th this year in Texas. Another is set for next week.