HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A Houston-area sex offender who was convicted of killing a young woman and confessed to three more strangling deaths is set for lethal injection in Texas Thursday in what would be the first U.S. execution of 2018.
The Harris County District Attorney's office dubbed Anthony Allen Shore the "Tourniquet Killer" because of how he ended his victims' lives, using a stick to tightly twist a cord around their necks.
"Anthony Shore is the worst of the worst," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "He's a serial killer. He took pleasure in his victims' suffering. He's appropriate for the death penalty."
Shore was condemned for the slaying of 21-year-old Maria del Carmen Estrada, who disappeared as she walked to work early on April 16, 1992. Her strangled body was later found dumped in the drive-thru lane of a Houston Dairy Queen.
The slaying went unsolved for more than a decade until a tiny particle collected from beneath her fingernail matched the DNA of Shore, by then a convicted sex offender whose DNA had been added to a state database. When police arrested Shore, the former tow truck driver, phone company repairman and part-time musician confessed to killing Estrada and three others: Laurie Tremblay, 15, whose body was found beside a trash bin outside a Houston restaurant in 1986; Diana Rebollar, 9, who was abducted while walking to a neighborhood grocery store in 1994; and Dana Sanchez, 16, who disappeared in 1995 while hitchhiking to her boyfriend's home in Houston. All were Hispanic. At least three of them had been sexually assaulted.
A Harris County jury convicted Shore in 2004 of capital murder in the killing of Estrada. After hearing four days of prosecution evidence on the three other slayings and hearing from three women who testified Shore raped them, the jury recommended the death penalty.
Attorneys said Shore's appeals have been exhausted. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review his case.
"We've made the best arguments we can," attorney Knox Nunnally said Tuesday.
A bizarre scheme hatched by a fellow inmate temporarily halted Shore's execution, which had been set for Oct. 18.
Hours before he was to have been taken to the death chamber, prosecutors agreed to a reprieve to investigate a claim that another man convicted of murder, Larry Swearingen, had tried to get Shore to take responsibility for the killing that put Swearingen on death row. Shore, 55, told investigators he declined to go along with the plan.
Shore also told authorities in recent weeks that he was responsible for two other slayings, but a Texas Rangers' investigation determined evidence did not support his claims.
Shore is scheduled for execution Thursday evening in Huntsville, Texas.
Twenty-three prisoners were put to death nationally in 2017, seven of them in Texas, more than any other state.
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