Man Seeks to Hasten His Execution in Texas

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One of the notorious Texas Seven, who escaped from prison and killed a police officer during more than a month on the run, has told court officials he wants to drop all appeals to speed up his execution.

Michael Anthony Rodriguez, 44, would be the first of the escapees to face execution for the 2000 Christmas Eve killing. One of the escaped inmates killed himself before he could be captured. The five others are all on death row but are still appealing their sentences.

At the time of their escape on Dec. 13, 2000, Rodriguez was serving a life sentence for hiring a hit man to kill his wife.

The seven inmates overpowered workers at the prison system's Connally Unit, near Kenedy in South Texas. They took the workers' clothes, grabbed 16 guns from the prison armory and fled in a stolen truck.

The escapees committed a string of robberies, ending with a Christmas Eve holdup at an Irving sporting goods store where officer Aubrey Hawkins, 29, was shot 11 times. Police caught up with the gang a month later in Colorado.

In January, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation of Rodriguez to determine whether he was competent to waive his appeals. Once that evaluation is over, Rodriguez plans to seek dismissal of his appeals, he wrote in a letter dated Feb. 2.

"I certainly appreciate the court respecting my wishes and protecting my constitutional rights," he wrote. "I am still going to move forward in this process."