EDINBURG, Texas – A 29-year-old man convicted of beheading his common-law wife's three children did not show remorse after the gruesome killings and was not a model inmate during an earlier stint on death row, prosecution witnesses told jurors Tuesday.
A day after the jury rejected an insanity defense and found John Allen Rubio guilty of four counts of capital murder, prosecutors argued that the only suitable punishment was death.
Brownsville Police officer John Jones drove Rubio from the city jail to the county jail a couple days after Rubio had killed Angela Camacho's children in a windowless downtown apartment. He testified that he was struck by Rubio's demeanor, which he described as "jovial."
Rubio asked Jones whether he thought he would be placed in the jail's general population — a concern for someone accused of heinous crimes against children, Jones said — or get his own cell. Rubio also repeatedly turned around trying catch a glimpse of Camacho, who was in another car behind them. At the jail, Rubio continued trying to make contact with Camacho, smiling and waving at her, Jones said.
"He didn't seem to be the least bit concerned about it," Jones said.
Lorena Mendoza, a county probation officer who saw Rubio in jail shortly after the murders on a visit related to an earlier misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction, said that he complained about the jail staff and asked for hamburgers.
"He showed no remorse," she said.
Rubio was originally convicted and sentenced to death for the murders in 2003. But a state appeals court overturned that conviction in 2007 because statements from Camacho were wrongly allowed as evidence.
During part of that interim, Rubio was held on death row.
Billy Alexander, a corrections officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, testified Tuesday that on New Year's Eve 2004, he had checked cells on death row a short time before midnight and saw Rubio in bed. A few minutes later, when he had returned to the base of the cell block — one for troublemakers — he turned back and saw the door to Rubio's cell on fire. The plexiglass window and paint on the steel door were on fire.
Fires started by inmates are not unheard of, and Rubio started at least two others, Alexander said, but called this one "out of control." Rubio was using his hands to toss water from his toilet on the fire and burned his hair a little, Alexander said.
Alexander extinguished the fire, handcuffed Rubio and removed him from the cell. When he later returned Rubio to his cell, Rubio said "Happy New Year," Alexander said. "He stopped the operation of the whole building."
Still, corrections officers who testified did not characterize Rubio as one of the more dangerous inmates.
Prosecutor Charles Mattingly told jurors Monday at the start of the punishment phase that Rubio had tested positive for marijuana, started fires and been caught with contraband pills while in prison.
If Rubio is not sentenced to death and instead receives prison time, he would be placed within the general prison population, where there are more opportunities for violent crime than on death row, testified A.P. Merillat, who investigates prison crimes for the state.
Rubio's lawyers have promised to show that Rubio is not the same person he was in 2003. Testimony was scheduled to resume Wednesday.