Texas Death Row: Lives & Crimes Of The 3 Youngest Ever Executed
The youngest people to ever be executed by the State of Texas is a three-way tie between Jay Pinkerton, Jesse De La Rosa, and Toronto Patterson. They were all a tender 24 when they met their maker but they all have one thing in common: the callous nature of their crimes.
Here we will take a look at the lives at crimes of these three young men. I'll save the worst for last- as Jay Pinkerton was an absolute menace, and reading about his crimes might be distressing for some.
Toronto Patterson (above, left)
Toronto Patterson is the most recently executed of the three young men. He died on August 28, 2002. Toronto was a gang member and a drug dealer that slung crack cocaine. Of course, that's not why he was executed, as neither are capital crimes. However, killing a person under the age of 10* is, as is killing someone while committing another felony. Toronto did both.
* as of 2019 it is now a person 15 or under
Toronto was convicted of shooting and killing his cousin Kimberly Brewer and her two children, girls aged 3 and 6. He did so to steal rims off of a BMW. He was able to unfasten 3 of the 4 wheels and attempted to sell them the same afternoon. He was caught, "in a classic case of returning to the scene of the crime, [when] prosecutors scanning television coverage of the bodies being removed from the house spotted Patterson in the video."
Toronto maintained his innocence, claiming he was coerced into a confession, even though the wheels were found in his girlfriend's home and he was spotted with blood on his clothing.
Here are his last words:
I am sorry for the pain, sorry for what I caused my friends, family, and loved ones. I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for what happened. I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for a crime I did not commit.
Jesse de la Rosa (above, middle)
Jesse de la Rosa was executed on 5/15/1985 for the shooting death of Masaoud Ghazali. He was convicted of shooting Ghazali in the back and the face during a robbery. Because he and his accomplices were unable to get the cash register open, Ghazali lost his life over a single stolen six-pack of beer.
Rosa claimed he was not the person who pulled the trigger, but that "he'd rather die" than reveal who did. Which is exactly what happened. To be eligible for the death penalty, the person must be convicted of a capital crime and the jury must feel that the person is likely to be violent in the future. In Toronto's case above, shooting children over car wheels seems self-evident for future violence.
In Rosa's case, he had only one prior for trespassing and was only 19 at the time of the crime. Is it possible he was just wrapped up with the wrong crowd? Yes. Did it ultimately matter for him? No. And even if he hadn't pulled the trigger, Texas's "law of parties" could have seen him executed anyway.
Here are Rosa's last words:
Christ, forgive my brothers and sisters for the sins I’ve committed. God forgive me. God, I give my life for my brothers and sisters.
Jay Pinkerton (above, right)
Jay Pinkerton was executed on 5/15/1986 for a particularly heinous crime: the murder, sexual assault, and mutilation of Sarah Donn Lawrence when he was only 17 years old. The details of the crime scene and what the medical examiner discovered are revolting. Here I will just say that Pinkerton took pleasure in the death of Lawrence, even after she was already dead. Lawrence was killed with a Bowie knife taken from her own home and was discovered nude and mutilated by her husband when he returned from work. Her children were asleep in another room.
Even though Pinkerton was found when police followed his footprints from the crime scene to his house, he was released due to "insufficient evidence." Amarillo police failed to measure the footprints he left and were still processing the bloody palm print left at the scene, as it was a much slower process in the late 70s than it is now.
Because Pinkerton was released, he was able to murder and sexually assault another woman five months later. Sherry Welch was murdered in the back of a furniture store that she managed. Again police had "no leads" on this murder until the palm print analysis finally came back. Although he murdered Welch in April, he would not be arrested until that September. He would go on to brag about the murders and laugh at his victims to a cellmate, who told police because he was concerned for his wife and child should Pinkerton be set free once again.
Despite the very brutal and callous nature of his crimes, Pinkerton won three stays of execution. His luck finally ran out. Here are his last words, which were spoken to his father:
Be strong for me. I want you to know I’m at peace with myself and with my God. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah. With your praise I ask for forgiveness and I return unto you. I love you, Dad.
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