HOUSTON - A man convicted of the rape and murder of a Houston woman 26 years ago has been resentenced to life in prison with parole.
Robert James Campbell was originally sentenced to die for the murder of Alejandra Rendon, a 20-year-old bank teller. Rendon was kidnapped from a gas station and driven to a remote location in south Houston in 1991. Campbell and an accomplice raped and robbed her. Campbell then fatally shot Rendon in the back as she tried to run away.
Three years ago, before his scheduled lethal injection, a court granted Campbell a stay of execution. His defense attorneys argued he is intellectually disabled and therefore, not eligible for the death penalty.
Attorneys say they found an IQ test that Campbell had completed in the sixth grade. He scored a 68, which is below the execution standard.
“It was with a heavy heart that our expert came back and agreed with the defense that Campbell was intellectually disabled. We were forced then to withdraw our plan to seek the death penalty and revert back to a life sentence for him,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
A Harris County judge officially resentenced the murderer to life in prison with parole Tuesday morning. Because Campbell has already spent more than 20 years in prison, he is immediately eligible for parole.
The sentence of life without parole did not exist when Campbell was convicted in 1992.
During the resentencing hearing, Rendon’s cousin, Noe Santana, was allowed to make a victim impact statement. He called Campbell a coward, then encouraged him to take his own life in prison.
“This person is the epitome of evil in our society. To think that there’s a technicality that turned him loose that’s going to make him a free man one day, the possibility of it is absolutely the reason people lock their doors at night. Parents are afraid to send their kids to school because of someone just like this, a predator just waiting to hurt, to kill, to rape and murder,” Santana said after court.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg says her office will protest all of Campbell's future parole hearings.
“In unison with his victims and their families, we will do everything we can to see that he serves every second of his life sentence,” Ogg said.
Campbell was transported back to prison after the hearing. He is expected to appear before a parole board in the next six months.