Texas death row inmate charged in Ala slaying

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Associated Press

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 6:02 PM

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A Texas death row inmate who has spent years proclaiming his innocence now is charged with killing a woman in Alabama a decade ago.

Dothan police said grand jurors indicted Douglas Tyrone Armstrong, 43, on a murder charge in the slaying of Debra Wilson, 40.

A cleaning crew found Wilson dead at a motel on May 17, 2003, but no one was ever arrested. Authorities said Armstrong, originally from Mobile, knew Wilson and killed her with blows to the head during a dispute.

Since then, Armstrong was convicted in another killing and sentenced to die in Texas.

Alabama authorities said grand jurors indicted Armstrong last week after considering DNA reports and other evidence that allegedly linked him to Wilson's slaying.

"We could only do so much with what we had," said Dothan police Maj. Steve Parrish. "Thank goodness that DNA evidence has evolved to the point to allow us to close this. ... It's been 10 long years but we got our man."

Armstrong was convicted of killing a man who was slashed to death outside a bar in southern Texas seven years ago. Records show he is now on death row, and an appeals court upheld the conviction in 2010.

David Schultz, an attorney representing Armstrong in Texas, said he was unaware of the Alabama charge.

"In my mind there is no doubt that Tyrone is wrongfully convicted in Texas, so I am surprised by this," he said.

Armstrong claims he is innocent in the Texas slaying in letters posted on the Internet by supporters, and a website is dedicated to his claims of being wrongfully convicted.

Relatives of Wilson said they are still coping with the aftermath of her slaying.

"You try so hard to forget some of the things and then 10 years later you're sitting right back here in the same spot. ... It's awful," said daughter Christal Wilson.

In Texas, Armstrong was convicted of killing Rafael Castelan during a robbery in April 2006 outside a bar in Donna, located in Hidalgo County. Evidence showed the victim's neck was slashed with a box cutter identified as belonging to Armstrong, who was identified by witnesses as the assailant.

Police also found Armstrong was carrying Castelan's Medicaid paperwork when he was arrested at a bar where he earlier had been talking with the victim near the murder scene.

Armstrong arrived on death row in January 2007, immediately following his conviction and sentence. Court records show no additional appeals so far have been filed since the 2010 decision upholding the case, but Armstrong does not have an execution date.

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