HOUSTON -- Days before his arrest and more than 1,500 miles away from Houston, Ronald Haskell was allegedly hatching up an evil plan, according to court records obtained by the 11 News I-Team.
That plan is now being pieced together by Homicide Investigators with the Harris County Sheriff's Department. Shortly after the July 9 massacre in Spring, they searched Haskell's pickup truck, recovering a laptop computer, two cell phones, and other telling evidence, according to an affidavit for search warrant filed by Sgt. James Dousay.
It included detailed directions from his home state of Utah, to a stopover point in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Spring, Texas. Also recovered were handwritten notes of several names, addresses and phone numbers of Haskell's ex-wife's family-- including the Stay family home, where Haskell stands accused of shooting and his ex-sister-in-law Katie Stay, her husband Stephen, and four of the couple's five children.
"What it's going to show is this guy is functioning, his brain is working, he knows the difference between right and wrong, he's planning something out," said 11 News legal analyst Gerald Treece.
That planning, records show, began July 4 in Utah, when a woman who used to date Haskell reported her home burglarized and a 9 millimeter pistol stolen. The same day, investigators found store receipts showing Haskell bought a large quantity of 9mm bullets, ear plugs, an extra magazine for bullets and a laser sight for a firearm. Additionally, he purchased and several items to make a homemade silencer. Haskell finished the night off with a steak dinner in Las Vegas.
According to the search warrant, Haskell stayed at a LaQuinta Inn and Suites in Albuquerque, New Mexico July 5. The hotel receipt showed "a confirmation number indicating that the defendant may have called or e-mailed ahead of time and reserved a room" as a place to stay "during his trek across the southwestern United States to Harris County, Texas," according to the search warrant affidavit.
From New Mexico, Haskell allegedly drove to Amarillo, then on July 7 and July 8, stayed at a Houston area Days Inn "very near the murder scene" according to court records.
On July 9, the affidavit indicated Haskell went to watch a movie at a Houston theater just hours prior to the killings.
"All those things that the law calls cognitive," Treece said.
"He is setting up a scenario in which he is going to eliminate a whole bunch of people," he added.
Additionally, investigators recovered phone text messages showing Haskell had joined an online dating service--and was active on it.
"He's doing the things that most of us every day do, in some form of fashion," Treece said.
Treece said that the evidence combined could cripple any hopes of an insanity defense for Haskell.
"That my friend is not insanity, he might have some sort of diminished capacity argument for what we used to call a "fit of rage," but insanity is Mount Everest," Treece said.
Haskell's court-appointed defense attorney, Doug Durham, has not yet declared if he will formally pursue an insanity defense.
Durham's law office said he was out of the country and as of press time, was not available for comment.