HUNTSVILLE – A Harris County judge on Wednesday set an execution date for a man convicted of murder three decades ago.
Harris County 351st District Court Judge Natalia Cornelio signed an execution warrant and order Wednesday for Arthur Brown Jr. Brown, who joined the hearing virtually after filing a motion to have finally received an execution date after several months of delays.
Brown will be put to death by lethal injection on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at 6 pm in Huntsville. Brown was convicted and sentenced to death after being found guilty of the June 20, 1992, execution-style deaths of four people, including a pregnant teen. Jose Tovar, 32, Audrey Brown, 21, Frank Farias, 17, and a pregnant Jessica Quinones, 19. Two women survived.
Joshua Reiss, a prosecutor representing the state, said Judge Cornelio’s decision not to set an execution date twice this year has bought Brown and his legal team time to file appeals. Reiss said he believes the judge’s delays violate the Texas Constitution and he’s currently taking that fight to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
“Judge Cornelio decided that he needed more time to file another appeal,” he said. “Quite frankly, that was not her job. Her job, we believe, was to have signed the first execution order for August of this year. Judge Cornelio disagreed with us. She also disagreed with us that he should have been executed in November of this year. So, that is what’s being appealed right now with the Court of Appeals. We think we have a good argument.”
Reiss said despite all the evidence over the last three decades that exists saying Brown may be intellectually disabled, the judge still granted Brown’s attorneys an additional six months to prove that he may be intellectually disabled.
“That’s what held this whole thing up,” Reiss said. “And it was unnecessary, and these victims have suffered. They had a layer of turmoil added to the tragedy they already suffered.”
Rachel Tovar survived the shooting but lost her husband, son, daughter-in-law, unborn granddaughter and neighbor. Tovar said she and the rest of the families are beyond frustrated they’ll have to wait until next year to see Brown be put to death.
“I know that she did sign, but we have to wait until next year, and most of the time that you’re waiting you can honestly appeal and it will continue as it has for 30 years,” Tovar said.
The attorneys for Brown left the courthouse without commenting. It is unclear whether they plan to appeal.