Convicted cop killer closer to execution

July 17, 2008 10:03:13 AM PDT
A federal appeals court has denied a third retrial to a former high school valedictorian and University of Texas honors student condemned three times for killing an Austin police officer. David Lee Powell killed Officer Ralph Albanedo with an automatic assault rifle 30 years ago. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld his conviction and death sentence.

Of the 367 prisoners on death row in Texas, only five others have served more time there than Powell, who arrived on death row in October 1978. That was a month after his first conviction. His most recent retrial was in 1999.

In April, the New Orleans-based appeals court agreed Powell could consider three appeal claims, then held a hearing last month. In its ruling posted late Wednesday, the court upheld a lower court ruling rejecting the claims.

Albanedo had stopped a car driven by Powell's girlfriend near downtown Austin for not having a rear license tag. Evidence shows that Powell, who was a passenger, opened fire on Albanedo and killed him.

In his time on death row, and off drugs, court records show he has become a model prisoner.

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