Texas executes inmate who killed pregnant woman, 3 others in Houston back in 1992

ByJuan A. Lozano and Michael Graczyk AP logo
Friday, March 10, 2023
Death row inmate executed 30 years after 4 killed
Arthur Brown Jr. was convicted of killing four people, including a pregnant woman, back in 1992. Police said it was drug-related murders.

HOUSTON, Texas -- Texas has executed an inmate convicted of the drug-related killings of four people more than 30 years ago, including a woman who was 9-months pregnant.

Arthur Brown Jr., 52, received a lethal injection Thursday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the June 1992 slayings, which took place in a Houston home during a drug robbery.

Authorities said Brown was part of a ring that shuttled drugs from Texas to Alabama and had bought drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife Rachel Tovar.

Killed during the drug robbery were 32-year-old Jose Tovar; his wife's 17-year-old son, Frank Farias; 19-year-old Jessica Quiñones, the pregnant girlfriend of another son of Rachel Tovar; and 21-year-old neighbor Audrey Brown. All four had been tied up and shot in the head. Rachel Tovar and another person were also shot but survived.

WATCH: Texas Execution: Survivor looks back on night family was killed

They were known as the "Brownstone Lane Murders." Arthur Brown Jr. was executed Thursday night for the 1992 shooting deaths of four people, including a pregnant woman, inside a southwest Houston home. ABC13's Courtney Fischer sits down with survivor who witnessed her family's murders and looks back on the night that changed her life forever.

"I don't see how anybody could have just killed a pregnant woman and then made her suffer so much. It's just beyond words," Quiñones' older sister, Maricella Quiñones, said before the execution.

Brown was the fifth inmate put to death in Texas this year and the ninth in the U.S. His execution was the second of two in Texas this week. Another inmate, Gary Green, was executed Tuesday for killing his estranged wife and her young daughter.

Brown was defiant in his final statement before the lethal injection was administered.

WATCH: Officials, survivor speak after inmate executed

She was one of just two people who survived a massacre that left three of her loved ones dead. On Thursday, she spoke out just shortly after the person convicted of the crime was executed.

"What is happening here tonight isn't justice," he said. "It's the murder of another innocent man."

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier Thursday declined an appeal from Brown's attorneys to halt the execution. They had argued that Brown was exempt from execution because he was intellectually disabled, a claim disputed by prosecutors. The high court has prohibited the death penalty for the intellectually disabled.

"Mr. Brown's intellectual limitations were known to his friends and family. ... Individuals that knew Mr. Brown over the course of his life have described him consistently as 'slow,'" his attorneys wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.

One of Brown's accomplices in the shootings, Marion Dudley, was executed in 2006. A third partner was sentenced to life in prison.

Brown, who was from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had long maintained another person committed the killings.

READ MORE: Execution to move forward for convicted 1992 killer after lawyer argues for new DNA testing

Arthur Brown Jr., accused of tying up six people with bedsheets before killing them, is set to be executed Thursday. His attorney argues his DNA should be on those sheets, but they were never tested.

Brown's attorneys had previously filed other appeals that had been rejected by lower courts. They argued he was innocent and that a witness actually implicated another suspect. They also claimed Brown's conviction was tainted by racial bias, alleging one of the jurors decided he was guilty because he was Black.

A judge in Houston on Tuesday denied a request by Brown's attorneys for DNA testing of evidence that they said could have exonerated their client.

Josh Reiss, chief of the Post-Conviction Writs Division with the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston, called Brown's last-minute appeals a delay tactic.

Reiss said school records submitted at Brown's trial showed while the inmate was initially thought to possibly be intellectually disabled in the third grade, by ninth grade that was no longer the case. The prosecutor also said Brown's claims of innocence were problematic as the other suspect alleged to be the killer was found by investigators to not have been in Houston at the time.

"It was an absolutely brutal mass murder," Reiss said, adding: "These families deserve justice."

Maricella Quiñones said her sister was an innocent victim who wasn't aware the Tovars were dealing drugs from the home. She said her mother also blames the Tovars for what happened.

"My mother's not the same since my sister passed away," she said.

She described her sister as a "very loving, caring person" who had looked forward to being a mother.

She said her family would likely never get closure.

"We lost two persons. Alyssa never got a chance at life," she said, referring to her sister's unborn child.

Brown was one of six Texas death row inmates participating in a lawsuit seeking to stop the state's prison system from using what they allege are expired and unsafe execution drugs. Despite a civil court judge in Austin preliminarily agreeing with the claims, five of the inmates have been executed this year.

RELATED: Texas executes Gary Green for 2009 murder of his wife and her 6-year-old daughter

Gary Green's lawyers made a last-ditch effort to delay their client's execution, citing an intellectual disability.