A Hidalgo County jury Thursday sentenced a Brownsville man to die for killing and beheading three young children he was raising with their mother.
John Allen Rubio, 29, kept his head down as state District Judge Noé González read the jury’s decision that Rubio remained a threat to society, intended to kill the children and showed no mitigating virtues that should spare him from death row.
The jury found Rubio, 29, guilty of capital murder Monday, then heard several days of penalty phase testimony before starting deliberations on his punishment. It took the panel about three hours to reach a decision.
González formally sentenced him to death by injection.
“If you want forgiveness, you’re going to have to get it from a much higher source,” he told Rubio.
González added that he’d sentenced more defendants to death than any judge in South Texas, but “had never seen a crime like this.”
“I can’t imagine anyone murdering their own children,” he said. “I can’t imagine anyone hurting children that age.”
Julissa Quesada, 3; John E. Rubio, 14 months; and Rubio’s biological daughter Mary Jane Rubio, 2 months, were killed March 11, 2003, by Rubio and the children’s mother, Angela Camacho.
The couple told police they thought the children were possessed and butchered them in an attempt to rid the demons.
Camacho, 30, is serving three life sentences.
The alternative to death row would have been a life sentence, where Rubio would have become eligible for parole after 40 years, seven of which he’s already served after a 2003 conviction in the case. That conviction was overturned on a prosecutorial error.
John Rubio and Angela Camacho ArchiveYou'll find articles about this subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.
A jury that already rejected an insanity defense and convicted a south Texas man of beheading his common-law wife’s three children will next decide whether he will get the death penalty or spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Attorneys were expected to present closing arguments Thursday in the penalty phase of the trial for John Allen Rubio. After that, jurors will begin deliberations. They will decide between capital punishment and life in prison without parole.
The same jury on Monday found Rubio, 29, guilty on four counts of capital murder — one charge for each child and one for the children together.
Police discovered the bodies of 3-year-old Julissa Quesada, 14-month-old John E. Rubio and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio on March 11, 2003, in a Brownsville apartment. Rubio unsuccessfully pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Rubio was originally convicted and sentenced to death for killing the children. But a state appeals court overturned that conviction in 2007 because statements from the children’s mother, Angela Camacho, were wrongly allowed as evidence. Camacho pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence for her role in the murders.
Rubio said he believed the children were possessed and tried to smother and stab them before ultimately decapitating them.