Earlier story posted on FR:
|Trial of Arlington 'bathtub slayings' to begin - suspect on trial for murder and UTA rapes|
Man guilty in bathtub murder
He's also been charged in 2nd Arlington slaying, could get death
FORT WORTH - Dale Devon Scheanette was found guilty Wednesday of capital murder in the 1996 slaying of an Arlington educator, whose family found her bound and lying face-down in the bathtub of her apartment.
Jurors spent about 1 ½ hours deliberating Mr. Scheanette's case before returning the guilty verdict in senior state District Judge R.E. Thornton's Fort Worth court.
Relatives of the murdered woman, Wendie Prescott, 22, expressed relief at the verdict.
"We've crossed one hurdle," said Norman Norwood, Ms. Prescott's uncle who raised her from childhood. "Now we see what kind of punishment he gets."
Jurors must decide whether to sentence Mr. Scheanette, 29, to life in prison or death by injection. If they sentence him to life, he will not be eligible for parole for 40 years.
Prosecutors said they plan to introduce evidence during the punishment phase about the killing of Christine Vu, 25, in the same apartment complex in which Ms. Prescott lived. Ms. Vu was found dead in her bathtub under similar circumstances three months before Ms. Prescott's slaying on Christmas Eve 1996. Mr. Scheanette, who was arrested in September 2000, also has been charged with capital murder in Ms. Vu's death.
Members of Ms. Vu's family, who are attending this week's trial, said they were pleased with Wednesday's verdict.
"The person responsible has been convicted," said her brother, Hiep Vu. "We feel he is responsible for Christine's murder as well. We've waited six years for this."
Defense attorneys presented no witnesses during the trial, which began Monday.
They questioned the state's DNA and fingerprint evidence, which witnesses said links Mr. Scheanette to the killings, during closing statements Wednesday morning.
"DNA has been oversold and overbilled," defense attorney David Pearson told jurors. "Someday, if you are shopping at the grocery store and you think, 'I really didn't understand that,' that's doubt. You have to prepare for that right now."
An alternate juror, dismissed before deliberations, said he had no trouble following the testimony.
"My opinion would have been guilty," said Marvin Crooks, 33, a Fort Worth maintenance mechanic. "They didn't really have a defense. The evidence was overwhelming."
Prosecutors began the punishment phase Wednesday with testimony from two women whom Mr. Scheanette is accused of raping. Authorities say DNA evidence links him to their assaults.
One woman described how the sound of breathing in her Grand Prairie apartment in October 1999 awakened her. She testified that a man raped her at gunpoint.
"I was pregnant," the woman testified. "I prayed for God not to forsake me."
As her attacker was leaving, she asked him why he raped her.
"He said, 'I don't know. I'm mad at the world,' " she testified.
Mr. Scheanette is charged in the rapes of the two women and three others, in addition to the deaths of Ms. Vu and Ms. Prescott.
Testimony continues Thursday.
Man convicted in bathtub slaying raped officer, prosecutors say
FORT WORTH - Prosecutors said Thursday that a man convicted this week of the 1996 capital murder of a 22-year-old Arlington educator also raped a police officer at her Lancaster apartment two years later.
Dale Devon Scheanette, 29, faces death by injection or life in prison in the 1996 murder of Wendie Prescott, 22, at the Peartree Apartments in Arlington. She was found dead in her bathtub.
Jurors heard from two rape victims Thursday during the punishment phase of the trial, in addition to experts who testified that DNA links Mr. Scheanette to the attacks. He is accused of capital murder in the death of another Arlington woman and in three additional rapes.
The officer told jurors that she was in uniform at a gas station in 1995 or 1996 when Mr. Scheanette befriended her and said he lived in a nearby Lancaster apartment complex. She testified that the two spoke several times by phone over the next six months but never dated, because she "had a bad vibe."
Mr. Scheanette often referred to himself as a "jack of all trades" during their conversations, she testified.
In October 1998, as her attacker used her handcuffs to restrain her after he assaulted her, she asked him how he got into her apartment.
"He said he was a 'jack of all trades,' " the woman testified. "When I heard that, I thought, 'Was that him?' "
She later told authorities about the connection.
On Thursday, jurors heard from another woman who described a brutal rape at her Lancaster apartment in December 1998.
The woman testified that she fought back, which enraged her attacker enough that he kicked down her bedroom door. Her 2-year-old son pleaded with the man, "Let my mom go!" as he slapped the man's legs, she testified.
Prosecutors also presented evidence Thursday about the death of Christine Vu, 25, whose body was found three months before Ms. Prescott's death, also at the Peartree Apartments. Mr. Scheanette spent considerable time at the complex near the time of both killings, his estranged wife testified this week.
Witnesses also testified that he left fingerprints at both women's apartments.