- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - San Antonio rap musician Ray Jasper has never disputed his involvement in an attack and robbery more than 15 years ago that left a 33-year-old recording studio owner dead.

But Jasper testified at his capital murder trial that although he cut the throat of David Alejandro, a partner was responsible for the victim’s fatal stab wounds.

A Bexar County jury wasn’t convinced and deliberated only 15 minutes at Jasper’s January 2000 trial before convicting him. The panel then took less than two hours to decide he should be put to death.

Jasper’s lethal injection with a dose of pentobarbital was set for Wednesday evening.

Jasper, 33, would be the third Texas inmate put to death this year and among at least five scheduled to die over the next five weeks in the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.

Lawyers for Jasper, who is black, argued that the punishment should be stopped to examine whether prosecutors had improperly removed a black man from possibly serving on his trial jury. San Antonio-based U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery rejected that appeal on Tuesday.

Jasper was 18 at the time of the November 1998 attack. Records showed he had a criminal past beginning about age 15.

Evidence at his trial showed he’d been expelled from school for marijuana possession, then was expelled from an alternative school. Authorities said he also had attacked an off-duty police officer who tried to stop him during an attempted burglary and led police on a high-speed chase.

Jasper had previous sessions with Alejandro, who was the lead singer of a San Antonio Christian-based music group in addition to running his recording studio. At his trial, Jasper described Alejandro as “one of the nicest people I ever met in my life.”

“I’m not a killer and I didn’t do it,” he testified during the punishment phase of his trial.

He refused interview requests from The Associated Press as his execution date neared, but reiterated his claim of innocence in a letter published on the Gawker website.

Jeff Mulliner, one of the prosecutors at Jasper’s trial, said it was undisputed that Jasper organized and participated in the most premeditated murder he’d seen.

Testimony showed that a week before the attack, Jasper purchased large bags he intended to use to hold stolen studio gear. He recruited two friends, Steven Russell and Doug Williams, brought two vans to the studio and reserved time under the pretense of a rap recording session.

“This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Mulliner said.

As their session was ending, Jasper approached Alejandro from behind and slashed his throat from ear to ear with a kitchen knife he’d hidden in his jacket.

Story Continues →