John Allen Rubio’s attorneys seek extension in court case; granted

In this July 29, 2010, file photo, John Allen Rubio is led from the courtroom by Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies after receiving the death penalty for the charge of capital murder in the 370th State District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Attorneys representing John Allen Rubio, who was convicted of beheading three Brownsville children in 2010, are asking for more time to work on his case, as they are working on another death penalty case with an execution scheduled this month, federal court documents reflect.

In their March 7 filing, the Federal Public Defender’s Office writes it is representing Anibal Canales, whose execution is scheduled for March 29 and said it has various pleadings and clemency petitions to be filed in this case.

“Rubio seeks this extension not for the purpose of delay but to ensure adequate time to prepare his upcoming filings in this Court. Counsel for Rubio is currently experiencing a particularly heavy litigation schedule,” a portion of the March 7 filing reads.

In addition, Lee Kovarsky, special counsel for Rubio and a professor at the University of Texas School of Law has an “unusual heavy teaching load this semester,” the filing reads. He is instructing upper-level Criminal Procedure and Capital Punishment courses and “each class entails considerable preparation.”

The writing ends with “in this case requires a substantial amount time and resources. The Director’s Answer to Rubio’s Second Amended Petition is 195 pages long.”

Rubio’s response in the case was due March 30. U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. on March 7 granted the motion for extension and the responses are now due April 30, federal court documents reflect.

This year marks 20 years since three children — ages 3 and under — were brutally killed at the hands of John Allen Rubio, their caretaker, who continues to fight his 2010 conviction for their murders.

The three children were decapitated in March 2003 in one of the most heinous crimes committed in Brownsville.

Rubio was found guilty of their murders and received the death penalty. He sits on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas. He has yet to be put to death since his case is pending in federal court.

The bodies of the children were found inside their apartment on Eighth and Tyler Streets, about a block away from where Rubio’s first capital murder trial took place. The apartment building has since been torn down and replaced with a community garden.

Rubio admitted to killing his children, saying he thought they were possessed by the spirit of his dead grandmother, court documents reflect. He and Angela Camacho, his common-law wife and mother of the children, had discussed burying their bodies and fleeing to Mexico, authorities said.

Rubio’s attorneys have filed two petitions in his death penalty case claiming that his appointed defense in his murder trial did not represent him properly and that his case was handled by a district attorney that was steeped in scandal and misconduct.

The State filed its response Jan. 20, that stated Rubio’s failure to demonstrate factual innocence of the crime precludes relief under controlling Fifth Circuit precedent and that the court “deny Rubio’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and all other relief requested therein. Furthermore, because the resolution of Rubio’s claims is not debatable among jurists of reason, the Court should deny a certificate of appealability.”

Camacho, 43, pleaded guilty to murder in 2005 and was sentenced to life prison and remains in custody at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville, Texas. She is eligible for parole March 3, 2043.