CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Brownsville man on death row for decapitating three children in 2003 has had his case reopened as his attorneys look to prove he was wrongfully convicted.
John Allen Rubio, 41, had his writ of habeas corpus case reopened on Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas. His attorneys will have until April 20 to submit a new petition to prove what issues there were with his case.
Rubio was convicted of murdering three children, Julissa Quesada, 3, John E. Rubio, 1, and Mary Jane Rubio, 2 months, on March 11, 2003. Mary Jane was the only one of the children that was fathered by John Allen, however, all three were mothered by his common-law wife, Angela Camacho.
John Allen stated he murdered the children because he believed they were possessed by his deceased grandmother, who he believed was a witch. Rubio believed he was a “protagonist in a good-versus-evil struggle for the world,” according to court documents.
Rubio was described as a drug addict by his attorneys and regularly inhaled spray paint, used crack, cocaine, and marijuana before the murders. He is presumed to have received the inhalants from his boyfriend. These actions contributed to his paranoia spiraling out of control, according to court documents.
In the days leading up to the murders, Rubio and Camacho secluded the family in order to prepare for an “ultimate good-versus-evil confrontation,” according to court documents. They doused their apartment with bleach, nailed the back door shut, and Rubio even killed the family’s pet hamsters.
Rubio stated that he then felt it necessary to decapitate the children with assistance from Camacho. Afterward, they placed the children’s heads in plastic bags, had sex, and then cleaned up the apartment.
Rubio’s brother and Camacho’s friend visited the Brownsville apartment and discovered the murders. They immediately left and notified police, according to court documents.
Police arrived and Rubio gave himself up for arrest. Rubio told police he believed the children were possessed and killed them. Comacho gave conflicting reports on what took place but overall confirmed what Rubio said.
Rubio was found guilty of the murders in November 2003 and sentenced to death. Camacho was found guilty in 2005 but was given a life sentence. She is eligible for parole in 2043.
Rubio’s conviction was overturned in September 2007 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the basis that out-of-court statements were unconstitutionally used against Rubio during the trial. This forced a new trial to be held on the case.
During the second trial, Rubio pled not guilty on the basis he was not competent to stand trial. However, after examinations and testimony from medical experts, a Cameron County jury found that he was competent to stand trial.
The defense used testimony from Rubio’s mother in this trial, where she admitted to drinking beer every day while she was pregnant with him, Rubio suffering from hallucinations as a child, and her facilitating him into prostitution at the age of 8. A doctor that examined Rubio in the 2003 trial also testified this time and affirmed that Rubio was insane at the time of the offense.
Regardless, the jury found Rubio guilty once again in July 2010. His death sentence was reinstated.
Appeals were further made to higher courts with several claims by Rubio.
In his first appeal petition, these claims included: Rubio’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated because defense attorneys failed to include a person with mental health expertise, failed to look into the effects of prenatal exposure to intoxicants, failed to investigate and prepare his guilt/innocence phase defense, and failed to use evidence relating to his mental health prior to incarceration.
Rubio also claimed his Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated because the District Attorney that prosecuted the case engaged in misconduct and the death penalty violates his indigent status.
However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his appeal in January 2022, saying it did not meet their requirements for a writ to be considered.
In February 2022, a federal court revealed it would grant a stay on his case, thus allowing him to submit a new appeal to a Texas court.
As of Feb. 22, Rubio’s case is now open and he has until April to submit an amended petition meeting the State of Texas’s requirements for an appeal.