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Texas trooper's killer up for parole

By Miguel Liscano
The Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — David Madrigal , who shot and killed a Department of Public Safety trooper in 1991 , became eligible for parole Saturday , and those who want him to stay behind bars are letting the state parole board know it.

A final decision on whether Madrigal, 43 , should be released from prison is not expected from the seven-member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for up to two months. But already, the prosecutor in his capital murder trial and the head of a statewide DPS trooper association have written the board to try to make sure Madrigal stays in prison.

"I'm not going to take anything for granted," said Buddy Meyer , trial chief of the Travis County district attorney's office. "He's a dangerous man."

Madrigal was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of capital murder in 1992 . He was later also sentenced to 70 years in prison for attempted capital murder and 20 years for aggravated kidnapping, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Web site.

Madrigal is being held at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville and has been in prison more than 16½ years, said Jason Clark , a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman. He's also accumulated nearly 11 years of credit through good behavior and work time.

He was accused of fatally shooting Department of Public Safety trooper Carlos Ray Warren three times in the back after Warren approached his car in a rest area off Texas 71 in Southeast Travis County. Madrigal and two relatives were questioning a kidnapped teenager about a car stereo the teen had stolen.

Madrigal left the rest area, and a couple hours later, he fired at a San Antonio police officer who pulled him over. The officer fired back, and a wounded Madrigal eventually walked to the patrol car with his hands up, saying, "I'm OK. I'm OK," before falling down.

Madrigal was given a life sentence when a Travis County jury decided that he probably was not a continuing threat. The sentence made him eligible for parole after 15 years.

"That was the law at the time," Meyer said. "The law is a lot different now."

If someone is sentenced for capital murder now, under Texas law, he or she gets either life without parole or death.

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairwoman Rissie Owens said she did not know how many protest letters the board had received relating to Madrigal's case because she hadn't seen his file.

Meyer said he sent the board a letter in July and will send another early this week.

Brian Hawthorne , president of the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association, said he's asked the organization's nearly 3,350 members to write letters protesting Madrigal's release.

He already sent a letter and said the association plans to send one as a group this week.

"I personally did not know" Warren, Hawthorne said. "But, you know, he was putting on the same uniform that I'm wearing today. So, when he shot him, he may as well have shot me or my partner."

Owens would not speculate on the board's choice because, she said, it reviews each case individually.

However, Verna Lee Carr , who's worked with the statewide organization People Against Violent Crime for nearly two decades, said Madrigal will probably stay in prison.

"With my experience, it's unlikely he would be let out due to the nature of the crime," Carr said. "Just because they're eligible for parole does not mean they're going to be paroled."

Copyright 2008 Austin American-Statesman

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