© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Matters: Will Brent Brewer be executed based on junk science?

Ways To Subscribe
Brent Brewer on death row. he received the death penalty for the 1990 robbery and murder of Robert Doyle Laminack.
Attorneys for Brent Brewer
Brent Brewer is on death row. He received the death penalty for the 1990 robbery and murder of Robert Doyle Laminack.

Brent Ray Brewer received the death penalty for the 1990 robbery and murder of Robert Doyle Laminack.

Brewer and Krystie Lynn Nystrom approached Laminack outside his Amarillo business and asked for a ride to the Salvation Army.

On the way there, Brewer pulled out a knife and stabbed Laminack to death as the 65-year-old begged for his life.

The couple took Laminack's wallet containing $140 and went to a friend’s apartment where they changed out of their blood-soaked clothing.

The two fled Amarillo and two weeks later were later arrested in Red Oak, south of Dallas.

Nystrom was sentenced to life in prison.

But Brewer was given the death penalty, and he is set for execution on November 9.

Recently in a video provided by his attorneys Brewer expressed remorse for the murder of Laminack.

Even though it's 33 years ago, I don't even know where to begin. Now, how do you fix something that can't be fixed? The 53 year old guy you're looking at now is not the 19 year old I was in April of 90. I don't even know that kid. How do you explain stabbing somebody and then running off and you don't know what happened until later on? You find out they bled out. When you're 19, 20 and you're confused, or you're on drugs, or you're drinking, or you're hanging around the wrong people, you have no real value system. I guess you'd call it a moral compass. I sobered up in the county jail and realized that I had done something I can't undo, and I had to live with that every day.
—Brent Brewer

Attorneys for Brewer continue to work prevent the execution arguing that the death sentence is the invalid product of the "junk science" testimony of Dr. Richard Coons.

The attorneys do not dispute the facts of the crime. But they say the death penalty is not justified because Brewer is not a threat to society.

Shawn Nolan is an attorney for Brent Brewer.

The main reason he was sentenced to death is because the state presented unreliable and false evidence from a guy named Dr. Coons, who they have used in multiple cases in Texas. And Dr. Coons has basically been found by the courts to be an unreliable witness. His testimony and his science has been found to be junk science, but yet they still are moving forward with Brent's execution in spite of that.
—Shawn Nolan

Nolan says Coons' testimony should be ignored because he never met with Brewer to give him an examination.

The regulations for doctors to testify about somebody's mental status require them to examine the person, and that did not happen in this case. He never met Brent, yet he got up on the stand and said that Brent had no conscience and that he would be a future danger to society, even in prison. That was just outrageous testimony. That should never have been presented to a court.
— Shawn Nolan

Brewer was given a second sentencing trial in 2009 where Coons testified for a seond time. Randall County District Attorney James Farren sought the death penalty and for the second time, a jury agreed.

Violent Texas Prison Guards 

Thirteen guards from a Texas prison have been fired or resigned after the beating of an inmate that left him hospitalized — likely for the rest of his life.
Texas Public Radio accountability reporter Paul Flahive spoke with several eyewitnesses who along with former staff say staffing and training issues are leading to more violence.

HIV Prevention Out of Reach

More than half of new HIV infections in the United States are in the South, and Texas has the second-highest rate of new infections in the country. Treatments like Prep help lower people’s chances of getting the virus. But as KERA’s Elena Rivera reports, not everyone who’s at risk can afford it, or find a doctor to prescribe it.

Faith-based Health Care Fills Void 

Where do Texans go when they don’t have health insurance, but they need to see a doctor? In the urban counties residents typically go to a public hospital. For example, in Dallas County residents can go to Parkland Hospital. In Bexar County there’s University Hospital. But what about folks in counties like Collin County without a public hospital? Where do they go? KERA’s Caroline Love says faith-based groups are
trying to fill that gap.

Youth Mental Healthcare

Last year, Texas ranked last in the nation when it comes to access to children’s mental health services. But the need for counseling and other services is dire.
KACU’s Sammantha Gutierrez has more on the importance of mental healthcare for youth and the state’s efforts to close the gap.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi