Condemned inmate avoids execution with life sentence for Houston crime spree

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A North Carolina man who spent years on Texas’ death row awaiting execution was sentenced Monday to four consecutive life sentences, a plea bargain that Harris County prosecutors hope will keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Randolph Mansoor Greer, 43, was on death row until 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that meant he and dozens of condemned inmates would get new sentencing hearings because of insufficient jury instructions.

Those cases, called Penry retrials because of the Supreme Court case, have been winding their way through Houston’s courts for years. Some have successfully been retried as death penalty cases, others have gotten plea bargains with elaborately structured pleas to ensure the former death row inmates are never free.

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Since Texas did not have a punishment of life in prison without parole when those crimes were committed, prosecutors and families of victims have worried that even a capital murder conviction in these cases might one day lead to parole. The decision to grant parole is made by prison officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice under the law at the time of the crime.

On Monday, Greer was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to capital murder and other crimes he committed during a 1991 spree in the Houston area, according to the Harris County District Attorneys Office.

“Twenty-six years after committing a murderous crime spree, Mr. Greer has been resentenced to four consecutive life terms without parole,” First Assistant Tom Berg said Tuesday. “Greer, now 43, has been incapacitated and will never again pose a threat to public safety.”

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Prosecutors said his crime spree spanned six months. In separate incidents, he abducted and sexually assaulted two Houston area women who survived the attacks.

He also robbed from a business, stole a car, and shot and killed Walter Chmiel, owner of the Alamo gun shop in Bellaire.

Greer also committed a capital murder in North Carolina as well as sexual assaults, robberies and a home invasion.

Prior to new sentencing, prosecutors consulted with survivors and the families of victims, Berg said.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the most controversial executions in Texas

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