Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Friday, November 1, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

James Blake Colburn Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on James Blake Colburn, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2002.

On Oct. 10, 1995, James Blake Colburn was sentenced to die for the capital murder of Peggy Murphy, which occurred near Conroe, Texas, on June 26, 1994. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

James Blake Colburn murdered 56-year-old Peggy Murphy in his apartment by choking her and stabbing her in the neck with a knife. Colburn then went to a neighbor's apartment and asked the neighbor to call the police. After Colburn was arrested, he gave a videotaped confession to Montgomery County Sheriff's Detective Francisco Hidalgo.

In his confession, Colburn admitted that he woke up on the morning of June 26, cooked a steak for breakfast, and decided to go outside. As he crossed the street in front of his apartment, he noticed Peggy Murphy hitchhiking. Colburn introduced himself and invited Murphy into his home.

Once inside, Murphy asked for a beer. Colburn went next door and returned with a beer. He then offered to show Murphy some of his artwork, but when she entered his bedroom, Colburn grabbed her and attempted to rape her. When Murphy resisted, Colburn strangled her until she stopped breathing. Colburn then stabbed her in the neck with a steak knife to make sure she was dead.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

August 10, 1995 - A grand jury indicted Colburn in the 221st Judicial District Court of Montgomery County, Texas, for the capital offense of murdering Peggy Murphy while in the course of attempting to commit sexual assault.

October 6, 1995 - A jury found Colburn guilty of capital murder.

October 10, 1995 - Following a separate punishment hearing, the court assessed a sentence of death.

January 17, 1997 - Colburn filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court.

February 25, 1998 - His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in a published opinion.

December 2, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief in an unpublished order.

December 2, 1999 - Colburn filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.

May 21, 2001 - The federal district court denied habeas relief and permission to appeal.

November 19, 2001 - Colburn requested permission to appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

May 9, 2002 - The Fifth Circuit denied permission to appeal.

September 3, 2002 - Colburn petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari review.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Colburn was previously convicted of burglary of a building on Oct. 19, 1977; attempted burglary of a building on Feb. 23, 1978; unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on July 16, 1979; aggravated robbery on May 22, 1980; arson on Jan. 25, 1990; and false statement in acquisition of a firearm on Jan. 2, 1991. Colburn also assaulted his wife with a motorcycle helmet on Jan. 11, 1990, fracturing her cheekbone and causing nerve damage. Colburn also kicked her on another occasion.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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