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  1. #1
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    Travis James Mullis - Texas Death Row

    January 29, 2008

    Dead baby's father sought in roadside discovery

    Police want to question the father of a 3-month-old baby boy who matches the description of a body found Tuesday near a child's car seat on the side of a Galveston road.

    Galveston police put out a nationwide investigative hold for Travis Mullis, 21, after an Alvin woman said her baby had been missing since 6 a.m. Tuesday and identified the dead child as hers after seeing a photo.

    Mullis is described as 5-foot-10, 150 pounds. He wears glasses and is known as "T.J.,"' police said.

    The mother's name is not being released until the Medical Examiner's Office identifies the body.

    The body of a blond baby boy clad in a diaper was discovered in the grass near the side of a road about 9 a.m. Tuesday near Seawall Boulevard and Ferry Road, Galveston police Lt. Jorge Trevino said.

    "A couple was driving on Cherry Hill and saw what they thought was a doll," Trevino said. But something looked odd and they stopped and discovered the body next to a child's car seat, he said.

    Trevino said the description of the Alvin woman's missing baby matched that of the body — blond hair and blue eyes.

    He said the woman, whom he did not identify, came to Galveston voluntarily and last saw the child with the father.

    He said someone who lives with her called Texas EquuSearch, a volunteer organization that searches for missing persons, and EquuSearch called the Galveston police.

    Trevino said it appeared that the child may have been thrown from the car while sitting in the car seat. He said it was unlikely that the child could have somehow fallen out of the car without the driver being aware.

    Cherry Hill is the unofficial name for a 2-mile stretch of Seawall Boulevard that begins past Ferry Road and runs to the east end of the island at the Ship Channel. The road is unusual because a berm on its north side is paved, allowing cars to drive along the top of the berm.

    Jesse James Zaro Jr., 43, of Galveston and wife Esmeralda, 45, were driving slowly along the top of the berm looking for coyotes when they spotted the body, Zaro said.

    "I looked over to the side and it looked like a doll," Zaro said. "Then I just said, 'Oh my God,' and I got out of the car and looked and it was a baby, a little baby.

    "It was horrible. I went to pieces, I couldn't believe it."

    Zaro said he tried to flag down a truck before learning that his wife was carrying a cell phone. Police received the call at 8:59 a.m.

    Choking with emotion, Zaro said he couldn't understand why someone would discard a child. "First of all, if you couldn't handle what you had, you could have given it to somebody who could have taken care of it," he said.

    "But golly, why hurt a poor defenseless little baby?"

    The body was about 20 feet from the curb at the top of the berm in a grassy area. The car seat was found in a brushy area about 30 feet farther.

    Crime scene investigators were combing the area for evidence and will have exact measurements later today, Trevino said.

    He said it was likely that the body had been by the side of the road for a short time because it was in good condition and had not been attacked by animals. He said there were no obvious marks on the body.

    The body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office, Trevino said.

    The discovery comes nearly three months after a fisherman discovered the unidentified body of a 2-year-old girl in a plastic box that had washed up on an island in West Galveston Bay.

    Authorities searched for nearly a month before determining the identity of Riley Ann Sawyers of Spring. Trevino said he expected the baby boy to be identified much sooner.

    "Whoever came out here is familiar with the area," Trevino said. He said prints of children's feet are often taken at birth, which should help identification.

    He said a sketch or photo of the face would be made if necessary to help identify the child.

    District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk and First Assistant District Attorney Joel Bennett were at the scene conferring with investigators, but declined comment.

    Sistrunk is prosecuting the parents of Riley Ann Sawyers on capital murder charges.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/5494635.html

  2. #2
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    January 30, 2008

    ANOTHER GRIM DISCOVERY IN GALVESTON

    The death of an infant whose body was found alongside a road here Tuesday was ruled a homicide today by the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office.

    An autopsy completed today determined that the baby died of a head injury, but could not determine what caused the injury, office investigator John Florence said.

    "Infants' heads are really soft, not formed, and a lot of times it's hard to tell," Florence said.

    The infant, who an Alvin woman claims is her 3-month-old son, was found next to a child's car seat and police believe the child may have been thrown from a car. A child's seat was found about 30 feet from the body.

    "I don't know if it was thrown out of the car," Florence said about the body. "I don't know if the child was killed right there or it wasn't killed right there."

    Florence said he couldn't determine whether the infant was struck with an object or whether the infant's head was slammed against something.

    He said the injury and the circumstances surrounding it led to the homicide ruling.

    A man wanted for questioning by police in the death lived in a trailer in Alvin with the woman who says she is the child's mother, a housemate said today.

    Travis Mullis, 21, left the trailer about two hours and 30 minutes before the baby's body was found, Darrell Nichols said.

    Nichols — interviewed at the trailer he shares with Mullis and the woman, whose identity has not been released by police— said the couple moved in with him shortly after the 3-month-old child was born.

    "They had money issues and I felt sorry for them," Nichols said.

    He said the couple, who are not married, didn't appear to be having problems when he went to sleep about midnight Monday. He awoke at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday to find that Mullis had left the trailer to have repairs done on a 2002 Hyundai four-door Accent registered to the mother.

    When Mullis didn't return, the mother became upset and called the repair shop, hospitals and other places to try to find Mullis and her child, Nichols said.

    He said there were no indications that Mullis was upset or that he intended to harm the baby.

    Other neighbors said the couple was quiet and appeared normal.

    This morning a woman drove up and silently placed three blue balloons in front of the trailer. Two of the balloons quickly burst in the wind, but a third that said, "You're so special," remained.

    The mother remained inside a neighbor's mobile home next door to the trailer where the couple lived with Nichols.

    A neighbor who refused to identify himself said the woman was too upset to talk. "We thought one of us could put together a statement, but she's too upset even for that, " the neighbor said.

    The infant was found near a child's car seat in a grassy area next to Seawall Boulevard. The medical examiner's office will use either footprints taken at birth or a DNA test to verify that the child belongs to the Alvin woman, said office investigator John Florence. Police questioned her on Tuesday.

    Galveston Police Lt. Jorge Trevino said a subpoena was issued today for anyidentifying information from the hospital.

    The discovery of the body came three months to the day after a fisherman found the remains of "Baby Grace," washed ashore inside a blue plastic box in West Galveston Bay.

    "One death is too many and the fact that we've now had two in such a short time span is beyond comprehension," Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said.

    The body found Tuesday, described as a blond, blue-eyed child wearing a disposable diaper, was discovered about 9 a.m. about a mile east of Seawall Boulevard and Ferry Road, Trevino said

    Trevino said a couple hoping to view wildlife stumbled across the body.

    "A couple was driving on Cherry Hill and saw what they thought was a doll," Trevino said. But something looked odd, and they stopped and discovered the body near a child's car seat, he said.

    Trevino said it appeared the child may have been thrown from the car while sitting in the car seat. He said it was unlikely that the child could have somehow fallen out of the car without the driver being aware.

    The Alvin woman, whose 3-month-old had last been seen with Mullis between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, began phoning hospitals in the area and a hospital contacted the Galveston police, Trevino said.

    Texas EquuSearch, the volunteer search organization, also called police with the same information about 15 minutes later, he said.

    Police escorted the woman to the Galveston Police Department for questioning and she identified a photo of the body, Trevino said. He said the woman's identity would not be released until the medical examiner's office confirms the identity of the body.

    The District Attorney's Office decided the woman gave enough information to justify an investigative hold, which allows police anywhere to detain Mullis for questioning, Trevino said.

    Investigators do not want to release details about the couple's relationship, Trevino said. Mullis is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, 150 pounds. He wears glasses and is known as "T.J.,'' police said.

    He was last seen driving a four-door 2002 Hyundai Accent with duct tape on the right-rear passenger door handle. The Texas license plate number is 067-RJP.

    Police were searching the woman's home late Tuesday to make sure it was not a crime scene, he said.

    Cherry Hill is the unofficial name for a 2-mile stretch of Seawall Boulevard that begins past Ferry Road and runs to the east end of the island at the Ship Channel. The road has an elevated, paved berm on its north side that allows vehicles to drive along the top of the berm.

    'I couldn't believe it'
    Jesse James Zaro Jr., 43, of Galveston, and his wife, Esmeralda, 45, were driving slowly along the top of the berm looking for coyotes when they spotted the body, Zaro said.

    "I looked over to the side and it looked like a doll," Zaro said. "Then I just said, 'Oh my God,' and I got out of the car and looked and it was a baby, a little baby.

    "It was horrible. I went to pieces, I couldn't believe it."

    Zaro said he tried to flag down a truck before realizing his wife had a cell phone. Police received the call at 8:59 a.m.

    Choking with emotion, Zaro said he couldn't understand why someone would discard a child. "First of all, if you couldn't handle what you had, you could have given it to somebody who could have taken care of it," he said.

    "But golly, why hurt a poor defenseless little baby?"

    The body was about 20 feet from the curb at the top of the berm in a grassy area. The car seat was found in a brushy area about 30 feet away.

    The body appeared to have a head injury, said John Florence, investigator for the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office.

    The discovery comes nearly three months after the remains of 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers washed up on an island in West Galveston Bay. She was dubbed "Baby Grace" as police pursued leads and worked to identify the body in an investigation that was at times emotional.

    Sistrunk, who is prosecuting Riley's mother and stepfather on capital murder charges, said, "There are no words to describe this. It's senseless."

    "The abuse, death and subsequent disposal of this child — any child — is vile and inhumane, and we will work diligently with the Galveston Police Department in every way possible, the same as we have with agencies in the past, to find those responsible," Sistrunk said.

    Baby's footprints may help
    Trevino said the medical examiner might be able to identify the body through footprints. Although many Texas hospitals keep newborns' footprints and some keep thumbprints of the mother, many do not.

    In Galveston County, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston does not record footprints because they are not considered legal identification, UTMB spokesman Raul Reyes said.

    Mainland Medical Center records newborn footprints and mothers' thumbprints to make sure there are no mix-ups in the maternity ward, center spokesman Harold Fattig said.

    Craig Cordola, CEO of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, said his hospital only keeps newborn footprints and an ID bracelet on file.

    FBI spokeswoman Pat Villafranca said there is no database of footprints, and that any comparison would have to be done manually.

    Anyone with information about the case should phone Galveston Police 409-765-3702 or Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/5497308.html

  3. #3
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    February 4, 2008



    Police: Mullis showing remorse

    Slain baby's dad to return to Texas as early as Tuesday


    The Alvin man who police say confessed to killing his 3-month-old son waived his right to extradition today and is scheduled to return Tuesday to Texas, where he faces a capital murder charge.

    Travis Mullis, 21, has been held here since he surrendered on Friday in Philadelphia, more than 1,550 miles from Galveston, and confessed to killing the baby "by stomping on Alijah Mullis' head with his foot three to four times until he felt the skull collapsing," police said.

    A Galveston couple found the baby dead on Jan. 29, about a mile east of Ferry Road on Galveston Island. The county's Medical Examiner's Office on Wednesday ruled the death a homicide caused by a head wound.

    Mullis has been held without bail as a fugitive and must return to Texas before the murder case against him can proceed.

    "We're hoping we can get on the plane (Tuesday)," said Sgt. Gary Jones, one of the four Galveston investigators who traveled to Philadelphia to investigate the case and bring Mullis home. Jones, who spoke to reporters after the brief extradition waiver hearing Monday at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center, wouldn't say if they'd travel by charter or commercial flight, or what time they might depart.

    In his first public exposure since he surrendered, a subdued Mullis appeared before Judge Jeffrey Minehart wearing an orange prison uniform that hung loosely off his thin body. His hands were shackled, his hair was blondish-red, and he wore wire-rim glasses.

    "Do you still wish to give up to your right to have an extradition hearing?" Minehart asked.

    "Yes, I do," Mullis replied, after affirming that he understood what was going on and was not under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication. At the end of the hearing, he signed paperwork making it official.

    Assistant District Attorney John Doyle said the extradition waiver process had gone smoothly and was typical for similar cases.

    Dan Stevenson, of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, represented Mullis and said he seemed ready to get back to Texas.

    "He seems eager to return," Stevenson said. "He said, 'There's no point in me staying here'."

    He said that Mullis didn't yet have an attorney to defend him against the Texas charges.

    "We tried to arrange that today, but were unsuccessful."

    Although he was only placed on the case about an hour before the hearing, Stevenson called Mullis "nervous" and "remorseful."

    "He seems really rocky," Stevenson said. "He was crying when I spoke to him."

    Meanwhile, two Galveston investigators went to Maryland Monday morning looking for clues about how and why Mullis went to Pennsylvania. They've been to Abingdon, where Mullis lived for about five years as a teenager, as well as other towns, said Sgt. Annie Almendarez of the Galveston Police.

    "We're still out in the field investigating," said Almendarez, who explained she spoke to several of Mullis' relatives Monday morning, but declined to say who.

    She also said the two crime scene investigators who stayed behind in Philadelphia finished examining Mullis' vehicle, but wouldn't say what they found. Jones, one of the investigators, would say only that "I believe it has been a successful trip."

    Mullis is being held at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, a nearby jail where he is separated from the general inmate population.

    "Any high profile case would get the same treatment," spokesman Bob Eskind said.

    He's held alone in an 8-by-10 foot cell with one bed, a toilet, and sink, Eskind said. New inmates also undergo a behavioral health screening, classification interview and an intake social worker interview.

    At the hearing, Mullis' replies were mostly yes and no answers, but he did state his name and address for the judge.

    When the judge asked him about his previous mental health history, he said he had taken behavioral drugs in the past "until about three years ago when I ran out of financial funds to cover it."

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/5510362.html

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    February 5, 2008

    Travel problem forces plane change for Mullis

    Southwest Airlines on Tuesday refused to allow a man accused of stomping his 3-month-old son to death to board one of its aircraft in Philadelphia, forcing him and his police escort to fly to Houston on Continental Airlines.

    The confusion vexed Galveston police returning Travis Mullis, 21, to Galveston where he is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday since being charged with capital murder in the slaying of his son, Alijah, last week.

    Four Galveston officers flew on Southwest to Philadelphia after Mullis walked into a Philadelphia police station Friday and admitted to stomping on his son's skull until he felt it give way.

    Police had been seeking Mullis since his son's diaper-clad body was discovered Jan. 29 alongside a Galveston road about 30 feet from a child's car seat.

    Conflicting accounts of the airline fiasco were given by the police and Southwest Airlines.

    Galveston police Lt. Jorge Trevino said that one of the four Galveston police officers who traveled to Philadelphia phoned Southwest Airlines and asked if they could return with a prisoner, informing them of Mullis's name and the charge against him.

    The officer was told that Mullis could board as long as he was not handcuffed because that was a violation of Southwest policy, Trevino said. The officer assured Southwest officials that Mullis would not be handcuffed, he said.

    When the officers arrived at the boarding area with Mullis, the media attracted the attention of airport security, Trevino said.

    Security asked the purpose of the travel and were told that a prisoner charged with capital murder was being transported, he said. Security refused to allow Mullis to board.

    One of the Galveston officers phoned Southwest officials and protested that he had made all arrangements in advance and had been told that Mullis could board if he were not handcuffed, Trevino said. The Galveston officers were again given permission to board and security was notified, he said.

    That decision was reversed again before they could board, he said. Southwest officials said that federal regulations forbid prisoners from flying without handcuffs and it would violate airline policy for Mullis to fly handcuffed.

    Southwest then agreed to help arrange passage with another airline. Trevino had no further contact with officers after they were forbidden to board the Southwest flight. "My concern is that somebody in the media is thinking we sent them on a wild goosechase to avoid the media," Trevino said. "That is not the case."

    Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said Galveston police did not check with airline officials before boarding the aircraft.

    Mainz said that prisoners being transported aboard an airline must have their hands restrained, but Southwest Airlines does not allow prisoners to be handcuffed by law enforcement officials on its aircraft, Mainz said.

    "Most law enforcement officers know our policy," he said.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/side2/5516539.html

  5. #5
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    August 13, 2008

    Death penalty sought in baby's stomping death

    Prosecutors said Tuesday they would seek the death penalty for Travis Mullis, accused of stomping his 3-month-old son to death to stop him from crying.

    Assistant Galveston County District Attorney Larry Drosnes met privately with defense attorney Robert Loper outside the courtroom of District Judge John Ellisor to inform him of the decision.

    The decision to seek the death penalty means that Ellisor must appoint a second defense attorney, Loper said. Ellisor could appoint a second attorney at the next hearing Sept. 19.

    Loper, who expects a trial date to be set for sometime next year, was uncertain about what role Mullis' history of mental illness and troubled family life might play in his defense.

    "Obviously all that is going to be admissible, but whether we will be basing a defense on that, it's too early to tell just yet," he said.

    District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk released a five-page explanation of why he decided to seek the death penalty for Mullis and, in a separate capital murder case, for Robert Lee Stevens, 34, of New Orleans, in the slaying of a convenience store clerk a day after the body of Mullis' son was discovered.

    Comparison of cases
    Sistrunk was severely criticized in April for not seeking the death penalty for the mother and stepfather of 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers, initially known as Baby Grace. The two were accused of beating Riley to death and storing her body for as long as two months before dumping it in West Galveston Bay.

    In the Baby Grace case, Sistrunk said he was following the law, citing a state appeals court decision saying that a parent who killed a child and had no previous history of violence did not meet the legal requirements for a death sentence.

    Sistrunk said he could not discuss the Mullis and Stevens cases, but said the facts indicated that a jury should have a chance to decide whether the death penalty is appropriate if they are convicted.

    "Each case presents its own unique set of circumstances when it comes to seeking justice," he said.

    The discovery of the body of 3-month-old Alijah Mullis' diaper-clad body Jan. 30, along the side of a Galveston road, launched a nationwide manhunt for Mullis, 22.

    Early that morning, Alijah and his father had left a trailer in Alvin, where the family had been staying with a friend because Mullis and Alijah's mother, Karen Kohberger, 28, had run out of money.

    Police have never explained why Mullis decided to drive to an isolated area on the eastern end of Galveston Island, where a couple cruising slowly along Seawall Boulevard looking for wildlife discovered Alijah's body at 9 a.m. about 30 feet from his car seat.

    From Alvin to Philadelphia
    Friends said Kohberger started making calls to find Mullis after he didn't return with the boy. Alvin police said she never reported the missing child to them.

    Later that day, officials from a hospital told Galveston police that Kohberger had called, searching for a missing baby. Kohberger was brought in for questioning and identified a photo of the body as Alijah.

    "Kohberger stated that Travis Mullis indicated to her that he was having flashbacks from being sexually abused as a child and told her that he had to get out of there ... because he might do something to one of the kids," according to an affidavit.

    Mullis walked into a Philadelphia police station four days later and told police that he was wanted in Texas and that he had stomped on his son's head until he felt the skull collapsing. He told police it was the only way he could stop the baby from crying.

    He was flown back to Texas and remains in the Galveston County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

    The Stevens case
    Mullis also has been charged with taking an 8-year-old girl from the mobile home to a school yard late one night and trying to entice her to take off her pants. The girl began to cry and Mullis returned her to her home, officials said.

    Kohberger was charged with child endangerment, accused of handing her son over to Mullis.

    She was arrested in February after being discharged from a New York City hospital.

    In the Stevens case, he is accused of fatally shooting Abdul Meje, 40, of Houston during a robbery of the Coastal Mart on Seawall Boulevard Jan. 31.

    Stevens was arrested about 30 minutes after the robbery when police stopped his car and noticed blood on his shoes. Three others in the car also were charged with capital murder: Katie Wade, 18, of Lake Jackson and two juveniles, a boy and girl.

    Sistrunk is seeking the death penalty only for Stevens.

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    January 2, 2011

    Defendant wants death penalty as option

    GALVESTON — A man facing the death penalty if convicted of capital murder and the aggravated sexual assault of his 3-month-old son is fighting his lawyers’ attempts to have Texas’ death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

    Travis James Mullis, 24, spoke to The Daily News via videophone during an interview from the Galveston County Jail. Mullis opposes 23 motions by his attorneys, because he doesn’t want the trial to turn into a “dog and pony show.”

    In a two-count indictment, Mullis is accused of committing or attempting to commit the offense of aggravated sexual assault of his son, Alijah Mullis.

    The indictment further accuses Mullis of stomping the boy.

    A couple sightseeing for Galveston wildlife found Alijah’s body Jan. 29, 2008, on a hurricane levee off Seawall Boulevard near East Beach.

    Galveston County prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Mullis is convicted in a trial scheduled for March in Judge John Ellisor’s 122nd District Court in Galveston.

    ‘A Dog And Pony Show’

    Mullis’ attorneys, Robert K. Loper and Gerald Bourque, filed 10 motions that seek to have parts of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure involving the death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

    The motions, filed in March, also challenge the humaneness of the chemicals used in the death chamber.

    Mullis countered in November with his own motions, seeking to have his attorneys’ motions withdrawn.

    Mullis doesn’t want his attorneys’ motions to draw more attention to his already high-profile case.

    “I don’t want the situation to turning into, for lack of a better term, a dog and pony show,” Mullis said.

    Focus On ‘Saving Life’

    Mullis compared his case to one involving Loper in Harris County, which drew media attention.

    “That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid — all that media spectacle garbage,” Mullis said. “It’s just going to totally cloud over the issue of the situation at hand.

    “Because the situation seems like it’s going to become more and more about fighting the death penalty than saving someone’s life.”

    Mullis’ mother died shortly after his birth in Charlotte, N.C., in 1986. He was adopted and dropped out of high school in 11th grade. He said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999.

    After his adopted mother gave him an ultimatum to find work or leave, Mullis moved to Texas and lived with his girlfriend and another friend in Alvin. The morning of Jan. 29, he left with Alijah.

    “He was asleep at the time,” Mullis said. “We were having some disputes at the time. I knew I was frustrated. I just needed to get away to calm down.”

    ‘Can’t Speak To Innocence, Guilt’

    Mullis refused to answer definitively whether he was innocent, saying he couldn’t speak to innocence or guilt.

    In a Galveston police affidavit used to obtain a capital murder warrant, authorities claim Mullis stomped his son to death because the boy wouldn’t stop crying.

    Caren Kohberger, Mullis’ girlfriend at the time, told police Mullis left at 4:30 a.m. and was supposed to return for a 9 a.m. feeding, the statement said.

    Killing Alijah was the only way to stop him from crying, the statement said. Mullis is accused of stomping on the boy’s head until he felt it collapse.

    “It’s a complicated situation as far as what actually happened,” Mullis said. “Most of what happened I wasn’t aware of until they told me, and then later on certain things that happened came back in memory.”

    Mullis was arrested in Philadelphia and extradited to Texas.

    Not Afraid To Die

    Court hearings regarding pretrial motions, including those surrounding the death penalty, are scheduled later this month.

    Individual jury selection from a potential panel of 1,600 members is scheduled next month ahead of a March 7 trial.

    Mullis has grown weary of his three years in solitary confinement. He said he’s not afraid to die. When asked if he wanted the death penalty if convicted, Mullis said it wasn’t up to him.

    “If the justice system and jury believes that’s what I deserve, then that’s what it’ll be,” Mullis said. “But as far as my preference, at this point, I’ve been sitting here three years.

    “I’m tired of arguing with it. I just want the situation over with. However it turns out is however it’s going to turn out.”

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/5938887.html

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    Travis Mullis, 24, who is charged with capital murder in the death of his 3-month-old son, leans back as he listens to testimony Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in Judge John Ellisor’s 122nd District Court in Galveston.

    ‘I kept stomping his head’

    GALVESTON — After surrendering to Philadelphia police, a man accused of killing his infant son confessed to the first officer he saw, testimony revealed Tuesday.

    In pretrial hearings that began Tuesday, attorneys for Travis Mullis, 24, seek to suppress their client’s statements ahead of a jury trial scheduled March 7. Mullis is charged with capital murder.

    Philadelphia officer Michael Munroe testified Tuesday that Mullis approached the thick, bullet-resistant glass at police headquarters, bent to the opening and said he was wanted for kidnapping, murder and a stolen automobile in Texas.

    Galveston sightseers found 3-month-old Alijah Mullis dead Jan. 29, 2008, atop a Seawall Boulevard levee near East Beach in Galveston. If convicted of killing his son, Mullis faces the death penalty.

    While at police headquarters, Mullis was calm and spoke in a low tone, Munroe said. After police confirmed Mullis was a wanted man, Munroe walked him into the secured lobby.

    Prosecutor Kayla Allen asked Munroe if Mullis made a statement.

    “‘I stomped his head, and I kept stomping his head,’” Munroe testified.

    Allen asked Munroe what he told Mullis.

    “You don’t have to tell me anything, man,” Munroe said.

    Mullis repeated the phrase a third time, Munroe said. Mullis then asked if he did the right thing, presumably referring to his surrender to police.

    Munroe told him he did.

    Defense attorney Gerald Bourque asked Munroe if he read Mullis his rights.

    Munroe said no.

    “When we take someone in, we don’t arrest them,” Munroe said, noting he merely secures public access to the police department.

    Mullis told police he’d parked in a nearby garage, and he gave detective John McNamee a parking stub. McNamee found the car, which appeared as if it had been lived in, and seized a BB gun before having it towed as evidence, testimony revealed.

    Shoes were among the evidence brought from Philadelphia to the island, Galveston police crime scene investigator Scott Pena said.

    Prosecutor Donna Cameron displayed a photograph of Alijah’s head. The square patterns on the infant’s skull were similar to the square patters found on the shoes in evidence, Pena said. The shoes appeared to be tennis shoes.

    Bourque and co-defense attorney Robert K. Loper filed 62 pretrial motions and also are expected to address others that are both contested and agreed upon, including several which seek to have the Texas death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

    In Mullis’ first statement to the media, he told The Daily News last month during a jailhouse interview he opposes his attorney’s efforts to have the death penalty ruled unconstitutional because he doesn’t want to escalate attention to his high-profile trial.

    Mullis’ pretrial hearings in Judge John Ellisor’s 122nd District Court in Galveston are scheduled through Thursday.

    http://galvestondailynews.com/story/205554

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    Judge watches video recounting baby's death

    By Chris Paschenko
    The Daily News
    Published January 20, 2011

    GALVESTON — A judge Wednesday watched a video recording of accused child murderer Travis Mullis spelling out in chilling detail the last moments of his infant son’s life.

    Judge John Ellisor will have to decide whether jurors in Mullis’ capital murder trial will ever view the disturbing evidence.

    Mullis, 24, faces the death penalty if convicted in what prosecutors claim was the Jan. 29, 2008, stomping death of Alijah Mullis, who was 3 months old, in Galveston.

    Is it admissible?

    In Wednesday’s pretrial hearing in Galveston’s 122nd District Court, Mullis’ defense attorneys asked Ellisor to declare the statements to a pair of Philadelphia police detectives inadmissible during the trial, which is set for March 7.

    Robert K. Loper and Gerald Bourque, Mullis’ attorneys, are challenging the legality of the waiver of rights and also asked Ellisor to exclude evidence from a search of the vehicle Mullis said he drove from Galveston to Philadelphia, saying police didn’t have a search warrant before entering and seizing a BB gun.

    Prosecutor Donna Cameron disagreed, saying Mullis was anxious to speak with police, and he freely and voluntarily waived his rights in writing and on video.

    Prosecutors played for Ellisor a roughly 40-minute video of Mullis’ Feb. 2 interview with two Philadelphia homicide investigators.

    Loper said interruptions in the video, from police changing videocassette tapes with only 30 minutes of capacity, constituted a second statement, and no warnings of rights were given in the second recording.

    ‘Suicide’s Not An Issue’

    In the tape, Mullis describes in precise detail his actions before and after Alijah’s death.

    Before being recorded, a detective asked Mullis to remove his shoe laces and anything from his pockets that could be used to harm himself. Mullis then spoke to detective Robert Hesser.

    “‘Oh detective, suicide’s not an issue here,’” Hesser said Mullis told him.

    Hesser asked for Mullis’ belt and shoe laces.

    “‘These were the shoes I was wearing when I stomped my son’s head in,’” Hesser said. “He looked at his shoes, and he said: ‘There’s no DNA. The body wasn’t bleeding when I left it.’”

    After police read Mullis his rights from the states of Pennsylvania and Texas, the video interview began.

    ‘I Was Upset’

    When asked what happened to his son, Mullis began by saying his girlfriend, Caren Kohberger, who was Alijah’s mother, gave him $20 to buy food and cigarettes about 2 a.m. The three were living in Alvin.

    Mullis then woke a friend’s female child in the house and asked her if she wanted to ride with him.

    On the way home, the pair stopped at a school, and they walked to the basketball court and playground, Mullis said.

    “I asked her to take her pants off, and she said no,” Mullis said. “She started crying, and she got scared. I got startled. I was upset about what I was doing.”

    Mullis was charged with enticing a child in Brazoria County, stemming from the incident in Alvin.

    Mullis had flashbacks of when he was molested, he said.

    “I thought it would get rid of my flashbacks by acting on them,” Mullis said.

    Mullis told detectives he wanted to touch the girl and look but stopped, knowing it was wrong.

    Fear Of Eviction

    After arriving home, the girl, who Mullis names, went to bed, and he told Kohberger what happened, saying he apologized to the girl on the way home.

    Mullis intended to tell the girl’s mother, but he was scared the woman would order Kohberger and Mullis out of her home, rendering them homeless.

    After hours of bickering, Mullis made up a story that he had stocks and showed her a fake account online. He said he needed to leave to retrieve the paperwork. Kohberger wanted to go with him, for fear he wouldn’t return, Mullis said.

    Kohberger asked Mullis to take his son with him, figuring he would come back if he had the baby, Mullis said. Mullis said he left because he needed time to think.

    With Alijah sleeping and strapped in a car seat, Mullis drove to Galveston and parked Kohberger’s car on an isolated part of the seawall near East Beach.

    ‘Hit The Breaking Point’

    While in a panic, Mullis was yelling at himself and awoke Alijah, he said. He tried to console Alijah, cradling him, bouncing him on his lap, blowing in his face.

    “I hit the breaking point with stress,” Mullis said. “The only way to make him stop crying was to kill him.”

    Mullis put Alijah on the back seat, put his hands around Alijah’s throat and applied pressure with his thumbs.

    “I heard him begin to gurgle,” Mullis said, noting Alijah wiggled and became more upset. “I let go of him, and he cried even more.”

    Mullis put Alijah on the concrete wall, and then stomped on his head three or four times until he felt Alijah’s skull collapse under his shoe. He checked for breathing and a pulse.

    Mullis feared the consequences if he took the child to a hospital.

    “I threw the car seat on the other side of the curve of the seawall,” Mullis said. “I grabbed both legs and threw (him) the same direction.”

    ‘Time To Man Up’

    Contemplating suicide by drowning, Mullis drove to East Beach but changed his mind. With $10 in his pocket, he left Galveston, headed north on Interstate 45, headed to see his dad, who he believed lived in Baltimore.

    On his journey through Tallahassee, Fla., Georgia, and north to Maryland, Mullis stopped at a pawnshop and several churches along the way, including Brunswick, Ga., and Florence, S.C., and a small town 20 miles south of Alexandria, Va., begging for money for gas and food.

    Once in Maryland, he slept at a park, ate breakfast with a friend and realized his father had moved.

    Mullis again contemplated suicide, seeing open water, but proceeded to Philadelphia, where he drove around the city until stopping at a visitors center apparently near a federal building, where he learned where the police department was.

    “I was tired of avoiding it,” Mullis said, noting it was “time to man up.”

    Mullis confessed to the front desk officer, Michael Munroe, after telling him he was wanted for kidnapping, murder and a stolen automobile, testimony revealed Tuesday.

    Defense motions

    Ellisor didn’t rule Wednesday on the admissibility of Mullis’ statements or whether he would allow evidence seized from the car.

    Attorneys are expected to discuss defense motions today that seek to have, among other things, the Texas death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

    Mullis opposes the motions that challenge the death penalty and is not expected to be in court when those motions are heard.

    “It’s not important I be here, provided they notify me of those motions,” Mullis told Ellisor.

    Mullis filed his own handwritten motions, which seek to have his attorney’s motions regarding the death penalty withdrawn.

    Cameron asked Ellisor if it was Mullis’ intent to proceed with his own motions.

    Bourque told Ellisor that Mullis is entitled to only one form of representation, from himself and Loper.

    “If we look at the motions and determine we don’t agree, then we won’t present them, Bourque said.


    http://galvestondailynews.com/story/205798

  9. #9
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    Judge rejects death penalty challenges

    GALVESTON — A judge refused Thursday to declare the state’s death penalty unconstitutional, rejecting motions by the defense team of an accused child killer who faces a capital murder trial March 7.

    Travis James Mullis, 24, could face the death penalty if a jury convicts him of capital murder in the alleged Jan. 29, 2008, stomping death of his 3-month-old son, Alijah.

    Day 3 of pretrial motions concluded Thursday in Judge John Ellisor’s 122nd District Court in Galveston.

    Mullis’ defense team of Robert K. Loper and Gerald Bourque filed 10 motions in March, claiming, among other things, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure involving the death penalty was unconstitutional.

    The attorneys also challenged the humaneness of the chemicals used in the death chamber.

    Also among the defense team’s 62 motions were challenges to state’s evidence, including the search of a car and Mullis’ statements to Philadelphia police.

    Ellisor heard from Philadelphia police and detectives Tuesday and Wednesday and saw a videotaped interview, where Mullis described the final moments of his son’s life. Mullis on videotape told detectives he stomped his son’s skull three or four times, because “the only way to make him stop crying was to kill him.”

    Loper and Bourque challenged the legality of the waiver of rights and also asked Ellisor to exclude evidence from a search of the car Mullis drove from Galveston to Philadelphia. The defense claims police didn’t have a search warrant before entering the car and seizing a BB gun.

    Prosecutors Donna Cameron, Kayla Allen and special prosecutor Lyn McClellan claim Mullis was anxious to speak with police and freely and voluntarily waived his rights in writing and on videotape before confessing to Philadelphia homicide detectives.

    Mullis also had no standing to object to the search of the car because it was registered to his girlfriend, Caren Kohberger, who also was Alijah’s mother.

    Ellisor could rule as early as this afternoon whether to grant defense motions to suppress from trial Mullis’ statements, video and evidence from the car.

    Mullis wasn’t present for Thursday’s hearing. He opposed his attorneys’ attempts to have the death penalty ruled unconstitutional.

    Ellisor hasn’t ruled on a defense motion, which seeks to limit media accounts of court proceedings.

    Specifically, the defense seeks to bar newspapers and television stations from publishing witness testimony that identifies Mullis as having committed the alleged crime.

    The motion seeks to bar publication of testimony from any hearing on the defendant’s motion to suppress “illegally seized evidence.”

    The defense also asked the judge, by way of protective order, to limit media accounts during trial to only what evidence is presented to the jury.

    The defense also doesn’t want television equipment, photography or sketches at trial.

    “News editors, reporters and commentators cannot be relied upon to subject their reports to the standards which due process and procedural rules impose on the admissibility of evidence,” the motion states.

    Individual jury selection, from a panel of possibly 1,600 people, is expected to begin Feb. 7.

    http://galvestondailynews.com/story....daa2068986603e

  10. #10
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    Accused child-killer’s statements admissible

    GALVESTON — A jury will hear a 40-minute videotaped interview in which a capital murder defendant tells Philadelphia police he “stomped” an infant’s head because the boy wouldn’t stop crying.

    Judge John Ellisor denied a motion to suppress the video in the case of Travis James Mullis, 24, who is accused of the Jan. 29, 2008, slaying of his 3-month-old son, Alijah.

    In a court filing obtained Tuesday by The Daily News, Ellisor denied a motion by defense attorneys Robert K. Loper and Gerald Bourque, who sought to have the video and other evidence ruled inadmissible at trial.

    Mullis could face the death penalty if convicted during a trial scheduled to begin March 7.

    http://galvestondailynews.com/story....26fbe5799ad8af

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