Kent William Sprouse, 42 years-of-age, was put to death at 6:33 CST on April 9, 2015 in Huntsville, Texas, for fatally shooting Ferris Police Officer Harry Marvin “Marty” Steinfeldt III. The murder occurred at a Ferris, Texas, Diamond Shamrock gas station and food mart on October 6, 2002. Sprouse is the fifth Texas death row inmate to be executed this year. There were no late-filed appeals to stop the execution.
Sprouse went on a shooting spree on the night of the murder, shooting first at two men at a pay phone at the station. He then approached a customer and asked him for assistance with his car. The man helped him but left after he saw buckshot in Sprouse’s vehicle. Sprouse had told the man that the sawed-off shotgun hanging on his shoulder was not real. It was fully-loaded.
As he was driving away, the customer looked into his rear-view mirror and saw Sprouse shoot another man, Pedro Moreno, in the head. A witness said Moreno did not answer Sprouse when he said something to him. Sprouse then pointed the gun in the direction of the customer’s moving car. The customer saw a police car drive-up and heard two more shotgun blasts and pistol fire. Officer Marty Steinfeldt had arrived after a station clerk made an emergency phone call for law enforcement.
Medical testing of Sprouse showed that he had taken methamphetamines within 48 hours of the murders. It was reported that he was an addict.
Officer Steinfeldt was 28-years-old at the time of his death. Prosecutors at the trial told the jury that the brave officer placed himself between bystanders and the line of fire. He fired 17 rounds and wounded Sprouse in the chest, hand, and leg.
On the way to the hospital while riding in an ambulance, Sprouse told an officer he shot Moreno because he thought he was an undercover police officer. He also admitted to shooting a uniformed officer.
Sprouse was sentenced to death in early 2004. A jury of 8 females and 4 males took only 35 minutes to find him guilty. The defense put on evidence claiming Sprouse suffered from mental illness. The jury sentenced the killer to death after they unanimously decided that Sprouse would probably commit acts of violence in the future. They also had to answer the question of whether there were any mitigating circumstances that would warrant him receiving a sentence of life in prison. They found against the killer on that question also.
The law provides for an automatic appeal in capital death penalty cases to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and sentence of death on January 31, 2007. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear Sprouse’s case in November of 2014.
Last month, the State of Texas reported that it needed to obtain more of the drugs to carry out three other executions scheduled in April. Time Magazine reported that the state announced it was running out of lethal injection drugs but had enough to carry out Sprouse’s execution.The Guardian reported in late March that the State had obtained more pentobarbital, the drug used in these executions.
Strouse’s last statement, obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, was “I would like to apologize to the Moreno family and the Steinfeldt family for all of the trouble I have caused them. I would like to apologize to my family for all of the trouble that I have caused them. I would also like to thank my family for all of their support. I guess that’s it.”
Breitbart Texas reported that Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials have refused to identify the makers of lethal injection drugs on the grounds that it could place the manufacturers in danger.
Fox News has reported that the American Pharmacists Association has taken an official stance discouraging its members from providing drugs for lethal injections.
The list of scheduled executions and offender information can be found on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state of Texas as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2