Execution date set for inmate in Rusk murder

(FROM THE TYLER PAPER) - An execution date has been set for a convict involved in the murder of a Rusk man during a September 2002 robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault.

The final appellate hurdle of setting an execution date was resolved Jan. 14, and a death warrant was signed Jan. 18, Cherokee County District Attorney Rachel Patton said. Richard Aaron Cobb is set to die on April 25.

Ms. Patton said that there always is the possibility of a stay of execution, she hopes the execution will continue as planned.

She said she knows from speaking to family members of the murder victim that they have waited for everything to be over.

"I know it is something that will give them a little bit of closure," she said. "That's why we are hopeful this execution will go off as scheduled. As soon as we got information that the appellate process had been exhausted, we worked to get the execution date set exactly."

Former Cherokee County District Attorney Elmer Beckworth, who is now a prosecutor in Angelina County, said the date is consistent with the time frame on most executions and is "another positive step for justice."

Attorney Clint Broden, who represents Cobb, declined to comment.

Cobb was 18 in 2002 when evidence showed he and a friend, Beunka Adams, walked into a convenience store in Rusk and announced a holdup.

They took two female clerks and 37-year-old Richard Vandever from the store and drove to a remote area, where one of the women was raped.

All three people were ordered to kneel and were shot. The women survived, and one was able to summon help.

Adams was executed in April.

Beckworth said Cobb is a "dangerous individual" who not only murdered Vandever but was involved in multiple other robberies leading up to the murder. He said law enforcement officers, who looked at video tape, believed his crimes were getting more violent.

"I'm convinced their (Cobb and Adams') intention was to kill all three (victims)," Beckworth said, adding that one of the women faked being dead, which likely helped save her. He said both women thought the other was dead.

He said he now hopes the execution is not stayed and that there is finally closure in the case


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