Related topics

Ex-Car Wash Worker Guilty of Murder

September 27, 2000

DALLAS (AP) _ Octavio Ramos moves much more slowly now than he did when he walked to work at an Irving car wash in March. He didn’t hesitate when given the chance to explain why.

On Tuesday, Ramos took the witness stand in a Dallas courtroom and pointed out the man prosecutors said was responsible for Ramos’ labored gait, deafness in an ear and the paralysis in the left side of his face.

``He’s sitting right there,″ the Spanish-speaking Ramos said through an interpreter, pointing at 28-year-old Robert Wayne Harris. Ramos was the final witness.

The panel took just 15 minutes Tuesday to find Harris guilty of two counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of Mi-T-Fine Car Wash employees cashier Rhoda Wheeler, 45, and assistant manager Augustin Villasenor, 36.

The jury was scheduled to begin hearing testimony Wednesday on whether Harris should receive lethal injection or life in prison.

``Thank God Octavio Ramos was able to come into this courtroom and tell you what this man was doing,″ prosecutor Greg Davis told jurors.

Ramos, 37, is the only living link to Harris’ actions during the March 20 massacre. Critically wounded by a gunshot to the head, he awoke in a hospital bed a month later.

Five co-workers people died during the shootings, three days after Harris was fired for exposing himself in a restroom. Harris was charged with the three other slayings as well but was not tried in those deaths.

Also killed were Villasenor’s brother, Benjamin Villasenor, 32, Roberto Jimenez Jr., 15, and 48-year-old car wash manager Dennis Lee. Harris has also been charged in the unrelated death of an Irving woman.

Harris has confessed to the killings several times, although he pleaded innocent when the trial began Monday. His lawyers offered no witnesses in his defense.

``Some trials are about guilt or innocence, some trials are about punishment,″ Harris attorney Brad Lollar said. ``Hold the state to the burden of proof. I appreciate it.″

Charity McFadden, 25, among the several dozen family members who packed the small courtroom, said he deserves to die for the death of her mother, Wheeler.

``If it had to happen, I’m glad it happened in Texas because they’ll get rid of him faster in Texas than they would in any other state,″ she said.

Update hourly