A man who reportedly drove from California to Texas, disguised himself as a FedEx delivery driver and killed the family of his ex-wife's sister, execution-style, has been found guilty by a jury in Texas.
Ronald Haskell, who was accused of gunning down Stephen Stay, 39, and Katie Stay, 34 and four of their children, was convicted on Thursday of capital murder charges.
"We are grateful for the jurors’ rapt attention over the last many weeks to every piece of evidence in the case,” Harris County DA Kim Ogg said in a statement to Oxygen.com. “There was never a reasonable doubt that Haskell meticulously planned and carried out the slaughter of the Stay family.”
During the the trial, prosecutors painted Haskell as a spiteful ex-husband hellbent on doing anything to get revenge on his ex-wife, Melanie Lyon.
“He absolutely knew what he was doing that day,” prosecutor Samantha Knetch said during closing arguments on Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News. “He took steps to hide, to disguise and to plan this execution."
However, Haskell’s lawyers argued that the man battled mental-health issues for nearly a decade leading up to the killings, telling the jury that Haskell heard voices in his head, the Houston Chronicle also reported. A forensic psychologist also testified that Haskell had bipolar disorder and had displayed schizophrenic behavior.
“He tried to get help for years,” defense attorney Neal Davis told the courtroom. “He didn’t want to be this way. He had no control.”
But, in the end, jurors weren't convinced. Haskell's conviction carries the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison.
When police arrived at the Stays' home in summer 2014, they reportedly found a total of six bodies — two adults and four children — which were strewn across the living room floor, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
The Stays, including their children — Bryan, 13; Emily, 9; Rebecca, 7, and Zach, 4 — were killed in the attack.
Haskell stole a former girlfriend’s gun, then bought more than 200 rounds of ammunition before driving to the Stays' Houston home, the Daily News reported. Prosecutors said he dressed himself as a FedEx delivery man and rang the doorbell of his ex-wife’s sister’s home.
After one of the couple’s daughters answered the door, Haskell barged into the house brandishing a semi-automatic pistol, court documents alleged. The Stays' five children were home alone. Haskell reportedly rounded them up in the living room. The husband and wife, who arrived home roughly 10 minutes later, were also allegedly corralled into the living room, where their children were being held at gunpoint.
Haskell "forced the seven complainants to lay on the floor face down, and told them he was going to tie them up,” court documents read.
With the family's faces pressed to the living room floor, Haskell began executing them one by one, prosecutors alleged.
The Stays' daughter Cassidy, who was 15 at the time, was the sole survivor of the attack. Police said she was shot in the head but “played dead” until Haskell left. The young woman, now 20, testified at Haskell’s trial, recounting the alleged attack and the way in which she and her family begged for their lives roughly five years ago.
Haskell's former wife, who reportedly left him just over a year before the slayings, also testified that her ex-husband had previously threatened to kill her family, according to the Houston Chronicle.
His sentencing has been scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m., according to a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
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