State News

Former Texas death row inmate takes 4 life sentences in plea

Posted April 18

— A North Carolina man who spent nearly two decades on Texas' death row for the fatal shooting of a Houston-area gun store owner has accepted four consecutive life sentences in a plea agreement with prosecutors after the U.S. Supreme Court decided he should receive a new sentencing trial.

Randolph Mansoor Greer was 19 in 1992 when he was convicted of capital murder and condemned for the shooting death of Walter Chmiel, 47. The 1991 slaying was part of a months-long crime binge by Greer in Texas and North Carolina. He also was charged in Greensboro, North Carolina, in connection with another capital murder, two rapes and four robberies.

"Greer, now 43, has been incapacitated and will never again pose a threat to public safety," First Assistant Harris County District Attorney Tom Berg said Tuesday.

The four life terms meant Greer wouldn't become eligible for parole until 2077, when he would be 103, Berg said.

Greer was removed from death row in 2011 after the Supreme Court decided the instructions to the jury that sent him there were insufficient.

At the time of his trial, courts were wrestling with evolving jury instructions about mitigating evidence, like mental impairment or dysfunctional childhood, and how that evidence should be applied to punishment in capital murder convictions. The high court visited the issue several times, refining trial procedures through its rulings, and Greer's case was among several of that time period in Texas that were returned to trial courts for new punishment hearings. A psychiatrist testified at his trial that Greer suffered from a manic conduct disorder.

Berg said before the new sentencing Monday, prosecutors had conferred with survivors of Greer's crimes and families of his victims.

The plea also covered Houston cases where he was accused of the January 1991 abduction, rape and robbery of a woman at an ATM and the abduction and rape of another woman from an apartment complex on June 26, 1991, a day before Chmiel was killed at his Alamo Gun Shop in the Houston enclave of Bellaire.

A gun shop customer testified at Greer's trial that he entered the store to find Chmiel dead on the floor and how he was forced at gunpoint to help Greer load a bag with 26 new pistols as he begged for his life. Evidence showed the store owner was shot in the head as he filled out a receipt. The customer called police with a description of Greer's car and a license plate number. The car had been stolen from a rape victim.

Other testimony at his trial came from North Carolina women who recounted how they were abducted and raped by Greer. Another woman testified she survived being shot multiple times June 1, 1991, during a $100,000 robbery at a Greensboro, North Carolina, jewelry store where she worked. A co-worker, Robert Parker Jr., was shot and killed and a customer was shot in the spine.

Authorities said the weapon used in those shootings was used in Chmiel's slaying.

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This story has been corrected to update information from the Harris County district attorney's office that convicted killer sentenced to four life prison terms, not life without parole.

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