May 13, 2008 at 7:16 PM CDT - Updated July 3 at 5:37 PM
ATHENS - A Henderson County jury today sentenced Randall Wayne Mays, 48, of Payne Springs, to death by lethal injection for the murder of Henderson County Sheriff's Deputy Tony Price Ogburn, 61. Mays is also accused of killing Investigator Paul Steven Habelt, 63, and wounding Deputy Kevin Harris during a May 2007 standoff. Henderson County District Attorney Donna Bennett prosecuted the capital murder case with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Wesley Mau.
"Three fearless and dedicated peace officers, responding to a call for help, willingly put themselves in harm's way for their fellow citizens," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. "Sadly, we lost two of Texas' finest on that awful day. Our only hope is that today's sentence and the conclusion of this trial bring closure for the community and the families of the victims.
Attorney General Abbott added: "Thanks to a coordinated effort by Henderson County District Attorney Donna Bennett, Assistant Attorney General Wesley Mau, the Henderson County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers, a sad chapter in Henderson County history has come to a close."
On May 17, 2007, Henderson County Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call placed by a concerned neighbor who reported hearing gunshots at Mays' property. After appearing to cooperate with the deputies, Mays barricaded himself inside his house, where he used a high-powered rifle to shoot at officers. Mays mortally wounded deputies Ogburn and Habelt and shot Lt. Harris in the leg before finally surrendering to officers.
During the capital murder trial, prosecutors played audio from a videotape taken from one patrol officer's vehicle at the scene of the standoff. The tape brought witnesses and family members to tears as they listened to Mays shoot and kill the deputies. The standoff occurred just hours after the three deputies attended a local memorial service honoring fellow officers.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, witnesses testified that Mays remains a violent threat to the community. A Tyler psychiatrist testified that the best prediction of future behavior is past behavior. Mays' criminal record includes previous arrests for public intoxication and assault of a public servant. Witnesses also testified that Mays and his wife also have a history of domestic disputes.