Judge says El Paso's 'Desert Killer' not mentally retarded

Judge says El Paso's 'Desert Killer' not mentally retarded

EL PASO, Texas - It's been more than a quarter century since he was convicted of raping and killing six girls in Northeast El Paso, but Desert Killer David Leonard Wood is a step closer to execution.

A San Antonio judge has issued an opinion that Wood is not mentally retarded.

The now 57-year-old Wood returned to El Paso last year for several hearings, where Judge Bert Richardson was appointed to give a recommendation on the mental retardation claim.

The opinion states that Wood "failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he has significantly sub-average intellectual functioning."

Marcia Fulton, whose daughter Deserie Wheatley was just 15 when she was murdered by Wood in 1987, called the recommendation from Richardson "great news."

"This now goes to the appellate court in San Antonio," Fulton said. "When those judges make their decision, one of the best things about this is because he already had a death date before they can now set a death date 30 days out."

She called it all just another obstacle in 26 years of them that she has already endured, bringing Wood another step closer to a potential execution date, something she's been waiting for since learning of her daughter's death.

"They do not call this the criminal justice system for nothing," she said. "They are the ones who get all the justice and all the breaks and that's fine, because, again, people say, 'Well, we don't want to convict the wrong man.' Neither do I. I want the man who killed my daughter. I don't want a man. I want thee man and in my opinion that man is David Leonard Wood."

Fulton plans to travel to Huntsville again to witness Wood's execution, which she thinks could now take place in the next year. But only if an appellate court accepts Judge Richardson's recommendation and after more than a hundred pieces of evidence undergo another round of DNA testing that has been ordered.

But however long it takes, Fulton said she will be there

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