The series of crimes against Bolden began when Soria and Lagunas
asked Bolden for a ride as he was leaving work as a lifeguard/swimming
instructor. Bolden agreed.
Once they were in the car, Lagunas put a gun to Bolden's head and
told him to drive to an area under a bridge. There, Lagunas hit
Bolden in the head with a rock and Soria stabbed Bolden twice in the
back of the head, killing him.
Two days later, Soria was stopped for speeding. Bolden's body was
found the next day based on information given by Lagunas.
day, Soria confessed to police that he killed Allen Bolden. The
murder weapon was found in the seat of the car Soria had stolen from
Accomplice Lagunas was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment.
On June 9, 2000, Soria attacked a 78-year-old volunteer prison
chaplain with a razor, resulting in serious and permanent injuries.
Texas Attorney General
JUAN SORIA SCHEDULED TO BE
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn
offers the following information on Juan Soria who is scheduled to
be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 26th:
Juan Soria was convicted in Tarrant County, Texas
and sentenced to death for the June 1985 murder of 17 year-old Allen
Bolden, a recent graduate of Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas.
The victim, who had been a competitive swimmer, gave swimming
lessons at the Panther Boys Club in Fort Worth and also worked as a
lifeguard at the Fort Worth Boys Club.
Allen Bolden was kidnapped in Fort Worth, struck
with a rock, and then stabbed twice with a knife in the back of the
head, resulting in his death. Soria and his accomplice, Mike
Lagunas, then stole Bolden's car.
The series of crimes against
Bolden began when Soria and Lagunas asked Bolden for a ride as he
was leaving work. Bolden agreed. Once they were in the car, Lagunas
put a gun to Bolden's head and told him to drive to an area under a
bridge. There, Lagunas hit Bolden in the head with a rock and Soria
stabbed Bolden twice in the back of the head, killing him.
Following the murder, Soria and Lagunas picked up
two of their friends and bragged about killing Bolden. Soria was
indicted in 1985 in Tarrant County on the offenses of murdering
Allen Bolden while in the course of committing and attempting to
commit robbery and kidnapping. A jury found Soria guilty of capital
murder in June 1986.
On June 9th of this year, Juan Soria attacked a
78-year-old volunteer prison chaplain with a razor, attempting to
cut the chaplain's arm off as he visited Soria in his cell. Soria
cut the chaplain's wrist to the bone, severing the arteries and
tendons. The chaplain underwent emergency surgery as a result of the
In early June, Soria discussed with friends his
plans to kill Bolden, whom he knew from the Fort Worth Boys Club. An
initial attempt by Soria to carry out his plan the day before was
aborted because, as Soria told a friend, he did not "know what to do
with him" or "where to take him."
Soria and Lagunas bragged about killing Bolden
shortly after the murder. Soria told friends, "We did it, man, we
did it" and described stabbing Bolden. Two days later, Soria was
stopped for speeding by a highway patrolman outside of Del Rio,
Texas and lied to police about his name and address.
upon learning that the car was stolen, took Soria and the other
occupants of the car to the county jail. Bolden's body was found on
July 1, 1985 based on information given to policy by Soria's friend,
Mike Lagunas. The next day, Soria confessed to an Arlington police
officer that he killed Allen Bolden, and the murder weapon was found
in the seat of the car Soria had stolen from Bolden.
June 8, 1994 - Court of Criminal Appeals reforms
Soria's sentence to life in prison in a 5-4 opinion.
Sept. 11, 1996 - Rehearing granted. Death sentence reinstated.
Nov. 6, 1996 - Court of Criminal Appeals denies Soria's motion for
June 2, 1997 - United States Supreme Court denies Soria's petition
for writ of certiorari.
Aug. 4, 1997 - United States Supreme Court denies motion for
July 31, 1998 - Trial court recommends that state habeas relief be
Nov. 18, 1998 - Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with trial court
and denied relief.
March 25, 1999 - District Court entered order denying federal habeas
March 16, 2000 - Fifth Circuit denied permission to appeal.
July 24, 2000 - Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles votes to deny
reprieve and/or commutation.
Two months before murdering Allen Bolden, Soria
burglarized a church and caused about $1,000 worth of damage. While
Soria was in jail awaiting trial, jailers found in his cell a self-portrait
drawn by Soria which depicted him holding a bloody knife.
Additionally, the jailers had discovered and confiscated a razor
blade from Soria's jail cell.
A police officer testified during the punishment
phase of Soria's trial that Soria had a reputation of not being a
law-abiding citizen. While Soria was in jail before his murder trial,
he beat up another inmate with a broom he had hidden under his
Juan Salvez Soria and two others were arrested
June 30, 1985, near Del Rio in a car last driven by Allen E. Bolden,
a 17-year-old Boy's Club lifeguard who disappeared two days before.
Soria confessed to the robbery-slaying after Bolden's body was found.
Bolden had agreed to give Soria and the others a ride from the Boy's
Club. Earlier this year, a volunteer prison chaplain was attacked
and his arm severely lacerated by Soria.
As the execution date for Juan Soria nears,
friends and teachers recall with sadness his victim - a top area
swimmer who was killed by thieves wanting his car.
In June 1985,
Allen Edward Bolden was a fresh-faced 17-year-old Lamar High School
graduate who chose to teach underprivileged children in Fort Worth
to love the water sport. Soria, the son of a migrant worker, had a
9th-grade education and had worked sporadically in construction and
at an auto body shop. He had never before been in legal trouble but
conspired with an older teen to steal Allen's car, drive it to
Mexico and sell it.
Soria, 33, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday
for abducting and fatally stabbing Allen after the teen gave him a
ride from the Fort Worth Boys Club. The killer's execution date
brings a flood of memories to family and friends who mourn not only
Allen's death, but the loss of what might have been for the
nationally ranked athlete who wanted to become a doctor.
It also has
made some who grew up with liberal leanings about the death penalty
embrace it as a legitimate means of punishing people who callously
dispose of others. "Allen could have chosen any path and he would
have been successful," said Jon Ivonen, the district swim coach for
Arlington high schools. "He's been gone for a long time but not
forgotten. He was an outstanding young man."
Mr. Ivonen said he
doesn't expect to feel any differently if the state carries out its
plans to kill Soria by lethal injection. The peace that has eluded
him for 15 years will not likely come if Soria is executed at 6 p.m.
Wednesday. "It won't bring Allen back," Mr. Ivonen said.
Allen, an honor student at Lamar, had just
received a scholarship to Texas Christian University when he was
killed June 28, 1985. He had been captain of the swim team that
included all 3 Arlington high schools. He had set his sights on
becoming an Olympian, his friends said. "He was a nice guy, a real
charmer," said Andrea Gross, a former schoolmate and swim team
member. On the night Allen disappeared, he had planned a party at a
hotel. "He was the host, and he didn't show up. We weren't sure what
to think," said Ms. Gross, who manages a brokerage firm in Denver.
For 2 days, Allen's whereabouts were unknown. His body was found in
a wooded area of north Fort Worth. He had been stabbed in the head
and neck. Prosecutors said Soria and his co-defendant, Mike Lagunas,
had planned for several days to attack Allen. Both were found with
the car in Del Rio.
Lagunas, who was 19 at the time of the slaying,
pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to 45
years in prison. Soria was found guilty and has been serving time
since his 1986 trial. He has 2 appeals pending. One is to the U.S.
Supreme Court on the basis of trial error and exclusion of Hispanics
from the jury.
The other is to the 18-member Texas Board of Pardons
and Paroles asking for a stay of execution or a commutation to a
life sentence. Members of Soria's family said they believe that he
has become mentally unstable, as evidenced by his recent attack on a
Last month, Soria was placed in the psychiatric
unit after attacking a volunteer chaplain visiting death row at the
Terrell Unit in Livingston, said his attorney, Gary Taylor of Austin.
Myrna Soria, 30, of Fort Worth, the convicted murderer's sister,
said she and members of her family are hoping that her brother can
be awarded clemency or at least a stay of execution. "We feel he
does not deserve it [the execution] because he didn't have a fair
trial. "We want to say to the family of Allen Bolden that we are
very sorry this happened, and we apologize and hope they can forgive
my brother for what he did."
The Boldens say they have forgiven Soria but
believe it is important for him to be punished. "I feel I have
already forgiven him, but I want to see justice done," Allen's
mother, Laurie Bolden, said. Edward Bolden, Allen's father, said
that 2 months ago he was planning to not witness Soria's execution.
"But then because of the attack on the prison chaplain, I decided I
should," the 53-year-old father said. "It just seems that as a
parent this is the final step I need to take to put this behind. Not
in terms of closure, but that I need to step forward and do this."
Jeff Brannen, another Lamar schoolmate, said
Allen's death challenged his idealistic view of a society where good
triumphs over evil. "When it happens to somebody you know, it's hard
to have a utopian view of society," said Mr. Brannen, a Dallas
lawyer. "There was no reason for Allen Bolden's death. He was killed
for his car."
Juan Salvez Soria, 33, was executed by lethal
injection on 26 July in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a 17-year-old
In June 1985, Soria, then 18, and Mike Lagunas,
19, asked Allen E. Bolden to give them a ride home from the Fort
Worth Boys Club, where Bolden was working as a lifeguard and
swimming instructor. Bolden, who knew Soria from the club, gave the
pair a ride in his father's car.
Once inside the car, Lagunas pulled
a gun on Bolden and forced him to drive to a secluded area. There,
Lagunas knocked him out by striking him with a rock, and Soria
stabbed him to death. Soria later told police that he "bent down and
stabbed the guy twice in the soft spot at the back of the head."
After killing Bolden, the two went back to the
Boys Club and bragged to friends about the murder. They picked up
two friends, robbed an ice cream truck for gas money, and headed for
Del Rio, a town near the Mexican border where Soria had once lived.
They planned to sell Bolden's Oldsmobile Toronado there for $5,000.
Two days later, Soria, Lagunas, and a 14-year-old
juvenile companion were driving the stolen car in the Del Rio area
and were pulled over for speeding. Police discovered the car was
reported stolen and arrested them. Soria confessed to the killing
and the pair told authorities where they could find Bolden's body
back in Fort Worth.
Mike Lagunas pleaded guilty to aggravated
kidnapping and is serving a 45-year sentence. No information was
available on the 14-year-old who was with Soria and Lagunas at the
time of their arrest. Soria was convicted of capital murder and
received the death penalty.
In 1994, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
removed Soria's death sentence, because it found that the jury had
insufficient evidence to determine that he was a continuing threat
Prosecutors appealed the ruling, and the court
reinstated Soria's death sentence two years later. At the age of 18,
Soria had no prior felonies, but he had been arrested once for
vandalizing and attempting to break into a church.
In prison, Soria had a history of self-mutilation
and suicide attempts. In June, he pulled a volunteer prison
chaplain's arm into his cell and repeatedly slashed it with a razor
blade. The minister, 78-year-old William Paul Westbrook, was
severely injured. Soria was placed in the psychiatric unit after
He reportedly attempted to kill himself again the
weekend before his execution. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme
Court turned down Soria's appeal, rejecting his claims of trial
error and improper exclusion of Hispanics from the jury.
Board of Pardons and Paroles also rejected his plea for clemency by
an 18-0 vote. His final appeal was rejected on Wednesday afternoon,
when a state district judge denied his lawyer's claim that Soria was
not competent to be executed.
At his execution, Soria had long hair
and a wild beard, as he had not been given access to a razor since
his attack on the chaplain. A towel covered numerous self-inflicted
cuts on his arms.
In his last statement, he spoke slowly, in a
barely audible voice, mentioning Allah and divine love numerous
times. He concluded by saying, "They say I am going to have surgery,
so I guess I will see everyone after this surgery is performed. It
is finished." He was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m.
Condemned Killer Set to Die Wednesday Placed
Under Suicide Watch
By Michael Graczyk -
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A condemned Texas inmate
set for execution Wednesday evening was under close scrutiny by
prison officials after a weekend attempt to kill himself. Juan
Soria, 33, faced lethal injection for fatally stabbing a Fort Worth
teen-ager in 1985 so he could steal the victim's car.
Soria, with a history of self-mutilation and
repeated suicide tries in recent years, nearly severed the hand of a
prison minister in a razor attack on death row in June. Details of
the most recent suicide attempt were not immediately known although
Soria's attorney said his client had tried to kill himself. He is
back on suicide watch, said Larry Fitzgerald, a Texas Department of
Criminal Justice spokesman.
Since the attack last month on the prison
chaplain, Soria has been held at a prison medical unit where he has
been under doctor's care. He met with relatives over the weekend and
was moved Tuesday to the Terrell Unit, which houses death row, to
meet with his lawyer.
I think the guy is mentally ill, said Bill
Harris, Soria's attorney. I don't know the extent. Of course,
there's a distinction between being mentally ill and being competent
to be executed. You've really got to be pretty profoundly mentally
ill and you have to have people to believe that you legitimately
don't know you're going to be executed, or that it's imminent or why
you're being executed. You can be pretty sick and still know those
The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday refused a request
to review his case and stop the punishment. Attorneys contended
there were problems with jury selection at his trial. The Texas
Board of Pardons and Paroles, on an 18-0 vote, refused a clemency
Harris said he had no plans to seek a 30-day
reprieve from Gov. George W. Bush, who by law can issue such a
reprieve once. I don't expect he would grant it, he said. And at
this juncture, I don't see the justification for it. Thirty days is
great if you have something to do with the 30 days. Soria's lethal
injection would be the second this month in Texas and 26th this year.
At least six executions are scheduled for August.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1994
reduced Soria's sentence to life, saying the trial jury had
insufficient evidence to decide one of the questions required for a
death sentence: that Soria was a continuing threat to society.
Prosecutors, however, appealed the ruling and two years later the
court reinstated the death sentence.
Soria was condemned for killing Allen Bolden, 17,
who worked at the Fort Worth Boys Club which Soria frequented.
Soria, 18 at the time, and a companion, Mike Lagunas, then 19,
hitched a ride with Bolden, then pulled a gun on the victim and
forced him to drive to a secluded area.
Court records showed Lagunas knocked him out by
striking him with a rock and Soria killed him with a pair of knife
thrusts to the back of his neck. They then drove his car to Del Rio,
nearly 400 miles to the southwest, where they hoped to sell it for
When they were pulled over for speeding near Del Rio, police
discovered the car was reported stolen and arrested them. Lagunas
received a 45-year prison term for aggravated kidnapping. Soria
received the death sentence.
Texas death row inmate severs
chaplain's arm with razor
June 9, 2000
LIVINGSTON, Texas (CNN) -- A Texas death row
inmate Friday grabbed the arm of a volunteer chaplain, tied it with
a sheet to a toilet and nearly sawed it off with a razor blade,
"It was just hanging by some threads," said Larry
Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
William Paul Westbrook, a 78-year-old Baptist
chaplain from Livingston, was doing volunteer ministry at the
Terrell Unit, the facility housing Texas' 456 male convicted killers,
when inmate Juan Salvez Soria "somehow lured him into putting his
arm" in the cell, said Fitzgerald.
Authorities used tear gas to stop the attack and
subdue Soria, 33, who is scheduled to die July 26 for the 1985
robbery-slaying of a 17-year-old lifeguard.
"Let's put it this way: He made us more keenly
aware that he needs to be executed," said Fitzgerald.
He said authorities are treating Soria's cell as
a crime scene and the inmate has since been moved to a more
restricted area within the prison.
"We're pretty much shipping daylight to him by
FedEx," Fitzgerald said.
Westbrook was taken to a Polk County hospital
before being moved to Hermann Hospital in Houston which specializes
in the reattachment of limbs.
Westbrook, who has volunteered at the prison for
two years, had ministered to Soria in the past. It was unclear what
motivated Friday's attack, said Fitzgerald.
He said Soria apparently pulled Westbrook's "arm
into the cell, tied a sheet to it, pulled the arm into the cell ...
and began cutting on it with a razor blade." He said the sheet was
tied to a commode.
Citizens United for
Alternatives to the Death Penalty
WHAT: George W. Bush will oversee his 137th
killing as Texas Governor, if he allows the Texecution of Juan
Soria, a man who is clearly mentally incompetent.
WHEN: The execution is scheduled for July 26, 2000 after 6:00pm
Central USA time.
WHERE: Huntsville, TX.
A few weeks ago the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice (TDCJ) moved Juan Soria from the Terrell Unit (the
Livingston, Texas prison which houses Texas Men's Death Row) to the
Jester IV Unit (the Richmond, Texas prison which exclusively houses
inmates with mental health concerns). By making this move TDCJ
itself acknowledges that Juan Soria has acute psychiatric problems.
On Sunday, June 23, 2000 Juan Soria's family saw him. Juan Soria was
completely incapable of making himself understood. He could say a
few intelligible words, but he couldn't convey any ideas or thoughts.
Effective September 1, 1999 Texas enacted a law
especially to prohibit the execution of any person who is
incompetent. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 46.04. In
lay man's terms, this law establishes that a death row inmate is
considered incompetent if he or she does not understand (1) that he
or she is to be executed and that the execution is imminent; and (2)
the reason he or she is being executed.
Juan Soria clearly doesn't understand that he is
about to be executed, nor does he understand the reason why he is
about to be executed. It appears that Juan Soria doesn't currently
understand anything. Juan Soria's execution is illegal.