Ross Sentenced to Death - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/24/02

Ross Sentenced to Death

Tuesday night, Vaughn Ross is waiting to die. A Lubbock jury sentenced him to the maximum penalty, after finding him guilty of capital murder on Monday.

31-year-old Vaughn Ross plead not guilty, but the evidence proved his guilt. Ross was convicted of brutally murdering 53-year-old Douglas Birdsall, an Associate Dean of the Texas Tech Library, and 18 year-old Viola Ross McVade, his then girlfriends' sister.

Together, Birdsall and McVade were shot 11 times, then their bodies were abandoned in January of 2001. No weapon was ever found, but the tip of a latex glove was found at the crime scene and the DNA inside the glove matched Ross'.

Numerous people also testified about Ross' criminal history, testimonies that added proof of his violent past. Witnesses testified he had an ongoing dispute with McVade. As for Birdsall, the state says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Tuesday, state prosecutors and the victims' families agree justice was served.

"I'm glad it's over. It's been a long year and a half for my family, and I think justice was done," said Roger Birdsall, Douglas' brother.

Birdsall's son Nathaniel says his father was against the death penalty and so is he -- but he understands.

"I understand the reasons for people supporting that, and following through with it today. I think my father would've been disappointed in the way things ended today," said Nathaniel Birdsall, Douglas' son.

"Whatever they do to Vaughn ain't gonna bring my baby back," said Chester McVade, Viola's father.

"I can't ever be relieved. I can't never see my sister again. My heart goes out to his mom because we lost someone, and she lost someone, too," said Liza McVade, Viola's sister.

Ross' mom wasn't in the courtroom when the sentence was announced. She did, however, take the stand earlier in the day. She told the jury they had made a horrible mistake, and that they'd convicted this black man before giving his innocence a chance.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Powell said with Ross' past it was obvious, unless he was put to death, he'd hurt or kill someone else in the future.

"Finding him guilty and holding him responsible for the deaths -- that was a relief. I'm content that justice was done, but I don't think I'd use the word relief. Everybody has a pay day and his was today. He is now reaping the consequences of his actions," said Matt Powell.

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