Execution date set for man convicted of murdering HPD officer in 1988

HOUSTON — The Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday an execution date has been scheduled for a man convicted in the fatal shooting of a Houston police officer nearly 30 years ago.

Robert Mitchell Jennings, 60, was on parole when he allegedly killed on-duty officer Elston Howard, 24, at an adult bookstore in 1988.

Prosecutors said his plan was to rob the store when he ran into Howard, who was there arresting a store employee. Jennings crept up behind the uniformed officer and shot him twice. As the officer collapsed and tried to crawl to safety, Jennings stood over him and shot him in the head. He then robbed the store and fled the scene in a getaway car driven by suspect David Lee Harvell.

Jennings has been on death row since 1989.

“Robert Mitchell Jennings has been on death row longer than Officer Howard was alive,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “The time has come to end the suffering of Officer Howard’s family.”

Harvell pled guilty to aggravated robbery and confessed to officers that Jennings told him that he shot Howard. He was sentenced to 55 years and was released in May 2017.

Jennings is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 30, 2019.