Alvarado teen sentenced to life without parole for killing store clerk

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 02, 2009


An Alvarado teenager has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2008 robbery-slaying of a 52-year-old convenience store clerk.

A Johnson County jury deliberated about an hour Friday before convicting 17-year-old Scottie Louis Forcey of capital murder in the July 23, 2008, shooting death of Karen Burke, a clerk at the Shell Travel Center off Interstate 35W in Alvarado.

State District Judge Wayne Bridewell then sentenced Forcey to life without parole, the only punishment option since 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court banned death sentences for defendants who were 17 and younger at the time the crime was committed.

Forcey will be the fifth Texan under 18 sentenced to life without parole, according to defense attorney Bill Mason, who unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of that sentence at a pretrial hearing.

Mason cited a new law adopted by the Legislature this year that changes the punishment for those teenagers to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. But the law applies only to crimes committed before the new law took effect Tuesday.

Forcey was 16 when he was accused of walking into the store where Burke was mopping the floor early one morning and shooting her in the head without saying a word. During a four-day trial in the 249th District Court, District Attorney Dale Hanna and Assistant District Attorneys Martin Strahan and Larry Chambless called more than 20 witnesses, including Burke’s daughter, Forcey’s brother and girlfriend and a number of forensic experts who linked physical evidence to Forcey.

Forcey’s brother, Billy, and several other witnesses testified that Forcey made statements about the crime when he returned from the store.

A .22-caliber handgun believed to have been the murder weapon was found beneath an abandoned house near Forcey’s home, and clothing that matched that worn by the gunman captured on a store surveillance camera was found under a vacant house near Forcey’s home, witnesses said.