Decade on death row set to end tonight

By Scott E. Williams
The Daily News
Published August 23, 2005

FRIENDSWOOD — A decade on death row and a man’s life are scheduled to end tonight when the killer of a Friendswood woman faces execution by lethal injection.

Robert Shields was 20 in October 1995 when a Galveston jury sentenced him to death in the capital murder of Paula Stiner.

Stiner’s husband returned home from work on Sept. 21, 1994, to find the 27-year-old woman’s bloody body in the laundry room of their Friendswood home. She had been beaten with a hammer and stabbed with a knife from her own kitchen.

Detectives matched Shields’ fingerprints with one collected at the scene. Shields had left a bloody shoeprint and a cigarette butt. Detectives also found the screwdriver they believed he used to break into the house.

Former Precinct 8 Constable Daniel Cooper arrested Shields three days later in The Woodlands, 45 miles north of Houston. Shields was driving Stiner’s car and wearing bloody clothes at the time of his capture.

During Shields’ trial, witnesses established that Shields was likely inside Stiner’s house hours before she got there.

Shields, 30, declined to speak to The Daily News. The only interview he granted was to Christian Networks Journal, a monthly magazine.

Gordon McClellan, an Oklahoma-based Presbyterian minister and founder/editor in chief of the Journal, said Shields proclaimed his innocence and talked about the spiritual conversion he had undergone in the past decade.

“He claims he was there, but did not actually wield the hammer, himself,” McClellan said. “Mostly, he talked about how his faith really grew once he was in prison and was forced to really look at his own life and not view it as what he thinks it is, but to really look within himself, to see what really it is and grow from there,”

In February, Shields exhausted the last of his appeals, which reached the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court rejected his claims that he received ineffective assistance and was wrongly denied the chance to represent himself.

“Shields’ argument, although novel, is meritless,” the justices wrote. “(N)either we nor the Supreme Court has established a constitutional right to self-representation.”

The only thing that legally can stop tonight’s execution is a one-time-only, 30-day clemency from Gov. Rick Perry.