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Sons of man executed for Lake Waco Murders sue Texas

Jason and Joel Spence claim their father and the other three suspects in the case were all innocent.

The surviving sons of David Spence, who was convicted and sentenced to death for two of the three homicides that made up the 1982 Lake Waco Murders, have filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas.

Jason and Joel Spence claim their father and the other three suspects in the case were all innocent.

“The State of Texas, by and through its employees, agents, and representatives withheld evidence, destroyed evidence, coerced untruthful confessions, utilized junk science, bribed witnesses, fraudulently concealed the foregoing and knowingly convicted not one, but four individuals," argues the lawsuit, which was filed in Travis County District Court.

Brothers Gilbert and Anthony Melendez took plea bargains in the case. But, the lawsuit claims their confessions were coerced, untrue and have since been recanted. Muneer Deeb, who prosecutors painted as the mastermind was found "not guilty" after initially being sentenced to death.

"It is intellectually inconsistent and dishonest to convict David, Gilbert, and Tony when Deeb, the purported mastermind, was in fact not guilty," the lawsuit states.

Dallas-based attorney Jay English, who is representing the Spence sons, claims David maintained his innocence until his execution in 1997.

The lawsuit claims tapes recorded in McLennan County District Attorney Vic Fezell's office reveal prosecutors lacked evidence and colluded with court-appointed defense attorneys.

The Lake Waco murders happened on Tuesday, July 13, 1982. The victims were three teenagers: Kenneth Franks, 18, of Waco; along with his ex-girlfriend, Jill Montgomery, 17, of Waxahachie; and one of Montgomery's close friends Raylene Rice, 17, of Waxahachie.

Their bodies were discovered the next evening in Speegleville Park -- across the lake from Koehne Park, where police interviews and testimony suggested they planned to purchase drugs, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit demands compensation for wrongful imprisonment, attorney fees and full pardons for the defendants.

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