Inmate condemned for fatal robbery set to die

Updated: 2006-10-19 14:36

LIVINGSTON, Texas - A man convicted in the shooting death of a 27-year-old gas station worker is to be put to death Thursday night by lethal injection.

Condemned prisoner Michael Dewayne Johnson insists he was not the gunman. He said a companion, David Vest, fired the fatal shot.

"I never even saw the dude," Johnson said, referring to shooting victim Jeff Wetterman.

Vest blamed the shooting on Johnson, took an eight-year prison term in a plea bargain and testified against his friend, who is set for lethal injection Thursday evening in Hunstville. Vest is now free.

Johnson, 29, who was 18 at the time of the slaying in September 1995, would be the 22nd Texas inmate executed this year and the first of five scheduled to die over the next five weeks.

Crawford Long, an assistant district attorney in McLennan County, said the men shot Wetterman because they could not pay for the gasoline they had pumped into the stolen car they were driving.

"I guess Johnson was afraid if they drove off he'd get the license number and then police would be looking for them," Long said. "They didn't have money to pay for the gas and he just shot him in the head and killed him."

Another condemned inmate, Gregory Summers, is set to die next week for what authorities said was masterminding a murder-for-hire scheme in 1990 that left three people - his parents and an uncle - fatally stabbed at their Abilene home. The man convicted of carrying out the killings, Andrew Cantu, was executed in 1999.