Suspected serial killer gets 2 more life terms


by Associated Press

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 12:37 PM

FORT WORTH - A suspected serial killer in prison for murdering a nurse avoided the possibility of death row and will get two more life terms for kidnapping and killing two other women more than 20 years ago.

Curtis Don Brown, 50, admitted at a hearing Wednesday to killing Terece Gregory, 29, and Sharyn Kills Back, 18, in separate kidnappings in 1985. As part of the plea deal, Brown will be sentenced to two life sentences that will run consecutively.

Police also have called Brown a "person of interest" in several unsolved killings of Tarrant County women in the 1980s.

The plea agreement came less than a week before jury selection was to begin for Brown's trial for Gregory's murder, in which prosecutors planned to seek the death penalty.

But Gregory's brother was outraged about the plea deal and called it "a crime in itself."

Jim Gregory did not attend the hearing but said he had stressed to prosecutors that he wanted the death penalty pursued in his sister's case. Gregory, who lives in Arizona, accused prosecutors of doing "absolutely nothing" on the case other than reschedule it, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Thursday editions.

Meanwhile, Suzanna Kills Back, the other victim's sister, said she and her family are pleased with the plea agreement and grateful that a trial will be avoided.

Prosecutor Christy Jack said she understood Jim Gregory's anger but defended the plea agreement, saying Brown is eligible for parole in his life sentence for killing nurse Jewel Woods in 1986. Jack said "there's no doubt" that Brown will stay in prison the rest of his life with the addition of two life sentences for capital murder.

Brown's attorney Tim Moore said the plea was in Brown's best interest.

"I thought there was a strong possibility if a jury convicted him that ... he would get the death penalty," Moore said.

In 2005 a DNA database linked Brown's profile to evidence in Gregory's body, found floating in the Trinity River in 1985 with a facial gunshot wound. She was last seen alive a day earlier driving away from a Fort Worth bar.

The link prompted Fort Worth police to re-examine 25 unsolved homicides that occurred while Brown lived in Tarrant County. Police determined that more than a dozen required a closer look.

Detectives in nearby Arlington also re-examined their cold cases. Later in 2005, they received confirmation that Brown's DNA matched evidence recovered from the body and clothing of Kills Back, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe who was found strangled in an Arlington storm drain in 1985. She had disappeared a week earlier while walking to a friend's house.