Convicted rapist and murderer taken off death row

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Twenty-six years after Alejandra Rendon's murder, the pain still lingers. Now there is fear, fear that her killer might walk free.

“We're in fear of retaliation but more in fear that he would go do this to somebody else. After he killed my cousin, he continued his crime spree,” said her cousin Israel Santana.

Robert James Campbell was an eighteen years old and out on probation for armed robbery when he kidnapped, raped, and murdered Rendon. The crime's brutality was shocking. Now even more shocking is the news that he might be eligible for parole.  Here's why. An expert has determined he is borderline intellectually disabled.  The Texas Attorney General's Office filed an advisory Wednesday that because of  a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding intellectual disability and the death penalty, Campbell should be granted a new punishment hearing. That means he's off death row and eligible for parole. 

Victim's advocate Andy Kahan calls this decision troubling.

“You have to go back to the laws that were enacted at the time the offense was committed, which means Campbell would have to serve 15 years of his sentence and he's already served 25 years. Thus, he's eligible for parole at the snap of the fingers,” said Kahan.

He says it's unlikely, made even less likely given the Harris County's District Attorney's Office is rounding up Campbell's other victims to urge the parole board to keep him locked up.

“The Harris County District Attorney's office is committed to doing everything we possibly can to make sure that Robert James Campbell serves every second of his sentence behind bars in prison,” said ADA Joshua Reiss.

As for Rendon's family, they accept the ruling.

“It doesn't matter that I wanted execution for him. He's been given a new lease on life. I hope Robert James Campbell takes advantage of that and seeks forgiveness from our God,” Santana.