Billie (Billy) Coble, Texas

Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Billie (Billy) Wayne Coble was executed by the state of Texas on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Billie was pronounced dead at 6:24 pm CST, inside the Walls Unit execution chamber at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Billie was 70 years of age. He was the oldest inmate executed in Texas in recent years. Billie is convicted of the murder of Waco Police Sgt. Bobby Vicha and his parents Robert and Zelda Vicha, on August 29, 1989, in Axtell, Texas. Billies spent the last 29 years of his life on death row in Texas.

Billie was born in Texas. He graduated from high school and had two years of higher education. He was a member of the military in Vietnam, which, according to family members, greatly affected Billie. Billie worked as an electrician prior to his arrest.

In July 1988, Billie Coble married his third wife, Karen Vicha. They lived across from Karen’s parents, Robert and Zelda Vicah, and down the road from Karen’s brother, Waco Police Sgt. Bobby Vicha. After one year marriage, Karen told Coble to move out and that she wanted a divorce. Coble attempted to persuade her numerous times to change her mind, including randomly calling her and showing up at her work place.

In one attempt to persuade Karen not to divorce him, Coble hid in the trunk of her car while she was out with a friend. When she began to drive home, he came through the back seat, held a knife to her ribs and told her to drive to a field. After she stopped the car, he told her that if he couldn’t have her, no one could. He pulled out a roll of black electrical tape, however Karen kept talking, eventually convincing him that she would reconsider the divorce. When Karen got home, she talked to her brother, who encouraged her to report the kidnapping.

Coble was arrested for kidnapping, and released on bail. Meanwhile, Karen had been given a German shepherd dog by her brother for protection. Coble commented on the dog to Karen and a few days later, the dog was lying dead in front of her house.

Nine days after the kidnapping, Coble went to Karen’s house. As each of Karen’s four children came home from school, including his 2-year-old son, Coble handcuffed the children, tied up their feet, and taped their mouths. Coble cut the telephone lines and left the house.

Coble went to Karen’s parent’s house, where he killed Robert, Zelda, and Bobby. He then returned to Karen’s house and waited for her to arrive home. According to one of the children, after returning Coble told the children that he wished he “had blown you away like I intended to.” When Karen arrived home, Coble informed her that he had killed her parents and brother. When she did not believe him, he showed her the items he had taken from them. Coble forced Karen to put on handcuffs and took her, saying he was going to torture her for a few weeks.

Coble forced Karen into the car and then began driving. Karen attempted to escape by freeing a hand from the handcuffs and grabbing the steering wheel and forcing the car into a ditch. Karen grabbed a gun and attempted to escape by shooting Coble, however the gun did not fire. Karen and Coble fought for the gun, with Coble eventually pistol whipping Karen. When a passerby noticed what was happening, Coble drove the car out of the ditch. Coble drove to a field, where they stayed until dark.

Leaving the field, the passed a patrol car, who began following them. Coble saw the car, grabbed a knife and began stabbing Karen. Coble then stated that he did not want to die in prison and drove into a parked car. Karen and Coble were both injured in the crash and both survived their injuries.

Coble was convicted and sentenced to death in July 1990. In 2007, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Coble’s sentence, granting him a new sentencing trial. A new jury also sentenced him to death.

Leading up to his 2018 execution, the Texas Court of Criminla Appeals has rejected a request to halt Coble's execution. In seeking a stay of execution, Coble was arguing that he was medicated against his will at his trial and, therefore, involuntarily forfeited his right to testify..

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Robert, Zelda, and Bobby Vicha. Please pray for Karen Vicha and her children. Please pray for the strength for the family of Bobbie Coble.

 

  

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