Man Who Killed Young Texas Pastor Gets Death Penalty

The felon who killed a 28-year-old pastor in Texas was sentenced to death on Tuesday by a jury.

Steven Lawayne Nelson was convicted last week of capital murder in the March 2011 killing of Pastor Clint Dobson, who led NorthPointe Baptist Church in Arlington. After the jury delivered the death penalty, Nelson threw a fit and broke a sprinkler head.

In a statement Tuesday, Dr. Dennis R. Wiles, pastor of NorthPointe Church, said, "We have all waited for this day. We have prayed for the people who are charged with the responsibility for the wheels of justice in our society. We have asked God for the truth to be known and for justice to be served. As the Bible teaches us, God has placed the civil authority in our midst so that innocent people can live in freedom without fear and so that guilty offenders can be appropriately punished.

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"We are convinced that we have seen that process demonstrated in the past 17 months ... We now can confidently say that justice has been served and we will support the decision of this court."

It was on March 3, 2011, when Dobson was beaten and suffocated with a plastic bag during a robbery at the church. Dobson's assistant, Judy Elliott, was also severely beaten but survived.

Nelson, now 25, stole a laptop and credit cards and fled in one of their cars.

"It is hard for me to fathom that you did what you did for a car and a laptop and a phone," Phillip Rozeman, Dobson's father-in-law, said in a statement, according to Shreveport Times. "The world is going to miss a leader. It's sad to know all the people that won't be helped because Clint is not here."

Nelson maintained his innocence during the trial and claimed that two of his friends were responsible.

But prosecutors presented substantial evidence against Nelson, including his fingerprints on Dobson and Dobson's blood on shoes that were in Nelson's apartment. They also argued that his crimes have escalated throughout his life and that he killed an inmate while in jail.

Dobson's widow, Laura Dobson, told Nelson, "No one wants to remember you but they will always remember Clint. ... I vow to be his voice and carry on his legacy, that good will always trump evil," as reported by the Star-Telegram.

Wiles said the young pastor did not die in vain and that his life was "given courageously in service to the Lord Jesus Christ."

"The crown of life will be his forever in eternity. The testimony of his life continues to bear fruit in the lives of countless people who continue to benefit from his commitment to Christ."

The church has left Clint Dobson's blog on its website. Wiles said they can now move forward to a greater level of healing.

"Our God is sufficient for all of life's circumstances and the good news of Jesus Christ will not be overwhelmed by evil," he said. "In fact, this good news is the answer for the ills of humanity and we will be faithful to share it with everyone until our Lord returns and His creation is redeemed, restored and truly reflects His glory."

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