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Hired Killer Sentenced to Death for Baby’s Slaying

November 5, 1993 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ A man accused of killing three generations of a family has been sentenced to death in a triple slaying in which a 14-month-old baby was shot to death as he slept in his crib.

Allen Wayne Janecka, 45, was tried only in the slaying of 14-month-old Kevin Wanstrath in 1979.

The baby’s parents, John and Diana Wanstrath, were also shot to death.

Prosecutors alleged that Janecka was hired to kill the members of the family by Markham Duff-Smith so that Duff-Smith would not have to share his inheritance with anyone.

Duff-Smith, who was executed last summer, confessed just before his death that he hired Janecka to shoot his stepsister, Diana Wanstrath and other members of his family. He also said he hired Janecka a few years earlier to strangle his wealthy mother, Gertrude Duff-Smith Zabolio.

State District Judge Woody Densen lectured Janecka Thursday in ordering that he die by lethal injection.

″You were born in a very religious, hard-working community with a loving mother and brothers and sisters,″ he said. ″You chose the sinister path of drugs, violence and murder for hire.″

Janecka had received the death penalty in 1981 for killing the baby, but he had to be tried again because the indictment did not say who hired him.

Densen estimated the state has spent at least $1 million investigating the four murders, trying Janecka twice, paying for his appeals and housing him.

Defense lawyers sought sympathy for Janecka by claiming he was the subject of daily abuse by an alcoholic father who delighted in putting Janecka on his knees on their gravel driveway and forced him to recite Bible verses. They also said his father would put him in a tub of ice water.