Texas Stoops to a New Low

2 men convicted under the controversial Texas’ Law of Parties statute are scheduled to be executed within the same week as each other (Michael Rodriguez on August 14th and Jeff Woods on the 21st). Although neither was charged of being the actual murderer, they were both convicted and sentenced to die.

Currently between 80 and 100 prisoners convicted under the Law of Parties sit on Texas’ death row. Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code outlines the following: A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if “acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense he solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid the other persons to commit the offense” or “If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.”

The last time Texas attempted to execute someone convicted under this highly flawed statute was in August 2007 when Kenneth Foster was facing imminent death. Due to unprecedented media coverage and political pressure, Governor Perry commuted the sentence just hours before the scheduled execution. In order to avoid overt condemnation of the law of parties, Perry stated his reason for commuting the sentence was the fact that Foster was forced to go to trial with the admitted shooter.

Now is the time to attack the law of parties head on. Please contact Governor Perry’s office and ask that these executions be stopped and that he urge the State legislature to reexamine the law itself when the legislature reconvenes in 2009. Below is a sample letter and contact information. You can mail, fax, or email the letter. Also please call his office to vocally state your opinion.
Texas must abandon its barbaric Law of Parties statute – NOW IS THE TIME!
Phone: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849
Link to Email Form: http://www.capwiz.com/politicsol/mail/?id=31771&type=GV&state=TX

“In the wake of all the media attention geared towards DNA and mental competency issues, inmates with other legitimate innocence claims are being unjustly sentenced and forgotten about. People sentenced under the Law of Parties are among such claims.” ~ Keith Hampton, attorney for Kenneth Foster.
www.freewebs.com/texaslawofparties

The Honorable Rick PerryGovernor,
State of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Re: Jeffrey Wood, TDCJ No. 999256 & Michael Rodriguez TDCJ No. 999413
Dear Governor Perry,

Although I am against the death penalty in all circumstances it is especially egregious when applied to individuals who did not kill. During the month of August two men who were convicted under section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code, otherwise known as the law of parties, are scheduled to be executed (Michael Rodriguez on August 14th and Jeffrey Woods on August 21st). The Law of Parties was never intended to be used in capital cases. I am writing to urge you to intervene to stop these executions from taking place and to request that the Texas legislature reexamine the law when it reconvenes in 2009.

Sincerely,