15 February 2012 ~ 15 Comments

Action Alert: Request a Reprieve for Anthony Bartee

On February 28, 2012, Anthony Bartee may be put to death by the State of Texas, even though the Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory still has not tested pieces of DNA evidence that were collected from the crime scene. Even after being ordered to test this evidence by Trial Judge Mary Román, neither the Bexar County crime lab nor the DPS lab in Austin have performed the ordered tests on all available evidence.  Bartee was convicted of the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio.  He has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.

Take action now!

  • Write or fax the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to urge clemency or a 120-day reprieve for Anthony Bartee (see below for addresses and talking points).
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing concerns about the death penalty’s irreversible risk of error and calling for its repeal.
  • Post comments on blogs and online in response to articles that appear about Bartee’s case.

Background and Talking Points for Letters to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry

Untested DNA Evidence
While performing an autopsy on the victim, David Cook, the medical examiner found hairs in both of his hands. On June 18, 2007, Trial Judge Mary Román ordered that these hairs be tested by the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) lab in Austin. According to a report later issued by the DPS crime lab, hairs found in Cook’s left hand were tested and not found to belong to Bartee. This same report confirmed that no DNA was extracted during these proceedings from the hairs found in the right hand of David Cook.

Even after Judge Román ordered the additional testing of all forensic DNA evidence in the Bartee case on July 21, 2010, the hairs taken from the right hand of the murder victim remain frozen at the DPS crime lab in Austin. The official response to the judge’s request from Bexar County Crime Lab claimed that “no remaining physical evidence [was] available for additional forensic DNA testing,” even though the report from the DPS confirms this is not the case.

At a hearing in November of 2010, Judge Román used an incomplete report that only contained information from the DNA test performed on the evidence collected from the left hand of the victim. This report did not contain any information on the still frozen and untested hairs found in the victim’s right hand. From this incomplete report, Judge Román concluded that though the hair tested did not belong to Bartee, it could have belonged to David Cook and, as such, did not exonerate Bartee.

To date, 17 inmates on death row in the United States have been exonerated by use of DNA testing. Shouldn’t every prisoner get this chance when DNA evidence is available? Shouldn’t Texas insist on the highest standards of evidence proving guilt, especially in cases where the punishment is irreversible?

A Serious Conflict of Interest Involving a Trial Attorney
A significant conflict of interest took place in this case during the trial. This conflict involved Michael Sawyer, the defense attorney sitting second chair for Bartee, and his relationship with David Cook, the victim.  This relationship was revealed on April 13, 1998, on the morning the actual trial was to begin, when Sawyer “realized” that he knew the victim, David Cook, and the victim’s entire family.

Although Sawyer claims that he was not aware of his familiarity with the entire Cook family throughout the trial’s previous month-long seating of the jury, a clear conflict of interest existed and potentially impacted the jury selection process.

The judge allowed Sawyer to withdraw from the case, but she denied the motion for a mistrial made by Bartee’s other attorney, Vincent Callahan. When claims that the trial was tainted by Sawyer’s conflict of interest were made in Bartee’s state habeas petition, the judge denied relief by citing previous case law showing that Texas courts required defendants to prove that but for the conflict of interest, the results of the trial would have been different.

On September 12, 2007, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that this was not the proper standard by which to analyze claims involving conflicts of interest. Due to this change in the standard applied to claims involving conflicts of interest in Texas, Anthony Bartee should now be given the chance to have his claim heard under the proper standard.

A Model Prisoner and Commitment to Service
Additional factors should be taken into consideration in the case of Anthony Bartee, namely, his behavior as a model prisoner while on death row, along with his family’s commitment to serving our country through various branches of the Armed Services.  As his prison disciplinary records reveal, if his sentence were commuted to life in prison, he would not be a danger to any prisoner or guard.

Since he began his time on death row on September 9, 1998, Bartee has been at level one, the best disciplinary level possible. He has only been cited for two disciplinary infractions, neither of which were violent, throughout his entire 13 years on death row.

Bartee was raised in a family devoted to serving our great nation. Bartee’s father served our country in the Air Force for 26 years and his grandfather served in the Army in Germany during World War II. Bartee himself received an honorable discharge from the Army on July 12, 1976.

Bartee has also long sought to teach others to learn from his mistakes. During time spent in prison for an earlier conviction, Bartee was chosen as one of two “model prisoners” to speak to a group of troubled students from the local town. These students were greatly influenced by his comments, and it has been reported that many of them ceased participating in gang activity after their visit with Bartee.

Please call on the Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the sentence of Anthony Bartee or, at a minimum, grant a 120-day reprieve so that his claim regarding the conflict of interest can be pursued under the proper standard and his attorneys can secure DNA testing of all hairs found in the hands of the victim.

Contact information for Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles:

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Fax: 512-463-1849
Main number: 512-463-2000
Salutation: Dear Governor Perry

Clemency Section
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX  78757-6814
Fax (512) 467-0945
bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us
Salutation: Dear Board Members

Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Anthony Bartee #999282” and should arrive no later than February 25, 2012.

 

15 Responses to “Action Alert: Request a Reprieve for Anthony Bartee”

  1. Annette Bryant 15 February 2012 at 9:23 pm Permalink

    Murdering people in the State of Texas without proper DNA is UN-just!
    There is also Louis C. Perez # 999328 who has been on Death Row at Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas 77351 for Fourteen years. He still is wanting the DNA on the killing weapons (three) for the 3 girls that were murdered.

    Please contact me if you would like more information. He is an innocent man with 4 children and this is killing his Parents.
    Thanks,
    Annette Bryant

  2. Bridget Houston Hyde 16 February 2012 at 4:51 am Permalink

    For the sake of justice and mercy, please commute the sentence of Anthony Bartee. This case does not have all the pertinent facts and needs more DNA testing. Also, there is a conflict of interest issue in this case that needs to be resolved.

    Anthony Bartee deserves to have his story told.

  3. Amanda Goodall 17 February 2012 at 10:41 pm Permalink

    I am Requesting a reprieve for Anthony Bartee. There is exculpatory and DNA evidence which has not yet been tested and until this has been done, the ONLY right & just thing to do, is put a hold on his execution until all avenues have been exhausted, await DNA test results before execution – DO NOT EXECUTE ANTHONY BARTEE UNTIL DNA RESULTS ARE RETURNED!!!

  4. Oliver Jackson 22 February 2012 at 11:26 am Permalink

    You can’t kill to say killing is wrong do the right thing.

  5. Linda Cook 22 February 2012 at 4:40 pm Permalink

    This man killed my brother. My mother who has Alzheimer’s wakes up every night crying saying someone killed David. This man raped two women and was on parole when he committed this heinous crime. I don’t know where you guys are getting your information but ALL DNA was tested. I have been at every hearing and know all the evidence. God willing this execution will go forward on February 28th.

  6. Linda Cook 22 February 2012 at 5:13 pm Permalink

    and this article fails to mention what a model prisoner he was before he was released for the aggravated rape of two women. Wow really you people twist the truth. The DNA testing has been done. You know that the only thing you are trying to do is get a delay to have DNA testing on hairs that will not prove a thing because it can not be tested they have no roots. You guys want a delay. There was no delay when he stabbed and then shot my brother execution style leaving him paralyzed and then shot him again. He is a con artist and is scared to die now for his crime. What about my family. My father served our country and retired from the Air Force as well, my niece served our county, my nephew is now serving our country. I have said my peace but I bet you will not even publish this because it does not fit your criteria of making the victim’s family look good.

  7. Sandra Leyland 22 February 2012 at 8:25 pm Permalink

    Please stop and consider. Do not execute an innocent man.

  8. warren 23 February 2012 at 8:50 am Permalink

    @linda I am sorry for your loss. Especially knowing that this annimal should have been put away for life after the raping incident. The world will be a better place after his execution!

  9. Jezz 27 February 2012 at 8:41 pm Permalink

    Please stop! give him a Chance and lets find Out the right side.
    Dont allow them to kill someone with Out a DNA Test.

  10. Juergen L. 29 February 2012 at 7:12 am Permalink

    To: Linda Cook
    Linda, for sure this was a terrible story and you are looking for the end of Anthony Bartee, but don’t use God and execution in one sentence. I don’t know the true of this case, but after three years looking on this case and Anthony Bartee, I would say he got already his punishment. I personally won’t stay only one year in a cell like this on death row. To kill him will only end his agony and hurt another family. Things happen and I don’t know why, I never could kill somebody for nothing in the world, but there could be influece from where ever that make these horrible things happen. Your brother died and I am sorry for that, but to kill another person is hate. I hope you know, love and hate are the strongest feelings and if you gave these strong feeling to Anthony, something is wrong. From your opinion you should ignore him and look forward and got peace in your life.
    For your understanding, I am not a supporter against or for the death penalty I am really struggling every day and I know to take this decicion is very hard and there is no way back.
    What ever happen, take care and all the best.
    Juergen

  11. Texas Wrangler 5 April 2012 at 2:52 am Permalink

    The Great State of Texas kills people who kill people because killing people is wrong.

  12. sarah 28 April 2012 at 10:15 pm Permalink

    I am very saddened by what I have read here.The grieving family who feels justice should be done….the people asking a stay of execution till the facts of evidence are anylised….
    Human beings have so much to learn…
    I believe there is something of God in everyone…and .like St Paul,everyone has the possibility of tremendous reform and change.Christians believe that the place of jesus in the world was to give all another chance-to save sinners…
    I have read that the accused was a friend of the poor man killed…i imagine therefore that his suffering in jail must have been hellish-to lose his friend so cruelly,and be accused of the loss also.Of course,I do not have access to the details that Linda Cook has…however….the death penalty always can be given in error-and error in this case would mean those putting the accused to death would then be taking part in pre-meditated murder.if later evidence were unearthed and/or the real killer found,how would all the judge and jury feel then?
    I try to imagine how i would feel if this had happened to my brother;I am sure I would want someone who had killed my brother to suffer;I am finding it too hard to imagine if i would want – deep-down- such a person to be executed.(Where I live,there is no deathj penalty-(after too many mistakes)I know i certainly would not want someone punished if that person even MIGHT not be the right one…and i can imagine getting certain that a particular person had done it-especially when overcome with horrendous grief..
    Yet,i hope that the accused is reprieved,to examine the evidence properly-for,unlike the immediacy of grief-in which it must be natural to be crying out for justice and longing for a sense of closure-the law must,rightly,act coolly.If,in the future,other evidence is found that proclaims him innocent,all would be so grateful he had not been executed.
    With hope for the future of all and thank you Juergen-your letter inspired me with its sensitivity
    and with heartfelt commiseratons to Linda Cook and your family
    Sarah

    • Juergen L. 2 May 2012 at 11:04 am Permalink

      Sarah, thanks a lot for your words! Today is Anthonys second execution date, hope they gave him a stay until the DNA test is done, but to be realistic, if it happen not today the state will kill him soon or later, that’s my personal feeling. Most of the desicions were made from politcal stand point. I am from Germany and very sad, not able to help. Juergen

  13. X man 2 May 2012 at 9:06 pm Permalink

    On another site, Linda Cook says Anthony got a stay but I am not sure I understood well. Is it true? I do hope it is!!!!!!!

    • Juergen L. 3 May 2012 at 4:42 am Permalink

      Yes it is true!