Update as of 4:30 PM on May 1: The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that “State District Court Judge Mary Román ruled the [DNA] results wouldn’t have impacted the outcome of the trial and said Bartee’s new execution date would not be withdrawn. [Bartee's attorney David] Dow appealed that decision Monday arguing that glasses and cigarettes collected at the time of the killing should also be tested.”
In less than one week, on May 2, 2012, the State of Texas plans to execute Anthony Bartee for the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio. Bartee has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.
Bartee was originally scheduled to be executed on February 28, 2012, even though DNA evidence collected at the crime scene had not been tested as ordered on at least two occasions by District Judge Mary Román. He received a reprieve on February 23, 2012 when Judge Román withdrew the execution warrant so that additional DNA testing could be conducted on strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook. She also ordered the forensic lab to provide a detailed and comprehensive report to the court with an analysis of the results. Yet, before the testing occurred, Judge Román inexplicably set another execution date: May 2, 2012.
According to Bartee’s attorneys, DNA testing was just conducted and indicated that hairs that were tested found in Cook’s hands belonged to Cook. The jury never heard this evidence – and in fact wasn’t told about the hairs at all – which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case that a violent struggle had ensued between Cook and his killer. Still, Judge Román entered the findings as unfavorable, opining that this evidence would not have made a difference in the outcome of the trial, had it been available to the jury. Under Article 64.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Bartee’s attorneys have the right to appeal the unfavorable findings. The fast-approaching execution date significantly impedes this right to due process, however.
In addition, there is still more evidence that has not been tested for DNA, including cigarette butts and at least three drinking glasses found at the crime scene. In 2010, the court ordered that all items that had not been tested be tested, but these items still have not been tested.
Take action now!
1. Call upon the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to stop this rush to execution and grant a 120-day reprieve for Anthony Bartee so that all of the evidence can be tested and Bartee’s attorneys can pursue relief through available legal avenues. Here are talking points:
- Testing of hairs found in the hands of David Cook was just conducted and indicated that the hairs that were tested belonged to Cook. The jury never heard this evidence, which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case.
- Bartee’s attorneys need more time to pursue relief under chapter 64, which provides the right to appeal the findings of recent testing, and to argue that the evidence might have impacted the outcome of the trial.
- There is still additional evidence to be tested for DNA; such testing was ordered in 2010 but has not been conducted.
- To date, 17 death row inmates nationwide 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?
2. Post information about this case on Facebook and Twitter. Here are sample tweets:
- Tell TX to stop the rush to execute #AnthonyBartee!
- Tell TX to test all the DNA! Stop #AnthonyBartee execution.
3. 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.
Contact information for Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles (please send your appeals by email or fax):
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Main number: 512-463-2000
Salutation: Dear Governor Perry
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX 78757-6814
Fax (512) 467-0945
Salutation: Dear Board Members
Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Anthony Bartee #999282” and should arrive ASAP!
4. Sign this Petition Click Link
Additional background information on the case is available here.