February 2013: Two Executions Stayed, Legislative Update, Important Conference Reminders, and More!

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions and Case Updates
Upcoming Events
In the News
Calendar

Executions

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Carl Blue on February 21, 2013 for the murder of his former girlfriend, Carmen Richards-Sanders, in College Station in 1994.  If it proceeds as scheduled, this will be the first Texas execution this year. Read more about this case in the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

Respond to this scheduled execution by attending vigils in your community: http://tcadp.org/get-involved/stop-executions/.

Update on Other Cases
Two Texas Death Row Inmates Receive Stays of Execution
On January 29, 2013, a state district judge stayed the execution of Kimberly McCarthy five hours before it was scheduled to take place. It would have been the fourth Texas execution involving a female since 1982.  Judge Marshall granted the stay to provide McCarthy’s attorneys with more time to pursue an appeal based on racial discrimination in the jury selection process. The execution has been reset for April 3.  Read more, including a statement from one of McCarthy’s attorneys. Thanks to everyone who made calls to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office about this case!

On January 30, 2013, State District Judge Kelly Case withdrew the February 27 execution date of Larry Swearingen in order to give his attorneys more time to pursue DNA testing. Swearingen was convicted of the 1998 rape and murder of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter, a student at Montgomery Community College.  Her body was discovered in the Sam Houston National Forest on January 2, 1999, nearly a month after she disappeared from campus.  Swearingen was in police custody on unrelated charges for the three weeks preceding the discovery of Trotter’s body and has maintained his innocence. Read more on the TCADP blog.

Mistrial Declared in Capital Murder Case
On January 28, 2013, after a 55-day delay, District Judge Ken Keeling declared a mistrial in the capital murder trial of John Ray Falk, Jr. The trial, which had been moved from Walker County to Brazos County, came to a halt in December pending a legal dispute over jury instructions. The Walker County District Attorney remains determined to pursue the death penalty in this case. Read more in the Bryan-College Station Eagle

Upcoming Events

TCADP 2013 Annual Conference – Register today to Change the Conversation
Changing the Conversation will take place on Saturday, February 23 in Austin, Texas at St. Edward’s University. If you register by February 1 (TODAY) you can attend for a reduced rate; TCADP members receive an additional discount in gratitude for your support throughout the year!

Check out this year’s schedule:

9:00 General Membership Meeting

10:30 Panel Discussion: How are instances of wrongful convictions and evidence of wrongful executions changing the conversation on the death penalty? Karen Boudrie, journalist; Anthony Graves; Professor James Liebman, Columbia University School of Law; and Estrus Tucker, Moderator

12:30 Lunch, Keynote and Award Presentations
Appreciation: JC Dufresne, Texas Democratic Party; Appreciation: Methodist Federation for Social Action-Southwest Texas Chapter; Media: Joe Bailey, Jr. and Steve Mims, Filmmakers of “Incendiary”

2:00 Workshops / Small Group Conversations
·         Beginners Guide to Legislative Advocacy
·         Collaborating to Drive Down Death Sentences and Executions
·         Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty (small group conversation)
Plus, other small group conversations as proposed by participants during pre-registration

3:45 Workshops/ Small Group Conversations
·         The Habits of the Heart: Bridging the Divide and Building Common Ground
·         How to Answer the Tough Questions
·         Increasing Awareness of the Needs of Murder Victims’ Family Members
Plus, other small group conversations as proposed by participants during pre-registration

5:00 Closing Session

Conference Hotel Discounted Room Block ends today!
Wyndham Garden Hotel – A limited number of rooms have been blocked for Friday and Saturday nights at $109 a night. The Hotel will have a free shuttle available to the conference location. If you have trouble making reservations, please call the hotel at 512-744-4831 Booking info on TCADP website.

Help TCADP with Social Media for the Annual Conference:

PLEASE SHARE- Copy Links that can be posted on Twitter and Facebook:

Sample Tweet
@TCADPdotORG 2013 Conference #changingconversation Feb 23 Austin #StEdwardsUniversity http://bit.ly/z9SKzR

Facebook
Registration is open for the TCADP 2013 Annual Conference – Feb 23 (Austin). Discounted rates for TCADP members. NEW- Participants are invited to submit discussion topics during their registration. http://tcadp.org/what-we-do/annual-conference/

Invite your friends to the event posted on Facebook (does not count as registration): https://www.facebook.com/events/540633052621694/

Happenings at the 83rd Texas Legislature
The 83rd Texas Legislature convened on January 8, 2013 and is now in full swing. Check out the newly appointed members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which will consider most death penalty-related legislation.
The TCADP Lobby Corps has already been active at the Capitol. On January 22-23, 2013, we visited all 181 legislative offices and shared copies of TCADP’s 2012 year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2012: The Year in Review. Lobby Corps members engaged in many positive conversations with legislators and their staffs. Please stay tuned to TCADP for updates on legislation and opportunities for you to take action during the session!

In the News
Last month, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins declared his interest in passing a Racial Justice Act in Texas, which would allow death row inmates to pursue appeals based on evidence of racial bias in their cases. Similar legislation has been passed in Kentucky and North Carolina. An editorial from the Dallas Morning News notes that “something underlies the statewide pattern of sending mostly minorities to death row in recent years, and lawmakers should explore the reasons.” Read the editorial and additional coverage from The StandDown Texas Project.

Calendar

February
1: TODAY: Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Registration Early Bird Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference

2: Workshop: “The Exonerated and Wrongfully Convicted,” San Antonio 1:00-4:00pm, St. Mary’s University – AT&T Center, Room 108. Free CEU’s. More details.

10-11:  Mass Incarceration Symposium and Lobby Day, ACLU of Texas. Register – www.aclutx.org/lobby

18-21: TCADP and EJUSA booth at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor – Clergy and Lay Leadership Conference, Dallas. More details.

18: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org

20: Dallas Religious Organizing Committee 6:00pm, Chapter meeting 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org

21: Scheduled execution – Carl Blue

23: TCADP 2013 Annual Conference, Austin Register today.

25: Rev. Carroll Picket to speak at Austin Presbyterian Seminary

27: El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty (EPADP) and UTEP’s Religious Studies Program present: “48 Hours Mystery: Grave Injustice,” the story of Anthony Graves. Food will be provided. 11:30- 1:00pm, UTEP Union Cinema

For more information about these events or to volunteer to staff a table at an outreach event, email info@tcadp.org.