TCADP June 2013 Alert: Texas Set to Carry Out 500th Execution This Month

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Legislative Wrap
New Bumper Stickers Now Available
In the News
Upcoming Events
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month, including its likely 500th execution since 1982:

  • Elroy Chester is scheduled to be executed on June 12 for the 1998 shooting death of Port Arthur firefighter Willie Ryman III.  He was convicted in Jefferson County.  Chester pled guilty to Ryman’s murder and has reportedly admitted to four other slayings.
  • On June 26, Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to be executed for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County. Her execution has been postponed twice this year. Previous posts about her case are available here and here.

If this schedule holds, Ms. McCarthy will be the 500th person put to death in Texas since 1982. TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community that evening. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Legislative Wrap

The 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature concluded on Monday, May 27, 2013, with mixed results. Bills to repeal the death penalty, create an innocence commission to investigate wrongful convictions, and establish a Racial Justice Act were left pending in committee, while legislation requiring all available DNA evidence in capital cases be tested before trial now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Already signed into law is the Michael Morton Act, which requires prosecutors to turn over all available evidence to defense lawyers. The bill aims to prevent wrongful convictions like that of Michael Morton, who spent 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2011. According to the Texas Tribune, the act is the first significant reform to Texas discovery laws since 1965. Read more from the Austin American-Statesman.

For other perspectives on what happened at the legislature with regard to criminal justice issues, read this editorial from the Dallas Morning News and this column from the San Antonio Express-News.

TCADP is immensely grateful to everyone who participated in the legislative process this year – either by attending the hearing on HB 1703, visiting your legislators, or calling the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Your voices are critical to changing the conversation on the death penalty. Stay tuned for opportunities for your ongoing involvement… the next legislative session is only 18 months away!

New Bumper Stickers Now Available!
TCADP just received a new supply of bumper stickers – the traditional “Stop Executions,” now in full color, and the new “I’m a Texas Voter and I Oppose the Death Penalty.” Thanks to everyone who voted for their favorites. You can be one of the first to display your support for abolition… We will send both stickers to anyone who renews their membership or makes their first donation to TCADP this month.   Donate today!

In the News
U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Texas Death Penalty Case
On May 28, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Trevino v. Thaler that its decision in a 2012 case, Martinez v. Ryan, applies to death row inmates in Texas. In doing so, it paved the way for inmates to file a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for the first time in a federal habeas petition. The ruling provides important clarity to lower courts, which had applied the Martinez decision haphazardly. Read more.

Upcoming Events
Juan Melendez to Speak in Huntsville, Sunday, June 9
Juan Melendez was wrongfully convicted and spent over 17 years on death row in Florida. Born in New York but raised in Puerto Rico, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death largely on the basis of informant testimony. He entered prison unable to read or write.   Through the efforts of people committed to justice, Juan was released as a free man in 2002. He will be sharing his story at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Huntsville on Sunday, June 9.

Wesley Memorial UMC is launching a month-long series during its worship services to look at systemic justice issues through the lenses of criminal justice, justice for the immigrant and impoverished, racial justice and gender/sexual justice.  Juan will be the first speaker in this series.  Services take place at 8:45am and 11:00am at 700 Hwy. 30 East, Huntsville.  Information may be obtained by calling the church office at 936-285-7459 or by visiting the church webpage at www.wesleyhuntsville.org.

TCADP Houston Chapter Meeting, Sunday, June 9
The TCADP Houston Chapter will meet at 7:00pm on June 9 at Central Market (corner of Westheimer and Weslyn) in the upstairs meeting room. Discussion topics include legislative updates, criminal justice issues affecting Harris County, the Duane Buck case, scheduled executions, and plans to promote abolition of the death penalty in Houston. For more information, contact Nancy Bailey at houston@tcadp.org.

Calendar

June
1:  TCADP booth at United Church of Christ Conference, Cathedral of Hope – Dallas
3: San Antonio Membership Meeting www.tcadp.org/bexar-county-campaign/
5: Austin Membership Meeting www.tcadp.org/Austin-membership/
9:  Juan Melendez at Wesley Memorial UMC, Huntsville; Houston Chapter Meeting 7:00 PM; Presentation on the death penalty to Live Oak Friends Meeting
12: Scheduled Execution – Elroy Chester
17: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org
19: Dallas Religious Organizing Committee 6:00pm, Chapter Meeting 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org; Presentation on the death penalty to Dems Café, Schertz, Texas, 7:00 PM
22-23: TCADP booth at the Texas Black Expo, Houston; contact president@tcadp.org to volunteer
26: Scheduled Execution – Kimberly McCarthy

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

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today,

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