July 2013 TCADP Alert: 500th Execution, Star-Telegram Calls for Abolition of Texas Death Penalty

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
In the News
Case Updates
TCADP Membership Opportunity
Upcoming Events
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out three executions this month:

  • John Quintanilla, Jr. is scheduled to be put to death on July 16 for the 2002 murder of Victor Billings, a former Jackson County chief deputy, during a robbery in Victoria, Texas.
  • On July 18, Vaughn Ross is scheduled to be executed for the 2001 murders of Douglas Birdsall, 53, and Viola Ross, 18, in Lubbock. Read more about the case in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
  • On July 31, Douglas Feldman is scheduled to be executed for the 1998 road-rage slayings of truck drivers Nicholas Velasquez, 62, and Robert Everett, 36, in two separate incidents. He was sentenced to death in Dallas County.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the evening of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.  Pictured:  Houston Vigil on the evening of the Kimberly McCarthy execution.

In the News
State of Texas Carries Out 500th Execution Since 1982

On June 26, 2013, the State of Texas put Kimberly McCarthy to death for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County. McCarthy was the fourth woman and the 500th person to be executed in Texas since 1982. Her attorneys argued that the jury selection process in her second trial was tainted by racial discrimination. While two earlier execution dates were postponed, the courts refused to intervene a third time.

This shameful milestone in our state’s death penalty history generated tremendous media coverage and exposure for TCADP, including mentions in a front-page article in USA Today, stories in the Guardian and Texas Tribune, and an editorial by the Dallas Morning News.

Read our press release and check out an op-ed about the 500th execution by TCADP Board Member Pat Monks published this week in The Daily Caller!

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board: “It is time to permanently close our infamous death chamber.”
The occasion of the 500th execution led another major Texas newspaper to call “for Texas to get out of the killing business.” In an editorial published on June 23 (“It’s time to halt executions in Texas”), the Fort Worth Star-Telegram cited moral grounds as one reason Texas should abolish the death penalty, as well as the risk of wrongful conviction and the arbitrary and discriminatory way that this punishment is imposed. The Star-Telegram now joins the Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle in endorsing abolition through editorials.

Case Updates

Execution of El Pasoan Rigoberto Avila, Jr. Delayed to Allow for Presentation of New Scientific Evidence
Last month, State District Judge Anna Perez granted a motion to withdraw the July 10 execution date of Rigoberto Avila, Jr., in order to give his attorneys more time to litigate new scientific evidence relevant to the merits of his case; this is the third reprieve for Avila in the last year. El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza did not oppose the motion, which was based largely on a new Texas law that goes into effect on September 1 and which allows greater access to the courts in cases where there is newly available evidence or where the science presented at trial has changed. Avila was convicted of the 2000 death of 19-month-old Nicolas Macias; evolving scientific understanding of infant trauma lends credence to an alternative theory as to what caused the baby’s tragic death. Read more in the El Paso Times.

Must-See Powerful Video: “A Broken Promise in Texas: Race, the Death Penalty and the Duane Buck Case”
Nearly 70,000 people have watched this powerful video on the case of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck since it was released on June 10. Narrated by former Texas Governor Mark White and featuring interviews with Texas civil rights leaders, legislators, the surviving victim, one of the trial prosecutors, and Buck’s family members, it exposes the outrageous racial discrimination in Buck’s case. Help us keep up the pressure on the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to grant a new sentencing hearing to Duane Buck by watching the video, sharing it with your social media networks, and encouraging signatures on the Change.org petition.


TCADP 2013 Membership Drive!

Join TCADP in committing to a future without the death penalty! Your contribution of $40, $60 or $100 supports programs to educate Texans about the fatal flaws of our state’s death penalty system and persuade our elected leaders to end this arbitrary, discriminatory, and irreversible punishment, once and for all. Donate today and receive a free bumper sticker to show your support for abolition!

Learn more about the benefits of TCADP membership.

Upcoming Events
Film Showings at University UMC Austin – July 10-31
University United Methodist Church is presenting an opportunity for those in the community to watch 4 films (2 features and 2 documentaries) and have open dialogue on challenging social topics, with connections to action. This summer series takes us on a journey into our justice system. http://www.uumc.org/?q=node/462

Wed. July 10: DEAD MAN WALKING [Feature: 122 min] – A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim’s families. TCADP in attendance.
Wed. July 17: BURNED [Documentary: 69 min] – A year in the life of two boys committed to maximum security youth facilities in Texas. Through these tense, personal narratives, the film examines the troubled Texas juvenile justice system. Filmmaker Emily Pyle in attendance.
Wed. July 24: SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION [Feature: 142 min] – A convicted murderer maintains his sanity and dignity over 20 years in prison. A patiently-told, allegorical tale of friendship, patience, hope, survival, emancipation, and ultimate redemption and salvation.
Wed. July 31: INCENDIARY [Documentary: 99 min]
– Tried and convicted for arson murders, Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in February 2004 despite overwhelming expert evidence. Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama. Filmmaker Steve Mims and TCADP in attendance.

Film starts @ 6pm with dialogue to follow. UUMC Fellowship Hall – 2409 Guadalupe St.

TCADP El Paso Chapter Meeting, Monday, July 15
El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty will meet at 6:00pm on July 15, in Juan Diego Room in the Ministry Center of St Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N Clark St. Rep. Joe Moody will be the special guest pending any developments at the Texas Legislature due to the Special Session. For more information, contact Pat Delgado at elpaso@tcadp.org.

Calendar

July
4: TCADP wishes you a safe and happy July 4th holiday!
5: “Grave Injustice” at the Columban Mission Center at 7:00pm, El Paso. Contact Pat Delgado at elpaso@tcadp.org for more information.
10:  “Dead Man Walking” Film Showing at University UMC Fellowship Hall – 2409 Guadalupe St, Austin, 6:00pm with discussion to follow
15: El Paso Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org
16: Scheduled Execution – John Quintanilla, Jr.
17: Dallas Religious Organizing Committee 6:00pm, Chapter Meeting 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org
18: Scheduled Execution – Vaughn Ross
25: Calhoun County Democrats Meeting 5:30pm -Speaker: TCADP Board President Angelle Adams
31: Scheduled Execution –Douglas Feldman; “Incendiary” Film Showing at University UMC Fellowship Hall – 2409 Guadalupe St, Austin, 6:00pm. Discussion with Steve Mims(director) and TCADP to follow.

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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