TCADP April Alert: Executions Continue in Texas with New Drug Supply, More Secrecy

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
Featured Events
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out three executions this month, using a newly obtained supply of pentobarbital. Late last week, a state judge ordered the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to disclose the source of the new drug supply, rejecting arguments that such information should be kept secret because of “security concerns.” On Friday, however, the Texas Supreme Court blocked the judge’s order and stopped the release of information to attorneys for two inmates scheduled for execution in April. Further litigation and appeals are pending.

  • On April 3, Tommy Lynn Sells is scheduled to be put to death for attacking two young girls at a home near Del Rio in Val Verde County in 1999.  Thirteen-year-old Kaylene Harris, was killed; her 11-year-old friend, Krystal Surles, survived and testified against him. Sells is the only person convicted in Val Verde County on death row.
  •  Ramiro Hernandez Llanas is scheduled to be executed on April 9 for murdering his employer, Kerr County ranch owner Glen Lich, and sexually assaulting Lich’s wife in 1997. Hernandez Llanas is a Mexican national who grew up next to a garbage dump, where his family collected and sold trash to survive. His trial, which was moved to Bandera County, lasted two days; the jury took five minutes to convict him. According to Amnesty International, his low IQ scores and evidence of his adaptive functioning deficits have been rejected by the courts, despite a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits the death penalty for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  The prosecution’s expert, who had never met Hernandez Llanas, asserted that his “adaptive behavior is in keeping with his cultural group.”  Read more from Amnesty International and take action today.
  • On April 16, Jose Luis Villegas, Jr. is scheduled to be executed for stabbing to death three people – his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Erida Perez Salazar, her 3-year-old son, Jacob Salazar, and her 51-year-old mother, Alma Perez – in 2001 in Corpus Christi. He reportedly then stole from the family to buy drugs.

Stay tuned to TCADP for further developments on these cases and the lethal injection lawsuit. For a comprehensive look at the status of lethal injection challenges in other states, check out this article from USA Today.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
Amnesty International releases annual report on worldwide executions.140 Countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Amnesty’s report highlights that Iran and Iraq caused a sharp global spike in the number of executions carried out in 2013, bucking the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

The USA was once again the only country to carry out executions in the Americas, although four fewer people (39) were put to death in 2013 compared with 2012. The state of Texas accounted for 41% of all executions. Meanwhile, Maryland became the 18th US state to abolish the death penalty. Several Greater Caribbean states reported empty death rows for the first time since Amnesty International began keeping records in 1980.

Despite the increase in executions in 2013, there has been a steady decline in the number of countries using the death penalty over the last 20 years, and there was progress in all regions last year.

Many countries who executed in 2012 did not implement any death sentences in 2013, including Gambia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, where authorities again suspended the use of the death penalty. Belarus also refrained from executions, meaning Europe and Central Asia were execution-free for the first time since 2009.

Twenty years ago, 37 countries actively implemented the death penalty. This number fell to 25 by 2004 and was at 22 last year. Only nine countries have carried out executions every year for the past five years.
More information and the full report can be found at the link.

Featured Events

“The Last 40 Miles” at Dallas International Film Festival
“The Last 40 Miles”, an innovative and compelling animated short film, will be shown during the Dallas International Film Festival.
  • Monday, April 7, 7:00 PM at the Angelika Film Center (5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, Dallas)
  • Tuesday, April 8, 9:30 PM at the Angelika Film Center

In the film, Raymond, a condemned man, takes his last journey from his solitary cell on death row in Livingston to the execution chamber 40 miles away in Huntsville, Texas. During the journey – his third such trip to the death house – his memories, the unexpected warmth of the guard escorting him, and his ever-present hope keep him company. Watch the trailer here.

Buy tickets for one of the screenings here (tickets are $12 and can be picked up on site). The film will be shown as part of the Animated Shorts Competition. Please let us know if you attend a screening and what you think of the film. Invite your friends and family members to go with you! Visit http://diff2014.dallasfilm.org to learn more about the festival.

“Trial of Jesus” to be held at Manchaca United Methodist Church, Sunday, April 13 at 2:00pm.
In this powerful presentation, two Christian attorneys, Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop, stage a mock death penalty trial of Jesus based on current Texas law. The unscripted courtroom drama features legal arguments and live witnesses testifying about whether Jesus should live or die. A judge presides and the audience is the jury.

Mark Osler is the author of Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment. A former federal prosecutor, he teaches criminal law and sentencing at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

Jeanne Bishop is a felony trial attorney with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago and an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University School of Law. She is also the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered with her husband and their unborn child in 1990.

All are welcome.  For More Information call: 512-282-7274 www.ManchacaUMC.org  Download Flyer to Share.

Houston TCADP meeting features Dana Lynn Recer of GRACE
All Houston area supporters are invited to an evening meeting to be held Thursday, April 24 at Freed Montrose Library, 4100 Montrose, Houston, 6:00-8:00pm.  Dana Lynn Recer of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) will speak about death penalty trials and the work of GRACE. Download Flyer to Share.

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

April

3 Scheduled execution – Tommy Sells, 6:00pm. NEW Vigil on days of Executions – 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio, El Paso (downtown, on San Antonio, between Mesa and Campbell Streets)
5 TCADP information table at the Texas Junior State of America convention, Houston
7-8 “The Last 40 Miles” film showing at Angelika Theater in Dallas
9 Scheduled execution – Ramiro Hernandez, 6:00pm Act Now!
12 Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty information table at Young Americans for Liberty Texas Convention, Texas State University 9:00am-7:00pm.  *Volunteers needed to assist with table, please contact info@tcadp.org.
13 “Trial of Jesus” at Manchaca UMC, 2:00pm (Palm Sunday)
16 Scheduled execution – Jose Villegas, 6:00pm
24 Houston TCADP meeting at Freed Montrose Library, 4100 Montrose, Houston, 6:00-8:00pm.
29 El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meeting at 7:00pm in the Mother Teresa Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N Clark St, El Paso.  elpaso@tcadp.org

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions.

*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!