In this edition:
Scheduled executions: John Battaglia deemed competent to be executed
TCADP 2017 Annual Conference: Join us in honoring the recipients of our Appreciation, Courage, and Founder’s Awards
In case you missed it: Election recap; U.S. Supreme Court hears second Texas death penalty case this term; Seizing the Momentum, TCADP’s Fall 2016 newsletter
Featured events: December 7 vigil in Huntsville; 2017 Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty
Quote of the month
“When voters grapple with the death penalty in their backyards, they also turn against it. … Prosecutors and juries get closer than anyone — save the executioner — to the workings of the death penalty, since they must decide, respectively, whether to seek it or impose it in a particular case. And in recent decades, both groups have overwhelmingly favored life over death.”
– Professors Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker; “Op-Ed: The more we confront the death penalty, the less we like it,” published in the Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2016
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute John Battaglia on December 7. He was convicted of the 2001 murders of his two daughters, Faith and Liberty, ages 9 and 6, in Dallas County. Earlier this year, on March 30th, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Battaglia a stay just hours before execution in order to give his attorneys more time to develop claims their client may be mentally incompetent for execution. A competency hearing took place in Dallas last month.
Despite expert testimony from three psychologists who evaluated Battaglia and determined he is not fit to be executed based on a delusional disorder, State District Judge Robert Burns ruled on November 18th that Battaglia has enough understanding of his case and his impending execution to be considered mentally competent.
More background on this case and a call to action is available from Amnesty International.
The State of Texas has put seven people to death in 2016; eight individuals have received stays. This is the lowest number of executions in Texas since 1996. There have been 18 executions nationwide, including eight in Georgia.
There are currently eight executions scheduled for 2017; all but one involve individuals who were convicted and sentenced to death in North Texas (Collin, Dallas, and Tarrant Counties).
TCADP 2017 Annual Conference
The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of our 2017 Awards:
Appreciation Award: Lindsey Pearlstein, in gratitude for her countless hours of volunteer service with TCADP as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas-Austin.
Courage Award: Alfred Dewayne Brown, in recognition of the 10 years he spent as an innocent man on Texas’ death row and his continued pursuit of justice and compensation from the State.
David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., who led the effort to provide prosecutors and juries with an alternative to the death penalty, and who sponsored the first death penalty repeal bill to be introduced in the Texas Senate.
The awards will be presented during the TCADP 2017 Annual Conference on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin. The theme – Moving to Higher Ground – promises reflection on how far we’ve come and direction for where we must go to fulfill our mission of ending the death penalty in Texas.
Register now! Join us for the full day or for the awards luncheon and keynote address. Attorney Brian Stolarz, who represented Alfred Dewayne Brown and secured his exoneration, will be our keynote speaker.
Read more about our award winners and join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals at the conference luncheon. We also invite you to congratulate the honorees by placing an ad in the conference program and/or sponsoring a table at the luncheon.
In case you missed it
2016 election recap
On November 8, voters did more than elect a new president. They voted on district attorneys, sheriffs, legislators, and, in three states, on the death penalty. Check out our recap of some of the results.
U.S. Supreme Court considers case of Bobby Moore
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Moore v. Texas, a case that addresses Texas’s unscientific standard for determining whether a person is intellectually disabled and therefore exempt from execution. Moore v. Texas asks the Court to decide if it is unconstitutional for Texas “to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed.”
Bobby James Moore was convicted of killing a grocery story employee during a bungled robbery in Houston in 1980. He was 20 years old at the time of his conviction. The trial took place less than three months after the crime. Moore has faced two serious execution dates in his 35 years on death row.
Fall 2016 issue of Seizing the Momentum
The latest issue of our quarterly newsletter features a recent report about “outlier counties” on the death penalty, as well as an introduction to our new organizational affiliates and a review of the award-winning short film, Last Day of Freedom.
Prayer vigil in Huntsville
On December 7, 2016, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will host a prayer vigil to end the death penalty at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church (323 16th Street, Huntsville). There will be a brief service beginning at 5:00 PM at the Parish, followed by a procession to the prison grounds for vigil, prayer, and remembrance. All are welcome to attend. For more information, please visit www.archgh.org/
2017 Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty
Join TCADP and Texas Impact at the State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 for our second Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty. Together, we will make sure legislators hear the loud and growing chorus of voices in opposition to the death penalty. Register today.