The State of Texas is scheduled to put Taichin Preyor to death on Thursday, July 27, 2017 for the murder of 20-year-old Jamie Tackett in 2004 in San Antonio. If it proceeds, Preyor’s execution would be the first to take place in Texas since March and the second out of Bexar County this year. Bexar County accounts for 43 executions since 1982.
Preyor’s attorneys have raised concerns about the appalling legal assistance their client received during his appeals. According to coverage of the case from the Texas Tribune, a disbarred California attorney and a probate and real estate lawyer who reportedly relied on Wikipedia to research Texas legal procedure served as Preyor’s appellate attorneys and charged his family $45,000 for their so-called services.
Former Texas Governor Mark White and Rick McClatchy, a Baptist minister from San Antonio, recently echoed concerns about Preyor’s dismal legal representation in two separate opinion pieces.
In his piece published on July 24 in the San Antonio Express-News, Governor White notes that the two appellate attorneys “completely missed the fact that Mr. Preyor’s trial counsel had conducted a subpar investigation into Mr. Preyor’s background” and failed to present “compelling mitigation evidence about Mr. Preyor’s childhood, which was replete with violence and sexual abuse.” Such information could have persuaded a juror not to sentence Preyor to death.
Governor White, who oversaw 19 executions during his term as Governor (1983 to 1987), writes:
I believe there are rare cases where the death penalty is the appropriate punishment. If we are to have capital punishment, we must afford defendants the protections that are enshrined in our Constitution. The Sixth Amendment is clear that the accused shall have the right to the assistance of counsel. At its most basic, that means a qualified lawyer with a law license, not one who has been prohibited from practice.
The integrity of our system demands that Mr. Preyor’s claims receive a fair hearing before his execution can proceed.
Rick McClatchy, a Baptist minister in San Antonio, similarly opines:
I think before we execute an individual, we need to make sure that the entire judicial process was handled fairly and competently, which in Preyor’s case is clearly lacking. Therefore, I would urge the governor to postpone the execution until all the facts surrounding this case can be re-examined by the court and presented by lawyers who have valid law licenses and are qualified in capital punishment cases. We cannot expect the public to have confidence in the justice of our death penalty system if we allow a disbarred lawyer to be part of the process.
According to the Texas Tribune, both the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and a federal district court rejected Preyor’s requests for a stay. Preyor will appeal now to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He also has filed a clemency petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.