TCADP February 2018 Alert: Countdown to the Annual Conference

In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Take action to stop the execution of Thomas Whitaker
TCADP 2018 Annual Conference: Upcoming registration deadlines
Announcements: Meet TCADP’s Spring Intern; new TCADP t-shirts now available online
In case you missed it: Coverage of Anthony Graves’ new book; Texas Impact’s “Weekly Witness” features TCADP; TCADP’s Winter 2018 Newsletter
Featured events (besides the conference, of course!): Early voting for the Texas primaries begins February 20; mark your calendars for Amplify Austin


Quote of the month
“I can’t imagine seeing the last living part of my family executed by the state, especially since all the victims didn’t want that to happen in the first place.”

-Kent Whitaker, victim survivor and father of Thomas Whitaker
“His son tried to kill him; now father tries to halt his execution,” Austin American-Statesman, January 12, 2018


Scheduled Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute two people this month:

  • Tonight, February 1, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute John Battaglia for killing his two young daughters in Dallas in 2001. He faced two serious execution dates in 2016. Three mental health experts have diagnosed Battaglia with delusional disorder and found him incompetent for execution. In September 2017, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected his claim of incompetency. If it proceeds, Battaglia’s execution will be the second to occur this week.
  • On February 22, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Thomas “Bart” Whitaker for his role in the murders of Tricia Whitaker, his mother, and Kevin Whitaker, his brother, in Sugar Land in 2003. Whitaker’s father, Kent, who suffered a gunshot wound, was the sole survivor of the attack and has forgiven his son.  He urged prosecutors not to seek the death penalty and now is imploring the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to commute the sentence to a lesser penalty.Please support Thomas Whitaker’s clemency petition by contacting the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott. More background on this case and a call to action is available on our Stop Executions page.

Texas is responsible for the only two executions nationwide thus far in 2018. At this time, there are two additional executions scheduled in Texas through April.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Note the new vigil location in Fort Worth at the First Congregational Church.

Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.


TCADP 2018 Annual Conference
The TCADP 2018 Annual Conference will take place at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Join us for a full day of workshops, panel discussions, and networking, as well as the awards luncheon and keynote address.

Rates will increase after February 8, so register today!  You are welcome to pay at the door or mail a check to the TCADP Office, but we need to know you’re coming.  Please confirm your attendance by February 8 by emailing Vanessa at vanessa@tcadp.org.

If you can’t join us for the full day, consider purchasing a ticket for our awards luncheon and keynote address by Reverend Sharon Risher. Rev. Risher was a staff chaplain and trauma specialist with Parkland Hospital in Dallas from 2012-2016. Her mother, two cousins and childhood friend—Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders and Myra Thompson, respectively—were killed along with five others at Emanuel AME Church (“Mother Emanuel”) in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

Learn more about the conference, including details on our panelists, sponsors, and award winners. Register today!


Announcements
Meet Annie, TCADP’s new intern
TCADP is excited to introduce you to our Spring Advocacy Intern, Annie Hamdani. Annie graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in English. As an undergrad, she volunteered with the Earlham Progressive Union and Get Like Me, a mentoring group for teenagers interested in higher education. After college, she was a caseworker for Abode Services, a non-profit dedicated to housing and serving homeless families in the Bay Area.  Please join us in welcoming Annie to TCADP!

New TCADP t-shirts available now online!
We’ve just launched a new fundraiser through Good Ink. Anyone in the country can order a TCADP shirt, which Good Ink will ship directly to you. Please spread the word and help us increase awareness that the death penalty’s days are numbered, even in Texas!


In case you missed it
Coverage of Anthony Graves’ new book
Last month, Anthony Graves published his new book, Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul. Since its release, Infinite Hope has been featured in the Houston Chronicle and Salon. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Follow TCADP on Facebook and Twitter for information about book-signing events in your area. Anthony will appear at BookPeople in Austin on March 24.

“Weekly Witness” featuring TCADP
On January 8, TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle discussed recent death penalty developments for the “Weekly Witness” sponsored by Texas Impact.  You can access the entire video here.

Winter 2018 Issue of Seizing the Momentum
The latest issue of our quarterly newsletter features a recap of our year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2017, as well as annual conference details and a North Texas Roundup.


Featured events
Primary Voting Dates
February 5: Last day to register to vote in the primaries
February 20 – March 2: Early voting
March 6: Election Day

Click here for all the important dates of the 2018 Election cycle. To see a list of Primary Candidates, visit the Texas Tribune. Please contact TCADP with any questions about where candidates stand on the death penalty or criminal justice issues.

February 6: The TCADP Houston Chapter will host a planning/informational meeting on Tuesday, February 6 at 7:00 PM. For more information, please contact Jennifer Simmons at 832-640-5350.

February 8:  The Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Museum in Austin will host a screening of the documentary True Conviction and a Q&A with exonorees Christopher Scott and Steven Phillips.

True Conviction, filmed in Dallas, Texas, explores the investigative and philanthropic work of the unlikeliest of teams: three Texas prison exonorees. Christopher Scott, Johnnie Lindsey and Steven Phillips served more than sixty years combined in prison for crimes they did not commit. Their goal through the House of Renewed Hope is to help wrongfully convicted prisoners obtain freedom like they did–through the emergence of DNA evidence or new information. (TCADP will honor the House of Renewed Hope at our 2018 Annual Conference; Christopher Scott will participate in a panel discussion at the conference that morning.)

The film screening will begin at 7:00 PM. Click here to purchase tickets.

February 14: The TCADP San Antonio Chapter will host a member meeting at the Law Alumni Room in the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library (1 Camino Santa Maria St.) at St. Mary’s Law School on Wednesday, February 14. The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM. For more information, please contact sanantonio@tcadp.org. The TCADP San Antonio Chapter meets on the second Wednesday of every month.

February 17: The TCADP 2018 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, February 17, 2018 in Dallas, Texas from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

February 25: Faith in Texas invites residents throughout Dallas County to attend a powerful “listening session.” This is an opportunity for the District Attorney candidates to hear from you, their constituents. The discussion will take place at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church (5710 ERL Thornton Fwy) and it will begin at 5:00 PM. Register today!

March 1-2Amplify Austin, an annual day of online giving. You can help TCADP win a $1,000 bonus prize for the sixth year in a row by donating between 1:00 and 2:00 PM Central Time on FridayMarch 2.

You can also help us reach our $10,000 goal by creating your own individual fundraising page. Visit https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/fundraisingInfo and follow the steps listed. If you need help, contact Vanessa at vanessa@tcadp.org. The deadline to set up your individual fundraising campaign is Wednesday, February 28.