Archive | Craig Watkins

29 March 2013 ~ Comments Off

Dallas County District Attorney Agrees to Another Delay in Execution of Kimberly McCarthy

*Update* Judge Mitchell has ordered a modification of McCarthy’s execution date to June 26, 2013. Read more from the Dallas Morning News.

On March 29, 2013, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins asked State District Judge Larry Mitchell to modify the execution date of Kimberly McCarthy.  McCarthy had been scheduled to be executed next week on April 3, 2013 for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County.  According to the Dallas Morning News (“Dallas County DA Craig Watkins asks judge to temporarily delay woman’s execution while bills pending before legislature,” March 29, 2013), Watkins asked “for the delay to await whether the Texas legislature passes six bills that could impact the application of the death penalty in Texas,” including legislation aimed at addressing claims that racial bias might have been a factor in the decision to seek or impose a sentence of death.

Earlier this year, Judge Mitchell halted and rescheduled a January 29, 2013 execution date for Kimberly McCarthy in order to give her attorneys more time to pursue an appeal based on racial discrimination in the jury selection process.  According to attorney Maurie Levin, of the twelve jurors seated at trial, all were white, except one, and eligible non-white jurors were excluded from serving by the State.

A motion to move the execution date is still pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  According to the Dallas Morning News, “Mitchell said at the hearing that if the appellate court had not ruled by the end of the day Monday, he would issue and order moving the execution date” to June 26, 2013.

Read more from the Dallas Morning News.  Read earlier posts about Kimberly McCarthy here and here.


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29 January 2013 ~ Comments Off

Kimberly McCarthy Execution Halted, DA Won’t Appeal

Earlier today, State District Judge Larry Marshall stayed the execution of Kimberly McCarthy, which was scheduled to take place this evening.  It would have been the first Texas execution in 2013 and the fourth execution involving a female since 1982.  The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office did not appeal the decision but said that the execution had been reset for April 3.  Judge Marshall granted the stay in order to provide McCarthy’s attorneys with more time to pursue an appeal based on racial discrimination in the jury selection process.

One of McCarthy’s attorneys, Maurie Levin, issued the following statement in response to the stay:

“We are very pleased that we will now have an opportunity to present evidence of discrimination in the selection of the jury that sentenced Kimberly McCarthy to death. Of the twelve jurors seated at trial, all were white, except one, and eligible non-white jurors were excluded from serving by the State. As recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court (Miller-El v. Dretke, 2005), these facts must be understood in the context of the troubling and long-standing history of racial discrimination in jury selection in Dallas County, including at the time of Ms. McCarthy’s trial.”

Maurie Levin, attorney

Capital Punishment Clinic, University of Texas School of Law

January 29, 2013

Read more in the Houston Chronicle (as reported by the Associated Press) and the Austin Chronicle (link provided by Steve Hall at StandDown Texas).


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28 January 2013 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Scheduled to Execute Kimberly McCarthy

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Kimberly McCarthy on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, despite troubling questions about racial bias in the jury selection process.  Please take action now by calling Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and urging him to request a stay of execution.

Background on the Case

Kimberly McCarthy was convicted of the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County.  Her original conviction was reversed on the basis of the erroneous admission of a statement she made upon arrest.  McCarthy was again convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 after a trial in which the guilt phase lasted only one day.

Troubling questions surround the jury selection process in her trial – of the 12 jurors selected, all but one were white.  According to McCarthy’s attorneys, the state struck three non-white prospective jurors (21% of its total strikes).  Of the 64 people questioned on individual voir dire, only 4 were not white.  Of these individuals, only 3 were African American.  None of these figures reflect the racial demographics of Dallas County.

There is a long, documented history of racially-biased jury selection practices in Dallas County.  The clemency video of Thomas Miller-El, who was eventually removed from death row because of these practices, features interviews with Dallas County jurors, judges, and prosecutors about the discrimination in the jury selection system.

McCarthy is one of ten women currently on death row in Texas.  Late last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected her petition for clemency.  Since 1982, the State has executed three women, including Frances Newton in 2005.

Action Request

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, the Senior Pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, spoke about the case of Kimberly McCarthy during his sermon.  Please join Dr. Haynes and many others in appealing to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to request a stay of execution for Kimberly McCarthy.

Please call or fax Mr. Watkins to express your support for a Texas Racial Justice Act and to request a stay of execution for Kimberly McCarthy, who was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury from which African Americans were excluded on the basis of their race.  If we believe in a Racial Justice Act, we must also believe Ms. McCarthy does not deserve to be executed.

Contact information for Mr. Watkins:

The Hon. Craig Watkins

Dallas County District Attorney’s Office

214-653-3600 – phone

214-653-2924 – fax

Thank you for taking action to stop this execution. Stay tuned to TCADP for any updates on this case.


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23 May 2012 ~ Comments Off

Texas Monthly: Trials and Errors

The June issue of Texas Monthly magazine features a fascinating discussion that took place recently among some of the most pivotal players in our state’s criminal justice system.  Jake Silverstein, the editor of Texas Monthly, sat down with six individuals to talk about Texas’ abysmal record of wrongful convictions and to ask these questions: Why does this keep happening? Can anything be done to stop it?

The six participants in the panel discussion are:

Art Acevedo has been the chief of the Austin Police Department since 2007.

Rodney Ellis was elected to the state Senate in 1990 from District 13, in Houston.

Anthony Graves was wrongfully convicted in 1992 and released from jail in 2010. He lives in Houston.

Barbara Hervey is a judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals and the chair of the court’s fourteen-member Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit. She lives in San Antonio.

Kelly Siegler is a special prosecutor. She lives in Houston.

Craig Watkins is the DA of Dallas County and a former defense attorney.

See what they have to say at


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