Thirty-one years ago today, the State of Texas officially resumed executions, putting Charlie Brooks to death for the 1976 murder of David Gregory. That was also the nation’s first execution by lethal injection, a new method concocted by a legislator and former chief medical examiner in Oklahoma.
Archive | death penalty
The State of Texas carried out its final execution of the year, December 3. Jerry Martin was put to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. He was convicted in Walker County. Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case. Read more in the Austin Chronicle.
Six executions already have been scheduled for 2014.
TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the evening of executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.
TCADP Announces 2014 Award Winners
The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2014 Annual Awards, which will be presented at our 2014 Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way” on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Appreciation Award: Ariana Campos, who has provided critical logistical support for TCADP’s activities in the State Capitol since 2009.
Appreciation Award: Maria Castillo, one of TCADP’s stalwart volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, for her incredible outreach efforts.
Appreciation Award: Paula Keeth, a steadfast advocate for abolition and devoted member of the TCADP Dallas Chapter, for her commitment to the issue and inspiration of others.
Appreciation Award: Burnham Terrell, for his faithful work coordinating the Houston-area execution vigils for many years. The award will be presented post-humously. Learn more about Burnham below.
Courage Award: State Representative Terry Canales, in recognition of his public statement in support of ending the death penalty during the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 by Rep. Jessica Farrar on April 29, 2013
David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Representative Lon Burnam, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to justice and his contributions to abolition and to TCADP, both within and outside of the Texas Legislature
Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals at the 2014 Annual Conference! We invite you to congratulate the award winners by placing an ad in the conference program and/or sponsoring a table at the awards luncheon. We also invite individuals and organizations to share your work with participants by exhibiting at the conference. Download Form for Ads, Sponsors, and Exhibitors.
In addition to the annual awards luncheon – which will include a keynote address by Bob Ray Sanders, a longtime columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – the conference will feature a plenary session on the role that Texas plays in the national movement and ways that TCADP and our key partners are lighting the way toward ending the death penalty as a practice. Register today! Rates will increase after January 1st!
Coming Soon: Year-End Report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013
What county accounts for the most death sentences over the last six years? Who was removed from death row in 2013? All of your burning questions will be addressed in TCADP’s forthcoming annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review. More details will be sent to you later this month. Previous reports are available online.
We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year and those that provided additional support on Giving Tuesday so that TCADP can continue to light the way toward abolition. Save a stamp by making an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation today! Thank you for your support and generosity.
Take Action: Demand a New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
On November 20, 2013, a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Duane Buck’s appeal for a new, fair sentencing hearing free from racial bias. With this decision, Texas has once again reneged on the clear and unequivocal promise made by former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn that Mr. Buck would not face execution based on a racially biased death sentence. Despite this promise, Mr. Buck is now at grave risk of execution in Texas. Join more than 91,000 supporters who have signed a petition on Change.org calling for a new sentencing hearing for Duane Buck! Follow TCADP on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news and to learn about other opportunities for your involvement in this case.
In the News: Conservatives vs. the Death Penalty
TCADP Board Member Pat Monks is featured prominently in a new editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Conservatives vs. the death penalty” (November 29, 2013). The editorial remarks on the emergence of a new national network, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, and notes, “the driving principles are capital punishment’s incompatibility with the conservative ideals of restraining government, protecting life and maintaining fiscal responsibility.” Read the full editorial.
Austin: Sister Helen Prejean to speak -December 3
Marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of her most famous work, Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Friends Meeting of Austin (Quakers) Meetinghouse, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at 7 pm. The Quaker Meetinghouse is at 3701 E. MLK Blvd, Austin.
CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER -Fort Worth: Storytelling Circle with Families of the Executed – December 7
The Texas After Violence Project will host a special event Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Tarrant County College, Trinity Campus, Trinity Building – Room Connect: TRTR 4102 on the 4th floor. Come explore the living pasts of the death penalty with families of executed Texans from the Fort Worth area and consider how memory may serve as a resource for restoring and reimagining community and building a more just and less violent Texas.
- Derrek and Keith Brooks, sons of Charlie Brooks, Jr. executed on December 7, 1982
- Stanley Allridge, brother of Ronald and James Allridge executed on June 8, 1995 and August 26, 2004 respectively
- Opening remarks by Bob Ray Sanders, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Circle keeper – Estrus Tucker, TCADP Board Vice-President
- Select clips from the Texas After Violence Project oral history archive
Hosted by the Texas After Violence Project with support from the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation. Co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Texas Observer, Amnesty International, and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.
Burnham Terrell, an active TCADP and Houston Chapter member, reached his 90th birthday on November 12 and the 21st anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Joan on November 13. He is an inspiration to any of us who might think we are too old to be an activist. Burnham passed away the morning of November 13 while recovering from a stroke that happened earlier in the month. The memorial service for Burnham Terrell will be Saturday, December 14 at 11 am at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 W. 26th St., Houston, TX. Burnham’s faithful work coordinating the Houston area execution vigils for so many years will be sorely missed.
3 Scheduled execution of Jerry Martin; Sister Helen in Austin (see above for details); Giving Tuesday
5 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle and TCADP Board Member Pat Monks addressing Liberty on the Rocks Houston, 7:30 PM; TCADP Table at Dallas Peace Center Annual Peacemakers Dinner
7 31st Anniversary of the Resumption of Executions in Texas; Fort Worth Storytelling circle (CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER); Dallas Annual Christmas Card Signing for Death Row inmates, 11:00 to 4:00 in the History Department Conference Room, basement of Dallas Hall at SMU
10 International Human Rights Day
31 Last day to support TCADP with your year-end tax-deductible donation!
1 Last Day to Secure TCADP Annual Conference Early Bird Registration Rates (rates will increase after this date)
8 TCADP in Collin County meeting, 7 PM; Sun Creek United Methodist Church firstname.lastname@example.org
20 El Paso Chapter meeting, 7 PM email@example.com
22 Dallas Chapter meeting, 7 PM firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference
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The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2014 Annual Awards, which will be presented at our 2014 Annual Conference on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals! We also invite you to congratulate the award winners by placing an ad in the conference program or attending the conference to see them honored during the Awards Luncheon.
Appreciation Awards: Ariana Campos; Maria Castillo; Paula Keeth; and Burnham Terrell
As the Legislative Aide to State Representative Jessica Farrar, Ariana has provided immeasurable support for TCADP’s activities in the State Capitol. Over the last five years, she has reserved rooms in the Capitol for TCADP’s use, assisted in setting up meetings with members of Rep. Farrar’s staff, and provided timely and important feedback to TCADP regarding actions in the office. Dependable and efficient, Ariana is a vital point of contact for our legislative advocacy work. Her behind-the-scenes contributions have been of great value to TCADP.
Maria is one of TCADP’s stalwart volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. She has been an active member of the Dallas Religious Outreach committee since its inception in 2011 and is always on the lookout for tabling and outreach opportunities for TCADP. Maria is typically the first person to volunteer to staff an information booth, whether at a religious event or community festival. She also has focused on reaching out to Spanish-speaking communities in the area. In addition, Maria organizes execution vigils at her parish and has sought to move the Catholic Diocese of Dallas towards greater engagement in the death penalty issue. We honor Maria’s commitment to TCADP and to abolition of the death penalty. (Maria is pictured here with Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso.)
Paula is a long-time advocate for abolition who has inspired many others to become involved in the issue. She is extremely devoted to the activities of the TCADP Dallas Chapter and volunteers often for tabling events, participates in monthly meetings, and attends vigils and protests. Paula also has served on several statewide TCADP committees and in 2012 worked to organize “A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty” featuring Dallas-area clergy. She singlehandedly proposed that the Ellis County Democrats pass a resolution opposing the death penalty, which in turn contributed to the Texas Democratic Party endorsing abolition of the death penalty as part of its 2012 platform. She also visited and befriended former death row inmate Rodney Rachal and encouraged others to begin visiting prisoners on death row. In the words of the person who nominated her, “Paula is part of the heart and soul of our movement and concern for persons of worth.”
Burnham Terrell (posthumous)
Burnham Terrell, an active TCADP and Houston Chapter member, reached his 90th birthday on November 12 and the 21st anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Joan, on November 13. He is an inspiration to any of us who might think we are too old to be an activist. Burnham passed away the morning of November 13, 2013 while recovering from a stroke earlier in the month. Burnham’s faithful work coordinating the Houston-area execution vigils for so many years will be sorely missed. He also contributed to TCADP’s efforts to move the Texas Democratic Party to endorse abolition of the death penalty in its 2012 platform.
Courage Award: State Representative Terry Canales
In recognition of his public statement in support of ending the death penalty during the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 by Rep. Jessica Farrar on April 29, 2013
Elected in 2012, State Representative Terry Canales represents District 40 in Hidalgo County and serves on the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. A native of South Texas, he received his law degree from St. Mary’s University of Law. Rep. Canales is the sixth member of his extended family to serve in the Texas House of Representatives.
House Bill 1703 bill, introduced by Rep. Farrar and co-authored by Rep. Alma Allen and Rep. Lon Burnam, calls for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. Similar repeal bills by Rep. Farrar have been given a public hearing by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in the last three legislative sessions.
During the committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 on April 29, 2013, during the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, Rep. Canales unequivocally declared his opposition to the death penalty, calling it “unnecessary.” This was the first time in TCADP’s experience with the Texas Legislature that a sitting member of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has made a public statement in support of abolition. With this award, we honor Rep. Canales’ principled courage and hope it will inspire other elected officials to follow his lead.
David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Representative Lon Burnam
State Representative Lon Burnam has represented District 90 (Fort Worth) in the Texas House of Representatives since 1997. He currently serves on the House Criminal Jurisprudence and Energy Resources Committees. Rep. Burnam also is Vice Chair of the Legislative Study Group, Co-Chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, and an active member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
Rep. Burnam has co-sponsored bills calling for abolition of the death penalty in every legislative session since 2009. In 2001, he sponsored legislation to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders (age 17), which passed the House of Representatives. (The U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders in 2005.)
As an inaugural member of the TCADP Advisory Board, Rep. Burnam has contributed to the growth of our organization in numerous ways, including recruiting new members of the TCADP Board of Directors, hosting a fundraising event, and, most recently, supporting a TCADP membership gathering in Tarrant County and the work of our local planning committee.
Prior to being chosen by the voters of District 90, Burnam worked as a city planner helping community organizations and local residents in efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and create new economic opportunities. In the mid-1980′s, Burnam served as a Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator of the Texas Department of Human Services. He has served on numerous community boards and agencies.
The David P. Atwood Founder’s Award, established in 2010, serves to recognize those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the cause of ending the death penalty.
Award recipients are chosen each year by the TCADP Board of Directors based on nominations submitted by TCADP members.
A Dallas County jury has convicted and sentenced Franklin Davis for the murder of 16 year old, Shania Gray. Gray was the babysitter of Davis’ children and had accused him of rape.
Read more about the case from the Dallas Morning News.
This is the third death sentence in Dallas County this year, but the eleventh for Dallas County since 2008. It is the eighth new death sentence statewide in 2013.
Dallas County leads the state in the imposition of new death sentences over the last five years. Of the eleven men sentenced to death in Dallas County in this time period, eight are African American and two are Hispanic.
Last night, September 26, 2013, the State of Texas executed Jamie McCoskey for the abduction and murder of Michael Dwyer, 21. Some reports of the case include an accusation of rape of Michael Dwyer’s fiance who was also kidnapped at the time; however Harris County dropped the rape charge.
McCoskey’s mother testified at his trial that he had an abusive childhood that led to behavioral problems. After stints in juvenile facilities, his offenses escalated as he reached adulthood.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials have used pentobarbital as the single execution drug for more than a year now.
Read more about the case from ABC News/the Associated Press.
This was the 15th execution in Texas to date this year, out of 34 nationwide. McCoskey was sentenced in Harris County, their second execution for 2013.
On October 30, 2013, in a unanimous decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) ruled that death row inmate Marcus Druery is entitled to a hearing to determine his mental competency to be executed. Last year, the CCA granted Druery a stay just days before his scheduled execution on August 1, 2012; he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2002 murder of Skyler Browne in rural Brazos County.
On July 27, 2012, the CCA stayed his execution to consider his appeal for a hearing to determine whether his psychotic disorder renders him incompetent. The case is now remanded for competency proceedings to the 85th Judicial District Court in Brazos County.
Kate Black, attorney for Mr. Druery, issued the following statement in response:
“We are pleased that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found sufficient evidence of Marcus Druery’s severe mental illness to warrant competency proceedings. Much of the evidence of Mr. Druery’s mental illness comes from the State’s own mental health professionals, who have repeatedly diagnosed Mr. Druery as schizophrenic, paranoid and delusional. A full hearing is critically important to establish that Mr. Druery lacks a rational understanding of his execution. We are confident that the Brazos County District Court will give Mr. Druery’s case the thorough and fair consideration it deserves in order to ensure that Texas does not execute a severely psychotic man.”
Kate Black, Attorney for Marcus Druery
October 30, 2013
View in-depth coverage of the ruling from KBTX.com in Bryan/College Station.
Link to CCA Ruling:
Results from the latest Gallup Poll show that national support for the death penalty has dropped to its lowest level in more than 40 years. According to the poll, “Sixty percent of Americans say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, the lowest level of support Gallup has measured since November 1972, when 57% were in favor.”
Gallup first began measuring support for the death penalty in 1936 and has included the issue in annual updates since 1999.
The poll reveals stark differences across political affiliations, with 81% of Republicans currently favoring the death penalty, compared with 47% of Democrats and 60% of Independents. According to Gallup, “Support among all three party groups has declined in the last 25 years, with the largest drop among Democrats. Democrats’ level of support is currently down 28 percentage points from its 1994 peak.”
A slim majority of Americans – 52% – believe that the death penalty is applied fairly in the United States, according to the poll.
You can find more details at http://www.gallup.com/poll/165626/death-penalty-support-lowest-years.aspx.