Archive | death penalty

16 February 2011 ~ 1 Comment

More than 90 Faith Leaders Call for Clemency for Timothy Adams

Today more than 90 Christian faith leaders from communities throughout Texas called on the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Timothy Adams.  Adams is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on February 22, 2011.  His family, who is also the family of the victim, Timothy Jr., has asked for mercy, noting that an execution will do nothing to repair the loss and anguish they have experienced since the time of the crime.

TCADP is deeply grateful to all of the faith leaders who joined this call for mercy.  We also wish to express our appreciation to Bishop Joe Wilson and Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger for their participation in today’s press conference to release the letter.

The full text of the press release, which contains excerpts from the sign-on letter, is below.  If you would like to see the letter and list of signatories, please contact Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org.

Texas Defender Service

For Immediate Release: February 16, 2011
Contact: Laura Burstein at 202-626-6868 or 202-669-3411 or lburstein@ssd.com

More than 90 Christian Faith Leaders Call on Texas Parole Board and Governor Perry to Grant Clemency to Timothy Adams

Religious Leaders from Across Texas Join Victim Family Members at State Capitol to Urge for Clemency, Saying Crime was an Aberration in Veteran’s Life

Three Jurors Also Supporting Clemency for Timothy Adams

(Austin, Texas, Wednesday, February 16, 2011) Today, in the largest outpouring of faith leader support in a  Texas death penalty case in recent years, a group of ninety-one prominent religious leaders from across the state called on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Timothy Adams. Mr. Adams is an army veteran with no criminal history, not even an arrest, prior to the tragedy where he killed his son while planning his own suicide in 2002. His execution is scheduled for Tuesday, February 22.

Faith leaders from eight Christian denominations and from within the Unitarian Universalist community, including Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston; Reverend Raymundo J. Pena, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville; Bishop Michael Rinehart, TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Reverend Bobbi Kaye Jones, Austin District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church; and Doctor Joe S. Ratliff, Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, the largest African-American church in Houston, announced their support for clemency in a letter that was delivered to state officials this morning.

In their letter to the parole board and the Governor, they state: “We join the victim’s family in asking that you spare Mr. Adams from death. You have an extraordinary opportunity to show mercy to a family that has already suffered greatly and to uphold the sacredness of human life. We pray that you grant life to Timothy Adams.”

Several of the faith leaders, including Bishop Joe Wilson of the United Methodist Church and former Bishop to the Central Texas Conference, Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and Reverend Lawrence L. Scott of New Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, where the Adams family worships, attended a press conference at the Capitol Building in Austin to announce their support for clemency along with the victim’s family, including the grandmother, grandfather and aunt who are also related to Mr. Adams.

“Our family lost one child. We can’t bear to lose another. After my grandson’s death, we lived through pain worse than anyone could imagine. Nothing good will come from executing my son Tim and causing us more anguish,” said Columbus Adams, Mr. Adams’ father and a 30-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department. “We pray that God will fill Governor Perry’s heart with compassion. If not for Tim, then at least for our family.”

Three jurors from Mr. Adams’ trial have come forward to request a commutation of Mr. Adams’ death sentence to one of life. They believe they were not presented at trial with a complete picture of Mr. Adams’ character and religious background. They believe that information relating to Mr. Adams’s upbringing, deep devotion to religion, and mental state would have caused them to stick with their initial inclination, which was to spare Mr. Adams and sentence him to life in prison.

Mr. Adams is loved and supported by members of his church, work supervisors, fellow soldiers from the military, and many others.  For example:

  • Mr. Adams was raised in a Christian home and was active member of New Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Houston. His Sunday school teacher, Verlene Edmond, remembers Mr. Adams as “quiet” and “polite” as a teenager and supports a commutation of Mr. Adams’ sentence.
  • When Mr. Adams graduated from high school, he enlisted in the army and served his country.  Mr. Adams’ friend Roger West, a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army, Purple Heart recipient, and about to be deployed on his fifth tour in Iraq, said that he wishes he could have “a whole platoon of guys like Tim.” Mr. Adams was honorably discharged in 1989.
  • Mr. Adams was always a hard worker who wanted to support his young family. He worked as a security guard at Greenway Plaza in Houston. He was such a good worker that he was quickly promoted to supervisor of all security shifts. Tim’s supervisor, Diane Garcia, received “many, many positive comments and feedback on Tim’s performance.”
  • Mr. Adams was a role model to his younger siblings. Chadrick Adams, Mr. Adams’ brother, said his older brother taught him his work ethic and inspired him to earn a scholarship to and graduate from college.

From the beginning, Mr. Adams accepted responsibility for what he did. He pleaded guilty in open court and before the jury, even though he was not offered anything in return for his plea.

Mr. Adams has spent his time on death row reflecting on what he did, seeking forgiveness from his family, friends and God, and deepening his faith in Jesus Christ. He has been a model prisoner without a single disciplinary write-up on his record – not even for a minor infraction – during his eight years in prison.

Mr. Adams is not a danger to anyone and never will be. If the Governor commutes his death sentence, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In conclusion, the faith leaders stated that “[w]e firmly believe that Mr. Adams must be held accountable for his actions. We simply pray in doing so, we ourselves do not lose sight of the humanity and compassion that Christ calls us to.”

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Mr. Adams’ clemency petition and additional background material about the case is posted at http://www.timothywayneadams.com/.

To speak with Mr. Adams’ attorneys or family members, please contact Laura Burstein at 202-626-6868 or lburstein@ssd.com.

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07 February 2011 ~ 3 Comments

Clemency Alert for Tim Adams

Tim Adams is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.  He was convicted of killing his son while planning his own suicide in 2002.  Members of his family, who are also the victim’s family members, his church community, and even three of the jurors from his trial are pleading with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to show mercy by commuting Adams’ sentence to life.  Adams is deeply remorseful for his crime, for which he accepted responsibility right away.

Please sign an online petition calling for clemency for Tim Adams.

Learn more about this tragic case.

Read an op-ed by Tim’s father, Columbus Adams, Jr.

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04 February 2011 ~ Comments Off

State Representatives File Abolition Bill

State Representatives Jessica Farrar and Marisa Marquez have filed House Bill 819, which calls for the repeal of the death penalty in Texas. We expect that the bill will be referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, where the members of the committee will decide what action, if any, will be taken with regard to the bill.  Committee assignments should be announced next week.

There are several actions you can take right now to support this bill:

  • Contact Reps. Farrar (jessica.farrar@house.state.tx.us) and Marquez (marisa.marquez@house.state.tx.us) and thank them for authoring HB 819!
  • Contact your State Representative and ask him/her to co-author this legislation.  Go to http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Home.aspx to find contact information for your Representative.
  • Make your plans now to participate in the TCADP Lobby Day on Tuesday, March 8.   More info and RSVP.

More information and actions coming soon!  For additional resources and suggestions related to legislative advocacy, go to http://tcadp.org/get-involved/contact-lawmakers/.

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19 January 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Houston Religious Leaders Call for End to Death Penalty

Last night’s unprecedented event in Houston with seven high-level religious leaders and Sister Helen Prejean was amazing!  More than 500 people representing diverse faith traditions RSVPd and attended the event.

Sister Helen and Bishop Janice Huie of the Texas United Methodist Church Conference both noted that getting religious leaders to speak out on the issue of the penalty has been difficult. “The silence has been deafening,” Sister Helen said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle:

Prejean said she hopes the event will be just the beginning of a renewed focus by religious leaders on the death penalty.

“It’s controversial, and it’s hard to pick up as a religious leader,” she said. “The hope is that those who stand publicly will also give a much more serious effort to educating the people in the pews.”

Read all about it in the Houston Chronicle.

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We need to interject some positive comments in response to the Houston Chronicle‘s coverage of the event.  When you have a moment today, please go to the Chronicle and post a comment, commending the religious leaders for speaking out on this issue.  You will need to create an account with the Chronicle (if you don’t have one already) in order to post a comment or give good comments a “thumbs up.”

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Special thanks to Karen Clifton with the Catholic Mobilizing Network, Deacon Joe Rubio, Dave Atwood, Steph Weber, Mary Heartlein and everyone who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this event.  TCADP shares Sister Helen’s aspiration that this is just the beginning of many conversations to come and we look forward to working with faith communities throughout the state on engaging their members on this critical social justice issue.

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12 January 2011 ~ Comments Off

Texas CCA Ends Judge Fine Hearing on Death Penalty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled today that Judge Fine does not have the authority to conduct a court hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty in the state and put an end to the legal proceeding that was raised as part of John Edward Green Jr’s Capital murder trial.

John Edward Green Jr., charged with robbing and killing a Houston woman in 2008, had challenged the Texas death penalty law because “its application has created a substantial risk that innocent people have been, and will be, convicted and executed.”

The Texas CCA ruled 6-2 that Fine exceeded his authority and ordered him to dismiss Green’s challenge. Texas law does not allow judges to hold pretrial hearings on the constitutionality of a law, said the opinion by Judge Cathy Cochran.

In addition, until the death penalty statute is applied against Green, he does not have legal standing to challenge the law, the court ruled.

Last spring Fine initially declared the Texas death penalty statute unconstitutional during  the hearing held as part of Green’s capital murder case in his court. Under heavy criticism, Fine clarified, then rescinded his ruling and ordered the hearing, saying he needed to hear evidence on the issue.

The hearing, which was set to last up to two weeks, began last month but prosecutors won a temporary stay from an appeals court.

More media coverage:

KPRC: http://www.click2houston.com/news/26466410/detail.html

Austin American Statesman:  http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/courts/entries/2011/01/12/houston_death_penalty_challeng.html?cxntfid=blogs_austin_legal

Houston Chronicle:  http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/7378143.html

The opinion in Lykos v. Fine:  http://cca.courts.state.tx.us/OPINIONS/PDFOPINIONINFO2.ASP?OPINIONID=20520&FILENAME=AP-76,470&76,471.PDF

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12 January 2011 ~ Comments Off

First Texas Execution of 2011 Postponed

On January 11, Cleve Foster, the first person scheduled to be executed in Texas in 2011, received a last-minute stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.  He was convicted of the 2002 murder of Nyaneur “Mary” Pal.  The Court did not give a reason for the stay. Read more.

You can read the Supreme Court order at:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/011111zr.pdf

(Thanks to StandDown Texas for providing these links.)

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11 January 2011 ~ 3 Comments

Breaking News: Illinois Legislature Abolishes the Death Penalty

Today, the Illinois Senate passed legislation to abolish the death penalty!  The vote was 32 for, 25 against, with 2 voting present. Last week the Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill on a vote of 60 to 55.

TCADP congratulates our colleagues in Illinois, who worked tirelessly over the last 2 months particularly as well as the last several years to secure this amazing victory! Please help us encourage Governor Pat Quinn to sign the bill and thank the lead bill sponsors.  Go to www.ncadp.org/IllinoisAction to send a message to Governor Quinn, and bill sponsors, State Rep. Karen Yarbrough and State Sen. Kwame Raoul.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

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03 January 2011 ~ 4 Comments

Houston Chronicle Calls for Abolition of the Death Penalty

The editors of the Houston Chronicle began the new year with a call to end the death penalty in Texas.  In an editorial that appeared on January 1, 2011, “It’s time for capital punishment to become Texas history,” the Chronicle cites awareness of the risk of wrongful conviction and the fact that jurors and prosecutors are imposing it less often as evidence that Texans are moving away from the death penalty.  The editors also cite the cases of Cameron Todd Willingham and Claude Jones, which have raised significant questions about the reliability and fairness of the system. Here’s an excerpt:

The accumulating evidence indicates that the current application of the death penalty in Texas involves an unacceptably high risk of killing innocent people. Yet even as the evidence of false convictions and wrongful executions piles up, only the participants at the base of the Texas criminal justice system, jury members, seem to be waking up to the reality of this evil.

Some opponents have called for a moratorium on executions in Texas until new, unspecified safeguards are in place to protect the innocent. Yet it’s difficult to imagine a fail-safe route to execution.

Besides, we already have the ultimate safeguard on the books: the sentence of life without parole. Spending the rest of one’s days in prison is as terrifying a deterrent to most people as quick execution. By ending state-sanctioned killing, in the future when a jury makes a mistake, resurrection won’t be required to remedy it.

The Houston Chronicle joins the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American Statesman in endorsing abolition of the death penalty.

Read the full editorial.

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