Archive | DNA testing

21 May 2012 ~ Comments Off

Execution Date Withdrawn for Bobby Hines

The State of Texas will not execute Bobby Hines on June 6 as originally scheduled.  According to the Associated Press, “Dallas County prosecutors asked a judge to withdraw the June 6 execution date for 39-year-old Bobby Lee Hines because results of additional DNA testing in his case won’t be available by then. District Court Judge Don Adams in Dallas approved the request Friday.”

Read the full article in the Houston Chronicle.

The State of Texas has carried out five executions to date in 2012.  Yokamon Hearn is scheduled to be executed on July 18.

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02 May 2012 ~ Comments Off

Anthony Bartee Receives Stay of Execution; May be Temporary

From the San Antonio Express-News, as of 5:14 PM:

UPDATE: A San Antonio man may not be facing death by lethal injection today following an order from Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery to grant a stay of execution for Anthony Bartee in relation to a civil rights suit filed by Bartee’s attorney against the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.

 

The suit is part of a flurry of appeals Houston-based attorney David Dow filed today on behalf of his client requesting additional DNA testing. In the past few hours the U.S. Supreme Court denied the request for a stay and the appeal.

 

The civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court — that has since been appealed by the District Attorney’s office — is the only pending matter keeping the 6 p.m. execution from occurring.

 

And while Biery issued an order staying the execution that states attorneys on both sides must file and confer by May 15, the court will now have to address the response of the suit by the DA’s Office. The execution itself has not yet been officially called off in Huntsville.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Flurry-of-appeals-filed-to-halt-execution-3528746.php#ixzz1tkrFAFOi

http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/texas-man-s-execution-stopped-at-least-temporarily-1.3695000

From the Associated Press and published today at 4:41 PM in the Houston Chronicle:

A federal judge in San Antonio has at least temporarily stopped the execution of a rapist who was on parole when prosecutors say he killed a neighbor and stole the man’s motorcycle.

 

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery granted a reprieve Wednesday afternoon to 55-year-old Anthony Bartee after his lawyers filed a civil rights lawsuit against Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed. Bartee was scheduled for lethal injection later in the day.

 

His lawyers want additional items from the crime scene to undergo DNA testing.

 

The prosecutor’s office immediately appealed the court order to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Texas-man-s-execution-stopped-at-least-temporarily-3526586.php

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02 May 2012 ~ Comments Off

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Votes Unanimously Against Anthony Bartee

Thank you to everyone who has taken action to stop tonight’s scheduled execution of Anthony Bartee, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of David Cook in San Antonio.  We learned late last night from Bartee’s attorneys that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously against granting clemency or a 120-day reprieve to allow time for additional DNA testing.  His attorneys have multiple appeals pending and will continue to pursue all possible legal channels today.  Please check back with TCADP for updates as they become available.  At this point, vigils will take place in locations statewide as scheduled.

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27 April 2012 ~ 2 Comments

State of Texas Executes Beunka Adams

Last night, April 26, 2012, the State of Texas carried out its fifth execution of the  year.  Beunka Adams was executed for the murder of Kenneth Vandever, 37, outside Rusk in 2002.

Both Adams and his co-defendant Richard Cobb were sentenced to death for the crime.  Vandever and two women were abducted from a convenience store. Vandever was fatally shot. The women also were shot, and one of them was raped.  Both survived and one of the victims identified Adams.  According to the AP, “Adams was tried for capital murder under the Texas law of parties, which makes an accomplice equally culpable as the actual killer. A fellow inmate in the Cherokee County Jail testified Adams bragged to him that he did the shootings,” but evidence from Cobb showed Cobb was the gunman.  Cobb does not have an execution date.

Adams received a stay of execution from a federal judge earlier in the week but it was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals after the Texas Attorney General’s office appealed the ruling.  His attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Adams received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial and in the early stages of his appeal, but the Court refused to intervene.

Read more in the Huffington Post.

Another Texas execution is scheduled to take place next week on May 2, 2012.  Take action now to urge the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry to grant a reprieve to Anthony Bartee so that all of the DNA evidence can be tested and Bartee’s attorneys can pursue relief through available legal avenues.

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26 April 2012 ~ 5 Comments

New Developments in Anthony Bartee Case, Call for Action

Update as of 4:30 PM on May 1:  The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that “State District Court Judge Mary Román ruled the [DNA] results wouldn’t have impacted the outcome of the trial and said Bartee’s new execution date would not be withdrawn. [Bartee's attorney David] Dow appealed that decision Monday arguing that glasses and cigarettes collected at the time of the killing should also be tested.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/1996-slaying-victim-s-family-awaits-killer-s-3523017.php#ixzz1tekxWvHl

***

In less than one week, on May 2, 2012, the State of Texas plans to execute Anthony Bartee for the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio.  Bartee has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.

Bartee was originally scheduled to be executed on February 28, 2012, even though DNA evidence collected at the crime scene had not been tested as ordered on at least two occasions by District Judge Mary Román. He received a reprieve on February 23, 2012 when Judge Román withdrew the execution warrant so that additional DNA testing could be conducted on strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook.  She also ordered the forensic lab to provide a detailed and comprehensive report to the court with an analysis of the results.  Yet, before the testing occurred, Judge Román inexplicably set another execution date: May 2, 2012.

According to Bartee’s attorneys, DNA testing was just conducted and indicated that hairs that were tested found in Cook’s hands belonged to Cook.  The jury never heard this evidence – and in fact wasn’t told about the hairs at all – which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case that a violent struggle had ensued between Cook and his killer.  Still, Judge Román entered the findings as unfavorable, opining that this evidence would not have made a difference in the outcome of the trial, had it been available to the jury.  Under Article 64.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Bartee’s attorneys have the right to appeal the unfavorable findings.  The fast-approaching execution date significantly impedes this right to due process, however.

 

In addition, there is still more evidence that has not been tested for DNA, including cigarette butts and at least three drinking glasses found at the crime scene. In 2010, the court ordered that all items that had not been tested be tested, but these items still have not been tested.

 

Take action now!

1. Call upon the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to stop this rush to execution and grant a 120-day reprieve for Anthony Bartee so that all of the evidence can be tested and Bartee’s attorneys can pursue relief through available legal avenues.  Here are talking points:

  • Testing of hairs found in the hands of David Cook was just conducted and indicated that the hairs that were tested belonged to Cook.  The jury never heard this evidence, which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case.
  • Bartee’s attorneys need more time to pursue relief under chapter 64, which provides the right to appeal the findings of recent testing, and to argue that the evidence might have impacted the outcome of the trial.
  • There is still additional evidence to be tested for DNA; such testing was ordered in 2010 but has not been conducted.
  • To date, 17 death row inmates nationwide have been exonerated by use of DNA testing. Shouldn’t every prisoner get this chance when DNA evidence is available? Shouldn’t Texas insist on the highest standards of evidence proving guilt, especially in cases where the punishment is irreversible?

2. Post information about this case on Facebook and Twitter.  Here are sample tweets:

  • Tell TX to stop the rush to execute #AnthonyBartee!
  • Tell TX to test all the DNA!  Stop #AnthonyBartee execution.

3. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing concerns about the death penalty’s irreversible risk of error and calling for its repeal.

Contact information for Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles (please send your appeals by email or fax):

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Fax: 512-463-1849
Main number: 512-463-2000
Salutation: Dear Governor Perry

Clemency Section
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX  78757-6814
Fax (512) 467-0945
bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us
Salutation: Dear Board Members

Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Anthony Bartee #999282” and should arrive ASAP!

4. Sign this Petition Click Link

Additional background information on the case is available here.

 

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24 April 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Federal Judge Stays Execution of Beunka Adams

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider has granted a stay of execution to Beunka Adams.  Adams was scheduled to be executed on Thursday, April 26, 2012 for the murder of 37-year-old Kenneth Vandever outside Rusk, Texas in 2002.   Judge Schneider stayed the execution so that courts can “review allegations that Adams had poor legal help in the early stages of his appeals.”

Read more.

Anthony Bartee is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas next Wednesday, May 2, 2012, for the murder of David Cook, despite the fact that DNA testing ordered by State District Judge Mary Roman still has not been conducted or considered by the courts.  Read more about this case and take action today!

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11 April 2012 ~ 11 Comments

New Execution Date Set for Anthony Bartee, DNA Testing Still Not Completed

Take Action Now!  Request a Reprieve for Anthony Bartee

On May 2, 2012, Anthony Bartee may be put to death by the State of Texas, even though DNA testing ordered recently by State District Judge Mary Román has not been completed or analyzed.

Bartee was originally scheduled to be executed on February 28, 2012, despite the fact that the Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory has not tested pieces of DNA evidence that were collected from the crime scene. Even after being ordered to test this evidence by Judge Román in 2007, neither the Bexar County crime lab nor the DPS lab in Austin performed the ordered tests on all available evidence.  Bartee was convicted of the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio.  He has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.

Bartee received a reprieve on February 23, 2012 when Judge Román withdrew the execution warrant so that additional DNA testing could be conducted on the strands of hair found in the hands of the victim.  She also ordered the forensic lab to provide a detailed and comprehensive report to the court with an analysis of the results.  According to Bartee’s attorneys, this testing still has not been performed.  Yet, inexplicably, Judge Román has set another execution date – May 2, 2012.

 

Bartee’s attorneys assert that chapter 64 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure obligates the court to hold a hearing after the testing has been conducted and after examining the results to determine whether this evidence would have made a difference in the outcome of the trial, had it been available to the jury.  At this point, there is less than three weeks for the testing to be completed and fully considered by the courts before Bartee is scheduled to be put to death.

Take action now!

 

  • Write or fax the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to urge clemency or a 120-day reprieve for Anthony Bartee (see below for addresses and talking points).
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing concerns about the death penalty’s irreversible risk of error and calling for its repeal.
  • Post information about this case on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Additional Background and Talking Points for Letters to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry

Untested DNA Evidence

While performing an autopsy on the victim, David Cook, the medical examiner found hairs in both of his hands. On June 18, 2007, Trial Judge Mary Román ordered that these hairs be tested by the Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) lab in Austin. According to a report later issued by the DPS crime lab, hairs found in Cook’s left hand were tested and not found to belong to Bartee. This same report confirmed that no DNA was extracted during these proceedings from the hairs found in the right hand of David Cook.

 

Even after Judge Román ordered the additional testing of all forensic DNA evidence in the Bartee case on July 21, 2010, the hairs taken from the right hand of the murder victim remain frozen at the DPS crime lab in Austin. The official response to the judge’s request from Bexar County Crime Lab claimed that “no remaining physical evidence [was] available for additional forensic DNA testing,” even though the report from the DPS confirms this is not the case.

 

At a hearing in November of 2010, Judge Román used an incomplete report that only contained information from the DNA test performed on the evidence collected from the left hand of the victim. This report did not contain any information on the still frozen and untested hairs found in the victim’s right hand. From this incomplete report, Judge Román concluded that though the hair tested did not belong to Bartee, it could have belonged to David Cook and, as such, did not exonerate Bartee.

 

To date, 17 inmates on death row in the United States have been exonerated by use of DNA testing. Shouldn’t every prisoner get this chance when DNA evidence is available? Shouldn’t Texas insist on the highest standards of evidence proving guilt, especially in cases where the punishment is irreversible?

 

A Serious Conflict of Interest Involving a Trial Attorney

A severe conflict of interest took place in this case during the trial. This conflict involved Michael Sawyer, the defense attorney sitting second chair for Bartee, and his relationship with David Cook, the victim.  This relationship was revealed on April 13, 1998, on the morning the actual trial was to begin, when Sawyer “realized” that he knew the victim, David Cook, and the victim’s entire family.

 

Although Sawyer claims that he was not aware of his familiarity with the entire Cook family throughout the trial’s previous month-long seating of the jury, a clear conflict of interest existed and potentially impacted the jury selection process.

 

The judge allowed Sawyer to withdraw from the case, but she denied the motion for a mistrial made by Bartee’s other attorney, Vincent Callahan. When claims that the trial was tainted by Sawyer’s conflict of interest were made in Bartee’s state habeas petition, the judge denied relief by citing previous case law showing that Texas courts required defendants to prove that but for the conflict of interest, the results of the trial would have been different.

 

On September 12, 2007, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that this was not the proper standard by which to analyze claims involving conflicts of interest. Due to this change in the standard applied to claims involving conflicts of interest in Texas, Anthony Bartee should now be given the chance to have his claim heard under the proper standard.

 

A Model Prisoner and Commitment to Service

Additional factors should be taken into consideration in the case of Anthony Bartee, namely, his behavior as a model prisoner while on death row, along with his family’s commitment to serving our country through various branches of the Armed Services.  As his prison disciplinary records reveal, if his sentence were commuted to life in prison, he would not be a danger to any prisoner or guard.

 

Since he began his time on death row on September 9, 1998, Bartee has been at level one, the best disciplinary level possible. He has only been cited for two disciplinary infractions, neither of which were violent, throughout his entire 13 years on death row.

Bartee was raised in a family devoted to serving our great nation. Bartee’s father served our country in the Air Force for 26 years and his grandfather served in the Army in Germany during World War II. Bartee himself received an honorable discharge from the Army on July 12, 1976.

Bartee has also long sought to teach others to learn from his mistakes. During time spent in prison for an earlier conviction, Bartee was chosen as one of two “model prisoners” to speak to a group of troubled students from the local town. These students were greatly influenced by his comments, and it has been reported that many of them ceased participating in gang activity after their visit with Bartee.

Please call on the Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the sentence of Anthony Bartee or, at a minimum, grant a 120-day reprieve so that his claim regarding the conflict of interest can be pursued under the proper standard and DNA testing can be conducted and fully analyzed.

Contact information for Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles:


Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Fax: 512-463-1849
Main number: 512-463-2000

Salutation: Dear Governor Perry
Clemency Section
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX  78757-6814
Fax (512) 467-0945
bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us
Salutation: Dear Board Members

 

 

Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Anthony Bartee #999282” and should arrive no later than April 27, 2012.

 

 

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23 February 2012 ~ 2 Comments

Reprieve Granted to Anthony Bartee; Execution Date Withdrawn

Anthony Bartee has received a reprieve so that DNA testing can be conducted on two strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook.  According to the Associated Press and reported in the Houston Chronicle, State District Judge Mary Roman withdrew the execution warrant yesterday.  Bartee had been scheduled for execution on February 28, 2012.

According to Rico Valdez, an assistant Bexar County district attorney who handles capital case appeals, “What we’re doing now is looking into which labs are capable of doing the testing in the shortest amount of time.”

Read the full article.

George Rivas is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

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