Archive | execution

28 January 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes James Freeman

State of Texas executes James Freeman

Last night, January 27,  the State of Texas executed James Freeman for the murder of Game Warden Justin Hurst after a police chase in 2007 in Wharton County. His 2008 trial was the first death penalty case in Wharton since 1979 and he was the first person from the county to be executed.

Freeman’s lawyers argued that their client did not have a history of violence and did not pose a “future danger”, the first issue jurors in Texas capital murder trials must answer when considering whether to impose the death penalty.

According to the Texas Tribune, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case on January 11 and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected his petition for clemency earlier in the week.

Freeman was the second person to be executed in Texas this year.  A total of four executions have taken place in the United States in 2016.

At this time, there are eight executions scheduled to take place in Texas through July 2016.

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21 January 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Richard Masterson

State of Texas executes Richard Masterson

The State of Texas carried out its first execution of the year last night, putting Richard Masterson to death by lethal injection for the 2001 murder of Darin Honeycutt in Houston.

According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court both denied last-minute requests for stays of execution.  One of those appeals challenged the constitutionality of a new Texas law that protects the identity of any person or entity providing the drugs used in lethal injections.  The law was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature and went into effect on September 1, 2015.

Other appeals challenged the testimony of medical examiner, Paul Shrode, who conducted an autopsy of Mr. Honeycutt and declared his cause of death to be strangulation.  Attorney Gregory Gardner argued that Honeycutt died of a heart attack.

From the Tribune:

In the same year as Honeycutt’s death, Shrode was written up by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office for wrongly determining a cause of death. In 2010, he was fired from his position as El Paso County chief medical examiner after a death row inmate in Ohio was granted clemency due to issues related to Shrode’s testimony in the case.

These incidents and the fact that the state did not reveal them to Masterson, Gardner argued, was cause for a stay and hearing. The request was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon, allowing the execution to move forward.

Pope Francis was following this case and expressed his sorrow upon learning of Masterson’s execution.

At this time, eight additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas through July. On January 27, James Freeman is scheduled to be put to death for the murder of Game Warden Justin Hurst after a police chase in 2007 in Wharton County. His 2008 trial was the first death penalty case in Wharton since 1979.

 

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19 November 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Raphael Holiday

State of Texas executes Raphael Holiday

Last night, November 18, the State of Texas carried out its last execution of the year, putting Raphael Holiday to death for the arson murders of three young children in 2000 in Madison County: Tierra Lynch, 7, Jasmine DuPaul, 5, and 18-month-old Justice Holiday, his daughter.

Earlier in the day, Madison County State District Judge Hal Ridley granted a motion from Holiday’s original trial lawyers and halted the execution in order to give attorneys more time to pursue additional appeals and seek clemency.  Special prosecutors in the Texas Attorney General’s Office then asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reinstate the date.  The court overturned Judge Ridley’s ruling and ordered Holiday’s execution to proceed.

Holiday’s appointed attorneys essentially abandoned him in the months before his execution, telling  him there was nothing else they could do to help him after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal.  Despite their client’s wishes, they refused to file a petition for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Learn more about the case from Brandi Grissom with the Dallas Morning News.

An earlier post about Raphael Holiday is available here.

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The State of Texas executed 13 people this year, accounting for half of the executions in the United States in 2015.  Five executions are currently scheduled to take place in the early months of 2016.

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16 October 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Licho Escamilla

State of Texas executes Licho Escamilla

On October 14, 2015, the State of Texas carried out its 12th execution of the year, putting Licho Escamilla to death for the 2001 murder of police officer Christopher Kevin James.  Officer James was working off-duty security at a Dallas nightclub when a fight broke out in the parking lot.  According to the Dallas Morning News, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected Escamilla’s argument that his trial attorneys did not provide evidence of his abusive childhood, ruling that the crime evidence outweighed any mitigating evidence not presented to jurors. Escamilla was 19 years old at the time of the shooting. Read more from WFAA.

This was the first execution scheduled out of Dallas County this year.  Dallas County accounts for 55 executions in Texas; it has not sentenced anyone to death for the last two years, however.

Texas accounts for half of the 24 executions carried out nationwide to date in 2015.  The final execution of the year is scheduled to take place on November 18; Raphael Holiday is scheduled to be put to death for the 2000 arson murders of three children. Four executions have already been scheduled for the early months of 2016.

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06 October 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Juan Garcia; 125th execution out of Harris County

State of Texas executes Juan Garcia; 125th execution out of Harris County

Earlier this evening, October 6, 2015, the State of Texas carried out its 11th execution of the year, putting Juan Garcia to death for the 1998 robbery and murder of Hugo Solano in Harris County.  Joined by three accomplices, Garcia was 18 years old at the time of the crime.  Mr. Solano’s widow testified during the penalty phase of the trial that she forgave Garcia and did not support a death sentence.

According to NBC News, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Garcia’s clemency bid in a 5-2 vote last week.

Texas accounts for nearly half of the 23 executions that have taken place in the United States to date this year.  Three additional executions are scheduled to occur by the end of 2015.  Harris County now accounts for 125 executions, more than any other state (except Texas as a whole).

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19 June 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Gregory Russeau

State of Texas executes Gregory Russeau

On June 18th, the State of Texas carried out its ninth execution of the year, putting Gregory Russeau to death for the robbery and murder of 75-year-old mechanic James Syvertson at his Tyler auto-repair shop in 2001.

Read more from NBC News.

Texas accounts for 9 of the 17 executions nationwide to date in 2015.  At this time, Missouri is the only other state scheduled to carry out executions; it accounts for four excutions this year.  At least five more executions are scheduled to take place in Texas in the coming months.

Earlier in the day, a Nueces County jury rejected the death penalty for Daniel Garcia, who was convicted of capital murder in the robbery and death of convenience store owner Mostafa “Ben” Bighamian Corpus Christi in 2014.  Garcia has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  The jury reportedly deliberated for about two hours.

Watch a news clip about the case from KZTV10.

It was the second time this year that a Nueces County jury rejected the death penalty in a capital murder case and the third jury rejection of the death penalty this year.  No new death sentences have been imposed to date in Texas this year.  Eric Williams was the last person sentenced to death in the state – on December 17, 2014.

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04 June 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Lester Bower

State of Texas executes Lester Bower

Last night, June 3, 2015, the State of Texas carried out its eighth execution of the year, putting Lester Bower Jr. to death more than 31 years after his conviction.  Bower was sentenced to death for the murder of four men – Jerry Brown, Bob Tate, Philip Good and Ronald Mayes – at an ultra-light airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983.

Bower faced six previous execution dates. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed his execution but later declined to consider his appeal.  Bower’s attorneys had asked the Court to consider whether executing a defendant whom has served more than 30 years on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, among other issues. The Court rejected his last request for a stay of execution, providing no explanation for its ruling.

Sentenced to death in Grayson County in 1984, Bower was one of the state’s longest serving death row inmates and, at age 67, he was the oldest person put to death in Texas. A former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, Bower consistently maintained his innocence.  Read more about his case in this interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and from The Guardian.

Texas accounts for 8 of the 15 executions nationwide to date in 2015.  At this time, Missouri is the only other state scheduled to carry out executions; it accounts for three excutions this year.  Texas and Missouri are the only states that have put people to death since January of this year.  Texas is scheduled to execute Gregory Russeau on June 18, 2015.

 

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11 May 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas scheduled to execute Derrick Charles

State of Texas scheduled to execute Derrick Charles

Barring intervention by the courts, Derrick Charles is scheduled to be put to death by the State of Texas tomorrow, Tuesday,  May 12, 2015. He was convicted of killing his 15-year-old girlfriend, Myiesha Bennett, her mother Brenda Bennett, and her grandfather, Obie Lee Bennett in 2002 in Harris County.

Charles was 19 years old at the time.  According to his attorneys with the Texas Defender Service (TDS), he has suffered from symptoms of severe mental illness throughout his life. Here are excerpts from a press release issued today by TDS:

Despite the extensive history of Mr. Charles’ severe mental illness and mental impairments, Texas state and federal courts have refused to authorize the resources Mr. Charles needs to undergo a complete neuropsychological evaluation designed to determine whether he is competent to be executed. Three psychologists have recommended, one as recent as March of this year, that Mr. Charles undergo such an evaluation. Mr. Charles has been deprived of his right to needed resources and time to determine if he is incompetent to be executed. …

Attorneys for Mr. Charles have filed two petitions for certiorari review in the Supreme Court of the United States, urging the Court to provide Mr. Charles’ legal team with both the time and resources to establish that the State of Texas’ execution is contrary to the United States Constitution.

Read more from TDS and from the Austin Chronicle.

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