Archive | execution

08 April 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Pablo Vasquez

State of Texas executes Pablo Vasquez

The State of Texas executed Pablo Vasquez on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. He was convicted of killing 12-year-old David Cardenas in 1998 in Donna, Texas (Hidalgo County). Vasquez was 20 years old at the time of the crime.

Vasquez was the the sixth person executed in Texas this year.  To date, there have been 11 executions total nationwide.  At this time, there are seven additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas through October 2016.

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06 April 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas scheduled to execute Pablo Vasquez

State of Texas scheduled to execute Pablo Vasquez

Tonight, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Pablo Vasquez . He was convicted of killing 12-year-old David Cardenas in 1998 in Donna, Texas (Hidalgo County). Vasquez was 20 years old at the time of the crime. His attorney claims he suffers from severe mental illness. An appeal on other grounds is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

If it proceeds, this will the sixth execution in Texas this year.  To date, there have been 10 executions total nationwide.  At this time, there are  at least six additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas through August 2016.

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01 April 2016 ~ Comments Off on TCADP April 2016 Alert: Springing into Action

TCADP April 2016 Alert: Springing into Action

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Texas accounts for half of executions nationwide in 2016
In case you missed it: Juror regrets decision to sentence a man to death
Thank you for Amplifying TCADP: 24-hour fundraising campaign raises more than $8,000 for our efforts to end the death penalty
Featured events: Sister Helen Prejean returns to Central Texas; Southwestern University in Georgetown performs Dead Man Walking

Quote of the month
“It’s wrong for government to be in business in killing its own citizens. That cheapens life.” – Utah Senator Steve Urquhart
From “Why one Utah Republican changed his mind on the death penalty — and is leading the effort to abolish it” (Washington Post, 2/26/16)

Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Pablo Vasquez on April 6, 2016. He was convicted of killing 12-year-old David Cardenas in 1998 in Donna, Texas (Hidalgo County). Vasquez was 20 years old at the time of the crime. His attorney claims Vasquez suffers from severe mental illness.

Updates on other cases:

  • Robert Pruett’s execution date of April 27 was postponed until August 23.
  • The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the March 30 execution of John Battaglia in order to give his attorneys time to develop their claim he may be mentally incompetent for execution. It was the first Texas execution to be stayed this year. Learn more.

The State of Texas has put five people to death in 2016. There have been 10 executions nationwide.At this time, there are six additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas through August 2016.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Note new vigil locations in Abilene and Waco. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

In case you missed it
Prosecutor encouraged to strike jurors based on race
As reported recently in the Houston Chronicle (“Wharton Co. prosecutor says he was told to keep blacks off juries,” March 22, 2016) Wharton County prosecutor Nathan Wood felt pressured by Wharton County District Attorney Ross Kurtz to strike jurors of color. During a hearing on March 10, 2016, Wood said, “I was not ‘instructed’ to strike black jurors so much as I was advised or encouraged to do so as a matter of trial strategy.” While Kurtz denies the allegations, he did not comment directly as the case in question is still in the sentencing phase.

Juror regrets role in death penalty verdict
The Marshall Project’s “My Regrets as a Juror Who Sent a Man to Death Row” recounts the story of Sven Berger and his time as a juror in the capital murder trial of Paul Storey, which took place in Tarrant County in 2008. Berger says he did not see Storey as a future threat, one of the requirements for death sentences in Texas, but did not speak up about his reservations. After the death sentence was delivered, Berger admits, “I felt guilty about what happened. And sad. And a little helpless.”

Thank you for Amplifying TCADP!
We are deeply grateful to everyone who donated to TCADP in support of our Amplify Austin fundraising campaign on March 8-9, 2016. We raised more than $7,700 and won a $1,000 bonus prize for having the most donors during the 1 to 2 PM giving hour for the fourth year in a row! These funds will go a long way towards advancing our statewide outreach and educational efforts to end the death penalty in Texas.

Featured Events
Dallas: TCADP’s North Texas Outreach Coordinator, Jason Redick, will be attending the Cesar Chavez Harvest of Hope: March and Celebration on Saturday, April 2nd from 12:00 to 5:00PM. The event will take place at the Dallas Farmers Market (1010 South Pearl Expressway). If you are in the Dallas area, be sure to stop by the TCADP table to say hello to Jason and our volunteers. For more information, please visit the Cesar Chavez Harvest of Hope: March and Celebration Facebook page.

Georgetown: The Sarofim School of Fine Arts at Southwestern University presents Dead Man Walking, a play by Tim Robbins based on the best-selling memoir by Sister Helen Prejean. Performances will take place April 15-17th and 21-24th, 2016 in the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Theater (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 7:30PM and Sunday performances begin at 3:00PM). A panel discussion/talkback will take place on Sunday, April 17th at 5:30 PM following the matinee performance. Panelists include TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé, Bishop Joe A. Wilson, Retired, United Methodist Church, and former Nueces County District Attorney Grant Jones. Purchase performance tickets here.

On Tuesday, April 19th, Southwestern University will host Sister Helen Prejean for the 2016 Shilling Lecture. The event will begin at 7:00 PM at the Alma Thomas Theatre. Tickets to the Shilling Lecture are free and open to the public. They will be available through the Wm. Chris & Tina M. Mathers Box Office at 512-863-1378. Priority will be given to students, faculty, staff and friends of Southwestern and are available on a first come, first served basis. The general public can reserve or pick up tickets starting April 5th.

Sister Helen’s books Dead Man Walking and Death of Innocents will be on sale before and after the lecture. She will be available to autograph copies after the lecture. All proceeds benefit her Ministry Against the Death Penalty.

Austin: TCADP will hold a member luncheon on Tuesday, April 26th at noon at The Egg & I Restaurant (Northcross, 2525 W. Anderson Ln., Austin, 78757). More details coming soon. All are welcome!

Houston: The Houston Chapter of TCADP will meet Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00PM at the Central Market Community Room (3816 Westheimer @ Weslayan). This meeting will feature a special presentation by Kathryn Kase, the Executive Director of Texas Defender Service. For more information, please click here.

Thank you for standing with us as we advance change at the epicenter of the death penalty.

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23 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Adam Ward

State of Texas executes Adam Ward

“I feel it.”  Those were the last words of Adam Ward, who was put to death by the State of Texas last night after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal for a stay of execution.  Ward’s attorneys argued he should be exempt from execution based on evidence of his severe mental illness.

According to Texas Tribune reporter Jolie McCullough, Ward called his execution an “injustice.”  He was convicted of killing Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker in 2005 in Hunt County. Ward was 22 years old at the time of the crime; he had a long, documented history of mental health issues.

From the Tribune:

At his original trial, a psychiatrist said Ward suffered from a psychotic disorder that caused him to “suffer paranoid delusions such that he believes there might be a conspiracy against him and that people might be after him or trying to harm him,” according to court documents.

Appeals courts recognized Ward’s mental illness, describing his aggressiveness as a young child and delusional tendencies by sixth grade. By 15, the federal district court where he filed his appeal said, Ward “interpreted neutral things as a threat or personal attack.”

Although state and federal courts acknowledged Ward’s mental illness, they still deemed him eligible for the death penalty.

Texas accounts for five of the nine executions that have taken place in the United States to date in 2016. At least nine other individuals currently have execution dates.

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22 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas scheduled to execute Adam Ward

State of Texas scheduled to execute Adam Ward

*Update* The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Adam Ward’s appeal for a stay of execution based on evidence of his severe mental illness.

Tonight, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Adam Ward for killing Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker in 2005 in Hunt County.  Ward was 22 years old at the time of the crime.  His attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution based on evidence of his mental illness, including paranoid delusions. From the Texas Tribune:

… state and federal courts have rejected Ward’s appeals, saying his mental illness did not “rise to the level” of making him ineligible for the death penalty, according to a concurring opinion by Judge Elsa Alcala issued last Monday, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Ward’s last petition with the state.

“As is the case with intellectual disability, the preferred course would be for legislatures rather than courts to set standards defining the level at which a mental illness is so severe that it should result in a defendant being categorically exempt from the death penalty,” Alcala said.

According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice, around 30 percent of those incarcerated in Texas prison or jails have been clients of the state’s public mental health system.

Mental illness can impact a defendant’s ability to communicate effectively with his/her attorney, participate in legal proceedings, make rational decisions, or behave appropriately in a courtroom. It also can impact his/her ability to assist with appeals.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the death penalty is unconstitutional for people with intellectual disabilities (Atkins v. Virginia). It has not excluded offenders with severe mental illness from the death penalty.

The American Bar Association, The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Alliance on Mental illness have adopted a recommendation calling for a prohibition on the death penalty for those with severe mental disorders or disabilities.  Numerous mental health organizations in Texas also have condemned the execution of offenders with severe mental illness.

Read more about Ward’s case from the Texas Tribune and from the Associated Press.

Texas accounts for four of the eight executions that have taken place in the United States to date in 2016. At least nine other individuals currently have execution dates.

 

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10 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas Executes Coy Wesbrook

State of Texas Executes Coy Wesbrook

Last night, the State of Texas carried out its fourth execution of the year, putting Coy Wesbrook to death for the murders of his ex-wife, Gloria Coons, and Antonio Cruz in 1997 in Channelview (Harris County).  Wesbrook killed three other people during the same incident.  According to Reuters, the execution was delayed by about two hours because of a last-minute appeal.

Wesbrook was the eighth person to executed by lethal injection in the United States this year. Of the 535 executions in Texas since 1982, 126 involved cases out of Harris County, which includes Houston.

Two additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas this month.

 

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09 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas scheduled to execute Coy Wesbrook

State of Texas scheduled to execute Coy Wesbrook

Tonight the State of Texas is scheduled to carry out its fourth execution of the year.  Coy Wesbrook – who goes by the nickname “Elvis” – was sentenced to death for the murders of his ex-wife, Gloria Coons, and Antonio Cruz in 1997 in Channelview (Harris County).  He killed three other people that night, as well.

According to his attorneys, no legal appeals are pending. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Wesbrook’s clemency petition by a vote of 7-0 earlier this week.  Read more about his case in the Houston Press.

If it proceeds, Wesbrook’s execution will the be eighth lethal injection in the United States this year. Of the 534 executions in Texas since 1982, 125 involved cases out of Harris County, which includes Houston.

Two other individuals – Adam Ward and John Battaglia – have execution dates this month in Texas.  All other executions scheduled to occur in March elsewhere in the United States have been stayed for various reasons.

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01 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on TCADP March 2016 Alert: Get ready to Amplify Austin!

TCADP March 2016 Alert: Get ready to Amplify Austin!

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to put three people to death this month
TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: Check out photos from the day
New resource: Public Safety Officers on the Death Penalty
Amplify Austin: Set your alarm for March 9th at 1 PM
Featured events: Sister Helen Prejean to appear at three events in the Houston area

Quote of the month
“If it [abolition of the death penalty] can be done in Nebraska, it can be done here.”
– Nebraska Senator Colby Coash, addressing the TCADP 2016 Annual Conference on February 20, 2016 in Houston, Texas

Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute three people this month:

On March 9, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Coy Wesbrook for the murders of his ex-wife, Gloria Coons, and Antonio Cruz in 1997 in Channelview (Harris County). In 2012, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a Harris County criminal court to re-evaluate Wesbrook’s intellectual competence to face execution.

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Adam Ward on March 22 for killing Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker in 2005 in Hunt County.  Ward was 22 years old at the time of the crime.

On March 30, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute John Battaglia for the 2001 murders of his two daughters, Faith and Liberty, ages 9 and 6, in Dallas County. Battaglia is now 60 years old.

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

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Note the new vigil location in Waco. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Supporters gather in Houston for TCADP 2016 Annual Conference
TCADP is grateful to everyone who participated in our 2016 Annual Conference on February 20th in Houston.  It was wonderful to see so many new and familiar faces, honor our incredible award recipients, and hear from special guests Nebraska Senator Colby Coash, defense attorney George Parnham, Dr. Stephen Klineberg of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and many more.  Check out the photo album from the day on the TCADP Facebook page.

New resource: Public Safety Officials on the Death Penalty
The Constitution Project has launched an exciting new initiative – Public Safety Officials on the Death Penalty (PSODP) – a group of current and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and corrections officials with concerns about the death penalty.  More information and a list of endorsements is available on their website and in this article from The Crime Report’s Ted Gest. If you know any public safety officers (active or retired) who may want to join this group, please contact TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle at khoule@tcadp.org.

Amplify Austin
Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online fundraising festival, will take place from 6 PM on March 8th to 6 PM on March 9th.  You can help TCADP win a $1,000 bonus prize for the fourth year in a row by donating between 1:00 and 2:00 PM Central Time on Wednesday, March 9. Check out our profile page, including a testimonial from Texas State Musician Sara Hickman, and set your alarm for Wednesday afternoon. Consider donating at:

1:13 PM for the 13 people exonerated from Texas’ death row
1:20 PM for the 20 jurisdictions (20 states and the District of Columbia) that don’t allow the death penalty
1:40 PM for the 140 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice

Last year, we raised more than $6,000 through this event, including a $1,000 bonus prize for securing the most donors between the 1 and 2 PM giving hour.  This year, we seek to raise $10,000. Let’s Amplify Austin and promote justice!

Featured events
TCADP invites your participation in the following meetings and events:

Austin
From March 31 to April 2, 2016, the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project and the University of Texas School of Law Capital Punishment Center are hosting “40 Years After Gregg: A National Conference on the Death Penalty” in Austin, Texas. For more information, please click here.

Dallas
The John Marshall Pre-Law Society of UTD will host “Selden Hale: Amarillo Death Penalty Defense Attorney on How Texas Made its Own Making a Murderer” on Thursday, March 24, 2016 from 4:00 to 5:30 PM. The event will take place in the Founders Building.

Houston
The University of St. Thomas will host Sister Helen Prejean on Wednesday, March 10, 2016 in the Scanlan Room of the Jerabeck Activity Center (4000 Mt. Vernon; Houston, Texas). This free event will begin at 7:30 PM and is sponsored by the Criminology, Law and Society & UST Social Justice Committee. Please contact Dyla Gutierrez at mdgutier@stthom.edu with any questions.

KingwoodTONIGHT!
The Criminal Justice Department at Lone Star College-Kingwood will host Sister Helen Prejean on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in the Student Conference Center. The event will begin with a showing of the film “Dead Man Walking” at 4:30PM, followed by remarks by Sister Helen at 7:00PM. This free event is a unique opportunity to hear and meet one of the most prominent figures in capital punishment opposition. Click here for more information.

Tomball – TOMORROW!
Sister Helen Prejean will appear at Lone Star College’s Tomball campus (East 100) on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. The event will begin with a showing of the film “Dead Man Walking” at 4:30PM, followed by remarks by Sister Helen at 7:00PM. This free event is open to the public. Click here for more information.

Statewide
On Saturday, March 19, 2016, Democrat and Republican County and District Conventions will take place across the State of Texas. We encourage all of our members to engage in politics on the local and state level. Please contact Vanessa at vanessa@tcadp.org if you need talking points or materials on the death penalty to share with other participants.  If you live in the Dallas area and plan to attend your Senate District convention, please contact Jason at Jason@tcadp.org.  Click here for more information about Democratic Conventions and here for Republican Conventions.

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