Archive | execution

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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16 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Manuel Garza Jr.

State of Texas executes Manuel Garza Jr.

The State of Texas carried out its sixth execution of the year on April 15, 2015. Manuel Garza Jr., 34, was put to death for the 2001 murder of 37-year-old San Antonio SWAT Officer John “Rocky” Riojas.

Garza is among the 42 individuals convicted in Bexar County who have been executed.  This puts the county, which includes San Antonio, only behind Harris and Dallas Counties when it comes to executions in Texas.  No one has been sentenced to death by a Bexar County jury since 2009.

Read more about his case from the Huffington Post and The Guardian.

We appreciate everyone who participated in vigils last night.

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13 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Kent Sprouse

State of Texas executes Kent Sprouse

The State of Texas carried out its fifth execution of the year on April 9, 2015. Kent Sprouse, 42, was put to death for the 2002 murders of a 28-year-old Texas cop and a 38-year-old gas station customer.  Sprouse is one of only two executions from Ellis county. Read more about Sprouse from the Huffington Post.

We appreciate everyone who participated in vigils.

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11 March 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Manuel Vasquez

State of Texas executes Manuel Vasquez

The State of Texas carried out its fourth execution of the year tonight, putting Manuel Vasquez to death for the 1998 murder of 51-year-old Juanita Ybarra in San Antonio.  It was the 41st execution involving an individual convicted in Bexar County since 1982 and the 2nd this  year. Read more about Vasquez from the Texas Tribune.

News broke earlier this week that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice only has enough compounded pentobarbital to carry out this execution and one more scheduled for next week. According to the Associated Press, the agency “is scrambling to find a supplier to replenish its inventory of execution drugs” but will not disclose information regarding any potential sources.

We appreciate everyone who participated in vigils around the state today.

 

 

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13 February 2015 ~ Comments Off on Attorneys for Rodney Reed file new appeal

Attorneys for Rodney Reed file new appeal

Yesterday, attorneys for Rodney Reed filed a new appeal in Bastrop County based on new witness testimony and forensic evidence that supports their client’s innocence.  Reed is scheduled to be put to death by the State of Texas on March 5 for the 1996 murder of Stacy Stites.  Reed claims that he and Stites were romantically involved.  His supporters point to another suspect with a history of violence: Stites fiancé,  Jimmy Fennell, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for raping a woman in his custody as a Georgetown police officer in 2007.

According to the Texas Tribune, three out-of-state forensic examiners who reviewed the case believe that Stites was likely killed hours earlier than previously thought and that her body was moved after she was killed. Terri Langford writes “If true, those findings significantly challenge the timeline prosecutors used to convict Reed of Stites’ murder during his 1998 criminal trial.”

On November 25, 2014 a state district judge in Bastrop County denied Reed’s request for expanded DNA testing of evidence in his case.

Reed’s attorneys also filed affidavits from two new witnesses who confirmed Reed’s affair with Stites.

Attorneys ultimately expect the Texas  Court of Criminal Appeals to consider this latest filing.

Read more from the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman.

Read a press release from the Innocence Project and take action to stop the execution of Rodney Reed.  Email the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott through an action sponsored by the Innocence Project.

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On Sunday, February 15th, the Friends Meeting of Austin will host a Press Conference and Meeting with Sister Helen Prejean in Support of Rodney Reed.  The event will take place from 2:00 PM until 4:30 PM at the Meeting House (3701 E MLK Blvd, Austin).  Sister Helen Prejean (acclaimed author of Dead Man Walking and TCADP Advisory Board member), Reed’s attorneys, and other Austin clergy are scheduled to speak. Family members of Reed and of Stacey Stites, will attend the event, as well. More information is available here.

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05 February 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Donald Newbury; Supreme Court stays execution of Lester Bower

State of Texas executes Donald Newbury; Supreme Court stays execution of Lester Bower

Last night the State of Texas carried out its third execution of the year, putting Donald Newbury to death for the 2000 murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.  Newbury was serving a 99-year sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon when he and six other inmates broke out of the Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas on December 13, 2000. The “Texas Seven” made their way to North Texas, where on Christmas Eve they robbed a sporting goods store at gunpoint and killed Officer Hawkins.

Two of Newbury’s co-defendants have already been executed, one committed suicide, and three others remain on death row. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

Texas accounts for three of the seven executions to date in the United States this year.

*Breaking news* The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution to Lester Bower “pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari.” Bower was scheduled to be executed next week on February 10th for the shooting deaths of four men at an ultralight airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983.  Bower, a former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, has consistently maintained his innocence.  He has spent more than 30 years on death row in Texas.

According to KXII News 12 in Sherman, attorneys for Bower presented three arguments to the Justices:

1. Whether the former Texas special issues for death penalty sentencing allowed the jury to consider mitigating evidence of good character;

2. Whether evidence disclosed by the state after the trial that the rare specialty ammunition prosecutors said Bower used to commit the murders was not really all that rare constitutes a due process clause violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; and

3. 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.

Bower’s trial took place before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Johnny Paul Penry, which determined that jurors must be given an opportunity to consider mitigating evidence in the punishment phase of death penalty trials.  Dozens of people on death row in Texas have received new sentencing hearings as a result of that ruling.

Read more from KXII.

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