Archive | execution

12 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Dallas Morning News Editorial Calls on Federal Courts, Gov. Perry to Stop the Execution of Robert Campbell

A new editorial from the Dallas Morning News, “Getting It Right” (May 10, 2014), calls on the federal courts and Texas Governor Rick Perry to stop the execution of Robert Campbell, which is scheduled to occur on May 13, 2014.  The editorial notes that many of the reform recommendations cited last week in a new report from The Constitution Project apply directly in Campbell’s case, namely the right to competent legal counsel and the need for improved safeguards against executing people with intellectual or mental deficiencies.  Here’s an excerpt from the editorial:

Had these provisions already been in Texas law, it’s doubtful that Robert James Campbell, 41, would be scheduled for execution in Huntsville on Tuesday. Convicted of the 1991 rape-murder of Houston bank teller Alexandra Rendon, 20, Campbell is set to die despite records indicating intellectual limitations that would render him ineligible, and despite lawyers who failed him at trial and in initial appeals.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a stay in his case last week, but a dissent by four of the nine judges objected that courts have yet to weigh school records and IQ tests that prosecutors and prison officials hadn’t turned over to the defense. Those records indicate “prima facie evidence of mental retardation,” the dissent said. The court majority, however, leaned on procedure in rejecting a review of the claims.

Campbell’s attorneys assert that prison officials “lied” in saying Campbell hadn’t been given an IQ test on death row; the appeals court’s dissent was charitable about that, calling it “misinformation.” Either way, it’s an outrage that the state is set to take a life when it is culpable in stacking the deck.

It would offend the sense of justice if Gov. Rick Perry or federal appeals courts allowed this execution to proceed.

Read the full editorial.  Read previous posts on Robert Campbell, including statements from his attorneys, here and here.

 

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10 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Federal Judge Urges 5th Circuit to Reconsider Lethal Injection Secrecy

Yesterday, in his denial of a civil rights challenge by Robert Campbell, who is facing imminent execution, Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas stated:

The horrific narrative of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014 requires sober reflection on the manner in which this nation administers the ultimate punishment. While the law currently does not permit injunctive relief, this Court urges the Fifth Circuit to reconsider its jurisprudence that seems to shield crucial elements of the execution process from open inquiry.

Judge Ellison did not grant a stay of execution to Mr. Campbell, “saying his hands were tied because of higher court rulings,” according to NBC News.

Mr. Campbell is challenging Texas’ right to execute him without disclosing the source of and other information about the compounded pentobarbital to be used in his execution, which is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Maurie Levin, one of Mr. Campbell’s attorneys at: maurielevin@gmail.com or 512-294-1540.

Read full coverage of yesterday’s ruling from NBC News.

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08 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Narrowly Dismisses Robert Campbell Appeal

This afternoon, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Robert Campbell’s application for post-conviction relief by the narrowest of margins – a vote of 5 to 4.  The appeal raised important claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and evidence of intellectual disability. Campbell is scheduled to be executed next Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  Below is a statement from Campbell’s attorneys regarding today’s decision from the state’s highest criminal court.

Statement from attorneys for Robert Campbell regarding the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision this afternoon to dismiss Mr. Campbell’s application for post-conviction relief

“We are deeply disappointed that a majority of the Court chose to wash its hands of its responsibility for Mr. Campbell’s fate.  The CCA’s decision today refuses any remedy for the abysmal performance of an attorney the CCA itself appointed.  That outcome mocks the Legislature’s promise that every condemned prisoner will have one full and fair opportunity for post-conviction review.  It is now likely that there will never be any meaningful examination of whether Mr. Campbell received effective legal assistance at trial.

“More gravely troubling, however, is the majority’s refusal to require a hearing on the urgent question of whether Mr. Campbell has mental retardation, and thus may not legally be executed at all.  Every piece of substantial evidence supports that diagnosis, and a comprehensive evaluation by a highly qualified psychologist has now confirmed it. Judge Alcala, in her powerful dissenting opinion today, correctly called the evidence of Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation ‘compelling.’  And she zeroed in on the fundamental unfairness of today’s decision – the reason why this evidence was not available in 2003, when the CCA first turned away Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation claim. Namely, State officials affirmatively misled Mr. Campbell’s lawyers when they told him they had no records of IQ testing of Mr. Campbell from his time on Death Row.  That was a lie.  They had such test results, and they placed Mr. Campbell squarely in the range for a diagnosis of mental retardation.  As Judge Alcala puts it, ‘It would be unjust to penalize [Mr. Campbell] for not uncovering such a falsehood previously, when he had no basis to believe that a falsehood had been conveyed to him. . . . This Court should not base its decisions that determine whether a person will live or be executed based on misinformation or wholly inadequate information.’

“It now falls to the federal courts and Governor Perry to ensure that Mr. Campbell, a person with mental retardation, will not be executed as a result of this disturbing violation by State officials of his most basic due process rights.”

May 8, 2014

- Attorney Robert C. Owen, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law

- Attorney Raoul D. Schonemann, Capital Punishment Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

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To arrange an interview with attorney Robert Owen, please contact Kristin Houle at 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948 (cell) or khoule@tcadp.org.

Read coverage of the court’s decision from the Austin American-Statesman.

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06 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Attorneys for Robert Campbell Seek Relief, Full and Fair Opportunity to Present Claims in Court

On May 5, 2014, attorneys for Robert Campbell, who is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on May 13, 2014, filed an application for post-conviction writ of habeas corpus in the 232nd Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  The application seeks a stay of execution for Mr. Campbell in order to give the court time to provide a full and fair review of his claims related to ineffective assistance of counsel and evidence of intellectual disabilities; to date, no state court has given serious consideration to these claims. Proceeding with his execution under these circumstances would be profoundly unfair.

Specifically, the application seeks relief on two key issues:

Mr. Campbell received ineffective assistance of counsel during his 1992 trial and in state habeas proceedings.  His trial counsel did not conduct a thorough investigation into potential mitigating evidence and, subsequently, failed to present substantial evidence of Mr. Campbell’s turbulent and deprived childhood to the jury during the punishment phase, or to explore obvious questions about Mr. Campbell’s cognitive impairment.  The attorney then appointed to represent him on initial habeas corpus proceedings was incompetent and filed a meaningless, boilerplate claim – identical to the claims he had filed in four other death penalty cases – on behalf of his client, with whom he never even met before filing the appeal.

- No court has considered evidence of Mr. Campbell’s intellectual disabilities, which bar his execution under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia (2002).  A recent comprehensive evaluation assessed his IQ at 69, and school records discovered by current counsel provide additional evidence of “significantly subaverage intellectual functioning.”

Statement from Attorneys for Robert Campbell Regarding the Application for Post-Conviction Relief

“Robert Campbell faces execution despite the fact that no state court has given full consideration to the ineffectiveness of his lawyers, at multiple levels, or the significant evidence of his intellectual disability.  His trial attorney failed to present jurors with a clear and compelling picture of Mr. Campbell’s violent and impoverished childhood, which could have persuaded them to spare his life – indeed, they deliberated on his fate for nine hours even without knowing the full story of Mr. Campbell’s deprived background.  This failure was compounded by the incompetence of the attorney appointed to represent Mr. Campbell in initial habeas corpus proceedings in state court, whose ineptitude erected insurmountable hurdles to meaningful review in subsequent proceedings in federal court.

“Mr. Campbell has also been denied the opportunity to present his Atkins claim of intellectual disability, which was dismissed in 2003 on the basis of a factual record that we now know was incomplete and misleading.  There is ample evidence to support the fact that Mr. Campbell is intellectually disabled and therefore may not legally be executed.  These compelling facts should not be dismissed on a technicality.

“Executing Mr. Campbell under these circumstances would be profoundly unfair.  We urge the court to grant relief to Mr. Campbell by staying his execution and providing him with the full and fair opportunity he deserves to present his claims to the court — this time with the assistance of competent counsel.”

- Attorney Robert C. Owen, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law

- Attorney Raoul D. Schonemann, Capital Punishment Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

May 6, 2014

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To arrange an interview with attorney Robert Owen regarding the application for post-conviction relief, please contact Kristin Houlé  at 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948 (cell) or khoule@tcadp.org.

For information regarding the Texas lethal injection protocol, drugs in the TDCJ’s possession, background on previous disputes between TDCJ and pharmacies, please contact attorney Maurie Levin at maurielevin@gmail.com and (512) 294-1540, attorney Jonathan Ross atJROSS@susmangodfrey.com and 832-659-8126 or Laura Burstein at Laura.Burstein@squiresanders.com, (202) 626-6868.

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06 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

TX Court Asked to Stay Execution Following Oklahoma Debacle

One week after the horrific botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, a civil rights action and stay motion on behalf of Texas death row prisoner Robert James Campbell was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, challenging Texas’ right to execute Mr. Campbell without disclosing the source of and other information about the compounded pentobarbital to be used in his execution onTuesday, May 13, 2014.

It was only recently, with its purchase of the most recent batch of lethal injection drugs, that Texas began to follow the path of secrecy shared by Oklahoma in the weeks leading up to Mr. Lockett’s torturous death. The complaint and request for a stay can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQakdBUFQyQndmMFk/edit and https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQUmpZNU1BcWVFd00/edit

Maurie Levin, one of the attorneys representing Mr. Campbell, commented, “The botched execution in Oklahoma has made clear that the significant risk of a tortuous death is a very real threat when states aren’t required to facilitate executions with transparency, accountability and disclosure of the sort sought – and denied – in Oklahoma.”

 “The fact that Oklahoma attempted to execute Mr. Lockett using a different protocol that did not include the chemical (compounded pentobarbital) called for by Texas’ current protocol does not obviate a risk that derives primarily from the secrecy of the entire process – not the individual drug that might be used in one execution vs. the next,” states the lawsuit. (p. 5)

 Texas’ lethal injection protocol calls for a single dose of pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is no longer legally available in FDA-regulated form, but only from compounded pharmacies, which operate outside of FDA oversight, making it impossible to know if the drugs have been properly prepared and tested in order to ensure the execution will be carried out in a manner that comports with the Constitution. In addition, documents show that TDCJ is in possession in midazalom, the first drug used in the botched execution of Mr. Locket:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQOTVldW11MGRPVE0/edit?usp=sharing

Executions in Oklahoma and South Dakota that used compounded pentobarbital appeared to have had serious problems. On January 9, 2014, Oklahoma executed Michael Wilson, presumably also using compounded pentobarbital as the first drug in the three-drug formula. Prior to losing consciousness, Mr. Wilson cried out, “I feel my whole body burning.” Those were his last words. The State has refused to provide any information about what might have gone wrong in Mr. Wilson’s execution, but expert pharmacologist Larry D. Sasich, PharmD, MPH, FASHP, signed a sworn affidavit stating, “It is my opinion that Mr. Wilson’s reaction is consistent with contaminated pentobarbital sodium injection.”

Dr. Sasich’s affidavit is here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZlZCMWhrWXBsSXJwTnIyWVUyZHVGM3BoWEZv/edit

The sworn statement of another anesthesiologist, Dr. Waisel, is here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQQ0l5b1RHUG0wLVE/edit

In October 2012, in South Dakota, Eric Robert was executed using compounded pentobarbital. Witnesses reported that he “appeared to clear his throat and gasp heavily, at which point his skin turned a blue-purplish hue. Mr. Robert opened his eyes and they remained open until his death, and his heart continued beating for 10 minutes after he ceased to breathe.”

On April 14, 2014, in Texas, Jose Villegas was executed with compounded pentobarbital.  “As a journalist witness wrote:  “Just as the dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he said, ‘It does kind of burn.  Goodbye.’  He gasped several times, then began breathing quietly. (pp. 11-12).” Additionally, there have been multiple documented problematic executions in Texas via lethal injection, detailed on pp. 13-14.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has engaged in secretive and deceptive practices in its attempts to purchase drugs for executions previously, including using a false hospital name and a false patient name (see p. 8), and currently refuses to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug or any other information about the drug’s purity, efficacy, or testing.

As the filing states, “In this pivotal regard – the secrecy surrounding the drugs and the executions – Texas is no different than Oklahoma.” (p. 6).

“In light of these events, the risky nature of compounded drugs, problematic executions involving compounded pentobarbital, and the risks inherent to a secretive process, law and equity demand that we pause in our pursuit of executions.  To move forward without hesitation despite full awareness of the grave risks and possibly torturous results – to permit this execution to proceed in light of the eye-opening events in Oklahoma – should not be countenanced by a civilized society , nor tolerated by the constitutional principles that form the foundation of our democracy.” (p. 6)

Additionally, Mr. Campbell’s case contains other areas of concern, highlighted in his state habeas filing,including intellectual disability, quality of legal representation, disparity in sentencing, and possible racial bias at trial. Testing indicates that Mr. Campbell is a person with intellectual disability. At the age of 18, he and another man, Mr. Lewis, committed a tragic rape and murder. Although the DNA evidence implicates the men equally, Mr. Lewis is now free while Mr. Campbell is on death row. Mr. Campbell’s right to post-conviction review was essentially forfeited by an appointed lawyer who filed a boilerplate brief that was identical to the ones he filed for four other condemned men. Finally, Mr. Campbell is an African American man who was prosecuted in Harris County, Texas, during an era which has been widely criticized for overt racial bias in other cases in that area. The state habeas filing can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZmFSMVBLcmpRcU0/edit

For more information about the Texas lethal injection protocol, drugs in the TDCJ’s possession, background on previous disputes between TDCJ and pharmacies, do not hesitate to contact me atLaura.Burstein@squiresanders.com(202) 626-6868. To speak to counsel for Mr. Campbell, contact Maurie Levin at  maurielevin@gmail.com and (512) 294-1540 or Jonathan Ross at JROSS@susmangodfrey.com and832-659-8126.

 

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01 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

May 2014 Alert: Botched Execution, Study 1 in 25 innocent, Events in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi

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In This Edition:

Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
TCADP Spring Newsletter
Featured Events
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Robert Campbell on May 13, 2014. He was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Alexandra Rendon in Houston in 1991. Campbell was just three months past his 18th birthday at the time of the crime; he has spent more than half his life on death row. Co-defendant Leroy Lewis, who also was 18 at the time, pled guilty and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Read more about the case and take action through Amnesty International.

TCADP stands with our colleagues in Oklahoma in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into the horrifically botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014. No more executions should take place in Oklahoma, Texas, or anywhere else in this country until basic questions about lethal injection are answered. Read more, including a statement from former Texas Governor Mark WhiteTwitter users:  please use #DemandFullInquiryOK in your tweets about the Oklahoma execution.

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of Texas executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
New study: One out of 25 death sentences imposed on an innocent person
New research published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that over four percent of all those sentenced to death in the United States from 1973 through 2004 were innocent. The percentage of innocent people sentenced to death (4.1%) is more than double the percentage of those actually exonerated and freed from death row during the study period (1.6%). Read more.

Former Supreme Court Justice calls for Constitutional amendment to ban the death penalty
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who just turned 94 years old, has published a new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. Among other proposals, Stevens calls for changing the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” by specifically including the death penalty. Read more from USA Today and the Austin American Statesman.

Strong Majority of Houstonians Support Alternatives to the Death Penaltyhouston survey
According to the 33rd Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey, 69 percent of Houstonians support alternatives to the death penalty for people convicted of first-degree murder. The survey finds “a gradual and continuing drop in support for the death penalty across the years.” You can find previous polling results on the death penalty here.

Texas Observer article explores decision-making process of a small-town prosecutor
In “To Kill? Or Not to Kill?” reporter Maurice Chammah explores a District Attorney’s decision whether or not to pursue the death penalty in a capital murder case.  Set within the context of declining death sentences, the article probes the pressures and soul-searching that small-town prosecutors often confront in making life and death decisions. Read it now.

TCADP Spring Newsletter
We hope you enjoy this Spring 2014 Issue of Seizing the Momentum, released April 24! Please note that while we will continue to provide this newsletter to members on a quarterly basis, we will print and mail only two issues of “Seizing the Momentum” this year (the winter and fall issues.) All four issues of the newsletter will be available online.  If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org.  To update your contact information and/or newsletter preferences, please visit our website.

Download – TCADP 2014 Spring Quarterly Newsletter

In this issue:
Cover Story TCADP’s Stategic Plan prioritizes 5 areas of importance for furthering our goals of first decreasing and then ending the use of the death penalty.

Voices of Texas: On page 4, our colleagues at Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation share with us the best ways to respond to those we know touched by violence.

Death Penalty Developments:  TCADP works to stay apprised of new death sentences, stays of executions and emerging trends in Texas’ response to capital punishment, found on page 5.

Can Social Media Increase Anti-Death Penalty Engagement?  Find the answer on page 6 and learn several specific ways to increase your impact and further our efforts.

Thank You, Members, Donors, and Partners for Justice:  Thank you to everyone who supported TCADP during Amplify Austin in March!  TCADP repeated its win of an extra $1000 for most donors during 1:00-2:00pm of the campaign. Celebrate your fellow TCADP members by seeing who gave this quarter.

Featured Events
Carrollton: Witness to Death: A Hearing of Kathy Cox and a Training from Center for Theological Activism to occur May 6 at Holy Covenant UMC at 7:00pm.  Kathy Cox is 90 years old, has witnessed over 60 executions and currently ministers to 40 persons on Texas’ Death Row. For over 65 years, Cox has worked for social change from within her denominational home of the Salvation Army. We will gather to hear Cox’s story, to learn to share our own stories and be activated in the fight to abolish the death penalty. Learn more.
This event is sponsored by Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, Center for Theological Activism and Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty – TCADP.

Dallas: Join TCADP as we launch a new bi-monthly lunch series in Dallas! The first luncheon will take place on Monday, May 19th from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at the Trinity Center, 1444 Oaklawn Ave., Dallas, 75207. Lunch will be catered at a cost of $10 per person to be paid by cash or check at the venue. Please RSVP to reserve your seat!

Houston: The “Fair & Just” Lunch Series returns to Houston on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Susan Truscott, Vice Consul for the British Consulate-General Houston, will share the history of her government’s opposition to the death penalty and her work at the consulate.  Join us from 12:30 to 1:30 at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Place your order for a box lunch or bring your own. RSVP and reserve your lunch now!

Austin: Please join TCADP Austin for the bi-monthly lunch discussion to be held Wednesday, May 28 12:00-1:00pm in the fellowship hall of Servant Church/Asbury UMC at 1605 E. 38 1/2 St..  Parking is available on Cherrywood, 38 1/2 and in a lot (access from 38 1/2) in the back of the church.  The Fellowship hall is accessible from Cherrywood. Place your order for a box lunch or bring your own. RSVP and reserve your lunch now!

anthony gravesCorpus Christi:  Anthony Graves will speak at a Social Justice Luncheon Friday, June 13. The Methodist Federation for Social Action, SWTX Chapter and the Conference Board of Church and Society of Rio Texas United Methodist Church will host Anthony Graves to speak about “Life After Death Row” during the “Peace and Justice Luncheon.”  The luncheon is being held at the American Bank Convention Center, Henry Garrett Pre-Function area in Corpus Christi during the United Methodist Annual Conference, but all are welcome. Specific action opportunities will be provided for people of faith. Please note:  Pre-Registration required.  Registration form to share or print and mail with payment.   Online Registration.

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

May
6 “Witness to Death: A Hearing of Kathy Cox”, 7:00-9:00pm, Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton More Info.
13 Scheduled Execution: Robert Campbell
14 TCADP table at Restorative Justice Conference, College of Biblical Studies, Houston*
19 TCADP Lunch discussion, 12:00 to 1:00pm, Trinity Trust Foundation, 1444 Oaklawn Avenue, Dallas RSVP for lunch.
25-27 TCADP info at Texas Annual Conference UMC, Houston*
27 TCADP “Fair and Just” Lunch series, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston, 12:30pm RSVP and Purchase lunch
27 El Paso Chapter Meeting; Juan Diego Room in the Ministry Center of St Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N Clark St, 7:00pm; elpaso@tcadp.org
28 TCADP Austin Lunch discussion 12:00pm, Servant Church RSVP and Purchase Lunch
31 TCADP Board Meeting, Austin

June
1-3 TCADP info at North Texas Annual Conference UMC, Richardson
13 Anthony Graves to speak at Rio Texas Annual Conference UMC Social Justice Luncheon, Corpus Christi, Noon.* Online Registration
19-22 TCADP booth at Texas Black Expo, Houston*
27-28 TCADP booth at Texas Democratic Party Convention, Dallas*

TCADP encourages all members to attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions.

*For more information about these events or to volunteer to staff a table at an outreach event, email info@tcadp.org.

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!

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30 April 2014 ~ Comments Off

Botched Oklahoma Execution Heightens Need for Transparency in Lethal Injection Process

Last night, the State of Oklahoma horribly botched the execution of Clayton Lockett after employing an experimental new drug protocol that had never been used in that dosage on a human being.  Attorneys for Mr. Lockett and for Charles Warner, who also was scheduled to be executed last night, had waged numerous challenges to the extreme secrecy surrounding the lethal injection process.  Like officials in Texas, Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections refused to disclose the source of its drugs.

In a statement released by The Constitution Project, Mark White, former Texas governor and co-chair of The Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Committee, offered the following comments:

Last night, we witnessed the latest — and what, by all indications, appears to be the worst –chapter thus far in the practice of human experimentation in the execution of prisoners by lethal injection. In the face of growing drug shortages due to manufacturers’ refusal to permit use of their products to kill people, some state governments have started down a haphazard and dangerous path. They have begun to hastily attempt to execute prisoners with drugs never before used for that purpose, often with compounds obtained in secret from undisclosed sources, hoping through trial and error to hit on a method that might work. The botched execution of Clayton Lockett is the horrific, if sadly predictable, result. Americans may want tough justice, but most do not want to be cruel or inhumane in executing even the most heinous of criminals, and this was exactly that.

TCADP stands with our colleagues in Oklahoma and around the country in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into what went wrong with this execution.

Here’s a statement from Clayton Lockett’s attorney Dean Sanderford, Assistant Federal Defender with the Office of the Federal Public Defender, District of Colorado and Wyoming, in response to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s press statements today regarding the botched execution of Mr. Lockett:

Today Governor Fallin called for an ‘independent review’ of the botched execution of my client, Clayton Lockett, but she did not assign this duty to a neutral, third party with independent interests. Instead, she has charged the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety with the job. The DPS is a state agency, and its Commissioner reports to the Governor. As such, the review proposed by Governor Fallin would not be conducted by a neutral, independent entity. In order to understand exactly what went wrong in last night’s horrific execution, and restore any confidence in the execution process, the death of Clayton Lockett must be investigated by a truly independent organization, not a state employee or agency.

-Dean Sanderford, Attorney for Clayton Lockett, April 30, 2014

The White House has also weighed in on the situation, stating that the execution of Mr. Lockett “fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.”  Read more from Politico.

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17 April 2014 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Carries Out Third Execution in Three Weeks

Last night, April 16, 2014, the State of Texas carried out its third execution in three weeks, putting Jose Luis Villegas, Jr. to death for the murders of three people – his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Erida Perez Salazar, her 3-year-old son, Jacob Salazar, and her 51-year-old mother, Alma Perez – in 2001 in Corpus Christi. He reportedly then stole from the family to buy drugs.

According to the AP’s account of the execution, which appeared in the Houston Chronicle and other media outlets, “just as the dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he [Villegas] said, ‘It does kind of burn. Goodbye.’ He gasped several times, then began breathing quietly. Within less than a minute, all movement had stopped.”

Villegas was the third Texas inmate put to death with a new supply of the drug pentobarbital, which the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) obtained in March.  TDCJ has refused to disclose the name of the compounding pharmacy that supplied the drug.

Read more about the case from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Austin Chronicle.

The next execution in Texas is scheduled to take place on May 13, 2014.

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