Archive | execution

03 February 2014 ~ Comments Off

February 2014 TCADP Alert: Scheduled Execution, 2/22 Conference Workshops, and Upcoming Events

In This Edition: 
Scheduled Executions
Featured Events
TCADP Newsletter
In the News
Do you shop with Amazon?
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to put Suzanne Basso to death on February 5, 2014.  She was convicted in 1999 in Harris County of the 1998 murder of Louis “Buddy” Musso, an intellectually disabled man from New Jersey who came to Texas after meeting Basso and her son, J.D. O’Malley.  Five co-defendants, including O’Malley, were convicted of playing a role in the murder.  None of these six individuals have admitted to being the actual killer.

There’s still time for you to help stop this execution. If you haven’t done so already, please call the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry today to urge them to commute the death sentence of Suzanne Basso or at least grant a 90-day reprieve to give her attorney time to pursue her claim of incompetency to be executed and investigate issues related to the inconsistent testimony of the assistant medical examiner.

Talking points, background on the case, and contact information are available from a TCADP alert sent January 24.

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

Featured Events
TCADP 2014 Annual Conference
Registration for the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference is still open!
A highlight of the day of activities is the assortment of informative and interesting workshops offered in the afternoon.  Time is provided for conference participants to attend two of the following workshops:

-Legislative & Political Advocacy, featuring TCADP Lobby Corps Members Virginia Greenway and Bob Van Steenburg

-The American Bar Association Texas Death Penalty Assessment – led by Paul Coggins, an Assessment Team member and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas from 1993 to 2001, and Sarah Turberville, former Director of the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project

-Supporting the Families of Death Row Inmates – featuring Marilyn Shankle-Grant and Larry Brooks of Fort Worth

-Habits of the Heart: Bridging the Divide and Building Common Ground (Two Parts), led by Estrus Tucker, Vice President, TCADP Board of Directors

-Advancing TCADP’s Priority Initiatives on the Local Level, led by TCADP Program Coordinator Vicki McCuistion, Pat Delgado, Co-Coordinator of El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, and Shannon Pivoney, Co-Coordinator of TCADP in Collin County.

-Beyond Contemplation: Faith-Based Direct Action Against the Death Penalty, led by Rev. Jeff Hood, TCADP Board Member, and Emily Jean Hood, Artist and Educator, University of North Texas

Learn more about the conference, including details on our 2014 award winners who will be honored during the Awards Luncheon. Please note that sponsorship opportunities have been extended through Thursday, February 4!  See you in Cowtown!

Texas After Violence Project – Rescheduled Event
The Texas After Violence Project will host a special event, Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth, Saturday, February 8 from 12:00 to 3:00pm in the Energy Auditorium on Tarrant County College’s Trinity River (downtown) campus. Come explore the living pasts of the death penalty with families of executed Texans from the Fort Worth area and consider how memory may serve as a resource for restoring and reimagining community and building a more just and less violent Texas.

Featuring:

  • Derrek and Keith Brooks, sons of Charlie Brooks, Jr. executed on December 7, 1982
  • Stanley Allridge, brother of Ronald and James Allridge executed on June 8, 1995 and August 26, 2004 respectively
  • Opening remarks by Bob Ray Sanders, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Circle keeper – Estrus Tucker, TCADP Board Vice-President
  • Select clips from the Texas After Violence Project oral history archive

Hosted by the Texas After Violence Project with support from the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation.  Co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Texas Observer, Amnesty International, and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.

North Texas Clergy:  Prayer Breakfasts to be hosted in Fort Worth and Dallas
In anticipation of the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference:  “Lighting the Way” and believing in the power of prayerful community, TCADP Board Member Rev. Jeff Hood has organized prayer breakfasts in Dallas and Fort Worth to facilitate fellowship amongst faith leaders concerned about the death penalty, to hear the voices of local leaders of this effort and to offer prayers for abolishment.

The TCADP Dallas Prayer Breakfast will take place at the Cathedral of Hope – 5910 Cedar Springs, Dallas,75235 on February 11 from 9am-10:30am. RSVP Today!

The TCADP Fort Worth Prayer Breakfast will take place at Bread Fellowship – 2902 Race St. # 116, Fort Worth, 76111 on February 12 from 9am-10:30am.  RSVP Today! 

TCADP Newsletter:  Winter 2014TCADPInfographic2013
We hope you enjoy this Winter 2014 Issue of Seizing the Momentum!   Please note that while we will continue to provide this newsletter on a quarterly basis, we will print and mail only two issues of “Seizing the Momentum” this year (this winter issue and the fall issue) to current members.  All four issues of the newsletter will be available online. To update your contact information and/or newsletter preferences, please visit our website.

Download – TCADP 2014 Winter Quarterly Newsletter

In this issue:
Cover Story:  TCADP year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013
TCADP 2014 Annual Conference
TCADP 2014 Annual Award Winners
Calendar of Upcoming Events
Thank You, Members, Donors, and Partners for Justice

In the News
Last week, the Texas Observer reported that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3807, Texas’ largest prison guard union, is calling for a partial end to the controversial use of solitary confinement on death row as a way to improve conditions for both guards and inmates. According to the Observer, “The union’s call for change comes as TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice] is reviewing its death row procedures.”  Other groups, including mental health advocates and religious leaders, are submitting input, as well. The full article and a copy of a letter submitted by the union to TDCJ are available here.

Fundraising Opportunity: Amazon.com Supports TCADP!amazon
If you enjoy shopping on Amazon, please consider sharing some of your purchase power with TCADP.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.

Just click the box and connect your Amazon account with TCADP!

Calendar

February
5: Scheduled Execution of Suzanne Basso
8:  Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth
11: Dallas Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Cathedral of Hope; 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas  RSVP Today!
12: Fort Worth Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Bread Fellowship; 2902 Race Street #116, Fort Worth, Texas  RSVP Today!
22: TCADP Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way”  University Christian Church, Ft. Worth, Texas

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24 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

Action Alert: Stop the Execution of Suzanne Basso

The State of Texas is scheduled to put Suzanne Basso to death on February 5, 2014.  She was convicted in 1999 in Harris County of the 1998 murder of Louis “Buddy” Musso, an intellectually disabled man from New Jersey who came to Texas after meeting Basso and her son, J.D. O’Malley.  Five co-defendants, including O’Malley, were convicted of playing a role in the murder.  None of these six individuals have admitted to being the actual killer. Prosecutors alleged that Basso expected to benefit from Musso’s life insurance policies, though there is no evidence that she could have collected funds from any such policies.

Background Information
Attorneys for Suzanne Basso failed to present any mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of her trial and conducted virtually no investigation into her background. Had they done so, they would have uncovered pervasive evidence of her impoverished and abusive childhood, including sexual abuse at the hands of relatives.  The jury also did not hear about Basso’s long history of delusional thinking and mental illness.

The judge who presided over the trial denied a request by defense counsel for funds to hire Mark Cunningham, a nationally recognized mitigation expert.

Dr. Paul Shrode, an assistant medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the victim, provided inconsistent testimony as to his cause of death.  Dr. Shrode also gave unreliable testimony in a death penalty case in Ohio, which eventually resulted in a commutation by the Governor.  Earlier this year, Suzanne Basso’s attorney learned that Dr. Shrode falsified his credentials while testifying in El Paso, Texas in 2010 and was later discharged as medical examiner for El Paso County. The fact that this important information regarding a key witness against Suzanne Basso was not disclosed to her attorney is extremely disconcerting.

Take action now!
Call upon the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to commute the death sentence of Suzanne Basso or at least grant a 90-day reprieve to give her attorney time to pursue her claim of incompetency to be executed and investigate issues related to the inconsistent testimony of the assistant medical examiner.

Talking Points for Your Appeals to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry

  • No mitigating evidence was presented to the jury, and attorney requests for funding to conduct a mitigation investigation and hire a nationally renowned mitigation expert were denied by the judge who presided over the trial.  The jury was not able to consider evidence of her impoverished and abusive childhood, including sexual abuse at the hands of relatives.
  • Suzanne Basso has a long history of mental illness and delusional thinking, which calls into question her current competency to be executed.
  • Her attorney has requested a 90-day reprieve in order to investigate forensic issues related to the now-discredited assistant medical examiner’s testimony regarding the victim’s cause of death.

Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Suzanne Basso #999329” and should arrive by January 31, 2014.

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

Clemency Section
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX 78757-6814
Phone: (512) 406-5852
Fax: (512) 467-0945
Email: bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us
Salutation: Dear Board Members

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Fax: (512) 463-1849
Main number: (512) 463-2000
Information and Referral Hotline: (800) 843 5789 [for Texas callers]
Citizen’s Opinion Hotline: (800) 252-9600 [for Texas callers]
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782 [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]
Online Contact: http://www2.governor.state.tx.us/contact
Salutation: Dear Governor Perry

 

 

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23 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Executes Edgar Tamayo, Despite Protests from Mexican Government

Last night, after a three-hour delay resulting from a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Texas executed Edgar Tamayo.  He was convicted  of the 1994 murder of Officer Guy Gaddis of the Houston Police Department. It was the first execution to take place in Texas in 2014 and the fourth  nationwide.

Tamayo, a Mexican national, was denied his right to seek consular assistance after his arrest, as required under article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  Mexican authorities did not learn of his case until a week before the start of the trial and were  unable to provide him with adequate legal counsel. Tamayo’s court-appointed attorney failed to present substantial mitigating evidence about his abusive childhood and developmental problems, which might have impacted the jury’s decision in the sentencing phase.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, “The Supreme Court considered at least two late appeals. One focused on whether he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. The other was related to the consular issue.”  The Court rejected both appeals.

Previous posts on Tamayo are available here and here.

Coverage of his execution is available from the Austin American-Statesman, which includes a picture of last night’s vigil in front of the State Capitol, and the Houston Chronicle.

At least eight executions are scheduled to take place in Texas over the next five months.

 

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02 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Scheduled to Execute Mexican National Edgar Tamayo, Despite Violation of International Convention

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Edgar Tamayo on January 22, 2014 for the 1994 murder of Officer Guy Gaddis of the Houston Police Department.  Tamayo, who is a Mexican national, was denied his right to seek consular assistance after his arrest, as required under article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  Mexican authorities did not learn of his case until a week before the start of the trial and were therefore unable to provide him with adequate legal counsel. Tamayo’s court-appointed attorney failed to present substantial mitigating evidence about his abusive childhood and developmental problems, which might have impacted the jury’s decision in the sentencing phase.

As reported last month in the New York Times, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Texas officials that Tamayo’s execution threatens to harm international relations and undermines the government’s ability to assist Americans who are detained abroad.  The State of Texas has executed at least six Mexican nationals despite similar diplomatic appeals relation to the violation of their rights under the Vienna Convention.  Approximately 23 foreign nationals are currently on death row in Texas.

More information about the case is available through an Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International.

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04 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

December 2013 Texas Death Penalty Alert: Announcing TCADP’s Annual Award Winners

In This Edition: 
Scheduled Executions
Announcements
Take Action
In the News
Upcoming Events
In Memoriam
Calendar

Executions
The State of Texas carried out its final execution of the year, December 3. Jerry Martin was put to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. He was convicted in Walker County. Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case. Read more in the Austin Chronicle.

Six executions already have been scheduled for 2014.

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

Announcements
TCADP Announces 2014 Award Winners
The TCADP Board of Directors is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2014 Annual Awards, which will be presented at our 2014 Annual Conference: “Lighting the Way” on February 22, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Appreciation Award: Ariana Campos, who has provided critical logistical support for TCADP’s activities in the State Capitol since 2009.

Appreciation Award: Maria Castillo, one of TCADP’s stalwart volunteers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, for her incredible outreach efforts.

Appreciation Award: Paula Keeth, a steadfast advocate for abolition and devoted member of the TCADP Dallas Chapter, for her commitment to the issue and inspiration of others.

Appreciation Award: Burnham Terrell, for his faithful work coordinating the Houston-area execution vigils for many years.  The award will be presented post-humously.  Learn more about Burnham below.

Courage Award: State Representative Terry Canales, in recognition of his public statement in support of ending the death penalty during the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s hearing on House Bill 1703 by Rep. Jessica Farrar on April 29, 2013

David P. Atwood Founder’s Award: State Representative Lon Burnam, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to justice and his contributions to abolition and to TCADP, both within and outside of the Texas Legislature

Read more about these winners.

Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary individuals at the 2014 Annual Conference!  We invite you to congratulate the award winners by placing an ad in the conference program and/or sponsoring a table at the awards luncheon.  We also invite individuals and organizations to share your work with participants by exhibiting at the conference. Download Form for Ads, Sponsors, and Exhibitors.

In addition to the annual awards luncheon – which will include a keynote address by Bob Ray Sanders, a longtime columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – the conference will feature a plenary session on the role that Texas plays in the national movement and ways that TCADP and our key partners are lighting the way toward ending the death penalty as a practice.  Register today! Rates will increase after January 1st!

Coming Soon: Year-End Report: Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013
What county accounts for the most death sentences over the last six years? Who was removed from death row in 2013? All of your burning questions will be addressed in TCADP’s forthcoming annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review. More details will be sent to you later this month. Previous reports are available online.

Giving Tuesday!
We are grateful for the contributions that so many of you have made already this year and those that provided additional support  on Giving Tuesday so that TCADP can continue to light the way toward abolition. Save a stamp by making an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation today! Thank you for your support and generosity.

Take Action: Demand a New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
On November 20, 2013, a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Duane Buck’s appeal for a new, fair sentencing hearing free from racial bias. With this decision, Texas has once again reneged on the clear and unequivocal promise made by former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn that Mr. Buck would not face execution based on a racially biased death sentence. Despite this promise, Mr. Buck is now at grave risk of execution in Texas. Join more than 91,000 supporters who have signed a petition on Change.org calling for a new sentencing hearing for Duane Buck! Follow TCADP on Facebook and Twitter for breaking news and to learn about other opportunities for your involvement in this case.

In the News:  Conservatives vs. the Death Penalty
TCADP Board Member Pat Monks is featured prominently in a new editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Conservatives vs. the death penalty” (November 29, 2013). The editorial remarks on the emergence of a new national network, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, and notes, “the driving principles are capital punishment’s incompatibility with the conservative ideals of restraining government, protecting life and maintaining fiscal responsibility.” Read the full editorial.

Upcoming Events
Austin:  Sister Helen Prejean to speak -December 3
Marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of her most famous work, Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Friends Meeting of Austin (Quakers) Meetinghouse, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at 7 pm.  The Quaker Meetinghouse is at 3701 E. MLK Blvd, Austin.

CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER -Fort Worth: Storytelling Circle with Families of the Executed – December 7
The Texas After Violence Project will host a special event Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Tarrant County College, Trinity Campus, Trinity Building – Room Connect: TRTR 4102 on the 4th floor. Come explore the living pasts of the death penalty with families of executed Texans from the Fort Worth area and consider how memory may serve as a resource for restoring and reimagining community and building a more just and less violent Texas.
Featuring:

  • Derrek and Keith Brooks, sons of Charlie Brooks, Jr. executed on December 7, 1982
  • Stanley Allridge, brother of Ronald and James Allridge executed on June 8, 1995 and August 26, 2004 respectively
  • Opening remarks by Bob Ray Sanders, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Circle keeper – Estrus Tucker, TCADP Board Vice-President
  • Select clips from the Texas After Violence Project oral history archive

Hosted by the Texas After Violence Project with support from the Craig and Kathryn Hall Foundation.  Co-sponsored by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Texas Observer, Amnesty International, and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.

In Memoriam
Burnham Terrell, an active TCADP and Houston Chapter member, reached his 90th birthday on November 12 and the 21st anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Joan on November 13.   He is an inspiration to any of us who might think we are too old to be an activist. Burnham passed away the morning of November 13 while recovering from a stroke that happened earlier in the month. The memorial service for Burnham Terrell will be Saturday, December 14 at 11 am at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 W. 26th St., Houston, TX.  Burnham’s faithful work coordinating the Houston area execution vigils for so many years will be sorely missed.

Calendar
December<
3 Scheduled execution of Jerry Martin; Sister Helen in Austin (see above for details); Giving Tuesday
5 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle and TCADP Board Member Pat Monks addressing Liberty on the Rocks Houston, 7:30 PM; TCADP Table at Dallas Peace Center Annual Peacemakers Dinner
7 31st Anniversary of the Resumption of Executions in Texas; Fort Worth Storytelling circle (CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER); Dallas Annual Christmas Card Signing for Death Row inmates, 11:00 to 4:00 in the History Department Conference Room, basement of Dallas Hall at SMU
10 International Human Rights Day
31 Last day to support TCADP with your year-end tax-deductible donation!

January
1 Last Day to Secure TCADP Annual Conference Early Bird Registration Rates (rates will increase after this date)       
8 TCADP in Collin County meeting, 7 PM; Sun Creek United Methodist Church collincounty@tcadp.org
20 El Paso Chapter meeting, 7 PM elpaso@tcadp.org
22 Dallas Chapter meeting, 7 PM dallas@tcadp.org

February
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference

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

 

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04 December 2013 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Executes Jerry Martin; Final Texas Execution of 2013

Last night, December 3, 2013, the State of Texas carried out its last execution of the year, putting Jerry Martin to death for the 2007 murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison guard Susan Canfield during a prison escape from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville.  Earlier this year, Martin waived his right to further appeal his case.   Nationwide, there are at least 142 inmates who decided to give up their appeals and proceed with their executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

According to the Associated Press via Tyler Morning Telegraph (thanks to StandDown Texas for the link):

From the death chamber gurney, Martin told relatives of the slain corrections officer that he was sorry. “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” he said.

“I hope this gives you closure. I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it happened. I take full responsibility.”

Fellow escapee and co-defendant John Falk Jr. is awaiting a retrial after a judge declared a mistrial in Falk’s capital murder case late last year.

The State of Texas carried out 16 executions this year, nearly half of all executions to date statewide.   At least three executions are scheduled to take place in other states later this month.

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13 November 2013 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas executes Jamie McCoskey

Last night, September 26, 2013, the State of Texas executed Jamie McCoskey for the abduction and murder of Michael Dwyer, 21.  Some reports of the case include an accusation of rape of Michael Dwyer’s fiance who was also kidnapped at the time; however Harris County dropped the rape charge.

McCoskey’s mother testified at his trial that he had an abusive childhood that led to behavioral problems. After stints in juvenile facilities, his offenses escalated as he reached adulthood.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials have used pentobarbital as the single execution drug for more than a year now.

Read more about the case from ABC News/the Associated Press.

This was the 15th execution in Texas to date this year, out of 34 nationwide. McCoskey was sentenced in Harris County, their second execution for 2013.

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14 October 2013 ~ Comments Off

November 2: Memorial Service for the 3,000 in the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery – Huntsville, Texas

On Saturday, November 2, the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy will  gather at the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas to remember the 3,000 men and women laid to rest there.  Each gravestone will be marked with a single flower in recognition of their humanity, our own fallibility, and our common bond within the community of Texas.  All are welcome.  If you can’t attend, please make a donation to help purchase the 3000 flowers.

What: Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery, Huntsville: In Remembrance

When & Where: Saturday, November 2, 2013

9:00 a.m. – Interfaith Prayer Service hosted at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church (700 Highway 30 E, Huntsville, TX, 77320), with light refreshments to follow.

10:00 a.m. – Laying of flowers, Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery

For more information go to: http://www.texasinterfaithcenter.org/article/captain-joe-byrd-cemetery-huntsville-remembrance

Read  “Not Forgotten”, a blog post about the event by Cindy Eigler, Policy Specialist for the Texas Interfaith Center on Public Policy.

Learn more about the cemetery and who is laid to rest there.

Share the event and invite others on Facebook.

 

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