Archive | executions

18 December 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Executions Drop to Lowest Number Since 1996, According to New Report by TCADP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 12:01 AM CT

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director
512-552-5948 (cell): 512-441-1808 (office)
khoule@tcadp.org

Texas Executions Drop to Lowest Number Since 1996, According to New Report by TCADP
New death sentences decline nearly 80% since 1999, remain geographically isolated

(Austin, Texas) — The State of Texas put 10 people to death in 2014, the fewest executions in the state since 1996, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (TCADP) new report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review.

“Over the last 15 years, we have witnessed significant change when it comes to use of the death penalty in Texas, mirroring national trends. Texas has gone from a peak of 40 executions in 2000 to the fewest executions in nearly two decades,” said Kristin Houlé, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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The decline in new death sentences, which more accurately reflects current attitudes towards the death penalty, has been even more precipitous.  In 1999, prosecutors sought and juries imposed 48 new death sentences.  This year, new death sentences in Texas remained near record-low levels, with 11 new death sentences coming from just 8 of the state’s 254 counties.  Prosecutors in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accounted for 4 of the 11 new death sentences imposed by juries this year.

Five counties which represent just 2% of the state’s 254 counties – are responsible for more than 60% of new death sentences in the last five years.

New death sentences remain both geographically isolated and racially biased. Five of the new death row inmates in 2014 are African-American, four are white, and two are Hispanic.  Over the last five years, prosecutors have imposed 60% of all new death sentences on African-Americans.

These disparities are even more pronounced in Harris County, where 15 of the last 18 defendants sentenced to death are African-American and the other 3 are Hispanic.  It has been 10 years since Harris County prosecutors secured a death sentence for a white defendant.

Notably, prosecutors in Dallas County did not pursue the death penalty in any new capital murder trials in 2014.

Texas accounted for less than 30% of U.S. executions, administering the same number of lethal injections as Missouri this year.  Information on national death penalty developments is available in a new report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities, two Mexican nationals, two women, and two men who were just months past their 18th birthdays at the time of the crime were among those executed by the State of Texas this year.  Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibit the death penalty for persons with intellectual disabilities and those under age 18 at the time of the crime.

It was the first time since 2002 that Texas executed two women in the same year.  Of the 10 people executed by the State of Texas in 2014, four were Hispanic, four were African-American, and two were white.  Harris (3) and Bexar (2) Counties together accounted for half of the executions in 2014.

Executions involved a compounded form of pentobarbital, supplied by an unidentified pharmacy or pharmacist.  In May, outgoing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reversed the position his office took in three prior opinions in recent years and ruled instead that officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice do not have to disclose information about the drug supplier.  A lawsuit brought by attorneys for death row inmates seeking information about the drug source under the Texas Public Information Act remains pending.

Two contentious executions did not take place as scheduled this year due to last-minute intervention by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:

  • On May 13, 2014, the day of Robert Campbell’s scheduled execution, the Fifth Circuit granted a stay in order to consider newly discovered evidence of his mental impairment. To date, no court has considered evidence of Campbell’s intellectual disabilities, which bars his execution under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia (2002).
  • On December 3, 2014, less than eight hours before his scheduled execution, the Fifth Circuit granted a stay to Scott Panetti to consider the “complex legal questions” surrounding his case, specifically, his competency to be executed.  Panetti, whose competency has not been evaluated in seven years, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the state, is trying to kill him for preaching the Gospel.

A total of seven inmates received reprieves this year, including stays granted by the courts and the withdrawal of execution dates.

“The cases of individuals scheduled for execution this year illustrate deep flaws that undermine the fairness and accuracy of our state’s capital punishment system,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.  “Texas legislators must address these issues when they convene in January.”

Other highlights of Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review:

  • On October 8, 2014, Manuel Velez was released from prison in Huntsville after spending nine years in prison, including four years on death row. One year earlier, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his capital murder conviction in the 2008 death of one-year-old Angel Gabriel Moreno in Cameron County. The court agreed with a state district judge’s assessment that Velez’s defense attorneys failed to present critical medical evidence that substantiated his claim of innocence. Since 2011, at least 17 individuals have been removed from death row in Texas after receiving reduced sentences.
  • Death-qualified juries rejected the death penalty in the sentencing phase in two capital trials this year.  In both cases, juries determined that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.  Over the last five years, death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 14 capital murder trials.
  • Texas has executed a total of 518 people since 1982; of these, 279 – or 54% – occurred during the administration of outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001-2014), more than any other governor in U.S. history.

“Attitudes toward the death penalty are shifting as public confidence in the criminal justice system erodes,” said Kristin Houlé.  “At this critical moment in our state’s experience with the death penalty, concerned citizens and elected officials should take a close look at the realities of this irreversible, arbitrary, and costly punishment and consider alternative ways of achieving justice.”

TCADP is a statewide, grassroots advocacy organization based in Austin.

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Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review is available online.  Contact report author Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org to receive a copy directly via email.  See the report for additional charts illustrating trends related to executions and death sentences in Texas.

The following individuals are available for further comment on the topics raised by these year-end statistics:

  • Kristin Houlé, Executive Director, TCADP: 512-552-5948 (cell) or 512-441-1808 (office)
  • Kathryn M. Kase, Executive Director, Texas Defender Service: 713-222-7788 (office)

The Death Penalty Information Center’s report on national developments is available at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014.

 

 

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01 December 2014 ~ Comments Off

Outpouring of support for Scott Panetti; updates on the TCADP 2015 Annual Conference; and Judge Tom Price calls for abolition

panetti profile picture-01TCADP December 2014 Alert 

In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Scott Panetti; Rodney Reed
TCADP 2015 Annual Conference: Keynote speaker, panelists, and award winners
In case you missed it: TCADP’s Fall 2014 Newsletter: Judge Tom Price calls for abolition
Upcoming events & important dates: Year-end report; Faith Leader Advocacy Day
Support TCADP

Scheduled executions
There has been an outpouring of support for Scott Panetti, a severely mentally ill man who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  Those calling for clemency include the nation’s largest grassroots advocacy organization on mental illness, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); NAMI’s Texas affiliate; Mental Health America; 10 state legislators; 8 active and retired United Methodist Bishops in Texas; former U.S. Representative Ron Paul; more than 50 Evangelical Christians; and the European Union, which represents 28 nations.  Several editorial boards from major Texas newspapers also have called for officials to stop this execution.  The change.org petition from Vicki Panetti has generated more than 90,000 signatures (thanks to everyone who has signed and promoted the petition).

As of this writing, a sharply divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Panetti a stay of execution in two separate rulings.  Read attorney statements and background information on the TCADP blog and please check our website and Twitter feed for breaking news on this case.  *Update* Attorneys for Panetti have now appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution.

Barring a stay, vigils will take place on Wednesday in communities throughout Texas.

Eleven executions already have been scheduled for 2015.  This includes Rodney Reed, who was convicted of killing Stacey Stites in Bastrop in 1996. Compelling evidence substantiates his claim of innocence and points to another suspect with a history of violence. Read Jordan Smith’s terrific piece, “Is Texas Getting Ready to Kill an Innocent Man?” in The Intercept.

On November 25, a judge denied Reed’s request for expanded DNA testing of evidence in his case but granted a separate motion delaying his execution date from January 15 to March 5. 2015.

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
TCADP is delighted to announce the following keynote speaker and panelists for our 2015 Annual Conference, which will take place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.

Keynote speaker: Tim Cole
Tim Cole is a former district attorney with more than 20 years of experience in the courtroom. He has tried over 100 felony jury trials in North Texas, including every level of felony charge. Tim was elected to four terms as 97th District Attorney (Archer, Clay & Montague Counties; 1993 to 2006) and served as assistant district attorney in the 271st District (Wise, Jack Counties; 2010-2014). He also served as Counsel to Governor Clements in 1990 and General Counsel for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association from 1988 to 1990.

Tim’s work in high-profile cases has been written about and documented in major publications. He also wrote about his personal experience in a death penalty case, “The Death Penalty Has a Face,” which was published by Texas Monthly in March 2013.

Panel discussion: “Shifting the Ground Under the Death Penalty”
Confirmed panelists:
Jen Moreno is a Staff Attorney with the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley Law, where she has worked exclusively on challenges to lethal injection as a method of execution.  She has consulted with attorneys litigating lethal injection challenges in more than twenty jurisdictions.

Brian Stull is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. As trial and appellate counsel in capital cases in North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, he has represented several clients who were wrongfully convicted, including Manuel Velez, an innocent Texas man recently released from prison (and recipient of our 2015 Courage Award), and Max Soffar, an innocent man dying of liver cancer on Texas’s death row.

Register now to attend TCADP’s 2015 Annual Conference.  Advance registration rates are available through December 31, 2014 (rates will increase on January 1st and again after February 13th). Interested in providing an information table or placing an ad in the conference program to congratulate our award recipientsDownload more information.

In case you missed it
TCADP’s Fall 2014 Newsletter
In the Fall 2014 issue of our quarterly newsletter, Seizing the Momentum, you’ll find an interview with Dorothy Van Soest, the author of Just Mercy, as well as information about a pen-pal program organized by St. Gabriel’s Ministry to the Imprisoned.  Check out photos from the dozens of events we organized this fall and read our cover story about Manuel Velez.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Tom Price calls for abolition
Last week in his dissent in the Panetti case, GOP Judge Tom Price of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says he believes the death penalty should be abolished:

“Having spent the last forty years as a judge for the State of Texas, of which the last eighteen years have been as a judge on this Court, I have given a substantial amount of consideration to the propriety of the death penalty as a form of punishment for those who commit capital murder, and I now believe that it should be abolished.”

Read more from BuzzFeed and WOAI-AM.

Upcoming events & important dates 
Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2014: The Year in Review
TCADP’s year-end report will document the many noteworthy developments with the death penalty this year, including an in-depth look at trends in specific counties.  Look for more details later this month.  Previous reports are available online.

December 31, 2014: Last chance to make tax-deductible donations to TCADP in 2014 and to take advantage of advance registration rates for the 2015 Annual Conference

February 21, 2015TCADP 2015 Annual Conference, Austin, Texas

March 9, 2015: Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty.  More details will be announced soon; in the meantime, please encourage all faith leaders you know to sign the Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty.

Support TCADP
Between now and the end of the year, TCADP seeks to raise $20,000 so that we can continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of all Texans who oppose the death penalty. Save a stamp by making your end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation today!

If you shop on Amazon, please consider designating TCADP as your charitable organization of choice. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us, as long as your account connects with TCADP.

Thank you for your support and generosity!

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06 October 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas schedules final executions of the year

October 2014

In this edition of our monthly alert:

Scheduled executions
Seeking award nominations
In case you missed it
Upcoming events
Support TCADP today!

Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month; if they occur, these will be the last executions in our state in 2014:

  • On October 15, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Larry Hatten for the 1995 shooting death of 5-year-old Isaac Jackson in Corpus Christi. Jackson was killed while in bed with his mother, Tabatha Thompson, who was also severely injured. Hatten reportedly suffers from mental illness and has been forcibly medicated at times while incarcerated.  Earlier this year he decided to forego any further appeals in his case.
  • On October 28, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Miguel Paredes, who was convicted in San Antonio in 2000 for the murders of Adrian Torres, Nelly Bravo, and Shawn Michael Caine.  He was 18 years old at the time of the crime. After Paredes and his two accomplices shot the three victims, they took their bodies to Frio County, where they set them on fire.  His two co-defendants are serving life sentences. Read an interview with Paredes that appears in The Baptist Standard.

To date in 2014, Texas has executed nine people, out of 30 executions nationwide.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice still refuses to identify the source of the drug used in executions.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Updates on these cases will be posted on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Nominate candidates for our annual awards!
TCADP seeks nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize outstanding organizations and individuals who have made significant and selfless contributions towards abolishing the death penalty in Texas.  All award winners will be honored at the TCADP Annual Conference on February 21, 2015 in Austin.  The deadline for submitting nominations has been extended to October 31st.  Submit your nominations today, and check out the theme for our 2015 Annual Conference!

In case you missed it
U.S. Supreme Court must prevent execution of Scott Panetti
Attorneys for Scott Panetti, a man with a long history of severe mental illness who has spent nearly 20 years on death row in Texas, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider once again whether he is incompetent to be executed.  Legal and mental health experts have weighed in with their analysis of why the Justices must intervene in this appalling case. Read more.

“Serving as a cog in a machine whose ultimate aim is to destroy human life takes a toll…”
In “Inmates Aren’t the Only Victims of the Prison-Industrial Complex,” published last month byThe Nation, journalist Alex Hannaford writes that death row guards are “collateral damage in a system that embodies one of the most devastating uses of state power.”  The article, which features an interview with a former death row guard in Texas, provides important and disturbing insight into the mental and emotional stress endured by corrections officers. Read it now.

Statue in Lubbock honors Tim Cole
A new memorial at the most prominent intersection in Lubbock honors Tim Cole, who tragically died in prison of an asthma attack before DNA evidence proved his innocence.  He was posthumously pardoned by the State of Texas in 2010.  The statue depicts Tim Cole “as a student, carrying books, with his head held high and looking toward the Tech Law School.”  Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers this commentary on the dedication ceremony that took place in September.

Changing hearts and minds in Aggieland 
Jan Brown and Anthony Graves wowed a crowd of more than 120 people, including dozens of Texas A & M students, at a special event hosted by St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station on September 25th.  Both shared their firsthand experiences with the Texas death penalty system: Jan as the mother of Kandy Kirtland, who was kidnapped and murdered in Bryan in 1987 when she was 9 ½ years old; and Anthony as an innocent man who spent 18 years in prison, including 12 years on death row, for a crime he did not commit.  Read this fantastic coverage of the event in The Eagle and check our Facebook page next week for more pictures from the event.  (Photo courtesy of Danny Yeager.)

Upcoming events
Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex:  It’s not too late to attend one of our speaking events this weekwith death row exonoree Juan Melendez and former Montague County District Attorney Tim Cole (pictured together here at our event last night at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton)!  Here are the remaining events on the schedule:
M: Presentation by Juan Melendez and Tim Cole, McFadden Science Lecture Theatre, Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth

Thursday, October 2nd 3:00 to 4:30 PM: Presentation by Juan Melendez at the University of Texas-Dallas. The event will take place in the atrium of the Founders Building. Sponsored by the John Marshall Pre-Law Society at UTD.

Thursday, October 2nd 7:00 to 8:30 PM: Presentation by Juan Melendez at Oak Cliff United Methodist Church, 547 E Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75203.

This tour is sponsored by TCADP, with generous support from the Harold Simmons Foundation.  We are immensely grateful to all of our individual event sponsors.  Pictures from other events coming soon!

Also in the Metroplex, TCADP volunteers will assist the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty (CMN) with an information table at the University of Dallas Ministry Conference, taking place in Irving from October 23rd to 25th.  CMN’s Sister Ilaria Buanriposi will provide three workshops on the death penalty and restorative justice during the conference.

HoustonSister Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, will speak at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston this Sunday, October 5th at 3:00 PM. The church is located at 12955 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77079. Tickets may be purchased at the door ($10 for adults, $5 for students with ID).  Sister Helen’s books will be available for purchase after her presentation.

Austin: Columbia Law School Professor James S. Liebman will appear at the Texas Book Festival in Austin on Sunday, October 26th at 3:30 PM in the CSPAN location to discuss his book about the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna, The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution. Mike Farrell will be moderating.  More details coming soon.

National: Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation will hold its 2014 Member Meeting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Saturday, October 25th.  This meeting will provide opportunities to learn from leaders in the anti-death penalty movement and leaders who work with victims/survivors. More information is available here.

Support our work to end the death penalty
TCADP depends on your generosity to support all of the events and programs described above. Your gift of $50 or $100 will go a long way toward defraying the costs of the 15 events we’ve organized in the last 8 days. Donate now.

Consider becoming a Partner for Justice with a recurring monthly donation.

Thank you for supporting our mission to end the death penalty in Texas!

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03 September 2014 ~ Comments Off

Get the latest news from TCADP in our September 2014 Alert

In this edition:
Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to carry out first executions in four months
Support clemency for Max Soffar: Urgent request for dying man on death row
Announcements: Seeking Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
In case you missed it: DNA evidence exonerates two men in North Carolina after 30 years
Upcoming eventsCheck out our calendar for September and make plans to attend an event near you!

Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out its first executions in four months – and the state’s first since the horribly botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona earlier this year. To date in 2014, Texas has executed seven people.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice still refuses to identify the pharmacy or pharmacist now supplying the drug that will be used in executions.

On September 10, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Willie Trottie for the 1993 murders of his former girlfriend Barbara Canada, and her brother, Titus, at the Canada family home in Houston. Canada’s mother and sister also were wounded in the attack.

On September 17, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Lisa Ann Coleman, who was convicted a decade ago in Tarrant County in the starvation death of 9-year-old Davontae Williams. The boy’s mother, Marcella Williams, took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and is serving a life sentence.

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.

Support clemency for Max Soffar
Imagine spending 34 years in prison – most of them on death row in Texas – for a crime you didn’t commit.  Now imagine being told by doctors that in a matter of months, you will die of liver cancer.  That’s the situation facing Max Soffar, who will die behind bars before any court can exonerate him… unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Rick Perry step in.  Learn more and take action today to support Max Soffar’s clemency petition.

Announcements: Seeking Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
TCADP is now recruiting its third class of Lobby Corps members! This dedicated group of people works with our staff and board members to advance our legislative agenda at the State Capitol.  We invite applications from our members and supporters, particularly those who live outside of Austin.  You don’t have to be a political junkie to participate – we’ll provide you with all the training, resources, and support you’ll need. Apply now to join the TCADP Lobby Corps.

TCADP is also accepting nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize outstanding individuals and/or organizations that have made significant and selfless contributions towards abolishing the death penalty in Texas.  All award winners will be honored at the TCADP Annual Conference on February 21, 2015 in Austin. Submit your nominations by October 15th.

In case you missed it
DNA Evidence Exonerates Two Men in North Carolina
Yesterday, Henry Lee McCollum, North Carolina’s longest serving death row inmate, and his half-brother Leon Brown, were exonerated and released from prison after serving 30 years for a rape and murder they did not commit. A judge dismissed all charges against them after new DNA evidence proved their innocence.  Like the case of Max Soffar (above), false confessions played a significant role in their wrongful convictions. Read more from the New York Times and the Death Penalty Information Center.  Learn about wrongful convictions in Texas.

Memories of Executions Haunt Former Public Information Officer 
Michelle Lyons witnessed 278 executions as the public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Read a fascinating new profile of her by Pamela Colloff (our 2011 Media Award recipient) appearing in Texas Monthly.

Upcoming events
Austin: TCADP’s bi-monthly luncheon will take place on Wednesday, September 24th from12:00 to 1:30 PM at The Egg & I (2525 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX 78757).  TCADP Board Member Les Breeding will share stories from his days as a legislative staffer at the State Capitol and how he became involved with anti-death penalty efforts in his hometown of Amarillo. RSVP to khoule@tcadp.org.

College Station: “Personal encounters with the Texas death penalty: The true stories of death row exonoree Anthony Graves and murder victim survivor Jan Brown” will take place at St. Mary’s Catholic Center (603 Church Av., College Station TX 77840) on Thursday, September 25th at 6:30 PM in the Activity Center. Sponsored by St. Mary’s Aggies Promoting Life (SMAPL), TCADP, and the Anthony Graves Foundation. Contact Clotilde Pichon at 979-846-5717 or cpichon@aggiecatholic.org with questions.

El Paso: TCADP’s El Paso Chapter – El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty (EPADP) – will meet on Tuesday, September 30th at 7:00 pm in the San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Room of St. Pius X Church (1015 N. Clark Street).

Dallas/Fort Worth: “Journey to Justice: A Speakers’ Tour Featuring Death Row Survivor Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon” will take place in the Metroplex from September 28th – October 2nd. Saint Andrew Catholic Church (3717 Stadium Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76109) will kick things off on Sunday, September 28th at 2 pm (download a flier to share). Other events will occur at the University of Texas-Arlington, Congregation de Latina, Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton, and the University of Texas-Dallas, among others. 

Juan Melendez spent 17 years, 8 months, and 1 day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and released on January 3, 2002. A native of Puerto Rico, Juan has shared his extraordinary story about the injustices of the death penalty with tens of thousands of people throughout the world. We are excited to bring Juan’s powerful message of faith, courage, and survival to the Metroplex this fall. More details on other tour events coming soon.

Houston: The 2014 Civil Rights Conference will take place on Saturday, September 20th at Texas Southern University.  TCADP Founder Dave Atwood will talk about the death penalty during a Criminal Justice Workshop in the afternoon.

TCADP’s bi-monthly Fair & Just Lunch Series will take place on Tuesday, September 30th from12:30 to 1:30 PM at St. Anne’s Catholic Church (2140 Westheimer Road). Meet other supporters in the area and hear from TCADP member Julie Caso, who will share her story of becoming involved in the case of Milton Mathis and her experience of witnessing his execution by the State of Texas on June 21, 2011. As Julie says, “Mine truly is a story of going through life and the death penalty comes out of nowhere and changes me forever.” RSVP and order lunch from Jason’s Deli.

TCADP Advisory Board Member and noted author and activist Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston on Sunday, October 5th at 3:00 PM. The church is located at 12955 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77079. Tickets may be purchased at the door ($10 for adults, $5 for students with ID).

San Angelo: TCADP Advisory Board Member and victim survivor Dr. Linda White will participate in “Stories of Reconciliation” on Thursday, September 18th from 6:00 PM – 8:30 PMas part of the annual “Season of Peace” sponsored by the Peace Ambassadors of West Texas. This year’s theme is “11 Days of Global Peace through Forgiveness.” Learn more.

San Marcos: TCADP Board Member and victim survivor Helene Burns will address the Young Americans for Liberty Chapter at Texas State University on Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 -7:30 PM.

Support our work to end the death penalty
TCADP depends on your generosity to support all of the events and programs described above. Your gift of $50 or $100 will go a long way toward defraying the cost of our speakers’ tour with Juan Melendez ($750 a day) and other priority initiatives. Donate to TCADP today!

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08 August 2014 ~ Comments Off

“The Failure of Mitigation” Studies the Last 100 Executed

In early June, Robert Smith, Sophie Cull, and Zoe Robinson published the results of their study, “The Failure of Mitigation,” in The Hastings Law Journal.  The study takes an in-depth look at the last 100 executions in America and focuses on evidence of the following mitigating factors: mental illness, youth, childhood trauma, and intellectual impairment.

The study found that eighty-seven percent of the executed offenders possessed some combination of these mitigating factors: “nearly nine of every ten executed offenders possessed an intellectual impairment, had not yet reached their twenty-first birthday, suffered from a severe mental illness, or endured marked childhood trauma.”

More specifically, “fifty percent of the last hundred executed defendants around the country suffered from complex trauma … severe physical abuse, sexual molestations, domestic violence, the violent loss of immediate family and chronic homelessness.”

When considering the age of the offender, the study provides this bleak fact: “more than one-third of executed offenders committed a capital crime before turning twenty-five—the age at which the brain fully matures.”

These mitigating factors create diminished culpability and should remove other individuals, beyond juveniles and the intellectually disabled, from the death penalty spectrum.

For more information, please refer to the following sites:

Infographic and information regarding the study from the Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/5800

Op-ed by Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. in The Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-ogletree-the-death-penalty-is-incompatible-with-human-dignity/2014/07/18/c0849dea-0e6b-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html

Download the complete study from the Social Science Research Network: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2446950

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13 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

Scheduled Executions of Ray Jasper and Anthony Doyle Highlight Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty

Ray Jasper and Anthony Doyle, both African American, are scheduled to be executed in the next two weeks for murders they committed as 18-year-old youths.  Their cases exemplify the arbitrariness of the death penalty, as the U.S. Supreme Court has banned this punishment for juvenile offenders under the age of 18.

Ray Jasper is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on Wednesday, March 19 for the 1998 robbery and murder of recording studio owner David Alejandro in San Antonio. His two co-defendants (both age 19 at the time of the crime) avoided the death penalty and received sentences of life in prison. If Jasper had been three months younger, he would not be facing execution.

According to an Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International, another concern in this case is the fact that the jury failed to include a single African American juror; prosecutors dismissed the two African Americans in the jury pool.  All 17 inmates still on death row from Bexar County are people of color.

Read more about Jasper’s case from Amnesty International.

You can also read a letter to Gawker from David Alejandro’s brother, Steven Alejandro, and an article in the San Antonio Express-News about other members of the Alejandro family, including the parents of David Alejandro (“Family prepares for execution of son’s killer,” March 15, 2014).

Anthony Doyle is scheduled for execution on Thursday, March 27 for the murder of 37-year-old Hyun Mi Cho in January 2003.  He was 93 days past his 18th birthday at the time of the crime. The victim was delivering food to Doyle’s family home in Rowlett (Dallas County) when he demanded money from her and then hit her with a baseball bat. He then hid her body and stole her phone, credit cards, and car.

According to an Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International, Doyle told police that he had intended to rob the delivery person so that he could support his three-week-old daughter. Psychologists testified at trial that Doyle had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and “was not physiologically or neurologically mature enough to inhibit emotions, restrain impulsive acts or consider options.” Similar to Jasper, if he had been just a few months younger he would not be facing execution.

Read more about Doyle’s case from Amnesty International.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty on offenders below the age of 18 due to that age group’s impulsiveness, poor judgment, peer pressure, and underdeveloped sense of responsibility. While the court ruled that a line had to be drawn somewhere, it noted that the “qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18.”  The cases of Ray Jasper and Anthony Doyle clearly exhibit the same reasons as those given by the Court as to why teenagers should not be sentenced to death.

Take Action Today
Please write or call Governor Rick Perry and the Clemency Section of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask for clemency for these two men.

  • Stress their youth at the time of their crime and the ability of young people to change and mature.
  • Include the specific facts of each case that should weigh heavily on the decision to grant clemency, such as racial discrimination in the jury selection process in Ray Jasper’s case and the scientific evidence regarding Anthony Doyle’s diminished mental faculties.
  • Remember to respectfully acknowledge the seriousness of their respective crimes.

You can take action on Jasper’s case directly through the website of Amnesty International USA.

Contact Information for Governor Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
For appeals for Ray Jasper, please cite inmate number 999-341.

For appeals for Anthony Doyle, please cite inmate number 999-478.

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
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

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Clemency Section
General Counsel’s Office
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78758
Phone (512) 406-5852, Fax (512) 467-0945
Email: bpp-pio@tdcj.state.tx.us

 

 

 

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03 March 2014 ~ Comments Off

TCADP March 2014 Alert: Spring into Action

In This Edition:
Scheduled Executions
Death Penalty Developments
Featured Events
TCADP 2014 Conference
In the News
Do you shop with Amazon?
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions this month:

  • On March 19, 2014, Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death. Jasper, a rapper who was 19 at the time of the crime, was convicted of murdering local studio owner David Alejandro and stealing his recording equipment in Bexar County in November 1998. His two co-defendants received life sentences.
  • On March 27, 2014, Anthony Doyle is scheduled to be executed for killing and robbing 47-year-old Hyun Cho, who was delivering a food order Doyle had placed to his parent’s home in Rowlett (Dallas County) in 2003. Doyle was 18 at the time of the crime.

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.

Recent Death Penalty Developments
Texas has executed two people to date in 2014, out of ten nationwide. To date this year, there have been two new death sentences and one jury rejection:

  • On February 20, 2014, a Harris County jury sentenced George Curry to death for the slaying of 19-year-old Edward Virappen during a robbery at a Popeye’s Chicken in May 2009.
  • Brandon Daniel was sentenced to death in Travis County on February 28, 2014 for the murder of Austin Police Office Jaime Pedron in 2012. According to the Austin American-Statesman, jurors spent more than eight hours deliberating on the punishment for Daniel. This was the first new death sentence in Travis County since 2011.
  • On February 5, 2014, an El Paso County jury rejected the death penalty for Christian Martinez after finding him guilty of capital murder in the 2011 deaths of Amalia Flores, 58, and her daughter Jovana Flores, 20. Ten of the twelve jurors agreed that mitigating evidence warranted a sentence other than death.

Featured Events
Robert Redford’s “Death Row Stories” to Premiere on CNN
“Death Row Stories” is a new 8-part series premiering on March 9 on CNN that will examine actual death penalty cases. The show is produced by Robert Redford and narrated by Dead Man Walking star Susan Sarandon. Redford said, “This series is about the search for justice and truth, we are pleased to … tell these important stories and give a voice to these cases.” Prior to the premiere, CNN is offering interested parties an opportunity for a preview and the ability to participate in a Google Hangout featuring a discussion by the producers and law professors John Blume of Cornell and Robert Blecker of New York Law School. The Google Hangout will be held March 5 at 6 pm EST and is open to the public, but an RSVP is required. A promo for the show can be found here.  (CNN, “Death Row Stories,” Press materials; DPIC posted Feb. 21, 2014).

Help TCADP Amplify Austin!

amplify austin logoAmplify Austin is a community-wide day of online philanthropy sponsored by “I Live Here, I Give Here”, with the goal of raising $4 million in 24 hours for Austin-based participating nonprofits, including TCADP!

Last year we raised more than $5,000 through this campaign! 
Beginning at 6pm on March 20th, through 6pm on March 21st, TCADP is asking all of our supporters (not just those living in Austin) to increase their giving or give for the first time at the $25 level or above.  During the 24-hour giving period, you can give at https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/overview.

Help us defend our title as the 1:00-2:00pm champions.  Last year, TCADP won a $1,000 bonus prize for having the most donors during the 1:00-2:00pm giving hour.  Let’s repeat in 2014!

Please concentrate your giving on Friday, March 21 – 1:00 to 2:00pm Central Standard Time!

You might even think about giving Friday, March 21, at:

1:12 PM for the 12 people exonerated from Texas death row
1:19 PM for the 119 Texas counties that have never sent anyone to death row
1:39 PM for the 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice
1:43 PM for the 143 death row exonerations nationwide
1:50 PM for the 150 supporters who recently attended the TCADP conference

Can’t make it during that hour? No problem, just give during the 24-hour cycle of Thursday, March 20, 6:00pm to Friday, March 21, 6:00pm to make us eligible for more cash perks!  Learn more

Ways you can help TCADP Amplify Austin and fight Slacktivism!

  • Set an alarm on your phone, google calendar, Ical, Outlook, etc. for Friday, March 21 at 1:00pm and then go to https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP/ and give a minimum of $25.
  • Set up a special fundraising page for TCADP and seek support from your friends and family.   Do it here.
  • Sample Tweet – Who loves @TCADPdotORG and ending the #deathpenalty? Help TCADP #AmplifyATX 3/21 1:00-2:00pm! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf
  • Sample Facebook – I’m ready to end the #deathpenalty! Are you? Check out #AmplifyATX and ways you can help TCADP! http://bit.ly/1eWzBHf

TCADP 2014 Annual Conference:  “Lighting the Way”
Our 2014 Annual Conference, which took place on Saturday, February 22 at University Christian Church in Fort Worth, included a record number of attendees, who all seemed to have great take aways from their day.  Videos of the keynote address and awards ceremony are available on the TCADP YouTube Channel.  Check out the photos!  See a compilation of the social media posts from the Conference – sfy.co/bbDe.

A tremendous thank you to the staff at University Christian Church and all the speakers, sponsors, and TCADP members and volunteers who made the conference possible.  Read more about them and everything that occurred at the conference in the programSave the date: TCADP 2015 Annual Conference, February 21, 2015 in Austin,Texas!

In the News
We recently noted the fact that 10 years have passed since Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the State of Texas, despite strong evidence of his innocence and serious doubts as to whether the fire that took the lives of his three young daughters was caused by arson. Last week, the Innocence Project filed new documents with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in its petition for a posthumous pardon for Willingham. The documents point to new evidence that strongly suggests that jailhouse informant Johnny Webb received a deal from Navarro County District Attorney John Jackson in exchange for his testimony against Willingham at trial.

According to the Innocence Project, “This new evidence also strongly suggests that Jackson, who had since become a district court judge, deceived the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office about the existence of a deal, which had they known about, would have almost certainly spared Willingham’s life.”   Read more about this latest development in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle. If you haven’t done so already, sign this petition calling on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate Willingham’s case.

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.

Please note:  You must log into your account through amazonsmile.com for your purchases to benefit TCADP.

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

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities
March
4 Primary Election Day: Please Vote!

18 Dallas TCADP meeting, Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm.

19 Scheduled Execution – Ray Jasper, 6:00pm

20-21 Amplify Austin – Concentrate your giving Friday, March 21 from 1:00 to 2:00pm if possible. https://amplifyatx.ilivehereigivehere.org/TCADP

22 TCADP Information Table at the Travis County Democratic Party Convention.  Contact info@tcadp.org to volunteer.

25 El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meeting 7:00pm in the Mother Teresa Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N. Clark Street, El Paso.  All are welcome!  elpaso@tcadp.org

26 TCADP Lunch discussion, Austin 12:00-1:00pm.  Details TBD – Stay Tuned!

26 Collin County meeting 7pm at Suncreek UMC, Allen. Meeting will include watching an episode of Robert Redford’s new series on CNN – “Death Row Stories.” collincounty@tcadp.org

26-27 TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé will visit Beaumont to speak with students at Lamar University and local members.

27 University of Houston NAACP Death Penalty Panel Discussion, H Fred J Heyne Room 43, 6:00-8:00pm. Featuring TCADP Board Members Angelle Adams and Pat Monks among other invited guests.

27 Scheduled Execution – Anthony Doyle, 6:00pm

April

4-6 TCADP information table at the Texas Junior State of America convention, Houston

12 Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty information table at Young Americans for Liberty Texas Convention, Texas State University 9:00-7:00pm.  *Conservative Volunteers needed to assist with table, please contact info@tcadp.org.

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06 January 2014 ~ Comments Off

January 2014 Texas Death Penalty Alert: Scheduled Executions, Annual Conference Feb 22, and Upcoming Events.

In This Edition: 
Scheduled Executions
Announcements
In the News
Fundraising Update
In Memoriam
Calendar

Executions
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. Read more about his case here.

Please note that the scheduled execution of Edgardo Cubas has been moved from January 16 to May 29, 2014. Currently, seven additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas over the next five months.

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 2014 Annual Conference
Register today for the TCADP 2014 Annual Conference, which will take place for the first time in Fort Worth! Take advantage of our advance registration rates of $50 for TCADP members, $60 for non-members, and $25 for students. Rates will increase again after February 1st.

Our 2014 Keynote Speaker is Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders.  A Fort Worth native who knows and cares about his community, and those with whom he shares this planet, Bob Ray is a columnist who is not afraid to speak out on behalf of downtrodden people.

The morning panel discussion will feature Kathryn Kase, the Executive Director of Texas Defender Service, and Shari Silberstein, the Executive Director of Equal Justice USA.  Kathryn will address the role that Texas plays in the national movement and how our state serves as a model for collaboration around decreasing use of the death penalty.  Shari will frame the national movement and strategy for abolition, with a particular focus on state legislative efforts and on EJUSA’s new outreach effort, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Learn more about the conference, including details on our 2014 award winners, hotel information, and sponsorship opportunities. See you in Cowtown!

In the News:  Reports on Texas, National Death Penalty Developments in 2013infographic3
TCADP’s year-end report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review, received coverage from numerous media outlets and was the basis for an editorial by the Dallas Morning News, “Dallas County’s dubious death penalty distinction,” (December 28, 2013). Copies of the report will be delivered to every legislative office in the State Capitol later this month.

For a national perspective on recent death penalty developments, check out this report from the Death Penalty Information Center and this editorial from the New York Times, “The Slow Demise of Capital Punishment” (December 29, 2013).

End-of-Year Fundraising Update
TCADP is immensely grateful to everyone who contributed to our organization in 2013. Responses to our year-end appeal topped all previous records and exceeded our goal of raising $15,000 in December! We invite you to take your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Partner for Justice or a Sustaining Member. Visit www.tcadp.org for details!

In Memoriam
TCADP member Dr. John E. Johnson passed away on December 21, 2013 at the age of 88. He and his wife Shirley were long-time members and generous supporters of our organization.  Most recently, John and his daughter Susan attended TCADP’s membership gathering in September at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. We express our sympathies to his family and friends.

We also express our condolences to the family of Harold Simmons, who passed away on December 28, 2013. TCADP recently received a generous grant from the Harold Simmons Foundation in support of the 2014 Annual Conference and other projects.

Calendar
January
8: TCADP in Collin County meeting, Suncreek United Methodist Church, 7:00 PM, Allen; collincounty@tcadp.org
9: Panel discussion and book presentation of “Go Cowboys,” an artistic compilation of imagery of public executions across all nations and time periods since visually recorded history; University of Texas-Dallas Centraltrak Gallery, 7:00 PM http://larissa-aharoni.info/index.php?/works/go-cowboys)
17-20: MLK Day Activities are happening around Texas.  Be in touch with the TCADP office for more info; info@tcadp.org.
18: RESCHEDULED DECEMBER EVENT  – “Listening to Families of Executed Texans – a Storytelling Circle in Fort Worth” Co-sponsored event with Texas After Violence Project, at the Tarrant County College Trinity Campus TRTR 4102, from 4 PM to 7 PM, Ft. Worth
20: 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
21: Dallas Chapter Meeting, Cathedral of Hope in room CLC 196 at 6:30pm; dallas@tcadp.org
22: Delivery of TCADP year-end report to legislative offices at the State Capitol, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM; contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer
23:  TCADP presentation to the MFSA Central Texas Annual UMC Conference Chapter, Georgetown 6:30 PM
29: “Fair & Just” Lunch Series in Houston, 12:30-1:30 PM, St. Anne’s Catholic Church – Professor Ana Otero from Texas Southern Law School will discuss the American Bar Association’s Texas Death Penalty Assessment; Bi-monthly membership luncheon in Austin featuring Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle (more details coming soon)
30: “Incendiary” Film Screening, 6:00 PM at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2200 N. Bell Ave., Denton, TX 76209

February
1 Last Day to Receive TCADP Annual Conference Advance Registration Rates; Last Day to Book Block Rate Hotel rooms for TCADP Annual Conference
11: Dallas Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Cathedral of Hope; 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas
12: Fort Worth Prayer Breakfast on the Death Penalty; 9:00 – 10:30 AM; Bread Fellowship; 2902 Race Street #116, Fort Worth, Texas

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

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