Archive | executions

22 April 2016 ~ Comments Off on Amnesty International Releases Annual Global Report on the Death Penalty

Amnesty International Releases Annual Global Report on the Death Penalty

Earlier this month, Amnesty International released its annual global report, “Death Sentences and Executions 2015.” As the name indicates, the report covers the judicial use of the death penalty throughout the world from January to December 2015.

At least 1,634 people were put to death worldwide in 2015, which 573 more executions than documented in 2014. This startling rise in executions is due to a dramatic increase from three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It’s important to note this total does not include executions in China, where Amnesty is not able to obtain accurate information.  Amnesty projects the People’s Republic of China executed more than 1,000 people in 2015.

Despite an increase in executions, there were positive changes in 2015. Four countries abolished the death penalty: Madagascar, Fiji, Suriname, and the Republic of Congo. In total, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

With 28 executions, the United States had its lowest number of executions since 1991. Amnesty notes this drop is due in part to legal challenges involving lethal injection drugs and protocols. Even with a drop in executions, the United States continues to be an outlier and remains among the top five executing countries, behind China, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

In terms of executions, the State of Texas is an outlier within an outlier, accounting for 13 of the 28 executions last year. If Texas were its own country, it would be among the top 10 executing jurisdictions in the world.

In 2015, the United States only had 53 new death sentences from 15 jurisdictions. This is the lowest number since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Although the State of Texas continues to actively carry out executions, it contributed only 3 death sentences to the 53 across the country. This decrease in death sentences indicates a positive trend for abolition in Texas and the United States.

Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2015 is available online at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/death-sentences-and-executions-2015.

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18 January 2016 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas set to carry out its first execution in 2016

State of Texas set to carry out its first execution in 2016

This week, the State of Texas is scheduled to carry out its first execution of the year.  On Wednesday, January 20, Richard Masterson is scheduled to be put to death for the 2001 murder of Darin Honeycutt in Houston.  According to the Houston Chronicle, during his 2002 trial, Masterson told jurors that he would be a future danger. Future dangerousness is one of two special issues jurors in Texas must consider during the punishment phase of a death penalty trial.  At various times, Masterson sought to expedite his own execution but later opted to continue his appeals.

In his coverage of recent appeals on Masterson’s behalf, Allan Turner of the Houston Chronicle writes:

…the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a petition for Masterson that argued former Harris County assistant medical examiner Dr. Paul Shrode wrongly interpreted results of Honeycutt’s autopsy, calling a likely natural death a homicide. The appeal also asserted that Masterson’s confession to police was obtained while he was profoundly depressed as a result of withdrawal from addictive drugs.

The court rejected the petition because its claims could have been presented earlier in the appeals process but did not rule on its merits.

An additional petition – still pending – challenges the constitutionality of a new Texas law that protects the identity of any person or entity providing the drugs used in lethal injections.  The law was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature and went into effect on September 1, 2015. Another attorney for Masterson is filing appeals with federal courts.

On January 15, 2016, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Masterson’s petition for clemency.

According to Fox News, Pope Francis is closely following this case.

At this time, eight additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas through June of this year.

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07 January 2016 ~ Comments Off on TCADP January 2016 Alert: It’s a new year for justice

TCADP January 2016 Alert: It’s a new year for justice

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Six executions scheduled over next four months in Texas
TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: Check out some of our workshop session topics
In case you missed it: Ongoing coverage of the death penalty’s demise
Featured events: Volunteer at upcoming events in Austin
Year-end fundraising results: Thank you for your generous gifts in 2015!


Quote of the month
“The time and expense [of capital criminal cases involving the death penalty] are too costly for the ‘taxpayers of this county and I do not want to subject them to this kind of thing any longer.’” – Randall County District Attorney James Farren

[“Holberg capital case still causing headaches,” NewsChannel10.com (Amarillo); posted December 15, 2015; updated December 21, 2015]


Scheduled Executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute two people this month:

  • On January 20, Richard Masterson is scheduled to be put to death for the 2001 murder of Darin Honeycutt in Houston.  According to the Houston Chronicle, during his 2002 trial, Masterson told jurors that he was a future danger. Future dangerousness is one of two special issues jurors in Texas must consider during the punishment phase of a death penalty trial.
  • On January 27James Freeman is scheduled to be put to death for the murder of Game Warden Justin Hurst after a police chase in 2007 in Wharton County. His 2008 trial was the first death penalty case in Wharton since 1979.

At this time, there are four additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas in the early months of 2016.

The first U.S. execution of the year is scheduled to take place tonight in Florida.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on these cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.


TCADP 2016 Annual Conference
The TCADP 2016 Annual Conference – a must-attend event for anyone interested in ending the death penalty in Texas – will take place at Unity Church in Houston on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Take advantage of pre-registration rates of $55 for TCADP members, $60 for non-members, and $25 for students.  If you can’t join us for the full day, consider purchasing a ticket for our awards luncheon and keynote address by Nebraska Senator Colby Coash. Senator Coash played a leading role in the successful legislative campaign to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska last year.

Here’s a teaser of some of the workshop sessions we’ll offer in the afternoon:

  • A History of the Texas Death Penalty
  • Outreach to Conservatives
  • Engaging Faith Communities and Faith Leaders
  • Severe Mental Illness and the Death Penalty

Learn more about the conference, including details on our panelists, keynote speaker, sponsors, and award winners. Register today!


In case you missed it: Ongoing coverage of the death penalty’s demise 
Media outlets continue to take note of the trends highlighted in our annual report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2015: The Year in Review, and the remarkable decrease in executions and death sentences in Texas and nationwide. We particularly liked these recent pieces from the Dallas Morning News:

Editorial: Could Texas be losing its appetite for the death penalty?

Texas’ top criminal court halted far more executions in 2015

We also recommend this editorial from the Washington Post, which focuses on national death penalty developments in 2015: “The death penalty’s demise can’t come soon enough.”


Featured Events
January 18: TCADP will provide an information booth at the 23rd Annual MLK Community Celebration in Austin on Monday, January 18 at Huston-Tillotson University.  The festival will take place from 11 AM to 3 PM.  Email TCADP Communications Coordinator Vanessa Akins at Vanessa@tcadp.org if you would like to help with the booth.

January 26: El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty will hold their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 26 at 7 PM in the Pedro Maldonado Room of St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1050 N. Clark Dr.  All are welcome. For more information, call Pat Delgado at 915 740-3962.

January 27: Join the TCADP Lobby Corps as we deliver copies of our year-end report to all 181 legislative offices at the State Capitol.  A short training session will take place from 10 to 10:45 AM in the Capitol Extension.  Email Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org to volunteer.

January 30: TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle will provide a workshop on the death penalty at the Texas Amnesty International State Conference.  The student chapter at Texas A & M University will host the conference, which will take place on campus in College Station from 9 AM to 7 PM. The death penalty workshop will take place from 1:45 to 2:45 PM that day. #AIUSATX16


End-of-year fundraising update
TCADP is immensely grateful to everyone who donated to our organization in 2015.  Thanks to our first-time donors, we raised $2,165 towards the $2,500 matching gift provided by the Tides Foundation.  We also heard from many longtime friends in response to our year-end appeals and raised $19,000 last month. We invite you to take your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Partner for Justice or a Sustaining Member.

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03 November 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP November 2015 Alert: Texas schedules last execution of the year

TCADP November 2015 Alert: Texas schedules last execution of the year

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to carry out last execution of the year

Case updates: Texas juries impose three new death sentences in October; Court of Criminal Appeals grants stay to Julius Murphy

In case you missed it: National Association of Evangelicals changes course on the death penalty

TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: Register now to receive our advanced rate

Featured events: “In Remembrance” in Huntsville; member “meet and greet” in Carrollton; lighting the star in El Paso


Quote of the month
“We’re executing innocent people and calling it justice.”

– Anthony Graves to an audience in East Austin, October 29, 2015.  Anthony spent 6,640 days in Texas prisons as an innocent man.


Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to put Raphael Holiday to death on November 18, 2015.  He was convicted of the arson murders of three young children in 2000 in Madison County.

The State of Texas accounts for 12 of the 25 executions nationwide this year.  Four executions are scheduled for the early months of 2016.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions in Texas. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Lethal injection developments
According to several online news services, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice attempted to illegally import sodium thiopental from India this summer; prior to 2012, sodium thiopental was the first drug used in lethal injections in Texas. Officials with the Food and Drug Administration reportedly seized the shipment at the airport. Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle writes, “The move — confirmed by Texas prison officials — marks the latest development in a growing shortage of execution drugs in the United States that has left states scrambling to find new suppliers.” Read more from BuzzFeed and the Associated Press.


Case updates
Texas juries impose first death sentences of the year 
After more than nine months without a death sentence in Texas, juries in three separate cases imposed the ultimate punishment in October:

  • On October 7, after more than seven hours of deliberation, jurors in Brazos County sentenced Gabriel Hall to death for the murder of Edwin Sharr and attack on Linda Sharr in 2011. Hall was 18 years old at the time of the crime.  County officials have estimated the cost of the trial to be as high as $2 million, with County Auditor Katie Conner calling it the most expensive trial in her tenure.
  • In what one journalist questioned as perhaps the “strangest death penalty trial ever,” a jury in Smith County sentenced James Calvert to death on October 14 for murdering his ex-wife Jelena Sriraman and kidnapping their four-year-old son in 2012.  Calvert was allowed to represent himself for much of the trial, during which he was prone to frequent outbursts, nonsensical questioning of witnesses, and other disruptive behavior.  At one point, after his right to self-representation had been revoked, the sheriff’s department activated Calvert’s shock belt after he refused to comply with the judge’s order to stand.
  • On October 20, after more than a day of deliberation, a jury in Bexar Countysentenced Mark Anthony Gonzalez to death for the 2011 murder of Bexar County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kenneth Vann.  It was the first death sentence imposed in Bexar County in six years.

There currently is one trial pending in Harris County.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Johnathan Sanchez for the murders of three people in Houston in 2013.  According to the Houston Chronicle, it’s the first death penalty case to reach a Harris County courtroom this year.

Court grant stay to Julius Murphy
On October 12, 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Julius Murphy, pending further order from the court.  Murphy was scheduled to be executed on November 3 for the 1997 robbery and shooting of Jason Erie. Attorneys argued that new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct called into question the reliability of his conviction and death sentence.

Murphy, who is African American, was 18 years old at the time of the crime. He was sentenced to death by an all-white jury.  His co-defendant is serving a sentence of life in prison. Read more about this case, including a statement from attorneys.


In case you missed it
“One small step for evangelicals, one giant leap for abolition of the death penalty”
Last month, the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 American churches, changed the position it adopted in 1973 – which was solidly in support of the death penalty – to a position that recognizes diverse viewpoints on the issue and calls for criminal justice reform.  The new resolution specifically calls for the elimination of “racial and socio-economic inequities in law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing of defendants.”  In a piece for the Washington Post, Shane Claiborne calls the change in course “one giant leap for abolition.”
Learn more from the Houston Chronicle and The Atlantic.

Death penalty in decline 10 years after adoption of Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole
In a piece published last month by The Monitor, State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. reflects on the last 10 years during which Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole has been a sentencing option in Texas.  He writes, “Since the option of life without parole has given juries more flexibility in recommending sentences for Texas’ criminals, we have seen significant shifts in the application of capital punishment.”  Earlier this year, Senator Lucio, who represents Senate District 27, filed a bill calling for repeal of the death penalty in Texas.  Read more.


TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: At the Epicenter of the Death Penalty 
Online registration for the TCADP 2016 Annual Conference is now open. The conference will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2016 in Houston. Take advantage of reduced rates until December 31. More details on the conference program – and an announcement about our 2016 Award recipients – coming soon!


Featured Events
Austin: Former TCADP Board Member, Les Breeding, will participate in a discussion about the death penalty with Common Ground for Texans on Saturday, November 7th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. This meeting will take place at the Yarborough Branch Library (2200 Hancock). Common Ground for Texans is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization primarily concerned with reducing the influence of money in politics, increasing access to voter participation, and engaging in civil discourse around contentious issues.

Carrollton: TCADP’s North Texas Organizer, Jason Redick, will host a “Meet and Greet” gathering for local members on Wednesday, November 18th, at 7 pm at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church (1901 E. Peters Colony Rd.). An execution vigil will take place earlier that evening at the church. All are welcome. Contact Jason at jason@tcadp.org for more details.

El Paso: El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, a chapter of TCADP, will light the star on Franklin Mountain on Sunday, November 29th in solidarity with “Cities for Life, Cities Against the Death Penalty”, a worldwide action to celebrate life and call for abolition of the death penalty. For more information, please contact Pat Delgado at phdelgado@hotmail.com.

Huntsville: The third annual “In Remembrance” event will take place Saturday, November 7th at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery from 8:30 to 11:30 AM. Hosted by the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, “In Remembrance” is an opportunity for people of faith to remember those who have lost their lives in Texas prisons. Following an Interfaith Prayer Service at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, participants will have a chance to lay flowers on the 3,500 graves at the cemetery. For more information, please visit http://www.texasinterfaithcenter.org/In-Remembrance.

Find details on other upcoming events here.

Thank you for standing with us as we shift the ground under the death penalty!

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02 October 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP October 2015 Alert: Attend an event near you!

TCADP October 2015 Alert: Attend an event near you!

In this edition of our monthly e-newsletter, you’ll find case updates for Scott Panetti and Julius Murphy and a more information about the Pope’s call for “global abolition.” This edition also marks the opening of online registration for the 2016 TCADP Annual Conference.

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Dallas County schedules first execution of the year; date withdrawn for Christopher Wilkins
Case updates: Developments in the cases of Scott Panetti and Julius Murphy
TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: Online registration now open; award nominations accepted until October 16
In case you missed it: Pope Francis calls for global abolition
Featured events: Join us at the State Capitol on October 23

Quote of the month
“These days, Texas is at the epicenter of a different trend: The Deep South has witnessed a sharp, sustained, and unmistakable drop in death verdicts.  So far this year Texas has not had a single new death sentence. Neither has Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia.”

– Robert J. Smith, “Is Southern California the New Deep South?” (9/7/15)

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

  • On October 6, the State is scheduled to execute Juan Garcia for the 1998 robbery and murder of Hugo Solano in Harris County.  Joined by three accomplices, Garcia was 18 years old at the time of the crime.
  • On October 14, the State is scheduled to execute Licho Escamilla for the 2001 murder of police officer Christopher James after a fight broke out in the parking lot of a Dallas nightclub.  Officer James was working off-duty security at the venue. According to the Dallas Morning News, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected Escamilla’s argument that his trial attorneys did not provide evidence of his abusive childhood, ruling that the crime evidence outweighed any mitigating evidence not presented to jurors. Escamilla was 19 years old at the time of the shooting.  This is the first execution scheduled out of Dallas County this year.

The October 28 execution date for Christopher Wilkins was recently withdrawn at the request of Tarrant County prosecutors. They sought the delay after the Texas Forensic Science Commission raised new concerns about DNA statistics and the interpretation of mixed DNA evidence. Learn more from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The State of Texas has executed 10 people in 2015, accounting for nearly half of the 21 executions nationwide to date this year.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions in Texas. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Case Updates
New filing alleges misconduct in trial of Julius Murphy
Lawyers for Julius Murphy, who has a November 3 execution date, have requested a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct.  Their latest filing presents new evidence that prosecutors forced false and tainted testimony from two key witnesses in Murphy’s 1998 trial in Bowie County. Read more.

Fifth Circuit considers case of Scott Panetti
On September 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held oral argument in the case of Scott Panetti, who has been on Texas’ death row since 1995 and has faced several execution dates despite his extensive, documented history of severe mental illness. The Fifth Circuit stayed Panetti’s execution on December 3, 2014 to further review the issues surrounding his competency.

Learn more about Panetti’s case and read an excellent editorial from the Dallas Morning News, “Execution of mentally ill man serves no greater good.”

TCADP 2016 Annual Conference: At the Epicenter of the Death Penalty
Online registration for the TCADP 2016 Annual Conference is now open! The conference will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2016 in Houston. Take advantage of reduced registration rates until December 31, 2015.

We are still accepting nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize organizations and individuals who have made significant and selfless contributions towards our work to end the death penalty in Texas.  All award winners will be honored at the conference. Please submit your nominations by October 16, 2015.

In case you missed it
Pope Francis reaffirms call for abolition
On September 24, during his historic visit to the United States, Pope Francis asked for “global abolishment of the death penalty” while addressing Congress. Learn more.

A Fort Worth Family Forgives
James Serrano suffered a tragic loss on June 3, 2014 when his wife, Cynthia, and their two daughters, April and Kathy, were found murdered in their Fort Worth home. The man behind the crime was April’s ex-boyfriend, Cedric McGinnis. On September 10, 2015, McGinnis plead guilty and was sentenced to life without parole.

After the plea, Serrano had this to say to McGinnis, “You got a second chance to life that my girls don’t have…turn your heart, turn your life, to the Lord. Let him guide you. That’s the only way to make it.” The rest of the Serrano family echoed his sentiments. McGinnis’ attorney, Joetta Keene, pointed out the power behind the family’s actions, “They showed all of us what forgiveness feels like.” Read the full story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Justice Scalia “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Supreme Court ends the death penalty
During a speech at Rhodes College last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said four of his colleagues believe the death penalty is unconstitutional. 
In the Los Angeles Times, Scott Martelle writes: “That he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ by a reversal of the court’s long-standing acceptance of the death penalty’s constitutionality suggests there may be some ground-shifting going on about the death penalty, which would be good news indeed.”

 

Featured Events
Austin
TCADP, along with the Texas Mercy Project of the Texas Catholic Conference, The Office of Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, is sponsoring “Journey to Mercy: Rethinking the Death Penalty in Texas” on Friday, October 23rd. The event features elected officials and policy experts.  It will take place in the Legislative Conference Center in the State Capitol (1100 Congress Ave.) from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The conference is free and open to the public. RSVP here.

“A Walk for Life, Hope and Mercy: Standing Against the Death Penalty,” sponsored by the Texas Mercy Project and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, will take place on Saturday, October 24th. The walk will begin at 9:00 AM at St. Austin Catholic Center (2010 University Avenue) and end at 12:00 PM at the State Capitol (1100 Congress). All are welcome to attend.

El Paso
El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, a chapter of TCADP, meet on the last Tuesday of the month. The next meeting will take place at 7:00 PM on October 27th at St. Pius X Church in the Pedro Maldonado Room (1050 North Clark Drive). For more information, please contact Pat Delgado at phdelgado@hotmail.com.

Houston
TCADP Board President, Angelle Adams, will lead a presentation and discussion with Houston Oasis on October 4th. The event will take place at the Norris Conference Center (9990 Richmond Ave).

McKinney
Ministry to the Imprisoned & the Pro-Life Ministry will host a presentation by Chris Castillo on October 27th at St. Gabriel the Archangel (110 St. Gabriel Way) in McKinney at 7:00 PM.  After his mother’s murder in 1991, Chris became involved in prison ministry. He is currently the coordinator of chaplain volunteers for the Diocese of Beaumont’s Office of Criminal Justice Ministry.

Plano
TCADP Executive Director, Kristin Houlé, and Board Secretary, DJ Compton, will lead a presentation and discussion with Women Organizing Women Democrats on October 8th.

Find details on other upcoming events here.

Thank you for standing with us as we shift the ground under the death penalty!

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13 August 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Daniel Lopez

State of Texas executes Daniel Lopez

Last night, the State of Texas put Daniel Lopez to death for killing 20-year veteran Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Stuart Alexander with his truck during a high-speed chase in 2009.  Lopez asked the courts to expedite his execution. At least 28 other individuals on death row in Texas have been put to death after deciding to forego further appeals in their cases.

The State of Texas has executed 10 people to date in 2015; a total of 19 executions have taken place nationwide.

Another execution is scheduled to occur later this month: Bernardo Aban Tercero, a Nicaraguan national, is scheduled to be put to death on August 26, 2015. He was convicted of robbing a dry cleaning store and killing customer Robert Keith Berger in 1997 in Houston. Tercero argued the shooting was an accident. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2014.

According to Amnesty International, the jury in Tercero’s trial did not hear critical mitigating evidence about the deplorable conditions of his childhood in Nicaragua and his attorneys did little to investigate the case.  An Urgent Action issued by Amnesty states that the poor quality of legal representation he received at trial and during state-level appeals is at the center of his clemency petition.

To read the full Urgent Action from Amnesty International, which includes additional background information , please click here (PDF).

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12 August 2015 ~ Comments Off on U.S. Supreme Court declines to halt execution of Daniel Lopez; Tracy Beatty receives stay

U.S. Supreme Court declines to halt execution of Daniel Lopez; Tracy Beatty receives stay

The State of Texas scheduled two executions to take place on consecutive nights this week – August 12th and 13th – but the second execution was called off by the state’s highest criminal court earlier today.

Tracy Beatty, who was scheduled to be put to death on August 13th, received a stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. His attorneys argued Beatty had deficient legal help at his 2004 trial and during early appeals and that prosecutors used improper testimony at his trial. Beatty is the seventh person to receive a stay of execution in Texas this year. He was convicted of killing his 62-year-old mother, Carolyn Click, in Smith County in 2003.

Tonight’s scheduled execution of Daniel Lopez is likely to proceed now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene.  He was convicted of killing 20-year veteran Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Stuart Alexander with his truck during a high-speed chase in 2009.

Lopez asked the courts to expedite his execution date. At least 28 individuals on death row in Texas have been put to death after deciding to forego further appeals in their cases.

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03 August 2015 ~ Comments Off on TCADP’s 2015 August Alert: Death penalty continues to fall out of favor

TCADP’s 2015 August Alert: Death penalty continues to fall out of favor

In this edition:

Scheduled executions and case updates: Back-to-back executions scheduled to take place in Texas next week

In case you missed it: How one Texas death penalty case raised taxes; the latest editorial from the Dallas Morning News

Last call for applications: TCADP seeks North Texas Outreach Coordinator

Upcoming events: New episode of CNN’s “Death Row Stories” will focus on wrongful execution in Texas

Support TCADP: Become a Sustaining Member today!


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

  • Daniel Lopez is scheduled to be executed on August 12. He was convicted of striking and killing 20-year veteran Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Stuart Alexander with his truck while the officer was laying down spike strips to stop Lopez’s vehicle during a high-speed chase in March 2009.  Earlier this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Lopez is competent to waive his appeals. He has requested several times that the courts expedite his execution date. At least 28 individuals on death row in Texas have been put to death after deciding to forego further appeals in their cases.
  • Tracy Beatty is scheduled to be executed on August 13 for the 2003 slaying of his 62-year-old mother, Carolyn Click, in Smith County.  He would be the second person from Smith County put to death this year.
  • Bernardo Aban Tercero, a national of Nicaragua, is scheduled to be executed on August 26. He was convicted of robbing a dry cleaning store and murdering customer Robert Keith Berger in 1997 in Houston. Tercero argued the shooting was an accident. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 2014.

The State of Texas accounts for half of the 18 executions that have occurred nationwide to date in 2015.  At least six more executions are scheduled to take place this year.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions in Texas. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Other case updates
We learned this morning that Cathy Henderson, who spent nearly 20 years on death row in Texas, died over the weekend in a hospital in Austin.  She was convicted of capital murder in the death of three-month-old Brandon Baugh in 1994. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Henderson’s conviction in 2012 based on scientific advances that cast doubt upon expert testimony about the baby’s cause of death.  Henderson maintained it was an accident.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office planned to retry Henderson this fall on capital murder charges but did not intend to seek another death sentence. On June 12, however, Henderson pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  According to the Austin American-Statesman, she could have been released in four years with credit for time served. Henderson was just two days away from being executed in 2007 when the Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay and ordered an evidentiary hearing.

Earlier this summer we learned of the death of John Matamoros.  According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he died of natural causes on June 12, 2015 while still on death row.  He was convicted of the murder of Edward George Goebel during a 1990 home burglary in Houston.


In case you missed it
Ron Paul’s statements ring true 
In a June opinion column, former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul called the death penalty “the ultimate corrupt, big government program.” He went on to say, “It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty.” To support his statements, Paul referred to a costly case in Jasper County which resulted in higher taxes. PolitiFact Texas checked the claim and found it was indeed true. Read the full report from Politifact as well as the original column from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Still no new death sentences in Texas in 2015
Last week, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial, “Living without the death penalty in Texas,” regarding declining use of the death penalty in Texas.  The piece features excerpts from an interview with former District Attorney and TCADP 2015 Annual Conference keynote speaker Tim Cole.

The editorial asserts that the death penalty is falling out of favor both with juries and prosecutors and cites the growing list of wrongfully convicted men in Texas as one reason for the shift. Cost and geography also play a role, as explained by Cole: “It comes down to the call of a single elected official whose annual budget may or may not bear the expense of a murder trial.” Read the full editorial, as well as an opinion piece by Cole on this topic that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


TCADP seeks North Texas Outreach Coordinator
TCADP is still accepting applications for our new North Texas Outreach Coordinator position.  We seek a motivated and experienced individual to develop and implement a campaign aimed at reducing use of the death penalty in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. Apply by August 17th.


Upcoming events
“Death Row Stories”
The next episode of “Death Row Stories” on CNN will focus on the case of Ruben Cantu, who was executed by the State of Texas on August 24, 1993. Cantu’s conviction was based largely on the testimony of a single eyewitness who later changed his story.  Cantu was 17 years old at the time of the crime.  (The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders until 2015.) The episode is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday, August 9th at 10pm across all time zones.  We expect to see interviews with several TCADP Advisory Board members who are intimately connected to this case.

Conferences
TCADP will participate in the following conferences this month as part of our community outreach efforts:

El Paso Meeting
The next monthly meeting of El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty will take place on Tuesday, August 25 at 7 pm in the Pedro Maldonado Room at St. Pius X Church, 1050 N. Clark.  Members will be planning fall activities, including outreach to interfaith groups and elected officials.


Support TCADP
Thanks to everyone who has contributed towards our summer fundraising campaign. We are delighted to report we have raised $2,430 towards our goal of $2,500.  Your gift today will put us over the top!

Consider taking your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Sustaining Member.  Sustaining Members pledge an annual gift that recurs every year on the day of your choosing.

Another easy way to support TCADP is through Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to us, as long as you designate TCADP as your charitable organization of choice.  Over the last year, we’ve raised nearly $200 through this program. This covers the cost of our participation in the conferences listed above.

Thank you for standing with us as we shift the ground under the death penalty in Texas!

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