Archive | executions

02 February 2015 ~ Comments Off

TCADP’s February 2015 Alert: Execution updates; advocacy opportunities; and the 2015 Annual Conference

In this edition:
Scheduled executions
TCADP 2015 Annual Conference: Pre-register by February 13th
84th Texas Legislature
Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty
In case you missed it
Welcome, Vanessa!

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

  • Donald Newbury was serving a 99-year sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon when he and six other inmates broke out of the Connally Unit in 2000. He and his co-defendants robbed a sporting goods store at gunpoint, killing Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins. Two of the co-defendants have already been executed, one committed suicide, and three others remain on death row. Newbury was scheduled to be executed in February 2012, but was spared by the U.S. Supreme Court.  His execution is scheduled for February 4, 2015.
  • After thirty years on death row, Lester Bower Jr. is scheduled to be executed on February 10, 2015. Bower was convicted of the shooting deaths of four men at an ultra-light airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983. He was sentenced to death in Grayson County in 1984, making him one of the longest serving inmates on Texas death row. Bower, a former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, has consistently maintained his innocence.

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.

At least eight additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas by the end of May.

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference: Register by February 13th
Register today for TCADP’s 2015 Annual Conference – Death Penalty Fault Lines: A Seismic Shift in Ground. The conference will take place on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin.  Go online to pre-register.  (Note: Rates will increase after February 13th).

If you can’t join us for the full day, consider attending the awards luncheon and keynote address by former District Attorney Tim Cole.  You won’t want to miss it!

Also, please note that anyone wishing to place an ad in the conference program, reserve an exhibitor table, or sponsor a table at the awards luncheon must do so by this Friday, February 6th.

84th Texas Legislature
During the 84th Texas Legislature, which convened on January 13th, TCADP again will work to repeal the death penalty and engage in dialogue with elected officials about the flaws and failures of our state’s capital punishment system. Stay tuned for updates on the abolition bill, which will be filed soon by State Representative Jessica Farrar (District 148-Houston).  If you have questions about our legislative agenda, please contact TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houle at khoule@tcadp.org.

Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty
TCADP is excited to announce our first-ever “Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty,” which we are organizing in partnership with Texas Impact, the oldest and largest statewide interfaith network. On Monday, March 9, 2015, TCADP and Texas Impact will hold a press conference at the State Capitol to release an Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty, which has been endorsed by more than 500 faith leaders across Texas (there’s still time to sign if you haven’t done so already!).  Participants then will meet with legislators to voice their concerns about the death penalty.  Learn more and RSVP today.

We also encourage all faith leaders to download “The Death Penalty in Texas: A study guide for Texas faith communities,” which was published recently by the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. The guide includes discussion questions, faith statements on the death penalty, and resources for faith and lay leaders.

In case you missed it
Who qualifies as intellectually disabled?
On January 29, the State of Texas put Robert Ladd to death in spite of evidence of his intellectual disabilities.  His attorneys argued that his IQ of 67 should have prohibited his execution in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.  A new article from Maurice Chammah and Dana Goldstein with The Marshall Project, “The Life-or-Death Test,” examines the history and science of IQ testing and its use in determining whether certain individuals should be exempt from execution.

Record number of exonerations in 2014
The National Registry of Exonerations recorded 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in 2014, according to a new report it released on January 27, 2015.  It was the first time the Registry found more than 100 exonerations in one year.  Texas led all states with 39 exonerations; this included 33 exonerations in drug cases in Harris County.

No doubt for former Supreme Court Justice that Texas executed an innocent man
Last month during a lecture at the University of Florida, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens declared evidence proved “beyond a shadow of doubt” that Texas executed an innocent man, Carlos DeLuna, in 1989.  The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, a book and website by Columbia Law School Professor James S. Liebman, catalogues in minute detail everything that went wrong in DeLuna’s case. Watch Justice Stevens’ remarks in this video (his comments about the DeLuna case begin at 56:00).

Welcome, Vanessa!
TCADP is thrilled to announce that we have hired Vanessa Akins as our new Communications Coordinator. Vanessa, a 2009 graduate of St. Edward’s University, has been volunteering in our office since May and is a critical member of our 2015 Conference Committee.  Her job responsibilities will include maintaining TCADP’s website and social media platforms and producing internal and external communications.   You can reach her at Vanessa@tcadp.org.

Save the date for Amplify Austin, 6 PM March 5th to 6 PM March 6th!  More details coming soon!

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23 January 2015 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas executes Arnold Prieto

The State of Texas carried out its first execution of 2015 on Wednesday, January 21, putting Arnold Prieto to death for the 1993 robbery and murders of Rudolfo and Virginia Rodriguez and Paula Moran, a family friend, at the home of the San Antonio couple.  Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez were relatives of Prieto’s two companions that night, brothers Guadalupe and Jessie Hernandez.  Jessie Hernandez, who was 16 at the time of the crime, is serving a life sentence, while Guadalupe, the alleged mastermind of the robbery and murders, was never charged due to insufficient evidence.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, “prosecutors offered Prieto a plea deal to testify against him [Guadalupe Hernandez] in exchange for two 30-year sentences” but Prieto rejected the offer.

The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two more executions next week:

  • On January 28, Garcia White is scheduled to be put to death for the 1989 stabbing deaths of Bonita Edwards and her 16-year-old twin daughters, Annette and Bernette, in their Houston home. He was convicted in 1996.
  • On January 29, Robert Ladd is scheduled to be executed for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in Tyler (Smith County).  According to Amnesty International, a U.S. District Court judge held an evidentiary hearing in 2005 on Ladd’s claim that his intellectual disabilities should prohibit his execution.  In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v Virginia that individuals with intellectual disabilities are barred from execution.  The Court left it to each state, however, to set forth criteria for determining whether an individual is intellectually disabled.  The District Court judge later ruled that Ladd has “significantly sub-average intellectual functioning” but the evidence of his adaptive deficits was not compelling enough to grant relief.Learn more about his case from Amnesty International and take action to stop his execution by calling the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott.

Four executions have taken place nationwide to date in 2015: Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas each have put one person to death this year. Both Oklahoma and Georgia have scheduled executions for next week, as well.

 

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21 January 2015 ~ Comments Off

Texas prepares for first execution of the year

Tonight, January 21, barring any last-minute intervention, the State of Texas will carry out its first execution of 2015.  Arnold Prieto is scheduled to be put to death for the 1993 robbery and murders of Rudolfo and Virginia Rodriguez and Paula Moran, a family friend, at the home of the San Antonio couple.  Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez were relatives of Prieto’s two companions that night, brothers Guadalupe and Jessie Hernandez.  Jessie Hernandez, who was 17 at the time of the crime, is serving a life sentence, while Guadalupe was never charged due to insufficient evidence. Read more about Prieto in the San Antonio Express-News and from the Austin Chronicle.

Please stand in vigil this afternoon and evening with TCADP members around the state. Vigil locations are available here.

The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out two more executions next week:

  • On January 28, Garcia White is scheduled to be put to death for the 1989 stabbing deaths of Bonita Edwards and her 16-year-old twin daughters, Annette and Bernette, in their Houston home. He was convicted in 1996.
  • On January 29, Robert Ladd is scheduled to be executed for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in Tyler (Smith County). Learn more about his case from Amnesty International and take action to stop his execution.

Three executions have taken place nationwide to date in 2015: Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma each have put one person to death this year.

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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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