Archive | Stay of execution

28 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on Robert Pruett Receives Stay of Execution

Robert Pruett Receives Stay of Execution

Robert Pruett has received a stay of execution to allow for more DNA testing of evidence.  He was scheduled to be put to death this evening for the 1999 murder of correctional officer Daniel Nagle at the McConnell Unit in Beeville.  He received a stay of execution in 2013 after prosecutors agreed to a request for DNA testing; a 2014 execution date also was withdrawn.  Pruett has consistently maintained his innocence.

Read more from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/28/texas-calls-off-robert-pruett-execution-hours.

This is the second time this month that a scheduled execution in Texas has been called off; Richard Vasquez received a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week.

 

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22 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

On April 21, 2015 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Richard Vasquez, scheduled to take place April 23rd. In their appeal to the court, Vasquez’s attorneys contended new research on shaken baby syndrome and head injuries debunks testimony from prosecution experts at his 1999 trial. Vasquez was originally scheduled for execution on January 15, 2015, but the execution was rescheduled because the Governor was out of the state.

Read more about the ruling from the Houston Chronicle.
Read more about Richard Vasquez’s case from the Austin Chronicle.

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23 March 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

One week ago the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Randall Mays, scheduled to take place on March 18th. The court agreed with Mays’ lawyers that additional review is needed to determine if Mays is mentally competent for execution.
Texas’ highest court will now give the case a deeper look before issuing an opinion or further order.

Read more about the ruling from the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.

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23 February 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Rodney Reed

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Rodney Reed

Today the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Rodney Reed, which was scheduled to take place on March 5th.  The court issued the stay to consider new evidence that may establish Reed’s innocence in the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites.

Here’s a statement from Reed’s lawyer, Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law:

We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence. We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.

The new evidence includes affidavits that confirm Reed’s romantic relationship with Stites and statements from three forensic examiners who reviewed the case and believe Stites was likely killed hours earlier than previously thought, challenging the timeline of her death as presented at Reed’s trial.

Six judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to the stay, which is “pending further order of this court.”

Read more about today’s ruling from the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman.

A copy of the court’s order is available at http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/ReedR_wrt07_ord.pdf.

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05 February 2015 ~ Comments Off on State of Texas executes Donald Newbury; Supreme Court stays execution of Lester Bower

State of Texas executes Donald Newbury; Supreme Court stays execution of Lester Bower

Last night the State of Texas carried out its third execution of the year, putting Donald Newbury to death for the 2000 murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.  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 near Kenedy, Texas on December 13, 2000. The “Texas Seven” made their way to North Texas, where on Christmas Eve they robbed a sporting goods store at gunpoint and killed Officer Hawkins.

Two of Newbury’s co-defendants have already been executed, one committed suicide, and three others remain on death row. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

Texas accounts for three of the seven executions to date in the United States this year.

*Breaking news* The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution to Lester Bower “pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari.” Bower was scheduled to be executed next week on February 10th for the shooting deaths of four men at an ultralight airplane hangar near Sherman in 1983.  Bower, a former chemical salesman with no prior criminal history, has consistently maintained his innocence.  He has spent more than 30 years on death row in Texas.

According to KXII News 12 in Sherman, attorneys for Bower presented three arguments to the Justices:

1. Whether the former Texas special issues for death penalty sentencing allowed the jury to consider mitigating evidence of good character;

2. Whether evidence disclosed by the state after the trial that the rare specialty ammunition prosecutors said Bower used to commit the murders was not really all that rare constitutes a due process clause violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; and

3. Whether executing a defendant whom has served more than 30 years on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Bower’s trial took place before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Johnny Paul Penry, which determined that jurors must be given an opportunity to consider mitigating evidence in the punishment phase of death penalty trials.  Dozens of people on death row in Texas have received new sentencing hearings as a result of that ruling.

Read more from KXII.

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27 January 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halts execution of Garcia White, denies appeal of Robert Ladd

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halts execution of Garcia White, denies appeal of Robert Ladd

Earlier today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a reprieve to Garcia White. White was scheduled to be put to death on January 28th 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 by a Harris County jury in 1996.  The court did not provide a reason for the stay of execution.  Read more from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post.

Also today, the state’s highest criminal court denied the appeal of Robert Ladd, who is scheduled to be executed on Thursday for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in Tyler (Smith County). According to a press release from the ACLU, Ladd, who has been diagnosed with an I.Q. of 67, “doesn’t meet the Texas courts’ standards to determine whether a person is intellectually disabled, which were drawn in part on the character Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.”  Read more from the ACLU.

The ACLU has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of Robert Ladd’s execution, based on evidence of his intellectual disabilities. Attorneys also have asked the Justices to review the decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Their certiorari petition, stay motion, and other documents are available here: https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/ex-parte-ladd.

 

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03 December 2014 ~ Comments Off on 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Stays the Execution of Scott Panetti

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Stays the Execution of Scott Panetti

BREAKING: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Scott Panetti, who had been scheduled for execution in Texas tonight at 6 p.m. CT.

Below is a statement from Mr. Panetti’s legal team, Greg Wiercioch of University of Wisconsin Law School and Kathryn Kase of Texas Defender Service, followed by background about the case.

“We are grateful that the court stayed tonight’s scheduled execution of Scott Panetti, a man who has suffered from schizophrenia for three decades, for a careful review of the issues surrounding his competency. Mr. Panetti’s illness, schizophrenia, was present for years prior to the crime, profoundly affected his trial, and appears to have worsened in recent years. Mr. Panetti has not had a competency evaluation in seven years, and we believe that today’s ruling is the first step in a process which will clearly demonstrate that Mr. Panetti is too severely mentally ill to be executed.

“We would like to remember the Alvarado family today and express our deepest sympathies for the loss of Amanda and Joe Alvarado.

“We believe that people who live with severe mental illness should have treatment options to keep themselves and others safe. When people who have severe mental illness enter our criminal justice system, the system has a moral obligation to respond appropriately to the limitations and deficits presented by mental illness.”

-Greg Wiercioch and Kathryn Kase, attorneys for Scott Panetti

-December 3, 2014

The Fifth Circuit Stay Order can be accessed here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQU204b1NjVldOc1NJYzBkRkdrUlhKZzBIeWZ3/view?usp=sharing

Mr. Panetti’s Opening Brief at the Fifth Circuit and Request for a Stay of Execution can be accessed here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQNl9DcjR1UDJTLUV0bTg4UmFObl9IaXZfeUxj/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQMWVlLUROakRiUkxRRVZDaXNKMzBwazZXUmFJ/view

CASE BACKGROUND

Three-Decade History of Severe Psychosis and Delusions

Mr. Panetti has suffered from extreme mental illness for over 30 years. He was hospitalized a dozen times for psychosis and delusions in the six years leading up to the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

The first time Mr. Panetti showed signs of being afflicted with a psychotic disorder was in 1978, over 14 years before the crime. During his multiple hospitalizations, doctors diagnosed him with chronic schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and proscribed antipsychotic medication.

In 1986, Mr. Panetti first succumbed to the delusion that he was engaged in spiritual warfare with Satan. In an affidavit his first wife signed to have him involuntarily committed, she testified that he was obsessed with the idea that the devil was in the house. He engaged in a series of bizarre behaviors to exorcize his home, including burying his furniture in the backyard because he thought the devil was in the furniture.

Two years before the crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death, Mr. Panetti was involuntarily committed for homicidal behavior and was found to be suffering from delusions and psychotic religiosity.

The crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death also had the hallmarks of a severely disturbed mind. While off his antipsychotic medication, Mr. Panetti shaved his head and dressed in camouflage fatigues before going to his in-laws’ home and committing the offense for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Detailed information about Mr. Panetti’s medical history can be found in this mental illness timeline starting in 1978 that shows how Mr. Panetti’s mental health degenerated over the years, including how in 1986, the Social Security Administration made a determination that Mr. Panetti was so disabled from schizophrenia that he was entitled to government benefits: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1LFfr8Iqz_7c3kzWW5nRFBib1U/view?usp=sharing

Mr. Panetti’s Trial: ‘A Miserable Spectacle’

Despite being a paranoid schizophrenic, Mr. Panetti represented himself at his capital murder trial in 1995. Wearing a cowboy costume with a purple bandana and attempting to call over 200 people to the witness stand, including the Pope, John F. Kennedy, Jesus Christ and his own alter ego, Mr. Panetti was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Mr. Panetti’s statements in court, at both the guilt and sentencing phase, were bizarre and incomprehensible. He took the witnesses stand and testified about his own life in excessive and irrelevant detail.

Mr. Panetti announced that he would assume the personality of “Sarge” and recounted the gruesome details of the crime in the third person. He gestured as if pointing a rifle to the jury box (visibly upsetting the jurors) and matter- of-factly imitated the sound of shots being fired.

Fixed Delusion that Texas is Trying to Kill Him for Preaching the Gospel

In 2004, Texas tried to execute Mr. Panetti, but a federal judge court stayed the execution and the United States Supreme Court ultimately found the Fifth Circuit’s standard for determining competency to be executed unconstitutional in Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930 (2007). Notwithstanding that decision, Texas continued to contest Mr. Panetti’s competence to be executed. In 2013, the Fifth Circuit again found him competent to be executed – despite the District Court’s findings that he has a severe mental illness and suffers from paranoid delusions.

If his execution date is not withdrawn, he will go to the execution chamber convinced that he is being put to death for preaching the Gospels, not for the murder of his wife’s parents, and the retributive goal of capital punishment will not be served.

Widespread Support for Clemency

On November 12, 2014, Mr. Panetti’s attorneys filed a clemency petition with Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles along with letters supporting clemency from the leading Texas and national mental health organizations and professionals such as the American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America and Disability Rights Texas; criminal justice and legal professionals including former Texas Governor Mark White, state Attorneys General and former judges and prosecutors; 55 Evangelical leaders from Texas and nationally and 7 retired and active Bishops from the United Methodist Church and other faith leaders; Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation and the American Bar Association, among others.

On November 18, 2014, worldwide support for Scott Panetti reached a groundswell with new calls for clemency from prominent individuals and organizations from across Texas and the world, including the nation’s largest grassroots advocacy organization on mental illness, National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); NAMI’s Texas affiliate; ten legislators from Texas; former U.S. Representative Ron Paul; several more Evangelical Christians; and the European Union, which represents twenty-eight nations.

The clemency petition can be accessed through Texas Defender Service’s web page on the case: http://texasdefender.org/scott-panetti/

To access the letters supporting clemency, additional legal documents and other case resources, including a video, please go to: http://texasdefender.org/scott-panetti.

Additionally, a petition started by Mr. Panetti’s sister, Vicki Panetti, has been signed by over 95,000 concerned individuals. https://www.change.org/p/gov-rick-perry-spare-my-brother-s-life-a-severely-mentally-ill-man-on-death-row

To speak with Mr. Panetti’s attorneys, Kathryn Kase of Texas Defender Service and Greg Wiercioch of Texas Defender Service and University of Wisconsin Law School, or if you would like to speak with mental health and other experts, please contact Laura Burstein, Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c).

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14 October 2014 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Larry Hatten

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Larry Hatten

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the execution of Larry Hatten, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.  According to the Associated Press and reposted by KVUE, the court issued Hatten “a reprieve to resolve a 1997 filing with his trial court in Nueces County. The judges said Monday in a three-page ruling that the filing never was decided by the trial court and was never properly forwarded to the appeals court.”

The appeals court has given the trial court six months to resolve the claims in the in filing.

A Nueces County jury sentenced Hatten to death 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.

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