Archive | Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

01 December 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejects clemency for Scott Panetti

Breaking: This afternoon, despite widespread support from the country’s and Texas’ leading mental health organizations, dozens of conservative and Evangelical leaders, the American Bar Association and hundreds of other prominent individuals and organizations, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted, 7-0, to deny a commutation recommendation for Scott Panetti, a man who has suffered from schizophrenia for over thirty years.

Mr. Panetti is scheduled for execution on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Central time. He has not had a competency hearing in nearly seven years. Mr. Panetti’s attorneys have petitions pending at the Fifth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court.

This afternoon, Mr. Panetti’s attorneys filed a Reprieve letter with Governor Rick Perry asking that he use his executive authority to issue a 30-day stay of execution in order for Mr. Panetti to have a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is not competent for execution.

The letter to Gov. Perry can be accessed here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQTUY2ZmdJdk1sckcwVUczRTFqVU14LWplc2FJ/view?usp=sharing

Below is a statement from Kathryn Kase, Mr. Panetti’s co-counsel, followed by background about the case.

Statement from Kathryn Kase, Attorney For Scott Panetti, In Response to Denial by Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

“Mr. Panetti is a sick man who has suffered from schizophrenia, an incurable mental illness, for over thirty years, including prior to and during the crime, and during his trial at which he represented himself in a floridly psychotic state. Widespread and diverse voices agree that Mr. Panetti’s execution would cross a moral line and serve no retributive or deterrent value, including national and Texas leaders in mental health, leading conservative, libertarian and evangelical Christian voices, former judges and prosecutors, legislators, Governors and attorneys general and many more. Despite the Board’s short-sighted recommendation today, there is still time for Governor Perry to issue a 30-day reprieve in order to evaluate Mr. Panetti’s competency to be executed, which has not been assessed in over seven years.

“Today we sent the Governor a letter regarding the ongoing deterioration of Mr. Panetti’s condition based on our visits in the last three weeks. We also raised the issue that the District Attorney failed to notify us that the warrant was issued and we lost fourteen critical days when we could have been working on the case, only learning a date had been set through media rather than official channels.  We urge the Governor to use his executive power to grant a stay in order to examine Mr. Panetti’s competency for execution. There is still time to stop this unconscionable execution of a severely mentally ill man who would die without comprehending what his death means.”

-Kathryn Kase, attorney for Scott Panetti and Executive Director of Texas Defender Service

-December 1, 2014

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denial can be accessed here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQTkxvNks3SnZYRERnUllNeDFWMGlaOXNUbGhz/view?usp=sharing

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.

Emerging Consensus Against the Imposition of the Death Penalty Against the Severely Mentally Ill

Citing trends which demonstrate an emerging consensus against the use of capital punishment against people with severe mental illness, attorneys for Mr. Panetti today filed for a stay of execution at the U.S. Supreme Court, with a petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the constitutionality of Mr. Panetti’s execution. Mr. Panetti was diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder decades before the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed this Wednesday.

Today’s cert petition argues that the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment includes a prohibition on executing persons with severe mental illness, like Mr. Panetti.

Today’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari can be accessed here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1LFfr8Iqz_7Y2RPalhCS1BVazBlU0VoRExYUjNQckNFZHZB/view?usp=sharing

Today’s Motion for a Stay of Execution can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1LFfr8Iqz_7Umxlc3BEWmV1bzNSYXExRXZPc0dOdG9CWUhF/view?usp=sharing

A new nationwide poll, released today, states that American oppose the execution of the mentally ill by a 2-1 margin: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1LFfr8Iqz_7R3dCM2VJbTJiTjVYVDVodjVVSTNJbHgxZWlB/view

On November 26th, three judges of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote powerful dissents in favor of relief in the case, including Judge Tom Price who stated: “I would grant applicant’s motion for a stay of execution and would hold that his severe mental illness renders him categorically ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

“It is inconceivable to me how the execution of a severely mentally ill person such as applicant would measurably advance the retribution and deterrence purposes purportedly served by the death penalty.

“I can imagine no rational reason for carving a line between the prohibition on the execution of a mentally retarded person or an insane person while permitting the execution of a severely mentally ill person. At a minimum, therefore, I would hold that the execution of a severely mentally ill person violates the Eighth Amendment of the federal Constitution.”

Judge Elsa Alcala, joined by Judge Cheryl Johnson found that Mr. Panetti had raised a “compelling argument” that the Eighth Amendment forbids the execution of the seriously mentally ill and that the majority had not given “greater consideration” to his argument. They would have stayed Mr. Panetti’s execution and permitted further briefing of the Eighth Amendment issue.

The CCA Order and Dissents can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQa1czZHZmNHk0SXlVU3pKZkpnd0pId1owRnVB/view?usp=sharing

Citing new research, the cert petition argues that actual sentencing practices reveal an emerging consensus against use of the death penalty in cases where the defendant has severe mental illness. The new research, which examines the capital sentencing practices of 7 states, finds that “ death sentences were imposed in only 5 of 68 cases, a capital sentencing rate of 7.35%.” (p. 29)

Furthermore, “the last time a defendant adjudicated GBMI [guilty but mentally ill] was sentenced to death was at least 20 years ago,” (p. 30).

As the petition states, “The infrequency with which the death penalty is imposed on the class of death-eligible mentally ill defendants…demonstrates that a consensus has emerged against the imposition of the death penalty on mentally ill defendants.” (p. 31)

Other objective factors that demonstrate the national consensus against the death penalty for people with severe mental illness include the opinion of mental health professionals, and “[n]early every major mental health association in the United States …  has issued policy statements recommending an outright ban on the death penalty for offenders with severe mental brain damage (dementia and traumatic brain injury) and a ban on the death penalty or offenders with severe mental illness whose condition diminished their responsibility for their crimes.” (pp. 31-32)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAMI’s Texas affiliate, the American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America, Disability Rights Texas, dozens of other mental health experts and the American Bar Association, which in 2006 approved a resolution urging preclusion of the death penalty for those who were mentally ill at the time of their crimes, are actively urging officials in Texas to stop Mr. Panetti’s execution.

The petition notes that “[i]mposition of the death penalty on people with severe mental illness, as with people with intellectual disability [who are protected from the death penalty], does not serve the two goals of deterrence and retribution because of their reduced moral culpability.” (p. 35)

Furthermore, the petition notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has “expressed concern that the cognitive limitations of the intellectually disabled, as manifested in a trial setting, may lead to the death penalty being ‘imposed in spite of factors which may call for a less severe penalty,'” (p. 36) including a greater chance of false confessions, the decreased ability of defendants with severe mental illness to meaningfully assist counsel, being problematic witnesses and the fact that their demeanor can create an impression of lack of remorse. According to the petition, “these very same factors – also present among the population of the severely mentally ill – may also result in the death penalty being imposed upon a severely mentally ill defendant despite the presence of other mitigating factors that call for a less severe penalty.” (p. 37)

This was certainly the case with Mr. Panetti who “displayed ‘bizarre, and ‘scary’ behavior throughout his trial. He asked nonsensical questions about Native Americans…and flipped a coin to decide whether to strike a potential juror.” (p. 37)

During the punishment phase, Mr. Panetti called only one witness, his standby counsel, before delivering an unintelligible punishment phase closing argument:

“You know, just to touch on the spat and wasn’t cuffed, but I was bronc and Sheriff Kaiser and I had a talk, well, of the fact that I’m no longer American citizen, and because of my buckaroo case.  I believe city people love horses, too, and I don’t consider myself anything above or below anyone, but I do consider myself me, and when I made my last confession at Veterans Hospital to Father De la Garza, I wasn’t Catholic.” (p. 21)

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 theEuropean Union, which represents twenty-eight nations.

Also today, over a dozen national leaders of the conservative movement sent a letter asking Governor Perry to commute the death sentence of Mr. Panetti to a life sentence if the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends it: http://www.constitutionproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Panetti-clemency-letter-Nolan.pdf

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 88,000 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 at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com or 202-626-6868 (o) or 202-669-3411 (c).

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02 September 2014 ~ Comments Off

Support clemency for Texas death row inmate 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.

There is no evidence whatsoever connecting Soffar to the horrific murders of three people in a bowling alley in Houston in 1980.  His conviction and death sentence hinged solely on a confession he gave to police – one of three inconsistent statements he provided after three days of intense interrogation.  According to the National Registry of Wrongful Convictions, false confessions have played a role in 13% of exonerations nationwide.

Equally troubling is the fact that Max Soffar did not remotely resemble the description of the perpetrator provided by eyewitness and surviving victim Greg Garner.  Substantial evidence supporting the alternative theory of suspect Paul Dennis Reid has never been considered by a jury.

Attorneys for Max Soffar are asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that Governor Rick Perry commute Soffar’s death sentence so that he may live his final days at home.

Texans: please sign this petition urging Governor Rick Perry to grant clemency to Max Soffar!

Non-Texans: please sign this petition in support of Max Soffar’s clemency petition!

Many prominent individuals, including former district attorneys, judges, and faith leaders are supporting Max Soffar’s clemency petition.  Among those calling for compassionate release are former Gov. Mark White and Judge William S. Sessions.  Read their letter here.   Also read an editorial by the Dallas Morning News, which states that “the clemency request serves a righteous purpose.”

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12 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Failed to Disclose Evidence that Man Facing Imminent Execution has Mental Retardation, According to Attorneys

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org or 512-441-1808 (office) or 512-552-5948 (cell)

Documents Show that Texas Failed to Disclose Evidence that Man Facing Imminent Execution has Mental Retardation, According to Attorneys

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Will Be Asked Today to Reconsider Clemency for Robert Campbell Based on New Evidence of Low I.Q. Test Scores that Were in the State’s Possession But Never Shared with Campbell’s Lawyers

(Austin, Texas, May 12, 2014) – Today, based on new information and evidence only recently uncovered in state files indicating that Robert Campbell is a person with mental retardation, and therefore ineligible for execution, attorneys will ask the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider its recommendation against clemency for Mr. Campbell. Mr. Campbell is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Tuesday, May 13, 2104 at 6 p.m. CT.

“It is an outrage that the State of Texas itself has worked to frustrate Mr. Campbell’s attempts to obtain any fair consideration of evidence of his intellectual disability,” said Robert C. Owen, an attorney for Mr. Campbell. “State officials affirmatively misled Mr. Campbell’s lawyers when they said they had no records of IQ testing of Mr. Campbell from his time on death row.  That was a lie.  They had such test results, and those results placed Mr. Campbell squarely in the range for a diagnosis of mental retardation.  Mr. Campbell now faces execution as a direct result of such shameful gamesmanship.”

According to Mr. Campbell’s attorneys, during prior state and federal judicial proceedings, the State of Texas failed to disclose two prior I.Q. test scores that tended to prove Mr. Campbell’s intellectual disability.  The Harris County District Attorney’s Office did not provide counsel with public school records, including the results of a score of 68 from an I.Q. test administered to Mr. Campbell when he was a schoolchild.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice similarly failed to disclose that Mr. Campbell scored a 71 on an I.Q. test administered by a state-employed prison psychologist shortly after Mr. Campbell arrived on death row at age 19.   Even more egregious is the fact that TDCJ flatly told Mr. Campbell’s attorney in 2003 that no such IQ tests existed for death row prisoners.

An I.Q. test score of 70 or below is generally accepted as “significantly subaverage intellectual functioning” necessary to diagnose intellectual disability.  According to Mr. Campbell’s attorneys, every piece of substantial evidence supports this diagnosis, and a comprehensive evaluation by a highly qualified psychologist – a member of the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists, appointed to that post by Governor Rick Perry – has now confirmed it.

Mr. Campbell faces imminent execution despite the fact that no court has given meaningful consideration to extensive evidence that he is intellectually disabled. Unless the Board intervenes, Texas may execute a man who is mentally retarded, in violation of the Supreme Court’s now decade-old ban on such executions.

A powerful dissenting opinion issued last week by Judge Elsa Alcala of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) correctly called the evidence of Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation ‘compelling.’  She zeroed in on the fundamental unfairness of the court’s decision to reject his claim – the reason why this evidence was not available in 2003, when the CCA first turned away Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation claim.

In her dissent, Judge Alcala states, “It would be unjust to penalize [Mr. Campbell] for not uncovering such a falsehood previously, when he had no basis to believe that a falsehood had been conveyed to him. . . . This Court should not base its decisions that determine whether a person will live or be executed based on misinformation or wholly inadequate information.”

Here is the link to Mr. Campbell’s habeas petition:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZmFSMVBLcmpRcU0/edit

Here is the link to the CCA ruling and dissent:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQTXk5c1l1VGQzSHc/edit

Mr. Campbell’s attorneys also plan to appeal directly to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has the authority to issue a one-time, 30-day stay of execution.

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For more information, please contact Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.or, 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948.

 

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28 January 2013 ~ Comments Off

State of Texas Scheduled to Execute Kimberly McCarthy

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Kimberly McCarthy on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, despite troubling questions about racial bias in the jury selection process.  Please take action now by calling Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and urging him to request a stay of execution.

Background on the Case

Kimberly McCarthy was convicted of the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County.  Her original conviction was reversed on the basis of the erroneous admission of a statement she made upon arrest.  McCarthy was again convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 after a trial in which the guilt phase lasted only one day.

Troubling questions surround the jury selection process in her trial – of the 12 jurors selected, all but one were white.  According to McCarthy’s attorneys, the state struck three non-white prospective jurors (21% of its total strikes).  Of the 64 people questioned on individual voir dire, only 4 were not white.  Of these individuals, only 3 were African American.  None of these figures reflect the racial demographics of Dallas County.

There is a long, documented history of racially-biased jury selection practices in Dallas County.  The clemency video of Thomas Miller-El, who was eventually removed from death row because of these practices, features interviews with Dallas County jurors, judges, and prosecutors about the discrimination in the jury selection system.

McCarthy is one of ten women currently on death row in Texas.  Late last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected her petition for clemency.  Since 1982, the State has executed three women, including Frances Newton in 2005.

Action Request

On Sunday, January 27, 2013, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, the Senior Pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, spoke about the case of Kimberly McCarthy during his sermon.  Please join Dr. Haynes and many others in appealing to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to request a stay of execution for Kimberly McCarthy.

Please call or fax Mr. Watkins to express your support for a Texas Racial Justice Act and to request a stay of execution for Kimberly McCarthy, who was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury from which African Americans were excluded on the basis of their race.  If we believe in a Racial Justice Act, we must also believe Ms. McCarthy does not deserve to be executed.

Contact information for Mr. Watkins:

The Hon. Craig Watkins

Dallas County District Attorney’s Office

214-653-3600 – phone

214-653-2924 – fax

Thank you for taking action to stop this execution. Stay tuned to TCADP for any updates on this case.

 

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27 July 2012 ~ Comments Off

Attorneys for Marcus Druery Request Stay of Execution

Yesterday, July 26, 2012, attorneys for Marcus Druery filed a request for a stay of execution with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  Druery is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, August 1, for the 2002 murder of Skyyler Brown in Brazos County.  His attorneys have sought a full competency hearing to determine his mental health status and competency to be executed.  Druery has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and suffers from delusions and hallucinations.

Here’s an excerpt from coverage of the case in the Texas Tribune (“Lawyers for Mentally Ill Inmate Seek Stay of Execution,” July 26, 2012):

On Wednesday, the trial judge in Druery’s case, J.D. Langley, also unsealed the inmate’s medical record from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Among the records is a report from a May 2012 examination by Dr. Diane Mosnik, a neuropsychologist who wrote that Druery “suffers from severe, active psychotic condition, meeting criteria for a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.”

 

The severity of his mental illness, Dr. Mosnik wrote, prevents Druery from having a understanding that he is going to be executed Aug. 1.

 

“Although he has a factual awareness that an execution date has been scheduled for the crime for which he was tried, he does not believe that he will be executed because of his illogical, fixed, and firmly held delusional belief system,” she wrote.

 

The request for a stay follows the denial earlier this week by Langley of Druery’s request for a hearing to determine whether he is competent for execution because of his mental condition.

Additional coverage of the case is available in the Bryan-College Station Eagle (“Stay of execution filed in Druery case,” July 27, 2012) and from KBTX (“Bryan Killer’s Lawyers Seek Stay of Execution From Appeals Court,” July 27, 2012).

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action for this case, urging letters in support of clemency to be submitted to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry.  Take action today!

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02 May 2012 ~ Comments Off

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Votes Unanimously Against Anthony Bartee

Thank you to everyone who has taken action to stop tonight’s scheduled execution of Anthony Bartee, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of David Cook in San Antonio.  We learned late last night from Bartee’s attorneys that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously against granting clemency or a 120-day reprieve to allow time for additional DNA testing.  His attorneys have multiple appeals pending and will continue to pursue all possible legal channels today.  Please check back with TCADP for updates as they become available.  At this point, vigils will take place in locations statewide as scheduled.

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27 April 2012 ~ 2 Comments

State of Texas Executes Beunka Adams

Last night, April 26, 2012, the State of Texas carried out its fifth execution of the  year.  Beunka Adams was executed for the murder of Kenneth Vandever, 37, outside Rusk in 2002.

Both Adams and his co-defendant Richard Cobb were sentenced to death for the crime.  Vandever and two women were abducted from a convenience store. Vandever was fatally shot. The women also were shot, and one of them was raped.  Both survived and one of the victims identified Adams.  According to the AP, “Adams was tried for capital murder under the Texas law of parties, which makes an accomplice equally culpable as the actual killer. A fellow inmate in the Cherokee County Jail testified Adams bragged to him that he did the shootings,” but evidence from Cobb showed Cobb was the gunman.  Cobb does not have an execution date.

Adams received a stay of execution from a federal judge earlier in the week but it was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals after the Texas Attorney General’s office appealed the ruling.  His attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Adams received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial and in the early stages of his appeal, but the Court refused to intervene.

Read more in the Huffington Post.

Another Texas execution is scheduled to take place next week on May 2, 2012.  Take action now to urge the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry to grant a reprieve to Anthony Bartee so that all of the DNA evidence can be tested and Bartee’s attorneys can pursue relief through available legal avenues.

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26 April 2012 ~ 5 Comments

New Developments in Anthony Bartee Case, Call for Action

Update as of 4:30 PM on May 1:  The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that “State District Court Judge Mary Román ruled the [DNA] results wouldn’t have impacted the outcome of the trial and said Bartee’s new execution date would not be withdrawn. [Bartee’s attorney David] Dow appealed that decision Monday arguing that glasses and cigarettes collected at the time of the killing should also be tested.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/1996-slaying-victim-s-family-awaits-killer-s-3523017.php#ixzz1tekxWvHl

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In less than one week, on May 2, 2012, the State of Texas plans to execute Anthony Bartee for the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio.  Bartee has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.

Bartee was originally scheduled to be executed on February 28, 2012, even though DNA evidence collected at the crime scene had not been tested as ordered on at least two occasions by District Judge Mary Román. He received a reprieve on February 23, 2012 when Judge Román withdrew the execution warrant so that additional DNA testing could be conducted on strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook.  She also ordered the forensic lab to provide a detailed and comprehensive report to the court with an analysis of the results.  Yet, before the testing occurred, Judge Román inexplicably set another execution date: May 2, 2012.

According to Bartee’s attorneys, DNA testing was just conducted and indicated that hairs that were tested found in Cook’s hands belonged to Cook.  The jury never heard this evidence – and in fact wasn’t told about the hairs at all – which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case that a violent struggle had ensued between Cook and his killer.  Still, Judge Román entered the findings as unfavorable, opining that this evidence would not have made a difference in the outcome of the trial, had it been available to the jury.  Under Article 64.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Bartee’s attorneys have the right to appeal the unfavorable findings.  The fast-approaching execution date significantly impedes this right to due process, however.

 

In addition, there is still more evidence that has not been tested for DNA, including cigarette butts and at least three drinking glasses found at the crime scene. In 2010, the court ordered that all items that had not been tested be tested, but these items still have not been tested.

 

Take action now!

1. Call upon the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to stop this rush to execution and grant a 120-day reprieve for Anthony Bartee so that all of the evidence can be tested and Bartee’s attorneys can pursue relief through available legal avenues.  Here are talking points:

  • Testing of hairs found in the hands of David Cook was just conducted and indicated that the hairs that were tested belonged to Cook.  The jury never heard this evidence, which might have undermined the prosecution’s theory of the case.
  • Bartee’s attorneys need more time to pursue relief under chapter 64, which provides the right to appeal the findings of recent testing, and to argue that the evidence might have impacted the outcome of the trial.
  • There is still additional evidence to be tested for DNA; such testing was ordered in 2010 but has not been conducted.
  • To date, 17 death row inmates nationwide have been exonerated by use of DNA testing. Shouldn’t every prisoner get this chance when DNA evidence is available? Shouldn’t Texas insist on the highest standards of evidence proving guilt, especially in cases where the punishment is irreversible?

2. Post information about this case on Facebook and Twitter.  Here are sample tweets:

  • Tell TX to stop the rush to execute #AnthonyBartee!
  • Tell TX to test all the DNA!  Stop #AnthonyBartee execution.

3. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing concerns about the death penalty’s irreversible risk of error and calling for its repeal.

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

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Fax: 512-463-1849
Main number: 512-463-2000
Salutation: Dear Governor Perry

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

Letters/faxes to the Board must clearly reference “ATTENTION CASE Anthony Bartee #999282” and should arrive ASAP!

4. Sign this Petition Click Link

Additional background information on the case is available here.

 

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