death penalty news—-TEXAS

April 24

TEXAS—-new execution date

June 3 execution date set for Sonnier

Condemned inmate Derrick Sonnier received a June 3 execution date
Wednesday, bringing to at least 3 the number of Texas death row prisoners
to get an execution date following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling
upholding the constitutionality of the lethal injection process.

State District Judge Michael Wilkinson set the date for Sonnier, 40,
condemned for the 1991 slayings of Melody Flowers, 27, and her 2-year-old
son Patrick at their apartment in the Houston suburb of Humble. Flowers
had been stabbed, beaten with a hammer and strangled. Her child was
stabbed eight times. Both victims were found floating in a bathtub.

Sonnier initially was scheduled to die in February. His execution date,
however, was withdrawn by Harris County prosecutors because the Supreme
Court's review of lethal injection procedures effectively halted all
executions around the country.

He joins Charles Dean Hood, convicted of a double slaying in the Dallas
suburb of Plano more than 18 years ago, and Larry Donnell Davis, condemned
for a 1995 robbery-slaying in Amarillo, on the calendar for execution in
Huntsville. Hood, 38, is set to die June 17. Davis, 40, is set for July

Last year 26 convicted killers were put to death in Texas, the most of any

The last execution in the country was in Huntsville on Sept. 25, the same
day the high court agreed to hear an appeal from two Kentucky death row
inmates who contended the lethal injection process in that state, similar
to the one used in Texas, was unconstitutionally cruel. Their appeal was
turned down by the court last week in a 7-2 vote, clearing the way for
executions to resume.

(source: Associated Press)


Execution set for man who killed Humble toddler, mom

A man who killed a 2-year-old Humble boy and his mother after she
repeatedly rejected his advances is the third Texas death row inmate
scheduled to die since the Supreme Court's ruling on lethal injection.

State District Judge Mike Wilkinson granted the state's request Wednesday
that Derrick Sonnier be sent to Texas' death chamber June 3. The
40-year-old was sentenced to death for the 1991 rape and murder of Melody
Flowers, 27, and the stabbing death of her son, Patrick.

This is the 2nd execution date set in his case.

Last November, Harris County prosecutors agreed to set aside the original
execution date of Feb. 26 to await the high court's ruling on the
constitutionality of the lethal injection process.

The court ruled 7-2 last week that Kentucky's execution method, also used
in Texas, does not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and
unusual punishment.

On death row

Harris County moved to reschedule Sonnier's execution first because he
already had a date set in his case, said Roe Wilson, a Harris County
prosecutor who handles capital punishment appeals.

"I was kind of surprised when the district attorney's office called the
day after the decision," said Jani Maselli, Sonnier's appellate attorney,
"but I immediately knew what it was about."

2 other executions have been scheduled in Texas since the high court
ruling: Charles Dean Hood, 38, is set to be put to death June 17, for 2
1989 Plano murders; and Larry Donell Davis, 40, has a July 31 execution
date for an Amarillo murder in 1995.

During Sonnier's 1993 trial, jurors heard evidence that he beat Flowers, a
mother of five, with a claw hammer until the handle broke off, strangled
and then stabbed her with a kitchen knife. He dumped Flowers' body in her
bathtub. After he killed the toddler, Sonnier tossed his body atop his
mother's in the bloody bath water, prosecutors said.

Defense: Wrong person

Jurors were told that Sonnier, who lived two doors down from the Flowers
family with his girlfriend, stalked Melody Flowers for two years before
the killings.

Sonnier contends, as he did at his trial, that the state has the wrong
man, Maselli said. No witnesses were called to testify on Sonnier's behalf
during the punishment phase of the trial.

His trial attorneys should have overruled Sonnier's wish that no one,
including family members, testify, Maselli said. Relatives were available
to testify that Sonnier loved his girlfriend, loved children and was
incapable of violence, court records indicate.

"That's when the jury finds out who he is and why he is not worthy of
death," she said. "The jury couldn't save him he's a stranger."

(source: Houston Chronicle)


Death row inmate's execution scheduled after 7-month hiatus

The 1st Texas executions since the beginning of a 7-month national
moratorium have been scheduled for this summer.

The executions of Charles Dean Hood and Larry Donnell Davis are slated for
June and July, respectively.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by 2 Kentucky death row inmates
in September concerning the constitutionality of lethal injections. Lauri
Saathoff, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General, said 35 state
death row inmates received stays of execution while state courts waited
for a decision. But Davis's execution date was set before the moratorium.

Both cases had exhausted the appeals process. In those situations, the
district attorney contacts the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's
Institutional Division, which handles prisons and executions, to find out
which dates are available. A warrant for execution must be delivered to
the Institutional Division at least 90 days in advance.

A date was scheduled for Davis's execution before the Supreme Court stayed
executions in the Kentucky case, but a judge held onto the order pending a
ruling from the high court. District attorneys throughout Texas agreed to
hold other death penalty cases.

The Potter County Sheriff's office would serve the warrant for Davis's
execution to the Institutional Division by Wednesday, said 47th District
Attorney Randall Sims. Potter County, which encompasses Amarillo, sits in
the Panhandle.

4 men, including Davis, sit on death row in Potter County, but 2 of them
were in the early stages of appeals and would not have been affected by
the stay issued by the Supreme Court.

(source: The Daily Texan)