death penalty news—-TEXAS

May 16


Texas court to hear death row inmate's appeal—-The man's childhood abuse
will be considered

A longtime Texas death row inmate could get another chance to avoid
execution after an appeals court granted a rare reconsideration of an
earlier decision.

The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to reconsider whether jurors who
sentenced Gene Wilford Hathorn Jr. were properly instructed on how to
consider potential mitigating evidence that he was abused as a child. The
same court had previously rejected the claims as recently as last month.

Hathorn, 47, and his co-worker at Rusk State Hospital, James Beathard,
were sentenced to die for a 1984 rampage that killed Hathorn's father,
stepmother and half-brother in Trinity County. Beathard was executed in

Court records indicated Hathorn supplied Beathard with illegal drugs for
him to sell on commission. They also show that, during their friendship,
Hathorn talked of his desire to kill Gene Hathorn Sr., Linda Hathorn and
14-year-old Marcus Hathorn.

Hathorn hoped to collect an inheritance from his father and offered to
share it with Beathard, not knowing that his father had recently cut him
out of his will.

David Sergi, Hathorn's appeals attorney, said the elder Hathorn regularly
abused his son as a child.

"There were beatings, emotional abuse … good old country whippings,"
Sergi said.

The appeal is not an attempt to overturn his conviction, but to avoid
execution, Sergi said.

In a separate case, a federal appeals court is allowing a death row inmate
to appeal his conviction for killing a mother and her 2 children in the
Texas Panhandle more than 14 years ago.

Henry Watkins Skinner, 46, has won approval from the 5th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals to pursue arguments that a police blood spatter report
should have been used by his lawyers at his capital murder trial to
bolster his defense.

Skinner was convicted of fatally bludgeoning his girlfriend, Twila Jean
Busby, 40, with an ax handle, then fatally stabbing her 2 mentally
impaired sons, Elwin Caler, 22, and Randy Busby, 20, at their Pampa home
on New Year's Eve in 1993.

(source: Associated Press)


Families Worry After Executions Resume

Widow of murder victim Ramiro Ayala said she is angry but still trusts in
the system that has placed his killer on death row.

"A life for a life," said Agnes Ayala, as she remembers her husband, slain
during the robbery of a downtown nightclub he owned.

Last year, executions were suspended in Texas and across the nation, as
the Supreme Court considered a Kentucky case challenging lethal injection.
The court ruled the 3-part killing method does not constitute cruel and
unusual punishment, allowing states to resume the execution of prisoners.

Convicted in a different case, Randy Greer is waiting on death row. Greer
said that just like a victims family, he isn't able to be with his loved
ones. Not concerned with the court's ruling in Kentucky, Greer said,
"They'll just find another way to kill me."

No matter what happened with the Kentucky case, convicted killer George
McFarland said his position wouldn't be too affected. "It means me still
here, still hoping, still praying." said McFarland, "still hanging onto my
faith and still believing in the system."

(source: KSAT News)