death penalty news—-TEXAS

June 11


Killer put to death in Texas' 1st execution in 9 months—-He apologizes
to Dallas single mom's family, including her son, who found her body after
1991 attack

A remorseful convicted killer was executed Wednesday night for the rape
and slaying of a woman in Dallas 17 years ago, the first Texas prisoner in
nearly nine months put to death in the nation's most active capital
punishment state.

Karl Eugene Chamberlain, with a big smile on his face, addressed relatives
of his victim, staring directly at the son, parents and brother of Felecia
Prechtl as they stood just a few feet away, looking through a glass

"I want you all to know I love you with all my heart. I want to thank you
for being here," he said. Prechtl's son was 5 when he found his mother's
body in their bathroom.

"We are here to honor the life of Felecia Prechtl, a woman I didn't even
know, and celebrate my death," he said. "I am so terribly sorry. I wish I
could die more than once."

Chamberlain said he understood if his victim's relatives would like to
hurt him, but he wanted them to know it was his memories of her and her
life that contributed to his remorse.

"I love you. God have mercy on us all," he said as the drugs began taking
effect. Still grinning, he blurted out: "Please do not hate anybody
because … "

He was unable to finish as he slipped into unconsciousness. 9 minutes
later at 6:30 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

"One question I ask myself every day. Why does it take so long for justice
to be served?" Prechtl's mother, Ina, said after watching Chamberlain die.

Chamberlain lived upstairs in the same apartment complex as his victim but
denied any knowledge of the crime when questioned by police the day of the
1991 slaying. He was arrested 5 years later after his fingerprint was
matched to a print on a roll of duct tape used to bind Prechtl.
Chamberlain's prints had been entered into a database after he went on
probation for an attempted robbery and abduction in Houston.

When he was arrested in Euless in suburban Dallas, he confessed.

"It was just total terrible bad luck," Chamberlain said, describing the
slaying in a recent interview on death row. "Not that my actions were
luck, but bad luck that I didn't get interrupted and stop."

"I'm not trying to justify my crime," he added.

After 26 executions in Texas last year, far more than any other state,
Chamberlain's was the 1st in the state since September. Executions
throughout the country were on hold after the Supreme Court agreed in
September to consider a challenge from 2 Kentucky prisoners who questioned
the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures. When the court in
April upheld the method, the de facto moratorium was lifted and executions

Chamberlain was the 6th prisoner executed nationally this year, all in
recent weeks. He was among at least 13 Texas inmates with execution dates
in the coming months.

The Supreme Court rejected Chamberlain's request for a reprieve and a
review of his case about 30 minutes before he was scheduled to die. The
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also rejected an appeal related to lethal
injection procedures within a half-hour of his execution time.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, lawyers for Chamberlain contended
his initial appeals attorney a lawyer paid for by the state was inept
and Chamberlain was denied due process. The Texas Attorney General's
Office argued Chamberlain was not denied a right that other inmates

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had also refused late Monday to stop
Chamberlain's punishment.

Reprieve for Houston-area killer lifted

The court also lifted a reprieve it gave a week ago to another Texas
inmate, Derrick Sonnier, just 90 minutes before he was to be executed for
killing a suburban Houston woman and her young son. Sonnier, like
Chamberlain, had argued the Texas lethal injection procedures were
unconstitutionally cruel.

Lawyers for both condemned inmates had cited unresolved cases before the
Court of Criminal Appeals that raised the same issues. The appeals court
on Monday also rejected those cases, clearing the way for executions in
Texas to resume.

Chamberlain's crime began after Prechtl's brother and his girlfriend had
taken her son to a store for some food and a video while she got ready to
go out with friends.

While they were gone, Chamberlain knocked on Prechtl's door and asked to
borrow some sugar. After she filled the request, he returned with a rifle
and the roll of duct tape, attacked the single mother and shot her in the

Her son found her body.

After his arrest, Chamberlain told police they could find the murder
weapon, a .30-caliber M-1 rifle, at his father's house. DNA evidence, plus
the fingerprint evidence and confession, tied him to the crime scene.

Another execution is set for next week. Charles Hood faces injection
Tuesday for the 1989 slayings of Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace
at Williamson's suburban Dallas home.

Chamberlain becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year
and the 403rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec.
7, 1982. Chamberlain becomes the 167th condemned inmate to be put to death
in Texas since Rick Perry became Governor in 2001.

Chamberlain becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year
in the USA and the 1105th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & RIck Halperin)


New Call for Death Penalty Debate

The execution is the 1st in Texas since a 7 month moratorium was lifted.
U.S. and Texas court decisions upholding lethal injection have cleared the
way for Karl Eugene Chamberlain is to die for the 1991 rape and murder of
his neighbor. On the Dallas County courthouse steps, Rick Halperin,
president of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, called for
a debate about the death penalty in the 2009 Legislature.

Halperin: What Texas is getting ready to do tonight and in the weeks and
months ahead should give us pause about serious reflection about what is
happening in this state.

Which Halperin says is more DNA exoneration of wrongfully convicted
inmates than anywhere else, with Dallas County in the lead. Toby Shook,
former prosecutor on the Chamberlain case, says none of the exonerations
involve death penalty cases.

Shook: I think a majority of Texans still agree with it, so I don't think
we'll see an abolishment. I think they'll try to use the exonerations to
try to make arguments.

But Shook says the system effectively guards against innocent people being

(source: KERA/PBS)


Hours Before Texas Gets Back in the Execution Business, a Small Protest

Ex-con Andres Latallade, also known as Capitol X, at the protest in front
of the Crowley todayHours before Karl Eugene Chamberlain is scheduled to
be executed for the rape and murder of Felecia Prechtl in Dallas in 1991,
a small group of protesters gathered on the steps of the Frank Crowley
Courts Building to condemn the practice of putting people to death as a
matter of public policy. Chamberlain will be the 1st execution in the
state since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal
injections in April.

Dr. Rick Halperin, director of SMU's Human Rights Education Program, went
so far as to voice optimism about the end of executions in the state
that's most fond of them. "I tell you as sure as the sun comes up
tomorrow," he said. "We are going to live to see the end of this horror in

How might that happen? Halperin said his hope lies with legislators, such
as Houston State Senator Rodney Ellis, who fought to end executions of the
mentally retarded, as well as with the Dallas County District Attorneys
Office and the Innocence Project of Texas.

"The D.A. here has set a healthier tone," Halperin says, referring to
Craig Watkins' relationship with the Innocence Project and its efforts to
use DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongly convicted. We have people on
Death Row in this county who have strong claims of innocence."

He also pointed out that juries in Texas and nationwide are becoming less
likely to endorse death sentences. The number of annual death sentences
issued across the country dropped from more than 300 4 years ago to 114
last year, Halperin said. Juries — and Americans in general — he
insists, are coming around to the idea that lengthy sentences are an
effective means of securing public safety without taking a life. Besides,
he adds, it's widely accepted knowledge that it costs taxpayers roughly
half the money — $1 million — to house a prisoner for life than it does
to execute him (including appeals, the price tag is around $2.3 million).

Also rallying this morning was Andres Latallade, a New York man who served
some 13 years in prisons in the Northeast and recently walked from New
Jersey to Austin to protest the death penalty on behalf of a group called
Journey of Hope.

"I woke up one day and thought, 'I'm walking to Texas," he said. "I felt
like the opinion of the death penalty was tipping in our favor, so maybe
if I could educate a couple thousand people we could really tip it." The
trek took him 55 days — about 35 miles per day, he said, showing the
bulging calves he developed along the way.

His next stop is Huntsville, where Karl Chamberlain is scheduled to be put
to death before sunrise.

(source: Dallas Observer)