death penalty news—–TEXAS

Aug. 21




Austin — Today, the Federal District Court granted a stay of execution in
the case of Jeff Wood to allow the court to consider compelling evidence
that Jeff Wood is too mentally ill to be executed. The Court held that the
Texas state courts have not carefully reviewed the question of Wood's
competence and that a stay of execution is necessary to ensure that Wood's
mental health issues are fully presented and considered by the courts. The
Court's Order Granting Stay of Execution is attached.

"We applaud the Federal District Court for upholding Jeff Wood's
rudimentary due process right to have his competency evaluated," said
Andrea Keilen, executive director of Texas Defender Service, who, along
with attorney Scott Sullivan, are representing Mr. Wood.

The Federal District Court authorized an attorney and the assistance of
mental health experts, pointing out that the Texas state courts had not
complied with the basic due process that the United States Supreme Court
required in another Texas case – that of Scott Panetti, a mentally ill
death row inmate with a 20 year history of schizophrenia, who was
permitted to represent himself at trial dressed in a purple cowboy

In its 20-page order, the Court stated, "With all due respect, a system
that requires an insane person to first make "a substantial showing" of
his own lack of mental capacity without the assistance of counsel or a
mental health expert, in order to obtain such assistance is, by
definition, an insane system."

Prosecutors have indicated they will not appeal today's decision.
Yesterday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied the application
for clemency on a vote of 7-0 despite the mental health evidence and fact
that it is undisputed that Jeff Wood did not kill the victim in this case,
but rather was outside the building in a car at the time of the murder.
The actual killer, Daniel Reneau, was already executed by the State of
Texas in 2002.

Wood was convicted and sentenced to death as a party for the death of
Kriss Keeran in Kerr County, Texas. Mr. Wood was convicted under Texas'
"law of parties" statute that allows for the conviction of participants in
a crime even if they have do not know a murder will be committed or commit
murder themselves.

Wood has never taken a human life by his own hands. Keeran's unfortunate
death was the result of a reckless scheme devised to steal the money that
had accumulated in a Kerrville convenience store over a holiday weekend.
Reneau armed himself, entered the store, and shot the victim. Wood was
involved in the robbery this case because of his longstanding mental
illness that allowed him to be easily manipulated by the principal actor,
Daniel Reneau. Wood's emotional and psychological impairments, including
his intellectual limitations, diminished Wood's capacity to anticipate
what Daniel Reneau would do inside the convenience store.

At the punishment phase of the trial, influenced by his mental health
issues, Woods directed his lawyers not to present any evidence in his
defense. Mr. Wood's attorneys made no cross examination of any of the
State's witnesses. They presented no evidence or witnesses on Mr. Wood's
behalf. And they offered no reasons or arguments why the twelve people
sitting on Mr. Wood's jury should extend mercy to him and spare his life.

Wood's mental illness was a critical element at trial and in 1997, Wood
was initially found incompetent to stand trial. Mr. Wood suffers today
from the same psychological and emotional impairments for which a jury
found him incompetent to stand trial in 1997. He has never received
psychiatric or mental health care for these impairments. The same
deficiencies that prevented Mr. Wood from communicating with his trial
lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding prevent Mr. Wood
from having a rational understanding of his death sentence and impending

A neuropsychologist who evaluated Wood's competence to stand trial said
that Mr. Wood "ha[d] a delusional system, an inability to grasp the
reality surrounding the issues specific to this case, his role in it, in
the crime, as well as other things that present a direct threat to his own
well-being, his own sense of self."

(source: Texas Defender Service)


Texas delays execution of Wood

Texas Thursday delayed executing a convicted accomplice in a 1996 homicide
so doctors can evaluate his competence to be executed, officials said.

Jefferey Wood was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in
Huntsville, Texas, at 6 p.m., but U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia
ordered the delay to allow the psychiatric examination, the Houston
Chronicle reported.

Wood was being returned to his death row cell, the newspaper said. His
attorney said he would report to the court on the psychiatric evaluation
in 2009.

If Wood is found incompetent, his execution could be postponed
indefinitely, the newspaper said.

Wood was arrested with David Reneau the day after convenience story
employee Kris Lee Keeran was shot and killed in an armed robbery.

Defense attorneys argued that Wood is not competent to be executed and
death penalty opponents have argued that it was Reneau who killed Keeran
while Wood drove the getaway car. Texas law holds all parties to a crime
equally culpable, the Chronicle said.

Reneau was executed in 2002.

(source: United Press International)


Texas Death Row Inmate Receives Stay

A Texas death row inmate has received a stay of execution.

Jeffery Wood was set to die by lethal injection Thursday night for the
January 1996 robbery and murder of Kriss Keeran at a Kerrville convenience

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Michelle Lyons say Wood
was granted a stay Thursday afternoon by the U.S. District Court-Western
District of Texas in San Antonio.

Lyons says Wood's lawyers argued that he should be given mental health
testing, and it appears the stay was granted so Wood can have a mental

Wood's co-defendant Daniel Reneau shot and killed the service station

Wood then helped Reneau steal the Texaco store's safe, cash box and a VCR
that contained the security tape.

The 2 got away with just over 11-thousand-dollars.

Wood would have been the 9th person executed in Texas this year. Reneau
was executed for capital murder in 2002.

(source: Newsroom Solutions)