death penalty news—-TEXAS

Aug. 29


Fellow death-row inmate speaks of Coble's likability

A 44-year-old man who served time on death row with Billie Wayne Coble
this morning told jurors that Coble was well-liked by others in prison.

Today is the 19-year anniversary that Coble killed Robert and Zelda Vicha
and their son, Waco police Sgt. Bobby Vicha.

Coble, 59, is being retried in 54th State District Court to determine
whether he should return to death row for those murders.

Martin Draughon served on death row with Coble since 1991 until Coble's
sentence was overturned by a federal appeals court this year. They were on
death row first at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, then were transferred to
the Polunsky Unit in Livingston where death-row inmates are now housed.

Draughon testified that he is serving 39 years for sexual assault and 40
years for murder.

He described Coble as even-keeled and someone who doesn't lose his cool.
Coble worked on the prison newspaper, he said. He added that Coble was
always peaceful, helpful and upbeat.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday.

(source: Waco Tribune)


Choosing the death penalty: Which capital murder cases deserve the highest

Lavelle Evans, a now-convicted capital murderer, won't be put to death for
killing a woman, who was expected to testify against him in an Arkansas
drug case. I've received comments and emails questioning the district
attorney's decision to not seek the death penalty.

Every district attorney will tell you that death penalty cases are
considered on a case-by-case basis. Dallas County's felony chief
prosecutor Kevin Brooks did not know the specifics of the decision-making
in the Evans case. But he said the death penalty is reserved for "the
worst of the worst."

"This sounds heartless, but we have so many murders down here that fit
that requirement that we could have a case every week for death," Mr.
Brooks said. For that reason, prosecutors consider only the most heinous
crimes for the ultimate punishment.

Capital murder is the highest crime in the state of Texas and requires a
specific kind of murder, like killing a police officer or child under the
age of six or a retaliation murder. And it has only 2 punishment options –
life with no opportunity for parole or the death penalty.

(source: Dallas Morning News)


Texas judge promises hearing on case … after the execution

A hearing in which attorneys for convicted murderer Charles Dean Hood will
raise conflict of interest concerns involving the judge that sentenced him
to die has been scheduled for 2 days after Hood is to be executed, one of
his attorneys said Thursday.

Hood's attorneys have asked the court "to move up the hearing date as
evidence gathered from it could serve as a basis for a clemency
application," Greg Wiercioch, with the Texas Defender Service, said in a

Charles Dean Hood, 39, was sentenced to died in 1990 for the murder one
year earlier of his boss and his boss's girlfriend.

Hood's fingerprints were found at the crime scene, and Hood was arrested
driving the car that belonged to victims. He also had some of their
jewels, credit cards and clothing.

Texas Judge Verla Sue Holland sentenced Hood to death — but according to
information that surfaced in June, Holland at the time was having a
romantic relationship with Thomas O'Connell, the prosecutor handling the

The affair "constitutes a violation of Hood's right to a fair trial and
impartial judge, and the allegations must be investigated," said
Wiercioch, citing the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers
and "three dozen of the nation's legal ethicists."

The Texas courts "should preside over a fair process that would remove the
cloud over Hood's case, instead of playing hot potato with this case."

Wiercioch is part of an association of Texas lawyers that defends death
row inmates.

In a letter to the attorneys last week, Judge Robert Dry did not directly
answer the request, but chastised them for taking so long.

"You waited 2 1/2 months after receipt of the affidavit … to file this
petition," Dry wrote. "Your petition cites no reason to shorten the 15
days notice requirement. In reality, you are exploring a civil lawsuit for
the estate of M. Hood."

(source: Agence France Presse)