TEXAS—-numerous impending executions
12 Texas inmates face execution in next 6 weeks
The crowd on A-Wing A-Section at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Polunsky Unit is about to get thinned.
A dozen condemned inmates in the so-called "death watch" cells on Texas
death row are set for lethal injection over the next 6 weeks.
2 are scheduled for this week. 2 next week. And 2 more the week after
that. Then 6 more in November, adding to Texas' standing as the nation's
most active death penalty state.
"It's just the way of Texas," Alvin Kelly, who on Tuesday is the 1st of
the 12 set to die, said last week from a tiny visiting cage at the prison.
"Will crime stop? Will my death stop what's going on in everyday society?"
asked Kevin Watts, scheduled to die 2 days later. "They're just killing
When the U.S. Supreme Court last year informally halted executions around
the country to examine the constitutionality of lethal injection
procedures, the de facto moratorium didn't stop capital murder appeals
moving through the courts. For many of the inmates now with dates, their
convictions and sentences were upheld either before or during the hiatus.
The Supreme Court's 7-2 decision in April holding that injection was not
unconstitutionally cruel allowed executions to resume, and 9 have been
carried out in Texas already this year, the most in the nation.
Now a flurry of those cases that were upheld is reaching the legal and
Kelly, unlike some of his fellow prisoners, said he's looking forward to
dying, although he insists evidence was manipulated and he's innocent of
fatally shooting Devin Morgan, a 22-month-old child, in East Texas in
1984. The toddler's parents, Jerry and Brenda Morgan, were gunned down at
the same time.
"I've diligently served the Lord here," said Kelly, 57, who already was
convicted of another murder and in prison when he was charged in the Gregg
County case. "It's time for me to go home. I'm ready. I embrace it.
"I'm tired of being here," said Kelly, who's been on death row since 1991.
"This is not life."
The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review his case and Kelly's
lawyer said he was not optimistic the execution could be stopped.
"I don't want a stay," Kelly said. insisting he posed no problems to
officers taking him to the death chamber in Huntsville "unless they're
going to bring me back."
Watts, 27, set to die Thursday, was convicted of the execution-style
shootings of 3 people during a robbery at a San Antonio restaurant in
"I've never said I was innocent," Watts said. "I said I was guilty from
Watts, however, contended jurors in his case never were allowed to hear
anything good about him, and instead only were told of his history of
violence and drug abuse.
When he returned earlier this year to Bexar County to appear before a
judge and receive his execution date, he exploded in court with an
"I might have screwed myself," he said. "But I never had a chance to speak
for myself, how I was railroaded, how I had an inadequate attorney, how
this is not about justice.
"But there's no hate in my heart. I understand there are consequences to
Evidence showed Watts ordered 3 people at the Sam Won Garden restaurant in
San Antonio to their knees at gunpoint, then shot each in the back of
their heads. Killed were Hak Po Kim, 30, son of the Korean restaurant's
owner, and 2 cooks, Yuan Tzu Banks, 52, and Chae Sun Shook, 59. In
addition, Kim's wife was abducted, tortured and raped, but survived to
testify against Watts.
Other inmates set to die this month include:
Joseph Ries, 29, on Oct. 21, convicted of breaking into a rural home in
Hopkins County in northeast Texas, fatally shooting the man who was
sleeping there and driving off in his car. Ries was 19 at the time of the
slaying of 64-year-old Robert Ratliff.
Bobby Wayne Woods, 42, on Oct. 23, convicted of the 1997 murder of Sarah
Patterson, the 11-year-old daughter of his ex-girlfriend. The child and
her 9-year-old brother were abducted from their home in Granbury, about 25
miles southwest of Fort Worth. She died after her throat was slashed. Her
brother, Cody, was choked into unconsciousness but survived.
Eric Nenno, 47, on Oct. 28, convicted of the 1995 rape and strangling of a
7-year-old neighbor girl, Nicole Benton, in Hockley, about 30 miles
northwest of Houston. 2 days after she disappeared, the girl's body was
found in the attic of Nenno's home.
Gregory Wright, 42, on Oct. 30. Wright, who was homeless, was convicted of
taking part in the 1997 fatal stabbing of Donna Duncan Vick, at her home
in DeSoto, about 15 miles south of Dallas. Duncan, a 52-year-old widow,
regularly ministered to the homeless and had given Wright food, shelter
Besides the 6 more set to die in the 1st 3 weeks of November, at least 6
other inmates already have execution dates for early in 2009.
(source: Associated Press)