death penalty news—–TEXAS

Oct. 14


Scrutiny called for in cases that lead to death penalty—-DA candidates
Bradford, Lykos disagree on how it should be done

The candidates for Harris County district attorney showed differences in
their approach to the death penalty Monday, with Democrat C.O. Bradford
saying that the county and state "have sent far too many people to death

Bradford, the former Houston police chief, and Republican Pat Lykos, a
former judge, support the death penalty but both say the next district
attorney should evaluate each capital murder case more carefully than in
the past before seeking execution as the punishment.

While Lykos said Monday that the decision to seek the death penalty "is
not a statistical game," Bradford said Texas criminals "don't deserve to
die at any greater rate than other criminals across America."

The contenders in the Nov. 4 election spoke together to the Chronicle
editorial board.

Harris County has sent more convicted killers to death row than any state
except its own, Texas.

Bradford, however, said prosecutors should seek the death penalty only as
a last resort, partly because legitimate doubts have been raised about the
dependability of evidence in some cases, and the mental capacity of the
murderers in others.

"I am simply saying we (currently) seek the death penalty in some cases as
a first resort as opposed to a last resort," he remarked.

Lykos said she disagreed with Bradford's wording.

"Every case rises and falls on its own merit," she said. "You have to have
the vetting and the sifting of it, and the investigation of it."

In general, state law allows for the death penalty to be sought when a
killing is carried out in conjunction with another felony or in narrow
instances, such as when the victim is a police officer. However, the law
leaves prosecutors leeway to decide whether to ask a jury for a death

Bradford said he was not implying that he would consider the rate at which
the sentence is meted out in Harris County.

"I will consult with the (prosecutor) assigned the case, the
investigators, the victim's survivors and also make a determination, 'Is
this person salvageable? Is there any value left to society? What threat
do they pose to this community?' "

Lykos, pointing out that as a judge she signed execution warrants against
inmates convicted by juries, said: "It's something you have to give the
most profound consideration."

Lykos said some counties decide whether to pursue the death penalty based
on how much such a painstaking prosecution would cost the taxpayers, and
"that's wrong."

The election winner will take over from interim District Attorney Kenneth
Magidson, who was selected by Gov. Rick Perry after Chuck Rosenthal
resigned as the elected officeholder.

(source: Houston Chronicle)