TEXAS—-stay of impending execution and new execution date
Court halts execution of Bobby Wayne Woods
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stopped the scheduled execution of
convicted killer Bobby Wayne Woods.
The court agreed to put off the lethal injection, scheduled for 6 p.m.
Thursday, after lawyers raised new claims that the 42-year-old Woods is
mentally retarded and legally ineligible for execution under U.S. Supreme
Woods was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter
after abducting her and her brother from their home in Granbury, southwest
of Fort Worth, in 1997.
Maurie Levin, an attorney and a professor at the Capital Punishment Center
at the University of Texas School of Law School, filed the appeal
The issue of Mr. Woods mental competency had been raised previously in the
case, but Ms. Levin said it had not been given adequate attention.
"No one had actually gone back and looked at Bobby's adaptive deficits,"
Ms. Levin said. "When you meet the guy, he is immediately and apparently
Former Hood County prosecutor Richard Hattox, the man responsible for Mr.
Woods' conviction, said Mr. Woods' retardation claims had been explored
"There was no history of mental retardation," Mr. Hattox said. "There were
no special education classes ever afforded him. He graduated on time,
wasn't held back in any grades. He was functional. He had a driver's
Mr. Woods' crime was remarkable for its violence and because its victims
were so young.
Cody was 9 in April 1997 when he and his sister, were kidnapped from their
trailer home by Mr. Woods, officials said. Mr. Woods was the ex-boyfriend
of the children's mother, Schwana Patterson.
Cody was bashed against a tree, choked and left to die on the shore of
But Sarah suffered a worse fate. The youngster was raped and her throat
slashed. In May 1998, a Llano County jury convicted Mr. Woods of capital
murder and sentenced him to death for Sarah's murder.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Mr. Woods, 42, said the
children were hurt accidentally.
"I took the kids out and we were horsing around," Mr. Woods said. "We went
walking around graveyards, horsing around by a fence. Cody jumped on my
back and hit a fence post.
"I guess I panicked."
Mr. Woods said his cousin, who was with them at the time, left with Sarah
and it is that cousin who killed her. But DNA and other forensic evidence
pointed to Mr. Woods as the sole killer.
A medical examiner testified at Mr. Woods' trial that Sarah had genital
warts the same sexual malady that plagued Mr. Woods.
"That was astonishing," Mr. Hattox said.
In addition, Cody, who was beaten so badly that doctors had to pull skull
fragments from his brain, testified that it was Mr. Woods who attacked him
and his sister. He said he was awakened by his sister's screams as Mr.
Woods beat her in the bed the children shared.
Mr. Hattox said Mr. Woods was motivated by anger at the children's mother,
who had kicked him out of her home days before the slaying.
In her own subsequent trial in Abilene, prosecutors contended and a jury
concurred that Ms. Patterson heard her children crying as they were being
kidnapped but did nothing to protect them.
She was sentenced to 23 years in prison for injury to a child by omission,
but the sentence was later reduced to 8 years. Ms. Patterson was paroled
in 2005. She could not be reached for comment.
Cody is now 20 and works as a plumber's apprentice, Mr. Hattox said. He
lives near Houston with his father and stepmother.
"He turned out to be a nice, good kid. I'm real proud of his progress,"
Mr. Hattox said. "The whole town kept up with him. We raised a bunch of
money for him, and there's still money for his education and well-being."
To this day, the gruesome crime remains Hood County's only modern-day
death penalty case, Mr. Hattox said.
"This is a small town and at that time we had never been confronted with
anything of this nature," he said. "Thousands of people looked for these
kids, searched for them. It had a huge impact on the schools and teachers,
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Court stops scheduled execution
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday stopped the scheduled
execution of convicted killer Bobby Wayne Woods after lawyers raised new
claims that the 42-year-old man is mentally retarded and ineligible for
the death penalty.
Woods had been set to die Thursday evening for the 1997 slaying of his
ex-girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter after abducting her and her brother
from their home in Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, in 1997.
Woods said he wasn't responsible for Sarah Patterson's death and blamed it
on a cousin who subsequently committed suicide. He said injuries to her
9-year-old brother, Cody, were the result of an accident.
Woods would have been the 2nd Texas prisoner executed this week and 13th
this year. Two more men face execution next week in the country's most
active death penalty state.
The state's highest criminal court had turned down a similar appeal from
Woods, but lawyers said they had new evidence to bolster their claims.
Two of the court's judges, Sharon Keller and Lawrence Meyers, voted to
deny the reprieve, which was issued more than six hours before Woods could
have been taken to the death chamber.
The appeal cited IQ tests and records showing Woods received failing or
near-failing grades in most of his special education classes in school.
Woods also has difficulty reading and writing, grasping the concept of
punishment, understanding that actions have consequences and difficulty
pronouncing certain words and letters, the appeal said.
Prosecutors disputed the claims.
"I can't tell you he's the sharpest fellow I've ever met, but he doesn't
meet the mental retardation standards," said Richard Hattox, who
Hattox said evidence showed only one man at the slaying scene. DNA on a
knife identified as the murder weapon was traced to Woods. But the key
witness was Cody Patterson, who survived his attack and testified against
A cowboy exercising a horse near the cemetery spotted some movement in the
brush and found the gravely wounded boy who identified Woods as his
In a statement to police, Woods said he had taken drugs before going to
his former girlfriend's house and admitted to the abduction. He said he
was trying to keep the girl quiet by holding a knife to her throat but
that she jerked.
"I cut her throat," he told officers.
From death row, he said the statement was coerced after he'd been kept
awake for 3 days.
Other evidence at Woods' trial, which was moved to Llano in Central Texas
in 1998 because of extensive publicity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was
Sarah Patterson's diary, in which she expressed hatred for Woods. Evidence
showed the girl had been sexually molested and both she and Woods had the
same sexually transmitted disease.
Woods' former girlfriend, Schwana Patterson, had kicked him out of her
home days before the attack on her children. Prosecutors said she heard
the children screaming as they were abducted but didn't help.
She denied the accusations but was convicted in 1998 of injury to a child
by omission and received 23 years in prison. Her sentence later was
reduced to 8 years.
Woods also received a 40-year prison term for the attack on Cody
Patterson. The boy testified he was awakened by his sister's screams as
Woods beat her in the bed the children shared.
Scheduled for execution next is Eric Nenno, 47, is set to die Tuesday for
abducting, raping and strangling a 7-year-old girl who lived in his Harris
County neighborhood in 1995.
(source: Associated Press)
Willie Pondexter has been given an execution date for March 3, 2009; it
should be considered serious.
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
Calling on anger over death row
Regarding Wednesday's Page One article "Whitmire: Jam phone signals in
prisons / Senator blasts officials, calls for crackdown on contraband
after death row sting": I can certainly understand Sen. John Whitmire's
outrage over death row prisoners getting cell phones. However, I would
like to hear some similar outrage by our politicians over the barbaric
isolation of death row prisoners and the horrific use of the death penalty
in this state.
We have had more than 400 executions since 1982, which is 4 times as many
as any other state in the nation. And we have 12 executions scheduled in
October and November. Most states in the nation don't have 12 executions
in 5 years! Texas is viewed as a huge violator of human rights by the rest
of the world. How about some outrage over that!
(source: Letter to the Editor, Houston Chronicle)
10 slated to die in 30 days in Texas death row—-'This amount … in so
short a time is unusual'
Texas has scheduled 10 executions in 30 days, a record in the southern
state that is already the U. S. leader in capital punishment, having put
more than 400 people to death in 30 years.
On Tuesday, Joseph Ries, 29, was the 1st of the 10. He received a lethal
injection as final punishment for the 1999 murder of a 64-year-old man.
According to press reports, before he died Ries told 2 daughters of the
man he was "really sorry for what I've done."
He urged them to be strong because "Jesus is coming back soon," then
started to sing a hymn.
"Our God is an awesome God. Lord I lift your name on high," he sang,
before drifting into unconsciousness, according to The Associated Press.
Of the other nine men on death row, 4 are black, 3 white and 2 Hispanic.
Ries was white.
"Even for Texas, this amount of execution in so short a time is unusual,"
said Rick Halperin, president of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death
It is not unusual for 16 executions to be on the calendar in Texas, as
they currently are, through March 11. What is unusual is that 10 of those
will happen between Oct. 20 and Nov, 20.
Execution dates are set by the judges who presided over juries that
pronounced a death sentence, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice explained.
"The frequency with which executions are scheduled is dependent on when
the judges from courts across the state set those dates," Michelle Lyons
"Because they act independently of one another, there are some months when
a number of executions are scheduled and other months when there are few
or none scheduled," as is the case in December.
Final meal, last cigarette, last words … the ritual marches along with
regularity in the Huntsville, Tex., execution chamber, the busiest in the
United States.<>P> The 10 condemned men join 416 executed in Texas since
the U. S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The Lone Star state has performed 1/3 of all executions carried out in the
United States over the past 3 decades, including 12 so far this year.
By comparison, Virginia– the No. 2 executioner in the United States –has
conducted 102 since 1976.
For anti-death penalty activists, "it is very frustrating," Mr. Halperin
"It is very difficult work, but this is where the work is needed, this is
where the struggle is," he said.
"[Texas] is the worst place of the free world for executions, this is not
just the worst place for America," he said.
Mr. Halperin claimed "judges are very happy to get rid of these people as
quickly as possible."
Mr. Halperin described a sort of year-end catch-up after a moratorium on
executions across the United States from September, 2007, to May, 2008,
while the Supreme Court weighed and ultimately validated the
constitutionality of lethal injection.
"The judges definitely want these executions to occur, they are very
supportive of killing people here," he said.
"This is a historical and sociological tradition of killing people in the
name of the law."
But the 375 inmates on Texas death row are above all a reflection of
criminal law prior to 2001, he said.
Before the state revised such laws in 2001, a defendant could be
represented by a divorce lawyer with no experience in criminal
prosecutions and judges were not required to instruct juries of
alternative punishments, such as life in prison without parole.
9 of the 10 to die this month were sentenced before 2001.
CONDEMNED TO DEATH
Crime Ries and another man broke into the home of a 64-year old man, shot
him in the head while he slept, then stole his car.
Date of Execution Executed on Tuesday.
GEORGE WHITAKER III
Crime Forced his way into the home of his ex-girlfriend where he shot dead
her 17-year-old sister, severely wounded her mother and pistol-whipped a
5-year-old girl. Date of Execution Nov. 12.
Crime Woods entered the home of his ex-girlfriend where he sexually
assaulted an 11-year-old girl before abducting her and her 9-year-old
brother. He beat the boy severely, then killed the girl by cutting her
Date of Execution Tonight.
Crime Entered the home of a 26-year-old woman, sexually assaulted her,
shot her dead and stole her credit cards, cash and car.
Date of Execution Nov. 13.
Crime The salesman raped and murdered a 7-year-old girl he lured to his
Date of Execution Next Tuesday.
Crime Abducted a woman and tried to force her to reveal where her
boyfriend's drugs and money were hidden. When she refused, drove her to a
parking lot and shot her 3 times in the head.
Date of Execution Nov. 18.
Crime Wright broke into the home of a woman, stabbed her to death, then
stole various items including her car. Date of Execution Next Thursday.
Crime While in prison, Cannady beat to death his cellmate, a man serving a
sentence for murder.
Date of Execution Nov. 19.
Crime Strangled a 64-year-old man in his home during a burglary that
netted US$16 worth of goods. Date of Execution Nov. 6.
Crime Stabbed his 35-year-old girlfriend to death after catching her with
another man. Also stabbed and severely injured her 9-year-old son. Date of
Execution Nov. 20.
(source: Agence France-Presse)