death penalty news—-TEXAS

Nov. 12


Harris County man executed for 1994 slaying

A Houston-area man condemned for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend's
sister during an attack that also seriously wounded the former
girlfriend's mother and another sister was executed Wednesday.

George Whitaker III expressed love to family members and asked for

"I apologize for your pain and suffering," he said, mentioning the parents
of his victim by name. None of her relatives were present.

Whitaker asked that the Lord give them strength, adding, "I pray Lord,
please forgive me."

He asked his stepfather, brother and a friend who watched through a window
to take care of his 2 daughters.

"Continue to pray for me. I am fine. I've made peace with God. Please
don't ever forget me," he said.

As the lethal drugs began flowing, Whitaker said, "Take care. I'm going on
to sleep." 8 minutes later at 6:15 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead.

Whitaker had exhausted his appeals and also lost a clemency bid before the
state parole board, clearing the way for him to become the 16th Texas
prisoner executed this year. Another lethal injection was set for Thursday
evening in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

Whitaker, 36, was convicted of gunning down 16-year-old Shakeitha Carrier
in 1994 at her family's home in Crosby, just east of Houston in Harris

The slain girl's older sister, Catina, was engaged to Whitaker and had
been living with him but ended the relationship and moved out amid
accusations of abuse. Whitaker showed up at her parents' home on a June
afternoon under the guise of returning some of her items, pulled a gun and
demanded to get in.

Catina Carrier, who had known Whitaker since high school, wasn't there.

Her mother, Mary, pleaded that he not hurt anyone. Testimony at his trial
showed he shot the woman in the shoulder, then ran upstairs where
Shakeitha, known as Kiki, cried out Whitaker's name and said: "Please
don't hurt me!" Then she was shot.

Court records show Whitaker went outside to an SUV where the occupants
included his estranged wife and their two young daughters to reload his
.45-caliber pistol. He returned to shoot Mary Carrier again at close range
before leaving. She was able to call for help and found her daughters
sitting against a wall in Kiki's bedroom.

Kiki died of a gunshot wound to the head. 5-year-old Ashley was left with
brain damage after suffering severe head injuries from being
pistol-whipped. Mary Carrier had permanent nerve damage and lost the use
of her right hand from her wounds.

Whitaker was shot and wounded later by Harris County deputies trying to
arrest him at an apartment where he was drinking beer with another
girlfriend. Authorities said he had jumped from a window and was shot in
the hip as he appeared to be reaching for a pistol.

Whitaker, a former mechanic, declined to speak with reporters as his
execution date neared.

Catina Carrier testified at Whitaker's trial that she left him because he
became abusive and often took the money she was making. At the time of the
shootings, she was living in secret with a friend because she feared

Mary Carrier also testified against him at his trial. Another witness
testified how she was abducted a few days before the shootings and forced
at knifepoint to call Catina Carrier as Whitaker attempted to lure his
ex-girlfriend to a meeting place. A previous girlfriend told jurors how he
hit her on several occasions, once leaving her with a black eye.

Whitaker's mother testified his father was a strict disciplinarian, that
her son never was violent in her presence and that Whitaker twice had
tried to kill himself when he was 20. He had no previous prison record.

Whitaker's unsuccessful court appeals had contended his trial lawyer was
ineffective in not calling a mental health expert to testify, that Harris
County jurors who decided he should die should have been told a life
sentence would have ensured him at least 40 years in prison, and that his
death sentence was unconstitutional.

On Thursday, Denard Manns, 42, faced execution for the 1998 fatal shooting
of Michelle Robson, 26, at her apartment in Killeen. Robson, from Iowa,
was a Fort Hood soldier living off the base. Manns was known as a subway
robber in New York and at the time of the slaying was on parole from New
York after serving nearly 6 years of a 5- to 10-year term for armed

Whitaker becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas, and the 421st overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Whitaker becomes the 182nd condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became Governor in 2001. 3 more Texas prisoners are
set to die next week.

Whitaker becomes the 32nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1131st overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


Texas man blogs about waiting for execution

Rogelio Reyes Cannady dreams of earning a degree that would lift him from
his hardscrabble Texas roots to become a paralegal.

But he is most unlikely to realize that hope. On November 19, Texas plans
to execute Cannady for murdering three people, 2 of them teenagers he
killed in 1990 and left in a ditch.

In the runup to his scheduled execution, Cannady has put his daily life on
display via an Internet blog, published in English, French and German,
that has gotten over 17,000 views.

"I'm waking up again to the sight of this cold steel door," Cannady wrote
on September 24. "I am staring down an actual day when the state plans to
take my life."

Barring the unexpected, Cannady will end 11 years on Texas' death row when
he is injected with a mix of drugs to render him unconscious, paralyze him
and stop his heart.

He is one of the more than 3,000 people awaiting execution in 36 states
across the country, according to the NAACP.

Texas officials presented Cannady, 36, with his execution date on August
22. Since then he has been hand writing the daily diary he mails to a
friend, who posts it onto the blog, giving the world a rare glimpse into
the life of a condemned man.

That friend, Juan Palomo, has visited him on death row at least 30 times.
During those meetings, "At various points he has expressed remorse …
about the way he lived his life, about the deaths of those two young
people and the heartache it brought to their families and his family,"
Palomo said.

"In the past he (Cannady) has said if he had only two choices, life behind
bars in the Texas prison system or death, he'd choose death," Palomo

That attitude may have shifted. "I won't give in to the idea that my life
will end on the 19th of November. I still harbor thoughts about a future
… although it hasn't always been this way," Cannady observed on
September 19.

A week earlier, with Hurricane Ike bearing down on Texas, Cannady wrote,
"I love the cleansing nature of rain. I like to watch it come down but,
more, I love to walk in it."


Cannady's lyrical writing contrasts with a Texas official's stark
description of the scene investigators found 15 years earlier, after the
third murder: "Someone stomped in a puddle of blood or stomped on the
victim lying in the blood or that the victim's head bounced up and down in
the blood."

He first entered prison after being convicted in a double-murder just
after his 18th birthday.

According to a 1991 Dallas Morning News story, the victims, a 16-year-old
boy who was stabbed to death, and his 13-year-old girlfriend who was
strangled, were found dead in a ditch. She was naked.

Cannady was sent to prison for life. But on October 10, 1993, he committed
his third murder, according to Texas law enforcement documents, when he
brutally kicked and beat his cellmate, who was serving a 15-year sentence
for murder.

In one of the few diary references about what landed him on death row,
Cannady claims his cellmate made sexual advances.

Now, his days are a mixture of isolation and mundane tasks, sometimes
interrupted by the oddities of prison life, such as the tour groups that
come through to look at the condemned.

At times, the nuts-and-bolts of death row operations preoccupy him: "Who
gets executed 1st if 2 death row inmates are scheduled to die on the same
day?" he wondered.

Other days, Cannady is still able to look with amusement at his
predicament, as when a letter arrived "advising me that they rescheduled
my execution date, yet failed to tell me for when the date was
rescheduled. Very funny."

Writing on September 25, he said: "I think about a friend who was
executed. I was told by a witness how it seemed that he fell asleep once
the poisons began to flow. Minutes later, he was pronounced dead and his
eyes came open. His eyes started blinking into the ceiling."

Since 1977, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court let a 10-year death
penalty hiatus end, Texas' death row has been the most active, killing 420
of the 1,130 convicts who have been executed in the United States over the
past 31 years, according to records.

Amnesty International says the United States was fifth in the world in the
number of executions in 2007, behind China (470), Iran (317), Saudi Arabia
(143) and Pakistan (135). Those 5 countries accounted for 88 % of all
known executions.

Cannady's "DeathWatchJournal Weblog" can be accessed here

With the possibility he may have only days left to live, Texas prisoner
999245 is doing what he can to create something distinctive about himself,
beyond the notoriety of his crimes. He has grown a beard, in violation of
prison rules.

"I'll keep this little bit of personality," he wrote.

(source: Reuters)


Outdoors notes: death sentence for warden's killer

Death sentence for warden's killer

Jurors in Wharton County decided on a death-penalty sentence for
27-year-old James Garrett Freeman, who was convicted of killing Texas game
warden Justin Hurst last year.

Hurst was shot one day before his 34th birthday after he answered a call
about possible illegal hunting from a roadside Freeman ended a high-speed
chase through two counties by leaving his vehicle and opening fire on
Hurst and other officers.

Hurst had been a waterfowl biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department before he entered the game warden academy in 2002 and drew an
assignment to Wharton County, southwest of Houston.

Hurst left behind his wife and infant son.

(source: Austin American-Statesman)