death penalty news—-TEXAS

Nov. 14

TEXAS—-new execution date

Ricardo Ortiz has been given an execution date of January 29, 2009; it
should be considered serious.

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)


Texas death row inmate threatens senator again

A death row inmate who allegedly threatened a legislator from a smuggled
cell phone last month now has sent a letter threatening the same lawmaker,
authorities said.

Prison investigators said Thursday that they received a letter this week
from Richard Lee Tabler, 29, containing threats against state Sen. John

"I take this very seriously," Whitmire, who chairs a committee that
oversees prison operations, told the Austin American-Statesman. "I am very
concerned for my family and will take the necessary precautions."

A statewide lockdown of the system began last month after Tabler allegedly
made threatening calls to Whitmire and shared his illegal cell phone with
at least nine inmates.

Investigators determined the phone was used to make about 2,800 calls from
inside the prison. During the lockdown, a dozen other cell phones were
found on death row, authorities said.

Tabler has been upset about the arrests of his mother and his sister in
connection with the investigation into how he obtained a cell phone, said
John Moriarty, inspector general for the Texas Department of Criminal

Tabler's letter also included threats against Austin American-Statesman
reporter Mike Ward, who broke the story about the smuggled cell phone,
Moriarty said.

"Let's see you put the (expletive) senator and Mike Ward in protective
custody for their (expletive) lies," states a copy of the letter shown to
the newspaper.

Moriarty said there is "minimal" likelihood that Tabler, convicted of
gunning down a strip club manager and another man in 2004, could carry out
his threats.

Meanwhile, prison officials reported that they found another cell phone, a
makeshift weapon and what appeared to be marijuana in the cell of another
death row inmate just hours after the lockdown ended Wednesday.

The items were hidden in a sock in inmate Mark Stroman's cell, Texas
Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said.

During the lockdown, guards had found 12 cell phones, nine chargers, three
cell phone batteries and 2 weapons in the death row area alone, Lyons

(source: Associated Press)