death penalty news—-TEXAS

Jan. 4


On Texan of the Year: I second this award

Re: "Craig Watkins — Dallas County district attorney made his name not by
securing convictions, but by clearing the way for them to be overturned,"
last Sunday Points.

Craig Watkins is an exemplary choice. He is a man who puts justice into
perspective in lieu of flaunting numbers.

Edward E. Sharp II, Bedford

Unit's funding should go elsewhere

So many others are so much more deserving than Craig Watkins. Like Ken
Mayfield, I believe that the $480,000 that the county spends to fund the
salaries of his conviction integrity team could be better spent elsewhere.

If that makes me one of his "detractors," then so be it.

Nancy Black, Dallas

Surprise: a Democrat!

Congratulations! Craig Watkins is an excellent choice.

You didn't pick a group or someone notorious. Picking a Democrat was
totally unexpected. Good for you.

Ronald W. Landen, Plano

A mixed record at best

Your choice of Craig Watkins as Texan of the Year is pathetic and
amazingly hypocritical, with your paper's own position on the death

The Dallas Morning News recently called for the complete abolition of the
death penalty, correctly citing the inherent flaws of the system.

Watkins clearly deserves much praise for leading the effort to free
wrongfully convicted people from Dallas jails. But his recent decision to
seek the death penalty and to personally prosecute the case smacks of
moral and political inconsistency.

Abolition of the death penalty means that no one should ever be sentenced
to death for any reason. Officials who espouse the philosophy and practice
of death, and who involve themselves in the process, should be seen for
who they are: opponents of human rights and not to be praised and

I hope the New Year brings Watkins and your staff more wisdom.

Rick Halperin, president, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,

He's fighting shameful trend

I have resided in Texas for more than 30 years now. Throughout that time,
I have been ashamed, year after year, of our state's enthusiasm for the
death penalty.

Quite frankly, we should all be embarrassed by the intensity of death
penalty advocates.

Thank you, Dallas Morning News, for selecting Craig Watkins as your Texan
of the Year. He has provided Texans with a balanced approach to this
divisive issue and deserves your award. Just ask the death penalty people
who have been exonerated.

Ted Moock, Dallas

His name isn't known statewide

Nastia Liukin is a name known around the world, as are other possible
choices on the ballot, but you pick the Dallas district attorney.

I'm guessing Texans in Hondo, Amarillo, Gladewater, Victoria or even San
Marcos don't have a clue who the Dallas DA is. Maybe its time to just call
it the Dallas-Fort Worth person of the year after picking illegal
immigrants last year and now a local district attorney. Better yet, just
forget the whole thing.

Jim Hivner, Plano

He let politics prevail

A rather disturbing Dallas Morning News article on the capital murder
trial of Robert Sparks from early December suggests that Craig Watkins may
be pursuing the death penalty — against his own conscience — in that
case (and others) for political reasons. If quotes attributed to Watkins
in that article are accurate, he personally asked the jury to condemn
Sparks to death in order to prove to Dallas County citizens that he isn't
soft on crime.

In the short time he has been in office, Watkins has become
internationally known as the prosecutor who established a convictions
integrity unit to examine questionable convictions in Dallas County. But
neither this unit nor his public expression of ambivalence about imposing
the death penalty will exonerate him from responsibility for any death
that may occur because of a sentence handed down at the behest of his

If he believes the death penalty is wrong, he should not pursue it — for
political or any other reasons. Despite his incredible achievements in
office so far, Watkins does not deserve the Texan of the Year award until
he resolves this issue. He's halfway there.

Patricia H. Davis, Dallas

Why not Ron Paul?

I don't disagree that Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins should be the
Texan of the Year.

However, I am disappointed that Ron Paul did not make it into the top 10.

He did get the most nominations from across the state, country and world.
I don't know why you chose to ignore his impact.

Richard Bach, Garland

(source: Letters to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)