death penalty news—-TEXAS

Jan. 9


Texas death row inmate tears out own eye, eats it

A death row inmate in Texas tore out his eyeball with his fingers and ate
it, leaving him blind after he gouged out his other eye several years ago,
the state's department of criminal justice said on Friday.

"We don't know how it happened," said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the
department. "There are no indications that he used anything other than his

Andre Thomas, 25, was now in a secure psychiatric facility after he pulled
out his left eye last month at the death row unit in Livingston in eastern
Texas, Clark said.

Thomas was condemned for killing his wife, son and infant stepdaughter in
2004, according to the department's brief account of the case. Local media
reports said he had ripped out the hearts of his victims.

Thomas was on death row since March 2005 but did not have an execution
date. There are 373 inmates on death row in Texas, the Washington-based
Death Penalty Information Center says.

(source: Reuterse)


6 Texas prisoners set to die in January

Texas is wasting little time this new year claiming its annual notoriety
as the nation's most active capital punishment state.

Convicted killer Curtis Moore, condemned for the slayings of three people
during a drug-ripoff robbery in 1995 in Fort Worth, is set for lethal
injection this week in what would be the first execution in the United
States in 2009.

It's the first of eight scheduled punishments this month in the U.S., all
but two of them in Texas. The 18 prisoners put to death in Texas last year
accounted for about half of the 37 executions carried out in the country.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume,
423 Texas inmates have been put to death. Virginia was next with 102.

Moore, 40, was set to die Wednesday. 2 more executions are set for the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit next week, then 3
more the following week.

The six Texas inmates set to die in January are among at least 14 with
execution dates already this year. Three more are set to die in early
February, four in March and another in April. Nationwide, they are among
more than two dozen with dates already in 2009, according to statistics
kept by the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C.
anti-death penalty group.

"The only thing I could speculate is it's a result of the backlog created
by the moratorium," said Kristin Houle, executive director of the Texas
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

A Supreme Court review of a Kentucky case that questioned whether lethal
injections were unconstitutionally cruel stalled punishments from
September 2007 until the justices last April okayed the method.

"There's some general fallout from the fact we weren't executing anyone
for eight or nine months," Houle said. "I think we're seeing this
throughout the country."

Alabama, for example, carried out no executions in 2008. Already for 2009,
however, five are scheduled for that state, including one for Thursday.
Besides Texas and Alabama, inmates from Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee are
on the execution calendar.

In Texas, where a record 40 prisoners were put to death in 2000, execution
dates are set by trial court judges from the county where the prisoner was
convicted. For inmates now with scheduled dates, legal appeals either are
exhausted or in the final stages in appeals courts.

"The people in Texas are duped. They think the justice system is working,"
said Larry Swearingen, 37, facing execution Jan. 27 for the strangulation
of Melissa Trotter, a 19- year-old student abducted from Montgomery
College north of Houston 10 years ago.

"I believe it's going to be a record year," he said.

Swearingen, who's hoping late appeals will spare his life, believes he was
wrongly convicted, that his court-appointed trial lawyers, "worried about
their next appointment," were part of "the bubba system" and that evidence
favorable to him was manipulated and hidden to orchestrate his conviction.
He'll get a reprieve "if there's any integrity in Texas," he said in an
interview last week.

"But there's nothing I can do about that," he said. "I'm not going to
boo-hoo about it. I'll continue my praying, continue my Bible studies."

Moore is set to begin the parade to the Huntsville death house, returning
this week to the same place where he was taken in 2002, only to see the
Supreme Court halt his punishment about three hours before he could have
been executed. His lawyers then raised the possibility he was mentally
retarded and ineligible for the death penalty. The Supreme Court denied
that appeal in October.

Moore was on parole for robbery when he was arrested for killing three
people in a pair of shootings Nov. 30, 1995.

Roderick Moore, 24, who was not related to him, and LaTanya Boone, 21,
both of Fort Worth, were found shot to death in a roadside ditch across
from a Fort Worth elementary school. The same night, Darrel Hoyle, then
21, of Fort Worth, and Henry Truevillain Jr., 20, of Forest Hill, were
found shot and burned. Hoyle, however, survived and helped lead police to
the arrest of Moore and his nephew, Anthony Moore, who then was 17.

Also set to die this month in Texas are:

Frank Moore, 47, on Jan. 21, for fatally shooting 2 people in a car
outside a San Antonio bar 15 years ago. Moore was a San Antonio gang
member with an extensive criminal past.

Reginald Perkins, 53, on Jan. 22, for the 2000 strangulation of his
stepmother in Fort Worth. Gertie Perkins, 64, is one of 6 women 3 in Fort
Worth and 3 in Cleveland, Ohio whose slayings are tied to him.

Virgil Martinez, 40, on Jan. 28, for an October 1996 shooting rampage that
left 4 people dead, including his exgirlfriend, Veronica Fuentes, and her
3- and 6-year-old children.

Ricardo Ortiz, 46, on Jan. 29, for the slaying of a fellow inmate at the
El Paso County Jail in 1997. Ortiz, identified as a high-ranking prison
gang member, was convicted of giving a lethal dose of heroin in 1997 to
Gerardo Garcia, 22, to stop Garcia from testifying against him about bank
robberies they both had committed.

(source: Kilgore News Herald)