death penalty news—–TEXAS

Jan. 14


Nation's 1st execution of 2009 Wednesday in Texas

Even a defense lawyer for convicted murderer Curtis Moore acknowledged the
horrific nature of the 3 slayings that convinced a jury to send Moore to
death row.

"Facts-wise, it was difficult because of the nature of how the killings
happened and the fact the bodies were burned," George Gallagher recalled.
"You have an uphill battle."

Moore, 40, was set for lethal injection Wednesday evening. His execution,
the 1st of the year in the United States, would be the 1st of 6 scheduled
for this month in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.

Moore's appeals in the courts were exhausted. On Monday, the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency request that cited his possible
mental retardation as reason to spare him.

Moore already made one trip to the Huntsville death house. In 2002, less
than three hours before he was to receive lethal injection, the U.S.
Supreme Court stopped his scheduled execution so claims from his attorneys
that he was mentally retarded and ineligible for execution could be
reviewed. In October, the high court refused his appeal, clearing the way
for Wednesday's execution date to be set.

Moore was condemned for a pair of shootings in November 1995 in Fort

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 an elementary school.

The same night, firefighters summoned to put out a car fire found Darrel
Hoyle, 21, of Fort Worth, and Henry Truevillian Jr., 20, of Forest Hill,
shot and burned. Truevillian was dead but Hoyle survived and helped lead
police to the arrest of Moore and his nephew, Anthony Moore, then 17.

The 3 men were abducted after agreeing to meet Curtis Moore and his nephew
at a stable where Roderick Moore boarded and trained horses. Then Boone
was abducted from the apartment she shared with Roderick Moore, her

Testimony at Curtis Moore's trial showed the shootings culminated a drug
ripoff, that he doused Hoyle and Truevillian with gasoline and ignited
them as they were bound and in the trunk of a car parked in a deserted lot
outside a Fort Worth bar.

Hoyle regained consciousness 6 days after he was attacked and gave
information that led authorities to Anthony Moore, known on the streets in
Fort Worth as "Kojak," and that Curtis Moore drove a pink truck.

Curtis Moore was arrested about 2 weeks later, his hands and arms still
showing burns suffered when authorities said he tried to keep Hoyle from
fleeing the flames.

"Curtis was trying to push him back in the trunk," said Joetta Keene, who
prosecuted Moore.

"Everybody got burned, including Curtis," Gallagher said. "That was hard
to get around."

At the punishment phase, prosecutors were able to show jurors Moore's
violent past.

"He had a huge criminal history," Keene said. "He kept giving us more
evidence. He stabbed a guy in jail."

Moore's record showed convictions for theft, robbery, and weapon and drug
possession. The record also showed he repeatedly was paroled, then
returned to prison with parole violations.

Moore blamed his nephew for the slayings and said he tried to rescue the
victims from the burning car. But he acknowledged holding them at
gunpoint, ordering them hogtied and stuffed into the trunk of the car.

Anthony Moore pleaded guilty to 2 counts of murder under a plea agreement
and is serving 2 life prison sentences.

(source: Associated Press)


Texas Death Penalty Machinery Set to "High" as Executions Resume—-14
Executions Scheduled Over the Next 4 Months

The 1st U.S. execution of 2009 is scheduled to take place today in the
state of Texas. Curtis Moore is set to be put to death for the 1996
murders of Roderick Moore, Latasha Boone, and Henry Truevillen in Tarrant
County. Currently there are 14 executions scheduled to take place in Texas
between now and April 7, including 6 in January alone. Among all other 35
death penalty states, only 10 executions have been scheduled for this same
time period.

The inmates with execution dates were convicted and sentenced to death in
8 different counties; 4 inmates were convicted in Tarrant County and 3 in
Bexar County.

"Once again the State of Texas is quick out of the starting gate in the
race to execute," said Kristin Houl, Executive Director of the Texas
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP). "While other states are
projected to carry out more executions than usual this year, none will
even come close to overtaking Texas' status as the most active – and most
notorious – death penalty state." In 2008, Texas accounted for just under
1/2 of the 37 executions that took place nationwide. Overall, it accounts
for more than 1/3 of the 1,136 executions that have occurred in the United
States since 1977.

The accelerated pace of executions coincides with a time of increased
public scrutiny and concern about the fairness and reliability of this
ultimate form of punishment. According to TCADP, 11 people were sentenced
to death in Texas in 2008, matching 2006 for the lowest number of new
death sentences in more than 30 years. 9 people now have been exonerated
from Texas' death row due to evidence of their wrongful conviction.

This year, elected officials in numerous states are prepared to give
serious consideration to abolishing the death penalty altogether. As the
81st Session of the Texas Legislature gets underway, TCADP urges lawmakers
to take a hard look at this costly, broken government system and to
support alternatives that protect society and punish the truly guilty.

Other executions scheduled for January:

January 21: Frank Moore

January 22: Reginald Perkins

January 27: Larry Swearingen

January 28: Virgil Martinez

January 29: Ricardo Ortiz

TCADP members will hold vigils on the evening of every execution in
multiple locations throughout the state. See for a complete list of vigil sites.

(source: TCADP)


Texas Reporter Witnesses Hundreds of Executions

A Fort Worth killer is set to become the 424th inmate to be put to death
in Texas. When he dies, Mike Graczyk will be there, just inches away.

It is the job of the Associated Press reporter to cover capital punishment
in Texas, and that translates into busy days on death row. Graczyk
estimates that he has witnessed more than 300 executions in his 26 years
covering lethal injection in the state.

Graczyk may have witnessed more executions than anyone in the country
because Texas sets the pace when it comes to lethal injection. "It's just
part of my job. It just comes with the territory," says the reporter.

Graczyk says many of the executions have stuck with him through the years,
for various reasons. "I remember Gary Graham's execution with all the
tension," he says. Graham's execution during President George Bush's first
run for office brought out hordes of demonstrators.

Graczyk also recalls the first execution he witnessed in 1983; a man who
shot a convenience store clerk. And a priest was the second person
executed after the death penalty was reinstated in Texas. "They strapped
him to the gurney and put the needles in his arms and then he got a
reprieve." he says. After that, Graczyk says, the state changed it's
procedures to delay inserting needles until all legal hurdles are cleared.

Gracyk has also seen three women executed, and those linger in his mind.
But, he says, it's the personal nature of visiting the inmates for
interviews on death row that he won't forget. "Many of times when I walk
into the death house they will call me by name and ask how I'm doing and
that just kind of sticks with you," he says.

(source: Associated Press)


Court overturns death sentence in 1978 Texas case

A white man on Texas death row for nearly 30 years could be freed because
an appeals court has ruled that prosecutors improperly excluded blacks
from his jury in the belief that blacks empathize with defendants.

Jonathan Bruce Reed was convicted and condemned for the November 1978
rape-slaying of Wanda Jean Wadle at her Dallas apartment.

But now the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled Dallas County
prosecutors improperly excluded black prospective jurors from Reeds trial
and ordered him released unless prosecutors choose to retry him quickly.

"Although we do not relish adding a new chapter to this unfortunate story
more than 30 years after the crime took place, we conclude that the
Constitution affords Reed a right to relief," a 3-member panel of the New
Orleans-based court wrote in the ruling posted late Monday.

Jamille Bradfield, a spokeswoman for Dallas County District Attorney Craig
Watkins, said it was premature to comment on whether Reed would be

"We still need time to dissect the opinion," she said Tuesday.

Reed has been on death row since September 1979, making him among the
longest-serving prisoners awaiting execution in Texas.

The 5th Circuit said Reed's case mirrored the capital murder case of
Thomas Miller-El, on Texas death row for nearly 20 years until the Supreme
Court overturned his verdict, citing racial discrimination during jury
selection. Miller-El last year took a life prison sentence as part of a
plea deal.

The Supreme Court cited a manual, written by a prosecutor in 1969 and used
for years later, that advised Dallas prosecutors to exclude minorities
from juries. Documents in Miller-El's case described how the memo advised
prosecutors to avoid selecting minorities because "they almost always
empathize with the accused."

"Reed presents this same historical evidence of racial bias in the Dallas
County District Attorney's Office," the 5th Circuit panel said.

Reed, now 57, was identified as the man who attacked Wadle and her
roommate, Kimberly Pursley, on Nov. 1, 1978. He'd apparently entered their
apartment by posing as a maintenance man.

Pursley survived an attempted strangulation by feigning unconsciousness. 2
other residents identified Reed as the man they saw in the apartment
complex just before the time of the attack.

(source: Associated Press)