death penalty news—–TEXAS

May 19


East Texas man executed Tuesday

An East Texas man apologized repeatedly Tuesday as he was executed for
fatally stabbing a convenience store clerk during a robbery more than 2
decades ago.

"I know I hurt you very bad," Michael Lynn Riley said to his victim's
relatives, including her 2 daughters and husband. "I want you to know I'm
sorry. I hope one day you can move on and, if not, I understand."

Brandy Oaks said she accepted Riley's apology and was pleased to hear it.
She was 4 when her mother, Wynona Harris, was killed.

"This is a difficult day and there are no winners on either side," she
said. "Her spirit will live on in our hearts and in our lives.

"I think being here was something I needed. It's the last chapter in the
book. I can close it. It's over for me, emotionally, I guess."

"It's strange, it's almost like I never had her to begin with," her
sister, Jennifer Bevill, said about losing her mother when she was 1 1/2.

She said she had to pray "for forgiveness and love and mercy forgiveness
for this person that has done this to your family."

"In the long run, Jesus Christ is our shoulder to cry on when you don't
have anybody," Bevill said.

Riley, 51, also apologized to his mother, who was not present, for being
"not the big son that you wanted me to be." Then he reminded friends who
were watching that for years he has said he was ready to die.

"To the fellows on the row: stay strong. Fleetwood is out of here," he
said, referring to his death row nickname.

8 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at
6:18 p.m.,

"They're freeing me from this place," Riley told The Associated Press in a
recent interview. "I'm in Heaven. I can already feel it. Come May 19th,
I'll be free."

While he didn't volunteer for execution, he'd asked friends to not pray
that he receive a reprieve. His appeals were exhausted and the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles last week turned down a clemency request.

Riley was condemned for the 1986 slaying of Harris, a 23-year-old clerk at
the Shop-A-Minit convenience store in his hometown of Quitman, about 75
miles east of Dallas. He was a frequent customer and Harris told him to
help himself to the ice cream he wanted that Saturday morning while she
counted some money.

Instead, he attacked her with a 10-inch butcher knife, stabbing and
slashing her nearly 3 dozen times, then fled with about $1,000 in a money

A customer looking to get a gas pump turned on went inside the store but
couldn't find anyone.

"He looked behind the counter and saw the bloody gore," recalled Marcus
Taylor, the former Wood County district attorney who prosecuted Riley.
"Capital cases are reserved for he most violent and vicious. This was one
of them. The sheer brutality of the crime was just incredible, absolutely

A milk delivery driver had spotted a man in distinctive coveralls hanging
around outside the store pretending to be on a pay phone. Bloody
footprints leading away from the store and toward Riley's home a few
blocks away led detectives to the murder weapon and a money bag.

Riley turned himself in to authorities later that day after hearing police
were looking for him. After detectives recovered his coveralls and the
stolen money inside them, he confessed.

"Your conscience definitely bothers you," he said from prison.

He said gambling losses in a dice game prompted the killing.

"Dice took my life," he said. "It's the worst drug habit you can have. I
wanted to try to live the big life. I was trying to live the life of a
high roller."

In 2005, Riley was within days of execution when lawyers contending he was
mentally disabled and ineligible for capital punishment won a
court-ordered reprieve.

"I could have been dead years ago," he said, calling himself blessed.

At the time of his arrest, Riley already was well known to authorities in
Quitman. When charged with Harris' slaying, he was on probation for
forgery for writing a bad check. He received a 9-year prison term in 1980
for burglary but was paroled 3 years later. He had an earlier prison stint
for burglary, plus arrests and jail time in Wood County for burglary,
public intoxication, assault and theft.

Riley is among the longest-serving of Texas' 334 condemned prisoners. He
was convicted in 1986 and sentenced to death but the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals in 1991 overturned the conviction, finding a potential
juror was dismissed improperly. At his retrial in 1995, he pleaded guilty
and lawyers argued for life in prison. Prosecutors sought death and jurors
agreed with them.

"I have no hate," he said. "I was very sorry for what I did."

At least 6 other Texas death row inmates have execution dates in the
coming months, including Terry Hankins, 34, scheduled to die June 2 for a
shooting rampage 8 years ago in Tarrant County that left his 2
stepchildren dead. The children's mother also was gunned down.

Riley becomes the 15th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 438th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1983. Riley becomes the 199th condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became governor of the state in 2001.

Riley also becomes the 28th condemned inmate to be put to death this year
in the USA and the 1164th overall since the nation resumed executions on
Janauary 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


Death Row phone number still working

7 months after prison officials busted death row convict Richard Tabler
for calling a state senator on a smuggled cell phone, the phone number
still works.

And the senator who faced a death threat from Tabler over the phone caper
is demanding to know why.

"The number used should have been taken out of service forever," said
state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. "I would hope whoever has it now
would not be another inmate. But who knows. Here we go again."

Whitmire said today he called Tablers number on Sunday after spotting it
in his cell phone directory and was surprised when it went to voice mail,
with a gruff-sounding man who warned:

"Look, this is my phone. This is my voice mail.

"So, if you're looking to leave a message, be sure that you're leaving a
message for me, not nobody else."

Whitmire said he immediately wondered if some other convict was still
using the number. After all, prison investigators determined after his
arrest that Tabler had borrowed the phone from another death row

"As usual with the (prison) system, it's what I don't know that scares
me," said Whitmire, who heads the legislative joint committee that
oversees the prison system.

John Moriarty, the prison system's inspector general, confirmed he is
investigating who the still-active number is being used by. He would not
discuss details.

A callback left on the number by the Statesman was not returned. The voice
did not sound like Tabler.

"I find this amazing," Whitmire said this afternoon. So did Sen. John
Carona, R-Dallas, who filed a bill earlier this session that would have
required companies that sell cheap, untraceable cell phones to record
identification from buyers.

Corona said the bill was killed by cell companies.

Moriarty and Whitmire said that having such a law would help authorities
track illicit uses of cell phones, by criminals who are behind bars and
still loose on the street.

"This is a homeland security issue," Moriarty said.

Tabler, 30, a convicted murderer from Killeen, was indicted on May 1 along
with his mother and sister on felony contraband charges in connection in
the cell phone smuggling case that sparked a statewide controversy and a
rare lockdown of all state prisons.

Tabler was also indicted by the East Texas juryon a felony charge of
retaliation, accused of threatening to kill Whitmire after the lawmaker
reported to Tablers calls to police.

In the indictment, Tabler is accused of using another inmate's cell phone
to make calls, and his mother and sister are accused of buying minutes for
that phone.

Tabler was given the death penalty for 2 Killeen slayings in 2004. His
execution date has not been set.

After Tabler called Whitmire in October 2008, Gov. Rick Perry ordered
Texas' 112 state prisons locked down and searched for cell phones and
other contraband. In the following weeks, officials found dozens of cell
phones, drugs, tobacco and other items.

He also called this reporter, and threatened to kill this reporter and
Whitmire at their homes.

(source: Austin American-Statesman)


4th epsiode of Dallas DNA airs tonight, focuses on death row inmate who
claims innocence M

Tonight on the 4th episode of Dallas DNA, the Investigation Discovery
series that highlight's the work of the Dallas County DA's office.

According to the press release:

The conviction integrity unit of Dallas County takes on its first ever
capital murder case. Convicted murderer Greg Wright is scheduled to be
executed for the brutal murder of Donna Vick when his accomplice, John
Adams confesses to sole responsibility for the crime from death row. In
order to uncover the truth begind both the confession and the events of
the original crime, Conviction Integrity Unit Chief Mike Ware secures a
stay of execution and brings Adams to court to state his confession on the
record. As the CIU examines the evidence, including new DNA testing
results, the emotional drama drag on for the families of both Vick and
Wright, as they wait the final verdict from the courts.

The show airs tonight at 9 p.m Central Time and reruns air throughout the

(source: Dallas Morning News)