death penalty news—-TEXAS

August 21

TEXAS—-new death sentence

Killer gets death in slaying of Christian music producers from Garland

A Dallas County jury this morning sentenced James Broadnax to die for
killing 2 Christian music producers in Garland in 2008.

Broadnax, 20, was convicted last week of killing Stephen Swan, 26. He also
admitted killing Matthew Butler, 28.

Jurors began to consider Broadnax's punishment Thursday morning.

In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Andrea Handley reminded
jurors to remember the victims and their brutal deaths.

"Matthew Butler didn't die instantly," she said. "He was shot in the arm,
he was shot in the chest, and he was shot in the back. He was crawling."

She added that Broadnax was a gang member who posed a danger to others in

"He had no regard for life in the outside world," the prosecutor said.
"Why should he have a regard for life in prison?"

Defense attorneys sought to garner sympathy by recounting details of
Broadnax's troubled childhood, saying he'd been abused, exposed to drug
use and other crimes, and abandoned.

"That child does not deserve to die," said defense lawyer Keri Mallon.
"Give that child a 2nd chance at life. Give that child mercy."

Another defense lawyer, Brad Lollar, urged the jury to consider Broadnax's
age at the time of the crime 19 and that he was under the influence of

A co-defendant, Demarius Cummings, a cousin of Broadnax's, is awaiting
trial. The 2 were stopped hours after the murders in Swan's car.

(source: Dallas Morning News)


An Unfit Judge

Judge Sharon Keller, the Texas appellate court judge who closed the
clerk's office before a death row inmate could file a last-minute appeal,
is fighting to keep her job. At a hearing on Wednesday, she said in a
crowded courtroom that if she had it to do again, she would do the same
thing. That testimony is further proof of why Judge Keller needs to be
removed from the bench.

On Sept. 25, 2007, Michael Richard's lawyers called the court clerk's
office to say they were running late in delivering the papers for his
appeal. The Supreme Court had unexpectedly issued an order in another
death penalty case that they believed provided grounds for putting off his
execution. When the request to keep the office open reached Judge Keller,
she insisted it would close promptly at 5 p.m. The appeal was not filed,
and Mr. Richard was executed hours later.

Judge Keller is now facing 5 counts of judicial misconduct and a possible
recommendation that the state judicial system remove her from the bench.

In court this week, Judge Keller lashed out at the condemned man's
lawyers, blaming them for the controversy. She argued that Mr. Richard
could still have filed his appeal by seeking out another judge, but that
misses the point. She did not follow appropriate procedures. And clearly,
under any interpretation of the rules, given that a life lay in the
balance, the clerks office should have stayed open.

Judge Keller's profound lack of appreciation for the seriousness of taking
a life and the obligations it places on the state is similar to the
disturbing dissent that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas
delivered this week in the Troy Davis case. They suggested there was no
constitutional problem with executing a man who could prove he was

We believe the death penalty is in all cases wrong. But people who support
it should still insist that it be carried out only after a prisoner has
been given every reasonable chance to make his case. Judge Keller's
callous indifference in a case where the stakes could not have been higher
makes her unfit for office.

(source: Editorial, New York Times)