death penalty news—-TEXAS

Sept. 9


2 Travis death penalty trials move ahead

Lawyers in Albert Jesse Segura's capital murder case finished picking a
jury of Travis County residents today. Meanwhile, 1 floor down in the
Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center, the individual questioning of
prospective jurors continued into a second day in the capital murder trial
of accused killer Paul Gilbert Devoe. Both men face the death penalty if
convicted, and veteran Travis County courthouse observers believe it's the
1st time in decades and perhaps ever that 2 death penalty trials are
going at the same time here, where prosecutors have rarely sought death
compared with other large Texas counties.

Senior state District Judge Jon Wisser said he does not recall 2 potential
death penalty cases at the same time since he joined the local bar in

The last defendant to face the death penalty in Travis County was Alberto
Garcia, who last year was convicted of killing Austin cab drivers Eleazar
Hinojosa, 57, and John Parrish, 41, in 1990. The jury in September 2008
spared Garcia the death penalty after deciding Garcia would not pose a
future danger in prison.

Like Garcia, Segura and Devoe have long criminal records.

Segura, 37, is accused in the 2007 killings of a man who was found fatally
shot inside a southern Travis County house and the mans mother, who was
found in a San Marcos field about 3 weeks later. He is a member of the
violent Texas Syndicate prison gang, prosecutors say.

Opening statements in his case are scheduled for Sept. 21.

Devoe, 46, is accused of killing a Marble Falls bartender, four people
including his ex-girlfriend and her daughter at a Jonestown house and an
elderly woman in Pennsylvania in August 2007.

The opening statements in his case are expected in late September. The
exact date depends upon when a jury is seated.

Jury selection in cases where the death penalty is an option often takes
weeks, while picking a jury in other cases usually only takes a few hours.
In death penalty cases, jurors are quizzed individually about their views
regarding the death penalty.

In Segura's case, jury selection began Aug. 25. Devoe's began 3 days
later, but individual questioning of jurors started Wednesday.

(source: Austin American-Statesman)


South Dakota man on Texas death row loses appeal

A federal appeals court has refused an appeal from a South Dakota parolee
on Texas death row for the beating death of a North Carolina man 11 years
ago in North Texas.

40-year-old Billy John Galloway was turned down Wednesday by the 5th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, moving him a step closer to execution for the
slaying of David Logie of Fayetteville, N.C. Logie was lured away from his
hotel in Greenville, northeast of Dallas, by Galloway and 3 accomplices,
then was robbed and fatally beaten with a hammer and logs.

All four later were arrested after a traffic stop in San Antonio. One of
Galloway's companions, Kevin Varga, also was condemned for the September
1998 attack.

(source: Associated Press)


A Question for Supporters of the Death Penalty

Have you read David Grann's article about the trial and execution of
Cameron Todd Willingham? I'd urge you to do so.

Willingham was convicted of setting the fire that brunt down his house and
killed his 3 children. There were, investigators said, no fewer than 20
grounds for supposing that the fire was not an accident. The only problem?
Each and every one of those grounds was based upon faulty science or an
inadequate understanding of fire.

It is, therefore, quite possible, perhaps even more than probable, that an
innocent man was executed.

If that is the case – and it is possible that the State of Texas will one
day admit this – then does it change anything? Would you – and by you I
mean most people both in this country and the United States – rethink your
enthusiasm for the death penalty? And if not – if, that is, the
probability than an innocent man had been put to death – what would it
take to persuade you that the death penalty is unsafe, if not wicked?

Now, you may say, this is Texas and there are all manner of problems with
Texas justice. That couldn't happen here. Not in Britain. But can you be
so sure? Or maybe it just doesn't matter, right?

Polls consistently show that a majority of people favour reintroducing
capital punishment. If that's you, is there anything about the story of
Cameron Todd Willingham that disconcerts you? And if it doesn't trouble
you, why doesn't it bother you?

(source: Alex Massie, The Spectator)