death penalty news—–TEXAS

Oct. 3


Rick Perry May have Violated Federal Law in Willingham Execution

Glenn Smith has a significant observation: Rick Perry may have violated
federal law when he obstructed the investigation into the execution of
Cameron Todd Willingham. The U.S. Justice Department is deadly serious
about oversight of forensics investigations, and warned grant recipients
that federal law — specifically, U.S.C. 18.1001, would apply to grant
recipients if the independence and integrity of forensics oversight was

When Gov. Rick Perry obstructed an investigation into the execution of a
man experts say was innocent, he committed a crime against all Texans.
State executions are carried out in our names, collectively and
individually. Subverting the truth in such a matter is a betrayal of the
public trust that is difficult to describe or comprehend.

But Perry may have also committed a crime against the U.S., and I'm not
talking about his secession threats. He may have violated federal law,
U.S.C. 18.1001. This is no trivial matter. An innocent man was executed.
Federal laws and guidelines are in place to keep that from happening.
Perry may well have violated those laws and guidelines, for which there
are criminal penalties.

Smith goes into many more details and sites observations from pundits and
statute. Perry at best showed he was unfit to govern any agency let alone
Texas. At worst, he willingly covered up an ongoing investigation in the
execution of an innocent man. As Glenn puts it, he "destroy[ed] the
independence and integrity of a critical law enforcement agency to conceal
material facts".

Justice should be done, even if it hasn't been in the case of Mr.

(source: Matt Glazer, Burnt Orange Report)


Is Perry trying to cover up wrongful execution in Texas?

A report concluding a faulty investigation led to a Texas man's execution
won't be reviewed by a state board as planned Friday after Gov. Rick Perry
abruptly removed 3 people from the panel, forcing the meeting's

Perry, who has said the execution was appropriate, replaced the head of
the Texas Forensic Science Commission and 2 of its 8 other board members
Wednesday. The upheaval on the commission came just 48 hours before it was
to consider a report critical of the arson finding leading to Cameron Todd
Willingham's execution for the deaths of his 3 daughters in a 1991 fire.

Baltimore-based arson expert Craig Beyler, who was hired by the
commission, concluded the arson finding was scientifically unsupported and
investigators at the scene had "poor understandings of fire science." His
report has bolstered arguments from advocacy groups that Willingham was
innocent and wrongly executed.

More than 5 years after his final act from the Texas death chamber gurney
was a profanity-filled tirade, the murder case of executed inmate Cameron
Todd Willingham refuses to die.

Willingham was executed in February 2004 – proclaiming his innocence and
hoping aloud that his wife would "rot in hell" – for the deaths of his 3
young daughters in a fire at their Corsicana home on Dec. 23, 1991.

An arson finding by investigators was key to his conviction in the
circumstantial case.

A top prosecutor in the Tarrant County district attorney's office said
Wednesday that he has no idea why Gov. Rick Perry abruptly removed him
from the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

Perry abruptly replaced 3 members of the commission – including the
chairman – just 2 days before it was to meet to discuss a finding that a
faulty investigation might have led to the execution of an innocent man.

The meeting was subsequently canceled.

(source: The Miami Herald)

******************** 3 ousted members of the Texas Forensic Science
Commission said Thursday that their abrupt removal by Gov. Rick Perry this
week could slow the panels efforts to determine if a flawed arson
investigation led to the execution of an innocent man 5 years ago.

But Perry said the commission's inquiry will continue, telling reporters
that his decision to replace the 3 commission members was part of the
normal appointments process. Their terms expired Sept. 1.

Perry removed Chairman Sam Bassett and commission members Alan Levy and
Aliece Watts on Wednesday, 2 days before the obscure panel was scheduled
to discuss a forensic report challenging the arson findings that that led
to Cameron Todd Willinghams execution in 2004.

Willingham, of Corsicana, was found guilty in the deaths of his 3
daughters in a 1991 fire. Willingham said that he was asleep in his house
when the fire started and denied that he deliberately killed his

In telephone interviews, the commission members who got the boot said they
were surprised and disappointed with Perry's decision to replace them and
expressed concern that the shake-up could disrupt or at least slow the
pace of the panels inquiry. Levy is a top prosecutor in the Tarrant County
district attorney's office. Watts, who lives in Burleson, is a forensic
scientist at Integrated Forensic Laboratories in Euless. Bassett is an
Austin attorney.

The panel had been scheduled to meet today in Irving to hear expert Craig
Beyler, who authored the report challenging the conclusions of the arson
investigation. The meeting was canceled after the dismissals.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)


Texas jury convicts handyman of 2 slayings in '07

A handyman accused of killing six people in a cross-country spree was
convicted Friday in 2 of the deaths, and could face the death penalty.

Paul Devoe, 46, was accused of killing 5 people in Texas and one in
Pennsylvania in August 2007. The jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes
before finding him guilty of capital murder in the deaths of 2 teenage

The girls' family members, who were holding hands before the verdict was
read, cried, smiled and nodded when the verdict was announced.

Prosecutors say Devoe fatally shot 41-year-old Michael Allred at the bar
he worked at in Marble Falls, then drove to the home of his ex-girlfriend,
Paula Griffith, in Jonestown and shot her, her 48-year-old boyfriend, Jay
Feltner, her daughter, Haylie Faulkner and Hensley, a friend of Haylie's.

Travis County prosecutor Gary Cobb said he was happy with the verdict.

"Having somebody like that be found guilty and be assured that he will
never be allowed to hurt anybody again gives me a great degree of personal
satisfaction," Cobb said.

Devoe is only on trial for the girls' killings. It's common in Texas for
prosecutors to split multiple charges into separate trials. Prosecutors
can still seek trials for the remaining killings.

The punishment phase of the trial begins Monday. Jurors will decide
whether to give Devoe the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the deaths of 15-year-old
Haylie Faulkner and 17-year-old Danielle Hensley.

"We clearly think he deserves the death penalty and that's why we're
seeking it," Cobb said.

Earlier this week, a witnesses testified that Devoe told him that night
he'd gone to the bar to kill another ex-girlfriend, but his gun jammed and
the bartender got in his way.

Prosecutors say after the killings, Devoe fled Texas for Long Island,
N.Y., where he grew up and where his mother lived. They say he had car
trouble near State Line, Pa., shot and killed 81-year-old widow Betty Jane
Dehart and stole her car.

Devoe, who had worked as a handyman on painting and carpentry jobs, was
arrested in Shirley, N.Y., on Aug. 27, 2007. He spent several weeks in a
Texas psychiatric hospital before being declared competent for trial in

(source: Associated Press)