death penalty news—-TEXAS

Nov. 18


Man Who Threw Woman In River Executed In Texas

A convicted killer who volunteered for execution but in recent weeks
changed his mind has been put to death in Texas.

30-year-old Danielle Simpson received lethal injection Wednesday evening
for the abduction-slaying of an 84-year-old east Texas woman who was
weighted down with a cinder block and thrown into a river.

Simpson had won approval from a federal court that he was competent to
decide to drop his appeals. Then Simpson he himself and allowed lawyers to
try to save him. Attorneys contended he was mentally ill.

He was condemned for the murder of Geraldine Davidson, a former school
teacher and church organist abducted nearly 10 years ago during a burglary
of her home in Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

Simpson becomes the 22nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 445th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. He is the 206th condemned inmate to be put to death in
Texas since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.

Simpson becomes the 47th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1183rd overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


Board: Commute death sentence in Houston case

The attorney for Robert Lee Thompson argued that his accomplice fired the
fatal shot in 1996.

The state pardons board today recommended that Houston killer Robert
Thompson's scheduled Thursday execution be commuted to life in prison
after his lawyer successfully argued that he was not the triggerman in a
December 1996 convenience store robbery-murder.

Gov. Rick Perry, who has only once in his tenure as chief executive
voluntarily commuted a death sentence, was expected to rule on the case
tonight or tomorrow.

"I'm too scared to be optimistic," said Thompson's attorney Pat McCann,
"but Perry has been receptive to law of parties cases."

Thompson was sentenced to death in a law of parties case stemming from the
slaying of Mansoor Rahim in a Dec. 5, 1996, robbery of a Braeswood
Boulevard convenience store. Thompson's partner in the crime, Sammy
Butler, fired the fatal shot, but was sentenced only to life in prison.

Under the state's law of parties, all participants in a crime are held
fully responsible and can be assessed the death penalty.

Perry's office did not immediately respond to queries about when the
governor might decide the case, but McCann said the governor's legal
counsel advised him a decision likely would come tonight or tomorrow.

Although Perry has commuted death sentences in accordance with U.S.
Supreme Court decisions, only once, in the case of San Antonio killer
Kenneth Foster, has the governor commuted of his own accord.

Foster was convicted of capital murder in a law of parties case although
he was not the triggerman. His death sentence was commuted in August 2007.

McCann said executing Thompson would neither deter crime or provide

The decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles came one day after
U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal granted a 90-day stay of execution to
Houston killer Gerald Eldridge just hours before he was to be put to

Eldridge had been convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her
9-year-old daughter.

Eldridge's attorney Lee Wilson argued that his client may be mentally ill
and incompetent to be executed. Under state law, a killer must be aware of
his pending execution and the reason for it.

Rosenthal authorized expenditure of $7,500 for Eldridge's additional
psychological evaluation.

(source: Houston Chronicle)