death penalty news—-TEXAS

Nov. 30


URGENT ACTION APPEAL – From Amnesty International USA

Note: Please write on behalf of these persons even though you may not have
received the original UA when issued on September 10, 2009. Thanks!

30 November 2009

Further information on UA 240/09 (10 September 2009) and follow up (24
September 2009) – Death penalty

TEXAS Kenneth Mosley (m)

Kenneth Mosley, who received a stay of execution in September from the US
Supreme Court 24 hours before he was due to be put to death, is now
scheduled for execution on 7 January 2010. Mosley, a 51-year-old African
American man, has spent 12 years on death row for the murder of a white
police officer, David Moore.

Kenneth Mosley entered a bank in Garland, Texas, on 15 February 1997,
wearing bulky clothes that were inappropriate for the warm weather. His
appearance raised a staff member's suspicion – she recognized him as the
person who had robbed the bank the previous month – and the police were
called. Officer David Moore arrived and confronted Mosley, who was waiting
in the queue. The 2 men fought, and crashed through a plate glass window;
Moore was shot and fatally wounded. Mosley was arrested at the scene with
a note saying "This is a hold up, I have a gun, put money in bag." At the
trial, Kenneth Mosley said that he had gone to the bank to rob it to buy
drugs. He testified that he had not intended to kill the officer, and
there was varying witness testimony about the incident, including whether
the shooting had appeared intentional. Kenneth Mosley was convicted of
capital murder. At the sentencing phase of the trial, the defense
presented only two witnesses. Mosley himself testified, and was removed
from the courtroom after he swore in graphic terms at the jurors. He was
sentenced to death.

Evidence not heard by the jury has been presented to the appeal courts
describing Mosley's poverty-stricken and abusive upbringing in a family of
poor farm-workers, his exposure to toxic pesticides as a child, his
possible brain damage, his depression, and his use of cocaine to
self-medicate (see overleaf). The appeal courts have upheld Kenneth
Mosley's death sentence, rejecting the claim that he had received
inadequate representation at trial. On 23 September, the US Supreme Court
stayed the execution of Kenneth Mosley, scheduled for the following day.
On 20 October, without comment, it announced that it was not taking the

Texas continues to account for a large proportion of the USA's executions.
Of the 1,184 people put to death nationwide since 1977 when executions
resumed in the USA, 446 have been in Texas. There have been 48 executions
in the USA this year, 23 of which have been carried out in Texas.


Kenneth Mosley's family lived on several farms in Arkansas between 1961
and 1971 (when he was aged three to 13) and the whole family had continued
to work as laborers until 1979. In an affidavit presented to the appeal
courts in Kenneth Mosley's case, one of his brothers recalled that the
family was very poor. He also recalled the violence of their father
towards their mother: "He would become angry over the least little thing
and hit Mom with his hands, his fists, and kick her when she was on the
floor." The children, the brother said, were all scared of their father:
"When one of us kids did something wrong, our father would punish all of
us. We each had to take a turn in getting beat. One time the violence got
so bad that me and two of my brothers ran away from home. We did not get
very far; the police found us the same night. When we were returned home,
we were all whipped by our father."

The brother also recalled that the children would play around drums and
barrels of pesticides on the farms and that the pesticide residue would
remain on the cotton fields where they worked. Kenneth Mosley's mother and
another older brother recalled that both their house and the crops would
be sprayed from the air with pesticides.

A psychologist who examined Kenneth Mosley in 2000 concluded that he
suffered from frontal lobe dysfunction. Another psychologist, who reviewed
this finding, concluded that the evidence supported this assessment, and
that such a brain impairment would help to explain Kenneth Mosley's poor
impulse control, his problems with attention and concentration, and his
difficulty in inhibiting inappropriate behavior. In her affidavit, she
asserted that it was "exceedingly difficult for Kenneth Mosley to conform
his behavior to societal standards, particularly in the midst of stressful
situations." A third expert concluded that Kenneth Mosley had "generalized
brain impairment, as well as damage to specific areas in both the right
and left sides of his brain." She concluded that the "primary cause" of
his "neuro-cognitive deficits" was "his lengthy and varied exposures to
toxic chemicals at a vulnerable developmental stage." In her affidavit,
she added that current research and science indicated that such exposure
could cause "severe health problems, particularly in terms of neurological

Evidence that Kenneth Mosley has long suffered from major depression, and
that this had led him to self-medicate with cocaine, has also been
presented on appeal. However, the courts have rejected the claim that
Mosley's trial lawyers failed to adequately investigate and present
mitigating evidence to challenge the state's pursuit of the death penalty
at the sentencing phase of the trial. In a recent appeal brief to the US
Supreme Court, his current lawyers wrote: "Mosley's numerous inpatient
drug and alcohol treatments support that Mosley had debilitating addiction
and depression issues. Had [trial] counsel followed the leads that these
un-obtained medical records revealed, they would have learned that much of
Mosley's conduct was motivated by his desire to self-medicate his severe
depression. In addition, Mosley has brain impairment due to chemical
exposure as a child. There was a plethora of mitigating evidence that was
never uncovered and, thus, never evaluated for introduction at the penalty

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases,
unconditionally. To end the death penalty is to abandon a destructive,
diversionary and divisive public policy that is not consistent with widely
held values. It not only runs the risk of irrevocable error, it is also
costly, to the public purse as well as in social and psychological terms.
It has not been proved to have a special deterrent effect. It tends to be
applied in a discriminatory way, on grounds of race and class. It denies
the possibility of reconciliation and rehabilitation. It promotes
simplistic responses to complex human problems, rather than pursuing
explanations that could inform positive strategies. It prolongs the
suffering of the murder victim's family, and extends that suffering to the
loved ones of the condemned prisoner. It diverts resources that could be
better used to work against violent crime and assist those affected by it.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

– Expressing concern that Kenneth Mosley's jury was not presented with a
full picture of the man they were sentencing, including his background of
poverty and abuse, his possible brain impairment, and his depression;

– Urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry to stop the
execution of Kenneth Mosley and to grant him clemency;

– Expressing concern at the continuing use of the death penalty in Texas,
and calling on members of the Board and Governor Perry to work with
members of the Texas legislature with a view to abolishing this

– Explaining that you are not seeking to excuse violent crime or to
downplay the suffering caused to its victims.


Note: Please cite Kenneth Mosley's prisoner number (#999243) in your

Rissie L. Owens
Presiding Officer,
Board of Pardons and Paroles,
Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, TX 78757

Fax: 1 512 467 0945

Salutation: Dear Ms Owens

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor,
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Fax: 1 512 463 1849

Salutation: Dear Governor


Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 6
January 2010.


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