July Alert: Executions, News and Events

In this alert:
Scheduled Executions
In the News
Calendar

Scheduled Executions
July 7 Humberto Leal
July 20 Mark Stroman
 
Update on Humberto Leal
Many thanks to everyone who signed and/or promoted the online petition in support of clemency for Humberto Leal, who faces execution tomorrow, Thursday, July 7, 2011 for the 1994 rape and murder of Adria Sauceda in San Antonio. As the result of our collective efforts, more than 25,000 people throughout the United States and around the world are sending a message to Texas officials that this execution will violate international law and endanger the lives of Americans abroad.
 
As a Mexican national, Mr. Leal was legally entitled to seek assistance from the Mexican consulate. Texas authorities failed to inform him of this right, which is afforded to him and to Americans who travel abroad, by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  If the government of Mexico had been informed of Mr. Leal’s arrest, he would have been provided with highly qualified and experienced legal counsel, as well as funding for necessary experts and investigators. Instead, he received grossly inadequate representation from two court-appointed attorneys, one of whom has been reprimanded or suspended from the practice of law on multiple occasions as a result of ethical violations.
 
On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Humberto Leal’s request for a reprieve and/or commutation.  It now falls on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay of execution or on Governor Rick Perry, who has the power to issue a 30-day reprieve.  Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General (who represents the Obama Administration) joined numerous bipartisan supporters and several of the world’s leading governing bodies in urging the Court to stay the execution.
 
TCADP will post any breaking news on www.tcadp.org and on Facebook. Please check the website for updates, and thank you again for taking action on this case.
 
Hate Crime Victim Seeks Clemency for Mark Stroman
Texas death row inmate Mark Stroman faces a July 20 execution date for the racially-motivated killing of Vasudev Patel, an Indian of the Hindu faith who owned a gas station and convenience store in Mesquite.  Stroman also was charged with killing Pakistani immigrant, Waqar Hasan, in Dallas.  The murders occurred in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.  Surviving shooting victim Rais Bhuiyan opposes the execution and seeks to forgive Stroman for an attack that blinded his right eye and left bullet fragments in his face. According to the Dallas Morning News (“Bangladesh immigrant seeks stay of execution for man who shot him in 9/11 revenge attack,” May 17, 2011), “Bhuiyan said his Islamic faith led him to realize ‘hate doesn’t bring any good solution to people.  At some point we have to break the cycle of violence. It brings more disaster.’”
Take action on this case through Amnesty International.
 
Learn more about responding to Texas executions at https://tcadp.org/get-involved/stop-executions/
 
In the News
Texas Exonoree Randall Dale Adams, featured in “The Thin Blue Line,” Passes Away; Anthony Graves Finally Receives Compensation

Last week we learned of the death of Randall Dale Adams, 61, who spent several years on death row in Texas for a crime he did not commit. He was finally released from prison in 1989. Adams’ was convicted of killing Dallas police officer Robert Wood in 1976 on the word of 16-year-old David Harris, who had previously bragged about the committing the murder. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, “Adams trial lawyer was a real estate attorney and the key government witnesses against Adams were Harris and other witnesses who were never subject to cross examination because they disappeared the next day. On appeal, Adams was ordered to be released pending a new trial by the Texas Court of Appeals. The prosecutors did not seek a new trial due to substantial evidence of Adam’s innocence.”
 
Adams was the subject of the landmark documentary film, “The Thin Blue Line,” (1998) which played a major role in his exoneration. He sought to live a quiet life away from the spotlight and eventually settled in Washington Court House, Ohio, where he passed away as the result of a brain tumor on October 30, 2010. Read more from the New York Times.
 
Randall Dale Adams received no compensation from the State of Texas for the 12 years he spent on death row and in prison for a crime he did not commit – not even the $200 normally given to prisoners upon their release on parole or on the completion of their sentences. He was deemed ineligible because the case against him had been dismissed; at the time, only a pardon from the governor could lead to a lump sum payment of $25,000 for those wrongfully convicted.
 
While the State of Texas remains woefully behind on many criminal justice reform measures, it has made significant strides in addressing the issue of compensation for the wrongfully convicted.   On June 17, 2011, Governor Perry signed into law House Bill 417, which enables death row exonoree Anthony Graves to collect $1.4 million from the state ($80,000 for each of the 18 years he was wrongfully incarcerated). Read more about compensation for Anthony Graves. Read an interview with Anthony that appeared last month in the Texas Tribune.
 
35 Years after Gregg Decision, Death Penalty Remains Arbitrary, Capricious, and Discriminatory
July 2 marked the anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gregg v. Georgia, which upheld the new death penalty statutes of several states (including Texas) and paved the way for the resumption of executions. Read a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center, Struck by Lightning: The Continuing Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty Thirty-Five Years After Its Reinstatement in 1976, which highlights the haphazard way that the death penalty is imposed throughout the United States. You can also read an editorial about the anniversary from the Dallas Morning News and an op-ed from Rudy Apodaca that appeared in the Austin American Statesman.
 
Job Opening
Witness to Innocence (WTI), the only national organization composed of and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones, is seeking a new Executive Director. The mission of WTI is to empower exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones to be effective leaders in the movement to abolish the death penalty, to advocate for fair compensation for America’s exonerated death row survivors, and to sustain a network of peer support for its members as they respond to the challenges and opportunities of life after exoneration. Read the detailed job description and application information. The deadline for applications is July 29, 2011.

 
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Calendar
July
 
6 Tabling at Steve Earle Concert – Houston
 
7 Scheduled Execution – Humberto Leal, Tabling at Steve Earle Concert – Austin
 
9 Tabling at Steve Earle Concert – Ft Worth
 
12 Texas Tribune hosts Sneak Preview Screening of Incendiary: The Willingham Case, at the Bob Bullock State History Museum.  We hope to see you there.  For more information http://trib.it/jqdV2Z
 
18 El Paso Chapter Meeting and film festival, 6:00pm, elpaso@tcadp.org – “At the Death House Door”, a documentary that looks at the death penalty in the state of Texas through the eyes of Reverend Carroll Pickett. He served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous “Walls” prison unit in Huntsville. Eventually, he became opposed to the death penalty, which started with the troubling case of Carlos De Luna, a man Reverend Pickett thought was innocent.Learn More under Chapter News.
 
20 Scheduled Execution – Mark Stroman, Dallas Chapter Meeting, 7:00pm, dallas@tcadp.org
To see the TCADP calendar, go to https://tcadp.org/get-involved/calendar/.
 
*Special note to TCADP members:  The TCADP Summer Newsletter will be emailed/snail mailed to members next week, keep an eye out for it!  Become a member today, so you can receive it too!