Beunka Adams death penalty execution law of parties Texas U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit

Update on Beunka Adams: Court Lifts Stay, Execution Will Proceed

Update as of 5:30 PM: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the case of Beunka Adams, allowing his execution this evening to proceed as scheduled. This will be the 5th execution to occur in Texas in 2012.

Yesterday afternoon we learned that the Fifth Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals lifted the stay of execution granted to Beunka Adams earlier in the week.  The Court agreed with the Texas Attorney General’s office that the reprieve granted by Federal District Judge Michael Schneider was improper.  According to the Associated Press, “Adams’ attorneys contended he had deficient legal help at his trial and in early stages of his appeals.”

Adams and Richard Cobb were sentenced to death for the murder of Kenneth Vandever, 37, outside Rusk in 2002.  Both were  under the age of 20 at the time of the crime.  According to the AP, “Adams was tried for capital murder under the Texas law of parties, which makes an accomplice equally culpable as the actual killer. A fellow inmate in the Cherokee County Jail testified Adams bragged to him that he did the shootings,” but evidence from Cobb showed Cobb was the gunman.

Vandever and two women were abducted from a convenience store. Vandever was fatally shot. The women also were shot, and one of them was raped.  Both survived and one of the victims identified Adams.

Adams’ attorneys plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  If they are unsuccessful, the execution will proceed tonight, April 26, 2012, just after 6:00 PM.  Please participate in a vigil in your community to express your opposition to the death penalty and solidarity with all those impacted by violent crime and the execution process.

Read more about the case as reported in the Houston Chronicle.