In this edition:
Scheduled executions: State of Texas set to carry out first executions in four months
Support clemency for Max Soffar: Urgent request for dying man on death row
Announcements: Seeking Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
In case you missed it: DNA evidence exonerates two men in North Carolina after 30 years
Upcoming events: Check out our calendar for September and make plans to attend an event near you!
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out its first executions in four months – and the state’s first since the horribly botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona earlier this year. To date in 2014, Texas has executed seven people. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice still refuses to identify the pharmacy or pharmacist now supplying the drug that will be used in executions.
On September 10, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Willie Trottie for the 1993 murders of his former girlfriend Barbara Canada, and her brother, Titus, at the Canada family home in Houston. Canada’s mother and sister also were wounded in the attack.
On September 17, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Lisa Ann Coleman, who was convicted a decade ago in Tarrant County in the starvation death of 9-year-old Davontae Williams. The boy’s mother, Marcella Williams, took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and is serving a life sentence.
Support clemency for Max Soffar
Imagine spending 34 years in prison – most of them on death row in Texas – for a crime you didn’t commit. Now imagine being told by doctors that in a matter of months, you will die of liver cancer. That’s the situation facing Max Soffar, who will die behind bars before any court can exonerate him… unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Rick Perry step in. Learn more and take action today to support Max Soffar’s clemency petition.
Announcements: Seeking Lobby Corps applications and Annual Award nominations
TCADP is now recruiting its third class of Lobby Corps members! This dedicated group of people works with our staff and board members to advance our legislative agenda at the State Capitol. We invite applications from our members and supporters, particularly those who live outside of Austin. You don’t have to be a political junkie to participate – we’ll provide you with all the training, resources, and support you’ll need. Apply now to join the TCADP Lobby Corps.
TCADP is also accepting nominations for our annual Courage, Appreciation, and Media Awards. With these awards, we recognize outstanding individuals and/or organizations that have made significant and selfless contributions towards abolishing the death penalty in Texas. All award winners will be honored at the TCADP Annual Conference on February 21, 2015 in Austin. Submit your nominations by October 15th.
In case you missed it
DNA Evidence Exonerates Two Men in North Carolina
Yesterday, Henry Lee McCollum, North Carolina’s longest serving death row inmate, and his half-brother Leon Brown, were exonerated and released from prison after serving 30 years for a rape and murder they did not commit. A judge dismissed all charges against them after new DNA evidence proved their innocence. Like the case of Max Soffar (above), false confessions played a significant role in their wrongful convictions. Read more from the New York Times and the Death Penalty Information Center. Learn about wrongful convictions in Texas.
Memories of Executions Haunt Former Public Information Officer
Michelle Lyons witnessed 278 executions as the public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Read a fascinating new profile of her by Pamela Colloff (our 2011 Media Award recipient) appearing in Texas Monthly.
Austin: TCADP’s bi-monthly luncheon will take place on Wednesday, September 24th from12:00 to 1:30 PM at The Egg & I (2525 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX 78757). TCADP Board Member Les Breeding will share stories from his days as a legislative staffer at the State Capitol and how he became involved with anti-death penalty efforts in his hometown of Amarillo. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Station: “Personal encounters with the Texas death penalty: The true stories of death row exonoree Anthony Graves and murder victim survivor Jan Brown” will take place at St. Mary’s Catholic Center (603 Church Av., College Station TX 77840) on Thursday, September 25th at 6:30 PM in the Activity Center. Sponsored by St. Mary’s Aggies Promoting Life (SMAPL), TCADP, and the Anthony Graves Foundation. Contact Clotilde Pichon at 979-846-5717 or email@example.com with questions.
El Paso: TCADP’s El Paso Chapter – El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty (EPADP) – will meet on Tuesday, September 30th at 7:00 pm in the San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Room of St. Pius X Church (1015 N. Clark Street).
Dallas/Fort Worth: “Journey to Justice: A Speakers’ Tour Featuring Death Row Survivor Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon” will take place in the Metroplex from September 28th – October 2nd. Saint Andrew Catholic Church (3717 Stadium Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76109) will kick things off on Sunday, September 28th at 2 pm (download a flier to share). Other events will occur at the University of Texas-Arlington, Congregation de Latina, Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Carrollton, and the University of Texas-Dallas, among others.
Juan Melendez spent 17 years, 8 months, and 1 day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and released on January 3, 2002. A native of Puerto Rico, Juan has shared his extraordinary story about the injustices of the death penalty with tens of thousands of people throughout the world. We are excited to bring Juan’s powerful message of faith, courage, and survival to the Metroplex this fall. More details on other tour events coming soon.
Houston: The 2014 Civil Rights Conference will take place on Saturday, September 20th at Texas Southern University. TCADP Founder Dave Atwood will talk about the death penalty during a Criminal Justice Workshop in the afternoon.
TCADP’s bi-monthly Fair & Just Lunch Series will take place on Tuesday, September 30th from12:30 to 1:30 PM at St. Anne’s Catholic Church (2140 Westheimer Road). Meet other supporters in the area and hear from TCADP member Julie Caso, who will share her story of becoming involved in the case of Milton Mathis and her experience of witnessing his execution by the State of Texas on June 21, 2011. As Julie says, “Mine truly is a story of going through life and the death penalty comes out of nowhere and changes me forever.” RSVP and order lunch from Jason’s Deli.
TCADP Advisory Board Member and noted author and activist Sister Helen Prejean will speak at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston on Sunday, October 5th at 3:00 PM. The church is located at 12955 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77079. Tickets may be purchased at the door ($10 for adults, $5 for students with ID).
San Angelo: TCADP Advisory Board Member and victim survivor Dr. Linda White will participate in “Stories of Reconciliation” on Thursday, September 18th from 6:00 PM – 8:30 PMas part of the annual “Season of Peace” sponsored by the Peace Ambassadors of West Texas. This year’s theme is “11 Days of Global Peace through Forgiveness.” Learn more.
San Marcos: TCADP Board Member and victim survivor Helene Burns will address the Young Americans for Liberty Chapter at Texas State University on Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 –7:30 PM.
Support our work to end the death penalty
TCADP depends on your generosity to support all of the events and programs described above. Your gift of $50 or $100 will go a long way toward defraying the cost of our speakers’ tour with Juan Melendez ($750 a day) and other priority initiatives. Donate to TCADP today!