Last night, the State of Texas carried out its final execution of 2014, putting Miguel Paredes to death for the murders of Adrian Torres, Nelly Bravo, and Shawn Michael Caine in San Antonio in 2000. Paredes was 18 years old when he and two accomplices shot the three victims, took their bodies to Frio County, and set them on fire. His two co-defendants are currently serving life sentences.
The 10 people put to death by lethal injection this year represents the fewest executions in Texas since 1996. Several media outlets have noted the overall decline in use of the death penalty both in Texas and nationwide. “In Texas, the Death Penalty is Slowly Dying Out” (The Atlantic, October 29, 2014), journalist Matt Ford observes that “Thirty people have been executed so far this year in the entire United States, whereas Texas alone executed 40 people at its peak in 2000.”
Death sentences have also declined significantly. In 1999, prosecutor sought and juries imposed 48 new death sentences in Texas. For the last five years, that number has been in the single digits. As Tom Dart notes in his article about last night’s execution (“Miguel Paredes set to be 10th and last Texas prisoner executed in 2014,” The Guardian, October 28, 2014), geographic isolation and racial disparities persist in the imposition of new death sentences in Texas.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice already has scheduled nine executions in the first few months of 2015.