In this edition:
– Scheduled executions
– Death penalty case developments
– Faith leader advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature
– Amplify Austin
– Recap of TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
– Upcoming events
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute two people this month:
- On March 11, Manuel Vasquez is scheduled to be put to death for the 1998 murder of 51-year-old Juanita Ybarra in San Antonio. His execution initially was set for August 6, 2014, but the state agreed to a stay.
- The State of Texas is scheduled to put Randall Mays to death on March 18. He was convicted of the fatal shootings of Sheriff’s Deputies Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn outside his home in Henderson County in May 2007.
Death penalty case developments
Here are updates on several cases involving Texas death row inmates:
- On February 23, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Rodney Reed a stay of execution to consider new evidence that supports his innocence in the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites. Six judges agreed to the stay, which is “pending further order of this court.” Read more.
When asked about the court’s decision, Governor Greg Abbott reiterated his support for what he calls “an effective death penalty in Texas.” He went on to say, “I think that this is a healthy process that the court announced what it did so we can put beyond the shadow of any doubt whatsoever that he really is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted.” Read more from KEYE-TV.
- On February 25, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a rare hearing to Linda Carty to review claims of prosecutorial misconduct in her case. Carty, a British citizen and native of the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, was sentenced to death for plotting the 2001 murder of her neighbor, Joana Rodriguez, in order to steal Rodriguez’s newborn baby. According to the Houston Chronicle, “a DEA agent and two of Carty’s co-defendants allege that Harris County prosecutors crossed ethical boundaries and threatened them to ensure Carty’s conviction.”
- Antonio Williams, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murders of Vincent Williams and Yolanda Styles, was found dead in his cell in the Harris County Jail on February 19. He was back in Houston to attend hearings for his appeals. Last November, two witnesses recanted their testimony naming Williams as the shooter; the two women said they were pressured by prosecutors and investigators to lie. Williams’ death was ruled a suicide.
Faith Leader Advocacy Day and Press Conference
TCADP’s first-ever “Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty” will take place on Monday, March 9 at the State Capitol, in partnership with Texas Impact, the oldest and largest statewide interfaith network in Texas. TCADP and Texas Impact will hold a press conference at 11:15 AM on the South Steps of the Capitol to release an Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty, which has been endorsed by nearly 600 faith leaders across Texas. Participants will also meet with legislators to voice their support for House Bill 1527, which calls for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. State Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) filed HB 1527 on February 17.
Learn more about the advocacy day and RSVP here.
We invite all TCADP supporters to participate in the press conference that morning. Other opportunities for constituent advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature will be announced soon as we push for a House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee hearing on HB 1527.
Amplify Austin: Help TCADP three-peat!
Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online fundraising festival, will take place from 6 PM on March 5th to 6 PM on March 6th. You can help us win a $1,000 bonus prize for the third year in a row by donating between 1:00 and 2:00 PM Central Time on Friday, March 6. You might consider donating at:
1:12 PM for the 12 people exonerated from Texas death row
1:19 PM for the 19 jurisdictions (18 states and the District of Columbia) that don’t allow the death penalty
1:20 PM for the 120 supporters who attended the TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
1:39 PM for the 139 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice
1:50 PM for the 150 death row exonerations nationwide
Check out TCADP’s profile page and set your alarm for Friday afternoon. Last year, we raised more than $4,000 through this event! (Can’t contribute on Friday? Donations anytime during the 24-hour giving period are welcome and appreciated.)
Advocates gather in Austin for TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
TCADP is grateful to everyone who participated in our 2015 Annual Conference on February 21st in Austin! It was wonderful to see so many new faces and longtime supporters, hear our inspiring speakers, and honor our incredible award recipients. We are excited to continue our work together to draw attention to death penalty fault lines. Photos from the day will be available soon on TCADP’s Facebook page.
- TCADP’s Houston Chapter will meet on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 PM at Central Market (3815 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77027). Dr. Betty Gilmore, Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University, will speak about the book that she and former death row prisoner, Nanon Williams, co-authored. The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisonsaddresses the widespread impact of extreme isolation experienced by thousands of incarcerated individuals in Texas prisons.
- Dr. Sanaz Alasti, Assistant Professor in the Criminal Justice Program at Lamar University in Beaumont, will deliver the talk “The Future of the Death Penalty” on Monday, March 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM as part of the Phi Beta Delta – Beta Xi Colloquy. The event will take place in the Landes Auditorium at the Galloway Business Building.
- “A Faith Leader Conversation About the Death Penalty” with Rev. William Lawson, Pastor Emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, will take place on Tuesday, March 17 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (Jones Building, Room J-204, 5501 Main Street; Houston, TX 77004). This free event, the first in a series of conversations for faith leaders about their understanding of and response to capital punishment in Texas, is sponsored by TCADP’s Houston Chapter; brunch will be provided by the Houston Mennonite Church. Register here.
- El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty meet on the last Tuesday of the month. The next meeting will take place on March 31 at 7:00 PM at St. Pius X Church in the Pedro Maldonado Room (1050 North Clark Drive).