In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas set to resume executions, more than four months since state’s last lethal injection
In case you missed it: State and national political platforms endorse abolition
Seizing the Momentum, Summer 2016 Issue: Read the powerful story of victim survivor Joyce Washington
Support TCADP while you shop: Bookmark AmazonSmile
Upcoming events: Save the date for these fall events
Quote of the month
“The death penalty is reserved for ‘the worst of the worst,’ according to the Supreme Court. If Wood wasn’t present for the shooting, is he equally responsible as Reneau for Keeran’s death? Is an intellectually impaired man who drove the getaway car the worst of the worst? Would a prosecutor seek the death penalty in Jeffrey Wood’s case today?” – Sabine Heinlein, “Does This Man Deserve to Die?” Texas Monthly, July 28, 2016
The State of Texas has not carried out an execution since April 6th but has seven executionsscheduled between now and early November, including three this month. Two of these cases in particular – set for execution on consecutive days – cast significant doubt on the accuracy and fairness of the Texas death penalty system:
On August 23, Robert Pruett is scheduled to be put to death for the murder of correctional officer Daniel Nagle in Bee County in 1999. Pruett has consistently maintained his innocence and contends he was framed in the physical assault that led to Nagle’s death.
Pruett has faced three serious execution dates in the past: he received a stay of execution in May 2013 to allow time for DNA testing, the withdrawal of a 2014 date, and a stay of execution in April 2015 for further DNA testing of evidence. Read more about his case in this 2015 article from The Guardian.
Jeff Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 24. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death under Texas’s “law of parties” after another man, Daniel Reneau, robbed and killed convenience store clerk Kris Keeran in Kerrville in 1996. Reneau, who was executed in 2002, committed the crime while Wood was outside the building, sitting in a truck.
Texas’s Law of Parties allows someone to be held criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if “acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense he solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid the other persons to commit the offense.”
Executions under the law of parties or similar laws in other states are rare. The Death Penalty Information Center has confirmed only 10 cases, five of which were in Texas. In 2007, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a rare recommendation of clemency for Kenneth Foster, who also was convicted under the law of parties despite the fact that he was sitting in a car 80 feet away when the murder occurred. Then-Governor Rick Perry accepted the Board’s recommendation – the only commutation he granted in a case involving imminent execution in his 14 years in office.
Wood’s original sentencing hearing was prejudiced by the false and perjured testimony of discredited psychiatrist, Dr. James Grigson. In August 2008, a federal judge granted Wood a stay of execution to allow for determination of his mental competence. Read more about his case inTexas Monthly.
Take action! Please sign a petition to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking them to commute Wood’s sentence to life.
Rolando Ruiz is scheduled to be executed on August 31 for the fatal shooting of Theresa Rodriguez in 1992 in San Antonio. He was hired to kill Rodriguez in a life insurance scheme by her husband, Michael Rodriguez, who received a life sentence for his role in the murder. Mr. Rodriguez later was sentenced to death and executed in 2008 for his part in another crime.
Ruiz was previously granted a reprieve of execution in 2007 by a federal appeals court. He later sought to appeal his death sentence based on the fact that jurors were not informed of the childhood abuse he suffered. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider his appeal.
The State of Texas has put six people to death in 2016. There have been 15 executions nationwide, including six in Georgia.
In case you missed it: Democratic Party platforms call for abolition
The 2016 Texas Democratic Party platform retains a call for passage of legislation that would abolish the death penalty. And, for the first time, the draft of the national 2016 Democratic Party platform also endorses abolishing the death penalty, asserting “It has no place in the United States of America.” Learn more.
Seizing the Momentum, Summer 2016 Issue
Our Summer 2016 newsletter, Seizing the Momentum, is now available. This issue includes a profile of Joyce Washington, a mother, victim survivor, and community advocate. In this personal profile, Joyce shares her unique perspective on the death penalty. You’ll also find a book review, meet our summer intern, and learn about some of our recent activities.
Support TCADP while you shop on AmazonSmile
Getting ready for back-to-school shopping? Don’t forget you can buy school supplies, clothes, and textbooks through Amazon. If you’re shopping online, please consider using AmazonSmile to support TCADP. By selecting TCADP as your non-profit, part of your purchase will support our efforts. Bookmark this link and support us every time you shop. Thank you!
We’re saving up our energy in August for these exciting events in September:
TCADP will resume its bi-monthly luncheons on Tuesday, September 13th at noon at The Egg & I – Northcross (2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX). To RSVP, please email email@example.com.
TCADP will host “An Evening with Shane Claiborne: Conversation on Executing Grace and Panel Discussion” on Tuesday, September 27th at 7:00 PM at White Rock United Methodist Church (1450 Oldgate Ln, Dallas, TX 75218).
Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. He worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.”
Shane will be discussing his latest book, Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us. Throughout the book, he tells stories of horrific pain and heroic grace. He interviews victims of violent crimes, survivors of death row, lawyers, experts, and even an executioner, offering a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty.
TCADP will host “An Evening with Shane Claiborne: Conversation on Executing Grace and Panel Discussion” on Wednesday, September 28th at Broadway Baptist Church (305 W Broadway Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104). The event will begin at 6:30 PM.
Please contact TCADP North Texas Outreach Coordinator Jason Redick at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Dallas and Fort Worth events.
Please join us on Thursday, September 8 at Westbury United Methodist Church (5200 Willowbend Blvd, Houston, TX 77096) for an exclusive screening of a new documentary film, “Last Day of Freedom”, and a discussion of our state’s experience with the death penalty over the last four decades. All are welcome.
Thank you for standing with us as we advance change at the epicenter of the death penalty.