execution jeff wood law of parties

Take action to stop the unjust execution of Jeff Wood

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Jeff Wood on August 24, despite the fact that he did not kill anyone. Wood 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.

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.

False and Misleading Testimony Regarding “Future Dangerousness”
On August 2, 2016, Wood’s attorneys filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus requesting a new, fair sentencing hearing based on the fact that his original sentencing hearing was prejudiced by the false and misleading testimony of discredited psychiatrist, Dr. James Grigson. The petition can be accessed here:

According to the petition, during the trial, Dr. Grigson testified – without personally evaluating him – that Wood “certainly” would be criminally violent in the future based on a hypothetical given to him by the prosecution.  A jury determination of future dangerousness is required in order to sentence a defendant to death in Texas.

In 1995, three years before he testified in Wood’s trial, Dr. Grigson was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians for flagrant ethical violations involving this same conduct.

Intellectual Impairments and Mental Illness
At Wood’s sentencing hearing, jurors also did not hear evidence that might have caused them to spare his life. Due to mental illness that should have rendered him incompetent to stand trial, Wood instructed his attorneys not to present any evidence on his behalf or cross-examine witnesses. The jury therefore never heard that he had borderline intellectual functioning and emotional and psychological impairments which rendered him vulnerable to Reneau.

As a child, Mr. Wood suffered from several psychiatric disorders and was placed in special education. A clinical neuropsychologist who tested Mr. Wood before trial found that he had significant cognitive impairments and had reading and spelling abilities ranging from the fourth to fifth grade levels.

An earlier jury found Wood incompetent to stand trial based on clinical testimony about his delusional belief system. He was placed in the Vernon State Hospital, but was deemed competent 15 days later without having received any medication or treatment.

In August 2008, a federal judge granted Wood a stay of execution to allow for determination of his mental competence.

Law of Parties
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.

In a press release issued on August 2, 2016, Jared Tyler, a Houston-based attorney who represents Wood, says: “I believe that no person in the history of the modern death penalty has been executed with as little culpability and participation in the taking of a life as Mr. Wood. In that respect, his execution may mark a national first.”

For more information about Jeff’s case:

“Jeff Wood didn’t kill anyone but Texas is about to execute him anyway,” The Intercept, August 2, 2016

“Does This Man Deserve to Die?” Texas Monthly, July 28, 2016

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.