In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas set to put 70-year-old man to death this month
TCADP 2019 Annual Conference: Register TODAY to receive our lowest rates
86th Texas Legislature: Death penalty repeal bills filed, committees assigned
In case you missed it: Judge Elsa Alcala reflects on her tenure with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Featured event: Help TCADP Amplify Austin
Quote of the month
“There’s growing bipartisan [consensus], not just to fix these issues with the death penalty, but I think there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that maybe we need to do away with the death penalty in Texas.”
– State Representative Joe Moody (HD 78-El Paso), “Texas legislature to review bills filed to make changes to the death penalty” KVIA.com, January 10, 2019
[Representative Moody will serve as a panelist and lead a breakout session at the conference.]
Billie Wayne Coble, 70, is scheduled to be executed on February 28, 2019 for killing his in-laws, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son, police Sergeant Bobby Vicha, in 1989 at the family’s home in Axtell, 14 miles northeast of Waco (McLennan County). Coble’s 2007 appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals resulted in the dismissal of his death sentence. After a new punishment hearing in 2008, a jury resentenced him to death.
Coble’s defense team argued that the expert witness called to testify regarding future dangerousness in his 1990 trial and 2008 re-trial could not account for his methodology, “nor could he cite even one authority or article that supported it,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Coble has been on death row for more than 28 years. If his execution proceeds, he will be the oldest person executed by the State of Texas since 1982.
Texas is responsible for the only execution nationwide thus far in 2019. There are currently four additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas through May.
TCADP 2019 Annual Conference
The TCADP 2019 Annual Conference: Uniting for Justice will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin, Texas (301 East 8th St). Join us for a full day of workshops, an all-star panel discussion, and an inspiring awards luncheon and keynote address by Jason Baldwin, one of the “West Memphis 3.”
Friday, February 1st, is the last day to take advantage of advance registration rates. You are welcome to pay at the door or mail a check to the TCADP Office, but we need to know you’re coming. Please confirm your attendance today by emailing Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online registration will still be available until February 15th, but fees will increase this weekend to $75 for members, $95 for non-members, and $45 for students. For those attending only the awards luncheon and keynote address, the registration fee remains $50. Sponsorship opportunities are available until February 8th.
Learn more about the conference, including details on our panelists, sponsors, workshops, and award winners.
86th Texas Legislature
Members of the TCADP Lobby Corps already have had an active presence in the 86th Texas Legislature, which began on January 8, 2019. Last week, we hand-delivered copies of our2018 year-end report on death penalty developments to every legislative office at the State Capitol.
Bills to repeal the death penalty have been filed in both chambers:
- House Bill 246 by State Representative Jessica Farrar (HD 148-Houston)
- Senate Bill 294 by State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (SD 27-Brownsville)
TCADP is calling for both bills to receive hearings in their respective committees – the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, chaired by State Representative Nicole Collier (HD 95-Fort Worth), and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by State Senator John Whitmire (SD 15-Houston). Read our position papers on HB 246 and SB 294.
Take a moment to thank Senator Lucio and Representative Farrar for their leadership through Twitter; use the handles @SenatorLucio and @JFarrar148. Follow all things legislative using the hashtag #txlege.
In case you missed it
Former judge reflects on her tenure with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Honorable Elsa Alcala, who served as a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 2011 through the end of 2018, will serve as a panelist at the TCADP 2019 Annual Conference. During her time on the court, she authored over 80 signed majority opinions, 93 dissenting opinions, and 195 concurring opinions, many of which addressed the propriety of the death penalty. Read this great piece about her tenure on the court, which was published last month by the Texas Tribune, and listen to her reflections on the podcast, “Behind the Walls,” with Houston Chronicle reporter Keri Blakinger. (Keri will moderate the panel discussion at the conference.)
February 28 – March 1: Amplify Austin, an annual day of online giving. Mark your calendar and help TCADP win a $1,000 bonus prize for the seventh year in a row by donating between 1:00 and 2:00 PM Central Time on Friday, March 1. Visit our profile.