In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas set to execute three people this month, including two next week; sign the petition for Arthur Brown
In case you missed it: Andre Thomas files application for clemency; Hank Skinner passes away after nearly three decades on death row; Governor of Pennsylvania calls on lawmakers to abolish the death penalty; capital trials in Texas conclude with one new death sentence and one life verdict
Organizational announcements: TCADP welcomes new board member, new intern, and new Organizational Affiliate
TCADP 2023 Annual Conference: Thanks to everyone who joined us!
Featured events: Amplify Austin today and tomorrow; TCADP Book Group on March 22; 27th Annual Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice in San Antonio
Quote of the month
“Gov. Abbott has the power to stop the spectacle of prison guards leading a blind, mentally incompetent, delusional man to the death chamber.”
– Maurie Levin, attorney for Andre Thomas, “Texas death row inmate who cut out his eyes seeks clemency,” Associated Press, February 18, 2023
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute three people this month; two of them are set to take place next week:
- Gary Green faces execution by the State of Texas on March 7, 2023. He was convicted of killing Lovetta Armstead and her daughter, Jazzmen, in 2009 in Dallas. Evidence developed about Green’s mental health establishes that his cognitive and mental health challenges diminished his ability to fully understand and regulate his actions.
Contact Texas Governor Greg Abbott and ask him to use his authority to grant a one-time, 30-day stay of execution to Green to give his attorney time to pursue additional intellectual disability testing and to allow for the resolution of the pending civil lawsuit related to the use of expired drugs in executions in Texas. Leave a comment online or call the opinion hotline at (512) 463-1782.
- The State of Texas seeks to execute Arthur Brown on March 9, 2023, despite evidence of his innocence and serious intellectual impairments. Brown has served nearly 30 years on death row after being convicted of killing four people in Harris County in 1993 during what police called a drug purchase. His conviction was based on thin evidence, including forensic evidence that a court has called “plainly flawed,” and eyewitness testimony obtained through faulty police techniques. More recently, his new attorneys from the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs and the Dallas Capital Habeas Unit have uncovered evidence—previously suppressed by the District Attorney’s office—that shows that other men, not Brown, committed the murders.In addition, Brown’s jury did not learn about his childhood, which was rife with abject poverty, physical and emotional abuse, and violence, or his intellectual impairments and symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Disorder.
Brown’s attorneys have asked Governor Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his death sentence to life in prison or, in the alternative, to grant a reprieve. They are also advocating for relief before the Texas courts. You can support Brown’s application for clemency by signing this petition to #SaveArthurBrown.
- Anibal Canales faces execution on March 29, 2023. He was sentenced to death for his involvement in the 1997 strangling of an inmate at the Telford Unit in Bowie County. Canales has proclaimed his innocence. We will share more information about his case later this month.
Nationwide, seven people have been put to death this year by four states: Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, which accounts for three executions. Texas is the only state scheduled to carry out executions in March and has two additional executions scheduled in April.
In case you missed it
Andre Thomas, a man with severe mental illness, seeks clemency from Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott
On February 15, 2023, attorneys for Andre Thomas asked Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his death sentence to life in prison or, in the alternative, to grant a reprieve to allow the courts to determine whether he is competent for execution, as the Constitution requires.
For the past 15 years, Thomas has resided at the Wayne Scott Unit, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s psychiatric facility, where the most mentally ill Texas prisoners are housed. He suffers from schizophrenia and permanently blinded himself by gouging out both of his eyes, on separate occasions. Over the course of his life, Thomas sought treatment for the symptoms of his severe mental illness, but no one responded to his increasingly desperate pleas for help. The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Thomas on April 5, 2023.
Dozens of Texas mental health professionals and advocates and over 100 Texas faith leaders, along with national Evangelical leaders and the nation’s leading mental health organizations, have filed letters supporting Thomas’s clemency application.
We need you to join the campaign to #SaveAndreThomas. Sign this petition, sponsored by TCADP and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Texas, insisting the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott spare Andre Thomas’s life.
Hank Skinner passes away after maintaining his innocence for nearly three decades on death row
Attorneys for Henry “Hank” Skinner shared the sad news of his death on February 16, 2023, due to complications from a surgery in December to remove a brain tumor. Skinner spent more than 27 years on death row for a crime he staunchly maintained he did not commit. He had faced execution several times—including another date in September 2023—and was still in the process of challenging his conviction. Read the statement from his attorneys.
Governor of Pennsylvania calls on lawmakers to abolish the death penalty
Last month, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro gave his word that he will not sign any death warrants, effectively continuing a moratorium on the death penalty that was put into place by former Governor Tom Wolf in 2015. Governor Shapiro went a step further by calling on lawmakers to abolish the death penalty, declaring that the state “should not be in the business of putting people to death.”
Capital trials conclude with one new death sentence and one life verdict
Two capital trials in which prosecutors sought the death penalty concluded last month in opposite ends of Texas; their outcomes illustrate the arbitrariness of capital punishment:
- On February 5, 2023, a Wharton County jury sentenced Robert Allen Satterfield to death for the murder of RayShawn “Baby Ray” Hudson Jr., a four-year-old child. The jury deliberated for only one hour before sentencing Satterfield to death. Satterfield represented himself during the final days of the trial and did not call any witnesses during the punishment phase. He is the fifth person to be sentenced to death in Wharton County since 1974 and the first person sentenced to death in Texas in 2023. Last year, two people were sentenced to death in Texas. There are currently 186 people on death row in Texas.
- On February 24, 2023, after three days of deliberations, a Lubbock County jury handed down a sentence of life in prison for 24-year-old Hollis Daniels for the shooting of Floyd East Jr., a Texas Tech Police Officer, in 2017. Daniels was 18 years old at the time of the killing. He pleaded guilty to all charges. Jurors determined there were mitigating circumstances to spare Daniels from the death penalty after hearing evidence that the killing took place while Daniels was experiencing a drug-fueled mental health crisis. Two of the last five capital murder trials in Texas in which prosecutors sought the death penalty have ended with a sentence of life in prison without parole.
TCADP is delighted to welcome Silvia Garcia as a new member of the Board of Directors! She was elected during the TCADP General Membership Meeting on February 16, 2023. Silvia is a former law enforcement officer and retired educator from El Paso. She joined the TCADP Lobby Corps last year after relocating to Corpus Christi.
TCADP also is pleased to add the Libertarian Party of Texas as a new Organizational Affiliate and to have a new intern, Ben Mulick. Ben is finishing his degree in Middle Eastern Studies, Arabic Track at the University of Texas in Austin, with a Minor in Government. He learned about TCADP during the campaign to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio last year. TCADP bids a fond farewell to Mary Claire Jackson, who served as our intern from June 2022 to January 2023. We wish Mary Claire the best on the next big adventure: law school!
TCADP 2023 Annual Conference
TCADP is grateful to everyone who participated in the TCADP 2023 Annual Conference: 25 Years of Igniting Change, which took place in Austin on February 25, 2023, with 140 participants from across Texas and other states! It was wonderful to see both new and familiar faces, honor our incredible award recipients, and hear from special guest speakers. We particularly want to thank attorneys Quinncy McNeal, Thea Posel, Raoul Schonemann, and Gretchen Sween for sharing their insights with us during the panel discussion, Anthony Graves for his stirring keynote address, and all the knowledgeable workshop presenters.
Our thanks also go to the following sponsors: Anthony Cortez and Silvia Garcia; Fellowship Southwest; Dr. Kimberly Harrison; John Mimbela (Champion); Professor Ana M. Otero (Champion); Angelle Adams; Bob Michael; and Michael Wong. Generous support for the conference was provided by the Judith Filler Foundation. Pictures from the day will be posted soon on the TCADP Facebook page!
Amplify Austin 2023
Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online fundraising festival, will take place today and tomorrow, from 6 PM CT on Wednesday, March 1 to 6 PM CT Thursday, March 2, 2023. You don’t have to live in Austin (or the United States) to participate. Donations to TCADP are welcome any time during the 24-hour giving period. Thank you for your support!
TCADP Book Group
The TCADP book group meets on Zoom every six to eight weeks and reads a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at 7:30 PM Central Time, when we will discuss Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. Register here.
27th Annual Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice
The 27th Annual Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice will take place in San Antonio on Saturday, March 25, 2023. The day begins with music and a rally at 8:30 AM; the March steps off at the intersection of Guadalupe & Brazos streets at 10:00 AM and ends at Hemisfair Plaza. If you would like to join the TCADP contingent for this event, email Mardi Baron at firstname.lastname@example.org.