In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas schedules two more executions for later this year
In case you missed it: Barry Jones released after 29 years on death row in Arizona; attorneys launch mass clemency effort in Louisiana; scientists, physicians, retired federal judges, and innocence groups file briefs in support of Robert Roberson; Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denies relief to Rodney Reed, removes Steven Long from death row
Featured events: Watch a recording of TCADP’s recent forum on the case of Charles Flores; join Tiara in Dallas on July 13 for Community & Coffee; participate in a virtual meet & greet for Texans with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty on July 31; attend the next TCADP Book Group discussion (with the authors!) on Zoom on August 23
Quote of the month
“Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Hopefulness is our superpower.”
– Acclaimed attorney and author, Bryan Stevenson, addressing an audience in Fort Worth on June 15, 2023 as the inaugural speaker for the National Juneteenth Museum Speaker Series
At this time, the State of Texas has three executions scheduled: one in October (Jedidiah Murphy) and two in November (Brent Ray Brewer and David Renteria). Collectively, these three men have spent seventy-five years on death row in Texas.
Nationwide, thirteen people have been put to death this year by four states: Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, which has executed five people. The dates for three other men in Texas were withdrawn. Alabama and Oklahoma have executions scheduled in July.
Barry Jones released after 29 years on death row in Arizona
Last month, Barry Jones was released from prison in Arizona after spending 29 years on death row for a crime for which he was wrongfully convicted. After a careful review, the Arizona Attorney General agreed that Jones’s conviction and death sentence could not stand after medical evidence undermined the State’s case against him.
Attorneys launch mass clemency effort in Louisiana
Attorneys in Louisiana have filed clemency applications for 51 inmates on death row in which they ask Governor John Bel Edwards to spare their lives and change their punishment from the death penalty to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Earlier this year, Edwards publicly expressed his opposition to the death penalty for the first time. Louisiana has not carried an execution since 2010.
Scientific experts, innocence groups support Robert Roberson’s quest for relief
Scientists, physicians, the Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences, retired federal judges, and innocence groups filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Robert Roberson, who has spent 20 years on death row in Texas for a crime that never occurred, the tragic death of his daughter from natural and accidental causes. Roberson was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to death under the now-discredited Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). More than a dozen prominent scientists and physicians from around the world urged the Justices to “… meaningfully take into account the evolution in the scientific consensus regarding SBS and carefully consider whether individuals convicted years ago on a now-discredited shaken-baby-syndrome hypothesis are entitled to judicial relief.” All of the briefs are available on the Supreme Court docket.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denies new trial for Rodney Reed
On June 28, 2023, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Rodney Reed’s petitions for relief despite significant evidence of his innocence and claims of prosecutorial misconduct. Reed has been on death row since 1998 for killing Stacey Stites, a crime he has steadfastly maintained he did not commit. In a statement responding to the ruling, attorney Jane Pucher declared, “In this case, the State hid evidence pointing to Mr. Reed’s innocence for more than two decades. Mr. Reed’s conviction and death sentence violates the most central tenets of our Constitution and cannot stand.” Reed’s quest for DNA testing remains pending in federal court.
Steven Long resentenced to life in prison
On the same day the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief to Rodney Reed, it overturned the death sentence of Steven Long and resentenced him to life in prison due to evidence of his intellectual disability. Long is the 15th person to be resentenced and removed from death row in Texas in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Moore v. Texas (2017 and 2019), which required Texas to change the way it assesses intellectual disability in capital cases. Long faced execution five years ago for killing 11-year-old Kaitlyn Smith in Dallas in 2005.
Recap of Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction: The Case of Charles Don Flores
TCADP is grateful to everyone who attended our community forum about the Dallas County death penalty case of Charles Flores and wrongful convictions last month in DeSoto. We particularly want to thank our speakers, Christopher Scott, Gretchen Sween, and Dr. John Wixted, for sharing their expertise and experience with us. You can watch the live stream of the event here, courtesy of Friends of Charles Don Flores.
Monthly Community & Coffee in Dallas
Join your fellow TCADP supporters in DFW on Thursday, July 13, 2023, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, at Union Coffee (3705 Cedar Springs Rd, Dallas, TX 75219). Every month, Deputy Director Tiara Cooper holds space for anyone interested in learning more about TCADP and connecting with our efforts and upcoming events. To RSVP, email TCooper@TCADP.org.
Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty Texas Meet & Greet
On Monday, July 31, 2023, Nan Tolson and Demetrius Minor with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty will host a virtual meet and greet at 7:00 PM CT for Texans who want to learn more about the network and share their views on the death penalty with other conservatives. If you are interested in participating, email Nan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TCADP Book Group
The TCADP Book Group meets every six to eight weeks on Zoom and reads a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. Join us for a discussion of Crossing the River Styx: The Memoir of a Death Row Chaplain by Russ Ford with Charles Peppers and Todd C. Peppers on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 at 7:30 PM Central Time. Rev. Ford and Todd Peppers will answer questions about the book. Register here.