executions Houston jury rejection world day against the death penalty

TCADP August 2023 Newsletter

Scheduled executions: Texas set to execute Jedidiah Murphy on World Day Against the Death Penalty

In case you missed it: Webb County jury rejects the death penalty

Featured events: TCADP Book Group discussion on Zoom on August 23, with the authors of Crossing the River Styx; webinar with the Innocence Project of Texas and Texas Defender Service on September 7; call for art submissions related to mass incarceration in Houston

Scheduled executions

The State of Texas has set execution dates for four men this fall, including William Speer, who has been scheduled for execution on October 26, 2023.

The first of these four executions is scheduled for October 10, 2023, when Jedidiah Murphy is set to be put to death for the murder of Bertie Cunningham in Dallas in 2000. 

Since 2003, the global community has recognized October 10 as World Day Against the Death Penalty. This year, to recognize World Day and protest the execution of Jedidiah Murphy, TCADP seeks to host solidarity events around the state. These can take the form of a vigil, a presentation by someone with lived experience, a film and discussion, or some other activity to bear witness.

Plans are already in the works in Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio. If you are interested in organizing an event in your community, on campus, or with your faith community in conjunction with World Day, contact TCADP Deputy Director Tiara Cooper at TCADP is here to support you with ideas and resources and will promote your event to our members and the media.

Nationwide, fifteen people have been put to death this year by five states: Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, which has executed five people. The dates for three other men in Texas were withdrawn. Florida and Missouri have executions scheduled in August.

In case you missed it

Last month, after 10 hours of deliberation, a Webb County (Laredo, Texas) jury returned its verdict in the case of Ronald Burgos-Aviles, a former US Border Patrol Agent who was convicted of killing Grizelda Hernandez, 27, and their one-year-old son, Dominic Alexander, in 2018. Jurors determined there was sufficient mitigating evidence to warrant a sentence of life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty. This is the second jury rejection of the death penalty in Texas this year. Learn more about the decline in death sentences in Texas.

Featured events

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!

Webinar with the Innocence Project of Texas and Texas Defender Service
Ten years ago, the Texas Legislature created the nation’s first law allowing courts to reexamine convictions that are inconsistent with modern scientific principles or rely on outdated or debunked scientific evidence. Article 11.073 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure created a pathway for relief for individuals who have been convicted based on “junk science” or false or misleading scientific testimony, and it has led to some exonerations. But for several people on Texas’s death row who maintain their innocence, the reality of this groundbreaking law has not lived up to its promise.

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, TCADP, the Innocence Project of Texas, and Texas Defender Service will hold a webinar to mark the 10th anniversary of when 11.073—known as the “junk science writ”—went into effect. Our expert speakers will address the history of the law and how it has been interpreted by the courts, often with devastating outcomes. 

Join us on September 7 on Zoom from 6:30 to 7:30 PM CT. RSVP here.

8×5 Houston, a public art campaign
SaveArtSpace and Art at a Time Like This (ATLT) have partnered to present the Houston, Texas edition of 8X5, a nationwide public art campaign named for the size of an average prison cell. This campaign will present the work of artists responding to mass incarceration and inequalities in the justice system. Originally launched in Miami in June 2022, 8×5 Houston will go live at the end of October 2023.

ATLT is looking for artists to create designs and artworks that reflect and respond to the impact of the carceral system in Houston. Selected artworks will be displayed on billboards, kiosks and mobile advertising trucks throughout the city. Diversity is a priority in this selection process; artists at all stages of their careers are encouraged to apply.

Submissions are due by September 1, 2023