Dallas DNA testing execution U.S. Supreme Court

State of Texas executes Jedidiah Murphy

Late last night, on October 10, 2023, the State of Texas executed Jedidiah Murphy after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal. Earlier in the evening, the Court vacated the stay of execution that had been granted by a federal judge and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court. TCADP is grateful to everyone who stood in solidarity with us yesterday as we raised our voices against all executions and to Mr. Murphy’s attorneys for their tireless fight to save his life.

Murphy is the sixth person executed by Texas this year and the third person who was convicted in Dallas County. Dallas County accounts for 65 executions since 1982, second only to Harris County in its use of the death penalty. The State has executed 584 people.

During his more than two decades on death row, Murphy experienced a genuine spiritual and personal transformation grounded in his Jewish faith. Fueled by remorse for his crime, love for his family, a desire to help others, and his religious devotion, he became a role model to others. What happened last night in Texas is a travesty.

Original post:

After more than six months without an execution, the State of Texas is scheduled to put Jedidiah Murphy to death on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, a date recognized globally as World Day Against the Death Penalty. At this time, his case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Murphy was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001 by a Dallas County jury for kidnapping and killing 79-year-old Bertie Cunningham while in the throes of a mental health crisis brought on by years of abandonment, neglect, and abuse.

If his execution proceeds, Murphy will be the third person convicted in Dallas County to be put to death this year, half of the year’s total executions in Texas. Dallas County accounts for 63 executions since 1982 and is behind only Harris County in terms of both death sentences and executions.

Appeals are still pending in state and federal courts.

On October 6, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted a stay of execution to Murphy based on his request for DNA testing. The State appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court, which on Monday upheld the stay. The State is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the stay.

The jury that sentenced Murphy to death heard highly inflammatory testimony from the victim of a violent crime who identified him as the assailant three years after the fact. Murphy maintains he did not commit that crime, which was unadjudicated, and evidence discovered by appellate attorneys undermines the victim’s identification of Murphy, while forensic evidence, including fingerprints, supports his claim of innocence in that case. Previous requests for DNA testing to prove his innocence in this other case have been denied.

The victim’s testimony about Murphy during the punishment phase of his trial in the Cunningham case was pivotal to the State’s argument he constituted a “future danger” and weighed heavily on the jury’s deliberations.

Murphy immediately accepted responsibility for killing Bertie Cunningham and expressed profound remorse for the irreplaceable loss and pain his actions have caused.

In the 23 years he has spent on death row, Murphy has experienced a genuine spiritual and personal transformation grounded in his Jewish faith. Now, fueled by remorse for his crime, love for his family, a desire to help others, and his religious devotion, he has become a role model to others. 

Murphy filed an application with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in which he asked for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or, in the alternative, a 180-day reprieve. The Board voted unanimously against recommending clemency, however.

Murphy also has raised concerns about the drugs the State plans to use for his execution. In a lawsuit, he alleged the drugs were exposed to extreme heat and smoke during a recent fire at the Huntsville Unit, where executions take place in Texas. A federal judge denied Murphy’s request for a stay on those grounds, however.

Read more about Murphy and the context in which his execution may occur from Keri Blakinger with the Los Angeles Times.