In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas set to execute two people in November; support clemency for Brent Brewer (information about David Renteria coming soon)
TCADP 2024 Annual Conference: Registration is now open! Meet our inspiring panelists and award recipients
In case you missed it: 16th person removed from death row due to evidence of intellectual disability
Featured events: Community & Coffee in Dallas on November 3; TCADP Book Group on November 15
Quote of the month
“I’ve learned a lot about Mr. Speers [sic] in the past month and in my heart, I feel that he is not only remorseful for his actions but has been doing good works for others and has something left to offer the world.”
– Sammie Gail Martin, the sister of Gary Dickerson, who was killed by Will Speer in 1997 when they were cellmates at the Telford Unit. Less than five hours before he was set to be put to death, Speer received a stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Read this commentary piece from Mitesh Patel, “Clemency should have been granted for death row inmate” for an additional perspective from a victim’s family member.
October was an intense month, with the late-night execution of Jedidiah Murphy and the last-minute stay for Will Speer. We wish we could take more time to reflect on those cases, but the State of Texas has other plans, with two more executions scheduled in November: Brent Brewer and David Renteria. Once again, we’re asking you to voice your support for clemency.
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Brent Ray Brewer on Thursday, November 9, 2023, for a crime he committed in 1990 in Amarillo when he was 19 years old. The robbery and murder of Robert Laminack occurred just weeks after Brewer left a state mental hospital, where he had been involuntarily committed for depression and suicidal thoughts.
Brewer has filed an application with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in which he asks for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or, in the alternative, a 180-day reprieve so he can complete some of his coursework for the Faith Based Program in which he is currently enrolled.
In addition, on November 1, 2023, attorneys for Brewer submitted two separate filings to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (“CCA”) arguing his death sentence is the invalid product of junk science. Brewer also asked the CCA for a stay of execution. Read the press release about these filings.
Here are the key things to know about his case:
Over the 32 years he has spent on death row, Brewer has not committed a single act of violence against another person. His exemplary disciplinary record flies in the face of outrageous testimony provided during his trial – and again during a resentencing hearing in 2009 – by the State’s now discredited expert, Dr. Richard Coons.
Dr. Coons, who never spoke or met with Brewer, did not cite any evidence to support his conclusion that Brewer would likely commit acts of violence in the future. This “future dangerousness” determination is required for a jury to impose a death sentence in Texas. (See “Will the Supreme Court Let Texas Use Junk Science to Kill Brent Brewer?”)
One of those jurors did not want to sentence Brewer to death, but Texas’s confusing and misleading jury instructions led her to believe her single vote could not change the verdict. This juror wrote to Brewer while he was still in county custody and apologized for the verdict. The two developed a friendship, and her experience as a juror led her to earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
We’re asking you to email the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles directly at email@example.com to urge them to recommend clemency for Brent Ray Brewer (you must include his TDCJ #999000 and DOB 05/26/1970 in your appeals). Share your concerns with Governor Greg Abbott.
Customize this sample message or use the information above to craft your own email. Contact the Board by Monday, November 6, 2023.
On Thursday, November 16, 2023, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute David Renteria, who was convicted in El Paso in 2003. TCADP is in touch with his legal team and will provide information about his case and how you can support his application for clemency in a separate email.
Nationwide, twenty people have been put to death this year by five states: Alabama; Florida; Missouri; Oklahoma; and Texas, which has executed six people. The dates for three other men in Texas were withdrawn. Alabama and Oklahoma also have executions scheduled in November.
Registration is now open for the TCADP 2024 Annual Conference: Creating Conscious Communities, which will take place in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The conference is the cornerstone of TCADP’s statewide membership engagement efforts. It features a panel discussion, a keynote address and awards luncheon, and workshop sessions on a variety of topics. It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain new insights into death penalty issues and meet TCADP members from across the state.
Our 2024 Award Recipients include mental health advocates, a faith leader, a journalist, and a member of the TCADP Lobby Corps. You can meet them, along with our esteemed panelists—three individuals who will discuss what it means to create conscious community with individuals on death row—on the conference webpage. Join us for an inspiring day of advocacy in Fort Worth!
In October, McLennan County prosecutors abandoned efforts to secure another death sentence for US Carnell Petetan, Jr., making him the 16th person to be removed from death row in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court forced the state to change the way it assesses intellectual disability in capital cases in 2017 and 2019. In 2021, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated his death sentence and remanded the case to McLennan County for a new punishment hearing after finding “… the evidence was factually insufficient to support the jury’s rejection of the intellectual disability special issue.” Petetan was resentenced to life in prison without parole for killing his estranged wife, Kimberly Petetan, in 2012.
Community & Coffee in Dallas
Join TCADP and local community leaders for a criminal justice meet-up and coworking opportunity from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM CT at Union Coffee Dallas (3705 Cedar Springs Rd, Dallas, TX 75219) on Friday, November 3. Take on-site action with our Deputy Director Tiara Cooper and community leader Elaine Cambell. This will be a collaborative space for all interested in learning more about TCADP and how to get connected with our ongoing efforts and events. To RSVP, email Tiara at tcooper@TCADP.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. Our next selection is The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. We will meet on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 7:00 PM CT. Register here.