For more historical analysis, including charts and graphs, read TCADP’s report, Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2022: The Year in Review (the 2023 report will be released in December!) and check out our latest fact sheet on the death penalty.
The State of Texas has executed 586 people since 1982. Of these, 279 occurred during the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry (2001-2014), more than any other governor in U.S. history.
Texas put eight people to death in 2023. The execution dates of three other men were withdrawn, and one man (Will Speer) received a last-minute stay.
Four of the eight men executed this year were Black or Hispanic. David Renteria, who was executed on November 16, 2023, was Native American.
Harris County alone accounts for 133 executions, more than any state except Texas. Dallas County accounts for 65 executions, Bexar County for 46, and Tarrant County for 45.
In 2023, juries in Texas imposed three death sentences in new cases; two defendants represented themselves during their trials.
- 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.
- A Bell County jury convicted Cedric Marks of capital murder after nearly six weeks of testimony, during which Marks represented himself. He was convicted of killing Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin in 2019. The jury sentenced him to death on June 9, 2023 after Marks took the stand and asked for the death penalty.
- On August 9, 2023, after deliberating for nearly 10 hours, an El Paso County jury sentenced Facundo Chavez to death for the murder of El Paso Sheriff Deputy Peter Herrera in 2019. It is the first death sentence in El Paso since 2014.
In two other capital cases, jurors rejected the death penalty:
- 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. After hearing evidence that the killing took place while Daniels was experiencing a drug-fueled mental health crisis, jurors determined there were mitigating circumstances to spare Daniels from the death penalty.
- On July 18, 2023, a Webb County jury returned its verdict in the case of Ronald Burgos-Aviles, a former U.S. 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.
In the case of Daryl Wheatfall, whose death sentence was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2015, a new punishment hearing took place in Harris County this year. After deliberating for three days, on November 15, 2023, the jury imposed another death sentence on Wheatfall, who was originally convicted in 1992 for a robbery and murder.
Texas has the third-largest death row population in the nation (181), after California* (668) and Florida (299).
*On March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions.
Death Sentences by Race and Gender
As death sentences in Texas decline, they continue to be applied disproportionately to people of color. Over the last five years, more than 70 percent of death sentences have been imposed on people of color; nearly 40 percent were imposed on Black defendants.
To learn more…
According to TDCJ, there are currently 181 people on Texas’s death row, including 7 women. This is the smallest Texas death row population since 1985, when 188 people awaited execution, according to research by TCADP.
Death Sentences by County
As displayed in this interactive map, just two counties (Harris and Smith) have imposed more than one death sentence since 2018. More than one-fourth of all death sentences imposed by juries in this time period have come from those two counties.
Three counties account for more than half of the current death row population: Harris (67); Dallas (14); and Tarrant (11). No other county has more than eight individuals on death row at this time.
Less than 20% of the 254 counties in Texas account for the current population of death row.
- 3 Death Sentences
- 2 Death Sentences
- 1 Death Sentence
Wrongful Convictions and Executions
Since 1973, 195 individuals who spent time on death row have been exonerated, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This includes 16 people convicted and sentenced to death in Texas.
There also is strong evidence that the State of Texas has executed innocent people, including Carlos DeLuna, Ruben Cantu, Cameron Todd Willingham, Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa), and Larry Swearingen, who was put to death in August 2019.
Cost of the Death Penalty
See TCADP’s fact sheet on the cost of the death penalty for details. For additional information, read “Experts discuss cost of the death penalty amid era of growing decline,” Community Impact Newspaper (Richardson edition), March 18, 2020.
National and International Abolition
Eleven states – Colorado, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington, Maryland, New Hampshire, and, most recently, Virginia – have abandoned the death penalty in recent years through legislative or judicial action. A total of 23 states and the District of Columbia do not allow the death penalty.
Governors in three other states (Oregon, Pennsylvania, and California) have imposed a moratorium on executions, bringing the total number of states that have either ended the death penalty or have a moratorium to 26.
112 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. According to Amnesty International, China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United States accounted for the most known executions in 2022; it remains difficult to obtain exact numbers in many countries.