On this page, you will find information on active clemency campaigns, the locations of vigils across Texas on the days of executions, and contact information for the Governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Clemency campaign: Stop the execution of Patrick Murphy
On November 13, 2019, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Patrick Murphy for the death of Officer Aubrey Hawkins. Hawkins was killed during the robbery of an Oshman’s sporting goods store in Irving in 2000. Although Murphy was on the other side of the building acting as a lookout when the shooting occurred, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2003 under Texas’ law of parties, which holds a person criminally responsible for the actions of another if they are engaged in a conspiracy.
In December 2000, Murphy and six other inmates escaped from a maximum-security prison south of San Antonio, where he was serving a 50-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. George Rivas, the ringleader who plotted the escape of the “Texas 7”, admitted to shooting Officer Hawkins. Five guns played a role in the murder. According to his attorneys, Murphy did not want to take part in the robbery of Oshman’s and was waiting in front of the store in a parked vehicle. After informing the other members of the “Texas 7” that Office Hawkins had arrived on the scene, Murphy drove to a nearby apartment complex.
Rivas and three other men have been executed by the State of Texas; another member of the “Texas 7” took his own life to avoid capture. Murphy is the second to last person convicted of the murder of Officer Hawkins who remains on death row. The other living person convicted in this case, Randy Halprin, was scheduled to be executed on October 10, 2019 but received a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in light of new evidence that his 2003 trial was tainted by the anti-Semitic bias of Dallas Judge Vickers Cunningham. Judge Cunningham also presided over the trial of Patrick Murphy.
This is the second execution date Murphy has faced this year. At the eleventh hour, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed his March 28, 2019 execution based on his complaint of religious discrimination. Murphy’s request for a reasonable accommodation to have a Buddhist priest instead of a Christian chaplain in the execution chamber had been denied. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) noted that only its own staff, comprised of Christian and Muslim chaplains, were allowed to be present in the chamber.
Five days after the Court issued the stay, TDJC’s Correctional Institutions Division published a revised Execution Procedure in which it removed all chaplains from the execution chamber. TDCJ officials did not consult with the Governor, the Texas Legislature, or the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.
This summer, nearly 200 Texas faith leaders urged TDCJ to reconsider its policy. They observed that the right of condemned people to spiritual comfort at the moment of death is a longstanding and widely-recognized religious practice. Until April 2, 2019, the State of Texas had provided the right to comfort by a chaplain to 560 people in their last moments.
Patrick Murphy’s attorneys are asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence or, in the alternative, recommend the Governor issue a 90-day reprieve to give TDCJ an opportunity to amend its execution procedure to allow chaplains of all faiths in the execution chamber.
It is unconscionable that Patrick Murphy might be executed for a murder he did not commit, without the presence of a Buddhist monk to assist the free exercise of his religious practice.
Please take a moment today to write the Board and the Governor to urge clemency or at least a 90-day reprieve for Patrick Murphy (TDCJ #999461, DOB 10/03/1961). You’ll find contact information and talking points below. Please make your appeals by November 8.
– The murder of Officer Aubrey Hawkins was a terrible tragedy deserving of harsh punishment.
– Carrying out the execution of Patrick Murphy, who neither fired a shot at Office Hawkins nor had any reason to know others would do so, constitutes excessive – not proportionate – punishment.
– It is unconscionable that Patrick Murphy might be executed for a murder he did not commit, without the presence of a Buddhist monk to assist the free exercise of his religious practice. This same right was afforded to hundreds of Christian inmates from December 7, 1982 to April 2, 2019.
– TDCJ’s new execution procedure is hostile to religion and removes a small but vital form of human compassion in an otherwise dehumanizing process.
– Nearly 200 faith leaders across Texas have asked TDCJ to reconsider its decision to remove chaplains from the execution chamber. Religious liberty advocates nationwide have condemned the change in the execution procedure, as well.
– Patrick Murphy’s death sentence should be commuted to a lesser penalty. In the alternative, the Board should recommend the Governor issue a 90-day reprieve to give TDCJ officials an opportunity to amend the execution procedure so as to accommodate the rights of condemned prisoners and chaplains of all faith backgrounds.
Clemency campaign: Stop the execution of Rodney Reed
On October 21, 2019, attorneys with the Innocence Project asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day stay to Rodney Reed to give the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles time to decide if his death sentence should be commuted “in light of the grave doubt concerning his guilt.”
TCADP members throughout the state hold vigils on the days of executions in Texas. We encourage your participation in these local actions as a form of witness against state-sanctioned killing. Check the TCADP website for any last-minute developments regarding stays of execution.
Huntsville (Location of Executions) Corner of 12th and Ave. I (in front of Walls Unit) at 5:15 PM
Austin (Site 1) – On Congress in front of the State Capitol at 11th St., 5:30 – 6:30 PM
Austin (Site 2) – Prayer vigil at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church on Oltorf and S. Congress at 6:00 PM
Austin (Site 3) – A prayer vigil is held after the noon Mass in the chapel of St. Catherine of Sienna parish on each day there is an execution scheduled. The prayer service runs for about ten minutes. All are invited to attend.
Beaumont – Diocese of Beaumont, Diocesan Pastoral Office, 703 Archie St.@ 4:00 PM on the day of an execution.
Brownsville – 802 and Paredes Line from 5:00-6:00 PM.
Carrollton – Ecumenical Vigil hosted by Advocates for Justice and Peace located across from Holy Covenant UMC, Southeast Corner of Josey Lane and Peters Colony Road, 6:30 PM on the day of an execution.
College Station – 5:30 to 6 PM, east of Texas A&M campus at the corner of Walton and Texas Ave. across the street from the main entrance.
Copperas Cove – On days of execution, a prayer vigil will be held immediately following the 5:30 PM mass at Holy Family Catholic Church (1001 Georgetown Rd. ) to pray for those on death row awaiting execution, their families, the victims and their families, all involved in executions and for an end to the death penalty.
Corpus Christi – Sisters of Incarnate Word Convent, 2930 Alameda, 6:00 PM
Dallas – Execution day at 5:30 PM on the Mockingbird Bridge at Central Expressway. Sponsored by: Dallas Peace and Justice Center.
Denton – Execution day at at 6 PM at the corner of Oak and Elm on the square.
El Paso – 12:00 to 1:00 PM in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio (downtown, between Mesa and Campbell Streets)
Prayer vigils are held in several parishes to pray for those on death row awaiting execution, their families, the victims and their families, all involved in executions and for an end to the death penalty. The vigils are bilinguals and are held once a month when there are executions scheduled.
At this time, the following parishes have confirmed vigils. Please check parish bulletin, or contact the church directly for more information:
- St. Patrick Cathedral, Blessed Sacrament Chapel (1118 N. Mesa at Arizona)
- Christ the Savior Parish, Daily Mass Chapel (5301 Wadsworth Ave.)
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Ysleta Mission (Alameda at Zaragoza)
- St. Luke’s (930 E. Redd Rd.)
- St. Mark’s/San Juan Diego (11700 Pebbles Hills Blvd.)
- St. Pius X Church (1050 N. Clark) in the Prayer Garden
- Corpus Christi Church (9205 N. Loop Dr.)
- Blessed Sacrament Parish (9025 Diana Dr.)
- San Francisco de Asis (5750 Doniphan)
- All Saints (1415 Dakota St.)
- St. Luke’s (930 E. Redd Rd.)
- Our Lady of Guadalupe (2709 Alabama St.) – prayers during morning Mass
Fort Worth – Silent vigil on days of execution at 5:30 PM at First Congregational Church, 4201 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth, 76109, for those on death row awaiting execution, for the victim and for all families affected by the death penalty. Following the vigil participants sit silently after reading the First Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life.
Ganado – At Assumption Catholic Church Pro-Life Monument, 5:45 PM. Public invited. For information call 361-771-3325.
Lubbock – St. John’s United Methodist Church, 1501 University Ave., 5:45 to 6:15 PM on the day of execution.
McKinney – St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community, 110 St. Gabriel Way, on the last Sunday of the month, following the 11:00 mass to remember those scheduled for execution in the following month, as well as the victims of their crimes and family members on both sides.
Odessa – Public vigil takes place from 5:00 to 5:30 PM in front of St. Joseph Catholic Parish, 907 S. Dixie, Odessa 79761. Prayer takes place inside the church from 5:30 to 6:00 PM. All are welcome. The church phone number is 432-337-2213.
San Antonio (Site 1) – 12 PM to 1 PM across from the main entrance to the Bexar County Justice Center at 300 Dolorosa. There is parking at the Frost Bank Building, 60 N. Flores (1 block north of our vigil site) and at the South Flores Parking Garage, 211 South Flores (1 block south of the vigil site).
San Antonio (Site 2) – Archdiocese of San Antonio, in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Chancery, 2718 W. Woodlawn Ave. (1 mile east of Bandera Rd.) at 11:30 AM on the day of execution. Broadcast on Catholic Television of San Antonio (Time-Warner cable channel 15) at 12:30 PM and 6:30 PM on the day of execution.
San Antonio (Site 3) – Join the Sisters of Divine Providence and friends in vigil and prayer from 5:30 to 6:00 PM on Texas execution days in front of Our Lady of the Lake Convent by the large crucifix. 515 S.W. 24th Street.
Spring – Prayer Vigil at 6 PM on evenings of executions at St. Edward Catholic Community, 2601 Spring Stuebner Rd, Spring, TX 77389 for the murder victim, for family and friends of the murder victim, the prison guards and correctional officers, for the family of the condemned man/woman, for the man/woman to be executed and to an end to the death penalty.
Victoria – At Incarnate Word Convent, 5:45 PM. Public invited. For information call 361-575-7111.
Waco – Meditation/Prayer Vigil at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco (4209 North 27th Street) at 6:00 PM on days of execution. For more information, please contact Kris Cervantes at email@example.com.
“Execution Watch” can be heard on KPFT HD-2 and online at http://www.executionwatch.org/ from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT on any day an execution is scheduled in Texas.
Background on Clemency
In order for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider clemency for a person facing imminent execution, an application for clemency must be filed. The Governor of Texas has the authority to issue a one-time 30-day reprieve but can only grant clemency upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. A recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles is not binding, however.
Since 1976, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended clemency in only five cases where the inmate faced imminent execution. Then-Governor Rick Perry rejected two of those recommendations and allowed the executions to proceed.
Henry Lee Lucas – Governor George W. Bush commuted his sentence in 1998 due to lingering concerns about his guilt. Lucas died of natural causes in prison in 2001 while serving a life sentence.
Kelsey Patterson – The Board voted 5-1 for clemency but Governor Rick Perry rejected the recommendation. Patterson had a long-standing diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He was executed on May 18, 2004.
Kenneth Foster – Governor Perry commuted Foster’s sentence in 2007 due to concern about a Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously. Foster had been convicted under the law of parties for a 1996 murder, even though he was sitting in a car 80 feet away at the time of the crime. He is serving a life sentence.
Robert Lee Thompson – Governor Perry rejected the Board’s recommendation for clemency even though Thompson was not the triggerman in the murder of Mansoor Rahim. He had been convicted under the law of parties. His co-defendant, Sammy Butler, the actual killer of Mr. Rahim, was tried separately and convicted on a lesser charge. Butler is serving a life sentence and will be eligible for parole. Thompson was executed on November 19, 2009.
Thomas “Bart” Whitaker – On February 22, 2018, Governor Greg Abbott accepted the Board’s unanimous recommendation of clemency for Whitaker, who was scheduled to be executed that same day. It was the first such commutation in Texas since 2007. Whitaker is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Read the Governor’s statement here.
Please visit our Clemency Campaign Archive for more information about past cases.
Write the Governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
You are welcome to contact the Board and Governor even when there is no specific clemency campaign. Please note that clemency applications typically are filed 21 days before the execution date, so it is best to send a letter of support around that time. Be sure to include the TDCJ # of the person on whose behalf you are writing.
The Board usually informs attorneys of its decision two business days before the execution date.
Here are some general talking points for your letters:
- State your concern that executions are occurring despite increasing recognition of the inherent flaws and failures of the Texas death penalty system.
- Express outrage and alarm at the high number of executions that continue to take place in Texas, and note that our state has accounted for more than one-third of the executions nationwide to date in 2019.
- Urge the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend clemency.
Contact information for calls, letters, and emails*
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757
Phone (512) 406-5852
Fax (512) 467-0945
Online Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Letters and emails are preferred by the Board.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Information and Referral Hotline: (800) 843-5789 [for Texas callers]
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782 [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]
Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: 512-463-2000
Online Contact: https://gov.texas.gov/contact/
The governor has the authority to grant clemency only upon the written recommendation of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.