Stephen Barbee, who was scheduled to be executed on October 12, 2021, was granted a stay by a federal judge on October 7. Barbee was convicted and sentenced to death in Tarrant County for killing Lisa and Jayden Underwood in 2005. He faced execution two years ago but was granted a stay by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCoy v. Louisiana (2018). In that opinion, the Justices ruled that “a defendant has the right to insist that counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experience-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty.” During his trial, Barbee’s lawyers unexpectedly and impermissibly conceded his guilt to the jury despite Barbee’s insistence on his innocence.
On October 7, a federal judge granted a stay to Barbee after considering his complaint that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was planning to carry out his execution in a way that would violate his right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs. His attorney had asked for a stay of execution based on an identical claim raised by John Ramirez, for whom the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted a stay. The Justices will hear oral argument in the Ramirez case on November 1, 2021.
Thanks to everyone who contacted the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott in support of Barbee’s application for clemency or at least a reprieve so the Board could fully investigate and consider the facts of his case, including the questions surrounding the reliability of his conviction and fairness of his trial.
The State of Texas executed Rick Rhoades on September 28, 2021 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a stay. Rhoades’ attorneys had sought juror information that might have called into question the fairness of his 1992 trial. They argued that his constitutional rights were being violated and had sought the stay so that they could continue to litigate the question of whether he should be granted access to the materials necessary to conduct a thorough comparison between individuals who were allowed to serve on the jury and those who were struck by the State. Rhoades is the third person put to death in Texas this year. We are grateful to everyone who contacted the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott in support of his application for clemency or a reprieve.
On September 8, 2021 around 9:00 PM Central Time – three hours after he was scheduled to be put to death – the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to John Ramirez. The Justices also granted his petition for certiorari and will consider the issues raised in Ramirez’s appeal relating to whether his spiritual advisor can pray aloud and lay hands on him in the execution chamber. It was the third execution date Ramirez has faced since 2017. Learn more.
We are grateful to everyone who contacted the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott in support of John Ramirez’s clemency application, shared his story on social media, or otherwise took action on his behalf.
Quintin Phillipe Jones
On May 19, 2021, the State of Texas executed Quintin (“Quin”) Jones despite the pleas for mercy from his great-aunt Mattie Long, who is the sister of the victim, Berthena Bryant, as well as an outpouring of support from people worldwide touched by Quin’s heart-wrenching appeal for his own life. As the first execution in Texas in more than 10 months, it took place without any media witnesses present, a disturbing departure from the standard practice.
Counsel for Quin Jones had filed a complaint in federal court in response to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ unanimous vote to reject Quin’s clemency application. The complaint argued that race appears to have played an impermissible role in the Board’s decision to deny Quin, a Black man, a commutation of this sentence. It drew parallels to the case of Thomas Whitaker, a white man who received an unanimous recommendation for clemency from this same Board in 2018.
To learn more about Quin and read excerpts from his letters to his friend and New York Times-bestselling author, Suleika Jaouad, visit https://www.clemencyforquin.com.