Late Tuesday afternoon, Simpson’s attorneys David R. Dow and Katherine C. Black filed a postconviction writ of habeas corpus; a motion for a stay of execution; and a motion asking Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller be recused from any participation in the case.
Dow and Black are attorneys for the Texas Defender Service and their motion on Simpson’s behalf alleges the judge “has made disparaging statements about TDS” in the past, which they say compromises “her ability to rule impartially in a case involving a party represented by the TDS.”
A condemned prisoner who volunteered for execution but in recent weeks changed his mind hoped a court would spare him from a trip to the Texas death chamber Wednesday evening.
Danielle Simpson, 30, was set to die for the abduction-slaying of an 84-year-old east Texas woman who was weighted down with a cinder block and thrown into a river.
Simpson this year won approval from a federal court that he was competent to decide to drop his appeals. Then he reversed himself and allowed lawyers to try to save him from lethal injection.
He’d be the 22nd Texas prisoner to die this year.
Simpson told The Associated Press earlier this month from death row he was innocent, it wasn’t his choice to volunteer for execution and Texas prisons were “pitiful.”
He was condemned for the murder of Geraldine Davidson, a former school teacher and church organist abducted nearly 10 years ago during a burglary of her home in Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.
Attorneys representing him argued to the federal courts Simpson is mentally impaired, incapable of deciding whether to drop his appeals and offered his repeated reversals as proof.
They also wanted permission to appeal a lower court’s determination that Simpson is not mentally impaired and challenged the elimination of two black people from consideration to serve on Simpson’s trial jury. Simpson is black. There were no blacks on the jury that convicted him and decided he should be put to death.
Simpson earlier sent a federal court a handwritten motion in which he said he was “tired of being in a institution that’s unjust, degrading, and corrupted” and was ready to die.
A federal judge found Simpson had “a mental disease, disorder or defect” but was able to understand his legal position and competent to choose to die.
Don’t let Texas execute someone without the Governor receiving phone calls or emails protesting the execution. In the past, we have done public information requests and discovered that for some executions, very few people call to protest, so it is important to call every time. They keep a tally. Call the Governor and leave a voice message at 512 463 1782 or email him through his website at http://governor.state.tx.us/contact.
Members of various groups, including Texas Moratorium Network, Students Against the Death Penalty, Campaign to the End the Death Penalty, Kids Against the Death Penalty and the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement participate in vigils and protests on the day of each execution in Texas. The protests are held in various cities, including Huntsville and Austin. The protest in Austin is at 5:30 pm on the sidewalk in front of the Texas Capitol facing Congress Avenue at 11th Street.