Gary Johnson, 59, is scheduled for lethal injection today, January 12, for the April 1986 slayings of James Hazelton, 28, and his brother-in-law, Peter Sparagana, 23.
TDCJ says Johnson is a former laborer with 8 years of formal education.
Johnson’s attorneys went to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to keep him from becoming the second prisoner executed this year in the nation’s most active capital punishment state. A clemency petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was turned down last week.
If the execution is not stopped, it will be the second Texas execution of 2010. Last year, Texas executed 24 people, by far more than any other U.S. state.
Call Texas Governor Rick Perry and let him know that you oppose the death penalty. 512-463-1782 or 512-463-2000. They keep a tally of callers for and against, so be part of the historical record against. If you are shy, you can just leave a voice mail at the 463-1782 number or write an email http://www.governor.state.tx.us/contact.
In their appeals to the Supreme Court and to the Texas parole board, Gary Johnson’s lawyers insisted the condemned prisoner was not violent, that he had lost one eye in a prison assault and was blind in another, that his health was poor and executing him would be unconstitutionally cruel.
“It would be an embarrassment to the state of Texas to execute …. Gary Johnson at this time,” David Schulman, one of his attorneys, said in a petition. “He is certainly no threat to anyone.”
State attorneys argued Johnson’s appeal sought new rules to reassess at the time of execution his threat of future violence, rather than accept the judgment of jurors at his trial. They also contended that federal appeals courts have ruled prisoners may be put to death as long as they understand the punishment and why they’re receiving it.
“Johnson’s allegedly deteriorating physical health does not concern his ability to comprehend his impending execution and the reason for it,” Stephen Hoffman, an assistant Texas attorney general, told the Supreme Court.