Press Release

May 28, 2002

TMN Statement on decision by Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refusing to 
stop Napoleon Beazley’s execution

The relatively close 10-7 decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles 
not to recommend that Gov Perry commute Napoleon Beazley’s death sentence to 
life in prison reflects a growing unease in Texas with the administration of 
the death penalty. Napoleon Beazley will most likely die tonight, although 
Gov Perry could still issue a 30-day reprieve, but the problems in the Texas 
capital punishment system will not go away. The problems in Napoleon’s case 
that led seven members of the board to vote for commutation are among the 
same problems that make it necessary to halt all executions while Texas 
conducts a comprehensive study of the administration of the death penalty.

“The close vote apparently came down to three things – Napoleon’s status as 
a juvenile offender, the fact that many people on the board do not believe 
he had a fair trial during the sentencing phase and his obvious remorse for 
the murder of John Luttig. Here in Texas, people are belatedly coming to the 
conclusion that judicial decisions should be based on the relevant facts of 
a person’s case and not on the color of a person’s skin. Napoleon is an 
African-American who was sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Such a 
racist death sentence should not have been allowed to stand”, said Scott 
Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network.

“Napoleon’s life was almost saved because of the phenomenal efforts of his 
talented, hardworking appellate lawyers – Walter Long and David Botsford. 
Other people sit on death row in Texas not because they are the worst of the 
worst of all murderers, but because their lawyers were among the worst of 
the worst of all lawyers, especially at the trial level. Texas needs to 
enact a moratorium on executions in the next session of the Legislature so 
that reforms can be enacted to rid the system of incompetence once and for 
all. Let’s judge defendants by their own actions and not by the incompetent 
actions of their lawyers. Let’s make sure that people are not executed in 
Texas because of racism”, said Cobb.

A vigil for Napoleon will be held this afternoon, May 28, beginning at 5:30 
PM at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin (11th & Lavaca).

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