Friday, August 2, 2002 
The Dallas Morning News 
Execution For Youth Protested 

Lawmaker Asks Officials to Re-examine Death for Juvenile Offenders 

AUSTIN- A Fort Worth lawmaker said on Thursday that 
executing people for crimes they committed as minors 
is “barbaric” and that he will try again to get the 
Legislature to outlaw the practice. 

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was joined by Texas 
medical, legal and human rights experts in urging the 
governor, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and 
the judiciary to re-examine the state’s use of the 
death penalty in such cases. 

They timed their news conference at the state Capitol 
to focus on the scheduled execution later this month 
of two such offenders – Toronto Patterson of Dallas 
and T.J. Jones of Longview. 

Toronto Patterson, scheduled to die Aug. 28 for the 
1995 murder of his cousin Kimberly Brewer and her two 
young daughters, Jennifer Brewer and Ollie Jean Brown, 
in Dallas, was 17 at the time of the crime. He had no 
prison record. 

T.J. Jones also was 17 when he robbed and killed 
Willard Lewis Davis, 75, of Longview in 1994, 
according to court records. Mr. Jones is to die 

Texas has executed 11 of 19 juvenile offenders put to 
death in the United States since 1984 and accounts for 
nearly a third of the 81 juvenile offenders on death 
rows across the nation, Rep. Lon Burnam said. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and 
Pakistan are the only counties outside the United 
States known to have executed juvenile offenders in 
the last three years, he said. 

“Texas stands virtually alone in the world and the 
nation in its continued practice of executing people 
who committed their offenses before age 18,” Rep. Lon 
Burnam said. 

A bill he authored to ban such executions passed the 
House but died in the Senate in 2001. He blamed Gov. 
Rick Perry for killing it. 

Kathy Walt, spokeswoman for the governor, said she 
doesn’t recall whether the governor had opposed the 
measure. She said the governor supports the current 
law, but would give Rep. Lon Burnam’s proposal a 
“serious look” if it passes. 

Governor Perry’s Democratic challenger, Tony Sanchez, 
is opposed to changing the law, according to his 
spokesman, Mark Sanders. 

Rep. Lon Burnam said he and other supporters hope to 
“soften” the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and other 
opponents on the issue. 

University of Texas law professor Jordan Steiker, who 
joined Rep. Lon Burnam at the news conference, said 
the U.S. Supreme Court is moving in the direction of 
outlawing the execution of persons for crimes 
committed as minors. 

“The writing is plainly on the wall, and Texas should 
act now with leadership, rather than follow,” Jordan 
Steiker said. 

Dr. Mitch Young, president of The Texas Society of 
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said children are not 
as mature as adults and shouldn’t be treated the same 
by the legal system. 

“The majority of juvenile offenders do not go on to 
offend as adults,” Dr. Mitch Young said. 

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