Urge Texas Governor Rick Perry to Stop the Execution of Cathy Henderson
scheduled for June 13, 2007

Cathy Henderson (pictured with Sr. Helen Prejean) is scheduled to be executed in Texas on June 13 for the 1994 murder of Brandon Baugh, an infant she was babysitting. Henderson would be the 12th woman put to death in the U.S. since capital punishment was reinstated. Since her arrest, Henderson has maintained that the child’s death was accidental. She said that she dropped the baby, fracturing his skull, and then panicked after realizing she could not revive him. She then buried the boy’s body and fled to Missouri, where authorities captured her nearly two weeks later. Henderson said that she is sorry for Brandon’s death and that she feels regret every day for the pain she caused his family. She notes, “I wish there was something I could do to comfort them, and if it’s going to comfort them to end my life for an accident, I hope this gives them comfort.”

Henderson’s spiritual advisor is Sister Helen Prejean
, well-known author of “Dead Man Walking.” Sister Helen believes Brandon’s death was an accident. She said that the public needs to understand that Henderson is not a monster. “It’s easy to kill a monster. It’s hard to kill a real human being,” she noted.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Henderson’s final appeal. She is seeking clemency from Texas Governor Rick Perry. View a video interview of Henderson by the Kansas City Star (Windows Media Player.

From the webpage Save Cathy Henderson


March 2007

In February, the United States Supreme Court denied Cathy’s petition for certiorari. This was a huge blow. Her lawyers are pursuing some other “longer shot” options, but if those fail it means her execution, scheduled for April 18, will proceed unless she is granted clemency.

Please help save Cathy’s life by writing letters to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Texas Governor, Rick Perry. The Clemency Letters link provides pointers for writing such letters.

In the meantime, Cathy’s lawyers and a dedicated team are working hard to find some legal means of stopping her execution.

Also from Save Cathy Henderson

Clemency letters

Governors are given a very special power over life and death. They are given the power to grant clemency to someone condemned to die. Clemency is an exercise in mercy, a power that is rarely – very rarely – exercised.

It seems mercy is out of fashion.

We need to change that, for Cathy’s sake, for the sake of her daughters.

Please write a letter asking for clemency for Cathy Henderson. Write to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and to the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry.

Note that we have an updated address for letters to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The envelope should be addressed to:

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78757

The enclosed letter should be addressed to:

Rissie Owen
Presiding Officer
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & other Board Members

If addressed this way, the letter should find its way to Ms Ramirez, who handles the clemency packages. She will fax a copy to each board member.
Points for your clemency letters

Before you write, read the points below. We are very fortunate to have had advice from a former member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on exactly what constitutes an effective clemency letter. The same points apply when writing to the Governor.

The key thing to remember is that the goal of your letter is to save Cathy’s life. This letter is not a good time to rail against the inequalities and injustices of the system – doing so will render your letter less effective.

We also recommend you read Tony Rizzo’s article in the Kansas City Star, Uncommon Path to Death Row. It shows how Cathy’s punishment appears out of kilter with others sentenced to death (a punishment usually reserved for the “worst of the worst”). Not to minimize Brandon’s death and his parents suffering, but put in this context, the Board may find there is room for mercy.

(If you do wish to write a letter about the injustices in Cathy’s case and in the Texas system, consider addressing it to the editor of one of the local papers, such as the Austin-American Statesman.)

How to write an effective clemency letter

Things to remember

* All of the members of the Parole Board will almost invariably believe that the judicial system is essentially fair and just. Therefore, they believe that Cathy has received a fair trial, has received adequate appeals, and is guilty.

When writing your letter, it does not matter whether you agree with this or not: this is what the Parole Board members believe and it is the context in which they will make their decision.

* The members of the Parole Board are appointed by the Office of the Governor. They will almost invariably reflect the views of the governor, Rick Perry.

* Most members of the Parole Board are not attorneys (currently, four of the seven members are not attorneys), so they generally are not going to consider the legal problems in a case. The members of the Parole Board do not think of their role as being a court of appeals. They view clemency letters essentially as pleas for mercy, and they will need overwhelmingly good reasons to grant that mercy.

Things to do

The bulk of your letter should focus on these points:

* Emphasize Cathy’s humanity. If the Parole Board members are going to consider clemency, they need to be able to see Cathy as a human being and not as a murderer. One thing you can do is stress that Cathy is a parent with children.

* The Parole Board members want evidence that the person for whom you’re requesting clemency has changed for the better. In Cathy’s case, it would be good to note that she has taken advantage of having spiritual advisors, culminating in Sister Prejean serving as her spiritual advisor.

* The Parole Board members will take into account a person’s criminal history. People with extensive criminal histories have no chance at clemency. In Cathy’s case, she had no felonies and no violent offenses in her background, so highlight this in your letter.

Things to avoid

Your letter might briefly mention the following things, but you should generally avoid them, and the focus of your letter should not be on these issues:

* Philosophical discussions about the shortcomings or the immorality of the death penalty. As far as the members of the Parole Board are concerned, the death penalty is a fact of law, and it’s not their role to change it. They have probably heard all the arguments before.

* The facts of the case. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the members of the Parole Board are not going to be weighing the merits of the case or Cathy’s guilt or innocence. It would not be out of line, however, to discuss the perceptions of the facts. In Cathy’s case, there is no disputing that Brandon Baugh died. It can be argued, however, that it was an accident. Realize, however, that they will be inclined to believe the forensic report on the injury to Brandon’s head.

* Avoid personal attacks on the people who have been involved in the case. Again, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the members of the Parole Board are going to be inclined to believe in the integrity of the process and the people who are a part of the process.

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11 Responses to Clemency for Cathy Henderson (Execution Date: June 13, 2007 in Texas)

  1. S Busani says:

    Does the family of Brandon Baugh wish the execution to proceed?

  2. S Busani says:

    Does the family of Brandon Baugh wish the execution to proceed as scheduled? They are the real victims here, not Ms. Henderson.

  3. S Busani says:

    I would like to know what the parents (or extended family) of Brandon Baugh wish. Do they want the execution to go forward? Do they think it will give them some sense of peace, or of closure? They are, after all, the truly victimized persons in this whole sordid matter. Their wishes need be taken into account; irrespective of what an individual may think of the death penalty as a solution to anything, Cathy Henderson is an adjudged murderess. Let us hear what her living victims — Brandon Baugh’s family — have to say. That is what the Texas Board of Pardons should take into account. Not what you or I or anyone else opposed to the death penalty may think.

    S. Busani

  4. S Busani says:

    What does the Baugh family think about clemency for Cathy Henderson? Do they think the execution should proceed? Or will they find some closure if Ms. Henderson, the murderess of their son, is executed.

    Irrespective of one’s own personal views concerning the death penalty, I think it is important that the Board of Pardons of the State of Texas take into account the views of the Baugh family. After all, they lost Brandon. Because of Ms. Henderson.

  5. Steven Jacobs says:

    Cathy Henderson violently murdered a 3-month old baby and forever changed the lives of many good people. She deserves to die for her crime and when she does; justice will have been served.

  6. Texas Moratorium Network says:

    The new statement by the former medical examiner shows that it is not as certain as you would want it to be that she intentionally murdered Brandon Baugh. If the medical examiner who did the autopsy is no longer sure if the killing was intentional, then a stay of execution is in order.

  7. Texas Moratorium Network says:

    Ms Brusani says “Irrespective of one’s own personal views concerning the death penalty, I think it is important that the Board of Pardons of the State of Texas take into account the views of the Baugh family. After all, they lost Brandon. Because of Ms. Henderson.”

    The Board of Pardons and Paroles should also take into account the views of the doctor who performed the autopsy on Brandon Baugh. He has said, “Had the new scientific information been available to me in 1995, I would not have been able to testify the way I did.”

  8. Rural Writer says:

    Cathy Henderson is innocent. Put yourself in her place. What happened to her could happen to anyone.

  9. kat_the_rat says:

    I know Brandon Baugh’s grandmother and father from a website called Pro Death Penalty and they are waiting for the day that Cathy Henderson is put the death and so is everyone else on that site including myself, if she was so innocent then why did she do what she did and not call an ambulance or police when this happened, she had something to hide and thats why she did what she did, she knows she is a baby killer and she is going to pay the price for taking Brandon’s life, and it can’t happen soon enough for his family and friends of his family which includes myself…

  10. JulieJS33 says:

    Cathy is a monster. I am sick and tired of seeing all the B.S. about how wonderful and loving she is!!! She is a horrible woman who has victimized our family by her actions. She is a liar and very narcissistic!! All she cares about is herself. She says how much she loves her daughters.?.?.? So… I ask… Does a loving mother murder a 3-month old infant (who is crying because he is hungry) by slamming his head into a hard object? AND… if that isn’t bad enough, she did it in the same room that her 4-year old daughter and Brandon’s 2-year old sister was in. She lost rights to 2 out of 3 of her daughters – the 3rd one being the one in the room as the murder occurred.

    Other mothers removed their children from her daycare because of the abuse their children received in her care – due to her violent actions against their little ones. One child got a sunburn so bad he had blisters because she locked him outside. The next day, the mother said he was NOT to be outside due to this. She again locked him outside as the sun burned his skin and he was screaming to come inside because it hurt so bad. Since he was crying, she slammed him to the floor and shoved a bottle in his mouth screaming that if he was going to act like a baby – she was going to treat him like one. Another child was drug up the stairs and kicked and abused and then locked in a room until right before the mother arrived to pick him up. The stories go ON and ON!!!

    Is this the wonderful woman you blind people speak of? Is this a person you want YOUR children to be in the care of?

    If this sounds OK, then how about the fact that DHS was called by a judge and told not to give her a license? DHS went to the door and she decided to withdraw her application… and the DHS worker saw that she had my niece and nephew in her care and did not contact their parents to inform them that this woman was dangerous…
    Please, before you post about how wonderful of a person this murdering monster is… please know the facts. There are far too many for me to list here!

  11. kat_the_rat says:

    I agree with Julie and she is one of the people who know what Cathy henderson is like, she is nothing but a monster whom has to be exterminated as soon as possible, what she did to little Brandon was unhuman and I pray for her execution in early 2009, Brandons family have suffered enough and its time for this monster to be exterminated so then Brandons family can try and move on with there lives, while she is still alive, justice isn’t done, so hurry up Texas and let Justice be finally done for Brandon and his family…

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