One thing that jumps out at you if read through the information on the TDCJ website about people on death row, including both the still living and the already executed, is how many have a very low level of formal education. 8th grade seems to be a frequent educational end point for a lot of people who end up on death row.
Today, Texas is set to execute another 8th grade dropout, Jose Moreno.
Moreno, 39, would be the 14th Texas inmate executed this year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state. Another inmate is set to die next week.
The U.S. Supreme Court in January refused to review Moreno’s case.
His lawyers continued trying to block the execution, arguing in appeals that Moreno’s jury was unable to consider evidence of a troubled childhood and other mitigating issues that could have influenced them to give Moreno a life sentence instead of death. The appeal was based on a Supreme Court decision two weeks ago in three other Texas cases where justices ruled instructions to jurors were improper, attorney Scott Sullivan said.
In an unusual outcome, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voted 4-4 on the appeal, with one judge abstaining, meaning the request to stop the execution was “neither granted nor denied,” Sullivan said.
“All of our energies now are centered on the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said at midday Thursday. “We may have a decent chance.”
Moreno, who dropped out of school after the eighth grade and who had a history of drug and alcohol use, declined to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his scheduled punishment.
Moreno will be the 393rd person to be executed in Texas since 1982.