Jeanette Popp spoke on the plaza of the Blackwell/Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin on Saturday, January 12. Popp urged the candidates for Travis County District Attorney to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in Travis County by not seeking the death penalty in any capital trials and instead using life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty.

Jeanette Popp’s daughter Nancy DePriest was murdered in Austin in 1988.

March 4, 2008, the day of the primary in Travis County, would have been Nancy’s 40th birthday, if she had not been murdered.

Jeanette became intimately familiar with the many flaws of the Texas criminal justice system after two innocent men, Chris Ochoa and Richard Danziger, were wrongfully convicted of her daughter’s murder and spent 12 years in prison. They were exonerated and released in 2001. The City of Austin settled separate lawsuits with Danziger and Ochoa for $9 million and $5.3 million respectively in 2003. Danziger also settled with Travis County for $950,000. The actual killer, Achim Marino, was convicted in October 2002.

“The death penalty system in Texas is broken. The next DA in Travis County should reflect how the Travis County community’s views on the death penalty have evolved in recent years and pledge that for now the death penalty is off the table within Travis County”, said Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network. “If we want to slow down the number of executions in Texas and reduce the risk of executing an innocent person, we need to elect a district attorney who will pledge to impose a moratorium on seeking new death sentences and a moratorium on setting execution dates for cases with existing death sentences. Certainly a DA candidate in Travis County who makes such a pledge will find a rich reward of votes in the Democratic primary”, said Cobb.

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