Posts by: "Texas Moratorium Network"

11-Eddie-Lucio-MUG_1176019a (1)

Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr has again filed a bill (SB 597) to abolish the death penalty in Texas. This is the second session he has filed his abolition bill. When Senator Lucio filed similar legislation in 2015, it was the first time a state senator had ever filed legislation to completely abolish the death penalty in Texas.

Senator Lucio fill his abolition bill in 2015 because organizations in Texas held the Statewide Texas Lobby Day to Abolish the Death Penalty on March 3, 2015 and death row survivors Ron Keine and Sabrina Butler from Witness to Innocence and Scott Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network met with Senator Lucio’s general counsel and requested that Senator Lucio file abolition legislation.

(There was an abolition bill filed in the Texas Senate in 1969, but it would not have completely abolished the death penalty.)

In 2014, Senator Lucio attended the Democrats Against the Death Penalty caucus at the Texas Democratic Party state convention. He spoke to the DADP caucus meeting at the 2016 state convention. The caucus has been held every year since 2004 and has proven to be an effective method for persuading Texas Democrats to make abolishing the death penalty a higher priority among both elected officials and ordinary people in the Texas Democratic Party.

Here is the link to the abolition bill filed by Senator Lucio: (SB 597).

Thank you also to State Rep. Harold Dutton, who has filed an abolition bill in the Texas House of Representatives every session since 2003, including the current session. Rep. Dutton’s 2017 abolition bill in the House is HB 64.

If anyone would like to thank Senator Lucio for filing his abolition proposals, you can contact him through this form on his website.

You can also contact Rep Dutton and thank him by emailing him on the form on his legislative page.

Prosecutor, Expert, and the entire District Attorney’s Office Exhibited Same Pattern in Other Wrongful Convictions

Terry-Edwards (Dallas, TX) Attorneys for Terry Edwards, who is scheduled to be executed by Texas on January 26, 2017, filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas seeking to stay the execution, based on gross prosecutorial misconduct — part of a pattern for the Dallas County DA’s Office and the individual prosecutor assigned to Mr. Edwards’s case — as well as substantial, and concealed, evidence that Terry Edwards never committed the killings for which he was convicted. Mr. Edwards was charged with and convicted of the murder of two of his ex-colleagues at a Balch Springs, Texas Subway sandwich franchise on July 8, 2002. His cousin and co-defendant, to whom the evidence points as the shooter, could be released any day now. Mr. Edwards’s Motion for a Stay of Execution can be accessed here: http://www.phillipsblack.org/terry-edwards

“The man responsible for the murders was sentenced to a term of years and is eligible for parole. This is not justice. Texas must reopen Terry Edwards’s case before executing him for a shooting that the State’s own evidence shows he did not commit,” said Jennifer Merrigan, Mr. Edwards’s attorney and a principal at the Phillips Black Project.

Astonishingly, Mr. Edwards’s new lawyers — appointed only months ago — are the first people in the fifteen-plus years since his trial who have investigated his case, requested independent forensic testing, or talked to crucial witnesses, including Mr. Edwards’s family members, in order to prove that he was not the triggerman.

Terry Edwards had no history of violence and had never been accused of a violent crime before the tragic events of July 8, 2002. His co-defendant and older cousin, Kirk Edwards, on the other hand, had a long criminal history, including violence and a pattern of assaultive and manipulative behavior. Kirk’s own family has placed the blame squarely on his shoulders.

Scrambling against a deadline, and the interests of justice, Mr. Edwards’s new attorneys have unearthed repeated instances of misconduct by the lead prosecutor in Mr. Edwards’s 2003 trial. That prosecutor, Thomas D’Amore, is directly responsible for at least three wrongful prosecutions that were later overturned, in a District Attorney’s Office where a staggering 54 exonerations have emerged in recent years.

On January 10, 2017, attorneys for Mr. Edwards filed to reopen his case based on this extraordinary prosecutorial misconduct and the gross incompetence and abandonment of his appointed trial and appellate attorneys. Mr. Edwards’s Motion to Reopen Judgement can be access here: http://www.phillipsblack.org/terry-edwards

The prosecutor tried Mr. Edwards as the shooter of two former co-workers during the 2002 robbery of the Subway shop in Balch Springs despite the State’s evidence indicating Mr. Edwards did not use the murder weapon. The State conducted gunshot residue (GSR) testing of Mr. Edwards within minutes of the shootings and the results were negative.

At Mr. Edwards’s trial, his defense called only one witness, a trace evidence examiner at the Dallas County crime lab. On cross-examination, the prosecutor elicited false and misleading testimony that he then used against Mr. Edwards. Mr. Edwards’s current lawyers have filed a statement from a GSR expert with over 20 years of FBI experience that contradicts the trial expert, finding that her testimony on cross was “scientifically unsupportable.” Also, the DA suppressed evidence of additional testing by this witness that further supports the conclusion that Mr. Edwards did not fire the weapon. Finally, in a 1995 wrongful conviction, the prosecutor in Mr. Edwards’s case examined this very same forensics analyst at trial and elicited strikingly similar untruthful testimony that the analyst later admitted was not supported by science.

After trial, Mr. Edwards’s appellate attorneys continued to fail him. His state court lawyer in 2009 submitted a cut-and-pasted brief lifted from other cases, with a mere 10 original sentences in the entire 60-page document. Mr. Edwards’s initial federal attorney took a new job in the middle of his representation and disengaged from the case without notifying the court, leaving Mr. Edwards without an attorney to represent him.

Mr. Edwards’s petition raises additional claims for reopening his case. Among them, Mr. Edwards’s current attorneys have discovered that the prosecutors, enabled by the capitulation of Mr. Edwards’s trial attorneys, removed all eligible African Americans from the jury pool of 3,000 citizens and seated an all-white jury to decide the fate of an African American man charged with murdering two white people. The DA’s Office recently turned over the prosecutor’s jury list, which shows the letter “B” handwritten and circled next to the names of certain prospective jurors. In light of the troubled history of this DA’s Office, there is concern that these markings suggest racial indications. Mr. Edwards’s jury was empaneled months after the first of two U.S. Supreme Court cases (Miller-El) addressing the entrenched practice in the Dallas County DA’s Office of removing African American jurors.

After Mr. Edwards was convicted and sentenced to death, his older cousin, Kirk Edwards, pled guilty to robbing the Subway shop. He is currently eligible for parole and scheduled to be released, at the latest, in 2027.

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The Phillips Black Project is a nonprofit, public interest law practice dedicated to providing the highest quality of legal representation to prisoners in the United States sentenced to the severest penalties under law. Phillips Black further contributes to the rule of law by consulting with capital counsel, conducting death penalty clinical training, and developing research on the administration of criminal justice. For more information, please visit http://www.phillipsblack.org/.

Executions

December 7, 1982 through October 5, 2016

Race White Black Hispanic Other TOTAL
2016 5 71% 0 0% 2 33% 0 0% 7 100%
2015 3 23% 4 31% 6 46% 0 0% 13 100%
2014 2 20% 4 40% 4 40% 0 0% 10 100%
2013 5 31% 8 50% 3 19% 0 0% 16 100%
2012 4 27% 7 47% 4 27% 0 0% 15 100%
2011 6 46.00% 3 23.00% 4 31.00% 0 0% 13 100%
2010 7 41.20% 5 29.40% 5 29.40% 0 0.00% 17 100%
2009 4 16.70% 13 54.20% 7 29.20% 0 0% 24 100%
2008 6 33.30% 9 50.00% 3 16.70% 0 0% 18 100%
2007 12 46.20% 8 30.80% 6 23.10% 0 0% 26 100%
2006 5 20.80% 14 58.30% 5 20.80% 0 0% 24 100%
2005 11 57.90% 5 26.30% 3 15.80% 0 0% 19 100%
2004 8 34.80% 12 52.20% 3 13.00% 0 0% 23 100%
2003 14 58.30% 7 29.20% 3 12.50% 0 0% 24 100%
2002 17 51.50% 11 33.30% 5 15.20% 0 0% 33 100%
2001 10 58.80% 6 35.30% 1 5.90% 0 0% 17 100%
2000 19 47.50% 16 40.00% 5 12.50% 0 0% 40 100%
1999 17 48.60% 11 31.40% 7 20.00% 0 0% 35 100%
1998 13 65.00% 2 10.00% 5 25.00% 0 0% 20 100%
1997 21 56.80% 13 35.10% 2 5.40% 1 2.70% 37 100%
1996 1 33.30% 1 33.30% 1 33.30% 0 0% 3 100%
1995 8 42.10% 8 42.10% 2 10.50% 1 5.30% 19 100%
1994 9 64.30% 4 28.60% 1 7.10% 0 0% 14 100%
1993 6 35.30% 7 41.20% 4 23.50% 0 0% 17 100%
1992 5 41.70% 5 41.70% 2 16.70% 0 0% 12 100%
1991 2 40% 2 40% 1 20% 0 0% 5 100%
1990 2 50% 2 50% 0 0% 0 0% 4 100%
1989 2 50% 1 25% 1 25% 0 0% 4 100%
1988 1 33.30% 2 66.70% 0 0% 0 0% 3 100%
1987 2 33.30% 2 33.30% 2 33.30% 0 0% 6 100%
1986 6 60% 2 20% 2 20% 0 0% 10 100%
1985 3 50% 1 17% 2 33% 0 0% 6 100%
1984 3 100% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 3 100%
1982 0 0% 1 100% 0 0% 0 0% 1 100%
Total 239 44% 196 36% 101 19% 2 0% 538 100%

Last Execution October 5, 2016

2ab2e395e49a92feb1912fbe8c590c9eState Rep. Terry Canales has filed HB 316, a bill to prohibit death sentences in cases in which the defendant is convicted under the law of parties.  Last August 19, Rep. Canales sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott supporting clemency for Jeff Wood, who was sentenced to death under the law of parties. Before Gov. Abbott could act on the clemency request, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Wood a stay of execution. Wood remains under a death sentence pending further judicial action.

Website for Terry Canales.

Terry Canales on Twitter.

Terry Canales on Facebook.

85R2323 KJE-D
By: Canales H.B. No. 316
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to the extent of a defendant’s criminal responsibility for
the conduct of another in capital felony cases.
       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
       SECTION 1.  Section 1, Article 37.071, Code of Criminal
Procedure, is amended to read as follows:
       Sec. 1.  (a)  If a defendant is found guilty in a capital
felony case in which the state does not seek the death penalty, the
judge shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment or to life
imprisonment without parole as required by Section 12.31, Penal
Code.
       (b)  A defendant who is found guilty in a capital felony case
only as a party under Section 7.02, Penal Code, may not be sentenced
to death, and the state may not seek the death penalty in any case in
which the defendant’s liability is based solely on that section.
       SECTION 2.  Sections 2(b), (c), (d), and (g), Article
37.071, Code of Criminal Procedure, are amended to read as follows:
       (b)  On conclusion of the presentation of the evidence, the
court shall instruct [submit the following issues to] the jury to
determine [:
             [(1)]  whether there is a probability that the
defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would
constitute a continuing threat to society[; and
             [(2)     in cases in which the jury charge at the guilt or
innocence stage permitted the jury to find the defendant guilty as a
party under Sections 7.01 and 7.02, Penal Code, whether the
defendant actually caused the death of the deceased or did not
actually cause the death of the deceased but intended to kill the
deceased or another or anticipated that a human life would be
taken].
       (c)  The state must prove the [each] issue submitted under
Subsection (b) [of this article] beyond a reasonable doubt, and the
jury shall return a special verdict of “yes” or “no” on that [each]
issue [submitted under Subsection (b) of this Article].
       (d)  The court shall charge the jury that:
             (1)  in deliberating on the issue [issues] submitted
under Subsection (b) [of this article], it shall consider all
evidence admitted at the guilt or innocence stage and the
punishment stage, including evidence of the defendant’s background
or character or the circumstances of the offense that militates for
or mitigates against the imposition of the death penalty;
             (2)  it may not answer the [any] issue submitted under
Subsection (b) [of this article] “yes” unless it agrees unanimously
and it may not answer the [any] issue “no” unless 10 or more jurors
agree; and
             (3)  members of the jury need not agree on what
particular evidence supports a negative answer to the [any] issue
submitted under Subsection (b) [of this article].
       (g)  If the jury returns an affirmative finding on the [each]
issue submitted under Subsection (b) and a negative finding on the
[an] issue submitted under Subsection (e)(1), the court shall
sentence the defendant to death.  If the jury returns a negative
finding on the [any] issue submitted under Subsection (b) or an
affirmative finding on the [an] issue submitted under Subsection
(e)(1) or is unable to answer an [any] issue submitted under
Subsection (b) or (e), the court shall sentence the defendant to
confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life
imprisonment without parole.
       SECTION 3.  Section 2(e)(1), Article 37.071, Code of
Criminal Procedure, is amended to read as follows:
       (e)(1)  The court shall instruct the jury that if the jury
returns an affirmative finding to the [each] issue submitted under
Subsection (b), it shall determine whether [answer the following
issue:
       [Whether], taking into consideration all of the evidence,
including the circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s
character and background, and the personal moral culpability of the
defendant, there is a sufficient mitigating circumstance or
circumstances to warrant that a sentence of life imprisonment
without parole rather than a death sentence be imposed.
       SECTION 4.  Section 2, Article 37.0711, Code of Criminal
Procedure, is amended to read as follows:
       Sec. 2.  (a)  If a defendant is found guilty in a case in
which the state does not seek the death penalty, the judge shall
sentence the defendant to life imprisonment.
       (b)  A defendant who is found guilty in a capital felony case
only as a party under Section 7.02, Penal Code, may not be sentenced
to death, and the state may not seek the death penalty in any case in
which the defendant’s liability is based solely on that section.
       SECTION 5.  The change in law made by this Act applies to a
criminal proceeding that commences on or after the effective date
of this Act. A criminal proceeding that commences before the
effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect when the
proceeding commenced, and the former law is continued in effect for
that purpose.
       SECTION 6.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

 

 

State Rep Terry Canales Clemency Letter for Jeff Wood by Scott Cobb on Scribd

lobby1Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston today filed HB 64, a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas.

Rep. Dutton also filed HB 147, a bill to prohibit the death penalty for people convicted under the law of parties. Jeff Wood received a stay of execution in August 2016 after many legislators expressed support by writing clemency letters to Gov. Greg Abbott. Wood received a stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals pending further review.

Rep Dutton first filed a bill to abolish the death penalty in 2003, which was the first abolition bill filed in the Texas Legislature in a long time up to that year. Everyone opposed to the death penalty should thank Rep Dutton for his leading role in the effort in the Texas Legislature to end the death penalty.

It was an exciting day back in 2003 when Dutton’s abolition bill was heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. That was the first time an abolition bill was heard in a Texas legislative committee in the modern era, and maybe ever.

Rep Harold Dutton is pictured speaking at one of our Day of Innocence Lobby Days to Abolish the Death Penalty.

In 2017, we will hold another lobby day to abolish the death penalty. In 2015, during the Texas Lobby Day to Abolish the Death Penalty, we went with two death row exonerees, Ron Keine and Sabrina Butler of Witness to Innocence, and met with State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr to ask him to file a bill in the senate to abolish the death penalty, which he filed two weeks later. It was the first-time ever a bill to completely abolish the death penalty had been filed in the Texas Senate.

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