The execution of a Corpus Christi man set for next week for the beating death of his 4-year-old stepdaughter nearly 17 years ago has been rescheduled for April. Richard Vasquez, 35, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Jan. 15 for the March 1998 death of Miranda Nicole Lopez, but a state district judge in Nueces County reset the punishment for April 23 at the request of the Attorney General's Office because the governor would be out of the state that day, Vasquez's lawyer, Andrew Edison, said. Vasquez contended the child fell from a stool in a bathroom while brushing her teeth and injured her head, but evidence showed she had suffered far more serious injuries. Vasquez is among 13 Texas death row inmates set to die in the next several months, including three who are scheduled for execution later this month.
More from the Houston Chronicle: Last month, an appellate court threw out Alfred Dewayne Brown's conviction and death sentence because the DA's office withheld key evidence at trial that supports Brown's contention that he was home the morning of the robbery No physical evidence ever tied Brown to the crime. Nearly every witness who fingered him has recanted. But what if there were another suspect, a legitimate suspect that mounting evidence suggested could have committed the crime instead of Brown? Wouldn't we expect the district attorney to take a hard look before pursuing another weak case against Brown? Of course. And records show there is such a suspect. His name is Jero Dorty. And the district attorney's office has been aware of his potential role in Clark's death for at least seven years. In 2007, Brown's writ attorneys with the firm K&L Gates named Dorty as a "critical suspect" and spent nearly 10 pages of an appeal laying out the reasons why. In 2008, Brown's attorneys filed an emergency motion to test Dorty's DNA. But prosecutors dragged their feet. By late 2010, the law firm had amassed more evidence - phone records, witness statements and a sworn affidavit from one of the other men convicted in the 2003 crime - that led them to declare Dorty "the true perpetrator" in court papers. Attorneys sat down with Assistant District Attorney Inger Hampton to lay it all out in December 2010, according to recently obtained correspondence. By then, though, Dorty had already been charged in another homicide, apparently resulting from a drug deal gone bad. Brown's attorneys felt the new charge bolstered their case and urged prosecutors to take evidence linking Dorty to Clark's death seriously. "Mr. Dorty is a dangerous individual, with a record of using firearms to rob, harm and kill people," Brown's attorney wrote in a November 2010 letter to Hampton and other prosecutors. "Defense counsel has steadfastly asserted that Mr. Dorty, and not Mr. Brown, was responsible for the crimes committed on April 3, 2003." Dorty's trial for the March 2009 drug deal killing ended in a hung jury. He pleaded guilty last year to felony possession of a weapon. Now 33, he is serving a 10-year prison sentence. It's not clear how closely the DA's office investigated Dorty in the Clark case. Hampton and other prosecutors did not return messages. The DA's spokesman said the office wouldn't comment on a "pending" case. Tyrone Moncriffe, who defended Dorty in the drug-related homicide, said the DA's office contacted him at some point about the Clark case, but he didn't remember when, and he wouldn't provide details. "They did make an effort to look into it," Moncriffe said. Mother's love vs. evidence Dorty's mother strongly defended her son: "I can surely say that my son wasn't involved with that," Rita Dorty, said in a phone interview. "Whatever it takes for Mr. Brown to save his neck, that's his business," the Houston retiree said. "Mr. Brown could put my name in it, but that doesn't mean I'm in it." Dorty may have an air-tight alibi that I'm unaware of. But the evidence against him is certainly more powerful than anything the state has against Brown. Only one month before officer Clark was killed trying to stop an armed robbery, Dorty was involved in a separate armed robbery, a crime for which he would be sentenced to five years in prison. Brown had no record of robbery. The other two men convicted in the robbery that led to Clark's death are Elijah Joubert, on death row for killing ACE clerk Alfredia Jones, and Dashan Glaspie, who testified against Brown and pleaded to a lesser charge. Both were known associates of Dorty's, and according to jailhouse correspondence, Glaspie was a close friend. Phone records show the three talked several times throughout the day Clark was killed, before and after the robbery, but not during it, perhaps because they were together. Later that night, Dorty exchanged calls with a phone number in Galveston, where one witness said the perpetrators traveled to drop the weapon used in the robbery off a bridge. Brown's lawyers also obtained three sworn statements from witnesses, including two who said they had mistakenly identified Brown, rather than Dorty, in connection with the officer's death because the two looked alike. Joubert himself implicated Dorty as the third perpetrator, Brown's attorneys wrote. "Alfred Dewayne Brown was not involved in any way with the incident on April 3, 2003, nor present at the ACE check cashing store," Joubert wrote in an affidavit. Brown's lawyers said Joubert told them he and Glaspie had covered for Dorty because they had a strong friendship. Brown just knew them from an apartment complex where he hung out and once lived....
It seems that many people failed Brown in this case - from defense attorneys to prosecutors to savvy criminal acquaintances who sought to save their own skins. And many people failed Clark, whose friends and family believed the DA's office brought the right man to justice in 2005 for the veteran police officer's death. Prosecutors' old mistakes may have sent an innocent man to death row and left the real killer free to kill again. Anderson wasn't responsible for those mistakes. But as the current district attorney, she has a responsibility to correct rather than perpetuate them. Subjecting Brown to another trial would be a waste of time, precious time that could be spent pursuing the real killer and seeking overdue justice for a fallen hero that is long overdue.
Through the busy streets of downtown, families and friends of death row prisoners shouted and chanted in unison Saturday afternoon at an anti-death-penalty march. Participants held up signs and posters with faces of their loved ones, some of who they said had been wrongfully convicted. Others said their relatives never had a fighting chance because of their race or their income level. All agreed that Texas' death penalty system is broken. "We got a system that is used against the poor, the innocent as well as the guilty. It's used against people who are so mentally ill that they don't even know what's going on," said Gloria Rubac, a Houston activist and member of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. To date, Texas has executed 517 inmates, more than any other state in the U.S. since the re-establishment of the death penalty in 1976 after the Gregg v. Georgia case. The first man to be executed after that ruling was Charles Brooks Jr. in 1982. Flawed system Rubac led the March to Abolish the Death Penalty, which is in its 15th year, and encouraged participants to shout out against the "flawed Texas prison system." "Death row, hell no," she clamored into a megaphone to more than 100 protesters who had taken over several of the streets in Houston. Rubac said that the prison system is flawed because it disproportionately targets minorities and the poor. A total of 273 death row inmates are currently serving time in the Texas prison system, according the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Nearly 70 percent of the inmates on death row are black or Hispanic, with just 29 percent being white. Marilyn Grant, 54, and mother of Paul Storey, a felon who has been on death row for six years said the system is flawed for another reason. "If you sentence a person to death, there is no option to rehabilitate him," said Grant. Grant said she just wants her son back. She wishes she could tell him that everything is going to be OK. "It's a mother's job to protect her child, to console him," said Grant. "I haven't touched my son in years." Another voice heard at the rally was that of Rodrick Reed, 45, brother of death row prisoner Rodney Reed and member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. He said the conviction of his brother has affected his entire family. "If my brother is on death row, I'm on death row," he said. "I know in my heart of hearts that he is innocent." Shared punishment Supporters of Rodney Reed believe that sufficient evidence exists that could potentially lead to finding the actual murderer of the woman he is convicted of killing. Rodney Reed has been on death row since 1998 when he was convicted of murdering Bastrop woman Stacey Stites. In April 1996, Stites disappeared from her home in the early morning hours. Her body was later found in a wooded area seven miles outside of the city limits. According to the Travis County Medical Examiner, she was strangled to death. Only one bit of evidence connected Reed to Stites - semen found inside her body was a match to Reed. Police could not connect Reed to the vehicle Stites had used the morning of her disappearance, according to relatives. In July, Reed received a Jan. 14, 2015 date of execution. Defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed to allow additional DNA testing to be conducted. Now Rodrick Reed and his family are fighting to appeal the execution date. "I've been punished for the last 17 years for something that my brother didn't do," said Reed. "I have to live with that."The 15th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty was held Saturday October 25, 2014 in Houston, Texas. We gathered at 3:00 pm at Little Tranquility Park on Capitol and Bagby and at 4:00 we crossed Bagby and lined up at the Old Hanging Tree to march to M.E.C.A. at 1900 Kane Street. We will rallied on the basketball court at M.E.C.A. The Free Rads Second Line Band marched with us to abolish the death Penalty!
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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