Upcoming Executions
Click for a list of upcoming scheduled executions in Texas.
The death penalty puts innocent people at risk of execution.
Todd Willingham
Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed under Governor Rick Perry on February 17, 2004.

Rick Perry plans to issue a posthumous pardon to Timothy Cole, who died in prison before he could prove his innocence. Now, that Perry has acknowledged and plans to use the power to grant posthumous pardons, the door is open for him or future governors to issue pardons to innocent people already executed, such as Todd Willingham, Carlos De Luna or others, if they are convinced of their innocence.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The announcement came hours after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott cleared the way with an opinion that the governor had the legal authority to grant a posthumous pardon.
“We’ve been seeking justice for Tim for almost 25 years,” said Cory Session, Cole’s brother. “Our whole deal was to do exactly what in many of Tim’s letters he wrote: ‘I want vindication, exoneration and a full pardon.’ This was the final act that he wanted.”
Cole, whose cause has been championed by state lawmakers and others, was found guilty in the 1985 rape of a Texas Tech student and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His conviction was based in part on the victim’s identification of him as her attacker and what a judge later called faulty police work and a questionable suspect lineup. The victim later fought to help clear Cole’s name.
Cole died in prison in 1999, at age 39, after an asthma attack caused him to go into cardiac arrest.
Following repeated confessions by another man, Cole was cleared by DNA evidence in 2008, and a state judge exonerated him in 2009. His family pursued a pardon, but Perry had said he did not have the authority to grant one posthumously.
That changed Thursday, in what Perry called “good news.”
In response to a request for a legal opinion by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, Abbott noted that upon recommendation by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, Perry is constitutionally entitled to grant pardons in all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment.

Below is a video of Timothy Cole’s brother, Cory Session, speaking at the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin on October 24, 2009.

Texas executed its first person of 2010 today and the 448th since 1982. The person’s name was Kenneth Mosley.

Next week, Texas is set to execute Gary Johnson.

From the Houston Chronicle:

A man convicted of gunning down a Dallas-area police officer during an attempted bank robbery was put to death Thursday evening in the first execution of the year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state.

Kenneth Mosley, 51, was condemned for the February 1997 slaying of David Moore, an officer in the Dallas suburb of Garland. His lethal injection was carried out after his legal appeals became exhausted.

The punishment had been stalled twice last year by technical issues and court appeals.

Mosley shook his head once when asked by a warden if he had any final statement. As the lethal drugs began taking effect, he snored a few times, then gasped slightly. Nine minutes later, at 6:16 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead.

Moore’s widow was among the people in the chamber to watch Mosley die. He did not acknowledge her presence.

Earlier this week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied his request for clemency.

Texas put 24 convicted killers to death last year, accounting for nearly half of the 52 executions carried out in the U.S. Another convicted killer was scheduled to be executed in Texas next week.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission, whose review of the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham was delayed when Perry replaced all of his appointees on the commission, has scheduled a Jan. 29 meeting in Harlingen.

The agenda has not been posted.

January 29th, 2010, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Courtyard by Marriott
1725 W. Filmore Ave.
Harlingen, Texas 78550

Texas is set to execute Kenneth Mosley today, January 7, 2010. If the execution is not stopped, it will be the first Texas execution of 2010. Last year, Texas executed 24 people, by far more than any other U.S. state.

Call Texas Governor Rick Perry and let him know that you oppose the death penalty. 512-463-1782 or 512-463-2000. They keep a tally of callers for and against, so be part of the historical record against. If you are shy, you can just leave a voice mail at the 463-1782 number or write an email http://www.governor.state.tx.us/contact.

Below is a call to action from Amnesty International UK.

Amnesty International is calling for the execution of a man in the US state of Texas who may be brain-damaged to be stopped.

Kenneth Mosley, 51, faces execution by lethal injection in three days’ time (Thursday 7 January) unless Texas governor Rick Perry intervenes. Amnesty supporters are sending ‘urgent action’ appeals to Governor Perry and to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Mosley was sentenced to death in 1997 after being found guilty of the murder of a police officer called David Moore in an attempted bank robbery in the city of Garland, Texas.

At his trial Mosley testified that he had not intended to shoot Moore and there were conflicting eyewitness accounts as to whether the shooting appeared intentional. Meanwhile, the trial jury was told nothing about Mosley’s upbringing, which was marked by violent abuse from his father and exposure to toxic pesticides that may have seriously damaged his brain. Neither did the jury hear of his severe depression and a long history of cocaine and alcohol abuse as ‘self-medication’.

After his trial two psychologists concluded that Mosley suffered from frontal lobe dysfunction. Another psychologist said he had “generalised brain impairment as well as damage to specific areas in both the right and left sides of his brain.” The third expert said that the “primary cause” of his “neuro-cognitive deficits” was “his lengthy and varied exposures to toxic chemicals at a vulnerable developmental stage.”

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

‘Executions are always cruel and unnecessary, but for Texas to put to death a man who might be brain-damaged would be utterly unforgivable.

‘Our thoughts are with the family of Officer Moore at this time but even those that support the death penalty ought to admit it’s totally wrong to execute a man like Kenneth Mosley.’

‘As with many other US capital cases, a jury has made a decision over Mosley’s fate without hearing the full story. Governor Rick Perry should, in all conscience, stop this execution.’

Death row in the USA: some key facts

Texas is one of 35 US states to retain the death penalty

The USA has seen a fall in the number of executions in recent years, but it still executes dozens of people every year – in 2009 there were 52 executions

Kenneth Mosely is one of 342 inmates (332 men, 10 women) on death row in Texas

Since 1976 the USA has executed 1,188 people

From 1973 to the present 139 people have been released from death row in the USA on the grounds of innocence (an average of approximately three exonerations per year)

Some 3,300 prisoners remain on death row in the USA.

Two stories dominated death penalty news in Texas in 2009, Todd Willingham and Sharon Keller. We will call it a tie for top Texas death penalty story in 2009, at least according to amount of media coverage. Well, the Willingham case received more media coverage, but we still call it a tie for top story.

Other important Texas death penalty stories of 2009 in no particular order were:

the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry;

the fact that only nine people were sentenced to death in Texas in 2009;

the approval of the Law of Parties bill in the Texas House only for it to be killed in the Senate by a veto threat from Rick Perry;

the Charles Dean Hood case, in which the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that it was ok for the judge and prosecutor to sleep together without biasing the outcome of the trial enough to warrant a retrial;

the Texas Legislature passed and Rick Perry signed into law a bill to create a new capital writs office to handle indigent habeas appeals in death penalty cases;

all charges were dropped against Robert Springsteen and Michael Toney and both were released from prison after having been sentenced to death in Texas in 2001 (Springsteen) and 1999 (Toney).

Finally in October 2009, hundreds of people converged on the Texas capitol in Austin to call for abolition of the death penalty in Texas. The 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty included the delivery of a petition to Rick Perry signed by more than 6,000 people calling for a complete investigation into the case of Todd Willingham and a moratorium on executions. The march was the largest rally against the death penalty in Texas since 2000.

Three innocent, exonerated former death row prisoners were among the special guests at the Tenth Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty October 24, 2009 at 2 PM in Austin, Texas at the Texas Capitol on the South Steps at 11th and Congress. Also attending was the penpal of Todd Willingham, Elizabeth Gilbert, who first investigated his innocence. Plus, Todd’s last lawyer Walter Reaves.

One of the most moving moments of 2009 was when the mother of Reginald Blanton spoke at a rally at the Texas Capitol on Sept 26 pleading for Rick Perry to stay the execution of her son, who maintained his innocence from his arrest until his execution on October 27. Watch video of Blanton’s mother here, but be forewarned, if you have tears, prepare to shed them.

Todd Willingham – the Texas Forensic Science Commission received a report from Dr Craig Beyler, a national fire expert who examined the case of Todd Willingham and who wrote in his report that “a finding of arson could not be sustained” by a scientific analysis. The New Yorker published a 16,000-word article by David Grann that examined all the evidence in the Willingham case and found nothing that should have led to Willingham’s conviction and execution. Willingham was executed in 2004. Rick Perry raised the profile of the case even higher by replacing all of his appointees to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, including the chair. The new chair, prosecutor John Bradley, canceled a meeting at which the commission was scheduled to discuss the report by Dr Craig Beyler and shut down the commission’s proceedings. Rick Perry had effectively covered up the investigation of whether Texas had executed an innocent person until after the March 2010 primary election.

TMN appeared on CNN on October 2 and accused Perry of a cover-up.

Sharon Keller was charged with incompetence and misconduct by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for saying ‘”we close at 5″, effectively blocking the submission of an appeal in 2007 by lawyers for Michael Richard on the day of his execution, and for breaking the execution day procedures of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. A resolution to impeach Keller was introduced in the Texas House of Representatives and given a hearing by the chair of the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence.

Keller’s trial on the SCJC charges was held in San Antonio before a special master, Judge David Berchelmann, who by the end of the year had still not issued his findings.

TMN had submitted one of the complaints against Keller to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2007. The TMN complaint was signed by about 1900 people. Watch video of CNN coverage of first day of trial, including our demonstration outside the courthouse.

Local San Antonio news coverage of the trial.

Death sentences decline, but Texas still leads U.S. in executions. Only nine people were sentenced to death in Texas in 2009. Harris County sent zero people to death row in 2009. In 2008, Harris County had also sent zero people to death row. 24 people were executed in Texas in 2009. Texas conducted almost 50 percent of all executions in the U.S. in 2009.

More than 200 executions under Rick Perry.

On June 2, 2009, the 200th person was executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor in December 2000. TMN coordinated protests in Texas and cities in Canada and Europe, including Austin, Houston, Huntsville, Montreal, Brussels, Leipzig Germany, Albuquerque and Paris France.

Video of Dr. Jerry Williams, a SFA sociology professor is a speaker at the Walls Unit protest.

Williams’ sister was brutally murdered and her killer only spent 15 years in prison. He explains why he doesn’t believe in execution. “I hated him. I wanted to see him die. I wanted to see him suffer in prison. And I thought justice would be done only in the way, but what I realized over time was that my hate really diminished me. It damaged me and did nothing for him,” explained Williams.

Report from a Nacogdoches TV Station of a Delegation Headed to Huntsville to Protest 200th Execution Under Gov Rick Perry.

Protest held in Houston by Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement June 2, 2009 on the day of the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The Law of Parties Bill

The Texas House passed a bill that would have banned executions of people convicted under the Law of Parties who did not actually kill anyone. Rep Hodge and Rep Dutton both filed Law of Parties bills in response to the cases of Kenneth Foster, Jeff Wood and other people who have been sentenced to death despite not having killed anyone. Prior to the start of the session, we had lobbied legislators looking for a sponsor for the Law of Parties bill, so we were happy when both Rep Dutton and Rep Hodge filed bills.

We held a press conference with Rep Dutton and Kenneth Foster’s and Jeff Wood’s family to explain the law of parties bill. Watch video of press conference TV coverage.

We held a lobby day in March during which we met with legislators about the Law of Parties bill. It was the largest lobby day against the death penalty ever held in Texas. We lobbied 90 legislative offices. People came from all over Texas to participate, including the father and grandfather of Kenneth Foster, and family members of Jeff Wood, Randy Halprin and several other families of people convicted under the Law of Parties. In addition to building support for the law of parties bill on the lobby day, we found additional legislative sponsors for a bill to abolish the death penalty and the moratorium bill.

We followed up in April with a second mini-lobby day after the law of parties bill had passed the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. We lobbied for passage by the full House. Watch Rep Hodge urging people to call their legislators about her bill.

On May 2, there was a second rally for the law of parties bill. Watch video here.

On May 15, the bill passed the full Texas House and was renamed the “Kenneth Foster, Jr Act”. We live blogged and issued a press release. After passing the House, the bill died in the senate after Governor Rick Perry threatened to veto it.

The bill died in part because of false information given out by prosecutors such as Williamson County Attorney John Bradley, who said in the Austin American-Statesman: “To exempt all defendants in capital cases because they didn’t pull the trigger “is irrational. Under that reasoning, Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson could never get the death penalty. You have to look at the facts of each case … whether their participation merits holding them culpable”.

HB 2267 said

(b) A defendant who is found guilty in a capital felony case
only as a party under Section 7.02(b), 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

People like Hitler, Manson and Osama bin Laden would not have been prosecuted under Section 7.02(b), but prosecutors used that scare tactic to help kill the bill.

Largest Anti-Death Penalty Rally in Texas Since 2000 Held in October 2009

Protesters march to call for an end to executions
Recent remarks by Perry fuel anti-death penalty rally.
By Joshunda Sanders
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Death penalty opponents rally at Capitol
KXAN Austin
Supporters: Innocent put to death in 2004
Published : Saturday, 24 Oct 2009, 9:03 PM CDT

Hundreds Attend Death Penalty Rally at Texas State Capitol
KVUE, October 24, 2009

Hundreds March in Austin calling for a stop to the death penalty
October 24, 2009

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