Upcoming Executions
Click for a list of upcoming scheduled executions in Texas.
Innocence
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.
The 2013 Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty is Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Special guests include death row exoneree Clarence Brandley. All Texas death row exonerees will be honored with a resolution by the Texas House of Representatives. People from across Texas will come to the Capitol in Austin to advocate for a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas and other reforms that would impact the Texas death penalty, including bills to protect innocent people from wrongful convictions, a moratorium on executions, a commission to study the death penalty system, a bill to require separate trials in death penalty cases and a bill that would prohibit death sentences for people convicted under the Law of Parties who do not kill anyone. This will be a day we will always remember, a day when we stood side by side fighting against the death penalty with people who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. Don't be one of those people who one day "shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here" and fought with us on the Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty. Register now! Below is the schedule for Lobby Day. Please register for Lobby Day, so that we know how many people are coming and so that we can schedule legislative appointments. In 2009 and 2011, our Lobby Day resulted in several legislators signing on to support the bills we lobbied for. We expect the same success in 2013. We have held a Lobby Day every session since 2003. Register for the Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty. You can also just show up without registering, but if you register, then we know how many people are coming and we can plan appointments with legislators. If you can not attend the Lobby Day, you can still help by making a donation (not tax-deductible). Also on March 13, even if you are not in Austin at the Lobby Day, you can participate in our Statewide Call-in Day to Abolish the Death Penalty. Find out who represents you, then call your Texas legislators and let them know your position on the death penalty and urge them to support the bills to repeal the death penalty, HB 164 by Harold Dutton and HB 1703 by Jessica Farrar. The bills are identical and we support both. Call the members of the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and urge them to schedule a hearing on the bills to abolish the death penalty. One of our goals of Lobby Day is to convince the committee to hold a hearing. If you have questions, call or text Hooman Hedayati at (210) 601-7231. Schedule of the 2013 Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty 9-11 AM: Meet and Greet with death row exoneree Clarence Brandley, followed by lobby training as people arrive for lobby day and beginning of office visits as people complete training. Room E2.018 in the Capitol. 11 - Noon: Visiting Legislative Offices to Lobby Noon: Press Conference in the Speaker's Committee Room (2W.6). Special guests include State Rep. Harold Dutton, author of a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas and State Rep. Lon Burnam, co-author of the bill to abolish the death penalty, as well as Clarence Brandley, an innocent person who spent ten years on Texas death row for a crime he did not commit. 1 PM: Lunch at your own expense in the Capitol cafeteria. 2-4:30 More lobbying visits to legislative offices. 4:30 PM Meet in the Capitol cafeteria to share stories about what everyone learned during the legislative lobbying visits. 6:30 PM SXSW Film Festival screening of new documentary "An Unreal Dream" about the case of Michael Morton, an innocent person who spent 25 years in prison wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. You will need to buy your own tickets, which will go on sale at the theater before the showing. Tickets are limited, so you may not get in if it sells out.
Lobby Day has been organized since 2003 by several organizations working together, the same ones who also organize the annual "March to Abolish the Death Penalty" each October: Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin chapter, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.
Organizations that would like to participate or co-sponsor the Lobby Day can email admin@texasmoratorium.org or call 512-961-6389.
Call the members of the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and urge them to schedule a hearing on the bills to abolish the death penalty.
Position Member
Chair: Rep. Abel Herrero  email (512) 463-0462
Vice Chair: Rep. Stefani Carter email  (512) 463-0454
Members: Rep. Lon Burnam   email   (512) 463-0740
Rep. Terry Canales   email    (512) 463-0426
Rep. Bryan Hughes    email    (512) 463-0271
Rep. Jeff Leach      email    (512) 463-0544
Rep. Joe Moody     email     (512) 463-0728
Rep. Matt Schaefer   email   (512) 463-0584
Rep. Steve Toth     email     (512) 463-0797
 
Updated May 16, 2013 The 500th execution in Texas is now on the schedule.  The 500th execution under the current schedule will happen on June 26, 2013 when Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled for execution. There may be stays or additions in the schedule that change the date of the 500th. Right now 497 people have been executed in Texas in the modern era.   We urge everyone in Texas and our friends worldwide to take action leading up to the 500th execution to let Texas know that it should stop executions with a moratorium and begin the process of repealing the death penalty.   Let us know if you plan any actions to protest 500 executions in Texas.   We originally posted this information on December 12, 2012, but because there have been more execution dates set, we updated the post on February 4 and again on May 9 to reflect the new date for the 500th execution.   Texas is nearing 500 executions in the modern era since the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty was constitutional. Texas conducted its first execution after the ruling in 1982.   To express your opposition to any execution, you can contact Governor Rick Perry's office at 512 463 2000. If you call after business hours, you can leave a voice mail message. During business hours, someone should answer the phone. You can also send a message using a form on Perry's official website.   498) Jefferey Williams, May 15, 2013   TDCJ Info on Williams   499) Elroy Chester III, June 12, 2013   TDCJ Info on Elroy Chester   500) Kimberly McCarthy, June 26, 2013   TDCJ Info on McCarthy   501) Rigoberto Avila Jr July 10, 2013   TDCJ Info on Avila   502) John Quintanilla Jr. July 16, 2103   TDCJ Info on Quintanilla   503) Vaughn Ross, July 18, 2013   TDCJ Info on Ross   504) Douglas Feldman, July 31, 2013   TDCJ Info on Feldman   505) Robert Garza, September 19, 2013   TDCJ Info on Garza   506) Arturo Diaz September 26, 2013   TDCJ Info on Diaz  
63.4% of the people killed on this chair were African-American, 29.9% were white, 6.4% were Hispanic, 1 person was classified as "other". The Texas electric chair in which 361 people were executed between 1924 and 1964. It is now housed in The Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville. 16mm film with a Bolex camera. www.texasmoratorium.org
Texas executed 15 people in 2012, two more people than in 2011. 73 percent of the people Texas executed in 2012 were people of color, seven African-American and four Hispanics. There were four white people executed by Texas in 2012. Five people were executed from Dallas County, two from Bexar County, two from Montgomery County, one from Harris County, one from Gregg County, one from Polk County, one from Cherokee County, one from Jefferson County and one from Tarrant County. Since December 7, 1982, the state of Texas has executed 492 people. There have been 253 executions in Texas since Rick Perry took office in December 2000. 2011 saw the lowest number of executions in 15 years dating back to 1996. The highest number of executions was 40 in 2000. So far, 9 people have been sentenced to death in 2012 in Texas - one more than in 2011. New death sentences have declined from their high in the late 90s. In 1999, there were 48 people sentenced to death. Harris County, where Houston is located, did not send anyone to death row in 2012. After three convictions and death sentences, all of which were at least partially overturned on appeal, the Harris County District Attorney's Office announced in August 2012 that it would drop efforts to execute Anthony Pierce, who had been on death row since 1978. 88.8 percent of the nine new death sentences handed out in 2012 in Texas have been given to people of color. Of the nine people sentenced to death so far in Texas in 2012, seven are African-American, one is Hispanic and one white. One of the nine persons is a woman. The number of new death sentences has declined over the last several years in large part because people who serve on juries are increasingly choosing life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty, because members of juries have read about so many mistakes in the system when innocent people have been convicted only to be exonerated years later. Cathy Henderson, who has been on death row in Texas for 17 years, was granted a new trial in 2012. The trial court said in its ruling in May that she "has proven by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted her of capital murder in light of her new evidence".  Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg has said she will retry Henderson. In September, Texas executed Cleve "Sarge" Foster who had received three previous stays of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court. Read a report from Gloria Rubac, who was with Foster's family in Huntsville on the day of the execution. John Balentine received a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court in August 2012, less than an hour before he was due to be put to death in Texas. Balentine argued he deserved a reprieve because an ineffective trial lawyer failed to present mitigating evidence, such as emotional problems and a difficult upbringing, that could have led to a life sentence. Two people on death row died in custody in 2012: Santos Minjarez from San Antonio died Jan. 14, 2012 in Galveston, six days after he was transferred from death row. The cause of death was septic shock and multiple organ failure.  Selwyn Davis of Austin was found dead in his death row cell on July 20, 2012 of suicide. More than three decades after he was sent to death row, Delma Banks Jr. in 2012 agreed to accept a life sentence for the 1980 slaying of acquaintance Richard Whitehead – a murder he has long maintained he did not commit. Banks, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury of the slaying of 16-year-old Whitehead (white) near Nash, Texas, in 1980. After 12 years of organizing and lobbying by ordinary grassroots Democrats across the state as well as by exonerated former death row inmates, the Texas Democratic Party has adopted a platform that calls for repealing the death penalty in Texas. "Democrats Against the Death Penalty", which was formed by members of Texas Moratorium Network in 2004, held a meeting at the TDP State Convention in June 2012. Watch a powerful video of Clarence Brandley, an innocent man who spent ten years on Texas death row for a crime he did not commit, speaking at the meeting of “Democrats Against the Death Penalty” on June 8, 2012 at the Texas Democratic Party State Convention in Houston. In July, the Austin Human Rights Commission passed a resolution calling for Texas to repeal the death penalty and for a statewide moratorium on executions. In July, Texas changed to a one drug method to carry out executions instead of its previous three-drug method, because of short supply in drugs that was caused by pressure on drug companies from people in the drugs producing countries who are opposed to executions. In October, Todd Willingham’s family officially requested a pardon for him from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry. No action has yet been taken on the request. According to KTBC in Austin, hundreds of people rallied at the Texas Capitol at the 13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on November 3, 2012. Three death row survivors from Witness to Innocence attended the march, including Ron Keine (watch video).        
Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg must decide now whether to retry death row inmate Cathy Henderson or drop the charges after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with a lower court that she should be granted a new trial. From the Austin Chronicle: In an opinion delivered this morning, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says Cathy Lynn Henderson should be granted a new trial in the 1994 Travis County murder of three-month-old Brandon Baugh.
Henderson was convicted and sentenced to die for Baugh's murder. Henderson was babysitting Baugh at her Pflugerville-area home when the baby died. Instead of calling for help, Henderson took off with Baugh's body and buried him in a field in Bell County before fleeing to her native Missouri.
Just released by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals:
IN THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS
   
OF TEXAS
 

 
NO. AP-76,925
 
 
EX PARTE CATHY LYNN HENDERSON
 
   
 
ON APPLICATION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
 
CAUSE NO. 94-2034 IN THE 299TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
   
TRAVIS COUNTY
   
  Per Curiam. Price, J., filed a concurring opinion. Cochran, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Womack, Johnson, and Alcala, JJ., joined. Alcala, J., filed a concurring opinion. Keasler, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Keller, P.J., and Hervey, J., joined. Hervey, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Keller, P.J., and Keasler, J., joined. Meyers, J., not participating.  
OPINION
  This is a subsequent application for writ of habeas corpus in a capital case, in which applicant asserted that she has newly available evidence that: (1) shows that she is innocent of capital murder; and (2) but for constitutional errors, she would not have been found guilty. On June 11, 2007, we found that the application satisfied the requirements for a subsequent writ under Article 11.071, Section 5, and remanded the application to the trial court for further proceedings. We will grant relief and remand the cause for a new trial. In accordance with our remand order, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing. Applicant presented the testimony of six expert witnesses. Relying on new developments in the science of biomechanics, these witnesses testified that the type of injuries that Brandon Baugh suffered could have been caused by an accidental short fall onto concrete. Dr. Roberto Bayardo, the medical examiner who testified at trial that applicant's position that Brandon's injuries resulted from an accidental fall was false and impossible, testified at the evidentiary hearing that he now believes that there is no way to determine with a reasonable degree of medical certainty whether Brandon's injuries resulted from an intentional act of abuse or an accidental fall. The State presented five expert witnesses who testified that, notwithstanding the studies cited by applicant's experts, it was very unlikely that Brandon's injuries were caused by an accidental short fall onto concrete. Following the evidentiary hearing, the trial court recommended granting a new trial. The court found that all of the expert witnesses were truthful and credible. The court further found that Dr. Bayardo's re-evaluation of his 1995 opinion is based on credible, new scientific evidence and constitutes a material exculpatory fact. The trial court concluded that applicant has proven by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted her of capital murder in light of her new evidence. In post-conviction habeas corpus review, this Court is the ultimate fact finder, but the trial judge is the original fact finder. As a matter of course this Court will defer to and accept the convicting court's findings of fact and conclusions of law, as long as they are supported by the record. This is particularly true in matters concerning the weight and credibility of the witnesses and, in the case of expert witnesses, the level and scope of their expertise. In this case, the trial court's findings of fact are supported by the record. Although we need not accept the trial court's conclusions concerning actual innocence, we accept the court's recommendation to grant relief and remand for a new trial. Delivered: December 5, 2012 Publish
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