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.

Derrick Jamison embraces new exoneree Damon Thibodeaux.

Derrick Jamison, an innocent man who spent 17 years on death row in Ohio, will be a special guest at the 13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on November 3, 2012 at the Texas Capitol in Austin at 2 PM. He is a member of Witness to Innocence.

Derrick Jamison was one of four exonerated death-row inmates ( along with Ray Krone, Shujaa Graham and Ron Keine) who went to Santiago, Spain to film a TV commercial featuring Coca-Cola’s sports drink Aquarius. They filmed for 6 days, sometimes for 18 hrs a day for these few seconds of air time. Coca-Cola says that their message reached hundreds of millions of people in Spain, Central, and South America. Three of the exonerees featured in the commercial will now be at the 11th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 30 at 2 PM at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Click here to watch the 1 minute 31 second version on YouTube.

More about Derrick Jamison:

When James Suggs, an eyewitness to the robbery and murder of a Cincinnati bartender, was shown photo arrays of suspects by police, he identified two men—but neither of them was Derrick Jamison. There were also multiple contradictions between physical descriptions of the perpetrators given by witnesses and Derrick’s actual appearance. This information was withheld from Jamison’s trial, and as a result, an innocent man spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a crime he did not commit.

In February 2005, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus dismissed all charges against Derrick after his conviction was overturned three years earlier. Jamison was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 based largely on the testimony of Charles Howell, a co-defendant whose own sentence was reduced in exchange for testimony against Derrick.
Statements were withheld that contradicted Howell’s testimony, undermined the prosecution’s explanation for the death, and ultimately would have incriminated other suspects for the murder. Two federal courts ruled that the prosecution’s actions denied Derrick a fair trial.

Today, Derrick is fully aware of the inequality of the criminal justice system. “There is a double standard when it comes to justice in our judicial system, especially with wrongful conviction,” he says. “If you are a minority or a low-income citizen, the pursuit of justice can be an elusive one. But if you are rich it happens overnight.”

Although his resentment towards the system is subsiding, Derrick continues to express anger about how the 17 years he spent on death row impacted his life and the lives of his family members. At the time of sentencing, he was incredibly troubled because of his unjust imprisonment. “I was very angry, furious and distraught. . . all the emotions that stir up anguish. It made me feel it was over for me. Not only did that sentence affect me, it was the demise of my mother and father.”

Derrick expresses daily gratitude for his release. “In the 21 years I experienced ‘dead man walking’ I never had anything to smile about,” he says, “but on that day, I felt the smile come from within my heart. The sun shone down on me that day.”

The annual march is organized by several Texas and national anti-death penalty organizations, including Texas Moratorium Network, the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Kids Against the Death Penalty, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Amnesty International at the University of Texas, S.H.A.P.E Community Center, the Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing, and Witness to Innocence.

 

Below is Gloria Rubac’s report with her photos on the execution of Cleve “Sarge” Foster that she sent out in an email.
Tonight the state of Texas murdered a man who was my friend and a friend to so many all over the country and the world. Cleve “Sarge” Foster was a son to Mary, a father to Michael, a grandfather to Yuri, a father-in-law to Rowan and brother to Susie and a number of siblings. He was innocent but was convicted under Texas’ horrible Law of Parties. Texas is the only state who executes a person they know did not kill anyone. He was tried with Sheldon Ward who admitted that sarge had nothing to do with the murder.
Tonight Gov. Rick Perry put another notch on his belt of executions — number 247 –more than any governor in the history of the United States. And this State of Texas is now  responsible for 486 executions, with 11 more already scheduled.
At the Hospitality House, a place in Huntsville run by a bunch of very un-Christian Christians, Sarge’s family and friends gathered before the execution. They were talking with Sarge when Joanne and I arrived around 4:30.
Sarge was on the speakerphone and was talking with everyone. He was especially having fun talking to his little grandson Yuri. When I told him hello, he asked what I was up to. I told him I was fixing to raise holy hell outside the Walls Unit. He laughed and asked if I had my sound system with me and I told him I sure did. He said to tell everyone he thanks them for all their love and support and to keep up the fight and never give up. He said he had just finished eating his last meal and the fried chicken was really good!
  Sarge’s attorney was Maurie Levin from UT in Austin and she is one of the best ones you could have. She was tearfully coming out of the Hospitality House when we drove up and I saw a look of utter horror on her face so I asked what was up. She said the Supreme Court had just denied Sarge’s appeal. Later she told us that all six of the men on the Supreme Court voted against Sarge but all three women voted for him. We decided that sends a strong message that men are generally inferior and we need more women on the Court. While Yuri’s parents, Rowan and Michael, were talking with Sarge, Maurie took baby duty and was so comforting that Yuri actually slept for a few minutes! He’s a very active baby and never slept again during the execution and during the time we were with sarge’s body at the church, some 3 or 4 hours later!
Maurie has represented death sentenced inmates in state and federal court since 1993. In addition to co-directing the Capital Punishment Clinic at University of Texas, she works with the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, consulting with attorneys representing inmates, including Mexican Nationals, on Texas’ death row. In 2008 Maurie was recognized by Texas Lawyer as one of thirty “Extraordinary Woman in Texas Law”.
So the best for the best. Too bad the courts aren’t the best.
  At 5 o’clock it was time for those witnessing the execution to go to the prison administration building, which is right across the street from the death house. Before leaving, a man says a prayer for Sarge. Sarge’s spiritual advisor (in the white shirt on the right) is Cathy Cox, a minister with the Salvation Army in Dallas and an incredible, extraordinary woman. She has been visiting men on death row for 30 years and has been with probably over a hundred of them as they were murdered. The men love her and she loves them. She visits men who never see another visitor for years and is such a comfort to them. Every Thursday and Friday, like clockwork, you can count on Cathy Cox being in the visiting room at death row, ministering and visiting with her friends.
 DaLisa and Stacey holding signs in front of Karl Rodenberg from Germany and Ward Larkin with the long Santa Claus beard. The brother with the white cap does a prison radio show on a religious station in Houston.
 Sarge’s good friends Joy and Danielle at the protest.
 TEAM SARGE is on duty outside the death house.
  Nadine Broxton is here from Paris to visit her loved one on death row, Eugene Broxton, and to be with us to protest the murder of Sarge.
 Sarge’s son Michael and Sarge’s sister Susie from Kentucky give Sarge a last bit of love and tell him goodbye. Joy now has baby duty and is entertaining little Yuri. Rowan has taken Sarge’s mom out in a wheel chair and folks are getting ready to leave.
As Joanne and I drive back to Houston, Michael and the other Fosters go back to their motel in Livingston. When Michael got to the motel, he posted this photo on Face Book of him in his dad’s shirt. They had gone through Sarge’s property and I guess this shirt turned up. Not only does Michael have big shoes to fill, but now a big shirt! Sarge was a big man in so many ways–he was physically large but with a large heart and a large personality and a large smile for the world. AND A LARGE CLAIM OF INNOCENCE THAT NO COURT EVER HEARD.
Tomorrow some of the Fosters will drive back to Kentucky.  Michael and Rowan and little Yuri will drive back to Montana.
Cathy Cox will visit another man on death row in the morning and tomorrow afternoon I will go visit Anthony Pierce down at the Harris County Jail, a man who spent 35 years on death row and just got his sentence changed to life and is now up for parole. He was barely 18 when arrested and is now 53 years old. And he is innocent. Harris county has stolen his whole life. But that’s another story of injustice for another day.
In just two weeks, the Abolition Movement will be back in Huntsville for the execution of Jonathan Green, an African American man from Montgomery County who suffers from mental illness.
Y la lucha sigue!
And the struggle continues!

Texas executed Cleve “Sarge” Foster Tuesday. He had received three stays of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court because of questions about how forcefully his lawyers defended him. He was the 247th person executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor and the 486th since 1982 in Texas. Foster was the 30th person executed in the United States this year and the ninth in Texas.

In his last statement, Foster sent his love to his family and friends. “I love you, I pray one day we will all meet in heaven …,” Foster said. “Ready to go home to meet my maker.”

Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976

Foster had asked the U.S. high court for a fourth stay of execution but it was denied on Tuesday. He was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m. local time (2343 GMT) at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas criminal justice spokesman Jason Clark said.

Tuesday’s request for a fourth stay was referred by Justice Antonin Scalia to the full court but just three of the nine justices — Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — said they would favor another.

Family of Cleve "Sarge" Foster

“It was so hard for Sarge’s son Michael to let his father go. Michael and Sarge loved each other and this death will hurt so many for so long”, said Gloria Rubac.

Family of Cleve "Sarge" Foster

Sarge’s family praying before they leave for the death house.

Family of Cleve "Sarge" Foster

His family talking to Sarge Foster on the phone hours before his execution.

Photos by Gloria Rubac.

Below is from Keith Hampton’s website:

Today is the 5th anniversary of the execution of Michael Richard, the death-sentenced inmate seeking an appeal who Judge Sharon Keller famously told, “We close at 5p.m.”Michael Richard’s case is not a unique case of Sharon Keller exercising bad judgment. Judge Keller has a career of abusing constitutional rights.

 

Here are the facts:

  • Sept. 25, 2007 – The Supreme Court of the United States takes up a case regarding the procedure of administering lethal injection.
  • That Morning – States across the U.S. halt lethal injections pending the decision of the Supreme Court.
  • That Afternoon – Lawyers representing Michael Richard prepare an appeal based on the Supreme Court’s action, but are delayed in filing it. They ask if the Clerk’s office could remain open for just a few more minutes past 5 p.m.
  • 4:45PM – Judge Keller denies the request. She says, “We close at 5.”
  • 8:28PM – Michael Richard is pronounced dead, having been executed by lethal injection.
  • Years later – Sharon Keller is reprimanded by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, yet still serves as presiding judge.
We cannot afford for our justice system to be held hostage by Sharon Keller any longer.
This year, you decide who wears the robes on the highest court for criminal cases in Texas. It is time to restore justice, join me.
Keith Hampton

Cleve “Sarge” Foster is scheduled for execution this Tuesday, Sept 25, in Texas. His previous two execution dates were stayed at the last minute. Foster was sentenced to death under the Law of Parties.

Call Governor Rick Perry at 512 463 2000 to urge him to issue a stay of execution for Cleve Foster and tell him that no one should be executed under the Law of Parties. You can email Perry at his website.

From the Austin Chronicle:

Cleve Foster, a Desert Storm veteran turned Army recruiter in Fort Worth, is slated to be the next inmate executed in Texas.

Foster, known as “Sarge,” and one of his recruits, Shelton Aaron Ward, were each convicted of the 2002 rape and murder of Sudanese immigrant Nyanuer “Mary” Pal. The two were seen talking to her in a bar shortly before her murder; the three left at the same time, and Foster and Ward followed Pal as she drove off in her car. Pal’s body was later found in a ditch by workers laying pipe.

Ward died in prison, reportedly of brain cancer, in 2010. Foster has maintained his innocence, and argued that he had an incompetent trial attorney who failed to present expert testimony supporting his innocence claim – and that his state habeas attorney was also incompetent for failing to raise on appeal the ineffectiveness of his trial counsel. In several statements Ward repeatedly claimed that he alone murdered Pal, but prosecutors have said Ward’s statements are inconsistent with the evidence. DNA evidence showed both men had sex with her before her death, but Foster insists he was passed out from sleeping pills and wasn’t involved in Pal’s killing.

Indeed, Foster was tried and sentenced to death not for directly killing Pal, but as a party to the crime. Under Texas law, if a person knows or could have anticipated that a crime would occur, he can be charged as a party to it, even if he has no direct physical connection to the crime or any intent to commit it.

From the AP

What Cleve Foster remembers most about his recent brushes with death is the steel door, the last one condemned Texas inmates typically walk through before their execution.

“You can’t take your eyes off that door,” he says.

But twice over the past year and a half, Foster has come within moments of being escorted through the door, only to be told the U.S. Supreme Court had halted his scheduled punishment.

On Tuesday, Foster, 48, is scheduled for yet another trip to the death house for participating in the abduction and slaying of a 30-year-old Sudanese woman, Nyaneur Pal, a decade ago near Fort Worth.

It takes just under an hour to drive west from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit, where the state’s male death-row inmates are housed, to the Huntsville Unit, where condemned Texas prisoners have been put to death for nearly a century. The last 485 have been by lethal injection; the first 361, from 1924 through 1964, from the electric chair.

On execution day, the condemned inmate waits, usually for about four hours, in a tiny cell a few steps from the steel door to the death chamber.

Foster, a former Army recruiter known to his death row colleagues as “Sarge,” denies his role in the murder. Prosecutors say DNA ties him to the killing and that he gave contradictory stories when questioned about Pal’s death.

AP
In this Aug. 29, 2012, photo, convicted… View Full Caption
“I did not do it,” he insisted recently from a tiny visiting cage outside death row.

Appeals again were pending in the courts, focusing on what his lawyers argued was poor legal help both at his 2004 trial in Fort Worth and by attorneys early in the appeals process. Similar appeals resulted in the three previous reprieves the courts subsequently have lifted, but his lawyers argue his case should get another look because the legal landscape has changed in death penalty cases.

“I don’t want to sound vain, but I have confidence in my attorney and confidence in my God,” he said. “I can win either way.”

Pal’s relatives haven’t spoken publicly about their experiences of going to the prison to watch Foster die, only to be told the punishment has been delayed. An uncle previously on the witness list didn’t return a phone call Friday from The Associated Press.

Foster, however, shared his thoughts of going through the mechanics of facing execution in Texas — and living to talk about it.

The process shifts into high gear at noon on the scheduled execution day when a four-hour-long visit with friends or relatives ends at the Polunsky Unit outside Livingston.

“That last visit, that’s the only thing that bothers me,” he said. “The 12 o’clock-hour hits. A dozen or so guards come to escort you.”

By Foster’s count, it’s 111 steps to the prison gate and an area known as the box cage. That’s where he’s secured to a chair for electronic scrutiny to detect whether he has any metal objects hidden on his body.

It’s the legacy of inmate Ponchai Wilkerson. Wilkerson, asked by the warden if he had a final statement after he was strapped to the death chamber gurney for execution in 2000, defiantly spit out a handcuff key he’d concealed in his mouth.

“You’re in handcuffs, you’re chained at the ankles, they give you cloth shoes and you have to shuffle to keep them on,” he said.

As he waddles the 111 steps, he gets acknowledgement from fellow prisoners who tap on the glass of their cells.

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