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.
Here is the draft of the report on the Todd Willingham case that will be discussed at the meeting of the Texas Forensic Science Commission this Thursday and Friday. The AP says “the Texas Forensic Science Commission said Thursday it will not issue a finding on the arson determination until the state attorney general rules whether it has jurisdiction to do so.“.
Draft of Report by Texas Forensic Science Commission on Todd Willingham Case

The Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet, Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15 in Austin. The last item on the agenda is to “Consider Willingham/Willis (#09-01) report draft and adopt final report“. The hearing starts at 1 PM on Thursday and at 9:30 AM on Friday. It is likely that they will not get to the major discussion on the Willingham case until Friday, since it is last on the agenda.

There is a public comment period on the agenda for this meeting right before the discussion on the Todd Willingham report. 

The chair of the Commission, John Bradley, has lost support in the Texas Senate because of the way he has performed his duties as chair, so this will likely be his last meeting.
The hearing is in the Central Services Building, 1711 San Jacinto Boulevard Room 402 in Austin. 
Before his execution, Todd Willingham said, “Please don’t ever stop fighting to vindicate me.”
The Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet, Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15 in Austin. The last item on the agenda is to “Consider Willingham/Willis (#09-01) report draft and adopt final report“. The hearing starts at 1 PM on Thursday and at 9:30 AM on Friday. It is likely that they will not get to the major discussion on the Willingham case until Friday, since it is last on the agenda.

There is a public comment period on the agenda for this meeting right before the discussion on the Todd Willingham report. 

The chair of the Commission, John Bradley, has lost support in the Texas Senate because of the way he has performed his duties as chair, so this will likely be his last meeting.

The hearing is in the Central Services Building, 1711 San Jacinto Boulevard Room 402 in Austin. 
Before his execution, Todd Willingham said, “Please don’t ever stop fighting to vindicate me.”

From the Austin American-Statesman:

During a two-day meeting to begin Thursday afternoon, the Texas Forensic Science Commission will discuss a draft report on the arson science used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham for a 1991 fatal fire at his Corsicana home.
The report, compiled after input was sought from all nine commissioners, is at the end of the committee agenda, so the discussion might not begin until Friday.
The report’s scope will be limited while the commission awaits answers about whether it has jurisdiction under state law to investigate the Willingham case. The attorney general’s office has until July 30 to provide an answer on that.
The report is expected to focus on advances in arson investigation techniques while avoiding questions about whether Willingham’s investigators were negligent in basing their arson finding on fire conditions now known to be found in accidental and natural fires as well as intentionally set blazes.
Unless another meeting is scheduled before the legislative session ends May 30, this will be the last meeting led by Chairman John Bradley, who is also the Williamson County district attorney. Because Bradley’s nomination does not have enough support in the state Senate, his time on the commission will end when the session closes.
Forensic Science Commission Chair John Bradley
The Calendars Committee in the Texas House of Representatives has voted to send the bill to create an Innocence Commission to the floor of the Texas House for a vote on Thursday, April 14. It is HB 115 by Ruth McClendon and Pete Gallego. The vote in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on March 22 was 7 for, 1 against, and 1 absent. 
This was one of the issues we advocated for on the “Day of Innocence” and Statewide Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty on March 16.
Scott Cobb, Chris Ochoa and Jeanette Popp
in Austin on April 11, 2011

Christopher Ochoa and Jeanette Popp were in Austin yesterday to film interviews for an August 2011 program on the Discovery Network about wrongful convictions. Also in town was John Pray of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which led the effort to exonerate Chris Ochoa.


Chris is an innocent person who was wrongfully convicted of murdering Jeanette’s daughter, Nancy DePriest, in Austin. He spent 12 years in prison before another person confessed to the crime. He and a co-defendant, Richard Danziger, received a settlement of about 14 million dollars from the City of Austin for misconduct by the Austin Police Department leading to their wrongful convictions.

Jeanette Popp signed and wrote a note inside the front cover of her book “Mortal Justice: A True Story of Murder and Vindication” to one of the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee (We only had one copy of the book with us.) The note urged State Rep. Stefani Carter to read the story of how two innocent people were wrongfully convicted of her daughter’s murder and urged Rep Carter to vote HB 1641, the bill for a moratorium on executions. We will drop the book off to Rep Carter’s office.
Mortal Justice: A True Story of Murder and Vindication was published March 1, 2009. Jeanette has worked long and hard for many years against the death penalty. She served several years as chairperson of Texas Moratorium Network. Her book tells the story of her daughter’s murder, the wrongful conviction of two innocent men Chris Ochoa and Richard Danziger, their eventual exoneration, the subsequent conviction of the real killer, and Jeanette’s long activism against the death penalty, including a jailhouse meeting with the real killer and her successful efforts to prevent him from being sentenced to death.
In her new book, Jeanette includes an account of a jailhouse meeting with the man who actually killed her daughter before his trial because she wanted to convince him to take a plea bargain and accept life in prison istead of going to trial and risking the death penalty. 
In the jailhouse meeting, she told him, “Mr Marino, you know I don’t want you executed?”
“Ive heard that,” he answered stoically.
“It’s the truth. I don’t want you to die.”
He shook his head and told her, “Mrs Popp, I’d rather be executed than spend the rest of my life in prison.”

Ms. Popp asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty, because she says she did not want her daughter’s memory stained with someone’s blood. “I’m not a bleeding heart liberal,” she says. “But I do have a heart.”
Since the exoneration, she has been an outspoken opponent of the death penalty. That doesn’t mean she wants Mr. Marino to ever walk free.

Lethal Injustice: Standing against the death penalty and harsh punishment.




Update:
We heard Anthony Graves speak Thursday night at CEDP’s panel discussion at UT-Austin. He is such an eloquent speaker and his story is so powerful. The members of the Texas Legislature should think about what happened to Anthony and acknowledge that the same thing could happen to any of us. Anthony was completely innocent yet he was condemned to death in Texas. Anthony is walking evidence why Texas should enact a moratorium and start discussing the future of the death penalty in Texas.



Featuring Anthony Graves, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years on Texas death row before he was freed just last year. Lawrence Foster, grandfather of Kenneth Foster who spent 11 years on death row before his sentence was commuted in 2007 by Governor Perry. Laura Brady, abolitionist and activist with the Campaign to END the Death Penalty. 

Come hear their powerful stories about the criminal INjustice system. 

***********
A speaking tour to look at what’s behind our massive prison build-up, why so many people of color are locked up and what we can do about it.

From death rows to super-maxes, over 2.3 million men and women sit behind bars today. “Lethal Injustice” speakers are organizing on the front-lines of the fight against criminal injustice, taking a stand against the racist, prison build-up and harsh sentencing.

This national speaking tour of the Campaign to END the Death Penalty will be featuring panelists including exonerated prisoners, family members, activists, lawyers and scholars.

This event is being held at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas in The University Teaching Center, room UTC1.102. A campus map to this building can be found here.

UTC is located at the corner of University Ave. and 21st Street.

A $5 suggested donation is encouraged, help keep events like this one happening in your area!

Event to begin promptly at 7pm, discussion will follow the speaker’s presentations. 

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