"All we know is that young man is dead and no one, presumably, is to blame. Earlier today, a Travis County Grand Jury returned a no-bill in the case of Austin Police Officer Nathan Wagoner. Wagoner shot an unarmed, 20-year-old young man four times, including once in the back of the head, and killed him on the night of May 30, 2011. That young man was Byron Carter, Jr. His death left his young son—Byron Carter, III.—without a father. Byron is the latest victim in an officer-involved shooting in Travis County for whom there is no justice. As of today, with the conclusion of all grand jury presentments in this case, the only thing we know is that a young man is dead, and no one is to blame. Time and again, law enforcement in this city has shot and killed people--mainly African Americans, like Byron--and time and again the grand juries to whom District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and her office present these cases return no indictment. How, when a police officer fires five shots in to two unarmed individuals in 1.5 seconds—which is what occurred in the case of Byron's death, according to Police Chief Acavedo's own account this afternoon—can a District Attorney not even secure an indictment for reckless discharge of a firearm against the officer? News outlets such as the Austin Chronicle have raised significant questions about the shooting that killed Byron Carter. Today, we are left with more questions than answers. Incidents like this, and the failure of our District Attorney to hold anyone accountable for such tragic deaths, shakes our confidence in the criminal justice system in Travis County to the very core. No matter your race, economic background, or political bent, incidents like this should cause you to question the effectiveness and quality of our District Attorney's Office. Today, a son is without his father, a grandmother is without her grandson, and a community has lost its faith in its criminal justice system. As someone who has given my life to improving our criminal justice system as a lawyer, judge, and law professor, rarely have I seen a result which has caused so many people to question the integrity of a District Attorney's Office or the leadership of a District Attorney. I will not, however, lose faith in our system. I know that we can do better, and I know that we can bring about justice that works for everyone in Travis County through new, bold, progressive leadership in our DA's office. I challenge you to also not lose faith in our system. Know that, through hard work, together you and I can work to make possible the only kind of change that counts in a situation like this: the kind of change that comes only from the ballot box. Sincerely, Charlie Baird
HUNTSVILLE, Texas -A man who killed his estranged wife and her new boyfriend more than 10 years ago in Montgomery County is scheduled to be executed Wednesday in Huntsville. Keith Thurmond shot and killed his 8-year-old son's mother in front of the boy in 2001. Thurmond also shot and killed Guy Fernandez, the man that Sharon Thurmond was dating. At the 2002 capital murder trial, Keith and Sharon Thurmond's son testified he saw his father shoot his mother repeatedly in the backyard of the mobile home near Magnolia, where she was living with Fernandez. Thurmond's lawyer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the lethal injection. If the execution is carried out Wednesday, it would be the third this year in Texas.
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An inmate already saddled with 17 life prison terms told a jury he deserved death for organizing the largest-ever jailbreak from a Texas prison and then killing a suburban Dallas police officer while a fugitive with six others who escaped with him. Prosecutors insisted George Rivas actually was trying to manipulate jurors and use reverse psychology on them to avoid the death chamber. But if that was the prisoner's plan, it didn't work. Jurors decided he should die, and now the 41-year-old Rivas is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville. Rivas was the first of his prison-break gang, which became known as the "Texas 7," to be tried for the fatal shooting of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve of 2000. All of the inmates received death sentences for the killing. With his appeals exhausted, Rivas has seen his request for clemency rejected by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. He's acknowledged he's ready to die for the killing. "It's bittersweet," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from death row. "Bitter because I hurt for my family ... Sweet because it's almost over." He declined an interview with The Associated Press.
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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