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Todd Willingham
Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed under Governor Rick Perry on February 17, 2004.

The Austin Chronicle says there is “scant evidence” that Steven Woods killed anyone. He is scheduled for execution in Texas under Governor Rick Perry on Sept 13. This is a case that likely would have a high chance for a commutation to life in other death penalty states, since the physical evidence does not indicate that the person being executed actually killed anyone while there is clear evidence linking his co-defendant as the killer.

“Unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in to stop it – or the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends and the governor grants clemency (a remote chance) – inmate Steven Woods will be put to death Sept. 13, even though there is scant evidence suggesting that he actually killed anyone. Woods was sentenced to death for a 2001 double murder in The Colony, near Dallas. After his conviction, a co-defendant, Marcus Rhodes, made a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty in exchange for two life sentences. Nonetheless, while there was clear physical evidence linking Rhodes to the crime, there was no such evidence linking Woods. “There is no physical proof linking him to the crime,” says attorney Alex Calhoun, who has represented Woods on appeal and who has filed a clemency petition with the parole board, seeking to have Woods’ sentence commuted to life. That would be far more equitable, he argues; while that is a good argument against sending Woods to death, it’s been the argument in two out of the three cases in which the board has recommended clemency under the leadership of Gov. Rick Perry. Perry only granted clemency in one of those (that of Kenneth Foster), and he said he did so because Foster and a co-defendant had a shared trial, not because Foster literally was not guilty of killing anyone.

Meanwhile, Brad Levenson, director of the state’s Office of Capital Writs, responsible for representing indigent death row inmates on appeal, late last week filed a final appeal in Woods’ case. In the appeal, Levenson argues that Calhoun rendered ineffective assistance when he failed to pursue in a timely manner evidence that one of Woods’ jurors was so biased that his presence on the jury violated Woods’ right to an impartial panel. (Should the ineffective assistance claim fail, Levenson argues that the presence of the juror alone should render the Woods verdict unsound.) The appeal comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that it would hear two cases this fall that relate to the right to effective counsel on appeal. Whether Texas courts will see fit to stay Woods’ execution until the high court has an opportunity to weigh in on the topic remains to be seen.”

August 31, 2011

CONTACT: Charlie Baird Campaign (512) 705-7001 press@charliebaird.com


TUESDAY: Former Criminal District Court Judge Charlie Baird Will Officially Launch Candidacy For Travis County DA

SPECIAL GUESTS: Hon. Morris Overstreet, former judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Cory Session brother of Tim Cole, defendant exonerated in 299th District Court in 2009 by Charlie Baird

AUSTIN—Charlie Baird will launch his campaign for Travis County District Attorney on Tuesday, September 6, with a speech and rally at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in Austin.

WHO: Charlie Baird, former district court judge and candidate for Travis County District Attorney

WHAT: Campaign Announcement for Travis County District Attorney

WHEN: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 11:30 a.m. (Doors open at 11:00am for Press)

WHERE: Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave Street, Austin, TX 78702, 512-472-6932

MORE: Print, broadcast, or online media who would like an individual media availability with the candidate should contact the campaign at 512.705.7001.

Live feeds and live stand-ups during noon newscasts are welcome; stations should contact the campaign for information on set-up, equipment placement, etc.

Pd. Pol. Adv. By Charlie Baird Exploratory Committee, Charles F. “Charlie” Baird, Treas. P.O. Box 1242 Austin, Texas 78767

We received the information below from advocates trying to stop the execution of Steven Woods on Sept 13, 2011:

On September 13 2011, Steven Woods (31) is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection by the state of Texas after being wrongfully convicted and confined 24 hours a day for the past 9 years of his life.

Woods maintained his innocence since he was arrested, and he swears that he will keep doing so until he dies.

The evidence supporting Steven Woods’ wrongful conviction is overwhelming; provided below is more information that I hope will help you better understand Woods’ case:

– In 2002, Steven Woods was convicted for shooting & killing a young couple in Denton County, Texas
– Woods was 21 at the time and had no prior arrests or warrants.
– 3 months after Steven was wrongfully convicted/sentenced to death, 24 year old Marcus Rhodes took responsibility for knowingly and intentionally shooting and killing both of the murder victims, in a Denton County court.
– Rhodes didn’t insinuate that Steven in any way, participated/plotted/played any role in the murders.
– There is NO physical evidence or confession that ties Steven Woods to the murder scene.
– No one has reported or testified to having eye-witnessed these murders.
– The murders were committed with Marcus Rhodes’ own firearms. (Both registered under Rhodes’ name)
– The firearms were found under Rhodes’ bed when Police searched his parents’ home.
– The weapons only had Rhodes’ fingerprints on them.
– The victims’ backpacks & their belongings were found in Rhodes’ car a few days after the murders.
– The only “evidence” used against Woods were friends of Marcus Rhodes who took the stand, claiming that they heard Woods brag about the murder. This is called “hearsay” & is usually inadmissible in court.
– One “witness”, a habitual heroin user & friend of Rhodes’ was paid 1000 dollars for his testimony.
-Another “witness” signed a sworn affidavit stating that her testimony was coerced with threats.
-The state tried to use DNA found on a latex glove to convict Woods. The jury was told that the DNA on the glove was Woods’, but later in the trial Steven demanded that the glove be tested. The DNA did NOT match Woods’. The glove was stricken from the protocol by Denton County Judge, Lee Gabriels – so that Woods could not use it to prove his innocence in his appeals process.
– The prosecution accused Woods of numerous erroneous claims to which they had no basis. Example: The prosecution lied to the jury claiming that Woods (who they did not know was of Armenian heritage), was a “white supremacist”.
-The man who confessed to killing the couple, also confessed to carrying out an additional murder in CA that occurred 2 months prior to the Denton murders. Steven did not participate in that murder, nor did he witness it or get indicted in association with it.
-The actual murderer, Rhodes got a punishment of life in prison with parole.
-Steven Woods got sentenced to death and will be executed on Sept. 13 2011.

More info can be found at www.texaskills.com and we can be reached at justiceforstevewoods@gmail.com

August 18, 2011

CONTACT: Charlie Baird Campaign,
Press Office

In Unique Move, Charlie Baird Asks Voters What They Think

Says Citizens’ Opinions Should Matter To Politicians

AUSTIN—A month after launching an exploratory committee to consider a run for Travis County District Attorney, former state district judge Charlie Baird’s campaign has taken an unusual step in local politics: asking voters what they think.

Today, Baird launched a large-scale effort to solicit voter opinion on the state of the criminal justice system in Travis County. The launch incudes a full page advertisement in the Austin Chronicle, an online ad buy, ad buys in other Travis County publications such as The Villager and Nokoa, and a web page people can use to submit reform ideas to his campaign.

“In all the years I’ve been involved in Travis County politics, nothing like this has ever been done,” Baird said. “I really want to hear their ideas for making justice work for everyone in Travis County.”

Baird says his unique effort is a serious attempt to reach beyond traditional resources and to get fresh ideas.

“Our political system is one that thrives on new ideas for reform and change. When you have the same people in charge of one office for more than three decades, you don’t really have access to fresh ideas,” Baird said. “In our system, individuals considering a run for office should ask voters about their concerns and for their ideasl for reform,” he said.

“Politicians need to remember that in a democracy the people are in charge, not focus groups. A lot can be learned by listening to the people,” Baird said.

He noted that everyone is encouraged to visit CharlieBaird.com/Reform to submit their ideas or innovations for the justice system in Travis County.

Baird, a former state district judge and former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has indicated he would have an announcement concerning whether he will make an official run for the post sometime after Labor Day.

Baird, his wife, Kristin, and their two children, make their home in Austin. He is head of the Criminal Law Section at The Fowler Law Firm in Austin.

– 30 –

Tell Charlie from Charlie Baird on Vimeo.

We will deliver the signatures and comments on this petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is running for president of the United States. A lot of people already signed and we delivered those signatures to Perry in 2009, but we wanted to repost it on the day that Rick Perry announces he is running for president so that more people can sign. It also allows you to leave a comment when you sign.

View Signatures.

(Note: If you navigate away from this page and return to it, the submit button may disappear, just reload the page if that happens and the submit button will re-appear.)

This petition was created and written by Texas Moratorium Network. If you have questions, call TMN at 512-961-6389. If you are shocked to learn that Texas has executed an innocent person, please attend the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 22, 2011 in Austin, Texas at the Capitol.

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