Upcoming Executions
Click for a list of upcoming scheduled executions in Texas.
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.

Wednesday’s execution will be the 480th in Texas since 1982 and the 241st since Rick Perry became Governor. More than 50 percent of all executions in Texas in the modern era have been conducted under Rick Perry. Call the Office of Governor Rick Perry at 512 463 2000 to give him your opinion on the death penalty.

From KPRC:

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.

Wednesday’s execution will be the 479th in Texas since 1982 and the 240th since Rick Perry became Governor. As of Wednesday, more than 50 percent of all executions in Texas in the modern era will have been conducted under Rick Perry.

Office of Governor Rick Perry 512 463 2000.

From the AP:

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.

Co-Director Joe Bailey Jr

We attended the DVD release party of “Incendiary: The Willingham Case” tonight at the Violet Crown in Austin.

The award-winning documentary INCENDIARY:  THE WILLINGHAM CASE is now available on Apple’s iTunes Movie Store and DVD

INCENDIARY follows a tragic tale that started with a 1991 house fire that resulted in the deaths of Cameron Todd Willingham’s three daughters in a Corsicana, Texas.  Convicted largely on faulty arson evidence, Willingham was sentenced to death for the murder of his children.  Despite overwhelming expert criticism of the prosecution’s “junk science,” he was executed in 2004.  Subsequent investigations of the case landed the Willingham case into the national spotlight, made brighter and more intense by the presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama, INCENDIARY explores both the intricate arson forensics surrounding the case and the polarized public responses to Willingham’s execution.  Co-directors Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr. bring a unique combination of filmmaking and legal backgrounds to the film.
“It’s a riddle and a brainteaser of a film that asks you to figure out who is telling the truth and why,” said Mims.  While Willingham’s death has become a call for reform in forensics and a rallying cry for the anti-death penalty movement, he remains an indisputable “monster” in the eyes of Governor Perry, who ignored the science that could have saved Willingham’s life.  
“We set out to make a film that sticks to the facts of the original event and the scientific evidence surrounding the case,” said Bailey.  “We had no other cause.  But with the inevitable injection of politics into the story, the film needed to pull back the curtain on some rough and ready political hardball.”  
Winner of the 2011 Louis Black South by Southwest Award, INCENDIARY garnered critical acclaim in limited theatrical release.  Anne Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote: “Nonfiction filmmaking at its most classic.  Crime, punishment, morality and hardball politics make for an explosive narrative mix all their own.” “Alarming viewing for anyone who cares about the American justice system,” wrote Sheri Linden for the Los Angeles Times.  Art Levine of the Huffington Post called INCENDIARY:  “A gripping, visually stunning indictment of a miscarriage of justice as great as that chronicled in Errol Morris’s groundbreaking THE THIN BLUE LINE.” 
INCENDIARY:  THE WILLINGHAM CASE is available for rental or purchase on Apple’s iTunes store and on DVD via incendiarymovie.com.
For more information on INCENDIARY and the Willingham case, visit INCENDIARYMOVIE.COM.
Co-Director Steve Mims (middle)

From an email from Charlie Baird, who is challenging Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg in the Democratic Primary:

“Why don’t you just hush?”

Last night, at a community meeting to discuss the shooting of Byron Carter, Jr. by an Austin Police Officer, that’s what my opponent said to me when I tried to expose some of the hypocrisy of the District Attorney’s office related to its grand jury process in high profile cases.

After the story about last night’s meeting came out in today’s Austin American-Statesman, my e-mail inbox and my voicemail have been filling up with folks contacting me about this. They simply cannot believe that our incumbent District Attorney is so frightened of her true record being exposed that she would stoop to such levels. They cannot believe that a public servant–who answers to the voters—would actually try and ‘hush’ debate about her job performance.

I could not agree more—and I’ll tell you something else: I will not ‘hush.’

Throughout my career as a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, as a law professor, and as a judge on the 299th District Court here in Travis County, I’ve never been one to ‘hush’ when I see something wrong with our legal system.

Travis County does not have a criminal justice system that reflects the values and standards of the people of Travis County.

The average person in this county does not accept the fact that it has taken almost a full year for a grand jury to address a police officer shooting an unarmed civilian. The average person in this county does not agree with the fact that our DA’s office does not operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week like it does in other cities. The average person in this county does not agree with the fact that a state representative can simply get five years probation–and still keep his taxpayer funded pension and simply reimburse his campaign account–while a parent is tried as a felon for stealing diapers for their child.

Throughout the course of this campaign, I have talked about bringing justice that works to Travis County. Justice that works isn’t a justice system where critics of the system are told to ‘hush.’ It is a transparent system that takes input from the community and reflects the values of the people on whose behalf justice is administered. That’s the kind of justice system we’ll have when I’m District Attorney.


Charlie Baird

A Williamson County jury  has sentenced a man convicted of capital murder to life without parole, instead of death. The rejection of a death sentence is part of a nationwide decline in death sentences, as well as a major decline in Texas. In 2011, only 8 people were sentenced to death in Texas. In the late 1990’s almost 40 people were sentenced to death each year. More and more people serving on juries are now rejecting death sentences and choosing life without parole. One reason why death sentences are in decline is that people who serve on juries are members of the public who have read about all the problems in the death penalty system.

Bobby Burks Jr. was convicted last week of the robbery and fatal shooting of 18-year-old Raul Vizueth Torres, whom he ambushed on a Williamson County road in April 2010.

To impose the death penalty, the jury had to decide that Burks poses a future danger to society and that there are no mitigating circumstances in his case. One of the prosecutors, Jane Starnes, said this morning in closing arguments that Burks’ criminal history showed he would be a future threat.

More from the Austin-American Statesman.

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