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.

Scheduled Executions in Texas

Texas has passed 500 executions in the modern era since the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty was constitutional. Texas conducted its first execution after the ruling in 1982.

To express your opposition to any execution, you can contact Governor Rick Perry’s office at 512 463 2000. If you call after business hours, you can leave a voice mail message. During business hours, someone should answer the phone. You can also send a message using a form on Perry’s official website.

503) Douglas Feldman, July 31, 2013

TDCJ Info on Feldman

Letter from Feldman to Gawker.com

504) Robert Garza, September 19, 2013 (Law of Parties case)

TDCJ Info on Garza

505) Arturo Diaz, September 26, 2013

TDCJ Info on Diaz

506) Michael Yowell, October 9, 2013

TDCJ Info on Yowell

507) Rigoberto Avila Jr, January 15, 2014

TDCJ Info on Avila, Jr

500The 500th execution in Texas is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, 2013 when Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled for execution. The execution may still be stayed, as legal appeals are still pending.

To express your opposition to the execution, you can contact Governor Rick Perry’s office at 512 463 2000. If you call after business hours, you can leave a voice mail message. During business hours, someone should answer the phone. You can also send a message using a form on Perry’s official website.

The protest in Austin of the 500th execution will be on the sidewalk in front of the Texas Capitol facing Congress Avenue at 11th Street, at 5:30 pm.

The protest in Huntsville will be outside the Walls Unit on the corner of Avenue I at 12th Street, starting around 5:30 pm on execution days. Executions take place at 6:00 PM.

From the New York Times:

On Wednesday, Texas is scheduled to execute its 500th death-row inmate since the Supreme Court restored capital punishment in 1976. The state hasexecuted nearly five times as many people as Virginia, the second state on the list.

Texas’s death penalty system is notorious for its high tolerance of ineffective counsel for defendants, overly zealous prosecutors, and racial discrimination in jury selection. The case of Kimberly McCarthy, the woman scheduled for execution, seems tainted by all three.

Ms. McCarthy is an African-American who was sentenced to death in 2002 for murdering a white woman. That’s not surprising: In Texas as well as other states, a black person who murders a white person is more likely to receive the death penalty than when the victim is black.

The 12-person jury that convicted and sentenced Ms. McCarthy included only one person who wasn’t white, after prosecutors used their peremptory, or automatic, challenges to strike three other non-whites. That was in apparent violation of a Supreme Court ruling against purposeful exclusion of minorities from a jury when a minority is the defendant.

The defense counsel did not challenge these apparently unconstitutional race-based strikes or request the kind of hearing for doing so that the Supreme Court allows. The lawyer did not raise the issue on appeal. A different counsel did not raise the issue in the defendant’s later challenge through a writ of habeas corpus.

Because of these failures, no court has ever reviewed the merits of Ms. McCarthy’s claims about racial discrimination. Last week, Ms. McCarthy petitioned for that kind of review from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, represented by a new lawyer who is an expert in capital cases. As of Monday morning, the court had not yet decided the case. It is expected to rule by Tuesday.

Ms. McCarthy was convicted and sentenced in Dallas County, Texas where the prosecutor’s office has a well-documented history of intentional discrimination going back to the 19th century. Calling it history, though, misrepresents the reality. The discrimination has continued, on a modern foundation of deliberate bias.

In 1963, a manual of the office instructed that prosecutors should not take “Jews, Negroes, Dagos, Mexicans, or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated.” In 1986, the Dallas Morning News reported that county prosecutors were still trying to keep almost all blacks off juries by using peremptory challenges.

In one trial that year, prosecutors used challenges to keep 10 of 11 blacks in the pool of candidates from serving on a jury. They justified the strikes with race-neutral pretexts, which the Supreme Court called “incredible” and said indicated “the very discrimination the explanations were meant to deny.” It overturned the conviction of that defendant in 2005. Racial bias infected the case, Justice David Souter wrote, jeopardizing “the very integrity of the courts.”

In 2005, the Dallas Morning News took another look to see what progress Dallas County had made in the 19 years between the conviction and the reversal. The paper found that in a sample of 108 cases three years before – the year Ms. McCarthy was tried, convicted and sentenced – county prosecutors “excluded eligible blacks from juries at more than twice the rate they rejected eligible whites” and “being black was the most important personal trait affecting which jurors prosecutors rejected.”

Ms. McCarthy’s case seems to fit this offensive, unconstitutional pattern. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should stay her execution and give the case the review it warrants, scrutinizing the record of the trial for racial bias by the prosecutors.

 

 

Below is a criminal complaint filed by Rick Reed against Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. He alleges that Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg threatened correctional officers at the county jail in a way that amounts to third-degree felony obstruction or retaliation on the night she was arrested for drunk driving.

The American-Statesman has an article today entitled “Texas prison suicide rate high among inmates in isolation“. Everyone on Texas death row is held in solitary confinement. The term for solitary confinement is “administrative segregation”.

Between 2007 and 2012, the 8,000 to 9,000 state prisoners housed in administrative segregation made up between 5 and 6 percent of the total prison system census. Yet in a given year, the analysis shows, their suicides have accounted for as high as 40 percent of the self-inflicted deaths. Some years, the rate of suicide among administrative segregation inmates is more than 10 times that of the general prison population.

The deaths also add to the debate over confining mentally ill inmates for long periods in relative isolation. About a quarter of Texas inmates held in administrative segregation have a diagnosis of mental illness or mental retardation.

Below are the names of the 12 people on Texas death row who have committed suicide in the modern era. This list does not include attempted suicides, which would of course be a much higher number. It also does not include cases of self-mutilation that may not have been classified as suicide attempts, such as the case of Andre Thomas, who in 2009 used his bare hands to pull his one remaining eye out and ate it.

Suicides on Texas Death Row

John Devries committed suicide on July 1, 1974 by hanging himself with bed sheets. In 1973, revision to the Texas Penal Code had once again allowed assessment of the death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled it unconstitutional nationwide in 1972. Under the new statute, the first man (#507 John Devries) was placed on death row on February 15, 1974.

Kenneth Palafox, December 17, 1980

Stephen Mattox, June 26, 1983

Joseph Turner, July 5, 1986

James Gunter August 24, 1997

Deon Tumblin hanged himself in his cell on November 2, 2004.

Christopher Britton hanged himself in his death row cell on February 4, 2005.

Michael Johnson committed suicide by cutting his neck and arm on October 19, 2005, 15 hours before his scheduled execution. He wrote on the wall in blood “I didn’t do it”.

Jesus Flores bled to death after he cut his throat with a razor in his death row cell in Livington’s Polunksy Unit on January 29, 2008. He tried to scrawl a note with his blood on the cell wall. “It appeared he had tried to write something on the wall but it appeared largely illegible, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

William Robinson, 49, a psychologically troubled inmate, hanged himself with a bed sheet in his Jester 4 Unit cell on Feb 1, 2008.

Ronnie Neal, 39, committed suicide inside his death row cell at the Polunsky Unit by taking pills that he had saved up, June 12, 2010.

Selwyn Davis committed suicide on July 29, 2012. He apparently had accumulated a bunch of pills of some kind and then took them all at once. This was not his first suicide attempt on death row.

Texas Death Row Cell

Texas Death Row Cell

041913-Rosemary-Lehmberg-MUGApparently, there are more things going wrong in Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office than just her arrest and three weeks in jail for drunk driving. She is also not supervising her Assistant DAs well enough to prevent things like this from happening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Facebook page of Remove Rosemary Lehmberg:

Louis Castro Perez is on death row for a 1999 triple murder in south Austin. He maintains his innocence, and is fighting for testing of DNA from the scene. As you know, capital murder cases go through a lengthy appeal process. The appeals in this case are ongoing.

Here are the documents in the link (I highlighted the most important parts):

1. Order Withdrawing Execution Date and Death Warrant (12/4/2012)
2. Death Warrant (11/27/2012)
3. Case Docket Chronology from Perez’s ongoing appeal

Here’s the chronology suggesting incompetence:

08/29/2012: Perez files a Motion to Vacate Judgment. (This motion stays pending until 12/18/2012, with more appeals that follow it.)

11/27/2012: A Travis County Assistant DA (unnamed) makes a representation to Judge Karen Sage (a relatively new judge) that all of Perez’s appeals have been exhausted. Judge Sage therefore issues a “Death Warrant,” setting Perez’s execution by lethal injection for March 21, 2013. (However – his appeal is still pending!)

12/04/2012: Judge Sage issues what I describe as a somewhat frantic and frustrated order (based on my experience with judges’ tone) WITHDRAWING the execution order that was issued in November, stating:

“The Court’s action was based entirely on the representation of the Assistant District Attorney in this matter that all appeals and habeas proceedings had been concluded. … Had the Court understood this motion was pending, it would not have issued the Order or Warrant.”

 

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