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.
Texas_governors_mansionAttend the rally to stop the execution of Jeff Wood at the Texas Governor's Mansion on Saturday, July 23, 2016. Tell Governor Abbott and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop the execution of Jeff Wood! Texas has set his execution for August 24th - despite the fact that he killed no one. Meet at the front gate of the mansion at 4 PM, 1010 Colorado St, Austin, Texas. Terri Been, sister of Jeff Wood, will speak at the rally, as well as others. Sponsors include Texas Moratorium Network, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. Contact the organizers on the event page to be listed as a co-sponsor.   In 2007, we stopped the execution of Kenneth Foster - also sentenced under the Law of Parties in Texas. Since then, this law has been scrutinized by the Texas legislature, although they haven’t taken action to change it. People are looking at this law and at Jeff’s case - and we have a chance to save him!
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Here are are some actions you can take:
FOR TEXANS: Attend and spread the word about this rally for Jeff, planned for Saturday, July 23rd at 4PM at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, TX.
*For information about a caravan from Houston, please visit contact the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement at https://www.facebook.com/groups/272...
Sign and share this petition for Jeff Wood. We need to gather as many signatures as possible over the next few weeks.
Write a clemency letter for Jeff - and think of others you can ask to write a letter, including prominent people in your community. Copies of your letter should be mailed to both the Governor of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. A sample clemency letter, with addresses for both, can be found here: http://nodeathpenalty.org/sites/def...
*Please also send a copy of your letter to the Save Jeff Wood Campaign at 246 County Road 7611, Devine, Texas, 78016
Donate to the campaign to Save Jeff Wood. As the fundraising page states - we need funds to pay for printing, postage, travel, hosting death row exonerates and others to speak out for Jeff, as well as other unforeseen expenses.
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Jeff was charged under the controversial Law of Parties, and was not the shooter in this crime, nor was he even in the building when the shooting took place. This unjust law states that even though a co-defendant may NOT have participated in the crime or caused a death, he can still face the death penalty. It also states that he should have "anticipated" the crime; which was not possible in this case as Jeff had no knowledge that a robbery would even be taking place that day, let alone a murder. Even if a person did not harm anyone, they can still get the death penalty if they were involved in a crime where someone else killed a person, because they should have “anticipated that a human life would be taken.”
FINAL-tdp16-CRUZ-LogoThe Texas Democratic Party Platform approved at the State Convention Saturday June 18 , 2016 supports abolishing the death penalty. It also supports establishing a moratorium on executions to study the death penalty. Support for a moratorium is crucial to abolishing the death penalty, because every state that has abolished the death penalty in the modern era has first had either an official or de-facto moratorium before abolishing the death penalty.
"Democrats Against the Death Penalty", started by Scott Cobb in 2004, held a caucus at the State Convention. Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr spoke about his bill he filed last session to abolish the death penalty and urged everyone to get involved in the upcoming session to ensure his bill gets a committee hearing.
Steven Been spoke about his brother-in-law Jeff Wood, who has a scheduled execution date of August 24, 2016. Wood was convicted under the Law of Parties and sentenced to death even though he did not kill anyone. The room was packed with more than 150 people. Steven had many in the audience wiping their eyes with his emotional and powerfully reasoned appeal to save the life of Jeff Wood. After he laid out his case, in a brilliant move of a natural public speaker he asked everyone in the audience to stand up if they believed Jeff should have his death sentence commuted. Everyone in the room got to their feet. Well done, Steven!
The section on the death penalty states:
 
Despite 13 death row exonerations in Texas in the last 11 years, the death chamber and its machinery are still fully operational in Texas. Death penalty exonerations have already revealed deep flaws in our State’s criminal justice system. Evidence, including scientific evidence, extensive studies by Innocence Project, major newspapers, and university research, strongly
suggests that Texas has already executed innocent defendants including Carlos DeLuna, Ruben Cantu, and Cameron Todd Willingham. We must take every step to ensure there is never another innocent person executed. Texas Democrats support and urge:
● the passage of legislation that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with the
punishment of life in prison without parole; and
● the Governor, Texas Legislature, and Texas Judiciary and Texas Prosecutors to impose a moratorium on capital punishment while an unbiased and objective study of the entire process, from arrest, conviction/sentencing, appeals at all state levels, and the execution process itself is shown to be reliable and without such grievous failures as have been evident in the recent past.
terribeenJeff Wood is scheduled for execution in Texas on August 24, 2016 under the law of parties even though he did not kill anyone. We need to persuade the Texas governor and members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Jeff’s death sentence. I have known Jeff's family for many years. His sister Terri Been is leading the effort to #savejeffwood. She has testified to the Texas Legislature to ban executions under the Law of Parties and spoken out many times to save her brother from an unjust execution. We created a petition to David G. Gutiérrez, Chair, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott, which says: "We are petitioning to save Jeff Wood from unjustly being put to death by the state of Texas on August 24, 2016 for a murder he did not commit. Jeff was charged under the controversial Law of Parties. He was not the shooter in this crime, nor was he even in the building when the shooting took place. This unjust law states that even though a co-defendant may not have killed anyone, he can still face the death penalty, because of the actions of another person. The actual shooter in this case, Daniel Reneau, has already been executed by the state of Texas." Four things to do: 1) Will you sign our petition? Click here to add your name.  2) You can also donate to the clemency campaign. We have about two months to move the public, the governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles and we need about $1,000 for the clemency campaign. 3) Attend the rally July 23 at the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin. 4) Write a clemency letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and to Governor Greg Abbott. Send the letters separately to each of their addresses. David Gutiérrez, Presiding Officer Board of Pardons and Paroles, Executive Clemency Section 8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, TX 78757 Governor Gregg Abbott, Office of the Governor, P.O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711-2428
On July 23, we will hold a rally at the Texas Governor’s Mansion. In 2009, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would have banned executions of people convicted under the law of parties. The bill died in the Senate. It will be introduced again in the next legislative session in January 2017. Jeff’s case is similar to Kenneth Foster’s, whose death sentence was commuted in 2007 by Governor Rick Perry after many people wrote clemency letters and more than 17,000 people signed a petition urging Perry to commute the death sentence, since Foster had not killed anyone. He was sentenced under the law of parties. There have been only ten executions in the U.S. of people convicted under law of parties statutes. Five of those people were executed in Texas. Terri Been wrote on Facebook:
I humbly ask you to help my family by taking a few minutes of your time to read a few facts regarding Jeff’s case and to sign his petition that we will be sending the governor! While you are on Jeff’s Web Page, I also ask that you take an extra minute or two to look at the other information we have in the how you can help section. For those of you who are familiar with Kenneth Foster’s case (which is very similar to Jeff’s case) it took their family over 17,000 messages to the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to get his sentence commuted to Life. This was accomplished by sending petitions, faxes, letters, and by making phone calls. I am eternally grateful for every single signature, but I need more. I need calls, letters and faxes to go along with the petition signatures. I humbly ask that you help my family. Jeff is my baby brother and he did not kill anybody! Please ask yourselves what you would do if you were in my situation. What lengths would you go to if this was your family member?
Short case summary: At approximately 6:00 a.m. on Jan. 2, 1996, while Wood waited outside, Reneau entered the gas station with a gun and pointed it at Kris Keeran, the clerk standing behind the counter. Reneau ordered him to a back room. When he did not move quickly enough, Reneau fired one shot with a 22 caliber handgun that struck Keeran between the eyes. Death was almost instantaneous. Proceeding with the robbery, Reneau went into the back office and took a safe. When hearing the shot, Wood got out of the car to see what was going on. He walked by the door and looked through the glass. Then he went inside, and he looked over the counter and ran to the back, where Reneau was. Wood was then ordered, at gun point by Reneau, to get the surveillance video and to drive the getaway-car. Sign the petition, please. Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137 (1987), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court applied the proportionality principle to conclude that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for a felony murderer who was a major participant in the underlying felony and exhibited a reckless indifference to human life. If it goes to the Court again in the Wood case, they should be asked to find that enough change has occurred in public opinion since 1987 that there is now a national consensus that the death penalty should be banned in law of parties cases.
Kerry Cook, third from right. Photo by Michael Hall

Kerry Cook, third from right. Photo by Michael Hall

Texas Monthly's Michael Hall reports:
For almost 39 years, prosecutors in the Smith County District Attorney’s office have done their best to either send Kerry Max Cook to death row, keep him there, or—after he was freed on bond in 1997—prevent him from ever being able to walk the streets with absolute impunity. Today, these efforts stopped. This morning, in the 114th District Court of Smith County, district attorney Matt Bingham agreed to not contest Cook’s writ of habeas corpus—and to join with Cook’s attorneys in recommending that his murder conviction be overturned. Cook, who has sworn his innocence since he was arrested in August 1977 for the murder of Linda Jo Edwards, has finally been legally exonerated.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Monday the agency has received court documents setting 42-year-old Jeffrey Wood for lethal injection Aug. 24. Wood was convicted under the Texas law of parties, which makes the participant in a capital murder equally culpable of the crime. Evidence showed his roommate, Daniel Reneau, fatally shot 31-year-old Kerrville store clerk Kriss Keeran. Reneau was executed in 2002.
Rep. Harold Dutton’s bill to ban the death penalty in law of parties cases (HB 341) was approved by the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence in the 2015 session. The committee recommended that it “be reported favorably to the full house with the recommendation that it do pass”. The vote was 4-2. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted yes.
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