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.

Texas tonight executed Cary Kerr. He was the third person executed in Texas in 2011 and the 467th person executed in Texas since 1982.  Kerr was the 228th person executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor. The next execution scheduled in Texas is June 1 when Gayland Bradford is scheduled for execution. There are four people scheduled for execution in Texas in June 2011.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Tarrant County killer Cary Kerr was executed tonight, becoming the first inmate to receive the state’s new lethal injection cocktail.
Kerr, 46, who was convicted of raping and killing a Haltom City woman in 2001, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay but was denied Tuesday evening. The execution was scheduled for sometime after 6 p.m.
Kerr was the third person executed in Texas this year.
If the court had blocked the execution, it would have been the second time in four weeks that a convicted killer from Tarrant County had escaped his date with death.
On April 5, the Supreme Court gave Cleve Foster a temporary stay, knocking him out of position to be the first inmate injected with the new drug cocktail.
Earlier this year, the American manufacturer of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs used in Texas’ executions, stopped making the drug. In its place, prison officials plan to use pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals.
The court’s decision, however, had nothing to do with Texas’ plans to use the new drug, nor did Kerr’s appeal.
Both condemned men claimed that they received poor legal help after they were convicted of capital murder in Fort Worth and sentenced to death.
The high court has agreed to hear an Alabama case with a similar claim of poor, post-conviction lawyers, and is also deciding whether to review Foster’s case and another similar case out of Arizona.
The background
In March 2003, Kerr was sentenced to death for raping and killing Pamela Horton, a mother of four whose body was found at 2 a.m. July 12, 2001, on Northeast 28th Street in Haltom City. Kerr was arrested after he drew attention to himself at the crime scene, asking paramedics to pull back the cloth covering her body so he could identify her.
Police found Horton’s purse in Kerr’s car and her torn bra and panties in his home. DNA tests showed Kerr’s semen in her mouth.
Kerr acknowledged that he had sex with Horton at his home after a night of drinking, but claims she left his apartment after an argument.
Last week, Kerr’s newest lawyer, Brad Levenson — director of the state’s new Office of Capital Writs, which was created by lawmakers to provide better representation for Death Row inmates — asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stay Kerr’s execution on the grounds that he has had poor legal representation.
Levenson argued that if Kerr’s trial attorneys had presented mitigating evidence about Kerr’s background, including his abandonment by his birth mother, his alcoholic father, and sexual assaults by neighbors, jurors might have sentenced him to life in prison, rather than death.
Levenson claimed that one of Kerr’s post-conviction attorneys, also known as “habeas counsel, should have raised those errors in his appeal, but he was “grossly incompetent.”
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office responded that prisoners don’t have a right to effective assistance of habeas counsel in post-conviction proceedings. While the Constitution guarantees the right to competent attorneys at trial, there is no constitutional right to an effective habeas lawyer.
The Texas court agreed with the district attorney’s office and denied Levenson’s request, but in a strongly worded dissent, two justices recommended staying Kerr’s execution until the issue can be further reviewed.
Levenson then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to grant Kerr a stay until it can explore whether there is a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in post-conviction proceedings — a claim that successfully halted the execution of Foster, who was set to die for the 2002 rape and murder of Mary Pal in Fort Worth.
Attorneys for the Texas attorney general’s office contended that the question of competent habeas counsel was irrelevant, not only because Death Row inmates don’t have the right to effective post-conviction attorneys, but because it wouldn’t have affected Kerr’s sentence.

Click here to watch the full episode from 48 Hours Mystery about the case of Anthony Graves.

After you have watched the episode and learned how an innocent person was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Texas, you will probably want to take some action to help us stop executions in Texas. Please contact these four key members of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1641, the bill by State Rep. Harold Dutton that would enact a moratorium on executions and create a commission to study the death penalty in Texas.

Will Hartnett (Republican, District 114 – Dallas) 

phone: (512) 463-0576  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/willhartnett

Jose Aliseda (Republican, District 35 – Beeville)  

phone: (512) 463-0645   
Email form   http://tinyurl.com/josealiseda

Cindy Burkett (Republican, District101 – Mesquite) 

phone: (512) 463-0464  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/cindyburkett

Stefani Carter (Republican,District 102 – Dallas) 

The video from CBS’s 48 Hours does not display correctly when embedded, so please visit the 48 Hours website to watch the full video online.

Next Saturday, April 23, the story of Anthony Graves will be told on “48 Hours Mystery in an episode entitled “Grave Injustice”, at 10 PM Eastern and Pacific, 9 PM Central Time. The full program will also be viewable online after it airs. 

Anthony Graves is an innocent man who was exonerated and released on October 27, 2010 after spending 18 years incarcerated for murders that he did not commit. He is still seeking compensation from the State of Texas but so far he has been denied compensation. Last November, Texas Moratorium Network raised and donated more than $3,000 to Anthony to help him after his release (Watch video). 

We plan to urge members of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to watch the program on Anthony Graves next Saturday. After they learn more about Anthony’s tragic case of wrongful conviction and near execution, perhaps they will be moved enough by Anthony’s story to approve HB 1641, a bill that would create a death penalty study commission and enact a moratorium on executions. 

“48 Hours Mystery” preview: Grave Injustice

April 16, 2011 7:00 PM
Convicted of murder and sentenced to death… 16 years later, students help set him free. Richard Schlesinger reports Saturday, April 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7362998n#ixzz1Jr1AnvCR

Call the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1641, which would enact a moratorium on executions and create a death penalty study commission. 

Chair: Pete Gallego (Democrat, District 74 – Alpine)   (512) 463-0566  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/petegallego

Vice Chair: Will Hartnett (Republican, District 114 – Dallas)  (512) 463-0576  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/willhartnett

Jose Aliseda (Republican, District 35 – Beeville)   (512) 463-0645   
Email form   http://tinyurl.com/josealiseda

Cindy Burkett (Republican, District101 – Mesquite)  (512) 463-0464  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/cindyburkett

Stefani Carter (Republican,District 102 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0454  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/stefanicarter

Wayne Christian (Republican,District 9 – Center)  (512) 463-0556  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/waynechristian

Yvonne Davis (Democrat, District 111 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0598  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/yvonnedavis

Eddie Rodriguez (Democrat, District 51 – Austin)   (512) 463-0674   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/repeddierodriguez

Bill Zedler (Republican,District 96 – Arlington)   (512) 463-0374   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/billzedler

Here is the draft of the report on the Todd Willingham case that will be discussed at the meeting of the Texas Forensic Science Commission this Thursday and Friday. The AP says “the Texas Forensic Science Commission said Thursday it will not issue a finding on the arson determination until the state attorney general rules whether it has jurisdiction to do so.“.
Draft of Report by Texas Forensic Science Commission on Todd Willingham Case

The Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet, Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15 in Austin. The last item on the agenda is to “Consider Willingham/Willis (#09-01) report draft and adopt final report“. The hearing starts at 1 PM on Thursday and at 9:30 AM on Friday. It is likely that they will not get to the major discussion on the Willingham case until Friday, since it is last on the agenda.

There is a public comment period on the agenda for this meeting right before the discussion on the Todd Willingham report. 

The chair of the Commission, John Bradley, has lost support in the Texas Senate because of the way he has performed his duties as chair, so this will likely be his last meeting.
The hearing is in the Central Services Building, 1711 San Jacinto Boulevard Room 402 in Austin. 
Before his execution, Todd Willingham said, “Please don’t ever stop fighting to vindicate me.”
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