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.

The “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” will be held in Austin from March 14-18, 2011. The full schedule and a registration form is on the website: www.springbreakalternative.org/deathpenalty. Special guests include six exonerated people who all-together spent about 50 years condemned to death for crimes they did not commit: Anthony GravesClarence BrandleyShujaa GrahamRon KeineGary Drinkard and Albert Burrell 


Now is an important time in the national effort to end the death penalty. After 11 years of a moratorium, Illinois may soon abolish the death penalty if the governor signs the abolition bill he has been sent by Illinois legislators. Students who attend the alternative spring break will train to join the national effort against the 
death penalty and to help stop executions in Texas – the number one execution state in the United States. 

Other speakers include:

  • former Bexar County District Attorney Sam Millsap
  • former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Charlie Baird, who will be on a panel together with Sam Millsap on Monday March 14 at 7 PM (room at UT-Austin to be announced).
  • Danielle Dirks, who teaches the course “Capital Punishment in America” in the Sociology Department at the University of Texas at Austin.
All events are free and open to the public, both studets and non-students. The first two days will be held on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin in a room to be announced. The second two days will be held at the Texas Capitol. Rooms to be announced.

On Wednesday, March 16, students will participate in a “Day of Innocence” Lobby Day and attend a panel discussion with the six death row exonerees at 3:00 PM in the Texas Capitol (room to be announced). The spring breakers will join other people from across Texas who will come to the Capitol in Austin on the “Day of Innocence” to advocate for reforms that would impact the Texas death penalty, including a package of innocence bills, a bill for a moratorium on executions and a commission to study the death penalty system and a bill to require separate trials in death penalty cases.

Students will organize a rally against the death penalty at 5:30 PM on the South Steps on March 16. 

On Thursday, March 17 at noon, participants in the alternative spring break will attend a screening at the SXSW Film Festival of the new documentary “Incendiary” about the case of Todd Willingham. There will be a Q&A with the Austin filmmakers Steve Sims and Joe Bailey, Jr after the screening.



Austin is an appropriate location for this alternative spring break because Texas is the number one execution state in the United States. 466 people have been executed in Texas since 1982, including people who may have been innocent, such as Todd Willingham, Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna.


Alternative spring breaks are designed to give high school and college students something meaningful to do during their week off. The specific purpose of this alternative spring break is to train the next generation of human rights leaders by bringing students to Austin for five days of anti-death penalty activism, lobbying and education. “We will provide participants with workshops that will teach them skills they can use to go back home and set up new anti-death penalty student organizations or improve ones that may already exist. Participants can apply what they learn to organize against the death penalty or in their activities involving other issues,” said Hooman Hedayati, recently hired as Texas Field Organizer for Witness to Innocence. Hedayati participated in the 2005 alternative spring break as a high school senior. 


Students will gain valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying and media relations. There will be opportunities to write press releases, organize a press conference with death row exonerees, speak in public, meet with legislators or their aides, and organize a rally at the capitol.



The “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” was started by Texas Moratorium Network in 2004. It is now organized and co-sponsored by Students Against the Death Penalty, TMN, Witness to Innocence, Campaign to End the Death Penalty – Austin chapter, Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing, Campus Progress, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights and Amnesty International.


This is an historical echo to what happened in 1964 when people came down to the South during the Civil Rights Movement to register people to vote during Freedom Summer. This is similar to what was going on back then, but here the issue is organizing against the death penalty. Many young people from across the nation and throughout Texas have come to Austin over the years to learn about the injustice of the death penalty, train to take action to oppose executions and gain experience lobbying about the death penalty.


There is no participation fee for the “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” except for those people who need housing. Housing is $25, which gets participants a place to sleep for four nights in a dormitory or hotel room. Participation for students who do not need housing, because they live in Austin or are making their own housing arrangements is free, but everyone is asked to register so the organizers know how many people to expect. Participants are expected to travel to Austin at their own expense and pay for their meals and incidental expenses while in Austin. In their free time, students who are interested in music and film will have time to attend some of the events of the world-renowned SXSW festival.


To register for the “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break”, people may visit: http://www.springbreakalternative.org/deathpenalty




Judge Charlie Baird will speak at the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break on Monday, March 14, at 7 PM (room to announced). Judge Baird will be on a panel with former Bexar District Attorney Sam Millsap. 
The Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, running from March 14 to the 18th, is a unique opportunity for people interested in human rights and the death penalty to spend their spring break learning from and working with experts on the death penalty as well as with six former death row exonerees who will be in attendance. To register, click here.
Judge Charlie retired from the 299th District Court of Travis County on December 31, 2010. Previously, Judge Baird served on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas’ highest criminal appellate court, from 1990 through 1998. Judge Baird handled many appeals as a judge on the CCA. Judge Baird was the first judge in the nation to preside over a posthumous exoneration, that of Timothy Cole, an innocent person who died while in prison before he could prove his innocence. In 2010 Judge Baird heard testimony by attorneys for the family of Todd Willingham who were seeking a ruling on whether Willingham was wrongfully convicted. The hearing was stopped by a higher court decision and Judge Baird was not allowed to issue a decision. 
Judge Baird was a visiting professor at Texas Tech University School of Law, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, and his alma mater, South Texas College of Law where he received the Student Bar Association’s Professor Excellence Award for 2004-2005 and 1999-2000. Judge Baird taught criminal law and procedure, criminal trial advocacy, capital punishment, and appellate and post-conviction remedies. And, while at Texas Tech, he supervised the students in the West Texas Innocence Project.
Judge Baird earned his Master of Laws in Judicial Process from The University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. In 1993, he was named the distinguished alumnus of South Texas College of Law where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1980. Judge Baird earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin in 1976.
Judge Baird has been a frequent speaker on criminal justice topics across Texas and has appeared on ABC, CNN, NBC and PBS. His scholarly articles appear in numerous publications including Stanford Law & Policy Review, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, South Texas College of Law Review, St. Mary’s Law Journal, Texas Bar Journal, and The Texas Law Reporter. In 2000 he testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on DNA testing and adequate representation in criminal cases.
Judge Baird’s wife, Kristin, is also an attorney; they are the proud parents of Olivia Faith and William Forrest Baird. A ferocious champion of the legal rights of the individual, Judge Baird considers his greatest contribution to be his unwavering and devoted defense of the accused.

People working to stop executions in Texas will spend the day on Wednesday, March 16, lobbying Texas legislators during the “Day of Innocence” and Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty. Register online.

Special guests on the “Day of Innocence” include six death row exonerees who together spent almost 50 years on death row for crimes they did not commit:  Anthony GravesClarence BrandleyShujaa GrahamRon KeineGary Drinkard and Albert Burrell.

“It is time for the Texas Legislature to pass reforms that will protect innocent people from the injustice of wrongful convictions and to stop executions with a moratorium on executions. Participants in the Lobby Day will also advocate for the two bills filed to abolish the death penalty or any death penalty related bill that is important to them, such as the bill requiring separate trials in death penalty cases or the Law of Parties bill”, said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network.
People interested in participating in the Lobby Day can register online. Registration is not mandatory, but it helps organizers schedule appointments with legislators.
The “Day of Innocence” will be a day we will always remember, a day when we stood side by side fighting against the death penalty with people who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. Don’t be one of those people who one day “shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here” and fought with us on the Day of Innocence”, said Cobb.
The “Day of Innocence” on March 16 will conclude with a rally at 5:30 PM on the South Steps of the Capitol.

Schedule for the Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and “Day of Innocence” – Wednesday March 16, 2011

The main base of operations for the “Day of Innocence” will be room E2.026 in the Texas Capitol

For more information, contact Scott Cobb at 512 552 4743

8 :00 – 9:00 AM Check-in and Meet and Greet at the Texas Capitol in room E2.026. Legislators, staff members, everyone coming to Austin for the Lobby Day and anyone at the capitol and the general public is welcome to attend and meet death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who all spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.
9 – 10 AM Lobby Training. People coming for Lobby Day will be trained and given assignments. People who received training before Lobby Day can begin lobbying. Location: Room E2.026 in the Texas Capitol.
Sometime during the day while the House and Senate are in session the death row exonerees may be recognized and honored with a resolution in the Texas House and/or Senate. 
10 AM – Noon Visit legislative offices to lobby legislators and their staff.
Noon – 1 PM Lunch on your own. There is a cafeteria in the Texas Capitol.
1 – 2 PM  Press conference and group photo in Texas House Speaker’s Committee Room 2W.6 at Texas Capitol with death row exonerees and others.
2 – 3 More lobbying visits to legislative offices. 
3:00 – 4:30 PM Panel Discussion on “Innocence and the Death Penalty” with six death row exonerees, Location: room E2.026 in the Texas Capitol. Panelists and guests include exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who are all innocent people who spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.
4:30:- 5:00 Set up for rally and final legislative office visits.
5:30 – 7:00 “Day of Innocence” Statewide Rally Against the Death Penalty on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol. Rally Speakers and other special guests include death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell.
Lobby Day has been organized since 2003 by several organizations working together, the same ones who also organize the annual “March to Abolish the Death Penalty” each October: Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty – Austin chapter, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.
Organizations that would like to participate or co-sponsor the Lobby Day can email admin@texasmoratorium.org or call 512-961-6389.

Six death row exonerees will speak at the 2011 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, which will be held in Austin, Texas from March 14-18, 2011.  The six exonerees spent more than 50 years on death row for crimes they did not commit: Anthony GravesClarence BrandleyShujaa GrahamRon KeineGary Drinkard and Albert Burrell
Register nowAll events are free and open to the public, both students and non-students. The first two days will be held on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin in a room to be announced. The second two days will be held at the Texas Capitol. 

On Wednesday, March 16, the six death row exonerees and students participating in the alternative spring break will attend a “Day of Innocence” Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty at the Texas Capitol, including a panel discussion with the six death row exonerees at 3:00 PM in the Texas Capitol (room to be announced). Students will also organize a rally against the death penalty at 5:30 PM on the South Steps on March 16.

The Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break is a unique opportunity for people interested in human rights and the death penalty to spend so much time learning from and working with so many death row exonerees. Register now so that you can hear their powerful stories of how innocent people can be wrongfully condemned to death. They made it out alive, but other innocent people are still on death row.

Anthony Graves receiving $3,000 in donations from Texas Moratorium Network's Scott Cobb

Anthony Graves is the most recent death row exoneree in Texas. He was released and exonerated on October 27, 2010 after 18 years in prison, including 14 years on death row in Texas, for a crime that he did not commit. His story was profiled in an article entitled “Innocence Lost” by Pamela Colloff in Texas Monthly a few weeks before his release.  Photo of ANthonny receiving $3,000 in donations from Texas Moratorium Network’s Scott Cobb.
Graves was convicted for allegedly taking part in the barbarous murder of six family members in Burleson County in 1992. Killed were Bobbie Joyce Davis, her 16-year-old daughter and four grandchildren, all under the age of 10. In addition to being shot, the victims were stabbed and beaten with a hammer, and the house was set on fire. The only thing that linked Graves to the killings was a statement by co-defendant Robert Earl Carter, who claimed that he set the fire but that Graves had slain the family. In 2000, just minutes before Carter’s execution, he recanted that statement, and said he was totally responsible for the crimes.

In 2006, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that not only had prosecutors withheld evidence in Graves’ case, they also used false testimony. The case was overturned and a new trial ordered. Graves was taken from Death Row to the Burleson County jail to await another day in court. Rather than retry him, however, county prosecutors dismissed his case, and Graves walked out of jail last October a free man.
Clarence BrandleyClarence Brandley  spent 10 years on death row in Texas for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and released in 1990. Brandley was working as a high school custodian in Conroe, Texas, in 1980, when police arrested him for the murder of Cheryl Fergeson, a 16-year-old student.  In an all-too familiar scenario, the murder of an attractive blonde woman was reflexively blamed on an African-American man. While the police interviewed Brandley and one of his white co-workers, an interrogator proclaimed that, “One of you two is going to hang for this,” and told Clarence, “Since you’re the nigger, you’re elected.” In his first trial he faced an all-white jury. One juror refused to convict, causing a hung jury, and was met with a constant barrage of harassment and threats after the trial ended, ridiculed for being a “nigger-lover.” Clarence’s second all-white jury convicted him, and in 1981 he was sentenced to death. Brandley is the subject of the book White Lies by Nick Davies and a made for cable TV movie, “Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story.”
Shujaa Graham was exonerated in 1981 from California’s death row. As a prisoner at San Quentin in the 70’s, Shujaa became part of the prison activist movement, a reflection of the struggles against racism and injustice in the outside communities. In 1973, because of his leadership in the prison movement, Shujaa was targeted and framed in the murder of a prison guard at the Deul Vocational Institute in Stockton, California. The community became involved in his defense and supported him throughout four trials. Shujaa and his co-defendant, Eugene Allen, were sent to San Quentin’s death row in 1976, after a second trial in San Francisco. The district attorney had systematically excluded all African-American jurors, and in 1979, the California Supreme Court overturned the death conviction.
After spending three years on death row, Shujaa and his co-defendant continued to fight for their innocence. A third trial ended in a hung jury and after a fourth trial, they were found innocent. As Shujaa often says, he won his freedom and affirmed his innocence in spite of the system
.
Ron KeineRon Keine was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in New Mexico. Ron was nine days from execution when the real murderer confessed to a preacher. Along with three co-defendants, Ron Keine was convicted of the murder, kidnapping, sodomy and rape of University of New Mexico student William Velten in 1974 and was sentenced to die in New Mexico’s gas chamber. An investigation by The Detroit News after Ron and his co-defendants were sentenced uncovered lies by the prosecution’s star witness, perjured identification given under police pressure, and the use of poorly administered lie detector tests. Ron spent 22 months on death row until the real killer came forward and confessed. At one point, Ron says, he was so close to going to the gas chamber that an assistant warden came to talk to him about what he wanted for his last meal. In late 1975, a state district judge dismissed the original indictments and the four men were released in 1976 after the murder weapon was traced to a drifter from South Carolina who admitted to the killing. The murder weapon, a 22-caliber pistol, was found only after a search warrant was issued to open the sheriff’s safe. Not only was the murder weapon found, there was also dated evidence showing that the gun was hidden from the defense at the original trial. Since his exoneration, Ron has traveled the country to tell his powerful story of innocence with the Witness to Innocence Project. 
  
Gary DrinkardGary Drinkard is an innocent man who spent almost six years on death row in Alabama. Gary was sentenced to death in 1995 for the robbery and murder of a 65-year-old automotive junk dealer in Decatur, Alabama. He was assigned two court-appointed lawyers; one specialized in collections and commercial work and another represented creditors in foreclosures and bankruptcy cases. These lawyers failed to present two witnesses: physicians who would have testified that Gary’s recent back injury made committing the crime a physical impossibility. Despite being home at the time of the murders, Gary was convicted and given the death sentence.
Albert BurrellAlbert Burrell  After spending 13 years on death row, Albert Burrell was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on January 3, 2001, shortly after the Louisiana Attorney General dismissed charges against him and his co-defendant, Michael Graham. They had been sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of an elderly couple. Their convictions were thrown out because of a lack of physical evidence and suspect witness testimony used at trial. Albert came within 17 days of a scheduled execution in 1996 before his attorneys won a stay. Prosecutor Dan Grady acknowledged that the case was weak and “should never have been brought to [the] grand jury” to begin with.

State Rep Harold Dutton at 2005 Lobby Day

The 2011 Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and “Day of Innocence” is Wednesday, March 16. Special guests include death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Ron Keine, Shujaa Graham, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell. 


People from across Texas will come to the Capitol in Austin to advocate for an end to the death penalty and other reforms that would impact the Texas death penalty, including a package of innocence bills, a bill for a moratorium on executions and commission to study the death penalty system, a bill to require separate trials in death penalty cases and a separate bill that would prohibit death sentences for people convicted under the Law of Parties who do not kill anyone.


Below is the schedule for Lobby Day. We will announce rooms later. Please register for Lobby Day, so that we know how many people are coming and so that we can schedule legislative appointments. In 2009 our Lobby Day resulted in several legislators signing on to support the bills we lobbied for. We expect the same success in 2011. We have held a Lobby Day every session since 2003. Also participating in the Lobby Day will be students from the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break.


If you can not attend the Lobby Day, you can still help by making a donation (not tax-deductible).  Also on March 16, even if you are not in Austin at the Lobby Day, you can call your Texas legislators and let them know your position on the death penalty and urge them to support a moratorium on executions.

Schedule for the Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and “Day of Innocence” – March 16, 2011
8 :00 – 9:00 AM Check-in and Meet and Greet at the Texas Capitol. Legislators, staff members, everyone coming to Austin for the Lobby Day and anyone at the capitol and the general public is welcome to attend and meet death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who all spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.

9 – 10 AM Lobby Training. People coming only for Lobby Day will be trained and given assignments. People who received training before Lobby Day can begin lobbying.   Location: Room TBA in the Texas Capitol.

Sometime during the day while the House and Senate are in session the death row exonerees may be recognized and honored with a resolution in the Texas House and/or Senate. Participants in the “Day of Innocence” Lobby Day may also be recognized from the gallery of the House and/or the Senate.

10 AM – Noon Visit legislative offices to lobby and invite legislators and staff to the afternoon panel discussion with death row exonerees.

Noon – 1 PM Lunch on your own. There is a cafeteria in the Texas Capitol.

1 – 2 PM Press conference in Texas House Speaker’s Committee Room 2W.6 at Texas Capitol with death row exonerees and others.

2 – 3 Lobbying visits to legislative offices.
    
3:00 – 4:30 PM Panel Discussion on Innocence and the Death Penalty with death row exonerees, Location: room TBA in the Texas Capitol. Panelists and guests include exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who are all innocent people who spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.
  
4:30:- 5:00 Set up for rally and final legislative office visits.

5:30 – 7:30   “Day of Innocence” Statewide Rally Against the Death Penalty on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol.  
Rally Speakers and other special guests include death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell;  a couple of young people participating in the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break; plus others.

Lobby Day has been organized since 2003 by several organizations working together, the same ones who also organize the annual “March to Abolish the Death Penalty” each October: Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty – Austin chapter, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty. Organizations that would like to participate or co-sponsor the Lobby Day can email admin@texasmoratorium.org or call 512-961-6389.

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