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.

INCENDIARY is the true story of the conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murder of his three children in 1991, and of the resulting scientific, legal and political firestorm that rages today. Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama, INCENDIARY documents the haunted legacy of a prosecution built on ‘folklore’.

The world premiere will be at the SXSW Film Festival, Saturday March 12 at 4:30,Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas.

Additional screenings:

Thursday March 17 at 12:00PM, Rollins Theatre, 701 West Riverside Dr.

Saturday March 19, 5:30PM, Rollins Theatre, 701 West Riverside Dr

Texas Moratorium Network’s Scott Cobb and Hooman Hedayati of Witness to Innocence went to the Texas Capitol on Feb 16, 2011 with Lawrence Foster and Kenneth Foster Sr (grandfather and father of Kenneth Foster, Jr) to meet with legislators about a bill to require separate rials in capital cases. See photos here. Kenneth Foster Jr’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2007. He had been convicted and sentenced to death in a dual trial with his co-defendant. Governor Rick Perry said at the time of commuting the death sentence that the Legislature should take up the issue of requiring separate trials in death penalty cases. Perry said the dual trial issue was the reason he commuted the death sentence of Foster.

We also went with the Fosters to speak to Danielle Dirks’ capital punishment class at UT-Austin.

And while at the capitol, we met the family of Tim Adams as they were meeting legislators to urge support for clemency for Tim, who is scheduled for execution in Texas Feb 22, 2011. They had earlier in the day held a press conference at the capitol to urge clemency for Timothy Adams.

Call Texas Governor Perry to register your opposition to today’s execution in Texas of Michael Wayne Hall, who is mentally impaired. 512 463 2000. Email Perry through his website here.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Attorneys for a North Texas man set to die for the 1998 torture-slaying of a 19-year-old mentally challenged woman exactly 13 years ago Tuesday looked to the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution, the first of the year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state.
Michael Wayne Hall, 31, faces lethal injection for the abduction and murder of Amy Robinson. He was one of two men convicted in her 1998 slaying. Hall’s partner, Robert Neville, was put to death five years ago.
Lawyers for Hall argued he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty under a Supreme Court ruling barring capital punishment for those with an IQ under 70.
“Mr. Hall’s history of mental retardation reaches back to his childhood,” attorney Bryce Benjet said.
In appeals, Benjet questioned an assessment from one mental health expert who shifted from an earlier finding and said Hall was not mentally impaired. Three others who examined Hall said he was impaired.
Hall’s lawyers went to the Supreme Court a day after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — the state’s highest criminal court — refused to stop the punishment. Similar appeals have failed in other courts.
Join the Central Texas Chapter on Thursday, February 17th as we present our 2010 Civil Libertarian of the Year Award to Judge Charlie Baird. Click here for the Facebook event page.

“Thank You Charlie Baird!”
Thursday, February 17th, 6pm, Victory Grill
1104 E. 11th Street, Austin, TX, 78702
Open to the public; no admission charged

Judge Charlie Baird, having stepped down from the 299th District Court of Travis County December 31, 2010, and now entering private practice in the woman-owned Fowler Law Firm, will be honored by the community for his work on the bench.  Judge Baird led the justice system in his work on defending the innocently-incarcerated and with restorative justice solutions. He favored rehabilitative efforts for non-violent offenders not just as a means to give offenders a chance to succeed in life, but to decrease the burden on society and taxpayers. Fair-minded, compassionate and thoughtful, attorneys and defendants alike respected his approach and diligence to due process. He is also the first judge in the nation to preside over a posthumous exoneration, that of Timothy Cole.

The ACLU-TX, Central Texas Chapter is mobilizing the community to honor his work and wish him well as he ventures into the private realm and will present Judge Baird with its “Civil Libertarian of the Year” award for 2010 at this event.  NAACP-Austin, Gray Panthers-Austin, LULAC-District 12, Austin AFL-CIO Council, Witness to Innocence, Black Austin Democrats, Texas Moratorium Network, several law firms and many others are already co-sponsoring this event, and bringing their own accolades to present Judge Baird.   

All firms, groups and individuals are welcome to contact Debbie Russell, debmocracy@yahoo.com, if they wish to co-sponsor the event as well. Community groups/non-profits need not donate funds to sponsor.
For donating to the event (and becoming a member of ACLU-TX), you can go here, and in the “other” box, type the donation amount plus “for CTCLU Baird event” or one can simply bring a check with them made out to ACLU-TX, or if not wanting to donate to us, write a check to “The Victory Grill.” 

The State of Texas has rejected the application from Anthony Graves to receive compensation for his wrongful conviction and 18 years on Texas death row.

Read more here on the Houston Chronicle:

The Texas Comptroller’s Office has denied state compensation to Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years behind bars before a special prosecutor determined he was innocent and authorities dropped capital murder charges against him, Graves’ attorney said today.

The state determined that Graves, 45, who would have received $1.4 million had he been deemed eligible, should receive nothing because the word “innocence” was not used in the document ordering his release, according to Graves’ attorney, Nicole Casarez.

Casarez said she was informed of the refusal Friday after phoning the comptroller’s office to find out why she hadn’t received a response even though the 45-day limit to act on Graves’ request had lapsed.

A letter e-mailed to Casarez from the comptroller’s office said that the order dismissing the charges must say that Graves is innocent. Casarez said the office should have taken her client’s unique circumstances into consideration.

“I had spoken to so many people who seemed to think it was possible, I did get my hopes up and I am very disappointed,” Casarez said. “I know that he is very disappointed, too.”
Graves can’t seek a pardon from Gov. Rick Perry, Casarez said, because he has nothing to be pardoned for and asking for a pardon would be tantamount to admitting guilt. She said a civil suit seeking compensation was one of several options that would be discussed with attorneys who specialize in that particular type of law.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006 overturned Graves’ 1994 conviction for the slaying of a grandmother, her 16-year-old granddaughter and four grandchildren in Somerville, Burleson County.

The appeals court found that the prosecution withheld information from the defense and elicited false testimony.

A new trial was ordered and former Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler took over the case as special prosecutor in 2010. She found the original investigation riddled with errors and recommended to Burleson-Washington County District Attorney Bill Parham that the charges be dropped.

Parham agreed and both said at an October news conference that Graves was innocent.
Casarez said other attorneys had assured her that the comptroller’s office could approve the compensation because of the public statement’s prosecutors had made about his innocence.
“Even though the order didn’t contain those magical words … I was certain the Comptroller’s Office would take a very full look at it,” she said.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Texas Moratorium Network delivered $3,000 to Anthony Graves that we raised from our supporters and friends. Now that the State of Texas is refusing to compensate Anthony, there may be more people who want to make a donation to Anthony, so here is the link to make an online donation by credit card. You may also send a check made out to “Texas Moratorium Network” to 3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251, Austin, Texas 78731. Donations to TMN are not tax-deductible. Please mark on your check that you donation is for Anthony Graves.

KVUE’s Jennie Huerta reported on our delivery of $3,000 in donations we collected from Texas Moratorium Network’s supporters and friends from across Texas, other U.S. states and other countries. Scott Cobb, president of TMN, and friends from Campaign to End the Death Penalty and Witness to Innocence delivered the donations to Anthony on Saturday, November 20. Watch the video on YouTube.

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