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 2010 platform of the Texas Republican Party endorses the death penalty for people convicted of rape.

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 7-2 Coker v. Georgia decision that applying the death penalty in rape cases was forbidden by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as cruel and unusual punishment because the sentence was disproportionate to the crime. Coker resulted in the removal of twenty inmates — three whites and 17 blacks — awaiting execution on rape convictions from death rows around the country.

The 2010 Texas GOP platform also says that “all innocent human life must be protected”, but it does not address how to protect innocent people from being sentenced to death or executed, which is what likely happened to Todd Willingham.
The sentences in the Texas GOP platform that address the death penalty are:
Sexual Assault – Punishment options for rape should include death.

and

Capital Punishment – Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.

Austin officially supports the death penalty?
That’s the message to the community right now.
Our chief traveled out of town yesterday, in his formal City of Austin Police Chief uniform, and spoke to media at the Powell execution relaying sympathy for the mother of Ablenedo – but offering no sympathy to the family/friends of Powell, much less the mothers/family of those ‘executed’ by his officers here in our City. It seems officer’s lives are worth more than civilians. He did this on a chartered party bus while other APA officials and police officers partied here in Austin at Scholtz’ Garden as the execution was happening. 🙁
He can say all he wants it’s “not about revenge,” but those words ring hollow when his actions speak WAY louder.
He can personally be an advocate for the unjust death penalty, and with it, an advocate for revenge-based, not reform-based criminal justice, but should he be doing it as a representative of the City? And doesn’t that personal belief extend to how he shapes policies and practices (like rushed/botched investigations we almost always see in capital murder cases)? I challenge any City leader that questions this to publicly raise the issue. I challenge our City Manager to appropriately discipline him for this careless act done in our name.
There’s been a lot to be disappointed about in our City lately, but I’ve never been more ashamed or less hopeful for reform.
In sadness,
Debbie Russell
scene in Huntsville:

Below are photos and a video of the demonstration held at the Texas Capitol on June 14, 2010 to stop the execution of David Powell, which was carried out the next day on June 15, 2010.

The Austin American-Statesman also published an article and photo in the newspaper:


Powell is set to die shortly after 6 p.m. for the shooting death of Austin police officer Ralph Ablanedo during a traffic stop in 1978.
While Ablanedo’s family members gathered in Huntsville, where the state’s execution chamber is located, more than three dozen Powell supporters rallied Monday at the state Capitol to urge elected officials to halt the execution.
Organizer Scott Cobb, with the Texas Moratorium Network, said Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was the protest’s main target. “To kill David Powell is not a reflection of our values as Austinites,” he said. “She could really stop this execution.”
But Lehmberg, who has for several months received daily calls and e-mails pleading for Powell’s life, said Monday that she will not intervene by asking District Judge Mike Lynch to withdraw the execution warrant or Gov. Rick Perry to grant a 30-day reprieve.
“My position hasn’t changed, which is that Travis County juries, who are hesitant to ever sentence death, have heard this case three times,” Lehmberg said. “I will not intervene and substitute my judgment for theirs, even if I could.”

CNN has more on this developing story.


After nearly eight months of deliberation, Judge Paul Murphy ruled on June 11 that Jones’ father Claude, executed in 2000 for the murder of a Point Blank, Texas, liquor-store owner, should have another day in court. Specifically, that the only physical evidence linking Jones to the crime — a one-inch piece of hair that somehow survived a destruction order years ago — had to be preserved, against the wishes of San Jacinto County, and transferred to an independent forensics laboratory for DNA testing that wasn’t available during the original trial.

Barry Scheck, the co-director of the Innocence Project, which sued (along with the Texas Observer magazine) to have the hair tested, said, “We undertook this litigation for two reasons: to find the truth and to vindicate the public’s right to know. We’re glad the judge agreed with us.” William Knull, the Houston lawyer who represented Scheck and the others, called it a “victory for the idea that the public has a right of access to the facts.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1996809,00.html?hpt=T2#ixzz0r5cHPqaC

Texas judge orders DNA test decade after execution

DALLAS — For the second time in a year, the guilt of an inmate executed in Texas is in doubt after a judge ordered DNA testing on a strand of hair that was the only physical evidence linking a man to the murder for which he was killed 10 years ago.
Judge Paul C. Murphy ordered testing done on a 1-inch-long strand that helped prosecutors convict Claude Jones of capital murder in the 1989 shooting death of liquor store owner Allen Hilzendager near Point Blank, about 75 miles north of Houston.
“This is a DNA test that could prove someone was wrongly executed,” said Barry Scheck, the co-director of the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal center that helped ensure the preservation of the strand of hair.
Jones, a career criminal and paroled murderer, always insisted he was innocent. He died in 2000, the last of 40 inmates executed in Texas that year and the last of 152 inmates put to death during former President George W. Bush’s time as governor.
Murphy, a retired appellate judge assigned to the case, ordered the test Friday. In April in a separate case, a state forensics panel renewed its review of a questionable arson finding that led to the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of setting the fire that killed his three children.
According to the Innocence Project, Texas leads the nation with 40 DNA exonerations. Gov. Rick Perry issued the state’s first posthumous pardon of a DNA exoneree in March. Tim Cole, wrongly convicted of a 1985 rape, died in prison of complications from asthma in 1999.
In Jones’ case, a hair analysis expert linked the strand to Jones at his trial. The other primary evidence was testimony from an accomplice, who later acknowledged in an affidavit that he had no firsthand knowledge of the killing and said he testified against Jones to get himself a lighter sentence.
The single strand of hair allegedly belonging to Jones inexplicably survived, although it was supposed to have been destroyed years ago after the case was resolved. In 2007, a state district judge ordered it preserved to leave open the possibility of DNA testing after the Innocence Project, other innocence groups and The Texas Observer, a biweekly magazine, sought a temporary restraining order preventing its destruction.
San Jacinto County District Attorney Bill Burnett, the prosecutor in the case, died two weeks ago of pancreatic cancer. He had pushed first to have the hair destroyed and then to prevent DNA testing, arguing a jury’s verdict should be final and only a live defendant could request DNA testing.
Montgomery County Attorney David Walker, who had been handling the case for Burnett, was expected to be out of his office for the rest of the week and did not return a message left Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Duane Jones, Claude Jones’ son, said he was willing to accept the results of the testing, which could clear his father or confirm his conviction.
“Every chance we have … to discover and expand on the truth, it is incumbent on our justice system to do just that,” Duane Jones said.
Claude Jones was 60 when he was executed. His first robbery conviction was in 1959. He also served time in Kansas for robbery, murder and assault. While locked up there, he was convicted of killing a fellow inmate by throwing gasoline on him and setting him on fire. By 1984, however, he was out on parole despite a life term.
“If he was caught, he’d fess up to what he had done,” Duane Jones said. “This was the only thing he ever denied. He said the only thing he had was his honor, and he was telling the truth about this thing.”
Lab notes indicate the hair expert originally thought the sample size was too small. Also, the microscopic hair analysis done on the strand is now considered unreliable, Scheck said.
The hair must be transferred to a laboratory within 60 days, according to the order. The tests could link the hair to Jones, one of his alleged accomplices or the victim. It also could be a stray hair.
Scheck said if the test proves the hair did not come from Jones, it will show the state had no grounds on which to convict. In Texas, a defendant cannot be convicted on the testimony of an accomplice unless there is corroborating evidence, he said.
According to The Innocence Project, which obtained records in a Freedom of Information filing, Bush’s staff never mentioned the possibility of DNA testing in briefing material given to the governor when he was considering a stay of execution.
Jones’ execution was delayed for 30 minutes when jailers were unable to find a suitable vein in either arm. They eventually used a vein in his leg to inject a lethal cocktail of drugs.
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