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.

The Austin-American Statesman now has more about this new filing:

With David Lee Powell scheduled to be executed shortly after 6 p.m. tonight, defense lawyer Richard Burr this morning asked an appeals court to halt the lethal injection because of alleged misconduct by Travis County’s top prosecutor.

The filing with the Court of Criminal Appeals accuses District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg of providing false statements to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which was considering Powell’s request to have his death sentence reduced to a life term.

To counter the defense argument that Powell had led an exemplary life on death row, Lehmberg’s June 4 letter included testimony from Powell’s 1999 retrial, when a witness claimed Powell made an assassination threat against the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Lehmberg, a former member of an anti-death penalty group — Jonathan Shrag — related the assassination threat to a lawyer with the Attorney General’s Office in a 1996 phone call.
But according to Powell’s latest appeal, Lehmberg failed to note Shrag’s testifimony that he had conversations with four or five death row inmates in 1993 and could not say for certain that Powell was the inmate who made the threat. Nor did Lehmberg acknowledge that a prosecutor declined to present the testimony to the jury “because of the uncertainty about whether Mr. Powell made the threat,” the appeal said.

“The district attorney had to know that this representation of the trial record was false and that it would have a devastating effect on the claim that Mr. Powell was not only not dangerous, but that he did not have the character to pose a risk of dangerousness,” the appeal reads.

New Motion for Stay of Execution for David Powell Filed to CCA

Stay Motion in Case of David Powell to CCA filed June 15, 2010

This is what happens with a parole board composed entirely of appointees of a Republican governor who has been in office for ten years. 

From the Austin American Statesman 
By Tony Plohetski | Friday, June 11, 2010, 02:17 PM
Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole unanimously voted today against commuting the death sentence of David Lee Powell, who fatally shot an Austin police officer 32 years ago.
Powell’s scheduled execution by lethal injection is set for Tuesday in Huntsville.
Powell is among the state longest-serving death row inmates; the state has never executed an inmate who has served so long behind bars.
Powell, 59, was convicted and sentenced to death in the May 18, 1978 death of Police Officer Ralph Ablanedo during a traffic stop in South Austin. Ablanedo was shot 10 times with an AK-47.
Powell’s supporters have said that in his time behind bars, he has counseled fellow inmates and helped others learn to read.
This week, Powell’s attorneys filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus to state District Judge Mike Lynch and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, saying that jurors inaccurately predicted his future dangerousness. Lynch has said that he will let the Court of Criminal Appeals rule. That court has not yet made a decision.
The recommendation of the board of pardons and parole now goes to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who can accept it or grant a one-time 30-day reprieve.

Monday, June 14, people in Austin will gather at the Texas capitol to express their support for stopping the execution of David Powell and commuting his death sentence.  The demonstration in support of clemency will take place Monday, June 14, on the sidewalk in front of the capitol at Congress and 11th Street at 5:30 pm. The execution is scheduled to take place the day after the protest. Groups organizing the protest include Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network and Students Against the Death Penalty. Join the Facebook page for this event here.

Powell has spent 32 years on death row, where he has become an example of how a person sentenced to death can transform his life and make a positive contribution to his community on death row as well as on the society outside prison. The Austin American Statesman has endorsed commuting Powell’s death sentence to life in prison without parole. The Austin Chronicle has also said that the execution should not take place. Thousands of people have written letters in support of clemency to District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Rick Perry can still grant a 30 day stay of execution. The contact information for Governor Perry is: (512) 463-1782 or through his email form on his website.

For more information on the Powell case, visit letdavidlive.org.

Monday, June 14, 2010
5:30pm – 7:30pm
Texas State Capitol
Congress and 11th
Austin, TX


by luke redfield

May 31, 2010

young man fell in with the wrong crowd
we all done things of which we ain’t proud
he may have not been right in the mind
and that don’t pardon his heinous crime
but david lee powell has shown his remorse
for the night in ’68 when he went off course

ralph ablanedo was a good man
his call of duty was patrolling the land
pulled david over, was fatefully shot
now killing david won’t bring back the cop
the officer’s gone, his family has lost
we can’t forget what christ has taught

you can’t forget what the good book says
you can’t forget what forgiveness does
you can’t forget if you kill this new man
he’s already killed who he was

sentenced to life, then sentenced to death
prison has taken thirty years of his breath
solitary confinement for a whole decade
seven guards testified that david has changed
he teaches inmates how to write and read
counsels drug addicts and they come clean

composing music in his cell
he keeps his mind free from his confined hell
he looks within, where only he can go
if he’s truly sorry, only he knows
but if you take this man’s life
it’s no different than what he did that night

you can’t forget what the good book says
you can’t forget what forgiveness does
you can’t forget if you kill this new man
he’s already killed who he was

on june 15th, 2010
the state of texas will make a human life end
to the one scheduled to do the deed:
flip the switch or inject lethally
you’re just “doing your job,” getting paid by the state
how can you be employed by hate?

texas, y’all claim to be a righteous place
followers, believers in amazing grace
but when it comes to eye for an eye
you’re still living in the caveman times
you’re still living in the caveman times
pretty soon, pretty soon, we’ll all be blind

you can’t forget what the good book says
you can’t forget what forgiveness does
you can’t forget if you kill this new man
he’s already killed who he was

would jesus kill david lee?
would the buddha seek vengeance so obsessively?
would gandhi take this man’s life?
would martin luther king condone it as right?
would rick perry or george w. bush
have the guts to be the ones to give that button a push?

when you’re in the chamber, about to stop his heart
look around and see all of that which you’re a part
when you’re face to face, and he gives you the nod
and you’re looking directly into the face of God
if you take his life, you take your brother, your mother,
your sister, your father, your daughter, your son
’cause you know, inside, we all are one

Luke Redfield

 “This course of events would not seem out of place in the old Soviet bloc, where show trials were not really trials, but were degredation ceremonies staged to depose officials who deviated from party doctrine,” reads Sharon Keller’s latest brief. “Things should be different in this country.” (Page 16,PDF)

Part one of Keller’s latest filing. Part two of Keller’s latest filing.

Sharon Keller could be suspended from office if the Travis County Attorney files misdemeanor charges against Keller for her violation of state law in failing to report millions of dollars in property and income to the Texas Ethics Commission, which already assessed her a $100,000 civil fine. 

The TEC found that there is “credible evidence of violations of section 572.023 of the Government Code“, so it is appropriate that criminal charges are filed in addition to the civil penalty assessed by the TEC.

The criminal offense for a violation of section 572.023 of the Government Code is a Class B misdemeanor.

Click here to ask the Travis County Attorney to file charges against Keller since the TEC has said that there is credibile evidence that she violated the law.

The Austin Chronicle has more on Sharon Keller’s bombastic rants against the State Commission on Judicial Conduct:

But the bombast doesn’t stop there – hells no! Keller goes on to charge that the real motivation behind her persecution is a fundamental disagreement that TDS has with Keller’s views on the death penalty. The objections of the SCJC’s lawyers “amount to nothing more than an attempt to re-write history simply because” the lawyers don’t “like ‘Judge Keller’s attitude'” and disagree with “Judge Keller’s ‘viewpoint’ about the death penalty,” Keller’s brief reads. “Judge Keller is not – or at least should not be – on trial because of her beliefs, but because the [lawyers] charged her with denying Mr. Richard access to the CCA on the evening of his execution.” Indeed, though for many CCA watchers it might be difficult to separate Keller’s feelings about the death penalty from the way she presents in court – need we bring up Keller’s amazing performance in the Roy Criner case, on stage for all to see in the infamous Frontline interview? And that’s just one example. (There are plenty of other examples out there – just a few can be found here.)
Considering that impartial attitude is one of the canons of judicial ethics, it’s not surprising that Keller’s opinions about capital punishment have made many attorneys scratch their chins in wonder at some of the opinions Keller has expressed over the years, while sitting on the state’s highest criminal bench. (Full list of canons is here.)
Regardless, it seems quite unlikely that the SCJC will derail the Keller hearing process that is already in motion. Indeed, Keller is slated to have her day in court before the Commission nextFriday, June 18, beginning at 9a in the John H. Reagan State Office Building.

Texas Lawyer’s Mary Alice Robbins reports:

The judicial conduct commission’s executive director and examiner, Seana Willing, and the commission’s special counsel John J. “Mike” McKetta, a shareholder in Austin’s Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, argue in their objections that Berchelmann’s findings are irrelevant and erroneous. They contend that Berchelmann improperly turned the hearing on Keller’s conduct into something resembling a tort case or other similar proceeding in which comparative responsibility or fault is an issue.
The judicial conduct commission will consider both sides’ objections in In Re Sharon Keller at a June 18 hearing in Austin.
In her response, Keller argues that the special master correctly found that she did not break any rule, law or canon of conduct. Keller also argues that “this proceeding continues to taint her name and drain her resources,” despite the fact that the special master found she violated no laws or rules. She urges the commission to adopt the special master’s findings of fact.
Keller argues in her response that the commission’s examiner “plays fast and loose with the record” by arguing in her objections that one of Keller’s duties was the performance of the CCA’s mandatory execution-day protocol. On Sept. 25, 2007, the CCA had an “oral tradition” that communications from outside the court on execution days were expected to be directed to the judge assigned to the case, but there were no court rules governing execution procedures, Keller contends in the response. [See Keller’s response: Part 1 and Part 2.]
In the examiner’s objection, Willing and McKetta argue that Keller knew and had known for years the details of the execution-day procedures.
The state executed Richard on Sept. 25, 2007. Richard died by lethal injection after Texas Defender Service (TDS), which represented Richard, did not file a motion for stay and an application for writ of prohibition on his behalf in the CCA. On the morning of Richard’s execution day, the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to consider whether the combination of chemicals used in lethal injections constitute cruel and unusual punishment — an issue that Richard’s attorneys were trying to address. However, Richard’s attorneys did not file Richard’s pleadings in the CCA prior to 5 p.m.

Media coverage of press conference on the David Powell case that we helped organize on June 9, 2010. David Powell is scheduled for execution in Texas on June 15, 2010. For more information, visit letdavidlive.org.

TMN’s Scott Cobb moderated the press conference. Speakers were David Powell’s lawyer Richard Burr (photo left); Sissy Farenthold; Jude Filler; David Powell’s uncle Clemens Struve; and Walter Long.

had a long video report on the 10 PM news, but the video is not online, only the text.

KVUE had reports on both the 5 and 10 pm news, but they are not posted online.

Austin American-Statesman: “District attorney finds fault in Powell defense request. Friends, loved ones talk about how death row inmate has helped them as his execution nears”.

Austin Chronicle: Final Appeals: Powell Set to Die June 15

MyFoxAustin at nine Video

MyFoxAustin at five Video

KLBJ590 radio

News8Austin (Video)

Austin’s Nokoa Newspaper was also present, but its report is not yet online.

TMN’s Scott Cobb

David Powell’s Uncle Clemens Struve


Walter Long

Richard Burr (YouTube)

Clemens Struve, David Powell’s uncle (YouTube)

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