May 28, 2002
TMN Statement on decision by Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refusing to
stop Napoleon Beazley’s execution
The relatively close 10-7 decision by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
not to recommend that Gov Perry commute Napoleon Beazley’s death sentence to
life in prison reflects a growing unease in Texas with the administration of
the death penalty. Napoleon Beazley will most likely die tonight, although
Gov Perry could still issue a 30-day reprieve, but the problems in the Texas
capital punishment system will not go away. The problems in Napoleon’s case
that led seven members of the board to vote for commutation are among the
same problems that make it necessary to halt all executions while Texas
conducts a comprehensive study of the administration of the death penalty.
“The close vote apparently came down to three things – Napoleon’s status as
a juvenile offender, the fact that many people on the board do not believe
he had a fair trial during the sentencing phase and his obvious remorse for
the murder of John Luttig. Here in Texas, people are belatedly coming to the
conclusion that judicial decisions should be based on the relevant facts of
a person’s case and not on the color of a person’s skin. Napoleon is an
African-American who was sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Such a
racist death sentence should not have been allowed to stand”, said Scott
Cobb of Texas Moratorium Network.
“Napoleon’s life was almost saved because of the phenomenal efforts of his
talented, hardworking appellate lawyers – Walter Long and David Botsford.
Other people sit on death row in Texas not because they are the worst of the
worst of all murderers, but because their lawyers were among the worst of
the worst of all lawyers, especially at the trial level. Texas needs to
enact a moratorium on executions in the next session of the Legislature so
that reforms can be enacted to rid the system of incompetence once and for
all. Let’s judge defendants by their own actions and not by the incompetent
actions of their lawyers. Let’s make sure that people are not executed in
Texas because of racism”, said Cobb.
A vigil for Napoleon will be held this afternoon, May 28, beginning at 5:30
PM at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin (11th & Lavaca).
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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