Posts by: "Texas Moratorium Network"

Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg already sent three people to death row in 2009, 2010 and 2011, so it is not surprising that today she announced she is seeking another death sentence. One day Travis County should elect a progressive district attorney who reflects the values of the community.

In 2011 only six counties sent anyone to death row in Texas, but Travis County was one of those. Remember when the members of the audience at one of the presidential debates cheered and clapped when Rick Perry was asked about all the executions that Texas conducts? If Texas counties send fewer people to death row, then we can begin to silence those people who would clap and cheer for the death penalty.

Travis County should be a death penalty free zone in Texas. There is no law that says a DA has to seek the death penalty. Life without parole is the other option in Texas in capital cases.

Rosemary Lehmberg’s decision will be expensive for Travis County taxpayers. Seeking a death sentence is much more expensive, maybe three times as expensive, as seeking life without parole.

From the Austin American-Statesman:

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said this morning that she has decided to seek the death penalty against Brandon Montgomery Daniel, who police say fatally shot Austin police officer Jaime Padron earlier this year.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” Lehmberg told the American-Statesman.
She declined to comment further.

The Texas Legislature does not start its 2013 session until January, but early filing of bills has begun. Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston has filed HB 164, a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas.

Rep Dutton first filed a bill to abolish the death penalty in 2003, which was the first abolition bill filed in the Texas Legislature in a long time up to that year. When no one else was willing to file a bill to abolish the death penalty, Rep Dutton stepped up in 2003 and filed an abolition bill. Everyone opposed to the death penalty should thank Rep Dutton for his leading role in the effort in the Texas Legislature to end the death penalty.

It was an exciting day back in 2003 when Dutton’s abolition bill was heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. That was the first time an abolition bill was heard in a Texas legislative Committee in the modern era, and maybe ever.

Rep Harold Dutton is pictured speaking at one of our Day of Innocence Lobby Days to Repeal the Death Penalty.

Below Rep Dutton speaks at the 2011 Day of Innocence. Behind him are six death row exonerees who spent years on death row for crimes they did not commit.


 

 

The death sentence given this week to Terence Andrus makes him the 9th person sentenced to death in Texas in 2012. The year is not over yet, but if no one else is sentenced to death, the number this year will be one more than in 2011. New death sentences have declined from their high in the late 90s. In 1999, there were 48 people sentenced to death.

88.8 percent of the nine new death sentences handed out in 2012 in Texas have been given to people of color. Of the nine people sentenced to death so far in Texas in 2012, seven are African-American, one is Hispanic and one white. One of the eight persons is a woman.

Jason Baldwin, of the West Memphis 3, will be in Houston TONIGHT Nov 16, screening a film about his case and visiting with the audience afterwards. Jason, along with Damien Echols and Jesse Miskelly were convicted for the murders of three boys and spent 18 years and 17 days in prison (Echols on death row) for a crime they did not commit. They were freed last year and you can meet Jason tonight at 6:30, 1900 Kane St. in the 6th ward. Tickets $15 at www.gracelaw.org or at the door. — at Dow School.

The photos above are from yesterday’s execution.

Texas is scheduled to carry out its 15th execution of the year tonight, just one day after the 14th execution. Today’s execution is currently the last one scheduled in 2012 in Texas. If today’s execution is not stayed, Preston Hughes will be the 492nd inmate executed since reinstatement of the death penalty in Texas. Hughes’ appeals have been unsuccessful despite a plethora of evidence that suggests either that he is the wrong man, or that he was framed by police despite being guilty. If you live in Texas, write your Texas legislators and urge them to support a moratorium on executions in the next legislative session that starts in January. To find out who represents you go here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

More on Preston Hughes from the Austin Chronicle:

At press time, the state was readying to carry out the Nov. 15 execution of Preston Hughes III, set to become the 15th inmate executed this year and the 492nd inmate executed since reinstatement of the death penalty. Hughes was sentenced to death for the 1988 double murder of 15-year-old LaShandra Charles and her 3-year-old cousin, Marcell Taylor, who were found stabbed to death on a weed-choked trail behind a Fuddruckers in far West Houston (see “Framing the Guilty?,” Nov. 2). Although Charles’ carotid artery and jugular were severed, the first HPD detective arriving at the scene later claimed that Charles was awake and able to talk – and to tell him that she knew her attacker, whose name was Preston. Police quickly moved to a nearby apartment complex, where they found Hughes. Police say they found evidence in his apartment that matched the crime, including a pair of fashion glasses that Charles had been known to wear as an accessory.

Hughes’ appeals have been unsuccessful despite a plethora of evidence that suggests either that he is the wrong man, or that he was framed by police despite being guilty: Evidence records reflect that police logged evidence into custody several hours before they had permission to search Hughes’ apartment. Notably, the glasses that police considered a direct link between Charles and Hughes were not on the evidence list; Hughes’ attorney and supporters believe they were planted in the apartment some time in the hours after Charles was discovered. Moreover, when asked by the Chronicle this fall to review the autopsy evidence, Tarrant County Deputy Medical Examiner Lloyd White concluded that it would have been medically impossible for Charles to have been conscious and talking after sustaining such a fatal injury.

Hughes’ attorney Pat McCann has filed several recent appeals – including one that raises the question of police having planted evidence – each of which has been denied. Meanwhile, California-based blogger John Allen, known online as the Skeptical Juror (www.skepticaljuror.com), has helped Hughes to file a flurry of pro se writs; each of those also has been denied, clearing the way for Hughes’ execution this evening, Thursday, Nov. 15.

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