Posts by: "Texas Moratorium Network"

Texas today executed the 470th person since 1982; sixth in 2011 and 231st under Governor Rick Perry.

From the Houston Chronicle: 

Milton Mathis was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting two people inside a Houston crack house in 1998, becoming the sixth death row inmate executed in Texas this year.
The lethal injection was carried out shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from his defense attorneys, who argued that Mathis was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for execution.
Mathis, 32, was condemned for a shooting spree that killed Travis Brown III, 24, and Daniel Hibbard, 31, less than two weeks before Christmas in 1998. A 15-year-old girl, Melony Almaguer, also was shot and left paralyzed.
Almaguer, seated in a wheelchair and accompanied by her husband, was among a small group of people who watched Mathis die from behind a window at the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“I never meant to hurt you,” Mathis, strapped to a gurney with tubing taped to his arms, told Almaguer. “You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Her husband stood with his hand on her shoulder and at one point brushed her face with his hand. They declined to speak with reporters after leaving the prison.
Mathis thanked his friends and relatives, and asked for mercy for himself and “these people carrying out this mass slaughter.”
“The system has failed me,” he said. “This is what you call a miscarriage of justice. Life is not supposed to end this way … I just ask the Lord, when I knock at the gates, you just let me in.”
He yawned and gasped, then began snoring as the lethal drugs began taking effect. Nine minutes later, at 6:53 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.
An unsuccessful late appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals briefly delayed the punishment.
In their appeal filed Monday with the Supreme Court, his attorneys also argued that Mathis’ claims of mental impairment hadn’t been reviewed by any federal court because of a “procedural quagmire” and “freakish coincidence” of state and federal legal issues involving the timing of his appeals. Attorney Lee Kovarsky also argued that if Mathis was executed, he likely would have the lowest IQ of any Texas inmate put to death since the Supreme Court nine years ago barred execution of the mentally impaired.
UPDATE: Execution stayed.

Texas is planning to carry out the second of its four scheduled June executions today, Wednesday June 15, when John Balentine is scheduled for execution. If the execution is not stayed, Balentine will be the fifth person executed in Texas in 2011 and the 469th person executed in Texas since 1982. He will be the 230th person executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor.

To express your opposition to John Balentine’s execution and to state your opinion on the Texas death penalty, call Governor Rick Perry at 512-463-2000.
Rick Perry is considering running for president of the United States. Perry’s death penalty enthusiasm will probably be a liability for him in many parts of the country where the governor is expected to exercise his executive powers in a more responsible manner than Perry did in the case of Todd Willingham.

Balentine’s execution is the first of two scheduled in Texas this week. On Thursday, the state is set to execute Lee Taylor for fatally stabbing an inmate at a state prison in 1999. At the time of the stabbing, Taylor was serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery in which an elderly man died, according to the attorney general’s office.

Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976
2010 March to Abolish the Death Penalty

The “12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty” will be held in Austin on October 22, 2011 at the Texas Capitol. Join the Facebook event page.  To see photos and videos of past marches visit www.marchforabolition.org.


Each October since 2000,people from all walks of life and all parts of Texas,the U.S. and other countries have taken a day out of their year and gathered in Austin to raise their voices together and loudly express their opposition to the death penalty. The march is a coming together of activists, family members of those on death row,community leaders, exonerated former death row prisoners and all those calling for abolition. The march started in Austin in 2000. In 2007 and 2008,the march was held in Houston. It came back to Austin in 2009 and 2010.

The annual march is organized as a joint project by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations:Texas Moratorium Network,the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty,the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement,Texas Students Against the Death Penalty,Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center,and Kids Against the Death Penalty.
The first march was called the “March on the Mansion”and was held on October 15,2000. The second and third marches were called “March for a Moratorium”and were held on October 27,2001 and October 12,2002. In 2003,the march name changed to “March to Stop Executions”. Clarence Brandley,who had been exonerated and released from death row in 1990 after spending nine years there,spoke at the 2003 march,saying “I was always wishing and hoping that someone would just look at the evidence and the facts,because the evidence was clear that I did not commit the crime.” The “5th Annual March to Stop Executions”was on October 30,2004. The “6th Annual March to Stop Executions”was held October 29,2005 in conjunction with the 2005 National Conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,which came to Austin at the suggestion of the march organizers.
Sister of Carlos De Luna Delivers Letter
for Governor Rick Perry at 7th Annual March  in 2006
The “7th Annual March to Stop Executions”,which was sponsored by a record number of 50 organizations,was held October 28,2006 and included family members of Carlos De Luna and Cameron Todd Willingham,who both had been the subject of separate investigations by The Chicago Tribune that concluded they were probably innocent people executed by Texas. Standing outside the gates of the Texas Governor’s Mansion with hundreds of supporters,the families of Willingham and De Luna delivered separate letters to Governor Perry asking him to stop executions and investigate the cases of Willingham and De Luna to determine if they were wrongfully executed. After DPS troopers refused to take the letters,Mary Arredondo, sister of Carlos De Luna,and Eugenia Willingham,stepmother of Todd,dropped them through the gate of the governor’s mansion and left them lying on the walkway leading to the main door.
The “8th Annual March to Stop Executions”was held in Houston on October 27. 2007. The “9th Annual March to Stop Executions” was October 25,2008 in Houston. The “10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty” was October 24,2009 in Austin. The “11th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty” was October 30,2010.

Ross Byrd at
March to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2002
Lawrence Russell Brewer, one of the people convicted of dragging James Byrd Jr to his death chained to a pickup truck, has received an execution date of Sept 21, 2011. James Byrd Jr’s son, Ross Byrd, opposes the death penalty even in the case of the people who murdered his father. Ross Byrd was at the 3rd Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2002. Scroll down for a news article from 2002 mentioning Ross’s appearance at the march. Ross was stationed in the Army in Fort Benning, Ga., when he heard about his father’s murder in 1998.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2002 that Jasper County had to raise property taxes by 6.7% over two years to pay for the death penalty trials.

From the Houston Chronicle:

One of three men convicted for their involvement in the infamous East Texas dragging death slaying 13 years ago has received an execution date.

A state district judge signed an order Tuesday setting Sept. 21 as the date 44-year-old Lawrence Russell Brewer gets lethal injection in Huntsville for killing James Byrd, said Laroni Gray with the Jasper County district attorney’s office.

Brewer was among three white men convicted of chaining the 49-year-old black man to the back of a pickup truck and dragging him to death on a country road near Jasper, about 115 miles northeast Houston.

Brewer and John William King were convicted and sentenced to die for the June 1998 racial hate crime that shocked the nation for its brutality. King’s case remains in the courts on appeal. The third man, Shawn Berry, received life in prison.

2002 March to Abolish the Death Penalty at Texas Capitol in Austin
Speakers from different backgrounds speak out at third annual rally
By Katherine Sayre (Daily Texan Staff)
October 14, 2002

Jeanette Popp wants the man who raped and killed her daughter to live.
Popp told her story of advocating a life sentence for Achim Josef Marino, the man who murdered her daughter in 1988, to a crowd of about 200 protesters demanding a moratorium on capital punishment at the state Capitol Saturday afternoon.

“I saved [Marino’s] life, and I saved my daughter’s honor,” Popp said Saturday. “They will not kill in her name.”

Popp’s voice rang out over a crowd gathered on the Capitol grounds after protesters marched from Republic Park to the Capital chanting “No Justice, No Peace – Moratorium Now.” The third annual rally against the death penalty included speakers representing a range of issues surrounding capital punishment.

Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, said that contrary to popular belief, many murder victims’ families oppose the death penalty.

“We’ve come to oppose the death penalty because of what it does to us and to society as a whole … a ritual killing just expands the scope of pain,” Cushing said.

He said that many families find their love for the victim is questioned after speaking out against capital punishment. He said Texas’ Bill of Rights for Crime Victims should be amended to prevent families from being discriminated against during trials. The bill is a set of legal guidelines that allows a victim and his/her family certain protection rights and involvement in a criminal proceeding.

“It’s about no more victims – anywhere,” he said.

Ross Byrd, the son of James Byrd Jr. who was murdered in Jasper in 1998, said executions by the state are murder.

“The death penalty is all wrong,” Byrd said. “It goes against God, and God said ‘thou shalt not kill’ … Thou shalt not kill and that’s even for the justice system.”

Francisco Javier Alejo, consulate general of Mexico, spoke on the Capitol steps about Mexico’s opposition to capital punishment.

Alejo said that while Mexico respects the United States government’s right to make independent decisions, Mexico also asks for the same respect.

“We fully respect that as well, as we expect to be respected for our full and adamant opposition to the death penalty,” he said, adding that Mexico regards the death penalty as “abominable.”

Texas is planning to carry out the first of its four scheduled June executions on Wednesday June 1 when Gayland Bradford is scheduled for execution. Bradford lost an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last week. If the execution is not stayed, Bradford will be the fourth person executed in Texas in 2011 and the 468th person executed in Texas since 1982. He will be the 229th person executed in Texas since Rick Perry became governor.

To express your opposition to Gayland Bradford’s execution and to state your opinion on the Texas death penalty, call Governor Rick Perry at 512-463-2000.

Rick Perry is considering running for president of the United States. Perry’s death penalty enthusiasm will probably be a liability for him in many parts of the country where the governor is expected to exercise his executive powers in a more responsible manner than Perry did in the case of Todd Willingham.

Bradford was scheduled to be executed on October 14, 2010, but he received a stay of execution. Bradford was convicted of the shooting death of 29-year-old Brian Williams during a robbery of a food store in Dallas.

June Executions Scheduled in Texas

On June 1, Gayland Bradford is scheduled for execution.
On June 15, John Balentine is scheduled for execution.
On June 16, Taylor Lee is scheduled for execution.
On June 21, Milton Mathis is scheduled for execution.

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