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Thursday, June 21, 2007

58 Percent of Americans Want a Moratorium on Death Penalty

Newsweek is reporting in this week's issue that 58 percent of Americans now support a moratorium on executions because of "growing concerns about making sure the innocent aren’t sentenced to death". Here in Texas, there have been reports in the last two years that three people have been executed in Texas who were probably innocent, Ruben Cantu, Cameron Willingham and Carlos De Luna.

Despite rising concern about innocence and the death penalty, the last session of the Texas Legislature failed to create an Innocence Commission. Most commentators, including the San Antonio Express-News, blamed House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chair Aaron Peña for the death of the Innocence Commission bill. Peña should speak to his constituents about the issue. He will likely discover that a majority of them support the death penalty, but they are also worried about innocent people being executed. Peña had the power to reduce the risk of an innocent person being executed, but he failed to act. We can only hope that another innocent person is not executed before the Legislature convenes again in 2009.

The most recent probable execution of an innocent person in Texas was in 2004, so this is an ongoing problem that should have been dealt with in the last session. Shame on you, Mr Peña.

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UT Student Wins Prize for Anti-Death Penalty Activism

The Daily Texan reported today that Hooman Hedayati, president of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and a board member of Texas Moratorium Network, has received national recognition for his activim. Hooman will be traveling to Washington D.C. where United States Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) will present him with an award during the lunch portion of the Campus Progress National Conference on June 26, 2007.

This year, the sandy spring break beaches did not entice anti-death penalty activist Hooman Hedayati, a UT government junior, and for that he won Campus Progress' Student Issue Campaign of the Year.

Hedayati and other students held a seven-day alternative spring break with exonerated inmates and rallied in front of the Governor's Mansion to promote their campaign with his Texas Students Against the Death Penalty organization.

He was motivated to start the organization after hearing about the case of Ruben Cantu, whose 1993 execution has been revisited because of new evidence. The possibility of there being innocent inmates on death row prompted him to act.

"I started reading articles and books on the subject, and then my freshman year, I started the organization," Hedayati said.

About 50 students from UT and other universities attended, Hedayati said.

Over the past two years, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty has received $2,000 in grants, said Pedro de la Torre, an associate manager of organizing and outreach for Campus Progress and a UT alumnus. Since the organization is a member of Campus Progress, an agency that supports youth in activism and journalism, it receives many benefits. Training for students is available by request and includes a workshop to teach students about media relations.

Hedayati also showed a talent in media relations, de la Torre said. MTV and National Public Radio attended the spring break.
"I'm honored to be recognized, and I hope that by winning this award, we will be able to have a bigger program," Hedayati said.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Cathy Henderson Wins Reprieve

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gave Cathy Henderson a reprieve and sent her case back to the trial court. The AP says "Judge Tom Price, in the lone concurring statement, said he thought Bayardo's affidavit proved to him no rational juror could have found Henderson guilty "to a level of confidence beyond a reasonable doubt." Here is the court's opinion. As usual, Sharon Keller filed a dissenting opinion.

More from the AP

Condemned inmate Cathy Lynn Henderson won a reprieve Monday from a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that will keep her from being executed this week for the slaying of a 3-month-old child in her care.

Henderson, 50, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the death of Brandon Baugh, whose skull was bashed in while she was baby-sitting him. His body was buried in a wine cooler box as she fled the state more than 13 years ago.

The state's highest criminal court voted 5-3, with one judge not participating, to send the case back to the trial court to examine arguments that Henderson was innocent of capital murder and that constitutional errors led to her conviction.

In an appeal filed late last month, Henderson's lawyers said new scientific evidence bolstered the baby-sitter's contention the child died when she accidentally dropped him and his head struck the concrete floor at her home in Pflugerville, a north Austin suburb.

A medical examiner who testified for the prosecution in 1995 that Brandon's death could not have been an accident submitted an affidavit with Henderson's appeal that he believed scientific tests not available a decade ago now show his conclusion was incorrect.

"Had the new scientific information been available to me in 1995, I would not have been able to testify the way I did," said Dr. Robert Bayardo, the now retired chief medical examiner in Travis County.

Because Henderson's appeals had been exhausted, her lawyers needed to convince the courts their latest appeal introduced new evidence.

A court majority agreed.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Tale of Two Sisters

The Austin-American Statesman has a long article on two of the daughters of Cathy Henderson, who is scheduled for execution on Wednesday, June 13. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals could rule on Monday whether it will stay the scheduled execution date in light of new developments in scientific methods of evaluating head injuries.

Their mother is Cathy Lynn Henderson, a Travis County woman scheduled to die Wednesday for murdering Brandon Baugh, a 3-month-old boy she was baby-sitting, in 1994.

Jennifer Henderson, 17, wants her mother to get a new trial and one day be set free.

(Melissa) Bradshaw, 28, wants Cathy Lynn Henderson dead.

...

late last year, a judge set Cathy Henderson's execution for April 18.

"It really hit me hard," Jennifer Henderson said. "I didn't want to go to school. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I was moping around. It sucked."

She said she became overwhelmed with anxiety, began taking Valium and ended up in the hospital. She said therapy and the support of her friends and family helped her pull out of the tailspin. Then she decided she needed to help her mother.

Against the advice of her stepmother and father, she went to school with fliers detailing her mother's case. Her teachers agreed to give her a couple of minutes to address her classmates, and Jennifer Henderson revealed that her real mother was on death row for murdering a child. She told them her mom didn't do it and asked them to write to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. "It was like going on a stage by yourself in front of the entire school pretty much," she said. "It was very nerve-racking."

She said her classmates were supportive, and a handful joined her at an April court date during which her mother's lawyers asked for more time to file an appeal. They were successful, and the execution date was moved to this month.

Different dreams

As her mother's appointment with death creeps closer, Jennifer Henderson is hoping the courts will step in again. She dreams of one day walking through a mall with her mother or having lunch with her at a restaurant.

If no reprieve comes, she plans to be with her father outside the gates of the prison in Huntsville that contains the death chamber. Her father won't allow her to be in the witness room to watch the execution.

Bradshaw said she won't be in Huntsville on Wednesday. She is busy studying, moving toward her goal of attending Oregon State University in a couple of years.

Her mother's execution, she said, will be "relieving."

"Finally that chapter in my life could actually be done with now," she said. "And I can stop looking over my shoulder."

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Kenneth Foster case update

UPDATED AGAIN August 13th:

Write members of the Texas Legislature urging them to help persuade Governor Perry to stop the execution of Kenneth Foster, Jr.

On August 7, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the appeal of Kenneth Foster Jr, even though three of its members say he may be innocent (every judge on the CCA is a Republican).

The decision to stop the execution of Foster, who everyone agrees did not kill anyone, now lies in the hands of Governor Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. But the members of the Texas Legislature also have a responsibility to speak out, because it is an Act that they passed that the Court of Criminal Appeals majority relied on to brush off Foster's claim of innocence. It is time for the Texas Legislature to tell Gov Perry to stop this execution.

Foster was just the driver of a car out of which another occupant (Mauriceo Brown) got out and killed someone 80 feet away from the car. New evidence supports Foster's defense that he did not know that Brown intended to kill someone. But the majority of the CCA does not think it should take into account this new evidence.

According to an email from Foster's lawyer, the reason the CCA majority thinks they can ignore this new evidence is because of a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 1995, which forbids "the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals from considering new evidence in death penalty cases, even if the judges unanimously believed the new evidence would spare a life. This Act, passed in 1995, prevents judges from giving relief to people who they believe are not to be subjected to death."

Here is the dissenting opinion in the Kenneth Foster, Jr case, written by Judge Tom Price of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and joined by two other judges, Judge Charles Holcomb and Judge Cheryl Johnson. These three judges agree that "the applicant has identified new facts that might support a bare claim of actual innocence, under Ex parte Elizondo, (3) and would therefore allow the applicant to proceed on his fourth claim for relief". They would have granted him a stay of execution "to allow him to pursue this claim through the ordinary course of habeas corpus proceedings."

They further write that "Applicant now alleges that, since his direct appeal and even since he filed his initial application for writ of habeas corpus, he has had an opportunity to interview both Steen and the other surviving co-conspirator, Dillard. Both have given affidavits in which they assert, in essence, that by the time Brown got out of the car to rob LaHood, the conspiracy had run its course, at least as far as the other three were concerned, and Brown was acting out of an independent impulse. If these assertions are true, it appears evident that the applicant could not be guilty of capital murder under either of the theories of the law of parties that were submitted to the jury." (italics added for emphasis by TMN).

Unfortunately, the five judges writing in the majority, including Judge Sharon Keller, did not agree with the three dissenting judges and voted to execute Foster.

Judge Barbara Parker Hervey did not participate in either the majority or the dissenting opinion.

The final vote then was 5-3-1 in favor of execution.

Write members of the Texas Legislature urging them to help persuade Governor Perry to stop the execution of Kenneth Foster, Jr.

More than 1400 people have already written just since August 8.




Original Post starts below.

Thanks to CEDP-Austin for distributing this information. They are leading a statewide effort on Kenneth Foster's behalf to stop his execution later this summer. Great job CEDP!

Kenneth Foster, Jr. was sentenced to death in May 1997 for driving a car from which Mauriceo Brown got out and shot Michael LaHood, Jr. Kenneth's case is currently at a critical juncture, as the state of Texas has recently given him an execution date of August 30, 2007. Kenneth could be killed because of the gross misuse of the Law of Parties – simply for being, as the Austin Chronicle has put it, in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”

  • By the Law of Parties, Kenneth Foster is factually innocent, although it was used by the prosecution to convict the other two men who were in the car. However, the law specifically states that an agreement must have been made between the defendants prior to the act, and most importantly, proved to have been made in a court of law, but no one had discussed robbing Michael LaHood that night.
  • Mauriceo Brown got out of the car, allegedly attempted to commit a robbery, though he claimed that no robbery was intended, and that he wanted to talk to a woman who was with Michael LaHood. Complications arose and Mauriceo Brown shot Michael LaHood while Kenneth Foster and two others stayed in the car nearly 80 feet away with the windows up and the radio on.
  • Mauriceo Brown admitted to the shooting, claiming self defense, but said that no one had any prior knowledge of the crimes he was about to commit.
  • One of the other passengers in the car, Julius Steen, turned state’s evidence on the other three, but in a letter to Kenneth Foster, admits that his lawyer pressured him to lie in court so he wouldn’t get the death penalty.
  • Kenneth Foster didn’t know that Mauriceo Brown had left the car with a gun, and when he heard the shot, he started to drive away, but the fourth man in the car, Dewayne Dillard, told him to stop.
  • Even with the misapplication of the Law of Parties by the prosecution, the death penalty for someone who was not present at the time of the murder, did not kill, and did not anticipate the killing violates the Eighth Amendment, as established by Enmund v. Florida.
  • The three other people in the car Kenneth Foster was driving have all admitted that he is innocent and had no foreknowledge of the crimes.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Hopes Rising for Cathy Henderson's Chances with CCA

The savecathyhenderson.org site has high hopes that Cathy Henderson will receive a favorable ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday.

There was no decision this week from the Court of Criminal Appeals, but Cathy's lawyers have been told a decision will be handed down this coming Monday, June 11. We will post that decision the moment we hear anything.

Cathy and her lawyers are hopeful the delay in handing down this decision is a positive sign. Cathy's lawyers have presented the court with compelling new evidence that throws into doubt crucial prosecution testimony given at her trial. So, although the Court "almost routinely" turns down subsequent writs such as Cathy's, we believe it is likely the judges would have already denied her writ if they were following their usual course.
Robert Bayardo, who conducted the autopsy on 3-month-old Brandon Baugh, was one of the medical experts who testified at Henderson’s trial that the baby’s injuries were too severe to have been caused by an accidental fall as Henderson described.

But after reviewing the new defense evidence, which is based on principles of physics and biomechanics, Bayardo said his opinion had changed.

"Based on the physical evidence in this case, I cannot determine with a reasonable degree of medical certainty whether Brandon Baugh's injuries resulted from an intentional act or an accidental fall," he stated in the affidavit.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

8th Annual "March to Stop Executions" in Houston Oct 27

The message below is from an email from TDPAM. It looks like they are doing a great job down in Houston getting this year's March to Stop Executions organized. The march has been held in Austin since 2000, but this year it is in Houston. Contact Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement abolition.movement@hotmail.com to get involved.

Texas' 8th Annual March to Stop Executions will be held in Houston on Saturday, October 27, 2007. Next planning meeting is Monday, June 11, at 7 pm, at S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, 3815 Live Oak.
We need everyone's help to make this event a significant contribution to the struggle to get rid of capital punishment.
We need:
  • organizers
  • fundraisers
  • strategists
  • writers
  • logistical brains
  • networkers
  • thinkers
  • media workers
  • visionaries
We want to get together so we can begin to plan a march and rally that will outreach to the communities in Houston most affected by the death penalty and the prison industrial complex and bring them into this fight.
We want to respectfully remember those who have been murdered by the state of Texas and to fight for those still living on death row. We want to honor the families of these men and women who live a difficult and heartbreaking life.
There is already a number of endorsers and people volunteering to help, from graphic artists to spoken word artists, from march security to freeway blogging. But we need folks from all areas of the progressive community to step up.
This will be the first year the march is going to be in Houston instead of Austin and for good reason:
  • There are 383 people on death row in Texas and 129 are from Harris County.
  • This summer, likely in July, the 100th person from Harris County will be executed.
  • More people have been executed from Harris County than any other state---except for Texas.

Please join us on Monday night and let's get to work! Make sure your organization is represented!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Call Tx Senator Cornyn About Habeas Corpus Restoration Act

We are reposting this from Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake.com. If you live in Texas, do as she suggests and give Senator Cornyn a call to ask him to vote for the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185).


Sen. Pat Leahy needs you to make a few phone calls today on behalf of your Constitution.

Many of you may recall the hasty passage of the Military Commissions Act in the weeks leading up to last year's election, a bill that set new rules for trying detainees, in particular those currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The passage of this bill was a profound mistake, and its elimination of habeas corpus review was its worst error. Righting this wrong is one of my top priorities, and on the first day of this Congress I joined with Senator Arlen Specter to introduce the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185). This bipartisan bill already has 17 cosponsors, but it faces a crucial vote in the Judiciary Committee this Thursday so we need your help.

If you have a few minutes to spare, it would be much appreciated of you could make a few phone calls to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and also to your own Senators. Here's a list of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Benjamin Cardin
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Se. Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Katymine put together a list of toll-free numbers for the capitol switchboard:

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 459 - 1887
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

While you are at it, feel free to call your Senators even if they aren't currently serving on the Judiciary Committee — because once this gets past committee, it will go to the full Senate for discussion and debate. Thanks for any calls you can make today, gang. Much appreciated. You can find information about habeas and why restoration is important here. More from the Boston Globe and from NPR (here and here) on recent rulings regarding habeas issues and unlawful enemy combatant detainees.

We have a special chat coming up tomorrow on the habeas issue with folks from the ACLU. You can read more about what the ACLU has been doing on the issue — from the Patriot Act through to the MCA vote and beyond — here on their website. I hope you will join us tomorrow (Thursday) at 3:00 pm ET/12:00 pm PT for a discussion on the efforts to restore habeas fully — this is an important issue, and goes to the core of who we are versus who we ought to be. I'll have much more on this tomorrow, but I wanted to give everyone a heads up to note it on the calendar. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: The Habeas restoration bill S.185 is sponsored currently by the following: Authored by Sen. Specter

here’s the co-sponsor list (specter is the bill’s author): (via selise — thanks much!)

Sen Biden, Joseph R., Jr. [DE] - 5/24/2007
Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 2/26/2007
Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 5/7/2007
Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] - 2/28/2007
Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] - 3/7/2007
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] - 5/22/2007
Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] - 2/28/2007
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 2/26/2007
Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] - 3/14/2007
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] - 6/5/2007
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 5/15/2007
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 2/28/2007
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] - 1/4/2007
Sen Levin, Carl [MI] - 4/17/2007
Sen Obama, Barack [IL] - 4/20/2007
Sen Rockefeller, John D., IV [WV] - 3/29/2007
Sen Salazar, Ken [CO] - 2/26/2007
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] - 5/9/2007

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Court overturns 2nd conviction in yogurt shop murders

The Associated Press is reporting that Michael Scott's conviction has been overturned. We are sure that Michael's wife Jeannine is overjoyed today. She has been fighting to prove her husband's innocence for years. She never gives up.

AUSTIN — A second conviction stemming from Austin's "Yogurt Shop Murders" was overturned on appeal today, leaving prosecutors with no convictions from one of the city's most notorious crimes in which four teenage girls were killed.

A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today ruled that Michael Scott got an unfair capital murder trial because he was not allowed to cross-examine co-defendant Robert Springsteen IV, who had given a statement to police incriminating him.

A lower appeals court ruled against Scott, but the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4 to order a new trial. The court had the same margin when it overturned Springsteen's capital murder conviction last year.

Springsteen, who was 17 in 1991 when the crime was committed, was sent to death row 2001, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled executing juvenile killers is unconstitutional. Scott was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to life in prison.

Both raised appeals that they were convicted based on statements they gave to police and their constitutional right to confront their accuser was violated.

Killed during the robbery of the I Can't Believe It's Yogurt store were Eliza Hope Thomas, 17; Amy Ayers, 13; and sisters Jennifer and Sarah Harbison, ages 17 and 15. The store was then set on fire.

It was one of the city's most notorious crimes, sending detectives chasing thousands of leads, some as far as Mexico.

The case went cold until 1999, when police following old leads returned to question Scott and Springsteen, who had moved to Charleston, W. Va.

Police arrested both men and two other defendants, but prosecutors have struggled to make their case ever since. Charges against the other two men were dismissed.

Because the fire at the shop destroyed most of the physical evidence, the confessions from Springsteen and Scott that implicated each other were vital to the case.

Springsteen's confession was secretly recorded during a pre-arrest interview with police. Scott talked with investigators for nearly 20 hours. His statements were recorded, and he signed a written version of his comments.

They were tried separately for Ayers' murder, and their lawyers fought unsuccessfully to keep the statements out of court.

Both men accused police of coercing the confessions and exercised their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying at trial.

Prosecutors said the statements merely corroborated details in the confessions and did not harm the defendants' constitutional rights.

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Michael Griffith, ex-sheriff's deputy to be executed today

Michael Griffith is scheduled for execution today in Texas. He is the first of five people to be executed in Texas in June 2007. Griffith is a former Harris County sheriff's deputy.

Write Gov Perry to Protest the Execution of Michael Griffith

TDCJ Info on Michael Griffith

Full News Story:
Griffith lost his job as sheriff's deputy due to his violent history of domestic abuse. During his trial, his first wife testified that Griffith broke her ribs and injured their eldest daughter. Girlfriends of Griffith also testified that he was abusive to them, according to CHNI.

In October of 2003, Griffith's sentence was upheld, by the Texas Court of Appeals. He was also denied appeals into federal courts by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in July 2006, and the Supreme Court also refused to hear the case.

Two psychologosts testified at the trial that Griffith would not be a threat to anyone while he was incarcerated, according to the NCADP website, but the death sentence was given to Griffith regardless.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Get me 911. There is a joke about to be committed

KTRH has a poll on their website: "Should the state of Texas ban death row inmates from soliciting jokes to be told in their final statements."

Get me 911, there is an inmate about to tell a joke. Call the joke police.

The Texas Legislature is not concerned that people such as Ruben Cantu, Cameron Willingham and Carlos De Luna were executed and may have been innocent, but they might like this issue. Stay tuned in 2009 for the joke banning bill. They didn't pass the Innocence Commission bill, but a joke banning bill might be popular. So far, it is winning about 60-40 percent in the poll.

As we reported last week in Dead Man Laughing, one of the five inmates scheduled for execution this month in Texas is trying to bring attention to his pending execution by holding a joke contest in which he would read his favorite joke during his last statement. His MySpace page is here and the address to send jokes is:

Patrick Knight #999072
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 S.
Livingston, Texas 77351

Now, the Houston Chronicle has granted his wish by giving him major news attention in this article:

Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight wants to leave them laughing.

Knight acknowledges there's nothing funny about his likely execution later this month for the fatal shooting of his neighbors, Walter and Mary Werner, almost 16 years ago outside Amarillo. But to help him come up with his final statement, Knight is accepting jokes mailed to him on Texas' death row or e-mailed to a friend who has a Web site for him. The friend then mails him the jokes.

Knight said the joke he finds the funniest will be his final statement the evening of June 26.

"I'm not trying to disrespect the Werners or anything like that," he told The Associated Press from death row. "I'm not trying to say I don't care what's going on. I'm about to die. I'm not going to sit here and whine and cry and moan and everything like that when I'm facing the punishment I've been given.

"I'm not asking for money. I'm not asking for pen pals or anything like that. All I'm asking for is jokes."

He said he's already received about 250 wisecracks.

"Lawyer jokes are real popular," he said. "Some of them are a little on the edge. I'm not going to use any profanity if I can find the one I want, or any vulgar content. It wouldn't be bad if it was a little bit on the edge. That would be cool."

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dead Man Laughing Gets Major Attention in Houston Chronicle

UPDATE: KTRH has a poll on their website: "Should the state of Texas ban death row inmates from soliciting jokes to be told in their final statements." Get me 9-11, there is an inmate about to tell a joke.

As we reported last week in Dead Man Laughing, one of the five inmates scheduled for execution this month in Texas is trying to bring attention to his pending execution by holding a joke contest in which he would read his favorite joke during his last statement. His MySpace page is here and the address to send jokes is:

Patrick Knight #999072
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 S.
Livingston, Texas 77351

Now, the Houston Chronicle has granted his wish by giving him major news attention in this article:

Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight wants to leave them laughing.

Knight acknowledges there's nothing funny about his likely execution later this month for the fatal shooting of his neighbors, Walter and Mary Werner, almost 16 years ago outside Amarillo. But to help him come up with his final statement, Knight is accepting jokes mailed to him on Texas' death row or e-mailed to a friend who has a Web site for him. The friend then mails him the jokes.

Knight said the joke he finds the funniest will be his final statement the evening of June 26.

"I'm not trying to disrespect the Werners or anything like that," he told The Associated Press from death row. "I'm not trying to say I don't care what's going on. I'm about to die. I'm not going to sit here and whine and cry and moan and everything like that when I'm facing the punishment I've been given.

"I'm not asking for money. I'm not asking for pen pals or anything like that. All I'm asking for is jokes."

He said he's already received about 250 wisecracks.

"Lawyer jokes are real popular," he said. "Some of them are a little on the edge. I'm not going to use any profanity if I can find the one I want, or any vulgar content. It wouldn't be bad if it was a little bit on the edge. That would be cool."

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is Chuck Rosenthal Vulnerable in 2008?

At a town hall meeting in Austin today, Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie said that he thinks Harris County could see the kind of results in 2008 that Dallas County saw in 2006 when Democrats won every contested county-wide race in Dallas.

From the DMN Nov 8, 2006:

Voters swept aside years of Republican domination in Dallas County on Tuesday, electing the county's first black district attorney, dumping the favored Republican county judge and giving dozens of GOP judgeships to Democrats.

"I'm not surprised," said Craig Watkins, the underfunded and often written-off Democrat who rode a rising Democratic tide to edge out his better-funded Republican rival, Toby Shook, with 50.9 percent of the vote.

Dallas County GOP leaders placed the blame squarely on President Bush, and analysts said voters were fed up with national politics and the Republican Party. What was expected to be a gradual shift to the Democrats that began two years ago with the election of Democratic Sheriff Lupe Valdez instead turned into an overnight sea change.
Richie said at the town hall meeting, that the Democrats plan to organize the type of county-wide coordinated campaign in Harris County in 2008 that was so successful in Dallas County in 2006 and that was also used in 2006 in Travis County by the Democratic Party to win all six state representative seats in Austin, including the one previously held by Republican Terry Keel.

There is no doubt that voter dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and the Bush administration in general has not abated since 2006, so another deluge of votes for Democrats on the county level in Texas is not out of the question.

It remains to be seen if a strong candidate will emerge on the Democratic side to challenge Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, but he should be worried about his re-election prospects if the Democrats run someone as capable as Dallas County's Craig Watkins.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Court TV Weighs in on Cathy Henderson Case

Doubts continue to rise about whether Cathy Henderson intentionally killed Brandon Baugh. Now, Court TV is reporting on the case.

Court TV Article

A Texas babysitter facing execution for killing an infant in her care says new scientific evidence supports her claim that she accidentally dropped the child and did not intentionally kill him, as prosecutors alleged in her trial.

Moreover, the medical examiner who helped send Cathy Lynn Henderson to death row for killing 3-month-old Brandon Baugh has said that, in light of the new evidence, he no longer stands by his original opinion that the child's death resulted from an intentional act on Henderson's part.

With less than three weeks before her scheduled execution, lawyers for Henderson filed an application last week asking that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals review Henderson's case based on new research using biomechanics in analyzing infant head injuries.

In the application, which also asks for a stay of her June 13 execution, her lawyers claim that new research in the field of infant head trauma shows that Brandon could have died from an accidental fall and not necessarily at Henderson's "murderous" hands.

Read the Rest of the Court TV Article

Write Governor Perry to Protest Cathy Henderson's Execution

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