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Friday, July 18, 2008

MVFR Sends Clemency Letter for Jeff Wood to Governor Perry and Board of Pardons and Paroles

The Executive Director of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation has written a letter to Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that they grant clemency to Jeff Wood.

July 16, 2008

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor, State of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Ms. Rissie Owens, Chair
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757

Re: Jeffrey Wood, TDJC No. 999256

Dear Governor Perry and Chairwoman Owens:

Our organization consists of hundreds of family members of murder victims plus thousands of “Friends of MVFR”. Many of these members reside in Texas. I write as a representative of all of these good people.

We make an urgent plea for you to extend mercy to Jeff Wood by commuting his death sentence. He presently resides on Texas’ death row, with the date of 8/21 set for his execution. We do not ordinarily write to state officials in behalf of those on death rows. We only do so when we believe the circumstances are so extraordinary that it cries out for leniency. In those cases, there have usually been one, or possibly two, circumstances that might lead to commutation. In Wood’s case, there appear to be at least four such circumstances, probably more, but the four noted herein are the ones that strike us as being most important. First, he was not at all involved in the shooting, actually being outside, with no idea this tragedy might take place. This is combined with fact that there was no predetermined plan for a shooting to happen. Second, he has severe mental problems, likely stemming from abuse he suffered as a child. This is no fake, proven by fact that he was originally found unfit to stand trial and placed in a mental hospital. Third, no defense was presented at the penalty phase of the trial, since Wood, in his diminished capacity, ordered his lawyer not to assert a defense. Had a defense been presented, there is a good possibility that this letter would not even be necessary. Fourth, and this is very important to those of us who have lost loved ones to murder, is the fact that the victim’s father and cousin do not want Wood to be executed. On a very personal note, the wishes of a father are very important to me. I lost my beloved daughter to murder in the State of Georgia twenty years ago, and at that time, I asked the prosecutor to seek the longest possible prison term she could for the killer, but not seek the death penalty. She complied with my request. While the desires of the victims’ family members certainly are not controlling, they often lead prosecutors to seek capital punishment. Here, they should also be a factor to be considered in determining whether leniency is appropriate.

To summarize, in our humble opinions, this is the exact type of case where intervention is called for, a case in which the legal requirements of capital punishment have been met, but justice will be best served by intervention. Accordingly, our thousands of members and friends most respectfully request that you provide that justice.

With great thanks for your consideration of this vital matter,

Lorry W. Post
Executive Director

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