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Friday, October 31, 2008

Death row survivors call for moratorium on executions

Every session since 2001, there has been legislation introduced in the Texas Legislature to enact a moratorium on executions. In 2009, when the Legislature convenes in January, the results of the election on Nov 4 may have given new impetus to the drive to enact a moratorium since Republicans may lose their majority in the Texas House. TMN will be making a major push next Spring for a moratorium. Today, Austin was visited by several survivors of death row from around the country.

From the AP:

AUSTIN — A group of death row survivors called on the Texas Legislature on Friday to halt executions in the nation's most active death penalty state and establish an innocence commission to free other wrongfully convicted inmates.

"There have been some innocent people that have been executed right here in Texas," said Clarence Brandley, who spent nine years on death row in Texas before being exonerated in the murder of a Conroe teenager. "But the politicians are not going to say that."

Brandley was joined at the state capitol by 19 other men who had been released from death row in various states. They want the Texas Legislature to declare a death penalty moratorium while experts examine how capital punishment is carried out in the state.

Former Bexar County District Attorney Sam Millsap said Texas, which has executed 419 people since the reinstatement of the death penalty, has the "most efficient death machine in the free world."

Millsap, who once supported capital punishment but now believes he probably sent an innocent man to the death chamber, said he joined the opposition movement because he lost faith in the justice system.

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Help Us Win a Membership Contest so that We Can Help Some Families of People on Death Row

Click here to join the "Abolish the Death Penalty Project" on Amazee.com and help us win the membership contest. We could win up to $5,000 to use against the death penalty. The project with the most members by Jan 22 wins. We plan to use one-half of any prize money we win to help needy families of people on death row travel to visit their loved ones on death row. We will use the other half of the prize money to fight against the death penalty.

You have to go to the project page, click on "join project" on the right hand side, then click on "register". Then to qualify as one of the members who count towards the contest, you have to upload a profile picture or avatar of yourself. You don't have to do anything else to help us win the membership contest, but if you want, you can contribute content to the project.

We were all moved by the family members who spoke at the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions in Houston, so we were thinking of how we could help them. We all know that the death penalty is reserved for the poor. There are no rich people on death row. We want to use one half of any prize money we get through this contest to help family members visit their loved ones on death row. Many families have a hard time making ends meet and the extra cost of traveling long distances to visit their loved ones on death row is a great financial burden. Some of the people on death row have young children who rarely get to visit them.

If we win the first place prize of $5,000, then $2500 will be reserved to help with trips to death row for families of people sentenced to death who need financial help to visit their loved ones. The other $2,500 would be used for activities during the upcoming Texas legislative session, such as a big anti-death penalty rally in Austin and other projects. If we only win third place, then we would have $1000 for the families and $1,000 for other expenses. But let's aim for first place!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Texas Executes Man Proclaiming Innocence

From the AP:

Proclaiming his innocence, an unemployed trucker was executed Thursday for the fatal stabbing and robbery of a woman he said had given him food, clothing and money after she spotted him on a street corner holding a cardboard sign offering to work for food.

As he had done for years, Gregory Wright pinned the murder of Donna Vick on John Adams, a fellow homeless man also convicted of murdering Vick and sentenced to die.

"My only act or involvement was not telling on him. John Adams was the one that killed Donna Vick," Wright said from the death chamber gurney. "... I was in the bathroom when he attacked. I ran into the bedroom. By the time I came in, when I tried to help her with first aid it was too late."

Wright was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m., nine minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow,

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Sign Up to Receive Text Message Alerts on Execution Days in Texas


Sign up to receive text alerts on execution days on your cell phone. We just texted our list to urge them to call the governor for Greg Wright. We only use this list to send texts to remind people to call the governor on an execution day. We actually started sending text alerts back in 2003, so we were early adopters.

http://www.upoc.com/group.jsp?group=SXT

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Call Governor Perry to Protest Today's Execution of Greg Wright

http://www.freegregwright.com
http://governor.state.tx.us/contact

# Citizen's Opinion Hotline [for Texas callers] :
(800) 252-9600
# Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] :
(512) 463-1782

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008. Wright insists he is innocent and his co-defendant has agreed that Wright is innocent.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

"The truth doesn't matter," Wright told The Associated Press recently from a visiting cage outside death row, saying he was stunned at the outcome of his 1998 trial in Dallas. "I couldn't believe what was happening. I'm very upset at a number of different people. I don't blame the legal system. I blame individuals running the legal system. ... I am innocent."

Adams, who implicated Wright as the killer, earlier this year recanted his statement against Wright. Then at a court hearing last month, he reversed his recantation.

"The co-defendant has been a bit erratic," Meg Penrose, one of Wright's lawyers, said Thursday.

She said she understood demands for an execution in the case "but I thought justice demanded we executed the right person."

"I guess there's a difference of emphasis," Penrose said. "I'd rather wait 30 years and make sure we have the proper individual executed than wait 12 and hedge our bets. I don't like the rush to review that we're at. A person who is innocent is rushed to the gurney and is executed."
Governor Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711

Fax: (512) 463-1849

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008 for the murder of Donna Vick on March 21, 1997 in Desoto, Texas. Mr. Wright was one of two defendants sentenced to death in this case in separate trials. A petition for Commutation of his death sentence or in the alternative, a 180 day Reprieve has been submitted by his attorneys.

We are requesting that letters of support be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to recommend these actions to the Governor, and to the Governor asking him to commute the death sentence to life or to grant a 180 day reprieve.

Some of the issues in Mr. Wright’s case have never been considered on appeal because his State Habeas attorney did virtually no work on his behalf leaving these issues unpreserved and preventing them from being raised in further appeals. This attorney is no longer on the list of attorneys approved to represent capital defendants in their appeals.

The other defendant in this case made confessions to the murder to a number of individuals both before the trial and after conviction. However he has never confessed under oath. One such confession was to an individual working at a 24 hour video story on the evening of the murder. The other defendant then asked him to call 911 for him. Both of them made calls to 911, but the tapes, which might have been helpful to Mr. Wright’s defense, have disappeared.

Mr. Wright’s attorneys were unable to find this witness to interview him, and the prosecutor’s office claimed they did not know his whereabouts. An affidavit by this witness confirms that the prosecutor’s office maintained contact with him prior to the trial.

There was another person to whom the other defendant confessed shortly after the murder while driving the victim’s car that the defense was never aware of until after the trial.

The prosecution made an undisclosed deal with another person who testified against Mr. Wright at his trial, providing information not available from any other source that was very damaging to Mr. Wright such as a cheerful demeanor after the murder. Although this witness testified to actions that would have subjected him to a lengthy prison sentence, he was never charged with a crime. Upon questioning by the defense attorney, both the witness and the prosecutor denied the existence of any deal. However testimony during the trial of the other defendant in the murder confirms the existence of a deal made prior to Mr. Wright’s trial.

A lot of emphasis was placed on the testimony of this witness during both the trial and the punishment phase. Failure to disclose a deal rendered the defense unable to point out the bias of this witness. Not only did the prosecution deny a deal but repeatedly insisted that none existed.

Items related to the crime, papers and clothing, such as jeans containing Mr. Vick’s blood, were found in a shack in Desoto. Although the police and the prosecutor were aware that both men had access to this shack, at trial the information was withheld that paperwork belonging to the other defendant was also present, and access was attributed only to Mr. Wright. In the other defendant’s trial, the shack was described as being shared by both men. There remain questions about the ownership of the jeans, which have questionable DNA inside a pant leg, and DNA testing is ongoing. Further testing is being opposed by the prosecution.

The state presented as their only physical evidence against Mr. Wright a partial bloody fingerprint on a pillowcase lifted by a crime scene officer not trained to handle evidence and who has now been indicted for murder in another case and is currently a fugitive from justice. Members of the Dallas Co. Sheriff’s Office with extensive experience and training in fingerprint identification did not find the print comparable to those of any suspects. A retired print examiner, who had worked in the past with the other examiners, testified to the match to Mr. Wright’s known prints without showing the points of comparison and told the jury they would have to take his word for it. A forensic scientist who recently reviewed the materials found that no scientific comparison could be made on the materials submitted at trial.

In conclusion, Mr. Wright did not have a fair trial. Witnesses were hidden, key evidence was suppressed, and testimony was bought and paid for. The State “shopped” for a fingerprint expert who would testify to a match.

There are serious doubts that Gregory Wright is guilty of the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed. There is NO doubt that he did not receive a fair trial

Using the information in this summary and any other factors you think should be considered, please write your letters to the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Remember to include in your letter your awareness of the severity of the crime and the harm done to Ms. Vick and the loss to any of her relatives or loved ones.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

24 Innocent Ex-Death Row Inmates to Hold Press Conference in Austin Friday at 2pm

Bob Ray Sanders, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, writes today that

Twenty-four ex-Death Row prisoners from across the country will meet Friday at the state Capitol in Austin to call for a moratorium on executions in Texas and for the creation of a statewide commission on wrongful convictions, said Kurt Rosenberg, executive director of Witness to Innocence, a Philadelphia-based organization of former Death Row inmates and their families.

Their news conference will be at 2 p.m. in the Speaker’s Committee Room.

The men who will appear at the Capitol have served "a combined total of nearly 200 years on death row for crimes they did not commit," Rosenberg said in a statement announcing the news conference.

"Last month, Texas became third in the nation in death-row exonerations when Michael Blair was the 130th person exonerated from death row," he said. "Blair’s exoneration came on the heels of a statement by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins that he will re-examine nearly 40 death penalty convictions and would halt executions, if necessary, to give the reviews time to proceed."

Watkins’ announcement also came in the wake of Dallas County’s record-setting number of overall exonerations — 18 since 2001.

"Witness to Innocence believes the rest of the state should follow Watkins’ lead and halt executions while it studies its broken death penalty system, which has exonerated nine people from death row since 1987, third only to Florida and Illinois in death-row exonerations," Rosenberg said.

More and more leaders are recognizing that we do have a broken system in the Lone Star State.

Last summer the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals announced the creation of a Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit to examine weaknesses in the criminal justice system. And, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court is among those calling for a statewide innocence commission.

It makes sense that while we recognize an imperfect system with weaknesses that must be examined and corrected, there ought not to be any more executions in Texas until those issues have been fully addressed.

The Star-Telegram is on record supporting a moratorium on executions.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Texas Monthly November Issue: "The Exonerated" and Panel at SMU on Nov 6

Texas Monthly's November issue has an article "The Exonerated". the link above is to a preview; TM articles can not be read online unless you have a subscription, so go out and get the print issue. TM's website does have a four minute video of some of the exonerated at a photo shoot for the story, and a series of audio recordings with 14 of the exonerated.

Texas Monthly will present a panel discussion at SMU on November 6th at 7pm, featuring Michael Hall, Dallas County DA Craig Watkins, and James Waller—one of the exonerated profiled in the current issue. (RSVP by November 4th.)

From the article "The Exonerated"

These 37 men spent 525 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Then came the hard part: freedom.

by Michael Hall

The first thing you notice is the eyes—they all have the same look in them, the look of men accustomed to waking up every morning in a prison cell. These 37 men spent years, and in some cases decades, staring through bars at a world that believed they were guilty of terrible crimes. But they weren’t. Each was convicted of doing something he did not do. It’s hard to characterize the look in their eyes. There’s anger, obviously, and pride at having survived hell, but there’s also hurt, and a question: “Why me?”

The short answer is simple: People make mistakes. Most of these cases share a common story line: A woman, usually a traumatized rape victim, wrongly identifies her attacker. Sometimes her testimony is backed by rudimentary serology tests. Sometimes the cases are pushed too hard by aggressive police officers or prosecutors. Sometimes the accused already has a criminal...

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Victim's Mother Opposes Death Penalty in Case Straining Race Relations in East Texas

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the mother of an African-American run over to death last month in East Texas does not want her son's killers to face the death penalty. Jackie McClelland staunchly opposes the death penalty. The prosecutor has said that the murder charges the perpetrators currently face carry a penalty of five to 99 years or life in prison, so, for now, the victim's mother will get her wish that the death penalty not be on the table, unless the prosecutor decides to seek other charges.

From the DMN

Both suspects were arrested about a week after Mr. McClelland's death and are being held in the Lamar County Jail, with bail set at $500,000 apiece. Mr. Finley was returned to Texas from Wichita, Kan., where he was captured after a manhunt.

Mr. Hubbard said the case will go to the grand jury in November and the earliest likely trial date is next spring.

While some have called for prosecutors to seek the death penalty, the victim's mother said she doesn't believe in capital punishment and just wants justice.


"We want to make sure that anybody that was involved in this gets the right justice, not just a couple of years," said Ms. McClelland. "I think they should get life without parole."
More background on the case from the DMN:
PARIS, Texas – With a black man dead and two white men in jail on murder charges, race relations are again under strain in this northeast Texas county seat, still haunted by high-profile lynchings from its distant past and protests over the jailing of a black teenager two years ago.
Also Online

Lynchings part of city's dark past

Blog: Crime

Motorists found Brandon Demon "Big Boy" McClelland's mangled body early Sept. 16 in northeast Lamar County, near a curve in a two-lane county road. Authorities first suspected the 24-year-old was the victim of a hit-and-run, killed by a speeding lumber truck.

But suspicions soon turned to the victim's white drinking buddies: Shannon Keith Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley. Witnesses told police that the men admitted running down Mr. McClelland after an argument. Both suspects maintain their innocence.

District Attorney Gary Young, who is white, said there's no evidence that the killing was a hate crime. But his office welcomes any information on the case, he said.

That doesn't satisfy friends and family of the victim and other members of the black community, including a contingent of the New Black Panthers, who suspect a cover-up and see shades of the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. a decade ago in Jasper, Texas.

"Gary Young decided from the start it was not a hate crime," said Brenda Cherry, who is black and a co-founder of Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality. "They're not going to do anything to make Paris look bad. That's the main thing around here."

The victim's mother, Jackie McClelland, also believes race played a part in her son's death, noting the extent of his injuries.

"I think it was a hate crime," she said. "We couldn't have an open casket."

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Sign Petition and Contact Governor Perry on Behalf of Greg Wright

http://www.freegregwright.com
http://www.petitiononline.com/fgew2008/petition.html
http://governor.state.tx.us/contact

# Citizen's Opinion Hotline [for Texas callers] :
(800) 252-9600
# Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] :
(512) 463-1782

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008.

Governor Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711

Fax: (512) 463-1849

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008 for the murder of Donna Vick on March 21, 1997 in Desoto, Texas. Mr. Wright was one of two defendants sentenced to death in this case in separate trials. A petition for Commutation of his death sentence or in the alternative, a 180 day Reprieve has been submitted by his attorneys.

We are requesting that letters of support be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to recommend these actions to the Governor, and to the Governor asking him to commute the death sentence to life or to grant a 180 day reprieve.

Some of the issues in Mr. Wright’s case have never been considered on appeal because his State Habeas attorney did virtually no work on his behalf leaving these issues unpreserved and preventing them from being raised in further appeals. This attorney is no longer on the list of attorneys approved to represent capital defendants in their appeals.

The other defendant in this case made confessions to the murder to a number of individuals both before the trial and after conviction. However he has never confessed under oath. One such confession was to an individual working at a 24 hour video story on the evening of the murder. The other defendant then asked him to call 911 for him. Both of them made calls to 911, but the tapes, which might have been helpful to Mr. Wright’s defense, have disappeared.

Mr. Wright’s attorneys were unable to find this witness to interview him, and the prosecutor’s office claimed they did not know his whereabouts. An affidavit by this witness confirms that the prosecutor’s office maintained contact with him prior to the trial.

There was another person to whom the other defendant confessed shortly after the murder while driving the victim’s car that the defense was never aware of until after the trial.

The prosecution made an undisclosed deal with another person who testified against Mr. Wright at his trial, providing information not available from any other source that was very damaging to Mr. Wright such as a cheerful demeanor after the murder. Although this witness testified to actions that would have subjected him to a lengthy prison sentence, he was never charged with a crime. Upon questioning by the defense attorney, both the witness and the prosecutor denied the existence of any deal. However testimony during the trial of the other defendant in the murder confirms the existence of a deal made prior to Mr. Wright’s trial.

A lot of emphasis was placed on the testimony of this witness during both the trial and the punishment phase. Failure to disclose a deal rendered the defense unable to point out the bias of this witness. Not only did the prosecution deny a deal but repeatedly insisted that none existed.

Items related to the crime, papers and clothing, such as jeans containing Mr. Vick’s blood, were found in a shack in Desoto. Although the police and the prosecutor were aware that both men had access to this shack, at trial the information was withheld that paperwork belonging to the other defendant was also present, and access was attributed only to Mr. Wright. In the other defendant’s trial, the shack was described as being shared by both men. There remain questions about the ownership of the jeans, which have questionable DNA inside a pant leg, and DNA testing is ongoing. Further testing is being opposed by the prosecution.

The state presented as their only physical evidence against Mr. Wright a partial bloody fingerprint on a pillowcase lifted by a crime scene officer not trained to handle evidence and who has now been indicted for murder in another case and is currently a fugitive from justice. Members of the Dallas Co. Sheriff’s Office with extensive experience and training in fingerprint identification did not find the print comparable to those of any suspects. A retired print examiner, who had worked in the past with the other examiners, testified to the match to Mr. Wright’s known prints without showing the points of comparison and told the jury they would have to take his word for it. A forensic scientist who recently reviewed the materials found that no scientific comparison could be made on the materials submitted at trial.

In conclusion, Mr. Wright did not have a fair trial. Witnesses were hidden, key evidence was suppressed, and testimony was bought and paid for. The State “shopped” for a fingerprint expert who would testify to a match.

There are serious doubts that Gregory Wright is guilty of the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed. There is NO doubt that he did not receive a fair trial

Using the information in this summary and any other factors you think should be considered, please write your letters to the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Remember to include in your letter your awareness of the severity of the crime and the harm done to Ms. Vick and the loss to any of her relatives or loved ones.

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Pictures from 9th Annual March to Stop Executions

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Clarence Brandley at 9th Annual March to Stop Executions

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

Clarence Brandley speaking at 9th Annual March to Stop Executions in Houston, Oct 25, 2008. Clarence is an innocent person who spent ten years on death row in Texas before being fully exonerated.

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

From 9th Annual March to Stop Executions Oct 25, 2008 Houston Texas

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woods Case Shows Need for Statewide Public Defenders Office for Death Penalty Cases

Bobby Woods received a stay of execution today from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The reason for the stay was not given, but the Austin American-Statesman reported that it likely had to do with Woods' previous lawyer not adequately representing him by failing to fully present the case of Woods' mental retardation.

Woods' previous lawyer was Fort Worth attorney Richard Alley.

Alley, Woods alleged, failed to challenge the prosecutors’ IQ tests as antiquated, did not unearth an easy-to-find test showing Woods’ IQ was 60 and did not collect crucial affidavits from friends and family about Wood’s inability to fully communicate or take care of himself. The new filing has 10 such affidavits.

“Mr. Alley failed in all aspects to adequately represent Mr. Woods,” the petition says.

Alley was featured in a 2006 American-Statesman analysis of court-appointed lawyers for writs of habeas corpus, one of two appeals granted to death row inmates. The analysis found Alley copied large parts of his petitions from previous filings and from other appeals that cannot be considered in a habeas review. A federal court also reprimanded Alley for repeated unethical behavior and poor work on a death penalty appeal in 2002.

Shortly after the newspaper report, the Court of Criminal Appeals removed Alley from its list of lawyers eligible to handle habeas petitions.
Next session, the Texas Legislature should pass a bill to create a statewide office of public defenders to handle death penalty appeals, so that people as incompetent as Richard Alley never again represent anyone appealing a death penalty sentence. An example of such an office in another state is California's Office of the State Public Defender, which "focuses its resources on post-conviction appellate representation in death penalty cases. The agency currently represents more than 130 men and women on death row in California".

Of course, Texas also needs competent attorneys at the trial level for people accused of capital crimes, but a public defenders office that handles appeals in death penalty cases would be a start towards what we really need - a statewide defender's office that is responsible for capital cases from start to finish.

Such a "start to finish" office was endorsed by the Austin American-Statesman in an editorial in 2006 just before the last session of the Texas Legislature:
that office could be financed by a combination of state money now going to court-appointed lawyers handling death row habeas appeals and county dollars that fund lawyers for indigent capital murder defendants for their initial trials. Such an agency could hire lawyers who are experienced and competent in handling death row cases. It isn't a perfect solution, but far better than what is in place now.

The public and state leaders should be concerned about whether convicted capital murderers are being executed for the right reason — because they are guilty — and not because their lawyers bungled the job.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robert Jean Hudson's Family and Supporters Plead for Commutation of Death Sentence

Robert Jean Hudson is scheduled for execution in Texas on November 20. If all the executions scheduled in Texas between now and Hudson's scheduled date, he will be the twelfth person executed in Texas within a six week period. Hudson's supporters are asking for his death sentence to be changed to life in prison.

A petition for Hudson has been signed so far by more than 2000 people. To sign click here. His supporters have created a group for him on Facebook explaining why his sentence should be commuted to life:

Robert has always admitted to the murder, which he has repeatedly said was wrong, plead guilty in court, and has shown deep personal remorse and sorrow for the crime.

He had a troubled childhood and the murder *WAS NOT* premeditated, meaning he *should not* have been charged with capital murder, as non-premeditated murder *IS NOT a capital offense* in Texas, where it was committed.

Robert has a family and children of his own, who will have to face the loss of their father if his execution goes ahead.

Robert's lawyers during the sentencing phase of his trial did not perform as they should have, and failed grievously in their task.

The sentencing phase of Robert's trial was defective; he was on antidepressants and thus unable to testify/stand trial.

Due to his troubled childhood, he has had pyschiatric treatment since he was young, and he spent several years in special education. His Vietnam-veteran father was alcoholic.

Robert went through a long cycle of depression as a child, which hindered his chance to have a fair start in life.

NOTE: Neither this group nor Robert Jean Hudson's profile are edited by him. The group and his profile are maintained by his supporters on behalf of him. He has no access to the Internet, but we can send messages to the prison (the notorious Polunsky Unit).

IMPORTANT: As we are requesting only a COMMUTATION, if this is granted, Robert WILL NOT be released -- he just won't be executed. So please don't think we're requesting a pardon or the like. Robert will remain imprisoned, but he will be able to rebuild his life, and won't face the barbaric, torturous death penalty.

As one group member said, "I AM JOINING THIS GROUP BECAUSE A PARDON IS NOT BEING ASKED FOR AND THE VICTIM IS NOT BEING FORGOTTEN; SO I HOPE A STAY OF EXACUTION IS GRANTED; JUSTICE WILL STILL BE DONE."

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caravan to the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions this Saturday

CEDP is organizing a caravan to travel from Austin to Houston for the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions this Saturday Oct 25. We will meet at 10 am this Saturday at the H.E.B. Hancock Center parking lot. We will be meeting on the side of Sears that faces I-35. So between Sears and the I-35 access road. Call 494-0667 with any further questions.

This Saturday, Oct 25 in Houston, Texas, the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions will be held. Since 2000, we have been marching every year to abolish the death penalty in Texas.

More people from Houston have been executed than from any other city in the U.S. If Texas carries out the two executions it has scheduled this week, then it will have executed 418 people since 1982.

In just October and November, Texas is planning to execute twelve people. In this political season, we need as many people as possible to march with us or to support the march in order that politicians get the message that there is support for abolishing the death penalty in Texas.


The march starts at 2 pm. We will gather in Houston at S.H.A.P.E. Harambee Building at 3903 Almeda Road. Then we will march to S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, 3815 Live Oak, for a rally.

If you can not attend the march in person, please help us with a donation.






The March to Stop Executions is sponsored by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations, including the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center and Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joseph Ries and Bobby Woods Scheduled for Execution This Week in Texas

On Tuesday, Oct 21, Joseph Ries, 29, is the first of two people set to die this week. He was convicted of breaking into a rural home in Hopkins County in northeast Texas and fatally shooting and taking the car of Robert Ratliff, 64, who was asleep.

On Thursday, Oct 23, Bobby Woods, 43, is scheduled to be executed.

If these executions are carried out, Texas will have executed 418 people since 1982.

Please call the Governor of Texas on the Day of an Execution at 512-463-2000
Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849
Tell the Governor that You Oppose these Executions.

Send an Email to Governor Perry


Statewide Execution Vigils

Google Map

Huntsville - Corner of 12th Street and Avenue I (in front of the Walls Unit) at 5:00 p.m.

Austin - At the Governor's Mansion on the Lavaca St. side between 10th and 11th St. from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Beaumont - Diocese of Beaumont, Diocesan Pastoral Office, 703 Archie St. @ 4:00 p.m. on the day of an execution.

College Station - 6 to 7 PM on execution days, corner of Texas Avenue and University Drive.

Corpus Christi - at 6 PM in front of Incarnate Word Convent at 2910 Alameda Street

Dallas - 5:30 pm, at the SMU Women's Center, 3116 Fondren Drive

Houston - To learn location or if a stay has been granted before you come out, call Burnham Terrell, 713/921-0948.

Lewisville - St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 1897 W. Main Street. Peace & Justice Ministry conducts Vigils of Witness Against Capital Punishment at 6:00 pm on the day executions are scheduled in Texas.

McKinney - St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community located at 110 St. Gabriel Way. We gather the last Sunday of the month, following the 11:00 Mass to pray for those men/women scheduled to be executed in the next month and to remember the victims, their families, and all lives touched, including us as a society.

San Antonio (Site 1) - Archdiocese of San Antonio, in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Chancery, 2718 W. Woodlawn Ave. (1 mile east of Bandera Rd.) at 11:30 a.m. on the day of execution. Broadcast on Catholic Television of San Antonio (Time-Warner cable channel 15) at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on the day of execution.

San Antonio (Site 2) - Main Plaza across from Bexar County Courthouse and San Fernando Cathedral - Noon

Spring - Prayer Vigil at 6 PM on evenings of executions at St Edward Catholic Community, 2601 Spring Stuebner Rd for the murder victim, for family and friends of the murder victim, the prison guards and correctional officers, for the family of the condemn man/woman, for the man/woman to be executed and to an end to the death penalty.

This Saturday in Houston the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions will be held. It starts at 2 PM at S.H.A.P.E. Harambee Building, 3903 Almeda Road. The crowd wil march to S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, 3815 Live Oak.

The March to Stop Executions has been held each October since 2000. It is sponsored by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations, including the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center and Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kevin Watts, father of 8 year old girl, to be executed today

One of the saddest aspects of the death penalty is the effect on the family of the person being executed. Kevin Watts, who is scheduled for execution in Texas today, has an 8 year old daughter. She is mentioned in this report from the San Antonio Express News

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied both an application for clemency and a 30-day reprieve request from death row inmate Kevin Watts, clearing the way for the state to execute him today.

The board acted Tuesday. Watts was sentenced to die in 2003 for the execution-style shootings of three employees of a Northeast Side Korean restaurant and the rape of a worker's wife.

By his own admission, during a robbery at the Sam Won Garden restaurant in March 2002, Watts shot restaurant manager Hak Po Kim, 30, and employees Chae Sun Shook, 59, and Yuan Tzu Banks, 52. Testimony and evidence showed he also kidnapped and sexually assaulted Kim's new bride.

Watts said from prison last week that he was not ready to face his execution. His time on death row has gone quickly, he said; inmates typically have 10 years or more awaiting execution. Lawyers on both sides of the case said the overwhelming evidence against Watts, along with his confession, led to fewer delays.

On Wednesday, family members including his 8-year-old daughter tried to see Watts for a last visit, said his aunt, Linda Watts.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Write Clemency Letters for Greg Wright

Call the Governor of Texas Today!

Citizen's Opinion Hotline [for Texas callers]: (800) 252-9600
Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]: (512) 463-1782.

Greg Wright's supporters are circulating the following appeal requesting that people write the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor:

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008 for the murder of Donna Vick on March 21, 1997 in Desoto, Texas. Mr. Wright was one of two defendants sentenced to death in this case in separate trials. A petition for Commutation of his death sentence or in the alternative, a 180 day Reprieve has been submitted by his attorneys.

We are requesting that letters of support be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to recommend these actions to the Governor, and to the Governor asking him to commute the death sentence to life or to grant a 180 day reprieve.

Some of the issues in Mr. Wright’s case have never been considered on appeal because his State Habeas attorney did virtually no work on his behalf leaving these issues unpreserved and preventing them from being raised in further appeals. This attorney is no longer on the list of attorneys approved to represent capital defendants in their appeals.

The other defendant in this case made confessions to the murder to a number of individuals both before the trial and after conviction. However he has never confessed under oath. One such confession was to an individual working at a 24 hour video story on the evening of the murder. The other defendant then asked him to call 911 for him. Both of them made calls to 911, but the tapes, which might have been helpful to Mr. Wright’s defense, have disappeared.

Mr. Wright’s attorneys were unable to find this witness to interview him, and the prosecutor’s office claimed they did not know his whereabouts. An affidavit by this witness confirms that the prosecutor’s office maintained contact with him prior to the trial.

There was another person to whom the other defendant confessed shortly after the murder while driving the victim’s car that the defense was never aware of until after the trial.

The prosecution made an undisclosed deal with another person who testified against Mr. Wright at his trial, providing information not available from any other source that was very damaging to Mr. Wright such as a cheerful demeanor after the murder. Although this witness testified to actions that would have subjected him to a lengthy prison sentence, he was never charged with a crime. Upon questioning by the defense attorney, both the witness and the prosecutor denied the existence of any deal. However testimony during the trial of the other defendant in the murder confirms the existence of a deal made prior to Mr. Wright’s trial.

A lot of emphasis was placed on the testimony of this witness during both the trial and the punishment phase. Failure to disclose a deal rendered the defense unable to point out the bias of this witness. Not only did the prosecution deny a deal but repeatedly insisted that none existed.

Items related to the crime, papers and clothing, such as jeans containing Mr. Vick’s blood, were found in a shack in Desoto. Although the police and the prosecutor were aware that both men had access to this shack, at trial the information was withheld that paperwork belonging to the other defendant was also present, and access was attributed only to Mr. Wright. In the other defendant’s trial, the shack was described as being shared by both men. There remain questions about the ownership of the jeans, which have questionable DNA inside a pant leg, and DNA testing is ongoing. Further testing is being opposed by the prosecution.

The state presented as their only physical evidence against Mr. Wright a partial bloody fingerprint on a pillowcase lifted by a crime scene officer not trained to handle evidence and who has now been indicted for murder in another case and is currently a fugitive from justice. Members of the Dallas Co. Sheriff’s Office with extensive experience and training in fingerprint identification did not find the print comparable to those of any suspects. A retired print examiner, who had worked in the past with the other examiners, testified to the match to Mr. Wright’s known prints without showing the points of comparison and told the jury they would have to take his word for it. A forensic scientist who recently reviewed the materials found that no scientific comparison could be made on the materials submitted at trial.

In conclusion, Mr. Wright did not have a fair trial. Witnesses were hidden, key evidence was suppressed, and testimony was bought and paid for. The State “shopped” for a fingerprint expert who would testify to a match.

There are serious doubts that Gregory Wright is guilty of the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed. There is NO doubt that he did not receive a fair trial

Using the information in this summary and any other factors you think should be considered, please write your letters to the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Remember to include in your letter your awareness of the severity of the crime and the harm done to Ms. Vick and the loss to any of her relatives or loved ones.

Please send your letters as soon as you are reasonably able to do so as the petition has already been submitted.

Here is the contact information

Rissie Owens, Presiding Officer
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & other Board Members
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78758

Fax (512) 467-0945

Dear Mrs. Owens and other Board Members:

Governor Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711

Fax: (512) 463-1849

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Map of all executions in the U.S. Since 1977

The total number of executions represented in this map is three less than the grand total, because three executions were conducted by the federal government and not by a state.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Two More Newspapers Endorse Susan Strawn for Texas' Highest Criminal Court

The Houston Chronicle says

it has been an inglorious year for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the state. Presiding Judge Sharon Keller drew national condemnation for refusing to take a last-minute appeal for a stay of execution that almost certainly would have been granted after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively halting executions earlier that day. As a result, convict Michael Richard was put to death.

While other justices were kept in the dark by Judge Keller, the judicial shame resulting from her actions reflects on the entire institution. As a result, the court needs a balanced perspective.

• Susan Strawn, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3: The Chronicle believes the best candidate for Place 3 is Democrat Susan Strawn, a fourth-generation Houstonian and former federal prosecutor who worked on white-collar criminal cases during 14 years at the Justice Department. She also has international experience investigating extremist groups and organized crime in the Balkans and West Africa.

Strawn, a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, currently teaches anti-corruption law at the University of Houston Law Center. She will bring fresh views and strong leadership skills to a court whose public image is badly in need of rehabilitation.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times Editorial Board
recommends the election of Susan Strawn, Democrat, a Houston lawyer who served 12 years with the U.S. Department of Justice, from 1990 to 2002. She served as a judicial reform adviser in Kosovo and in West Africa. Recently, she has been an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

The incumbent in this race is Tom Price, Republican. He has been on the Court of Criminal Appeals for 11 years and over that period of time he has earned a reputation for his frequent absences and low productivity. The third candidate on the ballot is Matthew Eilers, Libertarian, a lawyer in Universal City.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Write Clemency Letters for Greg Wright

Gregory Edward Wright is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas October 30, 2008 for the murder of Donna Vick on March 21, 1997 in Desoto, Texas. Mr. Wright was one of two defendants sentenced to death in this case in separate trials. A petition for Commutation of his death sentence or in the alternative, a 180 day Reprieve has been submitted by his attorneys.

We are requesting that letters of support be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to recommend these actions to the Governor, and to the Governor asking him to commute the death sentence to life or to grant a 180 day reprieve.

Some of the issues in Mr. Wright’s case have never been considered on appeal because his State Habeas attorney did virtually no work on his behalf leaving these issues unpreserved and preventing them from being raised in later appeals. This attorney is no longer on the list of attorneys approved to represent capital defendants in their appeals.

The other defendant in this case made confessions to the murder to a number of individuals both before the trial and after conviction. However he has never confessed under oath. One such confession was to an individual working at a 24 hour video story on the evening of the murder. The other defendant then asked him to call 911 for him. Both of them made calls to 911, but the tapes, which might have been helpful to Mr. Wright’s defense, have disappeared.

Mr. Wright’s attorneys were unable to find this witness to interview him, and the prosecutor’s office claimed they did not know his whereabouts. An affidavit by this witness confirms that the prosecutor’s office maintained contact with him prior to the trial.

There was another person to whom the other defendant confessed shortly after the murder while driving the victim’s car that the defense was never aware of until after the trial.

The prosecution made an undisclosed deal with another person who testified against Mr. Wright at his trial, providing information not available from any other source that was very damaging to Mr. Wright, such as a cheerful demeanor after the murder. Although this witness testified to actions that would have subjected him to a lengthy prison sentence, he was never charged with a crime. Upon questioning by the defense attorney, both the witness and the prosecutor denied the existence of any deal. However testimony during the trial of the other defendant in the murder confirms the existence of a deal made prior to Mr. Wright’s trial.

A lot of emphasis was placed on the testimony of this witness during both the trial and the punishment phase. Failure to disclose a deal rendered the defense unable to point out the bias of this witness. Not only did the prosecution deny a deal but repeatedly insisted that none existed.

Items related to the crime, papers and clothing, such as a pair of jeans containing Mr. Vick’s blood, were found in a shack in Desoto. Although the police and the prosecutor were aware that both men had access to this shack, at trial the information was withheld that paperwork belonging to the other defendant was also present, and access was attributed only to Mr. Wright. In the other defendant’s trial, the shack was described as being shared by both men. There remain questions about the ownership of the jeans, which have questionable DNA inside a pant leg, and DNA testing is ongoing. Further testing is being opposed by the prosecution.

The state presented as their only physical evidence against Mr. Wright a partial bloody fingerprint on a pillowcase lifted by a crime scene officer not trained to handle evidence and who has now been indicted for murder in another case and is currently a fugitive from justice. Members of the Dallas Co. Sheriff’s Office with extensive experience and training in fingerprint identification did not find the print comparable to any suspect. A retired print examiner, who had worked in the past with the other examiners, testified to the match to Mr. Wright’s known prints without showing the points of comparison and told the jury they would have to take his word for it. A forensic scientist who recently reviewed the materials found that no scientific comparison could be made on the materials submitted at trial.

In conclusion, Mr. Wright did not have a fair trial. Witnesses were hidden, key evidence was suppressed, and testimony was bought and paid for. The State “shopped” for a fingerprint expert who would testify to a match.

There are serious doubts that Gregory Wright is guilty of the crime for which he is scheduled to be executed. There is NO doubt that he did not receive a fair trial

Using the information in this summary and any other factors you think should be considered, please write your letters to the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Remember to include in your letter your awareness of the severity of the crime and the harm done to Ms. Vick and the loss to any of her relatives or loved ones.

Please send your letters as soon as you are reasonably able to do so as the petition has already been submitted.

Here is the contact information:

Rissie Owens, Presiding Officer
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & other Board Members
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78758

Begin your letter: Dear Mrs. Owens and other Board Members:

Governor Rick Perry
Governor of the State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

2008 Texas GOP Platform Endorses Death Penalty for Rape

The 2008 platform of the Texas Republican Party endorses the death penalty for people convicted of rape.

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 7-2 Coker v. Georgia decision that applying the death penalty in rape cases was forbidden by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as cruel and unusual punishment because the sentence was disproportionate to the crime. Coker resulted in the removal of twenty inmates -- three whites and 17 blacks -- awaiting execution on rape convictions from death rows around the country.

The GOP platform says that "all innocent human life must be protected", but it does not address how to protect innocent people from being sentenced to death or executed.

Parts of the Texas GOP platform that address the death penalty are:

Sexual Assault – Punishment options for rape should include death.

Capital Punishment – Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.

We believe that human life is sacred, created in the image of God. Life begins at the moment of fertilization and ends at the point of natural death. All innocent human life must be protected.

We support enactment of a homicide-by-abuse statute that provides punishment for abusing a child to death without intent of killing.
The 2008 Texas Democratic Party platform endorses the creation of a Texas Capital Punishment Commission to study the Texas death penalty system and a moratorium on executions pending action on the Commission’s findings. It also endorses the creation of an Innocence Commission, among other reforms.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Susan Strawn Outraises Tom Price Nearly 5-1

According to the latest campaign filing reports covering Jan 1 to June 30, 2008, Susan Strawn raised almost 5 times as much in contributions than her opponent Tom Price.

Susan Strawn raised $11,650.

Tom Price raised $2,425.

The low levels being raised by both of these campaigns means that the winner is likely to depend on the closeness of the presidential race in Texas. If Obama does better than expected in Texas while winning the national election, then Strawn could do well in her race. Strawn has already been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News, which criticized her opponent's work ethic, frequent absences and deteriorating reputation. If more newspapers endorse Strawn, that will likely help her pick up votes from independent voters making informed decisions. She may be able to pull off a win, as long as the presidential race is not a blowout in Texas.


Tom Price's report
.

Susan Strawn's report.

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Videos of Susan Strawn Speaking

Above, Susan on the campaign trail doing an informal interview.


At the Texas Democratic Party State Convention in June 2008

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DMN Endorses Susan Strawn for Court of Criminal Appeals

As the election nears, we want to bring readers' attention to the Dallas Morning News' endorsement of Democrat Susan Strawn for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The endorsement starts off by saying "the judgment of the state's highest criminal court rightly has been called into question in recent years. Too often, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the rulings of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. And Presiding Judge Sharon Keller disgraced the court last year with her life-or-death decision to refuse a condemned man's request for a stay because the office closed at 5."

Then the editorial continues with:

Democratic challenger Susan Strawn fits the bill. The Houston lawyer, who also teaches at the University of Houston Law Center, recognizes the court's shortcomings and offers innovative ideas for improvement. She strikes us as smart, measured, hard working and insightful.
The DMN website has answers from both candidates on a questionnaire. To the question, "What changes, if any, would you like to see made to the administration of the death penalty in Texas?", Strawn responds:
Susan Strawn: First, I would like to see death penalty cases handled from start to finish in compliance with the Constitution and all applicable law. The reason the Founding Fathers gave criminal defendants Constitutional rights was not because the Founders were soft on crime, but to make sure that the power of the State was exercised fairly against the guilty. Additionally, evidentiary and procedural rules have evolved over a thousand years of Anglo-American tradition, and continue to evolve. These rules exist to ensure that our criminal process is efficient and fair, and that the innocent are not convicted based on unreliable evidence. The most fundamental job of the Court is to ensure that the law is applied and the rules are enforced. The current Court has given short shrift to the law, with the result that there have been too many wrongful convictions and reversals by the federal courts.

Second, we need to improve the quality of counsel for both the prosecution and the defense. We have an adversarial system. In the basic task of fact-finding, the system relies on competent counsel on both sides to investigate the case, and present and cross-examine witnesses at trial. Similarly, the process depends on attorneys – prosecuting and defense – to object to errors and argue those points on appeal. Without a vigorous presentation of the case, neither the jury nor the judge can adequately do its job. Our system simply does not work if one side is not well represented.

On the prosecutorial side, the Court has a key role to play in assuring that prosecutorial misconduct is not rewarded. This does not mean reversing convictions where the integrity of the conviction is not at issue, but rather ensuring that the attorneys involved in egregious conduct are appropriately sanctioned. As a federal prosecutor, I was told on Day One that I was held to a higher standard in court, and that our job was not to win, but to ensure that justice was done. Cutting corners to win undermined your credibility with the court, and jeopardized your career. Maintaining the credibility of law enforcement is critical to our system, and the Court must be willing to hold prosecutors to high standards.

On the defense side, the Court must also ensure quality counsel. Most capital defendants are indigent, and we should extend and hasten ongoing reforms in indigent defense. Inadequate or non-existent defense counsel is a problem in all cases, but it is even more significant in capital cases.

We need to appoint defense counsel in a timely manner, ensure that counsel are appointed at all stages of the proceedings, and police the quality of appointed counsel with meaningful sanctions for inadequate work. As a former prosecutor, I know that having competent defense counsel on the other side of a case meant that the system worked more effectively and efficiently. In addition to improving the quality of justice, I believe that proving competent counsel, far from costing additional state funds, will save the State money by reducing trial time and appeals.

Lastly, we should accelerate the examination and, where appropriate, adoption of the reforms being somewhat belatedly considered by the Criminal Justice Integrity Unit formed in May. There are a number of areas where studies have demonstrated the need for reform, or where best practices have been developed by other states that Texas has yet to review. Texas should use the experience of other states, where relevant, and not waste time and money reinventing the wheel.

Name: Susan Strawn
Street Address: 5615 Morningside Drive, Box 219
City/Town: Houston
State: Texas 77005
Education/Degrees: J.D., University of Texas School of Law, with honors A.B., Princeton University, magna cum laude
Date of Birth: 12/29/1961
Work or Campaign Office Phone Number: 713-447-4360
Fax Number: n/a
E-mail Address: campaign@susanstrawn.com
Campaign Web Site Address: www.susanstrawn.com

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Innocent Man on Texas Death Row Likely to Get New Trial

The Dallas Morning News reported on Oct 3

The Tarrant County district attorney's office admitted Thursday that it withheld favorable evidence in the trial of Michael Roy Toney, who was convicted of killing three people with a bomb on Thanksgiving Day 1985.

Lawyers on both sides said they now expect Mr. Toney to be granted a new trial. He has been on death row since 1999.

"I want a new trial so that the truth can be exposed," Mr. Toney said in an e-mailed statement distributed by supporters. "I need for my children, grandchildren and remaining family to know that I have been wronged and that I am innocent."

Debra Windsor, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said prosecutors still believe Mr. Toney is guilty despite their admission that "we failed to turn over documents we should have turned over."

The bomb killed Joe Blount, 44; his daughter, Angela Blount, 15; and a visiting relative, Michael Columbus, 18. It had been packed into a briefcase and left on the steps of Mr. Blount's trailer at the Hilltop Mobile Home Park, near Lake Worth. Robert Blount, Mr. Blount's 13-year-old son, was badly burned but survived.

Police never established a motive for the bombing and finally came to believe it was meant for someone else.

The crime remained unsolved for 12 years. Then Mr. Toney, in jail on an unrelated charge, told another inmate about it. The inmate informed authorities. Mr. Toney later said he was only engaging in a ruse to help the other inmate get out of jail.

No physical evidence connected Mr. Toney to the crime. But his ex-wife and his former best friend testified they had seen Mr. Toney with a briefcase near the mobile home park on the night of the bombing.

The best friend, Chris Meeks, has since recanted – and reaffirmed – his testimony. The ex-wife, Kim Toney, has stuck to her story but has admitted to memory loss caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during military service in the Persian Gulf War.

Defense attorneys say the documents the district attorney failed to produce show that prosecutors were aware of inconsistencies in the stories of Ms. Toney and Mr. Meeks.

"And those were the only two witnesses tying Michael to the crime," said Jared Tyler, a lawyer for the Texas Innocence Network.

Mr. Tyler and Ms. Windsor jointly filed "agreed proposed findings of fact" with State District Judge Everett Young on Thursday.

"The State failed to turn over to the defense no less than 14 documents containing exculpatory or impeaching evidence," the proposed findings said. "Those documents included evidence of prior inconsistent statements of trial witnesses ... and evidence corroborating Mr. Toney's testimony at trial."

The suppression of this evidence favorable to Mr. Toney, the district attorney now acknowledges, "violated his due process rights."

The lead prosecutor in the original case, Mike Parrish, has retired from the district attorney's office. Efforts to reach him for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

Judge Young, who presided over Mr. Toney's trial, must now rule on the findings. The case then goes to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which could overturn Mr. Toney's conviction.

Mr. Toney, 42, has long proclaimed his innocence.

"Today is the biggest win we could have hoped for, but I don't feel like we have 'won' anything," he said in an e-mailed statement. "Justice is supposed to be an inalienable right."

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Flyer for March to Stop Executions on Oct 25

Download a flyer for the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions in Houston on Oct 25

KPFT, Houston’s Pacifica Radio, has endorsed the 9th Annual March to Stop Executions and willl broadcast it live on 90.1FM at 2:00 pm on Oct 25.

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