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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Texas Prepares to Execute Willie Pondexter at 6 PM Today

From the Houston Chronicle:

Willie Pondexter blamed his own stupidity and ignorance for an elderly woman's shooting death that had him set for a trip to the Texas death chamber.

"I know what I did was wrong," Pondexter, 34, said of the October 1993 murder of 85-year-old Martha Lennox during a burglary of her home in Clarksville in far northeast Texas. "At 19, you really don't think of the consequences."

Attorneys were in the U.S. Supreme Court trying to block the scheduled Tuesday evening lethal injection.

The high school dropout from Idabel, Okla., would be the ninth condemned Texas prisoner executed this year in Huntsville and the first of two set to die on consecutive nights this week in the nation's most active capital punishment state.

In their appeal, Pondexter's lawyers argued the Supreme Court should order the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether legal interns working for the inmate improperly were obstructed by corrections officers and sheriff's deputies as they tried to gather information for a clemency petition. The New Orleans-based court refused to rule on a suit filed by Pondexter's attorneys "in dereliction of its fundamental constitutional duty to decide the case before it," the attorneys said.

They asked the high court to stop the execution and order the lower court to decide the case.

"The court of appeals has a duty to decide his appeal," lawyer David Dow said.

On Friday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Pondexter's clemency petition.

"Mr. Pondexter was prevented from filing a complete clemency petition, so it is unfortunate, but not surprising," Dow said.

On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also refused to stop Pondexter's execution, ruling against him in an appeal that argued Pondexter has been a model prisoner with no violence since arriving on death row.

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