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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Texas Death Row Inmate Insists DNA Clears Him; Another Botched HPD Crime Lab Case

Last week a Houston jury awarded a man $5 million dollars for his wrongful conviction that had been caused by the Houston Police Crime Lab. Now, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that another man, who has spent 15 years on death row, is saying that faulty DNA analysis by the HPD crime lab resulted in his wrongful conviction.

A death row inmate from Houston, whose conviction is receiving new scrutiny after DNA tests contradicted evidence in his case, will return to court next week where his lawyer will seek his release or a new trial.

A Harris County jury sentenced Charles D. Raby to death in the 1994 murder of a 72-year-old woman assaulted and stabbed in her own home. It is a case that once again highlights errors in work from the Houston Police Department crime lab, with the city’s own expert calling the original testimony “incorrect … and not supported.”

State District Judge Joan Campbell on Monday is scheduled to resume a hearing that began in January when Raby’s lawyer presented new DNA tests on scrapings from the victim’s fingernails, which include no evidence from Raby. Since then, his case has stalled as prosecutors and the Houston Police Department sought expert opinions.

Raby’s lawyer, Sarah Frazier, goes so far as to call the crime lab evidence presented at trial false and claimed prosecutors failed to disclose information about the forensic tests that could have helped Raby before his 1994 trial.

“Trying to pretend that Mr. Raby’s trial was at all legitimate is becoming more and more strained,” Frazier said. “He clearly is entitled to a new trial after all this time.”


and
Police arrested Raby in the 1994 stabbing death of Edna M. Franklin, a grandmother who lived alone in her north Houston home.

At Raby’s trial, jurors heard testimony from HPD crime lab analyst Joseph Chu, who told them that tests conducted on scrapings from under Franklin’s fingernails were inconclusive.

Years later, as revelations about chronic problems at the HPD crime lab came to light, Raby’s case received a second look.

Experts questioned Chu’s conclusions. Patricia Hamby, an expert hired by HPD, found that Chu had strayed from accepted procedures for body-fluid testing and had drawn faulty conclusions.

“The reporting of the blood typing of the ‘fingernails’ as ‘inconclusive’ … is contrary to and not supported by the recorded laboratory results,” Hamby wrote in a report last month to Irma Rios, HPD’s crime lab director.

In 2005, the Court of Criminal Appealsapproved DNA testing on the fingernail scrapings. A private lab in California last year completed analyses that revealed the profiles of two men. They matched neither Raby nor Franklin’s two grandsons.

“The grandsons’ exclusion is significant because these were the only individuals who had regular contact with the victim — a frail, malnourished woman in her 70s who rarely left her home or entertained strangers,” Frazier wrote.

In fact, a forensic expert hired by Raby’s lawyers testified in January that it is rare to find foreign DNA under a crime victim’s fingernails, and that if often can be traced to the person’s partner or attacker.

“In their wildest dreams (prosecutors) could not imagine a scenario where there wasn’t somebody else involved,” Frazier suggested. “I would love to see, not just a new trial, but let’s have a new investigation. Let’s find out who it is.”

At his trial, prosecutors also presented evidence on Raby’s background. They argued that he was a 22-year-old parolee with a violent history who had been taken in by Franklin at her grandson’s request, but who had turned on her when she told him he no longer was welcome.

They also introduced a confession, which Raby and his lawyer now say was coerced. They note inconsistencies between the facts of the crime and his statement. Those discrepancies also caught the attention of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which in a 2005 opinion wrote “in his statement (Raby) did not say he stabbed the victim. In some aspects (his) statement contradicts the testimony of police officers about the physical evidence from the crime scene.”

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Houston Jury Awards $5 Million to Innocent Person Wrongfully Convicted

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the City of Houston must pay $5 million dollars to a person who was wrongfully convicted and spent 17 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. This should be another wake-up call for all city and county governments in Texas that they should aggressively lobby the Texas Legislature to fix the problems in the criminal justice system, because it is local taxpayers who must foot the bill when innocent people are wrongfully convicted.

Several years ago the City of Austin settled lawsuits for more than $14 million with Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger - two people who were wrongfully convicted in Austin.

The bill will also probably come due soon for local Dallas taxpayers for all the wrongful convictions in that county that have come to light.

From the Chronicle:

A federal jury on Thursday awarded $5 million to a Houston man who spent 17 years in prison for a kidnapping and rape he did not commit, finding the city should pay for its “deliberate indifference” to problems at the crime lab whose false evidence secured the conviction.

George Rodriguez, 48, gained his freedom in 2004 after DNA tests discredited the findings of the troubled Houston Police Department crime lab on his case. By that time, he had served nearly two decades in prison. His father had died. His daughters faced abuse from men their mother lived with.

“Ain’t no amount of money is going to even my scale,” Rodriguez said after hearing the verdict. “I lost my dad and my girls have been through hell. I am grateful, but no money could replace what I lost.”

“Ain’t no amount of money is going to even my scale,” Rodriguez said after hearing the verdict. “I lost my dad and my girls have been through hell. I am grateful, but no money could replace what I lost.”

A jury of five women and three men deliberated for about two days after hearing testimony from former Mayor Lee P. Brown, who was police chief in 1987, James Bolding, a crime lab manager who testified at Rodriguez’s trial and from Rodriguez himself.

Lawyers for Rodriguez had asked jurors to award $35 million to hold the city accountable for the chronic problems at the crime lab.

“This verdict says what I think we all know to be true about the Houston Police Department crime lab,” said Barry Scheck, one of Rodriguez’s lawyers and a co-founder of the Innocence Project, which helped secure his release from prison. “They convicted innocent men and the city was indifferent.”

Three other men have been released from prison after the exposure of crime lab errors in their cases. Rodriguez is the first to sue.

Lawyers for the city, the only defendant in the case, argued that Rodriguez deserved nothing because his conviction resulted from the lie of one analyst and not a problem with policy.

In reaching its verdict, the jury found Bolding’s testimony played an important role in Rodriguez’s conviction and that the city had an official policy or custom of allowing the crime lab personnel to be inadequately trained and supervised.

The panel also found, after hours of deliberation and one declaration that it was deadlocked on the issue, that Brown, as the city’s policy maker, showed deliberate indifference to the lack of training and supervision at the crime lab and the chance that someone’s constitutional right to a fair trial could be violated.

Rodriguez was convicted in the 1987 kidnapping and sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. Bolding testified at his trial that tests on body fluids from the crime scene eliminated another suspect, Isidro Yanez, but not Rodriguez.

Years later, after the Innocence Project took the case, DNA tests were performed on a hair from the crime scene. Those tests eliminated Rodriguez as the source of the hair and, instead, pointed to Yanez. Further review of Bolding’s testimony also revealed that his conclusions contradicted accepted theory at the time and his own testimony in other court cases.

A judge ordered Rodriguez’s release from prison in 2004 and prosecutors agreed not to retry him. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the conviction, but prosecutors never would say Rodriguez was “actually innocent,” which barred him from receiving a pardon and compensation from the state.

City Attorney Arturo Michel, whose office defended the city, said officials would take a close look at the trial transcript to review questions of evidence and evaluate how the city would assess the case if it were retried before deciding whether to appeal.

“The jury was deadlocked on the issue of whether Lee Brown was deliberately indifferent,” he said. “That meant that they had difficulty coming to a conclusion on the evidence.”

One juror did tell attorneys for the city that the panel spent the majority of their deliberations discussing whether Brown had shown deliberate indifference. All eight declined to comment to the Chronicle.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Video on Release of Yogurt Shop Defendants Mike Scott and Robert Springsteen



From the New York Times:

Mike Scott and Robert Springsteen, awaiting retrial in the 1991 slayings of four teenage girls at an Austin yogurt shop, were released from jail, while prosecutors search for a match to new DNA evidence that did not come from either of them. The original convictions of the men, Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen, were overturned. New DNA tests on evidence taken from the victims revealed the presence of an unknown male. Defense lawyers said that proved the innocence of Mr. Scott, 35, and Mr. Springsteen, 34. Prosecutors insisted that the DNA did not exonerate them and said that both still face capital murder charges. The order by Judge Scott Lynch of State District Court for the men’s release came in a hearing on Mr. Scott’s retrial. Prosecutors asked that the trial be delayed until 2010 while they try to determine the source of the DNA. Conditions of their release include avoiding contact with witnesses or the victims’ families.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yogurt Shop Defendants Released from Jail Pending Trial

The reporter does not mention it in the story below, but Robert Springsteen, one of the people released pending trial today, was originally sentenced to death. His death sentence had previously been changed to life after the U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of juvenile offenders.

From the Austin American Statesman:

State District Judge Mike Lynch this morning ordered yogurt shop murder defendants Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen released from jail pending trial after postponing Scott’s previously scheduled July 6 re-trial at prosecutors’ request.

Travis County prosecutors said they wanted more time to determine whose DNA was found in March 2008 in vaginal swabs taken from 13-year-old victim Amy Ayers. That DNA was later found in another teenage victim.

Defense lawyers for Scott opposed the request, saying they feared that prosecutors would use it to find additional evidence against their client.

Michael Scott’s wife, Jeannine Scott, said she is happy her husband is coming home after almost 10 years behind bars but nothing short of a dismissal of charges will satisfy her.

“It’s just another tactic, it’s another delay,” she said. “The evidence already shows they have the wrong men.

At a press conference, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg read from a statement that said, in part: “The reliable, scientific evidence in the case presents one, and one only, unknown male donor. Given that, I could not in good conscience allow this case to go to trial before the identity of this male donor is determined, and the full truth is known.

“I remain confident that Robert Springsteen and Michael Scott are both responsible for the deaths at the yogurt shop but it would not be prudent to risk a trial until we also know the nature of the involvement of this unknown male.”

Lehmberg was joined at the press conference by Police Chief Art Acevedo and other police and prosecutors.

“Of course I am concerned about their being at liberty,” she said. “I think they are guilty of horrible murders. But I ultimately believe that the successful prosecution of them hinges on making this decision.”

Lehmberg was joined at the press conference by Police Chief Art Acevedo and other police and prosecutors.

Acevedo said that he supports Lehmberg’s decision to seek a continuance in the case.

“We do believe we have the right suspects in custody,” he said.

After the press conference, Acevedo said his detectives are continuing to work the case, talking to friends and associates of defendants Scott and Springsteen to see if they know anything about the case.

“I told my investigators, our department strongly supports them” and will provide whatever resources they may need, Acevedo said.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Listen to "Sharon Killer" - the Song


powered by ODEO

Visit the website of Possumhead to learn more about the band and listen to their other songs. Jennifer Mattingly is an Austin attorney who wrote the song "Sharon Killer". She recorded it with her band Possumhead. Jennifer is one of the people who signed on to our judicial complaint against Keller.

Sharon's trial on misconduct charges starts August 17 in San Antonio. See you there!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sharon Keller's Trial to Be Held in San Antonio Instead of Austin

Counsel for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and Judge Sharon Keller have agreed to hold the trial of Judge Sharon Keller in San Antonio, instead of Austin. The trial will be held in the newly renovated courtroom of David Berchelmann, Jr, presiding judge of the 37th District Court, 100 Dolorosa, San Antonio, Texas 78205. Berchelmann has been appointed "special master" by the Texas Supreme Court to conduct the hearing on the charges against Keller.


Texas Moratorium Network filed one of the judicial complaints against Keller and that was co-signed by about 1900 people. We wrote the Commission and urged them to hold the hearing in Austin because "Austin is the capital, the CCA is located in Austin and Austin is more centrally located for people from all parts of Texas who may want to attend, including any people from North Texas who signed on to the complaint we filed with the State Commission". However, we were told that the agreement has already been reached with counsel.

The State Commission has also sent Judge Keller an amended notice of formal proceedings.




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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Write Clemency Letters for Kenneth Mosley - Execution Date July 16

Two anti-death penalty activists, Britta Slopianka and Les Blough, wrote the following appeal on Axis of Logic. They explain that the lawyer for Kenneth Mosley is asking people to write the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor asking for clemency for Mosley, who has an execution date in Texas of July 16.


It is said that the ultimate heroic act is one of saving the life of another human being. There have been many celebrated stories of someone rushing into a burning building or diving into the water to save the life of another. Each of us has an opportunity to do our part to save the life of Kenneth Mosley. Unless we are successful, the State of Texas will kill Kenneth on July 16 in their death house in Huntsville. His attorney is filing a petition for clemency and has asked us to launch a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Kenneth. He provided us with information about Kenneth himself, his life and facts about his case.

Kenneth Mosley

Kenneth Mosley has an execution date of July 16, 2009. Please use the information below to write 2 letters, one to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) and another toGovernor Rick Perry.

Make your best argument why the BPP should recommend clemency and why Governor Rick Perry should grant clemency. Please read the following information about Kenneth Mosley and send your letters to the (BPP) and Governor Rick Perry, respectively.

In this era of e-mail correspondence we no longer take time to write a traditional letter, either fax it or place it in an envelope, stamp and mail it. This letter writing campaign deserves that time and attention on the part of each of us. In addition to your letters, please call the Texas BPP and voice your appeal. Addresses, phone/fax numbers and a sample letter are provided below the following information about Kenneth and his case.

- Britta Slopianka, Columnist,
Abolition of the Death Penalty
and
Les Blough, Editor
Axis of Logic



Clemency Campaign for Kenneth Mosley

Kenneth’s life was a life broken by an abusive childhood, racial trauma in school, untreated mental illness brought on by exposure to chemical pesticides; by a church that abandoned him because of his drug use, and by his inability to beat drug addiction. He was failed by his trial attorneys who failed to tell his story.

  • Mitigating evidence was everything in this case, and much was available, but none was presented at his trial. The prosecutor portrayed Kenneth as a one-dimensional criminal. His trial attorneys did nothing to dispel this illusion; or convey to the jury the complex circumstances that had led to the case; or to show that there was indeed reasonable doubt of intent to cause the death of Officer Michael Moore.

  • Kenneth suffers from frontal lobe impairment and diffuse brain injury as a result of extensive childhood exposure to neuro-toxic pesticides. Expert testimony confirms this frontal lobe impairment could have easily resulted in his erratic and aggressive behavior. This medical testimony was never presented to the jury nor was the fact that Kenneth suffered major depression and that his resort to cocaine often followed the expiration of his antidepressant medication. His trial lawyers did not even examine his medical records! They never informed the jury of the true root of his drug abuse allowing it to be attributed erroneously to moral failure. The failure of his lawyers allowed the jury to view Kenneth only as morally blameworthy rather than medically impaired.

  • As a child Kenneth was afforded none of the protection due a child.
    He was brought up in a violent and chaotic household as evidenced in medical records at the time. He was his mother’s seventh son. His father, who was not the father of his older brothers, was strict, aggressive, and abusive. The family was poor and lived in farm hand quarters adjacent to soybean and cotton fields in Arkansas. Kenneth was working in the fields at age five. Crop dusters routinely dusted and sprayed the fields along with the living quarters with chemicals, pesticides, weed killers, and defoliants. On occasion, Kenneth and his brothers were intentionally chased and sprayed by the crop dusters. As a result, all of the brothers experienced headaches and other ailments and as experts have testified Ken was left brain damaged. When the family moved to a different part of the state, one of Kenneth’s brothers refused to move because of the violence and abuse in the home. Kenneth later regretted that he had remained. It was as a young boy that Kenneth had first been introduced to drugs by an older brother.

  • Kenneth attended a segregated grade school, but just before he began high school, schools were integrated, and he suffered directly during the civil rights era. However, he graduated from high school and attended one year of college at the University of Arkansas. Then he quit school and went to work as earning became an imperative.

  • Despite his deprived background Kenneth held down a good job for nearly 16 years with Coca-Cola Bottling Company. He advanced within the company and was regarded as a diligent and hard worker. During that time he met and married Carol to whom he is still married, and they have a daughter, Amber to whom Kenneth remains devoted. Kenneth lost his job because of his addiction and with his job went his medical insurance. Kenneth and his wife sought long and hard to get treatment for him but without insurance or money this was fruitless. Poverty, addiction and illness combined led Kenneth to a desperate situation, and despair led to crime.

Facts of the case:

  1. On February 15, 1997, Kenneth Mosley went into Bank One in Garland, Texas to commit a robbery. He drew attention to himself by wearing clothes that witnesses testified were inappropriate for the weather. Additionally, because he had robbed this same bank previously, one of the tellers recognized him.

  2. Bank employees notified the police, and Officer Michael Moore arrived on the scene. Officer Moore touched Mr. Mosley’s arm, words were exchanged, and a struggle ensued. Officer Moore and Mr. Mosley crashed through a plate glass window. Shots were fired during this struggle. When the turmoil subsided, witnesses saw that Officer Moore had been shot several times. Mr. Mosley attempted to leave but was apprehended and shot by another Garland Police Officer, Officer Murfee. Mr. Mosley testified in his own defense and denied that he intended to kill Officer Moore.

  3. Intent, obviously, played a crucial role in the trial. Were all shots fired inadvertently during the struggle or did Mr. Mosley deliberately stand up and fire a final shot? Numerous witnesses presented varying testimony about the events that occurred - including whether Mr. Mosley appeared to intentionally shoot the officer, or not. The witnesses were in different places - some inside the bank, some outside the bank - and they varied both in what they saw and how many gunshots they heard.

  4. The trace evidence analysts were unable to conclusively determine the distance of all the shots. In fact, many witnesses testified to seeing quite a struggle between Mr. Mosley and Officer Moore.

Kenneth Mosley continues to deny that he intended to cause the death of Officer Moore.


Please give a few minutes of your time to help save Kenneth Mosley's life. His is scheduled to be executed in 6 weeks. It's important that we begin our campaign today. Please send two (2) letters, one to the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) and the other to Governor Rick Perry.

  • Your letter to the BPP should plead that they recommend that the governor grant clemency.

  • Your letter to the governor should plead that he grantclemency.

The following addresses and sample letters are provided below.

First Letter

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
General Counsel's Office
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd
Austin, TX 78757
Phone: (512) 406-5852
Fax: (512)- 467-0945

SAMPLE LETTER

Feel free to send a copy of this letter or personalise it with your appeal in any way you can and mail or fax it to:


[Today's Date]
Rissie L. Owens, Chair, and Other Board Members
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
P. O. Box 13401
Austin, Texas 78711-3401

Re: Kenneth Mosley TDCJ Number 999243

Dear Member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles:

I am writing on behalf of Kenneth Mosley who is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on July 16, 2009. I have read about Kenneth's crime in which police officer, Michael Moore was killed. I have also read about Kenneth's life. I've read about his tragic childhood, abusive father, his frontal lobe impairment, his mental illness, his chemical dependency/addiction and resulting psychological problems.

Also, I am impressed by how Kenneth overcame these huge disadvantages by successfully completing high school and one year of college, his marriage and family and his 16 years of successful employment for Coca Cola Bottling Company. I write this with full understanding that this was not the first crime that Kenneth committed and that this was his second robbery of this bank. I've read how tragically, Officer Moore was killed in the struggle with Kenneth. But no act of revenge can bring Officer Moore back to his loved ones nor lessen the pain left by his death. Having considered all these factors, I am appealing to you as a human being and as a member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles to show mercy for Kenneth Mosley and recommend clemency to Governor Rick Perry. Please do everything you can to stop the execution of Kenneth Mosley on July 16, 2009.

Respectfully,

Your Name
Your City, State, Country


Second Letter

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

(main switchboard. office hours 8am to 5pm)
Phone: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849

SAMPLE LETTER

Feel free to send a copy of this letter or personalise it with your appeal in any way you can and mail or fax it to:


[Today's Date]
Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Re: Kenneth Mosley TDCJ Number 999243

Dear Governor Perry:

I am writing on behalf of Kenneth Mosley who is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on July 16, 2009. I have read about Kenneth's crime in which police officer, Michael Moore was killed. I have also read about Kenneth's life. I've read about his tragic childhood, abusive father, his frontal lobe impairment, his mental illness, his chemical dependency/addiction and resulting psychological problems.

Also, I am impressed by how Kenneth overcame these huge disadvantages by successfully completing high school and one year of college, his marriage and family and his 16 years of successful employment for Coca Cola Bottling Company. I write this with full understanding that this was not the first crime that Kenneth committed and that this was his second robbery of this bank. I've read how tragically, Officer Moore was killed in the struggle with Kenneth. But no act of revenge can bring Officer Moore back to his loved ones nor lessen the pain left by his death. Having considered all these factors, I am appealing to you as a human being and as the Governor of the State of Texas be merciful and grant clemency for Kenneth Mosley. Please grant clemency to Mr. Mosley and stop his execution, now scheduled for July 16, 2009.

Respectfully,

Your Name
Your City, State, Country

Thank you for doing your part to help save the life of Kenneth Moseley.

- Britta Slopianka and Les Blough

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Photos of Paris France and Leipzig Germany Protests of 200th Execution

If you can not see the photos below, click here for pictures of the protest in Paris France and here for the photos of the protest in Leipzig, Germany. In Leipzig, Amnesty International-Leipzig placed 200 white crosses and candles on the sidewalk leading to the U.S. Consulate to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry. Leipzig is a sister city of Houston, Texas. Scott Cobb of TMN visited Leipzig in 2003 and participated in a panel discussion about the death penalty hosted by ai-Leipzig. 200th Execution protests were also held in several other cities in the U.S., Europe and Canada.


Find more photos like this on Protest Texas Governor Rick Perry's 200th Execution


Find more photos like this on Protest Texas Governor Rick Perry's 200th Execution

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DMN Blog: "Try Not to Laugh" at Meyers' Assertion of Fairness on the Court of Criminal Appeals

We are not the only ones who found it laughable that Judge Lawrence Meyers of the Court of Criminal Appeals issued a re-election press release claiming that the CCA has a reputation for fairness. The Dallas Morning News' Texas Death Penalty blog encouraged readers to "try not to laugh".

What I find funny about that statement is that he was so concerned with the court's reputation this spring that he made an unprecedented tour of newspaper editorial boards to talk about how wonderful the court is. He does not think the reputation is fair, but he made it clear that he knew there was a reputation problem.

What was even more fascinating about his visit was that he claimed that no one ever talked about Sharon Keller's unilateral decision to "close the court" instead of considering a last-minute appeal. That decision -- which the court itself addressed with changes in its rules -- has landed her in hot water, of course, and yet, according to Justice Meyers, no one on the court asked her about the decision at all.

Oh, and we're led to believe that the general counsel for the court, which told Keller it was OK to "close" on the night of an execution, just sorta retired.

Yes, the CCA has a reputation problem. No, Justice Meyers does nothing to help improve it.

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Texas Death Sentence Changed to Life for Timothy Cockrell

HOUSTON (AP) - A condemned inmate from San Antonio has had his death sentence commuted to life after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided he was mentally impaired and ineligible for execution.

The ruling came Wednesday for Timothy Cockrell, who was convicted of the robbery-slaying of Sandra Deptawa, 35.

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Answer the KXAN Poll: "Would you re-elect Judge Meyers" to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals?

KXAN has a poll asking if you would vote to re-elect Judge Lawrence Meyers to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The longest serving Judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Lawrence “Larry” Meyers, announced yesterday that he is seeking re-election in 2010. The Court has been called a national laughingstock by one of its other members because of the actions of Sharon Keller and that was years before Keller made it even more of a laughingstock by closing the court in 2007 and refusing to accept a legal appeal from a person about to be executed. Currently there are no Democrats serving on the Court of Criminal Appeals, but we hope the Democrats persuade a strong candidate to run in 2010. It does not serve justice to have every member of any court to be all from the same political party.

Despite the poor reputation of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Meyers said in his press release, “I am seeking re-election to the Court to continue to be an objective voice and ensure that we maintain our reputation for delivering fair and just opinions,” said Meyers in announcing his candidacy for re-election.

In 2004, Texas Monthly's Mike Hall wrote in his article "And Justice for Some" about the CCA, "over the past ten years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has disregarded exculpatory DNA evidence, threats of torture, bad lawyering, and in some cases, all common sense to uphold convictions in keeping with its tough-on-crime philosophy. Why should toughness steamroll fairness?"

Meyers is not the judge who unethically closed the court to a person on the day of his execution. That was Sharon Keller. But the upcoming trial on Sharon Keller in August may expose some of the behind the scenes operations of the Court that may not be helpful for any incumbent judges seeking re-election.

Unfortunately, Keller is not up for re-election in 2010. If she had to face the voters now, she would probably lose. She may be removed before her term expires after her trial on misconduct charges. Even though Keller's name will not be on the ballot in 2010, she may become an issue in the re-election campaigns of any CCA incumbents who are on the ballot. The Court of Criminal Appeals needs some fresh faces to restore integrity to the court. The question is will the Democrats run a strong candidate for the Court. Even if the Democrats find a strong candidate for the Court, that candidate will need the help of a strong Democratic candidate for governor because most CCA elections reflect the outcomes of the gubernatorial race. In 2010, a strong Democratic CCA candidate could win even if the Democratic gubernatorial candidate loses, as long as the governor's race is not a blowout.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

CCA Judge Announces Re-Election Bid Falsely Claiming Court Has "reputation for delivering fair and just opinions"

The longest serving Judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Lawrence “Larry” Meyers, has announced he is seeking re-election in 2010. The Court has been called a national laughingstock by one of its other members because of the actions of Sharon Keller and that was years before Keller made it even more of a laughingstock by closing the court in 2007 and refusing to accept a legal appeal from a person about to be executed. Currently there are no Democrats serving on the Court of Criminal Appeals, but we hope the Democrats persuade a strong candidate to run in 2010. It does not serve justice to have every member of any court to be all from the same political party.

Despite the poor reputation of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Meyers said in his press release, “I am seeking re-election to the Court to continue to be an objective voice and ensure that we maintain our reputation for delivering fair and just opinions,” said Meyers in announcing his candidacy for re-election.

In 2004, Texas Monthly's Mike Hall wrote in his article "And Justice for Some" about the CCA, "over the past ten years, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has disregarded exculpatory DNA evidence, threats of torture, bad lawyering, and in some cases, all common sense to uphold convictions in keeping with its tough-on-crime philosophy. Why should toughness steamroll fairness?"

Meyers is not the judge who unethically closed the court to a person on the day of his execution. That was Sharon Keller. But the upcoming trial on Sharon Keller in August may expose some of the behind the scenes operations of the Court that may not be helpful for any incumbent judges seeking re-election.

Unfortunately, Keller is not up for re-election in 2010. If she had to face the voters now, she would probably lose. She may be removed before her term expires after her trial on misconduct charges. Even though Keller's name will not be on the ballot in 2010, she may become an issue in the re-election campaigns of any CCA incumbents who are on the ballot. The Court of Criminal Appeals needs some fresh faces to restore integrity to the court. The question is will the Democrats run a strong candidate for the Court. Even if the Democrats find a strong candidate for the Court, that candidate will need the help of a strong Democratic candidate for governor because most CCA elections reflect the outcomes of the gubernatorial race. In 2010, a strong Democratic CCA candidate could win even if the Democratic gubernatorial candidate loses, as long as the governor's race is not a blowout.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bob Ray Sanders on the 200th Execution Under Rick Perry

Bob Ray Sanders devotes his Sunday column to the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry. Here are a few excerpts:

Last Tuesday, as the state of Texas prepared to execute Terry Lee Hankins, people gathered in several U.S. cities and on two continents to mark a milestone in Rick Perry’s tenure as governor.

Hankins, by no means a sympathetic character because of his gruesome crimes, became the 200th person to be executed in Texas since Perry has been in office. He was the 16th to be put to death by the state this year.

To mark the occasion, anti-death penalty protests were held in Huntsville; Austin; Houston; Albuquerque, N.M.; Paris; and Leipzig, Germany (TMN Note: Montreal, Canada and Brussels, Belgium too)

Texas is notorious throughout the world for the number of executions it carries out each year, raising fears that the state has made mistakes and that innocent people likely have been killed in the death chamber.

He also mentioned one of the speakers at the Huntsville protest that came down from Nacogdoches.

One of the speakers at the Huntsville protest last week was Jerry Williams, a sociology professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, whose sister was beaten to death on Mother’s Day morning in 1985. Her assailant was given life in prison, but was released on parole after serving 15 years in prison.

"I hated him," Williams said. "I wanted to see him die. I wanted to see him suffer in prison. And I thought justice would be done only in that way. But what I realized over time was that my hate really diminished me. It damaged me and did nothing for him."

To watch a YouTube video of Williams speaking in Huntsville, click here.

He also reports on a report from Amnesty that said:

Texas, where about seven percent of the U.S. population resides, and where fewer than 10 percent of murders occur, has accounted for 37 percent of the country’s executions since 1977, and 41 percent since 2001, when Governor Perry came into office."

It went on to point out, "There were 152 executions in Texas during the nearly six years of the [George W.] Bush governorship (1995-2000). Now looming is the 200th execution during Rick Perry’s term in office. The combined total of more than 350 executions in Texas under these two governors represents 30 percent of the national total since executions resumed in the USA in 1977. Virginia is ranked second to Texas in executions. In 30 years, Virginia has killed 103 people in its death chamber, half the number put to death in Texas in eight. This is geographic bias on a grand scale.

He ends with:

"How many of the 200 people executed under Perry’s watch were innocent?" asked Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network, which helped organize the protests. "Perry could have taken a large step to reduce the risk of executing an innocent person if he had supported a moratorium on executions. Now, he may have to answer for the execution of Todd Willingham, who most likely was innocent of the arson/murders for which he was executed in 2004."

Below are a few videos from the Huntsville protest.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Video of Montreal "Die-in" to Protest 200th Execution Under Gov Rick Perry

One of the protests of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry was held in Montreal, Canada on June 2, 2009. Below is some video of the "die-in". The event was held by the DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone and was organized by Charles Perroud, who in a message to us said that it was "A VIBRANT success last night, with even the more 'popular media', the ones never there to cover our events, coming in throngs!! Real strong coverage to say the least".


"Die-In" 200e exécution au Texas sous Rick Perry - Amnistie internationale (1)


"Die-In" 200e exécution au Texas sous Rick Perry - Amnistie internationale (2)


"Die-In" 200e exécution au Texas sous Rick Perry - Amnistie internationale (3)


"Die-In" 200e exécution au Texas sous Rick Perry - Amnistie internationale (4)

"Die-In" 200e exécution au Texas sous Rick Perry - Amnistie internationale (5)

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U.S. Embassy in Brussels Calls Police on 200th Execution Protesters

We received a message today about a couple of people who went to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry. They went to the Embassy and

"stood in front of the Embassy with one big banner (Texas, stop executions!) and a smaller one (Gov. Perry = serial killer = tonight 200th victim). Unfortunately after less than half an hour, four policemen came. They said they were sent by the Embassy to remove us. They confiscated our banners (before we had any chance to take pictures) and they copied our ID's. We'll get a fine.

"But the most important of this story is that the Embassy saw our banners for sure and didn't like our message in such a way that they sent the police over to remove us!! So nevertheless, we got our message out and they received it!!"
Congratulations to our courageous friends in Belgium. Shame on the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Maybe they have not yet received the news that George W. Bush is no longer president of the U.S. and we the people do not appreciate this type of behavior.

Here is the address of the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, in case anyone wants to write them and complain to them about calling the police on peaceful protesters. You can mention in your letters, that the embassy should invite the protesters back to participate in a panel discussion or other event that allows the people of Brussels to learn about the United States' use of the death penalty.

Wayne J. Bush
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
Embassy of the United States of America
Regentlaan 27 Boulevard du Régent, B-1000 Brussels
Belgium

Phone: (32-2) 508-2111
Fax: (32-2) 511-2725

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Video of Dr. Jerry Williams, Brother of Murder Victim, Speaking at Huntsville Protest of 200 Execution Under Rick Perry

Dr. Jerry Williams, a Stephen F. Austin sociology professor, spoke at the Walls Unit protest of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry. Video on YouTube.

Williams' sister was brutally murdered and her killer only spent 15 years in prison. His remarks at the 200th execution protest was the first time he has spoken publicly about the murder of his sister. He explains why he doesn't believe in execution. "I hated him. I wanted to see him die. I wanted to see him suffer in prison. And I thought justice would be done only in the way, but what I realized over time was that my hate really diminished me. It damaged me and did nothing for him," explained Williams.

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Video of Houston Protest of 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

If you can not see the video below of the Houston protest of the 200th execution under Gov. Rick Perry, you can click here to watch it on YouTube.



From MyFoxHouston:

Terry Lee Hankins was condemned for the 2001 shooting deaths of his two stepchildren at their home in Mansfield. The victims were 12-year-old Devin Galley and 11-year-old Ashley Mason.

Hankins, in his final statement, said: "I am sorry for what I've done and for all the pain and suffering my actions caused." His voice wavered as he said: "Jesus is Lord. All glory to God."

Hankins surrendered at his girlfriend's Arlington apartment after a standoff with police who wanted him for gunning down his estranged wife, Tammy, and her two children.

Hankins then told officers he'd also killed his father and half-sister almost a year earlier. Hankins was the 16th condemned prisoner executed this year in Texas.

He was the 200th inmate put to death under Governor Rick Perry. And that milestone brought out anti-death-penalty protestors in downtown Houston.

Gloria Rubac, of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, admits Hankins's confessed crimes make him a poor poster child for her cause.

"His case is horrible," said Rubac, "but he should not be executed. We have enough prisons to lock that man up forever and I sure don't want him in my neighborhood."

Rubac believes death penalty opponents are making headway, even in Texas, which executes more inmates than any other state. She points out Harris County hasn't sent a criminal to Death Row since December 2007, even though it's the county that has historically condemned more defendants than any other in the state.

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Video of Nacogdoches Texas Delegation Going to Huntsville to Protest 200th Execution Under Gov Rick Perry

Report from a Nacogdoches TV Station of a Delegation Headed to Huntsville to Protest 200th Execution Under Gov Rick Perry.

http://protest200executions.com
http://abolishtexasdeathpenalty.ning.com

Video of TV News Report of Nacogdoches Delegation to 200th Execution Protest in Huntsville.


Dr. Jerry Williams at the Walls Unit protest in Huntsville of the 200th Execution Under Rick Perry


Video of Nacogdoches pastor Kyle Childress at Huntsville Protest of 200th Execution Under Gov Rick Perry

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches delegation, including SFA students, a professor and a preacher are in Huntsville expressing their opposition to the death penalty. They chose tonight's execution because if marks the 200th person to die under the state leadership of Governor Rick Perry.

Tuesday a self-described "non-caring monster" is preparing to die. Terry Lee Hankins was condemned for the 2001 slayings of his two stepchildren. The 34-year-old also was wanted for murdering his estranged wife -- the children's mother. Hankins told officers that he also killed his father and half-sister almost a year earlier.

Right now protests and a vigil are going on in Huntsville, as well as other places across the state. Dr. Jerry Williams, a SFA sociology professor is a speaker at the Walls Unit protest. So is Nacogdoches pastor Kyle Childress. The men oppose capital punishment. Childress for moral reasons. "Statistics show that there is an overwhelmingly number of poor and African American and Hispanic people on death row. Much more greater proportion than in the general population. There's studies that show it's not a deterrent in crime," expressed Childress, pastor of Austin Heights Baptist Church.

Williams is also speaking against the death penalty. His sister was brutally murdered and her killer only spent 15 years in prison. He explains why he doesn't believe in execution. "I hated him. I wanted to see him die. I wanted to see him suffer in prison. And I thought justice would be done only in the way, but what I realized over time was that my hate really diminished me. It damaged me and did nothing for him," explained Williams.

Texas has executed 438 people since 1982. Arguments for the practice include, it's a deterrent and provides social protection.

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Video of Austin Texas Protest of 200th Execution Under Governor Rick Perry

If you can not view the video below of a TV news report on the protest in Austin at the Capitol of the 200th execution, you can click here to watch it on YouTube.

200th execution protests also took place in Houston, Huntsville, Montreal, New Mexico, Paris France (June 3), Brussels Belgium and Leipzig Germany and other cities.



From Fox7News:

Terry Lee Hankins apologized for killing five of his family members before being execute in Huntsville Tuesday night.

His execution marks #200 under Governor Rick Perry--a milestone that's creating protest across the state.
The 200 names were read aloud on the steps of the Capitol. For each name, a member of the "Campaign to End the Death Penalty" dropped a single candle inside a ceremonial coffin.

"The death penalty is wrong. It doesn't deter crime. It doesn't decrease murder or violent crime in Texas," claims Matthew Gossage, who protested with a poster.

He joined members of the "Campaign to End the Death Penalty" on the same evening Terry Lee Hankins was put to death.

At 6 p.m., a moment of silence marked his execution in Huntsville.

Hankins was convicted for the 2001 slayings of his two step-children and their mother, Tammy Hankins, near Fort Worth. During the investigation, Hankins told officers he had also killed his father and half-sister the year before.

"I just hink the fact that he's executing at such a speed, when the trend nationally is turning against capital punishment--shame on Governor Perry," said Laura Brady.

Governor Rick Perry's Press Secretary released this statement to FOX 7 News:

"Like most Texans, the Governor believes capital punishment is the appropriate punishment for those who commit the most heinous crime."

Laura Brady responded with, "The death penalty is an embarrassment. It's inexcusable."

"I have an innocent brother on Death Row," Delia Perez Meyer said, "His name is Louis Castro Perez, who's falsly convicted of murdering three of his friends in September of 1998."

On the Capitol steps, there are those who are waiting on the fate of loved ones, and waiting on Texas to change its ideals on the death penalty.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Protest the 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

Protest the 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

Today, June 2, 2009, the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to take place. Since he became governor of Texas in December 2000, Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in U.S. history. There are protests planned in cities in Texas, Canada and Europe.

In Texas demonstrations will be carried out in Austin, Huntsville and Houston. Other demonstrations will be held in Albuquerque; Paris, France; Leipzig, Germany, Brussels, Belgium, and Montreal, Canada.

In Houston, activists will gather at “The Old Hanging Tree” located at the former site of a county courthouse. This 400-year-old oak tree was likely the site of lynchings in the 1800’s and is now a recognized historic site by the City of Houston. In Huntsville, the protest will be held outside of the death house, the Walls Unit, where the execution will be carried out. In Austin, a demonstration will be held at the Texas Capitol on the sidewalk at 11th and Congress.

In Paris, there will be a protest June 3 on the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries/US Consulate side from 6pm to 7pm.

In Leipzig, Germany, activists organized by Amnesty International will place 200 white paper crosses and 200 candles outside the US Consulate on June 2. Leipzig is a sister city of Houston. In Brussels, Belgium, protesters with banners will be in front of the US Embassy between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. In Montreal there will be a Die-In organized by Amnesty International where the 200 executions will be reenacted.

The Texas anti-death penalty community asks people around the world to focus your attention on Texas and join us in protesting the 200th execution carried out under Rick Perry. Altogether, Texas has executed 438 people since 1982, including 152 under former Texas Governor George W. Bush.

How you can protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry

1) On the day of the 200th execution, call Governor Perry at 512-463-1782 and tell him your opinion on the death penalty. If you live in the U.S., you can use his the form on his website to email him. We suggest you both call him and email him.

2) Attend a protest in your city either on the day of the 200th execution or sometime before. If a protest is not scheduled, you can organize a protest. If you live outside the U.S., organize a protest at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Send us a photo or video of your protest by email and we will post it on this website and on YouTube. Or you can upload your photos and videos yourself to our social networking site or directly to our group on YouTube. If your organization is planning a protest, please let us know so that we can list your protest on this site.

3) Sign the petition and add your name to the list of people who are raising their voices to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

4) Donate a symbolic 200 cents towards helping us organize against the Texas death penalty. That is one penny for every execution under Rick Perry. We are asking everyone to donate $2, which is the equivalent of 200 pennies. You are welcome to donate more if you can afford it, but everyone can afford to donate $2.

The artwork at www.protest200executions.com is by German artist Jasmin Hilmer and represents the isolation of Texas in the world community. While most of the rest of the world, including all of Europe, have turned their backs on the use of capital punishment, Texas continues to execute people at a shocking rate.

This campaign is sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin and Albuquerque chapters, Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Amnesty International - Leipzig, the DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone and the Abolish the Death Penalty Project on Amazee.

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200 Executions and Counting: Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Cruel Death Tally

This is the best article we have seen so far reporting on the 200th execution under Rick Perry. "200 Executions and Counting: Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Cruel Death Tally" by Liliana Segura mentions several controversial executions under Perry, including those of Napoleon Beazley, Frances Newton and Todd Willingham.

Excerpt:

Examining Perry’s long execution record, a number of cases stand out.

There was Napolean Beazely, one of the last juvenile offenders executed in the United States, who was put to death in 2002. Beazely was 17 years old, an honor student, football star, and senior class president with no prior criminal record when he fatally shot 63-year-old John Luttig, the father of a federal judge, in what was described as an attempted hijacking. By all accounts a model prisoner during his eight years on death row, Beazley admitted his guilt and repeatedly expressed his remorse for the crime:

"I knew it was wrong," he told a packed courtroom at his sentencing hearing. "I know it is wrong now. I've been trying to make up for it ever since that moment. I've apologized ever since that moment, not just through words, but through my acts…. It's my fault. I violated the law. I violated this city, and I violated a family -- all to satisfy my own misguided emotions. I'm sorry. I wish I had a second chance to make up for it, but I don't."

A number of unlikely advocates tried to save Beazely's life. According to the American Bar Association, "even Cindy Garner, the District Attorney from Napoleon's home county (Houston County), testified at the sentencing hearing on Napoleon's behalf. While she has been a strong proponent of the death penalty, she continues to maintain that the death penalty is inappropriate in Napoleon's case." Another unlikely ally was his trial judge, Cynthia Kent, who wrote to Gov. Rick Perry asking him to commute his sentence to life in prison, a request that fell on deaf ears.

In August 2001, the Supreme Court denied Beazely a stay of execution. In an unusual move, three of the justices -- Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and David Souter -- recused themselves because they had personal relationships with the victim's son.

Beazely was executed on May 28, 2002. "Tonight we tell the world that there are no second chances in the eyes of justice," he said before being injected with lethal chemicals. "Tonight, we tell our children that in some instances, in some cases, killing is right."

Three years later, in the landmark case Roper v. Simmons, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute prisoners who committed their crimes before the age of 18, commuting all such death sentences to life.

“Maybe this man was innocent": The Case of Cameron Todd Willingham

Napolean Beazely may have been guilty of the crime for which he was executed. But others have almost certainly not been.

Cameron Todd Willingham was executed on February 17, 2004 for setting fire to his own one-story home, a blaze that killed his three young daughters (one-year-old twins and their two-year-old sister). Willingham was convicted and sent to death row on a hastily executed arson investigation and jurors’ suspicion over the fact that he managed to escape the fire himself. But he maintained his innocence for years, right until he was strapped to the gurney. "I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit,” he said in his final statement. “I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do."

Ten months later, on December 9, 2004, the Chicago Tribune published an investigative article that cast serious doubt on Willingham's guilt.

"While Texas authorities dismissed his protests, a Tribune investigation of his case shows that Willingham was prosecuted and convicted based primarily on arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances," wrote staff reporters Steve Mills and Maurice Possley.

"According to four fire experts consulted by the Tribune, the original investigation was flawed and it is even possible the fire was accidental."

Among the experts was Louisiana fire chief Kendall Ryland, who said it "made me sick to think this guy was executed based on this investigation. … They executed this guy and they've just got no idea -- at least not scientifically -- if he set the fire, or if the fire was even intentionally set."

"Did anybody know about this prior to his execution?" asked one of the jurors who sent him to die, Dorinda Brokofsky. "Now I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. Maybe this man was innocent."

The Willingham case "should shake the confidence of any Texan," says Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network. " ... The risk of executing an innocent person is very real in Texas because of the pace of executions, exemplified by Perry's record of 200. When you are executing that many people, the possibility of making a mistake is increased and that is likely what happened in the Willingham case."
To read the rest of the article, go to 200 Executions and Counting: Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Cruel Death Tally

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Houston Press Conference and Demonstrations to Condemn the 200th Execution to be Carried Out Under Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement

C/O S.H.A.P.E. Community Center

3815 Live Oak, Houston, TX 77008

713-503-2633 / Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com

www.protest200executions.com

PRESS ADVISORY

Monday, June 2, 2009

Contact: Gloria Rubac,

713-503-2633, Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com


Press Conference and Demonstrations to Condemn the 200th

Execution to be Carried Out Under Gov. Rick Perry


A press conference will be held at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 2, at Houston’s Old Hanging Tree, corner of Bagby and Capitol. At 6:00 pm Texas plans to execute Terry Hankins, marking the 200th time an execution will be carried out under Governor Rick Perry. Protests are being organized around Texas and as well as in several other countries.


Since he became governor of Texas in December of 2000, Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in U.S. history. The previous record was 152 executions carried out under the rule of former Texas Governor George W. Bush.


In Texas demonstrations will be carried out in Austin, Huntsville and Houston. Other demonstrations will be held in Albuquerque; Paris, France; Leipzig, Germany, Brussels, Belgium, and Montreal, Canada.


In Houston, activists will gather at “The Old Hanging Tree” located at the former site of a county courthouse. This 400-year-old oak tree was likely the site of lynchings in the 1800’s and is now a recognized historic site by the City of Houston. In Huntsville, the protest will be held outside of the death house, the Walls Unit, where the execution will be carried out. In Austin, a demonstration will be held at the Texas Capitol.


In Paris, there will be a protest June 3 on the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries/US Consulate side from 6pm to 7pm. In Leipzig, Germany, activists organized by Amnesty International will place 200 white paper crosses and 200 candles outside the US Consulate on June 2. Leipzig is a sister city of Houston. In Brussels, Belgium, protesters with banners will be in front of the US Embassy between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. In Montreal there will be a Die-In organized by Amnesty International where the 200 executions will be reenacted.


Texas leads the country in the number of executions with 438, sixteen of them carried out this year, 2009. The second state is Virginia with 103. Texas has carried out over one third of the 1,165 U.S. executions since 1976.


“Texas’ record number of executions has outraged people not just in the U.S. but around the world. Perry has become the focus of this anger and we are glad that our international allies will join us in protesting his 200th legal lynching,” said Njeri Shakur, an organizer with the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement.


The protests are being organized by activists with the Texas Moratorium Network, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, and the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement.

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Terry Hankins Set to Become 200th Person Executed Under Gov. Rick Perry

On June 2, 2009, the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to take place. There are protests planned in the U.S., Canada and Europe (see the list below). Since he became governor of Texas in December 2000, Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in U.S. history.

The Texas anti-death penalty community asks people around the world to focus your attention on Texas and join us in protesting the 200th execution carried out under Rick Perry. Altogether, Texas has executed 438 people since 1982, including 152 under former Texas Governor George W. Bush.

One execution under Perry that should shake the confidence in the death penalty of any Texan is the case of Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004. He proclaimed from the time of his arrest until he was strapped onto the gurney that he was innocent of the arson/murders for which he was executed. A group of national fire experts have concluded based on a reexamination of the evidence using modern scientific knowledge of forensic science and burn patterns that the fire that sent him to death row was not deliberately set, but was an accident. The Texas Forensic Science Commission is currently examining the case. The risk of executing an innocent person is very real in Texas because of the pace of executions, exemplified by Perry's record of 200.

Join our online community to protest the 200th execution.


The AP reports:
Hankins, 34, was set to die Tuesday evening for the 2001 slayings of Kevin Galley, 12, and Ashley Mason, 11, children of his estranged wife, 34-year-old Tammy Hankins. All three were gunned down inside their mobile home in Mansfield, about 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth.
He would be the 16th prisoner executed this year in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
His appeals were exhausted and no last-minute attempts to delay the lethal injection were expected, William Harris, Hankins' attorney, said.
"I don't have anything I can think of in this case that stands any kind of chance of doing any good," Harris said.
Hankins declined to speak with reporters from death row.
"What else is there to say?" Harris said. "I think he regrets what he did but I also think he's fatalistic about the fact he can't change it.
Protest locations include Austin at the Texas Capitol (Organized by Campaign to End the Death Penalty), Huntsville outside The Walls Unit (Organized by Texas Moratorium Network), downtown Houston (Organized by Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement), Albuquerque, New Mexico (May 30), Paris France (June 3) at the Place de la Concorde, Brussels Belgium, Leipzig Germany at the U.S. Embassy and Montreal Canada. Unless noted, protests will occur on June 2. More protests will be announced as they are confirmed. Some of the locations will include a reading of the names of the people executed under Rick Perry. Times and locations are available on the website http://abolishtexasdeathpenalty.ning.com/events.

The 200th execution protests are sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin, Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Abolish the Death Penalty Project on Amazee, the DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone and Amnesty International - Leipzig. If your organization would also like to be a sponsor, email us atadmin@texasmoratorium.org or call 512-961-6389.

Join our online community to protest the 200th execution.

How you can protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry

1) On the day of the 200th execution, call Governor Perry at 512-463-1782 and tell him your opinion on the death penalty. If you live in the U.S., you can use his the form on his website to email him. We suggest you both call him and email him. If you live outside the U.S., you can fax him at(512) 463-1849 or send him a letter in the postal mail.

2) Attend a protest in your city either on the day of the 200th execution or sometime before. If a protest is not scheduled, you can organize a protest. If you live outside the U.S., organize a protest at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Send us a photo or video of your protest by emailand we will post it on this website and on YouTube. Or you can upload your photos and videos yourself to our social networking site or directly to our group on YouTube. If your organization is planning a protest, please let us know so that we can list your protest on this site.

3) Sign the petition and add your name to the list of people who are raising their voices to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

4) Donate a symbolic 200 cents towards helping us organize against the Texas death penalty. That is one penny for every execution under Rick Perry. We are asking everyone to donate $2, which is the equivalent of 200 pennies. You are welcome to donate more if you can afford it, but everyone can afford to donate $2.

The artwork at www.protest200executions.com is by German artist Jasmin Hilmer represents the isolation of Texas in the world community. While most of the rest of the world, including all of Europe, have turned their backs on the use of capital punishment, Texas continues to execute people at a shocking rate.

Houston Protest of the 200th Execution

In Houston, the 200th legal lynching protest will be held from 5:00 until 6:30 under The Old Hanging Tree, corner of Bagby and Capitol downtown. Guest speaker is the borther of Albert Woodfox, one of the Angola Three!

A press conference will be held at 5:00.

Following the press conference, there will be an open mic so all can register their outrage at another day of infamy for the state of Texas in its quest for executions.

If your organization would like to co-sponsor this protest in Houston, contact the Abolition Movement at: Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com

Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6:30pm Location: The Old Hanging Tree
Street: Bagby and Capitol
City: Houston

Organized By: Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement

Contact: Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com


Sign the petition to protest the 200th execution!

Austin Protest of the 200th Execution at the Texas Capitol
The Austin protest of the 200th execution will be at 5:30 PM on the day of the 200th execution at the sidewalk in front of the Texas Capitol facing South on Congress and 11th Street.

Organized by Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Contact: lilymae30@hotmail.com

More details coming soon.

An organizing meeting for the Austin protest of the 200th execution will be held Wednesday, May 27th at 7 PM at Double Dave's pizza located at:
3000 Duval Street in Austin.

Everyone is welcome.


Huntsville Protest of the 200th Execution
Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6:30pm
Location: The Walls Unit
Street: 12th Street and Avenue I
City/Town: Huntsville, Texas
Contact: Sarah Hannah (979) 450-2179 or Scott Cobb (512-552-4743)


Paris France Protest of the 200th Execution
There will be a protest of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry on the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries/US Consulate side from 6pm to 7pm.

"Nous vous invitions à soutenir les efforts du mouvement abolitionniste au Texas en participant à une protestation le mercredi 3 juin à 18h, Place de la Concorde. Nous vous encourageons par ailleurs à manifester votre désapprobation en écrivant directement à l'Ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France, Mr. Craig Stapleton, Ambassade des Etats-Unis, 2 avenue Gabriel, 75832 Paris Cédex 08; ainsi qu'à notre Secrétaire d'Etat Chargée des Affaires Etrangères et des Droits de l'Homme, Madame Rama Yade, 37 quai d'Orsay, 75351 Paris.

Rendez-vous le 3 juin 2009 à 18h Place de la Concorde à Paris."

Contact Sandrine Ageorges at sandrine.ageorges@gmail.com.


Leipzig Germany Protest of the 200th Execution
There will be a protest of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry outside the US Consulate in Leipzig Germany. Leipzig is a sister city of Houston, Texas.

When the old East Germany conducted executions, they held the executions in Leipzig, although at the time it was not widely if at all known.

Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6pm
Location: U.S. Consulate
Street: Wilhelm-Seyfferth- Straße 4
City/Town: Leipzig, Germany
Organized By: Amnesty International - Leipzig
Contact: Paula J. Herwigat: ai_paula@yahoo.de


Albuquerque, New Mexico Protest of 200th Execution
Protest the 200th Texas Execution under Gov. Rick Perry! Bring your own signs if you have some! We can also stay for the Peace Protest afterwards!

New Mexico recently abolished the death penalty. On May 30, people in New Mexico will hold a protest of the 200th execution under Rick Perry of Texas.

Date and Time: May 30, 2009 from 12pm to 1pm Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Street: Central Ave and Tulane Dr
Contact: Christy Armell at: christy_n_haylie505@yahoo.com
Brussels, Belgium Protest at U.S. Embassy
Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on June 2 protesters will be standing in front of the US Embassy in Brussels, Belgium with banners protesting the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

US Embassy Regentlaan 27
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Montreal, Canada Protest of the 200th Execution



Protest City
Montreal
Protest Description

Die-In to Protest Rick Perry's 200th Execution

The DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone invites the public, organizations and its members to participate in a die-in.

When : June 2nd @ 5:30PM

Where : Ste-Catherine St., between Berri and St-Denis Streets (just off Berri-UQAM subway station)

This die-in is held for those wishing to express a strong message in favor of abolishing the death penalty in the State of Texas.

The re-enactment will represent the 200 executions pronounced by the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, since the beginning of his governorship in 2001, when he replaced George W. Bush.

We ask people to dress soberly; preferably all dressed in black.

For more information, please contact pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca or visit www.amnistie.ca/pdm.

La Coordination pour l'Abolition de la peine de mort d'Amnistie internationale Canada francophone invite le public, les organisations et ses sympathisants à participer à un "die-in".

Quand : Le 2 juin prochain à partir de 17h30
Où : Sur la rue Ste-Catherine, entre les rues Berri et St-Denis (à deux pas de la Station Berri-UQAM)

Ce "die-in" s'adresse à ceux et celles qui souhaitent exprimer un message en faveur de l'abolition de la peine de mort dans l'État du Texas.

La mise en scène représentera les 200 exécutions prononcées par le Gouverneur du Texas, Rick Perry, depuis le début de son mandat en 2001, alors qu'il a succédé à George W. Bush. Le mot d'ordre du rassemblement est la sobriété ; il sera préférable d'être habillé tout de noir.

Pour davantage d'informations, contactez pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca.

Begin DateJune 2, 2009
Begin Time
5:30:00 PM
End DateJune 2, 2009
End Time
6:30:00 PM

Location of the protest (if you already know the exact location)
Berri-UQAM Ste-Catherine St, between St-Denis and Berri Streets
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
Public Contact Information

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