Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mark Stroman executed despite lawsuit by surviving victim Rais Bhuiyan seeking to stop execution

The video news report below aired on KVUE in Austin at 6 PM on July 20, 2011. Later that night shortly before 9 PM Mark Stroman was executed. Report contains an interview with Rais Bhuiyan, the surviving shooting victim of Stroman, as well as footage of protesters gathered at the Texas Capitol.

Stroman was the 472nd person executed in Texas since 1982, eighth in 2011 and 233rd under Governor Rick Perry.

From the Austin American-Statesman:
The execution was delayed for almost three hours before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals barred a state judge in Austin from considering Bhuiyan's lawsuit to block the lethal injection. The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected appeals earlier in the day.

Bhuiyan, in an unusual step, had asked the courts to halt Stroman's execution and said he wanted to spend time with the inmate to learn more about why the shootings occurred. The native of Bangladesh and a former convenience store worker lost sight in one of his eyes when Stroman shot him in the face.

"Killing him is not the solution," Bhuiyan said. "He's learning from his mistake. If he's given a chance, he's able to reach out to others and spread that message to others."

A federal district judge in Austin rejected the lawsuit and Bhuiyan's request for an injunction on Wednesday afternoon. His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, where Justice Antonin Scalia turned it down.

From CNN:
 "I -- and here I act as a spokesperson for the other victims' families as well -- have been denied our proper voice in the proceedings," Bhuiyan said in the court documents. "We do not wish to see Mark Stroman executed for his crimes. For myself, it is clear that nothing would cause more devastation and pain to the life I struggled to rebuild after the attack than for Mark Stroman to be killed."

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Help stop today's execution in Texas of Mark Stroman

Help stop today's execution in Texas of Mark Stroman! Call Rick Perry today at 512 463 2000 and urge him to listen to Stroman's lone surviving shooting victim Rais Bhuiyan and Stop the Execution of Mark Stroman. Bhuiyan is fighting to stop the execution. You can join the fight too with a phone call of less than 60 seconds.

Please contact Texas Governor Rick Perry to urge him to grant a stay of execution to Mark Stroman, who is scheduled for execution Wednesday, July 20.  
Rais Bhuiyan, who survived being shot in the face by Mark Stroman, is urging Perry to stop the execution. Bhuiyan has also filed a still-pending lawsuit to stop the execution. The lawsuit will be heard Wednesday morning. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has already refused to recommend clemency.

 Watch a video of Rais Bhuiyan explaining why he does not want Mark Stroman executed.

Call Governor Perry at 512 463 2000.

Someone will answer the phone during office hours. If you call after office hours, you can leave a message.

You can also contact Perry by email using a form on his website, although calling on the phone may make a more immediate impact. You can also both call and email.

If you are in Austin, come to the Texas Capitol at 11th and Congress on Wednesday, July 20 at 5:30 PM to protest the scheduled execution of Mark Stroman and show your support for Rais Bhuiyan.  (Facebook event page)

If you are in Dallas, there will be a silent vigil at 5:30 PM on the sidewalk in front of the Frank Crowley Court House, 133 N Riverfront St. (Facebook event page)

Stroman, 41, said he went on a shooting spree in the weeks following the 2001 attacks targeting people of Middle East descent, claiming it was a patriotic response to terrorism. Two men were killed and a third was wounded. Stroman is scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville.

In an unusual step, the lone shooting survivor, Rais Bhuiyan, a native of Bangladesh, has asked the courts to halt the execution. In a lawsuit, he argues that his religious beliefs as a Muslim told him to forgive Stroman. He also wants to spend time with the convict to learn more about why the shootings occurred.

Juror now opposes execution of Stroman

"I made a wrong decision," said the North Texas woman, who doesn't want her last name used.

The woman was part of the Dallas County jury panel in 2002 that gave the self-proclaimed, "Arab Slayer", Mark Stroman the death penalty for a killing spree after 9/11 that left two store clerks dead.

"We should not have given him death."

Jennifer says prosecutors neglected to tell jurors that the families Stroman destroyed with his violent rampage did not support sending him to death row.

"We were under the impression that the families wanted the death penalty, so even though I didn't fully support it, I let that pressure me into the decision."

Jennifer has since learned, the sole survivor in the case, Rais Bhuiyan did not support execution for Stroman. Bhuiyan was shot in the face and blinded in one eye by Stroman. Even so, he has been waging a battle to save the killer's life and asking for a face-to-face meeting.

"I would love to give him a hug and say I never hated him," said the Bangladeshi immigrant, who is now a naturalized citizen.

The text below is from an editorial in the Dallas Morning News:
As for the question of whether Stroman should live or die, Bhuiyan has an extraordinary position on that, too: He wants his attacker’s life spared to end the cycle of hatred, violence and death and to afford Stroman the chance to rehabilitate and renounce hate.

Bhuiyan says he has the support of the families of the two men who were fatally shot, Waqar Hasan, originally of Pakistan, and Vasudev Patel, of India.

Think about it: three industrious immigrants working hard to support their families or advance their education. They are targeted by a vicious ex-con out to purify the country of outsiders. Now those hurt by this crime seek to drop the quest for retribution.

Retribution, in fact, is one element of the death penalty that the Supreme Court has cited in allowing its use. With the victims of the Stroman spree now dropping the demand for retribution — vengeance, essentially — the state is left alone in seeking it. Moral authority, though, has fallen away.

This newspaper is opposed to all capital punishment because justice will never be air tight and the punishment is irrevocable, unevenly applied and of questionable deterrent value.

Bhuiyan opposes it for far more personal reasons. It’s hard to fathom how he goes out of his way to find redeeming value in the criminal who shot him, but he says his attacker has the capacity to become an evangelist for healing.

Stroman appears to have accepted responsibility for the killings, at least in entries on a blog that supporters help him maintain. His motives and level of remorse are fair game, and people have every right and reason for skepticism.

Bhuiyan has every right and reason to meet with Stroman and judge for himself.

Rais Bhuiyan (photos below) has said this about the man who shot him in the face:

I forgave [Mark] Stroman many years ago. In fact, I have never hated him. I never hated America for what happened to me. I believe he was ignorant and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong; otherwise, he wouldn't have done what he did.

Thank you,

Your friends at Texas Moratorium Network

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Urge Rick Perry to Listen to Shooting Victim and Stop the Execution of Mark Stroman

Rais Bhuiyan
Please contact Governor Rick Perry to urge him to grant a stay of execution to Mark Stroman, who is scheduled for execution Wednesday, July 20. Rais Bhuiyan , who survived being shot by Mark Stroman is urging that Stroman not be executed.

Call Governor Perry at 512 463 2000. You can also use Perry's website contact form, or better yet, both call and email.

They will answer the phone during office hours. If you call after office hours, you can leave a message.

Come to the Texas Capitol at 11th and Congress on Wednesday, July 20 at 5:30 PM to protest the scheduled execution of Mark Stroman.

Urge Governor Perry to grant a stay of execution for Mark Stroman.

Just 10 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rais Bhuiyan was working at a gas station in Dallas when he was shot in the face by a man named Mark Stroman.

Stroman was on a shooting spree, targeting people who appeared to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. Stroman is due to be executed July 20; Bhuiyan, the only survivor of the attacks, is fighting to save his life.

When Stroman entered the gas station, Bhuiyan initially thought it was a routine robbery.

“I opened the cash register, offered him the cash, and requested him not to shoot me,” Bhuiyan tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan. “In reply he asked me, ‘Where are you from?’ And the question seemed strange to ask during a robbery. And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And as soon as I spoke, I felt the sensation of a million bees stinging my face, and then heard an explosion.”

Bhuiyan required medical attention for years after the attack. The bullet hit him on the right side of the face, leaving severe injuries, particularly to his right eye.

“I had to go through several surgeries and finally the doctor could save the eye, but the vision is gone, and I’m still carrying more than 35 pellets on the right side of my face,” he says. “Once I touch my face, my skull, I can feel it’s all bumpy. It took several years to go through all these painful surgeries one after another one.”

From CBS News:
Less than a week before convicted killer Mark Anthony Stroman is scheduled for execution, one of his victims is suing Texas Governor Rick Perry in effort to save the life of the man who tried to take his during a spree of hate crimes following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

"Please do the right thing, save a human life, please," Rais Bhuiyan said from the steps of the Travis County Courthouse Thursday, according to CBS affiliate KTVT.

Bhuiyan, a devout Muslim, begged for mercy for Stroman, a death row inmate who shot him in 2001, leaving him partially blind.

"Please, listen to my request and lower Mark's punishment from death to life in prison," he said, "If the Governor of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Parole can listen to the victims when they want revenge, why can they not listen when the victims are asking for mercy?"

Stroman was convicted of killing an Islamic man in the months following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but according to police, he also killed a second man and shot Bhuiyan, who was working at a convenience store in southeastern Dallas. According to KTVT, all the victims were from India and Pakistan.

Stroman believed the U.S. government "hadn't done their job so he was going to do it for them" and retaliate for the terrorist attacks, according to The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"September 11th did a horrible thing not just to the U.S. but to the world, this is a time we can take a new narrative, a narrative of forgiveness, compassion, tolerance and healing," Bhuiyan said. "I never hated him, I was never angry at him, rather I understand what he did was out of ignorance."

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Video of Panel Discussion on Todd Willingham Case After Screening of Film "Incendiary: The Willingham Case"

TribLive: A Conversation About Cameron Todd Willingham from texastribune on Vimeo.

After a recent screening of "Incendiary: The Willingham Case", Texas Tribune's Evan Smith talked about the science of fire and death penalty politics with the filmmakers, Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr.; former Forensic Science Commission Chairman Sam Bassett; former Texas Gov. Mark White; and acting Corsicana City Attorney Terry Jacobson.

Click here to watch the panel discussion. Former Texas Governor Mark White makes some good points during the discussion.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Urge Rick Perry to Stay Execution of Humberto Leal in Order to Protect Americans Traveling Abroad

Please contact Governor Rick Perry to urge him to grant a stay of execution to Humberto Leal, who is scheduled for execution Thursday, July 7. 

Call Governor Perry at 512 463 2000.

They will answer the phone during office hours. If you call after office hours, you can leave a message.
Urge Governor Perry to grant a stay of execution for Humberto Leal until the U.S. Congress has time to pass the legislation already filed that would put the United States into compliance with its international obligations to review death sentences in cases in which the person convicted was not allowed to contact their consulate for assistance.

Executing a person who was not allowed to contact his consulate for legal assistance puts all Americans traveling in other countries in danger. Think about the three American hikers arrested in Iran. They would have suffered even more and had more legal difficulties if they had been denied their rights to contact the American consulate.

The text below is taken from the website

On July 7, Texas is poised to execute Humberto Leal Garcia,

a Mexican national who was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death without ever being informed that he had the right to seek assistance from the Mexican consulate – assistance that in his case would have made the difference between life and death.
American students, tourists, members of our military, businesspeople and aid workers who travel abroad depend on the vital lifeline of consular access. Those who have been wrongly detained overseas often say that the assistance of the consulate is more important than the advice of a foreign lawyer. As in the case of Mr. Leal, their rights to consular access are protected by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations – one of the most widely ratified treaties in the world.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held that Mr. Leal was entitled to a hearing on the consular rights violation in his case. President Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Obama Administration have all acknowledged that the United States is obligated to comply with ICJ's decision.
Congress has now introduced legislation that would require implementation of the ICJ's decision. The bill before Congress has the support of the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
On July 1, in a rare move, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a stay of execution for Mr. Leal until the end of the Congressional term "in order to allow the United States additional time to meet its international-law obligations." The Solicitor General states that "failure to comply with [the Vienna Convention] will weaken the force of the United States' insistence that other countries respect those rules; an internationally high-profile execution while remedial legislation is pending would greatly exacerbate that problem."
If a court does not intervene or Texas Governor Rick Perry does not grant a stay to Mr. Leal, other nations will be emboldened to violate the consular rights of U.S. citizens arrested in foreign countries, and American citizens traveling abroad will be placed at risk. The case of the three hikers arrested on the Iranian border and charged with espionage is a reminder of the dangers that U.S. citizens face traveling abroad.
Because of these safety concerns, former diplomats, retired military officials, and organizations representing Americans abroad are coming forward to urge Governor Perry to grant a stay and the U.S. Congress to pass legislation which would entitle Mr. Leal to a hearing on the consular rights violation.
If the Mexican consulate had been informed of Mr. Leal's arrest, it would have retained highly qualified and experienced legal counsel. In the absence of consular assistance, he was represented by a court-appointed lawyer who has been suspended or reprimanded on multiple occasions for ethical violations. Mr. Leal's trial lawyers failed to challenge the junk science that the prosecution relied on to obtain a conviction, and they failed to tell the jury about critical facts that could have spared his life—including evidence that he was raped by his parish priest in San Antonio. Mr. Leal is now seeking modern DNA testing to show that he is innocent of the crime. With consular assistance, Mr. Leal would never have been convicted, let alone sentenced to death.

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Kerry Max Cook Writes About Randall Dale Adams

My name is Kerry Max Cook. I am not here to talk about what it took for me to survive twenty-two years on death row as an innocent person. I am here to talk about a man I met while I was on Texas death row also innocent, my friend, Randall Dale Adams. 

It was the summer of 1978 when I met a young Randall Dale Adams on cellblock J-21 -- the original death row "wing" where those exiled under a sentence of death were assigned "Ad. Seg," or Administrative Segregation, as prison officials call it. 

Death row was a lot of things, but most of all, it was a wild and crazy place, a hate-factory and an austere human repository warehousing every conceivable mental and emotional disorder known to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). 

As an example, Randall and I would be talking and, without warning, violence erupted from somewhere around us. Once, I witnessed a quick scuffle and then heard the dull thud of a heavy body falling solidly to the concrete floor, met by a guard’s shrill screams, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” The body of death row inmate Edward King lay prostrate gasping his last breath with a chicken bone protruding from his chest, mortally wounded by a fellow death row inmate - - his best friend. By the time the nurses arrived, Edward King needed only the stale, dirty State-issued dingy sheet to wrap and remove him to await the Walker County coroner’s office. 

Randall Dale Adams clearly didn’t belong there, despite having come, at one time, less than 72 hours away from execution. He didn’t suffer from an anti-social, schizophrenic personality disorder, indigenous to a diseased and dangerous mind gone AWOL. Randall Dale Adams was no killer. 

Simply put, Randall Dale Adams was a square, an innocent American citizen who fell victim to the antics of a troubled teenager named David Ray Harris. Randall, through twist of fate, got caught in the cross hairs of an overzealous Texas prosecutor. Randall was a naive, quiet and unassuming, kind man who cared about others. Had he not agreed to give David Harris a ride that fateful night, I would not have met Randall on death row and officer Robert W. Wood would still be alive. 

The last time I saw Randall was when we met in Austin and testified before the 77th Texas Legislature. 

Randall’s ordeal with Texas officials and the fight to clear his name and be recognized was so grueling and intense; he left public life and moved back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio where he died last October. 

In representing Randall in this moment of grief, I think if Randall could have left you with something, it would be this: 

“We rightfully legislate laws to honor victims of unspeakable crimes. You didn’t recognize me in life, and maybe you won’t recognize me in death, but I still believe in you, even though your politics sometimes prevents you from believing in me. You don’t have to remember me, but please, for the sake of those who follow after me, please remember my story….” 

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