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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Former Criminal District Court Judge Charlie Baird Will Officially Launch Candidacy Sept 6 For Travis County DA

August 31, 2011


CONTACT: Charlie Baird Campaign (512) 705-7001 press@charliebaird.com

MEDIA ADVISORY

TUESDAY: Former Criminal District Court Judge Charlie Baird Will Officially Launch Candidacy For Travis County DA

SPECIAL GUESTS: Hon. Morris Overstreet, former judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Cory Session brother of Tim Cole, defendant exonerated in 299th District Court in 2009 by Charlie Baird

AUSTIN—Charlie Baird will launch his campaign for Travis County District Attorney on Tuesday, September 6, with a speech and rally at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in Austin.

WHO: Charlie Baird, former district court judge and candidate for Travis County District Attorney

WHAT: Campaign Announcement for Travis County District Attorney

WHEN: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 11:30 a.m. (Doors open at 11:00am for Press)

WHERE: Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave Street, Austin, TX 78702, 512-472-6932

MORE: Print, broadcast, or online media who would like an individual media availability with the candidate should contact the campaign at 512.705.7001.

Live feeds and live stand-ups during noon newscasts are welcome; stations should contact the campaign for information on set-up, equipment placement, etc.

Pd. Pol. Adv. By Charlie Baird Exploratory Committee, Charles F. "Charlie" Baird, Treas. P.O. Box 1242 Austin, Texas 78767

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Steven Woods, Claiming Innocence, Scheduled for Execution on Sept 13


We received the information below from advocates trying to stop the execution of Steven Woods on Sept 13, 2011:

On September 13 2011, Steven Woods (31) is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection by the state of Texas after being wrongfully convicted and confined 24 hours a day for the past 9 years of his life.

Woods maintained his innocence since he was arrested, and he swears that he will keep doing so until he dies.

The evidence supporting Steven Woods' wrongful conviction is overwhelming; provided below is more information that I hope will help you better understand Woods' case:

- In 2002, Steven Woods was convicted for shooting & killing a young couple in Denton County, Texas
- Woods was 21 at the time and had no prior arrests or warrants.
- 3 months after Steven was wrongfully convicted/sentenced to death, 24 year old Marcus Rhodes took responsibility for knowingly and intentionally shooting and killing both of the murder victims, in a Denton County court.
- Rhodes didn't insinuate that Steven in any way, participated/plotted/played any role in the murders.
- There is NO physical evidence or confession that ties Steven Woods to the murder scene.
- No one has reported or testified to having eye-witnessed these murders.
- The murders were committed with Marcus Rhodes' own firearms. (Both registered under Rhodes' name)
- The firearms were found under Rhodes' bed when Police searched his parents' home.
- The weapons only had Rhodes' fingerprints on them.
- The victims' backpacks & their belongings were found in Rhodes' car a few days after the murders.
- The only "evidence" used against Woods were friends of Marcus Rhodes who took the stand, claiming that they heard Woods brag about the murder. This is called "hearsay" & is usually inadmissible in court.
- One "witness", a habitual heroin user & friend of Rhodes' was paid 1000 dollars for his testimony.
-Another "witness" signed a sworn affidavit stating that her testimony was coerced with threats.
-The state tried to use DNA found on a latex glove to convict Woods. The jury was told that the DNA on the glove was Woods', but later in the trial Steven demanded that the glove be tested. The DNA did NOT match Woods'. The glove was stricken from the protocol by Denton County Judge, Lee Gabriels - so that Woods could not use it to prove his innocence in his appeals process.
- The prosecution accused Woods of numerous erroneous claims to which they had no basis. Example: The prosecution lied to the jury claiming that Woods (who they did not know was of Armenian heritage), was a "white supremacist".
-The man who confessed to killing the couple, also confessed to carrying out an additional murder in CA that occurred 2 months prior to the Denton murders. Steven did not participate in that murder, nor did he witness it or get indicted in association with it.
-The actual murderer, Rhodes got a punishment of life in prison with parole.
-Steven Woods got sentenced to death and will be executed on Sept. 13 2011.

More info can be found at www.texaskills.com and we can be reached at justiceforstevewoods@gmail.com

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

In Unique Move, Charlie Baird Asks Voters What They Think


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2011

CONTACT: Charlie Baird Campaign,
Press Office
512.705.7001
press@charliebaird.com

In Unique Move, Charlie Baird Asks Voters What They Think

Says Citizens’ Opinions Should Matter To Politicians

AUSTIN—A month after launching an exploratory committee to consider a run for Travis County District Attorney, former state district judge Charlie Baird’s campaign has taken an unusual step in local politics: asking voters what they think.

Today, Baird launched a large-scale effort to solicit voter opinion on the state of the criminal justice system in Travis County. The launch incudes a full page advertisement in the Austin Chronicle, an online ad buy, ad buys in other Travis County publications such as The Villager and Nokoa, and a web page people can use to submit reform ideas to his campaign.

“In all the years I’ve been involved in Travis County politics, nothing like this has ever been done,” Baird said. “I really want to hear their ideas for making justice work for everyone in Travis County.”

Baird says his unique effort is a serious attempt to reach beyond traditional resources and to get fresh ideas.

“Our political system is one that thrives on new ideas for reform and change. When you have the same people in charge of one office for more than three decades, you don’t really have access to fresh ideas,” Baird said. “In our system, individuals considering a run for office should ask voters about their concerns and for their ideasl for reform,” he said.

“Politicians need to remember that in a democracy the people are in charge, not focus groups. A lot can be learned by listening to the people,” Baird said.

He noted that everyone is encouraged to visit CharlieBaird.com/Reform to submit their ideas or innovations for the justice system in Travis County.

Baird, a former state district judge and former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has indicated he would have an announcement concerning whether he will make an official run for the post sometime after Labor Day.

Baird, his wife, Kristin, and their two children, make their home in Austin. He is head of the Criminal Law Section at The Fowler Law Firm in Austin.

- 30 -


Tell Charlie from Charlie Baird on Vimeo.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry to Acknowledge Cameron Todd Willingham was Wrongfully Executed

We will deliver the signatures and comments on this petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is running for president of the United States. A lot of people already signed and we delivered those signatures to Perry in 2009, but we wanted to repost it on the day that Rick Perry announces he is running for president so that more people can sign. It also allows you to leave a comment when you sign.

View Signatures.





(Note: If you navigate away from this page and return to it, the submit button may disappear, just reload the page if that happens and the submit button will re-appear.)

This petition was created and written by Texas Moratorium Network. If you have questions, call TMN at 512-961-6389. If you are shocked to learn that Texas has executed an innocent person, please attend the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 22, 2011 in Austin, Texas at the Capitol.

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2006 Letter from Family of Todd Willingham to Texas Governor Rick Perry

Accompanied by 300 supporters standing outside the gates of the Texas Governor's Mansion, family members (pictured) of Cameron Todd Willingham delivered a letter to Gov Perry on October 28, 2006 asking him to stop executions and investigate the case of their step son and uncle to determine if he was wrongfully executed. He of course ignored their request and later abused his powers of office to impede the investigation of the Willingham case by the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

The Willinghams were in Austin in 2006 for the 7th Annual March to Stop Executions. The 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty is October 22, 2011 at the Texas Capitol in Austin. Sign a petition here to urge Rick Perry to acknowledge that the fire in the Cameron Todd Willingham case was not arson, therefore no crime was committed and on February 17, 2004, Texas wrongfully executed an innocent man.

Eugenia Willingham slipped the letter, along with a copy of an article from the Chicago Tribune that concluded that her stepson was probably innocent, through the bars of the front gate of the mansion and left it lying on the walkway leading to the front door of the mansion. A DPS trooper on duty refused to take the letter, so Eugenia left it on the walkway. According to a Public Information Request sent to Perry by Texas Moratorium Network, we know that his staff later retrieved the letter and delivered it to Perry's office, however he never responded to Willingham's family.

Below is a copy of the letter
The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor of Texas
Austin, Texas

October 28, 2006

Dear Governor Perry,

We are the family of Cameron Todd Willingham. Our names are Eugenia Willingham, Trina Willingham Quinton and Joshua Easley. Todd was an innocent person executed by Texas on February 17, 2004. We have come to Austin today from Ardmore, Oklahoma to stand outside the Texas Governor’s Mansion and attempt to deliver this letter to you in person, because we want to make sure that you know about Todd’s innocence and to urge you to stop executions in Texas and determine why innocent people are being executed in Texas.

Todd was not the only innocent person who has been executed in Texas. There have been reports in the media that Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna were also innocent people who were executed in Texas. It is too late to save Todd’s life or the lives of Ruben Cantu or Carlos De Luna, but it is not too late to save other innocent people from being executed. We are here today to urge you to be the leader that Texas needs in order to make sure that Texas never executes another innocent person. There is a crisis in Texas regarding the death penalty and we ask you to address the crisis. Because the public can no longer be certain that Texas is not executing innocent people, we urge you to stop all executions.

Strapped to a gurney in Texas' death chamber, just moments from his execution for setting a fire that killed his three daughters, our son/uncle, Todd Willingham, declared his innocence one last time, saying "I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do." Todd is now dead and can no longer speak for himself, so we have come to Austin to speak for him.

Before Todd’s execution, you were given a report from a prominent fire scientist questioning the conviction, but you did not stop the execution. The author of the report, Gerald Hurst, has said, "There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It was just a fire."

Another report issued in 2006 by a panel of national arson experts brought together by the Innocence Project concluded that the fire that killed Todd’s three daughters was an accident. The report says that Todd’s case is very similar to the case of Ernest Willis, who was convicted of arson murder and sentenced to death in 1987. Willis served 17 years in prison before he was exonerated in 2004 – the same year Todd was executed. The report says that neither of the fires which Todd and Ernest Willis were convicted of setting were arson. The report notes that the evidence and forensic analysis in the Willingham and Willis cases "were the same," and that "each and every one" of the forensic interpretations that state experts made in both men's trials have been proven scientifically invalid. In other words, Todd was executed based on “junk science”.

Please look into our son/uncle’s case and ask the District Attorney in Corsicana to reopen the investigation into the crime for which my brother was wrongfully executed. You should also establish an Innocence Commission in the next session of the Texas Legislature that could investigate my brother’s case, as well as other cases of possible wrongful executions, such as Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna.

Please ensure that no other family suffers the tragedy of seeing one of their loved ones wrongfully executed. Please enact a moratorium on executions and create a special blue ribbon commission to study the administration of the death penalty in Texas. Texas also needs a statewide Office of Public Defenders for Capital Cases. Such an office will go a long way towards preventing innocent people from being executed. A moratorium will ensure that no other innocent people are executed while the system is being studied and reforms implemented.

We look forward to hearing from you and we pledge to work with you to ensure that executions of innocent people are stopped.

Yours sincerely,

Eugenia Willingham
Stepmother of Cameron Todd Willingham who raised him from the age of 13 months

Trina Willingham Quinton
Niece of Cameron Todd Willingham

Joshua Easley
Nephew of Cameron Todd Willingham

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rick Perry Running For President With Record of 234 Executions, Including Todd Willingham's Wrongful Execution

The AP is reporting that Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for president of the United States. Perry will be the only person ever to run for president with a record of 234 executions and counting, including the wrongful execution of Todd Willingham and subsequent misuse of gubernatorial power to impede the investigation of a government agency into the case of Willingham.

Todd Willingham

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Texas Set Today to Execute 234th person under Governor Rick Perry

Martin Robles is scheduled for execution Wednesday August 10 in Texas. UPDATE: Robles was executed.

Call Governor Rick Perry to voice your opposition 512 463 2000.

The lethal injection of Martin Robles would be the ninth this year in Texas, the 473rd since Texas resumed executions in 1982 and the 234th since Governor Rick Perry took office in 2000.

Robles' appeals were exhausted and no late attempts to put off the punishment were in the courts Tuesday, the Texas attorney general's office said.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Texas Witness to Innocence Freedom Ride to Culminate at 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty at Texas Capitol


Exonerated Death Row survivors from seven states will be taking their powerful message against the death penalty across Texas from October 12th through 19th. They will also be rallying support for the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin, TX on October 22.

 Witness to Innocence is the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. Witness to Innocence members bring a human face to the death penalty, illuminating the unfairness and immorality of capital punishment.



To invite the Texas WTI Freedom Ride to stop in your community, contact Hooman Hedayati at hooman@witnesstoinnocence.org or (210)601-7231, or visit www.witnesstoinnocence.org.



March to Abolish the Death Penalty:


Each October since 2000, Texans and their supporters have gathered in Austin to oppose the death penalty. Once again in 2011, activists, family members of people on death row, community leaders, exonerated former prisoners, family members of murder victims, leaders of faith communities and all those calling for repeal of the Texas death penalty will come together at the Texas Capitol. Join us! Visit marchforabolition.org for more information and to sign on as a sponsor of the 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty.  Come help build the statewide coalition that will eventually repeal the death penalty in Texas.


The 12th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held in Austin on October 22,2011 at the Texas Capitol. Join the Facebook event page. Each October since 2000,people from all walks of life and all parts of Texas,the U.S. and other countries have taken a day out of their year and gathered in Austin to raise their voices together and loudly express their opposition to the death penalty. The march is a coming together of activists,family members of those on death row,community leaders,exonerated prisoners and all those calling for abolition. The march started in Austin in 2000. In 2007 and 2008,the march was held in Houston. It came back to Austin in 2009 and 2010.

The annual march is organized as a joint project by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations working together with leading national organizations: Texas Moratorium Network, the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement,Texas Students Against the Death Penalty,Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Kids Against the Death Penalty, and national organizations including Journey of Hope ... from Violence to Healing, and Witness to Innocence.

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