Tag Archives: Texas

Stop the execution of Rodney Reed

This is urgent. On November 20th, Texas is scheduled to execute Rodney Reed for the rape and murder of Stacey Stites. Horrible crimes. Crimes that Rodney Reed most likely did not commit.

Mountains of evidence exonerates Rodney Reed. All of that evidence was kept from the all white jury that convicted him. Instead, the evidence implicates the victim’s fiancé – local police officer Jimmy Fennell – who has a history of violence against women, including being convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was wrongly sent to prison.

Governor Greg Abbott has stopped an execution before. He can again. A huge public uproar right now could force Abbott to free Rodney Reed and stop this execution. Sign the petition today!

Find other ways to help.

Gov. Abbott should stop this execution because a significant amount of evidence points to Rodney Reed’s innocence. Executions are irreversible. There can be no do-overs. The lack of absolute certainty (which exists in many cases) should give significant pause before the state carries out this or any execution.

Let’s suppose, just suppose that Rodney Reed committed these crimes. That seems highly unlikely, but let’s suppose. Sound reasons still exist for halting this and every execution:
Executing people to keep people from committing crimes has proven ineffectual.
Execution lowers us to the level of those who kill.
The violence of an execution feeds violence.
Thou shall not kill.

We are better than this.

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1 stayed; 1 scheduled

1 stayed

Amnesty International reports that:

A judge in Georgia has granted Warren Hill a temporary stay of execution to consider a lethal injection question. A petition is still pending before the US Supreme Court on the claim that Warren Hill has “mental retardation” and that his execution would therefore violate the US Constitution. The execution warrant does not expire until noon on 20 July.

Shortly before the execution was to be carried out on July 15, the stay was issued. The hearing is to be held on July 18. If the stay is lifted before the execution warrant expires at noon on July 20, the state could conduct the execution.

1 scheduled

John M. Quintilla, Jr. is scheduled to be executed today in Texas. The execution may have already taken place. I am having trouble finding information. Quintilla was convicted of killing Victor Billings, a former sheriff’s deputy, in a robbery turned violent. Reports are that, along with two others, Quintilla “entered an action amusement center through a partially opened back door, demanded cash from an employee and advised all other patrons to get down on the floor. An adult white male [Victor Billings] attempted to disarm Quintanilla and was fatally shot three times. A second victim, and adult white female, was also shot, but the injury was not fatal.”

My prayers for those who loved Victor Billings and Myra Wright and Joseph Handspike. There can be no defense or justification of their murders.

But the execution of those who commit such acts is not the answer. It feeds the cycle of violence. There has to be a better way.

See you along the Trail.

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Stay in Mississippi; execution in Texas

In a reversal of an April decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court voted 8-1 to grant a reprieve “until further order” to Willie Manning, who was convicted in 1994 of murdering two college students. The stay came about four hours before the today’s scheduled execution.

The court did not explain its decision or put a time limit on the reprieve. The U.S. Justice Department had sent letters to  officials involved in the case raising questions about the degree of certainty expressed by F.B.I. forensic experts at Manning’s original trial.

Hopefully this stay will offer an opportunity for the DNA testing that the Innocence Project and others call for in this case. Testing all the evidence seems an absolute minimum standard in capital cases.

I grieve for those who love Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, of whose murders Manning is convicted. An execution will not bring them back.

At 6:32 p.m. CDT, in Huntsville, Texas, Carroll Joe Parr died from a lethal dose of pentobarbital administered by the state. Parr stood convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Joel Dominguez. Although Parr denied the killing, evidence against him was strong.

Parr reportedly endured an abusive childhood. His criminal record included convictions on drug-related charges and alleged links to other crimes.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joel Dominguez.

But an execution demeans us all and perpetuates a cycle of violence. There has to be another way.

See you along the Trail.

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Preparing for execution in Texas

Too long has passed since I have written about death penalty cases. I grieve the executions I have missed and give thanks for those who have raised their voices against the them.

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Cleve Foster on Tuesday for his role in the abduction and slaying of Nyaneur Pal a decade ago near Fort Worth. Twice before his execution has come close. Each time he received a reprieve. He maintains his innocence.

Foster and a companion, Sheldon Ward, were convicted of fatally shooting Pal. She seen talking with Foster and Ward at a Fort Worth bar. Evidence indicated that she had been raped and shot in the head.

A gun identified as the murder weapon was found in a motel room where Foster and Ward were living. Authorities determined the same gun was used two months earlier to kill another woman, 22-year-old Rachel Urnosky, at her Fort Worth apartment. She also had been raped.

“Foster and Ward were implicated but never tried in her slaying.

Foster blames Pal’s death on Ward. At his trial, Prosecutors argued that “evidence showed Foster actively participated in the woman’s killing, offered no credible explanations, lied and gave contradictory stories about his sexual activities with Pal.

I grieve for Nyaneur Pal and for her family and friends. Her death is a tragedy – an obscenity – as is the death of Rachel Urnosky. Their deaths diminish us all.

However, executing Cleve Foster will not bring Nyaneur back. It will be act of vengeance; it will preclude possible reconciliation. It may even prevent the truth from coming out.

Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. Violence begets violence. We have alternatives.

See you along the Trail.


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Execution in Texas, postponement in Georgia

Texas executed Yokamon Hearn today. Hearn had been convicted of the 1998 murder of Dallas stockbroker Frank Meziere following a carjacking. Hearn had appealed his sentence on the grounds of his mental disabilities and inadequate legal advice early in his case. Courts denied those appeals.

I grieve for the family and friends of Frank Meziere. I recognize that Hearn had a previous criminal record. But imprisoning Hearn for life would have protected society from him.

Today in Georgia, the Department of Corrections postponed the execution of Warren Hill (who was convicted of the murder of Joseph Handspike). They did not do so because of concerns related to his mental abilities. The State Board of Pardons and Parole denied his appeal for clemency on those grounds. His lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to stay his execution on those grounds.

The postponement came because Georgia is changing its execution protocol to use only one drug, pentobarbital. Interestingly enough, Texas used the same drug to execute Hearn.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. Again, however, imprisoning Hill for life would protect society from him.

Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. Violence begets violence. We have alternatives.

See you along the Trail.

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Pending execution in Texas

I have missed a number of executions. No excuses, just a confession.

Tonight I signed a petition on behalf of Beunka Adams. His execution is scheduled for April 26, 2012 in Texas.

In 2002, Richard Cobb and Beunka Adams robbed a store and took three hostages, two women – Candace Driver and Nikki Dement – and one man – Kenneth Wayne Vandever. They drove the hostages to a field where Vandever was shot and killed. Both women were wounded.

Beunka Adams has never denied his involvement in the robbery, but he has always claimed that he didn’t shoot anyone and that he tried to stop his co-defendant from harming the victims. Adams’ co-defendant confessed to the shooting and the two men were not tried at the same trial. It is suggested that the jurors were convinced that Adams fired the gun because of evidence being held from them. Reports also suggest that Adams has not received adequate legal representation.

I grieve for Kenneth Wayne Vandever and all who loved him; I grieve for Candace Driver and Nikki Dement. What happened to them was brutal and unconscionable.

However, the execution of Beunka Adams by the State of Texas will not bring them back; it will further the cycle of violence and brutalize our society. I believe that the use of the death penalty as an instrument of justice places the state in the role of God, who alone is sovereign. In a representative democracy, the use of the death penalty places citizens in the role of executioners. I reject that role and say, “Not in my name.”

You too can sign the petition.

See you along the Trail.

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Two executions pend in Texas

Two executions may take place in Texas before the month ends.

On February 28, 2012, Anthony Bartee may be put to death by the State of Texas. Execution Watch reports that Bartee insists that two others committed the 1996 robbery-murder of David Cook, his San Antonio neighbor. They note that “at the time of the killing, Bartee was on parole for two aggravated rape convictions.”

The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty raises a number of concerns:

even though the Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory still has not tested pieces of DNA evidence that were collected from the crime scene. Even after being ordered to test this evidence by Trial Judge Mary Román, neither the Bexar County crime lab nor the DPS lab in Austin have performed the ordered tests on all available evidence.  Bartee was convicted of the 1996 murder of his friend David Cook in San Antonio.  He has consistently maintained that although he was present at the house, he did not kill Cook.

They provide background and talking points for letters to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry.

The following day, February 29, 2012, the execution of George Rivas is scheduled. Again from Execution Watch:

Described by police as the mastermind of a seven-man escape in 2000 from a state prison in South Texas, Rivas was condemned after claiming sole responsibility for the shooting death of a police officer in suburban Dallas during a robbery the group pulled.

The Texas Seven as they are known, escaped in December 2000. They stole the workers’ clothes, broke into the prison armory to get guns and drove away in a prison truck. They robbed two Houston-area stores. On Christmas Eve, 2000, police officer Aubrey Hawkins responded to a call about a robbery. The group ambushed Officer Hawkins as he did his duty.

One of the group, Larry James Harper committed suicide when authorities captured the group. The state of Texas executed Michael Anthony Rodriguez in 2008. The Supreme Court stayed the execution of a second group member in January of this year.

I have not been able to find a place to do advocacy on his behalf. I assume the addresses of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry would work for letters. Rivas’ number appears to be #999394.

Different cases. Each raises issues about our criminal justice system. But in neither case is execution the answer. 

See you along the Trail.

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