Texas

Texas

Judge Carolyn King

DPIC's Lethal Injection Page

Federal Judge Carolyn Dineen King Speaks on the Death Penalty at Red Mass
October 4, 2006 marked the annual liturgy held for members of the legal profession called the Red Mass. This year's keynote speaker in Corpus Christi, Texas, was Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She chose to speak about the death penalty from both a legal and moral point

Statement by Catholic Bishops of Texas on Capital Punishment

October 20, 1997

As spiritual leaders in the community we Catholic Bishops of Texas are acutely aware of the violence in our state. Despite a growing reliance on longer sentences, more prisons, and more executions, our state's crime rate has escalated.

From The Texas Conference of Churches

Resolution Opposing the Death Penalty: Adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the Texas Conference of Churches
February 24, 1998

WHEREAS the Texas Conference of Churches, in 1973 and 1977, and many of the churches and judicatories belonging to the Texas Conference of Churches have made clear statements in opposition to and calling for the abolition of the death penalty; and

Chicago Tribune: EXECUTED TEXAS MAN WAS LIKELY INNOCENT

Did this man die...for this man's crime?
From the Chicago Tribune (2006)
(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/broadband/chi-tx-htmlstory,0,7935000.htmlstory)

Part 1: 'I didn't do it. But I know who did
'

Part 2: A phantom, or the killer?


Part 3: Did one man die for another man's crime?



Part 1: `I didn't do it. But I know who did'

ABA President Calls for Stay of Texas Woman's Execution

LETTER OF ABA PRESIDENT MICHAEL GRECO TO TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY AND THE PARDONS BOARD CONCERNING THE UPCOMING EXECUTION OF FRANCES NEWTON

August 31, 2005

BY FAX: 512/463-1849
The Honorable Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
State Capitol
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

BY FAX: 512/463-8120
Chairwoman Rissie Owens
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Unit
Capital Section
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, Texas 78711

SCOTUS Declines to Rule on Foreign Nationals' Rights

SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO RULE ON RIGHTS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS ON DEATH ROW

Supreme Court The Supreme Court today dismissed as “improvidently granted” the case of Jose Medellin, a Mexican national on death row in Texas. In an unsigned decision, justices dismissed as premature the case in which Medellin argued that an opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) entitled him and the 50 Mexican foreign nationals on death row in

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT MEDELLIN V. DRETKE

Continued from DPIC's home page:

Why is Medellin v. Dretke before the Supreme Court?

Most Mexicans on death row in the U.S. were denied their rights under the VCCR, and the government of Mexico brought a suit before the ICJ as provided in the Optional Protocol.  That lawsuit, brought on behalf of Medellin and 53 other Mexican nationals who had been sentenced to death in the United States, is referred to as the Avena case.

A Tale of Two Texas Cases

EXECUTED:  Cameron Willingham, executed in Texas in 2004 for an arson that killed his three children. He steadfastly maintained his innocence.
FREED:  Ernest Willis, freed from death row in Texas in 2004 after the arson investigation that led to his conviction was discredited.

There are many similarities between these two alledged arson cases from Texas. The main difference is that one resulted in an execution, the other in the inmate being freed.

Some similarities in the cases:

  • Both convictions were based upon the theory that accelerants were used, indicating that the fires were intentionally set.
  • Both convictions were based on speculative interpretations of "crazed glass" that was found at the crime scene.  The splintered glass was originally believed to be caused by an accelerant spray. However, crazed glass may also occur when cold water that is used to put out a fire hits hot glass.
  • The deputy state fire marshal, Manuel Vasquez, testified to similar conclusions in both cases.
  • The convictions were only five years apart (Willingham in 1987, Willis in 1992).  Both were appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and both were denied.
  • In both cases, reinvestigations of the evidence by fire expert Gerald Hurst stated that the burn patterns and residue were consistent with "flash over," a phenomenon unique to electrical fires, rather than being attributable to arson.
  • According to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, Wilingham's and Willis' cases were "nearly identical" based upon investigations by Hurst and Louisiana fire chief Kendall Ryland.  Then- Texas deputy fire marshall Edward Cheever has admitted, since the Hurst investigation and Willingham's execution, that "we were still testifying to things that aren't accurate today. They were true then, but they aren't now... Hurst was pretty much right on. ... We know now not to make those same assumptions."  (Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2004)
  • One key difference in the two cases was that Ernest Willis was represented in his federal appeals by the high-profile law firm of Latham & Watkins, which represented Willis without charge.

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