Tribpedia: Death Penalty

Tribpedia

The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for capital murder convictions in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions since the practice resumed in 1976.

The state has adopted various methods to administer the death penalty over the years, including hanging (1819-1923), electrocution (1924-1964) and lethal injection (1977-today), according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's ...

Read More...

The Slow Death of the Death Penalty

Since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, the cost of carrying out a death penalty trial has risen steadily. In states such as Texas, where county governments pay for both the prosecution and defense of capital defendants (nearly all of whom are indigent) when they go to trial, the pressure on local budgets is especially strong. 

Death row inmate Scott Panetti.
Death row inmate Scott Panetti.

Federal Appeals Court Issues Stay For Panetti

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday halted the execution of a Texas death row inmate with a history of schizophrenia, just hours before he was to be put to death in Huntsville. In its order, the court says the stay allows it "to fully consider the late arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter."

Outgoing Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Price.
Outgoing Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Price.

Criminal Appeals Judge Price: I Oppose Death Penalty

A Republican judge on Texas’ highest criminal court says he now opposes the death penalty. Judge Tom Price, one of nine members of the Court of Criminal Appeals, wrote Wednesday that he has “given a substantial amount of consideration to the propriety of the death penalty as a form of punishment for those who commit capital murder, and I now believe that it should be abolished.”

 

Death row inmate Scott Panetti.
Death row inmate Scott Panetti.

Panetti Case Highlights Lack of Sanity Standard

  • 4Comments

The fact that Scott Panetti is facing lethal injection on Dec. 3 despite a 30-year history of documented mental illness demonstrates that the ambiguities of the legal standard of “competency” he helped to define are far from resolved.

In 2004, Davontae Marcel Williams, on the left, was found starved to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, on the right, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night for her role in the boy's death. If carried out, she would be the sixth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982.
In 2004, Davontae Marcel Williams, on the left, was found starved to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, on the right, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night for her role in the boy's death. If carried out, she would be the sixth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982.

Woman Executed for Boy's 2004 Starvation Death

UPDATED: Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was executed Wednesday for the starvation death of her girlfriend’s son, Davontae Marcel Williams, 9. Coleman is the the sixth woman to be executed in the state since 1982.

Execution chamber shot from one of two witness viewing rooms at the Huntsville Unit in Huntsville Texas.
Execution chamber shot from one of two witness viewing rooms at the Huntsville Unit in Huntsville Texas.

TDCJ Viewing Policy Reduces Witnesses to Executions

As public scrutiny of the state's execution process is increasing, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is more strictly implementing a media viewing policy that means fewer witnesses to the controversial procedure. TDCJ argues it is following procedure, but media lawyers say the rules prevent transparency. 

 

Attorney General Greg Abbott speaks to press after voting in the primary on March 4th, 2014 at South Austin church. Abbott is running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott speaks to press after voting in the primary on March 4th, 2014 at South Austin church. Abbott is running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas

AG: Prisons Can Keep Info About Execution Drugs Secret

Reversing his stance in three previous rulings, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott on Thursday ruled that the state prison system can withhold information about the suppliers of drugs used in lethal injections.

September 17, 2010 - Activist Jamie Bush attends the Texas Forensic Science Commission board meeting on September 17, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.
September 17, 2010 - Activist Jamie Bush attends the Texas Forensic Science Commission board meeting on September 17, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.

Willingham Won't Get Posthumous Pardon

UPDATED: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has voted not to recommend a posthumous full pardon for Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed a decade ago after being convicted of setting a house fire that killed his three young daughters. 

DNA Hearing Brings Skinner Case Closer to Resolution

After more than a decade of fighting for DNA testing, death row inmate Hank Skinner got the day in court he was after. During a two-day hearing that ended Tuesday, prosecutors argued that the analysis only confirmed Skinner’s guilt, but his lawyers said the results raised too many questions to allow him to be executed for a 20-year-old triple murder. 

Hearing to Look at DNA Evidence in Skinner Case

  • 1Comment

After more than a decade of fighting for DNA tests and two years of analysis of decades-old evidence, a court in Pampa will hear evidence that death row inmate Hank Skinner says should stop his execution. Prosecutors, however, say all the DNA testing only confirmed his guilt.

GOP attorney general candidates from left to right: Ken Paxton, Dan Branch, Barry Smitherman.
GOP attorney general candidates from left to right: Ken Paxton, Dan Branch, Barry Smitherman.

AG Candidates Weigh In on Execution of Mexican National

Wednesday night’s execution in Texas of a Mexican national convicted of killing a Houston police officer has given the candidates vying to be the state’s next attorney general an opportunity to weigh in on the death penalty — revealing only slight differences in how they might have handled the case.

 

Dennis and Patty Thuesen look through photos of their son John from his childhood and his service in the military. John, an Iraq war veteran, is appealing his death sentence for the murders of his girlfriend and her brother, Rachel and Travis Joiner, claiming that lawyers at his original trial did not adequately inform jurors about his PTSD.
Dennis and Patty Thuesen look through photos of their son John from his childhood and his service in the military. John, an Iraq war veteran, is appealing his death sentence for the murders of his girlfriend and her brother, Rachel and Travis Joiner, claiming that lawyers at his original trial did not adequately inform jurors about his PTSD.

Considering the Toll of War in a Death Penalty Debate

Lawyers for Iraq War veteran John Thuesen are appealing the former Marine's death sentence, arguing that his original trial lawyers didn't adequately explain the post-traumatic stress that Thuesen had suffered. But prosecutors say post-traumatic stress was not to blame for the cold-blooded double murder that Thuesen committed in 2009.

Year in Review: Criminal Justice

Fallout from the high-profile Michael Morton exoneration along with more prison closures and growing concerns about the mentally ill in Texas prisons dominated criminal justice headlines in 2013.

 

The death row file for Marvin Wilson, who was executed in 2012 for the 1992 murder of Jerry Robert Williams of Beaumont. Wilson's lawyers argued that he was mentally retarded and unfit for execution.
The death row file for Marvin Wilson, who was executed in 2012 for the 1992 murder of Jerry Robert Williams of Beaumont. Wilson's lawyers argued that he was mentally retarded and unfit for execution.

Court May Clarify Rule on Impairment, Death Penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of a Florida death row inmate — who claims he does not have the mental capacity to face execution — could provide more guidance to states like Texas as they determine who is too intellectually disabled to face the death penalty.