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 ...

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Preston Hughes interview two months before Hughes' first scheduled execution date, TDCJ Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas. September 19, 2012.
Preston Hughes interview two months before Hughes' first scheduled execution date, TDCJ Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas. September 19, 2012.

Preston Hughes Executed for 1988 Murder

Preston Hughes was executed Thursday night for the fatal 1988 stabbing of two youths in Houston. Hughes was the second Texas inmate executed in two days.

Preston Hughes interview two months before Hughes' first scheduled execution date, TDCJ Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas. September 19, 2012.
Preston Hughes interview two months before Hughes' first scheduled execution date, TDCJ Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas. September 19, 2012.

A Death Row Struggle Between Advocates and Lawyers

Preston Hughes III, who faces a Nov. 15 execution date but says he's innocent, trusts several advocates without legal training more than his court-appointed attorney, whom he has tried to replace. The conflict between advocates and attorneys is not unusual in death penalty cases.

From Left, Patricia Willingham Cox, Cameron Todd Willingham's cousin, Eugenia Willingham, his stepmother, and Judy Cavnar, his cousin, are seeking to clear Willingham's name from a 1991 arson case for which he was executed in 2004. They spoke at a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012.
From Left, Patricia Willingham Cox, Cameron Todd Willingham's cousin, Eugenia Willingham, his stepmother, and Judy Cavnar, his cousin, are seeking to clear Willingham's name from a 1991 arson case for which he was executed in 2004. They spoke at a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012.

Willingham's Family Seeks "Posthumous Pardon"

The surviving relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham have sent an application for pardon, hoping to clear his name eight years after his execution for a 1991 fire that killed his three young children.

A.P. Merillat has spent more than 20 years as an investigator of prison crimes and been a go-to expert for prosecutors seeking the death penalty. In June, the courts reversed a second death penalty conviction based on his inaccurate testimony.
A.P. Merillat has spent more than 20 years as an investigator of prison crimes and been a go-to expert for prosecutors seeking the death penalty. In June, the courts reversed a second death penalty conviction based on his inaccurate testimony.

Death Penalty Witness Condemned by Courts

A.P. Merillat has spent decades investigating crimes in Texas prisons, and his testimony about the violence behind bars has helped send at least 15 murderers to death row. Now, the credibility of the go-to expert for prosecutors seeking the death penalty has been jeopardized by Texas' highest criminal court.  

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals presiding Judge Sharon Keller and Democratic challenger, lawyer Keith Hampton
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals presiding Judge Sharon Keller and Democratic challenger, lawyer Keith Hampton

Democratic Judge Candidate Seeks Republican Votes

Texas Weekly

Democrat Keith Hampton is focusing his campaign to lead the state’s top criminal court on winning over Republicans. That is the key, he says, to defeating controversial Judge Sharon Keller and becoming the first Democrat to win a statewide election since 1994. At least one judicial election watcher says Hampton's got a steep hill to conquer.

Death Row Unlikely to Be Source for Organ Donations

Like every other death penalty state, Texas doesn't allow the condemned to donate organs. Although many say that recovering organs from willing convicted murderers may seem like a reasonable method to reduce the organ waiting list, they also agree that the proposal raises ethical and medical challenges that make it unlikely to ever be an option. 

Death row inmate Larry Swearingen during an interview at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Melissa Trotter. He says he is innocent and that she was killed while he was already in jail for other offenses.
Death row inmate Larry Swearingen during an interview at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Melissa Trotter. He says he is innocent and that she was killed while he was already in jail for other offenses.

Judge Signals Intent to Rule Against Condemned Inmate

A judge in Montgomery County plans to recommend that the state move forward with the execution of Larry Swearingen, a death row inmate who argues that science proves he is innocent of the 1998 murder of Melissa Trotter for which he was condemned to die.

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.

Supreme Court Denies Execution Stay for Marvin Wilson

The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to stay the execution of Marvin Wilson scheduled for this evening. Wilson's lawyers argue that he is mentally disabled and should be exempt from the death penalty. They called the court's decision not to halt the execution disappointing.

Williamson County Sheriffs Office patch
Williamson County Sheriffs Office patch

Williamson County Makes Arrest in 1980 Murder

Williamson County officials have arrested a 53-year-old former Garland resident in the 1980 murder of Mildred McKinney. The Williamson County Sheriff's Office says it identified the DNA and a fingerprint of Steven Alan Thomas at the crime scene.

Texas Will Change Its Lethal Injection Protocol

For Yokamon Hearn's scheduled execution on July 18, officials plan to administer a lethal dose of pentobarbital instead of the three-drug cocktail that has been used since Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1982. Pentobarbital is a barbiturate that is often used in animal euthanasia, but states began using it more widely in executions last year.

Prosecutor Errors Haunt Long Exoneration Fight

Thirteen years after his release from prison, Kerry Max Cook is battling with Smith County prosecutors to officially clear his name of a 1978 murder conviction. Cook says that his mission is doomed if he must continue to fight in Smith County, where the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that prosecutorial and police misconduct “tainted this entire matter from the outset.”

Manuel Velez was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant son in 2005.
Manuel Velez was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s infant son in 2005.

Death Sentence Thrown Out in 2005 Murder Case

A death sentence was reversed for Manuel Velez, who is convicted of first-degree murder for the death of his girlfriend's son. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the sentence because of inaccurate expert testimony given during Velez's sentencing.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 5/28/12

Our primary night scoreboard and liveblog, Aguilar on runoff strategy, Root and Batheja on Round two of Dewhurst vs. Cruz, M. Smith on how public education candidates fared, Ramshaw on what surprised pundits and pollsters, Galbraith on concerns over our electric grid, Aaronson on which government entities have access to your personal info, Grissom with the latest on the Hank Skinner case, Ramsey on Hispanic Republicans and part three of Tan's family planning series: The best of our best content from May 28 to June 1, 2012.

Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.
Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys, John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project. Morton was officially exonerated Dec. 19, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder.

Texas Among Top 3 States in Total Exonerations

Researchers at two law schools Monday released an unprecedented listing of all the exoneration cases from the last 23 years. Only two states had more exonerations than Texas, according to the report. We have a graph breaking down the exoneration cases in Texas by types of crimes, and we have a list of all the Texas exonerees.

James Liebman: The TT Interview

The Columbia University law professor discusses the in-depth investigation his team conducted that they believe revealed that Carlos DeLuna did not commit the murder for which he was executed in 1989. "Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong," Liebman said.

Court Stays Execution of Mentally Ill Inmate

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday stayed the execution of Steven Staley, who was convicted of a 1989 robbery and murder at a Fort Worth Steak and Ale restaurant. The case raises ethical and constitutional questions about whether the state can force inmates to take medicine so that they can be competent for execution.

Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) Derrick Charles  5) Steven Butler 6) John Matamoros 7) Joel Escobedo 8) Jamie McCoskey 9) Warren Rivers  10) Tomas Gallo  11) Kim Ly Lim 12) Alfred Brown 13) Coy Wesbrook
Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) Derrick Charles 5) Steven Butler 6) John Matamoros 7) Joel Escobedo 8) Jamie McCoskey 9) Warren Rivers 10) Tomas Gallo 11) Kim Ly Lim 12) Alfred Brown 13) Coy Wesbrook

Death Sentence Reviews Leave Unsettled Issues

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A psychologist who has found that 14 death row inmates were not mentally retarded, and therefore eligible for the death penalty, was reprimanded last year by the state board that oversees his profession. Now, defense lawyers argue that judges ordered to review his work in two cases are simply rubber-stamping the psychologist's conclusions.

Top Criminal Court to Hear Hank Skinner's DNA Plea

The latest installment in death row inmate Hank Skinner's decade-long quest for DNA testing comes today as his lawyers argue to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that a change in state law should allow the tests he hopes will prove he is innocent. State lawyers argue that Skinner had his chance at DNA testing and is just trying to delay the inevitable.

Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) John Matamoros 5) Derrick Charles 6) Kim Ly Lim 7) Coy Wesbrook 8) Joel Escobedo 9) Jamie McCoskey 10) Warren Rivers 11) Tomas Gallo 12) Steven Butler 13) Alfred Brown
Dr. George Denkowski conducted psychological exams for more than a dozen current death row inmates. 1) Anthony Pierce 2) Virgilio Maldonado 3) Calvin Hunter 4) John Matamoros 5) Derrick Charles 6) Kim Ly Lim 7) Coy Wesbrook 8) Joel Escobedo 9) Jamie McCoskey 10) Warren Rivers 11) Tomas Gallo 12) Steven Butler 13) Alfred Brown

Appeals Court Orders Re-evaluation of Death Row Case

The state's highest criminal court on Wednesday ordered a lower court to review a death penalty case that involved a psychologist reprimanded last year for using unscientific methods to determine that defendants were intellectually competent enough to face capital punishment.