Tribpedia: Death Penalty

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 ...

Death Sentence Reviews Leave Unsettled Issues

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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

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. 

Off Death Row, Kerry Max Cook Still Seeks True Freedom

Kerry Max Cook was released from death row in 1997 but has never officially been declared innocent of the 1977 murder of Linda Jo Edwards. He hopes to change that with new court filings. Michael Hall of Texas Monthly reports on Cook's complex case and the challenges he faces in trying to move on with his life. 

Court Ruling Could Affect Texas Death Row Cases

A Tuesday U.S. Supreme Court ruling could open the door for claims from at least two Texas death row inmates who argue their lawyers did shoddy work. Jesse Joe Hernandez is scheduled for execution next week and wants a stay to prove the death he was convicted of causing wasn't all his fault. And Rob Will says another man committed the murder he was sentenced to die for.

Death Row Inmate's Case About More Than Innocence

A federal judge said in a recent ruling that he has serious concerns about whether Rob Will committed the murder he was sent to death row for, but the law prevented him from doing anything about it. Whether Will gets a shot at the new trial he seeks could hinge on a Supreme Court case out of Arizona.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 1/16/12

Root on the end of Rick Perry's presidential campaign, Murphy on what happens to his campaign cash, Ramsey on his next act, Ramshaw, Aaronson, Murphy, Chang and Seger interactively chart the rise and fall of his run, Aguilar talks Juárez violence with a documentary filmmaker, Galbraith on the tug-of-war over surface water, Grissom and Murphy on three decades of capital punishment in Texas, Hamilton and Aaronson on our workforce needs in 2018 and Tan on the state's much-reduced list of women's health clinics: The best of our best content from January 16-20, 2012.

Three Decades of Capital Punishment in Texas

Thirty-five years ago today, the state of Utah restarted the death penalty in the United States when Gary Gilmore was executed. Texas followed suit, reinstating capitol punishment in 1982. Since that year, Texas has executed 477 men and women, more than any other state. And there are more than 300 men and women in Texas awaiting execution now.

Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys after murder charges against him were officially dropped.
Michael Morton stands in a Williamson County courtroom with his attorneys after murder charges against him were officially dropped.

Murder Cases Put "Junk Science" in the Spotlight

Michael Morton's wrongful conviction illustrates the best and worst of science in the courtroom, the judge said when he dismissed the murder charge that put Morton in prison for 25 years. Advancements in science are leading to exonerations like Morton's, but criminal justice advocates say so-called junk science remains a problem. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 12/12/11

Root's scoop on Rick Perry's working retirement, Aaronson maps poverty in Texas, Aguilar on a voting rights warning shot from the U.S. Attorney General, Galbraith on the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking operations, Grissom on the drop in executions, Hamilton and M. Smith on UT-Austin President Bill Powers' rough year, Murphy and Tan and Dehn on the shortage of psychiatrists and Ramshaw on the federal refusal to exclude operators like Planned Parenthood from family planning programs: The best of our best content from December 12 to 16, 2011.

This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.
This gurney is used to perform executions at Terre Haute by lethal injection.

Executions, Death Sentences Drop in Texas, Nation

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Leading a national downward trend in the use of the death penalty, Texas executed just 13 prisoners so far in 2011, the lowest number in more than a decade. And juries meted out only eight new death sentences last year, the same low figure as in 2010, according to information released Thursday by the Texas Defender Service.

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge today agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife. Recently tested DNA indicates another man committed the 1986 killing.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge today agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife. Recently tested DNA indicates another man committed the 1986 killing.

A Texas Issue, but Not a National One

Texas Weekly

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals took some heat off of Gov. Rick Perry when it issued a stay of execution for Hank Skinner this week. And the governor has avoided any link to another case involving two of his appointees and a botched murder prosecution in Williamson County.

Death row inmate Duane Buck, Texas Department of Criminal Justice photo
Death row inmate Duane Buck, Texas Department of Criminal Justice photo

Supreme Court Denies Duane Buck Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the appeal of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck. His lawyers argued that he deserved a retrial because psychologist Dr. Walter Quijano told jurors in 1997 that the fact Buck is black meant he was more likely to be violent in the future.

Texas Death Row Inmate Skinner Awaits Court Ruling

Since convicted murderer Hank Skinner was sent to death row, Texas has passed one of the strongest post-conviction DNA laws in the U.S.; 45 inmates have been exonerated. Skinner says DNA tests could prove his innocence — but the courts have repeatedly rejected his appeals. Now he faces execution Wednesday. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 10/31/11

The latest UT/TT Poll on the 2012 race and other issues, Root on Herman Cain's stumble, Ramshaw and Titus on Texas Republicans who don't support Perry, Murphy maps presidential fundraising in Texas, Philpott on changing the constitution for parks and education, Hamilton on a case of higher ed separation anxiety, Grissom on the state's breakup with a death penalty witness, Galbraith on a congressman's search for a big leak, Aguilar on the Border Patrol's effort to operate in environmentally protected areas and Aaronson on a dramatic drop in government employment in Texas: The best of our best content from October 31 to November 4, 2011.

Inside Intelligence: On the Issues

Texas Weekly

The insiders answered questions from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll for the second week in a row, this time on the death penalty, education, top issues facing Texas, and whether the people they know would vote for a Mormon candidate with whom they agree on issues.

Hank Skinner was sentenced to death for the 1993 triple slaying of his girlfriend and her two sons.
Hank Skinner was sentenced to death for the 1993 triple slaying of his girlfriend and her two sons.

Skinner Lawyer: DNA Decision Likely Up to State Court

Following a hearing today in federal court in Amarillo, a lawyer for death row inmate Hank Skinner said it will likely be up to the state courts to decide a fight over DNA testing in his case. Skinner is scheduled to be executed Nov. 9.