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 ...

Morton Case Sparks Calls for Texas Evidence Law Reform

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.

Since 1994, DNA tests have exonerated 44 Texas inmates. Michael Morton, released from prison last week after 25 years, will almost certainly be the 45th. But defense lawyers and Morton’s advocates argue that under antiquated Texas discovery laws, the alleged injustices that robbed him of a quarter of a century of his life could still happen today.

Debra Jan Baker, Michael Morton (center), Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley
Debra Jan Baker, Michael Morton (center), Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley

DA Agrees DNA Evidence Doesn't Support Morton's Guilt

Michael Morton, who served 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife Christine, will now be released. The dramatic development occurred after years of resistance from Williamson County prosecutors to allow the DNA testing that cleared Morton — and that suggests that the real killer murdered again 16 months later.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 9/12/11

Aaronson on the rise in the state's unemployment rate, Aguilar on the push to mandate use of an electronic employment verification program, Galbraith on fears about the drought's impact on lake levels, Grissom on the latest in the Duane Buck case, Hamilton on the possible end of physics (academically speaking), Murphy updates our public employee pay app, Ramsey on David "Mitt" Dewhurst, Ramshaw on Rick Perry's campaign swing through Virginia and Iowa, Root on the deletion of gubernatorial emails and M. Smith on the teaching of safe sex where you'd least expect it: The best of our best content from Sept. 12-16, 2011.

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

Supreme Court Grants Stay of Duane Buck Execution

At about 7:40 p.m., after he had already eaten his last meal, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution of Duane Edward Buck. His trial was one of several cases in which a psychologist told jurors his race made him more dangerous, and Buck's lawyers have argued he deserves a new trial to decide his sentencing.

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

With Execution Set, Perry Faces Further Scrutiny

Tonight, Texas is scheduled to execute its 11th death row inmate this year. As Matt Largey of KUT News reports, controversy surrounding the inmate's case could put the spotlight back on Gov. Rick Perry's death penalty record, which has received national attention in recent weeks.

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

Duane Buck Prosecutor Urges Clemency

A lawyer who worked on the Harris County District Attorney's prosecution team that sent Duane Edward Buck to death row is calling on state officials to halt the execution schedueld for Thursday and allow for a new sentencing trial in the case.

Video: Sam Bassett: The TT Interview

The former chairman of the Forensic Science Commission on why he believes the governor replaced him, whether he thinks political motivations were behind it, and why he argues it is critical for the Texas justice system that the commission finish its investigation into the Cameron Todd Willingham arson case.

Advocates Urge Panel to Continue Willingham Probe

The Innocence Project is urging the Forensic Science Commission, meeting today, to forge ahead with its investigation of the Cameron Todd Willingham case despite a ruling from the state’s top lawyer that seemed to limit the panel’s authority. 

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

Lawyers, Victim Seek Clemency for Death Row Inmate

Phyllis Taylor survived the 1995 shooting spree that ended with two others dead and Duane Buck on death row. Buck is scheduled to be executed on September 15. Today, Taylor asked state officials to halt his execution.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 8/29/11

Aaronson on the stats behind the Texas Miracle, Aguilar on an area of the budget that didn't get cut during the session, Dehn and Tan wrap-up our 31 Days, 31 Ways project, Galbraith talks to Todd Staples about the drought, Grissom on controversial executions during Rick Perry's tenure (plus a visualization by Murphy and Seger), Hamilton on the Rodney Dangerfield of Texas universities, Philpott on the search for clues in past Perry debates, Ramshaw on Perry's opposition to abortion rights and Root on Perry's assurances to conservatives that his past won't embarrass them: The best of our best content from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, 2011.

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

Lawyers Seek Reprieve for Inmate Based on Race Testimony

When Duane Edward Buck was on trial for capital murder in 1997, Dr. Walter Quijano told jurors that the fact he was black meant Buck was more likely to be violent in the future. Today, Buck's lawyers asked Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop the scheduled execution to allow a new trial without racial references.

Presiding Officer of the Texas Forensic Science Commission John Bradley during a commission meeting April 14th, 2011
Presiding Officer of the Texas Forensic Science Commission John Bradley during a commission meeting April 14th, 2011

DNA Implicates Another Man in 25-Year-Old Murder Case

New DNA test results in a 25-year-old murder case cast doubt on the conviction of Michael Morton, who was accused of killing his wife Christine in their Williamson County home on Aug. 13, 1986. Morton's attorneys have asked a court to recuse John Bradley, the district attorney and former chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, from the case, saying he fought to withhold evidence showing Morton did not murder his wife.

Texas Again Sets Skinner Execution Date

For the fourth time, the state of Texas is scheduled to execute Hank Skinner for the 1993 murders of his live-in girlfriend and her two sons, potentially quashing his ability to request DNA testing under a new state law. Even as Skinner awaits a federal court ruling on whether prosecutors must turn over DNA evidence for testing that he says will prove his innocence, a judge has granted an order setting an execution for Nov. 9.

Executions Probably Not an Issue — for Now

Texas Weekly

This week, Martin Robles became Texas' ninth execution of the year. Convicted in a Corpus Christi gang shooting, his death was not among the most controversial to happen on the watch of Gov. Rick Perry. During his decade in the Texas governor's office, Perry has overseen more than 230 executions, more than any governor in modern history.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 7/25/11

Aaronson examines the Texas jobs "miracle," Root on how Rick Perry built his financial portfolio, Tan and Wiseman on Perry vs. Ron Paul, Philpott on how budget cuts will affect a mental health provider, yours truly on a House freshman who was less than impressed with his first legislative experience, M. Smith on public schools charging for things that used to be free, Hamilton on a new call to reinvent higher education, Grissom on a rare stay of execution, Galbraith on the end of a Panhandle wind program, Aguilar on the increase of legal immigration into the U.S. and Texas: The best of our best content from July 25 to 29, 2011.

Death row inmate Larry Swearingen during an interview on July 27, 2011, at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.
Death row inmate Larry Swearingen during an interview on July 27, 2011, at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.

Criminal Appeals Court Grants Rare Execution Stay

In a rare move Thursday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, stayed the scheduled Aug. 18 execution of Larry Swearingen, convicted of the 1998 rape and murder of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter. Swearingen’s lawyers maintain he could not have committed the crime because he was in jail when Trotter was murdered.

Rais Bhuiyan, the sole survivor of a 2001 shooting, speaks out at a press conference in Austin on July 14, 2011 about his lawsuit against Gov. Perry for not upholding his victim's rights .
Rais Bhuiyan, the sole survivor of a 2001 shooting, speaks out at a press conference in Austin on July 14, 2011 about his lawsuit against Gov. Perry for not upholding his victim's rights .

Updated: Court Declines Stay for 9-11 Revenge Killer

U.S. Distict Judge Lee Yeakel today denied Rais Bhuiyan’s request to the stay the execution of Mark Stroman, the man who shot him and killed two others and is scheduled to die tonight for his crimes.

Rais Bhuiyan, the sole survivor of a 2001 shooting, speaks out at a press conference in Austin on July 14, 2011 about his lawsuit against Gov. Perry for not upholding his victim's rights .
Rais Bhuiyan, the sole survivor of a 2001 shooting, speaks out at a press conference in Austin on July 14, 2011 about his lawsuit against Gov. Perry for not upholding his victim's rights .

Updated: Shooting Victim's Case Sent to Federal Court

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Rais Bhuiyan is suing Gov. Rick Perry to stop the state from executing the man who shot him in the head 10 years ago. Bhuiyan, an Israeli Muslim who lives in Dallas, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday claiming that Texas would violate his rights as a victim by proceding with the scheduled execution of Mark Stroman on July 20.

TribLive: A Conversation About Cameron Todd Willingham

Following our Tuesday night screening of Incendiary: The Willingham Case, I talked about the science of fire and death penalty politics with the filmmakers, Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr.; former Forensic Science Commission Chairman Sam Bassett; former Texas Gov. Mark White; and acting Corsicana City Attorney Terry Jacobson.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 7/4/11

Aguilar on a change in law that affects applications for state-issued IDs, Galbraith on how the drought is taking its toll on wildlife, Hamilton on an outsider's attempt to lower the cost of higher ed, Murphy visualizes the partisanship of House members, Ramsey on who becomes Lite Guv if David Dewhurst takes another job, Ramshaw on life in the colonias and three stories about Rick Perry — Grissom on how his death penalty stance might play in a 2012 presidential race, Root on how he cemented his reputation as one of the state's most powerful governors and Tan on the growing demand for him to speak elsewhere: The best of our best content from July 4 to July 8, 2011.