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 ...

Executions, Death Sentences Drop in Texas, Nation

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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.

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.

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.

Morton Case Sparks Calls for Texas Evidence Law Reform

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.