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 ...

In 1981, Max Soffar was sentenced to death for the murder of three people at a Houston bowling alley. Soffar, who has spent three decades on death row, says his confessions were coerced. Prosecutors say that the case against him is solid, and police officers deny accusations of coercion.
In 1981, Max Soffar was sentenced to death for the murder of three people at a Houston bowling alley. Soffar, who has spent three decades on death row, says his confessions were coerced. Prosecutors say that the case against him is solid, and police officers deny accusations of coercion.

Inmate's Case Adds to Debate on Recorded Interrogations

Death row inmate Max Soffar says his 1980 murder confession was coerced. As his lawyers say his case highlights a broader debate about false confessions, police and prosecutors say he told them details only the killer would know. 

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.

Death Row Population at Its Lowest Since 1989

Mirroring a national trend, death sentences in Texas have declined over the last decade. Death sentences have fallen 75 percent since 2002, according to a new report. And the Texas death row population is the lowest in more than 20 years. 

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, trusts several advocates without legal training more than his court-appointed attorney. 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

Prison investigator A.P. Merillat's court testimony about the violence inmates serving life sentences can inflict has helped send at least 15 murderers to death row. Now, his credibility has been condemned by the state’s highest criminal court. 

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, who argues that science proves he is innocent of the 1998 murder 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 exempted from the death penalty.

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.

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.

James Liebman: The TT Interview

The Columbia University law professor on 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.

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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Defense lawyers argue that judges in Harris County — ordered to review a psychologist's work in two death penalty cases — are simply rubber-stamping the conclusions of the psychologist, who was reprimanded last year.