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 penalty facts page.

The procedure involves injecting a lethal dose of pentobarbital, which sedates the inmate, and then pancuronium bromide to relax the diaphragm and lungs. A final injection of potassium chloride stops the heart. Inmates are typically pronounced dead about seven minutes after the process begins.

The state added pentobarbital to the drug cocktail on March 16 after the only American producer of sodium thiopental, Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., announced in January that it would stop selling the drug. Sodium thiopental was used since 1982 as part of the combination of drugs in executions.

Death row inmates Cleve Foster and Humberto Leal are suing the state, alleging the department violated state transparency laws by making in secret the decision to use the new drug. They say the process of choosing the new drug requires public input, according to the Administrative Procedure Act.

Capital murder crimes: 

  • Murder of a public safety officer or firefighter
  • Murder during the commission of kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or retaliation
  • Murder for remuneration
  • Murder during prison escape
  • Murder of a correctional employee
  • Murder by a state prison inmate who is serving a life sentence for any of five offenses (murder, capital murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, or aggravated robbery)
  • Multiple murders
  • Murder of an individual under 6 years of age

Images

Bobby Moore, a man who has been on death row since 1980, will have his case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Charles Don Flores, on death row for the 1998 murder of 64-year-old Elizabeth Black during a burglary. Scott Panetti, Randall Mays and Robert Roberson Demond Bluntson, charged with capital murder in the shooting death of two young boys in a Laredo, Texas. John Battaglia and his two daughters, Liberty (l.) and Faith, who he murdered on May 1, 2001. John Battaglia James Garrett Freeman shot and killed Justin Hurst, a game warden, in 2007, according to court documents. Julius Murphy was sentenced to death row in 1998. Robert Lynn Pruett, scheduled to be executed Tuesday night in Huntsville for the 1999 murder of a Bee County prison guard. Attorney David Dow. Manuel Vasquez, convicted for his part in the 1998 capital murder of a San Antonio woman, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night. Death row inmate Rodney Reed, scheduled to be executed on March 5, 2015. Death row inmate Donald Newbury. (L-R) Scott Panetti, Rodney Reed and Bernie Tiede. Outgoing Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Price. Death row inmate Scott Panetti. Lisa Ann Coleman, scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 2004 starvation death of Davontae Marcell Williams, the 9-year-old son of her girlfriend, Marcella Williams. Williams pleaded guilty in 2006 in exchange for a life sentence. Texas death row inmate Willie Trottie, scheduled for execution Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2014. The execution chamber seen from one of two witness viewing rooms at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Huntsville Unit. Dennis Davis speaks during an interview at the C. T. Terrell Unit in Rosharon on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Davis is serving 36 years in prison for the 1985 murder of Natalie Antonetti. Dennis Davis speaks during an interview with the Texas Tribune in prison at the C. T. Terrell Unit in Rosharon, TX on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Mr. Davis is in prison for a 1985 murder of Natalie Antonetti, he wasn’t arrested until almost 26 years after the murder and he claims he is innocent. Dennis Davis speaks during an interview with the Texas Tribune in prison at the C. T. Terrell Unit in Rosharon, TX on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Mr. Davis is in prison for a 1985 murder of Natalie Antonetti, he wasn’t arrested until almost 26 years after the murder and he claims he is innocent.

Sign Up for The Brief

Our daily news summary