Death Penalty

Crime & Justice
12:53 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas?

Execution room in the San Quentin State Prison in California.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court stopped the executions of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source.  

Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion stating it's time to go public.  But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.

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Texas Death Row
1:46 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Federal Judge Orders Execution Drug Disclosure

Texas Tribune

A federal judge in Houston on Wednesday blocked two Texas executions, deciding that the state prison system’s refusal to disclose detailed information about drugs that will be used to kill them violates the inmates' constitutional rights.

U.S. Judge Vanessa Gilmore issued a preliminary injunction that effectively blocked the Thursday execution of Tommy Lynn Sells and the execution of Ramiro Hernadez Llanas, which was scheduled for April 9.

The Attorney General’s office notified the inmates' attorneys and the court that the state's attorneys will appeal Gilmore’s decision.

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Crime & Justice
7:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Texas Exploring 'All Options' For Execution Drugs

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it is exploring the use of alternate drugs in executions. The statement comes after KUT News confirmed through a Public Information Act request that TDCJ possesses a pair of drugs used in a controversial execution in Ohio last month: midazolam and hydromorphone.

"TDCJ continues to explore all options including the continued use of pentobarbital or an alternate drug(s) in the lethal injection process," TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark said in an email. 

In the Ohio execution in January, rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire was administered a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a pain-killer derived from morphine. McGuire gasped and struggled for at least 14 minutes before dying, according to news reports and an account by a Catholic priest who witnessed it.

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Death Row
6:17 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Execution Drug Maker Wants Texas to Give It Back

Barbed wire outside the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, which houses the state's death chamber
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The owner of a compounding pharmacy outside Houston says he was told it was "unlikely" that his business would be revealed as the source of the state's lethal injection drug, pentobarbital.

Now that his Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy is known to be manufacturer of the drug intended for use in this week's scheduled execution and beyond, Jasper Lovoi has sent a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), demanding the drug's return.

Lovoi's letter says he finds himself "in the middle of a firestorm" that he "was not advised of and did not bargain for." The identities of Lovoi and his pharmacy were originally revealed by the Associated Press, which obtained the information through an Open Records Request for its story on the new source of pentobarbital.

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Crime & Justice
5:45 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Report: Texas Executions Conducted Under Broken System

Anthony Graves was exonerated from death row in 2010. He and the American Bar Association are calling for changes to Texas's death penalty practices.
Erika Aguilar for KUT News

The Texas criminal justice system is not doing everything it can to ensure the death penalty is applied fairly.

That's according to a report released today by the American Bar Association’s Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team, which claims Texas fails to meet national standards in all phases of implementing capital punishment.

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Texas
1:07 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

After 500th Execution, a Huntsville Death Row History

In 1923, the electric chair became the preferred method of execution in Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: Kimberley McCarthy was put to death via lethal injection Wednesday evening, becoming the 500th prisoner to be executed in Texas since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982, following a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. McCarthy was condemned for the murder of her neighbor, 71-year-old Dorothy Booth, during a robbery.

Earlier: Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas this evening. Her upcoming death has caught national and international attention because – if the execution is carried out – she will be the 500th person executed in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated and the fourth woman.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:19 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Bill Would Change DNA Testing Procedures in Death Penalty Cases (Updated)

A bill from Sen. Rodney Ellis would require the state to pay for DNA testing before capital punishment cases go to trial.
Veronica Zaragovia

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Update: A Texas Senate committee passed a bill last night that would require DNA testing of evidence in cases involving the death penalty.

The proposal will now go to the full senate for a vote.

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2013 Legislative Session
1:18 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Bill Would Make DNA Testing Mandatory in Death Penalty Cases

Sen. Robert Duncan (L) and Sen. Ellis joined Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at a press conference on DNA testing in death penalty cases.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some officials in Texas – including Attorney General Greg Abbott – want to change how the state handles DNA evidence.

Abbott says he thinks testing on DNA evidence should happen before a death penalty case goes to trial.

"If you’re innocent, you’re going to find out that your exoneration will come sooner," Abbott said. "If you are guilty, justice will be more swift and more certain."

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Texas
8:27 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Texas Executes First Death Row Inmate of 2013

Carl Henry Blue was put to death Thursday night.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The State of Texas executed 48 year-old Carl Blue Thursday night. He was put to death for killing his former girlfriend in 1994.

Blue was convicted of setting 38 year-old Carmen Richards-Sanders on fire at her Bryan apartment.

According to information on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's death row website, Blue threw gasoline on Richards-Sanders when she opened the door to her apartment. He then ignited her clothes with a lighter. Blue also threw gasoline on a man in the apartment—who caught on fire when he tried to help Richards-Sanders.

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The Lead
8:53 am
Wed January 30, 2013

The Lead: CPRIT-Funded Group Closes, County OKs Smoking Ban

State cancer agency CPRIT's biggest recipient is going out of business.
Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service still has Central Texas under a Red Flag Warning until 6 p.m. tonight. The humidity will be low and the winds are high, meaning higher wildfire danger.

Austin’s in for otherwise nice weather today, with temperatures cooling to the 60s after this week’s warm streak.

Lead Story: The non-profit that got the biggest grant so far from the state’s troubled cancer-fighting agency is going out of business. The Clinical Trials Network of Texas says it has run out of money after the taxpayer-funded Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) began withholding payments.

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The Lead
9:04 am
Mon January 28, 2013

The Lead: Abortion Protest at Texas Capitol, Single-Sex Schools Before AISD Board Tonight

Anti-abortion protesters marched to the Texas Capitol this weekend.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning! With highs in the upper-70s, Austin’s in for a cloudy, breezy and muggy day, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead story: An anti-abortion protest converged on the State Capitol Saturday afternoon. Among the speakers at the “Texas Rally for Life:” Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, who said he was working to “make abortion in any stage a thing of the past.”

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Texas
2:43 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Willingham's Family Seeks "Posthumous Pardon"

Patricia Willingham Cox, Willingham's cousin, Eugenia Willingham, stepmother, and Judy Cavnar, cousin, are seeking to clear the name of Cameron Todd WIllingham from a 1991 arson case for which he was executed in 2004.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

The surviving relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday after sending an application to clear his name, 12 years after his execution for a 1991 fire that killed his three young children.

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Texas
6:04 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas Inmate Put to Death After Court Reverses Reprieve

Jonathan Green's execution was blocked earlier this week but is now set to take place this evening.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6:04 a.m.:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to spare Green from execution. Green received a lethal injection Wednesday night before 11 p.m. The warrant for his execution was set to expire at midnight.

Jonathan Green was the 10th inmate executed in Texas so far this year.

Original Story: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:13 p.m.:

A Texas death row inmate is once again facing execution this evening.

Jonathan Green’s execution was blocked on Monday when a federal judge ruled on Monday that due process was violated in Green’s competency hearing.

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Texas
6:59 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Could IQ Score Could Halt Texas Execution?

State lawyers believe Wilson's IQ is higher than 61.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Wilson was executed. The lower courts agreed with state lawyers that the results of the IQ test were faulty. The Supreme Court denied the request to stop the execution. Wilson was the seventh prisoner executed in Texas so far this year.

Earlier: Attorneys for a Texas man scheduled to die Tuesday evening are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution.

Marvin Wilson, 54, was convicted for the 1992 abduction and shooting death of a police informant – 21-year-old Jerry Williams – in Beaumont.

A psychological test found Wilson’s IQ was 61 – which defense lawyers say indicates mental impairment and makes him ineligible for execution. State lawyers argue that the test result was faulty and that all other tests showed his IQ above the impairment threshold of 70.

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