Death Penalty

Texas
4:29 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

State Backs DNA Testing for Hank Skinner

Photo by Caleb Bryant MIller/Texas Tribune

Reversing its decade-long objection to testing that death row inmate Hank Skinner says could prove his innocence, the Texas Attorney General's office today filed an advisory with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals seeking to test DNA in the case. 

"Upon further consideration, the State believes that the interest of justice would best be served by DNA testing the evidence requested by Skinner and by testing additional items identified by the state," lawyers for the state wrote in the advisory.

Skinner, now 50, was convicted in 1995 of the strangulation and beating death of his girlfriend Twila Busby and the stabbing deaths of her two adult sons on New Year’s Eve 1993 in Pampa. Skinner maintains he is innocent and was unconscious on the couch at the time of the killings, intoxicated from a mixture of vodka and codeine.

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AM Update
7:29 am
Thu May 24, 2012

AM Update: Texans Support Death Penalty, Summer Film Series Starts, Cattle Loose on Dallas Freeway

Texans strongly support death penalty; an accident sets cattle loose on I-35; and the Paramount’s summer film series begins.
Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/safari_vacation; cattle photo courtesy Fox News 4 Dallas; Paramount photo by Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Poll Finds Most Texans Support the Death Penalty

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows that a majority of Texans support the death penalty.

The poll found 73 percent of respondents were strongly or somewhat supportive, while 21 percent were somewhat or strongly opposed. Five percent were unsure.

According to the poll, 51 percent of Texans believe the death penalty is fairly applied. Some 28 percent disagree, and 21 percent were unsure.

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Death Penalty
10:27 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Questions About Another Texas Execution: Was Wrong Man Condemned?

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:11 am

Already in the spotlight over whether it executed one innocent man — Cameron Todd Willingham — in 2004, the state of Texas now faces questions about whether another man may have been wrongly condemned to death.

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Austin
8:58 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/15/12: Execution Drug Shortage, Redistricting Drama, Texas/OU Battles ACL

Texas' Huntsville Prison, home to the United State's most active execution chamber.
Photo courtesy Mark Britain, flickr.com/8427230@N04

Texas Prisons Hard Up for Execution Drugs?

Texas state prisons are running low on a key execution drug, according to a report released Tuesday. According to the Austin American-Statesman, state prison officials say there is enough of the drug to continue with six executions that are scheduled over the next four months.

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texas
10:34 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Supreme Court Declines Duane Buck Death Row Case

Death row inmate Duane Buck.
Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice AP

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 7:11 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck, who alleged that race played an improper role in his death sentence. In September, the court issued a rare stay of execution while it considered the merits of the case. Monday's action lifts the stay and allows the state to set a new execution date.

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Texas
1:52 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Prosecutors Concede Morton Did Not Murder His Wife

Debra Jan Baker, Michael Morton (center), Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley
Photo by Todd Wiseman

Michael Morton, who served 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife Christine, will be released after his attorneys reached an agreement with prosecutors, who said today in a legal filing that Morton was not his wife's killer.

Prosecutors conceded that there is evidence of Morton's "actual innocence." 

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Texas
1:21 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Texas Turns Down Cook's Offer Of Free 'Last Meals'

Originally published on Tue September 27, 2011 4:42 pm

Last week the state of Texas said it would no longer let condemned prisoners order practically anything they want for their last meals before execution.

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Texas
1:32 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

TDCJ Will End Final Feasts Before Executions

The Walls Unit at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, where the state conducts executions.
Image courtesy flickr.com/BizarreRecords

The long-standing tradition of allowing death row inmates one last special meal of their choosing before they enter the execution chamber ends today, said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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Texas
4:19 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Cleve Foster Execution

Cleve Foster was scheduled to be executed tonight for the rape and murder of a Fort Worth woman in 2002.
Photo by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

For the second time in a week, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stayed an execution in Texas.

Cleve Foster, a former Army recruiter, was scheduled to die this evening for the 2002 rape and murder of 28 year-old Nyanuer Pal, of Fort Worth. Foster's co-defendant died in prison last year.

This is the third time the high court has halted Foster's execution. Lawyers have argued he received ineffective counsel during his trial and earlier appeals.

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Texas
1:13 pm
Tue July 19, 2011

Victim Tries To Stop Assailant's Execution

Rais Bhuiyan, shot in the face by a man targeting people who looked of Middle Eastern decent after the 9-11 attacks, is asking the State of Texas to stop the execution of the man who shot him and killed two other men.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

A man who was shot in the face in a hate crime stemming from the September 11 attacks will find out tomorrow whether his assailant will be executed. Rais Bhuiyan is suing the State of Texas and asking a court to stop the execution of Mark Stroman.

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Texas
2:54 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

State Board Declines to Stop Execution of Mexican National

Photo of Humberto Leal, courtesy the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Updated 4:40 pm: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has voted to deny a request for reprieve from death row inmate Humberto Leal.

From the AP:

The panel voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny a reprieve request for 38-year-old Humberto. The same board refused by a 5-0 vote to commute Leal's death sentence to life in prison.

Leal's attorney issued a statement on the denial this afternoon. 

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ recommendation against a reprieve for Humberto Leal ignores the views of the U.S. government and Solicitor General, former diplomats, military leaders, judges and prosecutors, and organizations representing Americans abroad who believe that Mr. Leal’s execution would threaten the safety of Americans overseas and undermine the international interests of the United States. 

Earlier: State lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to stop the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal. The 38-year-old is scheduled to be killed on Thursday in Huntsville for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old San Antonio girl in 1994.

As KUT reported last week, Leal’s lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that Leal’s execution would violate an international treaty.

That’s because Leal was not made aware of his right to contact the Mexican consulate when he was arrested, a right guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. His lawyers argue he may never have been convicted, or sentenced to death, if he had access to legal help.

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Texas
2:15 pm
Wed March 30, 2011

Attorneys Ask Justice Dept. To Investigate Texas Execution Drugs

Attorneys for two condemned inmates say the state has been breaking federal laws for more than 25 years.
Photo courtesy of Andres Rueda/via Flickr

Lawyers for two condemned Texas prisoners are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate how the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has obtained drugs used in executions.

Their argument hinges on what sounds like a technicality: the address used to register the state's drug supply.

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Texas
10:47 am
Wed March 16, 2011

Texas Will Switch Execution Drug Amid Shortage

Photo via Flickr user Andres Rueda.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced today that it will change one of the drugs in the three-drug cocktail used in executions in the state.

The drug sodium thiopental has been in short supply ever since the only U.S. manufacturers of the drug stopped production.

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Willingham
12:30 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

State Panel Reviews Willingham Case

Fire expert Craig Beyler testifies before the Texas Forensics Science Commission on Friday reviewing the Cameron Todd Willingham.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

A state panel in Austin has been hearing today from fire experts about the high profile Cameron Todd Willingham arson conviction.  Willingham was convicted and put to death for setting the fire that killed his three daughters in 1991.  He was executed in 2004, But some experts have said the conviction was based on bad science. 

The Texas Forensic Science Commission reviewed the science that was used in the investigation and whether or not investigators were negligent. KUT's Matt Largey is covering panel.

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News Brief
5:24 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Top Morning Stories December 8, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards getting ready for an interview with KUT News in 2007.
Photo by Tiffany Jenkins for KUT.

Elizabeth Edwards Passes Away at 61

Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Senator and Vice Presidential hopeful John Edwards, died Tuesday at her home in North Carolina.

Mrs. Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, the day her husband’s running mate conceded defeat to George W. Bush in that year’s presidential election.

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News Brief
6:09 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Top Morning Stories December 6, 2010

TCU will play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

A Handful of Texas Teams are Going Bowling

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