Death Row

Death Penalty
8:15 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Supreme Court Halts Execution Of Missouri Inmate

Convicted murderer and rapist Russell Bucklew in a February photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 7:51 pm

The Supreme Court on Wednesday put off the execution of Russell Bucklew, a Missouri inmate who has maintained that his rare congenital medical condition would make the lethal injection procedure excessively painful.

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Texas Death Row
4:07 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

With Just Hours To Go, Federal Court Halts Texas Execution

A Texas judge halted the planned execution of Robert Campbell, saying his lawyers could not fairly prepare an ineligibility claim because the state had not provided them with relevant information. Campbell is mentally disabled.
Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 12:21 pm

Update at 4:57 p.m. ET. Federal Court Halts Execution:

With just hours to go, a federal court has halted the execution of Texas inmate Robert Campbell.

The execution would have been the first since Oklahoma botched one in April.

The ruling has nothing to do with the drug shortage that's dominated the narrative over the death penalty in the country. Instead, Campbell's lawyers argued that the state knew that Campbell was intellectually disabled but did not let his defense team know that.

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Crime & Justice
2:57 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution

Update: After Tuesday night's botched execution in Oklahoma, Texas corrections officials say they have no plans to use midazolam in future executions. Midazolam was the first component of a three-drug cocktail administered to death row inmate Clayton Lockett yesterday. Read more about the execution here.

As KUT first reported in February, the state has supplies of midazolam on hand. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a statement that it "has no plans to change our procedures. Texas does not use the same drugs as Oklahoma as we use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012.” 

Attorneys for death row inmates in Texas have unsuccessfully tried to find out who is selling compounded pentobarbital to the state. They're suing in civil court and making a case to the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General that TDCJ should disclose its source. 

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Crime & Justice
12:23 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection

Amber Hunt AP

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 1:23 pm

The botched execution of death row inmate Clayton Lockett on Tuesday in Oklahoma is sparking a reassessment of lethal injection.

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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
10:56 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Mexican National Executed In Texas After Supreme Court Denies Appeal

This handout image provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Edgar Tamayo.
AP

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 9:56 pm

Wednesday's execution of a Mexican national in Texas revived a long-running diplomatic row between the United States and its southern neighbor.

Updated at 10:50 p.m. ET: Execution Carried Out

The Associated Press reports:

"A Mexican man has been executed in Texas for killing a Houston police officer, despite pleas and diplomatic pressure from the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department to halt the 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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Texas
11:28 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Why This Austin Divorce Attorney Works on Death Row, Pro Bono

Mary Felps guides reporter Joy Diaz through a visit at the Huntsville Cemetery. At this point, Felps' doctors had not OKd her to go back to death row.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

Getting married nowadays can be really pricey. But getting divorced can be just as expensive.

In Austin, a good divorce attorney can charge anywhere between $150 and $500 an hour. When parties disagree, cases can drag on, and raise costs into the thousands of dollars. But there is one divorce attorney in Austin who offers her services for free – to a very exclusive clientele.

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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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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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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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Criminal Justice
4:50 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Rare Reprieve Granted to Inmate Marked for Execution

A Texas court granted a reprieve to a prisoner due for execution on Wednesday
Image courtesy Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled today to stop the scheduled execution of a convicted killer because of his mental health issues.

The state's highest criminal court gave a reprieve to 49-year-old Steven Staley. Staley’s execution was set for Wednesday. He was convicted of the 1989 shooting death of a Fort Worth restaurant manager during a botched robbery.

Staley's attorney argued that the prisoner's IQ of 70 likely meant he was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for execution. 

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AM Update
8:03 am
Wed March 21, 2012

AM Update: The Supreme Court and Texas Death Row, Pro Day at UT, Ron Paul’s Illinois Results

Two Texas Death Row inmates have hopes set on yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Supreme Court Decision Affects Death Row Inmates?

Two Texas death row inmates, including one who is set to be executed next week, hope a ruling yesterday from the U.S. Supreme Court will give them another chance to prove their innocence or that their crimes don’t warrant the death penalty.

KUT’s reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, reports the high court’s ruling in a case out of Arizona, Martinez v. Ryan, could expand appeals access for inmates:

The nation’s highest court ruled that the failure of initial state habeas lawyers to argue that their client’s trial counsel was ineffective should not prevent the defendant from making that argument later on.

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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
2:35 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Appeals Court Stays Skinner Execution

Hank Skinner's execution, scheduled for Wednesday, has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a request to stay the execution of death row inmate Henry 'Hank' Skinner. The decision comes after two letters were filed on Skinner's behalf.

Skinner's defense attorneys sent a letter to Governor Rick Perry, requesting he hold off Skinner's execution long enough to conduct DNA testing. The Innocence Project sent a similar letter to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

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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
11:13 am
Mon March 7, 2011

SCOTUS: Texas Death Row Inmate Can Pursue Civil Rights Claim

Henry Watkins Skinner was convicted of the murders of Twila Busby and her two sons in 1995.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate who is seeking to have DNA evidence in his murder case tested.  The court's decision means Hank Skinner won't be executed any time soon.

At issue in the case was not whether the DNA should be tested, but rather what procedures can be used in asking a court to order the testing.  Skinner's lawyers argued their client has a right to pursue a civil rights claim for the testing.

The decision reverses an appeals court ruling, and sending the case back to district court in Amarillo.

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