Texas Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, April 17, 2008, 12:17:51 AM

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Texan on death row will face parole review instead of execution

For the second time in a week, a Texas death row inmate had his sentenced tossed out. Robert Campbell, 44, has been on death row for nearly 25 years in a Houston kidnapping and murder.
May 10, 2017

A Texas man on death row for almost 25 years will now face parole review instead of an execution date. The Texas Attorney General's office tossed a death sentence Wednesday for a long-serving occupant of Texas' death row in light of a March U.S. Supreme Court ruling on intellectual disability and capital punishment.

It was the second time in a week the sentence of one of the state's death row inmate's was reduced.

Robert James Campbell, 44, was convicted and sentenced to death for the January 1991 abduction and murder of Alejandra Rendon in Houston. Campbell kidnapped Rendon, a bank teller, from a gas station before raping and killing her, according to a statement from the Harris County District Attorney's Office on the change of sentence.

In a recent appeal, Campbell claimed that he was not eligible for the death penalty because he is intellectually disabled. Campbell's tested IQ was 69, according to a court advisory announcing the sentence change.

Also impacting Wednesday's decision was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in March in favor of a Texas death row inmate, Bobby Moore, that invalidated the state's long-standing method of determining if a death-sentenced inmate was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. The ruling called into question multiple death sentences, some of which are decades old. (Moore's case is still winding through lower courts.)

After the state psychologist's review and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Texas Attorney General's Office decided that pursuing the punishment "would not serve the interests of justice."

Now, Campbell will be resentenced to life in prison, which also means he will become immediately eligible for parole. In 1991, a punishment of life without parole did not exist in Texas, and parole became eligible after 15 years, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. But District Attorney Kim Ogg said she will file formal protests at any parole hearings and do everything in her power to keep Campbell in prison for the rest of his life.

"In unison with his victims and their families, we will do everything we can to see that he serves every second of his life sentence," Ogg said in a statement.

Rendon's family was disappointed in the change of sentence, but accepted the decisions made by Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a statement sent by Rendon's cousin, Israel Santana.

"We truly believe that justice would have been properly served with his execution ... At this point, we can only hope and pray that Robert James Campbell spends the rest of his living years behind bars, and himself seeks forgiveness from our God Almighty," Santana wrote.

Last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the death sentence of Pedro Solis Sosa, who has lived on death row for more than 32 years. He will also become eligible for parole.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Fifth Circuit Stops Texas From Executing Disabled Man
July 13, 2017

In a case in which Texas set an execution date without notifying the death row inmate's counsel, the Fifth Circuit on Tuesday granted his request for review of whether he is mentally competent to be executed.

Scott Panetti was sentenced to death for the murders of his estranged wife's parents at their home in Fredericksburg, in central Texas, in 1992.

Panetti, a diagnosed schizophrenic, had been hospitalized more than a dozen times for his mental illness before he shot his in-laws to death in front of his wife and 3-year-old daughter.

When he represented himself at trial, he dressed like a cowboy and tried to subpoena Jesus Christ, the pope, and John F. Kennedy as witnesses.

His execution was set for December 2014, but he received a stay of execution after his attorneys -- who learned of the execution date from a newspaper article in October that year -- requested a delay for new competency examinations.

A federal judge in San Antonio denied Panetti's requests for appointed counsel and funding to hire a mental health expert.

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded on Tuesday.

Writing for the three-judge panel, Fifth Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham called the case a chapter in the "judicial plunge into the dark forest of insanity and death directed by the flickering and inevitably elusive guides." He also vacated the factual findings on Panetti's competency.

"There is no justification for executing the insane, and no reasoned support for it, as only a glance at the brief of amici -- filed by able and fervent citizens spanning the spectrum of political views -- will confirm," Higginbotham wrote.

He found that state's actions in prosecuting Panetti denied him due process and rendered futile his attempt to determine competency.

After requesting an execution date without notifying Panetti's counsel -- leaving them only 10 days to file a competency motion before they lost the right to appeal -- the state suggested Panetti file a skeletal petition.

"Meanwhile, the State used its own resources to seek out and file new evidence with the TCCA [Texas Court of Criminal Appeals], all while opposing Panetti's access to the same resources," Higginbotham wrote.

Panetti did not have the money to acquire his own up-to-date evidence and his last professional competency evaluation had been conducted in 2007.

"As the argument goes, it is one thing to respond to a petitioner's claims on the existing record; it is quite another, with assistance of counsel and paid experts, to generate new evidence while preventing the petitioner from doing the same," Higginbotham wrote.

Since Panetti was last found competent seven years ago, escorting officers have noticed that he often acts in an "irrational and delusional manner," according to the ruling.

He has said he believes Texas implanted a listening device in his tooth that sends command messages to his brain; believes CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer displayed his stolen ID card during a report; and has claimed to be the father of actress-singer Selena Gomez.

Panetti's attorneys Greg Wiercioch and Kathryn Kase said in a statement that they were grateful the court found that their client's "nearly four decades" of documented severe mental illness was sufficient to require experts and resources to pursue his incompetency claim.

"We are confident that when the lower court is presented with all the evidence, it will find that Mr. Panetti, a schizophrenic man who insisted on representing himself at trial ... is not now competent for execution," the attorneys said. "Ultimately, commuting Mr. Panetti's sentence to life in prison without parole would keep the public safe and affirm our shared beliefs in a humane and moral justice system."

Chief Fifth Circuit Judge Carl Stewart and Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen joined Higginbotham on the panel. Owen concurred in part and dissented in part. She wrote in dissent that the majority failed to employ proper appellate standards of review.

"I agree that Panetti was and is entitled to appointed counsel at every step of the ongoing legal proceedings. But the error in failing to appoint counsel is not a dispositive issue and does not warrant a continued stay of execution since Panetti was actually represented by his former federal habeas counsel, who proceeded pro bono in the state courts and in federal district court, and they capably represented him," Owen wrote.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Dallas Man on Death Row For Double Murder Loses Appeal
Posted on October 25, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) - The state's highest criminal court has rejected an appeal from a Dallas man sentenced death for killing his girlfriend and her teenage daughter in 2011.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision on Wednesday upheld the findings of 44-year-old Tyrone Cade's trial court which held a hearing to review what Cade's attorneys said were 16 errors from his 2012 trial.

Most of the arguments centered on whether Cade's trial attorneys were constitutionally deficient.

Cade was convicted of killing 37-year-old Mischell Fuller and her 18-year-old daughter Desaree Hoskins at their home in Irving.

Fuller was stabbed 28 times, Hoskins 39 times.

Cade's trial lawyers argued that he was insane at the time. He had previously served three years in prison for sexual assault.

Cade does not have a scheduled execution date.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

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