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Monday, April 24, 2006

Texas to carry out two executions - this week

UPDATE: It appears that both of this week's executions have been stayed. Thursday's protest is still on.

UDPATE: We've just received word that Derrick Frazier has received a temporary reprieve and, therefore, will not be executed on Thursday (4/27)! This reprieve is based on an affidavit filed by the defense claiming some misconduct by a juror during the trial.

This is great news! But, the fight is not yet won.

WE WILL STILL BE PROTESTING this Thursday (4/27) on the sidewalk in front of the capitol, at the intersection of Congress Avenue and 11th Streets, at 5:30pm. Join us to celebrate this stay and to keep the pressure on the state for a fair trial for Derrick. Be there!

Tuesday: Protest the execution of Pedro Sosa across the Governor's Mansion at 11th and Lavaca, beginning at 5:30.

Thursday: Protest the execution of Hasan Shakur in front of the Capitol, 12th and Congress, from 5:30 to 6:30.

CEDP will be protesting double-murder in the state of Texas this week. On Tuesday, Pedro Sosa is scheduled to be executed. From Texas Moratorium Network:
Sosa has been on death row for 23 years. He has been issued four dates of execution but received stays, pending completion of his appeals.His most recent execution date was scheduled for October of 2005 but was stayed after his attorneys filed a motion for withdrawal of his execution, arguing that the courts had yet to consider evidence that Sosa is mentally retarded. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the execution of the mentally retarded violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Generally, a person with an IQ of 70 or below is considered mentally retarded. Sosa scored a 66.

Sosa had no prior criminal record at the time of his arrest.

Not only is the State preparing to execute a mentally retarded person, it is planning to do so on a weak case.

Only two days later, government intends to kill Hasan Shakur, also known as Derrick Frazier.

Derrick Frazier, a 28-year-old black man, is scheduled for execution on April 27, 2006 for the 1997 murder of Betsy Nutt and her son, Cody, both white. The state alleges that Frazier and an accomplice, Jermaine Herron, robbed the Refugio County home of Nutt’s neighbor before approaching and speaking to Nutt. The two men asked her for a ride into town, then, as she was about to comply, they followed her into her house and Frazier allegedly pulled a gun. He is said to have shot Cody and Betsy Nutt to death. Thereafter, Frazier and Herron set the house on fire and left in Nutt’s truck.

The narrative presented above is the one upon which the state finally settled, but it is certainly not the only one which was considered. Throughout the course of the investigation, Jermaine Herron changed his story from an admission that he killed both victims, to a claim that Frazier killed them. In fact, the details of the crime were so uncertain that the indictment charging Frazier with capital murder was a composite of five different theories as to how he was guilty. Frazier argues that he was denied due process because the judge submitted these theories to the jury in a disjunctive manner, i.e. to reach a guilty verdict, the jurors need only vote guilty on any one theory. It may be that six jurors believed Frazier guilty on theory one, but not theory two, and six believed him guilty on theory two, but not theory one. The jurors agreed he was guilty, but didn’t necessarily agree why!

Frazier also raises an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. This is based on the fact that, although the prosecutor presented plenty of aggravating evidence, Frazier’s attorney did not investigate or present in court any mitigating circumstances. Frazier presented affidavits from his grandmother and aunt that argued that Frazier was basically a good person whose life had fallen into disarray upon the death of his mother. These affidavits suggest that there was genuine mitigating evidence available, had Frazier’s attorney bothered to search for it. What’s more, Frazier has been an exemplary prisoner since his conviction, providing further evidence to support the existence of mitigating information.

Come out and raise your voice, and send a message to the state of Texas: we will not stand for all these executions, for the state-sponsored murders of human beings - innocent or guilty. The killing must stop.

CEDP will provide banners, signs, and the press. All you need to do is bring yourself and your energy. See you there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Execution Halted in North Carolina

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

    A San Jose federal judge's order halting a California execution because of questions about the state's lethal injection process has become the precedent for a similar court intervention in North Carolina.

    Citing the San Jose ruling as persuasive, U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard told North Carolina prison officials Friday that they could proceed with inmate Willie Brown Jr.'s execution April 21 only if someone with medical training is present to make sure Brown is unconscious when potentially painful drugs are injected.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Demonstration


Attention Texas Abolitionists!

Join us for this action:


The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and other activist groups will be holding a rally on April 8, 2006 to protest the inhumane conditions on Death Row at the Polunsky
Unit in Livingston, TX. Here are some examples of how these men are forced to live:

    Inmates are kept on 23-hour lock-down in cells with solid steel doors.

    There are no work programs or group recreation on Death Row.

    Inmates are not allowed access to television or religious services

    The healthcare and food services on Death Row are sub-par.

    Death Row inmates are only allowed one five minute phone call every six months and the Polunsky Unit staff has been known to withold their mail. Furthermore, all visits are non-contact, meaning that families and friends of these men will never make physical contact with them again.

    Finally, guards and administrators at Polunsky impose disproportionate punitive measures on these inmates, including gassing, taking their clothes, denying them meals, and feeding them with disgusting "food loafs."

    These men are slowly losing their minds, with some giving up their appeals and others attempting suicide.

Join us as we demand an end to these cruel and unusual conditions and pose a broader challenge to the unjust machinery of death that is Texas' Death Row. The rally will begin at 2:00 pm at the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Livingston, featuring speakers, spoken word performances, and music from Tropic Blue. At 3:00 pm, the protest will move to the front of the Polunsky Unit, 3872 FM 350 South. Help us protest for those who are unable to protest for themselves!

For those in Austin, Due to a major athletic event on UT's campus this weekend, we've elected to move our carpool/caravan meeting spot to the following location:

Meet at 9:30am, Saturday, April 8, at "It's A Grind" coffee shop. It's A Grind is located at the corner of Red River and 41st streets. The building stands alone in the southwest corner of the Hancock Center complex. We will meet in the lot right beside the shop.

We will leave from there by 10am, so don't be late!

For a map and driving directions to Livingston click here. And to the prison, here.

For more information contact the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement at Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com or email us at the address to the right.