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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.

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