TEXAS EXECUTIONS

Texas Death Row Inmate’s Execution Postponed Over False Testimony


November 29,2017Juan Castillo - TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Juan Castillo was scheduled to die on December 14, 2017. He was supposed to be the last prisoner on death row to be executed in Texas this year.

But on November 29, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals delayed Castillo’s execution and sent his case back to trial court to reexamine false testimony used to convict him. 

Castillo, 36, was sentenced to death for the 2003 murder and robbery of Tommy Garcia Jr. in San Antonio. Castillo, his then-girlfriend, and two others had tried to lure Garcia with sex, and then steal his money. When 19-year-old Garcia ran away, Castillo shot him.

During his trial, Castillo’s former bunkmate at the Bexar County Jail, Gerardo Gutierrez, testified that Castillo had confessed to the crime. But in 2013, Gutierrez signed an affidavit saying he had lied about the confession.

Gutierrez’s false testimony is prompting the Texas CCA to pause the execution and further review Castillo’s case.

It’s not the first time Castillo’s execution date has been called off.

Previously, his Sept. 7, 2017 execution date was postponed at the request of the Bexar County District Attorney’s office because some of Castillo’s lawyers living in Harris County were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, according to the Texas Tribune. Castillo also had a prior execution date set back in May, but the date was postponed after Bexar County prosecutors failed to give sufficient notice to the defense, according to the Houston Chronicle

Texas has executed seven death row inmates in 2017, two of which were in Bexar County.

At least two other executions have been delayed in Texas this year because of issues over testimonies. Back in October, Anthony Shore, known as the “Tourniquet Killer,” had his execution date moved to January after he told prosecutors he had falsely planned to take responsibility for a fellow inmate’s murder.

Duane Buck, a Harris County death row inmate, had his sentence reduced to life in prison after the Supreme Court granted him the right to a retrial because a prison psychiatrist had told the jury in his 1997 trial that Buck would be more dangerous in the future because of his race.

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Executions Scheduled for 2018


Executions Scheduled for 2018


Month State Prisoner
January
3 OH John Stumpf — RESCHEDULED  (november  14)
3 OH William Montgomery — RESCHEDULED  (april 11)
18 TX Anthony Shore
30 TX William Rayford
February
1 TX John Battaglia
13 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Robert Van Hook — RESCHEDULED  (july 18)
13 OH Raymond Tibbetts
22 TX Thomas Whitaker
March
14 OH Douglas Coley — RESCHEDULED
14 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
27 TX Rosendo Rodriguez
April
11 OH Melvin Bonnell — RESCHEDULED
11 OH William Montgomery
May
30 OH Stanley Fitzpatrick — RESCHEDULED
June
27 OH Angelo Fears — RESCHEDULED
July
18 OH Robert Van Hook
August
1 OH David A. Sneed — RESCHEDULED
September
13 OH Cleveland R. Jackson
October
10 OH James Derrick O’Neal — RESCHEDULED
November
14 OH John David Stumpf — RESCHEDULED

EXECUTIONS CARRIED OUT 2016


Execution List 2016

Date Number
Since 1976
State Name Age Race Victim Race Method Drug Protocol Years From
Sentence To
Execution
1/7/16 1423 FL Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. 53 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 23
1/20/16 1424 TX Richard Masterson 43 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 13
1/21/16 1425 AL Christopher Brooks 43 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 22
1/27/16 1426 TX James Freeman 35 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 7
2/3/16 1427 GA Brandon Jones 72 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 36
2/16/16 1428 TX Gustavo Garcia 43 Latino 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 24
2/17/16 1429 GA Travis Hittson 45 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 22
3/9/16 1430 TX Coy Wesbrook 58 White 1 White, 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 17
3/22/16 1431 TX Adam Ward 33 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 8
3/31/16 1432 GA Joshua Bishop 41 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 20
4/6/16 1433 TX Pablo Vasquez 38 Latino 1 Latino Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 17
4/12/16 1434 GA Kenneth Fults 47 Black 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 18
4/27/16 1435 GA Daniel Lucas 37 White 3 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 16
5/11/16 1436 MO Earl Forrest 66 White 3 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 11
7/15/16 1437 GA John Conner 60 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 34
10/5/16 1438 TX Barney Ronald Fuller Jr.* 53 White 2 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 12
10/19/16 1439 GA Gregory Paul Lawler 63 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 16
11/16/16 1440 GA Steven Frederick Spears* 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 9
12/6/16 1441 GA William Sallie 50 White 1 White Lethal Injection 1-drug (Pentobarbital) 25
12/8/16 1442 AL Ronald Bert Smith Jr. 45 White 1 White Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam) 21

The three-drug protocol typically begins with an anesthetic or sedative, followed by pancuronium bromide to paralyze the inmate and potassium chloride to stop the inmate’s heart. The first drug used varies by state and is listed above for each execution.

ƒ female
* volunteer – an inmate who waived ordinary appeals that remained at the time of his or her execution
~ foreign national
¥ white defendant executed for murder of black victim

Return to Executions in the United States

 

Texas Death Row Inmate Bernardo Tercero Wins Reprieve


HUNTSVILLE (August 25, 2015)
The Texas Count of Criminal Appeals Tuesday stopped the scheduled execution of a Nicaraguan man convicted of killing a Houston high school teacher during a robbery more than 18 years ago.
Bernardo Tercero, 39, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a reprieve Tuesday after attorneys contended in an appeal that a prosecution witness at Tercero’s trial in 2000 gave false testimony.
The appeals court has returned the case to the trial court to review the claim.
Tercero was convicted in the shooting death of Robert Berger, 38, who was in a Houston dry cleaners shop in March 1997 when Tercero came in to rob it.
Prosecutors said Tercero was in the U.S. illegally at the time of the slaying.
Source: Associated Press, August 25, 2015

 

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPTADE AUGUST 29, 2015

Month State Inmate
August
13 TX Tracy Beatty – STAYED
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national) STAYED
27 MS Richard Jordan (date requested by Atty. Gen.; not final) EXECUTION HALTED
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY
September
1 MO Roderick Nunley EXECUTED 9:09 PM
2 TX Joe Garza STAYED
3 PA Herbert Blakeney- STAY LIKELY
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
29 TX Perry Williams
October
6 MO Kimber Edwards
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
3 TX Julius Murphy
10 TX
Gilmar Guevara
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED
18 TX Raphael Holiday

TEXAS EXECUTION TODAY – Daniel Lee Lopez at 6 p.m EXECUTED 6:31 PM


HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas inmate Daniel Lee Lopez got his wish Wednesday when he was executed for striking and killing a police lieutenant with an SUV during a chase more than six years ago.

The lethal injection was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from his attorneys who disregarded both his desire to die and lower court rulings that Lopez was competent to make that decision.

“I hope this execution helps my family and also the victim’s family,” said Lopez, who spoke quietly and quickly. “This was never meant to be, sure beyond my power. I can only walk the path before me and make the best of it. I’m sorry for putting you all through this. I am sorry. I love you. I am ready. May we all go to heaven.”

As the drugs took effect, he took two deep breaths, then two shallower breaths. Then all movement stopped.

He was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. CDT — 15 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Lopez, 27, became the 10th inmate put to death this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state. Nationally, he was the 19th prisoner to be executed.

Lopez’s “obvious and severe mental illness” was responsible for him wanting to use the legal system for suicide, illustrating his “well-documented history of irrational behavior and suicidal tendencies,” attorney David Dow, who represented Lopez, had told the high court. Dow also argued the March 2009 crime was not a capital murder because Lopez didn’t intend to kill Corpus Christi Lt. Stuart Alexander.

The officer’s widow, Vicky Alexander, and three friends who were witnesses with her prayed in the chamber before Lopez was pronounced dead by a doctor. Some people selected by Lopez as witnesses sang “Amazing Grace” from an adjacent witness area.

Alexander, 47, was standing in a grassy area on the side of a highway where he had put spike strips when he was struck by the sport utility vehicle Lopez was fleeing in.

Lopez, who also wrote letters to a federal judge and pleaded for his execution to move forward, said last week from death row that a Supreme Court reprieve would be “disappointing.”

“I’ve accepted my fate,” he said. “I’m just ready to move on.”

Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka said Lopez showed “no regard for human life” when he fought with an officer during a traffic stop, then sped away, evading pursuing officers and striking Alexander, who had been on the police force for 20 years. Even when he finally was cornered by police cars, Lopez tried ramming his SUV to escape and didn’t stop until he was shot.

“He had no moral scruples, no nothing. It was always about Daniel Lopez, and it’s still about Daniel Lopez,” Skurka said Tuesday. “He’s a bad, bad guy.”

Lopez was properly examined by a psychologist, testified at a federal court hearing about his desire to drop appeals and was found to have no mental defects, state attorneys said in opposing delays to the punishment.

Deputies found a dozen packets of cocaine and a small scale in a false compartment in the console of the SUV.

Records showed Lopez was on probation at the time after pleading guilty to indecency with a child in Galveston County and was a registered sex offender. He had other arrests for assault.

Testimony at his trial showed he had at least five children by three women, and a sixth was born while he was jailed for Alexander’s death. Court records show Lopez had sex with girls as young as 14 and had a history of assaults and other trouble while in school, where he was a 10th-grade dropout.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

 

 

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas inmate Daniel Lee Lopez has been trying to speed up his execution since being sent to death row five years ago for striking and killing a police lieutenant with an SUV during a chase.

On Wednesday, he’s hoping to get his wish.

The 27-year-old prisoner is set to die in Huntsville after getting court approval to drop his appeals. A second inmate scheduled to be executed this week in Texas, the nation’s most active death penalty state, won a court reprieve Tuesday.

Lopez is facing lethal injection for the 2009 death of Corpus Christi Lt. Stuart Alexander. The 47-year-old officer was standing in a grassy area on the side of a highway where he had put spike strips when he was struck by the sport utility vehicle Lopez was fleeing in.

Last week from death row Lopez said: “It’s a waste of time just sitting here. I just feel I need to get over with it.”

Attorneys representing Lopez refused to accept his intentions, questioning federal court findings that Lopez was mentally competent to volunteer for execution. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the punishment, arguing his crime was not a capital murder because he didn’t intend to kill the officer, and that Lopez had mental disabilities and was using the state to carry out long-standing desires to commit suicide.

“It is clear Lopez has been allowed to use the legal system in another attempt to take his own life,” attorney David Dow told the high court.

Lopez, who also wrote letters to a federal judge and pleaded for his execution to move forward, said a Supreme Court reprieve would be “disappointing.”

“It’s crazy they keep appealing, appealing,” he said last week of his lawyers’ efforts. “I’ve explained it to them many times. I guess they want to get paid for appealing.”

Lopez was properly examined by a psychologist, testified at a federal court hearing about his desire to drop appeals and was found to have no mental defects, state attorneys said in opposing delays in the punishment.

Alexander had been a police officer for 20 years. His death came during a chase that began just past midnight on March 11, 2009, after Lopez was pulled over by another officer for running a stop sign in a Corpus Christi neighborhood. Authorities say Lopez was driving around 60 mph.

Lopez struggled with the officer who made the stop and then fled. He rammed several patrol cars, drove at a high speed with his lights off and hit Alexander like “a bullet and a target,” said an officer who testified at Lopez’s 2010 trial.

When finally cornered by patrol cars, Lopez used his SUV as a battering ram trying to escape and wasn’t brought under control until he was shot, officers testified.

“It’s a horrible dream,” Lopez said from death row. “I’ve replayed it in my mind many times.”

Deputies found a dozen packets of cocaine and a small scale in a false compartment in the console of the SUV.

Records show Lopez was on probation at the time after pleading guilty to indecency with a child in Galveston County and was a registered sex offender. He had other arrests for assault.

Lopez would be the 10th inmate executed this year in Texas. Nationally, 18 prisoners have been put to death this year, with Texas accounting for 50 percent of them.

On Tuesday, another death row prisoner, Tracy Beatty, 54, received a reprieve from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He had been scheduled for lethal injection Thursday. He’s on death row for the 2003 slaying of his 62-year-old mother, Carolyn Click, near Tyler in East Texas.

At least seven other Texas inmates have execution dates in the coming months.

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS AUGUST 2015


UPDATE AUGUST 3

Month State Inmate
August
12 TX Daniel Lopez EXECUTED 6:31 p.m
13 TX Tracy Beatty – STAYED
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national)
27 MS Richard Jordan
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY

 

 

 

JULY 23, 2015

August
12 TX Daniel Lopez
13 TX Tracy Beatty
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national)
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY

TEXAS – UPCOMING EXECUTION JULY 16 – Clifton Williams at 6 p.m EXECUTION HALTED !


JULY 16. 2015

The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of a death row inmate just hours before he was set to be killed.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of death row inmate Clifton Lamar Williams on Thursday just hours before he was set to be killed.

“This is a subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to the provisions of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071 § 5 and a motion for a stay of execution,” the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas order read on Thursday.

The Court of Appeals said that it approved William’s appeal application, which is now returned to a trial court for a review on its merits before a final decision is determined.

In a brief order, the court agreed to return the case to the trial court in Tyler to review an appeal from Williams’ attorneys. They want to examine whether incorrect FBI statistics regarding DNA probabilities in population estimates cited by witnesses could have affected the outcome of Williams’ trial.

“We need time to look at this,” said Seth Kretzer, one of Williams’ lawyers. “No way we can investigate this in five hours.

“It requires some time, and the CCA saw that.”

 

July 10, 2015

East Texan Clifton Williams heads to the gurney next Thursday, July 16, after nine years spent on death row for the murder of Cecelia Schneider.

Williams, 31, was 21 years old at the time of Schneider’s murder, July 9, 2005. Court records show that he broke into the 93-year-old’s Tyler home, stabbed, strangled, and beat her, then laid her body on her bed and set her bed on fire. He left Schneider’s house with her car and her purse, which contained $40. He argued at trial that his friend, Jamarist Paxton, forced him to break into the house with him, and coerced him into cutting his hand so as to leave his DNA on-scene. But police weren’t able to find any evidence that would substantiate Williams’ claims about accomplices, and Paxton denied involvement. In Oct. 2006, Williams was found guilty of capital murder (in addition to a number of other offenses) and sentenced to death.

Williams’ attorneys have argued in state and federal petitions for relief (as well as a petition for a Certificate of Appealability) that Williams suffers from a wide range of mental illnesses, including paranoid schizophrenia, with which he was diagnosed when he was 20. They have tried to argue that his mother suffered from mental illness, and that Williams had trouble functioning from an early age. They also claim Williams was the victim of incompetent counsel, as attorneys at trial failed both to establish Williams as the victim of mental illness and to mitigate his standing as a future danger to society. Most notably, his petitions for relief note, trial counsel erred by stating their intent to establish mental illness before Williams received a court-ordered psych exam, giving prosecutors the ability to refute counsel’s claims without any established medical standing.

Last September, attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding presented Williams’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that the Justices would hear Williams’ mental illness claims. Specifically, records note, they wanted to prove that one ruling – ex parte Briseño, which lays out three basic conditions to determine competence – blocks Williams from arguing mental retardation on the basis ofAtkins v. Virginia (which placed a categorical ban on executing the mentally ill, and was previously rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals). The Supreme Court denied that petition in early April, however, without comment or explanation. Williams’ attorneys do not plan to file any last-minute appeals.

Williams will be the 10th Texan executed this year, and 528th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976. However, his execution coincides with emerging reports that indicate the number of Texans being sent to death row has now significantly decreased. In fact, jurors around the state have yet to sentence anyone to death in 2015. The last person to receive such a sentence was former Kauf­man County attorney Eric Williams (no relation), who shot and killed Chief Assistant District AttorneyMark Hasse on Jan. 31, 2013, before killing County D.A. Michael McLelland and his wife Cynthia two months later. He was sentenced to death last Dec­em­ber. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the state has made it to July without issuing a new death sentence.

Execution Watch with Ray Hill
can be heard on KPFT 90.1 FM,
in Galveston at 89.5 and Livingston at 90.3,
as well as on the net here
from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT
on any day Texas executes a prisoner.

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPDATE JULY 10, 205


Month State Inmate
July
14 MO David Zink EXECUTED 7.41 PM
15 OH Alva Cambell, Jr. – STAYED*
15 OH Warren K. Henness – STAYED
16 TX Clifton Williams  STAYED
August
12 TX Daniel Lopez  executed
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero
September
2 TX Joe Garza
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
October
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
11 TX Gilmar Guevara
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED

UPCOMING EXECUTION – TEXAS, Gregory Russeau, June 18, 2015 6 pm EXECUTED 6.49 PM


June 18, 2015

 

Gregory RusseauGregory Russeau ( Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP file)

Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, Russeau thanked his family and friends for what they had done for him and thanked three friends who were witnesses “for being here with me so I do not have to transition alone.”

“I’m at peace, I’m good,” he said. “I’m ready to go home.”

He began snoring as the lethal dose of pentobarbital began and all movement stopped within about a minute.

He was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. CDT, 21 minutes later.

 

Russeau will be the ninth Texan executed this year

On Thursday, June 18, the state of Texas plans to execute Gregory Russeau, a 45-year-old Tyler man, convicted in Oct. 2002 of killing 75-year-old James Syvertson in his auto shop’s garage on May 30, 2001.

Russeau was found guilty of capital murder after jurors deliberated for less than an hour. He argued, after his conviction, that he was found guilty because his attorney Clifton Roberson fumbled his handling of witnesses and failed to argue that law enforcement planted evidence (two hairs belonging to Russeau found on a bottle) at the crime scene. Those concerns were raised in subsequent petitions for writ of habeas corpus filed by Jeffrey Haas.

Haas, it should be said, had his own issues. As a petition for relief filed in 2012 by Carlo D’Angelo notes: “Both the 2004 and 2009 petitions for habeas corpus that Mr. Haas filed in the state district court contained no claims that were based upon any evidence or the result of any investigation that occurred outside of the Clerk’s Record and trial transcript in either of the Petitioner’s cases, thus indicating that Mr. Haas did virtually nothing to investigate the facts pertaining to the actions of trial and appellate counsel, potential mitigation, and potential prosecutorial misconduct and withholding of evidence.”

The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on Dec. 2, 2004, during which Roberson and his co-counsel Brandon Baade testified to the competence of their representation of Russeau. Six months later, in June 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion that upheld Russeau’s conviction but remanded the case back to trial for a new sentencing. There, he was represented – once again – by Roberson and Baade, the two attorneys who failed to properly represent him in the first place, and whom Russeau specifically asked the court to not appoint for the second hearing (on the grounds that Roberson and Baade had waived the attorney-client privilege when they testified at the hearing.)

Russeau’s second punishment-determination hearing was held in 2007 and resulted in the same findings and sentence as his first. (Unsurprisingly, his argument hinged on the claim that Roberson and Baade did a bad job representing their client.) He was denied a 2009 petition for relief, filed by Haas, in 2010, at which point D’Angelo assumed Russeau’s counsel. A Feb. 2012 federal petition was denied, as was an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in March 2014. Appeals for relief from the U.S. Supreme Court were denied in October.

Russeau will be the ninth Texan executed this year, and the 527th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Death row inmate maintains innocence to the last