Category: capital murder

  • Judge Fine on the Constitutionality of 37.071

    A courtroom observer reports that Judge Fine took judicial notice of more than 200 death row inmates exonerated, most due to DNA retests, which called into question many more cases where DNA was not available to retest. The following are approximate quotes from Judge Fine: I must decide what our evolving standards or decency are, […]

  • Even in Texas, Death Penalty Still Constitutional

    Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle reported today that Judge Kevin Fine of the 177th District Court “declared the death penalty unconstitutional.” This caused the Chronicle’s anonymous commenters to gibber ignorantly in righteous indignation like a cage full of unusually stupid monkeys. Which is always fun. Paul Kennedy was immediately on the story, for which […]

  • The Anthony Graves Retrial Pregame Show

    In Anthony Graves’s first trial, prosecutor Charles Sebesta had to cheat to win, hiding exculpatory evidence and eliciting perjured testimony (Graves v. Dretke, Fifth Circuit opinion, PDF on Scribd). Now, not only has the evidence that Sebesta suppressed in violation of Brady v. Maryland been revealed so that the next prosecutor trying the case can’t […]

  • The Potential Value of Naming Names

    In “An embarrassment to Texas justice,” Houston criminal-defense lawyer Tom Moran writes about the case of his client Robert Thompson, executed the night before last after Texas Governor Rick Perry refused to commute his sentence despite the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, for a capital murder in which he was not […]

  • It’s Never too Late to Repent, John and Johnny

    Cameron Todd Willingham died at age 36. Convicted of capital murder in Corsicana, Texas in 1991 for the fire death of his three daughters, Willingham was executed in 2004. The evidence against Willingham? A jailhouse snitch, Johnny Webb, who alleged that Willingham had confessed to him that he took ‚Äúsome kind of lighter fluid, squirting […]

  • DA’s Office Does Right

    From UH Law professor David Dow: In December 2008, Mariano Rosales obtained federal habeas relief on a Batson claim.  The district court found that race had improperly influenced the prosecution’s decision to strike at least three jurors.  The attorney general elected not to appeal. Rosales was convicted in connection with a tragic shooting in 1985.  […]

  • Georgia Wants to Kill

    When the government wants to stick a needle in a human being’s arm and inject chemicals into his body until he’s dead, is it too much to insist that they be able to convince 12 other human beings, selected in a process that is fair to the government, that a) the person will be a […]

  • Funny the Things You Learn When You RTFM

    Over at Women in Crime Ink, Katherine Scardino (one of Houston’s leading criminal-defense lawyers) writes about the reversal of Robert Fratta’s death-penalty conviction by Judge Melinda Harmon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. (Via Grits for Breakfast.) Guidry, Prystash, and Fratta were all charged with the murder of Fratta’s wife. […]