As long as the Justice system in Texas is not doing its job, Supreme Court should Stay all executions.

English: Allan B. Polunsky Unit Español: Unida...

English: Allan B. Polunsky Unit Español: Unidad Allan B. Polunsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a very important thing in a democracy to have a fair and honest Justice System. Like all systems a Justice System has its mistakes. That is unfortunate, especially in Death Penalty cases. In some cases it’s absolutely sure that a suspect is the murderer. In other cases a verdict is based on circumstantial evidence. There is no real evidence. These are the cases where the justice system often goes wrong, especially in Texas.

No State has as many executions as Texas. No State even comes close. There are two reasons for that. One is that Texas has the ‘law of parties’ which says that if you’re involved in a crime in which someone else kills a person, you are just as responsible for that as the murderer. You’re going to steal candy, you don’t even know the person who joins you has a gun, he shoots someone and you end up on Death Row. Because of this law there are more people on Death Row in Texas than in other States, because everyone involved will probably end up there.

There is another reason why Texas executes more people than other States. And that is something to worry about. There are enough cases that prove that the prosecutors and the entire Justice System in Texas are more focused on closing a case and finding someone guilty than on finding the right one guilty. There are examples where the Justice System in Texas went completely wrong and instead of a thorough investigation to make sure those mistakes will never happen again, Texas prefers to not comment on it. Circumstantial evidence is often so thin that pretty much any other Justice System would release the suspects. But not in Texas. Texas wants to execute them.

If I would have to write about everything I think is wrong with the Justice System in Texas this would be the longest blog post ever. Structural bad representation for those who never had a chance in life anyway, racial issues, there are so many things wrong that I sometimes wonder why Amnesty International hasn’t got its headquarters in Texas yet. In this post I will give a couple examples of cases that prove that Texas is not even trying to get it right.

Famous is the Cameron Todd Willingham case. For those who don’t know the case, Willingham is dead. He was executed in 2004. Convicted for the murder of his three kids by arson in 1991. A local Texas Justice guy who knew little about arson testified it was arson. Pretty much all other experts said it was not. Later, but still before the execution, arson experts were even able to disprove arson. Their report was on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s desk as he gave the green light for the execution. A couple of days after the execution the Prosecutor who got him convicted said “I know there was not that much evidence but he was a bad man, he listened to heavy metal” and he also said “I think he might have done it.” That is probably what they call “beyond reasonable doubt” in Texas.

The execution took place in an election year and with the Texas hardcore pro-Death Penalty population, Rick Perry probably didn’t want to stop it, even though he had scientific proof on his desk that Willingham didn’t do anything wrong. He was a father who lost three kids because of a fire, and now he also lost his own life because of it. A committee was installed to investigate this execution and one day before the committee was going to release their findings, Rick Perry fired the entire committee and never spoke about the case again. It’s pretty much a confession.

There are a lot of inmates on Death Row in Texas, waiting for execution. Some are guilty beyond any doubt, but there are many examples of inmates who’s guilt was never really proven. I am not saying they are all innocent but that is not the question. The question is if their guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The Hank Skinner case might be the most famous one. Skinner spent the last 17 years on Death Row for the murder of his girlfriend and her two children. Skinner claims to be innocent. He says he was drunk from a mix of alcohol and medicine, slept on the couch while they were murdered and woke up in a crime scene. Skinner had a wound on his hand, which could be from the murder, but also from any other thing that from time to time happens to all of us. Who has never had a wound?

In the time the murder occurred there was no such thing as DNA testing but ever since there is DNA testing the Skinner Defense team has been asking for a test for more than ten years. Texas refused to test over and over again. Skinner has at one point been twenty minutes from execution, already had his last meal before the Supreme Court stayed the execution. After a long battle in court, Texas was ordered to test all the evidence. It is not a surprise that Skinner’s DNA was found on a lot of things in the house where the murders took place. He lived there. But for ten years Skinner has been claiming that certain clothes, among which a jacket with a lot of blood on it,didn’t belong to him and therefore must have had someone else’s DNA on it. And guess what?

Texas had all the evidence ready to be tested, all things of which it would be no surprise if Skinners DNA was on it because he lived in the house. But exactly those clothes, the key evidence that Skinner has claimed could prove someone else was involved, were ‘lost’ by the Texas Justice system. Skinner fought for ten years to have exactly those things tested and once a judge finally ordered that everything had to be tested, Texas could provide everything, except the things Skinner had asked for all those years.

Is that a coincidence? Is it bad luck? I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories but this is too ridiculous to believe. They never wanted to test and now they were forced to and they still had all the stuff of which it was likely to have Skinners DNA on it anyway, but the key parts, with blood on them, were all of a sudden lost. But Skinner’s fingerprints were found on the door of his own house, therefore Texas still wants to execute him.

Another case. Robert Gene Will. Sent to Death Row for the murder of a Police Officer. Rob Will and another man were caught trying to break into a car. Rob Will never had an ideal childhood, but his accomplice was the son of a Police Officer. Both were caught while committing the crime. The Police Officers Radio log suggests that Rob Will was handcuffed and In custody, ten seconds later shots were fired, the police officer died.

Even though there is zero forensic evidence, it is likely that either Rob Will or his friend was the shooter. But which one was it? It’s hard to know although if one person is handcuffed, It makes more sense that the other one would be the shooter. Rob Will claims his friend shot the police Officer, then shot a bullet through Will’s handcuffs to set him free (Will had a wound on his hand) after which they left the scene.

Even though it’s obvious that one of the two men is the murderer, there is no way to determine which one. They blame each other. No evidence for anything and although logic suggests it was the other one, there is no proof. And as I write this Rob Will is on Death Row and his accomplice is probably having a coffee at Starbucks. Remember, his accomplice was the son of a police officer and just for once, by coincidence, Texas forgot about their ridiculous law of parties which makes them both equally liable for it. A police officer was murdered by either Rob Will or by the son of another Police Officer. The son of the police officer is a free man, Rob Will is on Death Row. Justice?

There are many more case like this. Check out Darlie Routier. A woman on Death Row, convicted for murdering her own kids. The Prosecution showed the jury a video in which she was singing and dancing two weeks after the murder while she was celebrating the birthday one of the kids would have had that day. That was the key evidence in the case. She seemed to be happy. The prosecution also had other video’s on which she was repeatedly seen crying on the graveyard, but the prosecution chose not to show those video’s. Jurors would later say they had been totally misled by the Prosecution.

I can go on forever. There are too many examples, it’s impossible to mention them all.

The thing that worries me is that in most Death Penalty cases in America, there is not so much doubt if they have the right one. We can discuss if the Death Penalty is good or not, that’s a different issue. But nowhere are there so many cases with serious doubts, where the behavior of Prosecutors is so ignorant, where they don’t even try to get it right, as there are in Texas. They just don’t care.

The law of parties is a law for everyone, except for the son of a police officer. Texas refuses to do DNA testing and once forced to, they lost the most important things that had to be tested. Prosecutors have an enormous amount of videos showing very emotional footage of a mother crying over the loss of her children. They didn’t show it. They showed the three minutes they had when she wasn’t crying. Arson experts disprove arson, but it’s an election year so no one dares to stop the execution. Who cares?

A Justice System should try to get it right. Prosecutors who are not sure if a suspect is guilty should either look for more evidence or drop the case. Not try to manipulate a case and get someone convicted who may very well be innocent. A Justice System is there to do Justice. Not to find everybody guilty.

In Texas it seems to be more important to find someone guilty than to find the right one guilty. In Texas Prosecutors say, a couple days after an execution, that the inmate who was executed might have been guilty.

And as long as the entire culture of the Texas Justice System doesn’t change, the Supreme Court should automatically stay all executions that Texas wants to carry out. Because there is proof beyond reasonable doubt, that at this moment, the Texas Justice System can’t be trusted with anything.

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One Response to As long as the Justice system in Texas is not doing its job, Supreme Court should Stay all executions.

  1. Texas has mostly conservative Christian than any other state. That’s why you tweeted about this. This is bullshit. Good ole boy Rick Perry… doesn’t know how many agency he will close, or remembers them by name, but he’s sure going to execute someone in the name of God.
    Good piece John. Here, in California they are trying to start executing PPL here, and we said hell no!!

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