"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Execution Scheduled For Texas Man Who Set Fire That Killed 3 Children

Raphael Holiday
Raphael Holiday
HUNTSVILLE — A Texas inmate was set to be executed Wednesday evening for setting a fire that killed his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters at an East Texas home 15 years ago.

Raphael Holiday, 36, would be the 13th convicted killer put to death this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state. It has accounted for about half of all executions in the U.S. so far this year. The last person put to death in Huntsville was Licho Escamilla, on October 14. The he 33-year-old was executed for killing a Dallas police officer in 2001.

The U.S. Supreme Court was considering an appeal seeking to halt Holiday’s lethal injection so new attorneys could be appointed to pursue additional unspecified appeals in his case.

Austin-based lawyer Gretchen Sweet argued Holiday’s court-appointed attorneys abandoned him after the high court in June refused to review his case. Those lawyers advised Holiday his legal issues were exhausted and new appeals would be fruitless.

Holiday protested, wrote a federal judge to order them off his case and asked that Sweet be allowed to represent him. Those efforts, however, were rebuffed by lower courts.

State attorneys told the Supreme Court that Sweet had no authority to “elbow out” properly appointed lawyers in the case. The request for a reprieve and petition for new lawyers would “begin the process anew” and mean “perpetually avoiding execution,” Ellen Stewart-Klein, an assistant Texas attorney general, told the justices in a filing Tuesday.

“I’m not afraid of dying,” Holiday told The Associated Press recently from a visiting cage outside death row. “I know at some point we all die. It’s just the way of dying.

“If I have to die, I want at least a fair chance of fighting.”

Holiday insisted he didn’t know how the log cabin he once shared with his common-law wife and the children in the Madison County woods about 100 miles north of Houston caught fire in September 2000.

“I loved my kids,” Holiday said. “I never would do harm to any of them.”

Prison officials said the girls’ mother planned to witness Holiday’s execution. She declined to speak with reporters.

Evidence and testimony showed Holiday was irate over a protective order obtained by his estranged wife after his arrest for sexually assaulting one of the children. Holiday, from prison, contended he knew nothing about the assault.

According to court records, he showed up at the home and forced the girls’ grandmother at gunpoint to douse the interior with gasoline. After it ignited, he sped away in the grandmother’s car, hit a police car that arrived outside the cabin and then led officers on a chase that ended two counties away when he wrecked.

Defense attorneys at his trial suggested an electrical problem or a pilot light started the blaze in the early hours of September 6, 2000, killing Holiday’s daughter, Justice, and her half-sisters, Tierra Lynch, 7, and Jasmine DuPaul, 5.

The girls’ grandmother told a jury she watched Holiday bend down and then the flames erupted, court records show. Jurors convicted him of capital murder and decided he should be put to death.

Frank Blazek, one of Holiday’s trial lawyers, said Holiday’s actions were an attempt out of desperation to reconnect with his wife and the children.

“Obviously, there was nothing positive and for anyone who looked at it, this was self-destructive and dangerous and risky,” Blazek said. “He wasn’t thinking logically that night.

“There was plenty of evidence of drug use that night as well.”

Source: CBS (Local Media), November 18, 2015


Texas man set to die for fire that killed 3 children

LIVINGSTON, Texas (AP) — Condemned Texas inmate Raphael Holiday insists he has no idea how a log cabin in the woods north of Houston caught fire, trapping and killing his toddler daughter and her two young half-sisters 15 years ago.

"I loved my kids," Holiday, 36, said recently from a visiting cage outside Texas' death row. "I never would do harm to any of them."

A jury found him responsible for the fatal blaze, however, and Holiday is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville for the children's September 2000 deaths.

Evidence and testimony showed Holiday, irate over a protective order obtained by his estranged common-law wife, forced the girls' grandmother at gunpoint to douse the interior of the Madison County home with gasoline. After it ignited, he sped away in the grandmother's car, hit a police car that had arrived outside the cabin about 100 miles north of Houston and then led officers on a chase that ended two counties away when he wrecked.

"I was at the house, the house blew up," he said recently from prison. "I don't know how the fire started."

At his trial, defense attorneys suggested an electrical problem or a pilot light started the blaze in the early hours of Sept. 6, 2000, killing Holiday's 18-month-old daughter, Justice, and his stepdaughters, Tierra Lynch, 7, and Jasmine DuPaul, 5.

Evidence showed the girls' mother sought the protective order against Holiday after he was arrested for sexually assaulting one of the girls. Holiday contended he knew nothing about the assault.

"He wanted his family back together," Frank Blazek, one of Holiday's trial lawyers, recalled last week. "In some unusual state of mind, out of desperation, he thought this was the way to go about it, by threatening them."

The girls' grandmother told jurors she watched Holiday bend down and then the flames erupted, court records show.

Blazek said evidence wasn't conclusive that Holiday started the fire.

"It was a tough case," he said. "Three little children. They didn't deserve to die."

Prison officials said the girls' mother planned to witness Holiday's execution. She declined to speak with reporters.

Holiday said from prison that he was outside when the fire broke out.

"I was panicking," he said, explaining why he sped off in a stolen car. "I think it was crazy for someone to say I spoke of harming my kids. That doesn't make sense."

Source: Houston Chronicle, Michael Graczyk, November 17, 2015

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