Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Former death row inmate Cathy Henderson pleads guilty in baby's death

Cathy Henderson
Cathy Henderson
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Saved from execution by a last-minute appeal in 2007, Cathy Lynn Henderson has now pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the January 1994 death of 3-month-old Brandon Baugh. 

Judge Karen Sage on Friday sentenced the former babysitter to 25 years in prison, including time already served. With 22 years served behind bars, Henderson only has three years left in prison.

Part of Henderson’s plea deal included her waiving the right to a jury trial. 

The 58-year-old woman, who had been charged with the higher offense of capital murder in the killing of 3-month-old Brandon Baugh, hobbled into the courtroom on crutches with the help of her lawyers. 

After a litany of appeals based on new scientific evidence favorable to her defense, she no longer faced the death penalty but could have been punished with up to life in prison if convicted.

KXAN News was in court for the new development, and we heard from Baugh’s family on the decision. Brandon’s emotional parents were allowed to speak to the court, and they did not hold back their anger, frustration and disappointment in both Henderson and the legal process.

“You lied to us and made us believe you were a compassionate and caring person,” Brandon’s mother told Henderson before the court Friday. “The day that Brandon was found shattered my life forever.”

Baugh’s father said Henderson’s conduct was incomprehensible.

“You left my family to writhe in agony … Our grieving has never ended,” Brandon’s father said. “There is no such thing as getting over something like this. You have put us through hell.”

Henderson was originally convicted of capital murder in the baby’s killing more than 20 years ago. Henderson said she dropped baby Brandon on a hard floor while babysitting him in Pflugerville; however, the Travis County medical examiner at the time found the damage to Brandon’s head was too severe to have been inflicted by an accidental fall.

Henderson has said she ran away after she dropped the child, and she buried the body in Bell County before taking off to Missouri — where she was arrested February 1,1994. Just seven days later, deputies found Brandon’s body on Feb. 8, with the help of a map drawn by Henderson.

In 2007, Henderson was within two days of her scheduled execution date before a last-minute appeal.

The medical examiner, Roberto Bayardo, has since re-evaluated his findings. According to 2012 appeals court documents, Bayardo later told authorities he couldn’t determine whether the baby’s fall was caused intentionally or was an accident.

Due in large part to Bayardo recanting his original findings and changing his opinion, the appeals court in December 2012 found Henderson should be granted a retrial.

The family said they did not agree to the plea deal and feels the state fumbled.

“We don’t feel good about it at all. What this appeals shows and plea bargain was that when the original trial occurred, 20 years ago that jury made the correct decision, she was guilty of this murder,” said Eryn Baugh. “This case was only overturned by say junk science, witness tampering and absolute fraud committed upon the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.”

Henderson’s attorney said she’s eligible for parole now, but realistically doesn’t expect that to happen but he does anticipate she’ll be out by 2019.

Click here to read the full article (+videos)

Source: KXAN, Jackie Vegaand, David Barer and Sophia Beausoleil, June 12, 2015

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