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…

Prosecutors launch last push for James Holmes' execution

James E. Holmes
James E. Holmes
The jury in the Colorado theater shooting trial will hear even more heart-wrenching testimony Tuesday from those who lost loved ones in the attack, as prosecutors begin their final push to have James Holmes sentenced to death..

It comes after jurors rejected arguments Monday that the former neuroscience student's mental illness should remove the death penalty as an option. They deliberated for less than 3 hours.

"The case for death is only going to get stronger from this point forward," said Denver attorney and former prosecutor Craig Silverman. "This jury is not going to want to disappoint the families of these victims. ... I'd be very surprised if the verdict was anything other than death."

The same jury swiftly rejected Holmes' insanity defense, deciding he was capable of telling right from wrong when he opened fire during a Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20, 2012. Their quick decision Monday also bodes well for prosecutors, Silverman said.

Other legal experts said there's no way to predict the final decision by the nine women and three men who already convicted Holmes of murdering 12 people and trying to kill 70 others.

Jurors Monday found simply that Holmes' mental problems and the portrait his attorneys painted of a kinder, gentler younger man did not outweigh the horrors of his calculated attack on defenseless moviegoers.

This final stage can be more challenging for each juror. To choose capital punishment, they must be unanimous, said another Denver defense attorney, Karen Steinhauser. Otherwise, Holmes would be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"When jurors have to decide if life or death is an appropriate sentence, nothing should be taken as a given," she said. "It's not over yet."

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed, said prosecutors advised her that she would testify Tuesday.

"I'm a little overwhelmed, but at the same time, my job is to share Jessie with the jury, and I will do that to the best of my ability," she said outside the courthouse.

Phillips won't be able to tell jurors that she attended the trial every day in honor of her daughter or talk about her effort to change gun laws. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. set limits on the victims' testimony, saying he would allow prosecutors to convey the magnitude of the crime without overwhelming jurors with emotion.

For example, speakers will be able to talk about the last time they saw their loved ones, but only briefly. Friends of victims can testify, but they can't talk about the impact the shooting had on them, Samour said.

"I'm going to be watching the jury closely," Samour said.

As they have throughout the trial, Holmes' lawyers objected to photos and testimony they said was repetitive and overly dramatic.

Holmes had been a promising scholar in a demanding neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado until his life went awry amid the pressures of laboratory work. He broke up with his first and only girlfriend and dropped out of school, abandoning his longtime goal of becoming a scientist.

He saw a campus psychiatrist but hid the depth of his turmoil from everyone, describing it instead in a secret journal where he methodically laid out his plans to kill.

Shortly after midnight, he slipped into the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," stood before the capacity crowd of more than 400 people and opened fire with a shotgun, assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol before surrendering to police outside.

Source: Associated Press, August 4, 2014

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Texas: Montgomery County DA asks governor to stay Anthony Shore's execution

Texas court halts execution to review claims that co-defendant lied at trial

Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Alabama executes Torrey Twane McNabb

Texas: Houston Man Condemned in Family Murder Plot Loses High Court Appeal

Iran: Young man has hand judicially amputated over jewelry theft

Hours before execution, Tourniquet Killer granted 90-day stay at DA's request

Pakistan's angel of death

Why Indonesia Delays Execution of Death Row Convicts

The Execution Dock in London was used for more than 400 years to execute pirates, smugglers & mutineers