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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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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…

Relief Denied: Licho Escamilla to be 12th Texan executed this year

Licho Escamilla
Licho Escamilla in 2001
Texas will execute its 12th Texan this year when it sends Licho Escamilla to the gurney on Wed., Oct. 14.

Escamilla was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 25, 2001, shooting death of 34-year-old Christopher Kevin James, an off-duty policeman carrying out secondary employment as a security guard at Dallas' Club DMX.

Escamilla, 33, shot James at 2:45am after a fight broke out on the sidewalk of the northwest Dallas club. (Evidence has also been presented to implicate that Escamilla fatally shot another man, Michael Torres, days before James' murder.)

One other officer was wounded in the gunfire and survived.

Escamilla was 19 at the time and already wanted for another slaying. Testimony at his trial showed he also was wounded in the gunfire and was arrested as he tried to carjack a vehicle to flee the scene.
Considered indigent, he was represented by underprepared attorneys who brought only 10 pages of handwritten investigatory notes to trial and attempted to sway jurors into convicting Escamilla of murder charges rather than capital murder (an admission of guilt for Escamilla) because at the time of the murder, James wasn't technically working as a Dallas police officer.

His counsel's admission and altogether ineffective assistance throughout proceedings have led the arguments Escamilla and his current set of attorneys have used in attempts to stave off his execution. (Escamilla has also brought up his abusive upbringing, and suggested that Texas' lethal injection protocols violate the Eighth Amendment.)

Thus far, he hasn't had much luck. Petitions for relief at the state and federal levels have both been unsuccessful, as was an April 2012 motion for a new trial (on many of the same grounds).

In February, Escamilla learned that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not see enough mitigating evidence in earlier requests for relief to reverse the decision on his execution.

Escamilla had a final petition with the U.S. Supreme Court denied Monday morning. He stands to be the 530th Texan executed since 1976.

Sources: Austin Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, October 5-8, 2015

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