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…

Texas Appeals Court Halts Scheduled Execution Amid Misconduct Claims

Holding cells adjacent to the death chamber, Huntsville Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Holding cells adjacent to the death chamber, Huntsville Unit, Huntsville, Texas
WASHINGTON — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday indefinitely halted the upcoming scheduled execution of Julius Murphy, in the wake of new claims of prosecutorial misconduct raised by Murphy’s lawyers.

Murphy had been scheduled for execution in Texas on November 3 after having been convicted of murder in the 1997 shooting death of Jason Erie.

On September 24, however, Murphy’s attorneys — including the D.C. law firm of Hogan Lovells — filed a new request for relief with the court, alleging that the two key witnesses who testified in Murphy’s 1998 trial were threatened with prosecution if they did not testify against Murphy — facts never disclosed to Murphy’s lawyer at the time or since.

Additionally, the lawyers argued that a new sworn statement from one of those two witnesses acknowledges that he lied at trial, not admitting that another man, Murphy’s co-defendant, pulled the trigger in Erie’s death.

Finally, the lawyers argued, more broadly, that “Texas’s death penalty no longer is constitutional under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

In Monday’s ruling, the court did not explain which one or more of the reasons presented in the September filing led to its action, with the order simply listing all three issues raised by Murphy’s lawyers and then ordering, “Applicant’s execution is stayed until further order of this Court.”

Source: Buzzfeed, Chris Geidner, October 13, 2015

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