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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…

Texas brothers won't face death penalty in triple slaying

Conrad Ochoa and Baron Ochoa
Conrad Ochoa and Baron Ochoa
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Prosecutors say two San Antonio brothers charged in a 2011 triple slaying in a case linked to alleged child sex abuse will not face the death penalty.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that prosecutors last week revealed they had dropped efforts to seek the death penalty against Baron and Conrad Ochoa.

Baron Ochoa agreed to plead guilty to sexual abuse of a child and sexual performance by a child, and to cooperate in the case against his brother, who remains charged with capital murder and child pornography.

Conrad Ochoa still faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

The victims included Conrad Ochoa's 10-year-old daughter, her mother and their roommate, who were stabbed to death. The girl had accused her father of sexual abuse in a bitter custody battle.

Conrad and Baron Ochoa became suspects soon after firefighters found the remains of the trio in their burning home on Karen Lane. Conrad Ochoa was in the midst of a bitter custody dispute with Gonzales in which she had accused him of molesting their daughter.

“We were taking our time to ensure we had ... gone down all the possible evidentiary trails there were,” DA Susan Reed said, describing the final result as a “spider web” of circumstantial evidence. “We had to really build the case.”

In the meantime, the brothers have remained incarcerated — the result of December 2011 child exploitation indictments that resulted from the murder investigation. After seizing Conrad Ochoa's computer, authorities reported finding thousands of illegal images of pre-pubescent children, as well as a recording prosecutors say depicts his brother having intercourse with a young girl.

Conrad Ochoa was charged with 38 counts of child pornography possession. Baron Ochoa was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Suzy Bianchi-Peters, Sammie Ochoa's grandmother and Gonzales' mother, encouraged prosecutors to take their time — “even if it took 10 years” — to make sure they had the strongest case possible.

Source: Associated Press, January 11, 2016

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