FEATURED POST

Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Judge rules that Alabama death row inmate is competent to be executed May 12

An Alabama circuit court judge has denied a request to suspend the May 12 execution date of Vernon Madison, who has been on the state's death row for 31 years.

Madison was convicted in September 1985 and sentenced to death in Mobile County in the April 18, 1985, slaying of police Officer Julius Schulte, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call. Madison was on parole at the time.

At a competency hearing April 14, testimony was offered by Dr. Karl Kirkland, a court-appointed clinical and forensic psychologist; Dr. John Goff, a psychologist hired by Madison's attorneys; and Carter Davenport, the warden at W.C. Holman Correctional Facility.

Madison's attorneys argued that several strokes had caused such significant mental decline that he no longer understood why the state intended to execute him. His attorneys from the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative are seeking a stay of execution.

Julius SchulteCorporal Julius Schulte was a 22-year veteran of the Mobile Police Department when he was shot and killed April 18, 1985, while responding to a domestic violence call.

Madison had a stroke in May 2015 and another in January of this year, causing memory loss and slurred speech, making it difficult for him to move and rendering him legally blind.

Goff testified that, consequently, he has retrograde amnesia and dementia, and his IQ has declined significantly to 72 from previous scores.

The state attorney general's office argues that, based on the testimony of both Goff and Kirkland, Madison does understand why the state is moving to execute him. They say the testimony shows that Madison does not suffer from psychosis or delusions, and no mental illness or defect would cause him to lack an understanding of reality.

Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Smith issued a ruling Friday saying that, based on the testimony and arguments, Madison and his attorneys have not proven that he is not competent to be executed.

Smith wrote in the order that Madison has a rational understanding that "he is going to be executed because of the murder he committed and... that the state is seeking retribution and that he will die when he is executed."

The judge noted that, during the competency hearing, Madison did not testify, and it was "difficult to tell" if he was following the testimony. Smith wrote that he appeared physically ill, confined to a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace.

Madison, who has been on death row since Nov. 12, 1985, is one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates.

He had 3 trials, the last one in 1994. State appellate courts twice had sent the case back to Mobile County, once for a violation based on race-based jury selection and once based on improper testimony for an expert witness for the prosecution.

Over the years since, he has filed numerous state and federal appeals that have been denied, including denials by the Alabama Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The Alabama Supreme Court in January issued an order setting May 12 as the date for execution. Madison was one of three death row inmates for which the Alabama Attorney General's Office had requested the court in February to set execution dates.

The inmates are being held on death row at Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore where the executions take place.

Source: al.com, May 4, 2006

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