FEATURED POST

Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Image
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 Man Escapes Death Sentence in Police Chief's Murder

David Risner, Police Chief  Lee Dixon
David Risner, Police Chief  Lee Dixon
BELTON – The killer of a small-town Texas police chief escaped the death penalty on Wednesday after a jury could not reach agreement on his punishment.

David Risner, a 59-year-old former police officer, will automatically be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He was convicted last Monday in the 2014 shooting death of Little River-Academy Police Chief Lee Dixon.

After hearing testimony for five days in the sentencing phase of Risner's trial, a Bell County jury deliberated for more than four hours before announcing it could not agree to sentence Risner to death.

“He’s going to die in prison; we’re going to take that home,” Bell County Assistant District Attorney Nelson Barnes said after the sentencing. “We only hope he doesn’t hurt someone in prison.”

Almost two years ago, on June 19, 2014, Dixon arrived at Risner’s house a little after 5 p.m. to investigate a complaint. The two talked for a few minutes, but when Dixon went to cite Risner for a class C misdemeanor, things escalated.

In a dashcam video played during the trial’s closing arguments, the courtroom heard Dixon call out to Risner in an increasingly frantic voice as Risner brought a shotgun to the screen door: “David, show me your hands! Show me them!”

A gunshot sounded, and the shouting ceased. Another shot rang out a few seconds later.

Risner called 911 himself, and a sheriff’s deputy arrived to find Dixon dead on the front porch, according to an arrest affidavit. In court, prosecutors showed an autopsy photo of Dixon, missing almost half of his face.

“What you did because you had a bad day was horrible, horrible,” Lee Dixon’s wife, Mary, said through tears to Risner after the sentencing. “I’m sorry, I just cannot forgive you.”

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Risner served as a law enforcement officer in several departments east of Dallas. He was active in his church and described as a generous man.

Later, he took a contract job in Baghdad during wartime.

“David came back from Iraq a different man, a broken man,” said Donna Risner, his wife. “It was hard for him to concentrate. It was hard for him to sit still. I heard him tell a doctor once it was like there were fire ants in his brain.”

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that Risner suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. Multiple explosions rocked the compound where he worked as a security supervisor in Iraq, at least once blowing out the windows of his room.

The defense argued those disorders were the cause of the shooting, and because of that, Risner shouldn’t receive the death penalty.

“He didn’t choose to have these conditions,” said Russ Hunt, Jr., Risner’s attorney. “These conditions are a result of him serving his community.”

Prosecutors said Risner couldn’t use PTSD or a brain injury as an excuse because millions of people are affected by these conditions.

“A shotgun to the face is not the result of PTSD, and it is not the result of a brain injury” Assistant District Attorney Shelley Strimple said. “There’s no excuse for blowing a man’s face off.”

Even with the lesser sentence, Risner will still die in prison, Hunt said. He only asked that his client be spared from execution.

“We’re not asking for a pass,” he said. “David Risner needs to be punished for what he’s done.”

Source: The Texas Tribune, Jolie McCullough, June 15, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: Death penalty repeal may be back on the table

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

Alabama executes Torrey Twane McNabb

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

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

Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Ohio parole board rejects Alva Campbell's mercy request

Papua New Guinea: Death row inmates denied full protection of the law

More drug dealers to be shot dead: Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency chief