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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…

Texas death row inmate convicted of killing prison guard wins reprieve

Robert Pruett
Robert Pruett
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A Texas death row inmate who faced execution later this month for the murder of a corrections officer won a reprieve Thursday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling halted the scheduled Aug. 23 execution of Robert Pruett, 36, who was sentenced to death for the December 1999 stabbing death of corrections officer Daniel Nagle, 37, at the McConnell Prison Unit near Beeville.

Nagle was stabbed seven times and died of a heart attack.

Investigators found a ripped up disciplinary note beside his body that led them to Pruett, who was serving a 99-year sentence at the unit.

Pruett, who maintains his innocence, says his name was on the note found because the guard wrote him up for taking his lunch out into the yard.

Pruett's lawyers are appealing a ruling from the Bee County trial court that rejected arguments Pruett wouldn't have been convicted if results of DNA testing now available had been known at the time of his trial in 2002.

The appeals court set no timetable in its ruling Thursday and offered no further explanation.

Source: The Associated Press, August 11, 2016


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