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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…

Georgia: Man convicted of killing cop to be executed this month

Gregory Paul Lawler
Gregory Paul Lawler
ATLANTA — A Georgia death row inmate convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer in 1997 is scheduled to be executed later this month.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the state prison in Jackson, Attorney General Sam Olens said in statement Wednesday. Lawler was convicted of murder in the shooting death of Atlanta police Officer John Sowa.

Authorities say Lawler also critically injured Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

Sowa and Cocciolone were trying to bring Lawler’s intoxicated girlfriend home after he left her in a parking lot following an argument, prosecutors said. The officers escorted her up the front walk of the town house and knocked on the door.

Lawler opened the door and yelled at the officers to get away from the door. Once his girlfriend was inside, he tried to shut the door on them. Sowa put his hand up to keep the door from shutting and said they just wanted to make sure the girlfriend lived there and that she would be safe.

Lawler had placed an AR-15 rifle next to the door when he saw the officers arrive, and he grabbed it and fired at them as they ran away, prosecutors said. Lawler fired 15 times and used bullets that can penetrate body armor.

Cocciolone sent a radio distress call and when other officers arrived they found Sowa lying hear the sidewalk and Cocciolone on the ground in the front yard. Both officers’ pistols were still in their holsters.

The responding officers got Lawler’s girlfriend out of the apartment and had a six-hour standoff with Lawler before a negotiator persuaded him to surrender.

Cocciolone was seriously injured, suffering gunshot wounds to her head, arm, pelvis and torso and had to undergo extensive physical therapy. Despite the fact that she was still relearning to read and write, she was the prosecution’s star witness at Lawler’s trial in 2000.

If carried out, Lawler’s execution would be the seventh in Georgia this year and the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976. Georgia executed five inmates last year and in 1987.

Source: The Republic, October 5, 2016

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