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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…

Pennsylvania: Aric Woodard's execution stayed

Aric Shayne Woodard
Aric Shayne Woodard
A York murderer's execution, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been stayed, according to online court records.

Aric Shayne Woodard, 43, formerly of West Jackson Street, was sentenced to death after being found guilty in 2013 of first-degree murder for fatally beating 2-year-old Jaques Omari Twinn on Nov. 7, 2011, while baby-sitting the boy and the boy's little sister.

Jaques was the son of Hayley Twinn, of York, and Tyrone Kemp, of Baltimore.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel signed a notice of execution for Woodard in January, setting March 4 as the execution date .

However, online court records show Woodard filed a motion to stay the execution on Feb. 6. That motion was granted by Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner on Feb. 9, according to court records.

Additionally, on Feb. 13, Bortner granted a motion for an appointment of legal counsel for Woodard.

Pennsylvania's death penalty


Shortly after taking office in 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf began issuing reprieves to condemned inmates, citing concerns about flaws in Pennsylvania's capital-punishment system.

He has said the moratorium will remain in effect at least until he receives a report from a legislative commission that has been studying the topic for about five years, according to The Associated Press.

The last execution in Pennsylvania was in 1999.


The background


According to Woodard's charging documents, police were called to a home in the 100 block of West Maple Street about 2:25 p.m. Nov. 7, 2011, for a child in cardiac arrest.

Jaques was rushed to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:05 p.m.

York City Detective Al Clarkson said at the time that Woodard left the children alone to go to a nearby store and that when he returned, he assaulted the child after realizing Jaques had smeared feces on the kitchen carpet.

Woodard had feelings for the children's mother, but she did not reciprocate, according to Clarkson.

"(Woodard) became frustrated that day," the detective has said. "He knew she was out with somebody else, and he realized she was using him to watch her kids while she was out with another guy."

Source: York Dispatch, Christopher Dornblaser, March 4, 2017

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