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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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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 executes TaiChin Preyor

TaiChin Preyor
TaiChin Preyor
A San Antonio man was executed Thursday night for killing a woman in 2004 after a last-minute request for a stay to the Supreme Court was rejected.

TaiChin Preyor, 46, had been on death row for 13 years after a Bexar County jury convicted him of killing Jami Tackett, 24, in a drug-related attack.

Preyor was pronounced dead at 9:22 p.m., about 20 minutes after a lethal dose of Pentobarbital was sent through the veins of both of his arms.

In a brief final statement, Preyor said, “First and foremost, I’d like to say, ‘Justice has never advanced by taking a human life,’ by Coretta Scott King. Lastly, to my wife and to my kids, I love y’all forever and always. That’s it.”

Neither Preyor’s nor Tackett’s relatives were present for the execution, just four journalists and some corrections officers.

Preyor is the fifth inmate to be executed in Texas this year, and the 16th nationally, according to data provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Earlier Thursday, Cate Stetson, an attorney representing Preyor said via email that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal and stay for her client, just hours before he was to be executed.

Preyor’s lawyers had argued that his appeals should be reviewed more fairly because poor legal representation had tainted his case.

Preyor had argued that a previous attorney collaborated with a disbarred lawyer, relied on Wikipedia and double-billed his family and the court.

The attorney who handled Preyor's initial appeal was a real-estate specialist from Beverly Hills, Calif., who partnered with a man who had been disbarred for incompetence 15 years earlier — without informing the court, Preyor said in his latest motions.

"The federal habeas petition the duo filed in the District Court was so facially inadequate that it subsequently became its own ironic meme, circulated among habeas attorneys as an example of what not to do," Preyor's eleventh-hour appeal argued.

The California attorney had never appeared in a case in Texas state court, and a 2014 printout in her files showed that she did not do research about the death penalty in Texas until it was too late.

"It appears she relied on Wikpedia, of all things, to learn the complex ins and outs of Texas capital-punishment law," the motion reads.

"Her files included a copy of the Wikipedia page titled, 'Capital punishment in Texas,' with a post-it note stating 'Research' next to highlighted passages of 'habeas corpus appeals' and 'subsequent or successive writ applications.'"

Preyor's mother paid the duo $45,000 for their services, but the lawyer also billed the court for representing Preyor, the motion said.

"Preyor cannot be bound by the acts of two incompetent charlatans," the new lawyers wrote in their Supreme Court petition. The previous attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

In its response to Preyor's appeal, the state said the inmate failed to show that what his ex-lawyer did "amounts to fraud on the court." The state also said Preyor had waited too long to make his claim, which was filed two weeks before his execution.

After that bid was rejected, Stetson then filed a petition seeking a stay from the nation’s highest court. That request to Justice Samuel Alito was denied some time after 8 p.m.

On Feb. 26, 2004, Preyor said he went to Tackett’s Southeast Side apartment to buy drugs and that he defended himself when attacked by Tackett and her friend, Jason Garza, 20. Preyor told police he “poked” Tackett with a knife to defend himself.

Preyor was arrested in the parking lot of the Grove Park Apartments in the 2500 block of Goliad Road near Interstate 37 South after he returned to the scene to look for his car keys, according to court documents. He had been covered in Tackett’s blood.

Tackett, whose throat was slashed, was found when her neighbors heard her screams.

Prosecutors told the Bexar County jury that heard the case that Tackett also suffered defensive wounds to her hand and forearm and had cuts on her face and abdomen.

Defense attorneys argued that Preyor went to Tackett's house to buy drugs from her and that she and Garza attacked Preyor when he arrived, and intended to rob him. He told police that he pulled a knife and "poked" Tackett with the weapon in an attempt to defend himself.

Witnesses testified during the trial that Tackett’s throat and windpipe were severed, and that she bled to death in her apartment. Neighbors heard the screams, and Garza, who was wounded in the attack, managed to escape and call 911. Preyor left the scene. He was arrested when he returned to get his keys.

Preyor becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 543rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

Preyor becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1458th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Sources: My SA, NBC News, Associated Press & Rick Halperin, July 28, 2017

🔎 Related content: Set for execution, Texas death row inmate alleges legal fraud in hopes of a stay, July 25, 2017

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