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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Execution date pushed back for Texas 7 escapee after paperwork error on death warrant

Joseph Garcia
Joseph Garcia is scheduled for execution in August.

Citing a court's clerical mistake, prosecutors this week asked for a new execution date for Texas 7 escapee Joseph Garcia.

The condemned Dallas County killer was scheduled to die on Aug. 30, but on Wednesday the court approved a new Dec. 4 date after the clerk failed to issue a death warrant in time.

"This statutory violation could result in a last-minute stay of execution," prosecutors wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

State law requires that the court issue a death warrant within 10 days of greenlighting the execution date. But in Garcia's case, a Dallas County judge set the date on May 24, and the warrant wasn't issued until June 6 - 3 days late.

Last February, a similar issue forced the state to grant a stay in the case of Tilon Carter, a Tarrant County death row prisoner. In that case, defense lawyers were notified a day late, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ended up calling off the execution four days before he was set to die.

Paperwork errors last year also forced the cancellation of execution dates for Larry Swearingen and Juan Castillo. In both cases, defense wasn't properly given the requisite 90-day notice.

At the time of the notorious escape, Garcia was already in prison for a crime out of Bexar County, where he stabbed a man at least a dozen times.

In December 2000, he was serving time at the Connally Unit when he teamed up with 6 fellow prisoners to plot the biggest break-out in Texas prison history.

The men busted into the prison armory, stole weapons and stormed out of the unit in a prison truck. After orchestrating two robberies in Houston, they headed up to the Dallas area.

There, on Christmas Eve, the men held up a store in Irving and made off with $70,000 and 44 guns. But on the way out, they ran into a cop.

The escapees surrounded Officer Aubrey Hawkins' patrol vehicle and shot him 11 times before running over his body with an SUV on the way out, according to court records.

They were captured in Colorado a month later. Though 1 of the men killed himself rather than surrender, the other 6 were captured and sent to death row. 3 have since been executed.

Source: Houston Chronicle, Keri Blakinger, June 28, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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