Trump’s Killing Spree: The Inside Story of His Race to Execute Every Prisoner He Could

Before 2020, there had been three federal executions in 60 years. Then Trump put 13 people to death in six months IN THE FINAL moments of Brandon Bernard’s life, before he was executed by lethal injection at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Dec. 10, 2020, President Donald Trump picked up the phone to entertain a final plea for mercy on Bernard’s behalf. The call was not with Bernard’s family or his attorneys. Nor was it with representatives from the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney office, who had recommended just days earlier that Trump spare Bernard’s life.

USA | Texas House votes to end 'law of parties' in death penalty cases

AUSTIN — The Texas House in an overwhelming vote Tuesday said people who are present when a capital murder is committed but who did not realize that someone might be killed should no longer be subject to the death penalty.

The author of House Bill 1340, which requires a final House vote before advancing to the Senate, said the measure should be part of a "broader and deeper conversation on the very existence of the death penalty."

Under what is commonly called the "law of parties," all conspirators are equally guilty if they take part in the commission of a felony. But under state Rep. Jeff Leach's legislation, a jury must find that a conspirator who did not actually do the killing actually intended to kill the victim to be condemned to death.

"We want to reserve the death penalty ... for cases in which there is intent," the Plano Republican said.

The bill, which passed 139-4, also would require the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to determine how many inmates presently are on death row under the law of parties and to initiate efforts to have their sentences commuted.

According to the online publication the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, Texas has executed at least six people who were convicted under the law of parties.

When he presented his bill to the House Jurisprudence Committee in early April, Leach noted said he has "struggled" with the way the death penalty is administered in Texas, which leads the nation with 570 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed them to resume in 1976.

"It is not a comfortable position for a Republican to be in – to be talking about limiting the use of the death penalty in Texas," Leach said. 

For much of his political career, Leach said he was a proponent of capital punishment, as are nearly all Republican lawmakers in Texas. However, a visit to Texas death row a few years ago initiated what he said was a change of heart.

Leach said after meeting an inmate condemned to death under the law of parties, his conscience is troubled that they face execution.

"I have trouble sleeping at night knowing that there is, not an innocent man on death row, but there is a man, and perhaps many men and women, on death row right now who could be put to death any day by the state when they didn't kill anybody," Leach said.

Source: caller.com, John C. Moritz, May 4, 2021

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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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