Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eight legal executions or eight legal murders?

8 People Who Were Executed and Later Found Innocent 

Reprinted from NakedLaw 
 May 6, 2010

It’d be nice to think our judicial system is totally infallible, but unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Innocent people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit more often than anyone would like to admit, and in some cases, people who were later found to be innocent have actually been put to death.

Here are 8 people who were executed and innocent.

Cameron Todd Willingham—In 1992, Willingham was convicted of arson murder in Texas. He was believed to have intentionally set a fire that killed his three kids. In 2004, he was put to death. Unfortunately, the Texas Forensic Science Commission later found that the evidence was misinterpreted, and they concluded that none of the evidence used against Willingham was valid. As it turns out, the fire really was accidental.

Ruben Cantu—Cantu was 17 at the time the crime he was alleged of committing took place. Cantu was convicted of capital murder, and in 1993, the Texas teen was executed. About 12 years after his death, investigations show that Cantu likely didn’t commit the murder. The lone eyewitness recanted his testimony, and Cantu’s co-defendant later admitted he allowed his friend to be falsely accused. He says Cantu wasn’t even there the night of the murder.

Larry Griffin—Griffin was put to death in 1995 for the 1981 murder of Quintin Moss, a Missouri drug dealer. Griffin always maintained his innocence, and now, evidence seems to indicate he was telling the truth. The first police officer on the scene now says the eyewitness account was false, even though the officer supported the claims during the trial. Another eyewitness who was wounded during the attack was never contacted during the trial, and he says Griffin wasn’t present at the crime scene that night.

Carlos DeLuna—In 1989, DeLuna was executed for the stabbing of a Texas convenience store clerk. Almost 20 years later, Chicago Tribune uncovered evidence that shows DeLuna was likely innocent. The evidence showed that Carlos Hernandez, a man who even confessed to the murder many times, actually did the crime.

David Wayne Spence—Spence was put to death in 1997 for the murder of three teenagers in Texas. He was supposedly hired by a convenience store clerk to kill someone else, but he allegedly killed the wrong people by mistake. The supervising police lieutenant said “I do not think David Spence committed this crime.” The lead homicide detective agreed, saying “My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved.”

Jesse Tafero—In 1976, Tafero was convicted of murdering a state trooper. He and Sonia Jacobs were both sentenced to death for the crime. The main evidence used to convict them was testimony by someone else who was involved in the crime, ex-convict Walter Rhodes. Rhodes gave this testimony in exchange for a life sentence. In 1990, Tafero was put to death. Two years later, his companion Jacobs was released due to a lack of evidence…the same evidence used to put Tafero to death.

Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin— The oldest case on this list dates back to 1915. The Griffin brothers, two black men, were convicted of the murder of a white man. The reason they were convicted is because Monk Stevenson, another black man suspected of committing the murder, pointed to the brothers as having been responsible. He later admitted the reason he blamed them is because they were wealthy, and he assumed they had the money to beat the charges. The Griffin brothers were completely innocent, but they were put to death nonetheless.

Also see other posts on executions

1. Charles H. Rector: His last letter from death row

2. My personal eyewitness experience to an execution in Texas; it was no 'Dead Man Walking' scene

3. The Georgia execution of Troy Anthony Davis brought back unpleasant memories (Video)

4.  Charles Henry Rector: Was he guilty of murder and rape beyond a reasonable doubt?

5. Legal executions or legal murders?

6. Gary Graham and a single eyewitness conviction

7. Condemned killer executed for horrendous dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. (Video)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My personal eyewitness experience to an execution in Texas; it was no 'Dead Man Walking' scene

My personal eyewitness experience to an execution

Before March 25, 1999 I had never witnessed an execution. All I knew about an execution was what I had read, had seen in the movies. On TV and in some movies, an execution is more suggestive than the actual showing of it. Real executions are nothing like the scene in Dead Man Walking, where the condemned killer is strapped to an upright gurney so that he can face families and witnesses.

The above date was the year my cousin, Charles Henry Rector, was executed by the State of Texas.  He had been on death row since September 2, 1982. Today, twelve years later the memory is still lives with me. After Charles’ execution, his plea of innocence peeked my curiosity. I began a research journey into his case. I read everything I could find, including trial transcripts, police reports from Austin and Killeen, Texas, news stories, his appeals. I’ve pulled some of that information to help write his blog  But first, my one and only experience observing an execution.

The Texas execution chamber is housed next to this larger 
pink building.
The Pink Building

The Texas death chamber is housed in a building located in downtown Huntsville, Texas. The chamber is housed in a deep pink building that seem to stretch a couple of blocks. The actual execution chamber, located behind the pink building, is hospital sterile, with turquoise walls, gray tile floors and bright ceiling lights. In the center of the room is a gurney covered by an clean white sheet, a pillow and five straps to hold down the inmate’s arms,  legs and midbody section, just in case the condemned tries to get off the table. On each side of the gurney are two padded arms rests with thick straps on each side. (see photo below)

There is a slanted mirrored glass to the left in the 9 foot by 12 foot chamber. Tubes that carry sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride (this was the deadly cocktail in 1999) are fed through the small square opening in the wall. Relatives of the condemned and those of the victim observes the execution through different windows in different rooms. Families are separated by a ceiling to floor concrete wall. They cannot see or hear each other.

Stepping into the execution chamber, witnesses eyes zoom immediately to the inmate lying on the gurney, securely strapped down. Charles appeared composed and resigned to his fate. It was somewhat startling (for me) to see him lying on his "death bed" in such quiet silence. He was dressed in a freshly laundered white (pants and short sleeve shirt) prison uniform. A white sheet covered him from mid-chest to his feet. A intravenous needle was attached to his left his arm. The warden and a priest were in the chamber with him, which is tradition. The chamber was, solemn,  calm and silent.

Prior to preparation for an execution, a condemned inmate can order a last meal. He or she will have 30 minutes to eat (3:20 to 4 pm). All visitations are stopped at 12:30 pm, except for the chaplain. Charles' last meal consisted of three tacos, three beef enchilada, french fries and a strawberry shake. Inmates can refuse the last meal. Loosing one's appetite at the last minutes seems normal. It is not mandatory that they eat what they ordered. After the meal the inmate takes a shower, and change into clean pants and shirt. After this the prepping process continues.  A medically trained person inserts an intravenous catheter into the inmate's arm. The process is completed before relatives and witnesses arrive to witness the execution.

Before the execution families are kept apart. They never see each other. They do not walk down to the chamber together. If a witness or family member needs counseling prior to the execution, the service is provided. Everyone is escorted to the chamber about five minutes before the execution.  After the execution concludes they are free to talk to each other and the media.

Strapped and ready
Texas' well used execution chamber

Charles looked in our direction when we stepped into the death chamber, taking our place at the picture window.  I told prison personnel prior to the execution that I wanted to leave soon after  Charles made his last statement. She understood and said that could be arranged. I did not want to watch Texas kill Charles

As I told him earlier in a telephone conversation: “Take your soul to a higher place. Texas can kill your body but not your soul.” Watching him displayed on the gurney, I looked at him and pointed upward.

I can not imagine what Charles was feeling lying there, an intravenous needle in his left arm,  ready to die for a crime he said he was not guilty of committing. During a last minute telephone call that was not supposed to happen, Charles, in an upbeat mood, declared his innocence. The telephone call is too long to write about in this blog. I'll just day that God was on my side that depressive day. Maybe I'll write about it another day.

As is the custom, the warden asked Charles if he had any thing to say. Charles, who had learned to write poetry and rap songs, said he did. He spoke into the microphone suspended above his head. The warden pulled it down close to Charles's mouth.  He looked at his sister, Gigi and said:

The first statement I would like to make it’s to my sister. I want her to know that every thing that is said, every move that is made, every motion I hold is true to my heart. I hold it in my soul.

I want you to know that I am not guilty and I will say this to the family. I did not kill your daughter. Take it the way you want. Sorry for the pain.

Sister, I love you and will be there with you, to help you. I want to talk to you about being there . . . You know what I am saying. I want to thank you, thank you for the words. The dying words, you know. They mean a lot. Make sure he knows what I want him to know.

I want to quote a song that I wrote called "God Living with Us 24 Hours." It goes:
Tell the kids I love them and I’ll be there. That’s all I have to say.

The warden signaled the hidden death deliverers to proceed with the execution. I told the guard to open the steel door. I stepped into the early evening air, feeling sick to my stomach. I went back the waiting room in the pink building. I waited for the execution to end. The experience was very dramatic for me. I don't think it will ever leave me.

After an execution and death was confirmed, Charles's body is taken from the execution chamber to a waiting hearse. Usually, the body is either delivered to the a mortuary of choice as preplanned by the family, or buried by the state. The condemned, in a prearrangement,  can request that his or her body be donated to the state's anatomical board for the purpose of medical research.

Public execution poll: To view or not to view

A  poll taken in 2001 asked this  question: ”Should the public be able to view executions?”  Respondents were divided: 23% said yes; 23% were against; 19% felt executions should be viewed by family members only; and 17% said executions should be private.

The United States has a long history of so-called "legal" public executions. The last one was carried out in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1936 when Rainey Bethea was hanged after his conviction for the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman.

Hundreds of reporters and photographers, some from as far away as New York and Chicago,  were dispatched to Owensboro to cover what was then the country's first hanging of a woman. At least 20,000 people descended on the town to witness the execution. Bethea walked toward the gallows shortly after sunrise and was pronounced dead at around 5:45 a.m. that same day.

In 1936, reporters blasted what they called the 'carnival in Owensboro.' Many scholars say Bethea's execution -- and the coverage it received -- led to a banning of public executions in America. (NPR, May 1, 2001)

Chaplain opposes death penalty


The Georgia execution of Troy Anthony Davis brought back unpleasant memories (Videos)


On  Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Americans and people all over the world were cognizant that Troy Davis, a 42-year-old Africa American man from Georgia, was going to be executed for a crime he said he did not commit. Previously, he had requested a polygraph test but the request was blocked by prison officials. Davis's lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the execution, but it refused, giving no explanation. The four hour wait to get the word from the Supreme Court was an intense nail-biter. The Court was Davis' the last hope.

Ed Jackson, reporter for The Guardian, a British newspaper, was in Georgia was the execution. He wrote, "Even if you set aside the issue of Davis' innocence or guilt, the manner of his execution tonight is cruel and unnatural.

"If the execution goes ahead as expected, it would be the fourth scheduled execution date for this prisoner. In 2008 he was given a stay just 90 minutes before he was set to die. Experts in death row say such  multiple experiences with  imminent death is tantamount to torture."

After the Supreme Court's decision was announced, Davis was wheeled into Georgia's death chamber at 10:53 pmHe was pronounced dead at 11:08. Amy Goodman of  Democracy Now interviewed  radio journalist Jon Lewis after the execution. He related with happened.

"Basically, it went very quietly. The MacPhail family and friends sat in the first row. Warden read the order, asked if Troy Davis had anything to say. And Davis lifted his head up, looked at that first row, and made a statement, in which he said—he wanted to talk to the MacPhail family and said that, despite the situation you’re in, he was not the one who did it. He said that he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun.

"He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and—his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working and keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'who are going to take my life,' he said to them, 'May God have mercy on your souls." And his last words were to them: 'May God bless your souls.' Then he put his head back down, the procedure began, and about 15 minutes later it was over."'

At the conclusion of the prosecution and defense attorney summations, August 28, 1991, it took a jury less than two hours to find of Troy Davis guilty of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Addressing the jury Davis pleaded that his life be spared. He asked the jury to " .  .  . just give me a chance. That's all I ask. He told the jury he was charged with "offenses I didn't commit." On August 30, 1991, after seven hours of deliberation, the jury recommended that Davis get the death penalty. He had three execution dates and three stays before September 21, 2011.

Davis was the eldest child of four. He was the son of Korean War veteran Joseph Davis, and Virginia Davis. They divorced when Davis was young. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia.
Troy Anthony Davis
Mark MacPhail
 What happened the night officer McPhail was killed

In the early morning hours of August 19, 1989, several people including Troy Davis and Sylvester “Redd” Coles, were hanging out near a Burger King parking lot adjoined to a Greyhound bus station in Savannah, Georgia.  Coles started arguing with a homeless man named Larry Young, demanding that Young give him a beer.

As Young walked away, he was pistol-whipped, the gun striking his head. Police officer Mark MacPhail, serving off-duty as a security guard at the bus station, responded to a call for help. As he came running to Young’s rescue he was shot and killed by the same man who had attacked Young. The day after the shooting Coles went to the police station with his lawyer and said Troy Davis was the shooter.

Seven eyewitnesses who said they saw what happened, later recanted their testimony. Endeavoring to correct their original testimony was not convincing enough to derail Davis' execution. The last ray of hope was killed when the U. S. Supreme Court denied a stay without comment. Reportedly, there was no physical evidence connecting Davis to the fatal shooting.

Watching the pending execution of Troy Anthony Davis on television Wednesday night I felt jittery, overcome with nervous energy. I could not explain my reaction to myself or anyone else. I got on my treadmill, where I walked for one solid hour. And then I remembered the day I got a letter from my cousin, Charles H. Rector, informing me that his execution date had been set. I felt a burst of nervous energy, so much so that I ironed clothes I had set aside for almost a year. I felf lost and helpless. I finally concluded I was reliving that March 25, 1999 execution in Texas all over again.

Mark MacPhail was 27 years old when he was killed in 1989. He was married and the father of a two-year-old daughter and an infant son. He joined the Savannah Police Department in 1986 after spending six years in the military as a Army Ranger. The son of an Army Colonel, MacPhail was a patrol officer for three years. In 1989, seeking a career change within the police department, he applied to train as a mounted policeman.

Mark MacPhail was laid to rest August 22, 1989 at the Trinity Lutheran Church.

Charles Henry Rector: Was he guilty of murder and rape beyond a reasonable doubt?

 The Texas judicial system said “Yes” but facts in his case said “No.”

Supposedly, Carolyn Katy” Davis was kidnapped from her apartment October 17, 1981 by Charles Rector, 27, Howard Ray Simon, 21, and Michael Anthony Miller, 21. All three were on parole and lived in the same half way house on East 12th Street in Austin, Texas. There were no eyewitnesses putting Rector in Davis’ apartment. Someone at the complex came forward, and said he saw two Black men walking towards Davis’ apartment, neither of which were identified. Investigators told the media the intruders climbed through a second floor window to gain entrance to the apartment. No ladder was found under the window.

Charles Henry Rector
Police reports that I read stated that when they arrested Rector near the crime scene. He was alone and shirtless. The night was humid. He had no bruises or scratches on his body. The area where Davis’ body was found the next day was grassy and muddy.

Some important facts involving Charles Rector’s case

A)  One defense lawyer involved in the case said that without Howard Ray Simon’s testimony the case against Rector would “definitely be a circumstantial case.” Another source said it would be a strong circumstantial case, but admitted that without Simon there are no witnesses who can put Rector either with Davis or in the victim’s apartment. (Austin American Statesman)

B)  Simon hightails it to Dallas after the murder/rape. He is caught and returned to Austin. He makes a confession implicating himself, Rector and  Michael Anthony Miller. He escapes the Travis County jail and goes on the run again. A few weeks later he is shot and killed by a Logansport teenager after a robbery in Louisiana.

C)  Scattered clothing was found in the area near Davis’ nude body on the lake. Police were unsure who they belonged to.

D)  Reportedly, Rector was arrested after returning to the scene of crime to look for a knife he left. At the trial the prosecution did not present the knife that would put Rector in Davis’s apartment.

E)  This is an excerpt from a police report: “. . . a ‘78 Ford, stolen and recovered at the Hyde Park Parking Garage. Officer James Beck, reporting officer, wrote in his police report that it was seen at 2:30 a.m. I went to the police garage, observed a lot of mud. While colichi cut grass and mud and grass [are] comparable to that found on the clothing of Howard Simon of whose clothes I had gotten after 3 a.m. Rector’s car had no grass or dirt that put it at the crime scene. There was no dirt or cut grass on the pants or shoes he was wearing despite prosecutors saying he was on the lake committing the act of murder against Davis.

F)  A firearms expert testified that the caliber of pistol found in Charles Rector’s car may have been involved in the slaying, but ballistic tests proved inconclusive.

G)  In a confession Michael Anthony Miller said the three of them– Charles Rector and Howard Simon--returned to halfway house with Carolyn Davis sitting in the back seat Miller wanted to change clothes.

H)  Soil and hair taken from Charles Rector’s car did not match those found on Carolyn Davis’ body.

I)  According to Scott Eby, a witness on the night of the crime,  (from original police report, page 47) said he heard someone walking outside his apartment. He heard a female scream, and then a flash as if someone had fallen into the swimming pool. He said he looked out his window and saw the backside of one Black man, and heard the voice of more than one person. He described what they were wearing. However, by the time Charles Rector went to trial, his testimony had changed.

J)  Officer William Matthews testified that he noticed some stolen items in the trunk of Rector’s car at the end of "high speed chase" (approximately 20 to 25 MPH). He testified that Rector was wearing a pair of tight blue jeans, a pair of beige shoes, no shirt.
Williams testified that Rector had some of the victim’s jewelry in his blue jeans pockets, and was wearing a high school class ring bearing her initials. He testified that Rector was not wearing underwear.

K)  A pair of men’s underwear and a pair of pantyhose was found near the crime scene. Neither item was testified to at Charles Rector’s trial. There was no forensic report as to who the underwear and pantyhose belonged to.

L) From the beginning of the trial jurors were told the state’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, and there were no eye-witnesses to the killing of Carolyn Davis.

M)  The Austin American Statesman wrote that defense lawyers spent most of Thursday morning trying to discredit Bayardo’s testimony about the time of death. The medical examiner said Davis died about 11 p.m. Oct. 17  an hour before Rector was arrested.

Charles Henry Rector, 1999
**In a letter dated March 23, 1999, Charles Rector wrote:  “Even though we now have the evidence that I was in the custody of the Austin Police Department at the time the deceased in my case was being murdered, I can’t get the court to  give me a hearing so that I could show the court the evidence. So I may just die because I don’t have the money to pay a attorney to get me a hearing . . . I am filing a motion on my own and just maybe the court will hear my motion . . .”

N)  Joe Irvin, Carolyn Davis’ stepfather, identified Michael Miller in court as one of two men who returned to Davis’s apartment soon after the killing. Minutes after the men were spotted, Charles Rector was arrested a few blocks away.

O)  Citing a lack of evidence, jurors  on Friday acquitted Anthony Miller of the 1981 murder of Carolyn “Katy” Davis.

Medical examiner in denial

Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo was one of only two defense witnesses. The other, private investigator Don  Cripps, said Bayardo told him in December that Davis died between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Oct 18--after Rector already was in custody (Austin American Statesman). The medical examiner denied he made that statement to the investigator.

With the death of Howard Simon,  Michael Anthony Miler cut a deal with prosecutors. He was acquitted of all charges.  Miller’s parole officer said Miller had not violated his parole while spinning records in a night club, breaking his curfew.

It took 1 1/2 hours for an all white jury-- seven men, four women-- to find Charles 
Henry Rector guilty of rape and murder. The prosecution was shocked at the jury’s speeding decision, but praised them for finding Rector guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

There was no doubt in the mind of the prosecution and jury that Rector could abduct 

Carolyn Davis, drive across town to an isolated location on Town Lake, repeatedly 
rape her, shot her in the head, hold her head underwater until she drowned, drive back to her complex to search for a knife he thought he left behind. There was no mud or grass on the jeans he was wearing, no matching dirt on his shoes, no scratches or marks on his body. He did all this from between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., the time he was arrested.

Supposedly, Rector and Miller were seen running from the apartment. Supposedly, they were seen by a fingerprints expert and Davis' stepfather. I assume Miller ran in a different direction. Charles was sitting alone  in his car when police approached him. Supposedly, Charles had run a couple of blocks to his parked car. He got into the car, waiting for Miller. A policeman approached the car. Charles started the engine and engaged the officer in a "high speed" chase.

Like Troy Anthony Davis, Charles Henry Rector pleaded innocent of the crime for which he was charged with. Unlike Davis, there were no protests against Rector’s execution. But like Davis, Rector did not have money to hire a qualified attorney. Before his trial began Rector refused to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison. He said he was not guilty, and was not willing to accept a plea deal.

In a  interview with Michael Graczyk, Houston Chronicle, Rector told him, “I’m not sorry 

to have not taken the life sentence. I’d rather die than say I’m guilty. It’s not my crime. It’s not my nature to kill for blue jeans. Come on, it would take an animal to kill for a pair of blue jeans.”

Rector was the 172nd prisoner to be executed since Texas resumed its death penalty in December 1982 when Charles Brooks, an African American, became to the first condemned to die by lethal injection. In 1999, 17 Whites, 11 Blacks and seven Hispanics were executed. As of December 2009, the death penalty has been authorized in 36 stares. Texas leads the nation with the number executions since reinstated in 1976 after a brief moratorium. 

Gary Graham and a single eyewitness conviction

Gary Graham
 "Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty." Numbers 35:30

 On June 23, 2000 a controversial execution took place in Texas. It was not a first for the Lone Star State. This execution drew media attention, anti-death penalty protests and noted civil rights activists. The executed inmate was Gary Graham, 36, an African American. He was convicted on the word of one eyewitness. 

Frank Jarrett, chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said of the witness: “She was credible” compared to the witnesses who testified for Graham. He said the woman never wavered from her testimony whereas the other witnesses changed their stories.

Gary Graham was convicted in 1981. He claimed he was  innocent of the shooting death. He was 17 when he was charged with the 1981 armed robbery and shooting death of Bobby Lambert outside a Houston supermarket. Graham was convicted primarily on the testimony of one witness, Bernadine Skillern, who testified that she saw the killer's face for a few seconds through her windshield from a distance of 30-40 feet.

Many  capital murder cases are decided without the benefit of an eyewitness. A number of criminal defense attorneys have stated that they prefer it when there is an eyewitness. It gives them a chance to create reasonable doubt. Harris County defense attorney Robert Morrow said, "I see there's an eyewitness and I see an opportunity."

Another local defense lawyer, Floyd Freed, said, " . . .  it certainly gives me more hope at trial" if the prosecutors present an eyewitness. Death penalty cases are usually decided on confessions, physical evidence, and/or circumstantial evidence. In Graham's case there was no confession or  physical evidence. The circumstantial evidence was so weak, prosecutors had to base the  majority of their case on Bernadine Skillern's testimony.” (Texas Execution Information Center).

Two other witnesses, both of whom worked at the grocery store, said they got a good look at the assailant. They said Graham, who has a criminal record, was not the killer. They were never interviewed by Graham's court appointed attorney, Ronald Mock. They were not called to testify at  his trial. Three of the jurors who voted to convict Graham signed affidavits saying they would have voted differently had all of the evidence been available.

Gary Graham’s execution was postponed for three hours while lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for clemency. The request was denied. His court appointed lawyer initiated a lawsuit against the Board of Pardons and Paroles. He said the Board it refused to  grant a reprieve.

Gerald Garrett
In an interview with Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman Gerald Garrett in 2000, he told me, "In the Gary Graham case we kept getting information from different people; different resources that felt they had information that was important enough to be considered. So I extended the deadline twice to accommodate the additional information.”

Garrett said they were criticized for making a decision on the day of Graham's execution. Addressing public's conception of the Board faxing and telephoning their decisions, Garrett said they have a set "due date" to respond to an application. Board members independently review "this information and then on a certain day, we ask them to get the information back to Austin. It is sent back to us by fax."

Gov. George Bush, then a presidential candidate, said the decision was in the hands of the Board. In Texas, the Board has power over the governor in death penalty cases. The Board voted 14-3 against a 120-day reprieve; 12-5 against computation to a lesser sentence and 17-0 against a conditional pardon.

Among the witnesses to Graham’s execution were civil rights activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Given there were so much doubt about Graham’s guilt, Jackson asked Bush to delay the execution. Like all governors preceding him, Bush believed that capital punishment is just, and is a reliable deterrent against crime.

“There are many doubts as to whether Graham, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, actually killed grocery clerk Bobby Lambert on May 13, 1981, during a robbery attempt. There is no physical evidence linking Graham to the crime. His conviction was based primarily on the testimony of one eyewitness, whose identification of Graham is disputed by other eyewitnesses.

“Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis has called on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to hold a public hearing on the Graham case. The 18-member board, which generally votes by fax, plans to vote privately on Thursday and issue a decision at noon, only six hours before Graham is to be put to death. Usually the board meets prior to the scheduled day of execution. The board, comprised of Bush appointees earning $80,000-a-year salaries, has only commuted one death sentence since Bush took office in 1995.” (World Socialist Web Site, June 22, 2000)

Doubts on the minds of Graham supporters:

A) Only one of six witnesses identified Graham. 
B) The gun  found on Graham did not fire the bullet that killed Lambert.
 C) Four witnesses said Graham was some place else when the robbery/murder took place.

Graham is not willing to succumb to the executioner 

According to an eyewitness, Graham violently fought his appointment with death. He had to be restrained and physically carried to the death chamber. He was wrapped in a white sheet to subdue him. As Graham struggled to stave off the execution he continually proclaimed his innocence.

In a long last statement, Graham said: I would like to say that I did not kill Bobby Lambert. That I'm an innocent black man that is being murdered. This is a lynching that is happening in America tonight. There's overwhelming and compelling evidence of my defense that has never been heard in any court of America. What is happening here is an outrage for any civilized country to anybody anywhere to look at what's happening here is wrong. I thank all of the people that have rallied to my cause. They've been standing in support of me. Who have finished with me. I say to Mr. Lambert's family, I did not kill Bobby Lambert. You are pursuing the execution of an innocent man.

I want to express my sincere thanks to all of ya'll. We must continue to move forward and do everything we can to outlaw legal lynching in America. We must continue to stay strong all around the world, and people must come together to stop the systematic killing of poor and innocent black people. We must continue to stand together in unity and to demand a moratorium on all executions. We must not let this murder/lynching be forgotten tonight, my brothers. We must take it to the nation. We must keep our faith.

We must go forward. We recognize that many leaders have died. Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and others who stood up for what was right. They stood up for what was just. We must, you must brothers, that's why I have called you today. You must carry on that condition. What is here is just a lynching that is taking place. But they're going to keep on lynching us for the next 100 years, if you do not carry on that tradition, and that period of resistance. We will prevail. We may loose this battle, but we will win the war. This death, this lynching will be avenged. It will be avenged, it must be avenged.

The people must avenge this murder. So my brothers, all of ya'll stay strong, continue to move forward. We will prevail. We will keep marching. Keep marching black people, black power. Keep marching black people, black power. Keep marching black people. Keep marching black people. They are killing me tonight. They are murdering me tonight.” 

Graham refused a last meal. 

Anti-death penalty protesters

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rick Perry throws stale red meat and buzz words at information challenged tea partiers

There are White people who refuse to accept the fact that an African American won the presidency in 2008 by a large margin over his White opponent, John McCain. These people commenced protesting against Barack Obama before he was inaugurated.

Several months ago Donald Trump revived the birther circus, glorifying in his ring master role. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knew that Trump was only interested in driving up ratings for his TV show The Apprentice. After signing for a new season he straightway dropped the charade and his plan to run for president.

Texas governor Rick Perry, after having dinner with Trump, came out of the dining room to throw left over steak at information challenged tea party folk. Tonight on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews' Hardball,  I saw an ad that Gov. Slick Rick Perry is running. It is chalk full of buzz words, dark and gloomy images signifying Obama’s presidency; the bright, busy images noting how Perry will change the country. At the end Perry (face unseen) rides up on a horse to save a dying America. He sees himself as the self-appointed hero who will vanquish President Obama in 2012. At the end of the ad are the words “An American.

 “An American.” Now doesn’t that sound familiar? The ad implies that President Barack Obama is not an American. He’s a foreigner. Hawaii, the President's place of birth, is not a legitimate U. S. state! Whereas Slick Rick Perry platform to defeat the President, he is wasting time pumping vitamins into bedridden sound bites.

In his New York speech on Israel, Perry said President Obama is an "appeaser." Perry said the President's foreign policy regarding Israel is "dangerous." This foolish talk was, and still is the kooky meme of tea party politicians and Republicans.

In addition to remembering malnourished comments oozing out the mouths of these people,  I can still remember the homemade posters they proudly displayed at their protests at their anti-Obama protests. Children were holding posters they could not read or understand. Not many of the adults understood what they had scribbled on their homemade posters, ether!  Below are some of those racially tainted posters.

Dale Roberston, Tea Party president in Houston, TX

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Robertson, the preacher who hears God, pushes aside God’s law to cite his own

Televangelist and 1988 presidential
candidate Pat Robertson
Televangelist Pat Robertson, founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), better known as the 700 Club-- has a way of putting both of his evangelical foot in his Christian mouth. Not only does God talk to him personally, he consults Robertson before making a decision. In fact, God has gotten very political with Robertson.

Robertson said God showed him a vison regarding President George Bush’s 2004 reelection prospects. He revealed this news, hot off of The Heavenly News Gazette:  "God told me President Bush will be re-elected in a landslide. I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord, it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way. The Lord has just blessed him. I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and come out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picked him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him".

Let the church say Amen! Glory hallelujah!  

Robertson’s latest gaff was heard September 14 during the advice segment of his show. A female caller wanted to know how to deal with a male friend who was dating another woman. The problem is her friend is married, and his wife has Alzheimer’s disease. The caller said her friend knows that his wife is gone.

“Gone” or here, I would have advised the caller that her friend is still married, and he should honor his marriage vows as best he could, which includes staying with his wife. Because he is a televangelist,  a man of God, I  expected Robertson to recite verses from the Bible, explaining reasons the man should stay with his “gone” wife.

Robertson did not go there. He went in a completely different direction.

 "That is a terribly hard thing," Robertson said. "I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because here is a loved one—this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years. And suddenly that person is gone. They're gone. They are gone. So, what he says basically is correct. But I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something he should divorce her and start all over again. But make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her".

Co-host Terry Meeuwsen asked Robertson, "But isn't that the vow that we take when we marry someone? That it’s for better or for worse. For richer or poorer"?

Robertson said the viewer's friend could obey this vow of "death till you part" because the disease was a "kind of death." Robertson said he would understand if someone started another relationship out of a need for companionship. 

I am assuming that because Robertson has such a solid relationship with God, he is implying that God will understand if a married man abandons his sick wife, his vows to her, so long as he pays the bill for her care in a convalescent home.

In the Bible of televangelist Pat Roberston: Man cannot be happy with a sick, dependent wife. He must have a healthy, outgoing woman to make him happy. No adulterous sin is committed if your mate is no longer capable of being a wife. God will understand "this friend" disregarding his vows.

The real Bible states very clearly the meaning of marriage vows in Matthews 19:3-9:

3). The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason"?
4). And he answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’
5). “And said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6). “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate,
9) And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery".

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wall Street bigwigs feel free to hate President Obama, calling him a socialist (Video)

On September 16, Christ Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC, interviewed Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money on CNBC. Matthews wanted to know why Wall Street hates President Barack Obama so much, given the fact that his administration has been more than fair with financial institutions, and given undeniable fact that Wall Street bigwigs are drawing down record bonuses under his presidency.

Cramer confessed that Wall Street is, indeed, unhappy with President Obama.They say he is blocking their earning power with too many regulations, which is turn, reduces their desire to hire Americans and expand their businesses in this country, instead of taking  jobs to other countries.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mamas (and daddies) don't let your teenage boys and girls grow up to be parents

There is an old Willie Nelson song titled “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” Actually, growing up to be a cowboy is not so bad. What I  am about to say is neither country and western, pop, rhythm and blues, hard rock or rap. I hope it sounds like common sense.

Mamas (and daddies) don’t let your teenage boys and girls grow up to be parents before they are married, gainfully employed mature in body and mind. and ready to take on the responsibility of a family.

Sexual ignorance is not a privilege or attitude, neither is parenthood.  A quick inexperienced sexual act can lead to pregnancy, and nine months the woman or teen is holding the result of that one act of carelessness.  Sex is not the way to  prove you love someone.

Babies cannot fill emotional voids. Babies cannot fix the need to belong. Babies cannot erase loneliness. Babies are not responsible for its parent[s] happiness. Babies cannot turn young boys into men, no matter how they brag about babies they have with different girls. Babies do not automatically turn girls into women, making them ready for motherhood.  

Not all babies are born perfect. Some are born with defects and other complications that responsible adults find difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Babies are not dolls. They cannot be returned to a department store and exchanged because its flawed.

My youngest daughter had a 14-yhear-old friend who got pregnant when she was in high school. She was a pretty girl who might have had a bright future. But she was in love with her boyfriend, and wanted to make him happy. So as she go  pregnant, he left her. She gave birth to a defective child. She was disappointed.

This young girl, who had younger sisters and brothers, got pregnant again to replace the "flawed" baby with a perfect baby. Though she lived with her parents, her mother raised the defective child.  The sad fact here is, this young girl only wanted a baby because her friends were having babies.

Teenagers are selfish takers who want and demand instant gratification from their parent[s]. Babies are selfish and demanding, too. They cry, wake up all hours of  the night and morning. They want their diapers changed, they burp and puke and are constantly hungry. Babies are demanding and irritable when they get sick. Parents have to allow for them getting seriously ill, which means long waits at the hospital and trips to see a pediatrician.

Babies insists that its parent[s] cater to them. They only respond favorably when its needs are met. Sometimes babies cranky and their parent(s) don't know why. Babies require love and nurturing 24/7. Parents have to be prepared to deal with all these ever changing baby personalities and circumstances. Teenagers require and demand the same of their parent[s]. Two crying, screaming and demanding children–one the teen mother, the other the baby–are a combination that's spells trouble. Parenting is real. It is not playing with dolls. Parenting comes with years of responsibility and patience.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that age does not make an adult a good parent. Some adults seem incapable of acting like grownups, let alone being responsible for another life.

Teen pregnancy is on the rise. It has become more acceptable in families, communities, and schools. Some forgiving church members and pastors overlook the "first mistake." According to a 2009 article on teen pregnancy in USA Today: "The highest teen birth rates are in the South and Southwest; Mississippi is highest with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico, with a rate of 64.1 and Texas, with 63.1. The lowest rates are in the Northeast. New Hampshire had the fewest teen births with 18.7 per 1,000. Vermont, with 20.8 per 1,000, and Massachusetts, with 21.3 per 1,000, were also low. Decreases were noted in New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia."

So I repeat. Mamas (and daddies) don’t let your teens grow up to be parents until they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of fatherhood and motherhood. The future you save may be theirs. The headache you avoid may be your own.