Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott finally issues a statement about Rodney Reed

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has finally issued a statement about Rodney Reed. One day after Reed’s stay by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Abbott spoke to Austin’s FOX7:

“First, I think it’s important for us to have an effective death penalty in the state of Texas when needed to be certain that whenever it’s supplied the person did commit the crime. So I think this is a healthy process that the court announced what it did so we can put beyond the shadow of any doubt what-so-ever that he really is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted,” he said.

Fox also notes that  the office of new Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says “they are reviewing the court’s ruling and did not immediately comment”

This blogger wouldn’t call anything about the Reed case a “healthy process”, but it’s notable that Abbott was finally forced to respond to the highest-profile capital punishment case of his new governorship. As Amnesty International says “Let’s keep the pressure up to ensure clemency!”

Gov. Abbott: Have a Heart! Stop the Execution of Rodney Reed!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Giant valentine delivered to Abbott asks “Have a Heart. Stop the Execution”

Supporters of death row prisoner Rodney Reed ask for clemency

February 14, Austin, Texas:  This Valentine’s Day, supporters of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed will deliver a valentine to Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to stop Rodney’s execution, scheduled for March 5, 2015. Members of the Austin community, including Rev. Tom VandeStadt, will deliver a giant valentine to the Governor’s Mansion at 1:00PM reading “Have a Heart. Stop the Execution”.

Supporters will ‘spread the love’ by surrounding the mansion with smaller valentines collected from Rodney’s friends around Texas, the US, and the world. Each one represents a plea for Gov. Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Rodney, stop the execution, and allow DNA testing of crucial crime scene items– including the murder weapon—for the first time. In an appeal directly to Gov. Abbott, Rodney’s mother, Sandra Reed, said, “We just want the DNA tested. We want the truth. That’s all we’re asking.”

Rodney Reed has been on Texas death row since 1998. He was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, TX. In the years since, evidence has been uncovered that points to Stacey’s fiancée, Jimmy Fennell, Jr. as the true killer. At the time of Stacey’s murder, Fennell was a police officer in Giddings. In 2008, after his transfer to the Georgetown Police Department, Fennell was sentenced to ten years in prison for “kidnapping and improper sexual contact with a person in custody” when he sexually assaulted a woman in his custody at gunpoint.

There is no DNA evidence linking Rodney to the murder besides semen inside Stacey’s body, evidence of the affair the two were having. Reed’s supporters are asking for the Texas courts to allow DNA testing of crucial items found at the crime scene, including the belt used to strangle Stacey. Although in police custody for the past 15 years, these pieces have never been tested. “Frankly, what we’re asking for is, I think, a pretty conservative thing,” says Bryce Benjet, Rodney’s attorney with The Innocence Project. “To do DNA testing of evidence before you execute someone.”

If conducted, these tests could very well prove Rodney’s innocence. New laws expanding access to DNA testing in Texas were passed 2011 and 2013, addressing the importance of both pre- and post-conviction DNA testing. Notable recent exonerations due to DNA testing include Michael Morton and Anthony Graves.

In 2013, Abbott, who was then Attorney General, supported a bill for pre-conviction DNA testing, saying, “Texans may disagree about the death penalty, but one thing all Texans can and should agree upon is that no innocent person should be executed in Texas.” Says Lily Hughes, Austin resident and National Director of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “We want Gov. Abbott to stand by those words. He should show compassion and make sure another innocent person isn’t executed in Texas. All the evidence must be heard and tested”

conversation hearts

 

Don’t Let Texas Execute an(other) Innocent Man!

Greg Abbott has been governor of Texas for less than two weeks but he’s already overseen two executions. On Jan. 20, the day before Abbott was sworn in as the 48th governor of Texas, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged evidence that proved “beyond a shadow of doubt” that Texas executed an innocent man in 1989. Carlos de Luna was convicted of the murder of Wanda Lopez, a convenience store clerk, during a 1983 robbery in Corpus Christi. Stevens referred to a book The Wrong Carlos by Columbia Law School professor James Liebman, saying that it had sufficiently demonstrated that “there is a Texas case in which they executed the wrong defendant and the person they executed did not in fact commit the crime for which he was punished.”

Share this excellent summation of Rodney’s case published in The New Abolitionist, presented in the context of Texas’ shameful disregard of innocence claims and its bloody record. Don’t let Rodney become another innocent person executed by our state! Get the facts and send a clemency letter to save Rodney’s life.

http://nodeathpenalty.org/new_abolitionist/december-2014-issue-62/dont-let-texas-execute-innocent-man

“Governor Abbott is a Catholic lone-wolf on Death Penalty”

The Houston Chronicle posted an opinion piece on the contradictory nature of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Catholic faith and his commitment to the death penalty. Writes Rev. Marty Troyer:

Today I heard you [Abbott] invoke God’s grace for yourself, while consciously planning to refuse it for those on Texas’ death row; including Arnold Prieto, age 41, who is scheduled to be your first execution on the second day of your Governorship (Wednesday). Perhaps I’m just confused. Or perhaps the cognitive dissonance I and others experience between your faith and politics is an integrity gap that will have grave implications.

Undoubtedly it will further the cycle of violence in Texas (“those who live by the sword will die by the sword”). Likely it will lead to the death of an innocent; and thus unmask the moral bankruptcy of our social imagination in the same way Jesus’ unjust execution did.

 

Pope Francis has called for an end to the death penalty . Perhaps new governor Abbott can be swayed by his church’s highest official. If you are a member of the faith community and would like to join the growing number of Austin-area clergy in support of Rodney, please contact us to add your or your congregation’s name!

Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed by protests for Rodney Reed

On January 20, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was sworn in as the 48th Governor of Texas. He inherited Rick Perry’s bloody legacy of 278 executions, with three executions scheduled for January. Amid the parade and free BBQ, Gov. Abbott was also greeted by supporters of Rodney Reed at 11:00 AM during the inauguration and again at 5:30 PM. The Texas Observer reports:

At the protest yesterday, supporters chanted and held signs that read “Governor Abbott don’t kill an innocent man” and “Drop the Date! Test the DNA,” while cars driving by blew their horns in support.

Supporters hold signs as Greg Abbott is sworn in as 48th governor of Texas Picture by Austin American Statesman

Supporters hold signs in the crowd as Greg Abbott is sworn in as 48th governor of Texas
Picture by Austin American Statesman

After Gov. Greg Abbott was sworn in as 48th governor of Texas, supporters rallied outside the capitol to demand justice

After the swearing in, supporters rallied outside the capitol to demand justice

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Outside the Capitol

Other local coverage can be found here:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20150120-abbott-shows-he-values-lessons-of-mrs.-nickel.ece

http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/01/supporters-protestors-gather-on-capitol-lawn.html/

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/27897432/group-stages-rodney-reed-protest-at-the-state-capitol