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death penalty news----TEXAS
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Rick Halperin
2017-04-07 14:00:04 UTC
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Raw Message
April 7




TEXAS:

Dallas County district attorney's office to show mercy to 'lost souls'


The new Dallas County district attorney and her first assistant view the people
who go through the criminal court system as "lost souls or monsters."

Faith Johnson says her job as district attorney doesn't always call for
toughness; sometimes justice requires mercy.

"We're compassionate where compassion is needed. We're merciful when mercy is
needed," she said Tuesday night at a community forum at Concord Church in Red
Bird.

It was the 1st of what Johnson says will be a quarterly forum to answer
questions and explain how the local criminal justice system works.

Johnson, a Republican and former judge, was appointed in December by Gov. Greg
Abbott to replace Susan Hawk, who resigned in September to focus on her mental
health.

Johnson, the 1st black woman to become Dallas County district attorney, has
said she plans to run for the office when her term expires next year.

In her first 90 days in office, she has attended more than 140 community events
and meetings. She regularly takes her prosecutors to lunch to get to know them
and their work. She is often 1st to the office and last to leave.

"I have been getting only four hours sleep so I can restore the relationship
between the community and the DA's office," Johnson said.

Her top priority has been to facilitate an expungement program to clear some
criminal records. The crimes must be non-violent and meet other requirements.

And for the people whose crimes can't be erased, Johnson wants to help them
clear their public criminal records so they don't have trouble getting a job or
qualifying for housing.

"We want them to get a job," she said. "Share the load of the taxes."

She said those efforts are part of being just. It's the same reason she says
she wants to boost the DA's office conviction integrity unit, the group that
has overseen the reversal of wrongful convictions.

And when asked about her approach to the death penalty, Johnson said it's her
job to abide the law, and execution is legal in Texas.

But, she said, Dallas County prosecutors will pursue the death penalty only
when they are "darn sure that that's what we need to do."

She said that's part of her oath: to uphold the law for everyone.

"I'm going to do what's right by you. I don't care who you are. You could be
black, white, purple, green," Johnson said. "You could be rich, poor. You could
live in North Dallas, south, east, west. I got you. I got you. I'm here for
you."

First Assistant District Attorney Mike Snipes called Johnson the "real deal"
and said she has a compassionate approach to the job.

"We're going to take care of the lost souls. We're going to try to rehabilitate
them. We're going to try to reintegrate them into society," he said.

As for the monsters: "The judge and I are coming after them."

(source: Dallas Morning News)

*******************************

Lost souls, not monsters


Re: "New DA pledges she'll uphold law for everyone -- Restoring the public's
trust is crucial, Johnson says at her first forum," Thursday Metro story.

I am pleased that the current district attorney speaks of compassion and mercy
for those she refers to as "lost souls." It is commendable that she seeks the
reintegration of nonviolent offenders back into our society so they can
hopefully lead productive lives.

It is unfortunate and inexcusable that Faith Johnson's office uses language to
dehumanize those who may have committed violent offenses. To be sure, violent
offenders need to be punished and imprisoned, as society has a fundamental
right to be safe. But such offenders are not "monsters."

The law allows district attorneys to use judicial discretion to seek the death
penalty; they are certainly not obligated to do so. It would be refreshing and
humanizing to see our district attorney show true mercy to all offenders, and
to see her extend justice in the name of the law while recognizing the inherent
truth about human rights: There is no such thing as a lesser person.

Rick Halperin, Dallas, Director, Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern
Methodist University

(source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)

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Rick Halperin
2017-04-07 21:44:50 UTC
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Raw Message
April 7





TEXAS----stay of impending execution

Texas court halts execution of man amid claims of false evidence



The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has halted the execution of Paul Storey,
which was set for Wednesday.

In a three-page order Friday afternoon, the court sent the case back to the
Tarrant County trial court to review claims regarding the prosecution
presenting false evidence at Storey’s trial.

In 2008, Storey, 32, was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Jonas Cherry
during a robbery of a miniature golf course where Cherry worked in Hurst, near
Fort Worth. At the trial, the prosecution said that Cherry’s parents wanted the
death penalty.

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“It should go without saying that all of Jonas [Cherry’s] family and everyone
who loved him believe the death penalty was appropriate,” the prosecution said
during the penalty phase of the trial, according to Storey’s appeal.

Storey and Cherry’s parents, Glenn and Judith, say that’s not true. The Cherrys
wrote to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Board of Pardons and Paroles in February,
asking for a life sentence for Storey. The Cherrys said they never wanted the
death penalty and made that clear to the prosecution, according to Storey’s
appeal.

“As a result of Jonas’ death, we do not want to see another family having to
suffer through losing a child and family member ... due to our ethical and
spiritual values we are opposed to the death penalty,” the Cherrys said in
their statement.

Sven Berger, a juror in Storey’s trial who recently asked Texas legislators to
change jury instructions in capital cases, also wrote an affidavit for Storey’s
recent appeal. In his affidavit, Berger said had he known the Cherrys didn’t
want death, he would have “held out for a [sentence of] life without the
possibility of parole for as long as it took.”

Now, the trial court has been ordered to determine whether the fact that the
Cherrys opposed the death penalty could have been discovered by appellate
attorneys earlier. Generally in death penalty cases, if evidence could have
been raised at an earlier appeal and wasn’t, it is not allowed to be used in
future appeals. This evidence was brought forth to the courts less than two
weeks before his execution.

The appeal claims the evidence of the Cherrys’ disapproval of the sentence was
learned only in the past 90 days. But the Court of Criminal Appeals said it’s
not yet clear whether his previous state appellate attorney could have learned
about the Cherrys’ beliefs.

“The trial court is ordered to make findings of fact and conclusions of law
regarding whether the factual basis of these claims was ascertainable through
the exercise of reasonable diligence on or before the date the initial
application was filed,” the order states. “If the court determines that the
factual basis of the claims was not ascertainable through the exercise of
reasonable diligence on or before the date the initial application was filed,
then it will proceed to review the merits of the claims.”

Storey’s appeal said the evidence of false claims warrants him a new punishment
hearing, where he either could be sentenced to death again or receive a life
sentence without the possibility of parole.

(source: Texas Tribune)

*************************************




Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----24

Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----542

Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #





25---------May 16-------------------Tilon Carter----------543

26---------May 24-------------------Juan Castillo----------544

27---------June 28------------------Steven Long-----------545

28---------July 19-----------------Kosoul Chanthakoummane---546

29---------July 27-----------------Taichin Preyor---------547

(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
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