Monday, February 12, 2007

Stop Execution of Joseph Nichols

By Nancy L. Bailey, TCADP board member

Joseph Nichols is scheduled for execution by the State of Texas on March 7, 2007. His only hope is that the Parole Board and Governor's office grant him clemency.

In 1980, Joseph Nichols and Willie Williams were convicted of capital murder for the death of Claude Schaffer. Joseph had just turned 19 at the time of the offense and in the company of the older Willie Williams, when the two attempted to rob a deli in Houston, Texas. Joseph panicked and ran out the deli after Schaffer went for a gun and shots were fired. Willie Williams put one foot outside the deli but decided to return to the deli to complete the robbery. Williams shot Schaffer, crouching behind the counter but as yet unhurt, with one bullet to the back and left with the cash box. Schaffer would die from one single gunshot wound. Joseph was running down the street when the shooting took place. Williams admitted to shooting Schaffer and it was proven at his trial that he was the sole shooter. . The prosecutor in the Williams trial went to great lengths to prove that Willie Williams acted alone and his gun only fired the one fatal shot that pierced Mr. Schaffer. The medical examiner’s testimony supported Williams’ testimony.

At the time of the crime there were 2 women employees in the store One was in the ladies room toward the back of the store; the other was out front. As the shooting started, the other woman attempted to enter the ladies room, but couldn’t get in. However, the woman who had been in the rest room told police that she had been out front at the time of the shooting and that both men fired guns. She testified to that in court. The other woman, who was an actual witness the crime, gave a false name because of outstanding warrants in Louisiana. The prosecution did not make her real name or location available to the defense although they had obtained the correct information shortly. Therefore, she was not available to testify.
The jury in Joseph Nichols' first trial would not sentence him to death because he was not the shooter. Because the vote was split, the result was a mistrial according to the law at that time. In order to guarantee a death sentence in his second trial, the Harris County district attorney's office switched arguments; they argued that Joseph Nichols was the sole shooter and not Willie Williams. The medical examiner altered his testimony to support the state’s new version of the crime. Again the woman who had actually been in the bathroom testified. Again, the prosecuter failed to give the defense information about the real name and location of the other witness. The jury rendered a guilty verdict and sentenced Joseph Nichols to death . Willie Williams was executed by the state of Texas in 1995.

The issue of the concealed witness is a clear example of prosecutorial misconduct (Brady violation). The above issues including the Brady violation and information given by the witness finally located by Nichols' appeals attorneys as to the actual facts of the case were presented to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the 5th Circuit and the US Supreme Court. In spite of this evidence, none have granted Nichols relief, leaving him with no other avenues for appeal other than clemency.

Nichols’ attorneys are submitting a petition to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and to the Governor asking that clemency be granted. Joseph Nichols has a loving family who is requesting that support letters be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor. This is a message from Joseph's mother, "Joseph and we his family have always been prayerful, mindful and felt sorrow daily for the Shaffer family's loss. We thank you for your prayers and support now and through the years. God Bless"

As most of you know, in Texas, the Governor cannot commute a sentence without the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Therefore there should be a letter to the Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that they recommend clemency to the Governor, and a letter to the Governor asking that he grant clemency, commuting Joseph's sentence to life.
We sympathize with the victim's family. Grief does not discriminate between persons. There is no winner when someone dies. Killing is wrong regardless of who does it. But Joseph Nichols didn't kill anyone. Joseph has always been a model prisoner, a compassionate and spiritual man who loves life. Joseph is no longer the spontaneous youth he was when the crime occurred. Joseph deserves a chance to live. Joseph has been on death row for almost thirty years, more than enough to pay for attempted robbery.. Joseph did not kill anyone and the jury on the first trial saw this because the true facts came out in the testimony of Willie Williams. The second trial was based on lies, and that is why the jury sentenced Joseph to die. Justice is not served when facts are distorted.

Nichols’ attorneys are submitting a petition to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and to the Governor asking that clemency be granted. Joseph Nichols has a loving family who is requesting that support letters be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Governor. As most of you know, in Texas, the Governor cannot commute a sentence without the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Therefore a letter should be sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that they recommend clemency to the Governor, and a letter to the Governor asking that he grant clemency.

Please use the facts presented above in your letters to both the BPP and the Governor. Failure of the courts to address the types of problems in Joseph’s case is major grounds for clemency. Although historically, Texas governors have not seen mercy as having a role in deciding whether to grant clemency, they have occasionally gone on record as saying that clemency is the “fail safe” for omissions during the judicial process. Please acknowledge in your letters that a crime was committed with the loss of a life and causing pain to the family of the victim. Include in your letter any other reasons that you feel should be considered when making a decision about whether this man’s life should be terminated or spared.

These letters must reach the Governor and the BPP by a week before the scheduled execution, so do it as soon as possible.

Here is the contact information:

How to address the envelope:

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78757

Address your letter to:

Rissie Owens and other Board Members
Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78757

Dear Board Member:

Ms. Ramirez, the clemency coordinator will fax your letter to each board member. Please do not try to send individual letter to each board member at their individual office. They will be mishandled if you do that.

Letter to the governor:
Rick Perry
Governor, State of Texas
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Dear Governor Perry:

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DON'T GIVE THIS CUTE GUY A CHANCE TO EXECUTE "YOU" too!



S.A. eatery killer will be executed



A Bexar County jury deliberated less than 2 hours Wednesday before
deciding convicted capital murderer Kevin Watts should die for last
year's Sam Won Garden massacre that left 2 cooks and a manager dead.


As 226th District Judge Sid Harle pronounced the death sentence, Watts,
22, showed little emotion.


His girlfriend and mother of his 2-year-old daughter wept, and a member
of Watts' family helped her out of the courtroom.


"I love my family, and I want them to know that I'll be all right to the
end," Watts said in a brief statement before being led away in cuffs. He
also apologized to the family of the victims, tempering his apology with:
"If they hate me, they hate me."


Insik Kim, the restaurant's former owner and father of one of Watts'
victims, said afterward, "His apology, right now I cannot accept it.


"I hope nothing happens again like this in San Antonio," he said.


Watts was convicted last week of capital murder, which made him eligible
for death row or a life sentence. A life sentence would have made him
eligible for parole in 40 years.


"He would have been a danger during that 40 years in prison," said
Assistant District Attorney Bill Pennington, the lead prosecutor in the
case. "This was the right punishment."


The city's tight-knit Korean community has grieved over the murders.


Throughout the trial, jurors wept openly and showed their shock over
evidence presented by the prosecution.


After the death sentence was announced, several jurors hugged members of
the victims' families and gave their condolences.


On March 1, 2002, Watts entered the Northeast Side restaurant at 4527
Goldfield Road. The restaurant wasn't yet open when Watts entered and
fired a gunshot into the ceiling as four workers prepared for business.


He rounded up the 4 workers into the kitchen and shot three of them in
the back of the head: Hak Po Kim, 30, the restaurant owner's son; and
cooks Yuan Tzu Banks, 52, and Chae Sun Shook, 59.


He allowed the fourth worker, Kim's new bride, to live but testimony
showed he abducted her and sexually assaulted her before police caught up
with him at a North Side apartment complex.


In closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Tina Tussay argued to
the jury that although the evidence against her client was damning,
sentencing Watts in retaliation would be wrong.


She argued that Watts had gone on a narcotic and alcohol consumption
binge prior to the homicides and that he "suffered a drug-induced
psychosis" that led to his actions.


Besides the Sam Won restaurant killings, Watts' criminal history only
includes a string of misdemeanors that wouldn't mark him as a threat to
society, Tussay said.


"2 wrongs don't make a right," Tussay told jurors. "Don't go back and
retaliate because of the anger you feel."


But prosecutors countered that Watts is a continuing threat, noting he's
a member of a street gang and has aspirations of joining a prison gang.


After the punishment was announced, Tussay said the jury's decision only
claimed another life.


"What a waste of 4 lives," she said.


Kim's wife, who testified twice during the trial that Watts was the
killer and a rapist, was allowed to address Watts before he was taken away.


However, an employee with the district attorney's office had to read her
note aloud because the young woman began sobbing uncontrollably as she
stood within 10 feet of Watts.


"My husband and I were very happy," she wrote. Watts "took everything
that I have."


(source: San Antonio Express-News)

David said...

This coward of what they call a human being, should be hung on a tree at the Alamo, for everyone to see. He is a shame to the human race. His actions were like an animal and he should be put to death, before he breeds more like him!

Anonymous said...

Guess what? It is October 16, 2008 @ 7:28PM. Justice has just been served to Kevin Watts. May God have mercy on his soul.

Anonymous said...

Let him die. I am sick of animals killing innocent people and then looking for sympathy from society. Good riddence.