Friday, June 29, 2007

Patrick Knight's Last Statement:

Date of Execution: June 26, 2007
Offender: Knight, Patrick

Here is Patrick Knight's "Dead Man Laughing" last statement as reported by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice:
Yes, I do. I thank the Lord for giving me my friends, for getting me the ones I love. Lord reach down and help innocent men on death row. Lee Taylor needs help, Bobby Hines, Steve Woods. Not all of us are innocent, but those are. Cleve Foster needs help. Melyssa, I love you girl. I know I wasn't going to say anything, but I've got to. Jack, Irene, Danny, Doreen, I love you guys. I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That's the biggest joke, I deserve this. And the other joke is I am not Patrick Bryan Knight, and ya'll can't stop this execution now. Go ahead, I'm finished. Come on, tell me Lord. I love you Melyssa, take care of that little monster for me.

Patrick Bryan Knight, "Dead Man Laughing" executed by Texas

By Dee Hawk

Knight was the 18th inmate executed this year in Texas.

Knight was known for the "Dead Man Laughing" campaign Patrick Bryan Knight was executed by lethal injection Tuesday, and pronounced dead at 6:21 PM for the murders of Mary and Walter Werner. The Werner's were shot execution style in August of 1991. A co-defendant Bradfield received a life sentence and is currently in a Texas prison. Knight's execution was the 18th in Texas this year (CNN video).

Knight had gained notoriety for his "Dead Man laughing" campaign in which he solicited jokes to read as his last statement. His Myspace site, which was maintained by his anti-death penalty friend, received 30,000 page views, and hundreds of friend adds and comments in less than a month. Knight received over a thousand jokes by mail. Capital-"X" a death penalty opponent and rap artist, recorded an original song titled "Dead Man Laughing" and it has been playing on the Myspace page.

When asked for his last statement, Knight thanked God for his friends and asked for help for the innocent on death row, according to Michael Graczyk, Associated Press reporter who was witness to the execution. He named several men, but the names were not printed. An emotional Knight stated, "Not all of us are innocent, but those are". He went on to say, "I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That's the biggest joke. I deserve this." and also stated "And the other joke is that I am not Patrick Bryan Knight and y'all can't stop the execution now. Go ahead, I'm finished".

Michelle Lyons who is prison spokesperson said "we fingerprint them when they come over" and disputed the mistaken identity claim.

It was not reported if there were any witnesses in the death chamber from either side, nor was it reported if Knight was granted a last meal.

Knight, 39, had said in an earlier interview with the media that the inmates on death watch were in need of jokes, and some humor "to ease the tension", and that is mainly what started the Dead Man Laughing Campaign.

He admits to drinking and doing drugs when he was young. Knight was 23 when the crime was committed, and said he didn't remember much about the murder. Knight and the Werner's had argued as neighbors about his loud music and loud cars, and Knight said of the Werner's "I regret so much because they were such good people", I'm the cause of this crime, no doubt about it" he said, "It bothers me I might be capable of taking someone's life", reported by Michael Graczyk, Associated Press.

On Monday night KDOL radio station, "All Life Is Precious" held a "Shout Out Show" for Knight. Knight was allowed to call in and say his good-byes to his friends and thank them for their support. Numerous friends and concerned people called in the show to say goodbye, or "shout out" to Patrick. Music that was chosen especially for Knight was played throughout the program. "All Life Is Precious" hosts a special show for every inmate who is to be executed.

Knight was reported by friends to have been visited hours before his execution, and seemed in good spirits. It was also reported by friends that the guards were being good to him. Throughout all the media attention Knight always claimed to have no disrespect for the victims. Knight had several nicknames he was called by his friends, Mutt-Dog, The Insane -Cajun, Worm-Dirt, and "Dead Man Laughing".


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Breaking News: Supreme Court stops execution of Scott Panetti

High court blocks execution of mentally ill killer

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Texas killer whose lawyers argued that he should not be put to death because he is mentally ill.
Last update: June 28, 2007 – 9:32 AM
WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Texas killer whose lawyers argued that he should not be put to death because he is mentally ill.
Scott Louis Panetti shot his in-laws to death 15 years ago in front of his wife and young daughter.
Panetti knows what he did, but believes that he is on death row because he preaches the word of God, his lawyers say.
Panetti's lawyers wanted the court to determine that people who cannot understand the connection between their crime and punishment because of mental illness may not be executed. The court voted 5-4 to stop his execution.
The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution bars "the execution of a person who is so lacking in rational understanding that he cannot comprehend that he is being put to death because of the crime he was convicted of committing,'' they said in court papers.
Texas said the court should reject Panetti's appeal on procedural grounds. But it also argued that the court should set a tougher standard for mental illness exceptions to capital punishment. Only if a Death Row inmate "lacks the capacity to recognize that his punishment both is the result of his being convicted of capital murder and will cause his death'' should his execution be halted, the state said. Panetti is competent on that basis, it said.
The killings took place in September 1992.
A former ranch hand and native of Hayward, Wis., Panetti had a history of mental problems before his conviction, recording 14 hospital stays over 11 years.
Four courts have said he was competent when he fired his trial lawyers. A jury and two courts rejected his defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. He personally argued that only an insane person could prove the insanity defense, dressing in cowboy clothing and submitting an initial witness list that included Jesus Christ and John F. Kennedy.
Then-Justice Lewis Powell said 20 years ago that a person may not be put to death if he cannot perceive "the connection between his crime and his punishment.''

Saturday, June 23, 2007


The 14th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty
at the U.S. Supreme Court
June 29th - July 2nd, 2007

A four day vigil maintaining a presence at SCOTUS, the Supreme Court Of The United States. Some of the participants fast during this time, but fasting is not required. We encounter thousands of visitors to the Court and share our message that no matter how you slice it, the death penalty is BAD PUBLIC POLICY. Much of the time is spent talking to individuals and creating visibilty. Several larger events are held at key times during the event to highlight specific concerns, with a series of speakers each evening to educate, enlighten and entertain…

Among the confirmed Evening Program speakers for 2007 are the following. You never know who might show up... Each evening will feature full-length talks plus Q&A with between two and four speakers, including people with direct experience and also movement activists and professionals.

CLICK HERE to see the schedule of who is speaking when!

And other Death Row Family Members and Murder Victim Family Members....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Countdown to 400 // Harris Co. 100

Impending Texas Execution List:

Name Date Texas # since 1982 # under Gov. Perry

Gilberto Reyes June 21 396 157
Patrick Knight June 26 397 158
Rolando Ruiz July 10 398 159
Lonnie Johnson July 24 399 160
Kenneth Parr August 15 400 161
Johnny Conner August 22 401 162
Daroyce Mosley August 28 402 163
John Amador August 29 403 164
Kenneth Foster August 30 404 165
Tony Roach September 5 405 166
Clifford Kimmel September 20 406 167
Heliberto Chi October 3 407 168


NOTE:-----IMPENDING 100th execution from HARRIS COUNTY (HOUSTON)
Lonnie Johnson is now scheduled to become the 100th person put to death
after being sentenced in Harris County if he is executed on July 24.

Source: Rick Halperin

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nazanin Afshin-jam

Former Miss Canada and human rights activist, Nazanin Afshin-jam came to Austin last weekend as part of a tour in support of her debut album "Someday" that was released nationwide on April 24th. The album has reached the top 20 at FMQB Adult Contemporary (AC) radio in America this week. The video for this track was downloaded nearly 140,000 times in only 10 days. She also is going to be Glamour Magazine's "Hero of the Month" in their July issue.

In 2006, Nazanin started a campaign to save the life of her 17-year old namesake Nazanin Fatehi who was sentenced to death by the Iranian Courts for stabbing one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 15 year-old niece. The Stop Child Executions Campaign were able to gain the support of the United Nations, European Union and Canadian Parliament. As the result they were able to put enough pressure on the Iranian Officials to grant Nazanin a stay of execution, retrial and finally exonerate her off all murder charges on the basis of self-defence.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Find Habeas Corpus

This is Habeas Corpus.

On October 17, 2006, he went missing without a trace. Last seen in Washington, D.C., his current whereabouts are unknown. Where is he? We don't know. But we do know Habeas Corpus needs our help. What can you do? Get involved and help us restore Habeas Corpus to his rightful place in our Constitution!

You may not recognize him, but he’s been looking out for you.

Habeas Corpus has never had a very high profile, but for more than 700 years this quiet hero has stood watch over some basic principles of fairness and human dignity. When the Constitution was written, he was there. Since 1215, in fact, he’s been a humble, but unflagging, champion of justice and due process of law.

Most people don’t know what he looks like. There are only a few photos, a couple of early American paintings, and a handful of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

Habeas Corpus — Habeas to his friends, which includes practically everyone who knows him — has never been interested in the spotlight. His face has never mattered, only what he stands for. Until now.

Something happened last year, and now Habeas Corpus is missing.

Some time on the morning of October 17, 2006, Habeas disappeared. Eyewitness accounts say he was last seen in Washington, D.C., walking down the Capitol steps in something of a daze. But where he went from there, or where he is now, is anyone’s guess.

The one thing we know for certain is why he went missing. October 17 was the day that Congress let the president declare Habeas Corpus — and other parts of the U.S. Constitution — null-and-void for certain individuals.

For centuries, Habeas has stood up for anyone who was accused of a crime, protecting us against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.

Habeas has been looking out for you. Now, he needs us to look out for him, before the rights he has been protecting for centuries are lost forever.

Habeas is out there somewhere, and together we must find him, and restore him to his rightful place in our democracy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An Evening with GRACE

June 29, 2007

6:00 pm

Christ Church Cathedral
1117 Texas Avenue, Houston

Tickets: $35, $60 for couples, $15 for students

Dress is Casual

Actor and Activist Mike Farrell (M.A.S.H.) and death row exoneree Greg Wilhoit will speak at an event benefitting the Gulf Region Advocacy Center on June 29th. For information about tickets and to RSVP Click Here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Breaking News: CCA grants Cathy Henderson another stay

Cathy Henderson has just received a stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Houston Chronicle has published this AP article on today's ruling:

Condemned inmate Cathy Lynn Henderson won a reprieve today from a divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, keeping her from being executed this week for the slaying of a 3-month-old child in her care.
Henderson, 50, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the death of Brandon Baugh, whose skull was bashed in while she was baby-sitting him. His body was buried in a wine cooler box as she fled the state more than 13 years ago.
She would have been the fourth woman to be executed since Texas resumed capital punishment in 1982, and the 12th woman nationally.
The state's highest criminal court voted 5-3, with one judge not participating, to send the case back to the trial court because of new evidence suggesting that the baby's head injuries could have come from an accidental fall, as Henderson has claimed.
The high court ordered the trial court to examine arguments that Henderson was innocent of capital murder and that constitutional errors led to her conviction.
In an appeal filed late last month, Henderson's lawyers said new scientific evidence bolstered the baby-sitter's contention the child died when she accidentally dropped him and his head struck the concrete floor at her home in Pflugerville, a north Austin suburb.
A medical examiner who testified for the prosecution in 1995 that Brandon's death could not have been an accident submitted an affidavit with Henderson's appeal that he believed scientific tests not available a decade ago now show his conclusion was incorrect.
"Had the new scientific information been available to me in 1995, I would not have been able to testify the way I did," said Dr. Robert Bayardo, the now retired chief medical examiner in Travis County.
Because Henderson's appeals had been exhausted, her lawyers needed to convince the courts their latest appeal introduced new evidence.
A court majority agreed.
Judge Tom Price, in the lone concurring statement, said he thought Bayardo's affidavit proved to him no rational juror could have found Henderson guilty "to a level of confidence beyond a reasonable doubt."
But in a scathing dissent, Judge Michael Keasler accused the court majority of being "sphinx-like" about Henderson's claims and chided the judges who backed the reprieve without explanation as "indefensible."
"They dare not set out their reasons because they might have to defend them," Keasler said.
Henderson would have been the 16th inmate executed this year in the nation's busiest capital punishment state, where 394 prisoners — three of them women — have been given lethal injection since 1982. Nationally, she would have been just the 12th woman among the 1,079 convicted killers executed since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Student Issue Campaign of the Year

The Texas Students Against the Death Penalty has been selected as the recipient of the Campus Progress Award for "Student Issue Campaign of the Year". Representative Keith Ellison will be presenting the award during the lunch portion of the Campus Progress National Conference on June 26, 2007.

More updates coming soon...

Friday, June 01, 2007

The case of Kenneth Foster jr

The state of Texas has recently given Kenneth Foster an execution date of August 30, 2007. Please contact governor Rick Perry and ask him to grant clemency to Kenneth Foster, Jr..

The Case in brief:

  • On the evening of August 14, 1996, Mauriceo Brown shot and killed Michael T. LaHood, Jr.
  • Kenneth was the driver of a car in which three passengers Brown, Julius Steen, and Dewayne Dillard committed multiple robberies.
  • Kenneth was only the driver. He did not participate in the robberies.
  • Kenneth tried to persuade them men to desist and return home.
  • Later in the evening, the men found themselves behind another car. The car parked and one of its occupants, Mary Patrick, waved them to the side of the road.
  • Brown exited the car to speak to Patrick. During the exchange, he shot and killed the woman’s boyfriend, Mr. LaHood.
  • Kenneth, along with Steen and Dillard had no prior knowledge of Brown’s intentions nor did they assist.

The Trial:

  • Kenneth faced trial with the shooter, Mauriceo Brown.
  • Brown admitted to the shooting, but clearly and freely stated that he acted on his own.
  • No evidence exists that proves Kenneth participated in or knew a murder would be committed

Other Circumstances:

  • Kenneth is legally and factually innocent of Capital Murder.
  • Kenneth did not know that Brown had the gun when he left the car or that he was about to commit murder.
  • Dewayne Dillard testified in an evidentiary hearing of Kenneth’s ignorance of Brown’s intent. Dillard said that Kenneth looked surprised and panicked after hearing the gunshot. Kenneth also started to drive away, but did not at the request of Dillard. Dillard’s testimony was not presented at trial.
  • The judge told the jury that it could "find the defendant Kenneth Foster guilty of the offense of capital murder, though he may have had no intent to commit the offense." These instructions contradict both the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Enmund v. Florida and the standards of conviction under the Texas “Law of Parties.”

o Enmund v. Florida: the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment and is a disproportionate punishment when the defendant was not present at the killing, did not kill, and did not intend that the victims be killed or did not anticipate lethal force might be used in the course of a robbery or to effect a safe escape.

o The standards of Texas’ “Law of Parties” require the prosecution to prove intent to conspire to commit murder.

The death of Michael T. Lahood, Jr. is undoubtedly a tragedy. However, the worst thing Texas could do in this case is create more innocent victims.