The Abolition Movement had a surprisingly successful press conference today for Willie Pondexter.
If you're in Houston, check out channels 11(CBS), 39 (CW), and 47 (Telemundo). Also the Houston Chronicle came. KTRH 740 AM (Clear Channel) just called and did an interview and said it would air Friday morning.
The Abolition Movement wants to thank everybody who came and spoke and those who were with us for the press conference: Deloyd Parker, Exec Director of S.H.A.P.E.; Dave Hutsell, Vets for Peace; Elizabeth Stein, Producer of Execution Watch; several members of the SHAPE Center Council of Elders; and Njeri Shakur and Bob Gartner with the Abolition Movement.
Also a big thanks to S.H.A.P.E. for setting up and allowing the use of their gazebo and to Dave, the master knot-tier for getting the banner hung.
We are here today to talk about Willie Pondexter and to urge Governor Rick Perry to see that the death sentence of Mr. Pondexter be commuted to life in prison. Mr. Pondexter is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on March 3, 2009 for the 1993 burglary and murder of Martha Lennox. He was 19 years old at the time of the crime and had no previous prison record.
A clemency petition has been filed with the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Mr. Pondexter has repeatedly expressed remorse for the 1993 crime in which he took part. During the course of more than 14 years on death row, he has been a helpful, respectful inmate with no disciplinary problems. At least one TDCJ guard has stepped forward to support clemency.
Every human being is capable of change and improvement. Mr. Pondexter has demonstrated remorse for his crime. In
prison, on death row, he has worked daily to be a good and respectful man. The Board of Paroles and the governor should
recognize this in their consideration of clemency. Otherwise, why do we say we have a clemency process?
Under Texas law, only those who represent a future danger to our society can be sentenced to death. Mr. Pondexter has
shown that he does not fit that category. The state of Texas has a responsibility to show mercy on those deserving of it. When they do, it sends a powerful message t o those in prison today that personal conduct matters.
On January 17, 2009, two Harvard Law students who were interning at Texas Defender Service and helping to investigate
Mr. Pondexter's case for clemency were pulled over and unlawfully detained by Deputy Sheriff Terry White of the
Polk County Sheriff's Office, after attempting to lawfully interview a correctional officer whom counsel for Mr.
Pondexter believed had relevant and favorable evidence for Mr. Pondexter's clemency application. With his execution date one week away, Mr. Pondexter's attorneys are filing an appeal with the Fifth Circuit of a civil rights lawsuit which demonstrates how the State is interfering with Mr. Pondexter's ability to put facts in front of those who will decide his fate.
We are outraged and alarmed at the high number of executions already carried out just in 2009—eight executions in just six
weeks! Willie Pondexter would be number nine. And another half dozen executions are already scheduled in our state.
Last year Texas carried out a full 50% of all US executions.
We call for a halt to all the scheduled executions until the legislature can decide what to do with this criminal justice crisis
- We have innocent people being exonerated every week.
- We have crime labs that do not work.
- We have DA’s that withhold exculpatory evidence at all
costs even though this is illegal.
- We have a chief judge of Texas’ highest criminal court
who is facing impeachment for closing the court when a man’s life was at stake.
- We have Harvard law students threatened with arrest for doing their job.
ALL executions must stop until we can figure out how to have a fair and just system.
February 26, 2009
Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement