Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Video of Resolution Passed by Texas House on "Day of Innocence" to Honor Death Row Exonerees

Video of Resolution Passed by Texas House on "Day of Innocence" to Honor Death Row Exonerees.

82R12583 MMS-D

By: DuttonH.R. No. 829


       WHEREAS, Six former death row inmates who have been

exonerated of the crime for which they were convicted are visiting

the State Capitol on March 16, 2011, the Day of Innocence, in

support of a moratorium on executions and other related measures;


       WHEREAS, These men are among the 138 individuals who have

been released from death row since 1973, either because their

convictions were overturned and they then won acquittal at retrial

or had the charges against them dropped, or because they were given

an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of their

innocence; their lives forever changed by their wrongful

conviction, these six individuals are now working to reform the

criminal justice system; and

       WHEREAS, Convicted of murder in Texas in 1981, Clarence

Brandley was just weeks away from his scheduled execution when

evidence of coerced testimony and blatant racism in his first two

trials prompted the FBI to intervene; three years later, the

charges against him were dismissed; Mr. Brandley subsequently

married, apprenticed as an electrician, and became a Baptist

minister; his life became the subject of a book, White Lies, and a

cable TV movie, Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story; and

       WHEREAS, Sentenced to death in Louisiana in 1987, Albert

Burrell was 17 days away from execution in 1996 when his attorneys

won a stay; the attorney general's office dismissed the charges

against him in 2000, citing "a total lack of credible evidence," and

later DNA analysis reinforced that assessment; Albert Burrell

currently lives and works in Center; and

       WHEREAS, Gary Drinkard was convicted in Alabama in 1995; in

2000, the state supreme court ordered a retrial on the basis of

prosecutorial misconduct, and the following year a second jury

found him innocent; Mr. Drinkard's case was subsequently presented

to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to illustrate the critical

need that those facing the death penalty have for competent legal

representation; and

       WHEREAS, Framed for murder, Shujaa Graham was sentenced in

California in 1976; the state supreme court overturned his

conviction because the district attorney had systematically

excluded African American jurors in his first trial; Mr. Graham was

ultimately acquitted in 1981, and since then he has played a leading

role in the anti-death penalty and human rights movements; and

       WHEREAS, Ron Keine was sentenced to death in New Mexico in

1974 after a witness, under intense pressure from prosecutors,

fabricated a story about his guilt; the following year, the real

killer turned himself in, and a new trial for Mr. Keine and his

codefendants was eventually ordered; before the trial could be

held, though, a judge threw out the murder indictment on the grounds

that ballistic tests conclusively linked the confessed killer to

the murder weapon; freed in 1976, Mr. Keine now owns a business in

Michigan and is a leader in the campaign to abolish the death

penalty; and

       WHEREAS, Anthony Graves of Brenham was arrested in 1992 and

convicted in Texas in 1994, primarily on the testimony of one

witness who later recanted his story; the Fifth Circuit Court of

Appeals ultimately overturned Mr. Graves's conviction in 2006, and

he was then sent to the Burleson County jail to await his new trial,

which would be four years in coming; during that time, he was kept

in solitary confinement; finally, in 2010, 18 years after Mr.

Graves was first imprisoned, a special prosecutor determined that

no case against him had ever existed, and the charges against him

were dropped; and

       WHEREAS, There is no way to restore to these men the years

they have lost, or to compensate them for the mental and emotional

anguish they have suffered; notwithstanding the immeasurable pain

they have endured, however, they have found the resilience to take a

terrible ordeal and channel their response into constructive

endeavor; their strength and purposefulness are a testament to

their remarkable spirit and a continuing inspiration to countless

fellow citizens; now, therefore, be it

       RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 82nd Texas

Legislature hereby honor Clarence Brandley, Albert Burrell, Gary

Drinkard, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, and Anthony Graves for their

tenacity in the pursuit of justice and for their significant

contributions to the debate over an issue of paramount public

concern; and, be it further

       RESOLVED, That official copies of this resolution be prepared

for these gentlemen as an expression of high regard by the Texas

House of Representatives.

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