Thursday, November 17, 2011

WTI Exonerated Death Row Members and Staff Part of National Premier of Werner Herzog's "Into the Abyss"!

Ray Krone, Shujaa Graham, and Kirk Bloodsworth will be leading discussions at special showings of Werner Herzog's new documentary, "Into the Abyss" on Friday, November 18, in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

For more information click here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Execution Watch: Guadalupe Esparza, 11/16

By Elizabeth Stein
Producer, Execution Watch

Texas plans to carry out its 13th execution of 2011 Wednesday by putting to death Guadalupe Esparza of San Antonio.

Barring a stay, Execution Watch will broadcast details live on KPFT 90.1 HD-3, streaming at

Unless a stay is issued, we'll broadcast on ...
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011, 6-7 PM CT
Houston: KPFT 90.1 FM, HD-3
Streaming worldwide: > Listen
*** Join the Execution Watch discussion on Facebook ***

GUADALUPE ESPARZA, 46, received his execution date three months ago from a San Antonio judge who ignored his attorney's request for a delay to prepare an appeal based on evidence that Esparza is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for execution. A jury ordered Esparza put to death in 2001 following his conviction in the abduction, rape and strangulation of a 7-year-old girl. The victim's mother, Diana Berlanga, said she planned to witness Esparza's execution. More background: > Backpage on Guadalupe Esparza.

Host: RAY HILL, an ex-convict and activist who founded, and hosted for 30 years, the Prison Show on KPFT. His new show may be heard every weekday on at 2 p.m. CT.

Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON, a legal educator and retired attorney, he’s a native Texan and iconoclast who has seen capital trials from both the prosecution table and the defense table. His scheduled guests are fellow attorneys SUSAN ASHLEY and LARRY DOUGLAS.

Featured Interview: DEATH ROW EXONEREE. One of the former death row prisoners who participated in the 12th annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin and in the Witness to Innocence Freedom Ride Tour that preceded it,

Reporter, Death House, Huntsville: GLORIA RUBAC founder and leader, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement,

Reporter, Vigil, Houston: DAVE ATWOOD, a founder of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, will report from the execution vigil the group sponsors in Houston,

On Jan. 26, Texas plans to execute RODRIGO HERNANDEZ. If so, we will broadcast the details. More at

PRODUCER: Elizabeth Ann Stein, eliza.tx.usa
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Otis Maclay, omaclay
THEME: By Victoria Panetti, SheMonster International,

Monday, November 07, 2011

Hank Skinner Receives Stay of Execution from Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Here’s the  language from the court order:
This is a direct appeal of the trial court’s ruling on a motion for DNA testing filed in the 31st Judicial District Court of Gray County, Cause No. 5216, styled The State of Texas v. Henry Watkins Skinner. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. art. 64.05. Appellant’s execution is stayed pending the resolution of this appeal.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 64, which provides for DNA testing, has undergone several changes since its creation, but those changes have never been reviewed in the particular context of this case. Because the DNA statute has changed, and because some of those changes were because of this case, we find that it would be prudent for this Court to take time to fully review the changes in the statute as they pertain to this case.
Furthermore, in denying the motion for DNA testing, the convicting court has failed to enter determinations under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 64.03. The convicting court shall enter an order containing the relevant Article 64.03 determinations within 15 days of the date of this order. That order shall then be included within a supplemental clerk’s record, which record shall be forwarded to this Court within 30 days of the date of this order.

Friday, November 04, 2011

27 Wrongfully Convicted Urge Texas Gov. Perry to Allow DNA Test for Hank Skinner

In a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry, 27 exonerated ex-death row survivors—all members of the group Witness to Innocence— urged the governor to halt the execution of Hank Skinner and allow for DNA testing in his case. Skinner, who was sentenced to death for a 1995 triple murder, has a scheduled execution date of November 9.

“We, the undersigned, are alive today because some individual or small group of individuals decided that our insistent and persistent proclamations of innocence warranted one more look before we were sent to our death by execution.  We are among the 138 individuals who have been legally exonerated and released from death rows in the United States since 1973, and some of us were exonerated because of DNA evidence,” the exonerees said in the letter.  The group also reminded Perry that he signed SB 122 into law, a measure which is intended to ensure that DNA will be tested, if available, to prove someone’s innocence.

In a recent op-ed in the Huffington Post, Witness to Innocence member Kirk Bloodsworth, the first DNA exoneree in a capital conviction in the U.S., echoed these sentiments. “The only reason my name was cleared, and the right man brought to justice, is because prosecutors agreed to test the evidence. I am living proof that when scientific evidence is available, there is simply no excuse to refuse testing,” he said.

“Like Troy Davis in Georgia, there are some real questions regarding the Hank Skinner case.  The state of Texas does not know whether Skinner committed the crime because they did not test his DNA,” said David A. Love, Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. “If Texas doesn’t want to risk killing a potentially innocent man, then Gov. Perry has no choice but to stop the execution and allow for the DNA test.”

If you would like to schedule an interview with Kirk Bloodsworth or Ray Krone, another DNA exoneree, contact Hooman Hedayati at 201-601-7231 or Kathy Spillman at 267-847-1482.
The mission of Witness to Innocence, the nation’s only organization founded by and for exonerated death row survivors, is to empower exonerated ex-death row prisoners and their family members to become effective leaders in the movement to abolish the death penalty.

Witness to Innocence Exoneree Letter for Hank Skinner