[DP] Fwd: [TCADP-BOARD01] Oklahoma spares life of Mexican
citizen---Attention shifts to 2 on Texas death row
Marie des Neiges Leonard
mariesnows99 at yahoo.com
Fri May 14 10:58:10 CDT 2004
Rick Halperin <rhalperi at mail.smu.edu> wrote:To: TCADP-BOARD01
From: Rick Halperin
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 11:00:05 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)
Subject: [TCADP-BOARD01] death penalty news----TEXAS
Oklahoma spares life of Mexican citizen -- Attention shifts to 2 on Texas
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry commuted the death sentence of a Mexican citizen
Thursday, bowing to international pressure that may shift the spotlight to
2 Mexicans facing execution in Texas.
Henry's decision to spare the life of Osbaldo Aguilera Torres, convicted
of murdering Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez in 1993, came just hours
after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals stayed his May 18 execution.
The court had ordered another hearing, now moot, to determine if the
denial of Torres' right to ask for help from the Mexican Consulate after
his arrest prejudiced the case against him. Torres now will serve life
Mexican officials said the case sets a favorable precedent for other
Mexicans on death row in the United States and those accused of crimes.
"We hope that all Mexicans arrested in the United States will now be given
their consular rights," said Rep. Rodrigo Cortes, a federal deputy from
Mexican President Vicente Fox's National Action Party.
Henry's decision follows a March 31 order from the International Court of
Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, that the United States review the death
sentences of 51 Mexicans. It demanded special action for Torres, 29, and 2
men facing execution in Texas, Roberto Ramos and Cesar Fierro.
The court ruled that the condemned men were all denied a right guaranteed
to foreigners accused of serious crimes -- to ask for help from their
government -- as spelled out by the 1963 Vienna Convention.
The U.S. State Department indicated it would "study the ruling carefully,"
but the pressure was aimed squarely at the states housing Mexicans on
death row: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon and Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry, who has said that the world court has no standing and no
jurisdiction in Texas, could not be reached for comment after Henry's
Texas has 16 Mexican nationals on death row, including Ramos and Fierro,
who were singled out for attention by the world court because they have
exhausted all appeals.
Fierro, 47, was convicted of the February 1979 shooting death of an El
Paso taxi driver. Ramos, 49, was convicted in the February 1992 murders of
his wife and 2 children in Progreso.
The Oklahoma governor's decision got a warm reception in Mexico, where
political leaders and human rights groups campaigned to save Torres' life.
Mexico's U.S. ambassador argued for Torres' life last Friday before the
Oklahoma Pardon and Paroles Board, which subsequently recommended that
Henry commute Torres' sentence to life.
"We want to congratulate the human sensitivity of the governor of Oklahoma
in this action," said Cortes.
Earlier, Mexico's Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing
"satisfaction" with the state appellate court's decision.
The Fox administration has taken a strong stance against the death penalty
both in Mexico and abroad. On Monday, both Fox and Foreign Secretary Luis
Ernesto Derbez sent letters asking Henry to spare Torres' life.
The Court of Criminal Appeals decision to send Torres' case back to
Oklahoma County for further review was based not on whether the state
violated his Vienna Convention rights but whether the violation of those
rights prejudiced the case against him. The court issued its ruling scant
hours before Henry announced his decision to commute Torres' sentence.
"My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Morales and Ms. Yanez," Henry said
in a statement Thursday evening. "This was a difficult decision, but I
believe clemency is warranted by a number of issues involved in this
Torres' appellate attorney, Mark Henrickson, praised the decision of the
Court of Criminal Appeals before Henry announced his decision.
"Oklahoma stepped up to the recognition that it was bound by the (world
court) decision," Henrickson said. "That's the effect of it."
2 of the 5 judges hearing the case filed a dissent arguing that Torres'
guilt was proved beyond a reasonable doubt and that the ruling by the
world court is not binding on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Penned by Judge Gary Lumpkin, the dissent notes that Torres was afforded
the same rights due an American citizen.
But in a lengthy concurring opinion, Judge Charles Chapel stated that at
its simplest level, a treaty between countries is a contract. The United
States "voluntarily and legally" entered into a contract with more than
100 countries to recognize the International Court of Justice as a forum
for resolution of disputes under the Vienna Convention.
Torres did ask for help from the Mexican government, but he was not aware
he could until after his conviction. At that point, Chapel wrote, Mexico
retained counsel to review Torres' case and retained two investigators and
a variety of specialists.
"I have concluded that there is a possibility a significant miscarriage of
justice occurred," Chapel wrote.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Yahoo! Groups SponsorADVERTISEMENT
Yahoo! Groups Links
To visit your group on the web, go to:
To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
TCADP-BOARD01-unsubscribe at yahoogroups.com
Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
Do you Yahoo!?
SBC Yahoo! - Internet access at a great low price.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the DP