[DP] Fwd: [TCADP-BOARD01] Mentally ill inmate's execution fuels
debate on death penalty
Marie des Neiges Leonard
mariesnows99 at yahoo.com
Thu May 20 13:47:40 CDT 2004
Rick Halperin <rhalperi at mail.smu.edu> wrote:To: TCADP-BOARD01
From: Rick Halperin
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 11:50:03 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)
Subject: [TCADP-BOARD01] death penalty news----TEXAS
Mentally ill inmate's execution fuels debate on death penalty -- Perry's
decision lauded, criticized by groups on both sides of issue
A crime victims' advocacy group and a group that wants to abolish the
death penalty battled over Gov. Rick Perry's decision Tuesday to allow the
execution of a mentally ill killer whom the state's pardon and paroles
board had recommended for clemency.
Kelsey Patterson, who had been convicted for the 1992 murders of an East
Texas businessman and his secretary, had been diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic. It was the 1st time that a Texas governor had rejected a
parole board's clemency recommendation for a condemned killer since
executions resumed in the state in 1982.
"He could have used this opportunity to educate the public about the issue
of mental illness; instead, he succumbed to the culture of fear and benign
indifference," said David Elliot of the National Coalition to Abolish the
The group called on state lawmakers Wednesday to study the execution of
mentally ill inmates.
Meanwhile, death-penalty proponents supported Mr. Perry's decision.
"He didn't have to do it," said Dianne Clements of the victims' advocacy
group Justice For All. "Just because he didn't follow the advice of the
board doesn't mean he took the decision lightly."
The parole board's 5-1 recommendation that Mr. Patterson's sentence be
commuted to life in prison was rare in Texas, the nation's No. 1 death
Since 1982, Texas has executed 322 inmates; 455 are on death row. During
that time, 22 cases have been commuted to life in prison with the board's
recommendation. Many were commuted in 1982-83 and had been prosecuted
before the death penalty was reinstated, board officials said.
Since 1999, the board has received 122 requests for clemency, and only 3
have won the board's recommendation. All came this year. Mr. Perry became
governor in 2000.
Board member Linda Garcia, who voted to grant Mr. Patterson clemency, said
she was "neither disappointed or surprised" by Mr. Perry's decision. She
said Mr. Patterson's case was difficult.
A statement issued by Mr. Perry's office Tuesday noted that state and
federal courts had reviewed and rejected Mr. Patterson's appeals. The
governor's office declined to comment further Wednesday.
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Sparing a Life?: Texas wrong, Oklahoma right on executions
Two governors - Rick Perry of Texas and Brad Henry of Oklahoma.
Two convicted murderers - Kelsey Patterson in Texas and Osbaldo Torres in
Oklahoma, both sentenced to die.
2 state boards of pardons and paroles both of which voted to commute the
respective convicts' sentences to life in prison.
Two outcomes Mr. Perry on Tuesday ordered Mr. Patterson's execution to
proceed; Mr. Henry last week ordered Mr. Torres' execution to be stayed.
One self-inflicted black eye - Texas.
One victory for justice - Oklahoma.
Mr. Perry should have spared Mr. Patterson's life. There is no dispute
that the convict has paranoid schizophrenia, a debilitating mental
illness. Even the Texas board - hardly a bench known for limp-wristed
liberalism - recognized the cruelty of executing somebody suffering from
the disease. It voted 5-1 to recommend that the governor commute Mr.
Patterson's sentence to life in prison.
But Mr. Perry ignored the recommendation. He argued that a life sentence
for Mr. Patterson might not have meant life. And on this score, he's
right. Texas law doesn't provide for life without the possibility of
parole. There's no guarantee that Mr. Patterson wouldn't murder again if
he were freed, Mr. Perry said. Conversely, Oklahoma law enabled Gov. Henry
to give Mr. Torres an immutable life sentence.
Texas should provide its governors the same flexibility.
Still, Mr. Patterson wouldn't have been eligible for parole for 28 years,
when he would've been 78 years old. Mr. Perry should have considered that,
along with the convict's demonstrable and certifiable mental illness.
By contrast, Mr. Henry showed both mercy and good judgment. In March, the
International Court of Justice ruled that Oklahoma violated Mr. Torres'
right to legal help from diplomats of his native Mexico. The court ordered
Oklahoma to review Mr. Torres' case to determine whether the state's
violation hindered the Mexican's defense. To his credit, Mr. Henry took
the court's 14-1 ruling into account in granting clemency.
Mr. Perry may soon confront the same circumstance as Mr. Henry, since the
international court also ruled that Texas similarly violated the rights of
15 Mexicans on death row. However, it's by no means certain that Mr. Perry
would behave as judiciously as the Oklahoman, since Mr. Perry asserts that
the international court has no jurisdiction in Texas, even though the U.S.
Constitution expresses otherwise. If Mr. Torres had been convicted in
Texas, he'd probably already be 6 feet under.
2 governors, one like test of character. Oklahoma's passed. Texas' failed.
(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)
Killer's lawyer chastises governor
An advocate for a delusional man put to death after Gov. Rick Perry
rejected an official clemency recommendation says the governor failed to
fulfill his special authority for bestowing mercy.
"He seems to be admitting that the only way we can deal with someone like
this in Texas is to take them out back and shoot them," Austin lawyer J.
Gary Hart said Wednesday.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt questioned "the words of a lawyer closely
tied to his client. Death penalty cases are very emotionally draining. And
this was a very difficult case to review because of all of the facts and
Kelsey Patterson, 50, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in 1981, died
by lethal injection Tuesday in Huntsville for killing two people in
Palestine in 1992.
Federal appeals courts issued no last-minute stays, and Perry declined to
heed a rare leniency recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The board advised Perry on Monday to commute Patterson's death penalty to
life in prison or grant a 120-day reprieve for further appeals.
Rissie Owens of Huntsville, who heads the board, said, "I must stress that
our actions are only recommendations to the governor, and we respect his
acceptance or rejection of actions taken on cases presented before him."
It was the board's third commutation recommendation this year. It had not
urged commutations in 112 petitions taken up from 1999 through 2003. Perry
adopted one recommendation and has not acted on the other.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, criticized Perry's "callous indifference
to the (board 's) extraordinary recommendation."
"As a person with bipolar disorder who has worked diligently to raise
awareness of mental illnesses, I am chagrined by the governor's decision,"
Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, who advised Perry not to block the
execution, called Patterson a "cold-blooded killer" and said Patterson's
last words showed that any illness he had did not keep him from knowing
what was taking place.
After a prison warden asked if he had a last statement, Patterson replied,
"Statement to what? State what. I am not guilty of the charge of capital
"Steal me and my family's money," he continued. "My truth will always be
my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin
to you undertaker. Murderer. Go to hell. Get my money. Give me my rights.
Give me my rights. Give me my life back."
Perry noted Tuesday that courts had reviewed Patterson's case 10 times
"examining his claims of mental illness and competency. ... In each
instance the courts have determined there is no legal bar to his
The U.S. Supreme Court has banned the execution of individuals with mental
retardation, though mentally ill inmates can be killed if they understand
their impending death and reasons for it.
Dennis Borel of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities noted Perry's
reference to the state not having a life without parole option, which has
failed to win legislative approval.
"Maybe we ought to," Borel said. "Cases like this make you reflect more
about what we as a society value."
Perry continues to believe lawmakers should debate the merits of life
without parole, Walt said.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
Perry ignores facts to allow execution
That was Gov. Rick Perry's regrettable decision Tuesday when he
disregarded the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
and allowed Kelsey Patterson, a man both prosecutors and defense attorneys
agreed was mentally ill, to be put to death.
In the wake of Perry's decision, Texans should question the governor's
On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended 5-1 to stay
Patterson's execution and urged Perry to commute his sentence to life
imprisonment or issue a 120-day reprieve so his lawyers could continue his
This was the 1st time the board has recommended a stay on the eve of an
execution. But Patterson's case warranted the rare action.
At 50, Patterson's history of paranoid schizophrenia was both extreme and
well-diagnosed. He had been in and out of the state's mental health system
and criminal justice system since the 1980s. In the last few weeks of his
life, he was delusional.
In rejecting clemency, Perry argued that the need for public safety was
more important than Patterson's insanity.
"Texas has no life without parole sentencing option, and no one can
guarantee this defendant would never be freed to commit other crimes were
his crimes commuted," Perry said in his prepared statement.
The facts are that had Patterson's sentence been commuted to life, he
would have been held in prison for 28 years before he would have been
eligible for parole.
At that time, he would have been 78 years old. If he were still alive and
considered a violent threat, the parole board could vote not to release
Perry's decision is puzzling. Politically, the governor did not need to
deny the stay. The board of pardons and paroles provided him political
cover. The facts demanded mercy.
In the end, however, Perry made the wrong decision and Patterson was
executed in the name of all Texans.
This case proves that it's time to question the sanity of our application
of the death penalty in Texas.
(source: Editorial, San Antonio Express-News)
Parole panelists who urged mercy defer to Perry
2 parole board members who voted to commute the death sentence of mentally
ill capital murderer Kelsey Patterson said Wednesday they respect the
governor's decision to go ahead with the execution.
In refusing to stop or delay the execution, Gov. Rick Perry became the 1st
Texas governor to reject a parole board's clemency recommendation since
executions resumed in 1982. Patterson, who had a long history of mental
illness, was executed Wednesday for the 1992 killings of Palestine
businessman Louis Oates and secretary Dorothy Harris.
Also Wednesday, mental health and anti-death-penalty advocates called upon
the Legislature to consider how the Patterson case was handled.
"If the courts won't act and Gov. Perry won't act, the only one left to
act is the Texas Legislature," said David Elliot, a spokesman for the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
On Monday the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a 5-1 vote to
commute Patterson's death sentence.
Board member Linda Garcia said she voted to show mercy to Patterson
because of "concerns about some mental health issues that were present."
Garcia, a former Harris County assistant district attorney, said board
members can include comments to the governor when they make their
recommendations, but she did not do so and does not believe that any of
the other board members did either.
"I have respect for his decision and the difficult job he has," said
Garcia. "It was a very difficult decision for me. I certainly understand
somebody coming to a different conclusion."
Rissie Owens, chairman of the board, also voted for commutation. She did
not respond to a request for an interview, but issued a statement.
"I must stress that our actions are only recommendations to the governor,
and we respect his acceptance or rejection of actions taken on cases
presented before him," said Owens.
Board member Charles Aycock of Amarillo was the lone vote against
commutation. He said Wednesday that he focused on a "narrow issue to
determine if he was competent to understand he was being executed."
Aycock, a former president of the State Bar of Texas, said he read
everything in the file but focused on the rulings of the state and federal
courts, which reviewed claims filed by Patterson's lawyer that Patterson's
mental illness made him incompetent to be executed.
"All of the opinions indicated there was not a substantial doubt he was
competent. I based my decision on that," said Aycock.
The 3 other board members who participated in the case referred questions
As part of a major government reorganization bill passed last year, the
board was reduced from 18 to 7 members (one position is currently vacant).
The law went into effect in February, and Perry appointed the members
The reorganization did not address criticisms that board members don't
discuss death penalty cases, but review files independently and fax in
Perry's office said the governor would not comment beyond a written
statement he issued Tuesday night. Spokesman Robert Black said parole
board recommendations are reviewed by Perry's legal staff before the
governor makes a decision.
In his statement, Perry acknowledged Patterson's mental history but said
that state and federal courts had reviewed the case 10 times, in each
instance determining there is no legal bar to execution.
"Texas has no life without parole sentencing option, and no one can
guarantee this defendant would never be freed to commit other crimes were
his sentence commuted," Perry said.
Texas law requires inmates who receive life sentences for violent crimes
to serve 40 years before they can be considered for parole. Patterson, 50,
would have been in his late 70s before he would have been eligible for
parole, and the parole board could have denied his release.
Patterson spent much of the two decades before the crime in and out of
state mental hospitals where he was treated for schizophrenia. Before the
double homicide, he had shot and wounded 2 co-workers.
The day of the murders, he walked to an oil distribution company 100 yards
or so from his home and gunned down Oates and Harris for no apparent
reason. Then he went back to his house, removed all of his clothes except
his socks and stood in the middle of the street waiting for police to
"Execution of someone like Kelsey whose paranoid schizophrenia is severe
and chronic serves neither the retributive nor the deterrent functions the
death penalty was intended for," attorney Gary Hart wrote in a clemency
petition to the parole board and Perry.
The Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty sent a
letter to the chairmen of the Texas House and Senate Criminal Justice
committees, the House Committee on Human Services and the Senate Committee
on Health and Human Services, asking for studies of whether Texas is
executing people in violation of a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a
person must be aware that he is being executed and why.
"At a time when the United States has faced increased scrutiny because of
reported abuses of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, it
is incumbent upon the U.S. and Texas to demonstrate, through word and
deed, that human rights matter," stated the letter.
Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee,
said he would consider the request.
"I'm not afraid to look at it," said Whitmire, D-Houston.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
Cops nab murder suspect
Paris police believe they have the man responsible for strangling and
bashing in the head of 79-year-old Marvin George Davis.
Michael DeWayne Davis, 39, of Paris was arrested at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in
the 1500 block of East Houston Street, where he worked. Davis, who is not
related to the elderly victim, is suspected of capital murder and
aggravated robbery in the Jan. 8 slaying that became the 1st of 4
homicides in the 1st 4 months of 2004. Police say that with this arrest, 3
of those 4 homicides are now solved.
If convicted, Davis could face the death penalty. Police Chief Karl Louis
said the suspect was arrested for capital murder because investigators
contend he committed the murder during the course of another felony crime.
An undisclosed amount of money was taken from the victim's motor home,
which was parked at Gene's Flea Market.
Sgt. Danny Huff and Lt. Randy Tuttle arrested Davis and brought him to the
police station, where he was booked before being transported to the Lamar
Officers responding to a welfare concern call shortly after 9 p.m. on Jan.
8 discovered the victim's body. Autopsy results from the Southwest
Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas showed that the victim died from
strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
Louis said Tuesday that investigators were at the scene of the murder
until 4 a.m. Jan. 9, but the late-night work appears to have paid off.
"We were able to gather enough sufficient physical evidence to obtain a
warrant for this case," the chief said.
Louis credited Huff, who spearheaded the investigation, and other officers
with making the arrest in the case.
"Sgt. Huff and the other investigators assigned this case have worked
diligently towards this arrest," Louis said. "We feel good about the
arrest and hopefully Paris will be safer because of it."
With the arrest, only one 2004 homicide remains unsolved. Police are still
investigating the death of 76-year-old Mary Ann White, who also suffered
blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators continue to work that case and hope to have it solved soon,
the chief said.
Other unsolved cases remain from previous years.
(source: Paris News)
Bell set for court
A local judge will hear testimony Thursday to determine if a death row
inmate is mentally retarded.
Walter Bell Jr., 50, has been on Texas death row for 29 years, longer than
any other inmate.
He was convicted of the July 1974 murder in Port Arthur of his former
employer, Ferd Chisum.
Bell has a long history of mental illness and State District Judge Charles
Carver will consider evidence from Bell's hearing and send his conclusions
to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will decide whether to commute,
overturn or affirm Bell's death sentence.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the execution of mentally retarded
defendants in Atkins v. Virginia, but left it up to individual states to
decide how to implement the decision.
For purposes of the death penalty, the Texas legislature has neither
defined mental retardation nor outlined the procedures to be followed in
pursuing a mental retardation claim.
Experts generally define a person with mental retardation as having an IQ
of 70 or lower and having 2 or more adaptive deficiencies.
Defense attorneys around the state are requesting death row cases be
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry denied convicted killer Kelsey Patterson's
request for a stay of execution.
Mental health experts classified Patterson as a paranoid schizophrenic.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles said he should be spared execution.
Patterson's execution also raised questions over the difference between
mentally ill and mentally retarded inmates.
While the Atkins decision of the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution
of the mentally retarded inmates, it did not offer the same protections to
those deemed mentally ill.
Bell had been employed making deliveries for Chisum's appliance shop. Bell
tied up and robbed Chisum and his wife, Irene, in their Port Arthur home.
Irene Chisum was beaten and raped before she died.
The bodies were found in the bathroom of their home on July 19, 1974.
Bell was arrested the next day outside of a bar after he attempted to cash
a check on the Chisums' account.
Bell was convicted for Irene Chisum's murder but was cleared in January
1984 because he had been interviewed by a state psychiatrist without being
warned that the information could later be used against him in court.
However, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the
slaying of Ferd Chisum. Prosecutors said Bell killed the Chisums because
Ferd Chisum had fired him.
"The court of criminal appeals has sent the case back to Carver for
testimony," Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness said in a
previous interview. "Both sides will present expert witness to examine
Bell's intelligence, family upbringing and history. The appeals court will
make a determination based on the findings and they could reduce his
sentence to life in prison instead of the death penalty."
If given a life sentence with credit for time served, it is a possibility
that Bell could be freed.
(source: Port Arthur News)
Trial testimony blames murder on victim's smile
Carroll Joe Parr told his former live-in girlfriend that he shot and
killed Joel Dominguez during a robbery after a drug deal "because he
smiled at me," the woman testified Wednesday.
Prosecutors rested their case against Parr Wednesday morning after calling
11 witnesses over the past 2 days.
Parr, 26, is on trial in Waco's 54th State District Court for capital
murder in the Jan. 11, 2003, robbery/slaying of the 18-year-old Dominguez
during a drug deal outside a convenience store at South 25th Street and
Parr's attorneys, Russ Hunt Sr. and Russ Hunt Jr., who called three
defense witnesses Wednesday afternoon, said Parr and two or three other
witnesses likely will testify today. Court officials expect the jury to
begin deliberations this afternoon.
Dawonna Harrison, 21, testified Wednesday that she started dating Parr in
August 2002 and moved in with him at a Lake Air Drive apartment complex
four months later. Parr, who Harrison said did not have a job and worked
only as a drug dealer, called Dominguez on the day he was killed to set up
a drug buy with the intention of robbing him afterward, she said.
She said he left around 7 p.m. When he came back, he hurriedly packed his
clothes and other belongings, including several rifles, and they went over
to Earl Duane Whiteside's house on Lottie Street for a while.
Whiteside, 31, testified Tuesday that Parr shot Dominguez during the
robbery and that he shot Dominguez's friend, Mario Chavez, who survived
the attack and also testified Tuesday. Whiteside pleaded guilty to
aggravated robbery in the incident in a plea bargain with prosecutors that
calls for him to be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Chavez, 19, was shot in the hand, thigh and ankle. He and Whiteside said
that Parr bought 7 pounds of marijuana from Dominguez for about $2,500.
Parr took the money back and then shot Dominguez in the head at close
range, the men testified Tuesday.
Harrison said Parr left their apartment early the next morning after
calling someone to ask him to pick up a newspaper and meet him. She said
that when Parr returned, he had shaved off his beard and cut his hair.
"He was acting scared and nervous and I was being curious, so I asked him
what was going on," Harrison said.
Parr said that he messed up and shot someone.
"I asked him why, and he said, 'Because he smiled at me,'" Harrison said.
She said she and Parr, who goes by the street names "Skeeta," "Outlaw" or
"Tick," went to Mexico with another couple late that night and returned 2
Under cross-examination from the younger Hunt, Harrison denied she told
Parr's sister, Gloria, that she lied to police about what Parr had said
about his alleged involvement in Dominguez's death.
In other prosecution testimony, Kenneth Reneau said he was in the same
holding tank at the McLennan County Jail as Parr for about a week in May
2003. He said Parr was the "tank boss" because he was the toughest one in
Reneau, who was serving a misdemeanor sentence for interrupting an
emergency phone call, testified that Parr offered to protect him in jail
if Reneau would lie for him at trial and provide him an alibi for the time
of the killing. He also told the jury that Parr admitted that he shot and
killed a man he called "Junior" outside a convenience store in Waco.
In defense testimony, Parr's sister, Gloria Parr, said she asked Harrison
if Parr killed Dominguez. She said Harrison told her no.
Roshlonda Parr, the defendant's sister-in-law, told jurors that Harrison
told her that Harrison's mother pressured her to wrongfully implicate Parr
in the murder.
If convicted of capital murder, Parr faces the death penalty or life in
(source: Waco Tribune-Herald)
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