At 6 p.m. this evening Robert James Campbell will, odds are, become the first U.S. prisoner executed since Oklahoma spectacularly botched the lethal injection of Clayton Lockett two weeks ago. His lawyers have filed a last-ditch appeal, citing Lockett's death and the mysterious source of Texas' supp ... More >>
The last time the Texas Department of Criminal Justice secured a cache of pentobarbital, the drug it uses to execute prisoners, the Houston-area compounding pharmacy that supplied it had second thoughts. "[I]t was my belief that this information would be kept on the 'down low,' and that it was unli ... More >>
It's a curious phenomenon, the "death row groupies" who become enamored with men who committed some of the most vile crimes you can imagine. When Scott Peterson arrived at California's San Quentin State Prison fresh off a conviction of murdering his wife and unborn child, he received a marriage prop ... More >>
Even after a wave of exonerations have confirmed the fallibility of the criminal justice system, even after the state's supply of lethal-injection drugs has been all but cut off by squeamish pharmaceutical companies, even as national support for capital punishment steadily declines, Texas remains en ... More >>
Turns out, Michael John Yowell had nothing to worry about. A week after filing a federal lawsuit to delay his execution on the grounds that the state's custom-made supply of pentobarbital, ordered hastily from a Houston-area compounding pharmacy last month, might cause an unconstitutional amount of ... More >>
Death row inmate Michael Yowell's last-minute, Hail Mary lawsuit, based on the claim that the state was going to experiment on him with untested execution drugs, failed to sway U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. In an order handed down Saturday, she dismissed that as "a guess piled on an assumption" a ... More >>
UPDATE: After this item ran, we sent a question to Texas Department of Criminal Justice public information director Jason Clark, asking him -- not to put too fine a point on it -- why Texas doesn't just switch to an alternative method of execution altogether, like the electric chair. The short answe ... More >>
Steven Kenneth Staley's guilt was never much in doubt. The facts of the case, attested to by multiple witnesses, were clear. One evening in 1989, Staley and two female accomplices showed up at a Tarrant County Steak & Ale with guns. When police showed up, Staley took the restaurant manager hostage, ... More >>
Barring a stay of execution, Douglas Feldman is scheduled to die in nine days. His petition for a state writ of habeas corpus based on ineffective assistance of counsel has gone nowhere. He claims his trial attorney failed to investigate the role his alleged bipolar disorder played in the murders. N ... More >>
On an August night in 1998, Douglas Feldman pulled his Harley up next to an 18-wheeler that had just cut him off on a highway in Plano. Feldman shot and killed the driver, Robert Everett, then paused on his way home to murder an Exxon tanker driver named Nicholas Velasquez. A week or so later, he ki ... More >>
It was a grisly scene Lancaster police found on July 22, 1997: Dorothy Booth, a 71-year-old retired psychology professor, stabbed to death on the floor of her dining room stabbed, her left ring finger severed from her hand. The evidence quickly led police to Kimberly McCarthy, Booth's next-door nei ... More >>
Texas has executed five people so far this year, all using the same procedure. First, a barbiturate, pentobarbital, is administered to induce unconsciousness. Then a dose of pancuronium bromide paralyzes every muscle in the body. Finally, a dose of potassium chloride stops the heart. That wil ... More >>
On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced it would use a single drug -- pentobarbital, a barbiturate -- to carry out executions due to a shortage of one component in a three-drug cocktail. Overseas manufacturers of pancuronium bromide, a powerful paralytic, have halted shipment ... More >>
Rick Halperin, head of SMU's human rights program, has been saying for years what became nationally recognized this week: "Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man," to borrow a headline from the Atlantic. Halperin has spent his career doing the academic equivalent of banging his head against ... More >>
It's been 11 years since George Rivas lead the Texas Seven in their escape from prison and shooting of a police officer, and the hour of his death is fast-approaching. At around 6 p.m, the State of Texas will end his life by lethal injection. Rivas confessed that he was the ringleader of the group ... More >>
Via.Anthony Graves, exonerated from death row in 2010As "the death chaplain" at Huntsville prison, Reverend Carroll Pickett has counseled 95 prisoners, one at a time, on the day the state has scheduled to end their life. Death by lethal injection, the chaplain found, is not a quiet exit. It's ... More >>
Teresa Hawthorne, the Dallas County judge who ruled that the state's death penalty statute was unconstitutional, must recuse herself from a capital murder case, a judge ruled today. Hawthorne was presiding over the capital murder trial of Roderick Harris, who's accused of killing brothers Alfredo ... More >>
Via....not seeing a whole lot of action.In the death penalty debate, Texas has a long-standing reputation for abiding by one guiding principal: an eye for an eye. But the state has increasingly chosen to holster its lethal-injection needles in recent years, with death-penalty sentences decrea ... More >>
Photo by Leslie MinoraFive innocent men who were nearly put to death for others' crimes.Imagine spending five years in a Nebraska prison for having brutally murdered a teenage honor student but knowing that the real killer is at large. Or rolling over in the middle of the night to put your ar ... More >>
The Associated Press this morning directs our attention to this year-in-review: The Death Penalty in 2010, released at midnight by the D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center. Says the report, Texas is still executing more inmates than any other state -- 17 in 2010, the lowest in almost a dec ... More >>
Craig Watkins speaking at SMU on WednesdaySpeaking of Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins ...This week, SMU hosted a Media and Human Rights Symposium that featured among its guests Watkins, a few profs and even a noted Oscar-winning filmmaker. Watkins delivered his presentation on Wedne ... More >>
Ronald "Buffalo" Chambers, as he looked 32 years ago Dallas Observer editor Mark Donald and I have written about Ronald Chambers on and off for years -- Mark, for D, way back in the spring of 1986. (Ancient Observer stories, alas, have not been been so rigorously archived.) For 32 years, the 53-year ... More >>
When Sharon Keller turned off the clock on a Death Row inmate's last-gasp appeal, she became the most vilified judge in Texas
Craig Watkins is for the death penalty. Also, against it. Newsweek wonders in the new issue whether Texans have lost their taste for the death penalty. Yes, the state "still accounts for more than half of all executions in the United States," report Evan Thomas and Martha Brant, but "Texas prosecuto ... More >>
Jim Willett oversaw 89 executions. Now, amidst dozens of DNA exonerations, he wonders whether it was right.
Yesterday, The Washington Post published a Reuters story about how Texas is about to "hit the grim total of 400 executions this month," which puts it far, far ahead of other states that reinstituted the death penalty after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment 31 years ago. But the ... More >>
Plus: Off the List, Maybe
Andre Lewis was eight hours from being executed, until the courts realized they had made a big mistake
Houston had one of its most shocking race murders 45 years ago. But exactly whose tragedy was it?
Inmates on Texas' Death Row leave behind immeasurable pain and countless victims--including their own families
Steve Earle doesn't really care about Napster as long as our country still kills people
Tommy Lynn Sells claims to have murdered dozens, and Texas Rangers fear he's telling the truth
For 15 years, the Rev. Carroll Pickett granted the last wishes of men about to die in Texas' execution chamber. For the first time, he tells his story.
It is 6:07 p.m. John Albert Burks salutes the Oakland Raiders and says goodbye to his friends. Minutes later, he is a dead man. This year's 21st execution.
Execution specialist goes Nazi-partying in Errol Morris' disturbing new documentary
Odell Barnes is just one of many inmates with questionable convictions facing the death penalty
Odell Barnes awaits execution on March 1 -- despite new evidence that he didn't commit the crime
Railroaded onto death row, Kerry Max Cook endures rapes, beatings, and suicide attempts while waiting for justice
Will proposed media rules stifle coverage of convicts facing execution?
Prosecutors lied and cheated to put Kerry Max Cook on death row for 16 years. He's out of prison now, but still not quite free.
Wealthy Waco businessman Brian Pardo spends his time and money helping death-row inmates he believes are innocent. His efforts on behalf of Darlie Routier have raised suspicions about her husband--and about Pardo's motives.
While Erica Sheppard sits on death row, penniless and convicted of a gruesome murder, her cadre of elite Dallas lawyers tries to prove that the justice system has gone fatally awry
After a decade on death row, Andre Lewis grasps at straws Andre Lewis is a dead man waiting.
Laws to speed executions will make it harder to save Death Row's innocent
If you haven't seen Just Cause, don't read this article
Bettie Beets killed two husbands. Now she's likely to become the first woman the state of Texas has ever executed