Leonel Torres Herrerawas convicted and sentenced to death for the 1982 murders of two police officers. New evidence was brought forward which proved that Herrera's brother committed the murders. By Texas law, which states that any new evidence must be presented within 30 days of the conviction, this new revelation was irrelevant. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Texas ruling, arguing that Herrera's claim of "actual innocence" was in itself not a constitutional claim for which judicial relief could be granted. Thus, though the court agreed he was innocent, Leonel was executed on May 12, 1993.
The book, In Spite of Innocence, notes that between 1900 and 1992 there have been 416 documented cases of innocent persons who have been convicted of murder or capital rape -- a third of whom were given a death sentence. The authors discovered that in 23 of these cases, the innocent person was executed.
John Spirko is scheduled to be executed on September 20, 2005. He was sentenced to death in 1984 though he denies carrying out the murder and no physical or forensic evidence links him to the crime.
Call on authorities to consider the accusations of a false case against John
Spirko and the lack of evidence against him, and urge them to recommend clemency
in his case.
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Take Action: Oppose Execution of Texas Woman with Innocence Claim
Frances Newton is scheduled to be executed in Texas on September 14, 2005.
She was convicted of the murder of her husband and two children on
circumstantial evidence and maintains that she did not commit the murder.
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The Program to Abolish the Death Penalty updates the information below on a regular basis. Follow the links below for the latest information on these topics.
Death Penalty News
Death sentence commuted for mentally ill Indiana man
On 29 August, just two days before Arthur Baird was due to be executed, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels commuted his death sentence and imposed a sentence of life without parole. Thank you to all our activists who took action on this case and made this victory possible!
In his Executive Order commuting the sentence, Governor Daniels stated that he took this action because of "certain unusual, probably unique circumstances," making "a different outcome [seem] more just." The Order mentioned a number of key facts about the case: that the jury who originally sentenced him to death did not have the option of sentencing him instead to life without parole, and several jury members had stated that they would have imposed such a sentence instead of the death penalty had this option been available to them; that family members have said that they believed life without parole was the most appropriate penalty, and that Baird had rejected the equivalent of a life without parole plea agreement offered to him by the state before trial "apparently due to his delusional state."
More News! National Weekend of Faith in Action, New Death
Penalty Abolition Blog, National Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators Training,
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