Day: March 5, 2012

Antony Graves – wrongfully convicted

Anthony Graves, who was sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit, and after over 18 years in prison was finally released and totally exonerated in October 2010.

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POSSIBLE INNOCENCE: Alabama Denies DNA Testing for Man Facing Execution

Alabama recently set an execution date for Thomas Arthur (pictured), who was convicted of a murder that took place 30 years ago. Arthur has always maintained his innocence, but has been denied access to DNA evidence that might lead to a different verdict. As Andrew Cohen pointed out in an investigative piece inThe Atlantic, Arthur is scheduled for execution on March 29, despite the confession of Bobby Ray Gilbert to the crime for which Arthur is facing execution.  There was no physical evidence that linked Arthur to the murder, and his sentence was secured almost entirely by the testimony of the victim’s wife, Judy Wicker. At first, Wicker told the authorities that Arthur was not involved in the crime, but when she was convicted for hiring someone to murder her husband, she arranged a deal with the prosecution. In exchange for a recommendation of early release from prison, she changed her original testimony and implicated Arthur. Since then, Gilbert has testified under oath to the murder. Gilbert said he had an affair with Wicker and soon agreed to kill her husband. State courts, however, have ruled that Gilbert’s confession was not credible, and have opposed DNA testing on an item recovered from the crime scene that could identify who was actually involved in the crime.  Arthur’s attorneys have agreed to pay for the DNA testing.

source : death penalty

TEXAS – Execution Keith Steven Thurmond – march 7, 2012 EXECUTED 6.22 p.m

March 7, 2012

Picture of Offender    Keith Thurmond          Sharon Thurmond

A Texas man condemned for fatally shooting his estranged wife and the neighbor who became her boyfriend denied killing them Wednesday, moments before he was put to death by lethal injection.

Strapped to the gurney inside the death chamber, Keith Thurmond declared, “I didn’t kill my wife. … I swear to God I didn’t kill her.”

His execution for the 2001 slayings near Houston came about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments to halt the capital punishment, the third this year in Texas. The 52-year-old Thurmond was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m. – 11 minutes after lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.

Thurmond’s attorneys argued that lawyers representing him in earlier appeals were “grossly deficient” and that his execution should have been postponed until justices decide on a similar case in Arizona.

With his death nearing Wednesday, Thurmond blamed the shooting deaths on another man before telling prison officials, “Go ahead and finish it off.”

As the drugs began flowing, he said, “You can taste it.” He wheezed and snored before losing consciousness.

The killings occurred after sheriff’s deputies showed up at Thurmond’s mobile home on Sept. 25, 2001, with a court order removing his 8-year-old son and putting the boy in the care of his mother

Thurmond became irate and stormed down the road to the mobile home where his 32-year-old wife, Sharon, was living with her new boyfriend, Guy Fernandes, 35, near Magnolia in Montgomery County, about 35 miles north of Houston.

Fernandes’ father, brother and sister were among those who witnessed Thurmond’s execution. They were joined by Sharon Thurmond’s brother and two nieces. All stood stoically a few feet from Thurmond and declined comment after his death.

Thurmond’s brother, Tom, was at Thurmond’s home the day of the killings, heard gunshots and looked out the door. He saw Thurmond outside standing over his wife with a gun in his hand.

At the 2002 capital murder trial, Keith and Sharon Thurmond’s son testified that he saw his father shoot his mother repeatedly in the yard behind Fernandes’ mobile home.

Thurmond surrendered to police after a two-hour standoff.

Evidence showed Sharon Thurmond had been shot seven times with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun that was later found in Thurmond’s home. The same gun was used to shoot Fernandez twice in the head. The gun’s firing pin was missing and pieces of it were near the body of Fernandez, who also had been beaten in the head with the weapon.

During the punishment phase of his trial, a former girlfriend testified that Thurmond stalked and raped her after she ended their relationship. She told jurors that he cut her stuffed animal’s head off and that she feared he would do the same to her.

A second woman testified that she faced similar abuse and harassment until she obtained a court order against him. Sharon Thurmond also had two court orders against him.

Prosecutors said these incidents proved Thurmond was a threat to society, an element Texas jurors must consider when deciding on the death penalty. John MacDonald, Thurmond’s lead trial attorney, said that background on Thurmond’s character very much hurt his defense.

In an appeal petition, Thurmond’s attorneys said the sentence was too harsh. They said his former appellate lawyers failed to track down any of his relatives who could have testified that he had been abused as a child and that this could have accounted for his behavior.

State lawyers opposed the petition, arguing that unlike the Arizona case, Thurmond’s earlier attorneys didn’t abandon him and that any information now from the prisoner’s relatives likely would not have altered the outcome of the trial.

Last Statement:

All I want to say is I’m innocent, I didn’t kill my wife. Jack Leary shot my wife then her dope dealer Guy Fernandez. Don’t hold it against me, Bill. I swear to God I didn’t kill her. Go ahead and finish it off. You can taste it.