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Texas Capital Punishment History - Page 2
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Thread: Texas Capital Punishment History

  1. #11
    Senior Member CnCP Addict one_two_bomb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Detroit MI
    I respect the fact that Graczyk leaves him personal beliefs at home and does his job, which is to report the news. Also I did not know he is from Detroit and is a Wayne State alum.

  2. #12
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Prison portraits from retiring AP reporter Michael Graczyk

    Before every Texas execution, Michael Graczyk has asked to talk to the convict scheduled to die. If the person said yes, he would visit death row to interview and take a photo of them. He also attempted to contact the family members of the person killed by the condemned inmate and the lawyers involved.

    Graczyk retires Tuesday after a 45-year career in which he observed more than 400 executions. A selection of the images and people Graczyk found to be particularly memorable:


    FILE - This Oct. 10, 1990, file photo, shows convicted killer Henry Lee Lucas, on death row at Huntsville, Texas.

    Lucas was a former confessed serial killer serving a sentence hundreds of years in length after being rescued from death row by then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush. He died of natural causes in 2001.

    Lucas, 64 when he died, was best known for making bogus confessions that prompted law officers nationwide to clear hundreds of unsolved killings. Known as the notorious one-eyed ex-drifter, he was narrowly saved from execution three years earlier when Bush commuted a death sentence to life in prison because of flimsy evidence in his capital case.

    After the commutation, Lucas predicted an "80 percent chance" he would walk free someday. He didn't.


    When Rodriguez was executed in 2008, he became the first of the infamous Texas 7 gang of escapees put to death for killing a suburban Dallas police officer on Christmas Eve 2000, nearly two weeks after they broke out of a South Texas prison by overpowering prison workers, stealing their clothes, grabbing guns from the prison armory and fleeing in a stolen truck.

    With the escapees already being sought nationwide, the officer slaying intensified the manhunt that culminated with their capture a month later in Colorado. One of the escapees killed himself as police closed in. Rodriguez volunteered for execution.


    Kenneth Foster was spared in 2007 by then-Gov. Rick Perry after the Texas parole board recommended his commutation to a life sentence. The decision came hours before Foster was scheduled to die for a 1996 slaying. The board had made a recommendation like that only once before, and Perry ignored it and the inmate was put to death. At the time, Foster became the only Texas inmate to win a commutation from Perry without the prodding of a court.

    Death penalty opponents had launched a public-relations campaign to save Foster because they objected to Texas's so-called law of parties, a unique statute in which each participant of a capital crime is held equally responsible. Perry said he didn't object to Foster's execution on those grounds. Instead, he said he opposed trying capital murder defendants together, as Foster and a co-defendant were.


    By the time Cleve Foster was put to death in 2012, he'd received at least three reprieves from the U.S. Supreme Court, including two when he was within hours of execution for the slaying of a 30-year-old woman near Fort Worth in 2000.

    The former Army recruiter was known on death row as "Sarge," and was one of two men in Fort Worth tied to the slayings nine years ago of two women, one who had fled Sudan and the other a Texas Tech honors graduate.

    Foster insisted a friend who died of cancer was responsible for the slaying that put him on death row. Foster spent nearly two decades in the Army, reached the rank of sergeant first class and was deployed to the Middle East during Desert Storm.


    Bower, a chemical salesman from Arlington, Texas, was arrested and charged with capital murder after four men were found dead Oct. 8, 1983. Prosecutors built a circumstantial case that Bower stole an aircraft and shot the men as they showed up at the hangar where Bower was to complete the purchase. Parts of the plane later were found at Bower's home.

    Bower initially lied to his wife and to investigators. He eventually acknowledged being at the ranch, but said the victims were alive and well when he left with the disassembled plane he had purchased, although he could not produce a receipt for the transaction. His attorneys suggested years later that other men involved in a drug deal gone bad were responsible for the shootings. The 67-year-old Bower became the oldest person executed in Texas when he was put to death in 2015. And only one other executed prisoner in Texas had served more time on death row.


    Jerry Hartfield had been in prison since 1977, a year after he was convicted of the 1976 capital murder of a female ticketing agent at a bus station southwest of Houston, and sentenced to die. That conviction was erased on appeal because of an error in sentencing. State law at the time required a new trial even if the mistake did not involve the matter of guilt.

    The retrial did not take place. It's unknown why Hartfield drifted into legal limbo. For reasons that are not clear, the judicial machinery broke down. In 2006, a fellow inmate aware of Hartfield's situation helped him file a writ of habeas corpus that revived his prosecution.

    A 2015 trial for Hartfield resulted in another conviction and mandatory life sentence. But an appeals court voided the conviction, saying essentially that too much time had passed for a proper trial.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  3. #13
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    This Week In Texas History

    Texas switches from the noose to Old Sparky

    With the modern and supposedly more humane electric chair due to replace the gallows at midnight, an overflow crowd packed the courthouse square in Angleton on Aug. 31, 1923 for the last public execution in Texas.

    The first dose of manufactured lightning was administered in 1890 to a convicted wife murderer in New York. But the much-heralded debut was something less than an unqualified success.

    The warden cut off the current after just 17 seconds on the advice of the attending physicians, who felt certain the subject must have expired. Upon closer examination, however, the doctors discovered to their astonishment that the man was still very much alive and called for a second jolt.

    This time the warden took no chances. Sixty seconds at full power not only finished the job but filled the execution chamber with a ghostly white vapor and the sickening stench of cooked flesh.

    Despite this inauspicious start, electrocution was soon accepted as the most efficient and least painful method of capital punishment. By 1920 more than a dozen states had changed from the rope to the hot seat.

    Denouncing county-seat executions as a barbaric relic of the frontier past, L.K. Irwin launched a one-man campaign to bring Texas in tune with the times. The state legislator converted many to his cause with the argument that public hangings harmed society almost as much as the condemned.

    Irwin insisted executions usually degenerated into bloodthirsty carnivals that did nothing to instill in spectators a respect for the law. All too often untrained local officials made the spectacle even more gruesome when the drop failed to snap the victims neck. On those occasions, he slowly strangled to death in full view of women and impressionable children.

    In the 1923 session of the Lone Star legislature, Irwin introduced the Electric Chair Bill. In addition to doing away with the gallows, the proposal relieved county sheriffs of the burden of the carrying out death sentences. Future executions would be held behind closed doors inside the Texas Department of Corrections.

    During the debate over the bill, an opponent put the sponsor on the spot. He offered to reverse his vote, if Irwin promised to be on hand for the initial execution. The lawmaker agreed, and the measure passed.

    Most counties were happy to put their gallows in mothballs and immediately shipped prisoners under death decrees to Huntsville. Not so in Brazoria County, where officials decided to proceed with the Aug. 31 hanging of a convicted killer.

    To avoid a replay of the recent mob scene at Waco, where ten thousand gave a mass murderer an unruly send-off, access to the Angleton execution was severely restricted. A high wall was hurriedly erected around the site in an effort to keep down attendance.

    Nevertheless, 150 people squeezed into the 25-foot square while hundreds more searched for cracks in the wooden barrier that might provide a peek at the proceedings. At 11 oclock in the morning, a wedge of deputies escorted Nathan Lee to the scaffold.

    The confessed slayer of an elderly farmer reaffirmed his guilt and urged the sweltering spectators to learn from his fatal mistake. He hummed a church hymn as the traditional black hood was lowered over his head. Moments later, the sheriff released the trap door, and death by hanging became a part of Texas history.

    While the electric chair was under construction in a prison workshop, the warden abruptly resigned rather than assume his new duties. It just couldnt be done, boys, he told reporters. A warden cant be a warden and a killer, too. The penitentiary is a place to reform a man, not to kill him.

    A retired lawman volunteered to take his place. I have hanged several men while I was sheriff, he noted, and to pull the switch of an electric chair means no more to me than pulling the lever of the gallows.

    But opening night for Old Sparky was a ghoulish ordeal even the experienced executioner found hard to stomach. Since no one had been put to death in several months, five executions were scheduled back-to-back.

    After sending the fourth man to his doom, the shaken warden phoned the governor and pleaded with him to call it a night. Told to finish the job, he wearily ordered the guards to bring in the fifth and final inmate.

    The numb witnesses stared at the five sheet-shrouded forms lying side by side on the floor next to the electric chair. Someone finally broke the eerie spell by heading for the exit, and the rest followed in a daze.
    A newspaperman caught up with L.K. Irwin in the parking lot and pumped the politician for his reaction. It was more humane, he argued lamely, but at the next legislature Im going to sponsor a bill to stop the death penalty.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  4. #14
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Bobsicles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    So I thought you’d like to see this. This is an aerial view of Polunsky. The building in the bottom left that looks like three rectangular air conditioners is death row

    Last edited by Bobsicles; 05-25-2022 at 08:41 AM.
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