Perry Clears Way for Executioner

Perry rejects BPP recommendation to spare Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson (by Courtesy TDCJ)

Gov. Rick Perry rejected the commutation recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles in the case of Robert Thompson, clearing the way for Thompson's execution last night.

The BPP had recommended a commutation based on the fact that Thomspon was not responsible for the gunshot that killed Mansoor Rahim inside a convenience store in Houston in 1996, but was convicted under the state's law of parties, which posits that an accomplice is equally responsible for a doer's reckless actions.

In his statement, Perry differentiated Thompson's case from other law-of-parties situations, noting that Thompson had "a murderous history and participated in the killing" of Rahim. "I have decided to uphold the jury's capital murder conviction," he said. "There is no reason to set aside the capital murder conviction handed down by a Texas jury and upheld by numerous state and federal courts."

Indeed, Thompson's record was not clean, and in the case of Rahim, Thompson reportedly fired at the clerk wounding him, but did not make the kill shot. Given the situation, Perry's decision to disregard the BPP recommendations may not mean anything about the future of commutation calls for inmates sent to death row strictly as parties to a crime – as was the case with Kenneth Foster, whose sentence was commuted to life (although Perry said that commutation was because Foster was tried jointly with the man responsible for the murder), and as was the case with Jeff Wood, whose case is currently on appeal.

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Courts, Death Penalty, Robert Thompson, Rick Perry, law of parties, BPP

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